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BENCH PRESS FAILURE
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New research indicates the sticking point is of minor concern in bench press failures

The sticking point. That term is perhaps the most frustrating phrase in all of weight training. As you all know, the sticking point is where your lift will fail. Sure, this might not be critical for you if you lift weights solely for the purpose of enhancing your strength and powerfor another sport, as compared to the competitive powerlifter, but nevertheless, a frustrating experience. You trained hard and it is time to test your strength, only to fail at the sticking point. And so you decide that you need to increase your strength at the sticking point so that next time around you will succeed. But is the sticking point really where your failure occurs?

Power Key: benchpress, failure, muscle activity, sticking point

Van Den Tillaar, R., and G. Ettema. A comparison of successful and unsuccessful attempts in maximal bench pressing. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 41(11):2056-2063, 2009.
PHOTO: SHAWN WARREN

Original Research

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MOST LIFTERS BELIEVE THAT TRAINING TO INCREASE STRENGTH IN THE STICKING POINT WILL INCREASE BENCH PRESSSUCCESS. THAT’S LIMITED THINKING.

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Journal of Pure Power • Volume V, Number 1

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the test of upper-body strength. You lie face up on a bench and take a loaded much strength and power as you can most, if not all, strength and power sticking point. but was clearly visible at 90% loads. point where the initial velocity of theyour chest with as much control as you however, one thing to consider: TVmin. barbell as it blasts off your chest has decreased the most, before it starts to athletes and coaches simply call it the on it in JOPP before. To illustrate, one increase again until you lock out. Most That is the scientific designation of the

barbell from full arm’s extension down to muster. This exercise maximallystresses chest and thus has become a staple for lift in the sport of powerlifting. There is, this phenomenon, and we have reported Of course scientists have looked into

can and then blast it off your chest with as the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and athletes, not to mention being a contested present at loads of 75% 1-rep max (1-RM) study found that the sticking point was not

NEED POWER?16

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For good reason, the bench press is

chest and front portion of your deltoids do strength per se, but by the delay in switching from maximal triceps contraction to maximal chest and front you experience significant contractions during the upward movement of the off your chest, there is actually peak front delts show peak activity. Those point is caused not by a lack of musclebarbell. However, as you blast the barbell muscle output coming from your triceps. researchers concluded that the sticking Then, as you reach TVmin, your pecs and

Another study postulated that the failure you experience during the sticking point occurs because your of the bar’s weight. Though this might research. applied force against the loaded barbell is below the magnitude seem sort of obvious, ofcourse that is what scientists do and PRs if you apply what you learn from that is why you end up blasting through Another study found that only in the it is only so if you do not dig deeper. And

deltoid contraction.

Researchers concluded that the sticking point is caused not by a lack of muscle strength per se.

to examine the kinematics (a science the body) and muscle activity period,not just at TVmin. Point vs. Period

concerned with movements of the parts of characteristics in a successful max bench press and an unsuccessful max bench one set of muscles to another occurs during a period of time as opposed to the one specific moment of minimal barbell had at least one year of bench pressing would occur at various points during that experience. The task was to test their...
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