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Dynamic Balance Abilities of Collegiate Men for the Bench Press

Piper, Timothy J.1; Radlo, Steven J.1; Smith, Thomas J.2; Woodward, Ryan W.1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 12 - p 3225–3229
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318248d789
Original Research

Abstract: Piper, TJ, Radlo, SJ, Smith, TJ, and Woodward, RW. Dynamic balance abilities of collegiate men for the bench press. J Strength Cond Res 26(12): 3225–3229, 2012—This study investigated the dynamic balance detection ability of college men for the bench press exercise. Thirty-five college men (mean ± SD: age = 22.4 ± 2.76 years, bench press experience = 8.3 ± 2.79 years, and estimated 1RM = 120.1 ± 21.8 kg) completed 1 repetition of the bench press repetitions for each of 3 bar loading arrangements. In a randomized fashion, subjects performed the bench press with a 20-kg barbell loaded with one of the following: a balanced load, one 20-kg plate on each side; an imbalanced asymmetrical load, one 20-kg plate on one side and a 20-kg plate plus a 1.25-kg plate on the other side; or an imbalanced asymmetrical center of mass, 20-kg plate on one side and sixteen 1.25-kg plates on the other side. Subjects were blindfolded and wore ear protection throughout all testing to decrease the ability to otherwise detect loads. Binomial data analysis indicated that subjects correctly detected the imbalance of the imbalanced asymmetrical center of mass condition (p[correct detection] = 0.89, p < 0.01) but did not correctly detect the balanced condition (p[correct detection] = 0.46, p = 0.74) or the imbalanced asymmetrical condition (p[correct detection] = 0.60, p = 0.31). Although it appears that a substantial shift in the center of mass of plates leads to the detection of barbell imbalance, minor changes of the addition of 1.25 kg (2.5 lb) to the asymmetrical condition did not result in consistent detection. Our data indicate that the establishment of a biofeedback loop capable of determining balance detection was only realized under a high degree of imbalance. Although balance detection was not present in either the even or the slightly uneven loading condition, the inclusion of balance training for upper body may be futile if exercises are unable to establish such a feedback loop and thus eliciting an improvement of balance performance.

1Kinesiology Department, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois

2Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois

Address correspondence to Timothy J. Piper,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association