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
This past weekend, Saturday, October 25th, 2014, I ran one leg of the International King Kong of Grip Challenge. Congratulations to Ari Siltaoja of Finland on his victory.
Below are the overall results.
As you look at the event scores, keep in mind that Event 1 was One Hand Pinch, Event 2 was One Hand Axle, Event 3 was the Hub and Event 4 was the Little Big Horn.
Sorry for the formatting, by the way. I took screen shots off the Gripboard, and the formatting can be really hard to manage some time.
International King Kong of Grip 2014 Results
Here are the video clips from my location in Wyalusing.
One Hand Pinch
For the One Hand Pinch, the adjustable pinch device was used, made of steel disks on the outside and either rubber or plastic inserts inside. The objective is to pinch the implement with one hand and pick it up until the loading pipe hits the cross-bar and control it to the ground.
One Hand Axle
For the One Hand Axle, you grip it with one hand and then lift it to above the middle of the knee. Both ends of the bar must be at that height as well, with the legs locked, but the hips and shoulders do not have to be.
The new version of the IronMind Hub was used at all the competition locations. The index and middle fingers had to be used. The ring and pinky fingers could be used if desired. The four fingers had to be in a claw position. The thumb could be in clay position or hooked, but no portion of the thumb pad or palm could be touching the hub surface. The implement was then lifted to lockout and controlled to the ground after the “Good” signal/call.
IronMind Little Big Horn
The IronMind Little Big Horn, anvil-style implement, was used. The lift was done to lockout and you had to control it to the ground.
The competition in Wyalusing went very well. Nobody had any serious injuries. We had someone come for their first contest and he enjoyed it. We had some come for their second contest, and we had some veterans.
I would have been much happier with some better lifts. Unfortunately, I wanted to be cautious with my right shoulder, as pulling things from the floor is what really lights it up. So, I went left-handed on all the lifts. My left hand is actually my better hand for the One Hand Pinch, so that worked out fine, but it absolutely pathetic for me on the Hub and Axle. I was pretty happy with my lifts on the Little Big Horn and actually PR’d by a good 10+ lbs.
Many great lifts took place across the globe. On top of winning the overall, Ari Siltaoja set a new World Record mark in the Hub Lift that is being recognized by IronMind. John McCarter set a new world record in the Hub that is actually heavier than Ari’s lift. IronMind has not acknowledged John’s lift at this time, and I do not know the reason why.
Any questions on the competition, please feel free to post a comment.
All the best in your training.
Want to Bring Up Your All-Around Grip Strength? Start Training with Block Weights, TODAY.
King Kong of Grip 2014
I will be holding a venue for the second annual International King Kong Grip Challenge, taking place on October 25th, 2014. Here are the general details:
- One Hand Pinch Deadlift (Euro Device)
- One Hand Axle Deadlift (Ironmind Apollon’s Axle)
- Ironmind Hub
- Ironmind Little Big Horn
- Extra Event (Wyalusing Only) Silver Bullet Hold
- Men: 59kg / 66kg / 74kg / 83kg / 93kg / 105kg / 120kg / 120+kg
- Women: Open
- Medals for the top three finishers in each class
- Medals for the top lift in each event
- Award for the overall champion plus the title of “The King Kong of Grip”
Confirmed venues and promoters so far:
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – Eric Roussin
- Detroit, MI – Andrew Pantke
- Wooster, OH – Brandon Gerber
- Westchester, NY – Cesare Ricchezza
- Moscow, Russia – Ivan Beritashvili
- Finland – Juha Harju
- Santa Cruz, CA – Clay Edgin
- Fort Worth, TX – Eric Milfeld
- Wyalusing, PA – Jedd Johnson
- Denton, TX – Adam Glass
- Boston, MA – Michael Sheehan
- Marthasville, MO – Luke Wicks
Additional venues are popping up all the time, and this could end up being the BIGGEST Mega-Comp of all time.
If you are a promoter who is interested in taking part, please contact Eric Roussin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entry Form: Download Here
How this contest will work:
As in any Grip Contest, the objective is to perform as well as possible on each event. Your best lift on each event will be sent in to the main promoter, Eric Roussin and will be added to the results for all the other events as well. So, you will be going up against lifters taking part in the overall contest in all corners of the United States, Canada, Russia, and Finland. Because there are multiple locations taking part in the same events on the same day, this sort of contest is called a Mega Comp.
You may use only one hand on each event. You may choose to use the Right hand on two events and the Left hand on two events, you can use your dominant hand on all the events, or in any combination you see fit. The only limitation is that once you take an official attempt with one of your hands, you may not change during that event.
All of the events being contest are Rising Bar events. This means that once weight is added to the loading pin, the overall weight is not reduced for later attempts. This means if you start out too high and miss your lift, you can not drop back down, so the best idea is to take a safe lift, to make sure you get on the board. You get four (4) attempts on each event to get your best score possible.
With the One Hand Pinch, the width of the implement is adjustable. Each competitor will be given time to test out the implement to see which width is best for them. Once you choose a width, you must stay with that width. We will begin with the narrowest width being used and then go up from there. The following widths are definitely attainable using the adjustable pinch device: 44mm, 48mm, 52mm, 56mm, 58mm, 64mm. Other widths may be attained as well as needed by lifters.
Individual Event Rules: (video demonstrations to come)
One Hand Pinch Deadlift: The lifter grips the plates in an overhand grip, with the thumb towards them and the fingers away. The lifter lifts the apparatus until the loading pipe touches a cross-bar sitting at 16.5″. The lifter must then return the implement back to the floor under control. 4 attempts
One Hand Axle Deadlift (Ironmind Apollon’s Axle): The lifter can use a straddle lift, where the bar runs between the legs, or a conventional lift, where the bar sits in front of the shins. The lifter must lift the bar off the ground so that the center of the bar and both ends are above the centerline of the knee caps and the legs lock out. Shorts must be worn. 4 attempts
Ironmind Hub: The lifter grips the Hub so that the finger tips of all 4 fingers and thumb contact the flat plate. They must then lift the Hub and loading pin to lockout and wait for a “Good” call from the judge. The lifter must then lower the implement back to the floor under control. 4 attempts
Ironmind Little Big Horn: The lifter grips the Horn and lifts the implement to the lockout position, waiting for a “Good” call from the judge and returns the implement to the floor under control. 4 attempts
In all of these lifts, the off-hand may be braced against the thigh in order to stabilize. The lifting hand, however, may not be assisted by bracing against the body and contact with the body is not permitted in the case of the Hub, Axle, or Horn. With the Pinch, it is very common and expected for the back of the loading pipe to contact the leg and does not disqualify a lift.
Additional Event at Wyalusing location:
Silver Bullet Hold: An optional fifth event will take place following the first four events, the Silver Bullet Hold. Men will crush down a #3 gripper onto an official IronMind Silver Bullet and hold it for time. The official IronMind Disk, weighing 2.5kg will be suspended from the Silver Bullet. Women will use a #1 Gripper.
Technical Demonstrations will be shot and posted here soon.
In the future, short clinics for the 5 events being held in the King Kong contest will be held in Wyalusing. Announcements will be made as they are scheduled.
Napalm Pinch Adjustable Pinch Devices can be order through my store:
- Napalm Pinch Pro: You receive the outside steel plates and 6mm (2) & 10mm (4) plastic inserts with tabs on the sides for quicker adjustments
- Napalm Pinch Basic: You will receive the outside steel plates and 1/4″ rubber inserts (9)
Looking forward to seeing you and many others on October 25th, 2014.
Who will be the 2014 King Kong of Grip???
Tags: grip contest, grip contests, grip sport events, international king kong of grip, king kong, king kong grip challenge, king kong grip contest, king kong of grip
Posted in Grip Sport, grip strength competition contest, how to improve grip strength | No Comments »
Who Would Win the 2014 NAGS Championship? Who Would Win the 2014 NAGS Championship?
On June 14th, 2014, I competed in the North American Grip Sport Championship at Durniat Strength Gym in Wooster, Ohio.
This is the 3rd year in a row it was held at Andrew Durniat’s gym. He has also been the reigning North American Champion every year since 2011. Andrew runs a nice demanding competition every single year, featuring a mix of the classic events (Grippers, Two Hands Pinch, and Axle Deadlift) plus other new challenge events as well (this year the Pinch Block Curl and the Sledgehammer Choke).
Recognition is in Order
Before I get too far, I absolutely must give credit where it is due. This year I am in the best shape of my grip career and I owe all the thanks to a handful of people.
First and foremost is my dietary coach, Joe Carabase. Without him, my diet would be a mess and I would most likely still be fat, in poor condition, and hurting all the time.
Next is Luke Raymond and Dan Ely – I began training with Luke in the Fall of last year and Dan Ely came on in the Winter of this year. Having these two guys around so we can all push one another has been HUGE for my training. I can only hope that they have gotten as much out of training with me as I have from training with them.
The list of competitors was quite a bit different this year from last. It seems like about half the group is truly a core group and shows up to throw down year in and year out, while the other half is more dynamic and changes from year to year. Either way, this year saw many hardcore veterans and first-time competitors who will be forces to reckon with for years to come.
Competitor & Bodyweight in Lbs
Brent Barbe (Pennsylvania) 204.5
Charles Chartan (Quebec, Canada) 144.6
Andrew Durniat (Ohio) 227.5
Brandon Gerber (Ohio) 211.2
Michael Hann (Texas) 162.7
Jermey Hartman (Ohio) 226.85
Jedd Johnson (Pennsylvania) 228.4
David Labbe (Virginia) 275
Malcolm Majesky (Ohio) 247.8
Eric Milfeld (Texas) 182.75
Robert Miller (North Carolina) 265
Lucas Raymond (Pennsylvania) 204.6
Nic Rosendaul (Ohio) 244.25
Eric Roussin (Ontario, Canada) 204.25
Tom Scibelli (Maryland) 220
Darrin Shallman (Michigan) 156.1
Yori Skutt (Texas) 129.75
Bob Sundin (North Carolina) 180
Jonathon Vance (Ohio) 196.65
John Wojciechowski (New Jersey) 273.15
First Event – Grippers
Grippers have been an event that have been known to give me trouble, as my crush generally lags behind my other events, especially in comparison to other top grip athletes. This year, my goal was to make up some ground. I began training grippers every 4 to 5 days, and many times more than once a week, and it paid off, as I was able to close a 175-rated gripper Right-handed. I also got a 155 shut lefty.
The grippers used were a set that was purchased from Cannon Power Works by a few members of the North American Grip Sport committee. They were all rated by Cannon, meaning the same device and practices were followed, making it the most valuable gripper set in the world, ranging from 80-lbs up to over 200, in 5-lb increments. I can only imagine the hundreds of grippers that would need to be rated in order to obtain these 30 or so grippers.
By the end of the first event, I found myself behind Andrew Durniat and David Labbe, both competitors in this year’s Mighty Mitts competition at the Arnold Classic, but the gap was not so far that it would be insurmountable.
Here are the videos of Luke Raymond’s and my attempts on Grippers.
NAGS Championship Right Hand Grippers
NAGS Championship Left Hand Grippers
Event Two – Two Hands Pinch
As much as I would love to hold the World Record in this lift again, this year it was just not in the cards. I tore the hell out of my right thumb and I had to modify my training through all of April, May and June. I was super stressed about it, because I had actually set some pretty lofty goals made some hard plans, but they went awry, so I had to do the best I could.
Since the implements used for NAGS were virgin plates – they had never been lifted on ever before that day – numbers were down across the board. I sealed the victory in the event on my first attempt with a lift of 224, which was enough to top Andrew’s 219 and 209 put up by David Labbe and Eric Milfeld. On my second attempt, I lifted 239.69, a lift of 105% of bodyweight.
Two Hands Pinch – NAGS Championship – Jedd Johnson
Two Hands Pinch – NAGS Championship – Luke Raymond
Event Three – IronMind Axle Deadlift
The third event was another one that is a classic thorn in my side. But, since my Two Hands Pinch training had to take a back seat leading up to NAGSC, it made room for more Axle work. In training, I actually worked up over 400-lbs for the first time since 2012, and I think if I would have switched to Sumo Technique a little sooner, I think I could have pushed my training numbers even higher, and perhaps even attained a lift over the 400-lb mark in competition at NAGSC.
As you will see, on my last attempt, I went for 402-lbs, and got it well over the knees, but couldn’t quite hold on until lockout.
IronMind Axle Deadlift – Jedd Johnson – NAGS Championship 2014
IronMind Axle Deadlift – Jedd Johnson – NAGS Championship 2014
Fourth Event – Pinch Block Curl
The Pinch Block Curl was a new event this year. The design of the implement is to replicate the act of performing a Plate Curl, without having to attach weight to the end of an actual plate. This tests the strength of the entire lower arm and hand at the same time.
Many of the competitors are experienced at training the Plate Curl, so no one really knew what to expect going into the event. I know I had no idea where my lifts would fall against the other competitors, so I made my training as hard as possible, loading my implement with as much of a leverage disadvantage as possible. Apparently, my preparation paid off, as I was able to finish with 44.66lbs with each hand, good enough for second place right behind David Labbe.
NAGS Pinch Block Curl – Right Hand
NAGS Pinch Block Curl – Right Hand
Final Event – Sledgehammer Choke
Still a fairly new event, the Sledgehammer Choke has only really been contested since about April of 2013. However, I think I have been at 4 of the 6 competitions where it has been held, so this has been a big advantage for me. The biggest advantage was seeing the way other people do the Choke at Gripmas 2013. Instead of trying to radially deviate the wrist, some were allowing the wrist to kick into ulnar deviation and then lock it there, allowing for a bigger tilt and bigger lifts.
Luke really took to this technique in training, working up to over 22 inches almost immediately, once we started training it heavily in May. This variation is MUCH more intense on the wrist though, and he found he could not recover from training it very quickly, so he actually stopped training it about half way through May. I was not getting the lingering soreness that he was, so I continued to work on it, with the main objective of catching up to him as much as I could.
Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t narrow the gap quickly enough, because Luke hit 23 inches righty and 27 inches lefty, to my 22 inches each hand. Despite the fact that 22 inches on a 14-lb hammer (308 inch pounds) actually beat the previous work record on the 12-lb hammer of 25 inches (300 inch pounds), it wasn’t nearly enough to catch up to Luke’s 322 righty and 378 lefty inch pounds. CRAZY!!!
Sledge Choke Right Hand
Sledge Choke Left Hand
I knew going into the last event that I was slightly ahead of Dave Labbe, by just tenths of a point. So I knew that the entire contest was mine to win or lose. But I really had no idea what Dave was capable of on the event – I wasn’t even sure if he had trained the event before, so I went for broke and tried an all-out PR on my second attempts, both right- and left-handed. Both of those lifts proved to be enough to beat out Dave, so I knew he had him beat.
2014 NAGS Champion
To hear my name called at the end as the Absolute Champion, winning the Overall, was amazing. Once I knew, I gave my parents a call to let them know, since they have been behind me every step of the way.
What was even more awesome about that is they were babysitting my daughter and I even got to tell her about the win and hear the excitement she had in her voice.
Naturally, there are dozens of people I can thank, but the biggest credit has to go to Luke and Dan. I can’t describe the impact it has had for me having them here in the gym.
I hope you have enjoyed the write-up, and I hope it inspires you to try your hand at Grip Sport sometime soon.
From what I hear, Dave Labbe is HOOKED.
All the best in your training,
Increase Your Two Hands Pinch – Get My Instructional DVD Today
Tags: grip sport, n.a.g.s., n.a.g.s.c., nags championship, north american grip sport, north american grip sport championship nagsc
Posted in Grip Sport, grip strength competition contest | 4 Comments »
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