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J Hum Kinet. 2017 Jun 22;57:61-71. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0047. eCollection 2017 Jun.

The Effects of Bench Press Variations in Competitive Athletes on Muscle Activity and Performance.

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Department of Teacher Education and Sports, Sogn and Fjordane University College, Sogndal, Norway.
The Scott Studio, Pithers Yard, High St, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7AN, UK.


The aim of the study was to compare the EMG activity performing 6RM competition style bench press (flat bench-wide grip) with 1) medium and narrow grip widths on a flat bench and 1) inclined and declined bench positions with a wide grip. Twelve bench press athletes competing at national and international level participated in the study. EMG activity was measured in the pectoralis major, anterior and posterior deltoid, biceps brachii, triceps brachii and latissimus dorsi. Non-significant differences in activation were observed between the three bench positions with the exception of 58.5-62.6% lower triceps brachii activation, but 48.3-68.7% greater biceps brachii activation in the inclined bench compared with the flat and declined bench position. Comparing the three grip widths, non-significant differences in activations were observed, with the exception of 25.9-30.5% lower EMG activity in the biceps brachii using a narrow grip, compared to the medium and wide grip conditions. The 6-RM loads were 5.8-11.1% greater using a medium and wide grip compared to narrow grip width and 18.5-21.5% lower in the inclined bench position compared with flat and declined. Comparing the EMG activity during the competition bench press style with either the inclined and declined bench position (wide grip) or using a narrow and medium grip (flat bench), only resulted in different EMG activity in the biceps- and triceps brachii. The 6RM loads varied with each bench press variation and we recommend the use of a wide grip on a flat bench during high load hypertrophy training to bench press athletes.


Resistance; performance; strength; training

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