Many people do compound lifts like bench presses only once or twice a week. Find out if bench pressing 3 times a week is too much and why you could consider it.
Whether bench pressing 3 times a week is too much or not depends on things like your body, the exact training routine you have in mind, what you eat, and your sleep quality and duration.
That being said, if you make the necessary changes, you can likely find a lifting program that includes bench presses 3 times a week in a way that is not too much.
It is hard to predict what point will be too much since there are so many individual differences. One way to get an answer is to implement a certain routine, watch out for signs of overtraining, and potentially reduce intensity.
Generally the closer you go to failure, the more volume you do, and the closer your bench press sessions follow each other, the more slowly you will recover.
If you are able to do bench presses more frequently in a way your body can deal with, this could offer more results, faster results, more exercise technique training, and allow you to do shorter workouts with good results.
At the same time, you may have training goals for other muscles and areas of your health too and limited time to work out. Doing bench presses 3 times a week could interfere with this.
Is it OK to bench press 3 times a week?
When it comes to bench pressing 3 times a week, not many individuals will argue that this is not enough horizontal push training.
On the flip side, many people do have concerns about doing a heavy compound lift like bench presses this often. Find out what the potential concerns are and whether these are justified.
Resistance training exercises that are done with enough weight can pressure and damage your muscles.
This may not sound good but these things start a variety of internal processes that can make your muscles bigger and stronger over time.
However, besides enough nutrients in your diet, your body also simply needs time to complete these processes. If you train heavily again before that, you can potentially slow down or stop your progress.
This is a valid concern but you have to keep three things in mind.
First of all, different people can react differently to different training routines. Bench pressing heavy 3 times a week may be too challenging for some people and just fine for others.
Additionally, exactly what these bench press sessions look like in terms of weights, reps, and sets will influence your recovery time a lot.
Generally, the heavier you lift, the more volume you do, and the closer you go to failure, the more slowly you will recover.
Lastly, the things you eat and the quality and duration of your sleep play big roles in the recovery process. You want to pay attention to these things when following an intense lifting routine.
Ultimately, the way to tell whether a certain bench press program with 3 sessions a week is too much or not is by implementing it, watching out for signs of overtraining, and reducing the intensity levels if needed.
Joints and tendons
Muscles are typically the main attention point of lifting programs but you have to keep in mind that there are other body parts like joints and tendons involved too.
Your joints and tendons also need time to repair and strengthen. More precisely, they seem to require more time than muscles to adapt (1).
The first category of people who want to keep this in mind is resistance training beginners. Initially, your muscles may react really well to benching 3 times a week but your joints and tendons may lag behind.
If you are in this category, it is likely smart to start with a lighter lifting routine to see how your body reacts. When things go well, you can still consider implementing more bench press sessions.
Secondly, really advanced lifters may get close to physical limitations where their joints and tendons do not successfully adapt to heavier/more frequent lifting programs.
Potential lack of variety
In resistance training, it is often a good idea to work your muscles with slightly different movements. These will engage slightly different muscle fibers within the same muscle groups.
In press exercises like bench presses, the differences are not quite as big so this point is less relevant compared to something like squatting 3 times a week.
However, you may still want to consider adding something like shoulder presses or at least incline benches to work your shoulders more and/or work different chest and tricep muscle fibers.
Another way to do this is by doing your bench presses with different equipment options. For example, doing barbell bench presses on two days and dumbbell bench presses on one day.
Tips for implementing this routine
You may really want to avoid overtraining or you may have implemented a 3-day-a-week bench press routine and noticed that this was too much.
In these cases, there are a few weight lifting principles you can take into account when figuring out a bench press routine with this frequency your body can deal with.
The most basic one is that you generally want to spread out your bench press sessions. This gives your chest, tricep, and shoulder presses an extra 24 hours to recover.
Thirdly, your three bench press sessions do not all have to be volume-focused. You can also implement shorter powerlifting-type workouts on one day and a technique session on the other.
You generally recover more slowly from volume-heavy lifting sessions.
Lastly, if you implement relatively challenging bench press sessions 3 times a week, you want to pay some extra attention to the food you eat and your sleep quality and duration.
Potential benefits of benching 3 times a week
It is important to keep the potential downsides of doing bench presses 3 times a week in mind but at the same time, you also want to know about the potential benefits.
First of all, it is possible that your current routine led to a plateau in bench press weight and/or muscle growth.
As mentioned, there is a way of overdoing it too. However, lifting more volume in a week generally will allow you to build more strength and muscle.
By switching over to bench pressing 3 times a week instead of 2 or 1, you could start seeing progress again.
Similarly, increasing your lifting volume within limits your body can deal with can also just speed up your results.
Next, busy people may not have the time to do long workouts. For these individuals, implementing shorter but more frequent bench press sessions may offer the results they are looking for.
Another way to approach a bench press routine like this is simply adding one technique day to your growth/strength routine. On this day, you can lift lighter and work more on your exercise technique instead.
Lastly, you may simply like doing bench presses and the way they make you feel throughout the day. Lifting weights is not only done to grow and strengthen muscles. Enjoyment can matter too.
Who can consider bench pressing 3 times a week
With the points above, it becomes somewhat clearer for what types of people a bench press frequency of 3 days a week can be a good idea.
First of all, powerlifters tend to train with less volume and repetition numbers that are farther away from failure. If time is not a constraint, these people can often implement good bench press workouts 3 times a week.
Secondly, people who have hit a plateau in chest, tricep, and shoulder muscle growth and strength likely need to switch up their training (if other lifestyle habits are good).
Increasing the volume in their existing bench press workouts may not be an option due to time/force. In that case, adding an extra day of bench presses could help these individuals break through their plateau.
Thirdly, you may be interested in improving your bench press technique. In that case, it is likely to add an extra workout session where this is the focus on top of your two growth/strength workouts.
Next, you may want faster results and again not have the time or power to increase your training volume. You do want to keep the limitations of your body and more specifically your joints and tendons in mind.
Lastly, some people just really like doing bench presses enough to go from one or two to three times a week.