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The Effects of Ballistic and Nonballistic Bench Press on Mechanical Variables

Moir, Gavin L.; Munford, Shawn N.; Moroski, Lindsey L.; Davis, Shala E.

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 12 - p 3333–3339
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001835
Original Research

Moir, GL, Munford, SN, Moroski, LL, Davis, SE. The effects of ballistic and nonballistic bench press on mechanical variables. J Strength Cond Res 32(12): 3333–3339, 2018—The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ballistic and nonballistic bench press performed with loads equivalent to 30 and 90% 1 repetition maximum (1RM) on mechanical variables. Eleven resistance-trained men (age: 23.0 ± 1.4 years; mass: 98.4 ± 14.4 kg) attended 4 testing sessions where they performed one of the following sessions: (a) 3 sets of 5 nonballistic repetitions performed with a load equivalent to 30% 1RM (30N-B), (b) 3 sets of 5 ballistic repetitions performed with a load equivalent to 30% 1RM (30B), (c) 3 sets of 4 nonballistic repetitions with a load equivalent to 90% 1RM (90N-B), or (d) 3 sets of 4 ballistic repetitions with a load equivalent to 90% 1RM (90B). Force plates and a 3-dimensional motion analysis system were used to determine the velocity, force, power output (PO), and work during each repetition. The heavier loads resulted in significantly greater forces applied to the barbell (mean differences: 472–783 N, p < 0.001), but lower barbell velocities (mean differences: 0.85–1.20 m·s−1, p < 0.001) and PO (mean differences: 118–492 W, p ≤ 0.022). The ballistic conditions enhanced the mechanical variables only at the lower load, with 30B producing significantly greater force (mean difference: 263 N, p < 0.001), velocity (mean difference: 0.33 m·s−1, p < 0.001), and PO (mean difference: 335 W, p < 0.001) compared with 30N-B. Furthermore, the increase in PO across the 3 sets in 30B was significantly different from all other conditions (p = 0.013). The total mechanical work performed was significantly greater for the conditions with the heavier loads compared with those with the lighter loads (mean differences: 362–5,600 J, p < 0.001) and that performed during the ballistic conditions was significantly greater than that performed during the nonballistic conditions with the same load (mean differences: 945–1,030 J, p < 0.001). Ballistic bench press may be an effective exercise for developing PO, and multiple sets may elicit postactivation potentiation that enhances force production. However, these benefits may be negated at heavier loads.

Department of Exercise Science, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Address correspondence to Dr. Gavin L. Moir,

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.