I finally bought a Mark Bell Slingshot after watching a lot of Bell’s videos on YouTube and listening to a bunch of his podcasts. I was very intrigued with his invention and after seeing a bunch of people using them and watching some videos on it, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase one, I also purchased the Sling Shot Pushup for my wife and a Hip Circle (reviews to come). They finally had a site wide sale after this recent interview on the Joe Rogan Podcast (which was pretty epic, both the podcast and the sale).
To say I’m a fan of Bell’s would not be a lie, so maybe that tarnishes my quick first impressions review of the slingshot, but I did buy it with my own cash, so there you go.
First off, you may ask what is the point of the Slingshot? Well, from the Sling Shot product page here is the description:
- Provides assistance with bench press, dips, and pushups
- Level 3 elastic – that allows for moderate assistance in pressing movements & allows you to press 10-15% more weight than your max
- Reinforces proper bench press form and alleviates shoulder pain by taking tension away from your shoulders and not letting your elbows flare
- Helps train your CNS to maintain power under maximal loads without the wear and tear
The slingshot was developed based on the concept of a bench shirt, which powerlifters use in maximal effort lifts to bench more weight. It does this via mechanical advantages in the material used. This is an adaptation of this concept, which would allow Bell to rehabilitate his shoulder after injuries and surgeries. It does this by adding stability at the point of the elbows and mechanical support in the form of elastic fabric.
Real world this means you are able to bench with a more stable base, as your elbows are being pulled in the entire time and you’re able to bench more weight than usual, because of the elastic energy stored in the fabric. The material stretches at the bottom, providing assistance out of the hardest part of the bench press -the bottom. There is almost no assistance at lockout.. I wouldn’t recommend using this with dumbbells, I’ve only ever seen it used with the barbell. The tension created between your hands holding the static barbell and the elastic of the Sling Shot is the key component. If you had two dumbbells in each hand, you would have to force the Sling Shot out with your own rhomboids.
I would rate the overall device at an 9/10.
This was a great overload bench assistance movement. Not sure how much it contributed to my competition bench increase. But it was definitely a factor in helping lockout, as I was able to use super-maximal weights.
I was experiencing shoulder pain, however, a couple of weeks of readjustment to my squat grip and the shoulder pain disappeared. (Currently there is no shoulder pain from either the squat or bench press). When I was experiencing shoulder issues, this was not helping deal with the pain I was experiencing in my shoulders, however, the bench press wasn’t the root cause of the pain, so this would be an unfair factor to hold against the Sling Shot, just keep in mind, that just because you experience pain during the bench press, doesn’t mean the bench press is causing it.
The Sling Shot felt really solid and after a couple of sets, the movement pattern of the bench with the Sling Shot feels normal. The Original Red Sling Shot, needs about 225lbs loaded on the bar for the movement to overcome the fabric, warming up with the Sling Shot on and 135lb on the bar, meant not being able to touch my chest without actively pulling the bar down. Combining the Sling Shot bench into a strength development program, in addition to the competition style bench should lead to great results, as it does take some stress at the lowest point of the bench. It also encourages a good movement pattern, since it forces a tucked elbows movement throughout the bench.
I would recommend getting one and sticking with the original Mark Bell product. The quality of the device is great, I have only lifted 315lbs with the Sling Shot, but so far none of the stitching looks frayed, it still has the same stretching/rebound as day one. I’ve washed it on the gentle cycle a handful of times to remove the sweat.