The NFL Combine Bench Press is among the most recognizable drills at the Scouting Combine. It is a relatively straightforward test where the prospect lies flat on a bench and lifts 225 pounds for as many repetitions as possible. The NFL Combine Bench Press results offer scouts and team owners a baseline to compare players in terms of upper body muscle strength and stamina.
While all football players need to be tough, the Combine Bench Press improves draft stock for offensive and defensive linemen the most. As players manning the most physically demanding positions in the gridiron, the Bench Press allows them to showcase their potential to disrupt the line of scrimmage.
Here’s a look at the NFL Combine Bench Press test. We get into the details of how this drill works and the tips and exercises that athletes use to improve their NFL Combine Bench records.
The best NFL Combine Bench Press Record is often regarded as a badge of honor by athletes drafted into the league.
Former Eastern Kentucky defensive tackle Justin Ernest boasts the most Bench Press reps in the NFL Combine at 51 repetitions in 1999. Unfortunately, the NFL did not recognize this record because Justin went undrafted. On the other hand, the worst NFL Combine Bench Press record belongs to former Redskins cornerback, Fred Smoot who managed only one rep.
These are the top 5 Bench Press records in history:
The most popular event at the NFL Combine, the 40-yard dash, indicates a prospect’s acceleration, speed, agility and quickness. John Ross currently holds the fastest 40-yard dash run at 4.22 seconds (2017), closely followed by Chris Johnson, who ran a 4.24 at the 2008 NFL Combine.
The Vertical Jump in the NFL Combine is a measure of a football player’s explosive power. The highest Vertical Jump record in the history of the NFL belongs to North Carolina Safety Gerald Sensabaugh at 46 inches at the 2005 Combine. The second-highest Vertical Jump is by Penn State linebacker Cameron Wake who delivered a 45.5” at the same Combine.
Like the Vertical Jump, the NFL Broad Jump drill is a reliable indicator of explosiveness. Scouts also use it to evaluate NFL Draft hopefuls’ lower body strength- an important attribute to possess, especially for safeties, linebackers and offensive and defensive linemen. Byron James, the former UConn Cornerback, holds the record for the longest Broad Jump in the NFL. Byron delivered a 12’3” Broad Jump at the 2015 NFL Combine Testing to crush Jamie Collins’ 2013 record of 11’7” by 0.6 inches.
The 3-cone drill (also known as the L-drill) is primarily run to measure speed, agility, change of direction and balance. Oklahoma CB Jordan Thomas has the best 3-cone drill time of 6.28 seconds. His performance in 2018 crushed the previous 2011 3-cone drill record by Jeff Maehl by 0.14 seconds.
The Shuttle Drill (commonly referred to as the 5-10-5 drill) also tests acceleration, speed and change-of-direction. This event improves draft stock for Wide Receivers, Running Backs and Pass Rushers the most. The fastest shuttle drill time recorded is 3.73 seconds by former Wide Receiver Kevin Kasper in 2001.
In this fitness drill, the prospects run 5, 10, and 15 yards, down and back to complete 60 yards. Football scouts use the 60-yard shuttle drill to measure an athlete’s speed endurance. This drill also evaluates the ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction safely. The best NFL Combine 60-yard shuttle time recorded is by Shelton Gibson at 10.71 seconds in 2017.
The Wonderlic test is an IQ test used to estimate the intelligence of the players. The Wonderlic test in the NFL Combine Testing requires the prospects to attempt 50 questions in 12 minutes. The average score is 20 out of 50. The highest Wonderlic score in NFL history belongs to Pat McInally (50/50), followed by Mike Mamula (49) and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who scored 48 points.
On the other side of the spectrum, Darren Davis has the lowest Wonderlic Test score in NFL Combine history at 4 out of 50.
Push-ups are easily one of the best workouts for improving the bench press. That is because push-ups are essentially inverted bench presses. Both activities target the same muscle fibers and boast similar gains in upper body strength.
Kick-throughs are a whole body workout that challenges and strengthens the core, glutes and shoulders. In addition to upper body strength, these exercises also improve balance and coordination.
Barbell rows are integral to bench press because they train explosiveness besides developing more muscle mass and a strong back. These benefits carry over to the bench press by strengthening the front delts, triceps and pecs.
The Spoto press is named after Eric Spoto- an American wrestler and one of the most reputable powerlifters in the world. This movement is identical to a paused bench press in that it involves holding the weight midair for a second. The only difference here is that the barbell is halted 1-2 inches over the chest.
Levitating the barbell midair forces the body to engage more muscles like the triceps and shoulders to boost stability. Doing Spoto presses regularly develops pressing power at the bottom of the lift and helps with muscle hypertrophy.
The shoulder press is considered a Combine Bench Press enhancer because it develops most of the large muscles in the body, including deltoids, pectorals, triceps and trapezius.
Holding the weight overhead for 2-3 seconds helps with upper back and shoulder development. The athlete also gets comfortable with stabilizing a lot of weight above their head.
Warming up before lifting a heavy weight helps activate more muscles, particularly the arm, pectoral and shoulder muscles. Recruiting more muscles means that more fibers are at work, making it possible to push more weight. Also, simple mobility warm-ups like shuffling, skipping and jogging will fire up the heart rate, dramatically increasing the blood flow to the muscles.
Avoid bouncing the bar on the chest
If your athletes have to bounce the bar off their chest, the chances are that it’s heavier for them. The barbell should touch the body only so lightly to maximize strength development. Advise your players to pause the bench for a few seconds, an inch or two over the chest, to train muscular tension.
Focus on the 8RM and 2x2 rules
Repetition maximum (RM) refers to the weight an individual can lift for a defined number of consecutive movements. For instance, if an athlete can press 200 lbs for six reps, his rep Max for that weight is 6RM. If an athlete can do two more reps with the same weight for two consecutive workout sessions, the 2x2 rule suggests adding the load.
Have a spotter nearby
It’s dangerous to bench press without a spotter unless the power rack has safety pins (catches). Safety aside, a spotter helps the player lift off the barbell to the starting position without undoing his posture. Secondly, there’s a reason why cheering is encouraged at the NFL Combine Bench Press drill: prospects push their fellow athletes to give their all. That’s what a good spotter does during regular training.
Pause before descent
Nothing helps break through plateaus more than paused bench presses. Pausing the descent for some seconds trains your muscles to remain in control of all the movements when bench pressing. More time under tension also works on the athlete’s form, making it easy to adjust to heavyweights.
Here are additional drills and exercises to give your athletes’ bench press a significant boost!
The bench press is among the first drills that the participants undertake at the NFL Combine Testing. Scouts use this as a significant test of strength, cardio and endurance. These three attributes convert to the ability of the player to withstand proper training programs.
The NFL Combine Bench Press weight is 225 lbs. It consists of four 45-pound metal plates and a 45-pound bar. These are the NFL Combine Bench Press rules:
The average footballer is capable of benching 225 pounds and even more. Although more reps improve draft stock, especially for offensive and defensive linemen, the NFL has a baseline for different players by their position on the gridiron.
Exercise selection is critical when getting the most bench press reps in the NFL Combine. But even more important is getting the full benefits of each exercise. The Blazepod Flash Reflex and Reaction Training Pods offer an innovative system for coaches, trainers and athletes to enhance their workouts. Learn how Blazepod is revolutionizing the way players prepare for the NFL Combine Testing bench press here.
What is the average bench press at the NFL combine?
The NFL has an acceptable range of bench presses for footballers based on their size; Linemen (30-39 reps), Tight Ends and Linebackers (25-30 reps), Running Backs (20-25 reps) and Defensive Backs and Receivers (15-20 reps).
Who holds the NFL combine record for bench press?
The official Combine Bench Press record is 49 repetitions by Stephen Paea, DT, 2011. Although Eastern Kentucky defensive end Justin Ernest managed 51 reps in 1999, his performance was not officially recognized by the NLF.
Are there any NFL players that can’t bench 225?
While most NFL players are generally known for their big build, some have recorded extremely low numbers for NFL players. For instance, Fred Smoot has the worst NFL Combine Bench Press results to be drafted. It’s reported that in 1999, Smooth managed only one rep of the 225 pounds.