Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Exercise Therapy -- methods


Both closed kinetic chain and open kinetic chain activities are common in rehabilitation involving the lower extremity and the upper extremity. Although closed chain activities are performed regularly in the rehabilitation setting for the upper extremity, there has been little or no research proving that these activities are better, worse, or the same as open chain activities. Therefore, the purpose of this research project was to compare muscle activity in both open and closed chain exercises in the upper extremity and determine if there is a difference in the two forms of exercise. Five healthy subjects without previous shoulder or elbow pathology volunteered for this study. The subjects performed a push-up exercise and a bench press exercise with 45% of their body weight while electromyographic data of four upper extremity muscles and elbow range of motion data was recorded. The four muscles studied were the pectoralis major, the biceps brachii, the triceps, and the serratus anterior. The results showed that the triceps and biceps brachii had a higher percentage of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) during the push-up than the bench press. However, the pectoralis major and serratus anterior had a higher percentage of MVC during the bench press than the push-up. It was concluded that elbow musculature was recruited in a higher percentage of MVC in the closed chain exercise than the open chain exercise. Likewise, the shoulder musculature was recruited in a higher percentage in the open chain than in the closed chain. However, in most of the cases the differences were quite small.