The bench press is one of the most popular exercises performed in the weight room -- and the question of how much you can bench press is commonly asked. Determining if your maximum bench press, or 1RM, is average for an adult is dependent on your body weight and whether you are male or female. Do not attempt any heavy lifts without experienced spotters.
Technique is essential when performing a 1RM bench press. Using improper form can result in inaccurate results or injury. Laying flat on the bench keep your feet flat on the floor and your bottom on the bench throughout the entire movement. Grasp the bar using an overhand grip with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together causing your back to arch up slightly. Holding the bar directly over your chest, lower the bar down until it reaches the bottom of your sternum, pause briefly before pressing up to the starting position.
Complete several warmup sets prior to attempting a maximum bench press. Start with five to 10 warmup repetitions using a weight that is about 50 percent of your predicted 1RM. Rest one to two minutes before completing another warmup set of three to five repetitions at about 70 percent of your predicted 1RM. Once your chest is warmed up, gradually add weight to the barbell that is close to your predicted 1RM. If the lift was successful, rest three to five minutes before increasing the weight 5 to 10 lb. for another attempt. If unsuccessful, rest three to five minutes before decreasing the weight for another attempt. Repeat this process until failure occurs. The last weight successfully completed with proper form and without assistance from your spotters is your 1RM.
The American College of Sports Medicine classifies 1RM bench press based on the amount lifted in comparison to body weight, sex and age. An average bench press for an adult male in his 20s is 106 percent of body weight -- whereas, an adult female in her 20s is 65 percent of body weight. The average bench press for males in their 30s is 93 percent of body weight, and for females is 57 percent of body weight.
Your individual experience level and how often you perform the bench press exercise can have an impact on your maximum bench press. Practicing proper technique using a lighter weight on several occasions prior to attempting a maximum bench press may be beneficial to improving your ranking. Furthermore, completing a 1RM test on two or three different, non-consecutive days can also help you achieve a more accurate ranking. Less experienced individuals at the bench press may choose to perform a sub-maximum bench press such as completing three to five repetitions to failure. An online 1RM calculator will allow you to enter the weight you lifted and the number of repetitions completed, and will calculate your 1RM for you.
- ExRx.net; Predicting One-Rep Max
- "ACSM's Health-Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2005