September 07, 2021 8 min read

Push day.

If that didn’t make you jump out of the bed of excitement, I think you might need to go grab some pre-workout to get your head in the game. Bench press comprises one of three exercises that are the main focus in powerlifting.

Typically powerlifters incorporate both push and pull programs in their training split in order to master their technique and increase the amount of weight they can lift. Bench pressing is a great example of a push program but there is a good amount of pull going on as well.

However, just because the bench press is part of powerlifting and is popular amongst weightlifters, it does not mean you can’t incorporate it into your regular workout routine whether your goal is to build strength, build muscle or improve your overall fitness.

The bench press is an exercise that mainly targets the chest, front shoulders, triceps, and lats. The movements involved in the exercise allow you to focus specifically on those chest muscles as long as the movement is done in a safe environment with proper form.

Benefits of Incorporating The Bench Press Into Your Routine

1. Incredible Increase in Upper-Body Strength 

Although it is quite obvious, bench presses are one of the best movements to increase the amount of weight or resistance in your push routine. Also, once you increase the weight you can bench press, you allow yourself the opportunity to increase the amount of weight in your shoulder presses as well.

 strong bodybuilder athletic fitness man with strong and big chest muscles

study published in 2020 evaluated the impact physical characteristics had on maximal strength in the back squat, bench press, and deadlift. It showed that individuals with a higher BMI and Lean Body Weight typically had a greater bench press.

2. Good Indicator of Upper-Body Strength 

This exercise is used in multiple training programs such as NASM, one of the most respected fitness certifications nationwide, to predict an individual's upper body strength.

This is a great starting point for those of you who are just getting started as it allows you to find a starting point for your exercises. Experts typically advise lifters to use moderate intensity (75%-85% of their 1 rep max) to allow for muscle development with minimal risks of injury.

3. Increase Size of Pectolaris Major and Minor Muscle 

The main muscle of focus is your pec major, or essentially those chest muscles that make you instantly look better in your shirts or muscle tees. Your shirts will fit better and you'll be able to flex on everyone with your strength. 

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4. Improved Bone Health

Any weight-bearing exercise is great for bone health as it places a safe amount of weight and resistance to your muscles and bones which encourages an improvement in bone health. 

Osteoporosis is typically regarded as a health issue that only impacts the elderly but by activating a prevention mindset, you can prevent further injury in the future as you age that could keep you from being able to exercise all in all.

5. Beneficial For a Variety of Goals

Bench pressing is an extremely flexible movement that is beneficial for individuals with various strength levels, previous experience, and general goals. Whether you are an Olympic lifter, a bodybuilder, or just an average male looking to start lifting weights in the gym, incorporating bench presses is a great starting point.

Different Body Types and Their Impact on Bench Press Weight

Not one person is the same and there are endless factors that can impact how much you are capable of bench pressing. It's important to take into consideration the diversity of our muscles and bones to prevent injury and encourage efficient bench press movements. 

Bench pressing is one of those exercises that is quite dependent on the way that you're built but that doesn't mean you can't still perform the movement and improve your gains. 

There are three main factors that contribute to your one-rep max and I will be talking about them more throughout the article as well as different ways you can use these factors in your favor rather than view them as an obstacle or disadvantage.

1. Your Body Weight

The biggest predictor of how much you can press would be your muscle mass and therefore, it is no surprise that muscle mass is the main predictor for how much an individual will perform during their bench press. 

Your body weight impacts how much you can lift. If your weight is increasing due to increases in muscle strength, you are definitely getting stronger. Adding weight leads to bigger totals in general which allows you to lift more.

2. Your Arm Length

Arm length may not be the main predictor for strength but it still does impact how much you are capable of lifting. Individuals with longer arms have been shown to have a greater 1 rep max.

Those of you with longer arms can combat this by using a narrow grip to prevent injury in the shoulder region. It also allows you to keep your elbows tucked in more to make the lift go smoothly. 

3. Shoulder Width

Individuals who have wider shoulders have been shown to have a greater 1 rep max. If you have ever had a shoulder injury, you need to be extremely careful when it comes to performing bench presses but it doesn't mean that you should avoid the exercise all in all as long as you have gotten approval from a professional such as your physical therapist. 

There are some options that can allow you to perform the exercise such as subbing out the barbell flat bench for other lifts such as using a Smith Machine, using Dumbbells instead of the bar or simply performing a floor press. Consider having a spotter if you are first getting back into the gym after being approved to start working out again to ensure safety. 

How to Properly Determine The Average Bench Press Weight For Your Body Type

Other than the factors mentioned above, there are other determining factors to predict the average bench press weight for your body type. You have to consider things such as your size, fitness level, build, previous lifting experience, gender, or age.

Every person is different, though, so this is by no means a definitive answer but it gives you an idea of where you should stand and how to come up with a plan to efficiently achieve your goals. 

Generally speaking, the average man can typically lift heavier weights in comparison to the average woman. Studies have shown that men typically are the strongest between the ages of 20 to 30 and then their average bench press weight typically goes down from there. 

Refer to the information below to find a good starting point for you depending on your age and whether you are a male or a female.

Average weight for the bench press by age:

Age

Bench Press Weight

20-29 years old

100 percent of your body weight

30-39 years old

90 percent of your body weight

40-49 years old

80 percent of your body weight

50-59 years old

70 percent of your body weight


Bench press average (lbs) by weight:


Bodyweight

Untrained

Novice

Intermediate

Advanced

Pro

114 lbs

85

110

130

180

220

132 lbs

100

125

155

210

260

148 lbs

110

140

170

235

290

165 lbs

120

150

185

255

320

181 lbs

130

165

200

275

245

198 lbs

135

175

215

290

360

220 lbs

140

185

225

305

380

242 lbs

145

190

230

315

395

275 lbs

150

195

240

325

405

319 lbs

155

200

245

335

415


How to Increase Your Average Bench Press

Now that you know all the factors that come into play when it comes to bench pressing, you might be wondering how you can work your way up if you’re a complete beginner or if you’re quite advanced but have hit a plateau with your growth and gains.

There are numerous ways to continue increasing your upper body strength in order to bench press higher weights and I will go into more depth below.

1. Slowly Work Your Way Up. 

Rome wasn't built in a day so you shouldn't expect to be able to lift a ridiculous amount in just a day. It takes time to meet your goals and by slowly building your strength, you will prevent pain and injury. Patience is key when it comes to working your way up.

If you're not sure where to start and how much you should have from each category, check out this article to find out everything you need to know about macros to find a starting point.

2. Focus On Maintaining Good Form

Some people have the misconception that as long as they are increasing the weights they are using, they are building strength but this is extremely incorrect and it is quite a dangerous mindset to have. 

By pushing yourself way beyond your limits and over-exhausting yourself, you risk synergistic dominance which can lead to those helper muscles overcompensating to make up for your weaker muscles. This can lead to altered movement patterns in the long term which can take a good amount of time to reverse. 

Make sure you are pushing your feet into the floor, don't over-arch your back, and focus on pressing your weight into your shoulders and glutes on the bench.

3. Incorporate Variety In Your Workout Routine. 

Humans are creatures of habit and it is both a good and bad trait to have. While routine is good as it ensures we get things done, when it comes to working out, it is important to incorporate variety as your body can easily hit a plateau. 

Try including a variety of both aerobic and anaerobic exercises into your routine as well as stretches to increase flexibility throughout your body. It is also crucial that you take rest days in between heavy lifting sessions to allow your muscles to recover from the intense weight placed on them.

4. Consider Hiring A Personal Trainer

When it comes to exercises like bench pressing, there is definitely a lot of room for error as you are placing a lot of weight on your body and it is extremely important to have good form during this movement. Bench pressing and powerlifting are a form of art in the gym and there is nothing wrong with receiving guidance to get you started. 

Bench press weightlifting man with personal trainer in fitness gym

Personal trainers can be extremely beneficial to guide you through your fitness journey while making sure you are performing all the exercises safely and efficiently. They had to go through training to receive their certification so they will be able to give you tips and tricks for your technique to push you through your lifting journey.

Ask around at your local gym or ask friends or family if they know any personal trainers that they recommend.

5. Prioritize Your Diet

Incorporating a healthy diet by introducing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as the proper balance of carbs, fats, and proteins. It’s important to focus on the foods you are eating prior to your workout to make sure you have enough fuel to pump through your workout but it is also extremely important to eat enough carbs and protein post-workout as well to improve recovery and enhance your performance during your next workout.

In Conclusion

Regardless of what the reasoning behind your bench press journey is, the most important part is the fact that you took that first step in the right direction. Being a lifter is not easy and there may be many obstacles that come at you, but by dedicating your time and energy to reach your goals, anything is possible.

Using these average markers is a good way to get you started on your journey but it is not a definitive guideline. It is always good to seek out the advice of those around you in the gym to make sure you are performing the exercise with good form before even considering increasing the amount of weight you are benching.

Consistency is key when it comes to seeing results and although you will not see results immediately, the more committed you are, the faster you will see results. If you'd like to continue working on your upper body strength to look good in those new muscle tees, check out 7 Overhead Press Alternatives For Upper Body Mass.


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