Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by JP
No one who wants to build and bulk their muscles would skip the bench press. It’s crucial for building upper body muscles, and it helps you learn how to keep your form from shifting.
So, you’ll always find it a part of weight lifting training. Yet, it can be a little bit overwhelming when you don’t know how much you should be lifting and for how long. That’s precisely why we’ve written this article, so let’s jump right in!
Let’s start with the essential factors that’ll affect your ability to bench. We’d also like to mention that although we’ll be speaking of the general rules for each of these factors, every rule has its own exceptions. Hence, they’ll apply to most people, but they mightn’t apply to certain individuals.
Level of Experience
Logically, the level of experience with the bench press will be a detrimental factor in regards to the number of reps that you can do and how heavy you can lift.
You can’t compare someone who works out every day and has been for the past ten years to someone who’s just starting to know the ropes around the gym or someone who has been working out even for a few months.
Definitely, your experience as an athlete will increase your capability of lifting more weight and the reps you can do. For instance, an untrained 165-lb male can lift around 120 lbs only, while an elite 165-lb male can lift 320 lbs. As you can see, the difference is staggering.
We’ve just mentioned the weight of the person training when we’ve spoken about their level of experience. That’s because weight too has a hand in this decision. It‘s pretty logical that the heavier you’re, the heavier you’ll be able to lift.
Nonetheless, the more critical aspect is the composition of your weight. So, if you’re on the heavier side when it comes to weight, and you wish to know where you stand when it comes to bench pressing, you should have an in-body done.
That’ll tell you how much muscle you have in your body, how much fat, and how much water, as the fat won’t help you lift; only the muscles will do that. Consequently, take your in-body and head over to your trainer so that they can figure out the proper way they can train you and what kind of weight you should be starting with according to your body details.
They can do that through the One Rep Max test or the YMCA Metronome test, which we’ll discuss later on.
Age & Gender
Age is also incredibly important when it comes to bench pressing and any type of weight lifting. Men are generally at their strongest physique during their 20s and 30s. So, that’s their golden window to get in shape, and it’s mostly the time during which they’ll be able to lift the heaviest.
As a matter of fact, during this time, they should be able to bench press anywhere between 90% and two times their body weight according to their level of expertise.
On the other hand, with women, their peak of physical strength is between the ages of 26 and 37. There are individual differences, of course, and due to the fact that females’ psychological peak extends from their 30s to 40s, it can also affect their physical peak, lengthening it considerably.
An average woman can bench press around half of her weight if she is inexperienced, and as she starts to build up experience, she’ll be able to lift a bit over her own weight.
Now, we’ll discuss the two tests that help you figure out, more or less, some specific numbers that you can go by during your exercise.
Use the One Rep Max Test
The first thing you need to do is warm up with some light weights on the bench press. Here’s how this should go:
- The best course of action is to go for five reps of light weights.
- Next, you or your trainer should decide on a weight that you would expect to be your maximum; then, you should take that number and find out what 75% of it equals.
- Take your results and do two reps with this weight.
- After this, start adding 5-10 lbs to your weight every time you start a set until you can lift no more.
Don’t forget that you must rest 3-5 minutes between each set to prevent injury. The number that you have at the end after you’ve added the weight is your One Rep Max.
Use the YMCA Metronome Test
The YMCA metronome test is designed to test your strength and endurance, so it’s all about how far you can go, not how heavy you can lift. Consequently, it’s a set weight of 35 lbs for women and 80 lbs for men.
What you’re going to do is get on the bench press and start lifting while keeping track with the metronome. What a metronome does is that it beeps every second, and your target is to lift every two seconds.
Hence, in a minute, you should do thirty lifts, and according to the standardized YMCA bench press test ratings, you’ll find your own score depending on the number of repetitions that you were able to fit in a minute.
Bench pressing has always been one of the stars of weight lifting, and it continues to be so. Even if you find yourself not lifting as heavy as you want to, keep practicing, and you’ll definitely reach your goal.
Additionally, one of the best features of the bench press is that it can be easily fit into a home gym due to its simple components. So, if this is what you prefer, you can check out some of the best home gym models, such as the Total Gym XLS and the Total Gym 1400.
Remember to mix cardio with weight training. An excellent way to do that is to integrate a recumbent bike workout into your routine. Also, if you want to have more than one weight lifting machine at home, you can check this best pull-up bar guide and pick one.