There isn’t a definitive answer to what weights you should be using on the bench press. It’s down to your strength and confidence. Naturally, as you use a bench press more regularly, you can increase the resistance accordingly and begin using a variety of weight types such as barbells and dumbbells.

Choosing a starting point for your lift, however, it isn't an easy task. Nor is how to increase it. Once your form is perfect, you're ready to try though!

Bench Press Weight Lifting

An effective way to find out how heavy the weights should be when you begin your bench press routine is by lifting them. You’ll get a better idea of what you can lift and what weights you should be working towards. Always complete between 8-12 repetitions when lifting weights to give you a more accurate indication of what you should begin with.

The rule of thumb is, is if you find lifting 12-15 repetitions easy and you’re not feeling the stress on your muscles, you should be lifting heavier. If you struggle to reach 8 reps, drop to a lower weight.

If you don’t feel confident enough using weights, opt for lifting just the bar and aim to do up 20 repetitions. This will help to build confidence and practice your technique on the bench press. The bars alone can weigh 10kg-20kg, making it a good starting point for beginners. Once you feel comfortable and can easily lift 20 repetitions using the bar, start adding some weights.

Don’t worry if you find yourself struggling to use the bench press at first either. Your muscles will develop and get stronger as you progress. Plus, it makes setting your goals more exciting and changes in your body shape will be more noticeable.

Try not to lift too much too soon, as this can result in an injury.

Bench Press Weight Type

person with dumbbells sat on bench

The most common and preferred weight type to use on the bench press is the barbell or Olympic bar. However, dumbbells are also a popular choice.

Barbells can provide you with more control over the exercise movement, as your efforts will be spent on lifting a singular weight using with both arms, which can apply more emphasis on your upper body muscles.

Also, it means you can be more flexible with the amount of weights that can be used, allowing you to freely increase or decrease the load accordingly.

Although dumbbells require more control, it can work to your advantage as it will strengthen your upper body stabiliser muscles (triceps and deltoids). They also permit you to use different handheld grips at the shoulder, meaning you can target muscle groups differently.

Dumbbells are recommended for anyone who is currently suffering from shoulder problems, but consult a professional before carrying out this exercise. Another advantage to using dumbbells is that it can help improve exercise movements on the bench press.

Increasing Weights on The Bench Press

How and when you increase the heaviness of the weights on the bench press depends on you, but generally, if reaching 12-15 repetitions becomes effortless, then you’re ready to up the weight.

For beginners, you should be aiming to complete 2-3 sets for each exercise and up 5 for the more advanced. Generally, people tend to increase the weight by 2.5kg.

If you’re looking to improve your overall fitness capabilities, muscle strength, body definition and lose weight, avoid staying in your comfort zone and be confident to push yourself to the next level. Physically, the results will be noticeable and mentally, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment and euphoria.

You can also gradually introduce heavier weights to your workout plan. For example, your bench press routine could look something like this:

Week 1:

Weight Rep
25kg 12
25kg 12
25kg 12
Rest 30 seconds
25kg 12
25kg 12
25kg 12
Rest 30 seconds
25kg 12
25kg 12
27.5g 8

Week 2:

Weight Rep
25kg 12
25kg 12
25kg 12
Rest 30 seconds
25kg 12
25kg 12
25kg 12
Rest 30 seconds
25kg 12
27.5kg 10
27.5g 10

Week 3:

Weight Rep
25kg 12
25kg 12
25kg 12
Rest 30 seconds
25kg 12
25kg 12
25kg 12
Rest 30 seconds
27.5kg 12
27.5kg 12
27.5g 12

Week 4:

Weight Rep
27.5kg 12
27.5kg 12
27.5g 12
Rest 30 seconds
27.5kg 12
27.5kg 12
27.5g 12
Rest 30 seconds
27.5kg 12
27.5kg 12
27.5g 12

A bench press is an effective piece of home exercise equipment to target a range of muscles in your upper body, not just your chest muscles, but your shoulder and triceps too. Exercises on the bench press will build your muscle mass around this area and increase upper-body strength – which is ideal for those looking to improve on their push-up techniques and repetitions.

There should always be room for a bench press in your home gym. It’s effective in targeting a range of upper-body muscles through a variety of exercises and it’s a good way to learn about your lifting capabilities, whilst improving your confidence to go heavy and on your technique.

Once you’ve discovered your starting weight, set yourself challenges to increase this and set a date as to when you want to achieve these goals by. As always, make sure you stretch before and after, and don't rush yourself. Progress is gradual and takes time!

FANCY TRAINING ON A WEIGHT BENCH AT HOME?

Exercise.co.uk Weight Benches


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.