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Gripmas Carol 2017

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Gripmas 2017

The Gripmas Carol 2017 took place over the weekend in Crooksville, OH. It was run by Chris Rice with assistance from his wife, Teresa, and his son, Josh. It was a great time.

Hats off to Andrew Durniat, who took back the title of Gripmas Champion. I took second, and the Chez took 3rd.

My performance across the board on all 4 events was hindered tremendously by an injury to the A2 Pulley Tendon on my right ring finger. I was forced to close the Ivanko Super Gripper left-handed, the Two Hands Pinch hurt the instant it broke off the floor, I also had to skip a number of the heavier narrow pinch lifts and the campus board feats in the Medley.

Starting from behind with only 6.5 points when the leaders have 9 or 10 is hard enough, let alone when your finger won’t concentrate. It made for a very frustrated Napalm.

Here are some clips from the contest, although not everything is done yet, due to limited time to edit video.

Ivanko Super Gripper

My left hand isn’t as good on grippers and felt particularly terrible on the day of the comp. To make matters worse, the light fixture on the gripper would not light up for me, for some reason, until the last attempt. I ended up finishing near the middle of the pack with about a 230lb close. I do not have any clips for this event, at this time.


You’ll see I was sailing pretty smoothly until the end, when I got to the narrow pinch stuff. I purposely left that stuff to the end, because it’s usually gimme weight, but the injury to the finger made each lift BURN, and I lost many of the points I desperately needed.

Double Sledge Lever

A very exciting event, the Double Sledge weighed between 30 and 33lbs. My goal was 20 reps, because it wasn’t bothering my finger. I thought this might bump me up a bit to catch the leader, Durniat. Unfortunately, he had the same number in his sights. He was successful in getting it, but I only knocked out 18, and missed my 19th.

Thank God, despite the poor finish, I didn’t worsen the injury, and nothing else went wrong.

In fact, I’d honestly say my Thick Bar and Wide Pinching strengths are really really good right now.

After the contest, while others were eating, and before & during the awards, I hit a bunch of random feats, many of which involved combo lifts with the Inch Dumbbell. Many of those are up on my YouTube already, so you can check them out there. I’ve still got a small handful that require more editing and I just haven’t had the time to do it all yet.

We covered Gripmas in the most recent episode of This Week in Grip also, so I will post that below.

This Week in Grip – Episode 37 – The Gripmas Carol

Also, I put together a complete playlist of all the Gripmas videos, and I’m going to post the link to it below.

Complete Gripmas Video Playlist

Complete Gripmas 2017 Playlist of Videos

Thanks for watching, and stay tuned for some big announcements about upcoming 2018 Grip Competitions.

All the best in your training.


Gripmas 2015

Monday, December 14th, 2015

On December 5th, Luke and I competed at Gripmas, the yearly December contest in Crooksville, Ohio, hosted by Chris and Teresa Rice.

This has quickly become the biggest and most prestigious single-location contest of the year, aside from the NAGS Championship. Many athletes from the Central United States and East Coast came this year, and over the years countless people from outside this region have made the trip, because of how important this contest has become.

There were 4 events for this contest. First was the Ivanko Super Gripper. The unit is held opposite the direction torsion spring grippers are held. There is a small flashlight mounted at the bottom of the gripper, and the objective is to close the handles together and make the flashlight button click, while changing the off/on status completely.

Ivanko Super Gripper – Various Competitors

Here are some of the attempts I got on film of the ISG event.

At this point, I sat in 3rd place behind Kody Burns and Andrew Durniat.

The next event was Two Hands Pinch, with the adjustable pinch apparatus. The first heat of lifters to go were the ones who used the thinnest setting, 52 millimeters. Next came 54mm, 56mm, and 58mm. The adjustable device is used so that lifters can match the width of the implement to their hand size, and produce their best lifts.

If you’re interested in buying an adjustable two hands pinch device, watch this video: Napalm Pinch Devices.

Here are some of the attempts from the contest.

Two Hands Pinch – Luke Raymond and Chris Rice

Luke has been competing and training at 58mm for several months, but switched to 56mm for the contest, and ended up getting a new contest PR!

Two Hands Pinch – Kody Burns Sets New All-Time World Record

Kody set a new All-Time World Record on the Two Hands Pinch, with 274lbs and change!

Two Hands Pinch – Kody Burns’ 3rd and 4th Attempts

Kody then bumped up to roughly 279lbs and got it off the ground each time.

Two Hands Pinch – Jake Sahlaney’s Attempts

Jake is one of my members at, and is showing improvement at every single competition he does. I’m very proud of him, and hope he continues to train hard and smart, and stay healthy.

Two Hands Pinch – Jedd Johnson’s Attempts

I was able to get my highest lift since 2011 at Gripmas this year, 261lbs. I’ve been in a slump for a very long time. I then made the decision to go to 276lbs and try to break the record, which proved to be foolish, because I barely broke it off the ground, BUT, I was hoping for a big adrenaline boost. I felt pumped, but it just wasn’t enough. I wish I would have just gone with something like 266lbs and then 271lbs, to go into the 2nd place ever, in competition. I think I would have had a good chance at completing 271, because I broke that off the ground in training, prior to the comp. Oh well, can’t go back in time!

he next event was the Double Overhand Axle Deadlift. My goal was to 1st come in second place in this event, behind Andrew, and 2nd, to pull 400lbs. Unfortunately, the 400lb pull didn’t happen, but I did tie for 2nd, so that helped me out with points, big time.

Double Overhand IronMind Axle – 325lbs and above

These are all the attempts I got. The weight starts out around 325 or so, and ends with Andrew’s HUGE attempt at like 460+!!! What a phenom that guy is!

Following the Axle, was the 4th and final event. There was a 4-minute time limit to lift as many items as possible. There was a series of light items and a series of heavy items. If you lifted the lighter item, you got 1 point. If you lifted the heavy item you got 2 points. If you lifted both, you only got 2 points.

Additionally, there were some implements with only one option, and if you lifted them, you got 2 points.

it might seem kind of confusion, but just think the maximum points available was 50.

Medley – Luke Raymond

Luke got 33 points in his Medley run.

The contest would come down to how Andrew, Kody, and I did in the Medley, just like Nationals this year. Going in, the points spread looked something like this: Kody – 38 points, Andrew – 37.5 points, Jedd – 37 points. As you can see, it was crazy close.

Medley – Jedd Johnson

I was the first to go out of the final 3, because I was in 3rd place. I got 46 points.

Medley – Andrew Durniat

Andrew got 36 points.

Medley – Kody Burns

Kody got 36 points as well.

By finishing 10 points ahead of the other two leaders, it enabled me to pull ahead by a very, very slim margin – INCREDIBLY CLOSE!

    1) Jedd Johnson – 37.704
    2) Kody Burns – 36.630
    3) Andrew Durniat – 36.223
    4) Jake Sahlaney – 32.322
    5) Lucas Raymond – 31.281
    6) Chris Rice – 29.461
    7) Josh Henze – 27.638
    8) Nathanial Brous – 24.645
    9) Andrew Pantke – 24.550
    10) Bob Sundin – 23.260
    11) Josh Koenig -23.064
    12) Jor-el Koenig – 19.291
    13) Anthony Clarino – 19.085
    14) Nick Applegate – 17.247
    15) Barrett Henze – 16.749
    16) Chris Andrade – 16.045
    17) Rich Cottrell – 14.047

Gripmas 2015 Placings and Prizes

I really want to send out my thanks to Chris and Teresa Rice for putting this competition together, as well as a huge digital high-five to Brent Barbe, Nick Rosendaul, and Sean Rice, who all helped with set-up, loading, and records keeping for the event. Guys like this are why contests run so smoothly.

Someone pointed out my victory is sort of a Triple Crown, in a way, as I won the NAGS Championship, King Kong International, and Gripmas all in the same year.

I never thought about it that way, but I’m happy to be the first one.

For now, it’s back to the drawing board. Despite the victories, I’m still not happy with the numbers I’ve put up. Luke and I have already begun making adjustments to match our goals.

Stay tuned for more posts coming later this week. Although I’ve posted all of the contest footage, that ain’t all that happened in that small garage in the little town of Crooksville.

I’ve got lots of other cool clips from the post-contest feats of strength.

If you’re not on my free email newsletter, be sure to sign up in the box below.

All the best in your training.


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Gripmas Carol Write-up

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

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.

In the meantime, all the best in your training.


Next Grip Contest: The Gripmas Carol

Monday, October 31st, 2011

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 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.