The bench pull test is a fitness test of upper body muscular endurance. It involves lying supine on a bench, pulling a weight up off the ground to the chest. The test was part of the eTID Talent Identification Testing Program for canoeing, and their protocol is listed here.
purpose: This test measures upper body muscular endurance.
equipment required: a bench with adjustable height capacity (allow enough room underneath to permit full extension of the arms), 20kg Olympic bar with collars, a selection of 5kg and 10kg free weights. The weights should be set at 25kg for females and 40kg for males (make sure you include the 20kg Olympic barbell plus the mass of any collars).
pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender, test conditions. Perform an appropriate warm-up. See more details of pre-test procedures.
preparation: Set the bench height so that the subject can comfortably grip the bar while the weight is off the ground in the hang position. The bench should be horizontal to the ground.
procedure: The subject lies prone (face down) on the bench with arms extended below the bench. The subject takes a shoulder wide overhand grip on the bar and pulls it up until the bar makes contact with the bottom of the bench, ensuring that the elbows are kept out and the chest on the bench. Participants must only move their arms and shoulders in lifting the weight, the remainder of the body (head, trunk and legs) must remain still throughout the movement (an assistant may hold the legs down). Once the bar makes contact with the bench, the subject extends their arms, lowering the weight in a controlled manner back to the starting hang position without touching the ground. The subject maintains a continuous movement sequence at approximately one full repetition every two seconds. As many full bench pulls as possible are performed.
scoring: The total number of correctly completed bench pulls (see technical violations) is recorded (whole numbers). One repetition equals a full pull up and release down to the starting hang position.
technical violations: The following technical faults would result in a pull not being recorded
- Movement of the head and/or legs from the chosen start position (For example, the subject can start with their head down or to the side but it must remain in this position and in contact with the bench at all times).
- Movement of the trunk away from bench, and/or any hip flexion or extension.
- Failure to make contact with bar on the underside of the bench.
- Excessive deviation of the bar from the ‘normal’ position observed in warm-up (For example, maintain abducted or adducted position).
- An uneven bar during the lift (shoulder depression, uneven flexion of elbows during the lift).
- Having greater than one second rest between repetitions.
target population: sports in which upper body strength is important, such as canoeing and rowing.
advantages: the equipment is readily available in most gymnasiums, and the test is simple and quick to perform.
disadvantages: due to variations in technique and whether the arms are extended or the bar reaches the beach, the scoring of the test can be subjective, therefore it is difficult to standardize the results. For those with poor upper body strength, no bench pull at all may be achieved. For such groups, a lighter weight or an alternative test of upper body strength may be appropriate.
- It is recommended that participants perform some practise repetitions using a reduced weight prior to commencing the actual test.
- Preference is for lightweight collars (small and spring based, that only weigh approximately 100gms) or alternatively for those collars that weigh 2.5kg. This weight must be added to the weight of the bar.
- The participants should be instructed to spend as little time having the bar hanging as it may cause fatigue and reduce the number of bench pulls performed.
The Test in Action
- The test was part of the eTID Talent Identification Testing Program for canoeing
- Horizontal Pull-Up Test — a variation of the hanging pull-up, made easier as the whole body weight does not need to be lifted.
- Bench Press Testing
- Push and Pull Strength Test
- About the eTID Talent Identification Testing Program.
- ETID Fitness Testing for Canoeing
- Other strength tests