Understanding Bench Press Biomechanics-Training Expertise and Sex Affect Lifting Technique and Net Joint Moments

J Strength Cond Res. 2023 Jan 1;37(1):9-17. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000004191. Epub 2021 Dec 23.


Mausehund, L and Krosshaug, T. Understanding bench press biomechanics-Training expertise and sex affect lifting technique and net joint moments. J Strength Cond Res 37(1): 9-17, 2023-The purpose of this study was to compare normalized net joint moments (NJMs), moment arms, and muscle activity in the bench press exercise between powerlifters and recreationally strength-trained lifters and between women and men. Thirty-four healthy adults, including 12 powerlifters (6 women and 6 men) and 22 recreational lifters (9 women and 13 men), performed a 6-8 repetition maximum set of the bench press, while elbow and shoulder NJMs and moment arms and electromyographic (EMG) activity of 6 upper extremity muscles were recorded. The results showed that training expertise and sex affected bench press technique substantially. Powerlifters applied a different bar path which impacted joint kinematics to a greater extent and joint kinetics to a lesser extent. Specifically, powerlifters had lower normalized peak elbow NJMs and shorter joint ROMs than recreational lifters ( p ≤ 0.05), yet no differences in normalized shoulder NJMs and muscle activity were observed. Women showed lower normalized mean shoulder NJMs, higher normalized peak elbow NJMs, and higher mean elbow to shoulder NJM ratios than men ( p ≤ 0.05). The muscle activity of the long head of the triceps brachii and the elbow to shoulder EMG ratio were higher, yet muscle activity of the sternocostal and abdominal head of the pectoralis major was lower for female than for male subjects ( p ≤ 0.05). In conclusion, powerlifters and men are more shoulder dominant when performing the bench press than recreational lifters and women, respectively. These findings will have implications for resistance training program design, expected training adaptations and bench press performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lifting
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Resistance Training* / methods
  • Weight Lifting* / physiology