Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
March 4, 2024
Why Lift With a Bench Shirt?
by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com

Bench ShirtThis is a question that has been around for years. You know, the view point "Why use a shirt, it's cheating! Why should we use a shirt! Old school guru powerlifters are upset and furious! You know they support conservatism and not progressivism and believe that the shirts hinder the integrity of powerlifting. You know, they feel that Powerlifting should always be about who the strongest is and it should not be a circus act, a freak show where whatever @$$ clown dresses the best is the winner! Well, I will do my best and try to provide some insight...

Yeah, yeah, we started with the floor press, which evolved to the flat bench and the flat bench itself has more technique involved then the floor press. Well, anyway, the flat bench eventually evolved into the "gear press" And as a result RAW benching has lost its popularity at the competitive level, but still admired by gym lifters. So with that being said, that is what has caused the debate. But why do they find shirts exciting and important?

Well, people find bench shirts and other gear exciting for the simple fact that they use it, they lift more with it, it's where the money is at, they have more confidence with gears, they understand it, since they use it, they don't have to worry about pec tears and the shirts pushes them beyond "natural" performance limitations and finally they can still have a RAW max at the same time.

Very few people can be genetic freaks, many great benchers develop pec tears so that ends benching careers, but with the shirts, they can have longer lasting careers, the shirts are where the money is at, what everyone does and they can go beyond genetic limitations and since they use it, then it's exciting to them. They can now see the bench press as a game without limits, without a finish line and that drives them for more. You really need to live the lifestyle to understand the passion or have a mind that can relate to them in order to truly get it.

For example, lots of things don't seem exciting or interesting for us, like for example perhaps one of your relatives never cared about powerbuilding, but then you succeeded. They learned the effort, the mechanics, physics and the whole process of ATTITUDE behind it and now they love it... To reverse your question, it's like asking a bodybuilder "How does using drugs make bodybuilding exciting"? Yeah, sure, it's cheating if you compare it to drug free bodybuilders, but the freaks of the freaks are juiced to the gills, they go farther (in a different dimension) and they are the SHOW to many of the fans. I hear a lot more Ronnie Coleman fans then top drug free bodybuilders. You know ECW or wrestling from the 1970s? We all have our own personal taste and you need an ADAPTABLE mind to change with the times and not everyone does!!! However, only the minds that can change, can become open can still enjoy the new waves/trends of training!

Again, many lifters will understand my view point involving pec tears, but they will still continue to persist that "Why can't we just use single ply gear"! This way we are still safe and the benching competitions will remain as natural, old school and about real strength as possible...

I can understand this, there is always that old debate involving "how far is too far"...But, regardless of how far, we have to keep in the back of our mind that we will always have the single ply champion of the world, the RAW champion of the world and lastly we will always have the champion who can make the highest gear work the best for him. So we will have different best in different dimensions and therefore we can enjoy them all.

Now if you think about it, 10 ply gear, single ply gear, drug free bodybuilding or bodybuilding with the enhancements of drugs, what do they all have in common? All lifters are trying to make "STATEMENTS" Whether it's done for themselves, others, God, the journey, challenge or whatever the personal reason might be... You have to remember, lifters don't care what "the outside culture thinks" (or at least shouldn't care) they are living a dream, they are making huge sacrifices, it's not the external appearance of the result that matters so much as the inner battle of their emotions and pride to conquer a goal....

So, the only difference between a RAW bencher and a gear bencher that takes gear to the extreme is that one bench less weight with natural strength as the other likes to see how far they can go with all the enhancements in the world...... So what if it doesn't seem fair, it's a different game, plain and simple. Put yourself into the shoes of an EXTREME 1,000lbs bencher... They get the gear, they get good, the gear on the market expands, their lifts do, and it keeps the competition increasing and allows them to improve. They put their lives on the line and they make it work for them. It's still the same attitude to be the best they can be.

As for all the people who bash other lifters, or anything for that matter, need to look into themselves and see what is causing it. I believe that there is a dark cloudy mirror, a lost disowned shadow of themselves that is very unconscious screaming "I WANT TO BENCH 1000LBS WITH GEAR" Imagine the power, I would have, however, I can't confront my darkness so I will project it on the worlds best...... We all have core reality that starts during these conversations, the problem that we run into is when we think our reality is the only one possible (in a debate) and anyone else's is a threat to our identity, character and soul. By being able to understand different hardcore cultures and respecting the attitudes gives us a better understanding of the world and the moment....Also I believe that if these RAW lifters did a drill called "focusing" for 10 minutes just reaching into their deepest selves, having a buddy listening to what comes out, they will discover the TRUE problem. And the problem isn't the shirts, it isn't the gear, the real enemy is THEM!! They haven't taken their training far enough, they could do other things with their life and since they didn't they project their problems onto others. Therefore, we have to worry about ourselves before others.

Regardless, speculation, controversy, debate can be fun, but it's just a ritual, a way of using anxiety when we can use our anxiety to improve our own lifts. And in fact, time and time again when lifters do this they start to respect the sport of assisted lifting as well or whatever goals they go after. Besides, all the gear, we have a single ply champion during the BENCH AMERICA. And finally we know that the best RAW benchers are Kennelly, Mendy and not Gene or Lattimer in a RAW sense. In fact they bench 100lbs+ pounds more RAW, but again they don't bash the equipped champions because they are less powerful RAW, they go after the gear, get better in hopes for one day reigning as the new king.

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APT APEX bench press shirt - Ryan Kennelly
Pictured Above
Strongest Bencher In the World Ryan Kennelly



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