The Slingshot Interview

There are only a few products that I wholeheartedly endorse, and Mark Bell’s Slingshot is definitely one of them. I’ve written about it before, but it was before I met Mark Bell and Jesse Burdick at the 2012 Arnold Sport Festival. Mark and Jesse were both really nice guys and they took the time to let me demo the Slingshot as well as chat about it afterwards. Observe the demo:

The weight on the first set was 185 while the second set was 275. Note that they told me it was 225 on the bar for the second set, so I felt like a fucking loser when it felt hard (your demo secret is out, Mark, you bastard). I’m not an exceptionally strong bencher (I’ve done 350), yet I usually do sets of 135, 185, 225, and 255 before I move to 275 for my final warm-up on bench (I found that more sets on pressing movements helps warm me up better). As you can see, I do 185×10 and then 275×9 with about 20 seconds of rest in between. As you can see, the slingshot allows the lifter to impart an exceptional work load on their benching musculature.

With a Slingshot you can either perform more reps at a given weight, more weight in a give set/rep scheme, more total sets, improve your mechanics, or improve your raw bench lockout. That’s some impressive utility, and that’s just for a raw powerlifter. Learn more in the following video:

The mechanics are improved because the Slingshot helps keep the elbows in a good position that results in an externally rotated shoulder. If you’ve read this post, then you understand that the lats are stretched and isometrically acting during a bench press (they are internal rotators, so when the shoulder is in external rotation, they are stretched). This provides greater shoulder stability in the bench and is necessary for a strong bench. The Slingshot can reinforce shoulder external rotation, especially in lifters (male or female) who have issues with habitual internal rotation. Chronically stroking the bench with good mechanics via a Slingshot will develop the musculature to do it raw.

Since the Slingshot provides the most assistance out of the bottom and maintains good mechanics, the triceps are properly recruited to do their job in locking out the bench. This is amplified when the lifter is using greater loads or volume with the Slingshot.

All in all, I think it’s a great tool. Pick one up if you’ve run into shoulder or elbow problems when you bench. It’s not a substitute fix-all for shoulder health (e.g. you still need to do the overhead press properly), but it can allow quality bench training despite the normal bench-related injuries.

25 thoughts on “The Slingshot Interview

  1. I think I’m misunderstanding part of this. So I get that it helps keep you in external rotation, which will help you bench better without it, much like how a belt strengthens your trunk. But those sets you did, are those then easier (like when wearing a belt) or harder (like using bands on the bar)? I feel like your explanation and mark’s say are said in ways that sound confusing/contradictory.

  2. I bought a slingshot but have only used it a few times (sadly it doesn’t fit into my current programming).

    When I put it on for a set and then bench raw the next set I definitely feel my mechanics/form are better, as Justin mentioned. I think if I used it regularly it would have great benefit in this regard.

    It’s kinda like a poor/lazy man’s bench shirt and is heaps of fun. I’m looking forward to utilizing it heaps more in the future to improve my raw bench.

  3. Ive added slingshot work in on my intensity day, replacing dips as the primary tricep assistance. Ive only used it once so far, so I cant really judge how well it works as a strength tool, but my mechanics definitely feel better (wrists are straight, external rotation).

  4. I have been having some elbow problems (probably medial epicondylitis). I thought this was from dropping my elbows when coming out of the bottom of a low bar squat, and thus putting a lot of compression on that joint. However, after paying attention to it for a few workouts, I’m still having some residual pain that seems exacerbated by benching and pressing.

    Do you think the slingshot will help alleviate some of this pain? In your experience, does elbow pain result from incorrect benching mechanics (maybe incorrect wrist or forearm positioning creating a shitty moment arm?)?

  5. Bought one a while back and love it. I usually put it on after my last work set and get 2 or 3 more sets in with heavier weight. My best double on bench is 260; best single 285; and I have done a fairly easy triple wtih 315 with the slingshot on. It also works great for higher rep and/or dynamic effort type work. You can go narrow grip and just crush your triceps with it as well. My only advice would be to do a quick pause at the bottom of each rep with it on. It becomes really easy to get carried away and stroke your ego with it and since it already helps the most at the bottom I think a slight pause is good.

  6. My shoulders hate to bench but I love it. Enter the slingshot. I’m a big fan. See the comments in Justin’s previous SlingShot post for my in depth musings on the thing if you’re considering buying one.

    I think on top of everything alse, the band actually pushes the humerous into the shoulder joint once it begins developing tension. The ligaments in my shoulders are extremely loose and have been that way forever. No matter how hard I try to keep my arm anchored in the shoulder joint while benching, it loosens up. With the slingshot I never get that and I’m convinced that the “tension vector” of the band through the elbows and into the shoulder forces the humerous deeper into the socket. Shenanegans? Who cares. I’m a fan.

  7. I can see how it helps with lift mechanics, but I’m confused about the benefits of it as far as “compressive overload” (I think that’s what I heard you call it in the video). Doesn’t the slingshot act similar to doing pullups with a stretch band? Even though more weight can be loaded on the bar, aren’t you effectively reducing the load when the slingshot is stretched at the bottom of the bench? Maybe I’m just not understanding it correctly…

  8. perfect timing… I’ve been wanting to buy one of these since I used one a few weeks back. A guy at the gym had one and I saw it a while back when Justin did his original post. It was pretty interesting to use, although the guy who’s I used was like a 2XL so it wasn’t exactly my size.

    I will be picking one of these up soon. Two questions though…1) I’m in between a L and XL…not sure what size to go with here (i’m error-ing on the XL since I’m currently 185-190lb, hope to get to 200lb soon) and 2)Justin do you have a reference or anything we can put in our order to tell them 70sbig sent us over (I wanted to give you the street cred)?

  9. Noticed in the video you actually benched 275×9 but through the whole blog post you say it’s 225. Might want to edit that so you look like less of a girl ;)

    Hmm, I thought I said I thought it was 225? Will check.

    Yes, you’re correct. Changed.

    Shit, I did it twice.


  10. I think I’m going to try this thing out. 70s Big has never let me down with equipment recommendations before. Will it also make my biceps as big as Mark Bell’s?

  11. Jesse Burdick: “It also trains your CNS-”

    Justin: “Good point, but I only want to talk to Mark.”

    Mark: “My good friend Kelly Starret.”

    Justin: (I wish he was my good friend. I even made him a special video.)

    I laughed pretty hard, Paul.


  12. Seriously though, I am planning on getting one of these but made it a goal to not get it until I reach a 315 bench. Is that stupid of me? It’s mainly so that I force myself to be consistent in training since I know I can get to 315, but am I just slowing my progress by not getting one?

  13. Speaking of overload, what are your thoughts on doing things like heavy walkouts, very limited ROM lifts, whatever, for someone competing in strongman? The reason I ask is because I tried the Conan’s Wheel for the first time this past Saturday, and it beat the crap out of me. Is there any structural and/or CNS benefit to doing huge overloads?

  14. Justin- I’ve got an unrelated question for you.

    My mother is a 43 year old overweight individual who has been sedentary the majority of her life. Her entire family growing up was unhealthy and she has never been at a healthy weight in her adult life. Although shes come a long way (dropping 80ish pounds over the years) she’s still having problems with losing weight. She also was just diagnosed with “pre arthritis” which I think was the doctors way of telling her if she doesn’t start doing something more she will get it soon.

    I put her on a LP style training program starting last week (MF squat, bench/press and bent row and W deadlift and press/bench). We worked on the form and most of her stuff is pretty good, but her squat needs some work, especially because her upper body dips forward driving out of the whole because her core is so weak. She began complaining on Monday saying that her knees have begun hurting since we started after 3 squat sessions. She also admitted to doing her bench/presses with shoulder pain that she had prior to beginning the LP, but has told me it seems to be getting worse (she’s had the shoulder pain for a few years now). I really don’t know what I should do. She’s finally committed to working with me but if she’s getting hurt I need to change something up obviously. Sub exercises? Work on form? Any advice would be great.

    Also, she’s a vegetarian and has been since she was 12. Besides eggs (2 at a time maximum) and whey protein she doesn’t consume any real protein sources and gives me a hard time. How would you go about approaching this? I told her she needs to eat at least 100g a day- I know that may be a tad low, but it’s a compromise. She probably ate 30g or less a day for the last 2 decades. What have you ever done for vegetarian trainees or what would you do in this situation?

    I’d love to hear your feedback if you get a chance. Thanks!

  15. Never realized it until a few weeks ago when bell and burdick pointed it out on an interview, “70sbig” definitely sounds like some kind of powerbear-themed site LOL

  16. I think Mark likes to have SlingShot users do rep challenges and submit their results to him.

    I believe he said somewhere (sorry I can’t remember where) that Eric Spoto did 315 for 62 reps with a SlingShot…

  17. What do you guys think about using the sling shot on the last set of a linear progression, GSLP-style? I was thinking of doing the first two sets at the target weight, and then maybe repping out the third set with target weight +10%.

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