A lifter’s maximum bench press load is often a point of pride and competitiveness for many - especially since the bench press is considered to be one of the best tests of upper body muscular strength.
One commonly discussed figure in this vein is that of 225 pounds, referring to the total amount of weight on the barbell (of which itself weighs 45 pounds).
When speaking in terms of global population, being capable of performing the bench press with 225 pounds of weight is a rather impressive feat - especially if one considers the fact that the estimated number of people strong enough to do so is less than 1%.
A bench press repetition of 225 pounds or just a little over 102 kilograms is considerably heavy, often reaching up to 1.3x to 1.5x the actual body weight of the lifter itself.
This is all the more impressive a feat of strength when one factors in that the majority of adult males can only perform a bench press at approximately two-thirds of their total bodyweight.
When compiling data from numerous lifters, one can see that a bench press of 225 pounds would place the average gym goer at an advanced level of training, with exercisers below a bodyweight of 150 pounds being placed in the elite category as the load-to-bodyweight ratio makes such a press even more difficult.
Performing a single repetition of the bench press at 225 pounds has - in recent years - become somewhat of a fitness-culture goalpost, wherein many a novice or intermediate weightlifter will strive to achieve such a physical achievement and dedicate much of their time and energy to doing so.
A common colloquialism in fitness and lifting culture is counting weight by “plates”, such as in the case of a “2 plate” bench press, or a “3 plate” squat.
This term refers to the 45 pound or 20 kilogram weight plate that is considered standard in many official weightlifting competitions, alongside the 45 pound or 20 kilogram standard olympic straight barbell.
Furthermore, the term “2 plate” counts these weight plates in pairs, meaning that in order for a certain exercise to be considered “2 plate”, 4 standard 45 pound weight plates must be attached to the barbell.
Tallying up the weight of these plates alongside that of the barbell will equal a total load of 225 pounds, meaning that a “2 plate” bench does indeed mean 225 pounds.
The 225 pound bench press is considered an achievement because of the exercise knowledge, training intensity and general effort required to reach such a level of physical strength.
Generally, being able to move that much weight in a vertical pressing motion will require that the triceps brachii, pectoralis muscle groups and deltoid muscles of the lifter be significantly developed, both in terms of pure muscle mass and in total athletic ability.
Being capable of bench pressing 225 pounds means that an individual is at an advanced training level and likely quite dedicated to weightlifting.
Though we can safely say that - based on national statistics - less than 1% of the population can bench press 225 pounds, this figure becomes somewhat more dubious when changing the sample size to only individuals that visit the gym.
As a safe bet, when factoring in the number of individuals that own a gym membership and dividing it by relative bodyweight, gender, training age and length of time that such individuals have held their gym membership; we can arrive at the estimate of approximately 2% of all gym goers being capable of performing a 225 bench press lift.
While this number is likely inaccurate and it is entirely possible that a higher percentage of weightlifters are capable of such feats, the majority of weightlifting-related media seem to agree on such a number as a general guideline.
The exact length of time it may take a lifter to reach a 225 pound repetition of the bench press will vary greatly, and often be shortened due to certain personal factors such as a history of previous resistance training or a relatively high bodyweight-to-lift ratio.
A complete novice weightlifter employing proper training and recovery methodology can expect to reach this milestone within a year or so, while individuals with previous muscle memory of the bench press or certain genetic outliers may even be able to do so in less than six months.
It should be noted that the total load of a compound exercise is often determined by a number of concurrent factors, such as an individual’s gender, the length of their limbs and even what sort of mental state they are in at the time of the lift.
As such, it is quite difficult to determine the actual length of time it may take you to reach a 225 pound bench press - though one can be entirely assured that it is achievable with time and proper training.
If you wish to achieve the much sought-after 225 pound bench press, you must ensure that the correct type of training stimulus is being induced by your training program - alongside proper recovery methods and the usage of bench press techniques that ensure a safe and stable lift.
This will involve performing heavy weightlifting exercises two to three times a week, ensuring that you intake enough calories and protein, as well as devoting time and attention to mastery of proper bench press form and technique.
In order to stimulate the skeletal muscular tissue and joints to reinforce themselves, one must apply sufficient training stimulus within certain intervals so as to ensure the maximum level of muscular hypertrophy and strength developments are achieved.
This is made possible by performing heavy free weight compound movements that train the same muscle groups involved in the bench press; namely, the pectorals, the deltoids and the triceps brachii.
Some exercises that may be performed in order to train these muscle groups are the overhead press, the push up or the dumbbell chest press.
It is of particular importance that these exercises are of a free weight and compound nature, as free weight exercises will ensure that the synergist muscles involved in the bench press are sufficiently trained, and compound exercises have been established to be superior in terms of strength development in comparison to isolation exercises.
It isn’t enough to perform the bench press - in order to maximize the total weight one can lift, they must make full use of all possible mechanics.
Maximizing their torso arch, making full use of leg drive, ensuring an advantageous elbow tuck position and ensuring a stable and correct bar path are just a few of the numerous exercise mechanics and biomechanics that can increase the total amount of weight an exerciser can lift while bench pressing.
For novice weightlifters unsure of how to perform these mechanics, they are best served consulting an experienced athletic coach who can aid in fixing their bench press performance.
Another factor the exerciser should optimize is that of their training program, wherein the total volume and resistance in each workout session is sufficient enough to induce muscular growth without tipping into the category of overtraining.
Furthermore, exercisers training to achieve a 225 pound bench press will wish to place the bench press among one of the first exercises performed within a workout’s order of exercises, simply because this will allow them to practice the bench press with a fully rested and non-fatigued body.
In addition, when attempting to test their bench press one repetition maximum, the lifter may see some benefits from the utilization of advanced training programming techniques, such as periodization and volume training.
Of course, no matter what sort of training methods are used, one should always seek to induce progressive overload so as to avoid stagnation and ensure progress towards their goal of a 225 pound bench press is achieved.
Proper rest and recovery is the most important factor when training to bench press 225 pounds, as it is during the recovery period that the lifter’s body develops the majority of its strength and size.
Having sufficient enough sleep, taking up to 48 hours between training sessions of the same muscle group and performing proper recovery work such as stretching and mobility drills will all ensure that your progress does not stall or slow down.
Yes, women can indeed reach the 225 bench press milestone, though it is considerably more difficult than it would be for an individual with higher levels of testosterone, as it is this particular androgenic compound that is responsible for strength and muscular developments brought on by exercise.
On average, a woman of approximately 160 pounds performing a maximal load bench press repetition of 225 would be placed in the elite category - showing that it is possible for a woman to bench press such an amount.
No, the average man cannot bench press 225 pounds. This is simply because of the sedentary lifestyle the average person lives, leading to a lack of sufficient stimulus placed on their skeletal muscles and therefore resulting in the average man being too physically weak to bench press 225 pounds.
A 225 pound bench press is considered impressive even among the average weightlifting population, and as such the average sedentary male is unlikely to even come close to being able to lift such an amount.
What is considered a “respectable” bench press will vary between fitness sub-cultures and individuals of different characteristics. However, a healthylifter being able to bench press their own bodyweight is generally considered to be the intermediate standard and a sign that they have surpassed the novice stage.
As can be gathered from this article, being able to bench press 225 for even a single repetition is no small feat, and is a clear indicator that you know what you’re doing in the gym.
However, just like any other milestone in fitness, one should always avoid comparing themselves to others - as every individual progresses at their own pace. With proper training and patience, being able to bench press 225 pounds is only an inevitability.
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