The bench press is one of the most commonly used upper body exercises and a strength test to determine your 1-RM. It’s not a secret that having a strong chest is good not only for appearance but also for posture. However, there are not many people who can bench press a lot of weight.
Today I will clarify how many people can bench 185, and how you can improve your bench press.
Overall, out of 75 million Americans who are lifting weights and go to the gym, exercise club, or fitness studio, it is estimated that 2-3% can bench press 225. However, these statistics do not take into consideration people who exercise outside of the gym.
I will also include current statistical data on how much of the population can bench 185. Please remember these numbers are only estimations and are not adjusted by age and gender.
Can The Average Man Bench 185?
Benching one and a half plates on each side isn’t uncommon, yet, not all people are able to do it. Some folks cannot bench 185 for reps, even after years of training in the gym.
Here are some of the statistics from the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) about the average American man:
- Three in five U.S. adults do not engage in any resistance training exercise.
- More than 80% of US teens don’t get enough physical activity.
- About 22% of Americans go to a gym, bootcamp class, or fitness studio.
- Only 30.2% of adults in the United States are lifting weights or doing some form of resistance training (resistance bands, bodyweight exercises, etc).
The average man cannot bench 185 because it requires consistency and hard work in the weight room. Plus, benching 185 also requires significant upper body strength, as well as a full range of motion in the shoulders.
Please remember that being able to bench 80 kg is not just a measure of strength, but also shoulder range of motion. In this day and age, the average Joe spends a big part of the day in the seated position.
This creates thoracic kyphosis and leads to internal rotation of the shoulder. Rounding your shoulders not only inhibits the strength but also limits the range of motion.
In other words, not being able to bench press is not just a strength but also a mobility issue.
For example, some people can be brutally strong in compound moves like deadlift and squat, even overhead press.
However, lifestyle and sitting posture significantly affect shoulder ROMs in all directions. This means they cannot bench 185 for reps.
What Does It Mean To Bench 185?
To bench 185 means you can perform a bench press exercise with one 45 lbs plate and one 25 lbs plate on each side of the barbell. The total amount of weight, including the weight of the barbell, is 185 lbs (8kg).
The weight must be lowered until it reaches the chest and lifted over the body to full elbow extension.
Here’s how it looks:
- To bench 185 you will need four plates (two 45-pound and two 25-pound). Place one 45-lbs and one 25-lbs plate on each side of the barbell (ideally, you want to have plates that match each other).
- Hold the barbell and dismount it from the rack (it’s always good to have a spotter in case you need help).
- Choose a grip depending on which muscle you want to work on (For more pecs activation, use a wider grip, whereas for arm and triceps work, use a narrow grip).
- Lower the bar in a slow and controlled motion, just above the lower end of your sternum (you can use your nipples as a guide).
- Once the barbell touches your chest at the lowest point, slowly push the bar up until full elbow extension (you should not bounce the barbell off your chest).
As you can see, the bench press is one of the most technical compound movements. It requires massive strength, as well as a complete range of motion.
Normally, to bench 80kg you need to spend a number of years in the gym.
Of course, there are some guys who are blessed with good genetics and can bench 185 for a number of reps, without stepping their foot in the gym.
These guys are just naturally strong, without having to move tons of plates (just like some guys have abs without dieting and eating at a deficit).
Is 185 bench press good?
In general, bench 185 for reps is good because it’s a sign of muscular strength and endurance for the upper body.
Most people who can bench 185 spend a number of years in the gym unless they have favorable genes, the optimal length of the arms, or other anthropometric advantages.
How Impressive Is 185 Bench Press?
As a whole, the 185 bench press is impressive, especially for beginners and lighter people. Novice lifters who can lift 185 pounds are generally considered strong, especially if their body weight is less than 180 pounds.
However, people who weigh over 180 pounds and lift weights for a number of years should be able to bench 185 without any problems.
It’s all about the difference between absolute strength and relative strength.
- Absolute strength means lifting as much weight as possible, without taking into consideration a person’s own body weight.
- Relative strength means lifting as much weight as possible while taking into account the lifter’s body weight.
For example, a person who weighs 250 pounds can be strong as a bear and bench 185 for reps (absolute strength). That is strong but is not impressive.
On the other hand, when a person who weighs 180 pounds (70 pounds less) can lift the same amount of weight (relative strength), that’s much more impressive.
(Relax, I won’t ask you about your weight and if you can bench 185).
Another thing to consider is your age and training status.
- Age – Overall, bench pressing 185 is above average for 15 year old, depending on the gender. Most male teens are capable of lifting their own body weight, whereas most female teens should be able to lift 0.5 times their body weight.
- Training status – The reason why most people cannot bench 185 is that developing strength (especially in the upper body) takes a long time. Strength training leads to training adaptations like improvements in maximum voluntary contraction, increase in muscle fiber peak power, and conversions of the muscle fiber type (Hughes et al. 2018).
After months of training, experienced lifters have increased stiffness of the muscle that can generate more power. They also have higher lactate clearance which helps to recover faster.
This way they can train harder for longer, and with higher training volume, their rate of hypertrophy and strength also goes up.
How Long Does It Take To Bench 185?
On average, it takes 6-12 months of hard work and patience to be able to bench press 185 for reps. Lifting 185 pounds it’s a good indicator of upper body strength, especially when done with multiple reps and minimum rest.
However, the timeframe to bench 185 will also depend on your age, gender, strength levels, and training frequency.
For example, people in their 20s who lift weights for 2+ years can expect to bench 185 in a shorter timeframe, compared to a 55-year-old person who has never lifted weights in his life.
You also need to remember that strength gains are not linear and can change. Studies have shown that “Untrained participants exhibit greater muscle hypertrophy, whereas undertaking more resistance training sessions provides superior gains in those with previous training experience” (Lopez, 2021).
This is also referred to as “beginner gains” or “newbie gains” which means that people who just getting started will see rapid improvements in strength within the first few months. After initial gains, the progress will plateau.
If I Can Bench 185 10 Times, What Is My Max?
One of the ways you can use bench 185 is as a strength test to determine your 1-RM. One rep max is a viable way to assess strength levels, however, it requires a lot of experience, preparation, and spotter.
(In other words, it’s not necessary).
An easier way is to use one rep max predicting equations based on the number of reps you did with the lower weight.
Here are some of the examples:
- If you can bench 185 4 times, this means you should be able to bench press 201 pounds barbell for one rep.
- If you can bench 185 5 times, this means you are able to do bench press exercise with 208 pounds on the barbell as your 1RM.
- If you can bench 185 10 times, this means your max bench press would be lifting 246 pounds barbell.
- If you can bench 185 12 times, this means you should be able to bench press 259 pounds bar as your 1RM.
(Please keep in mind that these are only estimates and have to be taken with a grain of salt.)
How Many Reps Of 185 To Bench 225?
On average, it is estimated that you need to perform 7-8 reps of 185 to be able to bench press 225 for one rep max. On the other hand, benching 185 for 10 reps means you should be able to do 246 lbs as your 1RM.
These are only estimates calculated from the 1RM-predicting equations. These can be off by as much as 10%, especially with a higher rep range (above 10 reps).
In general, one rep max predictions are accurate when used with 5-10RM, however, anything above 10-20 reps can be off by 7-10%,” according to an article published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.
So keep that in mind.
Here you can see the table with the 1-RM predictions based on how many reps a person can do with 185 pounds bench.
|185 Bench||What is your 1RM?|
|1 time||185 lbs|
|2 times||190 lbs|
|3 times||196 lbs|
|4 times||201 lbs|
|5 times||208 lbs|
|6 times||215 lbs|
|7 times||222 lbs|
|8 times||229 lbs|
|9 times||238 lbs|
|10 times||246 lbs|
The left column shows the number of reps and the right column gives you an estimated 1RM.
How To Bench 185 For Reps
Below you can find the exercise, loading, and training frequency recommendations that will help you improve your bench press numbers, based on the current research.
- Exercise recommendations – To bench 185 you need to focus on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, chest press and shoulder press. These multi-joint movements stimulate acute testosterone response, which will affect not only the legs or back muscles but the whole body.
- Loading recommendations – According to Adam M. Gonzalez Ph.D. from the Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, it is recommended to use loads between 70 to 90% of one-repetition maximum to produce greater muscle activation (Gonzalez et al. 2017).
- Training frequency recommendations – According to Dr. Grant W. Ralston from the University of the West of Scotland in Hamilton, UK, as long as the training volume is equal, there is no significant difference between doing resistance training 1 x week versus 3 x week, from the strength gains perspective (Ralston et al. 2018).
How to get the bench from 185 to 225?
Overall, to get from 185 to bench 225 you need to train for 3-6 months in the weight room, applying progressive overload and ensuring the body gets enough proteins, as well as a sufficient amount of rest and sleep.
High protein stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is important in strength and hypertrophy gains.
As you can see, not many people are able to bench 185 because it requires time and dedication. Benching one and a half plates on each side is impressive not only from the strength perspective but also from posture and overall health.
Also, building a bigger chest is one of the most important fitness goals for most folks not just for the sake of benching more, but also from the appearance perspective.