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What is the Inch Dumbbell? Examining One of the Most Famous Pieces of Grip Training History

Grip Sport and Grip Training are just plain awesome. The equipment that is used to develop a world class grip ranges from plain to extravagant, from simple to complex, and from basic to scary.

One of the scariest pieces of training equipment that exists is the Inch Dumbbell. Its scariness comes from many things. First and foremost is the fact that its weight and size will intimidate you. They will get into your mind and make you think before even touching it that you probably do not have any chance to lift it.

Then, once you try to lift it, several times in succession, and watch it merely spin out of your grip and never leave its original spot, it starts to work its way into your head even deeper, down into your psyche, and it owns your thoughts and haunts your dreams until you cross paths with it again.

I am one of the few who owns an Inch Dumbbell, and one of the very rare who owns two. I have owned these pieces of iron for nearly 10 years and to this day they still give me heart-ache and frustration.

Occasionally, I will mark my progress with my Inch Dumbbell training by shooting and uploading a video to YouTube and just about every time someone stumbles onto the video and ask questions like “What is the Inch Dumbbell?” “Why is the Inch Dumbbell so Hard to Lift?” and many other things.

In order to help bring some clarity to the situation, I shot a video describing exactly what the Inch Dumbbell is and discussed some of the history of the dumbbell, and other important pieces of information around it.

Of course, as always happens when you try to put an informational video like this together, you miss certain points or leave certain things out, so I will be adding the pertinent information here in an effort to make everything as complete as possible.

Naturally, if you have any further questions, let me know by leaving a comment and I will tackle your question at a later date.

Basics of the Inch Dumbbell

Thomas Inch: The Inch Dumbbell is named after the famous performing strongman, Thomas Inch (1881 – 1963), who was born in Scarborough, England. Inch would take this and other challenge dumbbells with him in his act and challenge many a by-stander to lift it, with the great majority never breaking it from the ground, just as is the case today in most cases.

Important Note: The Original Inch Dumbbell designed by Thomas Inch is now owned by Kim Wood. So now, any Inch Dumbbell that you see will be a replica.

Statistics of the Dumbbell: The Inch Dumbbell weighs 172 lbs, 9 oz. and has a handle with is 2.38 inches in diameter and 4 inches in length. Replica Inch Dumbbells often have a handle that is slightly thicker, 2.47 inches in diameter, but can of course vary in dimensions slightly. Regardless of the variation, all Inch Dumbbell Replicas are hard as hell to lift. If you have never witnessed an Inch Dumbbell, a soda can is a close indicator of the handle size. The Original Inch’s handle circumference is 7.5 inches with most replicas being closer to 7.75, while a soda can circumference is about 8.25 inches. For more info on the Inch Dumbbell, check out the great article at the BodyBuilding.com website.

To truly understand the dynamics of the Inch, they can’t be just read off a piece of paper or website page. They must be seen in action. With that, I give you my Inch Dumbbell Movie, where I discuss the Inch Dumbbell and its defiant nature in detail.

The Inch Dumbbell

Stay tuned for the Inch Dumbbell Training DVD coming soon. Add your email below to make sure you’re notified the instant it comes out:

Feat Objectives with the Inch Dumbbell

In the video above, I show a feat where the Inch is lifted with cans on the globes. This is an advanced feat of Grip Strength. Below, I will list the common feats associated with the Inch Dumbbell.

One Hand Deadlift: The principle objective with the Inch Dumbbell is to lift it to a full deadlift, one handed. This means that you have tremendous static open hand strength to be able to control the action of the dumbbell long enough to pull it to the erect position.

Double Inch Deadlift: This is the next step up, and if you can do this, it shows that your grip is evenly balanced in both hands for the most part.

Inch Deadlift with Cans on Globes: As mentioned in the video above, being able to stand up with the Inch Dumbbell in hand while also being able to keep cans balanced on the globes shows that you have extreme control over the rotation of the dumbbell, plus the cans force you to keep it level, which is a much more difficult way to lift it. When lifted with a tilt, other factors come into play making the lift easier.

Double Inch Farmers Walk: It’s one thing to lift something up. It’s another thing altogether to pick it/them up and walk away with them. This has been one of the main events in the Mighty Mitts contest for several years, although this year it seems to have been taken out for a slight change.

Inch Clean and Press: One of the ultimate goals for anyone who toils with the Inch Dumbbell is to one day clean it to the shoulder and then press it overhead. This, after all, was the main challenge Thomas Inch had for those who took their tries on his challenge dumbbell. To this day, there have been some who have cleaned the Inch to their shoulder and then further either pressed it, push-pressed it, or jerked it overhead one-handed, including Mark Henry and Ryan Green, two of which happened in the early 2000’s when I was first learning about Grip.

As a natural progression to the Clean and Press, the Inch Dumbbell can also be “continentaled” to the shoulder and then pressed, push-pressed, or jerked it overhead. A continental involves pulling the Inch Dumbbell off the ground one handed and then using the body one or more times to assist in getting the Inch to the shoulder in order to launch it overhead. I recently watched Matt Brouse do this on Facebook. Awesome.

Below are some of my best efforts with the Inch Dumbbell trying some of the various feats shown above.


Inch Dumbbell Single Hand Deadlift: Inch Hustles

In this clip, instead of carefully approaching the Inch and digging in the grip, I move over to it and try to apply the grip more quickly in order to replicate the rush of a medley even in a grip contest.

Related Article: Thick Bar Strength Training Methods


Double Inch Farmer’s Walk (DIFW)

In this clip, I set a PR of about 8 feet in what can probably best be called a Double Inch Dumbbell Shuffle…

Related Article: Double Inch Farmer’s Walk Progress


Inch Dumbbell with Cans on Globes

This is something I was just recently able to accomplish. It’s hard to deadlift the Inch with the cans on them without hitting the cans on my leg or the crotch of my pants, so I generally need to pull my arm out away from my body in sort of a rowing motion.


Inch Dumbbell Continental

This is a feat that I have rarely trained. There’s no real reason, except that I train for so many other feats. Even with the assistance of the body to get the dumbbell to the shoulder, this feat is still tremendously difficult.


Bi-Polar Training: Inch Dumbbell with Kettlebell Flip

This is a feat I’ve never seen anyone else duplicate, or even try for that matter. Here, I lift the Inch and hold it while I forward flip and catch a 95-lb kettlebell, a feat in itself I’ve only seen done by a handful of awesome strength enthusiasts.

Related Article: Inch Dumbbell Feats of Strength


These are just a handful of my most impressive Inch Dumbbell feats. In some ways, they are top of the line, but in others, they pale in comparison to what some of the other greats in the world are doing. Surely, there is much more to come in both my Grip career and theirs, and surely the limits will continue to be pushed beyond what they are now in all directions.

Stay tuned for the Inch Dumbbell Training DVD coming soon. Add your email below to make sure you’re notified the instant it comes out:

All the best,

Jedd


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7 Responses to “What is the Inch Dumbbell? Examining One of the Most Famous Pieces of Grip Training History”

  1. Frank DiMeo Says:

    Classic! Great stuff,Jedd!

  2. Carlos Rodriguez Says:

    Awesome videos Jedd !!!

  3. Rick Walker Says:

    We cannot forget that the Inch is one of the few feats of strength that favor the large handed man. I would be willing to be that most men over 6’5″ could handle the Inch with little to know training, whereas a smaller handed man much get MUCH stronger to handle the Inch.

    I remember John Wood speaking about a number of U of MI basktball players walking up to the inch and lifting it with ease. With hands like Shaq, this basically becomes a barbell lift.

  4. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Absolutely. Most guys dominating this have huge hands. It is a huge advantage to be able to spread friction out over the handle’s acreage.

    I would have loved to seen Shaq give the Inch a try some time. Not sure how much training he does now. The last time I saw him it looked like he was ballooning up, but by sheer hand size and coverage, he would still most likely be able to deadlift it with ease.

    Jedd

  5. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Thanks Carlos. Hope all is well on your end!

  6. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Thanks big Frank! How you doing brotherrrrr?

  7. Donnie Giafardino Says:

    Great showcase of the Inch

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