Although explosive power in lower-body movements has been extensively studied, there is a paucity of research examining such movements in the upper body. This study aimed to investigate the influence of load and the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) on the kinematics, kinetics, and muscle activation that occurs during maximal effort throws. A total of 17 male subjects performed SSC and concentric only (CO) bench throws using loads of 15%, 30%, 45%, 60%, 75%, 90% and 100% of their previously determined one repetition maximum bench press. The displacement, velocity, acceleration, force and power output as well as the electromyogram (EMG) from pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii were recorded for each throw. The results were compared using multivariate analysis of variance with repeated measures. A criterion alpha level of P < or = 0.05 was used. Similar force velocity power relationships were determined for this multijoint upper-body movement as has been found for isolated muscles, single joint movements, and vertical jumping. The highest power output was produced at the 30% [563 (104) W] and 45% [560 (86) W] loads during the SSC throws. Force output increased as a function of load; however, even the lighter loads resulted in considerable force due to the high accelerations produced. Average velocity, average and peak force, and average and peak power output were significantly higher for the SSC throws compared to the CO throws. However, peak velocity and height thrown were not potentiated by performing the pre-stretch because the duration and range of movement allowed the ability of the muscle to generate force at high shortening velocities to dominate the resulting throw. As such, explosive movements involving longer concentric actions than experienced during brief SSC movements may be limited by the ability of the muscle to produce force during fast contraction velocities.