The 225 rep test is one of the most revered assessments used in the NFL pre-draft process. I don’t feel the 225 test is a good indicator of the type of upper body strength required to be a good football player, a much better test would be something like 225/275/315 pounds, depending on position group, done for a triple with the power measured by a Tendo Unit. The merits of this test can be argued to no end by strength coaches and football scouts alike, but the fact of the matter is this test is here to say, so if you have players you are helping try to make the jump from high school to college or college to the pros, you need to help them improve this test.
Team Juggernaut’s Blaine Sumner produced one of the greatest results ever in the 225 test during his 2011 Pro Day at Air Force where Blaine, who played his college football at the Colorado School of Mines (D2), did 52 reps of 225. Blaine actually performed 55 reps but wasn’t credited with 3 reps. Either way, Blaine’s 52 reps is 3 beyond the NFL Combine record of 49 reps set by Stephen Paea of Oregon St. Blaine had a very simple approach to his training, just following his usual heavy training (Blaine has a best raw meet bench of 473) and then performing one all out drop set with 185-265 pounds. Blaine credits a lot of his success in the 225 test to improving his technique and rep strategy. Blaine did his 225 test by breaking it up into a number of mini sets. Blaine’s specific strategy was to perform 10 rep clusters up to 40 reps, then two 5 rep clusters and then singles, each cluster of reps was done while holding in one breath.
Success in the 225 rep test requires a combination of maximal strength and lactic capacity in the pressing muscles. The simplest way to increase an athlete’s abilities in the 225 test is to increase their maximal strength because of course an athlete who can bench 450 will handle 50% of their max (225 pounds) more easily than an athlete who is benching 350 and must press 64% of their max. While I certainly agree with this logic, the energy required to increases ones max strength in the bench may not be efficient within the context of a complete combine prep program that also requires an athlete to improve a variety of other physical qualities. Of course this will vary from athlete to athlete based upon their individual strength levels but there is already tons of great information on this website about how to increase your max bench, so I’ll let you read those for yourself about how to do that.
Technique is a critical aspect of success for all lifting and will pay great dividends in your 225 test improvements. Check out these tips to improve your rep skills…
1) Wear a shirt with a rough logo on the back or chalk your back or spray some spray tacky on it, you don’t want to be sliding around on the bench.
2) Pull your shoulders blades together tight and get your chest as high as possible.
3) If you are a competitive powerlifter and bench with a wide grip, you will probably benefit from moving your grip in slightly for this test. 1 ½ to 2 thumb lengths from the center smooth is a good grip for most.
4) Don’t try to create a big arch like you would during a max attempt, as holding this position for the time that this test will take may lead to back cramping. A small to moderate arch will suffice.
5) Plant your feet firmly on the ground, either with your whole foot down or up on the balls of your feet, you want your feet to be solidly placed on the ground so you don’t move around when getting good hip drive.
Another valuable component of success in this test is to strategize your rep scheme. You saw the rep scheme that helped Team Juggernaut’s Blaine Sumner perform a record amount of reps with 225 earlier in this article. Here are some tips to help you maximize your reps that have been very successful for my athletes here at Juggernaut…
1) Only put the necessary force into each rep that is required. Though I normally advocate moving all reps as explosively as possible, doing that will waste energy in this test. Don’t try to impart 400 pound pressing strength when only 225 is necessary. You want to move the bar quickly but not so explosively that it causes you to lose your setup position. Like John Wooden said, “Be quick but don’t hurry”.
2) Break your test up into several mini sets. Lactic threshold is as much a function of time as it is of work, so you want to get the reps done quickly but going through in one straight shot isn’t what I have found to be most effective. For example, if your goal is to do 27 reps, try breaking it down into something like 16 reps, 5 reps, 2 reps, 1 rep, 1 rep, 1 rep, 1 rep; taking 2-3 seconds and a few deep breaths in between each mini set. Obviously this structure will vary from person to person but it is a template.
A proper warmup can also be the difference between 2-3 reps. Focus on more warmup sets at very low weights to loosen up without tiring yourself out. Try this warmup structure…
Bar x50 (10 reps at 5 different grips working from close to wide)
135x2x5, 1 set at a regular tempo and 1 set explosively
245-315×1, use a heavier weight the stronger you are but don’t let it be over 75% of your max, if 225 is over 70-75% of your max, then you wont perform this over set
Developing great lactic capacity requires the athlete to be able to exceed their current abilities. This is best achieved through a combination of partial range work, reverse band presses and special set structure. Subscribe to Juggernaut to read the rest of this article and learn how to drive up your rep strength and open college coach’s and scout’s eyes with this 10 week training program…Chad Wesley Smith is the founder and head physical preparation coach at Juggernaut Training Systems. Chad has a diverse athletic background, winning two national championships in the shot put, setting the American Record in the squat (905 in the 308 class, raw w/ wraps) and most recently winning the 2012 North American Strongman championship, where he earned his pro card. In addition to his athletic exploits, Chad has helped over 50 athletes earn Division 1 athletic scholarships since 2009 and worked with many NFL Players and Olympians. Chad is the author of The Juggernaut Method and The Juggernaut Method 2.0. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter