A comparison of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press

Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Fullerton, California, USA.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Impact Factor: 1.86). 03/2010; 24(3):779-84. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc2237
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The bench press exercise exists in multiple forms including the machine and free weight bench press. It is not clear though how each mode differs in its effect on muscle activation. The purpose of this study was to compare muscle activation of the anterior deltoid, medial deltoid, and pectoralis major during a Smith machine and free weight bench press at lower (70% 1 repetition maximum [1RM]) and higher (90% 1RM) intensities. Normalized electromyography amplitude values were used during the concentric phase of the bench press to compare muscle activity between a free weight and Smith machine bench press. Participants were classified as either experienced or inexperienced bench pressers. Two testing sessions were used, each of which entailed either all free weight or all Smith machine testing. In each testing session, each participant's 1RM was established followed by 2 repetitions at 70% of 1RM and 2 repetitions at 90% of 1RM. Results indicated greater activation of the medial deltoid on the free weight bench press than on the Smith machine bench press. Also, there was greater muscle activation at the 90% 1RM load than at the 70% 1RM load. The results of this study suggest that strength coaches should consider choosing the free weight bench press over the Smith machine bench press because of its potential for greater upper-body muscular development.

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    • "The results of this study confirm that the SM squat offers lifters the opportunity to overcome heavier loads . However , there is a potential problem with regard to the transfer of this force to more dynamic sporting / exercise situations . Schick et al . ( 2010 ) consider the barbell squat to be a superior exercise compared to the SM squat , as the muscles contract in a more natural fashion , ensuring balance in three planes of motion . Barbell actions cause a higher demand on the lifter to stabilize the load and control the movement while overcoming the chosen resistance ( Langford et al . , "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to identify how changes in the stability conditions of a back squat affect maximal loads lifted and erector spinae muscle activity. Fourteen male participants performed a Smith Machine (SM) squat, the most stable condition, a barbell back (BB) squat, and Tendo-destabilizing bar (TBB) squat, the least stable condition. A one repetition max (1-RM) was established in each squat condition, before electromyography (EMG) activity of the erector spinae was measured at 85% of 1-RM. Results indicated that the SM squat 1-RM load was significantly (p = 0.006) greater (10.9%) than the BB squat, but not greater than the TBB squat. EMG results indicated significantly greater (p < 0.05) muscle activation in the TBB condition compared to other conditions. The BB squat produced significantly greater (p = 0.036) EMG activity compared to the SM squat. A greater stability challenge applied to the torso seems to increase muscle activation. The maximum loads lifted in the most stable and unstable squats were similar. However, the lift with greater stability challenge required greatest muscle activation. The implications of this study may be important for training programmes; if coaches wish to challenge trunk stability, while their athletes lift maximal loads designed to increase strength.
    Sports Biomechanics 12/2014; 13(4):1-11. DOI:10.1080/14763141.2014.982697 · 0.87 Impact Factor
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    • "We recognize that this study has limitations as we did not use other variations of bench press with different bench angles, dumbells, machines and other exercises in order to compare with the barbell pullover. However , other studies (Cachio et al., 2008; Sadri et al., 2011; Schick et al., 2010; Trebs, Brandenburg, & Pitney, 2010; Welsch, Bird, & Mayhew, 2005 "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to compare the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the following muscles: cla-vicular portion of pectoralis major, sternal portion of pectoralis major, long portion of triceps brachii, anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid and latissimus dorsi during dynamic contractions between flat horizontal bench press and barbell pullover exercises. The sample comprised 12 males individuals experienced in resistance training. The volunteers made three visits to the laboratory. The first one consisted of 12 repetitions of the exercises for the electromyographic data collection. The results showed a higher EMG activation of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles in the flat horizontal bench press in comparison with the barbell pullover. The triceps brachii and latissimus dorsi muscles were more activated in the barbell pullover. Resumo—"Comparação da atividade eletromiográfica entre os exercícios supino horizontal e pull-over na barra." O objetivo do estudo foi comparar a atividade eletromiográfica dos músculos peitoral maior porção clavicular, peitoral maior porção externa, porção longa do tríceps braquial, deltóide anterior, deltóide posterior e grande dorsal durante con-trações dinâmicas entre os exercícios supino horizontal e pull-over. A amostra foi composta por 12 indivíduos do sexo masculino experientes em treinamento resistido. Os voluntários fizeram três visitas ao laboratório; a primeira consistiu na avaliação antropométrica e no teste de 1RM em ambos os exercícios, e a segunda e terceira consistiram na realização de 12 repetições para a coleta dos dados da eletromiografia. Após a análise dos resultados foi possível identificar uma ativação eletromiográfica superior dos músculos peitoral maior e deltóide anterior no supino horizontal em relação ao pull-over barra. Já as musculaturas do tríceps braquial e grande dorsal foram mais ativadas no pull-over barra. Palavras-chave: EMG, exercício, parte superior do tronco, supino, pull-over Resumen—"Comparación de la actividad electromiografíca entre los ejercicios press de banca horizontal y pull-over barra." El objetivo del estudio fue comparar la actividad electromiografíca de los músculos pectoral mayor en la porción clavicular, pectoral mayor porción esternal, porción larga del tríceps braquial, deltoides anterior, deltoides posterior y dorsal ancho durante las contracciones dinámicas entre los ejercicios press de banca y pullover. Hicieron parte de la muestra 12 individuos del sexo masculino expertos en el entrenamiento con pesas. Los voluntarios hicieran tres visitas al laboratorio, la primera, consistió en la evaluación antropométrica y en el teste de 1RM en los dos ejercicios, y la segunda y tercera, consistió en la realización de 12 repeticiones para la recolecta de los datos de la electromiografía. Después del análisis de los resultados fue posible identificar una activación electromiografíca superior en las porciones del musculo pectoral mayor y en el deltoides anterior en el press de banca horizontal en relación al pull-over barra. Ya las musculaturas del tríceps braquial y del dorsal ancho fueron las más activadas en el pull-over barra. Palabras clave: EMG, ejercicio, tren superior del tronco, press de banca, pull-over
    Motriz. Revista de Educação Física 06/2014; 20(2). DOI:10.1590/S1980-65742014000200010 · 0.09 Impact Factor
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    • "Participants completed this plyometric sequence for 3 reps, with the aim of activating the stretch-shortening cycle (Alemany et al., 2005; Villarreal et al., 2010). Although it is well known that free weights are following an S or reverse C patterns path which may also activate secondary muscles and develop the ability to react under unstable conditions producing more force and power, we decided to use a Smith machine because it is commonly used when assessing bench press power performance, since the vertical lifting bar slides along a track, allowing the participant to lift heavy weights without any assistance, increasing at the same time the safety conditions (Schick et al., 2010; Vingren et al., 2011) "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the acute effect of upper body complex training on power output, as well as to determine the requisite preload intensity and intra-complex recovery interval needed to induce power output increases. Nine amateur-level combat/martial art athletes completed four distinct experimental protocols, which consisted of 5 bench press repetitions at either: 65% of one-repetition maximum (1RM) with a 4 min rest interval; 65% of 1RM with an 8 min rest; 85% of 1RM with a 4 min rest; or 85% of 1RM with an 8 min rest interval, performed on different days. Before (pre-conditioning) and after (post-conditioning) each experimental protocol, three bench press throws at 30% of 1RM were performed. Significant differences in power output pre-post conditioning were observed across all experimental protocols (F=26.489, partial eta2=0.768, p=0.001). Mean power output significantly increased when the preload stimulus of 65% 1RM was matched with 4 min of rest (p=0.001), and when the 85% 1RM preload stimulus was matched with 8 min of rest (p=0.001). Moreover, a statistically significant difference in power output was observed between the four conditioning protocols (F= 21.101, partial eta(2)=0.913, p=0.001). It was concluded that, in complex training, matching a heavy preload stimulus with a longer rest interval, and a lighter preload stimulus with a shorter rest interval is important for athletes wishing to increase their power production before training or competition.
    Journal of Human Kinetics 12/2013; 39(1):167-75. DOI:10.2478/hukin-2013-0079 · 0.70 Impact Factor
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