Last updated on October 30th, 2022 at 01:08 pm
So, you want to know, “Does Slingshot Increase Raw Bench?”
I’m pretty sure that most of us would give our right arm to see a significant increase in raw bench press.
However, as much as you eat and train, often you find that your gains aren’t overly impressive.
Enter the slingshot.
You’ve no doubt seen people benching with this unusual looking contraption.
In fact, it initially looks as though it may hinder bench press rather than help it.
That being said, you’ve probably also heard stories about how the slingshot helps you lift more, and in turn increases your raw benching power.
But, is this actually true, and if so, how much of an increase can you expect?
Let’s find out.
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Does Slingshot Increase Raw Bench?
The slingshot obviously does increase bench press while you’re wearing it. Depending on your body composition and the slingshot you use, most lifters claim they have seen 5-25% improvement in their bench while using the slingshot. The original Mark Bell slingshot will typically see most people bench press 10-15% more weight. That being said, not many lifters see substantial increases in their raw bench press. In fact, this appears to increase by approximately 5-10lbs per month.
Does Slingshot Help Bench Form?
The main reason for using the slingshot is to help lifters bench press more weight, pain-free, in a safe manner.
This comes about due to the elastic tension created by the slingshot, which actually helps to support the bar while you bench press.
The elastic tension kicks in as you lower the barbell towards your chest, which also means that you can move the bar through a greater range of motion.
So, in effect, you could say using a slingshot is ideal when training for hypertrophy.
Furthermore, the bar is actually supported somewhat by the elastic tension, which means that far less stress is placed on the joints, i.e. shoulders and elbows.
Plus, your elbows are literally “forced” to tuck due to the slingshot, which is definitely one of the main bench press form cues.
You’ll also find that this elbow tuck and elastic tension is far more mechanically advantageous, especially when it comes to pressing through a sticking point.
In fact, this is typically why you’re able to bench press more weight using a slingshot.
In truth, how much more you can bench while wearing a slingshot will vary depending on numerous factors.
However, most users have noted a 5-25% improvement in their bench press.
That being said, there are four different types of slingshot, all of which have varying roles.
But, the original slingshot, invented by powerlifter Mark Bell, is said to improve bench press by approximately 10-15%.
The Slingshot Shores Up “Weak Links”
Something else to consider is that using a slingshot actually reduces muscle activation of the triceps.
Now, if you think about it, the weak link in the bench press is usually your triceps.
Basically, the triceps are a far smaller muscle than the pecs, so your triceps typically fatigue before your pecs do while benching.
However, if you’re drastically reducing tricep activation, this should help you press through the sticking point in the upper part of the lift, thus helping you to bench more weight.
That being said, there isn’t a great deal of evidence as to whether using a slingshot will improve your raw bench press.
In fact, most lifters claim that they see an increase in raw bench of 5-10lbs per month.
In truth, this is typically the type of progressive overload you would expect by benching normally, without the use of a slingshot.
However, I will say that using a slingshot promotes better bench press form.
Plus, the simple fact that it allows you to bench press with more weight can pay huge psychological dividends.
Basically, you get used to the feel of benching more weight than usual, which can definitely have a knock-on effect on your raw bench.
How Do You Train With a Slingshot?
The slingshot is basically a tool to help you overload the bench press.
As I’ve mentioned, with the original Mark Bell slingshot, most lifters have attained a 10-15% increase in raw bench.
So, realistically the best way to train with a slingshot is to perform your “normal” bench press workout, and then perform perhaps 2-3 additional sets with the slingshot.
As an example, if you’re performing a 3×3 workout for bench press, you would complete your warm up sets, and then perform your 3×3 bench unaided.
This would typically involve your working sets being at 85-95% of your 3-rep max.
Then once completed, you can perform 2-3 sets while wearing the slingshot.
However, your aim is to increase the weight that you used to perform your final set of raw bench.
I wouldn’t go overboard on this initially, so a 5% increase from the last set should suffice.
As with any form of training, you can also progressively overload your slingshot bench press too.
Therefore, start out small, and look to add weight on a regular basis.
When Should I Use Slingshot For Bench Press?
Realistically, a slingshot is definitely not for regular use.
In fact, you may only ever need to use it a few times a year.
Remember, that although a slingshot allows you to bench press more safely, more efficiently, and with more weight, it’s still not the same as performing a raw bench press.
In other words, it should only be used sparingly.
For me, I have personally used a slingshot whenever I decide to specialize in bench press.
What I mean by this, there could be a couple of times a year when I feel as though my bench press is lagging behind my other lifts, so I’ll use a 3-4 week slot to really hit the bench press.
In fact, I often do this with other exercises and specific body parts too.
This usually involves bench pressing more often, typically up to 3-5 times a week.
However, I’ll vary my intensity throughout the week, so that I’m not lifting near-maximal loads every workout.
So, in effect, I may only go heavy on bench press once or twice a week.
And it is during these heavy sessions that I’ll incorporate the slingshot.
That being said, I would still use it in the way I’ve prescribed above.
So, this would involve me doing 3×3 of raw bench, but then adding a couple of even heavier sets at the end, while using a slingshot.
As I’ve mentioned, there’s no real evidence to say that using a slingshot translates to an increase in raw bench.
However, the simple fact that it allows you to bench more weight will definitely make some difference.
That being said, I would still only consider using a slingshot a few times a year, especially when I’m looking to specialize the bench press for a few weeks.
Unbiased Review of the Slingshot By Mark Bell
So, I hope you understand that there is no real evidence that using a slingshot will increase your raw bench press.
You’ll definitely be able to bench more weight while wearing it.
However, this is simply because you’ll be using better form, while being “supported” when lifting heavier weights.
Most people typically notice a 5-25% increase in bench press when wearing a slingshot.
Although a better average is a 10-15% increase, most commonly experienced with Mark Bell’s original slingshot.
Some lifters have noted that their raw bench increases by approximately 5-10lbs per month.
But, in truth, this is pretty much what you’d expect with “normal” progressive overload with your raw bench.
That being said, there may also be a psychological effect from being able to bench more weight while wearing a slingshot.
And this may make a difference to your raw bench.
While I’m on the subject of making a difference to your raw bench I’ve also previously discussed the pros. and cons of bench pressing with a suicide grip.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.