A biomechanical analysis of the sticking region in the bench press

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Aug;21(4):450-62.


The performance of ten elite powerlifters were analyzed in a simulated competition environment using three-dimensional cinematography and surface electromyography while bench pressing approximately 80% of maximum, a maximal load, and an unsuccessful supramaximal attempt. The resultant moment arm (from the sagittal and transverse planes) of the weight about the shoulder axis decreased throughout the upward movement of the bar. The resultant moment arm of the weight about the elbow axis decreased throughout the initial portion of the ascent of the bar, recording a minimum value during the sticking region, and subsequently increased throughout the remainder of the ascent of the bar. The electromyograms produced by the prime mover muscles (sternal portion of pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, long head of triceps brachii) achieved maximal activation at the commencement of the ascent phase of the lift and maintained this level essentially unchanged throughout the upward movement of the bar. The sticking region, therefore, did not appear to be caused by an increase in the moment arm of the weight about the shoulder or elbow joints or by a minimization of muscular activity during this region. A possible mechanism which envisages the sticking region as a force-reduced transition phase between a strain energy-assisted acceleration phase and a mechanically advantageous maximum strength region is postulated.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sports*
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Lifting*