Anvil Lifting and Feats of StrengthSaturday, February 23rd, 2013
Anvils are a tool that have been used by Blacksmiths to mold steel for hundreds of years.
They are also very cool for lifting.
What you may not realize though, is the fact that each individual part of an Anvil has a name, as show in the image below.
In most cases, an Anvil is lifted by the horn, or the pointed end. In some contests, such as Mighty Mitts, the Anvil is picked up and carried for distance. Other times, the Anvil is lifted atop a loading platform as part of a medley.
However, lifting an Anvil by the horn is not the only way to lift it.
The end of the anvil opposite the horn is the heel. By leaning the anvil over so the horn points down, you have the perfect angle to lift the anvil in a Clamp Grip. This is a rarely discussed gripping action, but it is similar to crushing, where the fingertips are driven towards the palm.
I was first introduced to this feat by the guys from Farm Strength, Sean Dockery and Nick Rosendaul. At a training session one night, Doc pointed me to Nick’s 55-lb Anvil. He said he had seen an absolute grip freak, Heath Sexton, reach down and pick one up by the heel some time before that.
Try as I might, I could not replicate the feat.
A year later, I was back training in their garage again, and the 55-lb Anvil was off in a corner somewhere calling my name. I pulled it out to the center of the room and tried lifting it. Nothing but pain in my forearm!
Then, I watched Chris Rice, another good friend of hours with 40+ years in the Iron Game, walk over to it and pick it up with seemingly no effort at all.
My eyes bugged open in amazement.
After having seen it done right in front of my eyes, I went over to it and tried one more time, this time lifting it to lockout.
At some point, I attained my own 55-lb Anvil from a good friend, Dan Cenidoza, as a gift. I began training with it more often and even included it in a medley event in a Grip Contest or two. But eventually, it just because another item in my gym, collecting dust.
Recently however, I have had a renewed interest in training with Anvils, in particular the Anvil by the Heel Lift. This is one of those feats of strength where no matter how many times you do it, you ALWAYS have to put maximum effort into it. It is also a feat that requires a great pain tolerance, because not only does the razor sharp edge want to cut into your thumb skin, but the torque that takes place in your forearm makes it feel like your lower arm is going to break, right in the center of the ulna and radius bones.
Nevertheless, I have been having some luck in my training lately with the Anvil. Grip has been keeping me motivated, especially since Doctor’s orders are only 30% on lifts affecting my shoulder.
Here are some of the things I have accomplished.
Lefty Anvil by Heel for Reps Against Time
Righty Anvil by Heel for Reps Against Time
55# Anvil High Pull
I am DETERMINED to either clean and then press this Anvil, or to perform some kind of awkward snatch, but some day I will get this thing overhead. It may take me years to do it, but it is one of my long-term goals. Below is just a high pull, trying to get the Anvil up as high as possible with speed behind it as well.
I have decided that one thing I need to do in order to accomplish the goal of an Overhead Lift with the Anvil is to make the 55# Anvil feel lighter.
55# Anvil by Heel +5 Lbs
Using a boot string with two-2.5-lb plates tied to either end, the anvil goes from 55-lbs to 60-lbs.
Now, some may ask when seeing these videos, “What Are These Drills Working?”
The short answer is that Feats of Strength like this Work Your Grip.
Many people who are new to this kind of thing and come from more of a bodybuilding style background, are used to choosing exercises based on the bodypart worked. For instance, Curls work the Biceps and Rows work the upper back.
Because they are used to grouping exercises together like that, when they see stunts performed like an Anvil High Pull, they may be confused.
No worries. I perform all of those other lifts as well in my training, but because I compete at Grip Sport Competitions, where hand and wrist strength are tested, similar to Strongman competitions, I dedicate time in my workout to strengthen my grip during each training session.
Of course, having a strong grip is not only useful for Grip Competitions. Grip Strenth can also bring you better results on your other lifts. Imagine being able to perform more reps on Rows because your hands are stronger – more reps during each set will lead to better strength and muscle gains down the line. Having to constantly set the weight down to rest the grip, however, will hinder your progress.
Plus, if your grip is strong, you don’t have to eat up segments of your workout wrapping your lifting straps around each barbell, dumbbell or lifting bar on every work set. That’s called training economy.
If you are new to my site, I encourage you to add some Grip Work into your training.
If you need more ideas on how to train your grip, check out my older posts or my YouTube channel. It is PACKED with Grip Training Methods.
Before I go, if you dig Anvil Lifting, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. I am currently sitting on some Anvil Lifting Feats that I don’t think have ever been done before, and I will be releasing the video footage soon.
Until then, all the best in your training.
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