Why We Test: The MAX Bench press

Why We Test: The MAX Bench press

The competition really comes to a head this week, with the holy grail of upper body strength, and the universal lift for Mondays. It’s arguably the most iconic weight room exercise and surely the most popular lift. If you haven’t guessed by now, we’re talking about the bench press, the most classic expression of upper body strength.

At face value, the bench press demonstrates strength in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. However, the lift incorporates all major muscles of the body. The strongest bench pressers, in this competition, know how important their feet, hips, and back are to move some serious weight. These muscles also come in handy with upper body dominant sports that involve activities like pushing, passing, and blocking.

While one of the most popular exercises, it also exposes itself to common mistakes. As you suit up this week, to show us what you got, keep a few of these tips and tricks in mind to get up some heavy weight.

First, make sure you have a proper set up with a spotter. Safety first. We hope to see some big weights, that may require some big help. Set up a proper bench with attached rack or slide a good bench into the squat rack. Use a standard 45lb olympic barbell, with enough plate weight.

Follow our tips for the 5RM squat warm up, working up to your best 3-5 single rep efforts. Over or undershooting your goal weight can make or break your rankings. Spotters can be used to unrack and rack the bar, only, with the lifter demonstrating a controlled lock out at the start and finish.

Remember, the barbell must descend to your chest. We are not asking for competition style benching, but no bouncing off your chest, and 5 points of contact: feet, hips, back, and head must remain in contact with the bench throughout the rep.

If you want to improve your numbers, squeeze the bar as hard as you can. Imagine breaking or bending the bar. Drive your feet into the floor, hips and back into the bench. Focus more on pushing into the bench, then pushing the bar up to the ceiling. Keep your eyes directed up and focused on the ceiling.

Lastly, use your breath, a big deep belly breath at the top of your rep, let out slowly towards the end. We’re looking forward to some big performances. Grab a friend and show us what you got!

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Week 7 Challenge: One Rep Max Benchpress

Week 7 Challenge: One Rep Max Benchpress

Hey athletes! If you’re here, you’re probably looking to see the protocol for the one rep max bench press. Well, you’re in the right place!

You can find the video below, but here’s a couple things to note. First, the bar has to hit your chest on the way down. Second, you have to keep your but down on the bench! See the rest of the details in the video below. Lets move this weight!!!!

Why We Test: The 400 Meter Dash

The week 6 Challenge, 400 meter run, is a gut-busting anaerobic sprint. By now you’ve probably noticed the Athlete Training Club coaches have been testing you power, quickness, muscular endurance, and strength. This week we want to see who has the gas to race a quarter mile, one lap around the track, as fast as you can. We want to know what happens around 1-2 minutes of work. Can your heart, lungs, and fast twitch muscle fibers transition from raw power and quickness to supply your body with the energy it needs to sustain longer efforts? It’s abilities like these that demonstrate that, fourth quarter, buzzer beater potential! It’s where we determine what true, strength to endurance, ratios are ideal for our sport and whether we have the engine to carry the cargo.

Anaerobic power is a terrific reflection of athletic conditioning, mimicking the short repetitive bursts of power and quickness on the field, court, or track. While strength may help us develop the power, it’s the sweat and tears of developing a solid, conditioning, foundation that keeps us in play longer than our opponents. A great way to test this potential is by doing middle distance runs.

Additionally, while essential to sport, and a seemingly natural activity for humans, running is actually skill. This is especially in regards to sprinting. It’s a skill that can be optimized with a specific set of mechanics and a comprehensive training program. As you prepare for this weeks challenge, check out some of our tips on drills and mechanics to improve your efficiency and maximize the power and anaerobic conditioning you have trained so hard to develop. You’ll be able to see these by following our social media pages.

Remember, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”  - Tim Notke

So lace up your boots, and lets see who will finish under a minute

Dan Daly is our head of fitness programming. Be sure to watch out for more of his tips and advice to get an edge on achieving your fitness goals

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Week 6 Challenge: The 400 Meter Dash

Hey athletes! if you’ve landed here you’re getting ready, and motivated, to run your 400 meter dash! This is a tough challenge, so make sure you pay attention to the protocol below to ensure your entries count when you submit them.



  1. 400 meter track or treadmill

  2. Stop watch or electronic timing system

  3. Someone to operate filming and timing


The athlete must first toe the line to start. Prompted by a “go” electronic beep, or a starting pistol, the athlete must complete 1 lap around a 400 meter track scored in minutes and seconds to the nearest 100th/sec. The runner and timer must be in the same time frame at all times. If you don’t have access to a track, use a treadmill and the same rules will apply. See the video for a visual.  

Week 5 Challenge: AMRAP Pull-Ups

This week’s challenge is AMRAP pull-ups! Below you’ll find instructions towards executing the movement to ensure you submit a qualified entry. You can perform this movement anywhere you can find a pull-up bar. It can be at the gym, in a doorway, a traffic light (although we wouldn’t recommend it).


The key here is to hang on the bar and pull yourself up to 90 degrees, making sure your chin is over the bar. We want to see how many times you can do this without coming off the bar. At the bottom of the pull up, you must do a dead hang and lock out your arms.


Remember, this is a strict pull-up. So any kipping or swinging of the legs will not count towards your total rep count. If you’re more of a visual leaner, see the video below. Good luck and let’s get this fitness!!!!

Test your fitness with professional trainers.. for FREE

Test your fitness with professional trainers.. for FREE

To all the youth and adult athletes out there who have wanted to participate in our weekly Athlete Training Club fitness challenges, but don't have access to a place to test - we've got an answer. We've established partnerships with professional training facilities around the country who are here to help you test in safe and professional facilities.  


From the 5RM Squat, to the Vertical Jump, to the 5-10-5 Pro-Agility - whatever you want to test, our professional training partners are here to help you.

So if you want to see where you stack up against he competition - and you want to test along side the best athletes in the country, then all you have to do is the following:

  1. Identify a partner facility with a location near you from our list below
  2. Email the local facility with the subject "Scheduling my Athlete Training Club Testing"
  3. And work with that gym to get your video testing sessions scheduled

We'll continue to add partners to the list as we go. So feel free to check back to this list on a regular basis. And if you have any questions or problems, feel free to email us directly coach@athletetrainingclub.com and we'll help out.


Want to learn more about Athlete Training Club?


Testing Partner Facilities

Lift Training Facility - West Chester, NY

www.go2lift.com or go2lift@gmail.com

Parisi Speed Schools - 100+ Locations


Week 4 Challenge: 5 Rep Max Squats

Below you will find the protocol for this week’s challenge, the 5 Rep Max Squat. The video, below, provides instructions on the proper way to execute a full squat. Make sure to watch so you’re not penalized for partial reps. Also, take note of how the recording should be set up to ensure your entry counts when you submit.

Under the video you'll find some helpful warm-up tips to make sure you're ready to give a great effort. Good luck and let’s move some weight!

5 Tips for Warming up to 5RM

Whether you’re testing a 1RM, 5RM, or 10RM, the best lifters know to get the best result, a proper warm is essential. You want to incrementally build up to your best effort without getting too tired. Follow the guidelines, below, as you prepare for your 5RM Squat this week.

5RM Testing Protocol

Warm up with a light resistance that easily allows 5 to 10 repetitions. Rest 1 minute.

  1. Estimate a warm-up load that will allow 3 to 5 repetitions by adding 20 to 50 pounds at at time. Rest 2 minutes
  2. Estimate a conservative, near-maximal load that will allow 2 to 3 repetitions by adding 20 to 50 pounds at a time. Rest 2-4 minutes
  3. Make a load increase: 20 to 50 pounds. Attempt 5RM
  4. If successful, rest 2 to 4 minutes and go back to step 4. If failed, rest 2 to 4 minutes then decrease the load by subtracting 10-20 pounds AND attempt again. Continue increasing or decreasing the load until five repetitions with proper exercise technique is completed. Ideally, within 3 to 5 testing sets.

Week 3 Challenge Protocol: 20 Yard Shuttle

The 20 Yard Shuttle is great way to test your quickness, and ultimately, an athlete's ability to accelerate /decelerate and change directions. . It’s a staple of the NFL combine, but quickness is beneficial to most athletes from soccer, to basketball, to field hockey!

To execute this test you’ll need 3 things:

  1. Access to a football field with visible lines every 5 yards OR a tape measure of at least 10 yards/30 feet.
  2. 3 cones or other visible markers
  3. A companion to time you with a stop watch or an electronic timing system

To start, the athlete must place one marker in the middle line, between 10 yards, and place the others two at the ends. Then the athlete must straddle the middle marker/cone, and on a signal of “go” , sprint either left or right 5 yards to the first lateral cone, touching the cone with one hand, and then immediately changing direction, sprinting 10 yards to the furthest cone. The athlete must then, touch the furthest cone, changing direction again, and then sprinting through the middle cone. The timer stops when the athlete’s chest crosses the middle marker/cone. Time is measured in seconds to the nearest 100th/ sec. Honestly, it’s much easier to see how it’s done. So peep the video and/or diagram below:

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What is Pound-For-Pound?

If the phrase pound-for-pound (PFP or P4P) sounds familiar to you, you must know a thing or two about boxing. The phrase pound-for-pound caught on with boxers like Benny Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Sugar Ray for most of his boxing career measured just under 6 feet tall weighing 160 pounds. His size didn't curb an illustrious year, as he went on to win 173 out of 200 fights, with 108 knock outs. Many wondered if it weren't for his size, would he be the greatest boxer of all time?

For a sport like boxing, the reasons for judging athletes PFP seem painstakingly obvious. The sport involves such brute force that weight must be a huge determinant of success. So it makes sense to separate boxers into weight-classes and simply judge them on a PFP scale. In doing so, boxing has made incredible strides to level the playing field.

With the rise of mixed martial arts or MMA, the PFP criteria naturally found a second home. In December 2013, Ronda Rousey cracked the top 10 list for the PFP best MMA fighters, begging the question of whether gender had been properly taken into account. Perhaps women boxers were being left off the PFP boxing rankings for decades without acknowledgement. And why stop there? What about height? And age? How impressive was Satchel Paige playing ball until he was 15 days from turning 60? If Brady can becomes the oldest quarterback of all time to win a Superbowl, how significant would that be?

Answers to these questions would make for great story lines, but the stories we want to tell are about the everyday athlete? How does the 45-year-old triathlete stack up athletically to the 18-year-old captain of the high school football team? How does that 18-year-old stack up to all other 18-year-old linebackers across the country? How does a specific combination of age, height and weight affect your muscular endurance? Does reaching a certain weight cause a diminishing return in power that would negatively affect your standing broad jump and therefore your explosiveness?

These were a few of the basic questions that we set out to answer when beginning the first iteration of our algorithm that would power our PFP scoring. We took our raw understanding of athleticism and fitness and put our assumptions to work, scavenging through as much data as we could find. NBA and NFL Combine results, High School track meet scores, and literally anything else we could get our hands on. We wanted to remove our biases and let the data inform our judgments. We wanted to put aside where you are from, how much money you have, and how you look to let performance speak for itself. 

In order to do that, we needed to define "athleticism" at its core. With the direction of Dan Daly, our Head of Training, we agreed (not without some fights) on our four core pillars of athleticism: strength, power, quickness and endurance, each with a very specific definition. We then picked out fitness tests that we felt were indicative of athleticism and fit into one of our core pillars. We took as much data as we could on those different tests to train our algorithm to properly judge an athlete's PFP strength, power, quickness, and endurance.

While the result was incredibly exciting for our team, we recognize that this is just the start. Our algorithm and our PFP scoring is a living breathing organism. Remember, our mission is to standardize athletic performance so we can better inform training. We want our athletes to improve, whatever your goal may be. It could be to make a JV team, run a triathlon, or just increase your endurance compared to other 40-year-olds in the country.

We want Athlete Training Club to be the home for ALL athletes.

Now it's time to step up to the weekly fitness challenges! Get scored PFP and together we can level the playing field in athletic assessment. 

          - Andrew Starker, Co-Founder 

Week 2 Challenge Protocol: Max Push-Ups


This week we have a test of muscular endurance with the Max Rep Push Up Challenge! You have two minutes to execute as many push ups as you can. Set yourself up in a push up position and press your body upward. You must break 90 degrees with your elbow, every time you come up. If you need to take breaks between reps, you can only rest at the top. Partial reps won’t be counted.

Make sure you’re fully extending every time you push up! Remember you have two minutes to execute as many push ups as possible. The test ends after you stop or at the two-minute time frame. For a visual, see the video below. Let’s see what you got!



Why we test: Single Leg Bound


Training assessments should be specific to transferable skills in competition. Up to 80% of the demands of most sport is spent on a single leg. However, the majority of training and assessment protocols test athletes on two legs with little consideration for how that measure translates into athletic performance. Think about it like this...

When you jump for a layup, power through the hole on a football field or try to change directions on a tennis court, are you pushing off both legs equally or is one leg the "dominant leg"?  Yet how do we tend to train? Squats, Deadlifts, Box jumps - all bi-lateral - or balanced on both legs.

For this reason, athletes often perform well in two leg assessments, but cannot always transfer those skills to the single leg demands of their sport. 

Hence, the Athlete Training Clubs' week one test, the Single Leg Bound to Double Leg Landing. Like the classic broad jump, this test specifically measures an athlete’s explosive lower body horizontal power, but in a sport-specific way, on a single leg. Here coaches and athletes can more accurately assess an athlete’s elasticity and power, by their ability to rapidly load and stabilize on one leg, followed immediately by a rapid and explosive horizontal displacement forward, finished in a controlled two leg landing. Left to right leg capability, differentials, and asymmetries can easily be identified, providing valuable information to tailor training to improve performance, and reduce the risk of injury.

Coach Dan Daly, CSCS

Coach Dan Daly, CSCS

Welcome to the club

Welcome to the club

This goes out to all the athletes, young or old, big or small, talented or trying - this is for you.

Almost 3 years ago, while sitting at lunch, Mike Cicale and I started discussing the plight of the modern youth sports athlete. We discussed the disparity of resources, the inequity of opportunity and the lack of knowledge - and decided there had to be a way to help give kids more. 

We started working on the concept, brought it to a few friends (Andrew Nestor and Andrew Starker) who would become our partners in bringing this platform to life. Now, 3 years later, we're ready to start changing how athletes are assessed and train to achieve their goals.

Athlete Training Club is a digital strength and conditioning training platform for athletes. It's made up of 3 core components:

  1. Combine Challenges: Each week athletes will be challenged to complete a new fitness "test". From bench press to broad jumps, our challenges will test athletes across 4 key areas of fitness - STRENGTH, POWER, QUICKNESS AND ENDURANCE. Tests can be performed in any gym, and will use video submissions for verification.
  2. Coaching Feedback: We employ a collection of some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the country who will be in charge of reviewing every video submission. Our coaches will give personal feedback to every athlete on their performance, which will be pushed to their email to help them get better.
  3. Pound-for-Pound Scoring: Our proprietary algorithm will normalize all performance for age, height, weight and gender - giving athletes a true "pound-for-pound" assessment. Once assessed, athletes can check the leader board to see where they stack up against any other athlete - from the kid down the block to one of our pro-athlete partners

These tools will allow Athlete Training Club to change how athletes are assessed, compared and how they program their training. Because all of us want to get better - we just don't always know how or where we need to improve to achieve our goals.

To help launch Athlete Training Club we've partnered with Parisi Speed Schools and over 20 pro-athletes and celebrities to give away $20k in donations to high school athletic departments. Every week we'll be giving away $1,000 to the athletic department of the high school of our weekly challenge pound for pound winners.

3 Years ago we set out to change the game for athletes. To give them more information, better training resources and ultimately better opportunities. We cannot put into words how excited we are to be able to deliver on that goal. And much like your training - what Athlete Training Club looks like today is only a shadow of what we will become in the future. Every day we're going to work our assess off to give athletes more - because for you to get better, we need to get better as well. But for today,

Join the club. Take the challenges. See where you stack up.

            Welcome to Athlete Training Club,

            Benjamin Aronson: Tri-athlete, Soccer Midfielder, Wrestler, Co-Founder

Ben - 2011 NYC Triathalon

Ben - 2011 NYC Triathalon