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How much should I be able to bench?

Whether you’re a beginner at weight training or a seasoned lifter, it can be tough to know how much you should be able to bench press.

Your bench press standard is the amount you should be able to bench, but this depends on more than just your iron will. The reason why this is difficult to pinpoint is because of several evolving factors: your strength and endurance level, weightlifting experience, age, and weight, to name a few. This explains why athletes can bench twice the amount as the average Joe. Your body type and gender also play a role in your bench press standard.

If you’re planning on starting or killing your bench press routine, you need to know these factors about yourself as well as your limits.

Start at the Bottom

The weight bench is not the place to try being a hero. Benching more than you’re supposed to can cause injury or even your untimely death, so start light and increase your load slowly. If you’ve never benched before, try lifting about 22 pounds and work on your technique. You can add more weight once you have gained more experience. Don’t be ashamed to start benching with just the bar if that’s all you can manage at this stage.

Keep in mind that spotters are important for both experienced and beginner lifters, but more so for the latter. They can help you improve your form as much as they can assist you when you’re in a tight spot. Do not undervalue them!

When you’re choosing your spotter, it’s best to choose someone who has more experience at benching than you. They don’t have to be a pro, but they should have mastered the proper form so they could help you do the same.

The Bench Press Average

Now, let’s talk about the different categories of lifters and their respective bench press standards.

When I talk about beginners, I mean those who have been benching for at least a month and who already know how to lift properly. If you fall into this category, you should be able to lift more weight than 5% of your fellow lifters. It’s not much, but remember that you are still at the beginner level. Carry on and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a powerhouse lifter.

Novices are stronger than 20% of other lifters. You belong in this category if you’ve been going to the gym regularly for at least 6 months.
Intermediate-level lifters have been training for at least 2 years. They are stronger than 50% of other lifters, which is already a feat in itself. But do not get too comfortable if you are already in this category. Keep pushing yourself if you want to move up and become an advanced lifter. The advanced category is for those who have been training for 5 years. Lifters in this level are stronger than 80% of other lifters.

The last and highest level is the elite category. Elite lifters or the pros are stronger than 95% of lifters. They also have more than 5 years of competitive lifting under their belt.

Keep in mind these are all generalities. It’s okay if you fall a bit below or above these numbers.

Men & Women

Here’s what you need to remember about weightlifting for men and women:

Listen up, guys: you are strongest in your twenties and thirties. Your strength and power begin to decline once you hit your forties. For your own safety, you need to keep this in mind when working out how much you should be benching.

Here is a handy guide that can help male and female lifters determine how much they should bench:

Men’s Guide

Body Weight (lb) Beginner Novice Intermediate Advanced Elite
114 85 110 130 180 220
123 90 115 140 195 240
148 110 140 170 235 290
181 130 165 200 275 345
220 140 185 225 305 380

If you prefer to bench press according to your age (which is the safer alternative), follow this guide instead:

Age range % of bodyweight to lift
Up to 29 years 100% of your body weight
Up to 39 years 90% of your body weight
Up to 49 years 80% of your body weight

Women's Guide

Body Weight (lb) Beginner Novice Intermediate Advanced Elite
97 50 65 75 95 115
114 60 75 80 100 125
148 75 90 105 135 165
181 85 110 120 160 195
198 90 115 130 165 205

Want to increase the weight you’re benching?

Go slow and steady.

If you’re expecting to become a powerhouse lifter overnight, you need to let that go. It just won’t happen. Work on your form first and add more weight after you have perfected it. You’ll see your numbers rise much more quickly this way.

Eat better.

Eat nutritious, protein-rich foods that build lean muscle such as eggs, salmon, tuna, and chicken breast. Incorporate fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats into your daily meals. And make sure you stay hydrated with the right stuff (I mean water, electrolyte, and protein drinks, not alcohol). You need to drink enough liquids before, during, and after your workout.

Keep pushing yourself.

You’ll get more from your routine when you add variety to it and creating muscle confusion. Keep things interesting by adding a twist to your exercises. Doing some cardio each week will help you get stronger and help prevent injury. Make sure you also warm up, stretch and cool down before and after your routine. Be consistent in the program you choose and continue to challenge yourself or you’ll never progress to the next stage. When an exercise becomes too easy for you, take it up a notch.

Knowing how much you should be able to bench is important to know so you can set realistic goals for achievable results. Take note of these numbers but remember, they are just numbers on a page. It’s up to you to apply and follow them if you want to become a powerful muscle-building machine.

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