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1RM or estimated 1RM bench press

This is an excerpt from Strength Training for Baseball by NSCA -National Strength & Conditioning Association,A. Eugene Coleman & David J. Szymanski.

By David J. Szymanski and Jose Vazquez

Measure or estimate maximal multi-joint bilateral upper body pushing strength. Traditionally, the barbell bench press is tested; however, the coach may want to test the dumbbell bench press with a neutral grip to reduce the stress on the anterior shoulders. This test could be used for all pitchers and for those position players who are concerned about their shoulders. Information about dumbbell bench press technique and spotting can be found in chapter 7 on page 147. The barbell bench press test will be described in this section.


Weight plates
Safety collars or clips
Bench press stand

Position the barbell in the center of the rack. Make sure that the area surrounding the bench is clear of other equipment. The athlete, spotter, and/or coach should put the appropriate weight onto the barbell. Make sure the load on the barbell is evenly distributed and collars or clips are used to secure the load. Information about barbell bench press technique and spotting can be found in chapter 7 on page 146. The athlete should perform a proper warm-up before testing (see testing protocol).

Testing Protocol (1)

  1. Refer to chapter 7 for the bench press exercise technique.
  2. The athlete should warm up with a light resistance, performing 5 to 10 repetitions.
  3. After a 1-minute rest, add 10 to 20 pounds (4-9 kg) or 5% to 10% more weight to the barbell and have the athlete perform 3 to 5 repetitions.
  4. After a 2-minute rest, add 10 to 20 pounds (4-9 kg) or 5% to 10% more weight to the barbell and have the athlete perform 2 to 3 repetitions.
  5. After another 2 to 4 minutes of rest, add 10 to 20 pounds (4-9 kg) or 5% to 10% more weight to the barbell and have the athlete attempt a 1RM.
  6. If the athlete completes the 1RM attempt and could lift more weight, repeat step 5. If the athlete does not complete the 1RM attempt, allow 2 to 4 minutes of rest, decrease the weight by 5 to 10 pounds (2-4 kg) or 2.5% to 5%, and reattempt a 1RM.
  7. Keep adjusting the weight until the 1RM is achieved. Ideally, this should occur within three to five testing attempts.
  8. If the 1RM bench press is not warranted for the athlete based on experience or safety, estimate 1RM strength from a multiple-RM test (10).
  9. Estimated 1RM can be calculated by dividing the amount of weight lifted for 10 repetitions or less by the decimal 1RM in table 3.1.

Coaching Tips

  • Make sure the athlete uses a five-point body contact position on the bench. The head, upper back, buttocks, and feet should be firmly and evenly placed to promote maximum stability.
  • Make sure the athlete is mentally prepared for the test.
  • The athlete should use a closed, pronated grip on the barbell with hands evenly spaced.
  • The athlete’s body position on the bench should allow his eyes to be directly under the barbell. Do not allow a false (open) grip for safety reasons.
  • Make sure that the spotter is experienced.
  • Make sure there is good communication between the athlete and spotter.

Descriptive Data
Table 3.4 provides descriptive data that can be used to evaluate NCAA Division I baseball players’ 1RM dumbbell bench press.

Table 3.4 Percentile Values of the 1RM Dumbbell Bench Press and 1RM One-Arm Dumbbell Row for NCAA Division I Baseball Players

More Excerpts From Strength Training for Baseball