When it comes to how much you should be able to Bench Press, a lot of people recommend basing it off of your bodyweight. I tend to agree!
If you’re 300 lbs and can bench 300 lbs, that’s okay for the most part. However, someone weighing 150 lbs and being able to bench press 300 lbs is much more impressive! That’s double their bodyweight and their relative body strength is much higher as a result!
If you’re a beginner male trainee the first goal you should be aiming for is 225 lbs. This is a solid test of strength and the first step toward having a big bench press. For beginner female lifters, 135 lbs is comparable and something my female clients can do within 6 months of training.
In general, however, a male trainee benching 1.5-2 times your bodyweight is what many would consider strong! This means a 200 lb male trainee should be capable of benching 300-400 lbs. For female trainees, who have lesser upper body strength by default, 1-1.5 times your bodyweight would be considered a strong bench press.
How many 100 lb woman have you seen bench 150-200 lbs? Exactly! It’s strong and it’s rare. So how do we get to this level of strength?
How To Bench Your Bodyweight?
To obtain the strength to bench at least your bodyweight, I recommend something simple like Starting Strength. This program by Mark Rippetoe focuses on basic compound movements with an easy-to-follow progressive overload system. You can get the book for cheap on Amazon, and it’s absolutely the #1 book on getting stronger for beginners!
By following his program, you should be able to bench 225 lbs in your first 3-6 months of training. An important focus of benching 225 for the first time is eating enough food to gain strength and muscle. This is without a doubt the most essential thing when it comes to getting stronger in the upper body in general.
Food Intake For Skinny Beginners
If you have a hard time gaining muscle and strength, building your bench press to this level is going to be difficult. Here’s what I recommend for those that need to gain a ton of muscle quickly!
NOTE: This is only recommended for those that have a hard time gaining weight and don’t put fat on easily.
Here’s the basic diet that will put weight on you quickly! If you can’t build muscle using this basic eating plan you’re either not eating consistently, or you have a tapeworm most likely. I’m sorry, it happens I guess!
- Drink 3 protein shakes in full-fat milk after each meal
- Consume 3 peanut butter and honey/jelly sandwiches in between each meal as a snack
- Consume a dozen eggs per day
- Consume 1 lb of ground beef a day
- Consume 1 cup of jasmine rice with chicken broth at each meal
If you do any combination of these 4 things, not only will you gain weight quickly, your strength will skyrocket! There are massive amounts of whole foods, protein, saturated fat which increases testosterone, and carbohydrates.
When the goal is building muscle, you need to eat like it.
How To Bench Over Bodyweight!
To Bench over your bodyweight, you might have to change your training strategy up to increase your musculature in your upper body. The main muscle groups that will assist you the most in Benching more weight are your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Rather than working on sets of 4-6 for strength forever, consider working on building muscle over strength for a couple of months. Sets of 6-10 on Bench Press is a great way to increase volume, build muscle, and break through a strength plateau.
Your goal when building movement specific muscle is to increase the weight you can use for multiple sets of 6-10 reps. By doing this, you can ensure your training is intense enough to elicit a growth response in the body.
Here’s an example of how this might look over a month!
- Week 1:
- Bench Press 3 Sets @200 (10,9,8)
- Week 2:
- Bench Press 4 Sets @205 (9,8,8,7)
- Week 3:
- Bench Press 5 Sets @210 (8,8,7,6,6)
- Week 4: Deload
- Bench Press 3 Sets @200 (5,5,5)
You start with 3 sets, pushing the sets hard until we’re 1-2 reps away from failure. Then the following weeks you add sets until you build up to 5 sets.
After 3 weeks, take a deload by doing 3 sets of 5 and then build up again the next 3 weeks.
If you have any questions on how to set this up for yourself, definitely feel free to drop a comment below! I’ll help you out the best way I can!
Incorporate Bench Press Variations
Another way you can push your strength even higher on the Bench Press is by using different variations.
The main Bench Press Variations that transfer over exceptionally well are Close-Grip Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, and Pause Bench.
You need to figure out what works best for you, however. If you’re weak off your chest, Pause Bench should help you build the strength necessary in that range of motion. If your lockout always feels weak, using Close-Grip Bench will definitely assist in building the Triceps.
When incorporating variations, I recommend using your standard Bench Press form at all times. That way, you are always practicing your form and building your exercise specific musculature.
The other days of the week, you can use more variations to push your strength to new limits. I recommend benching at least 2-3 times a week. Here’s how that might look!
- Workout 1:
- Bench Press 3 Sets @200
- Workout 2:
- Incline Bench Press 3 Sets @160
- Workout 3
- Close-Grip Bench Press 3 Sets @180
Very simple to set up as long as you know what your weaknesses are! You can also incorporate them on 2 different days and simply do more sets of each.
- Workout 1:
- Bench Press 5 Sets @200
- Workout 2:
- Close-Grip Bench Press 5 Sets @180
Regardless of what you choose, pick at least 1 other movement from your main Bench form. This will give you more practice, build more muscle, and over time, more strength.
Vertical Pressing To Build The Triceps & Shoulders
Some of the strongest Benches in the world do 2 very important movements to increase their Bench Press strength, Dips and Military Press. I consider both to be Vertical Pressing movements.
Here is Jeremy Hoornstra doing a set of 5 with 265 lbs of added weight, the stronger you get at Dips, the better your Bench Press will be!
Here’s proof! He Benched 645 lbs for 2 reps here so the transfer in strength is obviously massive!
To Bench weights greater than your bodyweight, having strong relative body strength is an awesome way to pack on muscle and get stronger. Dips are one of the best upper body movements and transfer over to Bench Press strength exceptionally well.
When my Bench Press was the strongest, I was able to do sets of 10-15 at 275 lbs. If you want to Bench more weight, work on increasing your Dip strength. It will help you build the strongest triceps possible!
The other movement I recommend for building a big Bench Press is Military Press. The strength and stability you can build through your upper back and shoulders using this movement is insane! Show me somebody with strong shoulders and I guarantee they have a strong bench.
Here is Derek Kendall doing Seated Military Press with 500 lbs! He has also Benched over 600 lbs in competition so you know he’s insanely strong at both!
Get your Military Press stronger and your bench will go up as well, guaranteed!
If your goal is to build a bigger Bench, you need to focus on getting stronger, building more muscle in your upper body, and training MORE than just your Bench Press.
A great goal to start with is benching at least your bodyweight for men and half your bodyweight for women. After a year of training, benching your bodyweight should be doable as long as you’re following a solid training program such as Starting Strength.
After that, your goal should be benching 1.5-2 times your bodyweight for men and 1-1.5 times your bodyweight for women.
Again, these are just high standards you should be aiming for. Don’t feel distraught if you aren’t anywhere close to those parameters. Just keep working hard and check out some of my other tips if you want to build a big bench fast!
What tips worked in getting your Bench Press stronger? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope you all have a wonderful day!
Until next time,