Leg-drive Does Not Affect Upper Extremity Muscle Activation during a Bench Press Exercise


School of Science Technology and Health

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The purpose of this study was to determine if muscle activity of upper extremity muscles differed depending on the involvement of the legs during a bench press. The study included 15 male and 12 female recreationally trained, college age participants. There were 2 testing sessions. Session 1: Participants performed a 1-repetition maximum in a standard bench press followed by a leg-drive familiarization. For the familiarization, participants were instructed in the leg-drive technique (buttocks remained on the bench) and given ample time to practice until comfortable and which satisfied the researchers. Leg-drive pressing force was verified by measuring anterior-posterior and vertical ground reaction forces measured by a force plate. Session 2: Outfitted with surface electromyography (EMG), participants performed 3 repetitions in the bench press with 75% of the standard bench press 1-repetition maximum (1RM) under three conditions: 1) standard 2) leg-drive, 3) legs-in-the-air. The normalized average of the peaks of the three reps for each muscle were analyzed using a 2 x 3 (gender x condition) ANOVA. The ANOVA revealed no significant differences across groups or conditions (pectoralis major p = 0.405, anterior deltoid p = 0.297, triceps brachii p = 0.092). When comparing a standard bench press to leg-drive, our results indicate that similar amounts of muscle activation are required for the task regardless of the leg involvement. This work indicates that using a leg-drive technique that does not allow the buttocks to rise from the bench, does not result in a change in upper extremity muscle activity compared to a standard bench press. Due to lack of differences across conditions, athletes and strength coaches should base their decision on the use of leg-drive on their personal preference.


Electromyography; Resistance Training

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International Journal of Human Movement and Sports Sciences





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