Bench Press Test

Using the bench press test table below: See how the maximum weight you can bench press for a single repetition compares to that of other men in your age-group. First, divide the weight you lift by your bodyweight. For example, if you bench press 300 pounds at a bodyweight of 200 pounds, the weight you lift as a proportion of your bodyweight is 300/200 = 1.50. Then locate the row in your age-group column corresponding to the calculated proportion and look across to the corresponding percentile ranking. For example, if you are 34 years old, weigh 171 pounds, and lift 185 pounds, your lift-to-bodyweight ratio as 185/171 = 1.08. The corresponding row in the 30-39 age-group column shows a percentile ranking of 75. That means you can lift a greater proportion of your bodyweight than 75% of the men in your age reference-group who took the bench press test.

NOTE: Use the following standard procedure for the bench-press test:

  • Use a standard bench-press bench with a sturdy rack for the barbell.

  • Use collars to prevent the weights from sliding off.

  • Have one or two spotters present during the bench press test to raise the bar if you cannot lift it off yourself.

  • Warm up with a few repetitions using a relatively light weight - about half what you expect your maximum to be.

  • Do a single repetition with about 75% of your expected max.

  • Wait 3-5 minutes between attempted maximum lifts.

  • Attempt a weight you expect to be difficult, but have confidence you will be able to lift.

  • Set all subsequent weights during the bench press test at what you think you can lift based on the difficulty of the previous lift. If the previous attempt failed, try dropping the weight somewhat.

  • Try to reach a maximum lift within 5-7 sets, including the warmups. Otherwise, fatigue may prevent a true max from being found during the bench press test.

WARNING: You should not attempt the maximal bench-press test unless all of the following criteria are met:
  • You are at low risk as indicated by our exercise risk questionnaire or have been cleared by a physician for strenuous exercise.

  • You have done bench-presses on at least 6 different occasions spaced over at least a 2-week period including two or more times when a relatively heavy weight was attempted.

  • You accept that during maximal physical efforts like the bench press test you are at increased risk of life-threatening cardiac events.

  • You warm up with light calisthenics before your effort.

  • You discontinue your effort if you feel any symptoms of adverse reaction, such as dizziness, light-headedness, chest pressure or pain, or musculoskeletal pain.

Consideration of body size: For biomechanical reasons, it is easier for a smaller man to lift a given percentage of his bodyweight. For example, it is easier for a 120 pound man to lift 1.5 his bodyweight (180 pounds) than for a 200 pound man to lift 1.5 times his bodyweight (300 pounds). Thus, if you're a large man, your percentile ranking relative to men your own size should actually be somewhat higher than your percentile relative to the overall male population indicated by the table. Also for biomechanical reasons, long-limbed people are expected to be at somewhat of a disadvantage in the bench press, so their scores may somewhat underestimate their true fitness level.

Percentile Table for the Bench Press

Weight-Lifted/Bodyweight

Age Group

Percentile20-2930-3940-4950-5960+
951.631.351.201.05.94
901.481.241.10.97.89
851.371.171.04.93.84
801.321.121.00.90.82
751.261.08.96.87.79
701.221.04.93.84.77
651.181.01.90.81.74
601.14.98.88.79.72
551.10.96.86.77.70
501.06.93.84.75.68
451.03.90.82.73.67
40.99.88.80.71.66
35.96.86.78.70.65
30.93.83.76.68.63
25.90.81.74.66.60
20.88.78.72.63.57
15.84.75.69.60.56
10.80.71.65.57.53
5.72.65.59.53.49

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