This weekend saw the World’s Strongest Hands contest go down all over the world, including here in Wyalusing PA. We had myself, Brent Barbe, Mary Ann McKeague, John “Wojo” Wojciechowski, Nathaniel Brous, and Cesare “Chez” Ricchezza all going after it here in the sticks of PA.
The events were Vulcan V2 with 20-mm Block Set, Wrist Developer, Adjustable Thick Bar Lift, and Stub Lift.
Brent was our only top 10 finisher of the entire field, edging me out on a couple of events, and taking the overall win here in PA. For complete results, check out David Horne’s World of Grip.
Big thanks to everyone who attended and especially my sweetie, Delraine, for contributing behind the scenes in more ways than you could possibly imagine to make this an awesome contest for everybody. Also, I must hand it to David and Elizabeth Horne for all of the work that goes into this kind of an endeavor. They do a great job each and every year.
Here are the video clips plus highlights below each video:
Vulcan Gripper with 20-mm Block Set
Vulcan Highlights: Chez won the event here with a close of Level 16. I got 14 on my first attempt and then missed 16 three times. The spring has gotten next to no work prior to the contest because I have been working on other things, so I am sure that played into the equation. Many of the guys thought my spring felt harder than what they were training on. That’s just part of the game.
Wrist Developer Highlights: I opened with a level 5 attempt and then hit 7. Both of these were easy, so I decided to match my all-time best on the device and jumped to level 9 for my third attempt. I missed it on attempt 3 and 4, and even though the jump hurt me in the overall placings, I told myself I was going to push myself on the events. I wanted to see what I was capable of. Brent said I was about a centimeter away from getting level 9 so that was good.
Adjustable Thick Bar
Adjustable Thick Bar Highlights: The most I have done in training on this implement is in the neighborhood of 220-lbs, but it felt very good to me, so I was ready to push the envelope again. I opened with an easy 212 and on my second attempt got 232, a good PR. So I went for broke and threw on 257, but it wasn’t happening. That would have given me the event win at this location, but I couldn’t pull it high enough.
Stub Highlights: On a few occasions, I have pulled high 40’s in this event, and its surface felt awesome on Saturday, so I went for the gusto once again and decided to push it to new World Record heights. I had gotten 46-lbs very easily on my second attempt, so I went to 54 + change and pulled with Brent. Brent had been training this event with serious intentions going in, so I was hoping that with both of us gunning for a record we would push one another to greatness. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t happening on this day.
Take-aways and Further Analysis of the Events
I have been doing a great deal of traveling recently and did not get the time with the implements that I normally would prior to a contest. When I have been in the gym, I have been focusing primarily on more standard events. While that guarantees a poor finish, I am sure my scores would have been better with just a few more intelligent jumps. Instead, I really wanted to make the day a balls-to-the-walls day and to see what I was capable of doing without proper preparation. So, it was a learning experience and I was able to see where my numbers would come out without all the extra event-specific work.
To my surprise, even without a lot of specific work, I was able to finish in the 10th spot overall out of 70 total competitors. I did zero Vulcan V2 work except to show some clients some technique work and got 20th place with my level 14 close. If I would have sealed the deal on one of those Level 16 attempts, I would have been in a 5-way tie for 9th place. A Level 15 close would have put me in another log jam at 13th place. So you can see when Strongman Scoring is used how even a slightly less impressive performance can dramatically drop you in the standings when there are 70 people involved.
For the WD, I trained that twice, I believe, after Nationals. One of those sessions was a volume routine that was part of a Workout of the Month at The Grip Authority.com, but I think even that session was done with an old Crom spring, instead of the contest spring. My Level 7 on the WD tied me for 4th place with one other person. That was really hard to believe, but I truly feel that what helps me out the most here is my understanding of proper technique. That is why I put together my DVD on Wrist Developer Training, so that other people could understand what I feel to be proper technique with this device. It is not as simple as hitting it as hard as you can. You have to understand your strengths and weaknesses with it and how to get the most out of each attempt.
For the Adjustable Thick Bar, I really have nothing good to say about the device. Not that it is a bad piece of equipment to own, or anything like that, but I would rather spend my time working on other pieces of thick bar equipment that is used in other contests, such as the Inch Dumbbell, Rolling Thunder, etc. Plus, since I was going to be using the largest handle, that is the only handle that got much use, so the other competitors who were using the smaller ones pretty much had to pull on an unseasoned handle. Would numbers have been higher if the handles got more seasoning from regular use leading up to the event? No doubt about it. The same can be said about numbers on the V2 and WD if I had been using them in training regularly. Again, that is just part of the game that you deal with. My pull of 232 landed me in 21st place, all by myself.
For the Stub Lift, I can’t quite explain how I managed a 6th place finish here without working on the implement more than once during July, except for the fact that my training involves so much thumb work with varying equipment and thicknesses, that it just fell into place. If I’d lifted 48-lbs, I would have finished higher than the monster, himself, Juha Harju, who owns the all-time world record in the lift. I believe I head that Juha tore some skin on the event recently, so I am sure that affected his performance.
In the end, things could have been a lot different at World’s Strongest Hands, but anybody can say that. Like I said, my game plan was to push myself and push my own personal bar higher. Sometimes that works out, but this past weekend it did indeed NOT work out, and I have only myself to point to when it comes to my numbers on the platform. And even with these less-than-normal numbers, I still feel 100 times better about my performance than I did or still do about my performance at Grip Nationals. As they say, there is only one way to go. FORWARD. And that is where I am headed.
In other news, Brent Barbe was able to lift the Iron Grip Monster block weight this weekend. In case you don’t know, this is a half 125-lb rubber coated behemoth that Odd Haugen sent to me. I have lifted it to about knee height on one occasion but have not gotten a full lift out of it as of yet. Brent joins a small group of just he and Andrew Durniat who have pulled this beast to lockout. There have been a handful who have lifted the other half of this monstrosity, but aside from Odd himself, I am not exactly sure who has done it. I am sure I can add in later who has gotten it.
Iron Grip Monster Lift – Brent Barbe
Here is a post detailing the Iron Grip Monster Block Weight, and here is my closest near-lift of the Iron Grip Monster:
This video also shows you the size of the IGM compared to two other maniacal block weights, a Fatman Blob and a Fatman Clone. Ridiculous.
In closing, I just want to send out a “Get Well Soon” holler to John “Wojo” Wojciechowski. This dude experienced a pretty serious arm injury during the Adjustable Thick Bar. He could have packed all his stuff up, thrown it in his car and sped off toward his home, cussing and complaining the whole time, but instead he remained calm, iced it and collected himself, cheering everyone else on, and then proceeded to take all four attempts on the Stub Lift in the last event. He also sat down and had a post-contest meal and some beers with all of us, and if someone would have come in and looked around, they never would have known that just a few hours before he tore a bicep.
That, DIESELS, was awesome.
All the best in your training,
P.S. I have just two (2) Vulcan V2’s left in stock. If you want one, you need to act fast before I am totally cleaned out. Go here for your Vulcan V2 Gripper.
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