How To Bench Press For MAX Reps | Football Combine Bench Press Tips
The combine bench press rep out is typically a test only utilized to test football players in high-school, college and entering the NFL. A lot of times, this test is used by college recruiters. They want to know some compile of information besides just what the tape showcases. How strong is the athlete's upper body? And, how much strength endurance can the athlete demonstrate with the upper body?
What is the bench press rep out? For high school athletes, they will use 185 lbs. College athletes and those who put the work in and have demonstrated the talent to be considered for the pros will use 225 lbs. These weights are achievable. Here at Garage Strength we have had high school athletes rep 225 lbs for over twenty reps. That’s a tremendous display of strength at such a young age!
Equipped with information, college kids need to be able to bench 225 lbs. High school kids are given a fair assessment at 185 lbs. So, what is it?
We have three key points we want to focus on as far as pressure points during performance. Taking the bar off the rack, we want to see the athlete:
- Learn how to utilize breathing effectively
- Utilize the range of motion as effectively as possible
- We want to see what type of grit athletes have, as well as the focus they showcase and the speed at which they trudge through the test
Athletes need to have:
- Structural integrity in the shoulders
- Be stable in the shoulders
- Need to have strong pecs, triceps and shoulders
- Strength endurance
Some coaches will say, “Ahh...it doesn’t really transfer over.” We disagree. To begin, the test shows if the athlete has been training. It’s an easy test. Twenty one year old athletes who can’t bench press 225 lbs for twenty reps hasn’t been training that hard or well. Same thing in high school, ten reps easy at 185 lbs.
However, the key comes in when the athletes get into that 15, 20, or 25 rep range. Now we can see some things materialize with the athlete. How hard will the athlete grind through? How much does the athlete push themselves? How effective is the athlete at making themselves get that last rep? Answering the following questions: will the athlete push through and find the strength in the fourth quarter to come out victorious? Or, will the athlete putter out and give up that game winning score?
On top of those latent skills of winners, the bench press for reps test also shows us that off the ball punch, exemplified by offensive and defensive linemen. But the horizontal pressing movement isn’t reserved for only the athletes in the trenches. D-backs give a little jab or push, knocking the receiver off their intended path. Take a running back clocking the defender with a stiff arm. Guess what? That strength is a transfer from the bench press.
The bench press may not be the greatest exercise of all time, but it sure is excellent and has great transfer to the football field.
Let’s take a look at how to maximize repetitions for the bench press rep out test by answering the following question:
How can athletes hit an all time best performing the bench press for reps test?
1. Establish A Good Foundation
We want to cue the athlete to squeeze their scabs as if hugging their spine. We want to see the scap retraction when they lay down on the bench for the first of three points of contact. The second point of contact will be from the glutes. The athlete needs to be squeezing their butt cheeks to create a nice shelf that connects from the glutes to the scaps. From there, the athlete wants to grab the floor with the feet. The feet need to be almost directly under the knees. That pressure goes into the glutes, which goes into the scaps. The athlete sets the shoulders back to help establish that range of motion, with the elbows at a 45 degrees while pressing. While warming up with lighter weights, think a big chest filled with air to decrease that range of motion from contact to extension.
2. Utilize The Bench Press To Build A Bigger Bench Press
Sounds obvious, we know. What we are getting at though is athletes who may flair their elbows out to send the press to their shoulders. This typically means the athlete has weak triceps. On the flip, if the athlete pinches their elbows tend to have weaker shoulders and stronger triceps. As a coach we can target the strength endurance by taking accessory movements that will strengthen the athlete’s weaknesses. For example, an athlete who flairs out because of weak shoulders, we will target their triceps with accessory movements to help them be able to persevere when the reps begin to enter that 20/25+ range.
3. Breathing With Big Inhalation
Another trick we love using is having our athletes take three deep breaths. On the third breath we have them hold their breath and perform as many push ups until failure. This will be done two to three times a week. This will help athletes execute the initial phases of the combine bench press rep out. This can be done with dips as well. It will help muscles oxygenate a little bit longer and thus allow the athlete to get more reps, especially in the late phases when grit and determination have to overcome muscle failure.
The combine bench press for reps test not only showcases upper body strength and upper body endurance, but highlights an athlete's grit and determination to push through when everything seems to want to stop working. Besides the bench press’s transfer to the football field for linemen, stiff arming running backs and bump and run corners, the movement creates shoulder integrity and stability that is tantamount to the health of football players from high school up into the professional ranks.
Remember when performing this movement to create three points of contact, starting with retracted scaps, before squeezing the glutes and grabbing the floor with the foot nearly directly aligned under the knees. Remember in training to utilize creating a bigger bench press to build the ability to hammer out more reps in the test. Finally, don’t forget to implement breathing exercises to increase the oxygenation to the muscles to help find the power to lock out at the concluding reps.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.