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Boards, Bands, And Bench Shirts: Are They THAT Important?

Learn how these benching accessories can help boost your bench. Find out the secrets that the pros are using!

It's odd that training these days have gone to a whole new level. Back in the days, all you needed to get a good training program started was a gym and a belt. Now with advances in strength, you have to go that extra mile to get that much stronger than your competition. Now I'm not keeping this article to just powerlifters (although, you should read it yourself), but to anyone who has an "open" mind about strength training. If you don't, hit the back browser on your computer and head elsewhere...


For two months now, I've been experimenting with boards and recently experimented with bands. In a minute I'll go into the bands. If you read "Workout of Champions", you'll see that Bill Carpenter trains with boards. Let me explain this. Board Presses (or to better describe it Board Bench Press) are done the same as the bench press but you have either 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 boards on your chest while doing them. The point of doing this exercise is to strengthen every area of the bench between the point where the bar is at your chest and the point where the bar is at lockout.

You can work up to some monstrous numbers doing this exercise because all you doing is bringing the bar to the board and exploding off the boards to lockout. If your a powerlifter or just wanting to increase your bench, get your hands on some 2x6's or 2x8's, get about 4 of them to start with or if you can get six boards at your local Lowe's or Home Depot or where ever you can find boards.

My friend/partner, Jon Darty has 2 boards nailed together and did the same with 3, 4, and 5 boards. Me on the other hand have 2 boards black taped together and have the other 2 loose so that I can do 2, 3, and 4 boards. If I can find another board or two, I'll be able to do 5 and/or 6 boards. Board Presses can really help your strength on the bench press. To give you an idea, here's what I'm doing on them.

  • 2 boards - 335 for 3 sets of 3 (recently)
  • 3 boards - 335 for 3 (this was two months ago)
  • 4 boards - 430 for a single
  • 5 boards - 475 for a single
  • 6 boards - 515 for a single

Recently I did 5 boards and 6 boards following the routine outlined at I was really proud of those numbers. But the boards help to get you the feel of heavier weight but it also helps with exploding and getting the weight up faster. Give these a try. They also help to add some mass to your frame very quickly. Heck, I'm looking forward to doing 5 and 6 boards in the future!


The next wonder is bands. Now I know what it sounds like and at first I was real skeptical about the boards and bands at first until I opened my eyes to see what they could do. I'm surprised that not everyone knew about these bands. Bands you can also use to increase your strength speed. They can basically be used on the bench press, squats, push downs, overhead extensions, pull downs (machine), and lockouts (not 3-4 inches). Ok, after using them just for two to three weeks when I warmup on the bench press, 135 flies completely up because my muscles are used to the band tension and gravity and when its just gravity... Well it isn't that bad. I've done them not only on bench but on pushdowns. I did a demonstration at my gym showing people there what the bands could do. My partner Jon Houts and I did 2 sets of 20 reps on overhead extensions with bands. I asked Jon to do a rep without bands and with heavier weight.

People couldn't believe how Jon flung that weight up! Jon's strength speed had gone up and it was obvious because he was so used to the additional 10 pounds of band tension. These suckers don't look like a lot but they do pack a punch and they work your muscles in a way most exercises (free weights) won't. You can get 4 mini-bands (one mini-band can add anywhere from 5 to 25 pounds of tension) for $35 at There are more. The light bands, just one of them can add from 30 to 50 pounds of additional resistance.

The average bands can add from 65 to 85 pounds each bands and the strong band can add from 80 to 100 pounds of additional resistance. I heard there are some bands out there that can add up to 200 pounds of additional resistance. You can get these bands from either Westside Barbell or Even if your a bodybuilder, these are something to use to boost strength as well as mass.

I just started using the bands so I haven't trained with them for too long so the long-term effects haven't happened yet with it being to early to tell. But I'm looking forward to getting more of them in the future because I can tell now that the stronger the band, the more I'll gain from them. Now I'll discuss the infamous piece of equipment amongst powerlifters and a strength tool... The bench shirt.

Bench Shirts

Everyone has their own assumptions on this piece of gear. Some believe that its cheating, while some believe to be the best piece of equipment out there. I'm one of those who believe it's the best piece of equipment out there. Let me explain. The bench shirts help to protect the shoulders (including the rotator cuff) as well as giving you the extra boost out of the bottom. The bench shirts also help to add as little as 50 to as much as 100 pounds on to your bench depending on the shirt you get. There are poly and denim shirts. But like I said, it depends on what shirt you get. For instance, the Standard Blast Inzer Shirt is not as tight as the Heavy Duty Blast Inzer Shirt. And the HD Blast Shirt is not as tight as the Titan Fury made out of the NXG material (recently acquired this from Jon D. and it is unforgiving!) or a Inzer Denim shirt. Go to for more on their gear.

You can also go to for more of the Inzer gear. Ok, now for the analysis. I have used a bench shirt for the last 3 to 4 years in competitive powerlifting and it has helped my strength tremendously. How? Well, about two years ago, I was doing 320 in a shirt, now I'm doing 325 for reps without the shirt. You see, as your max in a shirt goes up, so does your RAW max as well. This is why you see Scot Mendelson (who benched 782) benching 700 RAW (without a shirt). The Bench Shirt is a good piece of equipment, but getting a lot out of it could mean even more. This is what Sebastian Burns and Bill Crawford do at the Metal Militia camp.

Jon D. and I are going to get more out of our shirt utilizing their training methods for our next meet and I can already see the improvements from it. Check out their site at for more. Now since the shirts are extremely tight, you may end up with an initiation mark or two. What are they? Well they are bruises either under your armpits from the shirt digging in, along your arm, and/or across your chest. When you get these marks, it means your either half powerlifter or a powerlifter!

Well, I hope you've learned a lot about this stuff. These are only a small sample of what powerlifters do to get that unreal, unbelievable, and freakish strength. And if you want some of that, then you need to hop on board (excuse the pun) and join the crowd. Like I said, if your not at all interested in gaining strength, then you've just wasted a few minutes of your life, but if your goal is to be the strongest guy, the biggest bencher, to gain mass or just starting out in powerlifting then you spent the best five minutes ever and didn't even have to pick up a magazine! How about that!

Until next time folks, max out!