Friday, 18 January 2013

Utilising the Slingshot for the Bench

For those who have not yet heard of, or used one yet, the Slingshot is a supportive device used for the bench press.  Do NOT however let anyone tell you it is anything like a bench shirt, IT IS NOT!!  The slingshot is made out of stretchy material, bench shirts are not. They are a world apart and anyone who tells you they are similar has clearly never used a bench shirt.  They do however enable an overload to be utilised (the original slingshot usually allows for 10-15% more load to be used).  This excellent training tool was designed by Mark Bell, owner and founder of SuperTraining Gym in Sacramento, California.  Credit has to go to Mark for such a useful and simple device. This training tool has enabled me to handle greater loads for higher reps and with a greatly reduced risk of injury.

Some of the best ways to utilise the slingshot if you are a RAW powerlifter.

1. To enable an overload, handle more weight than you could raw, so get your body accustomed to a heavier load.  So you could max out raw, and then add the slingshot to enable you to perform a few heavier sets, or perhaps handle the same weight but for more reps.

2. To reduce the risk of overuse injury, especially when performing a high volume of work.

3. For higher rep work (works also very well on high rep press up sets)

4. To learn how to use your upper-back more effectively and also to enable a better tuck of the elbows.

I would suggest that performing singles with the slingshot will be of little use to the raw lifter (although no doubt some people will disagree and have success with this method).  I prefer to perform sets of 3-6 reps with the slingshot and have found this excellent for building strength and size in the triceps.

If you are an equipped lifter the slingshot can be utilised....

1. To enable speed work to be done at a higher percentage as an overload.

2. To reduce risk of injury in general.

3. To enable more weight to be handled on days you are not using your bench shirt.

4. To make warming up less taxing, when the main focus is on the work that is to be done in the shirt.

5. To bridge the gap between your raw weights handled during a warm up, and your first working set in the bench shirt.

All in all, the slingshot in my opinion is a priceless piece of equipment that everyone who wants a big bench should be carrying around in their gym bag. They are relatively inexpensive and a tool which not only can help you lift more but I believe actually makes you lift better and more safely.  The one pitfall to watch out for is that you don't get carried away and forget about your raw benching altogether.  You must still build strength raw whether you lift raw or equipped.  It is easy for some people to get carried away and keep putting the slingshot on when they get to a certain weight and not actually try and increase their raw strength, only focussing on their slingshot maxes.  Keep sight of your raw, slingshot and bench shirt maxes and keep trying to improve them all and you will find this training tool invaluable.

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