T Nation

Bench Shirt for Training

I’ve never used a bench shirt before, but I plan to compete in IPF at the end of this year. It has been suggested that I should train in a shirt to get used to it.

I train alone most of the time, and I’ve been told that putting a shirt on requires help. Is there any point in getting a shirt a size or two too big so that I can maybe get it on myself?

Or is this wishful thinking?

I’m not too concerned about lifting the most amount of weight (strangely), I’m really just competing so that I have a concrete goal to shoot for - lose fat and get stronger by the date of comp.

Any recommendations on which shirt for IPF? I have weak triceps and delts and relatively strong pecs, but I am making a concerted effort to keep my elbows in a bit so that [eventually] I will have stronger delts and tris. I lift in a reasonably straight line as far as I can tell.

I haven’t been training long and I currently bench somewhere around 105kg (231lb) with a pause.

I mention all this because I am assuming that shirts are cut differently for different lifting styles and weight intended to be lifted, although I don’t really get this info looking at the websites of the people who make the shirts…

Just because you are lifting in a contest doesn’t mean you have to use a shirt, especially your first contest. I mean why buy something when you might find out you dont even like competing? That being said, you ABSOLUTELY need to practice first if you do decide to lift geared.

A good starter shirt would be a Titan F6 or Fury, Inzer Rage or Rage X. Its wishful thinking, a shirt so lose that you can put it on yourself would give you very little support especially if you’re looking for support through lockout. Buy what Titan calls a “Regular Fit”, should be a good learner shirt.

Sizing chart here ( http://www.plgearonline.com/sizing.htm )

Those seem like pretty advanced shirts to me for a learning shirt, even if purchased pretty large. I found the learning curve on the Fury to be steep and having dumped weight on my neck once (in a meet with supposedly competent spotters) I’d advise someone training alone in a Fury to make sure they use it in the power rack with the pins set at a height such that you won’t kill yourself if things go awry.

On the other hand, the rest of Inzer’s gear is pretty much a waste as far as carryover goes and Titan doesn’t really make anything else less advanced, so the Fury or F6 might be a good bet if sized large.

[quote]burt128 wrote:
I’d advise someone training alone in a Fury to make sure they use it in the power rack with the pins set at a height such that you won’t kill yourself if things go awry.
[/quote]

Thanks, I only ever use the power rack unless I have spotters. Conveniently it is always available for me!

Gear can be unnerving. I used knee wraps for the first time last week and kept feeling like I was going to fall over backwards, even just unracking the bar.

[quote]Power GnP wrote:
Its wishful thinking, a shirt so lose that you can put it on yourself would give you very little support[/quote]

Thanks, I thought as much. I’m trying to convince a couple of other guys to start turning up as early as I do to train with me on a regular basis. I’ll see how that goes and if they turn up regularly, then I think the F6 is probably best. The plgear site you sent me to recommended the F6 for someone who uses back arch.

If you get a shirt you must 1] have helped getting into it 2] practice with it. Hard to say what your learning curve will be. Minimum is probably three sessions to get used to it.

I second the Fury, my favorite shirt.

I disagree that it is advanced with a steep learning curve. I have found in my gym, everyone that used it has been able to learn it quickly and even the weakest benchers can make it work. But it is still stout enough, that you can pimp it out and get some nice pop/support.

I have loose shirts that I can get on and off by myself. They were mostly tight shirts that have been stretched out by years of overuse. I still get a good 70 to 80 pounds of carryover out of them. with that said, for someone who has never used a shirt before I really wouldn’t recommend training alone in it.

bench shirts can have a mind of their own sometimes and it takes a lot more effort and concentration to control the bar than when benching raw. a lot of people fail to take that into account and that’s how you end up with a bar dumped on your chest or face. The power rack will help but even with a rack there is still a lot of potential for mishaps. Having spotters is the way to go

[quote]robo1 wrote:
I have loose shirts that I can get on and off by myself. They were mostly tight shirts that have been stretched out by years of overuse. I still get a good 70 to 80 pounds of carryover out of them. with that said, for someone who has never used a shirt before I really wouldn’t recommend training alone in it.

bench shirts can have a mind of their own sometimes and it takes a lot more effort and concentration to control the bar than when benching raw. a lot of people fail to take that into account and that’s how you end up with a bar dumped on your chest or face. The power rack will help but even with a rack there is still a lot of potential for mishaps. Having spotters is the way to go[/quote]

I echo all of this. I have loose shirts that are just old stretchers that I still get carryover from and use to work grooves. Same with briefs.

I’m ok with using the rack, as I only trust spotters I work with regularly (and they are very few). But it’s a catch-22 – you need weight to touch, and more weight without experience means the possibility of occasionally dumping is real and dangerous. A good spotter can help you find your groove.

It sounds like you have a similar work out situation as to what I have (no partners at the gym to help with equipment). I’ve been working with a Titan Katana single ply for about 6 weeks now and have had success getting it on by myself. One thing to look for with a shirt is for it to have a stretch back so you can easily get it over your head and shoulders. I’ve found that if I get the sleeve position properly set up on one arm I can get it over my head and the second arm will adjust in to place with a bit of wiggling. I tried a hand-me-down Inzer phenom and there was no way that was going on without help!

It is possible to train in a shirt by yourself and like others have mentioned, always do it in a power rack for safety. When first starting out, see if you can find someone with shirt experience and try to meet with them at least once (even if it requires a special trip) for help getting the shirt on and adjusted correctly.

Once you see how it feels when it is “jacked” you can get pretty close to setting it up on your own as long as it is not a competition fit. Work on board presses (start with 4 or even 5) to get used to finding the groove and reduce boards as you progress. Don’t worry about touching your chest yet. If the weight feels unstable, try some reverse band presses (if you have them, of course) in the shirt. This will help build up your confidence with bigger weights and provide a bit of stability throughout.

Benching in a shirt is a completely different beast from benching raw so don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t put up big numbers or even miss on weight you can bench raw. It takes time and don’t think of the shirt as a magic tool for big benches: Think of it as the last step in preparation. You said your triceps need work so focus on that just as much as you do on benching in a shirt. The two are not mutually exclusive. The bottom line is you have to be strong to put up the weight so increase your accessory work with the inclusion of the shirt work and you’ll increase your bench.

Good luck!

Brother- I have walked in your shoes- here’s what I know:

Fact- lifting in the IPF (or any geared fed for that matter) necessitates learning you gear if you want to take full advantage of the tools the rules allow you. Train in your shirt every week and learn to handle weights that you could never bench raw.

Another fact- you ain’t going to train in a bench shirt by yourself. Get a hand-off/spotters. A decent shirt- even an IPF legal one- pretty much necessitates a hnad off with competent spotting.

The best thing would be to find a group of guys in you area that compete/train in gear. If you can’t find anybody nearby, at least make a biweekly or monthly pilgrimage to train with a set of guy that know their shit.

[quote]shieldss wrote:
Work on board presses[/quote]

Hi shieldss, seeing as you also train mostly alone I have a question about board presses, but I’ll post it as a new topic “Board Presses Training Alone” soon.

Thanks for all your help, guys.

I think the first thing I need to do is see if I can get some training partners to turn up early enough to train with me. None of us are competent spotters but if we practice in the rack with safety bars we should develop some competency.

There is a hard-core powerlifting gym just around the corner from work, but I can’t train mornings there and I can’t training evenings anywhere. I’m going to look into getting some coaching in a town I travel to on business regularly.

Thanks again, all very helpful suggestions.