July 23, 2014

Phil Taylor was bench-pressing “300-something” pounds when he got hurt

Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland caught up with Phil Taylor yesterday at the NFL Play 60 youth clinic being held at the Cleveland Browns training facility. The headline is that Taylor hopes to play in 2012, but won’t rush his return to the field. What stuck out to me, though, was Taylor’s detail about how he hurt himself.

Taylor said he was bench-pressing “300-something” pounds when he felt something, but “it didn’t hurt. I didn’t know what it was.” An MRI the next day revealed the muscle was torn. Surgery was performed on May 16.

I’m not a doctor and I’m not even an amateur weight trainer, but bench-pressing 300-something pounds is substantial for anyone. I am unaware of what Phil Taylor’s full training regimen includes, but I was reminded of something I read recently from a PhD named Robert Libertine Starr from the International Sports Science Association. He was calling into question the benefits of athletes, specifically football players, benching.

It is a proven fact that the real benefits in weight training come from squatting and pulling movements. Pushing movements are important; however, pushing movements done in the vertical position far outweigh the benefits of pushing movements done in the horizontal position. Some coaches feel that a big BP (bench-press) equates to the football lineman having superior prowess on the line of scrimmage. Nonsense!

Players in the trenches on the line of scrimmage must first start with a strong and stable three point stance. This must then transfer to a solid free-standing position as they face their opponents across from them on the field. And the only way that a big BP could equate directly to such a position’s strength is if there was a vertical and stationary pole or wall on the field so that the player could brace his back against it while pushing out away from his body…

So, if you want to equate that foundation of strong legs and back, then squatting and power cleans would be the best barbell movements to train on, not the bench press.

Obviously this isn’t to criticize Phil Taylor for lifting and working out. I do find it interesting from the perspective of the evolution of training and exercise. At some point, this is the kind of science that could present a substantial competitive advantage for a football team, and it is something we often don’t talk about at all. We’re too busy calling out 7-yard pass plays on 3rd and 8, but maybe the battle could have really been won in the weight room by working smarter and keeping guys off of the training and operating tables.

  • architrance

    Weak sister.

  • Chucky Brown

    300 something is pretty pedestrian for an NFL lineman, Id imagine that he was still warming up

  • floydrubino

    Terrell suggs got hurt playing b-ball. No matter what you do there is risk to exercising in general. The most important thing to come out of this situation is Cleveland should have a cutting edge exercise program in place seeing how this is a billion dollar industry.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    The roster has him listed at 335. Even if he was high in the 300′s, that’s still barely over his body weight. That’s not that much for an NFL caliber, professional athlete.

  • MrCleaveland

    No opinion from Jim Brown?

  • kingf0x23

    I’m a strength coach, I bench 350+ regularly. I’ve strained my pec on 325. Just happened for no reason. But, there is some school of thought that BP isn’t necessary, but some doctors also think squats aren’t either. Phil is a 300Lbs man, so benching like that should be fine. It just happened thats all.

  • 5KMD

    I think for DLine benching is important in terms of the brute strength, at the end of your rope, perseverance strenght. Fourth quarter, everyone is hurt and tired and you have to beat your guy and make the play. That’s what benching is, more of a mind frame issues.
    I’ve heard bicep curls are useless as well for any sport but almost everyone does those as well.

  • steve-o

    I have been lifting weights for nearly 30 years and I can tell you from experience that the key to avoiding injury is properly stretching and warming-up prior to lifting. Preparing for a workout sometimes takes longer than the workout itself. It is also important to have good form while lifitng and avoid herky-jerky type motions. I have witnessed, in horror, professional trainers misguiding their clients to inevitable injury. Unfortunately, trainers often do not know what they are doing. We’ve had several injuries in the weight room, so this seems like more than a fluke. If I’m the Browns, I definitely do a thorough review of our strength training program.
    As for the bench press – it is the most over-rated, out-dated exercisie in existance. The strait bar restricts motion and puts an unnecessary strain on the joints. It is much, MUCH better to do presses using dumbells, which do not put the same type of strain on your joints. If I’m a Browns trainer, not one of our players would bench with a strait bar – ever.

  • BA

    You know darn well Phil was in the weight room “BSing” with the guys. Someone says, bet u can’t bench 375…then he tears his pec. End of story.

  • Petefranklin

    He was probably warming up.

  • mgbode

    benching may be 10th most important strength set as an OL, but it’s still important and he should be doing everything he can to be strong there too.

    stretching only does so much when you’ve gotten your muscles to hit their peak strengths (trainers job is to manage that)

    not a story, it’s a bummer, but it’s going to happen when athletes are pushing their bodies to the brink like they should be doing. sometimes you cross that line.