Fitness

The 100kg bench press – why we’re obsessed with it (and how to get it)

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Published by Finn Hayden

For some reason, gymgoers seem obsessed with the idea of a 100kg bench press - in fact, Google Trends showed us that there is more UK search interest in a 100kg bench press than a 60, 70, 80, and 90kg bench press. Why is this?

If you walk into a commercial gym, you probably won't see too many people who can bench press more than 100kg, certainly not for reps anyway. And we think that is part of the allure - the 100kg bench press is something that simultaneously seems attainable for most people, but also very difficult to actually achieve.

But on top of this, we think there are some very specific reasons why people are obsessed with attaining a 100kg bench press, aside from the fact that it is an impressive feat of strength. Let's take a look:

It's usually 2 big weight plates

Honestly, it is this simple for some people - the reason they want to hit a 100kg bench press is because it usually involves having 2 big plates on the barbell, and that's it. Let's face it, we all like to think that other people are watching us ("miring") while we workout, and like we said in the introduction, you don't see someone in the gym benching 2 plates very often, so it can draw some looks. As shallow as this seems, it is an undeniable truth for many people.

20kg gym weight plates

Because it is a three-figure number

Again, it might seem like a dumb reason but we feel there is definitely some truth to this. Once you hit 100kg on the bench press, you can officially say that you can bench a three-figure amount. The jump between 80kg and 100kg feels much bigger than the jump between 100kg and 120kg, purely because in one instance you're going from a two-figure number to a three-figure number.

It's impressive amount of weight to press in relation to the average weight of men in the UK

We think this point is definitely the real reason why a 100kg bench press should be considered impressive - the average weight of a man in the UK is about 84kg, so a 100kg bench press would mean you can press your weight plus about 10kg, which represents an impressive but attainable feat of strength.

At this point in the article we should address that we've mostly been referring to men throughout this article - this is because generally, it appears to be men who are mostly obsessed with the idea of a bench press, and not so many women. Probably because women realise that going to the gym is about a lot more than just hitting arbitrary numbers on the bench press!

So, how can you reach the elusive 100kg bench press?

Well, doing as much bench pressing as possible is a good start, but ensuring that you've got good form and you're working in the right rep ranges is essential. There is lots of literature and content online about this, but our favourite resource would probably have to be this video from Dr. Mike Israetel at Renaissance Periodization.

heavy dumbbells

Another good approach which is often overlooked is to switch to dumbbells for a bit. The thing which scares some people about heavy bench pressing, particularly if they're training on their own, is that if you go too heavy and you get stuck at the bottom of the rep (with the bar against your chest), you can get into serious trouble. In fact, it can be really dangerous and even potentially deadly. The great thing about dumbbells is that you can go heavy, safe in the knowledge that if you get to the bottom of a rep and don't have anything left in the tank, you can safely drop them onto the floor.

Lastly, if you are bench pressing then always try to get a spotter involved. Studies have shown that having a spotter while you bench can actually help to improve your performance, as you're more willing to go to failure knowing that someone is there to help you if you fail while the barbell is on your chest.

Final thoughts

People obsess over the 100kg bench press, but we think it is with good reason - it's simultaneously an impressive amount to lift for most people, but also quite an attainable weight if you work hard and follow a strict programme. Let us know in the comments what you think of our analysis and if you have any other thoughts on the topic!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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