Predicting the Maximum Dynamic Strength in Bench Press: The High Precision of the Bar Velocity Approach

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Loturco, I, Kobal, R, Moraes, JE, Kitamura, K, Cal Abad, CC, Pereira, LA, and Nakamura, FY. Predicting the maximum dynamic strength in bench press: the high precision of the bar velocity approach. J Strength Cond Res 31(4): 1127–1131, 2017—The aim of this study was to determine the force-velocity relationship and test the possibility of determining the 1 repetition maximum (1RM) in “free weight” and Smith machine bench presses. Thirty-six male top-level athletes from 3 different sports were submitted to a standardized 1RM bench press assessment (free weight or Smith machine, in randomized order), following standard procedures encompassing lifts performed at 40–100% of 1RM. The mean propulsive velocity (MPV) was measured in all attempts. A linear regression was performed to establish the relationships between bar velocities and 1RM percentages. The actual and predicted 1RM for each exercise were compared using a paired t-test. Although the Smith machine 1RM was higher (10% difference) than the free weight 1RM, in both cases the actual and predicted values did not differ. In addition, the linear relationship between MPV and percentage of 1RM (coefficient of determination ≥95%) allow determination of training intensity based on the bar velocity. The linear relationships between the MPVs and the relative percentages of 1RM throughout the entire range of loads enable coaches to use the MPV to accurately monitor their athletes on a daily basis and accurately determine their actual 1RM without the need to perform standard maximum dynamic strength assessments.

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