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Effects of the Bench Shirt on Sagittal Bar Path

Silver, Tobin1; Fortenbaugh, Dave2; Williams, Ryan3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181918949
Original Research

Silver, T, Fortenbaugh, D, and Williams, R. Effects of the bench shirt on sagittal bar path. J Strength Cond Res 23(4): 1125-1128, 2009-Powerlifting, like many sports, uses specialized equipment to enhance performance and decrease the chance of injury. The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine whether wearing a bench press shirt would alter the natural mechanics of the bench press, causing a more efficient lift when pressing the same weight as without the bench shirt. Participants (n = 5) completed 2 series of 1-repetition maximum (1RM) bench press tests, with 1 week of rest in between 1 series without the bench shirt (no-shirt), and 1 series with a bench shirt (bench shirt). Results revealed that the vertical bar path ranges were significantly less in the bench shirt condition (35.7 ± 4.8 cm) compared with the no-shirt condition (40.2 ± 7.0 cm) (p < 0.05). Significant differences were found between the bar's optimal (81.4 ± 14.2 cm) and observed (96.7 ± 19.1 cm) total distances traveled in the no-shirt condition (p < 0.01), but no significant differences were found between the bar's optimal (71.6 ± 12.7 cm) and observed (86.3 ± 10.5 cm) total distances traveled in the bench shirt condition. These findings suggest that the bar path in bench shirt trials is more efficient and consistent than in the no-shirt trials. This pattern demonstrates that a bench shirt can improve load capacity. It is also possible that the bench shirt decreases the forces that act on the shoulder for a given weight and, thus, may decrease the risk of injury.

Author Information

1Health and Kinesiology Department, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana; 2American Sports Medicine Institute, Birmingham, Alabama; and 3Exercise Science Department, Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida

Address correspondence to Tobin Silver,

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association