Among the most famous free weight exercises, the bench press is considered to be the most common due to its accessibility and ability to target the most visually appealing muscle groups of the upper body.
However, not every individual is capable of performing this exercise with the same amount of weight as their peers, and as such it is common for one to question how they measure up to the average individual, or even whether they are as strong as other weightlifters of their age and gender.
For the average man, being able to bench press 135 pounds for a single repetition places you at the same level as other men in your demographic, give or take some variation in weight and age. For women, being able to bench press 135 pounds places you above most people in comparison to the average woman.
Bench pressing 135 means performing the exercise with a total weight lifted of 135 pounds, or approximately 60 kilograms. With a standard straight Olympic barbell, this means having one pair of 45 pound plates on the bar.
Being able to perform a bench press of 135 pounds is considered to be an intermediate or novice level milestone that the majority of healthy exercisers are capable of achieving, even with poor training methodology or inconsistent workouts.
As such, a bench press of 135 pounds is considered to be less of an impressive achievement and more of a benchmark to help ascertain the training experience of a weightlifter, often alongside taking other factors into account like bodyweight, gender and age.
To ensure that you are in fact performing the bench press correctly, the movement must be performed with the correct stance and adherence to proper form cues.
To begin, the exerciser will position themselves beneath the barbell - of which should be on a rack peg at full arm's length - and position their feet somewhat further behind their knees, with the lower back slightly arched and the scapula fully retracted.
Then, unracking the bar, the exerciser will slowly lower it to a comfortable point along their sternum or chest, pausing for a moment once it has made contact with the body.
To complete the repetition, the exerciser will push through their chest and palms, pressing the barbell upwards until the arms are back in a state of full or nearly full extension.
Note that this is an oversimplification and there are quite a number of further technical aspects of the bench press that could fill up whole articles by themselves. Regardless, sticking to these basic guidelines should be enough to develop rudimentary form adherence in a novice lifter.
Among the average individual, being able to perform a bench press of 135 pounds is actually quite possible - though nearing the upper limit of their capabilities.
It is estimated that approximately half of all untrained men between the teenage years to their early thirties are capable of performing the bench press at such a weight, so long as their own body weight clocks in between 175 and 200 pounds.
For women between their teenage years up to 39 years old, the average is far lower, with the average untrained woman of 135 pounds only being capable of lifting approximately 70 pounds during their maximal bench press exertion.
As such, collating these two figures gives us a rough estimate of only 44% of all adults between the ages of 13 and 40 being capable of performing a 135 pound bench press.
While these numbers are based on global weight averages, it is entirely possible for an individual to be lighter or heavier than the aforementioned examples - meaning that they may be stronger or weaker due to the leverage provided by their own body weight.
While we can see that approximately half of men and only a small percentage of women are capable of performing a 135 pound bench press on their first day at the gym, this number is otherwise considered to be less impressive among a more experienced demographic.
Among trained males, a bench press of 135 is considered to be beneath or at least parallel with the novice level of strength - meaning that approximately 60-70% of other exercisers are capable of lifting more weight due to their longer training career.
For trained women, a bench press of 135 is actually quite an achievement, and usually only performed by women within the more advanced levels of weightlifting training - placing them squarely within the top 15% of all trained female weight lifters.
Yes - the term “1 plate” or “1pl8” is slang among weightlifters for loading a pair of 45 pound plates onto a standard olympic barbell. This equates to 135 pounds or roughly 60 kilograms of weight total, including the weight of the barbell.
One of the most effective methods of reaching the milestone of a 135 pound bench press is to simply be consistent in your training - regularly performing exercises within the gym, and doing so in a manner that consistently keeps the body challenged - will eventually result in the exerciser reaching such a level of strength.
Note that being consistent does not mean overtraining, or training through pain - simply that the exerciser should perform the correct exercises at a regular interval, supported by proper rest and rehabilitation.
Another frequently made error by novice lifters is choosing to follow a training program that is not meant to be purposed for their specific training goals, or otherwise a poorly formed one that may be less effective than other workout plans.
Generally, training programs that are meant to help improve your bench press will feature a significant amount of bench press volume within a given workout session, as well as several accessory exercises that will both improve the muscles used during the aforementioned bench press, as well as aid in developing the necessary exercise familiarity needed to perform the movement safely.
For individuals that wish to maximize the efficiency with which their bench press can improve, making use of novice or intermediate level powerlifting or powerbuilding training programs produced by well-studied coaches and professional athletes is the best way of doing so.
Much of resistance training and subsequent muscular development is simply damaging the muscles of the body in a small enough increment that the body can recover from, often in a manner that leaves the tissues stronger than before.
While this is a gross oversimplification, it is nonetheless an established fact that this sort of hypertrophy is otherwise not possible without the sufficient macronutrients and gross caloric intake required to sustain it.
This means consuming enough protein relative to one's own lean mass, as well as eating anywhere between 200 and 500 calories over their daily energy expenditure so as to maximize the speed and extent to which the exerciser will recover.
Though not as physical as other tips mentioned in this article, it is vital to learn as much as possible in terms of training methodology, bench press execution and the basic mechanics of how an individual can grow in strength and muscle mass.
Matters like caloric expenditure, the relation between range of motion and force output and even how your own proportions can be used to maximize leverage are all things that are technical in nature and otherwise difficult to learn without research or advice from external sources.
In the event that you are a male lifter and are not yet already capable of performing a 135 pound bench press, the “newbie gains” effect should ensure that you reach this milestone in a very short length of time - that is, so long as you are following a suitable training program and otherwise have the basics of training down.
For women however, reaching a 135 pound bench press may take some time, and a bit more training expertise than what the average novice weightlifter will possess. With a consistent training schedule, effective exercises and the right diet, reaching a 135 pound bench press is possible within a year if starting from an entirely untrained state.
For the average teenage or adult male - no, benching able to bench press 135 pounds is not all that significant. It does indeed mean that you are of a healthy amount of muscle mass or have otherwise participated in some level of strength training, however.
For women however, being able to bench 135 pounds is quite a feat - a clear sign that you have been training properly for a veritable length of time, and are of excellent upper body strength among your peers.
The global average bench among untrained men numbers somewhere between 105 and 135 pounds, depending on body weight and age.
Generally, the closer an individual is to 20 years old, and the heavier they are in terms of lean mass, the more they will be able to lift despite no previous history of strength training.
Do note that the average man is not the same as the average weightlifting male, as these are two separate demographics and it is estimated that only 3% of the entire global population actually has access to a gym, making the sample size of weightlifting males miniscule in comparison to all male individuals.
On average, an untrained or beginner level 135 pound male should be able to bench press at least 100 pounds, with small factors like limb length, technique and age causing deviations from this number.
At higher and more trained levels, a 135 pound man may be considered better than the majority of their untrained peers if they are capable of performing the bench press with 150 pounds of weight at a maximal level of effort.
Keep in mind that every individual is unique in terms of biology and lifestyle, and what may be the starting point for one person could be months of serious training for another. The most important thing to pay attention to is whether you are making progress relative to your past self, not to that of others.
If you’ve already managed to reach the 135 pound bench press milestone, it may be time to set your sights on further physical development, such as a 225 pound bench press or specialization into other weightlifting-related sports.
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2. LeSuer, Dale A.; McCormick, James H.; Mayhew, Jerry L.; Wasserstein, Ronald L.; Arnold, Michael D.. The Accuracy of Prediction Equations for Estimating 1-RM Performance in the Bench Press, Squat, and Deadlift. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 11(4):p 211-213, November 1997.
3. Amasay, Tal & Mier, Constance & Foley, Kristie & Carswell, Tonya. (2016). Gender Differences in Performance of Equivalently Loaded Push-Up and Bench-Press Exercises. The Journal of SPORT. 5. 46-63. 10.21038/sprt.2016.0513.