Shirt Training

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
  • #23321

    Hi guys, really enjoying the site, great resource.

    I have a client who is a bench presser in the Masters category.

    Just wanting to now if any of you have any shirt training ideas as not sure of the optimal amount of time in the shirt. He’s had a previous shoulder problem and as the shirt alters his posture quite a lot I a bit wary of the stress on his shoulder.

    Any thoughts would be great



    Sorry but I have had no experience with bench shirts I will leave that for steve to handle, go well, ash


    Hi Screan,

    Thank you for the question.

    How many years has your client been powerlifting for?

    Has he benched in a shirt before?

    What type of training have you been prescribing?

    How tight is the shirt?

    Brand of shirt i.e Titan , Inzer?

    Lots of factors have to be taken into account.

    Depending on lifting age, I preferred to train in the shirt twice before the contest and max would be 3 times, but I lifted for many years and knew what weight I needed to get the bar down and what grove it should be in.

    I have known some lifters to train in a shirt 6 – 8 weeks out from a contest. There complete cycle was in a shirt.

    Novice lifters can take a dozen work outs in a shirt to get the bar to the chest or even get a lift that would be pasted in a contest.

    I found putting the shirt work in after speed bench worked the best for me.

    Benching in a shirt purely makes it a tricep movement, so train the Triceps very heavy and hard.

    The key tip I can give you is don’t let the shirt change your grove, put you bench groove into the shirt not the other way round. A bench shirt is not comfortable and can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. But we do what we do because we love it! Pain does not enter into it.

    You might find training with bench blocks or phone books might help him adjust. Start high and work into the shirt. i.e Start on a 6 block and work down to a single block and then no block. Keep the reps low, if any. singles will help.

    The reason behind the shirt is yes you can bench more, but the main reason was that master lifters in powerlifting with years of low bar squatting and benching had screwed shoulders so it was a way they could start benching again.

    I new a top NZ master powerlifter who once told me that the bench press was just a rest between the squat and deadlift and the contest did not start until the bar touch the floor.
    But now, things have changed there are lifters out there that bench more than they deadlift.

    If you can answer those top questions on the post I can go into more detail

    I hope this helps,


    Thanks for your reply Steve,

    He has been bench pressing now for 4 years and is in his late 50’s. The shirt is a Titan brand and although Im not sure on the exact sizing it takes a bit of work to get it on.

    Over the last 6 weeks I have tried to get hime in the shirt at least once per week, as he has a competition in mid October. With other days focusing on max effort assistance exercise-( floor press, rack lock outs, decline press) and power/speed bench, incorporating throws and band work.

    Each day has had further assistance exercises ( back, shoulder, arm work etc) normally following a 3 week cycle from 10-15 reps, to 6-8 reps. I have started to phase out some of the assistance work as he gets closer to competition.

    Really wanting to maximise the next 6 weeks before competition in October.




    Hi Scott,

    Mate it sounds like you are right on track.

    Just be careful cutting assistance training out to early, lots of lifters fall in to this trap, if he is recovering ok keep the assistance going right up your last work out.

    My opinion is that uperbody size and conditioning plays a huge role in the bench press, and by cutting out the assistance work you are at risk of dropping size/bulk. So come the contest day things don’t feel like they did in the gym, shirts a bit looser, can’t hold yourself up on your shoulder blades etc.

    With your Max effort days, alternate your max effort exercise week to week, going from a partial movement one week to a full range the next. i.e Rack Lock out to Decline BB.This will help with the shoulder issues.

    Lots of ROM stretching through the chest, I found by finishing with a light D.B over extending through the lying Flyes, or a seated D.B Clean and Rotate would help. From doing loads of partial bench work you are at high risk of a shoulder impingement.

    Leading up to the contest, I found the most effective max effort exercises for me were.
    Reverse Band Press
    2 and 4 Block Press
    Rack Lockouts
    Decline Bench
    Chain Close Grip Bench

    If he has been using the shirt for a few workouts. I would plan something along these lines. After the speed bench, I would use the shirt for 3 – 4 sets.

    Week 1 – Shirt on (down to 3-4 block or 3-4 inches) 3 Top sets 3 reps
    Week 2 – Shirt on (down to 2 block or 2 inches) 3 Top sets 3 reps
    Week 3 – Shirt on (down to 1 block or 1 inches) 3 Top sets 3 reps
    Week 4 – Shirt on (down to Chest) 3 Top sets of 2 reps
    Week 5 – Shirt on (down to Chest) Starting Weight (2 top single- contest reps, paused calls etc)
    Week 6 – Contest Week – Light Bench 5 days out.

    *Note if you don’t have wooden blocks you can use phone books

    He should be getting all reps and sets with the shirt through out these weeks, week 4 if he wants to have a crack at a training P.B for reps that would be the week.

    I hope this helps,


    Thanks Steve, makes a lot of sense.

    Just a couple more questions if you don’t mind.

    1.) Would you advise a bench throw or band work explosively before putting the shirt on? Also would 3-4 sets of 4-5 reps be optimal?

    2) Does reverse band bench, mean assited bench with the band?

    3) How does the follwing sound as a weekly schedule:

    Monday- Speed Shirt work assistance

    Wednesday- tricep assistance

    Friday- Max effort assistance

    I liked your prior post of bench workout, really hammered the triceps by the sounds of it.

    Also like your idea of rotating a partial max effort with a full range. Even though we have made alot of progress with rotator cuff stablity & endurance, plus scapula control, prior injury in this area is always a risk factor.

    Cheers, appreciate your help



    Hi mate, not a problem.

    I will answer question 2) first, Reverse Band Bench Press is where the bands are set at the top of the rack rather than choking around the bottom of the power rack or D.B

    With the B.B weight being reduced at the bottom part of the moment I feel this is a great-simulated move for the bench in a shirt.

    This depends on your athlete’s recovery, plus is he just competing as a bencher or full meet powerlifter?

    You will need to go into more detail on this one, what is the different’s between triceps and assistance?

    1.) Would you advise a bench throw or band work explosively before putting the shirt on? Also would 3-4 sets of 4-5 reps be optimal?

    Can’t say I ever did this, I just use to focus on speed bench adding chains and bands at the sharp end of the cycle. How are you finding this option? I would be keen to hear how you get on?

    I did use to do plyo med ball throws at the start of the cycle the day after max effort day.




    Hi Steve,

    Sorry for the delayed reply from your last post back.

    Yes he is only competing in the bench lift.

    As he is an older lifter I’ve found he does need slightly longer recovery and a 3 day split has seemed to work o.k as weekends are normally out for training.

    In this final 6 weeks before competition if he’s doing a max lift day (altering between partial and full range lift and assistant exercises), a shirt day ( with speed bench and assistance exercises), and a final day with just assitance work (back, core,)

    Then at the sharp end of the cycle drop this final day out or just reduce the volume?

    Cheers mate



    Hi mate, this all sounds very solid.

    You sound like you have put a lot of thought in the program, lots of people get caught up with a 3 day bench program of 3 days of just benching

    Back and core day works in fine. Maybe on that day rotator work and stretching could be introduced.

    Then at the sharp end of the cycle drop this final day out or just reduce the volume?

    I would suggest keeping the 3rd day in and only drop the volume if need be.

    Light bench 5-7 days out

    Hope this helps, keep me posted.


Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Copy link