As one of the most popular exercises performed in the weight room, the amount of weight you can bench press is often compared to other individuals of similar size in the gym. The American College of Sports Medicine uses a percentage of your body weight, along with age and sex to determine how much weight you can bench press.
Assess the bench press by determining your one-repetition maximum bench press, or 1RM. The 1RM is the heaviest weight lifted, for one repetition, without assistance, while maintaining proper technique. Select a weight that is 50 percent of your estimated 1RM and complete five to 10 repetitions. Rest for two minutes, then increase the weight to 70 percent of your estimated 1RM, and perform three to five repetitions. Avoid completing more than five repetitions during your warm-up sets to avoid early muscle fatigue. Increase the weight to 90 to 100 percent of your estimated 1RM and attempt one repetition. If the lift is successful, rest three to five minutes before increasing the weight five to 10 pounds and attempting another lift. Repeat this process until you cannot complete the lift without assistance or you lose form while doing it. The last weight successfully completed is your 1RM. Always use a spotter during heavy lifts.
Practice using proper technique on several occasions, using a light weight, before attempting a 1RM bench press. Lie on a bench and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart using an underhand grip on the bar. Squeeze your shoulder blades together so your back arches up and your chest puffs out slightly. Take the bar off the rack and hold it over your chest. Lower the bar down to your lower chest and pause briefly before pressing it back up to the starting position. Be sure your feet remain on the floor and your glutes stay on the bench throughout the entire movement.
The average amount of weight a woman in her 20s can bench press is 65 percent of her body weight or about 87 pounds if she weighs 135 pounds. A well above average ranking is 90 percent of her body weight, or about 121 pounds. An average weight for a woman in her 30s is 57 percent, or 77 pounds, if she weighs 135 pounds, and a well above average weight is 76 percent, or 103 pounds. An average weight for a woman in her 40s is 52 percent, or 70 pounds, and a well above average weight is 71 percent, or 96 pounds.
If you are just getting started with the bench press, you may prefer using a predicting 1RM calculator to determine your 1RM if you feel uncomfortable attempting a heavy lift. Select a weight about 75 to 90 percent of your estimated 1RM and complete as many repetitions as possible until you cannot complete the lift.
- ExRx.net; Barbell Bench Press
- "ACSM's Health-Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2005
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.