The bench press is one of the three basic powerlifting exercises, and the only one of the three that targets the upper body muscles.
Accordingly, the bench press gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so: it is a highly effective exercise for the pushing muscles such as the pectoralis major and minor of the chest, the deltoid in the shoulders, the serratus anterior, and the triceps.
But most athletes want to know: “How much should I be able to bench press?”
In other words, what is the average bench press by age and weight? What is a “good bench press weight” or a good women’s bench press weight and a good men’s bench press weight?
In this guide, we will look at the average bench press by age, sex, body weight, and training level, helping answer the question: “How much should I be able to bench?”
We will look at:
- How Much Should I Be Able to Bench Press?
- How Much Should I Be Benching?
Let’s get started!
How Much Should I Be Able to Bench Press?
Most athletes, even recreational people just trying to stay fit, want to know how strong they are and if they are “competitive“ in terms of how much weight they are lifting.
For this reason, one of the most common questions is: how much should I be benching or how much should I be able to bench for my age?
Some of the most common questions that fall under this category include:
- What is a good bench press weight for women?
- What is a good bench press weight for men? What is the average bench press for women vs men?
- What is a good bench press for beginners?
- What is the bench press average by age?
- Should I be able to bench press my body weight?
- Is bench pressing your body weight good or above average?
There aren’t necessarily bench press standards for everyday weightlifters that are universally agreed upon, though there are bench pressing standards for powerlifters and competitive weightlifters.However, unless you are a competitive powerlifter, it is more helpful to understand what the average bench press by age is or what constitutes a good bench press weight for your sex, body weight, and age so that you can get a sense of how much you should be able to bench relative to your peers.
One of the best resources to find the average bench press weight by age, a good women’s bench press weight, an average men’s bench press weight, or what a good bench press by body weight is is the vast records of max bench press lifts recorded by the community of everyday lifters on Strength Level.
This site has data that can help you find the average bench press by age, sex, and body weight in pounds or kilograms based on fitness level by aggregating data from their community members through 33,080,981 lifts.
Based on this data, here are the bench press standards for men by age:
Average Bench Press By Age: Men
The average bench press for men by body weight is also available.
We have manipulated this data showing the men’s bench press by body weight into one table that shows pounds and kilograms for body weight as well as bench press weight in pounds and kilograms based on fitness level.
To find out how much men should be able to bench based on body weight, look for your body weight in pounds or kg on the left, and then you can see the average max bench press standards for each strength training level in the columns to the right.
Again, remember that these are the bench press 1RM standards, which is the maximum bench press weight you can lift for one complete rep with proper technique.
So, how do you interpret this data?
If you ask the question, “How much should I be able to bench for my weight?” you should look at your training level and then the average bench press 1RM for your body weight, or look at the first table to find the average bench press by age for men for those in your same training level and see how you compare.
A “good bench pressing weight“ would be benching a weight that is at or above the bench press norm for your age or body weight and training level.
According to the training levels given on Strength Level for bench press weight standards:
- Beginners have just started weightlifting.
- Novice weightlifters usually have less than six months of training.
- Intermediate lifters have been training for six months to 1-2 years.
- Advanced lifters have been lifting weights for more than two years.
The other way to look at these bench press standards charts is to look at how much you can bench at your bench press 1RM and then see where it falls in the training levels.
If you are below the bench pressing weight standard based on your training level and age or weight, your strength is below average.
If your max bench press is higher than the average bench press weight for men of your age or weight, you are above average relative to your peer group.
One important caveat to bear in mind when looking at these average bench press weights is that the max benching weights were self-reported by users on a website.
That said, with nearly 33 million logged lifts, the average bench press weights by training level and the other criteria here are certainly crowdsourced from a very large pool of data.
How Much Should Men Be Able to Bench Press?
The following chart shows the overall average weight for bench press in pounds, kilograms, and body weight for men using Strength Level data:
|Strength Level||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)||Bodyweight Ratio|
|Beginner||47 kg||103 lb||0.50x|
|Novice||70 kg||154 lb||0.75x|
|Intermediate||98 kg||217 lb||1.25x|
|Advanced||132 kg||291 lb||1.75x|
|Elite||169 kg||372 lb||2.00x|
Based on these bench press standards from Strength Level, when all of the max bench press data is aggregated, the average bench press weight for men is 98 kg or 217 pounds at the intermediate level, which represents benching bodyweight times 1.25.
Thus, men who are benching bodyweight loads with their bench press 1RM are considered to be between the average novice and intermediate bench pressing load.
Based on this data, a good bench press for beginners for men would be 103 pounds or benching half your body weight.
If we are trying to look at the average bench press weight for men overall, we can look at the bench press standards and then use the average body weight for men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average body weight for an adult male in the United States is 199.8 pounds.
For men, benching bodyweight divided by two is a good bench weight for beginners, so a good beginner bench press weight for men would be 100 pounds using this data.
Looking at the tables above, using 200 pounds as the average adult male body weight, we can determine that a good male bench press weight at the intermediate level would be 246 pounds.
How Much Should Women Be Able to Bench Press?
The female bench press standards or average bench press for females is lower than that for males because men tend to be stronger based on their body size and higher percentage of lean body mass.
The table below shows the average bench press weight for women by age, presented in pounds and kilograms based on training level using data for female bench press weights from Strength Level:
Average Bench Press By Age: Women
The table below shows the average bench press for women by body weight.
Here again, you can find the bench press standards by body weight in pounds and kilograms based on training level:
Finally, you can see the overall women’s bench press averages for women when all of the female bench press 1RM standards are aggregated.
|Strength Level||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)||Bodyweight Ratio|
|Beginner||17 kg||38 lb||0.25x|
|Novice||31 kg||69 lb||0.50x|
|Intermediate||51 kg||111 lb||0.75x|
|Advanced||74 kg||164 lb||1.00x|
|Elite||101 kg||223 lb||1.50x|
The average bench press weight for all women at the beginner level is 38 pounds for 17 kg, or benching a quarter of your body weight.
For advanced-level lifters, the average female bench press weight is bench pressing bodyweight.
As with the average weight for bench press 1RM for men, we can determine a good bench press weight for women using these bench press norms for females along with the average body weight for adult women.
According to the CDC, the average body weight for an adult female in the United States is 170.8 pounds.
Therefore, a good beginner bench press weight for women is 23 pounds. A good bench press for women at the intermediate level is 57 pounds.
Again, keep in mind that these standards for bench press averages are based on the average American woman in terms of body weight.
You can find out how much weight you should be able to bench based on your actual body weight using the tables provided earlier.
How Much Should I Be Benching?
Regardless of whatever bench press standards are provided above, it is important to distinguish that the answer to the question: “How much should I bench press?” is often distinctly different than: “How much should I be able to bench press?”
When you are considering the question: “How much should men be able to bench press (or women),” you can use the above tables of bench press weight standards to see what is a good bench press 1RM weight for your age, sex, and body weight.
From there, you can use your level of training to find the appropriate column that shows how much weight you should be able to bench press based on your training level, age, sex, and body weight, as described before.
However, you personally may be above or below the average bench press weight for your body weight, age, or sex.
Thus, the answer to the question: “How much should I be benching?”, really has nothing to do with what constitutes a good bench press weight for men or women, a good bench press weight for seniors or by age, etc.
Instead, you should use the weight that is appropriate for you and your fitness goals, whether you are above or below the average max bench press weight for lifters like you.
If you are trying to increase strength, you will perform fewer bench press reps in each set at a higher percentage of your bench one-repetition maximum.
Generally, you will lift at least 85% of your 1RM for 2 to 5 reps and 3 to 5 sets to increase bench press strength.
If your goal is to build muscle, also known as hypertrophy training, you should use lighter loads for your bench press weight, typically somewhere between 70 and 85% of your bench 1RM weight, for three sets of 8-12 reps.
Remember, your strength training program should be individualized to you.
Thus, the answer to “How much should I be bench pressing?” is however much you are capable of lifting with proper form and technique for the correct number of reps and sets you want to do based on your training goals.
It’s also important to remember that if you are well below the average weight for benching for women or men based on your sex and training level, you can always get stronger and better at bench pressing with consistency.
You can learn more about how to improve your bench press here.