My members at TheGripAuthority.com are always pushing themselves, and if there is a Grip Contest going on in the United States, you can bet that some of them have their eyes set on it, just like King Kong to the right.
In October, Eric Roussein will be holding a world-wide competition called the King Kong Grip Challenge, and this contest is no different, as at least two of my guys are getting ready to compete in it.
I was asked to put something together around this contest because of its interesting selection of events.
At the King Kong Grip Challenge, these are the events:
1 Hand Axle Deadlift
1 Hand Euro Pinch
IronMind Little Big Horn
The events that will be held in King Kong Grip Challenge are not the most common events. While all of them have appeared in contests before, they are not perennially featured events, and very little information is out there about them.
Naturally, I wanted to provide as complete information as possible for those planning to test themselves in this competition, so I also put together a video about strategy for this type of contest, and I did a technique demonstration for each event as well.
So, you are getting much more than just a workout.
This is a 2-Day Workout. I thought it best to set it up this way for two reasons.
1. All of the events are 1-handed. Training 4 different events all in one day will always cause one or two of the events to be trained with hands that are far too exhausted to get a good indication of progress, so two events are trained on one day, and the other two are trained on the other, along with a short gripper workout.
2. Since some of these events are uncommon, I knew most people would have to dedicate more time to some of them in order to get complete conditioning and development. Most just have not trained lifts like the 1-hand axle and the little big horn, so they need more dedicated time.
So, not only are you getting 1 workout, but 2.
Naturally, you can place the days wherever you like during the week, however it works for you. You can even switch days for certain events if you’d like. I set the days up like I did for the following reasons:
1. Thick Bar has a tendency to mess up gripper performance, so I put those on two separate days.
2. 1 Hand Euro and the Hub both work the thumbs, so I placed them on two separate days so they did not interfere with one another as much.
3. 1 Hand Axle and Little Big Horn are the two heaviest events, so I split them up, one on each day.
I think this workout will help you with your programming for the King Kong Grip Challenge. Any questions you have about personalizing this for your needs, just let me know.
A couple months ago, some of the guys from TheGripAuthority.com were talking in our Facebook Forum about Grip Contests.
They made mention of the fact that where they live, there are rarely, if ever, any Grip Contests anywhere remotely close.
They said, since they’d have to travel in order to compete (and they want to compete in a comp like caged wild dogs want to eat raw T-bone steaks), they figured, “Hey, if we’ve got to travel to compete anyway, we might as well travel to Jedd’s place and compete so he can show us how to do it right.”
These guys reached out to me, and I thought it was a great idea. These guys would be able to get their feet wet in Grip Sport, and I would be able to help them out every step along the way.
If you are looking to compete in Grip Sport, this is a GREAT contest for you to attend. And if you are a complete beginner, you should definitely consider it. Many people who have confirmed that they are coming have never competed in contests before.
Here is the info on the contest.
Date: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Start Time: 10AM
Weight Classes: All official NAGS weight classes will be run, provided the contestants send their entry forms prior to to 9/21/13. My scale will be point calibrated, so that your lifts will be official for the NAGS Records Lists.
I will put demonstrational videos up for the execution of all of the lifts at TGA, another benefit of being a member.
Here is a video about the contest. It contains links to other videos that give more specific info on the contest.
Airlines: 3 airlines are almost all within the same distance to my place: Scranton/Wilkes Barre International, Elmira/Corning NY and Binghampton NY. My town I am in is Wyalusing.
There are a lot more hotels around than there were the last time I ran a big comp, so I will get that information out to you.
Rick Walker (possible depending on family events)
Jedd Johnson Definite
Colt Anstine & Wife
Chez (depending on injuries)
Karl M. Skjelvik (paid)
Questions? Post below if you do not see the answer here.
All the best in your training, and I look forward to seeing you here in Wyalusing, PA.
Need Help Preparing for the Holdfast Gauntlet? Join me at TheGripAuthority.com and Let’s Get Your Ready for the Platform
A few months back, I was contacted by woman looking for coaching for Grip Sport. While this in itself is awesome, I was even more impressed to find out that it was none other than successful Strongwoman and Highlander Games competitor, as well as Elite FTS-sponsored athlete, Amy Wattles.
After setting a new world record in the women’s division, I asked her if she could take the time for a short interview, and she obliged. If YOU have any additional questions for Amy, leave them in the comment box and I will get them to her. Enjoy the interview. -Jedd-
Jedd: Amy, tell us a little bit about your athletic background.
Amy: I am currently a nationally ranked strongwoman competitor, compete in highland games and as of this past week now compete in Grip Sport.
My athletic background growing up was pretty typical and there was nothing remarkable about it except I was above average in the sports I played. At that time girls didn’t really go into the weight room much and if they did, I was first in line to make fun of them.
There weren’t many strength athletes or opportunities available to me at that time. Or perhaps it’s better to say, I wasn’t aware of those opportunities. This was at a time when the internet didn’t exist so accessing strength training opportunities and resources was far more difficult than it currently is.
I’ve always been athletic and played softball and volleyball as a child all the way through high school. I actually stopped playing volleyball my final year in high school to do a few beauty pageants. In hindsight that’s hilarious. I’m not sure what I was even thinking but it was a good time. Truth be told, I did it to try something different.
In one of the pageants, I was on stage giving what was supposed to be a heart filled, moving speech. In the middle of my speech I burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. I was hunched over, slapping myself on my knee just laughing and laughing. The more I tried to contain myself, the harder I would laugh. I learned pretty quickly that I was probably better suited for other activities. In the end, a girl can’t hide who she is no matter how much make up, big hair and fancy dresses she has.
Jedd: How did you get involved in strength sports?
Amy: When I started college, I was enrolled in a few weight lifting classes and loved the exposure to the weight room. I walked into the weight room being able to squat 315 raw. It was at that point my husband Matt convinced me that I was pretty strong. I took his word for it, I had nothing else to compare it to.
In the back of my mind I thought 315 wasn’t too much, 405 would have been impressive. It’s that mind set that still sticks with me. I haven’t decided if it’s a positive or negative influence on my training.
There have only been a handful of times in my career when I felt really good about a lift or performance. There’s always a voice in the back of my head telling me that a lift wasn’t big enough, I could have been quicker, someone else could have done something I wasn’t able to, etc.
I continued to train sporadically and was always very interested in strongman. I would watch World’s Strongest Woman on television and knew that was something I could do. After about 10 years of sporadic training and having the desire to do strongman, I finally had the opportunity. Corey St. Clair was a local pro strongman and his mother was my principal at the school I was teaching at. She was training for a local strongman competition. She convinced me to come out and train with them. I was actually pregnant at the time with my daughter, so three months after she was born I started training. Once she was born, I dragged her saucer along and propped her up in it on the sidewalk so I could train.
As a mother of two young kids at the time, training quickly became “me” time. It was something that allowed me to get away from all of the demands and expectations, hang out with my friends, socialize and unleash the fury of all the things a working mother of two could possibly be feeling. Training was my sanity and helped me stay connected with who I am.
There are several strongwoman competitors who started competing after the birth of their children. I think there’s a common thread there. We were looking for a way to maintain our own identities aside from motherhood and realized how quickly our lives became about meeting other people’s needs. Training provided the opportunity for us to stay true to who we are and not fall into that typical “mom” role.
Jedd: What titles/championships have you won as a strength athlete?
Amy: Really and truly the one that I am the most proud of is my performance at Grip Nationals this past week. Grip has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and throughout my strongman training I always drew a line in the sand to not use straps, to train my grip consistently and work with the axle to the greatest extent possible on all lifts in training. There was a point when using a standard bar was far more difficult than the axle. My performance this last week was a culmination of many years of strongman training.
In 2010 I won the North American Highlander Assoc (NAHA) national championship which is a mixture of highland games and strongman events. I have competed in way too many to count local and regional strongman competitions, always doing exceptionally well. In 2008 I competed in the World Strongwoman Championship and came in 6th place.
Jedd: You recently competed in your first grip contest. How did you find out about Grip Sport?
Amy: Through the years I had always followed grip feats through Ironmind. The Rolling Thunder record was always on my to do list but I never came across an event or competition that had it. Julie Havelka had promoted some grip competitions out in Oregon so I always followed her accomplishments and competitions. Once she stopped doing grip, I never really followed grip after that.
Amy and I After Nationals
I was checking out a forum one day and happened to see Andrew Durniat’s post about grip nationals. I didn’t even know it existed. I found out about Jedd and that quickly became a positive and educational experience with my own training.
Jedd: What did you think about Grip going in? Were you surprised about anything as you trained for the contest?
Amy: Going in to grip training, I under estimated how taxing the training was on my body. I figured it was pretty basic stuff and with strongman as my typical training, I didn’t think it would be too difficult. The grip training in conjunction with my regular strength training was breaking me down pretty badly, especially once I switched to more high volume training. There were several times that Jedd and I had to restructure my training in order to accommodate the stress and fatigue my body was feeling. I was also seeing some nice carry over on the overhead pressing which I did not anticipate.
Jedd: What did you learn from your first contest? Big take-aways?
Amy: Going in to my first contest, I was counting on people showing me the ropes and would be patient explaining all of the rules to me. I was right. The grip competitors are on par with highland games competitors, very supportive and patient to the newbie. I am so grateful for all of their help.
During the competition I wasn’t sure of some of the rules and regulations. I didn’t realize you could go sumo on the deadlift. Not that I use sumo, but it was something that never really crossed my mind.
In hindsight I needed to trust my own knowledge and experience as a lifter. I’ve been involved in strength sports long enough that I know what works for me and what doesn’t. My set up on the axle was TERRIBLE! I typically take a much wider stance with my arms and legs. In my video you will see my arms pulling against my shins. I wasn’t better prepared for hand placement on the axle and I was concerned about not fully understanding the rules. I was fortunate that my bad set up still allowed me to pull a decent amount of weight.
That voice inside me also tells me that I could have pulled more had I followed the technicalities of a good lift and what works for me as a lifter. I also under estimated my own knowledge and experience on the 2hp with the chalk. Again, I know what works for me but I ignored that knowledge and didn’t do as well as I had expected.
Another big take away I had was how awesome the other competitors were. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in but people quickly made me feel at home and at ease. Grip proved to be a very positive experience.
Jedd: What advice could you give to other men and women interested in competing in Grip?
Amy: The best piece of advice I could give someone is to hook up with someone who knows grip. In my case that was Jedd. Researching and understanding all of the different events and implements takes time. I didn’t have that time, so I went to the expert to help me through that learning curve. There are many excellent resources out there and connecting with other competitors is essential. The Grip Board was very helpful for me along with the billions of resources and videos Jedd has out there. His coaching was worth the investment and ensured that I could maximize my performance in the time I had available to me to prepare.
My next piece of advice is to just get out there and try it. There is never the perfect time for a competition or event. Like strongman and highland games, the best learning opportunities come when you actually compete. Nobody is going to point and laugh at you (unless you really deserve it) and will help any competitor though the uncertainty and inexperience. Once that first competition is over, personal reflection and goal setting become much easier for the next competition.
Jedd: Amy, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to do the interview with me. It was great working with you and watching you do so well, and I hope to see you move your numbers up even further very soon.
If you would like to learn more about Amy and her experience with Grip Sport, or if you’d like to follow her on Elite, check out the following links:
This past weekend, I competed at the Gripmas Carol, an annual Grip contest promoted by Chris Rice.
Like others have said this was a bittersweet trip for me because Chris has announced that this year’s contest would be the last of its kind he would be holding.
Nevertheless, I made the trip to enjoy the chill of the Ohio air one more time in the Gripmas Contest setting.
I competed in the Elite category. The way Elite level is decided is the Total between RGC Grippers, Two Hands Pinch and IronMind Axle. Once your total hits 800-lbs you are entered into the Elite Category. This put me in competition with Andrew Durniat, my perennial adversary and the 2011 North American Champion in our Division of Grip Sport.
From the beginning of the contest, we knew it would be a close battle. Many times over the years our scores have ended with just 1 to 3 points’ difference when we have battled it out head to head, and this time proved to be no different.
Event 1 – Choked Grippers
The first event was choked Grippers, meaning a hose clamp was used to keep the handles of the gripper at parallel, so only the final portion of the close, the Finish was contested.
This event is a mystery to me. In training, I could not close my 168-rated Elite Gripper and then I ended up closing a 195-rated Super Elite at the contest. How this is possible is beyond me. I have no idea where the extra closing power came from.
My first attempt was on a 191-rated gripper, which I closed easily to my surprise, and which gave me some confidence going into the next three attempts. For my second attempt, I went for the 195, but missed it and when I asked Sean “Doc” Dockery if I was close he said, “Nope.”
Doc has become the go-to judge in Grip, volunteering his time on many occasions over the years fro Chris Rice, and for me as well in this year’s National Championship which was also held at Chris Rice’s facility. He is absolutely the best judge in Grip, if you ask me. So for him to say that I was nowhere near closing the 195, I knew that I was way off, and needed to get serious on attempt three.
My third time to the Gripper Table, I was very nervous. Andrew had just closed a +/- 214-lb gripper, so I knew I had to do some damage on this one and PR on this piece. I was very deliberate on my positioning and on my set and drove the handles home on a secondary pule for a good close of 195.
I don’t recall what I went on for my fourth attempt. It doesn’t really matter because I missed it. Plus, Andrew closed something like a 224-lb #4 gripper. It is a World Record Close for Choked Grippers. Andrew had already staked a solid lead for himself, beating me by nearly 30-lbs. I knew going into the next event, Two Hands Pinch, that I would need to finish about 40-lbs ahead of him in order to even up the score.
Event 2 – Two Hands Pinch
As most of you know, I held the World Record in this lift with going into Gripmas with just over 264-lbs, or 120-kg. However, the word in the Grip Strength Rumor Mill was that Andrew had been training the Two Hands Pinch pretty hard coming into Crooksville, so I knew it was not going to be a cake walk.
Something many of you may not realize, however, is that there are actually two classes of Two Hands Pinch being recorded these days. Recently, the Lightweight Class was instituted and a separate record is maintained for anyone weighing 82.5-kg or less is entered into those standings. Going into Gripmas, the leader in the 82.5-kg class was Daniel Reinard. He set the mark at Leg 3 of World’s Strongest Hands at my gym in October.
However, another member of Durniat’s camp, Brendan Gerber, had been killing the pinch in his training leading up to Gripmas, nearly doubling a weight that would have beat the record. He showed up on the day of the contest and showed everyone what it was like to be 18 again, and took the title – pinching 206-lbs and some change.
Brendan Ferber – 206-lbs
For this event, we used my Euro plates on Doc’s newly built instantly adjustable apparatus, which enabled us to perform the Two Hands Pinch event in one trip up through the weights, starting out around 100-lbs and moving the whole way through without having to clear the weights off and start again for the next thickness. This really improved the event. Normally all the people at 44-mm go, then 48, then 52, etc. But on this day it was one trip through the weights and with a twist of the front collar the spacers could be pulled or replaced and people lifting different widths could feel the intensity all at the same relative time.
My opponent, Andrew Durniat, finished his attempts in the low 230′s, and I began mine in the low 250′s. This was my second competition competing on 58-mm which recently has been feeling like the perfect width in my hands.
I debated going for a new world record on my first attempt. That would have made all of my attempts World Record Attempts, but Chris encouraged me to take a safe lift, which I agreed to. Bombing out would have meant I would have been mathematically eliminated from the contest, so I decided to hit 254-lbs for my first attempt, which was called on YouTube, “the easiest looking lift of 254-lbs ever,” or something along those lines.
1st Attempt – 254
With a legal attempt in the books and 1st place in the event in my pocket, I decided to try to push my record up. My training had been very intense going in and I had implemented training techniques that I never have used previously. Unfortunately, the last week of training I developed the same strange cramping sensation that I have had occasionally in the past which caused me to abort my final session of 2HP training. But once I pulled 254 and felt no pain, I was confident for my first attempt on 268, below.
2nd Attempt – 268
Having my hand slip off the plates like that is very uncommon for me. What I believe happened is I may have left too much chalk on my right thumb, causing it to slip off the plates. This normally isn’t a problem, but in this case, the edge of my thumb got a chunk taken out of it and the contact left my right thumb completely numb and my left thumb partially numb.
Because of the numbness, I took a little extra time for my next attempt at 268.
One thing that I am just now remembering is that my hands were extremely cold going into the pinch. I don’t mean that I wasn’t warmed up – in that regard I was feeling fine, however, my skin was noticeably cold to the touch. I was wearing gloves and hand warmer packets so this should no have been the case, but I had others test the backs of my hands and sure enough everyone said they felt chilled.
I was past the point of caring about my hand temperature now, anyway, so I began my preparation for my third overall attempt and second at 268, this time making sure that my hands were chalked evenly but not too heavily.
3rd Attempt – 268
As you can see in the video, this one was very close. There was no slippage from chalk, but it felt as though I was leaning forward over the apparatus a bit more than normal because I was worried the collar would hit the stick instead of the loading pipe. This got me out of my normal pulling path and I just barely hit the stick. In my recovery to redirect the apparatus, I lost balance and when I set the Euro down, I lost my balance even more, stumbling back and nearly going through the table like Jeff Hardy.
I was seeing stars for a moment because I was squeezing so hard on the implement and tracking the end of the pipe so closely, but I quickly recovered, and let out a chuckle in relief of getting a successful lift.
For my fourth and final attempt, I went for 270. I truly feel that if I would have gotten 268 on the first attempt and not cut my thumb and had it go numb on me that I would have had a successful lift of 270-lbs.
4th Attempt – 270
I was very happy with my performance in the pinch, and not just because I was able to push my number up, but because I was able to regain my composure for the last attempt. In the past when I have broken the record, I have gotten so emotionally overwhelmed that the following attempts are hindered by my inability to control my nerves. This time, however, I was able to get centered and get back on the platform in control. The apparatus felt outstanding, my thumb skin was great, and my back was solid. I just think I was missing a bit of neural connection due to the slipped attempt at 268 and couldn’t regain it in time for the fourth attempt.
By now, Andrew and I were ridiculously close. If memory serves, I had drawn slightly ahead of him, going into the next event, Double Sledge Hammers.
Event 3: Double Sledge Hammers
The Double Sledge Hammer event was the biggest surprise of all for me at Gripmas. I trained my ass off on this thing for months leading into the contest and all I got out of that training was a heap of frustration. Instead of two 12-lb hammers with 30-inch handles, I got two 16-lb sledges with 32-inch handles.
In training, my best performance with my 16′s was a set of two reps with the bare implement and 1 rep with the implement plus 2 washers weighing about 1/2-lb apiece, so I was not sure what to expect using shorter handles and lighter base sledges.
I managed a legal lift of 47.5-lbs in this event, getting beaten only by Andrew who successfully performed 50-lbs. I tried 50-lbs but the first time the additional weights got hung up on the tracks, so I was granted another opportunity. The same thing happened to Andrew. Unfortunately for me, he was able to come back on his second try at 50-lbs and get it – I was not, so he finished 2.5-lbs ahead of me in this event.
Now, going into the medley, he was slightly ahead of me, maybe by .5 points or so. Unfortunately, right now I do not have any footage of the rest fo the events because I put them on Steve Slater’s computer in order to conserve hard drive space and I have not gotten them back yet, but once I get them, I will post them up. This event was very cool. I would agree with others that this was the best contested sledge event that I have seen. If it is contested again, however, I am sawing a couple of inches off my sledges so that I can train this one a bit more effectively.
Event 4: Medley
Chris is famous for devising awesome Medleys. This year he had 25 total implements, but two of them were bonus items, a 60D Nail bent in Reverse style and a 12-inch length of 3/8-inch square stock bent braced over the thigh or knee. These two bonus items could be attempted once 20 challenge items were successfully loaded/lifted. Also, some weights and implements were made more challenging for the heavier weight class and Elite weight class.
Regretfully, I don’t have the video for this event either because the footage is still with Steve Slater. I did however complete 20 challenge items and get to go after both bends, which went down pretty easily. I think I totaled 23 items out of 25, which was one better than Andrew, so now, going into the final event, the Hercules Hold, Andrew had a lead on my by just 64/1000′s of a point.
That is just one reason why I think our proportional scoring system is so great. With Strongman scoring, we just would have been tied, but with the way we keep score in North American Grip Sport, it really shows you how close or how far apart competitors are.
Event 5: Hercules Hold
The Hercules Hold is historically a Strongman event, but it is also a fantastic way to test support grip, and there are many reasons why. First off, Chris used small handles, so hand size was completely eliminated from the equation. Next, because the weight is lifted for the athlete, the event tests grip strength primarily and full body strength or current conditions of the back do not factor in, as in a Farmer’s Hold or Frame Hold.
Again, Chris increased the weight used in each category. He was originally going to have the Elite Division do the same weight as the Opens, in the neighborhood of 264-286 (I can’t recall) but we talked him into going an even 300-lbs per hand.
Not one of my smartest decisions. Support grip like this is my weakest facet of Grip Strength, and Andrew easily handed my ass on a platter. I held the implements for about 23 seconds while he crept close to a minute. Such a large differential that late in the game spelled the end for me as Andrew pulled away handily, finishing about 6 points ahead of me when the cloud of dust settled on the Crooksville landscape.
Regardless of the finish, I was happy with my performances. A PR in Grippers, Euro Pinch, and Sledge Hammers, plus I won my first medley in quite some time.
It will be a shame if Chris sticks with his current decision and runs no more Gripmas Carols. The mid-December drive through Western PA and West Virginia in order to find the Grip Garage nestled in the hills of Ohio will be a trip that I have grown accustomed to making each year and will be sorely missed going forward.
My hat is off to Chris on well run comp, Doc for excellent judging, Tony, a friend of Doc’s who kept score all day long, Teresa for the excellent meal, all the other Gripsters who lent a hand, supported me and the others, all those who brought cookies and apple crisp (Mary Anne) and definitely to Andrew for another excellent performance on the platform.
Next competition on my radar is Mighty Mitts will take place at the Arnold Classic Weekend, I believe the first week in March. I am not sure what the events are yet, but I am already planning my general training for it.
Also, just like two years ago when I first broke the record in the Two Hands Pinch, I will be releasing a documentary DVD of my training. Again, this year, I recorded all of my 2HP Training Workouts and will be compiling it all into a DVD to be released in early 2012.
If you’d like to see my first documentary, The Road to the Record, click the image below.
Before I commence on that project, though, is a DVD I shut with Mike Rinderle on Braced Bending. Once that is out of the way, then I will tackle the next documentary.
Then immediately after that, I will be releasing another DVD with Steve Slater. Together we released Intro to Strongman Training earlier this year and on the Sunday after Gripmas, we shot another one together, thus the reason I needed the extra hard drive space on my camera.
It is sure to be a busy few weeks coming up, but I am striving to bring you the absolute best information for your strength training goals. If you want to know how to bend just about anything in your path, Rindo and I will show you how in our Braced Bending DVD. If you want to see ways that no one else is training Two Hands Pinch, my documentary is for you, and if Strongman is your thing, then you better keep an eye out for this project Slater and I have coming out.
Next Grip Contest for me is the Gripmas Carole, hosted by Chris Rice, in Zanesville, Ohio on December 10th.
I have gone to this contest every year (except one) since it became a Contest. The first year it was held it was just a get together where the guys just did feats. The only year I have missed this grip contest was last year when I had a prior commitment.
I truly look forward to Gripmas every year because it gives me the chance to compete in a contest without also having to run it, which can hinder performance, to say the least. Chris has seemed to find a way to delegate enough of it where he can remain focused though, as I have seen him put up big numbers and win his weight class time and again.
Speaking of weight classes, if you are of a smaller build, and don’t want to go against the heavy weights in your first competition, you should think about giving this one a try, especially if you can sneak in under 207, the cut-off for the weight classes.
The events for this comp will be the following (I think I have them in the right order, but I could be slightly off):
1. Choked Grippers
Torsion Spring Grippers are choked at parallel and the athlete must squeeze the handles together. There are four attempts and it is not rising bar. The video above will show you how the event will be judged this year.
To see how to choke grippers, join TheGripAuthority.com. Aside from being a way to test crushing strength without having to set the gripper, choked grippers is an excellent way to perform ROM-specific crush grip work. In October I showed how to choke grippers with a hose clamp and built them into the workout of the month. Join today for $7.