With all factors being average, a man who is new to lifting should be able to bench press 178 pounds, while a beginning woman should be able to press 70 pounds. But there are many factors that must be taken into consideration for an accurate answer.
Anyone new to bench pressing invariably asks “How much should I be able to bench press?” The answer to that question depends on so many different factors that it varies crazily. But you need to know how much you should be able to lift so you can get started and reach your goals. So let’s dive right in and figure it all out, shall we? We’ll figure out how much you should be able to press in a single rep and as part of a workout.
Let's Get To It: How Much Should I Be Able To Bench Press?
The answer depends varies wildly according to several variables, but I’ll show you how to get a rough estimate based on those variables and fine tune it further into a more precise weight.
The main factors you have to consider are:
- Body weight
- Physical fitness level
- Recent or old injuries that may affect your strength or range of motion
Let me tell you right off that a figure based on a percentage of your body weight would be much more accurate than a weight in pounds. This is true regardless of any of the other variables I mentioned above.
I mentioned fine tuning your starting weight. That’s critical, because the amount you should be able to press will be different from someone else who has the same variables as you. This is because everyone is different.
Men, for example, can usually bench more than women. But that’s not always true. And there are older guys who can leave younger men in the dust when it comes to benching. Don’t worry. I’ll guide you into an answer. Just pay attention to the following FAQs to get started.
How Much Should A Man Be Able To Bench Press?
The average man should be able to press about 90 percent of his body weight. The formula is general, but simple: Bodyweight x .90 = the average weight you should be able to bench if all other factors are within the average. This formula can give you a ballpark estimate as to how much you should be able to bench.
How Much Should A Woman Be Able To Bench Press?
A woman, on average, should be able to press about 55 percent of her body weight. Don’t get mad, ladies. You may be able to lift much more than that. Your formula is the same as the men’s: Body weight x .55 = how much you should be able to lift is your are middle aged and in average physical condition.
Here’s where the ballpark estimate you got from the formula above can go way up or down.
As we get pass age 40, our muscles tend to wither a bit and get weaker. This is called sarcopenia, and it really comes home to roost at about 75 years of age. But it is usually avoidable. Strength training can prevent your muscles from aging somewhat.
Remaining physically active has the same effect as strength training. If you are 40 or older and have remained more or less active for most of your life, you’ll be able to lift way more than someone of the same age who is more sedentary. That’s a big part of the reason we workout, isn’t it?
So how does your body weight have an effect on how much you can lift? It has to do with your muscle conditioning. The more you weight, the more your muscles have to work to move your various body parts around. But there’s a big difference between muscle weight and weight from fat. If you want to learn more about starting a weight lifting workout program at home, be sure to read: how to start a weight lifting program at home.
If a big percentage of your body weight comes from muscle mass, your in good shape and should be able to press more than an obese person. If you have a high body mass index, which is above 25, you may not be able to bench the average body weight for your gender at all.
Physical fitness is an obvious factor. The better shape you’re in, the more you should be able to bench. Workout often, and reaching your bench press goal will be much easier. If you haven’t ever really worked out before, of if you’re not in the best shape, consider starting out with an aerobic or interval training program.
Injuries, past or current, can have a dramatic impact on the weight you can lift in a single rep and as part of a multi-set workout. You’ll obviously want to lift less if you’ve had any kind of arm or shoulder injury that haunts you.
The best thing to do is see a doctor if you’re in doubt about whether any serious past injuries may affect your ability to press. You doc will be able to you how much you can lift in this case.
How Do I Calculate My One Rep Bench Press Max?
One rep max, or 1RM, is a common bench press standard, You use this calculation to determine how much you should bench during your workouts. This formula is more complicated than the one that gives you an estimate of how much you should be able to bench press based on your gender.
But it is much more accurate, because it depends on a test you’ll put yourself through. There are none of those pesky variables to take into account. Your calculation will be tailored to your needs without regard to your gender, age or fitness.
But you should still make an appointment with your physician before doing the test if you have any lingering injuries, especially of the shoulders, arms or back.
Here’s the formula to calculate your bench press:
1RM: 1RM = W x (1+(r/30)). I’ll explain it after I tell you how to take the test.
The test takes into account how many reps you can press of a given weight.
Here’s the test. First, find a challenging weight. It should be heavy enough that you have to put some serious effort into lifting it, but not so stout that you can’t do multiple reps.
This weight will be the “w” in the above formula. The average 30 year old 180 pound man may find himself settling on about 165 pounds. A woman of the same age and weighing 140 pounds might find herself at around 75 pounds. But don’t take these estimates as law. Your results will likely be heavier or lighter.
So now you have your test weight. Take a good break and drink some water. This rest is critical. You don’t want to do the test until you’re back at 100 percent.
When you’re ready, get into good form on your bench and start lifting. Continue until you hit the point of muscle exhaustion. This is called failure. Go until you can’t lift another rep. The number of reps you can do becomes the “r” in the formula.
Now here’s how to work the formula. Do calculations in parenthesis first. So decide the number of reps you can do by 30. Then add one to that number. Now multiply that by the weight you got from your test. The answer is your one rep max.
How Much Of My One Rep Max Should I Bench In My Workouts?
This depends on your intentions. If you are wanting to add bulk, you should be doing less reps of a heavier weight. See where lifting 90 percent of your 1RM get you.
Are you wanting to add bench presses to your strength training plan? In this case, you should be doing more reps of a lower weight. Try 65 percent.
Now you know about how much you should be able to bench press. And you’ve discovered how to calculate the weight that you should be lifting in your workouts, whether your wanting to bulk up or gain strength. Just follow the formulas in this post.
The bench press tables at EXRX outline the recognized standards for bench pressing.