Increased deltoid and abdominal muscle activity during swiss ball bench press. J. Strength Cond. Res. 20(4):745–750. 2006.

Marshall PWM, Murphy BA.

Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Auckland, Tamaki Campus, Auckland, New Zealand


The swiss is widely used in the recreational training environment as a supplement to conventional resistance training. One such application is to use the swiss ball as a bench support for bench press exercise. There is no evidence to indicate that the use of a swiss ball is beneficial for resistance training exercise. This study investigated muscle activity using surface electromyography of upper-body and abdominal muscles during the concentric and eccentric phases of the bench press on and off a swiss ball. Volunteers for this study were 14 resistance-trained subjects who performed isolated concentric and eccentric bench press repetitions using the 2 test surfaces with a 2-second cadence at a load equivalent to 60% maximum force output. The average root mean square of the muscle activity was calculated for each movement, and perceived exertion during the tasks was collected using a Borg Scale. The results of the study showed that deltoid and abdominal muscle activity was increased for repetitions performed using the swiss ball. Increased deltoid muscle activity supports previous findings for increased activity when greater instability is introduced to the bench press movement. Abdominal muscle activity increases were not hypothesized, but this finding provides scientific evidence for anecdotal reasoning behind swiss ball use as a potential core stability training device.