Bench Press at Full Range of Motion Produces Greater Neuromuscular Adaptations Than Partial Executions After Prolonged Resistance Training

J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Sep 26. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003391. Online ahead of print.


Martínez-Cava, A, Hernández-Belmonte, A, Courel-Ibáñez, J, Morán-Navarro, R, González-Badillo, JJ, and Pallarés, JG. Bench press at full range of motion produces greater neuromuscular adaptations than partial executions after prolonged resistance training. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000-000, 2019-Training at a particular range of motion (ROM) produces specific neuromuscular adaptations. However, the effects of full and partial ROM in one of the most common upper-limb exercises such as the bench press (BP) remain controversial. In this study, 50 recreationally to highly resistance trained men were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 training groups: full bench press (BPFULL), two-thirds bench press (BP2/3), and one-third bench press (BP1/3) and control (training cessation). Experimental groups completed a 10-week velocity-based resistance training program using the same relative load (linear periodization, 60-80% 1 repetition maximum [1RM]), only differing in the ROM trained. Individual ROM for each BP variation was determined in the familiarization and subsequently replicated in every lift during training and testing sessions. Neuromuscular adaptations were evaluated by 1RM strength and mean propulsive velocity (MPV). The BPFULL group obtained the best results for the 3 BP variations (effect size [ES] = 0.52-1.96); in turn, partial BP produced smaller improvements as the ROM decreased (BP2/3: ES = 0.29-0.78; BP1/3: ES = -0.01 to 0.66). After 10-week of training cessation, the control group declined in all neuromuscular parameters (ES = 0.86-0.92) except in MPV against low loads. Based on these findings, the BPFULL stands as the most effective exercise to maximize neuromuscular improvements in recreational and well-trained athletes compared with partial ROM variations.