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Building a Big Overhead Press – What’s Been Working for Me

September 28th, 2015

Improving Overhead Press


There’s no question about it, Overhead Lifting is without a doubt my favorite form of lifting to test general body strength. I don’t know why that is, but I just plain enjoy picking something up overhead, whether it’s a barbell, log, axle, or whatever is just lying around!

I’ve been working on hitting a new all-time PR on my Overhead Press – 225lbs for 4 consecutive reps – for the last several months. I’ve done 3 reps a couple different times, but the 4th rep always escapes me.

Last week, I was finally able to hit it. The video below is of 225lbs for 4 consecutive repetitions.

Overhead Press All-Time PR – 225×4

This truly came out of nowhere, as my Press workouts haven’t been too extraordinary lately, but here are a few points that might have had something to do with it.

How I’ve Increased My Press

I’ve really backed down on the volume: For several months, I was hitting my 25-rep “program.” I picked one specific weight and tried to reach 25 total reps as quickly as possible, with the weight varying from 185lbs to 215lbs. That approach worked great for a while, but I think this level of intensity caught up with me and I needed a change, so I dropped it down to either 3 or 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps. One difference was I started focusing on pressing the weight up as fast as possible, no matter what the weight was.

Modified My Ramp-up Approach to Working Set Weights: I normally hit a couple sets of barbell only, then a set of 95lbs, and then a set of 135lbs for my warm-up sets. Then, I would usually go right to my working sets. I found that the jump from 135lbs to 185lbs, or whatever the weight might have been that day, has been too much recently. So I started doing intermediate sets of 3 at 155lbs and 175bs instead. This has made a big difference in reducing missed first-reps on my initial work sets.

I’ve re-incorporated speed work: I’ve been trying to stick with 1 workout every 4 to 6 weeks where I stick with lighter bar weights and press against band tension, very similar to the methods used by powerlifters on lifts such as the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. I’m been feeling much more powerful on my presses, especially last week when I got my new PR, since focusing more on speed.

Dead Stop Training: I was finding that I was relying too much on stretch reflex in my press training, so I was really letting the bar crash down hard and then pressing back up. I decided to allow the barbell to settle at the bottom position a bit more the last few weeks, which made my presses harder, but I felt I was developing more pure strength. You can see in the video, that I went from a dead-stop on rep #2. I didn’t mean to do that, but I guess I’m just used to doing it now.

These are just a few changes I’ve made recently to my approach to pressing. They seem to have paid off, as a whole.

I’ll also mention that I took this weekend off from any training (I was away camping), and my left shoulder which has been giving me trouble for several months feels much better. I hope it continues to improve, and maybe I will see 225lbs go up for a set of 5 reps soon!

All the best in your training.


Yoketober is Coming Soon – Will You Be Ready?

Free Big Back Workout for You – Build a Big Back

September 22nd, 2015

I wanted to share this workout with you that I did last Friday morning.


This was the second time I’ve done it (with just a couple of modifications), and I’m telling you, this workout is awesome.

It involves 4 separate blocks (A,B,C,D), each with 3 exercises (1,2,3), done with minimal rest between sets for a maximized pump and engorgement of the muscles.

If you’re not familiar with the exercises, watch this video:

Big Back Workout

A1. Pull-ups – 3×10
A2. Dips – 3x 10-20
A3. Ab Wheel – 3×10

B1. Pull-downs – 3×10-12
B2. Front Laterals – 3×10
B3. Crucifix – 3x15sec

C1. Reverse Curl – 3×8-12
C2. Prone Pull-downs – 3×12-15
C3. Band Face Pulls – 3×15

D1. Unilateral Pull-aparts – 3x10each side
D2. Belly Pull-ups – 3×5
D3. Chain Hammer Curls – 3×15

As you’ll notice, there’s a lot more than “Back” exercises in there. I had to modify this workout quite a bit because my Chest/Shoulder/Biceps workout got interrupted last week, and I wasn’t able to get my Biceps or Deltoid work in. I added these in where I’d normally have my other Triceps exercises (I only did one pure Triceps exercise, Dips).

I’m gonna be straight up with you here – you can’t mess around between sets with this workout, or you won’t get it all done.

A lot of people will not be able to get this workout done inside of an hour, like my buddy Mark and I did.

In fact, a lot of people are not in shape enough to do all of this PERIOD, let alone inside an hour.

If you can’t finish the workout, don’t worry about it. Work on it.

We’ve been training this way for a while, and while it’s intense, I truly feel this is a great way to train, especially on days when you don’t have strength-specific work (requires longer rest periods), and are only looking at building slabs of muscle all over your body.

Like I said, if you don’t know the exercises, check out this video, because all of them but 2 are in there:

Any questions, please let me know.

All the best in your training.


P.S. I just completed something I worked on all last week. It’s a complete Catalog Page of all my products, many of which you might never have heard of, so I wanted to share it with you: Full Diesel Product Catalog

Many of the prices on that page are newly reduced, so be sure to check them out.

New All Time PR on Deadlift – 550lbs

September 14th, 2015

It’s been since January of 2004 since I set a regular Deadlift PR, when I lifted 545-lbs. 11+ years.

I was 26. I’m almost 37 now, so it’s been a lengthy drought, you might say…

2004 is when I started experiencing routine back injuries that would sideline me for days or even a week at a time.

Unfortunately, my young, idiotic brain, just wanted to keep pushing harder and harder, and that meant the pain I’d experience would get worse and worse.

I’d hobble around for a week after my Strongman contests.

I’d literally limp through the hallway at my old job, after hard weekend workouts involving Deadlifts and Squats.

Finally, in 2008, I think, I had enough.

Since Squats and Deadlifts were so bad for me, I decided I wouldn’t do them anymore.

From 2008 until 2012, I rarely did heavy Deadlifts or Squats.

Of course, I continued to do Axle Deadlifts, because it’s a staple in Grip Sport competition, and I’d dabble every now and again with Squats and Deads, but never got back into them seriously until June of 2013, when I decided I was finally ready health-wise to get back under the bar and pull some weight off the floor.

For Squats, I literally started with the bar, hitting sets of 10. That’s how much I lacked confidence and stability.

For Deadlifts, I decided I’d guard my back by only doing Double Overhand grip (I was afraid of tearing a biceps anyway).

The Coan Philippi Deadlift Program

This Summer, I decided I was ready to finally train the Deadlift with some conviction, and I started a run through the Coan Philippi Deadlift Program.

I gotta say, it was AWESOME to push myself on Deadlifts! It was the first time I’d EVER followed a Deadlift Program in my life.

When you start the Coan Philippi program, it asks you for your starting max and your goal max at the end of 10 weeks, and then it computes everything for you.

I stayed a bit conservative and put in a 500-lb Max to begin with and a 550-lb Max for the end. My partner, Luke Raymond, started out with the same numbers, and it worked out really easy training with him, because we didn’t have to change the weights around at all.

The weights at the beginning of the program were super light, so Luke and I started on week 3 or 4. Everything went smooth until like Week 7. That’s when the volume caught up with me.

I struggled through to Week 9, when I hit 535-lbs, but my body just wouldn’t cooperate with me for Week 10, and I decided against going for a new PR on 3 separate Saturdays, until this past week.

The conditions still weren’t optimal, as I was up at 2AM to take my parents to the airport, and I trained at 5:30AM with my buddy, Brad Martin, but my back felt fully recovered after the 3-week layoff from heavy work, so I went ahead with the Week 10 plan.

And, I’m happy to say I was successful in my 550-lb lift, with potential for probably a few pounds more, although I didn’t push it.

Here’s the video:

Jedd Johnson All-Time PR Deadlift – 550lbs

What an awesome sensation, to FINALLY feel somewhat strong again.

Thankfully, after staying patient, working back slowly, and using my brain instead of my ego, I have been able to break one of my longest standing PR’s.

I must also say, I LOVE the Coan Philippi Program. It made me feel like a monster, and sometime this Fall, I plan on running through it again, once Luke’s schedule evens back out and we get train it together again.

Look for more updates, especially on my YouTube Channel, once I start the program up again.

All the best in your training.


A Return to Steel Bending – Bending the Red Nail Reverse

September 8th, 2015

Chuck Sipes: Old School bodybuilder,
lumber jack, and STEEL BENDER.

A couple weeks back, I participated in a benefit for a boy in the area to help raise money for his condition called Mason’s Hope 5K SuperHero Run/Walk.

During the show, I bent a couple of 60D Nails, and I think I struck a nerve.

No, I’m not saying I injured myself.

I think I may have re-lit a fire, deep down

Feeling the steel bending as you pull, feeling it succumbing to your strength, peaceful destruction – it truly is an awesome feeling, and I may be addicted once again.

My first day “back at it,” I decided to test myself with one of the feats of bending strength for which I’m most well-known: Bending a Red Nail with the Reverse Technique.

At 5/16″ inches thick and 7″ long, the Red Nail is a piece of cold-rolled steel available from IronMind.

You can become a Red Nail certified bender if you successfully bend the Red Nail with the proper wraps in under 60 seconds.

Most people use what’s called the “Double Overhand” technique to certify on the Red Nail because it enables you to get a great deal of your upper body strength into the bend, and you don’t have to rely so much on grip and lower arm strength.

I didn’t bother with the Double Overhand technique.

Instead, I wanted to keep it more of a test of grip strength, so I went with the Reverse Technique.

When bending with Reverse technique in a grip contest, or when aiming for online certification lists, you have 30 seconds to acquire a 40-degree bend in the bar.

The first day I tried the bend, I didn’t take note of the time, and I quit too early, as I still had nearly 10 seconds to go.

Nevertheless, I was able to get about a 25-degree bend in about 20 seconds. You can see the video below:

Red Nail Reverse Bend Attempt 1

The second time trying this bend was a different story

This time, I had a clock running on the wall to keep track of my time, and instead of only getting 2 hits, like my first attempt, I got 4 hits on the bar, and was able to bend it approximately 60 degrees.

Red Nail Reverse Bend Attempt 2

Yes, it’s safe to say that I’ve got a fire burning again, for steel bending.

I have no idea how far this will go.

I know I want to get my hands on more steel.

I want to wrap that steel with my suede wraps, and I want to hit it with all my power 3 or 4 times inside of 30 seconds until it buckles, folds, and succumbs to my might.

Oooohhhh, it feels so good.

If you want to feel one of the greatest feelings in the world of strength training – steel melting in your bare hands, get some light steel, get some wraps to protect your hands, and get one of my resources below that will steer you exactly where you need to go in order to be safe and successful in steel bending.

Nail Bending Ebook: The most complete steel bending reference in the world, loaded with instructional pics that show you all the major bending styles, how to wrap for high performance, and how to progress from the easiest bars around to some of the absolute hardest.


Nail Bending DVD: For those who like a more action-packed type of instruction, this DVD walks you through the wrap-up process, as well as each of the 3 big bending techniques: Double Overhand, Double Underhand, and my favorite, Reverse Bending, plus it shows you how to use strength training in order to bring up any weaknesses you might have in your technique.


All the best in your training.


August of Arms 2015 – The Tale of the Tape

September 2nd, 2015

August of Arms 2015

August of Arms, the month where we train arms in some form or fashion all 31 days during the month of August, is complete.

I first got the idea of training arms for a month straight from Dave Depew, an arm-wrestler friend of mine out in California. With the results he saw last year, I just HAD to try it and went for it wholeheartedly in August of 2014, and encouraged others around the world to join in via Facebook and other Social Media.

August of Arms 2014 was such a success, having added very nearly 1 full inch on my arms during August last year, I decided I was going to do it again in 2015. Only this time, since so many people asked me to provide workouts for them, I put together an entire month of workouts for August of Arms 2015.

I am getting reports in from others, slowly but surely, and will be posting them here on the site soon, but before I get to that, I wanted to show you my personal results first.

August of Arms – The Beginning

To begin, I started out the month, just a shade under 19 inches for each arm, which is extremely close to where I ended last year. A lot of people were of the thinking the gains wouldn’t stay, but it is apparent that they did from August 31, 2014 to August 1, 2015.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the pictures I took of my arms at the beginning of the month…

August of Arms – Re-Measure Days

I did 2 re-measure days on August 10th and August 20th. On the 10th, I noted an increase of roughly 1/4″ on each arm, and by the 20th, I saw another 1/4″ added for 1/2″ total, two-thirds of the way through the month.

Here are the posts where I showed my re-measure pics:

Re-Measure Day 1 – August 10th

Re-Measure Day 2 – August 20th

With August coming a close, I did my 3rd re-measure day on August 31st, and the final measure is in the video below.

August of Arms – Performance Emphasis

In addition to sheer size increases, I also set the program up to increase overall strength, using high-resistance, low-rep strength endurance as well as low-resistance, high-rep strength endurance, in order to put an emphasis on increasing performance, on top of the overall size.

For these tests, I chose 4 exercises:

  • Biceps High Weight Strength Endurance: 135-lb Barbell Curl for Max Reps
  • Biceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: Poundstone 100-rep Barbell Curls AFAP
  • Triceps High Weight Strength Endurance: Close Grip Bench with Bodyweight for Max Reps
  • Triceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: 30lb 1 Arm French Press – 100 Reps AFAP

August of Arms – Before and After

In the below section, you’ll see the initial baseline test for each lift, followed by the re-test performance.

Part 1: Triceps High Weight Strength Endurance: Close Grip Bench with Bodyweight for Max Reps

Part 2: Biceps High Weight Strength Endurance: 135-lb Barbell Curl for Max Reps

Part 3: Triceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: 30lb 1 Arm French Press – 100 Reps AFAP

Part 4: Biceps High Weight Strength Endurance: 135-lb Barbell Curl for Max Reps (Again)

Part 5: Biceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: Poundstone 100-rep Barbell Curls AFAP

Part 6: The Measurements

As you can see, August of Arms 2015 was a success for me, in the way of size and strength (with the exception of the Barbell Curls). You’ll also see that August of Arms 2015 was also a success for many other individuals.

Just because August is over, don’t think you still can’t keep doing “August of Arms.” Some people got into it late and are yet to finish, so I expect to hear from more people about their gains and improvements.

Also, lifters are still picking up their copies of August of Arms in order to put together their month-long trek of Arm Training Specialization.

If you haven’t picked up August of Arms yet, it’s still available, and you can pick it up by clicking here: August of Arms – Arm Specialization Training.

Be sure to send in YOUR results from August of Arms when you’ve finished the program as well.

All the best in your training.