Influence of the “Slingshot” Bench Press Training Aid on Bench Press Kinematics and Neuromuscular Activity in Competitive Powerlifters

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Dugdale, JH, Hunter, AM, Di Virgilio, TG, Macgregor, LJ, and Hamilton, DL. Influence of the “Slingshot” bench press training aid on bench press kinematics and neuromuscular activity in competitive powerlifters. J Strength Cond Res 33(2): 327–336, 2019—This study examined the acute effects of the “Slingshot” (SS) on bench press performance, prime mover surface electromyographic (sEMG) amplitude, and barbell velocity during maximal and submaximal bench pressing in competitive male powerlifters. Fifteen male powerlifters (mean ± SD; age: 27.05 ± 5.94 years; mass: 94.15 ± 13.43 kg; 1 repetition maximum [1RM] bench press: 139.7 ± 16.79 kg) participated in the study. Bench press strength, average barbell velocity, and sEMG amplitude of the prime mover muscles (triceps brachii, pectoralis major, and anterior deltoid) were measured during 2 conditions; “Raw” (without use of any assistance) and “SS” (using the “Slingshot” to perform both the weight achieved during “Raw” 1RM testing [Raw max/SS], and absolute 1RM using the “SS”). The results showed that the “SS” significantly increased bench press 1RM performance by a mean ± SD of 20.67 ± 3.4 kg. Barbell velocity and stick point analysis indicate that this improvement is likely driven by an increase in peak and prestick barbell velocity as triceps root mean square (RMS) was lower throughout all rep max phases with the “SS.” The “SS” also caused reductions in RMS, specifically of the triceps at all rep ranges but barbell velocity was better maintained in the last reps of all sets. These data indicate that the “SS” specifically deloaded the triceps muscle throughout all rep ranges and provide assistance to maintaining barbell velocity under fatigue during later repetitions of multiple repetition sets. The “SS” training aid could therefore be used in deload phases of bench press training or as an overreaching and velocity training aid.

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