2017 North American Grip Sport Championship
Grippers Right and Left Hands
Two Hands Pinch
NAGS Championship Medley Runs
Aaron Corcorran Medley Run
Tanner Merkle Medley Run
Jedd Johnson Medley Run
Gil Goodman Medley Run
Post Contest Feating – Sahlaney Bell Combo Lifts
Jedd Johnson 180/172 Sahlaney Bell Attempt
Tanner Merkley 180/172 Sahlaney Bell Attempt
Jedd Johnson – First Try at 180/172 Sahlaney Bells
Eric Roussin 180/172 Sahlaney Bell Lift
Post Contest Feating – 180lb Sahlaney Bell + Fatman Blob
Jedd Johnson – 180lb Sahlaney Bell + Fatman Blob
Tanner Merkle – 180lb Sahlaney Bell + Fatman Blob
Jedd Johnson – 180lb Sahlaney Bell + Fatman Blob
Tags: grip, grip sport, grip strength, grip training, hand strength, NAGS, north american grip sport
Posted in feats of strength, Grip Contest, grip hand forearm training for sports, Grip Sport, grip strength, grip strength blob, grip strength competition contest, Grip Training | No Comments »
This past weekend was “Nationals,” the North American Grip Sport Championship.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Who Would Win the 2014 NAGS Championship? Who Would Win the 2014 NAGS Championship?
On June 14th, 2014, I competed in the North American Grip Sport Championship at Durniat Strength Gym in Wooster, Ohio.
This is the 3rd year in a row it was held at Andrew Durniat’s gym. He has also been the reigning North American Champion every year since 2011. Andrew runs a nice demanding competition every single year, featuring a mix of the classic events (Grippers, Two Hands Pinch, and Axle Deadlift) plus other new challenge events as well (this year the Pinch Block Curl and the Sledgehammer Choke).
Recognition is in Order
Before I get too far, I absolutely must give credit where it is due. This year I am in the best shape of my grip career and I owe all the thanks to a handful of people.
First and foremost is my dietary coach, Joe Carabase. Without him, my diet would be a mess and I would most likely still be fat, in poor condition, and hurting all the time.
Next is Luke Raymond and Dan Ely – I began training with Luke in the Fall of last year and Dan Ely came on in the Winter of this year. Having these two guys around so we can all push one another has been HUGE for my training. I can only hope that they have gotten as much out of training with me as I have from training with them.
The list of competitors was quite a bit different this year from last. It seems like about half the group is truly a core group and shows up to throw down year in and year out, while the other half is more dynamic and changes from year to year. Either way, this year saw many hardcore veterans and first-time competitors who will be forces to reckon with for years to come.
Competitor & Bodyweight in Lbs
Brent Barbe (Pennsylvania) 204.5
Charles Chartan (Quebec, Canada) 144.6
Andrew Durniat (Ohio) 227.5
Brandon Gerber (Ohio) 211.2
Michael Hann (Texas) 162.7
Jermey Hartman (Ohio) 226.85
Jedd Johnson (Pennsylvania) 228.4
David Labbe (Virginia) 275
Malcolm Majesky (Ohio) 247.8
Eric Milfeld (Texas) 182.75
Robert Miller (North Carolina) 265
Lucas Raymond (Pennsylvania) 204.6
Nic Rosendaul (Ohio) 244.25
Eric Roussin (Ontario, Canada) 204.25
Tom Scibelli (Maryland) 220
Darrin Shallman (Michigan) 156.1
Yori Skutt (Texas) 129.75
Bob Sundin (North Carolina) 180
Jonathon Vance (Ohio) 196.65
John Wojciechowski (New Jersey) 273.15
First Event – Grippers
Grippers have been an event that have been known to give me trouble, as my crush generally lags behind my other events, especially in comparison to other top grip athletes. This year, my goal was to make up some ground. I began training grippers every 4 to 5 days, and many times more than once a week, and it paid off, as I was able to close a 175-rated gripper Right-handed. I also got a 155 shut lefty.
The grippers used were a set that was purchased from Cannon Power Works by a few members of the North American Grip Sport committee. They were all rated by Cannon, meaning the same device and practices were followed, making it the most valuable gripper set in the world, ranging from 80-lbs up to over 200, in 5-lb increments. I can only imagine the hundreds of grippers that would need to be rated in order to obtain these 30 or so grippers.
By the end of the first event, I found myself behind Andrew Durniat and David Labbe, both competitors in this year’s Mighty Mitts competition at the Arnold Classic, but the gap was not so far that it would be insurmountable.
Here are the videos of Luke Raymond’s and my attempts on Grippers.
NAGS Championship Right Hand Grippers
NAGS Championship Left Hand Grippers
Event Two – Two Hands Pinch
As much as I would love to hold the World Record in this lift again, this year it was just not in the cards. I tore the hell out of my right thumb and I had to modify my training through all of April, May and June. I was super stressed about it, because I had actually set some pretty lofty goals made some hard plans, but they went awry, so I had to do the best I could.
Since the implements used for NAGS were virgin plates – they had never been lifted on ever before that day – numbers were down across the board. I sealed the victory in the event on my first attempt with a lift of 224, which was enough to top Andrew’s 219 and 209 put up by David Labbe and Eric Milfeld. On my second attempt, I lifted 239.69, a lift of 105% of bodyweight.
Two Hands Pinch – NAGS Championship – Jedd Johnson
Two Hands Pinch – NAGS Championship – Luke Raymond
Event Three – IronMind Axle Deadlift
The third event was another one that is a classic thorn in my side. But, since my Two Hands Pinch training had to take a back seat leading up to NAGSC, it made room for more Axle work. In training, I actually worked up over 400-lbs for the first time since 2012, and I think if I would have switched to Sumo Technique a little sooner, I think I could have pushed my training numbers even higher, and perhaps even attained a lift over the 400-lb mark in competition at NAGSC.
As you will see, on my last attempt, I went for 402-lbs, and got it well over the knees, but couldn’t quite hold on until lockout.
IronMind Axle Deadlift – Jedd Johnson – NAGS Championship 2014
IronMind Axle Deadlift – Jedd Johnson – NAGS Championship 2014
Fourth Event – Pinch Block Curl
The Pinch Block Curl was a new event this year. The design of the implement is to replicate the act of performing a Plate Curl, without having to attach weight to the end of an actual plate. This tests the strength of the entire lower arm and hand at the same time.
Many of the competitors are experienced at training the Plate Curl, so no one really knew what to expect going into the event. I know I had no idea where my lifts would fall against the other competitors, so I made my training as hard as possible, loading my implement with as much of a leverage disadvantage as possible. Apparently, my preparation paid off, as I was able to finish with 44.66lbs with each hand, good enough for second place right behind David Labbe.
NAGS Pinch Block Curl – Right Hand
NAGS Pinch Block Curl – Right Hand
Final Event – Sledgehammer Choke
Still a fairly new event, the Sledgehammer Choke has only really been contested since about April of 2013. However, I think I have been at 4 of the 6 competitions where it has been held, so this has been a big advantage for me. The biggest advantage was seeing the way other people do the Choke at Gripmas 2013. Instead of trying to radially deviate the wrist, some were allowing the wrist to kick into ulnar deviation and then lock it there, allowing for a bigger tilt and bigger lifts.
Luke really took to this technique in training, working up to over 22 inches almost immediately, once we started training it heavily in May. This variation is MUCH more intense on the wrist though, and he found he could not recover from training it very quickly, so he actually stopped training it about half way through May. I was not getting the lingering soreness that he was, so I continued to work on it, with the main objective of catching up to him as much as I could.
Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t narrow the gap quickly enough, because Luke hit 23 inches righty and 27 inches lefty, to my 22 inches each hand. Despite the fact that 22 inches on a 14-lb hammer (308 inch pounds) actually beat the previous work record on the 12-lb hammer of 25 inches (300 inch pounds), it wasn’t nearly enough to catch up to Luke’s 322 righty and 378 lefty inch pounds. CRAZY!!!
Sledge Choke Right Hand
Sledge Choke Left Hand
I knew going into the last event that I was slightly ahead of Dave Labbe, by just tenths of a point. So I knew that the entire contest was mine to win or lose. But I really had no idea what Dave was capable of on the event – I wasn’t even sure if he had trained the event before, so I went for broke and tried an all-out PR on my second attempts, both right- and left-handed. Both of those lifts proved to be enough to beat out Dave, so I knew he had him beat.
2014 NAGS Champion
To hear my name called at the end as the Absolute Champion, winning the Overall, was amazing. Once I knew, I gave my parents a call to let them know, since they have been behind me every step of the way.
What was even more awesome about that is they were babysitting my daughter and I even got to tell her about the win and hear the excitement she had in her voice.
Naturally, there are dozens of people I can thank, but the biggest credit has to go to Luke and Dan. I can’t describe the impact it has had for me having them here in the gym.
I hope you have enjoyed the write-up, and I hope it inspires you to try your hand at Grip Sport sometime soon.
From what I hear, Dave Labbe is HOOKED.
All the best in your training,
Increase Your Two Hands Pinch – Get My Instructional DVD Today
Tags: grip sport, n.a.g.s., n.a.g.s.c., nags championship, north american grip sport, north american grip sport championship nagsc
Posted in Grip Sport, grip strength competition contest | 4 Comments »
Last week, Doc and I posted the latest episode of Grip Strength Radio. You can Download it Here
Main topics from last week’s show:
- What has been going on since the last show (December)
- Info on my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome condition
- Mighty Mitts 2013
- Grip Sport Nationals
- Recent Media Coverage for Grip Sport
Regarding the last topic, the Recent Media Coverage for Grip Sport, some of you may not realize the awesome press that our sport has received recently.
Wall Street Journal Article on Grip Sport: First off, there was a full-length feature article on the Grip Sport National Championship in the Wall Street Journal recently. Ben Keisling reported and wrote the article. He interviewed several grip athletes as well as myself prior to the competition and then also attended the contest as well.
Here is where you can read the Wall Street Journal write-up on the NAGS Championship.
EliteFTS: Also, Nic Bronkall put together a great post of his experience at Grip Nationals on the EliteFTS Website <=Check it out. Next Episode: Be sure to stay tuned for the next episode of Grip Strength Radio. Doc and I will be talking with Eric Milfeld. Eric, in case you don’t know, challenged himself to unheard of levels, cutting nearly 40-lbs of bodyweight in less than 2 months, in order to compete in a much lighter weight class. In doing so, he set several new world records in his weight class, and we can’t wait to talk with him in detail about it. If you have anything you’d be interested in us discussing with Eric, please leave a comment below.
All the best in your training.
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