How to bench press 225lbs?
January 2nd 2019
I had a great workout upper body workout last night and it left me thinking, how to bench press 225lbs?
Some people started bench pressing 225lbs the first time they step foot in a gym. For others, it could take up to years to get up to a 225lbs bench. But it is doable. You need to make sure you pick a linear progression program, have a goal to bench press 225lbs and figure out what works for you.
How to get to bench 135lbs
I was in high school. The first time I touched a bench press, I was able to do 95 lbs for a few reps. Maybe for about 5 reps? It was challenging for me.
A year later, we have weight training for gym class. Cool. I went to the bench press and I find that I could do 95 lbs. It was easier this time. I was also challenged to do more too. So, I tried to do 115lbs, which was challenging for me. I was also pushed to go further too. I tried to do 120 lbs, and I was able to do that as well. But I was struggling.
And about two years after that, I had weight training for the third time. Only this time, the guys in my gym class were from the football and basketball team. They were benching 185lbs minimum, with some of the bigger guys benching 225lbs for fun.
I was thinking to myself… “Damn, I want to be able to do that. They all seem to bench press the same weight every day, so I should try that too…”
Since we had gym every day in high school, I figured why not.
So, I was able to do 95lbs. Great.
115lbs. Good, but it kind of sucked.
And then I was benching 135lbs. Finally! I think I was only able to do a few reps. But I was closer to benching 185lbs or even 225lbs like the bigger guys in our gym class. One issue though…
My right shoulder was hurting. It was an abnormal pain. I never felt a sharp pain in the back of my shoulder. I knew something was wrong and went to see a physical therapist. After an evaluation, he diagnosed that I strained my rotator cuff.
And that sucked. I thought I was making good progress but my body was not able to handle the load. It turns out I needed to learn a lot more about form, warming up and about slowly incrementing the weights.
My physical therapist told me to rest initially at first and then to slowly ease back into it. He gave me some strengthening and warmup exercises to do.
135lbs to 225lbs bench
Before you get to 225lbs bench, you need to hit the next big plate increment, which is 185lbs. My initial training programs in my first year of training did not really emphasize bench pressing too much. And I did not really think much about my program in the beginning.
So, after one year of kind of messing around in the weight room with respect to my bench press, I was able to do 145lbs for 3 sets of 5 repetitions.
Then, I started to get serious and decided to do Starting Strength, which I would highly recommend for any lifter looking to increase their squat, bench press, deadlift or overhead press max. I also tweaked the program a little bit by doing paused bench presses instead of traditional touch and go bench presses. This made the bench press a lot harder but I was thinking about training well and making sure I had a solid foundation.
So, about 3 months in, I was already doing 175lbs paused bench presses for sets of 3-4 reps. Of course, since I did not hit 3 sets of 5 reps, I was constantly resetting.
5 months in, I injured my lower back from low bar back squatting. I was not able to squat or deadlift but I was still able to bench press. It was uncomfortable to arch for the bench press but still doable. I decided to rest entirely for 3 months and did nothing but pull-ups and push-ups while I was recovering in those 3 months.
When I came back, I started Greyskull lp. My bench press declined to 115lbs 2 sets of 5 reps, with the last set being 8 reps. Of course, I was still doing paused bench presses, which was against the program guidelines.
5 months in Greyskull lp, I was able to hit another level with my bench press, 180 lbs for 2 sets of 5, and the last set being 1 set of 4. And since it was not 3 set of 5 reps, I was forced to reset. Being that I was doing all my bench press sets with paused bench presses, I could have easily hit 185 lbs for a touch and go rep in the past, but I was stubborn. I wanted to hit 185 lbs with paused reps and hit it for 3 sets of 5 reps.
7 months into Greyskull lp, I decided to change my programming to help improve my deadlift. My deadlift was embarrassingly low compared to my squat and I just wanted to make sure it got enough love too. So, while Greyskull lp did help improve my bench press, I felt that I was stalling a bit after 5 months of doing the program.
And while I made this change, I still decided to commit to paused bench presses. Here are some of the PRs I hit with this new programming:
- 190 lbs, paused bench press one set of one rep
- 185 lbs, paused bench press one set of four reps
- 165 lbs, paused bench press, one set of eight reps
Overall, it took me around 2.5 years to reach a 185lbs bench press. I weighed around 163lbs at the time. For sure, if I was focused on a one rep max of 185lbs, I could have easily hit it during Starting Strength or towards the end of Greyskull lp. But this was my journey and how I got to 185lbs.
185lbs to 225lbs bench
Shortly after those PRs, I was involved in a car accident, where I suffered some physical injuries, including a severe right wrist sprain. I took about 3 months rest from the gym entirely until I felt ready to return.
On my first day back, I was able to bench press 145 lbs for one set of one rep. It felt good and reasonable. My right wrist was fine and everyone felt good. At the time, I weighed about 152 lbs.
I was just enjoying my training and listening to my body for about a year. Then, I decided to return to the program that yielded the most gains for me, Starting Strength. Only this time, I was writing next to my sets the RPE number I felt. I wanted to constantly improve and figure out new ways to train. Learning about RPE felt like a good move to do.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with RPE, RPE stands for rated perceived exertion and is used to measure the intensity of an exercise. It is used from a scale from 0-10.
- 0-1, no exertion
- 2-3, light
- 4-5, feeling warm
- 6-7, hard breathing; harder to talk
- 8-9, only say a few words
- 10, cannot speak
I was able to do a 135lbs bench press, three sets of five reps at RPE 5. I also decided at the time to actually follow the program for the bench press. So, this was one of the first cycles where I trained with a traditional touch and go bench press.
3 months into Starting Strength, I was about to do a 185lbs bench press, one set of five reps RPE 9. A few weeks after that set, I was about to do three sets of five reps, at RPE 9. The very next workout, I was also able to do 190 lbs for one set of five reps, at RPE 9.5.
Then, I just decided to listen to my body after 5 months of Starting Strength. I believe I got sick and there were vacations coming up. So, I did not know if I would have access to a gym. So, I just had fun with my training for about two months. Then, I did Madcow 5x5 variation, which did not really help my bench press. I believed I did have a shoulder injury and was just trying to take it easy as well. As a result, I did not make any bench press gains. I ran that Madcow 5x5 variation for about two months.
Then, I was looking to get serious again. So, I did a program released by Silent Mike, Bart Kwan and Omar Isuf, Kizen offseason powerlifting program. I ran this offseason program twice and tested my max. I was working at the time and felt that my work schedule may change so I wanted to test my max.
Here was my testing:
- 185 lbs bench press - Good
- 225 lbs bench press - Failed
- 225 lbs bench press - Failed
- 215 lbs bench press - GOOD
So, I was 10lbs away from my 225 lbs bench press. I decided to listen to my body again since I felt beat up and did that style of training for about 8 months.
When I tested my PRs again, I was so disappointed:
- 170 lbs bench press - Good
- 185 lbs bench press - Good
- 190 lbs bench press - Good
Even 170 lbs felt heavy at that time.
So, from that failure, I decided to have a plan. A new plan. I made a list of the things that worked for me:
- Bench heavy always made benching feel good
- Benching 2-3 times a week was my sweet spot. I have tried benching once a week and I did not like the way that felt. I have also tried benching 4 times a week and could not find a groove of how to properly distribute my volume without feeling horrible the next day.
- Make sure I improve every week. Keep getting better.
With these attributes that worked in the past, I made a new program that would do all these things.
And in three months, this happened:
10 Likes, 1 Comments - Angell Chee (@strengthisfirst1) on Instagram: "Finally. 225 lb bench.?????"
Yes, I benched 225 lbs for a touch and go rep and I weighed about 170 lbs at the time. Finally!
In fact, I also tried to bench press 235 lbs right after. I got it off my chest but was not able to pass the midway mark.
So, it took me more than 5 years to hit a 225 lbs bench press.
How to bench 225lbs
1. Use a linear progression program
How do you make progress? By doing better every workout. And what sort of programs accomplish this formula? Linear progression programs.
I can go on and on about how beneficial linear progressions are. In fact, I recommended two here, Starting Strength and Greyskull LP. You cannot go wrong with either one. Just pick one that appeals to you more.
The overall message is this, you need to keep improving. Whether this is every workout or every week, this is a small thing to focus on. Are you improving every month? Are you doing more than you could the last time you worked out? Better than last week?
A linear progression program is just one tool that you can just to get yourself focused on doing more next time. In fact, that is exactly how I got from a 185 lbs bench press to a 225 lbs bench press. I made sure I was doing more than I could last time. This means, increasing the weight, increasing the amount of sets and reps I did, or even decreasing the rest time. I made just I improved. Period.
2. Have a goal to bench press 225lbs
How bad do you really want it? Do you really want to bench press 225 lbs? Or do you just kind of want it?
If you are serious, write it down. Seriously, write it down so you can see it multiple times during the day. Carry your goal to bench press 225 lbs everywhere you go. Visualize it. Imagine it. Dream about it.
Benching 225 lbs is a bold goal. Are you ready for the challenge?
3. Figure out what works for you
If you have some training experience, you should definitely use that to your advantage. For those of you who have not been weight training, my best recommendation would be to follow a linear progression program and start there. Commit to the program. For at least one year and reap your rewards.
But if you do have training experience, we can utilize that knowledge. What has worked well for you? What were you doing?
You can still train hard and smart by using your past training experience. If you liked benching once a week and that has gotten you good progress, by all means, continue to do that. If it is not broken, why fix it? Make sure to utilize all the strategies that worked for you.
I would be lying if I never did any upper body accessories. Yes, I have done a ton of upper body accessories but the three months leading up to a 225 lbs bench press, I did not do anything except strictly for the upper body.
I did pull-ups and dumbbell rows as my two accessories for the last three months. But does that mean you should not do any upper body work?
Of course not. In fact, if your program allows you to or you are making your own program, I would highly recommend you include at least one upper body accessory in order to build a bigger bench press.
Here are some of my personal favorites to do that got me to where I am today. They are not ordered so feel free to look through the list. I have added some comments beside some of these assistance exercises:
- Rows - Any kind. You can do barbell rows, dumbbell rows, T-bar rows, the list can go on endlessly. I did dumbbell rows because I wanted to do something quick.
- Paused bench - If you need more bench volume, you could bench more. Or… you could do some paused benching at a lighter weight.
- Pull-ups - I used them to warm up my back before doing my bench press warmups. I also do a set after all my working bench press sets.
- Triceps pushdowns
- Dips - Was part of a Greyskull lp plugin
- Overhead presses
How long to bench 225lbs?
I hate to use this answer but it really depends on a lot of things. Training history, age, diet, genetics, and so many other factors greatly affect how long it will take you to bench 225lbs. For me, it took more than five years to bench press 225 pounds.
But it depends. If you live stress-free, have access to the best foods, sleep a lot, and do all the right things outside of the gym, will you get to a 225 lbs bench faster than a construction worker who eats fast food, sleeps poorly and has a ton of life stress? Yes, most likely.
I have a friend who hit a 225 lbs bench press within a few months of training. I have seen people start benching 225 lbs in 2 years of solid training. I have seen people training for over 6 years and still have not hit a 225 lbs bench press.
But really, all of this data does not help YOU. Why? Because what other people do should not concern you. You should be focused on your own progress, not what other people are doing.
If you are that concerned about other people’s bench press max, what does that really say about you? Can you put in that extra set of 5 reps today? Let's make it happen...
How to bench 225lbs for reps?
I am still on this journey! To bench press 225lbs for reps.
Since I missed 235lbs off my chest and around the mid-point area, I knew that it will be a weak link. So, I decided from testing my bench max that day to incorporate more paused bench presses to see if it will make a difference. I have also read that pin presses may help as well, but I will need to set the pins a bit lower than the midway point of my bench press path.
Aside from adding more paused bench press sets, I still continue the same programming as before.
- I am still benching 2-3 times a week
- Still benching heavy, over 185 lbs
- Continuing to do more each workout, somehow. Of course, I always want to increase weight every workout but if I am not feeling too great that day, I always add more sets and reps at a lower weight to make sure the total bench press volume I did this week was more than what I did last week.
How long to bench 315lbs from 225lbs?
According to a lot of lifters in the online community, they always say it should take around 1 year. I should also mention that to get to a 225 lbs bench press, they also mentioned that it should take a few months to a year.
So this is the answer to this question, it depends.... On how badly you want to bench press 315lbs.
If you want it bad enough, you will achieve your goals. A lot of people say they want to bench press more but do not really really want it. They just kind of want it. And for those people, your results will speak for themselves.
There are many people who have been training for years before they bench press 315lbs. While some people never make it. For me, in order to fulfill my goals that I want for strength training, getting to a 315lbs bench press is very important for my long-term strategy.
At the same time, I know that I will need to be patient with my training. Keep doing the right things and evaluate my next plan of action when I test my maxes.