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Build a Big Back with Pendulum Rows

July 7th, 2015
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Last year, in May, I performed a Strongman Show during the Bodybuilding Contest at the Empire Classic Fitness Expo in Spokane, Washington.

I also assisted with several other events that were part of the Expo, including a Strongman contest, and that’s where I met Luke Ehlis, one of the competitors in the Strongman Contest.

Luke had been a bodybuilder prior to the Strongman Comp, and I was extremely impressed with his prowess in Strongman.

Let’s face it – you don’t often see competitive bodybuilders who are able to crossover in Strongman competition and excel, but Luke did.

What’s even more impressive, to me, about Luke is that he trains primarily in his garage, not some giant warehouse gym, not some fancy fitness center, but his own garage gym at his home.

I’ve stayed in touch with Luke since the contest and have an interview with him planned, and since then, I’ve enjoyed watching Luke’s videos on Instagram and Facebook, because the dude is an innovator.

One of the things I saw him do recently was what I refer to as a Pendulum Row. In a recent video, he attached a Bar to his Reverse Hyper device, and used the hanging weight as the resistance for his Bent Over Rows.

I thought that was awesome, because I knew it would feel completely different from a regular Bent Over Row.

This past weekend, my lifting partner, Lucas Raymond, and I got the chance to try out these Pendulum Rows, and they are KILLER!

Build Your Back with Pendulum Rows

These are so stinkin’ Intense, brotherrr! The swinging action of the Reverse Hyper makes the weight pull away from you at the highest point of the Row. What I was trying to do was to get a good, solid pause at the top of the movement, but it was HARD!

To challenge our grip more, we used the FBBC Crusher, which is a free-spinning thick bar handle, much more difficult to use than the Rolling Thunder, plus, we were flexing our wrist into a partial gooseneck position, which made these even more difficult to do.

I’m telling you right now, these are a WINNER for your back training. The way you have to brace your core on these is just plain sinister. You feel them BIG TIME in your back. Try them if you dare.

Stay tuned for an interview with Luke Ehlis, as soon as I can get my act together.

All the best in your training.

Jedd

P.S. August of Arms is coming. GET READY.

P.P.S. If you want even more cool ideas to build a bigger upper back and thicker set of traps, check out YOKETOBER:

Big Back Workout – Build a Big Back

June 30th, 2015

Last week, I travelled to Juniata College, for the Juniata Strength and Conditioning Clinic.

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Before Day 1, I hooked up with Jerry Shreck and Cody Miller, both from Bucknell Strength and Conditioning, and we hit a nice, quick, solid back workout.

It’s always fun to hit a workout in a different gym from time to time, because you get to try stuff you wouldn’t normally get to, especially when you usually train in a garage gym.

Here are some clips we got from this Big Back Workout. Believe me, my lats, posterior delts, and the rest of my back were PUMPED for hours from this one.

Warm-up 1 – Peg Board

It was a chore getting warmed up. We were rushed, hadn’t had any coffee, no breakfast, and got poor sleep, so the regular full-body joint mobility-style warm-up I am used to just wasn’t cutting it.

That’s when we spotted the Peg Board in the next room, and that’s when the blood finally started pumping.

What we did: +/- 3 sets each

Warm-up 2 – Freedom Climber

Right in the same room, on the same wall, even, Juniata had a “Freedom Climber.” I’ve never even heard of these before, let alone seen one, but we were both excited to try it out. With this one, the further you climb to one side, the quicker it turns. For me, the grip was no problem. The issue was the footwork – I couldn’t move my feet fast enough to stay on the holds. Really fun device – can’t imagine what it costs though.

What we did: +/- 3 sets each

Exercise 1 – Dumbbell Rows

Now, we were warm, so we headed back into the training center. We started off with Dumbbell Rows. I was interested in trying something heavy, upwards of 150, but the heaviest they had was 125, so I stuck with those and tried to keep the reps slow and controlled. This was great, my back was blown up.

What we did: 3-5 sets each of 8 to 10 reps, emphasizing control

Exercise 2 – Cable Pull-Downs

This might be one of the toughest Cable Pull-downs I ever tried. I rarely fail to get a rep on the full stack of a Cable Pull-down, but I literally could not do it on this piece. Jerry and I mixed up the tempo and range of motion of our repetitions on this one to try to mix things up and make our backs grow!

What we did: 5 sets each of 8 to 15 reps, manipulating ROM & tempo

Exercise 3 – Football Bar Curls

The Football Bar is something I don’t have in my gym, so I made sure to hit this before leaving. Naturally, we took it directly to the Squat Cage, the best place to hit Curls in the gym of them all.

What we did: 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps on each handle

Jerry and I packed this workout into about an hour or so, and I was very happy with it, especially considering the struggles we were having in getting rolling.

It was great training with Jerry, too. We always come up with some pretty intense stuff to push each other with. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to work in some Trap work and some Triceps. Hopefully next time!

All the best in your training.

Jedd

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Never Count Yourself Out – Double Inch Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk

June 22nd, 2015

As I always say, don’t EVER count yourself out.

At the beginning of last Thursday’s session, I was questioning if it was even a good idea to train with all the aches and pains I had all over my body. It was hard getting warm, and it seemed like even the equipment was working against me, as my Pull-down Machine was giving me a hassle and so was my Glute Ham.

It would have been easy to just say, “Screw It,” and wrap the session up before it even started, but Luke was making the drive down, so I just put my head down forged ahead.

The resolve paid off BIG TIME, as I had what I can only describe as my absolute best day of thick bar training in my lifetime.

I’ve rarely been able to even Deadlift 2 Inch Dumbbells more than once in my lifting career, so to be able to carry them multiple times in one session is out of this world for me.

What’s crazy is my best DIFW probably would have been my first one, but I wasn’t prepared to even walk them. They just felt good when I stood up, so I decided to take a few steps and had to set them down because I ran out of platform to carry them on.

My training has definitely been dialed in as of late. I thank God for that.

After years and years of Inch Dumbbell Frustration, it is nice to have finally carried these beasts a few times the other day. I pretty much carried them on Thursday, in that one session, just as many times (if not more) than I have carried them in all the rest of my life, put together.

Next time, I gotta get them outside for some REAL distance!

All the best in your training!

Jedd

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Mash Monster #3 Certification Attempt #12

June 15th, 2015

Mash Monster Gripper Certification

Last week, for the 12th time (or something like that) since 2004, I attempted the Mash Monster #3 Gripper. Here is some history about this Gripper line and my battles with the MM3.

The Mash Monster Grippers

The Mash Monster Grippers are a series of Grippers at Gripboard.com that has existed since 2004 to crown the ultimate King of Crushing.

The Mash Monsters were all produced by Warren Tetting, so they are essentially the same springs and handles as you would find in the Beef Builder and Tetting series.

Tetting has produced grippers for decades and the Mash Monster series is just as high of quality as his other gripper lines.

What makes the Mash Monster Grippers so awesome is that they are a very detailed incremental system of grippers, with gradually increasing spring sizes and gradually modified spring depths, so you have a ladder of grippers that are slightly harder with each rung you climb.

My Battles with the Mash Monster Grippers

I began my climb up the Mash Monster ladder in 2004 and quickly closed the MM1 and the MM2.

When I tried the MM3, however, it was a different story. I missed my first attempt, which I believe was in early 2005.

I think a few weeks later, I tried the MM3 again, and once again I had no luck.

Ever since then, I have tried, on average, one time a year to close the MM3, and every single time I have failed.

It has actually become quite a funny story amongst some of my friends. Of course, many of these friends have never tried the MM3…ha ha ha, in your face. WOOOH!

Last week, I decided it was time to get this monkey off my back.

I signed up for the MM3 and it arrived on Wednesday. I took my attempts on Thursday night, and here is the video of all 3 of my attempts.

Jedd Johnson Mash Monster #3 Gripper Attempts – 6/11/15

As you can see, I was definitely able to close the gripper on the 1st and 2nd attempts. I felt it was closed on the 3rd when I took the attempts, but by the video it is hard to tell.

Unfortunately, despite my closing the gripper more than once, I was failed because I was unable to properly document the spacing of the handles after the set and before the crush-down attempt.

The Mash Monster Rules state there must be a clear shot showing that the handles are no closer together than parallel, so I was red-lighted.

I will sign up for the MM3 again very soon and put more attention on my setting for the camera.

Despite all that, I must say that this is without a doubt the STRONGEST my Crush has ever been.

After missing so many times, I am now closing the Mash Monster #3 Gripper.

On top of that, I PR’d in Grippers with both hands at Nationals on June 6th, closing a 180-rated gripper right-handed, and that felt much harder to me than the MM3.

All of this progress has come from following the structure of CBT, Cadence Based Gripper Training, a program I released in the Fall of 2014.

If you haven’t started following CBT in your gripper training, you should.

I KNOW the Cadence Based Training program will help you. Let me prove it to you.

Pick it up today => Cadence Based Gripper Training

All the best in your training.

Jedd

North American Grip Sport Championship 2015

June 10th, 2015

This past weekend was “Nationals,” the North American Grip Sport Championship.

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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.

Grippers

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.

Wrist Roller

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.

Medley

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.

Jedd

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!

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