Triples in the shirt is hands down the best exercise to increase your bench. What sucks is that they are hard as shit to master. They need to be completed on one breath. I don't know how many times I have told lifters to do this exercise. But what I usually hear from the lifter is, "why?" Because I said so, that is why!
I learned this technique from Bill Crawford and Sebastian Burns. I never imagined in my wildest dreams asking Bill Crawford “why.” When I trained with Bill, you did what he said and that was it.
I think that’s why I made so much progress while training with the MM. Nowadays, lifters need to open their ears and shut their mouths. There are too many experts out there and not enough guys who just want to smash fucking weights!
Now, I will graciously answer the “why” for you over analytical, personal trainer types.
Doing triples in the shirt will teach you how to touch light weight. You will touch lighter weight because you will be completely fatigued while holding your breath on the later reps. Don't tell me you can't hold your breath for three reps because I am a 5' 8" 300+ lbs asthmatic with no cardio, and I can do it.
Along with touching lighter weight, you will learn great technique. You will learn to touch light weight in the same place every time. However, this takes lots of practice. I did triples for years. It sucks. My long-limbed training partner, Matt Rhodes, used to cry like a bitch about triples. You know what I say—too bad!
When doing the triples, the goal is to get the weight down fast. I am usually screaming "down, down, down!" It is best to have someone screaming at you. It is especially nice when that person leaves you hovering in the hole for a few seconds. This will cause your head to turn the most interesting shade of purple. Often times, you will feel as though you are going to pass out and on rare occasions you will.
Under no circumstances should you begin pushing at the first feeling of being hung up. This is where you learn to be patient. As soon as you press the weight to lock out, the weight should be coming back down immediately. Remember "down, down, down!"
While the bar is sitting in the hole, there comes a time where your body just lets go a bit, especially when you are fatigued on the second and third reps. This is not to say you loosen up or relax. It is a feeling I really cannot describe, but once you have felt it, you will remember it. One of my other training partners, Robert "Tee Tee" McRay, used to get hung up with weight about halfway down. It drove me absolutely insane. I would scream at him like a raving lunatic workout after workout. Well, he stuck with it and got it after many months of hard work. Now he can touch very light weights in his shirt. He just won the APF Senior Nationals SHW bench and went three for three. I kind of know what I am talking about.
To master the bench shirt, put your wraps or belt up tight and start working triples. Try to get someone with balls to call the reps for you and remember to be patient in the hole. This technique has worked for many lifters.
Now get off of your ass and get to the gym.
Vinny Dizenzo began competing as an amateur full meet lifter in the 220 lbs class. Two ruptured discs caused him to focus on the bench press and eventually become a top ranked bencher. His best bench is 800 lb in the 308 lbs class. Vinny won Bench America and has competed in the Arnold Classic. He has also competed in strongman competitions.