This study compared the standing cable press (SCP) and the traditional bench press (BP) to better understand the biomechanical limitations of pushing from a standing position together with the activation amplitudes of trunk and shoulder muscles. A static biomechanical model (4D Watbak) was used to assess the forces that can be pushed with 2 arms in a standing position. Then, 14 recreationally trained men performed 1 repetition maximum (1RM) BP and 1RM single-arm SP exercises while superficial electromyography (EMG) of various shoulder and torso muscles was measured. The 1RM BP performance resulted in an average load (74.2 +/- 17.6 kg) significantly higher than 1RM single-arm SP (26.0 = 4.4 kg). In addition, the model predicted that pushing forces from a standing position under ideal mechanical conditions are limited to 40.8% of the subject's body weight. For the 1RM BP, anterior deltoid and pectoralis major were more activated than most of the trunk muscles. In contrast, for the 1RM single-arm SP, the left internal oblique and left latissimus dorsi activities were similar to those of the anterior deltoid and pectoralis major. The EMG amplitudes of pectoralis major and the erector muscles were larger for 1RM BP. Conversely, the activation levels of left abdominal muscles and left latissimus dorsi were higher for 1RM right-arm SP. The BP emphasizes the activation of the shoulder and chest muscles and challenges the capability to develop great shoulder torques. The SCP performance also relies on the strength of shoulder and chest musculature; however, it is whole-body stability and equilibrium together with joint stability that present the major limitation in force generation. Our EMG findings show that SCP performance is limited by the activation and neuromuscular coordination of torso muscles, not maximal muscle activation of the chest and shoulder muscles. This has implications for the utility of these exercise approaches to achieve different training goals.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association