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Strength Training and Injury Prevention for Throwing Athletes

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Strength Training and Injury Prevention for Throwing Athletes

Matt Ellis

Most athletes, whether you realize it or not, are throwers.

Think about it. The first throwing sports you may picture are the classics: Baseball, softball, the quarterback on the football team, the shot put, discus, and javelin throwers on the track and field team.

Those are the images that typically pop into your head when you think of a throwing athlete.

What you might not realize is that throwing motions are done in almost every sport. Think of a tennis player serving the ball, a volleyball player serving or spiking the ball, a basketball player making a big outlet pass

How about that same basketball player making a chest pass? Isn’t that a similar movement as a football lineman pushing his opponent?

What about the soccer player throwing the ball in from out of bounds?

Or the swimmer gliding through the water using the same repetitive motions with their shoulders?

These are all throwing motions!

When you participate in sports at the high rates athletes do today, you are bound to have shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger injuries.

Tommy John surgeries are on the rise as are rotator cuff injuries, labrum tears, and elbow tendonitis. I won’t bore you with the numbers, but the studies are out there and it is shocking how frequently these major injuries are happening each year and that the age of the athletes experiencing these injuries gets younger and younger

Youth sports are more popular than ever. Town rec leagues, church leagues, AAU, All Star, travel leagues, sport specific coaching facilities, position specific coaching, and youth/college showcase events mean your athletes can play their sport 12 months a year without taking a true off-season.

The constant repetitive motions along with specializing at a younger age means the overuse injuries that we used to see in college and professional sports are starting to happen at the middle school and high school level.

You can’t stop younger athletes from falling in love with one sport and specializing early. It happens!

The youth sports movement will continue to grow and overuse injuries will continue to happen at the middle and high school level…

But that doesn’t mean you have to just sit around and weight for throwing injuries to come about.

You can start modifying your training NOW to head those injuries off at the pass.

It’s all about making simple, subtle changes in your strength training.

Watch the video below NOW to learn SIMPLE alternative exercises to prevent injuries in your shoulders, elbows, and hands for all your “throwing athletes.”

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Right Now You Can Save $20+ on Our Video,
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The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

By: Chris Rice

    Preface by Jedd Johnson: Is it true you lose strength as you grow older? Are you able to retain any of that strength, or is it all just a lost cause? And if strength diminishes, in general, over the years, are there any forms of strength that we can hope to hold onto? These are questions that are being more and more common all the time…
    Chris Rice, while one of the oldest Grip Sport competitors, is also an experience strength athlete – PERIOD, having participated in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Strongman, and Kettlebell Sport, to name just a few of his endeavors over the years – and that’s just since I met him in 2003. He’s also an avid climber, going on several climbing expeditions every year.
    Chris is also a good writer, able to turn his thoughts into the written word with a distinct clarity, not always seen amongst all those in the iron game. It’s my pleasure to feature another piece from Chris. This time he answers the question, What effects does age have on grip strength? Take it away, Climber! -Jedd-

The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

Chris Rice, Grip Nationals 2010
4″ Wrist Roller

I’ve thought about writing this for a while now as I’m in a sort of unique position as I think I’m the oldest active Grip Sport competitor I know of at age 67. The decline in overall body strength with age seems fairly well accepted but the question of age on one’s hand and forearm strength seems much less clear. My overall body strength has certainly declined over the years in spite of my best efforts. I’m sorry about the fact I have to post numbers and this may come across as a bragging session but I don’t know how to talk about my progress since starting into the actual “sport” of grip without putting it into some kind of context that shows my gains were not what could be called “beginners gains”.

Some discussion of age related “peak” abilities should also be discussed. Our bodies seem to develop and then lose certain qualities in a certain order. Quickness and explosiveness seem to be a young man’s game – peaking in the early to mid-20s perhaps. Speed holds on a little longer but strength doesn’t seem to peak until later – perhaps mid to late 30s with a huge amount of variation on both sides of that number. But generally speaking by one’s middle 40s, some decline has started in overall body strength and all other physical attributes. This assumes of course that you have trained and continued to train and compete during the entire time period.

There are basically two kinds of “old” lifters – those who have trained hard consistently over their lifetime and those who started a good bit later in life. There are some considerable differences between the two. I started general weight training in 1959 so I have years of consistent training behind me. Starting training at a more advanced age is going to be considerable different in results – the so called “beginners gains” will occur at any age. It is never too late to start and expect significant increases in hand strength.

Another thing I have noticed is what might be called the accumulated loss of “resilience” – defined by Webster as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens” or “the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.” Years of life’s accumulated tweaks and injuries can make or break one’s abilities – and the longer one lives the more they add up. Please read this paragraph again as I think it’s hugely important. The importance of avoiding injury in training cannot be overstated. I have a large assortment of old injuries that I have to deal with that do affect my training and require constant therapy work.

I started the actual “sport” of Grip in 2003 when I found the GripBoard. At that time I had already owned the COC # 1 – 2 – and 3 for several years – I had bought them to try and help my climbing grip strength. I was able to close both the #1 and #2 right out of the package but not the #3 – I believe that if the COC 2.5 had existed then I could have closed it at that time as well.

I trained with them but they were no help for my climbing so I pretty much forgot about them until I found the GripBoard. By the time I found the GripBoard I had been climbing for around 20 years (and lifting consistently since 1959) and had done quite a bit of training towards that end. Lots of wrist curls – reverse wrist curls – very heavy finger curls – and hangboard routines plus years of hanging by my fingers on rock faces around the world. I had also been doing construction ever since I was a kid as a second job. I brought years of hard work and training with my hands with me when I discovered Grip as a sport – my base strength was already fairly well developed. So basically I was 55 years old with a long background of more general grip training when I first started any specific training for the events and feats of strength involved in the “sport of Grip”.

To answer the question of what happens to grip strength as one ages I think it is important to not only be aware of the strength levels that I brought with me from my “life” but to look at the progress I was able to make (or not make) in the different lifts and feats of strength through training in what might be called my “senior citizen” years. During this time period my bodyweight probably fluctuated by maybe 10# up and down – so an increase in body size was not a factor in any increases in strength. My hand size is 7 5/8” and has not changed – my hands may have gotten a little thicker but that’s only a guess. I don’t see the point in listing all the lifts I have done but some discussion of the basics and my progress might be of value.

Grippers – Grippers have a huge skill component considering the “set” used. My early attempts used no set – I placed it in my hand and squeezed – I had no concept of a “set”. My later closes were done with a so called parallel set or similar so a real comparison of actual “strength” is difficult. Age 55 no set – I closed a COC #2 at 104# gripper but I feel I could have done more if it had been available to me. Best competition close was a 20 mm block set of 156# around age 60 to 62. Best Credit Card close was a 146# COC #3 (not in competition). Best no set close ever is 142# on a narrow spread gripper. My best competition close choked to parallel was 192.8# and a COC #4 of 195# in training. So gripper strength improved both due to skill of setting and also I feel the muscles became a good bit stronger. I probably need to mention that I dislike grippers and almost never trained them. I personally feel the choked closes show “strength” levels better than closes done with any of the various “sets” used that seem to involve a high level of “skill”.

Block Weights DL and Clean – L&R handed – The “test” for block weight is the “Blob” or half of a 100# York dumbbell – which will weigh around 50# obviously. At age 55 I lifted an “easy” Blob the first time I actually saw one (I had been training with other types of block weights for a short time previously). Later on I lifted it both left and right handed and cleaned it left and right hand. Even later I was able to lift a “Fatman Blob” right handed to full DL. I feel hand size and the way my thumb sits was (is) somewhat of a limitation for blocks but mostly I just never got strong enough to do more. I did make substantial progress with plate pinching though as hand size and spread didn’t seem as limiting. I went from 2 -25s and 2 -35s right hand in the beginning to 2 -45s, 5 – 10s, and 3-25s both R & L hand within the last couple years.

Axle DO DL – Fat bar was something that I did not bring good natural strength to in my mind. I don’t remember my early numbers but I’ll guess maybe 320#? I have done 356# several times in competition and 363# as an extra attempt once (not official). Best training lifts were around 375 to 380#. These lifts were done with a max regular bar DL of around 400# which I think limited me somewhat – making the lift take a longer time to complete. I could at one time lift and hold for several seconds 420# in a short range rack pull. Progress was difficult in this lift for me and took a lot of work.

David Horne Euro Pinch – Probably the lift I seem to have had the best natural inclination for. It is also the lift I spent the most time figuring out how to do better on. I like to think I have increased this lift with a combination of strength increases and learning to take advantage of my personal strengths and weaknesses better and better. Going from memory only I think I did 180 something my first comp with the device and pretty quickly went to 195 – 200#. From there I made the decision to “become good” on this lift. I was one of the early guys to do bodyweight on it and spent a good bit of time tweaking my technique. Even with the age increase I have steadily been able to get small increases in this one to 235.78# for the current #17 position on NAGS.

DO Bending – When bending really got started I tried it and simply sucked – I struggled to bend pretty much anything. Then Frankyboy from Germany came to visit me and showed me some technique – in a matter of an hour or so I went from doing an IM Blue nail to just failing to finish a Grade 8 Bolt. Skill and position are absolute keys. Over time I increased to IM Red Nails and a best ever of a 5/16” x 6” Cut Red Nail or FBBC bar. But I was tearing my shoulders to pieces and quickly decided the risk was too great for me.

Reverse Bending – This came fairly naturally for me. With some training and technique work I was able to go from a beginning best of ¼’ x 6” Grade 5 Bolts to doing Red Nails reverse and a best competition bend of a 6” piece of Drill Rod in competition (I don’t remember the poundage rating but it had been rated by Eric Milfield (the number 505# comes to mind but may be off). I think I had fairly good wrist strength from all the life work I had done and mostly needed better positions and technique.

Sledge Hammer Choke – relatively speaking a newer competition lift – I seemed to do well quickly on it with no training before that first contest. I did better in the second competition on it but I never trained it “directly” but did a lot of work with the “Wrist Thingy” in training that I feel had a very positive impact. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time working with sledge hammers and axes.

The take-away, I guess, is that from the age of 55 to a current age of 66 – and with a long history of previous training – I increased every grip related lift or test number by either a small or fairly large margin. In some cases, I think much of those results were due to technique but I feel my “strength” actually got better as well in all areas.

Currently I am not training grip towards competition but am climbing quite a bit – but I do intend to do a few more contests over the next few years – it is my hope to compete at age 70 and set Masters age group records in that class.

At that point I will consider retirement.

Time will tell.

At least in this experiment of one – grip strength has not seemingly suffered the same decline as the rest of my body strength.

-Chris Rice-

Check out this other article from Chris Rice: Grip Training for Beginner Climbers

Build Bigger, Stronger Arms and Wrists: Scale Weight Curls

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Build Big Arms and Strong Wrists

Superstar Billy Graham

One of my overall goals is to build my arms up to 20″ cold (no pump).

The way I see it, if you are going to get big, you might as well build strength to go along with it.

And if you are going to be strong, then by all means get as big as you can.

With these things in mind, I give you Scale Weight Curls.

A Scale Weight is a block-shaped weight that is used in industrial settings where scales are used.

These weights are calibrated to specific measurements and have handles so that they can be placed on the scale quickly and easily in order to test that a scale is reading accurately.


How to Perform Scale Weight Curls

Scale Weight Curls can be done like any other curl. They can be done free-standing or braced, and can be done in alternating style or both at the same time.

For me, performing them standing has gotten too easy, so I have been doing them in more of a Preacher Curl style, off my Glute Ham Machine. This allows me to keep the movement more concentrated (although cheating is not completely eliminated).

Also, what I look for is to try to keep my wrist in a neutral position throughout the full range of motion. This strengthens the wrist a bit more.

I can usually get up to 3 extra reps per set if I let my wrist buckle, so once I feel that I am losing my neutral position and breaking into ulnar deviation, I generally just stop the set.

Here is a video showing some recent Scale Weight Curls.

Scale Weight Curls

Scale Weights are somewhat hard to come by, because they are a specialized tool, sort of like anvils, and they can be cheap, but I have been lucky enough to score a couple over the years.

Believe me, the collection of grip tools I have amassed has taken me literally years to develop, tons of time to research, and of course, big expenses in order to build.

If you can’t find Scale Weights, another alternative is to try and curl your Kettlebells. Since the kettlebell handle sits out away from the rest of the bell, they will actually be much tougher to curl, and the weights will drop, but you will still get the Leverage Curl effect.

Still, I like the Scale Weight Curl a little better than Kettlebell Curls, just because I can use a bit more weight to challenge the biceps more, while also challenging my wrists.

To take it even further, you can attempt to curl your Scale Weight or Kettlebll in a supinated position. When you do this, you will have to CRUSH DOWN on the handle BIG TIME, or else you won’t be very successful.

I hope you enjoy this variation of Curls.

For more sinister ideas on how to build crazy arm strength, check out Call to Arms.


All the best in your training,


Did a Lack of Grip Strength Break Joe Theisman’s Leg?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Grip Strength for Linemen

Did you know that a Lack of Grip Strength is heavily to blame for Joe Theisman’s career ending due to a blind tackle by Lawrence Taylor?

Don Warren, Tight End for the Washington Redskins, was the man with the assignment to keep Taylor at bay on that one, fateful play.

Had he been able to get a secure grip at the line of scrimmage, things could have gone much differently for Theisman,
but because Warren did not secure his grip in “the Fit,” Taylor came crashing down on the QB, and Theisman’s hopes for a lengthy career came crashing down as well.

This is one of the most often replayed video clips in sports, because it resulted in such a horrible injury.

Naturally, injuries like this don’t happen every time a Lineman or Tight End can’t control their opponent on the other team.

But until Grip Training is taken as seriously as footwork drills and conditioning in football, you can bet that many more Line Backers will be busting through the line, sacking Quarterbacks, and making tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

For the coaches and players who are ready to make a difference in the control they and their linemen have on the field, I present my latest product, Grip Strength Training for Linemen.


The Grip Strength Training for Linemen ebook is available on Kindle for $9.99.

Training your Grip seriously is NOT just for Grip Enthusiasts looking to perform feats of strength or compete in contests.

Grip is serious for ALL Athletes.

Football players and Coaches – you can begin training your grip THE RIGHT WAY with this ebook: Grip Strength Training for Linemen

All the best in your training,


Build Grip Strength Faster – Double Blob Carries

Monday, April 14th, 2014

It’s hard to argue with the Grip Strength enhancing capabilities of Block Weight training.

Block Weights make you lift with an Open Hand, so your fingers and thumbs work much harder than when training on regular-shaped barbells and dumbbells, plus they make your wrists and forearms work harder as well.

Most people train Block Weights with just one hand at a time, but if they are so beneficial, why not train with one in each hand (if you have them).

Last week, I posted some video on Blob Block Weight Holds for Time, even showing a cool weight-added variation with chains – SICK!!!

Today, I’ve got a couple more videos showing you how you can take your Blob and Block Weight Training to the next level.

On Sale $10 Off Right Now

Double Blob Farmer’s Walk

If you have a nice lawn or a big gym to train in, try picking up your Block Weights and then carrying them as far as you can go, Farmer’s Walk Style!

It has been a very long time since I tried this out.

In March of 2008, I completed this run across the road from the Arnold Classic at Goodale Park.

Double Blob Farmer’s Walk – 2008

Double Blob Farmer’s Walk – 2014 – Part 1

After seeing Juha Harju having some fun with this test of strength recently, I decided that I had to give it a try as well. Below, I for my best distance in a very wet and hilly back yard.

Double Blob Farmer’s Walk – 2014 – Part 2

As good as 83 feet is in this lift, I knew I had more in me. So, a few days later, we carried the Blobs back outside, only this time it was to the front yard, where it was a bit drier and a little flatter. I was very happy with the results, making it over 100-feet 3 separate times.

The carry of 121-feet, as far as I know, is a new “World Record,” insomuch that it can be considered one, since it was done during training and outside of a contest format. Naturally, the tape is not flat either, making the distance somewhat subject, but sometime soon, maybe I will take the Blobs to a track or some other spot where it is flatter and we can get a more accurate measurement of the true distance.

Either way, the main thing is developing more strength. I have no doubt the training that I have been doing has been helping me develop more Grip Strength, specifically better Pinching Strength, which I will need on May 3rd at the Bragging Rights Grip Contest.

For more info on on the May 3rd Contest, go here => Bragging Rights Contest.

All the best in your training,


P.S. My ebook, Lift the Blob is still on sale for $10 off. I will change it back to the regular price tonight. For now, click the image below to grab it at a discount: