Of all the measurements to determine strength, why is the bench press popularly considered so important?
Most People go with what most people know. And Most People believe in flying saucers, ghosts, Nessie-The-Loch-Ness-Monster and consider the bench press to be the benchmark of strength measurement.
The only reason that a hoary Old Skool institution like The Flat Bench Press is thought by the majority of the armchair weight training public, and other amateurs in general, as the standard determinate in assessing overall strength is ignorance.
The “test” goes something like this:
Yo! Bro, how much d’ya bench?
And has little to do with assessing anything other than how strong the individual doing that particular lift is at doing that particular lift while using that particular lifting style.
So, in other words, it’s just a belief system to which lots of nice folks are sentimentally attached to. Basically, just Good-old-fashioned-urban-myth-gobbledy-gook-look-at-me-ma-bullshit.
Individuals vary wildly in their capacity to exhibit strength and power. It is not uncommon for an individual to be strong in one lift and pretty pedestrian in another. It is uncommon for someone to show maximum output in all possible lifts. These astonishing Lifter-unicorns do exist, but they are as rare as hen’s teeth. Have a look at the Strongest Man TV Series, the guy that gets closest to pulling off this miracle of miracle wins. I’ll give you house odds that he will crap out in some of those events.
For instance, hand grip strength using a dynamometer is used widely to measure overall fitness. But there are many individuals who have decent bench presses, can run a strong 100m dash, can’t do a pull-up, sporting a weak handshake who would, according to this criteria be placed at the bottom of the class.
The point here is that strength is a multifaceted quality and a single movement test like a bench press doesn’t exist that truly tests it.
Unfortunately, many people prefer a quick and easy way, even if it makes no sense, when attempting to judge most things.