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Everything Happens for a Reason

I have an awesome story to share with everybody in the Diesel Universe.

So, my driver’s license is going to expire
on like December 4th, and every time this happens I wait too long and usually my license expires and I drive around illegal for a couple weeks before I finally go to the DMV and get it updated.

I decided that I would make this year different and went today to get it done, roughly 6 weeks before it expired. It was about 10:00 AM when I left.

So, I get in my car and my GPS is in there, so I figured I’d see what the truly shortest route is to the DMV from my house. I live in the countryside of Pennsylvania, and there are lots of back-roads I am not aware of, and it is always nice to know multiple routes, so I followed the GPS lead and got there about 10:30AM, because I had to follow a bunch of Natural Gas trucks through the mountains.

I get out of my Exploder and look at my license card and I see that it says I have Hazel eyes. “That’s not right,” I say to myself. So when I go inside and walk up to the desk, I point it out to the attendant, and she tells me to take a number. Five seconds into what would be a 45-minute wait, I realize that I have made a serious tactical error, so I pull out my Blackberry and proceed to get a new Personal Record in Word Mole…I rake at Word Mole.

Finally, it is my turn to go back and get my card corrected and I finally get my picture taken. I was becoming very frustrated with the delay that was building in this whole process, but when I saw how great my new license card came out, “relief washes over me in an awesome wave.”

So, I get in my car a little after 11 AM and I begin to realize how extremely hungry I am. It then pops into my mind that I will have to drive past the Chinese place in order to get home, and with it being lunch time, the price is cheaper, so I head that way to get my eat on.

When I get there, the place is packed and I lose interest in seating down to put my feedbag on, so instead I grab a carry-out container, load it with the Greatest Hits, pay for it, and head out.

Now, what happens next is the most important part, so please don’t hate me for dragging you through all this.

Before I get to that part, keep in mind that until this point, I have done roughly a half dozen things that I did not need to do. I did what I felt like doing, or what I felt would be good. I wasn’t going by a routine or a schedule. I was just going with the flow.

When I get to the door, there are at least ten people there wanting to come in, so I hold the door open for them. As I hold the door I look out to my car at how bad the back of it sags from carrying around Inch Dumbbells and Blobs, and other grip equipment all over the countryside for the first couple of years I owned it, and as I am looking, I see this huge figure cross between my eyes and my Exploder.

“Man that dude is a big son of a gun,” I thought to myself.

I looked again, and to my surprise, the gigantic figure that was blocking my view to my car was none other than Phil Pfister.

If you don’t know who Phil Pfister is, I will tell you. Phil Pfister won the World’s Strongest Man championship in 2006, becoming the first American to do so since 1982. At 6 feet, 6 inches and around 350lbs, the guy casts a pretty substantial shadow.

So, I stand there holding the door and introduce myself and it turns out he is in town for the night having just done a speaking engagement at the high school I attended as a teenager. “You need a place to train tonight, brother,” I say. “You should come over to my place tonight. I’ve got everything.”

“How’s 4 PM sound,” says Phil. “It sounds great!” Phil takes my number and I rush home to straighten up my garage a bit for the workout.

So, I meet Phil about 4 PM and he follows me to my house and we train for about 2.5 hours.

I show him around my gym, and he falls in love with my Stronger Grip equipment, especially the Stronger Grip Club and Mace, so we take them along with my Demolition Club out to the concrete pad in my yard and get warmed up with it. I PR’d on the Demolition Club, getting two sets of two gama casts – Awesome.

Demolition Club – 89lbs of SICK!

Then we move on to Tire Flips. Phil was just getting warmed up still and hit a couple doubles on the tire with ease. I did a few singles. It’s cold out, so we go back into the garage for some log press.

We manage to hold off for about an hour, and then the Grip Feat onslaught takes place. Here’s a run-down of everything we tried…

Two Hands Pinch: Phil gets roughly 230lbs on it, which puts him near the top 10 in the world first time touching it. I’m fairly certain with an additional 10-mil insert in there he could add another 20lbs if not more. I have two cut up thumbs, but was able to get 243 roughly 6 inches off the floor and controlled it on the way down.

Wrist Developer: This thing is a serious bastard to work with. I think the first time I worked on it I got level 4 or something like that. Phil proceeds to hit Level 3, 4, 5, and 6 with ease. He takes two tries to get Level 7. I work up to either a good attempt at 8 or it was damn close. I know it felt like I had solid contact, but I couldn’t hear it click and it was shaking so bad I couldn’t see it. That matches my best ever. I did not try level 9.

Blobs: Phil deadlifted it with ease the hard way and then made it look even easier the easy way. He wasn’t able to lift it by the face, but that is a very hard way to lift it the first time you try, even with hands the size of Phil’s. I got it by the face pretty easy, as I have most recently been training to lift the Fatboy Blob by the face, which is much harder.

Anvils: I have two anvils here right now. One is the standard 55lb anvil and the other is a big gruesome 120lber on loan from Rick Walker. We started out with the big 120, trying to pinch lift it by the top. In all the months I have been training to do this, I have managed to break it off the floor only once and it was roughly one inch. I hit hard with some good chalk and managed to pop it off the floor on my first try. Phil then proceeded to air lift it at least 6 inches off the floor. I let out this big scream because I thought he was going to deadlift it. I then get it about 4 inches off the floor for a nice partial PR.

Vertical Bar: We set up the 2″ Vertical Bar and worked up to a max lift. Phil gets 280lbs with one of his hands and misses with the other. I was able to get 260lbs. This was pretty late in the game. I think he can probably get 300lbs fresh.

Rolling Thunder: I set a new PR on the new handle, with a lift of 190lbs with each hand. 200lbs was welded to the floor. I forget what Phil got with the new handle, but he got about 230 with the old handle. By this point his grip was completely wasted.

All told, I hit like 6 PR’s and had a very memorable workout with one of the most famous strongman competitors in United States History. It was an incredible experience.

And none of it would have happened if I hadn’t decided to hold the door for those people, or get Chinese, or take a new route to the DMV, or decided to even get my license card updated today.

What does this all mean?

Don’t be bound to a schedule all the time. Have a plan but don’t be a slave to it.

Do something different for a change. Expand your boundaries. Continue to stretch yourself with your life, your training, your relationships, and who knows what come about from it.

I had the best training session I’ve had since August, because I looked down in my center console and saw my GPS laying there…

Here’s a couple pictures I got with Phil after the session was over.

Here, you can see that Phil is saying I am number 1,
as in the #1 best story teller in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Phil shows off his monster Pinky Pad
while I try to pry his big meaty hand off of mine.

We compare thumbs. I think I’ve got him by a bit. What do you guys think?

All kidding aside, I had a great time tonight. It was awesome having Phil push me and I fed off his intensity for some solid PR’s. I really need a full-time partner.

Phil, you’re invited back anytime, brother.

All the best in your training.


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34 Responses to “Everything Happens for a Reason”

  1. Rick Walker Says:

    Awesome Jedd….just Awesome!! Wish I could have made it. I am glad you had the chance to do this man, I know it meant everything to you.

    As far as needing a full time partner…maybe I need to make the drive every Saturday….

  2. Kevin Greto Says:


    ps: I was wondering what that roped cone with an vertical bar attached to it was when I was over last week, Strongergrip explains it all. Sweet Demolition Club.

  3. irontamer Says:

    Awesome story. And Phil is HUGE, he makes you look like a little kid!

  4. Andrew Durniat Says:

    I knew those mitts would produce some good lifts. Tremendous occasion. I felt tiny sitting next to Phil on stage at the Arnold in March.

  5. David Horne Says:

    Great stuff!

    Glad you had a cool time.

  6. odin Says:

    Great story Jedd! It’s amazing what happens when we get out of our ruts and try something different.

  7. Todd Says:

    Dude that is freakin’ incredible! World’s Strongest Man was my first exposure to any ‘strongman’ stuff, what a dream come true.
    I work out alone now, but in high school and college I worked out with dudes stronger than myself (not too hard, I stay around 170-175 when I’m in shape)…I ALWAYS thought that training with dudes a step or two above me in strength did nothing but help me. Your PR’s can attest to that. Cool!

  8. Jedd Johnson Says:

    @ Todd – Yeah man. It really drove me having Phil here. What an experience.

  9. Jedd Johnson Says:

    @ Bob – Yeah man. Unbelievable. Makes me want to go for Chinese again today! HA!

  10. Jedd Johnson Says:

    @ David – Thanks bro. It was a good night. We did a decent amount of training outside and we didn’t get chilled or anything. Awesome.

  11. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Andrew – He’s a big dude, but very down to Earth as well.

  12. Jason Steeves Says:

    Great post Jedd!

  13. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Jason – Thanks brother! It was a great night. My thumbs are a little sore and my back is tired from the tire, but I am ready to hit it hard again tonight.

  14. Jim Smith Says:

    @irontamer – I know. My face hurts from all the smiling I was doing too, by the way.

  15. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Kevin –
    Yeah, I use the Demolition Club to hold the rope neatly and keep it out of the way. I forgot to write about the rope stuff he and I did. I’ve never seen anybody do this kind of stuff before. It was awesome.

  16. Jim Smith Says:

    @Rick – As far as I am concerned, you are welcome to come up any time you want to. We can start with a Powerlifting or Strongman movement, do a couple ancillaries and finish with Grip.

    However, before you do that, I need to get down to your place.


  17. Jerry Shreck Says:

    Alright brother-I guess that is a good reason why you did not stop by!

  18. Bryan Says:

    Nothing short of awesome!! I can’t even imagine how psyched you were to have that monster in your own home to train with. May be one of those “once in a lifetime” moments.

  19. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Bryan – Thanks bro!

  20. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Jerry – Sorry brother!

  21. Ben Edwards Says:

    AWESOME story and write-up Jedd!!!!! That is one of the coolest stories I’ve ever read. Love it and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy than you man. Phil sounds like a class act too!

  22. Harlan Jacobs Says:

    Way cool Jedd. I met Phil in 2000 in The North America’s Strongest Man contest. Just a hell of a nice guy. He was not near as big then.

  23. Frank Says:

    That’s awesome! Get any videos of anything?

  24. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Frank – Nah man. I wasn’t worried about the video, really. Maybe sometime in the future though.

  25. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Harlan – He’s trimmed down a bit. Much slimmer than at the Arnold this year.

  26. Jim Smith Says:

    @ Ben – Thanks Ben. Yeah he is a class act.

  27. Tom Says:

    I meet Phil in Hawaii, he is a great guy & an awesome rep for out sports

  28. Jim Smith Says:

    No doubt brother!

  29. Boris Bachmann Says:

    Wow! What a great day!

    I can certainly understand why he’s called “Penis Fingers” after seeing those pics!

  30. Luke Wold Says:

    That freakin’ rocks!

  31. Barry Gibson Says:

    Awesome that Jedd – nice job on the PRs too 😉

  32. luke Says:

    Nice work you should be proud you hanged with one of the worlds strongest men.

  33. Jedd Johnson Says:

    @ Barry – Thanks a lot brother!

  34. Jedd Johnson Says:

    @ luke – I am very thankful for the opportunity and grateful that Phil took time out of his schedule to come hit a training session. Thanks.

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