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Are you scared of the eternal question: “how much ya bench?”
Are you getting started with bodybuilding and want to bench press the infamous 100kg or 225lbs? Maybe you’ve been struggling for too long and you want to get serious – you want to do better, quicker, with your bench press.
Benching 225lbs – the presitigious 2 plate bigboy club – is a real milestone. Getting into the triple digits, for people using kilograms, is an enormous personal achievement.
It might be weak to some people and enormous to others…
What matters is that – for many gym goers like myself – the first 100kg bench was a feeling of amazing satisfaction and personal pride. Events like that keep you coming back to the gym for more!
The 100kg target is symbolic: these are the three digits on one of the most popular lifts of all time. Once you reach this first milestone, you can take yourself more seriously as a lifter.
The bench press is the most iconic lift – especially for natural bodybuilders. Every beginner wants to get to those big landmark lifts and today’s article is all about answering some of the most common questions:
- How do you get a 100kg bench press?
- What’s the fastest method to build the bench press?
- What matters for progressing the bench press?
- How long will a 225lbs bench press take?
And, yes, we’re going to be talking about lbs and kg today. Bench is a worldwide favourite!
This article is going to teach you that you can reach this milestone pretty quickly – and help you to do it. We will also look at what you can do to keep improving your bench press after the first 225 lbs, then onto 315lbs, 405lbs, and whatever else your potential and will allow!
Reaching the 225lbs bench press quickly? It depends what your starting point is
Your journey to the 225lbs bench press is personal. Reaching the two plates club depends on where you’re starting. It’s good to remember that nobody else’s progress affects yours – we’re all starting from different places.
A 200lbs former athlete in their 20s is going to reach a 225lbs bench press before a 135lbs teenager with no experience. What matters is doing it as quickly and safely as you can.
Someone starting at 15 years of age and weighing 100lbs won’t benchpress 225lbs within two months of lifting while an adult in his thirties weighing about 200lbs at 6″2 might benchpress 225lbs the first day or only a few months down the line.
Some people could also simply have it easier than others from their sportive past, their body-morphology, their natural strength, and their childhood activities. Short arms, sports experience, and great chest genetics are going to help!
I used to be that guy struggling! 80lbs bench press kicked my ass when I started lifting and now I can bench 4 plates. I know you can progress quickly because I did it. You can make enormous gains on bench press if you know how to get there.
Even if you’re stronger than the “skinny guy types”, if you can’t bench 225lbs yet or want to get a better bench faster – this article will help you out on that quest. The principles are sound for anyone, and any intermediate benching goal!
Be Realistic: Bodyweight and Size for Bench Press
The smaller you are, the harder the 225 bench is going to be. Just like any other exercise, your bodyweight factors into how much you’re going to be able to lift and how much progress you can make in a given time.
Progress in absolute terms is different because 2.5kg on the bench press – a normal jump – is huge for a 135lbs guy, but small for 300lbs.
The idea is to focus on relative strength. The 225 bench press is an absolute number, it’s a milestone, but it means different things at different sizes. If you’re a smaller man or smaller woman, 225 bench is a big deal, whereas it might not be if you’re a bigger, stronger person naturally.
For some people, 225 can be a 150% or even 200% bodyweight lift. That’s a huge deal and should be a big milestone. If you’re smaller, this 2-plate bench press is going to be a lot harder to achieve but a lot more impressive! Some short people have a great body morphology for the benchpress, so they might not be as affected, but for the majority, if they weight little, a 225lbs bench is a big milestone. Just don’t be too harsh on yourself if you fall into the category for whom 225lbs is almost a double bodyweight lift!
Implementing strength work to reach the 225lbs bench-press goal faster
Before we even get started, look at the people who are the best in the world at bench pressing.
It’s powerlifters – their sport includes bench pressing and it makes total sense that they’d out-do bodybuilders on the bench press by a long way, even when they’re much lighter.
There’s a simple point to this: if you want a stronger bench, you need to focus on strength more.
It sounds obvious, but I see a lot of guys thinking their bench pump sessions will get them a big bench. It won’t: we adapt to the stimulus we train.
If you want a heavier bench, you have to start benching heavy! Commit to strength training!
The way powerlifters train should drive your progress towards a 225lbs bench. It might not be the fastest way to build muscle and look bigger, but if you want to get the 225lbs bench press, it’s the fastest way to make that happen.
The bodybuilder implements hypertrophy work which builds muscle but slows down his strength progress compared to a powerlifter who “has the chance” to only focus on his strength work. As a bodybuilder, getting to a 225lbs bench will be a bit slower than just a powerlifter training but you will in return build more muscle.
Why? Because as a bodybuilder you still want to implement hypertrophy training.
I love natural bodybuilding, but I also love hitting big lifts, and the powerlifters are experts in that one!
As a natural bodybuilder, you can learn a lot from powerlifting. Weight training is our shared interest, but the additional heavy lifting is key to making great gains as a natural. Too many bodybuilders only focus on hypertrophy work and forget that strength work helps them get stronger quicker on their hypertrophy work.
Don’t be a bodybuilding stereotype pumping your muscles up with light weights all the time. A sick pump isn’t the same as making permanent gains.
Strength training – especially in the bench press – suits a natural bodybuilder perfectly. These big muscles need big loading and powerlifters’ training, using a mixture of heavy weights with good compound movements and higher rep training, is a great guideline for your bench press progress!
In my opinion, the really great natural bodybuilders are “powerbuilders”. Strength work matters – for your confidence, your muscles, and your technical development! The powerbuilder term shouldn’t really exist – real bodybuilders do lift heavy and make use of heavy compounds, but the term is now so popular that I’m ok using it for this article.
If you are a complete beginner, don’t jump on a bench press cycle straight away. Until you’ve got some experience with the movement and great technique, all you need to do is work on moving better.
A beginner doesn’t need to worry about a heavy bench – just a correct, safe one.
Give yourself 4-6 weeks to first get used to the movements. Your body will get bigger and stronger no matter what, during this time, so you should focus on building a foundation for huge long-term gains, too!
Stick to practicing the movements with pretty high reps ranges and let yourself neurologically and mechanically adapt to them before going for heavier loads.
How Do You Improve Your Bench Press?
Now you know you’re going to be committing to strength training for the bench – and letting those big muscles come naturally along the way – it’s time to figure out how.
Specialising on the bench-press: bench more often
Want a better bench press?
Doing more bench press more often is a good strategy.
You get good at what you do the most. That’s what specialising means, focusing on what matters the most and not diversifying too much. If bench press matters to you because you want to reach this 225lbs goal, you then have to specialise in that exercise.
Practice makes perfect. Benching more often gives you time to practice the movement, build stability, and directly train the muscles and movements that make the bench work.
If you learn the movement and control your weights properly, you can bench 2 times a week comfortably as a beginner. Just make sure you take care of your shoulders with proper stretching and upper back development work!
Specialising by increasing the amount of benching sets for intermediate and advanced lifters
The same goes with practicing more sets on the bench-press than “what’s usually recommended”.
The amount of sets you perform on a daily or weekly basis is a good way to improve your volume. I’d rather see an intermediate lifter perform 7 sets of 5 than 3 sets of 12 for strength work: you get to use a good weight for similar reps!
Specialising also means using more bench press volume instead of other forms of chest exercise. You don’t have to just bench, but it should be your main form of chest and tricep exercise while you’re chasing that 2-plate bench press.
While sticking to 4-5 sets of bench-press twice a week for a beginner is more than enough, and “junk volume” is to avoid, a lot of people will advise you to stick to 4-5 sets or whatever your strength cycle tells you to follow – but when you’re a good intermediate or advanced, adding a few more bench sets can help you go a long way.
You can get back to benching at the end of your session with more sets, higher rep sets, contributing to your hypertrophy work, but more importantly, the practice of the movement/exercise. Not only this contributes to your hypertrophy work but simply helps you practice the movement more and perfect your technique.
It will help you get better at bench-pressing from all angles and not just strength work. You’re becoming a specialist at the movement.
Don’t underestimate the importance of practicing your technique.
Ask any powerlifter and they’ll tell you that bench press has some definite technique to it. You need to learn to get the movement perfect, building up more efficiency, and letting you move more weight with the same strength and muscle. That’s why we love technique!
If repetitions are controlled, you’re perfecting your bench press technique. This will help you get more from each rep in training and stop you from having sloppy, shoulder-risking bench press reps!
Strengthening your triceps
I see a lot of guys missing bench presses because they don’t have strong triceps. Their chests are huge and strong, but their middle portion of the bench is slow and weak because they don’t have that elbow-extending strength.
Bench press relies on strong triceps. They control a lot in the movement and they cross both the shoulder and the elbow – the most important joints for benching. I can’t overstate how important strong triceps are for keeping your elbows and shoulders healthy in bench.
Weak triceps lead you to over-rely on your shoulders and increase injury risk. Not to mention limiting your top-end bench press strength!
It is a priority to train your triceps well besides your chest sessions to become stronger on the bench press. Stick to simple exercises like skull crushers, straight dips, or the French press and improve on them week-by-week.
As an intermediate or advanced lifter, I recommend using close-grip bench press on triceps day.
It’s a great form of heavy loading for the triceps, it will help you build specific tricep strength for bench, and it brings your benching frequency up to 3+ times a week (perfect for advanced lifters).
That is a good way of getting more bench in and progress faster for your actual bench-press. As a beginner though, this comes back to benching 3 times a week and might be too much press for now.
If you have other pressing days in your week – for example, through the shoulder press on shoulder day – you might want to avoid this. It’s easy to over-train smaller muscles, especially if you’re performing more sets on bench during the week.
Dips is also an example of a great exercise to particularly improve on your bench-press. It’s one of these exercises on a triceps day which also works your chest out which can help you get better at chest movements.
Full-range dips offer a deep stretching stimulus for the chest that really helps build muscle. It also helps build strength in the range where you’re weakest and reduces injury risk when performed properly. Of course not everyone has the perfect morphology for a given exercise. Adapt your range of motion according to your body-morphology.
Dips are a great way of developing the whole chest and shoulder girdle. You can use tricep dips (shorter, more arm-dominant) to focus on your triceps to strengthen the whole tricep and keep your elbows and shoulders healthy.
Remember that most of your “pushing” muscles work together on all exercises. Even things like shoulder press will work some of your chest (the upper, clavicular portion).
Basically, if your routine allows it and that you recover pretty quickly, your triceps session can be made as a mix of triceps and chest training. Let’s say it would result in a triceps focus workout indirectly involving your chest 30% of the time. This is fine, if you’re taking proper rest between these heavy upper body sessions each week.
In terms of triceps sessions, giving one good triceps session a week should be enough. They’re going to get plenty of work from bench, but you should prioritise them if they’re lagging.
It would not be reasonable to give 2 chest sessions and 2 triceps sessions. I personally can’t train triceps twice a week in these conditions. But I do recommend adding tricep training to the end of your bench press session.
Adjust it to your own experience, overtime.
Quick-win: aiming for better technique for instant progress
The fastest way to improve your bench weight is to improve your technique.
Have you seen powerlifters and their arch? This technical quirk is one of the many ways that how you bench influences how much you bench.
This reduces the distance between their starting point and their chest and also put them in a safe, advantageous position. Bodybuilders tend to make fun of these arches, but they work to get the upper back involved in the movement, as well as reducing the ROM, and these add up to lifting far more weight.
There are a few techniques which will help you get a better bench quicker. Having the minimum of good form keeps your shoulders safe and helps you speed up your progress. You can lift more which means more results and this is a great cycle!
We want to get a good bench faster and while we don’t want to be as strict as powerlifters, we don’t have to be too bodybuilder friendly either with legs up the air when benching, legs are important – we want to be, in the middle.
Bench is a deeply technical lift. How you do it is very important. Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways that you can really get the most out of your bench press…
What’s the right technique for the benchpress as a bodybuilder?
Slight Arch with retraction of the shoulders
The Arch is important not only because it reduces slightly the distance between the bar and your chest but also because it puts you in a safer position. The goal is to have your thoracic cage reach as high as possible (toward the sky) while laying on the bench.
The arch is maintained through a tight core, arched back, and a very active upper back position. The scap is doing a ton of work in the arch of a good powerlifter, providing a strong and stable basis for pressing the weight effectively.
The stabilizing muscles in the bench press are upper back and lats. These muscles are responsible for decelerating the bar on the way down and keeping the bar within an efficient movement pattern.
The stabilizers are much easier to control and utilise when your shoulders are in a retracted position. Many people injure their rotator cuff because they bench without retracting their shoulders and let their shoulders stay “soft” in the bench press.
Elbows in/Tucking Your Elbows
Where you put your elbows in the bench press changes the safety and power of the position. Bodybuilders will instinctively want to flare the elbows out to feel the stretch in the chest muscles – but that’s not how you lift heavy weights safely.
Your build determines how much your elbows should tuck. However, powerlifters know that maximal strength – without injury – is easier when we tuck the elbows towards our sides slightly.
Your upper-arms can’t be perpendicular to your torso at the bottom in that “T” shape you see in Hollywood movies. It’s injury guaranteed. Your elbows can’t touch your torso either.
The safest and most effective way to bench press is with vertical forearms at the bottom. Your wrist should be directly above your elbow – and this will determine where you put your elbows, based on your grip width.
An upper-arm angle of about 75° usually works well. Start from here and work around it to find what is comfortable and safe for you – it should take some stress off your shoulders and let you recover more effectively.
Bar position (lower/middle chest)
The natural movement after arching and tucking your elbows will be that the bar goes to your middle to lower chest area.
It protects your shoulders but also helps you express your full strength. Lower the bar to your mid-chest – the middle of your breastbone (sternum). The exact position depends on your build, grip and arch. Long upper-arms put your elbows further from your shoulders.
It’s also important to use this technique to let your shoulders work through their natural, safest, strongest position. The shoulders will hinge, and this helps you use your chest as you being the press motion and push the bar towards your face-level.
Right bar position in your Hand palms
Not sure that one is described very often but it speaks a lot to me.
Safer position and more strength, less risk of wrist pain. Most people carry the bar too far back in the hand and get their wrists bent back.
Carry the bar as close to the heel of the palm as possible. You want the pressure to go straight forward inside the prolongation of your arm and not far back in the hand. This helps you keep the joints of the wrist and elbow healthy – as well as lift more!
Remember: It’s a Learning Process
Morphology matters and you aren’t going to lift exactly the same as anyone else.
As I mentioned, surrounding yourself with powerlifters is a good idea. I’ve always found that surrounding myself with powerlifters was beneficial to my bodybuilding journey. While these guys don’t have the same hypertrophy goal, they’re usually experts at the techniques and are of good advice.
Powerlifters understand the concepts of training well because they have to be big and strong. They have good knowledge of what’s hypertrophy and strength – and how to achieve both.
Powerlifters generally take lifting seriously – not like the average Joe coming to get a pump. Real respects real, and you can learn a lot from people in all walks of life. Be more open to learning and you will learn more.
Natural flex life lessons!
Preserve your rotator cuffs
Talking about technique and safety, the rotator cuff is a big deal.
Whether you are a novice who can’t yet bench 135lbs, you still need to care about strengthening your rotator cuff if you want to get strong in the long-term. I know that’s not the most exciting topic, but it’s more fun than taking 6 months off of benching because you blew out your rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff is an important group of four muscles that attach to the shoulder to stabilise the head of your arm bone within the socket:
- Teres minor
Strengthening the rotator cuff muscles will assist your bench press better and prevent future injuries. You can do rotator cuff exercises with a resistance band and a pair of dumbbells – they usually focus on external rotation.
Bench biases you towards internal rotation. These exercises help maintain balance and keep your shoulders healthy. Don’t get too front-heavy without building up your back muscles. They matter for bench strength, as well as health!
The cause of rotator cuff injuries may involve overloading from sudden increase in exercise intensity.
Contributing factors include poor lifting technique, muscle tightness, or simply weakness. The bench press is one of the most popular exercises known to cause rotator cuff issues when performed incorrectly. Bad technique on your bench press usually drives pain to your shoulders.
If we don’t have the shoulder blades retracted, what actually tends to happen is the upper arm will round forward. This can irritate some of the rotator cuff tendons in the front of the shoulder. You don’t have to “work hard” on rotator cuff exercises, but you do need to perform them regularly – especially before and after bench pressing.
Here are exercises presented by the channel E3 rehab, which you should practice regularly. the infraspinatus is the most important to focus on. You should just look to strengthen the rotator cuff, not overload them:
In most cases, by retracting your shoulder blades and implementing the techniques mentioned above, you will already do most of the work to prevent an injury from your rotator cuffs. Sometimes it’s just about being deliberate.
Stronger legs and core
A strong core/abs and hips can help your bench, big time.
I believe having a very strong core can tremendously help you to increase your stability, thus preventing injuries. The bench press requires you to stay tight everywhere else while your arms and chest do the work.
Learning how to drive force from your legs is important and a proper leg strength program can help you out. Skipping leg day will easily sabotage your bench press gains.
When bench pressing, you’re pushing hard with your legs. You drive force from the ground from your feet up to your legs and to your upper body. This is one of those powerlifter secrets that bodybuilders miss out on – and it’s why 180lb powerlifters like Owen Hubbard can bench press 470lbs.
If you’ve ever tried to bench with your legs up, you will realise how much harder this is. Your legs and hips drive strength to the upper body and drive momentum up to the end of the movement.
If you’ve ever tried to bench with your legs up, you will realise how much harder this is. Your legs are an important factor to drive strength to the upper body and drive momentum up to the end of the movement.
In my journey, I was never a fan of legs and still managed to get a big bench. Now I know what one of my next priority is to increase my bench!
Core will usually be seen as a detail, but solid stability in the core helps you get a solid bench. It will improve your safety and technique.
I would suggest thickening your abs with heavy abs movements seeking progressive overload and also actually implementing static exercises targeting the more important muscles.
Get your nutrition on point
That one is a classic! I need to address it since it’s very important.
Bench press is closely related to changes in bodyweight. The limiting factors include smaller muscles like the triceps which are going to recover more slowly – and especially if you’re not eating enough.
Big benching happens when bulking up. You can make gains whether bulking or cutting, if you’re smart, but eating plenty and reaching the right amount of carbs, fats, proteins – will really show up in your bench progress.
We often see nutrition as an issue for a lot of beginners/early intermediates: they train pretty well but they lack nutrition discipline. It causes them to stagnate for too long and they start blaming it on the programs, instead of the recovery.
As soon as they sort out the nutrition part, they start blowing up both in performances and muscle mass. My advice is that you make a nutritional plan being at a small to moderate calorie surplus. Start at a small calorie surplus and see where this takes you and how you respond.
If that’s not enough and you feel like you can do with a bit more, go for a moderate calorie surplus (300-400kcal surplus).
A strength cycle I particularly appreciate
I learnt a lot of my stuff from a natural bodybuilding website which had advised me to do the Marc Casabianca strength cycle and it was very helpful.
I made incredible progress with it when I was an early intermediate: I went from 80kg to 120kg bench press using this strength cycle within a year and a half. It applies to beginners, intermediates, and even some advanced lifters.
What’s a strength program? A smart strength routine which simply helps the lifter get stronger quicker on a regular basis. It usually comes back to sticking to the routine concept. You’re sticking to a smart program meant to make you progress overtime.
If your 1RM is 80kg, you multiply it with the percentages below:
Bench session n°1: 5×5 x 82,5% (65kg)
Bench session n°2: 5×4 x 85% (67.5kg)
Bench session n°3: 5×3 x 90% (72.5kg)
Bench session n°4: 5×5 x 85% (67.5kg)
Bench session n°5: 5×4 x 90% (72.5kg)
Bench session n°6: 5×3 x 92,5% (75kg)
Bench session n°7: max x 85% (67.5kg)
If you are benching twice a week, that means you end this strength cycle in 3-4 weeks.
On your 7th session, try to get as many reps as possible at the 85% from session 2.
You should get close to a new 10RM. In my experience, I would get around 7 to 9 reps at the 85%. Not quite 10RM but still a great progression and enough progress to push for heavier weights when repeating the program.
A 3 to 5 minute rest in between the sets is recommended. You will also want to go back to normal benching after you are done with the strength cycle. Feel free to do some bench with lighter weight for a week and then restart the strength cycle if you wish.
You can, of course, find other programs which you think are better for you. Beware though: a lot of not-so-smart strength program are given by fake ‘gurus’ or enhanced athletes which might not work for the natural.
Look for the stuff that has worked in the best (natural) powerlifters – once again, they’ll know what to do, because it’s their sport.
In these type of strength cycles, you’ve got to eat! Make sure you’re in a bulking period and eating from 200kcal to 500kcal surplus. I would personally eat at a 500kcal surplus during this bench-press strength cycle.
Interesting training methods to implement
Let me introduce you to two techniques, perfect for getting better at bench press.
I think these are both interesting and enjoyable, and they can really help improve your bench press if you’re struggling with some of the finer points of bench technique.
Paused reps are a great example for late beginners, for example, for feeling proper positions and actively controlling the bar. Heavy isometrics are more advanced and shouldn’t be performed by just anyone, but can help develop confidence with the barbell and improve lockout strength.
Paused reps on the bench press can be interesting to improve on your bench. But first, let’s not confuse them with forced reps.
Forced reps are when your spotter helps you do more reps going past failure, which I often discourage.
Paused reps instead are when you are pausing the bar on your chest for 2-3 seconds before going back up. This helps improve the contraction of the back and chest muscles together, as well as reinforcing the right positions – since you’re spending more time in them.
Simply a great feeling. Paused reps simply feel good. It kind of reminds you of the hard training you’d see in old-school bodybuilding movie clips with the beat playing behind…
Simply a great feeling. Paused reps feel good.
They also help you understand the bench press better. They’re only effective if you’re active in the pause position, however. If you’re just letting it rest on your chest, you’re not going to get much from it.
Paused reps are slower reps than touch and go reps, which means you also use lighter weight than your touch and go reps: this offers you to focus on a better technique, get a good pump as a result, and perform the rest of the lift with a tighter back/scap region.
You stay longer on the full stretched position. This is an important part of building up the strength of the chest muscles in the full range – which is a key factor for reducing your risk of shoulder injuries when benching.
You get injured when you’re using heavy loads in positions you’re weak in. The end of the bench press is where we see a lot of guys getting injured – they just don’t have the full-range strength that so many powerlifters have built up.
Bodybuilders love touch-and-go reps, but they just don’t offer the same strength development. Holding the stretching position builds up both the muscles and the tendon strength more effectively.
The science is clear: exercise that involves a loaded stretching portion is crucial for getting the best training results and building the strength you need for a bigger bench!
Perfecting your technique which will transfer to your touch and go reps
Your technique will improve with paused reps. You will get a better technique and have a better understanding of the movement, mechanically and neurologically.
Paused reps teach you how to stay tight on the chest and maintain your back positioning. They build upper back strength and recruitment specific to the bench press and help perfect your technique.
Most guys miss their heavy bench presses when they come off their chest in the wrong position and make it difficult for themselves. Paused reps help you really strengthen the bottom portion of the lift and build up your weak link!
To me, that is the most important factor about paused reps, you’re perfecting your technique and get an understanding/feeling of what a better bench feels like.
Holding heavy weights at the top of the movement
Just like strength work, I found that holding heavy weights on top of the movement can help you get stronger quicker on your bench press if you take it seriously and are regular with it. It’s a way of overloading your nervous system and getting more confident with heavy bench pressing.
Doing this once every two months is pointless. It should be a regular thing that you practice – perhaps before your bench press session – to get used to it. If you don’t practice regularly you won’t see the benefits.
Here’s what I find interesting about this movement…
Potentially preventing wrist injuries: : getting used to hold the bench press bar with much heavier loads than usual with the right form and technique (holding the bar in the middle of your hand palms) gives you comfort for when you use lighter weights. You might feel more at ease the day you do your strength working sets.
Increasing your benchpress stability:
it can help you be more stable on your working sets on strength work. Strength working sets get messy at times since they’re close to your maximum potential.
Holding way heavier weights on top of the movement and getting used to it can help improve your stability for when you will do your working sets on strength or hypertrophy work.
Extra lockout strength: This isn’t going to change your 1RM by 50kg, but it can even out the strength of your lockout and make sure you’re not missing out on a bench press at the easy portion.
With the benefits of working with an overloaded bar, the benefits of having a better stability as highlighted above, you could see yourself add a few kg on your bench press overtime.
Hyping yourself up that one day you’ll easily lift off that weight: it makes training more interesting without doing junk volume!
One thing that I particularly find fun with this method of training is simply visualising yourself repping the load you are holding on top of the movement. It’s fun to think that – someday, if you’re consistent and read lots of Natural Flex – you might be able to use this for 10-rep sets 😉
An example of programming
You could bench twice a week without having to do a whole chest session twice a week, but I would advise you to do two chest sessions. Gathering all tips which have been given in this article, I want to give you an example of a program.
We focus on wanting to improve our bench while not neglecting the rest of our muscles. It’s a bench-specialised program for a full-body natural bodybuilder.
- Monday: Chest/Biceps
- Tuesday: Legs/Triceps/Abs
- Wednesday: rest
- Thursday: Chest/Shoulders
- Friday: rest
- Saturday: Back/Forearms/Abs
- Sunday: rest
This program can be done by late beginners or intermediates. Chest is being worked out twice a week while all other muscles once. As mentioned above, tricep work will be added in its own day which will make sure you’re not lacking in the arms for a big bench press.
You are training in a way you’re doing everything for your bench to improve. Muscles aren’t competing with each other; you’re giving each muscle enough rest before you involve them again.
Now, the exercises:
- Casabianca Strength cycle
- Dips 4 sets
- Flies 3 sets
- Inclined curls 4 sets
- Pull-ups 4 sets
- Hammer curls 3 sets
- Squats (following a strength cycle if you wish)
- Bulgarian Splits squats 4 sets
- Leg extensions 3 sets
- Calves 4/5 sets
- Skull crushes 4 sets
- Straight dips 4 sets
- Triceps extensions 3 sets
- Casabianca Strength Cycle
- Dips 4 sets
- Upper flies 3 sets
- Lateral raises (no press, specialising in raises movements) 5/6 sets
- Rear delts raises 3/4 sets
- Deadlift 5 sets
- Pull-ups 4 sets
- Rows 4 sets
- Wrist curls 4 sets
- Heavy crunches 4 sets
- Oblique crunches 3 sets
- Legs raises 3 sets
If you are too tired with triceps on Tuesday and chest on Thursday, you can instead work your triceps with chest on Monday and biceps with legs on Tuesday.
As you get more advanced and feel like you can do more, you can re-adjust your program and work few other muscles twice a week, as long as the routine provides enough rest.
The more experience you gain, the more self-determined you can be and the more control you can take over your programming.
Sticking to your routine
I say it all the time: sticking to your routine is very important.
By sticking to a routine which has been optimised, you’re setting yourself up to improve. Practice makes better and practicing your routine the same way will make you improve.
It offers you landmarks to measure your progress. Now it might sound a bit like a perfectionist talk, but one important factor to progress is to stick to your routine thoroughly. You want to stick to your routine by sticking to the order of the exercises your routine suggests.
We don’t just put exercises in order for fun. It’s because we get better results when we’re considerate of the demands of each exercise and when we’re resting.
You would not start a strength cycle and do something different of what is suggested, it is the same with sticking to the amount of repetitions, sets, you’ve planned on doing.
By changing them, you will lose track of measuring your progression and the benefits of the program being structured. If you’re not going to be consistent, you’re not going to get the results. You may as well just do whatever you want all the time, and miss out on the gains.
Just train and be patient, keep the momentum going
While some pieces of advice from this article will definitely save you time, the main rule is to train well and be patient.
Sometimes, the performances won’t increase as you’d wish for a few weeks, and all the sudden, you’ll break the plateau and see a big increase in performances.
You could say progression is linear in the long term but in shorter terms it goes up and down. Whenever you feel like you’re hitting a plateau that might feel too long, here is what you should do:
1- Make sure the routine you’ve followed until now is actually good and you’re progressing with it
2- If your routine has no issues, focus on recovery: food, sleep, stress-control, and getting enough rest days. I insist on the food part, it will usually come from a lack of calories.
3- Be patient, expect these slow phases, keep pushing, take a deload week if it’s because you’re exhausted and re-start your strength cycle, come back stronger.
Most of the time, if the first and second points are followed, you just have to be more patient. It is normal to plateau and have phases of stagnation. Don’t be frustrated. Just push through.
How long does it take for a skinny guy to bench press 225lbs?
I will share my experience here with you guys.
I was a very skinny guy standing at 99lbs and I could barely bench press 40kg. It took me 2 years to get to the 225lbs/100kg bench press level and I would say I could have done better if I had this article.
I was doing a lot of hypertrophy work and sticking to high rep ranges and not implementing enough strength work. I would also probably not eat enough.
When I started implementing strength like the strength program given above, eating more, and following a routine adapted to progress, my results rocketed.
Someone who’d start as skinny as I was and following the tips in this article might end up reaching this 225lbs bench press goal in a year or maybe 18 months.
For additional information, here is what I believe is achievable for the average 6″ft man starting bodybuilding from 0 and having a particular interest in bench press can do (with the tips of this article):
1/1.5 years to reach a 100kg/225lbs benchpress
2.5/3 years to reach a 120kg benchpress
4-6 years to reach a 140kg benchpress
6-8 years to reach a 160kg/180kg benchpress
These are example of what I’ve mainly witnessed after all these years in the gyms. These are examples for people who are motivated. Most gym goers never reach the 120kg to 140kg milestones by lack of investment if gym is just a hobby.
Some people could also reach these goals faster. It depends on how much you’re giving to the process and how specific you are to strength gains – as a natural bodybuilder, you might not be as invested in strength, which means slower results (strength results, but that’s ok, you’ll build more muscle).
How long will it take to reach the 225lbs benchpress goal if I’m short and small?
Many people, even muscular, only weight within the 60-75kg range as they are pretty short in height.
If you are in this situation, it is going to take longer to reach the 225lbs goal, and it’s totally normal. If you’re a very small frame, benching 225lbs might get close to a 2x times bodyweight personal best, which is huge.
It might take you 3-4 years just like it might take 3-4 years for a 100kg man to bench press 140kg. This is subjective though and if your morphology is good for bench pressing, you might get there faster.
You’ll get there when you get there. The important thing is progressing smartly: your trajectory from week to week and month to month is more important than a specific number. The 2-plate milestone is a big one, but you should focus on those weekly gains and you’ll get there faster.
Maybe you’re bad at benching because you’re morphology is not so good for it, but you’re very good at squatting – comparing is pointless, just be a better version of yourself only.
Once you reach the 225lbs/100kg bench press goal, you’ll want more…
Reaching the 100kg milestone on the bench press is a nice goal for any bodybuilding amateur.
I just want to share my experience of what happened when I finally reached this goal: I was satisfied but I wanted more. I was telling myself I’d be happy when I reach 120kg.
The rest of the story, 120kg, 130kg, 140kg…180kg. If there is one thing I’d advise today: try and be content with the fact you are reaching your goals and enjoy the journey as it is. Focus on the progress, not the goal, and you’ll smash your goals – and then the next one, and the next one, etc.
I was rarely satisfied and always wanted to lift more. While I loved lifting, my journey could have been even more enjoyable if I didn’t try and think about the next goal straight away without enjoying the ones I was reaching in the present.
I’d also advise you to record your first 100kg PB, it’s always good to keep track of your progress and have these memories.
Take some time to celebrate the victories. One day you’re going to hit your last PB ever and you’ll not even know it. Love the process and you’ll never be disappointed.
The final day, put your best tune on
Attempting the 100kg? Gyming does not have to be that boring, put your best tune on! Music is definitely a plus when it comes to strength training or 1RMs. Just like a coffee once in a while you can do with some music at the right time to help you lift the mountains!
I’d also advise you to record your first 100kg PB, it’s always good to keep track of your progress and have these memories.
How to reach new heights, does it get harder after?
Benching just like any other exercise gets harder as you get better.
The speed at which you add weight to the bar usually isn’t the same the first year compared to the 5th year. But you can still improve fast though if you’re ready to put the work in, it’s just about sustainability and consistent improvement rather than rapid gains.
It will all come from prioritising bench press as one of your main lifts and investing more time in the practice as you get advanced. Elite powerlifters will continue to see gains well into their 5th year with no problems, because they keep improving their technique and working on their bench volume.
The only way I have managed to keep adding 10-20kg on my bench press every year even after 5-6 years was to specialise even more in bench pressing as time went. This adds up quickly in the long-term.
The last thing is to be patient, be persistent over the years. As you get more experienced, what counts as “quick” progress changes, too. 15kg of gains on the bench might be a quick year as an elite lifter, but not as a beginner.
Your perspective will shift with the things you do and what you achieve. Focus on training smart and getting stronger, the more time you spend stressing about how quickly you improve, ironically, the less you’re likely to improve.
Bench press is an iconic lift. It’s all about putting the simple things first and being patient. Bench press will develop if you give it time and keep yourself safe and healthy.
It’s not glamorous to train like this, but what will be glamorous is hitting your first 100kg bench press. Then hitting it for 5. Then 10. Then working on your 140kg.
You’ll stagnate, it won’t be linear, and sometimes it’s going to suck. But the process we’ve talked about today will offer you the best results and a 2-plate bench in no time, if you focus on the habits.
Focus on training and recovering properly. Then you can tell me how fast it’s possible to bench 100kg/225lbs because you did it, you know how to get a better bench, and you’re on your way to the next 20kg plate either side!