Today I will explain if benching your bodyweight is good, and most importantly, show you the fast, easy, and scientifically-backed way to increase your bench numbers.
In general, benching your body weight is good because it’s a strong driver for upper body strength. The bodyweight bench press for reps is a common exercise in military physical fitness training, which is an essential part of maintaining the readiness of the Army.
However, 76.8% of US adults do not meet the minimum requirements for resistance training recommendations (according to National Health Interview Survey).
This means that 8 out of 10 people are not strong enough to bench press their own body weight.
What is the bodyweight bench press?
In the perfect world, you should be able to bench 1.25 or 1.5 times your body weight with a smile on your face, regardless of your training status and age.
Here’s w photo of me benching my bodyweight using dumbbells.
For me, this lift is relatively easy as my current body weight is around 70kg. (Plus, I’ve been lifting weights for a few years now.)
However, in the real world, benching your body weight is not as easy as you may think.
- People who can bench their own body weight have usually at least 6 to 24 months of strength training experience behind their belts.
- People who can bench their own body weight are younger (typically in their 20s or 30s).
- People who can bench their own body weight are blessed with the right shoulder width and arm length.
- People who can bench their own body weight don’t have shoulder discomfort.
This is no bongos-and-flowers dream.
To be able to bench your own body weight is not easy because it requires an enormous amount of upper body strength, correct technique, and hard work, especially if you weigh more than the average American.
NOTE: In case you’re wondering, according to CDC National Health Statistics Reports, the average body weight of the current adult male in the US is 89.8 kg (197.9 lb), and the average body weight of the current adult female in the US is 77.4 kg (170.6 lb).
What does it mean to bench your own weight?
Overall, to bench your own weight means you can perform the bench press exercise with the weight on the barbell that is equivalent to your own body weight.
For example, if a person who weighs 180 pounds can bench 180 it means he can bench his own weight.
This is tricky because the “bodyweight” number is not the same for everyone.
So technically you should be able to bench your body weight, but it will depend on how much you weigh.
- A 250-pound body behaves differently than a 160-pounds body.
- A person who weighs 250 pounds may not be able to bench his body weight, but in general, he can be very strong.
On the other hand, a person with good genetics and optimal arm length who weigh 160 lbs can bench his own weight, but overall, he may not be as strong as the heavier guy.
What percentage of body weight should you bench?
This depends mainly on your age, gender, and training experience. The aging process accelerates the process of muscle mass and strength loss (especially after the 40s).
In fact, one study has shown that “adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation.”
According to this research:
- As we get older, there is an accelerated decrease in muscle mass and strength; and
- A decrease in strength leads to a lower capacity for physical activity and overall willingness to train (not only we are weaker but also spend less time being active).
Lower physical activity leads to a further decline in muscle fiber size.
It’s like a vicious cycle.
(Good news is that resistance training can increase lean weight and strength, even at an older age.)
Here is the table of the percentage of your bodyweight that you should bench (based on the bench bodyweight ratio article from Healthline).
|20||100% of your body weight|
|30||90% of your body weight|
|40||80% of your body weight|
|50||75% of your body weight|
|60||60% of your body weight|
As you can see, a 30-year-old male who is untrained should be able to bench 90% of his body weight.
On the other hand, a 50-year-old male who is trained should be able to bench 70 to 80% of his body weight.
How long does it take to bench your body weight?
It took me 6 to 12 months to be able to bench my body weight. This timeline can, of course, depend on how much time you spend in the gym, how optimal is your nutrition, and your overall health status.
- A body that is 63 behaves differently than a body that is 24.
- A body that’s been training in gyms for 20 years behaves differently than a body new to exercise.
- A body that’s been through multiple pregnancies behaves differently than a body that’s never borne a child.
- A body that works shifts work behaves differently than a body with a quiet, regular daytime schedule.
So, can you bench press your body weight in 6 to 12 months?
Not everyone can. But everyone can get stronger than they are right now in the next 6 to 12 months with the right training plan (more on that later).
How to bench your body weight?
As a whole, the bodyweight bench press is impressive because it demonstrates high levels of strength in the upper body, especially for beginners.
Some naturally strong people can achieve that results with no training.
However, for most people, to be able to lift their body weight requires months of training. So if you’re wondering why can’t I bench press my body weight, here are some useful training tips:
Focus on the eccentric movement
Eccentric movement (also called negative) is superior to concentric exercise in stimulating gains in muscle strength and mass. This will help to speed up the progress.
Use heavier weights
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends using 3−6 sets of 1−12 repetitions with 70−100% 1RM for advanced individuals.
For even better results, I recommend doing a 3-6 rep range, which will stimulate the fast-twitch muscle fibers better. For your safety, use a spotter.
Use a swiss bar
Doing a bench press with a Swiss Bar means you can use a neutral grip position, which can provide a range of motion, especially if you have shoulder pain.
Warm up your shoulders
Warming up your shoulder with specific ROM drills helps to improve your shoulder mobility and can increase your power output.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about how many people can bench 225.
How many times should I bench my body weight?
In general, beginners should be able to bench press 1x their body weight for at least one rep.
For intermediate and advanced, you should bench press 1 – 2x your body weight for a 1RM.
Elite lifters (who have several years of training behind their belt) should be able to bench 2x their body weight or more.
Below you can see the table with how much you should bench in relation to your body weight based on your fitness level.
|Fitness level||How much should you bench?|
|Untrained||0.5 – 0.75 x bodyweight|
|Beginner||1 x bodyweight|
|Intermediate||1 – 1.5 x bodyweight|
|Advanced||1.5 – 2 x bodyweight|
|Elite||2 – 2.25 x bodyweight|
NOTE: Please remember that these are just the estimation numbers based on the data from the internet and my personal experience.
If you have already spent years in the gym, but you are not able to bench 1.5 x your body weight, it doesn’t mean anything.
It is just the information that you can use to assess the efficacy of your workout plan.
For example, if you find that you can squat or deadlift a significant amount of weight, but your bench sucks, adjust your workout program and start prioritizing your upper body.
Make a reassessment and move on.
How to bench 2x bodyweight
Here you can find a video from Christian Thibaudeau about how to improve your bench press to be able to double your numbers.
Is benching more than your bodyweight good?
What if you can bench more than your body weight? Then my friend you’re a stud.
Overall, benching more than your body weight is good because that’s more than the average person can lift. People who can bench 1.5 or 2x their own weight are considered strong, according to the strength standards.
However, this will depend on the person’s age because most people in their 40s or above can bench press 70-80% of their own weight, even with the training experience.
As you can see, knowing if benching your bodyweight is good or not will depend on your lifting experience, age, and gender.
Beginners who train for 3 to 6 months should be able to bench 45 to 90 lbs, whereas intermediate and advanced lifters (6 to 24 months of training or more) should bench their own body weight without problems.