“How much ya bench?” This is an all-too-common question people are asked if they even look remotely athletic or spend time in the gym. Although it may be an overused question, there is actually some merit to it predicting athletic performance. The NFL assesses muscular performance by incorporating the NFL-225 test. This test was often thought to assess muscular endurance, but a recent study assessed the predictive potential of the NFL-225 test in estimating 1-rep maximum (1RM) bench press performance in Division I college football players. It also evaluated the accuracy of previous NFL-225 prediction equations.
The study assessed 289 players from successful Division I programs over a period of 5 years for 1RM bench press and reps completed with 225 pounds. First, the 1RM for each player had to be determined. Players warmed up using lighter weights at about 60-80% of their 1RM. Weight was added after completion of one rep, and the player was given a minimum of 5 minutes rest before adding more weight to the bar. The objective was to reach the 1RM within 3-5 lifts.1
One week later, the NFL-225 test was performed. The test required the standard “touch and go” method of bench press: the bar was lowered slowly to touch the chest before being pressed immediately to full extension. No bouncing of the bar off the chest was allowed. The head, shoulders, and butt had to remain in contact with the bench throughout the lift. No more than a 2-second pause was allowed between each repetition. Simple measures of body composition were estimated from body mass index (BMI) to assess the potential of selected demographic variables for reducing prediction error associated with the NFL-225 test.2
The statistical analyses of the tests produced a similar equation to other equations developed with players at various levels of competition. This indicates a consistency in the relationship between maximum repetitions with submaximal loads and peak strength. Cross-validation of the newly developed equation on a random sample of elite players predicted 67% within +/- about 10 pounds of their actual 1RM. This study also indicated that mid-range body weights (194-218 pounds) tended to have their 1RM predicted with greater accuracy than the lighter or heavier players.3
After this study was completed, it was determined that the best equation to predict 1RM bench press from the NFL-225 test was a previous equation developed from Slovak et al.:
1 Rep Max = 221.8 lb. + 6.81 x Reps @ 2254
For example, if a player performed 24 reps at 225 pounds, you could predict he his 1RM would be approximately 385 pounds. (221.8+6.81×24 = 385.24).
Have you ever given the 225 bench press test a go? How many reps did you get, and what does it predict your 1RM to be?
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.