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August of Arms 2015 – The Tale of the Tape

September 2nd, 2015

August of Arms 2015

August of Arms, the month where we train arms in some form or fashion all 31 days during the month of August, is complete.

I first got the idea of training arms for a month straight from Dave Depew, an arm-wrestler friend of mine out in California. With the results he saw last year, I just HAD to try it and went for it wholeheartedly in August of 2014, and encouraged others around the world to join in via Facebook and other Social Media.

August of Arms 2014 was such a success, having added very nearly 1 full inch on my arms during August last year, I decided I was going to do it again in 2015. Only this time, since so many people asked me to provide workouts for them, I put together an entire month of workouts for August of Arms 2015.

I am getting reports in from others, slowly but surely, and will be posting them here on the site soon, but before I get to that, I wanted to show you my personal results first.

August of Arms – The Beginning

To begin, I started out the month, just a shade under 19 inches for each arm, which is extremely close to where I ended last year. A lot of people were of the thinking the gains wouldn’t stay, but it is apparent that they did from August 31, 2014 to August 1, 2015.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the pictures I took of my arms at the beginning of the month…

August of Arms – Re-Measure Days

I did 2 re-measure days on August 10th and August 20th. On the 10th, I noted an increase of roughly 1/4″ on each arm, and by the 20th, I saw another 1/4″ added for 1/2″ total, two-thirds of the way through the month.

Here are the posts where I showed my re-measure pics:

Re-Measure Day 1 – August 10th

Re-Measure Day 2 – August 20th

With August coming a close, I did my 3rd re-measure day on August 31st, and the final measure is in the video below.

August of Arms – Performance Emphasis

In addition to sheer size increases, I also set the program up to increase overall strength, using high-resistance, low-rep strength endurance as well as low-resistance, high-rep strength endurance, in order to put an emphasis on increasing performance, on top of the overall size.

For these tests, I chose 4 exercises:

  • Biceps High Weight Strength Endurance: 135-lb Barbell Curl for Max Reps
  • Biceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: Poundstone 100-rep Barbell Curls AFAP
  • Triceps High Weight Strength Endurance: Close Grip Bench with Bodyweight for Max Reps
  • Triceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: 30lb 1 Arm French Press – 100 Reps AFAP

August of Arms – Before and After

In the below section, you’ll see the initial baseline test for each lift, followed by the re-test performance.

Part 1: Triceps High Weight Strength Endurance: Close Grip Bench with Bodyweight for Max Reps

Part 2: Biceps High Weight Strength Endurance: 135-lb Barbell Curl for Max Reps

Part 3: Triceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: 30lb 1 Arm French Press – 100 Reps AFAP

Part 4: Biceps High Weight Strength Endurance: 135-lb Barbell Curl for Max Reps (Again)

Part 5: Biceps Low Weight Strength Endurance: Poundstone 100-rep Barbell Curls AFAP

Part 6: The Measurements

As you can see, August of Arms 2015 was a success for me, in the way of size and strength (with the exception of the Barbell Curls). You’ll also see that August of Arms 2015 was also a success for many other individuals.

Just because August is over, don’t think you still can’t keep doing “August of Arms.” Some people got into it late and are yet to finish, so I expect to hear from more people about their gains and improvements.

Also, lifters are still picking up their copies of August of Arms in order to put together their month-long trek of Arm Training Specialization.

If you haven’t picked up August of Arms yet, it’s still available, and you can pick it up by clicking here: August of Arms – Arm Specialization Training.

Be sure to send in YOUR results from August of Arms when you’ve finished the program as well.

All the best in your training.


Strength Training and Injury Prevention for Throwing Athletes

August 28th, 2015

Strength Training and Injury Prevention for Throwing Athletes

Matt Ellis

Most athletes, whether you realize it or not, are throwers.

Think about it. The first throwing sports you may picture are the classics: Baseball, softball, the quarterback on the football team, the shot put, discus, and javelin throwers on the track and field team.

Those are the images that typically pop into your head when you think of a throwing athlete.

What you might not realize is that throwing motions are done in almost every sport. Think of a tennis player serving the ball, a volleyball player serving or spiking the ball, a basketball player making a big outlet pass

How about that same basketball player making a chest pass? Isn’t that a similar movement as a football lineman pushing his opponent?

What about the soccer player throwing the ball in from out of bounds?

Or the swimmer gliding through the water using the same repetitive motions with their shoulders?

These are all throwing motions!

When you participate in sports at the high rates athletes do today, you are bound to have shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger injuries.

Tommy John surgeries are on the rise as are rotator cuff injuries, labrum tears, and elbow tendonitis. I won’t bore you with the numbers, but the studies are out there and it is shocking how frequently these major injuries are happening each year and that the age of the athletes experiencing these injuries gets younger and younger

Youth sports are more popular than ever. Town rec leagues, church leagues, AAU, All Star, travel leagues, sport specific coaching facilities, position specific coaching, and youth/college showcase events mean your athletes can play their sport 12 months a year without taking a true off-season.

The constant repetitive motions along with specializing at a younger age means the overuse injuries that we used to see in college and professional sports are starting to happen at the middle school and high school level.

You can’t stop younger athletes from falling in love with one sport and specializing early. It happens!

The youth sports movement will continue to grow and overuse injuries will continue to happen at the middle and high school level…

But that doesn’t mean you have to just sit around and weight for throwing injuries to come about.

You can start modifying your training NOW to head those injuries off at the pass.

It’s all about making simple, subtle changes in your strength training.

Watch the video below NOW to learn SIMPLE alternative exercises to prevent injuries in your shoulders, elbows, and hands for all your “throwing athletes.”

In Addition to The Free Video Above,
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Strongman Feats: Performing at Mason’s Hope 5K Run/Walk

August 25th, 2015

There were Superheros all over the place, this past Sunday.

From little kids with their faces painted like the Ninja Turtles, Spider Man, and even characters from Frozen…

To the athletes who participated in the 5K Run/Walk…

To the entertainers who did their thing after the event was complete.

It was a day to celebrate the inspiration we get from one awesome little boy and his family.

Sunday, August 23rd, was the 2nd Annual Mason’s Hope 5k Run/Walk.

And I had the honor to be a part of it for the second year, perform classic oldetime strongman feats of strength.


Above, I’m blowing up a hot water bottle until it bursts…

The whole day of activities is dedicated to Mason Barto, a boy from Towanda, PA, who has CDG (Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation) and it keeps him from living the kind of life most youngsters enjoy.

However, despite the challenges he faces, physically, Mason and his family continue to be bright faces in the community and an inspiration for countless people.

I know that when I came home later on and did my August of Arms workout, thinking of Mason made me focus in and take things a little bit further than my body wanted to.

It truly is my privilege to be a part of this great day each year.

Below, you’ll see the video of the entire show I did, and after I finished up, local singer, Aaron Kelly, who was on season 9 of American Idol, gave a little concert as well.

A great day indeed. I hope you enjoy the videos.

Intro and Warm-up Bend – Bending a Horseshoe

A nod to Pat Povilaitis, “The Human Vise,” and first person I ever saw do this feat.

Bending a 60D with Aaron Kelly in my Arms

A nod to Dennis Rogers, Grandmaster Strongman, who made this feat famous.

Bending a Nail on the Bed of Nails

I invited Mason up to help me out with this one.

Kid Lifting with the Strongman Bench

The kids always have a lot of fun with this one. I got the idea from Strongman John Beatty, who was once on America’s Got Talent and performs strongman shows all over the country.

Breaking a Chain with Arm Strength

I wanted to do something cool involving Arm strength, so I decided to break a chain. Looking back, I wish I would have gone for a double chain break, because the single ended up being too light.

Ripping a Phone Book in Half

This was a Pittsburgh phone book, so I made a couple sports jokes before ripping this book in two.

Bending / Breaking a Hammer

This was a Pittsburgh steel hammer, so I worked the Pittsburgh sports joke in one more time. Somehow, the handle broke on this instead of the neck bending like it usually does, so it didn’t look as good as it usually does.

Bursting a Hot Water Bottle with Lung Power

The hardest challenge of the shoe, I always feel like I might pass out doing this one.

Dousing the Flaming Hammer

This is one of my signature feats, I guess, since I light it on fire and talk about my original interest in becoming a pro wrestler called Napalm Jedd. I also use it to salute Slim “The Hammer-Man” Farman, one of if not THE oldest living performing strongman.

Performing feats of strength is a fun and reward form of training, and I’d love to share my knowledge with you, via any of my various resources. Please check some of them out below and let me know if you have any questions as far as what can be the best fit for you.


All the best in your training.


August of Arms – Re-Measure Day 2

August 20th, 2015

August of Arms Update

Today is August 20th, so I did a Re-Measure Day.

To give you a re-cap, I started off the month, just under 19″ by a little bit. On the 10th, I was right around 19.25″, and now, it’s looking like I’m up to about 19.5″.

20150820_145302 20150820_145839

I gotta say, I think the biggest growth has happened in my triceps, especially my left one. Every so often, I’ll see my tris out of the corner of my eye, and think, “WOAH, they definitely seem bigger.”

Now I wish I would have taken a before and after measurement of my triceps flexed…oh well.

Hey, as small as the growth is, it’s still progress. And I’m beyond PUMPED to see it. This little experiment has worked so far, two years in a row.

I’d love to hear how your progress is going. Please leave a comment below.

If you’d still like to get your copy of the August of Arms Program, the low price of $27 is good through the entire month. Get it today => August of Arms.

You have the right to build BIG ARMS, and you can start doing it today!

All the best in your training.


The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

August 19th, 2015

The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

By: Chris Rice

    Preface by Jedd Johnson: Is it true you lose strength as you grow older? Are you able to retain any of that strength, or is it all just a lost cause? And if strength diminishes, in general, over the years, are there any forms of strength that we can hope to hold onto? These are questions that are being more and more common all the time…
    Chris Rice, while one of the oldest Grip Sport competitors, is also an experience strength athlete – PERIOD, having participated in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Strongman, and Kettlebell Sport, to name just a few of his endeavors over the years – and that’s just since I met him in 2003. He’s also an avid climber, going on several climbing expeditions every year.
    Chris is also a good writer, able to turn his thoughts into the written word with a distinct clarity, not always seen amongst all those in the iron game. It’s my pleasure to feature another piece from Chris. This time he answers the question, What effects does age have on grip strength? Take it away, Climber! -Jedd-

The Effects of Age on Grip Strength

Chris Rice, Grip Nationals 2010
4″ Wrist Roller

I’ve thought about writing this for a while now as I’m in a sort of unique position as I think I’m the oldest active Grip Sport competitor I know of at age 67. The decline in overall body strength with age seems fairly well accepted but the question of age on one’s hand and forearm strength seems much less clear. My overall body strength has certainly declined over the years in spite of my best efforts. I’m sorry about the fact I have to post numbers and this may come across as a bragging session but I don’t know how to talk about my progress since starting into the actual “sport” of grip without putting it into some kind of context that shows my gains were not what could be called “beginners gains”.

Some discussion of age related “peak” abilities should also be discussed. Our bodies seem to develop and then lose certain qualities in a certain order. Quickness and explosiveness seem to be a young man’s game – peaking in the early to mid-20s perhaps. Speed holds on a little longer but strength doesn’t seem to peak until later – perhaps mid to late 30s with a huge amount of variation on both sides of that number. But generally speaking by one’s middle 40s, some decline has started in overall body strength and all other physical attributes. This assumes of course that you have trained and continued to train and compete during the entire time period.

There are basically two kinds of “old” lifters – those who have trained hard consistently over their lifetime and those who started a good bit later in life. There are some considerable differences between the two. I started general weight training in 1959 so I have years of consistent training behind me. Starting training at a more advanced age is going to be considerable different in results – the so called “beginners gains” will occur at any age. It is never too late to start and expect significant increases in hand strength.

Another thing I have noticed is what might be called the accumulated loss of “resilience” – defined by Webster as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens” or “the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.” Years of life’s accumulated tweaks and injuries can make or break one’s abilities – and the longer one lives the more they add up. Please read this paragraph again as I think it’s hugely important. The importance of avoiding injury in training cannot be overstated. I have a large assortment of old injuries that I have to deal with that do affect my training and require constant therapy work.

I started the actual “sport” of Grip in 2003 when I found the GripBoard. At that time I had already owned the COC # 1 – 2 – and 3 for several years – I had bought them to try and help my climbing grip strength. I was able to close both the #1 and #2 right out of the package but not the #3 – I believe that if the COC 2.5 had existed then I could have closed it at that time as well.

I trained with them but they were no help for my climbing so I pretty much forgot about them until I found the GripBoard. By the time I found the GripBoard I had been climbing for around 20 years (and lifting consistently since 1959) and had done quite a bit of training towards that end. Lots of wrist curls – reverse wrist curls – very heavy finger curls – and hangboard routines plus years of hanging by my fingers on rock faces around the world. I had also been doing construction ever since I was a kid as a second job. I brought years of hard work and training with my hands with me when I discovered Grip as a sport – my base strength was already fairly well developed. So basically I was 55 years old with a long background of more general grip training when I first started any specific training for the events and feats of strength involved in the “sport of Grip”.

To answer the question of what happens to grip strength as one ages I think it is important to not only be aware of the strength levels that I brought with me from my “life” but to look at the progress I was able to make (or not make) in the different lifts and feats of strength through training in what might be called my “senior citizen” years. During this time period my bodyweight probably fluctuated by maybe 10# up and down – so an increase in body size was not a factor in any increases in strength. My hand size is 7 5/8” and has not changed – my hands may have gotten a little thicker but that’s only a guess. I don’t see the point in listing all the lifts I have done but some discussion of the basics and my progress might be of value.

Grippers – Grippers have a huge skill component considering the “set” used. My early attempts used no set – I placed it in my hand and squeezed – I had no concept of a “set”. My later closes were done with a so called parallel set or similar so a real comparison of actual “strength” is difficult. Age 55 no set – I closed a COC #2 at 104# gripper but I feel I could have done more if it had been available to me. Best competition close was a 20 mm block set of 156# around age 60 to 62. Best Credit Card close was a 146# COC #3 (not in competition). Best no set close ever is 142# on a narrow spread gripper. My best competition close choked to parallel was 192.8# and a COC #4 of 195# in training. So gripper strength improved both due to skill of setting and also I feel the muscles became a good bit stronger. I probably need to mention that I dislike grippers and almost never trained them. I personally feel the choked closes show “strength” levels better than closes done with any of the various “sets” used that seem to involve a high level of “skill”.

Block Weights DL and Clean – L&R handed – The “test” for block weight is the “Blob” or half of a 100# York dumbbell – which will weigh around 50# obviously. At age 55 I lifted an “easy” Blob the first time I actually saw one (I had been training with other types of block weights for a short time previously). Later on I lifted it both left and right handed and cleaned it left and right hand. Even later I was able to lift a “Fatman Blob” right handed to full DL. I feel hand size and the way my thumb sits was (is) somewhat of a limitation for blocks but mostly I just never got strong enough to do more. I did make substantial progress with plate pinching though as hand size and spread didn’t seem as limiting. I went from 2 -25s and 2 -35s right hand in the beginning to 2 -45s, 5 – 10s, and 3-25s both R & L hand within the last couple years.

Axle DO DL – Fat bar was something that I did not bring good natural strength to in my mind. I don’t remember my early numbers but I’ll guess maybe 320#? I have done 356# several times in competition and 363# as an extra attempt once (not official). Best training lifts were around 375 to 380#. These lifts were done with a max regular bar DL of around 400# which I think limited me somewhat – making the lift take a longer time to complete. I could at one time lift and hold for several seconds 420# in a short range rack pull. Progress was difficult in this lift for me and took a lot of work.

David Horne Euro Pinch – Probably the lift I seem to have had the best natural inclination for. It is also the lift I spent the most time figuring out how to do better on. I like to think I have increased this lift with a combination of strength increases and learning to take advantage of my personal strengths and weaknesses better and better. Going from memory only I think I did 180 something my first comp with the device and pretty quickly went to 195 – 200#. From there I made the decision to “become good” on this lift. I was one of the early guys to do bodyweight on it and spent a good bit of time tweaking my technique. Even with the age increase I have steadily been able to get small increases in this one to 235.78# for the current #17 position on NAGS.

DO Bending – When bending really got started I tried it and simply sucked – I struggled to bend pretty much anything. Then Frankyboy from Germany came to visit me and showed me some technique – in a matter of an hour or so I went from doing an IM Blue nail to just failing to finish a Grade 8 Bolt. Skill and position are absolute keys. Over time I increased to IM Red Nails and a best ever of a 5/16” x 6” Cut Red Nail or FBBC bar. But I was tearing my shoulders to pieces and quickly decided the risk was too great for me.

Reverse Bending – This came fairly naturally for me. With some training and technique work I was able to go from a beginning best of ¼’ x 6” Grade 5 Bolts to doing Red Nails reverse and a best competition bend of a 6” piece of Drill Rod in competition (I don’t remember the poundage rating but it had been rated by Eric Milfield (the number 505# comes to mind but may be off). I think I had fairly good wrist strength from all the life work I had done and mostly needed better positions and technique.

Sledge Hammer Choke – relatively speaking a newer competition lift – I seemed to do well quickly on it with no training before that first contest. I did better in the second competition on it but I never trained it “directly” but did a lot of work with the “Wrist Thingy” in training that I feel had a very positive impact. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time working with sledge hammers and axes.

The take-away, I guess, is that from the age of 55 to a current age of 66 – and with a long history of previous training – I increased every grip related lift or test number by either a small or fairly large margin. In some cases, I think much of those results were due to technique but I feel my “strength” actually got better as well in all areas.

Currently I am not training grip towards competition but am climbing quite a bit – but I do intend to do a few more contests over the next few years – it is my hope to compete at age 70 and set Masters age group records in that class.

At that point I will consider retirement.

Time will tell.

At least in this experiment of one – grip strength has not seemingly suffered the same decline as the rest of my body strength.

-Chris Rice-

Check out this other article from Chris Rice: Grip Training for Beginner Climbers