Within the equipped lifting world, there is a pretty large variety of how guys approach training in their shirts.
From guys who train in them every single week, to guys who get in them once a month.
the morning crew at Westside, we get in them about once every 3-4 weeks. It depends on where we are at in meet training. We get in them for the last time before a meet 2-3 weeks out.
what we've found is that when we focus on getting our raw bench to increase, invariably our equipped bench will increase.
The downside, becoming a technician in the shirt can prove difficult at times.
For me, when I've used my shirt consistently, I end up getting slower, really beat up and have a hard time making progress.
What works best for you guys?
I shirt every week unless I'm feeling beat up in that case I'll take the week off or just do some lighter benching raw, what I do in my shirt on any given day day is dictated by how I feel if I'm not feeling especially hot on that day I'll stay on higher boards and get some work in if I'm feeling good I'll work down in boards.
i have tried training in the shirt just doesnt work for me after a couple of weeks i slowly start to decline. i find training westside works for me but as travis said hard to become a technician without working in it
I was a fan of 5 week raw conjugate type mini cycles followed by 5 week shirt work cycles. When I was bench only I did a good 5-6 meets per year and this gave me enoough time to get stronger and to get Better in the shirt year round.
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Best lifts Equipped
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I shirt every other week. Years ago only shirted every 5-6 weeks. Then it changed to 4 weeks. Then 3 weeks. Too much is bad but too little and you lose the technique and overload a shirt gives you.
Some people might not agree on this but I have a theory that your body adapts to your shirt just like it does to exercises. So I have had very good success training in all kinds of shirts. I mainly stick with 2 ply Ragex or a 1 ply Katana. But have many other brands of shirts to mix things up. It's not as hard as some say it is to just throw on a shirt and bench. For beginners, yes. But for guys who have used shirts for 5-6 years plus it shouldn't be too hard.
Most I did was every other week for a couple months and I was tore up. I felt like I was slower, definitely noticed more nagging injuries and weight felt stupid heavy.
I don't seem to have a hard time when I first get in a shirt as far as getting used to the feel of the weight. After 700 it all pretty much feels the same.
It all depends where I am with my shirt and meet prep.
I've had meet preps where my forearms stayed healthy enough to bench in the shirt every week.
I've had meet preps where I am so dialed in with my shirt that I can bench raw more often and only shirt up for one or two touch sets a month and some board work.
Right now I am working on figuring out my shirt situation as I lost so much size since my last meet. Because of that I have been in the shirt the last two weeks and will shirt up again next week.... my forearms are so shot that I had to use both hands to start my truck when I left the gym yesterday.
Ideally I'm in the shirt every other week and I will touch something every time I get in the shirt.... because no, a half board isn't close enough.
Meet PR's: 1008-711-744 = 2464
Gym PR's... don't count ... time to do another meet!
That said, I do need to spend more time in a shirt to get into something a little tighter. I need to get out of that comfort zone. Also, nowadays a shirt break in takes a good month or so.
When i was using a shirt, i was in it every week, my numbers went up fast, i just dont think getting stronger raw will increase your shirted numbers as fast as training in the shirt. If you are using a ton of weight you might not be able to use a shirt all the time. My raw bench didnt move much before getting a shirt, so it wasnt going to go up much anyways lol.
I think there's a huge difference in bench only vs. full meet lifters. I don't know a full meet lifter that can shirt up every week. Also, the shirt work is a lot more draining, so the accessory work after usually isn't as good I think if you shirt up all the time, then you need another day to dedicate to accessories and full meet lifters usually can't fit that in.
That said, I think everyone needs to go through a period where they shirt up often to learn the shirt. It accelerates the learning curve, but eventually you get diminishing returns. You can only get so much from a shirt, and then you need to get stronger raw.
I prefer every 3-4 weeks. I definitely need more raw bench strength, but I need to shirt up that often to stay sharp in the shirt.
I think the use of boards is another huge variable. I've never understood people that do 2 or 3-bd work with their shirt so jacked they can barely get to the boards. Then they wonder why they can't touch or struggle badly full range. Personally, taking the ego hit and using a 1-bd led to better meet results.
I agree Marcus, I don't understand when guys never touch in the gym and stick with 2 or 3brds. It creates bad habits and leaves you guessing as to what your weights are that you should take at a meet.
It also comes down to how well you can handle coming back into heavier weights. I've tried a shitload of different things but I've found my body feels better and less "beat up" after if I handle something in the shirt at least once every 5-6 weeks. Any more than that and it gets harder and harder to readjust to holding the heavier weights. On the other hand, my training partner Tim Gale came in one night after training raw for more than 12 weeks and took 850 to a 3-Board. That's something I can't even imagine doing because I"d fall apart the next day.