The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in activation levels and times of activation for the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid when performing the concentric phase of 3 upper-body lifts. Twelve college-age men and women with various degrees of lifting experience performed 3 repetitions using the 6 repetition maximum in a barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press, and dumbbell fly while being monitored for electromyographic activity in both muscles. Motor unit activation of both muscles was not significantly different during all 3 lifts. However, dumbbell flys had significantly less relative time of activation than did barbell or dumbbell bench presses. Therefore, dumbbell flys may be better suited as an auxiliary lift, whereas barbell and dumbbell bench presses may be used interchangeably in training programs. The compatibility of the barbell and dumbbell bench presses may aid lifters in overcoming training plateaus by alternating exercises for the same muscle groups.
(C) 2005 National Strength and Conditioning Association