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Dr. Saturday

Dr. Saturday does the NFL combine: The bench press

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

The bench press is my nemesis.

If you've ever set foot in a gym, you've either done or seen someone else do the most ubiquitous strength exercise.

For many, the bench press is viewed as the ultimate test of strength, though in reality, that ultimate test should be the squat or the deadlift. How many times in real life do we lay on our backs and push something towards the ceiling?

It's for that reason that the bench press is the most inapplicable exercise at the NFL combine. Players must push blockers and tacklers away from themselves on a regular basis and those movements heavily involve the chest and triceps, two of the main movers in the bench press.

But just like in our everyday non-NFL lives, how many times do football players find themselves moving an opponent away from themselves while lying face up on the ground? It's not very often, if ever at all. Rather, most of those in-game and in-practice pushing movements happen while a player is upright and his back unsupported, which brings a lot of core stabilizers and other muscles into play.

However, a different test of upper-body strength hasn't been implemented at the combine yet. And because of the bench press's ubiquity, it's a test that's both easily understandable and easily measured. You think you're stronger than St. Louis Rams WR Tavon Austin (West Virginia)? Go to the gym and put 225 pounds on a barbell and see if you can bench press it more than 14 times.

At the 2013 scouting combine, Baltimore Ravens DL Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern) and Cincinnati Bengals DL Margus Hunt (SMU) were the leaders with 38 reps at 225 pounds. The record is set by former Eastern Kentucky DL Justin Ernest, who benched that number 51 times in 1999.

A lot of people would have trouble bench pressing 51 pounds 51 times.

I've never excelled at the bench press. It's never been a lift I've enjoyed, and it's had a tendency to aggravate my shoulders. So my expectations were not high. Based off my current training program, I figured I'd hit 225 once cleanly and go from there.

I got two reps, which is a personal best at my bodyweight. (I previously got three repetitions at 225 while weighing 20 pounds more about five years ago.) Those two reps would have put me in last at the 2013 combine. However, I was close to tying a non-lineman. TE D.C. Jefferson (Rutgers), got three reps, and Arizona Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu (LSU) got four.

Wednesday, the 20 and 60-yard shuttles are up. I know I won't be last on the 20-yard shuttle, but I've got some work to do if I want to outhustle a bunch of people.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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