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Bench Press Shirt - Safely Increase Your Bench Press by 25% to 35% for Competition

The bench press shirt serves as both protective gear and a method of increasing your strength. Protective gear has been used by competitors for years and has been common in contact sports from jousting to football.  It's easy to understand why helmets, pads, and guards of various types are use in most sports; especially if one wished to compete more than once.  As a matter of fact in most contact sports, the gear evolved  simultaneously with the sport, if not the event would more or less been a duel to the death.

This is a specialized shirt worn by weight lifters (generally power lifters) when they perform the bench press, to protect the shoulders and pectorals during competition.  It was discovered sometime in the 1980's that certain types of bench shirts also increased performance. The drama thickens, or should I say coils? 

Bench Press Shirt

What Is It Made Of?

The fabric coils as the lifter lowers his or her arms and then springs loose as he or she lifts their arms.  This action puts additional pressure on the bar making it possible to propel more weight.  I said "possible" because the lifters ability to develop and perfect his technique is directly proportional to the results.  It's an art, not automatic.  The more successful competitors use it to practice as well as compete.

Is it Fair?

Because of the considerable benefits (25% to 35%) INCREASE in strength is not that uncommon, the various governing bodies of the sport have the following rules:

  • WNPF World Natural Powerlifting Federation - allows single or double ply, poly or denim, open or closed back, but no canvas
  • WABPD World Association of Bench Pressers and Dead Lifters - allows single or double ply, poly or denim, but the neck must be closed
  • USAPL USA Powerlifters - allows single ply poly only
  • IPF International Powerlifting Federation - requires individual brands to pay a fee for approval of shirts and they must be single ply poly
Lifters can pay anywhere from $35 to $250 dollars for this specialized shirt.  Some brands require two people and up to twenty minutes to put on!  I guess you should weigh your safety concerns and ego before you make your purchase.  Also remember having a team of dudes squeeze you into this expensive gear will not it itself allow you to bench press 200 more pounds.  Often you must modify your style and change your technique to reach your goal.  However, many lifters are having great success, and I definitely recommend a bench press shirt if you plan on competing.

About Robert Swilley

Robert Swilley is a fitness enthusiast and software engineer. He is passionate about helping people meet their fitness goals through software.

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