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Effects of 5 Weeks of Bench Press Training on Muscle Synergies: A Randomized Controlled Study

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Kristiansen, M, Samani, A, Madeleine, P, and Hansen, EA. Effects of 5 weeks of bench press training on muscle synergies: A randomized controlled study. J Strength Cond Res 30(7): 1948–1959, 2016—The ability to perform forceful muscle contractions has important implications in sports performance and in activities of daily living. However, there is a lack of knowledge on adaptations in intermuscular coordination after strength training. The purpose of this study was therefore to assess muscle synergies before and after 5 weeks of bench press training. Thirty untrained male subjects were randomly allocated to a training group (TRA) or a control group (CON). After the pretest, TRA completed 5 weeks of bench press training, before completing a posttest, whereas subjects in CON continued their normal life. During test sessions, surface electromyography (EMG) was recorded from 13 different muscles. Muscle synergies were extracted from EMG data using nonnegative matrix factorization. To evaluate differences between pretest and posttest, we performed a cross-correlation analysis and a cross-validation analysis, in which the synergy components extracted in the pretest session were recomputed, using the fixed synergy components from the posttest session. Two muscle synergies accounted for 90% of the total variance and reflected the concentric and eccentric phase, respectively. TRA significantly increased 3 repetition maximum in bench press with 19.0% (25th; 75th percentile, 10.3%; 21.7%) (p < 0.001), whereas no change occurred in CON. No significant differences were observed in synergy components between groups. However, decreases in correlation values for intragroup comparisons in TRA may suggest that the synergy components changed, whereas this was not the case in CON. Strength and conditioning professionals may consider monitoring changes in muscle synergies in training and rehabilitation programs as a way to benchmark changes in intermuscular coordination.
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Keywords: bilateral arm movement; motor modules; muscle coordination; neural adaptations; resistance training; weight training

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2016

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