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Intense Upper Body Training – Upper Body Crush Lifts


This Training is Intense

This post will show you how to incorporate a new style of training that can be used as a finisher for your chest, back, arm day, or wherever else you’d like to place it in your training.

I’ve recently re-introduced myself to a pretty cool new training method that I call Upper Body Crushing.

I originally discovered this type of training when I was researching for and outlining my Nail Bending eBook. I was looking for ways simulate the movement pattern of crushing steel down to the minimum two inch distance between the handles, and learned about chest crushing a #4 gripper using upper body strength
and power.

What I found out at the time was I was already bending steel that was harder to crush down than the handles of the #4 gripper. However, it did get my mind going and I happened upon a couple of ways to use the same concept only a bit differently in order to increase my upper body strength.

Upper Body Crushing is the coordinated firing of the muscles of the front and the back of the torso as well as the shoulders to squeeze the palms of the hands together in order to hold something isometrically.

To visualize this, think of squeezing as hard as you can on a basketball, with your palms as if you are trying to make it burst.

When doing so, the pecs, delts, lats, teres major, triceps and biceps are all firing very hard, creating what has been referred to as a Circle of Strength. Bending Steel is much easier to do if you can complete this Circle of Strength.

Eric Godfrey coined this term long ago on his steel bending site and I referenced it in my Nail Bending eBook. I was saddened to find out that Eric’s website seems to have disappeared from the ‘Net. I know Eric was, the last I knew, in the Armed Services, and I surely hope everything is alright with him.

Another way to think about it is what I call Hydraulic Tension. Think of it as squeezing that basketball harder and harder with all the might of your upper body, only instead of exploding into it, think of gradually increasing the exertion while moving very slowly over a distance. This is Hydraulic Tension and even though movement is sometimes imperceiveable or nonexistent, this pressure heats the steal until it is weakened enough to cause it to give way, at which point movement starts and the steel is soon finished off.

Like I said, this article is not about Steel Bending, although these training methods can be used by those who dabble with feats of strength to improve their abilities at bending nails and bolts as well as long bars.

Upper Body Crushing actually hits all of the muscles of the torso hard, and it hits them all at the same time, so you have a large area of musculature being hit at one time, which in turn can increase the number of calories you burn, and the amount of muscle building hormones you generate in your body.

But what’s great about this style of training is that there is little to no eccentric action of the musculature. This means there will be less microscopic damage and you can perform the lifts more often without worrying about DOMS or how it will affect you the next time you work these body parts.

Also, because you can use relatively small objects with this training, it enables you to incorporate movement of the lower body as well, so you have the option of performing movements such as squats and deadlifts, thus further increasing the amount of musculature being brought into play, and with it the number of calories burned and the amount of athleticism triggered.

Examples of Upper Body Crushing

Below are several examples and illustrations of how to perform various Upper Body Crushing movements.

Kettlebell Crush

The Kettlebell Crush involves grasping a kettlebell by the bell in a double palm grip and holding it for time. You will instantly feel the demand that a movement like this has on your body when you perform the Kettlebell Crush, especially if you are using a very heavy kettlebell. If you do not have a kettlebell, you can also use a block weight, a medicine ball, or other similar object.

Kettlebell Good Morning

The Kettlebell Good Morning involves grasping a kettlebell by the bell and lifting it from a bench or floor and taking it up to the standing position. From there, a Good Morning / Waiter’s Bow movement is performed for repetitions, bringing the lower back, glutes and hamstrings more into play. This one is tough, so prepare to get some sweat going with this one.

Banded Kettlebell Crush Squats

When inverting a kettlebell for this style of training, the handle becomes an excellent anchor point for a JumpStretch band. Once one end of the band is choked to the handle, the other end can be looped around the feet and then the squatting can begin. Again, make sure you are squeezing tight and save a rep in the tank. This way you can set the kettlebell down under control and the band tension doesn’t pull the kettlebell down on your foot or something like that.

Pre-Exhaust Crush Tosses

To perform a Pre-Exhaust Crush Toss, take the implement you are using, whether it is a kettlebell, medicine ball, block weight, etc., and first perform hydraulic tension Kettlebell Crushes for a predetermined length of time and then perform a chest pass using just your upper body. You will feel the fatigue set in from the pre-exhaust crushing big time, especially in the insertions of your tricep and your delts.

Video Demonstration of Upper Body Crush Lifts

Go Get Your MUSCLE!

Right there is just a handful of ways you can incorporate Upper Body Crushing into your routine. As I pointed out before, this type of training can be a great finisher for your chest, back, shoulders, or arms day. If you don’t break your sessions up by body part, and you go for more of a full body approach, then some of these variations will be perfect for you as well.

Give these a try and let me know what you think. I think you’re going to like them as a finisher. They also work great as the last lift in a series, such as with giant sets and compound sets.

All the best in your training,


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P.S. If you are interested in using this technique for strengthening your crush-down for bending, I suggest using a narrower implement that more closely resembles the width that the nail or bolt will be when finishing it off, such as a board, pinch block, or other narrow implement. For more innovative ideas on how to improve your steel bending, check out the Nail Bending eBook = > How to Bend Nails

P.P.S. Subscribe to my YouTube channel:

Jedd Johnson on YouTube

Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball | How to Bend Nails | How to Tear Cards | Feats of Grip Strength Explained | How to Build Your Own Equipment | How to Lift Atlas Stones | The Sh*t You’ve Never Seen | Sled Dragging for Athletes | The Road to the Record DVD

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9 Responses to “Intense Upper Body Training – Upper Body Crush Lifts”

  1. David Says:

    So I figure you would use this as more of a finisher on an upper body/total body day, but what would recommend in terms of sets, reps, length of time, etc?

  2. Jerry Shreck Says:

    I have done that similar crushing movement with medicine balls and then adding the squat and a jump representing a rebound for my basketball players. I can’t believe I have never thought of using the kettle bells. Guess what we are going to be using in the future? Thanks brother for the post!!

  3. Jim Smith Says:

    Sure thing Jerry. Enjoy bro.


  4. Ken Rogers Says:

    Wow this workout just sounds tough. Upper body crushing, awesome. I will definitely be trying this out in the next couple of days. I’m a big fan of kettlebell workouts. Thanks for another challenging workout move.

    Ken Rogers

  5. Jedd Johnson Says:

    It’s going to depend on how heavy of kettlebells you have. I would go for a timed hold for max time with heavy bells for the basic crush. For the other stuff, like the Good AM’s I’d say 3 to 6 reps , but again it depends on how heavy of bells you are working with. The throws, you are probably good with triples. The squats, it’s going to depend on the band tension you use.


  6. Jeff Lee Says:

    In general how much pressure is required to chest crush CoC #4? same as what IronMind rated at 365 lbs?

  7. Jedd Johnson Says:

    In most cases, on a Gripper Calibrating Device, #4 Grippers rate around 200-lbs at close.

  8. Stan Says:

    Have any of grip athletes try crushing a coconut? I want to see if it’s possible to crush a coconut (maybe Tommy Heslep or Joe Kinney might able to do it). I bet it is equal to very close to closing Warren Tetting beast gripper rated at 1500 lbs since coconut takes over 1000 lbs to crush.

  9. Jedd Johnson Says:

    I am not sure about this one my friend. I have never heard of anyone trying to crush one, except for Roddy Piper smashing one over Jimmy Snuka’s head.

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