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How Many Sets And Reps For Bench Press

By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES, PN-L1

how many sets and reps for bench press

Learning how many sets and reps to do for bench press will depend on your goal and experience level.

Generally speaking, 3 - 4 sets of 6 - 12 reps of bench press per workout is going to to put you in a spot to build muscle and gain strength.

Let’s break down in more detail where you should start.

Bench Press Sets And Reps For Beginners

When you start learning how to bench press, your main focus should be on having perfect form.

Always remember this, never sacrifice form for a heavier weight.  Once you nail down your technique, then you can start increasing the weight.

Guidelines for bench press sets and reps for beginners:

  • Perform 3 sets of 8 - 10 reps.
  • Before your 3 “working” sets, do 1 - 2 practice rounds for 3 - 5 reps to warm up and find a weight that will be challenging.
  • Pick a weight that will leave you with 2- 3 reps in reserve (RIR).  That means if you do 10 reps, you should pick a weight that you could do for 12 - 13 reps, aka 2 - 3 in reserve.  This will be a safe spot and still allow you to build muscle.
  • Rest 2 - 3 minutes between rounds.
how many sets of bench press for beginners

Bench Press Sets And Reps For Intermediate & Advanced Lifters

As you get more advanced with your bench press technique, you’ll be able to start experimenting with a wider rep range.

Also, you can push yourself closer to a max weight as you become more comfortable with benching.

Guidelines for bench press sets and reps for intermediate & advanced lifters:

  • Perform 3 - 4 sets of 5 - 12 reps.
  • Before your 3 “working” sets, do 1 - 2 practice rounds for 3 - 5 reps to warm up and ramp up the weight.
  • Pick a weight where you will have 1 - 3 reps in reserve (RIR).
  • Rest 2 - 3 minutes between sets.
How many bench press reps for intermediate and advanced lifters

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Days A Week Should I Bench Press?

Depending on your goal, you can bench press anywhere between 1 - 3 times per week.   

Bench press is a push movement so the number of times you do it per week will depend on what other push movements you do in your workouts throughout the week.

I recommend 3 - 4 workouts per week with either a full body or upper/lower approach.   This will allow you to bench press at least 2 times per week and then supplement other push movement to get the adequate volume you need.

Other push movements that you do that will help increase your bench press numbers include:

How Many Bench Press Sets Should I Do To Build Muscle?

According to fitness expert Brad Schoenfeld, anywhere between 10 - 20 sets per muscle group per week is a good starting point to build muscle.  If you are a beginner in the gym, the lower range will build muscle while more experienced lifters will require more volume.

The 10 - 20 sets don’t have to be all from bench press.  If you are a beginner and are starting with 10 sets per week, that could be 2 days of 3 sets of bench press.  To get your additional 4 sets, you can do dumbbell presses, push-ups, and/or machines.

Here’s a chest & tricep workout if you a beginner and want to build muscle in your chest.

Is 3 Reps Good For Bench Press?

Occasionally training in low rep ranges, such as 3, is an effective way to build strength on your bench.

From my experience working with clients of all ages and skill set, I’ll never go below 3 reps for maximal strength.  Going for an all out 1 rep max is increasing the chance you get injured and have to take time off the gym.

Instead, 3 - 5 reps for maximal strength is a good rep range.  

Should I Do 3 Or 4 Bench Press Sets?

Doing 3 or 4 bench press sets will depend on your experience in the gym.  For untrained and beginners in the gym (less than one year of training), 3 working sets of a challenging weight will be plenty.

As you become more advanced and need to add more volume into your workouts, 4 sets can be effective.

How Many Sets And Reps For Bench Press Recap

Like most questions in the health and fitness industry, the answer to how many sets and reps you should do for bench press is it depends.

Training experience, goals, how many times per week you are benching, and how many total sets you are trying to do in a week all need to be considered.

Generally speaking, beginners should do 3 sets of 8 - 10 reps 1 - 2 times per week.  More advanced lifters can do 3 - 4 sets of 5 - 12 reps 1 - 3 times per week.

Whether you are a beginner or expert in the gym, all skill levels should be supplement their bench press with dumbbell work and push-ups.

For tips on how many sets and reps you should do on other big lifts, check out these guides: