The bench press is a compound exercise with many benefits for men and women. It’s important to know the average bench press weight, depending on your age, to optimize your workout.
We’ve found that the average weight you can lift is higher in your 20s and 30s but lower in your 40s and 50s.
This makes it vital to optimize your workout if you want to tone your body and build functional strength.
In this article, we’ll cover the data, plus some tips and techniques to achieve the average bench press by age every time.
Table of Contents
- Average Bench Press For Men (By Age)
- Average Bench Press For Women (By Age)
- Factors Affecting Bench Press Ability
- What Is Considered a Good Bench Press Target?
- How to Improve Your Bench Press (Tips & Techniques)
- What Are The Alternatives To The Standard Bench Press?
- Common Bench Press Questions
Average Bench Press For Men (By Age)
Whether you’re a man looking to get into bench pressing to increase your upper body strength or already a seasoned pro, knowing the average bench press by age is crucial.
That way, you can compare where you are now to where you think you should be.
Most men can lift heavier weights than women because their average bench strength is higher.
This makes sense because men have greater upper body strength than women in most cases. But where a man falls across the spectrum from untrained to elite can vary widely based on age.
We’ll break down the figures by age bracket, so you can skip to the heading that covers your average bench press.
It’s important to remember that these are only estimates for the average male, and how much weight you can lift will depend on your weight and various factors we’ll cover later on.
At the age of 20, a man should be capable of lifting 100% of his own weight for his average bench press reps. This generally continues into his late twenties.
Without any training experience, it will take a young man a few months of consistent workouts with proper form to reach this level.
Between the ages of 30-39, the average bench capacity a man is able to bench press declines to about 90% of his body weight.
This isn’t much of a difference from 100%, and that’s because male lifters can maintain their muscle mass quite easily into their 30s.
This is true whether they’re a novice lifter or an elite athlete.
After the age of 40, strength levels for men decline due to lowering testosterone levels. An effective workout routine can counteract this, but it’s not entirely avoidable.
It becomes harder to build muscle, even with the proper technique and good form.
Generally, men in their forties can bench press 80% of their body weight, which is still pretty decent for most purposes.
Once a man enters his 50s, his lifting experience from earlier years will come in handy to ensure safety and maintain a decent fitness level.
This is because the body is weaker than the previous decade, and muscles are easier to strain. The bench press average usually equates to 75% body weight.
Below The Age Of 20
Bench pressing, whether with just the bar or with weight added, is quite different for those under the age of 20.
This age group is still developing through adolescence, and the usual bench press standards don’t apply.
Reaching 100% body weight bench presses is still possible, but not at 12-17. The male body cannot do full weightlifting at this age as the proportions aren’t right.
Instead, boys of this age can hit a bench press weight of 0.5-0.8 times their weight.
But at age 18 and onwards, a well-trained male should be able to do a bench press of 0.5-2x their weight.
Average Bench Press For Women (By Age)
If you’re a woman keen to hit the gym to improve muscle mass, it’s vital to review the bench press by age for women. It’s not the same as the figures for men, so we’ve added a separate section.
Women will have a bench press weight lower than the male equivalent, regardless of age. Your fitness level is just as much a variable as it is for men.
For example, untrained women lift much less than an advanced lifter with a personal trainer.
As with the weight figures for men, we’ll split this section into age brackets and cover the bench press standards for women in each one.
Bear in mind that these are only average bench press figures. This means yours may vary depending on factors like strength levels and weight class.
Between the ages of 20-29, an untrained female lifter can expect an average bench weight of 0.25-0.4x her body weight.
Lifting a heavier weight at this age is possible depending on weight training and the person’s weight.
One thing that might help improve your bench press is wearing a weightlifting belt to help stabilize your core and create intra-abdominal pressure. Check out our guide to the best women's weightlifting belts here.
The weight of a bench press for the average woman in this age bracket declines gradually to 0.2-0.3x body weight.
But the weight also depends on muscle development, amount of training, and other factors. This means the max bench press weight could be higher, as these are only average figures.
Female lifters in this age bracket will be less able to bench press if they don’t lift weights regularly.
The entire body will lack sufficient strength. But if a woman is an intermediate lifter, her average bench weight will remain steady at 0.2-0.3x body weight.
With age, the chest muscles weaken, and the one rep max necessarily decreases. Even on a flat bench, the average for a woman aged 50-59 will be 0.15-0.25x her weight.
If a woman has had a good workout regimen for her entire life, she may be able to lift more weight.
Below The Age Of 20
Average women under 20 need a different approach to the average bench because their bodies have yet to develop fully.
A single rep making a meaningful difference in a set will only be possible at 0.4-0.7x a girl's own body weight.
This range remains the average from age 13-17 but increases slightly to 0.8x after 18. This is because the body's muscle structure is more developed at this age.
With sufficient training, goals like fat loss, strength training, and muscle toning should all be achievable for women in this age bracket.
Factors Affecting Bench Press Ability
Several factors affect bench press ability. One of the peer-reviewed studies from the National Strength and Conditioning Association mentions that
“multiple factors contribute to 1RM BP with variables such as lean body mass, the agonist CSA, brachial index, and strength of the elbow and shoulder flexors being the greatest predictors of performance.”
In other words, if you want to build strength by doing the bench press, the effectiveness of the exercise will be affected by a person’s body weight and the strength of various muscles in the body. But there are also many other factors.
The weights you lift will determine your ability to hit higher performance levels.
For example, if you only lift smaller weights, then you won’t build muscle as you won’t be exerting them enough.
Your weight class will affect the average bench amount regardless of your age.
If you can bench press more than the average for your weight class, then your performance in the bench press depends on training and age.
Another influence on your average performance is your grip width. According to Taylor Strength,
“Bench press lifting performance increases as grip width is increased up to approximately twice the biacromial width…” Biacromial refers to the shoulder width.
Below are two tables covering the average bench press weights for men and women depending on their body weight and training level.
What Is Considered a Good Bench Press Target?
Now that you’re aware of the average figures for your age and weight, you’re probably wondering what you should be able to bench press with a targeted workout.
Ultimately, your bench press target will depend on where you fall among the data we’ve covered above, plus other exercises you do and the number of rest days you take each week.
Level of fitness will also influence your performance, as will the existence of any long-term injuries.
With all this in mind, the average man should aim to bench press 1.5x his body weight, and a woman should aim to achieve 0.85x her body weight.
For an ambitious target, we recommend 2x for men and 1x for women.
How to Improve Your Bench Press (Tips & Techniques)
Warm-Up and Build Gradually
It’s vital to prepare for the bench press regardless of your weight class, age, or gender.
The average person should warm up using dynamic stretching and mobility drills, increasing blood flow and improving motion.
Activation exercises are also extremely beneficial for priming stabilizer muscles.
Use Progressive Overloading
Every week you spend on the bench in the gym should be tougher than the last, and that’s achieved by adding more weight.
The total weight should depend on your personal bests tracked over time, but it will be a small amount. Doing this will allow you to increase your one rep max too.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Regardless of how much you can bench press, you won’t make the most of it unless you’re eating well. That means plenty of fresh fruits and a good source of protein like red meat or eggs will be greatly beneficial.
Your body will use the nutrients you provide to ensure your muscles grow stronger after every workout.
Use Good Form and Technique
When doing a bench press, your form and technique must be correct, no matter your weight class.
The forms and techniques vary based on whether you're using an inclined bench or doing a dumbbell bench press.
What matters most is getting your form and technique checked before you exercise with heavy weights.
Train For Strength (Low Reps, Heavier Weight)
If you want to build strength as you work out regardless of your weight class, a great idea is to lower the number of reps and increase the weight.
If you perform a lot of reps with a lower amount of weight, you're training for endurance. To train for strength, you must reverse that when doing a bench press.
Workout With A Qualified Trainer
Getting a good exercise program involving the bench press is much easier if you rely on a qualified personal trainer to show you what you don’t know.
They’ll also be able to show you alternatives like the incline bench press and how to make the best of a smaller bone structure or a challenging weight class.
Use The RPE Scale
Once you know the weight for the average bench press by age bracket, you can also measure how tough you’re finding the exercise.
This is done with the RPE scale, which stands for The Rate of Perceived Exertion. It ranges from 1-10, with each number having a specific definition.
You can use it to test how much you can bench press comfortably.
Change Bench Press Movement/Style
A handy way to improve your average bench press performance is to rely on alternatives. We mentioned some earlier, like the incline or dumbbell variants.
You can practice both to find which ones give you the best results over time.
Also Check Out - 7 Different Bench Press Grips
Train Accessory Muscles
The bench press uses primary and assistant muscles, and these latter muscles are important to train so they can support you as you lift.
These muscles are the shoulder blades, upper back, and biceps. You can perform strength sports to help exert them in between workouts.
Try these other chest workouts to push past your bench press plateau!
Don't Overlook Recovery
Whenever you exercise, it’s tempting to keep pushing yourself all the time. But this only tires out your muscles and stops your gains in their tracks.
This is why it’s vital to have rest days and allow yourself to recover.
What Are The Alternatives To The Standard Bench Press?
The pec deck is a great way to focus on your chest muscles, particularly the pectorals.
It’s done using a similar form to a chest fly, effectively building muscle mass and strength in the chest and supporting muscles.
Bent-Forward Cable Crossover
A specialized exercise targeting the sternal heads in the base of the chest, the bent-forward cable crossover also works, activating muscles in the shoulders and back.
This makes it a worthy alternative to the bench press because it covers a similar range of muscles.
Incline Dumbbell Fly
This exercise is a great way to isolate the chest muscles without using a machine. Instead, you use dumbbells in such a way that they bypass the triceps. This allows you to focus on the chest.
See Related - Best Bench Press Alternative Exercises
Common Bench Press Questions
Which muscle groups does the bench press target?
The bench press targets the chest, the arms, and the shoulders. Specifically, the exercise will work your front deltoids, triceps, and both the pec major and the pec minor.
Can you work different parts of the chest using different bench angles?
Yes, you can. If you select a 30-degree angle, you can focus the exercise on the upper pecs. If you go for a steeper angle, you can work on the delts. Regardless of weight class, the best options are the incline and decline bench presses.
Is 225lbs a good bench press for a 150lb man?
Yes, it is. According to Strength Level, a 150lb male lifter should be capable of lifting 182lbs at the intermediate level and 240lbs at the advanced level. This means 225lbs is a respectable amount to lift within this weight class.
Can a woman bench press as much as a man?
No, women will almost always bench press less than men. This is true no matter what weight class the woman is because the average weight lifted is 0.5-0.8x body weight for women and 1x-2x body weight for men.
What is the bench press record for a 65-year-old man?
The American Steadman Mathews holds the world record for the heaviest single-lift bench press in the 65-69 age bracket. He belongs to the 242lb weight class and lifted 402.3lbs.
How do you calculate your 1 rep max?
All you need to do to calculate your 1 rep max on the bench press is divide your total reps by 30, add 1, and multiply by the amount of weight lifted.
How much can the average teenager bench press?
The average weight a teenager can bench press depends on gender, age, and weight class. For example, a 15-year-old boy weighing 120lbs who is a beginner lifter should be able to bench press 67lbs.
The average bench press will vary considerably depending on a range of factors covered in this article.
You should now be confident to review your situation and see where you should be.
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Last Updated on January 17, 2023