T Nation

Bench Shirt


#1

To start. Im 33, 6'3" 265lbs and raw bench 450..i am thinking of competing in a meet 4 months away..im about to order a katana a/s with a super training collar for my 1st shirt. I know that most dont suggest this shirt as a first but i want to learn in something i plan on using and th folks at anderson said it would prob b fine since my raw was 450...my question is this..is 4 months enough time to learn a shirt? And is 600 shirt a reasonable goal with a 450 raw bench?


#2

4 months is plenty of time to learn and break in a shirt. The fit of the shirt is going to determine the time it takes. You can play around with the collar placement to better ensure success. Don’t cut the back of that shirt, the back helps set the shirt where you want it. I’m assuming you are not going super tight and that you have training partners. Carryover is highly individual, but 600 seems reasonable.


#3

The first time I used a bench shirt I got crushed with 50# less than I could bench raw…

Shirts take time to learn. Coincidentally my first shirt was a Katana AS. I found that I hate that fucking shirt. It bites the shit out of my tris and arm pits- but this is common with single ply gear. For me all the weight gets put on about 2" of material behind the tri’s. I had decent success with that shirt for 2 boards and higher but something about that last 2 " was a Mother f**ker.
I now own a Metal Jack shirt and love it. The shirt leaves little bite marks and the sleeves support the entire back of my arms.

The single ply stuff will stretch out on you quickly. In about 6-8 months, mine did. The double ply stuff last much longer. I have a Metal squat suit and briefs that feel nearly new and they are 3+ years old FWIW.

The carryover is hard to say. The primary factor is has the user learned the groove of the shirt and adapted their pressing style to that of the shirt. That groove may or may not be that of your natural bench. What can you board press on say a 4 board? I mention that because both me and my brother found that whatever we can raw 4 board, we could do in a shirt fairly consistently. Because even in a shirt, you have to lock it out and the shirt offers little support with those arms extended. This is where speed training and learning to take advantage of any momentum really comes into play.

Bench shirts can be exceptionally frustrating but highly rewarding. Sometimes getting a lift isn’t about poundage per se but about mastering the shirt with a given weight. It may be touching with light weight to get an opener. If you think in those terms, you’ll be fine and will have fun. This is something that those raw or die dudes just don’t get and you won’t get until you get under some heavy steel with a shirt on.

Regardless of what you end up with I would HIGHLY recommend that you start off benching inside a power rack or some other thing with safety rails. You can go from sugar to shit in 1 second with a shirt on. I’ve dumped and chopped many a lift and those bars saved my ass big time.

I can tell you that in a Katana AS you must arch like a mother, tuck your elbows to the point of almost touching your sides and touch high on the belly for it to get on the sweet spot. This shirt has a very small sweet spot so that’s why they don’t call it a first shirt but if you know that up front you can expect that and learn to adapt to it. My Jack shirt has a nice sweet spot. I can get in the ballpark and still do well but if I hit it I’m better.

Now for the 150# goal. Sure, It may take you 3 weeks to learn your shirt, it may take 3 years, never know… I’m in the “aim high and if you fall a bit short, you still do well” camp. Good luck and let us know what you end up with and how you do.

I’d ask some question on other PL forums about the bench shirts characteristics. Not to knock anyone on here but there are not all that many shirt guys on here to give a wide variety of opinions. WBB has tons of guys, Lyando, divenzio (sp?) etc who can give you insights as well. If you chose the METAL route, whether single ply or 2, Jo Jordan will answer questions and get you set up with a great shirt.


#4

Strengthdawg what kind of carryover do u get over ur raw? Also is the jack shirt a single ply?


#5

Metal Ace Pro was the easiest shirt for me to learn. I had a hard time in the Inzer Rage X and a custom Inzer XHD Blast shirt. Both of those tore me up really bad and both wanted to kick the weight over the face like a skull crusher. I just never could figure them out and just didn’t work for me. My raw is around 345-350 and I was only able to get 375 out of the blast shirt and 395 with the Rage X. I would be lucky if I got any good lifts with either shirt.

The Metal Ace Pro I got 455 off a 1 board and I felt like I never had to fight the shirt, it did exactly what I wanted. At the current black friday prices Metal seems like a no brainer too me. $161 for a Ace is an awesome price.


#6

[quote]bw2506 wrote:
Strengthdawg what kind of carryover do u get over ur raw? Also is the jack shirt a single ply?[/quote]

The jack line is 2 ply. Don’t think that just because one ply allows one to bench “X” weight, a two ply will be double or something foolish like that ok. The single ply stuff now a days rival that of the multi ply but the multiply last so much longer and in my experience is more comfortable and for me, more forgiving. My Katana was $150 and lasted 8 months, My Metal cost $200 on sale and will last me for years…

My best back then was 350 raw and 515 in the titan. That was after using the shirt for a few months, using it about every other week. I was following the Metal Militia style of bench training. Since I hated the shirt I would just bench raw all the time. Then I bought the Jack shirt on one of those 30% off sales… used it once and had shoulder surgery last May to correct years of abuse. I got to sort of bench in it once. It was awesome. Pre surgery PR was 395. When I used the Jack I threw up 455 for a few reps with a 3 board. Everything felt nice and solid which was great considering that my shoulder felt like ass all the time and literally like it would pop out of socket benching raw, lol. I have no doubt that I will have fun with this shirt once my gimpy ass shoulder gets back up and running. I probably could use it now, but I’m scared to screw up my second chance with this shoulder. My health comes before my ego.


#7

Im going to stick with single ply for now…would u guys consider th katana a/s a good shirt


#8

The Katana is a great shirt.

I wouldn’t recommend it as a “first shirt” unless you have experienced training partners. Get it loose if you’re set on using it.


#9

[quote]patrickcm1 wrote:
4 months is plenty of time to learn and break in a shirt. The fit of the shirt is going to determine the time it takes. You can play around with the collar placement to better ensure success. Don’t cut the back of that shirt, the back helps set the shirt where you want it. I’m assuming you are not going super tight and that you have training partners. Carryover is highly individual, but 600 seems reasonable. [/quote]

I disagree about cutting the back. If your fed allows an open back, cut the back ASAP. An open back allows you to get the shirt on easier. Plus the number of adjustments you can do with an open back shirt to get it just right goes up exponentially with an open back. With an open back, you can make it much looser to touch lighter weight, then for bigger attempts you can jack the hell out the collar and sleeves to get the most out of it.

4 months should be plenty of time to properly learn the shirt, especially if you have training partners who know shirted benching and specifically benching in a katana. I’ve used a single ply katana the most, and will say the keys to doing well with this shirt is first keep working on getting a bigger arch. If you think your arch is good, keep working on it to get it better, decreasing ROM can only help. Also, this shirt is designed for the lifter to move the bar in an arc, not a straight line. Start high when you initiate the lift, what I mean is when you unrack the weight, keep the weight over your eyes when you start. I would get into trouble when I started lower (bar over the neck), because as you lower the weight, you need to bring it lower on the body to stay in the shirt and when you get about a 2B away I would be in no man’s land. The bar would want to keep moving lower but would most likely cause me to dump and I would be way past the sweet spot. But to row it straight down into shirt (which at that point is the most advantageous movement) sucks, that’s a lot of the reason why you see people get down to the 2B range and the bar just hovers because it’s so hard to row the weight in at that point. In a proper bench, the last inch should be straight into the “bubble”, and that alone is tough, but from a 2B level the suck level increases exponentially.

Another thing, it pays to be quick in lowering the bar, row hard but at the same time don’t be reckless and get out of the shirt, if you don’t this is another reason to stall at that 2B level. When I was slow, it took 10x longer to touch and you waste a lot of energy just trying to touch, and alot of the time it was the reason I missed the lift. So work on staying tight and rowing the weight quick, so you have at least a little more momentum to get you past that 2B sticking point, and trust when I say that little bit of momentum will make a world of difference.

When you reverse the weight, if you hit the center of the “bubble” or as some say “sweet spot” the weight should fly up. If you’re out of the shirt, it’ll feel like a raw bench, except now you’re horrible out of position and your leverages suck. When it flies up, it will get you into a position to allow the tris to take over and lock the weight out. The weight should reverse in a inverted “J”, returning to a locked out position over your face. When your tris take over, you should start turning them out and if you stall, let the weight drift back which will get the shoulders into the mix and get you into a stronger position to lock the tris out.

I think with where your RAW bench is, you should not have a problem learning the Katana. The biggest issue with getting a 600lb shirted bench when you have a 450lb raw bench is increasing the strength of the muscles that will be taxed the most during a shirted bench that’s well above your raw. These would be your back and tris. Work your back with rows more to make sure you have the added strength to ROW the weight to your chest and stay in the shirt. Work the hell out of your tris with plenty of heavy high board presses, chains and reverse band bench or floor presses. The lockout is going to be the biggest thing to strengthen to get a ton of carry over and what will be holding you back most coming from raw lifting.


#10

Also I agree with strengthdawg that this shirt will bite the shit out of your arm pits and the back of the tris where all the support in the arms is being put. If you jack the sleeves by pulling the top down closer to the elbow so it tightens the support but also decreases the area on your arm where all the support lies.

it will sometimes feel like your arm is about to be broken in half when lowering the weight, I can deal with discomfort, but that is a very unnerving feeling when having a ton of weight on top of you and that arm is the only thing stopping it from falling on you.


#11

Appreciate all the device. Im a cg raw bencher. Pinky on the rings and only fail on raw on th bottom of the lift or midpoint…do i need to start working my grip width out


#12

Yeah, work it out to a comp grip, index finger on the ring when in the shirt. This decreases ROM and tightens the shirt across your chest. Even if you only fail at the bottom raw, you’re still shooting for 150 lbs over raw, and I’m willing to place money that your tris aren’t accustomed to handling that addition weight, so work the hell out of that lockout.


#13

If you are new to shirts then a standard inzer denim will be much easier to learn in. There is a lot more room for error. They are also more comfortable than the poly. They bite just as much during the lift but not at all in between sets. I’ve also heard positive things about the METAL Jack line. I’ve used inzer and karin’s denim shirts and got an overkill poly a few months ago. I would NOT recommend an Overkill if your meet is less than a year away. It took 4 months to get mine and they are a pain to break in but there is much more potential in overkill in my opinion. I’ve hit 630 in the karins and can’t even get 585 to touch in the overkill. The heaviest i’ve gone raw in training is 405x2x2.


#14

The katana im looking at is used. Been touched in about 5 times


#15

You’ll be fine, might even be better for a first shirt, being a little broken in.


#16

Ive got an inzer rage shirt ive only used it about three times. This is the first time in a shirt. My question is…Is the shirt not suppose to fit all the way up into your armpit cause mine is not. So im not sure if its fitting me correctly but I have been able to press 655 with it.


#17

uhhh well if you can touch and press 655 there is not much to be complaining about haha. Is it single ply with closed back? Whats the raw bench? A lot of people have the shirt a bit unseated and twisted inwards to create extra torque and a longer leverage angle on the shirt to increase support.


#18

[quote]benchwolf85 wrote:
Ive got an inzer rage shirt ive only used it about three times. This is the first time in a shirt. My question is…Is the shirt not suppose to fit all the way up into your armpit cause mine is not. So im not sure if its fitting me correctly but I have been able to press 655 with it.[/quote]

I hate you.


#19

I have used a RAGE X that has a low collar, and reinforced. I love it, but it does mark me up pretty bad. I am still breaking it in, but have hit 550 to a 2 board. I last competed in a TITAN F6 with a custom collar from andersonpowerlifting.com and love that shirt too. I can hit 500 in it. It has a forgiving groove, but I wouldnt use it without the custom collar. I am working on rowing the bar down now as I used to bring it down slower.