Among particularly strong or aspiring weightlifters, the rather impressive feat of performing a 315 pound bench press is not only highly desired, but also a sign that the lifter is among the elite levels of training experience among their peers.
As such, it is no surprise that many regular gym goers wonder just how many weightlifters are actually capable of such an achievement, and whether it is even possible for them to reach such a level of physical strength.
Though the statistics vary somewhat, it can be generally assumed that only a tiny percentage of the global population are capable of performing a 315 pound bench press.
Within numerous estimates, approximately 0.6-1% of the entire United States population is capable of performing a 315 pound bench press repetition, of which is only 5% of all resistance-trained individuals within the Western hemisphere. At a global scale, approximately only 0.3-0.5% are able to do so.
The term “benching” refers to the conventional barbell bench press, wherein an exerciser will lie atop a bench and lower a loaded barbell to their chest so as to train the pectoral muscles, triceps brachii and deltoids at a high level of intensity.
The bench press is considered to be an essential exercise and is rarely absent from any serious resistance training programs - so much so that it is often utilized as a competition lift in weightlifting sports, and as a standard of testing upper body strength both in and out of clinical research.
As such, the term “benching 315” refers to an individual being capable of performing one or numerous repetitions of the bench press exercise with 315 pounds or approximately 143 kilograms in total being moved.
Yes - the “315” in benching 315 refers to the total amount of weight lifted during the exercise. This will include the weight of the barbell, of which is assumed to be the standard olympic straight barbell of 45 pounds or 20 kilograms when unloaded.
When using standard 45 pound or 20 kilogram weight plates, a bench press of 315 pounds will have 3 pairs of plates loaded onto the barbell, or otherwise 6 counts of 45 pound plates in total.
Note that not all barbells weigh the same, and as such it is generally only considered a “valid” 315 pound bench press when using a conventional straight barbell.
So few people are capable of performing a 315 pound bench press because of the simple fact that it is a very heavy amount of weight to load onto the body. In fact, it is almost impossible for any individual to perform such a feat with proper form unless they have a previous history of resistance training.
Even then, among novice or intermediate level weightlifters, performing a repetition of bench press with 315 pounds is quite challenging.
Generally, unless the weightlifter is a man that weighs over 200 pounds and has a solid 3-4 years of training under their belt, it is unlikely that they will be capable of performing a 315 pound bench press with proper form.
The average bench press is often split into two main categories due to the biological differences in force output between men and women.
Furthermore, it is important to make the distinction between the average individual on a general scale, and the average individual among a weightlifting population, as what is considered “average” among weightlifters is a far cry from what the average person is capable of bench pressing.
Among untrained men, the average bench press is estimated to be somewhere around 135 pounds for a single repetition. In the case of the average untrained woman, this number is approximately 60-70 pounds, depending on their bodyweight.
The average bench press changes significantly when decreasing the sample criteria to only resistance-trained individuals, as the body’s muscular development and adaptation will allow such lifters to quickly eclipse the capabilities of the average untrained person.
Among male weightlifters, the “average” or intermediate amount of bench press weight lifted is approximately 200 pounds for a 180 pound man. For women weightlifters of 150 pounds, the average bench press is approximately 105 pounds lifted.
Note that these ranges assume the lifter is nearly the same weight as the sample, and that they are between the ages of 13 and 40. Individuals older or of significantly different body weight will have a different average among their peers.
Yes - the term “3 plate bench” refers to the number of 45 pound weight plate pairs loaded onto the barbell. This will equate to 315 pounds of total weight, including the weight of the barbell.
Though there are quite a number of weight plates of different weight denominations, 45 pound plates are usually the heaviest plate available for most fitness equipment brands, hence the term “3 plate” referring to 3 pairs of 45 pound plates being used.
While the method with which training volume is calculated towards a one repetition maximum may differ among coaches, it is generally agreed upon that somewhere between 11 and 13 repetitions of a 225 pound bench press means that the lifter is likely capable of bench pressing 315 pounds for a single repetition.
Note that this is not always accurate, and many lifters with different skeletal muscle makeup are capable of performing a 315 pound bench press despite a lower level of muscular endurance.
As can be surmised from such a small number of people being able to perform a 315 bench, quite a bit of experience and physical conditioning is needed in order to come even close to pulling off such a feat.
While the methodologies behind training for elite-level weightlifting are far more complex than what can be fit within a single article, here are a few tips that are almost universally applicable, regardless of the lifter’s background or experience level.
Whether you’re a novice planning for the future or an experienced weightlifter seeking to maximize your genetic potential, training consistently is an absolute must. Infrequent training will not only slow down the rate at which the body can develop physical strength, but also potentially lead to a failure in adaptation and eventual loss of muscle mass due to a lack of stimulus being applied.
While clinical studies indeed show that training a muscle group only once a week (or even less) is sufficient to maintain muscle mass, actually taking full advantage of your training and maximizing strength development requires considerably greater training frequency.
Note that training consistently does not mean training constantly, as doing so will easily lead to overtraining and actually interrupt your development, rather than accelerate it. Train according to a proper workout program, and take the necessary time off to recover.
Recovering properly from your training program is arguably just as important as the training itself, as progress in strength adaptation and muscular hypertrophy will stall or otherwise fail without sufficient time to recover.
Furthermore, insufficient intake of protein and calories can easily lead to much the same problems as insufficient recovery time. As such, if you wish to be able to bench 315 pounds, it is important to both ensure that you are taking enough time off from exercise, as well as eating the right kinds of food in proper amounts.
Depending on your bodyweight and experience level, this can be as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and up to 3,000 calories per day, if not more. Making use of modern dietary supplements and certain training frequency schemes is an excellent way of making the recovery process far easier.
As was previously mentioned, training consistently is key - especially when it comes to perfecting your performance for a specific exercise.
Powerlifters (who specialize in the bench press, among other lifts) will regularly perform competition lifts at a high frequency so as to perfect their execution of the exercise through regular practice, as well as to condition their body to the stress of heavy weightlifting.
While performing the bench press too often is indeed a poor idea, the majority of natural weightlifters should be able to recover from as much as a thrice-weekly bench press frequency, with more advanced lifters even doing so only twice a week so as to maximize recovery from training at a high intensity.
Though all lifters will experience a period of accelerated growth known as the “newbie gains” effect, keep in mind that the majority of individuals who can bench press 315 pounds have been training for a significantly lengthy period of time, and it is unlikely that you will be able to match them in a relatively short time frame.
Remember that resistance training is a marathon, not a race. Be patient and keep in mind that all individuals progress at their own unique pace, as is dictated by their biology and lifestyle. If it is indeed possible for you to bench press 315 pounds, consistent training will get you there in time.
Regardless of your current level of experience in regards to weightlifting, there are doubtless one or two errors in your training that could use the knowledge and attention of a professional athletic coach.
From novice lifters to record-breaking powerlifter athletes, the individualized training provided by a coach will allow you to maximize your body’s capacity to physically develop, accelerating the pace at which you could reach a 315 pound bench press, and ensuring that you do so in a safe manner.
Even one session with a coach can help you assess errors in your bench press technique, creating a stronger and safer lift without the need for further muscle mass.
Yes - it is entirely possible for a well-trained individual to perform a bench press repetition of 315 pounds. Whether it is easy to do so, however, is an entirely different question.
Many individuals capable of performing a 315 pound bench press have trained for several years, and put serious time and energy towards maximizing the physical strength of their body. It is unlikely that an individual fresh in the gym will be capable of moving such an amount of weight.
It is estimated that nearly one-fifth of all individuals are capable of performing a 135 pound bench press as their single maximum-effort repetition - the majority of which are untrained males weighing between 160-200 pounds.
Keep in mind that this is looking at a global population, where differences in age, bodyweight and gender significantly lower the average bench press. An even smaller part of this percentage includes people who participate in exercise of some sort, meaning that comparing oneself to a global average isn’t the best benchmark for physical capability.
This number is otherwise significantly higher when looking at a resistance-trained population sample however, as the average or “intermediate” level woman is capable of performing a 135 pound bench press as well.
The inclusion of the majority of resistance-trained women alongside the average male lifter equates to the percentage of 135 pound bench pressers being somewhere around 70%, with the remaining minority being individuals who have yet to reach this particular milestone.
A respectable bench press is one that is considered intermediate among peers of your age, gender and body weight.
For men between the ages of 13 and 40, with a body weight of approximately 180 pounds, a respectable bench press would be somewhere in the ballpark of 200 pounds for a single repetition.
For women of the ages between 13 to 35, and with a body weight of around 145 pounds, a respectable or intermediate bench press would be approximately 115 pounds.
So - planning to grind out a 315 bench repetition, or just curious how you compare to elite level lifters?
Remember that comparison is best only used as a loose guidepost for your own progress, and that the most important person to be comparing yourself to is your past self. So long as your training brings steady progress in a safe and consistent manner, then you are indeed bench pressing as much as you need to.
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2. Travis, S. K., Zourdos, M. C., & Bazyler, C. D. (2021). Weight Selection Attempts of Elite Classic Powerlifters. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 128(1), 507–521. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512520967608
3. McLaughlin, Thomas M. Ph.D., Director of Strength/Fitness Biomechanics; Madsen, Nels H. Ph.D.. Bench Press: Bench press techniques of elite heavyweight powerlifters. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal 6(4):p 44-44, August 1984.