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Is EMG Testing True or Fake?


Does emg testing really show which exercise is the best or is it not correct?


Can't prove it, but I don't think it proves much. Too many variables. Basically, if you're better at firing your lats with one-arm pulldowns than with bent rows, the emg is going to show that one-arm pulldowns is the best. But if I'm better at recruiting them with bent rows, the emg would show completely different results.

I'll stick with trial-and-error, listening to experience, and changing my routine a bit every now and then. Throw in some "do it til it doesn't suck" when you find a lift you're not good at, and you've got a recipe for success.


Basically, this. Yep.

EMG results are definitely interesting, and something to keep in the back of your mind as you travel down the lifting road, but ultimately, you've got to figure out what works best for your body.

For example, Bret Contreras had a great multi-part article series doing EMG testing on different exercises throughout the body:

In his testing for the lats, he found much higher EMG reading/lat activation on neutral-grip pull-ups than neutral-grip pulldowns. So, according the the EMG, pull-ups are "better" for the lats. Problem is, for me there's almost no exercise that hits my lats better than neutral-grip pulldowns.

Should I do more pull-ups just because the EMG says so? No, I don't believe so. But again, the "best" exercises are something you figure out as you rack up more years in the gym.


Yeah so i read trough those articles and it seems like this guy has found the best exercises, but then i saw something weird, in the chest and triceps article he says that dumbbell press is better than traditional barbell bench press.

Well, i can do 75 Kg for 6 reps, but i can't do 37,5 kg for 6 reps which is half the weigh on each hand, that equates to me being able to move more weight when using barbell compared to using dumbbell, so how in the heck can dumbbell have more muscle activation?? you need to activate a certain number of muscle fibers to move a certain amount of weight, so you know, it makes no sense.

But say with the dumbbell row, i can use 36 kg for 8 reps each arm, but i can in no way lift 72 kg barbell row for 8 reps. even tough it's essentially the same movements.

So that led me to believe that it's more individual you know, we are built differently and respond differently to different exercises, rendering the article as more of a guideline not accurate fact.



I read half of the above post.

Barbells allow for more weight to be used because less stabilization is needed.

That has nothing to do with how much work the PECS need to do to move the weight. There is a lot more to say about this but its pointless unless youre trying to become an expert at this (not saying I am). Research this stuff on your own if you need more information about the difference between dumbells and barbells.

Ill leave off with this. If moving the most amount of weight was the most important aspect of getting bigger, why would dumbells even exist? Or as a more realistic question, why would a bodybuilder ever use them?


The reason why you can lift more weight is because you dont have to balance as much and theres more muscles that tie in when using a barbell compared to a dumbell, kind of like I can lift a lot with a machine but not as much with a barbell nor dumbells, the machine balances the weight for me