Weights for Bench Press

Click Here for the #1 Bench Press ProgramThere are a lot of things to consider when it comes to evaluating standards for weights for bench press. Below, you will find a chart detailing what exactly is an average, good, great, and excellent bench press.

Note that these standards are geared towards strength athletes (powerlifters, collegiate athletes, dedicated trainees, etc). Standards for the average guy can be found in the average bench press by weight article.

Each fitness and powerlifting organization seems to have slightly different standards. This is expected, as different organizations have different rules about standards of the lift. A lot of standards depend on what gear the lifter is wearing or whether or not they allow the hips to lift off the bench during the lift.

These standards are based on a lifter's 1 rep max and assume that the lifter is lifting raw and without any supportive gear (bench shirts, elbow sleeves, etc):

 

Average 

Good 

Great 

Excellent

Males under 220 lbs

1.25x Bodyweight

1.5x Bodyweight

1.75x Bodyweight

2x Bodyweight 

Males over 220 lbs

 1x Bodyweight

1.3x Bodyweight

1.6x Bodyweight

1.85x Bodyweight 

 Females

.5x Bodyweight

.75x Bodyweight 

1x Bodyweight

1.2x Bodyweight 

Weights for Bench Press Rankings

Below, you will find the rationale between each category. Once again, standard weights for bench press vary from organization to organization. This is just what I have noticed on my time spent training clients, hanging out in gyms, lifting with strong people, and going to powerlifting meets.

Average

Average strength simply refers to what the average person who, when asked "do you lift weights?", would answer with a "yes". This is the average weight-lifter, not necessarily the average gym-goer. I am not counting to those who might lift weights 3x a month or do nothing but cardio in this equation.

Any male who lifts weights should be able to at least bench his bodyweight for an "average" ranking. Any female should at least be able to bench half her bodyweight for an average ranking.

Lighter men need to bench a little bit more then heavier men for obvious reasons. A 200-pound man bench pressing 250 pounds is average among people who lift weights. On the other hand, a 300-pound man bench pressing 400 pounds is certainly above average.

Good

A "good" lift is the awkward space in a person's lifetime where he is not quite average and not quite great. A good bencher is stronger than most in the average commercial gym, but their strength is not quite to the point where it seems unusual.

The good bencher is distinct from his contemparies in pressing strength but does not yet experience people regularly approaching him asking for training advice and how to bench more. There are plenty of good benchers in any gym, as it is not novel to see a 200 pound man bench press 300 pounds for a single rep.

Note that for females, the weight increases drastically. Any 120-lb female who lifts weights here and there can bench press 60 lbs, but it is certainly above average when a 120-lb female in a commerical gym presses 90 lbs.

Great

"Great" weights for bench press refers to great lifts. Anyone that can bench press in this category has a right to be proud of their strength, as not many people make it to this level.

A "great" bench press might win a local powerlifting meet and there is a good chance if you train in a commercial gym that at any given time you could be the strongest pound-for-pound bencher in the room.

When people see a great bench press, they are often inclined to offer a positive comment, such as "great lift, bro". It is an unusual site to see, and as such, when you see a 200-pound guy cleanly press 350 pounds it raises a bit of curiosity.

Excellent

An excellent bench press is just that - excellent. With a bench of this level, there is a good chance that at any given time you are the strongest person in the room (unless you happen to train at a barbell club). This kind of lift can also frequently win state-wide competitions. It is an excellent lift, no doubt.

When you perform an excellent lift in the average gym, people stop and watch. When a 200-lb man puts 4 plates on the bar and settles in to press, at least 20% of the weight floor is watching this lift.

Elite

Note that I did not include an "elite" section. A lot of organizations offer this ranking, but I find that is very, very lenient. Oftentimes, a bench press I consider to be excellent is considered "elite".

I find this to be somewhat deceiving. Take a look at the results from Raw Unity (a raw national powerlifting meet) for an idea of why. The lighter lifters over there are benching over 2.5x bodyweight; it makes no sense to consider a 2x bodyweight bench as one of the elite weights for bench press when there are people benching 20% more than that at the same bodyweight. 

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