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Effect of body measures on Bench Press

A study discusses how body mass, shoulder width and arm length effect a person's ability to perform the bench press exercise.

Researchers at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma published a study in the Journal of Strength and conditioning Research on the relation between body measures and bench press performance. Bench press is used by strength and conditioning coaches for athletes and for most general fitness programs. The researchers examined both maximal and submaximal loads.

The study group was comprised of 36 men who volunteered to be a part of the study. In their first visit to the lab, they were measured for body mass, shoulder width (biacromial width), and total arm length. They were also warmed up, and participated in a few short sets to determine their 1RM (repetition maximum) on the bench press. Only the lifts performed with perfect form were counted as a rep.

The participants returned 3 more times to the lab to perform the submaximal sets of bench press. They were randomly assigned to either 40, 55, or 75% of their 1RM on each day. For each submaximal test, the participants performed the sets until volitional failure (unable to complete further reps in using good technique).

The researchers used an accelerometer to measure peak force, power and velocity for each of the submaximal sets. 13 bench press indices were compared to each of the 3 body measures.

It was found that at least 8 criterion were variable based on the body type measures. The researchers concluded that the most significant correlation was between body mass and 1RM on the bench press, and in the force-related measures. Total arm length was moderately associated with the same 1RM measure. The shoulder width was found to be inversely correlated to RM; that meaning that narrower shoulders produced a higher force value.



Caruso, JF, Taylor, ST, Lutz, BM, Olson, NM, Mason, ML, Borgsmiller, JA, and Riner, RD. "Anthropometry as a predictor of bench press performance done at different loads." Journal of Strength and conditioning Research. 26(9): 2460-2467. 2013.

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