How To Bench Press 135 For Reps (And why it’s impressive)


One thing I’ve noticed in my gym is that there are a LOT of people who are strong and can lift a lot of weight, but not all of them are good at the bench press. Today I will explain how to bench 135, and most importantly, how do you break a bench plateau.

As a whole, it takes around 3 to 12 months for the beginner to be able to bench press 135. However, this timeline will vary depending on your anthropometric variables like body weight, total arm length, and shoulder width. It will also depend on things like muscle fatigue, weekly training volume, age, gender, and workout experience.

I will also touch on why the bench press is so important (especially for guys).

What Is A 135 Bench Press?

Overall, 135 bench press refers to exercise in which a person lifts a total weight of 135 pounds, which includes a 45-pound barbell and two 45-pounds plates (one on each side).

The exercise is done on the bench, where you lie down in a supine position (facing up) with flexed knees and feet touching the floor.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Grab the barbell and dismount it from the rack over your chest. A narrow grip increases the triceps activity whereas a wide grip increases the sternoclavicular portion of the pectoral major.
  • Lower the barbell in a slow and controlled movement until the barbell reaches your mid-chest.
  • Once the barbell is at the lowest point (it can touch your chest but it shouldn’t rebound or “bounce back”) you slowly push the bar upward until your arms are totally extended.
  • Remember that your head and hips should remain in contact with the bench throughout the whole range of motion.

Is 135 Bench Press Impressive?

As a whole, the 135 bench press is impressive, especially for novice lifters. Lifting 135 pounds it’s an indicator of upper body strength, especially when done with multiple sets and a short amount of rest. However, the experienced lifters who can bench 80-90% of their body weight, the 135 bench is not uncommon.

(Don’t worry, I won’t ask you how many times can you bench 135).

Can a beginner bench 135? In general, most beginners cannot bench 135 pounds because it takes time for the training adaptations to occur. The good news is that neural adaptations can occur after a few weeks of strength training.

(Neural adaptations mean that your muscles can increase the recruitment of more motor units, therefore, you get stronger).

The difference between novice and experienced lifters is that trained people have already spent months and/or years of training in the gym.

  • They have increased stiffness of the muscle tissue to generate more power output.
  • They have increased muscle size and strength level that allows for maximal force production.
  • They have higher lactate clearance for more optimal recovery.
  • They already bench 135 for reps.

This means they can not only use heavier weight for their bench press (to induce recruitment of fast-twitch motor units), but also they can increase training volume, without feeling DOMS after (thanks to faster recovery).

On the other hand, the novice lifters should reduce the load on the barbell (below 50% of body weight), which will help to get familiar with the bench press technique and improve the muscle-tendon adaptation.

How much should a beginner bench? Overall, the beginner should be able to bench 50 to 70% of his body weight. For example, a 180-pound man should be able to bench 135.

Can The Average Man Bench Press 135?

Can an average person bench 135? It depends on where you live.

As a whole, the average untrained man who weighs 180 pounds or more should be able to bench press with 135 pounds barbell (which is 75% of their own body weight). However, fewer than 23.2% of U.S. adults met the Physical Activity Guidelines, (according to the CDC.gov database).

This means that 76.8% of adults aged 18 and over do not meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

Not only that.

According to the study done by American Psychology Association in the United States:

  • Over 90% of U.S. undergraduate men wanted to be more muscular (especially the chest and upper body).
  • Over 70% of U.S. men are not satisfied with their body fat level.

David A. Frederick from the University of California in Los Angeles concluded that “many men desired increased muscularity for reasons related to increased dominance and attractiveness to women” (Frederick et al. 2007).

As you can notice, physical strength (especially the upper body strength) is important to men’s attractiveness.

Apart from feeling desired by women, high muscle mass in men is associated with various positive health outcomes, including increased physical fitness, longevity, and a decreased risk of developing some diseases.

This shows that the average guy not only cannot bench press a 135-pounds but also feel insecure about their current muscularity.

Is Benching 135 Good?

There are a couple of reasons why bench 135 is good (at least for the guys).

Firstly, being able to bench 135 helps not only helps to build more muscle in the chest, shoulders, and arms but it’s also considered the gold standard for the upper-body strength tests (e.g.  YMCA bench press test).

What is the YMCA bench press test? In general, the YMCA bench press test is a standardized assessment that requires doing as many bench press repetitions as possible within 60 seconds. The goal of the test is to assess muscular endurance, as well as monitor the efficacy of the given workout program.

For example, you can do the YMCA bench press test with a 135-pound barbell (once every 5 to 8 weeks) to see how much progress you’re making. I like this method because it’s safe, relatively easy, and does not require the use of maximal loads.

It is also a valid way to estimate your one-rep maximum or 1RM (more on that later).

Secondly, women find physically fitter and physically stronger men more attractive, especially with strong and saucy-looking pecs (girls like guys with chiseled chest and broad shoulders).

Dr. Aaron Sell from Griffith University in Queensland, Australia has documented that the “rated strength of a male body accounts for a full 70% of the variance in attractiveness. Ratings of strength are a robust and much larger predictor of attractiveness than either height or weight” (Sell et al. 2017).

Is It Hard To Bench 135?

In general, it is not hard to bench press 135-pounds, especially after several months of consistent strength training. How much you can bench press depends on your fitness level and how much you’ve trained. Experienced lifters should be able to bench 90% of their body weight.

On the other hand, if a girl is doing a 135-pounds bench press that is considered really impressive.

Keep in mind that the number of reps also matters. For example, the person who can bench 135 for 20 reps is much stronger than someone who can bench 135 for 5 reps.

Now watch this.

Here is the table of 135 bench presses in relation to 1RM.

For example, if can do 4RM with 135, the estimation for 1RM is 150 lbs.

135 BenchWhat is your 1RM?
1 rep135 lbs
2 reps142 lbs
3 reps145 lbs
4 reps150 lbs
5 reps155 lbs
6 reps159 lbs
7 reps163 lbs
8 reps169 lbs
9 reps175 lbs
10 reps180 lbs
11 reps185 lbs
12 reps193 lbs

As you can see, you can use 135 bench press (and any compound exercise) not only as a way to build muscle but also as a strength assessment and 1RM estimation tool.

What about incline? Overall, doing an incline bench press with a 135 pounds barbell is good because inclination increases the electromyographic activity of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps, which makes the exercise harder than the flat bench.

How Much Time Does It Take To Bench 135?

How long to bench 135? It depends.

One of my male clients worked hard for 4 months to bench 135. However, his training volume wasn’t optimal (his nutrition also left a lot to be desired).

To know how much time it takes to bench 135 you need to take into consideration your workout program (combination of training volume with workout frequency and rest), training history (whenever you’re a beginner or advanced), and optimal nutrition (amount of calories and protein in your diet).

For me, the bench press was always the hardest lift. That’s because most of my life I was doing it wrong. I had tight shoulders, which means I was overly internally rotating when doing a bench. This resulted in a shoulder injury where I could not add more weight to my bench for a long time.

NOTE: Click here to learn more about “how many people can bench 225“.

How To Bench 135 For Reps

Overall, to bench 135 for reps you need to prioritize compound exercises that enable a greater magnitude of weight to be lifted, therefore, elicit greater strength gains. It’s also recommended to use moderate to high-loads (70-90% of one-repetition maximum), as well as implement progressive overload.

Here are some examples.

  • Use compound movements – What do squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and dips have in common? These are all compound exercises. Doing bench press or chest press gives you better strength gains than doing pec dec or push-ups.
  • Use high-load with low rep range – Doing 5 reps bench with 80% of your 1RM gives you better strength gains compared to doing 25 reps at 50% of your 1RM.
  • Use progressive overload – Adding an extra 5lbs to your bench every 4 to 8 weeks is challenging your muscles. They adapt by becoming capable of producing more tension, so they get stronger.

I know one guy who’s been “weight training” for 4 years. He is the typical “elliptical” kind of a guy. He can spend almost two hours in the gym doing machines and cardio. But there’s nothing special about his physique.

It means that he’s been doing the same thing over and over again.

He’s not using a squat rack.

He’s not doing deadlifts.

He’s not benching 135 for reps…

Learn more: Click here to learn more about “how to get to 4 plate deadlift

How Do You Get Past 135 Bench?

Here is the video from Jeff Nippard where he explains how you get past the 135 bench press and skip the plateau.

Bench Stuck at 135 – What To Do?

If your bench is stuck at 135 and you don’t see any more progress try the following tips on how do you break a bench plateau.

  • Assess your workout program and find any “blind spots”. For example, doing too much training volume on the upper body can stunt your growth.
  • Train one day on and one day off. This is the best way to optimize the quality of your workouts. Each day off give you chance for recovery.
  • Get rid of isolation exercises and focus on compound exercises.
  • Take a deload week and focus on nutrition. Adding one week of rest. Focus on cardio and/or nutrition, as well as sleep.
  • Increase rest time, but keep the high load. Increasing the rest time can give you enough recovery to be able to perform the lifts without beating your chest muscles.
  • Forget about calorie deficit (at least for now). To build strength and muscle in the most optimal way you need to be in a calorie surplus.
  • Eat more protein. Strength doesn’t only come from the weight room. You need to eat enough amino acids every day for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

Conclusion

In my gym, the bench press is the most popular weight-training exercise (at least around the guys).

Being able to bench 135 is good not only because it builds muscle strength and endurance, but also because it’s a valid 1 rep max assessment tool.

The best way to improve your strength and destroy the bench plateau is doing less training volume with isolation exercises and focusing on doing compound lifts with every workout.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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