The Effect of 12 variations of the bench press exercise on the EMG activity of three heads of the pectoralis major
This study compared the activation of the clavicular, sternocostal and abdominal heads of the pectoralis major (PM) and the long portion of the triceps brachii during the execution of the bench press with several inclinations, grip types, and grip widths. Thirteen healthy men with more than a year of resistance training experience participated in this study. The subjects performed 6 repetitions of various variations of the bench press at angles of -15°, 0° and 30° with grip width of 100% and 200% of their biacromial width in both pronation and supination with a load equivalent of their respective 12RM for each movement. EMG, bar acceleration and shoulder angle were recorded during each repetition. Activation of the clavicular head of the PM was, compared to a wide pronation at 0°, significantly higher at a close pronation at 0°and 30°; during a close supination at 30° and during a wide supination at 30°. Activation of the sternocostal head of the PM was, during a wide pronation at 0°, significantly higher than during a close supination at 0°, 30° and -15°; during a wide supination at 30; during a wide supination at 0° and 30° and at close pronation at 30° and -15°. Activation of the abdominal head of the PM was significantly better with wide pronation at -15° and 0° compared to all positions at 30°. Triceps brachii were better solicited during close pronation at 0° and -15° compared to supinated grip at 0° and 30°. Results from this study show that the bench press exercise performed with a wide pronation grip at 0° can maximize the activation of the three heads of the PM.
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