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Bench Shirts: A PL Gear Guide
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smokotime
Level

Join date: Jun 2007
Posts: 372

This is a resource for bench shirts used in powerlifting.

Please keep all posts as reviews on equipment.
IF YOU HAVE REQUESTS FOR REVIEWS OR QUESTIONS, USE THE FOLLOWING THREAD: http://www.T-Nation.com/...c.do?id=2415555

Please. Really. I mean it!

Okay, so here's the general structure to make this whole thing readable:

*Personal lifts, equipment/brands you have experience with, and whether you are a sponsored athlete

*Gear you are evaluating. If you are evaluating a whole range, i.e. Titan Bench Shirts, mention any that you haven't tried. Importantly, specify if it's single or multi-ply.

*Pro's and Cons; I'd like to see fit, comfort, carryover, durability, manipulation (Can you jack/unjack shirts much, change touch points etc.) and who the gear suits (Experienced, close stance etc.) evaluated

*Comparison. How it matches up to other equipment you've used. Name names.

*Everything else. Anything you'd like to add, recommendations, whether it's useful for raw or physique lifters, anything really.

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smokotime
Level

Join date: Jun 2007
Posts: 372

Here's a basic template to make things easier. Personal stats are only necessary on your first post in the thread, just so we get some perspective on where you're coming from. If you think height, weight, years training, fed or whatever is important, add them into your stats.

Please keep your reviews to one brand per post.

Stats
Best Lifts:
Gear Experience:

Equipment being reviewed:

Pros:

Cons:

Comparison:

Thoughts:

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UHCougar05
Level 1

Join date: Apr 2003
Posts: 70

Best Lifts: 369 - Double Denim, 480 - Double Poly, 315x2 raw
Gear Experience: Inzer Blue DD, Metal Pro Bencher, Inzer Blast, Inzer HPHD

Equipment being reviewed: Custom Metal Pro Bencher

Pros: Good pop off of the chest and follow through to lockout. The sleeves are also very comfortable and the open back gives the option to alter the touch points in the shirt depending on how high or low you have the collar.

Cons: Poly shirts do tend to stretch a bit quickly. The Metal Pro that I use is custom, so I'm not sure how the stock shirt would compare. The sleeves are also quite long on these, and unfortunately, unlike Inzer you cannot have 1"-2" taken off the sleeves before you order, unless you custom order it from Metal in Finland.

Comparison: As the numbers show, I get much more out of the poly than I do the denim. Comparing the two, I can touch 275 with the collar high on the denim, but it takes at least 315-335 to touch with the collar in the same place on the Metal.

Thoughts: If you go with a Metal shirt, I would recommend that you try the shirt first and if it works for you, use it, but here are some of the custom additions to the shirt I use:

-Scooped Neck Collar
-Reinforced Collar
-Denim insert on Chest Plate inside shirt
-Grid Stitched Chest plate

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Matt
Level

Join date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1232

UHCougar05 wrote:
-Scooped Neck Collar
-Reinforced Collar
-Denim insert on Chest Plate inside shirt
-Grid Stitched Chest plate


It also has 1" taken out of the Chest plate.

;-)

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UHCougar05
Level 1

Join date: Apr 2003
Posts: 70

Matt wrote:
UHCougar05 wrote:
-Scooped Neck Collar
-Reinforced Collar
-Denim insert on Chest Plate inside shirt
-Grid Stitched Chest plate


It also has 1" taken out of the Chest plate.

;-)

The one thing I miss. I got all the obvious stuff... :-)

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zephead4747
Level

Join date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5613

good thread

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novaeer
Level 1

Join date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1758

Best Lifts: 465 (gym), 455 (meet) - Metal Pro Bencher (Stock shirt); Raw bench - 315 x 5 (My shoulders hate heavy raw work)
Gear Experience: F6 and Katana (single ply), Metal Pro, Metal Bash (double)

Equipment being reviewed: Metal Pro Bencher

Pros: Great pop off chest, 'comfortable', easy to learn and easy to tweak

Cons: Stretches out FAST - even for a poly shirt. Decent carry through to lockout, but not as good as others I've tried. Small shirt - barely enough material to pull down and secure with a belt.

Comparison: I've not used a lot of shirts, but when it comes down to it this is the one shirt that I've found works the best for me so far. I can adjust the collar on the shirt to where 225 will touch or set it up to where 405 barely touches.

Thoughts: I would highly recommend this shirt for a beginner or an intermediate lifter without hesitation. It is very easy to learn, but you can make enough adjustments with pulling down the collar or twisting the sleeves that it will provide even more carryover.

The groove on the shirt is large enough that it will work for an upper abs bencher (like myself) or a belly bencher.

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cvb
Level 10

Join date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3469

Stats Female, 5' 7" 165lb weight class
Best Lifts: Titan Fury - 240lb (gym) 210lb (meet)
Gear Experience: Inzer HPHD, Inzer EHPHD, Titan Fury

Equipment being reviewed: Titan Fury

Pros: It was easy to learn and put on. With the Inzer EHPHD I had a hard to using my lats. Not a problem with the Fury. My raw bench is 175lb. I recently benched 240lb with the Fury.

Cons: It needed to be modified and Titan is slow with custom orders. The arms need to be larger than the chest. The arms also needed to be shortened. The shirt is always riding up.

Comparison: I will never go back to Inzer after using a Titan. I only increase my bench by 20lbs on the Inzer HPHD, 40 lb on the Inzer EHPHD and 65lb on the Titan Fury. I put my Titan on in about 5 minutes. It takes at least 20 minutes to squeeze into an Inzer.

Thoughts: I will continue to purchase Titan Bench shirts.

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PublickStews
Level 3

Join date: Jan 2005
Posts: 504

Male 5'9" ~220 lbs
Best lifts: (375 gym, 319 meet)
Gear Experience: Titan Fury, Titan F6, Titan Katana, Inzer HPHD, Inzer RageX

Equipment being reviewed: 1-ply Inzer RageX (back cut open)

Pros: After only using Titan products for a very long time, was able to bench successfully with it the first time with minimal problems, so it seems fairly easy to learn. Fairly forgiving groove and pretty simple to jack up. Just pull it down and you'll get more support. Decent pop even in mid range. Stock sizing matched my body well (chest much thicker than arms, relatively speaking).

Cons: Threads started coming apart almost immediately at the pec-delt tie in. Had to get both sides reinforced. The arms are too long. If you have huge arms compared to your chest measurement, I can imagine the arms being very difficult to get on. Worst part was this shirt stretched FAST. One of my first sessions in it I hit an easy 365 which is pretty close to my gym max. By the time my meet rolled around I was able to touch 275 and I feel I got much less carryover than I expected. This effect continued the last time I trained. I seem to be getting less pop than I remembered.

Thoughts: one of my training partners bought it for 40 bucks and traded it to me in exchange for a suit. I can see it being a fairly decent beginner shirt, but the price tag (135.00 new) seems a little excessive for a shirt that stretches so fast. If I ever end up buying a RageX it will be 2-ply.

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Pinto
Level

Join date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1405

Male, 6,3; 275 lbs

Best bench is 562; I've used many multi-ply poly and denim shirts;

Equipment Being Evaluated: Inzer Super Phenom; the shirt basically a Phenom with 3 layers of Hardcore material, a 2 inch scoop superneck, and reinforced sleeve seems.

Pros- The material is very springy and not hard to touch weight in. The shirt has good carrythrough into the midrange and top end. It also has a higher groove than other shirts- the sweet spot seems to be just over the solarplexus. For most benchers, this should be pretty close to their "natural" groove.

*Cons- Expensive- mine was was almost $300 with domestic shipping. Stretches quick. Sizing is tricky- the arms need to come a little tighter

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smokotime
Level

Join date: Jun 2007
Posts: 372

IPF lifter
Best Lifts: 407lbs
Gear Experience: Metal, Inzer HPHD, Inzer Phenom, Titan Katana A/S
All single ply

Equipment being reviewed: Metal Line (Single ply)

Pros: Comfortable. Very short break in time. Big carryover, and between the Bencher, Presser and X-Type you've got most benching styles covered. Ditto with the materials. There's the old school 1st gen poly, the Viking with great stopping power, and the King with less stopping power but more give and rebound.

Cons: Viking can tend to lock up really hard that last inch to chest. Durability - our gym has gone through a dozen shirts in 18 months. Viking seems to be the least durable, but we did have a King presser blow on its second wear.

We've had minor as well as spectacular blowouts. Sizing - it has been less than consistent with the Viking. The same shirt returned under warranty twice came back smaller and smaller. Unsure whether Metal is more consistent now the Kings are out.

Comparison: Much more support and pop than the Phenom and HPHD, both of which were jacked to the max. The Viking and King give the same, if not more, carryover than the Katana. They also need a *lot* less break in time than Katanas, and the styles allow you a lot more leeway with your benching technique.

The Bencher is for the elbows out bodybuilder style bench, Presser for medium tuck and arch, X-Type for very hard tuck.
The Katana A/S lies between the Presser and X-Type in cut. The Phenom and Katana are also much much more durable than the Metal lines.

Thoughts: I wanted to love the metal gear, I really did. They're comfortable, give great carryover, and don't need you to change how you bench. But I spent too long with shirts in-transit for warranty, and dealing with the erratic sizing.

Coupled with the blowouts, it was just too much trouble. Unless you are close enough to a supplier that you can swap dead shirts if you have problems, and are dead set on using Metal shirts, I can't recommend them.
Please note that this was with SINGLE ply.

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smokotime
Level

Join date: Jun 2007
Posts: 372

Gear Experience: Metal, Inzer HPHD, Inzer Phenom, Titan Katana A/S

Equipment being reviewed: Inzer Phenom (single ply)

Pros: Very durable. Stretches evenly, so it doesn't "lock up" like a lot of shirts. Easy to touch, and can touch almost anywhere.

Cons: Pain. It rips up your armpits savagely. Hard back shirt design. Carryover isn't great.

Comparison: It doesn't compare favourably to the current generation of shirts. The hard back and so-so carryover make it a second string choice for comfort and performance.

It is definately the best of the HPHD style shirts though. Easier to touch than the Metal or Titan offerings, and the sweet spot is wide and can be adjusted up or down easily.

Thoughts: If I absolutely needed to touch my opener otherwise my family would get killed, then maybe I'd use this shirt. It's a nice beginner shirt if it's a couple of sizes too big. It's ok if you cut the back as well. Otherwise it's just too painful. It's a shame, since it'd be a nice "introductory" shirt for newbies otherwise.

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Pinto
Level

Join date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1405

Equipment being reviewed: Titan Katana (2 ply)

Pros: Wicked support. Awesome board press shirt

Cons: Hard to touch, not much pop off the chest relative to the amount of effort required to get the weight down.

Comparison: Reminds me of the Metal Pro Viking

Thoughts: The groove of the shirt is very high up, so you really have to lower the bar with an elbow flair until you bind up. That's where it gets tricky. Once you tuck and bring the bar down to a point where you can touch, the support vanishes and you have to muscle the bar up and back onto the groove. While I really like the top-end support from this shirt, I have been hard-pressed to get any of this to translate into good full range benches. However, 3 board presses ever replace the bench as the second lift in powerlifting, then this is the shirt!

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masssiveman99
Level

Join date: Dec 2007
Posts: 22

Equipment reviewed: Inzer Super Phenom

Pros. Great support and great pop off of the chest but a little harder to touch if you are a belly bencher.

Cons. Tight as heck and you have to really work to find the right groove.

I believe this is the best shirt out there. I had a true double phenom and benched 661 under Ipa judging and it was a awesome shirt. The new suprer phenom has alot more pop off off of the chest you just have to learn how to roll the shoulders to make sure you can lockout the weight. It is a must with this shirt to pull the shoulder down as far as possible to shorten the distance between chest and lockout.

Once I get this down 700+ will be easy and not bad for a 308 @ 40* years old. My opinion it is poly all the way. And if it stretches out then boil it and tighten up the chest plate. With denim and some of the other shirts Rage-x etc. torques my shoulder too much as I am not a belly bencher.

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Rubtherock
Level

Join date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1

I have a high groove and only bench in single ply/drug tested federations like the USAPL and Iron Boy Powerlifting. I've tried them all (single ply) and the Titan Katana is far better than anything Inzer makes.

I'm almost 40 years old, 275 pounds and hit 600 recently in a meet and 625 in the gym.

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BigPuller8
Level

Join date: Sep 2008
Posts: 5

I just got into a Katana A/S about 2 months or so ago, and have figured out it's quite a versatile shirt... I have only been powerlifting about a year and haven't done a meet yet, but I've been taken under the wings of some world-class in my short career. Here's what I've found out about it so far:

Gear Being Reviewed: Single Ply Katana A/S (Scoop Neck, Closed Back)

Pros: As I said before, the great thing I have found about this shirt is that you can use it many different ways. I have long, monkey arms built for pulling, so I've found that I PERSONALLY don't like it jack it down TOO much, and like this I am able to flare, THEN tuck, to get the best of both worlds poly-wise.

When I first got into the shirt, I played it like most people do the Rage-X or Phenom- building it with the elbows tucked as hard as possible. Either way, it gives a great sling back for a single-ply shirt.

I have also learned that putting it on inside out, palms neutral, twisting the sleeves so the seem is an inch inside the elbow, then pulling it over the head gives a better carry-over throughout the lift and lockout, it's just harder to use.

Cons: This shirt can be very frustrating. I ended up switching benching styles because it was SO HARD to get shit to touch without flaring, letting the chest plate lock up, then tucking and shifting your elbows toward your feet... and if you don't like to get cut up by shirts, THIS IS NOT FOR YOU.

Not only can it be a pain in the ass to figure out, if you put it on like I do (inside out) it will obviously shorten the sleeve length, and tear the SHIT out of your armpits and around the nipples, depending on how low you have it jacked down.

Also, you have to follow the groove off the chest/board JUST RIGHT or you'll fucking dump it into your face or it'll jump about 2 inches and die like it ran out of gas. I can tell this shirt is going to take a while to master, but I know the carryover will be worth it once you get the groove down.

Comparison: This shirt is a one of a kind shirt, and could be compared to numerous shirts. I prefer to use it like the BASH, while I know a guy who uses it like most people use the Rage-X. Like I said before- it all really depends on YOUR benching style and what works best for you, IN THIS SHIRT.

I bench best in the Rage-X by taking the bar really far out, and coming straight down, tucking the whole way; while I flare, then tuck with the BASH. It's all personal preference here.

Thoughts: If you want a bigger bench, this shirt can definitely give it to you. However, it may take you a little longer to find YOUR groove in this shirt. I have never had difficulty benching in a shirt until this one. It's not like it's uncomfortable, it's just difficult to handle.

However, if you have the time to put in to learn this shirt, go for it. I've learned what little I've learned from using a program like Metal Melitia's, or the Yard Program. Try it out and let me know what you guys think.

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Monopoly19
Level 3

Join date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1989

Stats: 27yrs old, lifting for about 8 years, 3 years heavy

Best Lifts: Best raw bench to the chest? Probably 290 or so, I honestly couldn't tell you. I use the foam roller alot now as it saves my shoulders, I've hit 315 or so for a double. In short, my bench sucks.

Gear Experience: Never used a bench shirt before

Equipment being reviewed: Titan Fury (single ply)

Pros: I got this used off of ebay, he told me it had very little use and appeared as such. I got a size 50, which is 1 to 2 sizes bigger than a tight or "meet" fit would be. It was big enough that I had it on and in position in less than 2 minutes. We were using doubled up purple bands, so who knows what the actual weight was. Did lots of sets here then went to straight weight to see exactly how much help I was getting. Put 315 on the bar and did a very easy/fast triple. Seemed like there was lots more left. I didn't even come close to jacking this thing down with the belt, and I never touched one rep. The touch point seems fairly high (between the bottom of my chest and above my belly button) and I seemed to get the hang of it quickly. I called it here as my wrist is still injured and this was wayyy more weight than I've had on the bar in a long time.

Cons: Nothing really negative to say at this point. I did get some nice brusing around the back of my armpits. Actually, I think this is a pro :)

Comparison: Have not used another shirt, so it's tough. My training partner has used shirts in the past and he tried it out and loved it. Said if the gear was that easy to get into and worked that well he might have stayed with powerlifting.

Thoughts: Overall, fun! I got this as just something to play around with and get used to bigger weights with. I'm looking forward to getting my wrist healed, along with getting my bodyweight back up and really pushing this thing. I will post again as I continue to train in it.

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Steel Nation
Level 10

Join date: Oct 2006
Posts: 5200

PRs: 501 @ 241 w/Titan F6 (Updated); Raw PR = 385 (long time ago)

Equipment Used: Titan F6, Titan Katana (all single ply)

Equipment Being Reviewed: Titan F6

Pros: Very easy to learn. I got 66 lbs of carryover after working in it for 3 weeks prior to my first meet ever, without jacking the shirt at all. Great pop off the chest considering how easy it is to touch. In this way it is almost the exact opposite of the Katana. You'd think there would be no pop at all with the F6 because it's so easy to touch, and with the Katana you'd think there would be a ton, but the opposite is true. Sweet spot is right in my natural bench groove (touch point about 2" below sternum). Easy to put on. Easy to jack up (just pull the neck down and you're good to go). When you jack it up, the groove doesn't move much if at all.

Cons: Pain. Not as bad as the Katana (which gave me big X's on both tris), but my tris are permanently scarred from this bad boy. Tends to stretch out quickly. Hasn't been an issue for me because I've been gaining weight.

Comparison: The F6 gives you all the pop you think you'd get from a Katana with half the effort to touch. My coach uses an F6 made from Katana material (he benched 639 at 211 in August; he tried a Katana and couldn't get it to work so he had this made custom) so that leads me to believe that the Katana material is superior, but the shirt design is flawed in some way (for my sample size of two; we do have guys in the gym that are able to get their Katanas to work).

Recommendations: I would recommend this shirt to any new lifter or any vet that has tried a Katana and couldn't get it to work for them. It's supposedly designed for benchers that use a high arch, so keep that in mind.

Video of my 451:


Video of coach's 639 (F6 w/Katana material):

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Dominator
Level 5

Join date: Feb 2005
Posts: 347

Steel Nation wrote:
My coach uses an F6 made from Katana material (he benched 639 at 211 in August; he tried a Katana and couldn't get it to work so he had this made custom) so that leads me to believe that the Katana material is superior, but the shirt design is flawed in some way.


Hard to say this shirt is flawed when a lot of top guys seem to make it work quite well.

That said, I don't think it's a shirt for everyone, and universally, if you get it pretty jacked, most will say it's a pretty tough shirt to touch in.


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Dominator
Level 5

Join date: Feb 2005
Posts: 347

Not going to post a full-on review like some of the others, but I tried a Metal King Presser (Single Ply) today, so I figured I'd throw out my .02.

At first glance, this shirt has a weird visual fit. The chest plate is narrow and the arms look big and loose, plus, it seems like the arms are about 3 inches too long even for a long arm bencher.

Overall after my quick glance, the first thing I'd say is that the shirt looks like Metal's copy of the Katana. The sleeves have the same angled cut, and the overall feel of the design is Katana-esque.

So, thinking it was going to be a weird fit going on, it turned out that the shirt was a lot snugger than it looked and again, it felt almost exactly like my AS Katana.

The first thing I noticed is that the scoop neck needs to be more scooped. The damn things feels like it's going to choke you out whn you're getting set-up.

Second, if you're wearing it on the snug side, it's a pretty tough shirt to jack, especially if you have a decent size gut. Not sure if it's how the material sticks to the body, but it's harder to jack than the Katana.

As far as performance goes, feels like a Katana in terms of how it bites into the body and the amount of pop off the chest. In general, I have a hard time getting the Katana to touch, but I like the pop it has. This shirt is almost exactly the same way.

I really wasn't in the mood to work up and see how heavy I could get today, but I worked up to 515 to the chest and it took everything I had to work it down to a touch. This shirt may be a tad more forgiving in terms of finding the groove, but it's not far off the Katana.

All in all, the shirt isn't too bad. I wasn't expecting much at all, but it ended up pleasantly surprising me. I probably prefer the Katana more, but this one isn't a bad option either (although I'm not sure why anyone would pay $50 more for it over the Katana).

Things I'd modify: more scoop to the neck and take the arms in about .5-.75 of an inch.

AGain, pleasantly surprised...it wasn't bad for a Metal shirt, single ply as well.

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28dayresults
Level

Join date: Dec 2008
Posts: 3

Best bench 545@181

Shirt-Double Rage X

Pros - I love this shirt. I was a good denim bencher so it was an easy transition to the rage. Similar stopping power with more pop. The thing lasts forever... mine is 4 years old. I'm going to get another one because i've outgrown it

Cons - Not a great shirt for long armed guys imho. most of our taller lifters have more success in the super phenom because it stretches more.

Comparison - The groove is similar to a denim but more forgiving for touching. Not at all like the phenom which has much more stretch.

One thing i've noticed is that if it fits me well, I don't need to jack the rage. just get it on and go. The phenoms on the other hand take a lot of playing with to get the most pop.

Should be noted that I have a very short stroke, big arch and can just drop it into the support and press it. Longer armed guys might find there is too much support to do this. I do not use a grit stitch because I found it to be too much stop, not enough stretch.

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2-SCOOPS
Level 1

Join date: Jan 2009
Posts: 817

Metal Viking x-type (single ply poly)

gear experience-none
gear knowledge-none
gained 130 pounds on my best meet bench and counting

I bought this shirt as my first piece of equipment. I thought this might fit my "style" the best but honestly did not know. The shirt is very easy to get on, takes about 2 minutes maybe. Excellent rebound off the chest, lockouts are harder than coming off the chest. Cuts up my triceps pretty bad but not sure if that is out of the ordinary or not with shirts. All in all have increased my bench by about 130 pounds now with only using it twice and no gear experience/knowledge. If you're ok with some pain I would strongly recoment this shirt.

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conorh
Level 3

Join date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2713

2-SCOOPS wrote:
Metal Viking x-type (single ply poly)

gear experience-none
gear knowledge-none
gained 130 pounds on my best meet bench and counting

I bought this shirt as my first piece of equipment. I thought this might fit my "style" the best but honestly did not know. The shirt is very easy to get on, takes about 2 minutes maybe. Excellent rebound off the chest, lockouts are harder than coming off the chest. Cuts up my triceps pretty bad but not sure if that is out of the ordinary or not with shirts. All in all have increased my bench by about 130 pounds now with only using it twice and no gear experience/knowledge. If you're ok with some pain I would strongly recoment this shirt.


Whatever, you're just a gear-whore cheater liar.

;)

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Island Strength
Level

Join date: Dec 2008
Posts: 50

For my money the Titan F-6 gives great pop off the chest and support past 4-Board territory. Once you get used to it try one size smaller than comp fit and make it work for a super 3rd attempt. Easy to figure out. I realize lots of great benchers use the Katana. Just doesn't work for me.

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quagmeyer
Level

Join date: Jan 2009
Posts: 24

Although the super phenom is already custom made, is there anything you'd suggest to improve it?

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