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Does Training In A Bench Shirt Make Your Raw Bench Weaker?

 

Does Training In A Bench Shirt Make Your Raw Bench Weaker?
by Jared Bachmeier for CriticalBench.com

Does your raw bench get weaker when you train in a bench press shirt?

There are many factors involved in answering that question. A lot of it depends on how you train your shirted bench. I train in my shirt almost every week and I compete in my shirt only. I think if you warm up and get into your shirt before getting into heavier weights I do think you will lose some power off the chest. On the flip side when you train primarily in a shirt you will increase your lockout strength. You can have the best lockout in the world but if you cant get the weight off your chest and to that point it is useless.

To answer the question we stated for this article the answer is yes and no. Training in a bench shirt can help both raw and geared strength but it can also hinder parts of your bench. Don't be discouraged there are several ways to try and avoid this.

During a workout I will always work up to 405 or so raw before shirting up. By doing this the lower half of my bench still sees somewhat heavy weight and gets a workout. If I need a deload week I will just go raw and work up to 405 or so off a 2 or a 3 board as well. If I am feeling run down or a shoulder is bugging me I will jump in my shirt after 315 to take it easy on the joints. But for the most part I always try and hit some heavy raw stuff.

raw bench can get stronger even when training in a bench shirt The muscles used in benching in a shirt and raw are totally different. When raw, I use a narrower grip. And by not being in a shirt I touch a little higher, being just under my pecs. While in my shirt I like to touch around my second ab. When I bench raw I feel that I use a lot more pec and shoulder than when I am in my shirt. I use more lats and tri's and a lot less pec and shoulder in my shirt.

I think heavy shoulder training is a lot more important to raw benching than it is to being in a shirt. I feel that someone that is really strong in the shoulders and tri's has a good chance of having a big raw bench. Most big raw benchers are that way and use a semi narrow grip. But that same person can put a shirt on and not see much gain or some actually bench less than they do raw due to the shirt having a totally different groove than the person. Being in a shirt can add support in areas you need and change the areas you need extra strength to excel. The bench shirt can provide more support and strength in your lats and tri's and less in your pecs and shoulders.

Lats and tri's are the two biggest part of a huge shirted bench in my opinion. If you still hit your lats hard and heavy during a shirt training cycle you will keep them strong and in shape. If you have weak or lats that are out of shape you will not be able to keep your elbows in under heavy weight shirt or no shirt and will lose a lot of pushing power off the chest.

That's where a bench shirt really helps out and lets people that know how to use them properly get that much more out of a shirt. I can tell after several weeks that my lats somewhat become dependant on my shirt if I let up on my lat acc. work and raw training. The shirt helps add support and allows me to keep my elbows in. Where as raw you only have the strength of your lats to do that. If your elbows flare out around your chest you will most likely miss the lift whether you are in a shirt or not. I will train lats twice a week most weeks.

To me the lats are the biggest and most important part of my bench. I try and keep all my lat training in the form I would use to bench with. By this I mean when doing any pulling or rowing exercises I try and keep my elbows in and pull the weight to my upper abs like I would while benching. I will also switch my grip from narrow to wide on my pull downs while keeping my elbows in and pulling it as low as I can with that weight. 

The other big part in your bench is your tri's and your ability to be able to lock out the weight. Obviously by being in a shirt you will be able to move more weight off your chest but to be able to finish a lift you have to be capable of locking it out. By shirt training more often you will be able to get your tri's to handle heavy weight more often and make them stronger over time. I will also train tri's raw with a narrow grip and bench off a 4 board for heavy sets of 3. This is a great triceps exercise whether you are raw or shirted.

Work them both! In summary, as long as you maintain your strength of your chest, you may actually see an increase in your raw bench when you go back to it. The reason for this is because your lockout has improved making your triceps stronger.

By training for long periods of time in your shirt and not training any raw and bottom half of your bench I believe you will develop weakness in vital areas needed to have a big raw bench. And by only training in a shirt it is likely you will neglect certain muscles which can often lead to an increase in your shirted max but a decrease to your raw max.

By keeping all the muscles strong needed for both types of lifts you can train mainly one and see gains without losing much on the other lift. By working in some raw training and by keeping your shoulders, pecs, and lats strong you can have a long shirt training cycle to increase your shirted max and increase your raw max as well.

Over the past few years I have trained mostly just in a shirt and my raw max has definitely gone up since I started training in a shirt. Over time your lockout strength will increase from handling the heavier weight which will give you the ability to bench more shirted or raw. And when you are used to handling 700-800, 400-500 doesn't feel near as heavy as it used to.

Follow My Training Log In the Critical Bench Muscle Forum

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APEX Bench Press Powerlifting Shirt APT Pro Gear
Benchpress Shirt, SINGLE PLY
(Click on the title for sizing)

 

APT Pro Gear APEX Bench Press Shirt.
The newest state of the art Bench Press
Powerlifting shirt to date on the market.

APT revolutionized the knee and wrist Wrap market and
now we have perfected the Powerlifting Bench Press shirt.
This is NOT a RageX  or a Katana, this is an APT APEX Design


Kick Ass APEX Tee-Shirt, see below

 

  • The APT Pro Gear APEX Bench Shirt is the pinnacle of Powerlifting Bench Press shirt design
  • 40" Chest to 56" Chest sizes are available NOW
  • A Fully Functional and a More aggressive forward sleeve and torso angle than any bench press shirt on the market to date.  Real APT customers/powerlifters built and designed this shirt.  No Games here, strict & Professional Grade right from APT Pro Gear for you the lifters.  This is YOUR bench Press shirt, 18 months of design and testing.
  • APT Pro Gear's Unique sleeve configuration delivers more thrust with more ease for BIG benches at a world Record level.
  • The neck is thicker than any other, the neck has a far more effective low and contoured scoop.
  • The sleeves are much easier to get into compared to your "typical hard to get into sleeves of other bench shirts".
  • The back neck is scooped extremely low, the sleeve hems aren't bulky which makes the sleeve more comfortable.
  • It is a unique, cutting edge APEX Bench Shirt product different than any other on the market to date.
  • The straight cut sleeves and flexible back make it easy for you to put the shirt on and take it off.  Tight sleeves aren't necessary in our shirt. The APEX Bench Press Shirt does what it's supposed to do,......let you bench BIG numbers with MAX support where you need it!!!!
  • The APEX Bench Press Shirt is great for Archers and Non-Archers.
  • One main key function of the APEX Bench Press Shirt is the ability for "lifter-manipulation" with the placement of the collar and also the sleeve placement on the arms.  The sleeves can be pulled up or down, and the neck can be placed low, medium or high.  That more than anything changes the area of the "bubble" of support on the torso.  Pulling everything up places the bubble higher, and pulling everything down places the bubble low.  You get the best of all worlds with one shirt.
  • Constructed and designed by APT Elite Powerlifting customers & sponsored lifters over 18 months and hand sewn by our APT Custom tailors using the finest sewing techniques, materials and craftsmanship. Super reinforced all the way around for flawless benches.
  • The low scooped collar puts the support between your shoulders where you need it to get the weight back up.
  • The back neck is scooped ultra low so your back can stick to the bench to help you arch with MAX upward power and movement.
  • APT's Custom tailors applied actual real reverse engineering with our own ideas and yours to come up with what we know as THE BEST BENCH PRESS SHIRT of its kind on the market to date.
  • Our single ply, closed back is within the rules of all single ply organizations.
  • Officially approved with WABDL, USPF, WNPF, SPF, NASA, APA, WPA, UPA,
    Canada's CPA, APF, AAPF, WPC, AWPC, Powerlifting Pride, SSA & more to come.

Sizing-Measure your chest under your arm pits and across your nipple line relaxed.  If you measure at a partial inch increment, round up to the next EVEN NUMBERED inch and ADD 2 INCHES.  This will be your shirt size. All shirts are made in 2 inch increments.  So if you measure 47.5", round up to 48" and add 2 more inches and this would be a 50" shirt that you need to order.

Warranty-12 Month Warranty on APT's APEX Bench Press Powerlifting Shirt against Blowouts or failure.  If you bench in this shirt other than trying it on for sizing and fit, no refunds or exchanges will be approved to include cutting the back open.  When you get your shirt, try it on for fit, if you need to exchange your APEX Powerlifting Bench Press shirt we will exchange it for a new size IF: it is not soiled, not chalked, not benched in, not trained/competed in or smells and or in our opinion abused.  Strict 30 day return from purchase date on exchanges for new sizing.

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