Take Home Point for Bench Press in Men and Women
Sex-to-sex differences are not well researched or understood,
yet many people expect the same results when men and women lift. Understanding differences by sex would help maximize performance for each gender by increasing the overload stress.
Flannagan (2013) had ten resistance-trained men (~25.2 years) and ten resistance-trained women (~25.4 years) perform one of three randomly assigned, randomized conditions during three visits. The visits included:
1) 85% 1-RM eccentric to failure
2) 85% 1-RM concentric to failure
3) 85% 1-RM combined to failure
Both sexes had differences between the three muscle actions. The number of repetitions decreased from eccentric to combination to concentric. No significant differences were noted in repetition amount in the squat, but women performed significantly more repetitions on the eccentric and concentric muscle actions of the bench press. Men performed more combined repetitions.
Overall, men appear to rely more on the stretch shortening cycle, especially on upper body lifts.
If working with men and women, using a slower lifting speed will likely stress men more than women, especially in the upper body. However, faster tempos could pose more of a challenge to women, likely due to different muscle architecture (less type II fibers in the upper body).
- Flanagan SD, Mills MD, Sterczala AJ, Maladouangdock J, Comstock BA, Szivak TK, Dupont WH, Looney DP, McDermott DM, Hooper DR, White MT, Dunn-Lewis C, Volek JS, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ.The Relationship between Muscle Action and Repetition Maximum on the Squat and Bench Press in Men and Women. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Dec 13. [Epub ahead of print]