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#Yoketober is Under Way – Workout 1 In the Books

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Yoketober is in full swing.

This month, we are focusing on the Yoke – the Traps, Upper Back, Shoulders, and Triceps – the parts o fthe body that make up your outline and help you cast a big shadow.

The objective – To Develop Monster Mass by Halloween.


Yesterday was Yoketober 1st, so Workout #1 went down in the garage. It was my Upper Body Push Day, with Yoke work sprinkled in for seasoning.

#Yoketober Workout #1/31

In the past months of specialized training, #AugustOfArms and #Legtober, lots of people were requesting workout plans, but I didn’t work ahead those months.

Yoketober is different. I put together an entire ebook that includes a full month of training for you from Yoketober 1st to Yoketober 31st.

You can pick it up here for $19 through the end of the week: Yoketober – Monster Mass by Halloween

It’s time to fill that shirt up with some serious slabs of muscle.

All the best in your training.


Close Bigger Grippers with This Proven
Gripper Training Program

Next Goal: Strengthen Everything from the Waist Down

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Pain Free Barbell Hip Thrusts

Build Stronger Hips With These Hip Thrust Variations


After having won the Overall at the North American Grip Sport Championship, I found out that I won an automatic berth into next year’s Mighty Mitts.

Mighty Mitts, as Andrew Durniat calls it, is the SuperBowl of Grip, taking place on the main stage at the Arnold Classic, and featuring some of the strongest hands in the world. Mighty Mitts is where the best of Grip Sport clash with Strongmen in some of the most challenging tests of hand strength imaginable.

And with that in mind, I have one clear-cut goal that is intertwined into all of my training.

To Get As Strong as Possible from Now Until March.

This means, I have some GLARING weaknesses that I MUST address body-wise. My overall Absolute Strength pales in comparison to the other competitors, especially my lower back and hip strength.

As I outlined in this post, Squats: Start Doing Them Today, due to countless lower back injuries, I barely Squatted from 2008 until 2013. This has left my lower back and legs extremely weak.

With that in mind, I have begun an all-out onslaught on my lower body training, hitting Squats, Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts, Reverse Hypers, and other exercises that target the hips as hard as possible.

Mission: Build Stronger Hips

With the idea of getting the Hips and Glutes as strong as possible, I wanted to share a couple of variations of Hip Thrusts with you that I have been performing.

I first learned about Barbell Hip Thrusts from Niko Hulslander of Garage Ink. I could not believe the amount of weight he and his crew were doing in this lift, moving close to or even more than 500-lbs in the lift (I don’t recall what it was exactly anymore).

When I started doing this lift in late 2012, I could barely handle a set of 10 with 135lbs, that is how severely weak my hip complex had become.

Once I started doing the lift regularly, the pressure on my abdomen from the barbell was so severe, I was left with marks for days and days after doing them.

I tried wrapping a pool noodle around the bar, which helped to reduce the pressure, but the pool noodle just kept disintegrating after each session. I then moved on to a 2.5-inch thick axle. This worked for a while, but it belonged to my friend JT Straussner, so when he took it back to train with at his gym, I had to find something else.

I tried slipping a big piece of pipe over it and that worked pretty well, but since then I found something even better – the Saxon Bar.

Barbell Hip Thrusts with Saxon Bar

The Saxon Bar is a loadable barbell that is used for pinching. I found that I could load this thing up HEAVY, and when I placed it flat over my abdomen, the pressure was spread out very nicely and I felt no pain at all.

Here is the Barbell Hip Thrust using a Saxon Bar in action:

The goal for each rep is to get a nice hard contraction and a pause at the top of the movement.

Heavy Bend Tension Hip Thrusts

I have also found another variation that I like quite a bit – this one involves Thrusting against heavy band tension, using the Blue Jump Stretch Bands.

Right now, the limitation here is being able to harness down the bands. I have been able to slip them underneath the feet of my Squat Cage up to this point, but I want to modify the cage a big so I can rig more band tension without having to pin the bands beneath the cage. Again, with these, I am looking for a pause.

For both variations of the Hip Thrust, I have been performing 3 work sets of 10 repetitions, aiming for a nice pause at the top in a flat table position. This is after 2 to 3 warm-up sets to get used to the work set weight.

Generally, I will work the Saxon Bar Hip Thrusts on one lower body day, and then the next lower body day, I work the bands. The Saxon Bar Hip Thrusts take a lot more out of me, so I do those as a stand-alone exercise.

The Band Tension Hip Thrusts only load up at the very top of the movement, so they don’t take as much out of me, and I usually pair them with another exercise, usually involving a heavy loaded barbell in the cage, that I can use for Barbell Shrugs, Partial Deadlifts, or Holds.

I really love these two movements, and plan on doing them for quite some time. My Squats have been feeling much stronger since working these in, and I have no doubt they will help with Deadlifts, Farmer Picks, and other heavy lifts that work the glutes/hip complex.

If you are looking for ways to work the hips harder, these could be two lifts that you might want to try.

All the best in your training,


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,


Squats – Start Doing Them Today

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

My buddy, Rick Walker, Squatting


The best thing I have done in the last 6 months is I have begun doing Squats again.

It took a LOT of work. I have a long, long history of back injuries. I have had to be mindful of my back every single day I train since the mid-2000’s.

But in the last 8 days I have Back Squatted 3 times, each time hitting over 365lbs.

My Squat sucks. But I love Squats.

I feel better when I am Squatting. My other lifts are bigger when I am Squatting regularly, grip included.

I missed doing Squats for the last 5 years. I thought I could make do without them.

I was Wrong.

If you have a healthy back, knees and hips, I encourage you to start doing Squats today.

If you don’t have a healthy back, you need to fix it. Do whatever it takes.

If you can, do Back Squats. If you can’t handle Back Squats, try Front Squats. If not those, try Goblet Squats.

Goblet Squats – Gotta Start Somewhere

I will continue to do all of my soft tissue work, my warm-up, and my stretching so I can keep Squatting.

And that way, all my other lifts go up.

I will keep you updated on my progress.

Like I said, my Squat numbers SUCK compared to many other lifters, but that is OK. I am not in a hurry.

Here is a recent video of a couple of my Squats and some other Training on top of it.

By the way, Luke is Squatting too and he is blowing up in all other lifts as well.

Squat if you can, brotherrrr.


Learn How to Bend Horseshoes with the Hammering Horseshoes DVD

The Importance of Competition for Lifting

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Let Competition Bring the Best Out of You



There is this dude over in Finland that I have been watching on-line since at least 2009, and maybe since 2008. I know that makes me sound like a crazy stalker type, but I don’t care. This guy is the ONE GUY who I try to watch all of his videos, because he is ALWAYS doing something that is a world class grip feat. It’s Juha Harju, the King Kong of Grip.

At the end of 2013, Juha started something called the Grip Monsters Challenge and it involved several different lifts. Each challenge lift had a rankings list. And what was awesome was it was not just Grip Feats, but other stuff as well, such as a Military Bench Press and a Strict Curl.

I LOVE COMPETITION, so as soon as I found out about them, I started submitting videos. While I also love winning, I didn’t win any of them, I just kept on hitting the lifts trying to push my numbers up.

In a way, this was no different from how I have always trained from the beginning. I have always thrived on training in a group and pushing one another, trying to out-lift one another, and even hitting more reps than one another.

In my opinion, competition is one of the best ways for you to break through plateaus and keep them from happening in the first place.

When you know you are going to be tested by someone else, it makes you work a little bit harder, get out of your comfort zone, and in the end you are almost always stronger, and better, because of it.

Do I always win? Hell no.

Do I get better because of the competition? Hell yeah.

Don’t be afraid to compete. The beauty of the Grip Monsters Challenge is you don’t have to go anywhere but the gym. You don’t have to get up on a stage or platform, and you don’t need to do a lift in front of anyone, aside from the people at the gym.

So, here are the videos of my best efforts in the first set of challenge lifts for the Grip Monsters Challenge:

Strict Curl

Top 7 Standings:

1. Juha Harju 20 reps
2. Stephen Ruby 19reps
3. Gabriele Ferdinandi 18 reps
4. Alexander Kirillov 17reps
4. Egor Golubev 17reps
5. Matti Heiskanen 16reps
6. David Horne 15 reps
7. Jedd Johnson 12 reps

Military Bench Press

I was really surprised more people did not try this one, since the Bench Press seems to be the most popular lift in the world. It does get much harder with the feet up in the air though. Don’t let anyone tell you picking your feet up doesn’t make the chest and triceps work harder, that is for sure.

Full Standings

1. Allan “Bench Monster” Jokinen 36 reps
2. Viktor Hlestov 25
3. Wayne Mealy jr. 24
4. Vano Sukhashvili 22
5. Matti Heiskanen 18
6. David Horne 17
7. Juha Harju 16
8. Jedd Johnson 14
8. Petri Partanen 14
9. Luke Raymond 13
10. Tom Scibelli 7
11. Travis Shaffer 6

IronMind #2.5 for Reps (20-mm Block)

I was shocked I came in 3rd here. To be perfectly honest, the #2.5 I used only rated 123-lbs, so it is lighter, but I also think I was just plain on when I got my 27 reps. I haven’t gotten past 20 in my other attempts since that day.

Top 9 Standings:

1. Juha Harju 31reps
2. Vano Sukhashvili 30 reps
3. Jedd Johnson 27 reps
4. Joshua Odell 17 reps
5. Serg Sankov 13 reps
6. Jon Vance 12 reps
6. David Wigren 12 toistoa.
7. Thomas Scibelli 10 toistoa
8. Juha Piironen 6 toistoa
8. J.Henze 6 toistoa
9. Luke Raymond 4 toistoa

2x15kg/2x35lb or 3x10kg/3x25lb Plate Pinch Hold for Time

This is the one that pissed me off. I was at like 30 seconds for the longest time. Then Luke scraped all the hammertone paint off and I was finally able to get a decent grip. Holding onto these things for the better part of a minute blows my mind. Awesome job to many different guys who accomplished this.

Top 10 Standings:

1. Juha Harju 2x15kg 95sec
2. Kody Burns 2x15kg 93sec
3. Grip monsta p. 2x15kg 74sec
4. Matti Heiskanen 2x15kg 73sec
5. Matti Harju 2x15kg 70sec
6. Pinch Master J 2×15 69sec
7. Jedd Johnson 2x15kg 55sec
8. Riku Karu 2x15kg 44sec
8. Juha Piironen 2x15kg 44sec
9. Vano Sukhashvili 3x10kg 42sec
10. Pasi Mehtälä 2x15kg 33sec

The period for submitting videos for these lifts has now gone by. As you can see, I didn’t win any of these challenges, BUT, I improved a great deal over the course of a month or two, just by putting focus on the lifts. You can do the same thing too. You don’t have to take part in a challenge on-line to do it either. If you are stagnant in your regular lifts, then do some different ones and get some progress going again.

A couple other challenges were added part way through and are live until January 11th, the Double Overhand Thumbless Deadlift and the 50-lb Blob to 50-cm. My back has been very achey, so I have not deadlifted heavy, but I did give the Blob50 to 50cm a try and am currently in 1st place.

Double OverHand ThumbLess DeadLift

Current Standings:
1. Juha Harju 230kg
2. Juha Piironen 200kg
3. Tatu Karhu 190kg
3. Mike Rinderle 190kg
4. J.Henze 183.5kg
4. John Wojciechowski 183.5kg
5. Juha Lehtimäki 170kg
6. David Miitti 161kg
7. Pyry Harju 45kg (13 years bw 37kg)

50-lb Blob to 50cm

I was pleasantly surprised to see this challenge listed.

Current Standings:

1.Jedd Johnson 15 reps
2.Juha Harju 14 reps
3.Nathaniel Brous 6 reps
4.Juha Piironen 3 reps

Will Juha be able to pull ahead of me? We shall see.

Also, Juha took a vote and has 4 other challenges that he will be maintaining lists for through the end of February. Check them out…

COC#3.5 Silver Bullet Timehold (2.5kg)

Tricep Dips with Extra Weight 1RM (bw+kg=total kg)

Ironmind Hub Lift 1 RM

Euro Pinch 80kg (As many reps as possible in 90sec)

2x20kg Plates Time Hold Left & Right Total Time

Like I said, I LOVE competition. Love it. I will be attempting as many of these challenges as I can fit in. It’s always fun to see your name in a standings list, even if it as the very bottom.

I hope to see many of you submitting videos for these challenges as well. Push yourself – You never know where you will end up!

All the best in your training,


The True Test of a Strong Man: Stone Lifting
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The Purest Test of Strength