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Concept: Bench press


Training the bench press exercise on a traditional flat bench does not induce a level of instability as seen in sport movements and activities of daily living. Twenty participants were recruited to test two forms of instability: using one dumbbell rather than two and lifting on the COR bench compared to a flat bench. Electromyography (EMG) amplitudes of the pectoralis major, middle trapezius, external oblique, and internal oblique were recorded and compared. Differences in range of motion (ROM) were evaluated by measuring an angular representation of the shoulder complex. Four separate conditions of unilateral bench press were tested while lifting on a: flat bench with one dumbbell, flat bench with two dumbbells, COR Bench with one dumbbell, and COR Bench with two dumbbells. The results imply that there are no differences in EMG amplitude or ROM between the COR bench and traditional bench. However, greater ROM was found to be utilized in the single dumbbell condition, both in the COR bench and the flat bench.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Muscle, Electromyography, Bench press, Abdominal external oblique muscle, Pectoralis major muscle, Clavicle, Barbell


To compare the effects of a periodic resistance training (PTR) program with those of a continuous resistance training (CTR) program on muscle size and function, 14 young men were randomly divided into a CTR group and a PTR group. Both groups performed high-intensity bench press exercise training [75 % of one repetition maximum (1-RM); 3 sets of 10 reps] for 3 days per week. The CTR group trained continuously over a 24-week period, whereas the PTR group performed three cycles of 6-week training (or retraining), with 3-week detraining periods between training cycles. After an initial 6 weeks of training, increases in cross-sectional area (CSA) of the triceps brachii and pectoralis major muscles and maximum isometric voluntary contraction of the elbow extensors and 1-RM were similar between the two groups. In the CTR group, muscle CSA and strength gradually increased during the initial 6 weeks of training. However, the rate of increase in muscle CSA and 1-RM decreased gradually after that. In the PTR group, increase in muscle CSA and strength during the first 3-week detraining/6-week retraining cycle were similar to that in the CTR group during the corresponding period. However, increase in muscle CSA and strength during the second 3-week detraining/6-week retraining cycle were significantly higher in the PTR group than in the CTR group. Thus, overall improvements in muscle CSA and strength were similar between the groups. The results indicate that 3-week detraining/6-week retraining cycles result in muscle hypertrophy similar to that occurring with continuous resistance training after 24 weeks.

Concepts: Exercise, Triceps brachii muscle, Muscle contraction, Menstrual cycle, Strength training, Isometric exercise, Bench press, Pectoralis major muscle


This study aimed to investigate the effects of combining elastic bands to free weight (EB+FWR) on the acceleration-deceleration and velocity profiles of the bench press in professional rugby players and recreationally-trained subjects. Sixteen male subjects (8 rugby players and 8 recreationally-trained subjects) were randomly assigned to complete 2 experimental conditions in a cross-over fashion: EB+FWR and FWR. In both conditions, subjects performed one bench-press set to volitional exhaustion with a load equivalent to the 85% of one-repetition maximum (1RM). In the EB+FWR condition, the contribution of elastic resistance was approximately the 20% of selected load (85% of 1RM). Results indicate that EB+FWR condition increased significantly the range of concentric movement in which the barbell is accelerated. This increase was significantly higher in rugby players (35%) in comparison with recreationally-trained subjects (13%). Maximal velocity was also increased in EB+FWR (17%), when compared with FWR condition. These results suggest that when combined with variable resistance (i.e. EB), the external resistance seems to be more evenly distributed over the full range of motion, decreasing the need for dramatic deceleration at the end of the concentric phase. The present data also indicate that the kinematic benefits of a EB+FWR approach seems to be more prominent in athletes from modalities in which high level of strength and power are required (i.e. rugby players).

Concepts: Classical mechanics, Acceleration, Velocity, Kinematics, Bench press, Motion, Powerlifting, Barbell


Dunnick, DD, Brown, LE, Coburn, JW, Lynn, SK, and Barillas, SR. Bench press upper-body muscle activation between stable and unstable loads. J Strength Cond Res 29(12): 3279-3283, 2015-The bench press is one of the most commonly used upper-body exercises in training and is performed with many different variations, including unstable loads (ULs). Although there is much research on use of an unstable surface, there is little to none on the use of an UL. The purpose of this study was to investigate muscle activation during the bench press while using a stable load (SL) vs. UL. Twenty resistance-trained men (age = 24.1 ± 2 years; ht = 177.5 ± 5.8 cm; mass = 88.7 ± 13.7 kg) completed 2 experimental conditions (SL and UL) at 2 different intensities (60 and 80% one repetition maximum). Unstable load was achieved by hanging 16 kg kettlebells by elastic bands from the end of the bar. All trial lifts were set to a 2-second cadence with a slight pause at the bottom. Subjects had electrodes attached to 5 muscles (pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, medial deltoid, triceps brachii, and latissimus dorsi) and performed 3 isometric bench press trials to normalize electromyographic data. All 5 muscles demonstrated significantly greater activation at 80% compared with 60% load and during concentric compared with eccentric actions. These results suggest that upper body muscle activation is not different in the bench press between UL and SL. Therefore, coaches should use their preference when designing training programs.

Concepts: Biceps brachii muscle, Triceps brachii muscle, Muscle contraction, Trigraph, Bench press, Muscles of the upper limb, Pectoralis major muscle, Barbell


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of short rest intervals normally associated with hypertrophy-type training versus long rest intervals traditionally used in strength-type training on muscular adaptations in a cohort of young, experienced lifters. Twenty-one young resistance-trained men were randomly assigned to either a group that performed a resistance training (RT) program with 1-minute rest intervals (SHORT) or a group that employed 3-minute rest intervals (LONG). All other RT variables were held constant. The study period lasted 8 weeks with subjects performing 3 total body workouts a week comprised of 3 sets of 8-12 repetition maximum (RM) of 7 different exercises per session. Testing was carried out pre- and post-study for muscle strength (1RM bench press and back squat), muscle endurance (50% 1RM bench press to failure), and muscle thickness of the elbow flexors, triceps brachii, and quadriceps femoris via ultrasound imaging. Maximal strength was significantly greater for both 1RM squat and bench press for LONG compared to SHORT. Muscle thickness was significantly greater for LONG compared to SHORT in the anterior thigh and a trend for greater increases was noted in the triceps brachii,(p = 0.06) as well. Both groups saw significant increases in local upper body muscle endurance with no significant differences noted between groups. The present study provides evidence that longer rest periods promote greater increases in muscle strength and hypertrophy in young resistance-trained men.

Concepts: Muscle, Physical exercise, Exercise, Biceps brachii muscle, Triceps brachii muscle, Muscular system, Exercise physiology, Bench press


OBJECTIVES: To determine if a morning training session could alter afternoon physical performance. Moreover, as testosterone (T) and cortisol © concentrations are significant predictors of physical performance, and both show circadian declines across the day, we examined the effects of morning training on diurnal T and C responses. DESIGN: Eighteen semi-professional rugby union players completed this randomised and counter-balanced study. METHODS: Following morning saliva collection (0900h), players completed a control (rested), Sprint (5×40m) or Weights (3 repetition-maximum [RM] bench press and squat) trial. In the afternoon (15:00h) of each trial, a further saliva sample was collected before players completed a performance test (3RM back squat and bench press, 40m sprint, countermovement jump [CMJ]). RESULTS: Salivary T concentrations declined from am to pm under Control and Sprint, but not under Weights. Delta T, from am to pm, was greater under Control (-10.9±2.4pgml(-1)) compared to Sprints (-6.2±7.1pgml(-1)) and Weights (-1.2±5.5pgml(-1)) (p≤0.001). Delta C, from am to pm, was greater under Control compared to both Sprint and Weights (p<0.05). Players elicited better CMJ peak power, 40-m time, 3RM bench and squat performance under Weights compared with Control and Sprint (p<0.05). Faster 40-m times were seen under Sprint, when compared to Control (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Performing morning strength training is associated with improved physical performance in the afternoon. Additionally, the circadian decline in T concentrations appeared offset by morning training. However, it is unclear if T concentrations are, in part, causal of these improved responses or simply a reflective marker.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Test method, Bench press, Powerlifting, Weight training exercises, Spotting


This study determined if 6-weeks vitamin D2 supplementation (vitD2, 3800 IU/day) had an influence on muscle function, eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD), and delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) NASCAR pit crew athletes. Subjects were randomized to vitD2 (n = 13) and placebo (n = 15), and ingested supplements (double-blind) for six weeks. Blood samples were collected and muscle function tests conducted pre- and post-study (leg-back and hand grip dynamometer strength tests, body weight bench press to exhaustion, vertical jump, 30-s Wingate test). Post-study, subjects engaged in 90 min eccentric-based exercise, with blood samples and DOMS ratings obtained immediately after and 1- and 2-days post-exercise. Six weeks vitD2 increased serum 25(OH)D2 456% and decreased 25(OH)D3 21% versus placebo (p < 0.001, p = 0.036, respectively), with no influence on muscle function test scores. The post-study eccentric exercise bout induced EIMD and DOMS, with higher muscle damage biomarkers measured in vitD2 compared to placebo (myoglobin 252%, 122% increase, respectively, p = 0.001; creatine phosphokinase 24 h post-exercise, 169%, 32%, p < 0.001), with no differences for DOMS. In summary, 6-weeks vitD2 (3800 IU/day) significantly increased 25(OH)D2 and decreased 25(OH)D3, had no effect on muscle function tests, and amplified muscle damage markers in NASCAR pit crew athletes following eccentric exercise.

Concepts: Muscle, Weight training, Lactic acid, Exercise physiology, Stretching, Bench press, Formula One, Pit stop


The goal of this randomized, double-blind, cross-over study was to assess the acute effects of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and power, muscular endurance, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and pain perception (PP) in resistance-trained men. Seventeen volunteers (mean ± SD: age = 26 ± 6 years, stature = 182 ± 9 cm, body mass = 84 ± 9 kg, resistance training experience = 7 ± 3 years) consumed placebo or 6 mg kg(-1) of anhydrous caffeine 1 h before testing. Muscular power was assessed with seated medicine ball throw and vertical jump exercises, muscular strength with one-repetition maximum (1RM) barbell back squat and bench press exercises, and muscular endurance with repetitions of back squat and bench press exercises (load corresponding to 60% of 1RM) to momentary muscular failure. RPE and PP were assessed immediately after the completion of the back squat and bench press exercises. Compared to placebo, caffeine intake enhanced 1RM back squat performance (+2.8%; effect size [ES] = 0.19; p = .016), which was accompanied by a reduced RPE (+7%; ES = 0.53; p = .037), and seated medicine ball throw performance (+4.3%, ES = 0.32; p = .009). Improvements in 1RM bench press were not noted although there were significant (p = .029) decreases in PP related to this exercise when participants ingested caffeine. The results point to an acute benefit of caffeine intake in enhancing lower-body strength, likely due to a decrease in RPE; upper-, but not lower-body power; and no effects on muscular endurance, in resistance-trained men. Individuals competing in events in which strength and power are important performance-related factors may consider taking 6 mg kg(-1) of caffeine pre-training/competition for performance enhancement.

Concepts: Physical exercise, Exercise, Strength training, Weight training, Caffeine, Bench press, Powerlifting, Barbell


This investigation compared the effect of high-volume (VOL) versus high-intensity (INT) resistance training on stimulating changes in muscle size and strength in resistance-trained men. Following a 2-week preparatory phase, participants were randomly assigned to either a high-volume (VOL; n = 14, 4 × 10-12 repetitions with ~70% of one repetition maximum [1RM], 1-min rest intervals) or a high-intensity (INT; n = 15, 4 × 3-5 repetitions with ~90% of 1RM, 3-min rest intervals) training group for 8 weeks. Pre- and posttraining assessments included lean tissue mass via dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, muscle cross-sectional area and thickness of the vastus lateralis (VL), rectus femoris (RF), pectoralis major, and triceps brachii muscles via ultrasound images, and 1RM strength in the back squat and bench press (BP) exercises. Blood samples were collected at baseline, immediately post, 30 min post, and 60 min postexercise at week 3 (WK3) and week 10 (WK10) to assess the serum testosterone, growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1), cortisol, and insulin concentrations. Compared to VOL, greater improvements (P < 0.05) in lean arm mass (5.2 ± 2.9% vs. 2.2 ± 5.6%) and 1RM BP (14.8 ± 9.7% vs. 6.9 ± 9.0%) were observed for INT. Compared to INT, area under the curve analysis revealed greater (P < 0.05) GH and cortisol responses for VOL at WK3 and cortisol only at WK10. Compared to WK3, the GH and cortisol responses were attenuated (P < 0.05) for VOL at WK10, while the IGF1 response was reduced (P < 0.05) for INT. It appears that high-intensity resistance training stimulates greater improvements in some measures of strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men during a short-term training period.

Concepts: Muscle, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Growth hormone, Triceps brachii muscle, Muscular system, Strength training, Bench press, Pectoralis major muscle


The aim of the present study was to determine the effect on performance of ingesting caffeine-dose matched anhydrous caffeine, coffee or decaffeinated coffee plus anhydrous caffeine during resistance exercise. Nine resistance trained males (Mean±SD age: 24±2 years, weight: 84±8kg, height: 180±8cm) completed a squat and bench press exercise protocol at 60% 1-RM until failure on five occasions consuming either, 0.15 g·kg caffeinated coffee (COF), 0.15 g·kg decaffeinated coffee (DEC), 0.15 g·kg decaffeinated coffee plus 5 mg·kg anhydrous caffeine (D+C), 5 mg·kg anhydrous caffeine (CAF) or a placebo (PLA). Felt arousal and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were used to assess perceptual variables and heart rate (HR) to assess physiological responses between trials. There were significant differences in total weight lifted for the squat between conditions (P<0.01; ηP =0.54) with a greater amount lifted during D+C compared with DEC (P<0.01), CAF (P<0.05) and PLA (P<0.05) conditions. Total weight lifted during the COF condition was significantly greater than PLA (P<0.01), although not significantly greater than the amount of weight lifted during the DEC condition (P=0.082). No significant differences were observed in total weight lifted in the bench press protocol between conditions (P=0.186; ηP =0.17). Significant differences in HR (P<0.01; ηP =0.39), but not RPE (squat: P=0.690; ηP =0.07; bench press: P=0.165; ηP =0.18) and felt arousal (P=0.056; ηP =0.24) were observed between conditions. Coffee and decaffeinated coffee plus caffeine have the ability to improve performance during a resistance exercise protocol, although possibly not over multiple bouts.

Concepts: Physiology, Coffee, Weight training, Caffeine, Tea, Bench press, Decaffeination, Powerlifting