Is 120 kg A Good Bench Press?

Is 120 kg A Good Bench Press

Yes, 120 kg is an impressive bench press, indicating advanced upper body strength and dedicated training.


The bench press, often hailed as the king of upper body exercises, has carved its mark not only in the realms of bodybuilding but also in strength sports and athletic training. Its rise to prominence, coupled with its importance in strength training, warrants a deeper dive into its evolution and relevance.

Is 120 kg A Good Bench Press
Is 120 kg A Good Bench Press

Brief history of the bench press

The origins of the bench press can be traced back to the early 20th century. Prior to its popularization, strongmen and weightlifters primarily focused on overhead presses as a testament to upper body strength. However, as time progressed, the bench press began to gain traction, especially in the United States. By the mid-20th century, it had become an essential component of bodybuilding routines, with legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger incorporating it into their regimens.

During the 1950s and 60s, the bench press established itself as one of the three primary lifts in powerlifting, alongside the squat and deadlift. Records were continuously shattered, with milestones like the 500 lb (approximately 227 kg) bench press being surpassed. One pivotal moment was in 1970 when Jim Williams bench pressed 675 lbs (approximately 306 kg) without the assistance of modern bench shirts or advanced equipment.

Importance of the bench press in strength training

The bench press is often considered a cornerstone of strength training for several reasons:

  1. Muscle Activation: The bench press activates multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the pectorals, deltoids, triceps, and even the latissimus dorsi. This compound nature makes it an efficient exercise for building upper body strength and mass.
  2. Measurable Progress: One of the advantages of the bench press is the ease with which one can track progress. For instance, a beginner might start with a modest 60 kg, but with consistent training and attention to technique, could aim to achieve the 120 kg milestone within a year or two.
  3. Functional Strength: The pushing motion involved in the bench press has real-world applications, enhancing functional strength. This movement can translate to actions like pushing a heavy object or maintaining stability in sports.
  4. Athletic Performance: Many athletes, irrespective of their sport, incorporate the bench press in their training regimen. From football players to sprinters, the strength derived from this exercise can be a game-changer in terms of performance.
  5. Safety: When performed with proper technique and a spotter, the bench press is relatively safe compared to certain other lifts. The controlled environment, especially with the use of a power rack, can mitigate risks associated with heavy lifting.

In summary, the bench press, with its rich history and undeniable importance in strength training, continues to be a pivotal exercise for those aiming to enhance their physical prowess. Whether one’s goal is muscle hypertrophy, improved athletic performance, or simply personal achievement, the bench press remains a fundamental tool in the arsenal of strength enthusiasts.

Understanding Bench Press Weight Categories

In the vast universe of strength training, the bench press stands as an exercise that both novices and seasoned professionals employ to gauge upper body strength. But how does one differentiate between novice, intermediate, and advanced benchmarks? Moreover, how do these benchmarks change when factored against the variable of body weight? The answers to these questions help lifters set tangible goals and evaluate their progress more effectively.

Novice vs. Intermediate vs. Advanced lifters

  • Novice Lifters: Typically, those who are new to the bench press or have been training for less than a year fall into the novice category. For an average male novice weighing around 70 kg, benching 50-60 kg might be an achievable goal. For females of a similar weight, pressing 30-40 kg could be a realistic initial target. Novices should primarily focus on mastering the technique, which lays the foundation for future progress.
  • Intermediate Lifters: After training consistently for about a year or two, many lifters move to the intermediate stage. An intermediate male lifter weighing around 70 kg might aim to bench press between 80-100 kg. For a female of similar weight, a bench of 50-60 kg might be a suitable target. This stage is often characterized by slower, but still noticeable, progression in strength. It’s also a phase where lifters might start incorporating periodization in their training regimens to optimize gains.
  • Advanced Lifters: These are individuals who have dedicated several years to consistent training and have neared their genetic potential in terms of strength. For a male lifter weighing 70 kg, pressing upwards of 120 kg would put him in the advanced category. For females of the same weight, pressing more than 70 kg might be considered advanced. At this level, progress is measured in smaller increments, and training often becomes highly specialized.

Weight categories based on body weight

Body weight plays a significant role in determining how much one can bench press. Naturally, a 90 kg lifter would have a different benchmark compared to someone weighing 60 kg. Several organizations, such as the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation), categorize lifters based on their body weight, allowing for fair competition.

Powerlifter With Cerebral Palsy, Frode Fyllingsnes Reaches 120kg Bench Press Goal
Powerlifter With Cerebral Palsy, Frode Fyllingsnes Reaches 120kg Bench Press Goal

For instance:

  • 60 kg Weight Category: For males, a competitive bench might be 90 kg, while for females, it might be around 50 kg.
  • 80 kg Weight Category: Males might be targeting a bench of around 130 kg, whereas females might be looking at 70 kg.
  • 100 kg and Above Weight Category: In this heavyweight category, male competitors often press upwards of 160 kg, while females might be pressing in the range of 90 kg.

These numbers, however, can vary based on individual genetics, training regimens, and other factors. The key takeaway is that benchmarks should be adjusted based on body weight to provide a more accurate representation of one’s strength level.

In conclusion, understanding where one stands in terms of bench press weight categories can be instrumental in setting realistic and achievable goals. As lifters progress from novice to advanced stages, their training strategies evolve, and benchmarks shift, offering new challenges and milestones to conquer.

Factors Influencing Bench Press Capacity

The bench press, a staple in strength training regimens, is influenced by various factors. While the weight on the barbell may seem like a simple number, the journey to that weight is a complex interplay of genetics, training, nutrition, and sometimes even the equipment used. Let’s delve deeper into these determining factors that dictate an individual’s bench press prowess.

Genetics and muscle fiber type

Our genetic blueprint plays a significant role in our athletic endeavors, and the bench press is no exception. Two people following the same training regimen might experience different results due to their genetic makeup.

  • Muscle Fiber Distribution: Humans possess two primary types of muscle fibers: Type I (slow-twitch) and Type II (fast-twitch). Type I fibers excel in endurance-based activities, while Type II fibers are geared for strength and power. An individual with a higher percentage of Type II fibers might naturally have a better predisposition for activities like bench pressing. You can learn more about this from the muscle fiber article on Wikipedia.
  • Bone Structure: The length and thickness of one’s bones can impact leverage, range of motion, and overall strength. Someone with shorter arms might find it easier to bench press due to a reduced range of motion, giving them a mechanical advantage.


Training experience and technique

With consistent training, the body adapts, leading to strength gains. But the duration of training and the quality of technique are vital.

  • Progressive Overload: It’s a principle where you gradually increase the weight or resistance in your exercises over time. For instance, if you’re bench pressing 60 kg this month, aiming for 62.5 kg the next month can lead to consistent strength gains.
  • Technique: A well-executed bench press isn’t just about pushing weight; it’s about stability, form, and activating the right muscle groups. Proper scapular retraction, foot placement, and bar path can drastically influence the weight one can lift. Several strength training resources emphasize the importance of technique for injury prevention and efficiency.

Nutrition and recovery

Muscles grow and repair outside the gym, and nutrition fuels this process.

  • Caloric Intake: For strength gains, consuming more calories than one expends (a caloric surplus) is often recommended. A diet rich in protein, moderate in fats, and ample in carbohydrates can support muscle growth and recovery.
  • Recovery: Muscles need time to recover post-exertion. Overworking without adequate rest can lead to injuries and hinder progress. Thus, ensuring a gap of at least 48 hours before targeting the same muscle group again is beneficial.

Supportive equipment

While raw strength plays a pivotal role, the right equipment can provide that extra edge.

  • Bench Shirts: Worn by powerlifters, these shirts provide support and can enhance the amount lifted. A bench shirt can add anywhere from 10 kg to 40 kg or more, depending on the lifter’s experience with the equipment.
  • Wrist Wraps: These provide wrist stability, especially under heavy loads. Proper wrist alignment can lead to a more effective transfer of power from the chest and triceps to the barbell.

In essence, the bench press is more than just lifting a barbell. It’s a symphony of genetic factors, dedicated training, proper nutrition, and sometimes, the aid of specialized equipment. As one embarks on their bench press journey, understanding and optimizing these factors can pave the way for milestones previously deemed unattainable.

How 120 kg Compares in Different Contexts

Lifting 120 kg on the bench press is no small feat. But its significance can vary drastically depending on the context in which it’s placed. Factors such as age, gender, athleticism, and even the grandeur of world records can offer a more nuanced perspective on what lifting 120 kg really means.

Age and gender differences

  • Men in Their 20s: For a healthy male in his 20s, bench pressing 120 kg might be considered above average but achievable with dedicated training. This weight might be expected for someone who has been consistent with their strength training for a few years.
  • Women in Their 20s: For women, pressing 120 kg is exceptional. A woman in her 20s lifting this weight is likely dedicated to strength training, possibly even competing at advanced levels.
  • Older Population (50+ years): Bench pressing 120 kg at this age is impressive for both genders. While age can bring about a decline in muscle mass and strength, those who maintain consistent training habits can still showcase significant prowess in their lifts.

Athletic vs. general population benchmarks

  • Athletic Population: Athletes, especially those involved in sports like football, rugby, or powerlifting, often have rigorous strength training regimens. For these individuals, a 120 kg bench press might be considered standard or even below their personal best, depending on their specific sport and position.
  • General Population: Among the general populace, a 120 kg bench press is outstanding. Most casual gym-goers might never reach this milestone, as their goals might be more oriented towards general fitness, aesthetics, or other forms of exercise beyond weightlifting.

Comparison to world records

When we pivot to the realm of world records, the perspective shifts dramatically.

  • Men’s World Records: The highest echelons of male powerlifters have set records by bench pressing well over 300 kg, nearly three times the 120 kg mark. In this context, while 120 kg is commendable, it’s far from the pinnacle of human potential.
  • Women’s World Records: The world records in women’s bench press also significantly surpass the 120 kg mark, with elite lifters pressing upwards of 200 kg. Nevertheless, for many female lifters, achieving a 120 kg bench press would be a monumental milestone.

To wrap it up, while a 120 kg bench press is impressive in many contexts, especially within the general population, it’s essential to frame this achievement within broader categories to truly appreciate its significance. Whether it’s age brackets, the distinction between athletes and casual exercisers, or the towering benchmarks of world records, these contexts provide a richer understanding of this weightlifting accomplishment.

Benefits of Achieving a 120 kg Bench Press

Achieving a 120 kg bench press is not just a testament to one’s physical prowess but also brings along a host of tangible and intangible benefits. From the undeniable physical advantages to the psychological boosts and even the nods of respect in the fitness community, hitting that 120 kg mark on the bench can be transformative in more ways than one.


Physical benefits: strength, muscle development, and bone density

  • Strength: Elevating a weight like 120 kg significantly enhances upper body strength, particularly targeting the pectoral muscles, triceps, and anterior deltoids. This strength often translates to better performance in other athletic endeavors and daily activities, making tasks like lifting heavy objects or pushing things easier.
  • Muscle Development: Consistent training to achieve such a milestone leads to hypertrophy, or the growth of muscle cells. This results in more defined and larger chest muscles, giving the lifter a more muscular and aesthetic appearance. You can delve deeper into the mechanics of muscle hypertrophy on Wikipedia.
  • Bone Density: Weight-bearing exercises like the bench press have been shown to increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis as one ages. With each lift, the bones adapt by building more bone cells, leading to stronger and denser bones.

Psychological benefits: confidence and mental toughness

  • Confidence: Achieving a goal, especially one as challenging as pressing 120 kg, can provide a significant confidence boost. This newfound confidence can spill over into other areas of life, from professional endeavors to personal relationships.
  • Mental Toughness: The journey to pressing 120 kg requires dedication, perseverance, and resilience. Facing failures, pushing through plateaus, and consistently showing up even on tough days foster a level of mental toughness that can be a valuable asset in life’s other challenging situations.

Social recognition within the fitness community

  • Gym Credibility: Within the confines of a gym, lifting heavy often earns respect. Achieving the 120 kg benchmark can turn heads, leading to recognition from peers and potentially even fostering new gym friendships or mentorships.
  • Online Recognition: In today’s digital age, fitness enthusiasts often share their achievements on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or fitness forums. A 120 kg bench press, especially if documented, can garner appreciation, encouragement, and even open doors to collaborative opportunities or sponsorships within the fitness community.

In conclusion, the benefits of achieving a 120 kg bench press go far beyond the numbers on the barbell. The ripple effects of such an achievement can influence an individual’s physical health, mental fortitude, and social standing, making the journey towards this milestone as rewarding as the achievement itself.

Potential Risks and Considerations

While reaching a 120 kg bench press brings a wave of benefits, it’s crucial not to overlook the potential risks and considerations associated with it. It’s a significant weight, and improper training, overzealousness, or lack of attention to form can lead to setbacks. To ensure a safe and sustainable path to this milestone, it’s essential to be aware of the pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Overtraining and injury risk

  • Symptoms of Overtraining: Persistent soreness, fatigue, a decrease in performance, sleep disturbances, and mood swings can all hint at overtraining. Regularly pushing oneself without adequate rest can lead to these issues, negatively impacting overall health and stalling progress.
  • Injury Risk: Bench pressing with poor form or without proper warm-up can lead to injuries. Some common injuries include rotator cuff tears, pectoral strains, and wrist sprains. Such injuries can sideline an athlete for weeks or even months, emphasizing the importance of proper technique.
  • Prevention: Incorporating rest days, listening to one’s body, and getting adequate sleep can help in reducing the risk of overtraining. Additionally, always starting with a warm-up and prioritizing form over weight can minimize injury risks. Reading about overtraining syndrome can provide deeper insights into its effects and prevention.

Importance of a balanced training routine

  • Muscle Imbalances: Focusing solely on the bench press can lead to muscle imbalances. Overdeveloped chest muscles with weak back muscles can result in a hunched posture and potential shoulder problems.
  • Incorporating Variety: To ensure a balanced physique and minimize injury risks, incorporate exercises that target opposing muscle groups. For instance, pairing bench presses with rows or pull-ups can help balance the upper body.
  • Functional Fitness: While bench pressing contributes to upper body strength, it’s essential to train other aspects of fitness, such as flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, and lower body strength, to ensure holistic health and functionality.

Common misconceptions about bench pressing heavy weights

  • Myth: Heavier is Always Better: The notion that pressing more weight is always better can lead to improper form and potential injuries. Quality over quantity is crucial.
  • Myth: Bench Press Determines Overall Strength: While the bench press is a marker of upper body strength, it doesn’t provide a comprehensive view of an individual’s total fitness or strength. Other lifts like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses play equally vital roles.
  • Myth: Isolation Exercises are Enough: Some believe that incorporating isolation exercises like the dumbbell fly or tricep extension can replace compound movements like the bench press. However, while these exercises are beneficial, they don’t offer the same full-body engagement or strength-building benefits as the bench press.

In summary, while pursuing a 120 kg bench press goal, it’s pivotal to approach it with a well-rounded perspective. Ensuring a balanced training routine, being wary of overtraining, and debunking common myths can set one on a path to success without unnecessary setbacks. Knowledge is power, and being informed about these considerations makes the journey to 120 kg safer and more effective.

Strategies to Increase Bench Press Strength

Achieving a stronger bench press is a culmination of consistent effort, smart strategies, and patience. Whether you’re striving for that 120 kg bench press or aiming even higher, specific tactics can propel you toward your goal. Let’s delve into some proven strategies to enhance your bench press strength effectively.

Progressive Overload Principles

  • Concept: At its core, the progressive overload principle revolves around gradually increasing the weight or resistance in your exercises over time. It ensures that muscles adapt to increasing demands, leading to growth and strength gains.
  • Application: Start with a weight you can lift with proper form for your desired number of repetitions. Once you can exceed that rep count comfortably, increase the weight by a small increment, usually between 2.5 to 5 kg.
  • Advantages: Ensuring a systematic and gradual increase in weight prevents plateaus in strength gains. It also reduces the risk of injury that might come from increasing weights too hastily.
Asian Classic Bench Press Championship 2023
Asian Classic Bench Press Championship 2023

Accessory Exercises to Target Weak Points

  • Identify Weaknesses: It’s common to have certain parts of the lift where you struggle, often referred to as “sticking points.” Identifying these can help in selecting the right accessory exercises.
  • Accessory Work: Exercises like tricep dips, close-grip bench presses, and dumbbell flys can help target specific weaknesses in the bench press movement. For instance, if you’re struggling to lock out at the top of the bench press, focusing on tricep strength with dips can be beneficial.
  • Benefits: Accessory exercises not only improve the main lift by addressing weak points but also ensure balanced muscle development, reducing the risk of imbalances and associated injuries.

Recovery Strategies and Deloading

  • Importance of Recovery: Muscle growth and strength gains primarily occur during recovery. Ensuring ample rest and optimal recovery strategies can significantly impact progress.
  • Deloading: A deload is a period, usually a week, where you reduce the weight or volume of your lifts to allow the body to recover fully. It can be instrumental if you feel fatigued, plateaued, or on the verge of overtraining.
  • Recovery Techniques: Incorporating stretching, foam rolling, and even activities like yoga can enhance muscle recovery. Nutrition also plays a pivotal role. Consuming protein-rich foods post-workout can aid in muscle repair and growth.

Incorporating these strategies systematically can lead to consistent improvements in your bench press. Remember, strength training is a marathon, not a sprint. Listening to your body, adapting based on feedback, and staying informed will serve you well on your bench pressing journey.

Bench Press with 120KG weights
Bench Press with 120KG weights


As we draw our exploration of the 120 kg bench press to a close, it’s evident that the journey towards achieving this milestone is as significant as the accomplishment itself. Let’s reflect on the value of this benchmark and look ahead to what lies beyond it.

The Significance of the 120 kg Milestone

  • A Measure of Dedication: Achieving a 120 kg bench press is no small feat. It stands as a testament to an individual’s dedication, discipline, and consistency in their training routine. Not everyone will reach this mark, highlighting its distinctiveness.
  • Physical and Mental Gains: Beyond the sheer number, bench pressing 120 kg brings about a host of benefits. It indicates superior upper body strength, and the journey to this point often translates to enhanced mental resilience and determination.
  • Benchmark in the Fitness World: In many fitness circles, lifting this weight is a rite of passage. It serves as a badge of honor, reflecting countless hours spent training, recovering, and perfecting technique. The world of powerlifting particularly reveres this achievement, often using it as a benchmark for intermediate lifters.

Future Goals and the Journey of Continuous Improvement

  • Setting New Targets: Once 120 kg is no longer a challenge, it’s time to set your sights higher. Whether that means aiming for 130 kg, 140 kg, or even more, the journey doesn’t stop. It’s all about progression and pushing personal boundaries.
  • Diversifying Training: With a solid foundation in place, one can explore other forms of training or delve deeper into specialized techniques to further enhance strength.
  • The Bigger Picture: Strength training is not just about lifting heavier weights. It’s about holistic health, functional fitness, and longevity. While milestones like the 120 kg bench press are significant, they are part of a broader journey towards overall wellness.

In conclusion, the 120 kg bench press serves as a pivotal point in many strength training journeys. However, it’s essential to remember that every individual’s path is unique. Whether you’ve surpassed this milestone or are working towards it, the pursuit of strength and personal betterment remains endless. Embrace the journey, celebrate the milestones, and always strive for progress.

How does one classify as an advanced lifter in terms of bench press?

Typically, an advanced male lifter can bench press their body weight multiplied by 1.5 or more. So, for an 80 kg individual, anything above 120 kg suggests advanced proficiency.

Why is the 120 kg bench press considered a milestone?

Achieving a 120 kg bench press indicates significant upper body strength and reflects hours of dedicated training, making it a recognized benchmark in fitness circles.

What physical benefits can one expect from reaching a 120 kg bench press?

Attaining a 120 kg bench press improves upper body strength, muscle development, and bone density.

How does bench pressing 120 kg impact one's mental state?

Achieving such a goal can boost confidence, enhance mental toughness, and instill a sense of accomplishment.

What risks are associated with attempting a 120 kg bench press?

Potential risks include overtraining, injuries like muscle strains or ligament tears, and the importance of maintaining a balanced training routine to prevent these risks.

Are there any supplementary exercises that can aid in reaching a 120 kg bench press?

Yes, accessory exercises like dumbbell presses, push-ups, tricep extensions, and rows can strengthen complementary muscles, aiding in bench press performance.

How important is recovery in the journey to a 120 kg bench press?

Recovery is crucial. Incorporating rest days, focusing on nutrition, and possibly practicing deloading strategies can optimize muscle growth and prevent injuries.

Is equipment essential when aiming for a 120 kg bench press?

While one can achieve 120 kg without supportive equipment, tools like weightlifting belts, wrist wraps, and bench press shirts can enhance stability, safety, and strength during lifts.

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