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Setting the Record: Most Reps in the NFL Combine Bench Press


The NFL Combine bench press is a showcase of raw strength and power, attracting the attention of fans and scouts alike. As one of the most anticipated events at the Combine, the bench press has seen athletes pushing the limits of their physical capabilities, with some setting records and making a lasting impact on their draft stock.

The NFL Combine serves as a platform for football prospects to display their athleticism and skill set to teams and scouts. Among the various physical tests, the bench press stands out as a true testament to an athlete's upper body strength and power. With scouts analyzing every rep and performance, the bench press has become a pivotal component in shaping a player's draft potential.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of the bench press at the NFL Combine, explore notable performances and records, and understand the training regimen required to excel in this demanding event. We will also examine the impact of an outstanding bench press performance on a player's draft stock and the essential role of upper body strength and muscular endurance for football players.

football lineman

NFL Combine: A Showcase of Strength and Talent

At the NFL Scouting Combine, one of the most anticipated tests is the bench press. This event is a true spectacle of upper body strength and muscular endurance, as players, especially offensive linemen, defensive tackles, and tight ends, attempt to rep 225 pounds as many times as they can. Regarded as a significant indicator of a prospect's physical prowess, these bench press reps are an essential part of a player's draft stock evaluation.

However, it's interesting to note that a study conducted between 2005 and 2009, involving 1,155 athletes, questioned the bench press's relevance in predicting future NFL success. While the bench press is fundamental to the combine, the techniques employed by NFL hopefuls differ from those used by powerlifters, whose aim is to lift as heavy as possible over a short distance. For football players, the technique is tailored more towards their on-field performance needs.

Though the bench press is geared towards assessing upper body strength, it leans more towards measuring muscular endurance rather than absolute strength. With every shoulder blade retracted and each rep counted, the NFL Combine bench press continues to be a compelling testament to the hard work and dedication of these elite college players striving for their place in the NFL.

The Bench Press at the NFL Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine is an annual event where college football players showcase their athletic abilities before the NFL Draft. It is synonymous with testing the limits of potential NFL prospects, and the bench press is one of the most talked-about events here. During this test, players lift a standard weight of 225 pounds and the goal is to complete as many repetitions as possible.

Players approach the bench, lie flat with an engaged core, drive through their heels, and with every shoulder blade retracted, they push the weight up from chest level until their arms are fully extended, repeating this motion for as many reps as they can muster. This activity does not just show off their upper body strength; it indicates their muscular endurance and capacity to perform under pressure, both of which are critical for a career in the NFL.

Records and Notable Performances

In terms of record performances, Justin Ernest holds the all-time record at the NFL Combine with an astonishing 51 reps, set back in 1999. Ernest was an Eastern Kentucky defensive tackle whose bench press performance turned heads. Though he went undrafted, his combine record still stands, underscoring the fact that muscle-power alone doesn't shape a player's draft destiny.

More recently, in 2017, defensive lineman from Mississippi State, Jeffery Simmons, impressed with 49 reps. And in the 2022 combine, Otito Ogbonnia, a defensive lineman from UCLA, also made waves with his impressive bench press performance.

Impact on Draft Stock

The number of reps completed in the bench press at the NFL Combine can indeed have an impact on a player's draft stock. It's a symbolic test of a young athlete's commitment to physical conditioning and can reflect their discipline and work ethic, attributes highly valued by NFL teams.

However, it's essential to recognize that bench press performances constitute just one piece of a much larger puzzle. A poor showing in the bench press doesn't necessarily ruin an athlete's chances of being drafted nor does an outstanding performance guarantee a high draft pick. Teams also consider factors such as positional need, the 40-yard dash, college production, and overall football ability.

The bench press is also more telling for certain positions that rely heavily on upper-body strength, such as offensive linemen and defensive tackles. For them, a higher number of reps can boost their appeal to teams looking for strong, durable players to hold the line.

While the bench press is not the sole determiner of a player's potential, it is a hallmark of the Combine and keeps both the athletes and the audience heavily invested due to its sheer physical challenge and its spectacle of strength.

Notable Players and Performances

Throughout the history of the NFL Scouting Combine, several players have delivered remarkable performances in the bench press event, etching their names in Combine lore. While reps and weight lifted can vary, the bench press at the Combine is more about consistent strength and endurance with a standardized weight of 225 pounds. The performances of these athletes have set them apart not just as powerful competitors but also as unforgettable case studies of what aspirants to the NFL might aim for.

Dontari Poe: Setting the Bar High

At the 2012 NFL Combine, Dontari Poe, a defensive tackle coming out of Memphis, stunned scouts with his incredible upper body strength. Poe, who stood 6-foot-4 and weighed 346 pounds, completed an impressive 44 reps in the bench press. His explosive performance was all the more notable given his size, showcasing not just raw power but significant muscular endurance. Poe's bench press spectacle contributed to his eventual selection as the 11th overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs, cementing his standing as one of the most physically capable defensive linemen to enter the NFL.

JJ Watt: A Display of Dominance

JJ Watt, the Defensive End out of Wisconsin, turned up at the 2011 NFL Combine ready to leave an impact. Known for his relentless work ethic and ferocious strength, Watt tallied 34 reps at the bench press. His combination of heavy weight lifting prowess and athleticism demonstrated at other events, like the 40-yard dash, certainly played his part in compelling the Houston Texans to draft him 11th overall. Watt's Combine performance was a harbinger of the dominant NFL career to follow, which included multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards and a path that has led many to regard him as a future Hall of Famer.

Mitch Petrus: A Strong Showing

When offensive lineman Mitch Petrus stepped up to the bench at the 2010 NFL Combine, the former Arkansas Razorback set a goal to be the strongest player in the room. Petrus achieved that goal and more by completing 45 reps of 225 pounds. Such a powerful display of Absolute strength is rare among even the most seasoned football players, making his achievement stand out. While bench press reps are not the ultimate measure of NFL success, Petrus ensured that his name would be remembered for years to come, tying with two others for the second-most reps in Combine history. His performance exemplified the kind of strength and endurance that NFL teams covet in their offensive linemen.

Training for the Bench Press

When preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, collegiate players focus intently on their bench press training to boost their draft stock. The bench press is a critical workout that tests an athlete’s upper body strength, particularly in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Upper Body Strength for Football Players

Upper body strength is paramount for NFL linemen and tight ends. These players engage in Upper Body Day workouts that push their shoulder blades and shoulder joints, strengthening the areas vital for driving opponents backward or protecting the quarterback. Heavy weights and a variety of exercises ensure the players' muscle groups develop uniformly and powerfully, offering the functional strength needed on the field.

Muscular Endurance and the Bench Press

Muscular endurance is as crucial as absolute strength for NFL athletes, especially at positions like offensive linemen and defensive tackle. The bench press reps at the NFL Combine test just that — the ability to push a set weight repeatedly without succumbing to fatigue. Players train to improve not only the maximum weight they can lift but also how many times they can lift weights representative of game-day conditions. This muscular endurance is often developed through higher repetitions with moderate to heavy weights, and conditioning routines that promote sustained power output over an extended period.

Tab Winner

We are fun loving family that lives on a small farm and tries to be healthy. We are not fitness fanatics we are just trying to keep things simple especially with how busy our lives are. We have a few horses, a few dogs, and a young daughter along with a big extended family. Follow us on our journey. I hope you enjoy the website. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Please check back for updates!

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