Dumbbell Bench Press Weight Standards (flat and incline)

Dumbbell bench press weight standards.

The bench press is a popular movement that people want to improve on. For best results, you should be lifting a suitable amount of weight. This post reveals dumbbell bench press weight standards to benchmark your performance.

A respectable dumbbell bench press for the average male beginner is around 45% of body weight for a single repetition and both dumbbells combined. Intermediates and advanced lifters should be able to lift around 90% and 130% (respectively) for 1 rep.

The weight standards in this post will help you determine what is a respectable weight to be lifting based on your gender, body weight, and training experience.

My 5 years of experience flat and incline bench pressing with dumbbells.
These dumbbell bench press strength standards are based on my 5-years of weight training experience.

How To Use These Weight Standards

How to use these flat and incline dumbbell bench press weight standards.

1) Determining your training level:

  • Beginners have practiced the dumbbell bench press for 1-12 months.
  • Intermediates have practiced the dumbbell bench press for 12-36 months.
  • Advanced lifters have practiced the dumbbell bench press for 4 years or more.

2) Choosing your rep range:

The weight standards are given for:

  • 1-rep max (1RM)- this is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a single repetition. It’s often used as a strength standard.
  • 6-10 working reps- this is generally considered to be the ideal rep range for building muscle.

3) Selecting your gender and body weight:

  • Average dumbbell bench press weight standards are revealed for common body weights.
  • Male bench press standards are given.
  • Females can use a 60% conversion (multiply the weight standard by 0.60).

4) Reading the charts:

  • Weight standards are given as lbs on the top and kg on the bottom.
  • If you’re doing the bench press with dumbbells at or above the weight standard for your given training level, body weight, and gender, then you are lifting a respectable amount of weight.

Beginner Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be flat dumbbell bench pressing as a beginner:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
38lb
17kg
32lb
15kg
31lb
14kg
30lb
14kg
30lb
14kg
28lb
13kg
150lb
68kg
58lb
26kg
49lb
22kg
48lb
22kg
46lb
21kg
45lb
20kg
42lb
19kg
200lb
91kg
90lb
41kg
76lb
34kg
74lb
34kg
72lb
33kg
70lb
32kg
66lb
30kg
250lb
113kg
120lb
54kg
101lb
46kg
98lb
44kg
96lb
44kg
94lb
43kg
88lb
40kg
300lb
136kg
146lb
66kg
123lb
62kg
120lb
54kg
117lb
53kg
114lb
52kg
107lb
49kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, beginners should be able to flat bench press with dumbbells that weigh 30 to 50% of their body weight (both dumbbells combined) for a single repetition (1-rep max).

Intermediate Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be flat dumbbell bench pressing as an intermediate:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
118lb
54kg
99lb
45kg
97lb
44kg
94lb
43kg
92lb
42kg
86lb
39kg
150lb
68kg
152lb
69kg
128lb
58kg
125lb
57kg
122lb
55kg
120lb
54kg
111lb
50kg
200lb
91kg
200lb
91kg
168lb
76kg
164lb
74kg
160lb
73kg
156lb
71kg
146lb
66kg
250lb
113kg
242lb
110kg
203lb
92kg
198lb
135kg
194lb
88kg
189lb
86kg
177lb
80kg
300lb
136kg
280lb
127kg
235lb
107kg
230lb
104kg
224lb
102kg
218lb
99kg
204lb
93kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, intermediates should be able to flat bench press with dumbbells that weigh 90 to 100% of their body weight (both dumbbells combined) for a single repetition.

Advanced Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be flat dumbbell bench pressing as an advanced lifter:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
166lb
75kg
139lb
63kg
136lb
62kg
133lb
60kg
129lb
59kg
121lb
55kg
150lb
68kg
216lb
98kg
181lb
82kg
177lb
80kg
173lb
78kg
168lb
76kg
158lb
72kg
200lb
91kg
272lb
123kg
228lb
103kg
223lb
101kg
218lb
99kg
212lb
96kg
199lb
90kg
250lb
113kg
322lb
146kg
270lb
122kg
264lb
120kg
258lb
117kg
251lb
114kg
235lb
107kg
300lb
136kg
366lb
166kg
307lb
139kg
300lb
136kg
293lb
133kg
285lb
129kg
267lb
121kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, advanced lifters should be able to flat bench press with dumbbells that weigh 120 to 140% (both dumbbells combined) of their body weight for a single repetition.

How Good Is Your Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Vs Others?

Here’s the average percentage of people who can do the flat bench press at a fraction of their own body weight using dumbbells:

Flat Dumbbell Press 1RM Weight (as a fraction of body weight)% Of People Who Can Do It
0.10x100%
0.20x100%
0.30x99%
0.40x97%
0.50x93%
0.60x87%
0.70x79%
0.80x70%
0.90x60%
1.00x50%
1.10x40%
1.20x32%
1.30x24%
1.40x18%
1.50x13%
1.60x9%
1.70x6%
1.80x4%
1.90x3%
2.00x2%
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

This allows you to compare your standards with others and determine how good your strength is.

To calculate your flat dumbbell press as a fraction of your own body weight, simply divide the weight of your 1RM by your body weight.

For example: if you weigh 150lbs and your 1RM is 50lbs, then you’re lifting 0.33x your body weight (50lbs ÷ 150lbs).

The above chart indicates:

  • 75% of people can flat dumbbell bench press 0.75x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the lower quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for beginners to achieve.
  • 50% of people can flat dumbbell bench press 1.00x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the median quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a realistic target for beginners to aim towards with enough training.
  • 25% of people can flat dumbbell bench press 1.30x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the upper quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a realistic target for intermediates to aim towards with enough training.

Beginner Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be incline dumbbell bench pressing as a beginner:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
48lb
22kg
40lb
18kg
39lb
18kg
38lb
17kg
37lb
17kg
35lb
16kg
150lb
68kg
72lb
33kg
60lb
27kg
59lb
27kg
58lb
26kg
56lb
25kg
53lb
24kg
200lb
91kg
108lb
49kg
91lb
41kg
89b
40kg
86lb
39kg
84lb
38kg
79lb
36kg
250lb
113kg
142lb
64kg
119lb
54kg
116lb
53kg
114lb
52kg
111lb
50kg
104lb
47kg
300lb
136kg
174lb
79kg
146lb
66kg
143lb
65kg
139lb
63kg
136lb
62kg
127lb
58kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, beginners should be able to incline bench press with dumbbells that weigh 40 to 60% (both dumbbells combined) of their body weight for a single repetition.

Intermediate Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting on the incline dumbbell bench press as an intermediate lifter:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
110lb
50kg
92lb
42kg
90lb
41kg
88lb
33kg
86lb
39kg
80lb
36kg
150lb
68kg
144lb
65kg
121lb
55kg
118lb
54kg
115lb
46kg
112lb
51kg
105lb
48kg
200lb
91kg
196lb
89kg
165lb
75kg
161lb
73kg
157lb
64kg
153lb
69kg
143lb
65kg
250lb
113kg
240lb
109kg
202lb
91kg
197lb
89kg
192lb
81kg
187lb
85kg
175lb
79kg
300lb
136kg
280lb
127kg
235lb
107kg
230lb
104kg
224lb
96kg
218lb
99kg
204lb
93kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, intermediates should be able to do incline bench press with dumbbells that weigh 90% (both dumbbells combined) of their body weight for a single repetition.

Advanced Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Weight Standards

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting on the incline dumbbell bench press as an advanced lifter:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
156lb
71kg
131lb
59kg
128lb
58kg
125lb
57kg
122lb
55kg
114lb
52kg
150lb
68kg
196lb
89kg
165lb
75kg
161lb
73kg
157lb
71kg
153lb
69kg
143lb
65kg
200lb
91kg
250lb
113kg
220lb
95kg
205lb
93kg
200lb
91kg
195lb
88kg
183lb
83kg
250lb
113kg
300lb
136kg
252lb
114kg
246lb
112kg
240lb
109kg
234lb
106kg
219lb
99kg
300lb
136kg
344lb
156kg
289lb
131kg
282lb
128kg
275lb
125kg
268lb
122kg
251lb
114kg
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Generally speaking, an advanced lifter should be able to incline bench press with dumbbells that weigh 115 to 130% (both dumbbells combined) of their body weight for a single repetition.

How Good Is Your Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Vs Others?

Here’s the average percentage of people who can do the incline bench press at a fraction of their own body weight using dumbbells:

Incline Dumbbell Press 1RM Weight (as a fraction of body weight)% Of People Who Can Do It
0.10x100%
0.20x100%
0.30x100%
0.40x99%
0.50x97%
0.60x96%
0.70x84%
0.80x73%
0.90x60%
1.00x47%
1.10x35%
1.20x24%
1.30x16%
1.40x10%
1.50x6%
1.60x4%
1.70x2%
1.80x1%
1.90x0.5%
2.00x0.3%
Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

The above chart indicates:

  • 75% of people can incline dumbbell bench press 0.80x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the lower quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for beginners to achieve.
  • 50% of people can incline dumbbell bench press 1.00x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the median quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a realistic target for beginners to aim towards with enough training.
  • 25% of people can incline dumbbell bench press 1.20x their body weight for 1 rep. This represents the upper quartile of lifters and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a realistic target for intermediates to aim towards with enough training.

5 Reasons Why Your Dumbbell Bench Pressing Strength Is Below Average

The pectorals and deltoids (primary target muscles in the bench press) are some of the most difficult muscles to build.

Here are 5 common reasons why you may find it difficult to do the bench press using dumbbells, and why your weight standards are below average.

I’ve also shared solutions for each problem.

These solutions can help to improve your dumbbell press.

1) Unstable lifting foundation

Stable vs unstable foundation in the flat and incline dumbbell bench press can affect strength standards.
A stable foundation helps you to lift more weight on the dumbbell bench press.

Unlike standing exercises, the dumbbell press requires you to lay on a flat or incline bench in order to push the weights upwards.

This inherently makes this movement unstable since you do not have your body weight pressing your feet into the ground.

Consequently, this can make the dumbbell bench press difficult and could be a reason why your strength standards are below average.

Solution:

Drive your feet into the ground for the entire duration of the dumbbell press. This provides the majority of the stability required to bench press heavy dumbbells.

Brace your core by taking in a deep breath and pushing your diaphragm outwards before each rep. This stabilizes your torso.

Arch your lower back to press your upper back into the bench. This completes a three-point contact (feet-floor, buttocks-bench, back-bench) for maximal stability.

These three form cues will help you to lift more weight, develop a stronger bench press, and build bigger pectorals using your dumbbells.

2) Flared elbows

Flared vs tucked elbows in the flat and incline dumbbell bench press can affect weight standards.
Correct vs incorrect elbow positioning in the dumbbell bench press.

The position of your dumbbells and wrist relative to your elbows is important.

In fact, beginners often find the dumbbell bench press hard because of this simple but often-missed form cue.

Your elbows should not be flared outwards.

Why?

Firstly, flaring your elbows introduces internal rotation into the movement. This can be uncomfortable and even painful.

Secondly, it’s a matter of physics. If dumbbells aren’t stacked directly above your elbows, you won’t be able to transmit the force from your pecs to the dumbbells.

Both reasons could lead to a weaker dumbbell bench press.

Solution:

Tuck your elbows slightly in towards the torso to allow you to stack the dumbbells directly above your elbows.

This helps you to push the dumbbells with your chest rather than with your arms.

The elbow tuck is an essential form cue that can help to explode your bench press, whether you’re lifting dumbbells or a barbell.

You may also be interested in my barbell vs dumbbell bench press weight comparison.

3) Working in high-rep ranges

Aim to lift low reps and heavy weights to build strength in the flat and incline dumbbell bench press.
Move onto heavy dumbbells in the 6-12 rep range as soon as possible to build muscle and strength.

Bench pressing with dumbbells is compound by nature, and these types of exercises work best in lower rep ranges.

Let’s clarify- it’s ok if you are a skinny beginner to lift light and in high rep ranges of 15+ per set when you first start training.

But you should ideally move onto lower rep ranges of 6-12 using heavier weights as soon as possible.

Heavy lifting is ideal for building muscle, gaining strength, and improving your dumbbell bench press.

Solution:

As an untrained beginner, spend 2 weeks lifting light dumbbells for 15 reps per set. Complete 3 to 4 sets per workout.

After those 2 weeks, you can start to apply progressive overload by lifting heavier dumbbells and reducing reps.

Note- lifting heavy is recommended for muscle growth (hypertrophy), but the weight should also be light enough for you to lift it with a slow and controlled form.

For more details, you can check out my other post on choosing the ideal weight to lift.

4) Weak primary drivers and stabilizers

Target muscles worked when bench pressing with dumbbells.

The primary target muscles for the dumbbell bench press include:

  • Pectorals.
  • Anterior deltoids.
  • Triceps.

Muscles that serve as stabilizers include:

  • Lateral and posterior deltoids.
  • Trapezius.
  • Lats.
  • Core.
  • Biceps.

Weakness in any of these muscles can make the dumbbell bench press harder to perform and result in below-average strength standards.

Solution:

Be patient, keep practicing the bench press, and regularly overload in small weight increments.

Train with a full range of motion by bringing the dumbells all the way down to the chest before pressing them up.

Half and cheat reps might make you feel good because they allow heavier dumbbells to be lifted, but they are generally unsuitable for overall strength gains and building a legitimately strong bench press.

Include accessory dumbbell chest movements into your program. Many of these do not even need a bench, but they can still help to strengthen your pecs and improve your bench press.

Additionally, you can also try other bench press variations to emphasize different muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders.

5) Insufficient nutrition

A good bulking diet is essential to improve a flat and incline dumbbell bench press that is below average.

Poor nutrition is one of the most common reasons why pecs won’t grow.

You could be following the best chest workout program in the world; but if you aren’t going on an effective bulk, you will not build a significant amount of muscle.

The converse is true- following a good bulking diet is key for building a bigger and stronger bench press with dumbbells.

Solution:

Determine your maintenance calories using the TDEE calculator and add 5-15% to establish your daily bulking calories. This is how much you should be eating every day to build muscle and strength.

Additionally, aim to eat at least 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight.

For a detailed guide, you can check out my home bulking routine for skinny guys.

Other Weight Standards For Dumbbell Bench Press Muscles

The dumbbell bench press is a horizontal compound pushing movement that primarily works the pecs and delts, but also the triceps. Here are weight standards for other exercises that hit similar muscle groups:

  • Dips– a compound pushing exercise that’s an effective bodyweight alternative to the bench press.
  • Dumbbell flyes– an isolation-type movement that emphasizes the pectorals.
  • Shoulder press with dumbbells– vertical compound pushing exercise that focuses on the deltoids but also works the upper pecs.
  • Dumbbell extension– an isolation-type movement that emphasizes the triceps.

You may also be interested in my other post for the world’s strongest bench press records!

Conclusion

These flat and incline dumbbell bench press weight standards help you to determine whether or not you are lifting a respectable amount of weight for your capabilities.

Beginners should be able to do 1 rep using around 45% of their body weight (both dumbbells combined). Intermediates should be able to lift approximately 90% of their body weight, and advanced lifters approximately 130%.

If you’re lifting at or exceeding these strength standards, then you’re doing a good and respectable job.

I’ve also shared common problems and solutions to a bench press strength that is below average.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Kal

I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

Recent Posts