The bench press is one of the most popular exercises performed in weight rooms. Because it is performed so commonly, the maximum amount a person can bench press is often compared to that of other weightlifters no matter their size. However, accurate bench press standards use body weight, age and sex to assess capability in the bench press exercise.
Bench Press Technique
Determine your one-repetition maximum bench press, or 1RM, to assess your bench press. The 1RM is the heaviest weight you can lift one time, unassisted, while maintaining proper form. Lie on a bench with feet flat on the floor. Keep your buttocks flat on the bench throughout the entire movement. Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar using an underhand grip. 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 to your lower chest, then press it back up to the starting position.
Assess your 1RM bench press by completing several warm-up sets to get your body ready for heavy lifting. Use a weight that is about 50 percent of your estimated 1RM and complete five to 10 repetitions. Rest for two minutes before increasing the weight to 70 percent of your estimated 1RM, and perform three to five repetitions. Do not do more than five repetitions; you do not want to waste energy on your warm-up sets. Gradually add weight that is close to your estimated 1RM. If the lift is successful, rest three to five minutes before increasing the weight five to 10 lb. and performing another lift. Repeat this process until failure occurs. Failure occurs when you cannot complete the lift without assistance or you break proper form. The last weight successfully completed is your 1RM. Never perform any heavy lift without an experienced spotter.
Bench Press Standards
The American College of Sports Medicine uses a percentage of your body weight and age to determine your ranking for the bench press 1RM. For example, a 35-year-old man must be able to lift 1.04 percent of his body weight to be classified in the 70th percentile. With a body weight of 180 lb., he would have to lift at least 187 lb. The 50th percentile is considered average; 70th percentile is above average, and 90th percentile is well above average.
Men between the age 20 and 29 must lift 106 percent of their body weight to be in the 50th percentile, 122 percent for the 70th percentile and 148 percent for the 90th percentile. Men between 30 and 39 must lift 93 percent for 50th, 104 percent for 70th and 124 percent for 90th. Men between 40 and 49 must lift 88 percent for 50th, 93 percent for 70th and 110 percent for 90th. Men between 50 and 59 must lift 75 percent for 50th, 84 percent for 70th and 97 percent for 90th.
Bench press standards for women between age 20 and 29 must lift 65 percent of their body weight for 50th percentile, 74 percent for 70th and 90 percent for 90th. Women between 30 and 39 must lift 57 percent for 50th, 63 percent for 70th and 76 percent for 90th. Women between 40 and 49 must lift 52 percent for 50th, 57 percent for 70th and 71 percent for 90th. Women between 50 and 59 must lift 46 percent for 50th, 52 percent for 70th and 61 percent for 90th.
- ExRx.net; Barbell Bench Press
- "ACSM's Health-Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2005