Adventures in a Bench Shirt

Adventures in a Bench Shirt

Oct 23, 2012

My first bench shirt meet, which was actually the sixth time I put on the bench shirt, was on October 20, 2012, at the 2012 APF/AAPF Rise of the Deadlift/Beast of the Benchpress meet held at Progressive Sports Performance in Northbrook, Illinois. There were approximately 50 lifters – unfortunately, a list of the lifters was not available – and I was in the 308 Masters II Equipped class competing in both APF and AAPF in order to knock out two national records in deadlift and a state record in bench press.

The objective of this meet was simply to break the barrier on equipped lifting but to go very light as we are two weeks out from the WPC World Bench Press and Powerlifting Championships, in which I will be competing RAW, 308, Masters II for bench press on Tuesday, November 6 and full powerlifting on Thursday, November 8, 2012, at the Riviera in Las Vegas, Nevada. It should be quite exciting and believe me, I will be reporting!


From Left to Right: Joe Atef, Ken Stone, Justin Sepe, Sally Marcey, Eric Stone, Howard Penrose

In the Rise, I was benching equipped using a jacked up multi-ply Metal Viking shirt I had purchased from a teammate this past summer. Due to my rather extreme number of raw competitions this year, as well as travel, I used it only during five training sessions prior to the meet. For deadlift, I decided raw would be best, and light, as the national records were more easily obtainable (these are combined raw and equipped records). The state record for bench press was also a combined record and also attainable, or at least within reach, and was set in 2002, meaning I could effectively go light.


Yes, guys, this is what female powerlifters look like – range in age from 17 to 59 in this picture

There were a significant number of female lifters and only a few ‘heavies’ – most likely because of the number of local lifters who qualified for the Worlds. I mean, who would be silly enough to do a competition two weeks out from a world competition? I mean, I’ve done sillier! (July 21, 2012, WPC/AWPC CanAm Border Wars Benchpress Championships followed by July 27, 2012 APF/AAPF Chicago Summer Bash powerlifting – ugh – last bench was left sitting on my chest!).

The Rise also served as an autism fundraiser for the Autism Society of Illinois. Over $1400 was raised both on-site, through sponsors and mail-in checks. I will post the final as soon as I get it.

Well, the bench shirt is actually designed for well over what I started with. Having just returned from travel two days before (see Dizzy in Disney) I was a little off my game. The opener we selected was 385lbs (175kg) which rocked and rolled all the way down and back up again with constant corrections, but still legal; the next was 402lbs (182.5kg) which was also all over the place, although not as bad; and the third was 418lbs (190kg) which was in the grove on the way down and popped right back up. I will note that I have successfully moved over 455lbs in this shirt in training on the same bench used in the competition. The previous 2002 Illinois state record was 170kg.


I think also switching from my stylish red belt to the black belt probably helped too (see video of lifts below).

The deadlifts were light and easy with a start at 195kg and ending at 465lbs (210kg). Something I’ve done before, but want to save my best for Worlds! It did set the new National deadlift only record, so I’m good with that.


I would note that my hip flexors are tight as heck, so getting and keeping my butt down was a challenge! Thank goodness I wasn’t attempting equipped at this meet.

Everyone had a great day! I kept an eye on the board and did not see anyone bomb, which makes for an even better day! Not a bad local meet, and an awesome result for a great cause!

Video 1: The MotorDoc (me)

Video 2: Overview of selected lifters


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  1. Over $1400 was raised? Unbelievable success! Congrats on the good lifting and nice lifting.

  2. Howard Penrose /

    Thank you Brady! Yes, total, so far, is just over $1400 ($800 from sponsors, one direct check to the autism society for $500, plus another $100+ collected at the meet with additional pledges). We are working on a solid number to go out on a press release.

    I’m doing a ‘Pennies for Pounds’ pledge drive to go along with my WPC lifts. If it works, I will recruit additional lifters for future events.

    Thank you!


  3. I laughed out loud with your comments, Howard! And yes, the third lift was great – the other two were like a “man X equipment” contest… lol…


    And great comments.

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