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Effect of Bench Press Load Knowledge on One Repetition Maximum Strength

Snarr, Ronald L. PhD; Adams, Kara BS; Cook, Jordan BS

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 01, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003096
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Snarr, RL, Adams, K, and Cook, J. Effect of bench press load knowledge on one repetition maximum strength. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—Knowledge of a given load and visual feedback are crucial while performing a given task. Although previous literature has examined the consequences of lifting a submaximal weight, the removal of load knowledge has yet to be examined under maximal effort. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to examine the differences in 1 repetition maximum (1RM) bench press values between a known and unknown external load. Twenty resistance-trained subjects (10 male subjects and 10 female subjects) completed 2 trials of a 1RM bench press protocol separated by 48–72 hours. The two 1RM trials consisted of (a) a traditional 1RM lift in which participants could see the external load and (b) a 1RM lift in which the external load was blocked from view of the subject. Trials were randomized for all participants. Results indicated that no differences were observed when the load was known vs. unknown within all subjects (p = 0.094; Cohen's d = 0.03; intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.99). In addition, 40% decreased and 15% increased their 1RM, despite the unknown condition. A statistical difference was found between the initial 1RM estimation vs. measured 1RM during the known load trial (p = 0.034, Cohen's d = 0.07). Practitioners should note that load knowledge before a maximal lift does not appear to present any significant detrimental effects on performance. Therefore, training during a “blinded” condition may present a unique modality and additional balance component that would not be presented during a traditional maximal lift. Further examination of attentional focus and muscle activation differences are warranted.

Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia

Address correspondence to Dr. Ronald L. Snarr, rsnarr@georgiasouthern.edu.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.