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Average Bench Press By Age, Weight, Gender, and Experience Level

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It is no secret the bench press is one of the most badass exercises. Answering “How much do you bench?” with an obnoxious number has become a legit way of establishing your clout amongst the gym bros.

While this question might sound like casual inquiry, it is anything but that. Your answer will determine the respect you will get from people at your gym. It will dictate whether folks at your gym will vacate the bench or any other equipment, for that matter, as soon as you walk up to it. Finally, your response will decide if you will have an audience when you head into a set.

The bench press is one of the three big lifts in powerlifting and a bread and butter exercise in bodybuilding style workouts. However, powerlifters and bodybuilders have a slightly different approach to performing the exercise. 

While powerlifters perform the lift with a back bridge, bodybuilders usually perform the movement with a slight back arch. Amongst other things, the rep tempo, repetitions performed, bar’s motion path, and foot placement vary between the two lifting styles.

In this article, you’ll learn about the average bench press by age, gender, weight, and experience level, how to perform the bench press with the correct form, and get better at the lift.

Average Bench Press By Age, Weight, Experience Level, and Gender

Before we get into the average bench press nitty-gritty, let’s address the elephant in the room — arm length. 

Your arm length can influence your bench press. Many people believe that lifters with shorter limbs can bench press more weights than folks with longer limbs as the bar has to move through a shorter range of motion.

It could be one of the reasons the bench-pressing totals at the NFL and NBA draft combines are vastly different.

Related: 24 Strongest NFL Players in the World

How much can the average man bench press?

The average male bench press depends on several factors, including a lifter’s age, gender, weight, and experience level.

Average Male Bench Press by Weight

The Bench Press

Below is the National Strength and Conditioning Association-approved ExRx.net official Bench Press Standards chart:

Body weight (pounds) Untrained Novice Intermediate Advanced Elite
114 85 110 130 180 220
123 90 115 140 195 240
132 100 125 155 210 260
148 110 140 170 235 290
165 120 150 185 255 320
181 130 165 200 275 345
198 135 175 215 290 360
220 140 185 225 305 380
242 145 190 230 315 395
275 150 195 240 325 405
319 155 200 245 335 415
320+ 160 205 250 340 425

Per the data, an advanced or elite male athlete can, on average, lift more than twice as much weight as an individual who doesn’t lift.

Note: These standards apply when the bar makes contact with the chest above the bottom of the sternum with a momentary pause and pressed to full elbow extension.

How much can the average woman bench press?

Women, on average, cannot lift as heavy as their male counterparts of the same age, weight, and experience level.

Average Female Bench Press by Weight

Female Bench Press

Per the same ExRx.net official Bench Press Standards chart listed above, here is the average bench press of women of different weights and experience levels:

Body weight (pounds) Untrained Novice Intermediate Advanced Elite
97 50 65 75 95 115
105 55 70 80 100 125
114 60 75 85 110 135
123 65 80 90 115 140
132 70 85 95 125 150
148 75 90 105 135 165
165 80 95 115 145 185
181 85 110 120 160 195
198 90 115 130 165 205
199+ 95 120 140 175 220

Unlike men, women at the advanced lifting stage cannot bench press twice as much as the females who don’t train. However, elite athletes can lift more than twice as much as their non-lifting peers.

Average Male and Female Bench Press by Age

Age Total Weight
20-29 100 percent of your body weight
30-39 90 percent of your body weight
40-49 80 percent of your body weight
50-59 75 percent of your body weight

You shouldn’t get under a bar and expect to bench press 100 percent of your body weight just because you’re in your 20s. Depending on your genetics, you might have to train for at least a couple of years to reach the benchmarks mentioned in the table.

Bench Press

According to the data, lifters (male and female) are usually the strongest in their 20s and 30s. However, they experience muscle and strength atrophy in their 40s and 50s.

On average, men and women between 20 and 29 can bench press 100 percent of their body weight. The number goes down to 90 percent when they enter their 30s.

The bench press strength undergoes a further downgrade as an average individual can only lift 80 percent of their body weight in their 40s and 75 percent in their 50s.

A fall in natural testosterone levels is one of the biggest reasons for the strength downgrade. Testosterone is the male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. It plays a key role in the development of male reproductive organs and secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass and body hair growth.

Related: 7 Ways To Boost Your Testosterone Naturally

Overall Average Male and Female Bench Press

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (CDC), an average American male weighs 197.8 pounds, meaning the average bench press of a man in his 20s who doesn’t lift is 135 pounds or 175 pounds for a rookie lifter. The average bench press jumps to 215 pounds for an intermediate lifter, 290 pounds for an advanced lifter, and 360 pounds for an elite athlete. [1]

On the other hand, an average American female clocks in at 170.5 pounds. As per the table above, a 165 pounds woman (closest to 170.5 pounds) with no lifting experience can bench press 80 pounds or 95 for a novice.

The average bench press jumps to 115 pounds for an intermediately experienced woman of average weight and 145 pounds for an advanced lifter.

Calculate Your 1RM (One Rep Max)

Now that you know the average bench press for your age, weight, gender, and experience level, the next step should be to determine your one-rep max, meaning how much weight you can lift for a single rep on the bench press.

While you could find your 1RM with the trial and error method, it is risky and could lead to injuries. Check out our convenient bench press calculator to discover your one-rep max using different methods.

How to Bench Press

If your goal is to lift heavy and hit a PR, you should follow the powerlifting bench press method. This is how to bench press like a powerlifter:

  1. Lie down on a flat bench. Your chest should be directly under the bar.
  2. Grab the bar tightly with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
  3. Slowly pull yourself towards the bar so that you form a back bridge.
  4. Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Your lower legs should form a 90-degree angle with your upper legs.
  5. Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest — this will be your starting position.
  6. Slowly lower the bar towards the bottom of your breastbone until you have made contact with your chest.
  7. Pause at the bottom for a couple of seconds.
  8. Explode back to the starting position.
  9. Repeat for recommended reps.

Check out our barbell bench press (chest) guide to learn how to perform the exercise for achieving muscle hypertrophy. 

How to Improve Your Bench Press

Here are a few ways to improve your bench press:

1. Progressive Overloading

If you want to improve your bench press, you should gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine.

However, make sure you’re not rushing through the process and biting off more than you can chew. Focus on lifting with the correct form to minimize the risk of injury.

Check Out: Muscle Development With Progressive Overload – The Concept You Must Know To Grow!

2. Incorporate Advanced Training Techniques Into Training

Advanced training principles like supersets, dropsets, intraset stretching, negatives, and forced reps can help you build strength and avoid hitting a plateau.

Additionally, performing other compound and isolation lifts can build your primary and secondary muscles and improve your bench press.

Related: The 25 Best Joe Weider Training Principles and Methods

3. Focus on Diet

You cannot achieve peak performance if you’re not meeting your daily calorie, micro, and macronutrient goals. Follow a nutrient-dense diet to ensure your gains do not stall.

Related: Our List Of 40 Great Protein-Packed Foods

4. Don’t Overlook Recovery

It doesn’t matter how hard you work in the gym — you’re not going to see progress if you’re not giving your body enough time to rest and recuperate from your workouts.

You should also include stretching, foam rolling, and massages into your routine to fast-track your recovery.

Related: 8 Ways to Speed Up Recovery After Training

FAQs

What is a good bench press for a male?

It is a subjective question, and the answer depends on your age, weight, gender, and experience level. Please refer to the table above to check the bench press weight against your body weight. The numbers in the advanced and elite columns can be considered ‘good.’

Which muscle groups does the bench press target?

In a bench press, the chest is the primary target muscle, and your shoulders and triceps are the secondary muscle groups.

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Wrapping Up

Whether the bench press is the correct exercise to assess your strength is a debate for another time. However, knowing the average bench press by age, weight, gender, experience level, and how you stack against it can give you a fair idea of your strength levels.

Remember, if you can bench your own body weight or more, don’t be shy to flaunt your numbers the next time someone directs a “How much do you bench?” at you. Rest assured, they’ll walk away impressed.

References

  1. McDowell MA, Fryar CD, Ogden CL, Flegal KM. Anthropometric reference data for children and adults: United States, 2003–2006. National health statistics reports; no 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2008.



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