Neuromuscular comparison of push-up variations and bench press

No Thumbnail Available
Issue Date
Embargo End Date
Calatayud, Joaquin
Borreani, Sebastien
Colado, Juan C.
Martin, Fernando
Behm, David G.
Rogers, Michael E.

Calatayud, Joaquin; Borreani, Sebastien; Colado, Juan C.; Martin, Fernando; Behm, David G.; Rogers, Michael E. 2014. Neuromuscular comparison of push-up variations and bench press. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 46:no. 5:pp 670-670:Supplement: 1 Meeting Abstract: 2476


The ankle is the second most commonly injured body part in sports and ankle sprains are the most common type of ankle injury. Female athletes have a high rate of ankle injury in some team sports. Rehabilitation must include neuromuscular training to improve postural and neuromuscular control and prevent recurrent sprains. The methods of optimal progression are not known in the neuromuscular training despite the frequent use of these kinds of exercises and devices.

Bench press and push-ups are classic upper-body exercises. However, the potential to induce high muscle activation levels in the prime movers and core muscles during push-ups with elastic resistance or suspension devices remains uninvestigated. In addition, there are no studies that compare these push-up variations with the bench press performed at typical hypertrophy-inducing loads (i.e., 70%1RM) which may serve to establish an activation level threshold for the prime movers. PURPOSE: To compare the muscle activation levels during a bench press exercise performed at 70%1RM with suspended push-ups and push-ups on the floor with Thera-Band gold elastic resistance bands. METHODS: 29 physically fit and healthy males took part in a randomized, within-subject design assessment. The maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) was used to normalize data. Each participant performed three repetitions in all conditions and used the same range of movement, grip width (biacromial+50%) and speed of movement. Mean %MVIC values of the rectus abdominis (RA), external oblique (EO), pectoralis major (PM) and anterior deltoid (AD) were compared using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with a Bonferroni post-hoc analysis. RESULTS: Significant differences were found between conditions for all muscles (p<0.001) (Table 1). CONCLUSIONS: Push-ups with elastic resistance induce similar PM, but greater AD, RA and EO, activation levels as bench press at 70%1RM. Suspended push-ups are a highly efficient means to achieve high core muscle activity. Data reported may serve to establish optimal progressions with these upper-body exercises.

Table of Content
Click on the link to access this abstract at the publisher's website.