The purpose of this study was to investigate contextual interference effects on skill acquisition and strength gains during the learning of the bench press movement. Twenty-four healthy, college-aged males and females were stratified to control, high contextual interference (HCI), and low contextual interference (LCI) groups. Treatment groups were provided with written and visual instruction on proper bench press form and practiced the bench press and dart throwing for four weeks. Within each session, LCI performed all bench press sets before undertaking dart-throws. HCI undertook dart-throws immediately following each set of bench press. Control only did testing. Measurements, including one repetition maximum (1RM), checklist scores based on video recordings of participants' 1RM's, and dart-throw test scores were taken at pre-test, 1 week, 2 week, post-test, and retention test. Results were consistent with the basic premise of the contextual interference effect. LCI had significant improvements in percent 1RM and checklist scores during training, but were mostly absent after training (post-test and retention test). HCI had significant improvements in percent 1RM and checklist scores both during and after training. Thus, HCI may augment strength and movement skill on the bench press since proper technique is an important component of resistance exercise movements.
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