T Nation

All About Bench/Squat/DL Shirts


Since so many people have been arguing about bench shirts lately, I decided to open up a thread where y'all can say whatever you want about bench shirts.

Personally, I think that the biggest problem about bench shirts is that you can win a competition simply by having the "better" shirt. For example, lifter A can bench 600 raw while lifter B can bench 610 raw. If A wears a shirt that adds 200 pounds to his bench, he will be able to lift 800, but if B could only manage to get 180 pounds from his shirt, he'd only lift 790 and lose to lifter A.

You see, lifter B is actually stronger in real life, but because lifter A has a "better" shirt, he beats B. Therefore, choosing the right shirt has become a major factor in lifts, and you can't really test who's stronger as long as shirts are involved.

I'm not a shirt hater, though. Shirts have become part of the iron game, and all we have to respect that. What do you guys have to say?


Powerlifting is a competition, and equipment is a part of it in many federations. Equipment is now part of "the game" and you have to plan your strategy based on equipment you have. If you can't lift the weight in whatever you have to work with, you lose.

If lifter B only got 180 out of his shirt even though he lifts more raw, it's his dumbass fault for not improving his shirted bench because that's what he's using to compete.

It would be like saying Tony Stewart is faster than Jeff Gordon when given equal power race cars, but Jeff always has a better car on race days and wins all the time. Tony can't sit there and cry because he knows he's faster with equal cars. Tony's team needs to get on the ball and figure out how to make his car faster.

Or better yet, a football game on natural grass where it starts raining and creates a muddy surface. Team A remembered to bring longer spikes for their shoes and swaps them out. Team B forgot to bring them.

And even though Team B has stronger and faster athletes, they get crushed because they have no traction. They weren't prepared, and when you're not fully prepared, you lose no matter how talented you are.


Shirts are a part of the competition, for better or for worse. Until that changes, learn to use it or be put at a disadvantage. whining about how the next guy beat you because he was able to squeeze 20 extra pounds out of his shirt is pointless.

Every sport involves some type of equipment or apparel that has the potential to affect performance, if one guy learns how to use that equipment to gain an edge and the other doesn't, who's fault is that?


Good arguments guys. I agree that powerlifting has become a technical mind game as much as it is a show of strength. I hope this thread remains healthy.


I blew my shirt out in my last meet. My new one arrived 2 days after my meet. I hate bench shirts.


My shoulders are seriously screwed up. Bench shirts allow me to continue to lift the way I enjoy whereas too much raw work has them hurting for days. Anything that allows me to do what I love to do pain free is a good thing in my book.

That is enough for me.


I don't get it. Why is everyone so hung up on bench shirts? I lift Raw, Unequipped, No Gear.

Do I care whether someone uses a shirt on not? Absolutely not. I'm not competing against them. I'm only competing with the rest of the unequipped lifters.

I have nothing against equipment, it's actually quite intriguing. Everyone who competes in a given federation is allowed to use the same equipment, so there are no unfair advantages. If you can't get 200lbs out of your shirt, but your neighbor can, then buy a different shirt, or get better at using it.

If you don't like the equipment your federation allows, or the rules they use, then change federations. It's pretty simple.

And yes, it is a bench press. It's a bench press with a shirt, and it should be noted whether they used a shirt or not, but it's a bench press none-the-less.


The reason people are so hung up on shirts is that when people state how much they bench to the average Joe they don't say with a shirt.

Even the thread on here says Ryan 1036 Bench. Not Ryan 1036 Bench with shirt. Why is this important?

Because the average person now thinks Ryan can walk into a gym with him and throw up 1036 lbs, which unless he walks around all day with his shirt on is simply not true.

Can he still bench more than everybody... probably so, but he's not going to walk into a gym and bench what he said he was going bench.


I don't entirely agree with this. When your RAW! lifts are as high as some of these guys are, there's just no set number that is their 1RM. It's more like a range. In fact, most all lifters are this way, it's just more pronounced with stronger lifters since 1 pound becomes a smaller and smaller fraction, they heavier the lift gets.

On any given day, lifter A can RRRAAAWWWWW!!!! bench 625-650. Lifter B's range is similar, yet on the day of the competition, for whatever reason, his strength is on the lower end of his range, so he loses.

This isn't to say shirt technology and shirt proficiency don't play a role and aren't important. They do and they are. It's just that 10 pounds is a very insignificant amount when where's talking about 800, 900, and even 1000 pound lifts.


People are made differently depending on your tendon insertions fiber type etc... You come to lift born with these differences. How are you to say how a bench shirt effects different people.

Is it not possible that some people are built in such a way as to get more out of a bench shirt than the next man, or they could be just more skilled at using it. Fine. Now you have a skill component to the lift as well as a skill component of how to use an external device, and we arent exactly talking a few pounds here.

I understand the injury argument, but adding hundreds of pounds to your lift is another story entirely. I guess that is the way it has to be, the reason it bothers me so much is because there has got to be people out there who cannot win meets merely because of a shirt. There arent sprinters saying, damn those nikes decrease his times by 60%! Or he adds 23 inches to his vertical with his shoes!!

Another question is how much overhead work do most powerlifters do? It is well known that not doing overhead work and just bench pressing is murder on the shoulder, but I guess at the heavier poundages it may not matter. Anyone?


Good point. If it was called a 1036 Equipped Bench, its more descriptive. Sure give him credit the guy is an animal.


Bullshit. I would like for you to show one powerlifter you know that when asked, how much ya bench, responds to a regular guy with his shirt numbers. I have yet to meet one, and I know a lot of lifters.

Anytime someone asks me, if I answer them, I tell them my best raw lift because I know they don't understand. Normally I just tell them I don't know and leave it at that. I only talk geared lifting with other powerlifters.

So the average person that reads the Strength section on T-mag doesn't understand bench shirts? Or the average guy on the street, because so many of them even know about this website.

That's my last comment on this retardedness.


It is?


It seems to me that the only people who have problems with gear are the ones who don't powerlift or will never wear it to begin with. I have never heard another powerlifter say "I can't believe he beat me because his shirt is better than mine."

I hate it when people discredit lifters because they get X amount of pounds out of their shirts. It is not that easy. I guess those same people who will never know how much of a demand handling 100 pounds more that you are capable of doing raw puts on your CNS, muscles, and joints. Powerlifting is becoming a very technical sport and gear is here to stay.

I don't powerlift currently, but I have used gear and I have stood on the platform and lifted in competition. I have also got over 100 pounds of carry over out of a single ply rage x and it is not as easy as throwing on the shirt and getting under the loaded bar. Although to those uneducated in shirt use it is just that simple.


I think to take umberage at the title of the 1036lbs thread is a little much. However if somone in real life tryed to pass of equipped lifts as unequipped, to boast to a lay person then he/she is probably a git.

However I personally get fed up with being asked how much ya bench anyway, so if I lifted equipped I may just say that number to fuck with those I think are idiots. You'd be still get guys claiming they lifted more!

Like it or hate it, powerlifters are going to do what they want to do regardless what other people think. Equipped lifters enjoy the technical aspect that it brings and no amount of people on the internet will change that.

Powerlifting is a sport and therefore has an arbitary set off rules. Others squat/bench/deadlift etc for other reasons. The 2 should not be confused. Neither is it sprinting or American football.

Too those that dislike equipped lifting and don't powerlift themsleves. Relax they are not trying to demean you by lifting how they enjoy it. They don't care about you unless you are decrying the sport they love to compete in.

So nxt time you see a vid of an equipped lifter, just count to 10 and chill. Its got nothing to do with you and what you think is correct lifting. How about asking a respectfull question so you can try and understand the sport rather than knocking something because you are sat at a keyboard.


I see the point that many of the raw-idealist persuasion try to make. Yes- gear is made to give a mechanical advantage. No, today's gear ain't nothing like they used back in the day- even our knee warps are better. However, to them I make this challenge- DO A DAMN MEET!

If the non-equipped community competed in the same propartion to which they comment on forums, raw classes in meets would be stacked to the freaking gills. Rather, what we see in real life is, a handful of tiny meets, two or three big ones nationwide, and the occasional raw lifter in a gear-optional meet. (P.S.- to those guys that come out and lift raw in gear meets, y'all totally rock in my book- thanks for coming).

On the other hand, most states have three or more geared feds that put on one-to-three meets each year that are almost exclusively attended by geared lifters. These meets probably average about 20-30 lifters but frequently have up to 80 or more. That's not counting nationals.

While there is a balanced debate on the web, the active lifters have already voted with their entry fees and orders to Inzer, Titan, etc.. The vote has gone overwealmingly for geared lifting.


Yes, some lifters were "made" to bench shirted. I have seen several guys who fucked around in the gym for some years raw, got middlin strong, and after they put on an off-the-shelf shirt, they were hitting shirted numbers 150-200lbs over their prior raw bests in 6-12 months of specific training.

I think if you have the classic bench-master build- short, thick arms, thick wrists and elbows and good triceps strength- then a shirt will take you far very quickly. Guys that have long arms and strong torsos will typically find that their shirt carryover is more modest and takes a long to time to earn.

I don't know of many lifters that do much OH pressing- none of my training partners do. Other than light hypertrophy work (largely out of vanity- I can't really say it has helped either my raw or shirted bench), I don't really mess with it.


Sports equipment should have specific standards for competition to have any scientific value.

The idea of allowing varying degrees of benefit from different shirts in a competition seems to obscure the purpose of the sport, which is a competition of human physiology.

But that is my opinion as someone who is not a competitive lifter, so I don't not profess to know a great deal about shirts. However I hope people agree that equipment should not detract from the original premise of the sport. Whether you believe it does in this case or not.


I understand that there are some people that like the idea of gear.. I also see how it helps others keep lifting the way they want after an injury..I will personally never use assistance gear to help me lift more than what I am physically able to lift...

Now saying that.. I do see the need for belts, and possibly joint wraps.. I consider these to be preventive more than assisting in function.. Some will probably disagree.. Otherwise, as long as they have the geared world record, and the raw world record listed as such..

Press on, lift like you live ladies and gents... HARD! Just don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining..


My question about overhead pressing, quite a few strength coaches and some PT's have commented on this. Now considering overhead pressing may not help a bench press, I dont know if it could hurt it, but if it helps balance the rotator cuff in terms of what plane strength is developed in and can help prevent injuries is it worth it?