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What Feat of Strength Should You Try First?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Which Feat Should You Start With First?

I’m often asked what is the best feat of strength to start with.

I think card tearing is the best way to get started with feats of strength.

Not bending nails, not tearing phone books, and not horseshoes.

There’s three reasons why I suggest you start out with tearing cards.

Why You Should Start With Card Tearing Before Anything Else

1) Cards are Cheap

Cheaper end cards, the kind that are perfect for beginners, cost only $1 at Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and similar stores. Sometimes they’re even cheaper than that!

2) No Other Gear Required

With nail bending and many other feats, you need wraps, cutters, rubber bands, etc. With card tearing, you don’t need any of that. You just take the card out of the box and start tearing.

3) Perfect for Hand Conditioning

Although made of paper, tearing cards still requires appreciable tension in the hands. Cards allow you to get used to straining and putting for sustained pressure, repeatedly in order to get the job done.

Once you’re used to this, you’ll be ready for the stresses associated with nail bending, horseshoes, and braced bends as well.

If you want to get started with feats of strength, Card Tearing is your ticket.

And I’ve got the perfect resource for you, to help you get started right: Card Tearing ebook.

All the best in your training.


Arnold Classic Survival Guide

Friday, February 28th, 2014

This weekend is the Arnold Classic and counting this year, I will have gone 6 out of the last 7 years. I love the atmosphere and it always triggers a spike in my training.

There’s something for everybody at the Arnold Classic. Let me paint a picture for you.

The Arnold take place in a HUGE convention center covering I don’t know how many blocks in the city of Columbus Ohio. The event started out as mainly a bodybuilding deal, but it has expanded over the years to include Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, and Strongman contests as well as Martial Arts, Fitness and other competitions.

This year, they are also including their first ever Grip Contest on the main stage, called Mighty Mitts. I was lucky enough to get an invite and I am honored. I have been training hard and am geared up to get on the stage.

Now, here’s the deal. If you’re not prepared for the Arnold Classic weekend, you won’t maximize your experience, so here’s a few points to consider to get the most out of the Classic.

Take Water

It is extremely dry in the event center. They do sell water there, but it is like $8 a bottle, so pack your own and bring it with you.

Take Snacks

There’s very few places to eat outside the event center in the hallways, and it’s kind of expensive. There’s tons of free samples of hundreds of different supplements like shakes and bars and powders, but you can only handle so much of that stuff and some of it tastes like a pencil eraser during the SAT’s. So pack some good stuff to take in with you.

Bring Your Camera

There are lots of photo opportunities at the Arnold. There are Bodybuilders, MMA Fighters, Pro Powerlifters and Strongmen, Pro Wrestlers and dozens of Fitness chicks. They will often let you get a picture with them for free, but sometimes they do charge. Either way you’ll have photos that will last you a lifetime.

Wear Comfortable Cargo Pants

Get yourself a pair of loose fitting cargo pants with lots of pockets. This way you can easily carry your water, snacks and camera among other things. Make sure they are loose fitting and not a set of butt huggers. There are plenty of feats of strength to try in the event center, and you don’t want the seam in your ass to tear while trying to do them.

Bring a Back Pack

You may get the opportunity to get some free shirts and other swag while you’re at the Arnold. You’ll turn around and see some fitness model throwing them all over. Fight for the free shirt and stuff it into your pack. Aside from free stuff, you may want to buy shirts and stuff at the seemingly thousands of tables that are there, and the last thing you want to do is carry that stuff around in your hands all day. Now, if your back pack has the Care Bears on it, leave it at home. Some booths will hand out free plastic bags if you need them.

Try the Grip Gauntlet

Each year I have gone, the GNC booth holds the GNC Grip Gauntlet featuring IronMind Grippers, IronMind Rolling Thunder, and the Blob. If you lift the Blob, 207 on the Rolling Thunder, and close the #3 Gripper, you get a real nice gift certificate – I think it’s like $50 or $100! What’s a Blob? Check out this article = = > What is the Blob?

Bring a Towel

A lot of greasy sons-of-guns get their hands on the Blob over the course of the weekend. I mean THOUSANDS of people try this thing. The Blob is hard enough with the ultra-slick stove paint they put on it. It will just be harder if it is covered in hand sweat, so bring your towel to wipe it and the Rolling Thunder off before you make your attempt. A trip through the Gauntlet is worth just the opportunity to meet and shake hands with the Gillingham brothers.

Bring Some Cash, but Take a Deep Breath

You will have opportunities to buy a lot of cool stuff at the Arnold, so bring some cash or a credit card, but take it easy. Don’t just buy on impulse, because you could end up going off the deep end. If you are going with a friend, tell them to monitor your spending. Know what you want to look for, but set your limits.

Bring Your Diesel Shirt

When you walk through the event center, if you see me make sure to give me a holler, and wear your Diesel shirt so I can spot you easier.

Check out Mighty Mitts

Mighty Mitts will be taking place between events at the Arnold Strongman Competition on Friday Afternoon and Saturday evening. I will be competing with 10 of the top dudes in the world. Many, I have competed against in standard Grip competitions. Others, I have met before, but never competed against, and still others I have never met and never competed against. Some of these guys have tremendous Grips on them and have done awesome things Grip-related in the past, just never competed in standard contests before. With this event being all thick bar, it is going to be something to behold!

Wear Comfortable Shoes

You spend a lot of time on your feet at the Arnold and there is almost nowhere to sit down except on the floor, so make sure your shoes are comfortable or else your feet will be screaming by the end of the weekend.

Steal a Seat

It is a cut-throat process getting a chair in front of the stage. You basically have to swoop down immediately once someone stands up. This may mean if you are traveling in a group that you might get split up. The seat is worth it to give your feet a break, so steal your buddy’s seat if you have to.

Cell Phone on Vibrate

If you get split up from your crew, it’s very hard to meet back up, and it is so loud that it is almost impossible to hear a cell phone ring, so set the thing on vibrate and put it in your hip pocket so you will feel it.

Wallet in Hip Pocket

Not sure what the crime rates are at the Arnold Classic, but there are pick-pockets everywhere. it is slightly harder for someone to pick your pocket if you stick your pocket in your front hip pocket than your back pocket or leg pocket. Don’t stick it in a zipper pocket in your book bag. They are too easy to unzip by someone else while you walk and you will never know it. It’s a shame this tip even has to appear here, but it is a sad truth. Awareness is preparedness.

Alright, my friends, it’s just about time for me to hit the road and be on my way to Columbus, Ohio. If you have any more tips for the better of the order, then please leave a comment in the comment box below!

Thanks a ton and have a great weekend, especially if you are at the Arnold.

And if you see me and I don’t see you, yell, shout, hit me with a rock, poke my eye or something to get my attention. It’ll be nice to meet everybody.

Read about last year’s Arnold Classic = = > Arnold 2009

Arnold Classic Weekend Special on the Card Tearing eBook = = > 33% off on Card Tearing eBook Just $19.97!.

Card Tearing Success: Tyler Rips His First Deck of Cards

Friday, December 20th, 2013

When I first found out about Grip Training, the only thing I really wanted to accomplish was tearing a deck of cards.

I had heard about Strongman Performers of the past ripping decks of cards, so I wanted to get strong enough to rip a deck of cards at the bar and at parties in order to impress people. I had no intention of ever doing a competition or anything like that.

In fact, it all seemed like a waste of valuable bodybuilding time to train for hand strength.

After all, why put so much effort into training 5% of the body?

Boy was I wrong. I am SO GLAD I eventually fell in love with Grip Training, because it has helped me out with so much of my other training.

But, as I said, in the beginning it was all about tearing cards, for me. And in my screwed up head, I pretty much figured that it would only take a few minutes for me to figure out how to do this feat and I would be able to do it any time I wanted.

Boy was I wrong AGAIN!

It actually took me like 2 or 3 weeks to tear my first deck of cards. I would dig and claw at this one deck and manage a few millimeters of damage, and my hands would be WHOOPED, and I would stuff them back into the box and place them back into my lifting bag until next time.

Then, one night I decided to try ripping them at home, in my living room, and I was FINALLY able to rip all the way through them.

I remember how pumped I was when I finally got through the deck. It was a feeling like finally being able to dunk a basketball. Finally being able to hit a ball out of a park.

I kept that deck for quite some time. I was proud of the battle and savored the victory when it was over.

Today, I got a similar message from someone who recently tore his first deck of cards, Tyler Shelton.

    Hey Jedd, just a quick note to let you know that I finished your card tearing ebook last night, so I decided to go to wal-mart and pick up a pack of cards to give it a try. I’m thrilled to say that I tore my first pack of cards, some generic playing cards (they’re made by a company called “Cardinal”) last night. Couldn’t have done it without the information you provided! I look forward to working my way up to the Bicycles and, as I am out of town right now, I am looking forward to getting home and checking out the dvd’s I ordered as well. Happy Holidays and keep up the good work!”

    – Tyler Shelton –

cards1 cards2

The Cards Tyler Tore

Tyler, awesome to hear it brother! Thanks for the update. I am really super jealous though brother, because you were able to successfully tear a deck in your first time trying, and it took me the better part of a month. Oh well.

DIESELS, if you are thinking that training your hands is a waste of time, think again!!!

The work I did when I first started training my grip helped me go from about 365 on the Bench Press to 405.

I was able to hit Bent Over Rows for sets of 315 without straps, and…

I was able to work up to a Seated Dumbbell Curl of 90-lbs.

These were some of the main muscle building lifts I was focusing on back in 2003. Being able to increase my 1RM in all of them really helped me put on mass as well.

So I encourage you to work on your hand strength now. You won’t be sorry.

And if you want to have the same end-goal in mind that I did – to develop the strength to rip decks of cards, then my Card Tearing eBook will show you everything you need to know, including some awesome grip training exercises.

Get it today by clicking the image below.

All the best in your training,


Already Tearing Cards?
Maybe It’s Time You Graduate to Nail Bending

Tales from the Grip – Stories of Grip and Feats of Strength

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Over a year ago, my buddy Josh McIntyre and I were emailing and he suggested a name for a series to be featured here on the site called Tales from the Grip. It was to be stories of training written by all of you and posted here on the site.

The title is of course a play on words of Tales from the Crypt, which if you have never seen, was a horror story series shown on HBO, I believe, about 20 years ago and probably longer. I am probably showing my age by referencing it…LOL.

Tales from the Grip – Fayette Fair, Dunbar PA – July 2012

Today, I am going to start the series off by telling you of my experiences doing my first ever professional Strongman Performances, at the Fayette Fairgrounds, which started last night (July 26th) and will continue on until Tuesday July 31. If you are in the area of Dunbar, PA, you should come check it out.

How it Came to Be

I received an email from John Beatty well over a year ago asking if I’d ever be interested in doing Strongman Performances with him or for him. John was the owner of Fat Bastard Barbell Company for several years before recently selling it to his friend Jerry when he got to busy to keep it going. If that doesn’t ring a bell, then you may remember seeing him on TV back in 2010 on America’s Got Talent when he gave the big “In Your Face” to Piers Morgan.

Here’s the video:

John is an accomplished Strength Athlete himself. He was a professional strongman competitor from 2000 to 2010, and has also competed in many powerlifting and Grip Sport competitions, while also bending some awesome high-level steel.

After the initial emails, I didn’t hear much from John for quite some time, so I didn’t think much of it, but then, late last year, I got a call from John and he told me that he could use me for some shows coming up in the summer. I thought it sounded like an awesome and fun opportunity and I immediately told him I would love to try it.

In the months to come, I picked John’s brain about how to even set up a Strongman show. Considering my bending experience was limited to contests where you generally wrap and try to bend as big of steel as possible in 5 minutes time, the idea of putting together an entire 30-minute program seemed very daunting.

I have watched performing strongmen like John Brookfield, Dennis Rogers, Pat Povilaitis, Dave Whitley and Mike Bruce a handful of times over the years, but they mainly had performed single feats as part of other strength endeavors. John Brookfield did some of his bending feats during a larger expo in conjunction with other acts. Dennis, Pat, Mike, and David had all done their feats at Mighty Mitts between events. All of them were awesome performances, but they were shorter in duration.

However, with John’s guidance and coaching, I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. He and I talked several times over the last 6 months and he would always share some knowledge about how to set up shows, some of the staple feats he did, and how to tie feats together to make the show run well. I soon began developing confidence in myself to be able to put a variety of feats together that would be entertaining for the crowd to watch.

Building the Equipment

About 6 months ago, John sent me the plans for some of the equipment that he uses in his shows. One was a deadlift platform that kids can sit on and then you lift them up. Another was a finger lift platform where someone lays on a board and you lift them with one finger. And the last one was a Bed of Nails.

In hindsight, the right thing to do would have been to get right on it and buy the lumber and build all of the equipment so that I could train on it and get to know it.

Unfortunately, what I did was I put it off and never built anything until last weekend. I am no carpenter. In fact, I make a poor carpenter’s assistant, so I enlisted my Dad to help me put this stuff together. I figured it would take us maybe 4 hours on a Sunday morning to build it all.


It took use two hole days of serious work to build just the kiddie deadlift platform and the bed of nails. It took me 4 hours just to pound all of the nails through the plywood for the bed of nails, so that was quite a wake-up call in itself. Nevertheless, with the help of my good old Dad, the two pieces got built and I even through some deck stain on the deadlift platform. John was impressed with the craftsmanship and said that mine looks better than his! I told him I wanted to make sure everything looked good since my show was going to be a reflection on him.

The Drive Down

Finally, the day to come to the fair arrived. I figured, again, that the drive would be about 4 hours. I dropped the baby off at the babysitter and turned on the GPS in order to get an estimate of how long it would take to get down here. I nearly laid an egg when it said 5.5 hours. I still had to go get the trailer and load everything on it in addition to packing everything up in the car…amazing.

Once loaded, I got out on the road. I have never pulled a trailer behind a vehicle on a 4-lane highway. Quite interesting! I was swerving a bit at first, but eventually got used to it. PennDot has construction projects going on, on just about every highway I drove on yesterday, including a section on Route 22 where the road is one lane and the barricades seem just about wide enough to afford like a foot of space on each side of the trailer. Lots of fun driving, I can assure you. Sweat was pouring down my brow into my eyes as I drove. Awesome.

The First Shows

It felt good to drive the Jeep onto the Fairgrounds and find my location for the shows. I was placed under a pavilion, which was a good thing because it was pouring buckets last night.

For the first day of the Fair, with such bad weather, the fair was nearly empty, but we got the two shows in that were scheduled. The small crowds were great to break the ice and get things rolling.

In the first show, John handled the PA system and narrated. He and I traded back and forth doing feats.

For the second show, I manned the PA and narrated and did 6 feats while John did 4. Everything went well, including my flaming hammer torch feat. Other feats that we did included the kiddie deadlift, phone book tearing, horseshoe bending, mace swinging, kettlebell juggling, and more. A rather diverse range of feats.

More to Come

As the rest of the shows progress, I will keep you posted. But I must say, I am pumped to be doing them.

I never thought I would ever get up on a stage and perform for a crowd. I always saw myself as more of the coach person who would help others enjoy the feats of strength by safely learning to do them themselves, but after just one day, I am excited to be given the opportunity to share what I know in this new way.

I really want to say thank you to John Beatty, “The Strongman,” for giving me this opportunity. Find out more about John here: John Beatty The Strongman.

Oh, and by the way, my favorite feat so far has been bending stuff while laying on the bed of nails. Surprisingly the pain from 600 nails digging into your butt and back fizzles away when the adrenaline rushes through the body.

If you are in the area, be sure to stop by. If not, keep coming by the site as I will be adding to this post as the shows go on.

All the best in your training,


Learn Everything You Need to Know about Gripper Training

Grip Training for Martial Arts – Is Card Tearing the Answer?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

It’s Card Tearing Week at, so I am posting an article I have been meaning to post for quite some time. I am often asked how to train the grip for sports such as jiu-jitsu and other martial arts. While there are many types of grip training drills that I would suggest for martial artists (thick bar training, block weight training, rope work, etc), I actually think card tearing, and other forms of grip strength feats, are excellent choices to prepare the hands for combat. Let me know what you think in the comments section, and if you want to learn how to tear a deck of cards, check out The Card Tearing eBook.

Torn Deck of Cards

Grip Training for Martial Arts

In the past, I have written about the art and practice of tearing a deck of cards. Card tearing can be an excellent form of training for the hands due to its requirement of a sustained grip and the need to direct power from the wrists and forearms through the hands and into the cards.

If you think about it, ripping a deck of cards is not unlike the hand requirements of many martial arts, especially those where a gi is worn, such as jiu-jitsu.

For example, take a look at the image below of one type of jiu-jitsu choke hold and try to focus in on the hands and imagine the levels of exertion being put forth in order to maintain the grip on the gi and perform the choke.

You might wonder what ripping a deck of cards has to do with close-quarter martial arts. If you consider the term commonly used in the strength and conditioning industry, specificity, then you will understand the reasons why.

What is Specificity?

Specificity has to do with the level of similarity an exercise has to the sport it is being used to train for. There is a broad spectrum of specificity, ranging from highly general (not very specific) to highly specific (nearing the exact sport).

To get the most benefit from the training time invested, an athlete or coach will usually choose exercises with a larger degree of specificity.

For instance, most strength coaches would opt to have football players perform sled dragging or prowler pushing over riding a bike for their cardio and conditioning because in football, you are on your feet and get power from driving the feet into the ground, two qualities of sleds and prowlers. When riding a bike, you are seated, so the sled or prowler work is more “specific” than the bike work.

As you’ll see below, tearing cards will prove to be a very “specific” type of training for martial arts, sharing many of the same qualities as gi-work and choke-holds, some of which you may never have thought of.

When speaking of specifity, there are many factors to consider. Here are several factors in bold text to show that the practice of card tearing matches well with jiu-jitsu.

Movement Pattern

There are many movement pattern similarities between applying the choke shown above and ripping a deck of cards. In both movements, the hands are out in front of you and close together. There is not a great deal of movement in either of these tasks – that is, the hands do not cover a great distance. The hands are concentrated to the region around the throat of the opponent in the case of the choke hold, and with card tearing, the hands stay in the same position, for the most part, in contact with the top and bottom of the cards.

Duration of Force / Effort

You can imagine the level of strain from the fingers that is going into this maneuver. This is not the kind of movement where you apply your grip and within a few seconds you are done, like lifting a barbell or other implement.

Chokes can last for several minutes, depending on how long it takes the opponent to tap out or lose consciousness, and how long you can actually maintain your grip on the gi. The same goes for card tearing – how quick you finish depends on how well you can get the tear started, how well you can keep it progressing, and whether or not you can deal with the pump and cramping that take place in the forearms, wrists, and hands while doing so.

Joint Orientation

In both the choke and in the card tear, the hands and forearms are in a similar position, with the hands crossed in the choke, and the hands very close to one another in the card tear. The elbows are also slightly bent which keeps the opponent close enough to control. If the arms are straight, it would be much more difficult to maintain control of the opponent because you lose leverage.

The same can be said with card tearing. As the tear is begun, the hands are close to the body, and while they may move slightly further away from the body throughout the tearing effort, the elbows never fully extend. They stay slightly flexed allowing for better radiant tension and strength transfer throughout the effort to tear the cards.

Grip Application: Fingers

The Grip that is used when tearing cards is called a Crimp Grip, or a Clamp Grip, depending on how thick the deck of cards is and how large your hands are. The difference between a Crimp Grip and a Clamp Grip is whether the fingertips are directed more towards the callus line (Crimp) or more towards the base of the palm (Clamp). When clenching the gi of the opponent, the grip the fingers gets on the material of the gi will most likely vary between true crimping and clamping, depending on how well the grip is seated.

Grip Application: Thumbs

In neither card tearing nor in applying a martial arts choke is the thumb the primary force producer. Instead, it is an auxiliary unit that provides additional assistance to the fingers synergistically, helping to maintain the grip on the gi.

In the choking image above, it is plain to see that the thumb is very active in keeping the grip secure. The thumb pad looks to be inflated with blood from sustained contraction, and the tip of the thumb seems to be nearly piercing the cloth of the gi. This is exactly how the thumb works in the card tear, aiding the rest of the lower arm by securing the cards and keeping them from sliding around. A secured deck of cards is much easier to split in half than one where the cards are sliding all over, and when the deck is on the more difficult end of the spectrum, the thumb will feel like it is going to blow up from the sustained contraction.


So, in the case of the choke, what we have is the need to apply tremendous pressure with the fingers and thumbs, the ability to continue to apply this pressure throughout the time required to make the opponent tap out or pass out, and the need to deal the entire time with the immense forearm pump that accompanies such high levels of exertion.

As noted above, all of these aspects are found when tearing cards, too, as long as the difficulty level is there.

For instance, if you are tearing a deck of easy cards, the effort and duration of effort will not be equal to applying a choke hold.

Also, some card tearing practitioners are able to blow through a deck of cards in just a matter of seconds due to understanding the technique and force production requirements to do so. In those cases, in order to have the right degree of specificity and carry-over, they would need to add cards to the deck or make the tear more difficult through the use of gloves, oven mitts, or some other way to make the force and duration match up better to that of the choke hold.

In other words, if you work at tearing cards long enough, you can get good enough that you can knock them out in a fairly short time. Ripping cards with Blast Force will not give you the kind of carry-over you want for Martial Arts. Instead, the cards have to offer the challenge of about a 30- to 60-second battle.

For beginners, Card Tearing can be a great way to work the grip for excellent carry-over to sports, especially sports such as the Martial Arts, because it takes most people several weeks to several months of dedicated to training to attain the mastery card tearing to blow through a deck in a matter of seconds. Most of the time, the tear from beginning to end will take the better part of a minute to complete, and often will take much longer, even requiring rest breaks in between.

If you’d like to see complete instruction on Card Tearing, check out my Card Tearing eBook. It covers all the technical explanations and break-downs you need to know for Card Tearing, plus I’ll show you many other drills that will not only strengthen your hands, fingers, and wrists for ripping decks of cards, but you can also use them to be better prepared for combat-style sports.

All the best in your training,


Click the Image Below to Check out the Card Tearing eBook

So, what do you think?
Does Card Tearing seem like a good physical match for applying a choke hold?
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.