Electromyography (EMG) exercise evaluation is commonly used to measure intensity of muscle contraction. While researchers assume that biomechanically comparable resistance exercises with similar high EMG levels will produce similar strength gains over the long term, no studies have actually corroborated this hypothesis. This study evaluated EMG levels during 6-repetition maximum (6RM) bench press and push-up, and subsequently performed a 5-week training period where subjects were randomly divided into 3 groups (i.e., 6RM Bench press group, 6RM Elastic band push-up group or control group) to evaluate muscle strength gains. Thirty university students with advanced resistance training experience participated in the two-part study. During the training period, exercises were performed using the same loads and variables that were used during the EMG data collection. At baseline, EMG amplitude showed no significant difference between 6RM bench press and band push-up. Significant differences among the groups were found for percent change ([DELTA]) between pre-test and post-test for 6RM (p=0.017) and for 1-repetition maximum (1RM) (p<0.001). 6RM Bench press group and 6RM Elastic band push-up group improved their 1RM and 6RM ([DELTA] ranging from 13.65 to 22.21) tests significantly with similar gains, whereas Control group remain unchanged. Thus, when the EMG values are comparable and the same conditions are reproduced, the aforementioned exercises can provide similar muscle strength gains.
Copyright (C) 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.