Maximal Strength Performance and Muscle Activation for the Bench Press and Triceps Extension Exercises Adopting Dumbbell, Barbell, and Machine Modalities Over Multiple Sets

J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Jul;31(7):1879-1887. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001651.


Farias, DdA, Willardson, JM, Paz, GA, Bezerra, EdS, and Miranda, H. Maximal strength performance and muscle activation for the bench press and triceps extension exercises adopting dumbbell, barbell and machine modalities over multiple sets. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 1879-1887, 2017-The purpose of this study was to investigate muscle activation, total repetitions, and training volume for 3 bench press (BP) exercise modes (Smith machine [SMBP], barbell [BBP], and dumbbell [DBP]) that were followed by a triceps extension (TE) exercise. Nineteen trained men performed 3 testing protocols in random order, which included: (P1) SMBP + TE; (P2) BBP + TE; and (P3) DBP + TE. Each protocol involved 4 sets with a 10-repetition maximum (RM) load, immediately followed by a TE exercise that was also performed for 4 sets with a 10RM load. A 2-minute rest interval was adopted between sets and exercises. Surface electromyographic activity was assessed for the pectoralis major (PM), anterior deltoid (AD), biceps brachii (BB), and triceps brachii (TB). The results indicated that significantly higher total repetitions were achieved for the DBP (31.2 ± 3.2) vs. the BBP (27.8 ± 4.8). For the TE, significantly greater volume was achieved when this exercise was performed after the BBP (1,204.4 ± 249.4 kg) and DBP (1,216.8 ± 287.5 kg) vs. the SMBP (1,097.5 ± 193 kg). The DBP elicited significantly greater PM activity vs. the BBP. The SMBP elicited significantly greater AD activity vs. the BBP and DBP. During the different BP modes, the SMBP and BBP elicited significantly greater TB activity vs. the DBP. However, the DBP elicited significantly greater BB activity vs. the SMBP and BBP, respectively. During the succeeding TE exercise, significantly greater activity of the TB was observed when this exercise was performed after the BBP vs. the SMBP and DBP. Therefore, it seems that the variation in BP modes does influence both repetition performance and muscle activation patterns during the TE when these exercises are performed in succession.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Rest / physiology
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*