Good Bench Press for College Football Players

What’s a Good Bench Press for a College Football Player?

The Bench Press is one of the standard tests used to measure the strength, particularly upper body strength, of college football players (and athletes in general). A variation of the Bench Press, the 225 rep test, is performed at the NFL Combine each year with the top college prospects in the country.

I went through 20 years of data on college football Bench Press numbers with teams that I’ve worked with, combined with numbers from other strength coaches, and have broken it down by position into ranges of what’s considered “good”.

Before we get into the numbers, please understand that “good” is very relative.

For example, if you’re a high school sophomore you most likely will not stack up to the numbers listed below and that’s okay. You still have a lot of development and maturing to do and your Bench Press will improve quite a bit over the next couple of years with proper training.

Also, you’re going to find a difference depending on what level of college football you’re examining. Average numbers at an SEC school are generally going to be higher than what you may find at a D2 or D3 school.

Next, while these are broken down by position, size is still a huge factor when evaluating what a Bench Press is. I’ve coached Defensive Ends who were 215 pounds and I’ve coached Defensive Ends who were 285 pounds. All else being equal, a 285-pound athlete is likely to have a better Bench Press.

Bench Press Numbers By Position

College Football Bench Press Ranges by Position
Position Reserve Starter All-Conference All-American NFL Athlete
Quarterback* N/T N/T N/T N/T N/T
Running Back < 255 255 – 294 295 – 324 325 – 344 > 344
Wide Receiver < 235 235 – 274 275 – 304 305 – 334 > 334
Tight End < 285 285 – 314 315 – 344 345 – 374 > 374
Offensive Line < 315 315 – 334 335 – 374 375 – 404 > 404
Safety < 245 245 – 284 285 – 324 325 – 344 > 344
Cornerback < 235 235 – 274 275 – 304 305 – 334 > 334
Linebacker < 275 275 – 304 305 – 334 335 – 364 > 364
Defensive Ends < 275 275 – 314 315 – 344 345 – 374 > 374
Defensive Tackles < 315 315 – 334 335 – 374 375 – 404 > 404

*Depending on the time of year, I will have Quarterbacks barbell Bench Press, but I would not recommend having them max out.

What Do The Categories Mean?

The terminology I used for each category was Reserve, Starter, All-Conference, All-American and NFL Athlete. These are just categories that I found resonated well with our players. They don’t carry any deeper analytical meaning though. They could easily be Elite, Above Average, etc.

Where Do These Numbers Come From?

The number ranges are rooted in historical data that I’ve accumulated over the course of my career.

Other input like testing data that our coaching staff had acquired in their careers and feedback we received from peers in the strength and conditioning field are also considered.

Finally, when looking at the category ranges understand that they are not designed to be evenly distributed. Most of the guys on our team would fall into the Starter or All-Conference categories (freshmen often fell into Reserve or Starter). Fewer players would achieve All-American level and fewer still would reach NFL Athlete.

Bench Press Numbers by Bodyweight

Bodyweight Scale

Instead of categorizing by position, you can also consider an athlete’s Bench Press compared to their bodyweight.

Being able to Bench Press 1 1/2 times your bodyweight is considered very good, whether you’re a football player or a weekend warrior. Being able to Bench Press twice your bodyweight puts you in extremely rare territory.

Using bodyweight as a means to evaluate Bench Press numbers does have its flaws though. Shorter, more compact, players will tend to have a better Bench to Bodyweight ratio than taller, longer players.

Heavier players (talking about linemen here) will also tend to have lower ratios than smaller skill and combo players.

For example, a 200-pound running back who can Bench Press 300 pounds (1 1/2 times bodyweight) is really good. However, a 300-pound offensive tackle who can Bench Press 450 pounds (also 1 1/2 times bodyweight) is extremely good.

Final Thoughts

The Bench Press is one of the most popular physical tests done at the college football level and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Knowing what a good Bench Press number is at your position is a great way to set goals and use them as motivation.

Just remember, if you’re still a few years away from college, your numbers may still have a lot of improvement left to go, but don’t let that discourage you! Work hard, work smart and you’ll see your Bench Press continue to improve.

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