T Nation

Bench Shirt, Beginner with Gear

hey guys. I’m not new to powerlifting, I’ve been lifting for 4 years. My PR raw bench is 505 @ 295. I’ve cut to 270 and I hit 455 for a double recently.

so I deicided I wanted to try single ply benching. Always been interested in it.

my measurements are 50 chest, 56 shoulders, and 18 arms.
I bought a size 52 stock super katana, and I feel like it fits fine. I’ve been put in bench shirts before, guys ive trained with over the years have used them and I always like to put them on and fuck around and have fun. but have never really trained for it.

so I was able to make 400 touch to a 4 inch block. (my stroke is pretty short, so I maybe traveled 3 inches to touch the block)

and it went up easy, but it felt really hard. does that make sense? its a weight I can do for full range reps for like 6 or 7 but it felt harder than a full range rep even though the bar speed was amazingly fast on the way up.

my question is, is that normal? for weight to “feel” harder when using a shirt. I thought it could be because of the compression or something, or because I had never benched with a belt on before. I don’t know.

but my meet is 3 months away, where ill be doing single ply bench only.

my training plan I have in mind looks like this

2 weeks of triples to a 4 inch block
1 week raw
2 weeks of doubles to a 3 inch block
1 week raw
2 weeks of singles to a 2 inch block
1 week raw
then find my opener 10-12 days before the meet

and what do you think is a reasonable number to aim for? with a super katana and a raw bench that will be around 500.

if you’ve read all this, thank you! just tell me what you can. any tips and advice will help.

during my training im going to be training at with the iron mafia crew! (josh morris, Brandon lilly, mark miller, etc.)
so im pretty excited for that.

Totally normal. I have a Titan Super katana. Benching in it feels like doing dead benches with a buddy pulling up on the bar gym rat spotting style lol. It also feels like a 500# gorilla sitting on my chest at the same time. I wouldn’t sweat a raw / geared bench correlation. It just doesn’t work that way. In fact, for my first few weeks in a shirt I struggled putting up once, what I could easily triple raw. Not to mention the list of dudes you’ll be lifting with. They will get your shit squared away quick so I’d say the sky’s the limit man. See where you end up. Don’t set limits on yourself. Good luck and prepare for wicked single ply shirt bites! lol

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:
Totally normal. I have a Titan Super katana. Benching in it feels like doing dead benches with a buddy pulling up on the bar gym rat spotting style lol. It also feels like a 500# gorilla sitting on my chest at the same time. I wouldn’t sweat a raw / geared bench correlation. It just doesn’t work that way. In fact, for my first few weeks in a shirt I struggled putting up once, what I could easily triple raw. Not to mention the list of dudes you’ll be lifting with. They will get your shit squared away quick so I’d say the sky’s the limit man. See where you end up. Don’t set limits on yourself. Good luck and prepare for wicked single ply shirt bites! lol [/quote]

Thank you! That helps a lot man.

One more question I have is do I have to take the widest grip? I’ve always been told when using bench shirts you need to put your fingers on the rings. The grip I use for raw bench is ring fingers on the rings. Can I use that grip or would it be best to use the widest allowed?

Great advice above.

In general, wider grip is more favorable for shirted bench press. The reason is obvious - wider lever arm means more shirt stretch and thus more support for more of the ROM. You might consider widening slightly to say middle finger on the rings or go to full grip. You could likely start moving more weight with this form though it might not be an immediate effect. Experiment.

If I may, I think that doing this slowly lowering boards is a poor idea. I think that too often people start limiting their ROM too quickly. If next week you put on the shirt and suddenly it feel way better and getting to the 4in block is easy and blazing fast (which trust me, could happen for you like it has happened to people I have introduced to gear), then why not attempt to move to a 3in block right away? If you can get to chest in good control in 6 weeks and then have almost 2 months to develop a better proficiency at the competition lift, wouldn’t that be preferable than waiting until 12 days out to be like… well lets see what I can do on the competition lift; never done it before, but hey, I only have to more the bar the hardest inch now.

That being said, it may take the full 3 months to learn to get it down and thats fine, just IMO there’s no sense in forcing it to take that long.

Looking forward to hearing about an outstanding bench press - keep us updated.

[quote]arramzy wrote:
Great advice above.

In general, wider grip is more favorable for shirted bench press. The reason is obvious - wider lever arm means more shirt stretch and thus more support for more of the ROM. You might consider widening slightly to say middle finger on the rings or go to full grip. You could likely start moving more weight with this form though it might not be an immediate effect. Experiment.

If I may, I think that doing this slowly lowering boards is a poor idea. I think that too often people start limiting their ROM too quickly. If next week you put on the shirt and suddenly it feel way better and getting to the 4in block is easy and blazing fast (which trust me, could happen for you like it has happened to people I have introduced to gear), then why not attempt to move to a 3in block right away? If you can get to chest in good control in 6 weeks and then have almost 2 months to develop a better proficiency at the competition lift, wouldn’t that be preferable than waiting until 12 days out to be like… well lets see what I can do on the competition lift; never done it before, but hey, I only have to more the bar the hardest inch now.

That being said, it may take the full 3 months to learn to get it down and thats fine, just IMO there’s no sense in forcing it to take that long.

Looking forward to hearing about an outstanding bench press - keep us updated.[/quote]

Thank you! This is why I posted this here. You all know so much more about gear than me. The reason I set it up like that was just fear of stretching the chest out and losing pop out of the bottom before the meet. That was my thinking behind only going to chest once before the meet.

But if you all don’t think it will matter when it comes to stretching the shirt then I’ll start trying to touch ASAP

I’ll post a video tomorrow. I’ll make a new thread and you all can help with form and such.

Tomorrow will only be my 2nd week back working out from having two surgeries on my quad. So don’t expect huge numbers, but I’ll work up to something heavy enough to put my form to the test

hey fat fuk, lol, sorry man couldn’t leave that one untouched :slight_smile:

YMMV but in my katana I could board press the SHIIIIIT outta some decent numbers ( for me) but to the chest was sometimes a MOTHER FUCKER! those last 2" can be a real chore. If you save full ROM for the meet you may be very surprised what happens down there. I get saving the chest plate but go full ROM a few times to see how that ride goes. hope this helps.

Plus one on not spending too much time on boards. I’ve seen so many people touch boards right up to a meet and then bomb on bench because they can’t get it down that last little bit. I’m more of a deadlifter than a bencher and touching with something I could lock out was always a challenge for me. I took off the belt and didn’t jack the crap out of it right away. I let the neck drift up a bit so I could touch lighter but still get pop off the chest and not wear myself out fighting the shirt. fwiw, mine is a super K angle sleeve.