It seems that guys are always comparing how much they can lift (mostly bench press) and beginners are wondering how much they should be able to bench press to be considered “average”. I’ve gotten the question a few times from beginners who don’t know what a “good” bench press is, but it is a dumb question to be asking for most people.
Unless you are wanting to compete in powerlifting events you really shouldn’t be worried about how much weight you can bench press.
I’d say at least 75% of guys are training for looks and if those are your goals you don’t need to worry about numbers. Sure if you are a football player training for a combine you may need to increase your bench numbers, but in general focusing on increasing how much you bench press isn’t helpful.
The main reason I don’t recommend worrying much about your bench press numbers is that trying to lift heavy solely to get your numbers up usually leads to poor form and in a lot of cases injuries.
The most common ways to “increase” your bench press include bouncing the bar off your chest, lowering the weights fast, and using your back and legs to help get the weight up.
All of those can lead to injury and aren’t recommended.
Instead of focusing on how much you can bench press, try focusing on your bench form.
Focus on bringing the weight down slowly (3-4 seconds is best for building muscle). Focus on keeping your elbows in. Focus on not bouncing the bar. And lastly focus on keeping your feet on the ground, back on the bench, and using your chest to do the lifting.
I have a pretty big chest so I often get asked how much I bench. I pretty much laugh at the question and usually respond with something along the lines of “not as much as you’d think” or “I don’t know”. When I was playing football I cared about my bench press (mainly for testing purposes), but now I could care less how much weight I lift. I focus on proper form and targeting my chest to help it grow.
I’ve dropped my weights by about 25% over the last little while for my bench press and variations and focused on good form and I’ve actually seen a good increase in my chest size, shape and definition.
Heavy lifting does help build muscle, but work on proper form first and then work your way up to lower reps and heavy weights.
This advice isn’t just helpful for bench press, but pretty much every lift in the gym. If you are working out to look better, get bigger, or get leaner, and overall just become more healthy you should focus on lifting properly and targeting the muscle you are training instead of focusing on lifting the heaviest you can using all the muscles in your body (and poor form).
And finally if you really are a beginner and are curious what the average person should be aiming for – work towards being able to bench at least your bodyweight with good form. Example: if you weigh 175 your goal as a beginner should be to try and bench 175 lbs with good form.