How much you can safely bench press may depend on factors including your age, weight, and how much training you’ve had.

The amount you can bench press can be used as a marker of your strength, but it’s just one part of the picture. The average man in his thirties can bench press 90 percent of his body weight, though this can vary depending on several factors.

How much you can bench press depends on your fitness level and how much you’ve trained. Liz Marsland, a CrossFit L-2 trainer at CrossFit Shapesmiths, says she looks at the whole person and considers their size, build, and lifting experience to get a feel for their benchmark.

An advanced or elite athlete can usually lift more than twice as much weight as an individual who hasn’t trained can. A standard barbell weighs 45 pounds, and you may begin by lifting only the bar.

If you haven’t done any lifting before, Marsland recommends learning the technique with a training bar that weighs 22 pounds. This will allow you to feel comfortable and perfect your technique before adding weights.

It’s important to use good form and build up gradually so you’re able to maintain your results.

Read on to learn about bench press averages. Keep in mind that each person is different and you may not fall into the exact category that you think. Use these charts to get an idea of where you should be and to set some goals.

In general, men will lift heavier loads than women. Men tend to be strongest in their twenties and thirties and can increase their bench press weight during this time. Once they are in their forties, their bench press weight tends to decline.

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, but they’re important considerations to keep in mind.

You can use these charts to get an idea of how much the average adult man can bench press:

Bench press average by weight

Body weight (lbs)Untrained NoviceIntermediateAdvanced Elite

Bench press average by age

AgeTotal weight
20–29100 percent of your body weight
30–3990 percent of your body weight
40–4980 percent of your body weight
50–5975 percent of your body weight

Marsland explains that the bench press can be extremely beneficial in developing strength in women, since it works several parts of your body.

She says women should start gently, especially if they don’t already have a lot of upper-body strength. You can also do dips, pushups, and plank variations to build strength.

Size and fitness level, rather than age, are the best ways to determine a woman’s ability to bench press. You can see the breakdown for women here:

Body weight (lbs)UntrainedNoviceIntermediateAdvancedElite

To develop the upper-body strength needed to bench press more challenging weights, stay consistent in your approach and follow these tips:

Build gradually

Build up the weight slowly and let go of any immediate expectations. Remember that it takes time to see results.

Eat a healthy diet

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Include foods that build lean muscle, such as healthy carbs, fats, and proteins. Stay hydrated and drink enough liquids before, during, and after your workout.

Use good form

Do this by pressing your feet into the floor, slightly arching your lower back, and pressing your shoulders and glutes into the bench.

Push yourself to fatigue without overexerting yourself or forcing yourself beyond your limits. You can use this calculator to find your one-repetition maximum.

Vary your strengthening routine

This will help you target your whole body. Include aerobic exercise and stretches that increase flexibility.

Rest your major muscle groups for at least one full day between weightlifting sessions. Take breaks between sets as necessary. Practice correct breathing by exhaling as you lift the weight and inhaling as you lower it.

Work with a trainer

Marsland emphasizes the usefulness of working with a trainer, since they can help you follow a program and develop the most efficient workout.

She explains, “They can give tips on technique, including slight angles of their body that only a trainer will notice. They can provide mental support so you can push for that heavy lift and ensure safety by making sure your body is in the right position.”

Use the RPE scale

Marsland recommends using the RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion scale, to determine how much you can lift. She points out that you should use your entire body for the movement — not just your arms — since it’s a comprehensive movement.

Marsland says her clients can see improvements of up to 20 pounds after just a few sessions of using proper technique. She encourages them to vary the ways they challenge their bodies within the same environment to yield the best results.

The bench press is one of the best chest exercises to build muscle mass and strength, but other exercises are also beneficial for the chest muscles.

Do these exercises in addition to the bench press or as an alternative, depending on your preference and which equipment you have available.

Pec deck

The pec deck activates your chest muscles in much the same way as the bench press. The seated position supports good posture and form, which is ideal for beginners and people with lower-body injuries.

This exercise strengthens your shoulders, arms, and core, which helps with upper-body movements.

To ensure safety, use proper form and correct breathing techniques. Don’t do this exercise if you have any concerns about your shoulders. Avoid forcing or holding your breath.

Bent-forward cable crossover

This exercise uses a pulley machine to tighten, tone, and strengthen your chest. It helps improve balance and range of motion.

Use slow, steady movements and stay within your limits. Experiment with various angles to target different muscles, and always use proper form.

Inclined dumbbell flyes

Inclined dumbbell flyes work your upper chest and shoulders. Your arms and wrists help stabilize the movement.

You do this exercise lying on your back on an inclined bench. Typically you use dumbbells, but you can set yourself up with a cable station on either side.

Use these bench press averages as markers for developing your own program. Make good form a priority over increasing your bench press weight.

Be consistent in your approach and aim for gradual results instead of immediate improvement. Listen to your body and take a break if you feel pain. Rest for at least one full day each week.

Talk to your doctor if you are just starting out or have any medical concerns that could be affected by weightlifting.