Non-uniform excitation of pectoralis major induced by changes in bench press inclination leads to uneven variations in the cross-sectional area measured by panoramic ultrasonography

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2022 Dec:67:102722. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2022.102722. Epub 2022 Oct 25.


This study combined surface electromyography with panoramic ultrasound imaging to investigate whether non-uniform excitation could lead to acute localized variations in cross-sectional area and muscle thickness of the clavicular and sternocostal heads of pectoralis major (PM). Bipolar surface electromyograms (EMGs) were acquired from both PM heads, while 13 men performed four sets of the flat and 45° inclined bench press exercises. Before and immediately after exercise, panoramic ultrasound images were collected transversely to the fibers. Normalized root mean square (RMS) amplitude and variations in the cross-sectional area and muscle thickness were calculated separately for each PM head. For all sets of the inclined bench press, the normalized RMS amplitude was greater for the clavicular head than the sternocostal head (P < 0.001), and the opposite was observed during the flat bench press (P < 0.001). Similarly, while greater increases in cross-sectional area were observed in the clavicular than in the sternocostal head after the inclined bench press (P < 0.001), greater increases were quantified in the sternocostal than in the clavicular head after the flat bench press exercise (P = 0.046). Therefore, our results suggest that the PM regional excitation induced by changes in bench press inclination leads to acute, uneven responses of muscle architecture following the exercise.

Keywords: Chest press variations; Muscle architecture; Resistance training; Surface electromyography.

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Pectoralis Muscles* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pectoralis Muscles* / physiology
  • Resistance Training* / methods
  • Ultrasonography
  • Weight Lifting / physiology