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What is the difference in muscle recruitment during a press-up exercise with different hand positions?

Introduction The press-up exercise is often utilised to develop upper-body strength (Cogley et al., 2005), endurance (Wurm et al., 2010), and power (Vossen et al., 2000). Variations exist, individualising the exercise for performers in order to maximise efficacy (Cogley et al., 2005), but little empirical research has quantified the muscular demands of these variations (Tucker et al., 2009). Only one piece of contemporary literature (Cogley et al., 2005) has explored the effect of changing hand position on muscular activation patterns during a press-up. Cogley et al. (2005) concluded that triceps brachii (TB) muscle activation increased significantly (p = 0.026) in a narrow base (NB) stance versus a shoulder width (SW) position, the same was true for the pectoralis major (PM) (p = 0.009). However they did not assess the sEMG (surface electromyogram) of the anterior deltoid muscle (AD), which is vital in the press-up (Mozumdar et al., 2010). Therefore the aim of this study was to analyse the effect of different hand positions during a press-up on the activation pattern of the TB, PM, and the, AD. Methodology One healthy man volunteered to partake (age: 21 years; height: 182 cm; body mass: 81 kg). Following explanation of the aim, protocol, and potential risks of the study, the subject supplied written informed consent. The University of Chichester granted ethical approval. Subject skin sites were prepared following S.E.N.I.A.M. protocols (Hermens et al., 1999). Pairs of disposable Ag-AgCl surface electrodes (ECG Electrodes, Ambu A/S, Ballerup, DK) were placed, with an interelectrode distance of 2.5 cm, bilaterally onto the belly of the [reference electrode position]; TB [olecranum], the sternal portion of the PM [sternum], and the AD [acromion], in accordance with Kasman et al. (2002). Electrodes were placed on the right side of the body to avoid electrocardiogram crosstalk (Goodman et al., 2008),

and taped down to eliminate mechanical artefacts (Trker, 1993). The subject then performed standard five-second maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVIC) (McKenzie et al., 2010),enabling sEMG trial

normalisation. After which, the subject then executed two sets of three pressups using different hand positions; shoulder width (SW), NB, and WB. Raw sEMG signals, collected at 500 Hz, were then full wave rectified, before a low-pass Butterworth filter with a cut-off frequency of 10 Hz was applied (Yu et al., 1999), using Myodat 5.0 Software (MIE Medical research Ltd, Leeds, UK) to create a linear envelope (Soderberg and Knutson, 2000). Peak values were obtained from each muscle during each repetition for later analysis. Data were analysed using SPSS version 18.0 for Windows (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) using a two-way repeated measures analysis of variance (Field, 2009); percentage differences between conditions were also calculated. Significance was set at 0.05. Results Hand position did not significantly affect muscle activation (p = 0.729). Descriptive statistics are shown in Table 1. Discussion The TB was activated 4.45% less in NB, and 1.48% more in WB than in SW. The PM was activated 1.13% more in NB and 0.44% more in WB than in SW. This contradicts Cogley et al. (2005), perhaps because in the present study hand spacing was standardised, instead of being normalised which could potentially recruit different muscles in the shoulder girdle, which would mean less isolation of the desired muscles. The AD was activated 0.53% more in NB and 0.73% more in WB than in SW, showing that WB activates the AD slightly more. These results may help a strength coachs regime planning with a plateauing athlete. Conclusion Performing press-ups in NB does not significantly enhance muscle activation of the AD, TB, or PM.

References
Cogley, R.M., Archambault, T.E., Fiberger, J.F., Koverman, M.M., Youdas, J.M. and Hollman, J.H. (2005). Comparison of muscle activation using various hand positions during the push up exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 19, 628-633. Field, A. (2009). Discovering Statistics Using SPSS: (And Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll). Islington, LDN: Sage Publications. Goodman, C.A., Pearce, A.J., Nicholes, C.J., Gatt, B.M. and Fairweather, I.H. (2008). No difference in 1RM strength and muscle activation during the barbell chest press on a stable and unstable surface. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22, 88-94. Hermens, H.J., Freriks, B., Merletti, R., Stegeman, D., Blok, J., Rau, G., DisselhorstKlug, C. and Hgg, G. (1999). Seniam 8: European recommendations for surface electromyography. Enschende, OV: Roessingh Research and Development. Kasman, G.S. and Wolf, S. (2002). Surface EMG Made Easy: A Beginners Guide for Rehabilitation Clinicians. Scottsdale, AZ: Noraxon Inc. Mozumdar, A., Liguori, G. and Baumgartner, T.A. (2010). Additional revised push-up test norms for college students. Measurement in Physical Education & Exercise Science, 14, 61-66. Soderberg, G.L. and Knutson, L.M. (2000). A guide for use and interpretation of kinesiologic electromyographic data. Physical Therapy, 5, 485-498. Tucker, S.W., Gilbert, M.L., Gribble, P.A. and Campbell, B.M. (2009). Effects of hand placement on scapular muscle activation during the push-up plus exercise. The Journal for the Praticing Clinician, 1, 107-113. Trker, K.S. (1993). Electromyography: Some methodological problems and issues. Physical Therapy, 73, 698-710. Vossen, J.F., Kramer, J.F., Burke, D.G. and Vossen, D.P. (2000). Comparison of dynamic push-up training and plyometric push-up training on upper-body power and strength. Journal of Strength Conditoning Research. 14, 248-253. Weede, T. and Kraemer, W.J. (2002). Muscle and fitness blueprint for arms. Muscle Fitness Insert. Wurm, B., VanderZanden, T.L., Spadavecchia, M., Durocher, J., Bickham, C., Petushek, E.J. and Ebben, W.P. (2010). Kinetic analysis of several variations of push-ups. International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sport - Conference Proceedings Archive, 28.

Appendices Table. 1 Shows meanSD between conditions (n =1).


Tricep Brachii 110.1413. 36 105.4619. 98 103.9019. 01 Anterior Deltoid 139.746.3 1 140.4440. 56 139.4241. 37 Pectoralis Major 125.6850. 72 127.1159. 9 126.5566. 13

Narrow Base Should er Width Wide Base