European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 104, Issue 6, pp 937–956

A comparison of the kinematics, kinetics and muscle activity between pneumatic and free weight resistance

  • David Michael Frost
  • John Barry Cronin
  • Robert Usher Newton
Original Article


Pneumatic devices provide a resistance comprising minimal mass, possibly affording greater movement velocities, compared to free weight, while reducing the influence of momentum. Thirty men completed three testing sessions [free weight (FW), ballistic (BALL) and pneumatic (P)] each consisting of a one repetition maximum (1RM) and six sets (15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90% 1RM) of four explosive repetitions of a bench press. Dependent variables were expressed as mean and as a percentage of the concentric displacement. Significant differences (P < 0.05) were evaluated using two way repeated measures ANOVAs with Holm–Sidak post hoc comparisons. On average, the mean and peak P velocity were 36.5 and 28.3% higher than FW, and 22.9 and 19.1% higher than the BALL movements. The FW and BALL peak force were both significantly higher than the P (26.3 and 22.7% for FW and BALL, respectively). BALL mean power output was significantly higher than the FW and P at loads of 15 and 30% 1RM; however, between loads of 60–90% 1RM the highest mean power was produced with a P resistance. A 15% 1RM load maximized the peak power for each condition and no significant differences were found between the P and BALL. For loads of 45–90% 1RM the force, power and muscle activity were higher during the last 10–20% of the concentric displacement when subjects employed the P resistance. In summary, pneumatic resistance may offer specific advantages over loads comprising only mass (FW and BALL), although not without its own limitations.


Ballistic Free weight Pneumatic Power Velocity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Michael Frost
    • 1
    • 2
  • John Barry Cronin
    • 2
  • Robert Usher Newton
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia

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