Optimal load for maximizing upper-body power: Test-retest reproducibility

Document Type

Journal Article


IOS Press

Place of Publication



School of Medical and Health Sciences


Originally published as: Garcia-Ramos, A., Haff, G. G., Paial, P., & Feriche, B. (2016). Optimal load for maximizing upper-body power: Test-retest reproducibility. Isokinetics and Exercise Science, 24(2), 115-124. Available here


BACKGROUND: The load that maximizes power output, commonly called "optimal load", has received wide attention for training and testing purposes. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the reproducibility in the determination of the load that maximizes mean power (MP), mean propulsive power (MPP), and peak power (PP) during the bench press (BP) and bench press throw (BPT) exercises. METHODS: Twenty-two men conducted 4 evaluations after a preliminary BP 1-repetition maximum (1RM) determination. In a counterbalanced order, subjects performed 2 sessions of BP in one week and 2 sessions of BPT in another week. MP, MPP, and PP at each tenth percentile (20-70% of 1RM) were recorded on each testing day. Two procedures were used to determine the individual optimal load: (1) Absolute: individual load with the highest power output; (2) Predicted: obtained from the parabolic load-power relationship. RESULTS: While acceptable reproducibility was found for MP in both exercises and procedures (ICC: 0.85-0.96; CV: 2.7%-12.2%), low reproducibility was obtained for MPP (ICC:-0.20-0.60; CV: 21.1%-29.3%), and PP (ICC: 0.42-0.78; CV: 17.8%-20.9%). CONCLUSIONS: The low reproducibility associated with the determination of the optimal load suggests that it may be unnecessary to look for a single optimal load for training