Shoulder Flexion Torque Is Augmented by a Volitional Abdominal Isometric Contraction

Paul A. Cacolice, Athletic Training Program, Movement Science, Sport and Leisure Studies, Westfield State University, Westfield, Massachusetts.
Christopher R. Carcia, Physical Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology Colorado Mesa University; and.
Jason S. Scibek, Athletic Department of Athletic Training, John G. Rangos, Sr., School of Health Sciences, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Cacolice, PA, Carcia, CR, and Scibek, JS. Shoulder flexion torque is augmented by a volitional abdominal isometric contraction. J Strength Cond Res 35(4): 920-923, 2021-A stable core provides a solid base to facilitate effective extremity function. It is unclear whether an individual is able to produce a greater amount of upper extremity torque while performing a volitional core contraction when compared with the independent contraction that occurs subconsciously. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether peak shoulder flexion torque values were different with and without a concurrent volitional core isometric contraction. Thirty healthy, recreationally active college-aged students participated. Surface electromyography from the rectus abdominis (RA) was captured using a telemetry system interfaced with a software acquisition system and personal computer. In a counterbalanced alternating order, subjects completed 3 trials of maximal isometric shoulder flexion at 90° with and without a volitional abdominal contraction. Percent activation of the RA was greater when subjects volitionally contracted their core (15.8 ± 12.7%) compared with the subconscious contracted condition (6.3 ± 4.8%) (p ≤ 0.001). Isometric shoulder flexion peak torque was greater when the core was actively contracted (44.6 ± 18.9 N × m) compared with when the core was recruited subconsciously (30.7 ± 15.7 N × m) (p ≤ 0.001). These findings suggest the clinician should encourage the individual to activate their core musculature when performing upper extremity strength activities.