Graph showing the percentage of male weight lifters who can bench press 225 pounds.

Is 225 a Good Bench Press? What Percentage of Men Can Do It?

A few years ago, Greg Nuckols asked his Stronger by Science readers how long they’d been strength training and how much weight they could bench press. He found that the average powerlifter could bench 185 pounds within his first three months and 225 pounds within his first year (article).

But the sport of powerlifting tends to attract unusually strong guys. Many of those guys have athletic backgrounds. And the ones most likely to stick with powerlifting are the ones who see early success with it. Plus, many aren’t natural.

I’ve noticed that most lifters I talk to haven’t ever benched 225 pounds, and I almost never see guys loading two plates on the bar at the gym.

So, I surveyed 585 of our newsletter subscribers. I also asked the Stronger by Science community how often they see other guys benching 225 pounds.

What Percentage of Men Can Bench 225?

A two-plate bench is relatively uncommon. Only 17% of men who completed my survey had ever benched 225 pounds, and only 1% had reached the next milestone of 315 pounds.

I can be a little more specific. Here are the stats broken down by how long guys have been lifting weights:

Graph showing what percentage of men can bench 225 pounds based on how many years they've been lifting weights.

1 in 100 guys can bench 225 within their first year of lifting weights. 1 in 20 can do it after a year, 1 in 6 after 3 years, and a third of guys can do it after 5 years. That’s where most guys plateau forever.

The highest strength standards I’ve seen were from Stronger by Science, so I asked around the Stronger by Science community. Many guys responded that they still hadn’t benched two plates. Almost all of them said a 225 bench was rare to see at commercial gyms, but some pointed out that it was common at powerlifting gyms.

Dr. Milo Wolf (who works for Stronger by Science) pointed out that a 225 bench press gets even more impressive when you consider that the people most likely to persist with weight training are the ones who respond best to it.

StrengthLevel estimates the average lifter could bench press 217 pounds for a single repetition. That isn’t so far from benching 225 for 1 rep, but most guys aren’t throwing up singles. Most of the guys we see at commercial gyms are doing sets of 5–15 reps.

86% of the guys who could bench 225 pounds believed they were stronger than the average man. They’re correct. Not just that, they’re also stronger than two-thirds of guys who’ve been lifting for over a decade.

Caveats

I also run Bony to Beastly, a site for naturally thin guys. Most of the guys who completed the survey come from there, and they tend to be thinner than the average guy. Being thinner than average means we’re starting behind the starting line. It’s common to start off benching 65 pounds, not 185 pounds.

On the other hand, the average overweight man might be more interested in losing fat. That focus on losing weight might hold up their strength gains. It’s much easier to gain strength while eating a bulking diet.

Being thin has its advantages, too. 57% of our readers can do over 30 push-ups. Most stockier lifters would struggle to match that, even if they’re benching 225 for reps.

Conclusion

Benching 225 pounds isn’t an amazing bench press. It won’t cause other lifters to gasp in shock. But it’s definitely a good bench press, and maybe even a great one. Most men can’t do it, even after trying for over a decade. It’s more than enough to earn you the respect of lifetime lifters.

If you’re a powerlifter, you’ll need to bench closer to 315 pounds to earn that same amount of respect. In our survey, only 1 in 100 guys could bench press three plates. I had to gain seventy pounds to do it, bulking up from 130 to 200 pounds. It took me a little over ten years.

If you’re an NFL player, you’ll need to bench 225 for upwards of a dozen reps. I found that much easier than benching 315 for a single repetition, especially since the technique standards are much looser than with powerlifting.

Alright, that’s it for now. If you liked this article, you might like our articles on how much you should be able to squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press.

Shane Duquette is the co-founder of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell. He's a certified conditioning coach with a degree in design from York University in Toronto, Canada. He's personally gained 70 pounds and has over a decade of experience helping over 10,000 skinny people bulk up.

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