WSBB Blog: Bench Press Shirt for Beginners

WSBB Education
Tue Apr 13, 2021

Tags: Bench, Tips, Program

Time to Read: 3min

The equipped bench press is one of, if not the most technical lift amongst all of the powerlifts. To be one of the best, a lifter must possess great raw strength, technical ability, knowledge of the gear, and knowledge of self. The amount of weight being lifted is often extreme, with some lifters being capable of pressing 1000lbs or more. When you are dealing with weights this far outside of what is possible raw, being strong and precise in your gear is a must.

One wrong move or one give in tension can result in catastrophic injury. In this article, we will cover a few programming ideas and strategies that will put you on the path to being a successful equipped bench presser.

How To Program

Upper body programming for the geared lifter has many similarities to the programming a raw lifter would use. Out of the four weeks in a month, you will bench in your shirt once, maybe twice. The goal of these sessions should be two-fold; get clean reps in, and press the heaviest weight you can to your chest for a max effort single.

Since you won’t be in the bench shirt weekly, it is important to take smaller jumps on the days you do bench in the shirt to increase the overall rep count for the workout. We recommend that once you get in the eighty percent range begin taking smaller jumps. These reps should be taken to the least amount of board as possible.

Ideally, the last two or three singles would be to the chest with no boards. The remaining ME upper workouts not using the bench shirt will include workouts like incline press, floor press, close grip bench, and seated overhead pin press. These exercises will help build the triceps, shoulders, and upper back resulting in geared bench gains.

Accessory work will focus heavily on those muscle groups as well. Rolling dumbbell tricep extensions, barbell rows, skullcrushers, front raises, lateral raises, and seated rows are all great exercises to help build up those muscle groups. For accessory work, these exercises should be performed for three to five sets of twelve to fifteen reps.

General Advice

One of the most important parts of geared lifting is to find gear that fits you as best as possible. If able, have alterations made to make the gear fit if you are having trouble getting gear that fits correctly. Many times people begin training in gear and become immediately discouraged due to failure caused by ill fitting gear.

Conjugate Club

When benching in a shirt, it is important to make sure your chest plate is properly broken in, and your sleeve length is correct. Having a tight chest plate will make it nearly impossible to touch your chest, resulting in what is called “handcuffing”. As a beginner, it is important to take the time breaking in your shirt with the use of board presses until you can touch to a one board with relative ease.

If you get greedy and decide to touch a heavy weight to your chest too early you will end up getting handcuffed, and potentially dumping the weight onto your face or stomach. If at all possible, try to obtain gear that has been previously broken in to begin your training. Sleeve length is important because this is where you will get your tricep support from.

Without proper sleeve length and seam positioning, you will be unable to properly use the shirt. Ideally, you want the sleeve to be long enough where the seam sits right atop your tricep tendon at the elbow. If you are stuck with gear that doesn’t fit correctly, or if you want increased elbow support, you can roll long sleeves up to increase the amount of material sitting over the tricep tendon.

By implementing these suggestions you will be on the path to fast gains in the equipped bench press. As we mentioned before, benching weights this heavy is no game so you have to make sure you follow good advice and learn the gear correctly. We always recommend finding a training group with experienced geared lifters when beginning to compete in geared powerlifting.

We went over some basics today, but geared lifting is an incredibly complex endeavor. For this reason, having people around you that have learned through years of experience will allow you to further increase your progression rate. For more information on how we train geared powerlifters you can go to the Westside Barbell website, or join the Conjugate Club for access to geared powerlifting programming.