Innervation zone locations distribute medially within the pectoralis major muscle during bench press exercise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Universidade Federal Do Rio de Janeiro
  • Politecnico di Torino


Changes in innervation zone (IZ) position may affect the amplitude of surface electromyograms (EMGs). If not accounted for, these changes may lead to equivocal interpretation on the degree of muscle activity from EMG amplitude. In this study we ask how much the IZ position changes within different regions of the pectoralis major (PM) during the bench press exercise. If expressive, changes in IZ position may explain the conflictual results reported on PM activation during bench press. Single-differential surface EMGs were collected from 15 regions along the PM cranial, centro-cranial, centro-caudal and caudal fibres, while 11 healthy participants gently, isometrically contracted their muscle. IZs were identified visually, from EMGs collected with the glenohumeral joint at extreme bench press positions; 20° and 110° of abduction in the horizontal plane. Except for 3 out of 88 acquisitions (4 detection sites × 2 glenohumeral angles × 11 participants), for which no phase opposition and action potential propagation were observed, IZs could be well identified. Group results revealed the IZ moved medially from 110° to 20° of glenohumeral joint abduction in the horizontal plane, regardless of the PM region from where EMGs were detected (P < 0.01). IZs were confined medially within PM, from ∼20% to ∼40% of the muscle-tendon unit length, and their position changed up to 13.3%. These results suggest that changes in the amplitude of EMGs detected mainly medially from PM may be not associated with changes in the degree of PM activity during bench press.


Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Pages (from-to)8
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Surface electromyography, Resistance training, Isometric contractions