The Truth About Bench Shirts – Another Response

The Truth About Bench Shirts – Another Response

Sep 4, 2014


So… ummm… someone sends me a link to a YouTube video about the ‘truth about bench shirts’ in which the self-proclaimed fitness guy is going on about how he’s heard of someone using one of these bench press shirts and in a few weeks is able to bench press 5-600 lbs at 185…  Yeah.

I’m all about the difference between raw, single-ply and multi-ply equipment and have been both raw and multi-ply… but really can’t see how someone can claim they are an expert in something they’ve ‘heard about’ (but not seen – no kidding, he makes that statement).

Here is my view on the subject – as some dude who lifts and competes (yes, I do even lift)…. Each type of lifting requires some basic training movements, but for the mid to advanced lifter, the training diverges significantly.  While we are graded on the weight, it really comes down to technique.

IMHO a raw lifter is all about strength with form being fairly random (the better/experienced raw lifters usually have excellent form).  Their limitations are based upon their raw strength and it is normally what they can move off the chest, which tends to be easier at the top (yes, yes, there are some that are the other way – if we were all the same, then we’d be benching ridiculous weights).


^^My Raw bench at the 2012 Worlds in Las Vegas

The equipped lifter is all about technique and strength and training the CNS to withstand the heavy loads that the joints would not be able to easily handle without the support of a shirt.  Basically, being able to handle massive amounts of weight.  The other side to equipped lifting is that it takes powerlifting from an individual sport (other than a lift-off guy and spotters, if you are doing it right) to more of a team sport (an equipped lifter, like a knight, requires handlers to assist in putting on, taking off, and adjusting the equipment).

Snapshot - 60

^^My Equipped bench at the 2013 Rise of the Deadlift/Beast of the Benchpress (also returning from injury)

Yes, I left out ‘speed’ (Power = Mass * Acceleration) as it is a given in both styles.


^^Equipped Lifters Barzeen Viziri, Howard Penrose and Tiny Meeker (the day before they misloaded Tiny’s bar to 1250lbs and he darn near locked it out!!)

The editorial discussed the ‘joke’ around bands and chains, then noted that he tried using the massive bands to do reverse band bench and was able to pump weights all day long.  Again, identifying his lack of understanding of what the training is for and about – let alone technique.


^^Soooo…. who’s lifting off for who?  I can’t get my @#*&^@#*&^$ arms down!  (Howard Penrose, Mike Randall, and Joe Atef)

If I were to compare the two – a raw lifter may come and go from the iron game (average lifter) with only a few being involved for a length of time.  An equipped lifter has to dedicate far more time, technique and style, as well as $$ to the sport and tends to be around longer.


^^The Lillibridges (Raw Lifters) with some equipped/raw guy in the middle (sporting an IronAuthority hat, of course)

In recent times, we have noticed that there are a very large number of raw lifters entering competitions and that they do bring a fairly large audience to the events (the stands do tend to be sparser during equipped lifts, at this point in time).  This is excellent!  Some will stay raw and in the sport, some will convert to the ‘dark side’ of equipped, and most will disappear.  There is some speculation related to who these folks are.  We have noted in the Illinois APF/AAPF rosters that many of them are associated with ‘crossfit’ gyms – which is fine as it appears that that … can I call it a sport? … is a potential feeder for strength athletes of all types.


^^Even local and state meets (2014 APF/AAPF Illinois State, run by Dick Zenzen pictured) will stop allowing entries at 140 lifters whereas we could barely get 40-50 lifters in a meet only a few years back!

And, yeah, this time I will include the offending video!



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  1. Tracy Frein /

    He lost his credibility at “dude”.
    Fitness expert with Flabby arms .

  2. I saw he same thing and shook my head.

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