The debate as to whether or not the bench press is functional, useful, or worth the injury risk still rages today. It’s seldom implemented in functional fitness workouts and it’s a touchy subject for Olympic weightlifters, with many oly coaches asserting that it can reduce overhead performance and lead to tightness in the pecs and shoulders.
In a new interview with Sports Illustrated, John Cena is weighing in on the bench press: it sucks. Well, at least, he thinks the bench press is a useless test for NFL athletes, criticizing its place in the organization’s Draft Combine. (That’s a series of exercises used to assess the strength and athletic potential of prospective NFL players.)
“I hate the bench press for reps test, I think it’s the most worthless test of skill that they have at the Combine,” he says. He guessed that the NFL will probably ask what the heck John Cena knows about elite NFL training, but he asserts that he knows a lot about strength and fitness (he has a Bachelor’s in exercise physiology) and insists, “Upper body reps for a segregated weight for mass is a horrible test for the Combine athlete (…) Step your game up with the strength assessment, NFL. It’s not a good one.”
The Combine judges six famous drills: the 40-yard dash, bench press (a 225-pound AMRAP), vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill, and shuttle run. The NFL’s site simply states that it includes the bench press because it’s a test of strength. “Anybody can do a max one time, but what the bench press tells the pro scouts is how often the athlete frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.”
Cena thinks that if you need athleticism, the bench isn’t what you should be testing. And this is coming from a guy who loves his bench presses. Below, you can see him pressing 463 pounds in a video from 2015, and he claims to have benched the same amount in the past month.
He can also squat a serious 611 pounds (277kg).
He concedes that he doesn’t have the all-round skill needed to be a football player and pass the Combine, which is kind of his point: his abilities don’t transfer to football, and the bench shouldn’t be an end-all, be-all test for strength as it applies to athleticism.
He can also clean with pretty decent form for an non-competitor. Here’s a 330lb (150kg) clean he posted last year.
He can also squat an Al Roker for three reps, which is seriously functional. What do you think, is the bench press a useful skill for football or functional fitness?
Featured image via supertraining06 on YouTube.