By J.T. Hall, AA, BS, CPT N.A.S.A. KY Powerlifting Chairman firstname.lastname@example.org www.nasa-sports.com
I have seen and read about a lot about training advice for using bench press equipment. Some people feel you should train with the shirt every week or as much as possible. Others feel you should train with the shirt @ least once a month. All this advice never addressed the true issue; it's going to take time to get used to the bench press shirt. When I first started training with a bench press shirt a lot in 2000, my lifts went down. I couldn't figure out the reason why! After a while, I realized that a lot of shirt training is a serious overload for the neuromuscular system because you are probably using a lot more weight than your normal raw max. Some lifters are using 25-225 pds over their max with a bench press shirt. Also, a shirt can be so tight, that the weight doesn't touch and the weight comes down to your chest very slowly. So, you are doing a lot of negatives sometimes when you train with a bench press shirt. This can lead to a lot of overtraining and delayed on-set muscle soreness.
Another huge mistake lifters make is that they try to get stronger in the bench press shirt! This is a major problem in the powerlifting community because the number one way to get a stronger bench press is without the bench press shirt. Trying to get stronger with the bench press shirt doesn't allow your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints to get strong on their on. This is setting lifters up for serious physical damage or chronic injuries. Your body has to get stronger over time to handle extreme heavy weights. Don't short change it or else! I believe one of the best ways to get use to a bench press shirt is to use the shirt 1-2 times 6-8 weeks before a meet and that's all. This will allow plenty of time for the body to recuperate. Also, if you use it too many times, it can teach bad form. It doesn't matter what you do in the gym, until you compete on the platform! You will get plenty of quality time with a bench shirt in competition. So, once I stopped training a lot with the bench press shirts, my competition lifts took off. I'm getting almost 100 pds out of a single-ply I.A.D. denim. The answer wasn't training with the bench press shirt every week or month, the answer was time!