This is something I’ve googled 100 times I bet. I am obsessed with bench pressing 2 plates for some reason. It is like my primary goal since I started lifting weights. I know it probably shouldn’t be but it is just one of those major milestones that is a really big deal for some people. Unfortunately there is no definitive answer as to how long it takes because it takes a different amount of time for everyone. When I searched this question a hundred different times, I knew there wasn’t one answer, but I wanted to know real world examples of long it took for different people.
While I can’t tell you how long specifically it will take you, I have scoured the internet to provide you with several examples of various forum posts, Reddit posts, and blog posts of people telling how long it took them to reach a 2 plate bench press. Some of these are probably lies, some are truthful. If I can provide an age or additional details about the person I will.
I have read on the internet and seen fitness YouTubers say several times that if you don’t hit 2 plates after a year you are doing it wrong. I don’t believe this because there are too many variables at play like age, starting strength and starting weight. I am not hiding the fact that I am not a weight lifting expert. I cannot at this time bench press 2 plates. I am 38 years old and have been killing it in the gym for the last 10 months. My bench press has gone from around 75 lbs for 5 reps to 185 lbs for 3 reps. My goal has been to hit 225 by the one year mark which is coming up in just about 2 months. I’m not sure I’m gonna make it at my current rate of progression. It’s still possible, but I think maybe 210 or 215 is more in the realm of possibility.
How long it took 17 random people to reach 2 plate bench press:
- Reddit User: Took me ~3 months of bulking to go from 155×1 to 225×4 – seems unlikely but maybe
- Reddit User: around 11 months at 76kg – sounds realistic
- Reddit User: Took around 4 months to hit 225lbs bench (for 5×5). But my starting 1RM was probably around 150lbs – realistic for a beginner if starting at that weight
- Reddit User: I hit 225 1rm in about 9 months after barely being able to do 95 – that’s insane progression in my opinion. He must have been 21 years old and eating like a horse.
- Reddit User: It took me around 9 months to get to 225
- Reddit User: I hit 225 after a year and a half of working out – probably realistic for someone in their 30s or 40s new to lifting weights.
- Reddit User: Took me almost 4 years, but I was intensely underweight before lifting. I was 2 years in before I even had a level of muscle mass most guys have as a starting point.
- Bodybuilding.com User: I went from 140lbs 5 times to 225lbs 2 times in 10 months of on and off working out.
- Bodybuilding.com User: a bit under 6 months
- Bodybuilding.com User: about 5 months
- Bodybuilding.com User: it took me like 10 months to get to 225…starting with a 90 lb bench
- Bodybuilding.com User: 5 months
- Bodybuilding.com User: about a year
- Bodybuilding.com User: 6 months
- Bodybuilding.com User: 4 months
- Random Forum User: 7 months
- Random Forum User: 5 months
What this tells us
Ok so that’s enough of that, basically what we’ve learned from this random sampling is… not much at all. The timeframe is all over the board here. Starting out, it could be anywhere from 3 months to over 2 years. Based on my own personal experience trying to reach this goal as a 38 year old guy weighing in at 185, it’s gonna take around a year. Unless you are already fairly strong, and many people are. Personally, I was not. My chest was very weak starting out, I didn’t work out when I was younger or play many sports so I had no base of strength to build back up.
If you did used to be strong in college or high school, maybe you played football and worked out for sports. Then you may have what’s referred to as muscle memory and those muscle will whip themselves back into shape and grow much quicker than if they had barely ever been used before. So if you are starting out weak with a bench press under 100 lbs like mine was, it may be closer to a year or more. If you start out bench pressing 160 lbs pretty easily, you may hit 225 in a few months no problem.
Progression progressively slows down as newb gains go away
You may have heard the term “newb gains”. This refers to the rapid rate at which beginners are able to get stronger. You aren’t necessarily growing a ton of muscle mass during this stage. You are training your existing muscles and forcing them to adapt to lifting heavier weights. Maximizing their potential.
During this period you should be able to add 5 lbs a week to your bench press, provided you are on a proper training program that utilizes progressive overload. You may notice after some time that you will not be able to hit your reps every week, but every other week. Then soon it’s every month you increase 5 lbs. After a couple of years, you are only increasing 5 lbs every couple of months and so on. Now this varies of course and I am not yet at this stage so I am basing this on what I have read and researched.
For most people, you are not going to reach a 2 plate bench press during your newb gains phase unless you were already really strong. I feel that I am nearing the end of my newb gains. I am only progressing by 5 lbs on bench press every other week now it seems. I am running a new program now and it has been helping a lot though. I am not stalling at all anymore. I remember just a few months ago when 145 lbs was just so heavy and now its very light to me.
Can I still build muscle if I am trying to lose weight?
This is a controversial question and while I don’t have a definitive answer I can tell you what I have read and what the general consensus is. Generally, in order to build muscle or fat you have to be eating at a caloric surplus. To lose muscle or fat, you have to be eating at a deficit. It’s science right? However, if you are in the newb phase as I mentioned above, it is said that while you are lifting weights and stimulating your muscles during this newb gains period that you can in fact lose weight and gain muscle at the same time. This is otherwise known as recomping.
Even those this may be possible, and most people agree that it is for beginners only. It is still widely accepted that the best way to maximize muscle gains is to be in a caloric surplus. You will also gain some fat, that is just part of it. By controlling the amount of your surplus though, you can minimize fat gain. If you can get your body fat down to the 12-15% range and eat about 250 calories over your TDEE, then you will gain mostly muscle and very little fat.
What is my TDEE and how do I find out what it is?
TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. It is basically how many calories it takes your body each day to function normally. It is calculated based on factors such as age, current weight, activity level, and body fat percentage if you know it.
There are many sites out there where you can get an estimate of what your TDEE is. Unfortunately they will all probably give you a slightly different answer. It’s best to use a few of them and then take the average and make that your TDEE> You can always adjust it yourself if you think it is off. One such site is tdeecalculator.net. Just enter in your info and it will pit out how many calories you should be eating. Remember this is just an estimate.
For activity level, if you are trying to lose weight it’s best to put in sedentary or lightly active. If you are trying to gain weight (muscle), put in moderately active or active. Plug this into your MyFitnessPal app on your iPhone and start recording everything you eat. It will help you keep track of everything. You do have the MFP app right?