If there is one thing that you are guaranteed to hear during your time at the gym, it’s the question ‘How much do you bench?’ The humble bench press has become a real indicator of upper body power and everybody wants to check out the competition.
These days, being able to bench press your body weight, at a minimum, is kind of like a gym initiation. Once you can do it, you know that you’re on the right track to success. But, how much weight can an average man bench press? Or, more importantly, how much weight should normal men be bench pressing at the gym?
Well, first you have to take age into account. Obviously, the older you are, the less upper body strength you have; although nobody informed Arnie of this it seems. Crucially, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever exceed more than the average weight for your age group. There are always going to be older guys lifting harder and younger men keeping things light.
The important thing is that you bench press safely and you follow all of the necessary rules and guidelines, both in terms of equipment and form. Never lift more than you think is safe and always have a spotter around to help you out, just in case of difficulty. It is wise to remember that no lift is impressive enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
The general rule of thumb says that you should assess your three repetition max against your one repetition maximum. This allows you to test your power and pushing force, without also putting yourself in danger.
The weight and age match ups are as follows:
- 20-29 years: 100% of your bodyweight
- 30-39 years: 90% of your bodyweight
- 40-49 years: 80% of your bodyweight
- 50-59 years: 75% of your bodyweight
Hints and Tips for Benching at Your Best
Start by warming up with presses. Repeat 5-10 lifts of a weight which is equivalent to 50% of your bodyweight. Then, carry out three sets, but up the load by 10-15% per set. Make sure that you give yourself a couple of minutes to rest between each one.
When you reach the fourth set, pick out a heavier weight that you think you can only lift for three consecutive repetitions. After this, check your results with the age and bodyweight table outlined above. If you are not quite reaching your goal, there could be a couple of aspects of your form that need improving.
For example, lots of men really struggle with lifting their arms past those extra couple of inches right at the end (highest point) of the lift. Fortunately, this is an issue that does get easier with time. During the lower part of the lift, the muscles don’t struggle quite as much, so you can use slightly heavier weights, as you progress, to really refine and define the entire move.
One effective way to practice this is with a weight that is 10-20% heavier than your normal 3RM (three repetition maximum) lift. However, rather than lifting and bringing the bar right back down to the chest, try to slow the downward move. If you force yourself to bring the bar back down at a slower pace, your muscles will have to put in more work.
Staying Safe on the Bench Press
Over time, this will help them to become strong and resilient. It will improve the highest part of the lift, as well as testing you on the lower. Do remember that you need a spotter while bench pressing; this can be a dangerous activity, so always have a lookout. If you get in any trouble or feel like you need out quickly, give a clear shout or indication.
It is really important that you follow the right lifting protocols while bench pressing. Don’t attempt absurdly ambitious lifts, respect the power of the equipment, and be considerate towards other people in the gym. Nobody likes an arrogant show off, so exercise good manners at all times.