The bench press is without doubt one of the most popular exercises performed in the gym.
Literally everyone benches, and it’s often viewed as the benchmark (no pun intended) of upper body strength.
So, does it make sense to bench press more often than the standard once a week?
Allow me to explain what you need to know about bench pressing twice a week, or even more.
You can do bench press twice a week, and even more depending on your goals. In fact, most competitive powerlifters typically bench 2-4 times a week. With that being said, bench pressing more often will mainly improve your bench press. There are other exercises, such as push ups, dips, incline dumbbell bench presses, which will provide better overall pec development. You can also improve your bench press by training secondary and antagonistic muscle groups, e.g. delts, triceps, and lats.
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Your Bench Press Powers of Recovery
There are no actual “rules” to how often you can train bench press (or any other exercise for that matter).
So, if you wanted to train bench press twice, three times, or even six times a week then this is perfectly feasible.
In reality, it’s more down to how quickly you recover from your previous exertions.
To be honest, I’ve never really enjoyed training the “bro-split” where you simply train one muscle group per day.
For me, it just doesn’t make sense to leave a muscle group untrained for 7 whole days.
I have always trained each muscle group 2-3 times a week, although I typically use a variety of exercises.
This allows me to hit that specific muscle from a variety of angles without becoming too reliant on one single exercise.
With that being said, I see nothing wrong with bench pressing twice a week.
In fact, most powerlifters will train the bench press 2-4 times a week, and the same can be said for the squat and deadlift.
But, once again, it all comes down to your individual powers of recovery.
A competitive powerlifter literally eats, drinks, and sleeps the “Big 3” exercises.
Therefore, over time their body will have adapted to the stresses of these exercises.
So, whereas someone may be able to train bench press 4 times a week, you may struggle to hit the movement twice a week.
However, as long as you feel you can recover adequately then by all means bench press more often.
Bench Pressing Twice a Week to Improve Bench Press
I will say that by training the bench press more often you will mainly be improving your bench press.
This is the same as training any exercise more often.
Personally, I think there are far better exercises for overall chest development, and I’ll get to some of these in a moment.
So, while you may notice certain changes to your body by performing the bench press twice a week, you will mainly become more proficient at the exercise.
In fact, you will generally find that someone who trains a variety of chest exercises will have better pec development than someone who only ever bench presses.
Going back to the “Big 3” again for a moment, they aren’t actually the best exercises for the main muscle groups they train.
So, whereas a squat is mainly viewed as a quad exercise, hack squats, leg presses, and leg extensions would produce better quads.
The deadlift is viewed as a glute and hamstring exercise, but hip thrusts and Romanian deadlifts would do a better job.
And the same can be said for the chest when it comes to the bench press.
I’m not knocking any of these exercises.
In fact, if you add bent over rows and overhead presses to the Big 3 you’ll have a great full-body workout from just 5 compound exercises.
In fact, for some people these are the only exercises they’ll ever perform.
But, the more often you train the movements, the better you’ll become at performing the exercises.
Yes, you will notice changes to your body as you progressively overload the exercises, but linear increases in weight will eventually stop.
So, I would say that if you simply want to get better at the bench press, or perhaps even specialize the movement for a few weeks, then go ahead.
However, if you’re looking for a more muscular chest or better pec development then there are better ways of doing this.
Train Bench Press Differently Each Time
Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with doing the same bench press workout twice a week.
However, I’ve already spoken a little about variety, and the same can be said for training one movement.
By this I mean that you don’t have to go extremely heavy in both bench press sessions.
Then again, you don’t have to train the bench press specifically for hypertrophy twice either.
Personally, I would prefer to break things up by using different reps and sets schemes each time I train the bench press.
Additionally, even the speed at which you perform bench press can provide some variety.
So, if you’re looking to hit bench twice in the same week I think it’s much better to train the exercise slightly differently each time.
As an example, perhaps you could train on Monday with 8 sets of 3 reps.
Then on Thursday you could train 3 sets of 15 reps.
This way you get ample rest and recovery time between your two workouts.
Plus, one day you can go extremely heavy, whereas the next session you’re almost training for endurance.
Then again, on another day you can train for power by speeding up the movement and explosively pressing from the bottom position.
However, just the simple fact that you’re training a couple of times a week with some variety is likely to produce far better results.
There Are Better Exercises For Pec Development
I’ve alluded to this a few times now, but I think there are better exercises for overall pec development.
The bench press is typically viewed as the best chest exercise there is.
However, more often than not, most of us barely feel the exercise in the chest.
In fact, I know many people typically feel bench press in their arms or front delts much more.
Admittedly, these are smaller muscle groups and will therefore generally be your “weak spot” when it comes to benching.
By this I mean that your front delts or triceps are more likely to hit failure before your chest.
With that being said, the bench press is still a fantastic mass builder.
However, if you’re more interested in building your pecs and really developing them, there are better exercises.
I typically have 3 main go-to exercises for the chest and they’ve served me well over the years.
They are push ups, parallel bar dips, and the incline dumbbell chest press.
Okay, you may not get the same strength gains as using the bench press, although this very much depends on how you train the exercises.
But, I will say a healthy fix of these 3 exercises can really help you to blow up your chest.
Other Exercises Can Improve Bench Press
Something else to consider is that there are other exercises that can help you improve your bench press.
And weirdly enough, some of the exercises aren’t even chest-related.
I’ve spoken of the weak points already, and therefore improving strength in these areas can definitely help you bench more.
I actually think there’s a great knock-on effect from the barbell overhead press to the bench press.
Basically, the stronger your shoulders are, the more you should be able to bench.
The exact same can be said for the triceps.
In fact, the triceps are probably the main weak link in the chain when it comes to any pressing movement.
So, the stronger your triceps are, the more you should be able to press, whether on a bench or overhead.
I will also say that the lats play a huge role when benching.
You’re not specifically training the lats, but as the antagonistic muscle during bench press, they are definitely stimulated to some effect.
I usually like to work the lats with some light rows or face pulls prior to benching.
This usually allows me much freer movement when I bench press, and this is noticeable in both the weights and reps I’m able to use.
So, the moral of the story is that even if you’re looking to improve your bench press by performing it more often, don’t forget there are other muscle groups that play a part.
Related “Bench Press Frequency” Questions
Here’s some of the more commonly asked questions about bench press training, more specifically the frequency with which you should train the movement.
How Many Times a Week Should You Bench Press?
As I’ve mentioned, there aren’t any specific rules to how often you should bench press.
Realistically, this comes down to time availability, your training goals, and your powers of recovery.
So, what works for one person may not be suitable for another.
However, as I’ve alluded to above most people typically train bench press 2-4 times per week if they wish to focus more or specialize in the movement.
You should always ensure that you have a full day’s rest between bench press workouts.
Now, you may choose to train other muscle groups on your “non-bench press days”, although I would suggest that you avoid training your pressing muscles.
That being said, you can certainly train your shoulders and triceps separately, but I would keep both the volume and intensity fairly low.
As an example, if you choose to bench press 3-4 times a week your shoulders and triceps will be activated with every workout.
Therefore, training these muscles separately may hinder your bench press progress.
Furthermore, while training bench press multiple times a week can lead to muscle and strength gains, you are essentially just getting better at the bench press.
For me, I prefer a wide variety of training and I like to hit the muscle from different angles.
And this is best achieved by also focusing on other chest-related exercises.
Can You Make Gains Benching Once a Week?
Most gym-goers can definitely make gains from benching just once a week.
However, this once again comes down to how much time you have to train, your training goals, your current training program, and your body composition.
So, as an example, a pro-bodybuilder who typically trains bench press 3 times per week will likely lose muscle by dropping to once per week.
This is simply because they won’t be able to get as much intensity and volume in just one workout.
Conversely, if someone is a beginner or novice lifter they are likely to see some great gains from one bench press workout per week.
So, it’s all relative.
I actually went on to say in this article that there are “minimum standards” you should aim for with each individual muscle group.
When it comes to the larger muscle groups, i.e. chest, quads, backs, glutes, hamstrings, and shoulders, you should aim for 10-12 working sets per week.
So, this will not include any warm ups, but rather your actual working sets.
This is also why it makes sense to use a variety of exercises when training a muscle group, as well as potentially training each muscle group more than once a week.
The reason I say this is that often a muscle group will be fairly fatigued after a couple of exercises.
As an example, if bench press is the only training you’re going to do all week for your chest, then your aim is to perform 10-12 working sets in that one workout.
The likelihood is that you’ll do great up until sets 5-6, but then your intensity will probably drop thereafter.
Sure, you’re still working the muscles, but I would much prefer to do two workouts of bench press, whereby I hit 5-6 sets per workout.
This way I should be quite fresh while I’m benching, which should lead to greater gains.
How Often Do Bodybuilders Bench Press?
You’ll never find an exact number of times that most bodybuilders bench press.
So, you’ll find that some lifters follow the “bro-split”, and therefore dedicate just one day per week for each muscle group.
Then again, there are those who may bench press 2-5 times per week.
Realistically, when it comes to bodybuilding you’re looking to add size to the various muscle groups.
Therefore, it’s likely that each muscle group would be “attacked” from numerous angles, while using a variety of exercises.
So, it could be a case that some bodybuilders only bench press once a week, but still hit their chest with other exercises throughout the week.
If we look back at the training schedule of probably the most famous bodybuilder, namely Arnold Schwarzenegger, he ended up benching 3 times per week.
Admittedly, Arnie’s training changed a lot over the years, but he eventually utilised a 6-day split, but typically trained twice a day.
So, he was effectively performing 12 workouts per week.
As I say, 3 of these days saw him bench press, although he often trained back and chest together, as well as using supersets.
As with most things training-related, there is no “ideal” number of days a week to bench press, but rather what feels right for you.
Is Doing Max Bench Press Every Week Okay?
There are many individuals who love training chest, and they’ll typically look to increase their bench press on a weekly basis.
And most of these gym-goers will realise that using different training protocols will help to improve their bench press.
However, this also leads to regular “maxing-out”, but is this something you should do on a weekly basis?
And one respondent gave an answer that I’m in full agreement with.
Basically, whether someone should max out on a weekly basis will depend on that individual and their training experience.
As this individual has stated, it’s probably okay for beginners to perform max bench press on a weekly basis.
However, once again great advice, this really isn’t necessary for someone new to the bench press, or training in general.
That being said, it’s likely that a beginner won’t be “maxing-out” with extremely heavy weights.
In fact, when starting out even bench pressing your own body weight may require maximum effort.
But, when it comes to intermediate and advanced trainees, we’re typically talking about lifting much heavier loads, as well as a wealth of training experience (and potential niggles).
So, for those who have been training for at least a couple of years I would suggest that you max out with bench press only once a month.
A great way to achieve this is by following Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 training protocol.
However, for the remainder of the time it makes sense to aim for 2-3 reps per set, while sticking to approximately 90-95% of your one-rep max.
So realistically, the vast majority of recreational gym-goers should not be hitting their one-rep max bench on a weekly basis.
Key Learning Points
- It’s absolutely fine to do bench press twice a week. In fact, many powerlifters (and bodybuilders) will typically perform bench press 2-4 times per week.
- How often you should bench press on a weekly basis will mainly be based on your training goals, training experience, and powers of recovery.
- Although benching multiple times a week will increase and improve size and strength to some degree, you are mainly training to become more proficient at the movement.
- If your goal is chest development it makes more sense to vary your training, use different exercises, as well as differing rep and set schemes.
- Training your other “pressing muscles”, i.e. shoulders and triceps, can also improve and increase your bench press.
- Training bench press just once a week will be more than enough for most people. Realistically, you should aim to hit a major muscle group such as the pecs with 10-12 working sets per week. This can be done over the course of 2 workouts, as well as utilising different exercises.
- Most pro bodybuilders will train the bench press multiples times a week. As an example, Arnold Schwarzenegger eventually increased his bench press to 3 times per week.
- Intermediate and Advanced lifters shouldn’t max out on bench every week. Aim to hit a one-rep max/PR once a month. The remainder of your training should encompasses doubles and triples (2-3 reps per set), while working with 90-95% on your one-rep max.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.