Every guy who’s ever been to a gym to lift weights has probably had this thought cross their mind at some point.
It’s natural to wonder how you stack up compared to the average person and it makes you feel good when you realize you can outlift most people on the street.
As with most questions like these, there’s no one single number that will tell us the exact average of every man in the world. Instead, the answer depends on a number of significant factors.
Blaine Sumner, the holder of the world record for bench press, lifted a staggering 401.5kg (885lbs). However, in general, the average adult male can bench press just around 80%-100% of their own body weight. This figure will vary depending on the person’s age, with people in their 20s often able to bench 100% while people in their 40s could expect to lift 80%.
That being said, the average weight of a 20-year-old, according to the World Health Organization, is around 155lb, meaning the average 20 year old should be able to bench press this much weight.
What Other Factors Can Affect 1 Rep Max For Bench Press?
Of course, other than age, there are so many different things that can affect how much a person can bench press as their 1 rep max.
As we alluded to before, a person’s body weight can make a massive difference in how much mass they’re able to lift in a bench press.
Those with more mass on their body should theoretically be able to lift heavier weights in the gym. However, this relationship isn’t perfectly correspondent.
For example, if a person’s body weight is made up of a lot of fat and not much muscle, they’ll struggle to lift the same weight as someone who weighs the same but is made up of more muscle.
This is another factor that can have a huge impact on the amount of weight a person is able to bench press.
This is potentially not as important a factor as with some other exercises that require more technical ability but the technique is still a very crucial part of bench pressing.
Someone with no weightlifting experience should be able to lift the appropriate weight compared to their age body weight.
However, someone with a lot of experience and good technique will often be able to exceed these average expectations.
Again, the relationship between experience and 1 rep max bench press is not necessarily proportional.
For example, as a person practices, improves their technique, and gains more experience, they will ultimately be held back by the physical limitations of their body. Therefore, body weight and muscle content are far more considerable factors here.
Different from the previous two factors we’ve looked at, this one does have a proportional relationship with a person’s 1 rep max.
As you increase your muscle mass, you will pretty much always be able to lift heavier weights. There are very few other factors that could contribute to you stunting your progress when this is the case.
What Muscles Does The Bench Press Work Out?
It’s a common misconception that bench pressing is intended to increase strength in your arms. Instead, it’s much more of a workout for your chest, with some of the load being carried by your arm muscles.
In terms of the arm muscles, your triceps will be the ones that benefit most from bench pressing. Studies have found that it can promote growth in your biceps by around 4.8%.
However, the same study also proved that bench pressing promotes as much as 9.1% growth in your chest, making it much more beneficial for these muscles.
It’s a great exercise for improving your overall upper body appearance and will improve muscle definition in your chest, shoulders, and upper arms pretty nicely.
However, if you’re more interested in improving your arm strength, other exercises like bicep curls and tricep dips will be better for you.
How To Bench Press Properly
For these reasons, it’s always a good idea to understand the fundamentals of bench press technique before adding it to your workout routine.
One of the things to consider about how you position your body for a bench press is your feet.
Some people prefer to have their feet up on the bench with the rest of their body but you’ll definitely be able to generate more power with them flat on the floor, either side of the bench.
In terms of grip, it’s a good idea to have your hands slightly further apart on the bar than shoulder-width as this allows you to work the key muscles involved even more.
However, what’s even more important when you grip the bar is how your wrists are positioned. You’ll always want to keep them as straight as possible for bench pressing.
If they are bent backwards even slightly, it can massively increase the risk of injury and you won’t be able to lift as much weight.
Safety Tips For Bench Pressing
Other than the technical points we’ve mentioned here, there are a couple of other things you should always do to bench press safely.
The first and foremost thing is to never lift more than you can manage. It’s one thing going for a new personal best but if you’re trying to top it by 50lbs, you’re in for a bad time.
Secondly, when going for a 1 or 3 rep max, or any particularly heavyweight, you’ll always want to have a spotter to help you out.
The job of a spotter is to help lift the weights off of you if you find you can’t lift them anymore. Without a spotter, you run the risk of crushing yourself with the weight.
If you’ve read through this article and find that you can’t lift as much as the average man, don’t be disheartened!
Absolutely anybody can increase their muscular density and overall strength by frequently training so there's no reason you can’t get stronger and exceed the average expectations.
Of course, the only way to improve is to stay focused, dedicated, and never give up!