Your teenager has started spending more time at the gym; he's beginning to look more muscular and leaner, and you notice he's eating more. Perhaps this new pastime is to get stronger for his favorite sport, or maybe he just wants to put on some size.
Although it's less common, high school girls lift, too, either to improve athletics or simply out of an interest in the sport of weightlifting. But how much should your teenager be lifting? Bench press standards largely depend on body weight; they also depend on how long your teenager has been training.
Average Weights of Boys and Girls
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight for a 15-year-old boy is about 123 pounds. For girls, the average weight at 15 is 115 pounds. That's for kids who fall right in the 50th percentile. Your 15-year-old may weigh more or less than that and still be perfectly healthy.
Bench Press Standards for Beginners
If your teen is just starting out, he or she won't be able to lift as much as other boys and girls who have been training for a while. For now, if your teenage boy weighs around 120 pounds, he might be able to bench press about 67 pounds. If your teenage girl weighs close to the average of 115 pounds, she might be able to bench 28 or 29 pounds.
Standards for More Experienced Lifters
Once your teen has been lifting for about 6 months, he or she will be able to lift more. Your teen might also weigh more from the lean muscle mass he's gained. At this point your boy or girl is considered a novice weight lifter.
For 120-pound boys, this means benching about 101 pounds. At 130 pounds, the standard is 113 pounds. Your 115-pound daughter might be able to bench between 53 or 54 pounds. If she weighs closer to 125 pounds, she might be able to bench closer to 60 pounds as a novice lifter.
An intermediate lifter is one who has been lifting for about two years. If your teenage son or daughter started out lifting at 13, he or she likely weighs a bit more than the average because of all the lean muscle mass. If your intermediate teen son weighs 140 to 150 pounds, he'll be able to bench between 171 and 184 pounds. If your teenage daughter weighs 120 to 130 pounds, she'll be able to bench between 92 and 98 pounds as an intermediate lifter.
Although it's unlikely that your teen would have 5 years of lifting experience -- the amount of time it typically takes to be considered advanced -- by the time he or she is 15, it's possible. At this level, your 15-year-old-boy could be expected to bench 225 to 255 if he weighs between 140 and 160 pound. An advanced female lifter of the same age who weighs 130 to 150 pounds can bench press 144 to 158 pounds.
Things to Consider
Your teenager is undoubtedly eager to reach or exceed these bench press standards, or best his or her peers. But progressing too quickly can be dangerous, especially for young bodies that aren't finished growing yet.
If you're talking with your teen about weightlifting, or perhaps giving him or her a spot at the gym, reinforce the importance of taking it slow and using proper form.
A sure sign that your teen is lifting too much is poor form. Encourage your teen to only add weight once he can complete 10 reps of bench presses at the current weight without jerking or bouncing the weights.
A rep completed with proper form is the only type of rep that counts towards these standards; bench pressing with improper form is not only cheating, but it can also lead to injuries that can halt progression altogether.