A friend of mine gave me an old single ply bench shirt that he used for powerlifting in the late 80's, like '88-'90. I washed it in cold with bleach, and tried it on and if fit pretty well-not loose at all, but not painfully tight anywhere.
So I tried it out for bench pressing yesterday and did 335, 350, 365, 375, I think 385 but I may have skipped it, 390, 400 and then missed 405.
My raw max had been 355 touch and go and 345 with a 2 second pause.
I just wanted to share the experience bacause a lot of guys ask about how much can you get from a shirt. Anyway, I've always been impressed by raw AND equipped lifters, so I wanted to see what it was like.
Some points I'll share:
1) I bench in a power rack for safety, but I would never have taken 405 out of the rack myself except that I felt more confident and stronger with the shirt on. In other words, the 405 didn't just feel crushingly heavy. If I take out a raw weight more than I can handle-say 375+ right now, I'm not gonna even try it raw, I will know that I can't do it when it's at arms length, but with the shirt on it just felt different.
2) I didn't feel like it helped me more than about half way up, but I did have a little speed going at that point.
3) There was no question about the pause. In fact, I could have held it on the chest for 4-5 seconds with no problem, unlike raw where I just want to get it going as quickly as possible.
4) It was much nicer on my joints than raw benching, even with a lighter weight.
5) I'm sure it was nothing like the all out double ply altered shirts out there-still, I can see the attraction for them. Has the shirt been a lot tighter, I still don't think I could have finished off more than maybe another 30 pounds or so.
All in all, I think I'll use a shirt for one of my 2 bench workouts for a while for the "joint saving" effect and also getting confidence unracking and finishing off 400.
By the way, he has an old squat suit also that I may try out-again he says its "single ply" but I'll probably wash it twice.