The Sticking Region in Three Chest-Press Exercises with Increasing Degrees of Freedom

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Van den Tillaar, R, and Sæterbakken, A. The sticking region in three chest-press exercises with increasing degrees of freedom. J Strength Cond Res 26(11): 2962–2969, 2012—The purpose was to investigate the effect of 3 chest-press exercises with different degrees of freedom upon the sticking region and muscle activity in maximal attempts. It was hypothesized that, with increasing degrees of freedom, the sticking region (the weakest region during the lift) would be longer because the muscles need to use a part of their ability to control these increasing degrees of freedom during the exercise. Furthermore, the prime movers would have the same muscle activity, but the biceps muscle activity would increase when the degrees of freedom increases because of the enhanced control of the upward movement. Eleven male subjects (age 22.6 ± 1.7 years, body mass 78.6 ± 8.0 kg, stature 1.80 ± 0.07 m) with at least 1 year of bench press training experience participated in this study. Every subject was tested in 1 repetition maximum (1RM) in the 3 chest-press exercises. During the attempts, kinematics and muscle activity were recorded and analyzed in 4 different regions (downward, presticking, sticking, and poststicking). The participants achieved the highest 1RM strength using the free barbell (106.4 ± 15.5 kg), followed by the Smith machine (103.6 ± 14.8 kg) and dumbbells (89.5 ± 13.7 kg). Furthermore, muscle activity differences (electromyographic) between the 3 different exercises and the muscle activation between the 4 different regions were found. The length of the different lifting regions together with muscle activity was different between the exercises. However, the differences found did not follow the line of increasing degrees of freedom that would result in a longer sticking region. Therefore, it is possible to choose to train a particular chest press exercise with the purpose of training a particular muscle more than the others.

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