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Jaw Clenching and Upper Body Training

Study shows that the technique can increase muscle activation and force production.

Jaw Clenching

Jaw clenching without a mouthguard can work as a strategy to enhance isometric muscle contraction in the upper body, according to a study reported in the Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness (2023; doi: 10.1016/j.jesf.2022.12.004). Debate over whether use of a mouthguard and clenching the jaw during resistance training enhances performance continues. The current study compared no clenching with the use of clenching with and without a mouthguard, on jaw and prime mover muscle activation and force production during a handgrip, bench press and biceps curl. Researchers found no significant differences in isometric force production or prime mover muscle activation, between groups who clenched with and without a mouthguard. Jaw clenching, however, produced significantly better results and may be useful to enhance upper body strength training.

See also: Isometric Training Can Help With Hypertension

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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