This past weekend was “Nationals,” the North American Grip Sport Championship.
If you’re not familiar, the way Nationals works is you must qualify via 1 of several ways.
One way is based on your finish in a sanctioned contest. Generally, top 3 in your class will get you qualified.
Another way is by breaking a long-standing record, such as a bodyweight record for certain lifts, or by breaking a World Record in other lifts.
Still, another way is to certify on highly recognized 3rd party feats of strength, such as the IronMind #3 Gripper or Red Nail.
Finally, if you can qualify one year, and you go to the NAGS Championship and compete, then you’ll be qualified for the next year.
Various contests take place all over the United States and Canada throughout the year, and competitors qualify at every single contest, for the chance to compete at Nationals, the biggest and most prestigious competition all year long.
In 2014, I was lucky enough to win the overall competition. The events were good for me, and I trained them hard, and it resulted in a strong win over top competition.
This year, the events were a bit different. They were events that I was OK in, but the mix wasn’t anywhere near as strong for me in 2014, so I knew I had my work cut out for me.
Going in, I knew my main competition would be Andrew Durniat and Kody Burns. Andrew and I have been battling it out in Grip Sport since 2008, and Kody has proven to be extremely talented in all forms of grip in the last few years.
I knew going in that Grippers would be strong for me. I have been closing my 170-rated Tetting 7 on a regular basis in training. I’ve done it before, but more sporadically.
The grippers used at Nationals are only used at Nationals. They were first used in 2014, so the 2015 contest was only the 2nd time they’ve ever been out of a shipping box.
Last year, I managed a 155 Left and a 170 Right. This year, I PR’d on both hands with a 160 Left and a 180 Right. I believe this makes me only the third or fourth person to ever close a Top Row gripper. There are three rows of grippers on the table, and 180 begins the top row. It’s a strange feeling being able to say that, as I have never been crazy strong on grippers.
Right Hand Grippers
Left Hand Grippers
Two Hands Pinch
What was once my best event that would be a sure overall win for me has turned into a nightmare. Training for this event went straight into the toilet mid-way through April for unknown reasons. In April, I had lifted an all-time training PR of 258lbs and broke 260 off the ground. Then, the next workout it was like I had no idea what I was doing.
I was able to get 235 fairly easy on my 2nd attempt, but 245 laughed in my face in my 3rd and 4th attempts. It would have been really nice to get those points, but I ended up just an inch or so shy on my 3rd lift and less than an inch on my 4th lift.
Kody Burns hit a successful lift of 254. This was the first time I’ve been beaten on 2 Hand Pinch in a contest since 2005, when Chad Woodall beat me at the Global Grip Challenge.
Double Overhand Axle
In contrast from Pinch, my Axle had been super strong throughout April and May. I was lifting 393 for multiple singles and some doubles in May. I just recently hit my first ever lifts of 400lbs on the Axle at the New York Grip Throwdown in April, so I figured this year would be the year I finally got 400lbs in competition at Nationals as well.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get legal lifts. I got them very close to Lockout, but didn’t have enough control over the bar to get good calls. Close but no cigar.
The Wrist Roller this year involved an elevating lift arm and a sled drag. I feel like I prepared very well for this event, as I cut my time down to a third of what it was in March when I tried it at Andrew’s gym in March. I got a little over 10 seconds.
Going into the Medley, I was sitting in 2nd Place. I didn’t know how far behind I was of the Leader, Kody Burns, though. I knew I beat him in Grippers, and that he had beaten me in Pinch, Axle, and Wrist Roller, so for all I knew I was down 3 to 5 points.
I didn’t worry about the deficit I was facing. Instead, I just focused on seeing each one of the implements coming up when it was my turn to make my run.
The way the Medley worked was there were two rows of 12 implements. One row was lighter, one row was heavier. If you completed the lighter implement, you got half a point. If you got the heavier implement, you got 1 point. You could try the harder one, and if you missed, you could go do the lighter one, but you would only get points for the heavier variation. So, the best possible score was 12 points.
I honestly thought I was going to Stack the whole Medley, except for the Sledge Lever to the Face. I figured I would run out of time to even try it, so my goal was 11 points.
To my surprise, the Saxon Bar loaded to 205lbs was EXTREMELY tough. The finish was very slick and chalk would not stick to it, so NOBODY ended up getting it.
Also, the Sorinex Anvil proved too heavy for me. I got it an inch off the floor, but nowhere near lockout. In both cases of the Saxon Bar and the Anvil, I had to go to the lighter versions and settle for half a point each.
Additionally, the adrenaline must have given me a kick, because I shot through the entire Medley and had time to try the Hammer Lever, and I completed it. So, that gave me 10 of the 1-point feats and 2 of the half-point feats, for a total of 11 points, exactly the total that I wanted.
The scores must have been closer that I anticipated, because the 11 points was enough to allow me to inch my way past Kody Burns in the Final Standings, and I was elated to learn that I had won the Overall competition.
With this victory, it makes my 3rd consecutive Division Champion and 2nd consecutive Overall Champion. I honestly couldn’t believe it.
I am beyond thankful to God for my health and my ability to stay focused. In past contests, my disappointing finishes in the Pinch and Axle would have resulted in a great deal of anger, but this year I was able to remain focused.
I am thankful to my wife, Delraine, and my family for supporting me in my endeavors in Grip Sport.
I am so thankful to have a great partner like Luke Raymond who trains his butt off every bit as hard as I do and truly pushes me to be better.
I thank my other training partner, Mark Gannon, who pushes me hard on Friday mornings and lets me work a little thick bar into the sessions, even though it eats up some time and makes me grumpy to train with.
I sent a note to my parents who have supported me in athletics since I was a child and these days listen to my Grip stories with the same attention they used to listen to my baseball and basketball reports.
I sent out thanks to my massage therapist, Rachelle and my chiropractor, Dr. Napp for helping to keep me healthy throughout the year and especially the last few weeks.
And I want to thank all of you in the Diesel Universe for all the continued support over the years.
I couldn’t have done this without any of you. Thank you.
All the best in your training.
Many have asked me what’s next for me. The primary goal is to lean up a bit. I have already made some modifications to my diet and added back in morning and lunch-time cardio sessions. If you’re interested in taking off a few lbs, check out Napalm Fat Burning. That program covers exactly the kind of stuff I’ll be doing in the next few weeks leading up to my August family vacation to the beach!
On 4/18/15, at the New York Grip Throwdown in Carmel, NY, I finally hit a lifetime Competition PR on the IronMind Double Overhand Axle Deadlift Axle Deadlift with 400 and 408 pounds.
This is the best lift I’ve had in competition since 2007, when I first lifted 396lbs.
It felt great to finally complete these lifts, and the fact that there was absolutely no doubt in either one of them puts even more icing on the cake, brotherrrr.
Jedd Johnson – 400lb IronMind Axle Deadlift
Jedd Johnson – 408lb IronMind Axle Deadlift
It’s been a long-time coming, and I’m pumped to be able to share this with you.
Keep hitting it hard in your workouts. It’s all gonna pay off.
All the best in your training.
Learn the Basics of Strongman Training with the Introduction to Strongman DVD
The trip to the Arnold Classic was a ton of fun this year, probably the best time I’ve ever had there when I wasn’t competing.
Here’s some of the footage I got from the trip.
The one main place we wanted to be sure to hit was the Promera Booth so we could take the Con-Crete Challenge. Run by our new friend, James Stoppani, Sr, I’ve been hearing about this for over a year now and wanted to try it out.
First up was the Hub Lift challenge. They attach Hub Grips to Slater Stones and you must lift them to Lockout. I suck at Hubs, but Luke did really well.
Second, was the Fat Gripz row challenge. The guys have to Row a Vertical Bar with a Fat Gripz Extreme on it for as many reps as possible. I took this event. Nobody could touch my 67 reps, brotherrrr.
Lastly, there was a hold for time with 135lbs gripping onto Fat Gripz Extremes. The record was like 1:26. I was close, but the flexed position of my wrist was cutting off a nerve in my hand and it was burning like crazy, so I had to drop the bar at like 1:15. If not for that burning, I would have destroyed the record. Oh well, live to Grip another day.
Training at Durniat Strength
We got an awesome training session in at Durniat Strength on Friday. This first video shows you all kinds of stuff that we did. What a blast!
Luke also hit this awesome Concentric-Only 100-lb Preacher Curl. I tried it and couldn’t budge it. This dude is no joke, bro.
There you have it, some of the best footage from the Arnold 2015. It was an awesome time. I got to meet tons of people. Once again, I can’t wait until next year.
Finish the week strong, brother.
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Grip Hogs Day 2015
In December, I decided to run a contest with the primary objective to help get new Grip Sport Athletes involved in the sport.
I chose 2/7/15 and since it was right after Groundhog’s Day, I decided to name it Grip Hogs Day.
There were two divisions: the Open Class and a Super Match between my partner, Luke and myself.
I am happy to say that the entire contest was quite a success, as 7 out of the 12 lifters were first-time competitors and ALL of them reported they loved the contest and can’t wait for the next one!
Before I get too far into this, I want to send out a thanks to Luke Raymond, my Dad, and my wife. With everything they did, it was the easiest contest I’ve ever run! Thanks everyone!
Grip Hogs Day
Here are videos of each of the events:
Silver Bullet Hold
This event involves holding the IronMind Silver Bullet between the handles of a #3 Captains of Crush for as long as possible. Everyone got one chance to get their best time on the #3, and if they could not do get a legal hold, they could try the #2.
I have been dancing very close to the World Record in this event for the last few months. I was close again this time, with 43 seconds, but just didn’t have enough to break the record.
Two Hands Pinch
The Adjustable Pinch Device was used, so each competitor could use the width that felt best in their hands. Each got 4 attempts to lift the biggest weight possible.
I broke a new World Record off the ground in December on this lift and I was hoping to complete it at GHD, but a rash of thumb tears really affected my training the last couple of months and I had to settle with 248.
Double Overhand Axle
This lift is like a regular deadlift, only a 1.9″ OD Axle is used with a double overhand grip, both of which tax the hands more than a regular deadlift. The highlight of this event for me was watching newcomer, John Stepien, pull 383lbs, matching my lift, in his first ever Grip competition.
I truly thought this would be the day I hit 400lbs in competition, as I hit it recently in training, but I couldn’t quite pull it to a legal height, or control it as needed to be legal.
This event is similar to the Sledge Choke, only instead of moving away from the head of the hammer in order to increase the difficulty, everyone grips in the same spot and weight is added to a loading pin at the front of the handle. To keep the lift strict, a shot is balanced on a nut on to the top ridge of the Pickaxe.
The record prior to the contest was something like 11.4lbs. I had broken this several times in training, as had my partner Luke Raymond. As we anticipated, the end of the event ended up being a shoot-out between Luke and me, as we both set new records of 11.77. I won the event, lifting 12.18 and 12.51lbs in my later attempts. Luke tried 12.51lbs on 2 separate attempts, but his wrist power just wasn’t there due to an injury he sustained in December.
The Bull Ring Extensor Lift
This is a brand new event that was introduced at GHD. You place your hand inside the ring and lift the weight with the strength of the extensors.
The Bull Rings are available now. Contact me for ordering details at jedddotdieselatgmaildotcom. Aside from effectively allowing the extensors to be worked heavy and progressively, the Bull Ring can also be used as a hub device.
Looking Back on Grip Hogs Day
I would say this is easily the most fun I’ve ever had at one of my own contests, despite failing to break the records on the Silver Bullet and Two Hands Pinch. The group was all great, and I was so happy to meet all of the new competitors!
As you can see, we started everything off with a Flexing Pic, and aaalllmost everybody took part. Eli Thomas couldn’t believe the size of the guns on Napalm.
Mike Chaffee, Jedd Johnson, John Stepien
Mike Chaffee, who won the Novice Class award (first time competitors), and John Stepien, who came in 2nd place in the Novice category, both said they were hooked! I can’t wait to see what else they are capable of down the road!
I wish you would have been there, brother. You GOTTA make it to the next one!
Until then, all the best in your training.
Learn to Bend Horseshoes With Monster Hand Strength:
The Next Grip Strength Competition will take place on February 7th, and I am designing it to be very welcoming to new competitors.
Grip Hogs Day
Silver Bullet Hold
DATE: February 7th, 2015
ENTRY FORM: Grip Hogs Day
Silver Bullet Hold
Two Hands Pinch
Two Hand Axle Deadlift
Bull Ring Lift
WEIGH-IN: Any time after 8:00am (scale will be spot-calibrated)
WEIGHT CLASSES: Your lifts will be logged per North American Grip Sport’s weight class system (59k, 66k, 74k, 83k, 93k, 105k, 120k, 120k+)
DIVISIONS: Beginner / Experienced / Expert
Places will be figured based on experience level…examples:
- **Beginners – Very limited grip experience
- **Experienced – 2 or more grip contests
- **Expert – Seasoned Veterans
LOCATION: Jedd Johnson’s Garage Gym
EMAIL FOR DIRECTIONS: jedd dot diesel at gmail dot com
ENTRY FEE: $20. POSSIBLE THROW-IN FOR PIZZA AFTERWARDS
DEADLINE: February 1st – Paying on contest day, add $10, unless otherwise notified.
Events subject to change without notice
Events order subject to change without notice
MAKE ALL CHECKS/ MONEY ORDERS PAYABLE TO: JEDD JOHNSON
MAIL ENTRY FORM AND FEE TO:
PO BOX 806
WYALUSING, PA 18853
Available upon request. Please contact me.
AIRPORTS (all three are about the same distance from Wyalusing, 1.5 hrs)
Scranton/Wilkes Barre PA
Event Explanations & Demonstrations
The IronMind Silver Bullet is placed between the handles of a #3 gripper. The #2 can be used by women and if the athlete can not get a proper attempt on the #3.
Two Hands Pinch
The adjustable pinch device is used, with steel outside plates and rubber inserts. It is adjustable from 12 to 64mm. With a two-hand, overhand grip, the athlete lifts the device until the loading pipe contacts a cross-bar 16.5 inches high, and then must return the implement to the floor without losing grip on it.
Two Hand Axle
A 1.9-inch thick barbell, called and Axle, is gripped with two hands in an overhand grip. The athlete must lift the axle to lockout. Once the referee gives the down signal, he must lower it back to the ground without losing his grip.
Pickaxe to Front (Max Weight)
The Pickaxe device is loaded at the front and gripped at the end. It must be lifted so the front crosses the height of 30 inches, without a steel shot falling off. The steel shot prevents excessive tilt. The Pickaxe can be lowered with two hands.
The Bull Ring
The Bull RIng is a brand new event testing extensor strength. The hand is placed palm-down inside the ring, contacting only the underside of the lifting surface, and at no time can come in contact with the V-shaped supports on the underside. The athlete must lift the Bull Ring to lockout, get a good call from the ref, and the return it to the floor without losing grip on the implement.
I hope to see you on February 7th. It’s gonna be a great time.
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CONTEST: Grip Hogs Day, Wyalusing PA
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