A comparison of successful and unsuccessful attempts in maximal bench pressing

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Nov;41(11):2056-63. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a8c360.


Purpose: This study was designed to compare the differences in EMG and kinematics between successful and unsuccessful attempts in bench pressing at one repetition maximum (1RM) in recreational weight-trained subjects. We hypothesized that failure occurs during the sticking period (the period during which there is a temporary reduction in movement velocity).

Methods: Eleven male subjects (age = 21.9 +/- 1.8 yr, mass = 80.0 +/- 11.2 kg, height = 1.79 +/- 0.08 m) with at least 1 yr of bench press training experience participated in this study. They performed attempts at 1RM and 1RM + 2.5 kg in bench press during which kinematics and muscle activity were recorded. One successful attempt and one unsuccessful attempt were used for further analysis.

Results: Both attempts showed the same sticking period, but only half of the failures occurred during that period. The main differences in the kinematics occurred during the sticking period. Muscle activity, in contrast, showed the same pattern in both attempts and only differed during the downward and the start of the upward movement of the lift.

Conclusions: The sticking period occurs in both successful and unsuccessful attempts in maximal bench press. However, failure does not always occur during the sticking period.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*
  • Young Adult