Thursday, 20 November 2008

Q & A with Tommy Heslep

Tommy Heslep is, it must be said, one of the lighter freaks in our sport. Under 200lbs, under six feet tall and yet, for all intents and purposes, as strong a grip strength athlete as anyone. Making no excuses he remains one of, if not the best, under 200lbs strength athletes in the grip world. Here's the Grip World Magazine interview with Tommy:
Photo: Tommy pinching 2 45lb plates with two fingers and a thumb.

Q: Hi Tommy, Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself, where you’re from, how old, etc?
Hey whats up. My name is Tommy Heslep. I'm from Front Royal,Va. USA I'm 34 years old & weigh about 175lbs. My wife Mary Jo had our twin boys on June 8th 2008. Thomas Edward Heslep III & Micah Edward Heslep.

Q: You’re well known in the grip world. Have you competed in other strength sports and to what level?
I had no interest in sports when I was younger. I did do what was called "Freestyle" or BMX tricks on a bike.

Q: As Grip World Magazine is aimed at all things grip - what does grip mean to you? What’s its place in training and so on?
I had no idea about grip strength untill 1995 when I saw Dennis Rogers perform. He blew me away! b"4" see'n Dennis I couldnt believe that a person his size could have so much strength. I found out that with a little training I could do things guys twice my size couldnt do.

As if to prove that point here he is with two planes.

Q: As per my comment at the head of this interview you stand out as outstanding because you’re are under 200lbs and under six feet tall in a world of 300 lb and six feet plus strength athletes. With so many bemoaning their lack of stature, hand size, bone structure and so on what is it that makes you, as a lightweight etc, different? A lack of accepting limitations??
When it comes to strength, NEVER SET LIMITS! Most people stop at the ceiling when it come to their thinking. Mine keeps on going. They say "The Sky's the limit". Why stop there? Keep on going.

Q: What would you like to see happen, via associations and so on with events etc?
So far everything is going ok, I guess. Maybe some more unusual events.

Q: do you have any more plans for grip strength, feats and or competitions?
Right now I'm try'n to come up with new feats or new twists on the classics
Q: You’re well known for your faith and religious beliefs. What part does it play in training in general and more specifically in getting you ready for some of the feats you’ve done?
My relationship with God is #1 in my life. He sent his only son to die "4" me, the least I can do is live my life "4" him. I give God all the credit "4" my strength. It's just like any gift. You have to practice to get better. I wasnt born this strong,I had to work my butt off to get where I'm at today. Ive had some setbacks & injuries & lost a lot of strength. I'll get it back & then some!

Q: Of all of the feats, guys and gals doing them and so on what stands out in your mind? Feel free to name names or lifts and records - be they grip or from other Iron Game arenas?
Just about everybody on the Grip board is doing something worldclass. Chris Rider is becoming a legend. You with the #4. Liz Talbot-Horne makes most guys look like little boy

Q: Before we sign off have your say – if there’s anything you’d like to add be it a message to the guys or what-have-you here’s your chance!
Train smart.All things are possible with God.
And to finish here's a great backdrop for any event.
Check out Tommy's website for photos, video and to book him for events:

Monday, 10 November 2008

The annual BHSA event report.

Having managed to set up the BHSA with David Horne towards the end of 2007 one of our aims was to establish more events and gatherings. As well as a greater standardisation of lifts and equipments literally having something happening almost every month was important to us.

One of the ideas was similar to how the Peter Horne memorial day was previously run. You'd turn up, having told the guys what events you wanted to in advance, then do as few or as many of the other lifts as you wanted. With the Peter Horne day now an actual competition the Annual get-together became a 'bring what you got' day. And again as per previous gatherings here, in the US and in other parts of the world one of the best parts of the gatherings has been the meal and BS'ing which took place after.

With all that in mind we set the 8th of November as our lift and eat day. The venue was my Whey Consortium gym here in Gloucester and we put out the message to our members to see what they wanted to do. I personally was keen on doing what I could on the pinch, seeing where I was on the one hand thumbless deadlift (as per Laine Snook's suggestion) and perhaps (if my back allowed it) some double overhand thick bar deadlift.

Come the day and yours truly was fretting, as per, as to whether or not anyone was actually coming. In spite of delays by the torrential rain we managed to get Stew Killick and Kath, Laine Snook and Donna, Paul Savage and Paul Wood from the BHSA membership. Also in attendance throughout the day was Laurence and Harry Shahlaei and other Whey Gym regulars.

No BHSA records here. Paul Savage, myself and Paul Woods all had some fun. I may (subject to checking video) have right hand closed a 4.01 gripper but not CCS nor 20mm. Paul W got a PB on the Vulcan (Paul S's) at level 10 but again not CCS etc. Paul missed his attempts. I also was about 3mm off on closing a BBE left handed (no CCS/20mm just a personal thing). For whatever reason we all seemed off on this. Annoying. All lifts were done on a PB basis only hence no CCS/20mm

Myself, Loz and H all paid the price of 2HP x 20 x 1 on Tuesday. Every single one of us tore skin, nice blobs of blood etc etc. Best attempt was 106.7-kilos which I missed. Stew did some lifts to 90+ kilos Although I had the frame to lift to (bar blocks etc) the loading bar is bent and no one was close to any records.

Laine did a nice 2 hand deadlift with Paul's 30-kilo blobs (with ease I might add), also a one hand clean (subject to checking video) with one of the same 30-kilo blobs (from 60-kilo York Legacy dumbbells). I think Paul did a clean and press with the 20-kilo (HGT replica blob) by the face.

One hand deadlift (Ivanko O' bar) thumbless.
Laine and I, after some token work from Loz, I pulled a 125-kilo right handed lift (BHSA record) and then Laine, using his left, pulled 135-kilos. All plates were Ivanko competition plates so calibrated etc.

I did 1.05.31 hold on the baby Inch (about 20 seconds in I pulled it high, caught it and reapplied my grip before it hit the ground so as to hold it better). I did this (as did Stew) by half deadlifting it then holding it in the air so we did not rest it against our thighs) and Stew did about 30 or so. Mine was more or less double the old record - nice. I also did a Inch in each hand deadlift (standing up then throwing them down), Laine just missed (3 attempts) going all the way on a double Millennium (228 and 234lbs) deadlift. I picked up right handed each and every thick handled bell (from 126?? to 234lbs). I also tried to mimic Laine's Inch in the left and Millennium in the right (but no could do). Paul also did some work with the lighter bells but I think missed the full Inch. I also cleaned the baby with either hand (just touching it with the free hand both times to get it that last inch onto the shoulder). Bells were a combo of our HGT 'baby' Inch, HGT Inch and my Millennium and the rest from the Holle brothers (so nice 'n' sharp between handled and globes).

D/O A/A deadlift
Loz, Stew, Laine and myself all had some fun here. Everyone did at least 140 I think (not sure on Stew) Loz dropped out at 180 after getting that successfully (with his thumb as chewed up from mine from the pinch and having done a PB of 155kg on our medium 'log'). Laine, baring in mind he does not fully stand erect due to his back injury and myself both did 190-kilos/418lbs which I am told is a British record. For some 30 or so seconds I had the record with him then he pulled 200-kilos to go to the top of the list. Of all the stuff I'd hoped to be crazy on the Pinch but did my best work here instead. C'est la vie. All plates were Ivanko competition plates so calibrated etc. Bar was an 15-kilo IM A/A

Bar bending
I did not see all bar bending but did a very easy (10-secs) D/O to 40-degrees 7 x 1/4-inch CRS. Ditto a G5 (silver?? and possibly outside of 30 secs) but some 7-inch x 1/4inch square CRS was monstrous and all I could do was kink it.

Post, post lifting
I'm sure I missed a bunch so see what the others say later.Paul W, Laine and Donna, Stew and Cath and myself all enjoyed some nice food and a drink or 2 at the Angel Chef (all u can eat for £5.50!!) with yours truly talking/eating 2 main courses and some pud. Laine very kindly paid for us all!! Cheers again Laine. I'm sure Laine, Donna and Paul 'enjoyed' my sense of 'where's the place again' although we still arrived dead on time ha ha having done a mini-tour of the area on the other side of Gloucester Docks. I know it's around there somewhere he he. I know we're all gonna ache in the morning because carrying a plate of food back made my hands cramp up. I think everyone enjoyed themselves in spite of my mother hen clucking around to keep things moving along.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Jedd Johnson interview

Photo: Jedd (L) and Smitty (R)

Q: Hi Jedd, Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself, where you’re from, how old, etc?

Steve, thanks for the chance to be interviewed on your site. My name is Jedd Johnson. I started the website,, with my training partner, Jim Smith several years ago. We started out mainly hosting videos of strength feats, but we have grown the site to include many other sections and points of emphasis in an effort to cover as many areas of strength and conditioning as possible.

Q: You’re well known in the grip world. Have you competed in other strength sports and to what level?

I started in Grip and Strongman in 2003. I competed in Strongman until August 2006. I won many of the Strongman events I competed in. I was twice Maryland’s Strongest Man and once Massachusetts Strongest Man. I love the competition, and would still be at it to this day but a few lower back injuries have somewhat handcuffed me, so I decided after my last comp in 2006 to focus mainly on Grip competitions. Now, I am dedicated much more time to my website and in organizing the United States Grip Championships structure.

Q: As Grip World Magazine is aimed at all things grip - what does grip mean to you? What’s its place in training and so on?

Grip is very important. I do quite a bit of speaking at strength and conditioning seminars, and often the topic of conversation is incorporating grip strength protocols in the athletic routine. In my experience, at the university level, grip strength training is often limited to wrist rollers and wrist curls. This just doesn’t cut it, as I am sure you know. So I focus on increasing awareness about what types of grip strength exist and how to work them into the routine. No doubt about it, I think athletes who are putting an emphasis on training their grip are going to have an advantage on the court, field and mat.

Q:What would you like to see happen, via associations and so on with events etc?

I would like to see the awareness of the sport of grip and hand strength increase. I think grip strength is an excellent way to get youth interested in fitness again. The great thing about grip is that you can be great at it, even if you are not extremely huge! I’ve met many slim athletes at Grip contests that you wouldn’t think were so strong upon seeing them, but really impress you in the competition.

Photo: Jedd pinching.

Q: tell us a little about what you, Smitty and the gang at the Diesel Crew - how you got started, what you're doing, plans for the future etc.

Smitty and I met at a chiropractic rehab facility in 1997, when I was in high school and he just got out of college. I went to college in ’98 and was looking to start hitting the weights seriously after my first semester so I could get a starting spot in the pitching rotation at Mansfield University of PA. We trained in the winter and I went back to school. By the summer of 1999, we were full time training partners and began studying a lot of the strength and conditioning techniques that we were seeing at clinics we were attending. We started Powerlifting, then found out about Olympic lift, then got into Strongman, and finally found our way to Grip Strength, Feats of Strength, and Kettlebells. It’s been great learning all of these disciplines and meeting all of the people we have met in the last 10 years or so. We have seen a lot of training partners come and go over the years. Some moved away, some lost interest, others we’re not quite sure – they just disappeared, but two have stuck with it for years with us – Eli Thomas and Brad Martin. Eli’s 24 or so now and has surpassed me in many of the full body lifts. Also, he out-crushes me, but rarely trains grip. Brad is about 20 now and probably has the smallest hands to ever lift the blob. He has gotten back into Grip and will be competing with me in December at Chris Rice’s Gripmas Carol.

Q: you're seen by many as an intense competitor (I've seen this for myself) - what gets you going, how do you get in the zone?

It’s certainly much easier to get into the zone when you are not actually organizing the contest! Focus is important for sure. I like competing against people who take it serious, like I do. I get annoyed when people are cracking jokes or gabbing during a competition.

In order to get into the zone, I like to imagine myself mutilating the implement. In the pinch, I try and stare a hole through it. I sometimes envision myself tearing the plates apart. Sometimes I shut my eyes and imagine someone breaking into my house and attacking my family. Other times, I bark and growl. At Nationals, I focused so hard on the lift that I salivatedand drooled all over the platform.

Photo: Jedd card tearing
Q: Of all of the feats, guys and gals doing them and so on what stands out in your mind? Feel free to name names or lifts and records - be they grip or from other Iron Game arenas?

There’s a ton of stuff out there, but the only thing I think about anymore is Chad Woodall. He is the only guy who has consistently finished ahead of me over the last few years. I have split decisions with many guys, but Woodall has consistently gotten the best of me. He’s the only guy I think about any more. He is the best in the US. I think he could have beat Rob Vigeant and Clay Edgin at their pinnacles.Q: what aspirations in grip do you have for the future? You can talk about them from a purely personal point of view or from the sport as a whole.

In 2009, my sole aim is winning Nationals, as far as accomplishments are concerned. That is the only thing I care about.

As far as the sport, I want to continue to progress the organization of grip in the U.S.

Q: Before we sign off have your say – if there’s anything you’d like to add be it a message to the guys or what-have-you here’s your chance!

I’d like to take a moment and ask everyone to check out our site at We work hard to provide the best information we can on all things related to strength and conditioning. I also write for and usually provide one or two original grip strength article a month there. For info on the United States Hand Strength league, please check out And as always, I am always open to discussing training via email. You can reach me at

Friday, 31 October 2008

BHSA annual get-to-gether

Next weekend, Saturday November 8th, we will be holding our first annual gathering. The athletes let me know ahead of time what lifts they will be doing, we lift, then it's off for some food.

:Photo of a 111.7-kilo loaded pinch (almost lifted yesterday)

This year we have some of the better known British 'bods' including Laine Snook et al hoping to do something real special (probably involving a Millennium dumbbell), myself hoping to two hand pinch at LEAST 107.5-kilos and more, much more.

I should also have the first batch of our official sleeveless BHSA 'T's'. We're doing a deluxe membership renewal package of £17.50 which will include the shirt (XL and XXL). I've already got some virtual hands in the air for those.

Then afterwards we will all drive over to the Angel Chef for an all you can eat buffet meal. I'm sure there will be the usual BS'ing, strength feats (much to the other customers amusement no doubt) and more.

Should be fun. Watch the blog for photos.

Friday, 24 October 2008

The ages of man

Inspired by a short chat with Paul Savage over what we'd seen Laine Snook do this afternoon and the question 'why doesn't he do this and that...??'. In my reply as to the whys and wherefores I pointed out to Paul how the mindset of a lifter changes as they mature.

One could argue, and it has been done, that as we approach our peak strength potential we also need to take greater care with recovery, injuries and so on. This is true. I have used an analogy which goes thus: as we tread ever further into the new territory of world record lifts we take our bodies to places others have yet to do so. If others got torn skin, injuries and so on then we are merely fortunate that we have not. But we risk it each and every time.

I also argued that the mind set of a strong testosterone filled teenager works on different levels to that of a 40+ but equally strong lifter. The teenager will lift for hours, then party, then do a days work. He cares not for the risk of injury. The older bull, as it were, has many concerns least among is which whatever he does will make the old injuries ache, take him longer to recover from and so on. Basically he can do the same lifts, or better, as the younger lifter but he knows there are consequences to the action.

As a 40+ lifter myself I can draw on what drives me and how I get myself to do the crazy stuff. For a start I know how to rev my engine as it were. I know what works. I have experienced many times the feeling of a lack of strength in lighter weight sets on some exercises only to power like a freak through the bigger stuff. It's as though I unconsciously hold back a little energy for what is coming. I get the best from equipment because I know how to wrap a wrist, tighten a belt just so and so on. I'll tend to be stricter with my nutrition and more aware of my aches, pains and issues with recovery (I listen rather than ignore... most of the time).

For me the key word, used above, is drive. I might have a bad back or, like another Brit, had heart problems, yet another has had muscle and tendon tears and so on. These problems aren't confined to these shores. Yet a sort of built in stupidity combined with aggression and more than a little desire helps, along with my 'look at what I can do' showing off (and perhaps liking a challenge) helps me to occasionally put it together well enough that I kick ass. Like above I know I'll ache, be tired, whathaveyou, but in the moment... I just don't care. Perhaps just like the teenager after all. Oh well. :D

Stuff in the pipeline

A few things of interest...

30-kilo / 66lb blob lift done. By one of the less brash but equally strong names here in the UK today (24/10/08).

A BIG supermatch - between the as yet unbeaten best the US has to offer and the current British Champ. As of now it's in discussion but a March date has been suggest.

More decent set CoC 4 closes here in the UK. I've hinted at this elsewhere and my feeling is that there are as many as six here who have already done it (not on video etc) or will do it (and yes on video).

Some more big name interviews. One is still a 'work in progress' (and has been for 3 weeks!!) and I'll be asking more names if they are willing to fess up.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I made some news of my own this week

Even though it's a teeny, weeny bit self serving a video of my closing a average feeling CoC 4 seems to have been a popular item on the Gripboard and you tube. Even my UK buds on seemed to have liked it. Here's the clip:

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

October editorial

Hi all, John Beatty's fabulous feast also known as the BBB contest has just ended this past weekend with the famous 'Big Tony' cheesecakes a hit. We need something like that here. I was more jealous of the slap up food than I was the numbers lifted and that's coming from a hard core grip nut. Lists of pounds of meat comsumed just added to my hunger pangs.

Sam Solomi has asked if he can do a series on some of the basics starting with a breakdown on the various techniques used when training grippers so I'll be prodding to get cracking with the first one... you listening Sam??!!

I've a couple of people in mind for our next interview of the grip personalities and I'm just about to send a PM to the first on my list to see if they'd be interested. We've enough warped lifting freaks for a few months yet (probably all the way to 2010). Don't forget to add your input. If you have a question that needs asking - send it in.

Coming up soon is the BHSA annual get-to-gether on November 8th. I know David Horne and I want to do some heavy two hand pinches and with Martin in Sweden pulling an out of competition 117.4-kilos recently we'll need to raise our game. Hopefully David's injurys wont hoild that war horse back. I want between 107.5 and 110-kilos this time around.

Check out Martin's efforts here:

Finally... a hot topic recently raised a couple of points. Firstly after much butt kissing of the author of, it must be said, a well written article, I pointed out that even the least capable athlete can still be the purveyor of the truth. Being a great lifter does not make you a great teacher. Secondly, as part of what was conveyed in the article and which, in a broader sense, I've stated sveral times recently... there are no 'better' routines, 'better ways of lifting' and so on. Even if we favour one over others (we all have our own way which we prefer) that you lift hard, recover and lift hard again is far more important than any magic way of doing a movement.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Eric Milfield interview

For the third interview with characters from the Grip World can I introduce Eric Milfield.

Q: Hi Eric, Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself, where you’re from, how old, etc?

My wife, Sandy, and our three children have called Fort Worth, Texas home for the last seven of my forty years.

Photo: Eric in the Pikes.

Q: You’re well known in the grip world. Have you competed in other strength sports and to what level?
From the time I was fourteen until my late twenties I was an active drug-free powerlifter until a pectoral tear prompted me to limit my competitive outings to deadlift meets. Although I've competed in seven different weight classes I was most competitive in the 82.5 kilogram class, where I posted bests of 235k, 142.5k (raw), and 280k.

Q: As Grip World Magazine is aimed at all things grip - what does grip mean to you? What’s its place in training and so on?

Although grip is certainly a functional aspect of training for myriad sports, for me it's simply a fun and engaging passion I couldn't put down if I tried. With so many different disciplines and variations of disciplines, grip is incapable of boring. So, naturally, I train grip for the sake of grip. I love that progress is possible for an indefinite period of time, even for those advanced in years. My training is very goal oriented, with a focus on certifications and contest preparation. That's what I find to be fun. I thrive on always striving to get better.

Q: people are, and if they are not they should be, aware of you looking after some of the grip records list. What would you like to see happen, vis associations and so on with events etc?

Photo: Eric lifting heavy on the Euro pinch

Yes, I do keep "The Nailman's Top 20" bending lists for three different lengths of bar on the Gripboard, as well as the "Top 50 Euro Pinch" list. Statistics and records have always fascinated me, and keeping these lists has been enjoyable. I would very much like to see grip continue to grow in popularity world wide, and as it does so, perhaps other nations can join with the British in creating legitimate organizations. Ultimately, I'd love to see an international organization hosting a true annual world championship. I think that with grip being a relatively obscure sport unity is imperative, especially in our current state of infancy. Any degree of splintering could sink the whole ship. As a whole, I'm positive about the future of grip. Most every person I've had the pleasure of meeting in our unique sport has proven to be of honest character and good intentions. The wide array of grip events is a huge plus for the sport. And although I support the standardization of events for contest, having a wide selection of events from which to choose keeps the sport interesting, not unlike the sport of strongman.

Q: Of all of the feats, guys and gals doing them and so on what stands out in your mind? Feel free to name names or lifts and records - be they grip or from other Iron Game arenas?
I think Chad Woodall might be the toughest guy to beat right now in a well rounded contest of standard events, but the depth of grip talent is such that at least a dozen gripsters could have a shot of taking any contest. More than a few athletes could could lay claim to being the strongest at individual events, save bending. Gary Hunt, aka "Gazza", has established himself as untouchable when it comes to the unbraced bending of anything steel.

Q: what aspirations in grip do you have for the future? You can talk about them from a purely personal point of view or from the sport as a whole.
My short term goals include a competitive Euro Pinch of 230 pounds, a parallel set close of a #3.5 gripper, and pinching my two heavy 45 pound plates with each hand. I try avoid thinking too much about very long term goals. I've already touched a little on what I'd like for our sport, but I could add that more exposure and recognition would be good thing for grip. But if we gain all of these things and lose the camaraderie it would be a a real shame. The tight knit sense of community with all of the gripsters is very appealing to me. We have a great thing going. Let's all do our part to keep it this way as we continue to grow and develop.

Photo: Eric in hard training. Note ear ring seems to be a bent nail!!

Q: Before we sign off have your say – if there’s anything you’d like to add be it a message to the guys or what-have-you here’s your chance!
I could run out room attempting to list all the guys who have supported and inspired me over the years, but I'll mention a few names in no particular order: Greg Amidon, John Beatty, Jedd Johnson, John Eaton, Paul Knight, David Horne, Casey Emery, Greg Griffin, Weldon Stoggsdill, Chris Caffery, Aaron Corcorran, Clay Edgin, Mike Hadland, John McEneany, Jason Williams... there must be three times this number, so I'll apologize for all those whose names escaped me, and for the inevitable misspellings. And thank you, Steve, for giving me this opportunity to share a few thoughts, and for all you have done for our sport over the years.

My pleasure. SG

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Who is in your grip top ten?

While laying in my half warm bath this morning (that damned boiler!!) I wondered who people would pick for their top ten? Not from the grip giants of the past but from our current batch. I can be, when required, quite analytical and so I'd start with the three standards and work from there.

Form for competitions must help. If a guy wins grippers again and again in spite of not actually setting any gripper type records in competition perhaps he's doing enough to win rather than going all out. It has been known for guys who have youtube videos, garage and gyms lifts of amazing levels to fail when on the platform. Using myself as an example and although not an exact comparison I didn't loose gripper events for several year in the UK but only placed in Europe and the US during the same time frame. We might look at records on lifts not used but for which a standard has been set - V-Bar is the obvious one. The less obvious one would be traditional grip Rolling Thunder. Perhaps we need to include bending or some form of wrist test.

There are also a group who amaze and inspire their grip fans. Gary 'Gazza' Hunt is a mad borderline crazy bender of steel but I can't recall him competing. Dave Morton and Clay Edgin, deep setters both, are seen as great gripper guys but again have not competed for quite a while. While still semi-involved (via postings and other strength activities) and so still active grip has not quite the focus it once did for them. I know that I'm not the only one with a photo of Clay's No 4 CoC close up on my gym wall to motivate me. Joe Kinney might also be included in that group and there will be others.

I've avoided discussion of what form has been used for some events quite deliberately (someone who TNS's what another 20mm sets for example). This is why it is easier to pick from those that have competed. While some rules have been adjusted over the past 4-5 years the standard by which we might measure and so pick our top ten has not been too dramaticaly changed to make it difficult to make comparisons.

I asked for the members of the largest grip related site on the web, to give me their top ten. I had to filter out a huge number of guys who'd barely seen, if at all, the platform in grip competitions. Big names like Wade Gillingham, Mark Henry and Mark Felix were dropped because they've never competed. Less well-known outside of grip but also dropped for the same reason was Laine Snook, Joe Kinney and Richard Sorin. All three are more than capable of doing very well but have not stepped forward just yet. They also did not get the votes.

Those that slipped off of the top ten, for one reason or another, included outstanding competitors such as Steve McGranahan, Paul Knight and Dave Thorton. Each one has proved themselves in the heat of competition but lost out base only on not being chosen by those asked to contribute. Another day more time to vote and they'd have been included.

Here's the top ten as it stood today (26th Sept 08):

1. David Horne - 10 votes
2. Steve Gardener - 10
3. Chad Woodhall 9
4. Martin Arildson 7
5. Jedd Johnson 7
6. Nick McKinless 6
7. Aaron Corcorran 6
8. Andrew Duriant 5
9. Tommy Heslep 5

The last three all got the same votes so I'll give them equal status of the 10th spot. Plus the votes came from many sources. It might be argued that it's been a year of two since David Morton chalked up so he copuld have been dropped but what the hell. As above some voted for guys who've never competed and others, like Tommy Heslep, seemed to have stopped competing. But this is how people voted so...

10. Ryan Klein 4
10. David Morton 4
10. Josh Dale 4

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Ever seen three Inch dumbbells and a Millennium in one place before?

I thought not. Duncan Williams (Dunkster) has been adding photos to my Whey companies facebook page and posted a photo I'd not seen before. Check this out.

To the left is my Millennium Dumbbell. At the back the 44lb Blob and then sitting pretty in the centre are three Inch replicas. One we still have (belonging to Nick McKinless) and the others... One might be Duncs but I'm damned if I know who the other belongs too.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Bob 'Odin' Sundin writes about his experience at the GGC 2008

Used with permission
photo of Bob (L) and John (R)

We got a great deal on a flight and John Eaton invited us to stay with his family, so we decided to leave early. From the beginning, we felt like we were part of the family and were treated just like family. On Thursday after we arrived, I noticed that grip toys abounded in the Eaton household, I first saw an Inch Dumbbell and Euro-pinch in the garage. Much to my wife's astonishment (and my delight) Blobs, chalk and grippers were sitting in plain sight in the living room and bending stock sat in a cup by the computer where most people keep pens handy. I felt like an addict as my stomach churned while I attempted to refrain from trying all the different toys. Of course, we both succumbed to temptation and started pulling his 50 lb. Blob and Josh Dale's infamous SLICK50 (fatman) Blob, which is the only one I've ever lifted by putting my hand on the flat edge at John's suggestion (after a few partial lifts and drops); even when I pulled it well over my knee it squirted out on the way down, living up to its name. I was happy the Blobs went up well, as I was a bit rusty on them and wanted to make sure my hands wouldn't be "stupid" on Saturday.

In retrospect; I probably cost myself 10-20 lbs. on the Euro by playing with the Blobs, but also likely helped my medley performance, so it was probably a wash.John tried to show me how to set grippers, but this will likely be a long-term project starting with choked grippers because I only try grippers every few months and seem more comfortable with a very minimal set; almost a no-set style. I didn't expend too much energy here, my lack of coordination with trying to establish the proper wrist position and other-hand assistance for a proper MM set would be humorous if not for the progress it is costing me.

Next, John showed me how to reverse bend, another area I hadn't trained. John said "here, bend this, it'll be easy for you". John told me how to stand and apply the force, making it seem very simple. I blasted into the nail and quickly twisted it into a U-shape as John said "enough, enough, you only need 40 degrees! Bob, you just reverse bent a Blue nail". He then showed me his style as he bent a G5 without any visible effort and said in a friendly but commanding tone "it's easy, now you do it". I felt the nail give, but also felt something start to go in my upper back, so I stopped after putting a kink in the G5. The prescience of John and Chris Rice really blew me away here as both had told me I was good for a blue or possibly a G5 reverse bend, how could they have known that with such precision? After John's wife fed us a great supper, we did some contrast baths to try to undo some of the damage from our earlier efforts and it seemed to help quite a bit.

On Friday, we ran some errands and did some preparation for the contest with our medley items, etc. Chris and Nick arrived later in the day and brought a power rack (hopefully John will be forced to train now). We spent quite a bit of time talking and doing what gripsters always do, comparing hand characteristics. One interesting thing we noticed was that we varied as far as how much our thumbs could rotate counter-clockwise in order to provide favourable opposition to the fingers in pinching (Chris was by far the most limited).

Saturday, GGC Contest Day
On Saturday we left in plenty of time to make it early to the contest. I visualized what I would do on each event and attempted to remain calm and focused. We arrived in plenty of time to hear the rules and help out as needed, etc. It appeared to be the martial arts area of a large fitness center, and was very spacious with an extremely high ceiling. Unfortunately, I felt rather flat emotionally and almost as if I was watching myself rather than actually competing during much of the contest. I believe this was largely due to the early start time, as I never train in the morning and it felt strange to apply force through my hands for some reason, almost like my mind and hands had a "disconnect".

The events started with grippers, and I over-thought and missed my first attempt with the 2.5. After a lot of fumbling and some tips from Smitty, I easily smashed it shut on my next attempt before missing on the stiff #3. The highlight of the gripper event was watching Andrew Durniat black out but land in a fairly coordinated fashion after a near miss with a CCS of the 3.5 gripper. I was quite concerned and wondering if I'd need to start CPR when he came to after about 10 seconds. That clinched him for the "Diesel Award" in my mind, as I've never squeezed that hard yet. I was satisfied here.

photo shows Bob just missing the 186

I do a lot of pinching in my workouts, but not much specific Euro work as I don't have collars for my device that will hold everything tight yet. I did know from experimentation that I seem to be stronger at 54 mm. than other widths I've tried so far. My best lift at Gripmas was 170, so I opened at 176 and easily got it, thinking that 180+ was within reach. Unfortunately, I cut both thumb webs on a very close miss with 187 and frantically superglued them back together, but missed all but my opener. Pretty disappointed with this. Jedd and Chad dominated here; Brent Barbe has really improved in this event.

I'd been doing DO DL with the oly bar every couple weeks since Gripmas, so I felt confident that I would improve from my 303 performance there (I believe Gripmas used 100 lb plates and the setup was a bit higher and therefore easier). I opened with 313, and it felt good. Next I tried 323 (1.9x BW) and got it, but felt the bar roll just a little bit in my hands. Finally, I went for 333 twice and just missed locking it out the first time and reached close to knee height the second time. With more overall body strength, this would have been done.Looking over the Gripmas records, I noticed that nearly everyone did ~ 10-20 lbs. worse with this setup (Eaton was about the same), so I was satisfied with my 20 lb. improvement, just wished I'd have gotten the 333 and been a little more competitive with the biggest guys.

Photo of Bob's 333lb effort

I may be a bit too deliberate for my wife's liking here, but did ok, pulling the regular Blobs at least. I beat Eaton here, which was a fluke due to him wearing himself out on his object, very unexpected. Brilliant concept here by Jedd, bring your own object(s), but lift yours first.

Reverse Bending:
Disappointed here as I lost a lot of points and dropped my overall placing to last despite not losing any other events to a couple of competitors. The easiest stock available was a G5; I'd thought maybe a Blue would be the "easiest" for reverse bending. I was counting on some coaching by Eaton during the event, but all of us were required to go simultaneously, apparently due to time constraints. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get more than a good kink in the G5, but not enough to merit measuring.

Finished last, but earned the "Diesel Award" for competitiveness, intensity and sportsmanship as voted anonymously by the other competitors. This was a great honor, and took solace in my award as I licked my wounds after my thorough beating. I am glad that I have this experience under my belt (didn't see any point in waiting until I was "ready", as that day may have never arrived), and hope to make a better showing in the future after some focus on reverse bending and grippers. After the contest we went to Jedd's for some great food and fun. I was too spent to do much but pull a few Blob lifts and watch the others play.

John and I played "gripper horse", mostly no-sets with the #2 and trying to close his "easy" choked 3.5 in between raucous laughter and groaning in pain. My 74 lb. (but strong and very healthy) wife did well, crushing the Trainer in a choker and was a hair away without one after John taught her the technique. It was hard to leave for both of us, as we felt like part of the family, were given undeserved "VIP" treatment and had a wonderful time.

Another great report and Grip World Magazine thanks Bob for both his writing efforts and photo contribution. If you've got something you think the grip world would like send it in!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

I'm waiting... are you? Get involved! September 2008 Editorial

It remains to be seen if some will get on board and participate with submissions to what I am hoping many will see as a service to all things grip. Right now, having asked a few, I am waiting on confirmation that I'll get a 'I was there' type of submission report on the event and subsequent activities which took place at the GGC 2008.

What applies to that subject applies to pretty much everything. There will always be those that watch from the sidelines and those that are, as it were, on the field of play. One of my targets in live is to do what I can to both get involved myself and to encourage others to do the same.

Away from this blog/magazine that means coaching, promoting, refereeing and so on. Not just, as I do, in grip and playing a small part in the field of 'Strongman' here in the UK but by being a gym instructor, a health trainer and so on. Some of you will already do so. But why not more? Don't leave it to the Bob's, Jedd's and Smitty's of this world to host sites with helpful info - submit some yourself!

Many of you have quite a wealth of untapped knowledge, others are full of ideas on how things might be done and still more have questions yet here at the desk I do not hear the sound of letters dropping onto my door mat, emails 'pinging' into my inbox or see post after post on grip strength related sites offering some real in sights.

Do NOT sit on the side lines become involved. Share ideas, post competition reports and so on. Handwriting awful? Can't edit for toffee? Just send it in and let me do the rest.
Finally don't let time be an excuse. I've seen this in emailed replies and I think 'err I've just seen you posting away for hours on some site, you took time to reply to the email, but the few minutes (10-15) that could have been used to do 200 or so words... pish.
No excuses - get submitting!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Chad Woodall interview

Chad (L) with gracious host Florian during Chad's visit.

Q: Hi Chad. Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself, where you’re from, how old, etc?
My name is Chad Woodall and I am from Athens, Georgia. I am 34 years of age and I am married to my wonderful wife Vonda and I have three step sons (Eddie, Eric, Alec) and one little girl Marley. I’ve worked at a Wellness Center as the Fitness Coordinator for the past 10 years.

Q: You’re well known in the grip world as a top level guy in that arena but have you competed in other strength sports to a similar level?
I started out in Bench Press competitions in 1996. I competed in 5 BP comps and placed 1st in 3, and then a 4th and a 5th. I then started competing in North American Strongman in 2003. I was the overall heavy weight winner in my first strongman competition…the Music City Showdown in Tennessee. I also set a new farmer’s walk national record in that show and it is still standing today. I competed in NAS Strongman Nationals that year and finished 5th in my weight class and 17th overall among the heavy weights. I also competed this past season in my home states Georgia’s Strongest Man and I came in 2nd place overall in the HW class. I then started competing in the Grip Arena in 2005 and my first contest was the Global Grip Challenge where I placed 3rd. I told myself then that this is the sport for me and I loved the competitiveness of the athletes. I’ve worked real hard over the last few years to improve on that 3rd place finish at the 2005 GGC and I have been lucky enough to win all my grip comps since that competition. I have been the US Champ for the past three years and all my hard work has paid off for me greatly.

At one time or another I have held or currently hold these grip records:
* Dynamometer WR – right hand
* 1” Vertical Bar WR – right hand* 2 hand Pinch WR* 2” Vertical Bar WR – right hand
* European Hand Gripper Record – right 3.81 / Left 3.60 ratings
* NAS Farmer’s Walk National Record – 240 per hand / 160ft. course

Image: Chad with his 385lb V bar lift

Q: As Grip World Magazine is aimed at all things grip - what does grip mean to you? What’s its place in training and so on?
At this point in my life I get enjoyment in training grip. It gives me an outlet on a stressful day and I am highly motivated to improve in grip so that it will help me be more successful in grip competitions. I train total body ALWAYS and I train grip at least 4 to 5 days a week. If I have to miss a workout…it will be something besides grip.

Q: Of all of the feats, guys and gals doing them and so on what stands out in your mind? Feel free to name names or lifts and records - be they grip or from other Iron Game arenas.
I would have to say men like Richard Sorin here in the US to be the first Captains of Crush and introducing the BLOB to the arena. Richard has done some impressive feats with the BLOB over the years and other feats with York 45 hubs, Anvils, and anything wide one hand pinch wise.

I have always been a fan of Bill Kazmier and John Brzenk as they dominated their sports respectively for years and their mental approach was off the charts. What stands out about these two: John Brzenk arm wrestling 100 men in one day and winning all but one I think? Also, Bill Kazmier winning the Worlds Strongest Man “3” years in a row…is very incredible.

Image: Chad at Richard Sorin's Sorinex compound.

Q: You are one of the few Americans that have traveled to compete. Tell us what that was like? Was there stuff you liked, disliked, would have changed and so on.
I traveled to Germany in 2007 in hopes to compete against David Horne…well known grip legend in England. He instead competed and won his 10th British Championship and I cannot blame him for that.

I competed in the Munsterland Grip Challenge and up against a VERY tough field of competitors like Florian Kellersman, Theo, Jim Wylie, and Franky H. There were 6 events and I placed 1st in 4 events and 2nd in 2 events and that was good enough to give me the overall win…but this was a hard fight the entire 10 hour competition. The one thing that stands out in my mind that I liked the most was the hospitality shown to me by ALL the competitors and especially Florian for taking me and my family all around the beautiful country of Germany, and letting me stay in his home. That makes for a trip that I will never forget.

I have to add that Florian and his partner also looked after Sam and I very well too. Steve

Q: Other than the records you currently hold what aspirations in grip do you have for the future? You can talk about them from a purely personal point of view or from the sport as a whole.
I hope grip friends do not take this the wrong way…but I would like to be known as one of the best of all time in the grip sport and as someone who displayed a drive and determination to improve each day and to push others to do their best. I would also like the opportunity before he retires to compete against David Horne…and hopefully this will happen in the 2009 Champion of Champions. He is a great proven champion and I would like to know how I stack up against him in the grip arena.

Q: Before we sign of have your say – if there’s anything you’d like to add be it a message to the guys or what-have-you here’s your chance!
I would like to encourage each athlete involved in the grip world to help keep the sport moving forward…because this is a great sport and I have met a lot of life long friends along the way.

Stay Strong, Chad Woodall

Monday, 1 September 2008

PDA founder passes away

John Szimanski, supporter of the gripboard and creator of some amazing strength tools has passed away unexpectedly. As soon as we have more info we will pass it on. Our thoughts go out to his family.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Bob Lipinski - August's interview

Q: Hi Bob, thanks for being our inaugural interviewee. Can I start by asking you to tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, how old, etc.

Pic above: Bob practises what he preaches.

No problem Steve! Appreciate the honor. I'm 32 years old, and I have lived in Michigan my whole life. I've been in Traverse City for the last 6 years or so. I'm married with a 2 year old son. After going to school for several years, I finally settled on becoming a nurse, which I have been doing for the last 5 years.

Q: Pretty much everyone who involves themselves over and above being a competitor and some of them too, has been on the lifting platform or in the arena at some point. Have you lifted in any other strength sport and if so to what level?

Besides many of the usual highschool sports, I have competed in bench press competitions for the last 10 years. I have done reasonably well, making the USA top 100 in three weight classes. I figured this isn't too bad since I have been steroid free and many others on the list ahead of me aren't.

Q: As Grip World Magazine is aimed at all things grip - what does grip mean to you? What’s its place in training and so on?

I started grip training because of a back injury. For some reason, I thought I had a strong grip so I ordered a few of the Ironmind grippers. That's where it started, and as I struggled off and on to rehabilitate my back, grip would come and go from my training. About 6 years ago or so, I decided that my back wouldn't ever be good enough to deadlift in competition, so I started much more seriously on the grip stuff. Now I take it as seriously as the rest of my training, and it only fades into the background the last month or so before a bench competition.

For most guys, they don't need to take it as seriously, but I believe most any strength athlete could get alot of benefits with maybe a half hour twice a week of serious grip training. Not only will it help pulls, but strong forearms make pressing feel much more stable also.

Q: Of all of the feats, guys and gals doing them and so on what stands out in your mind. Feel free to name names or lifts and records.

I can say the first feat that stuck out in my mind was Dave Thorton doing a blob medley at a Michigan contest- Everyone else was struggling, then Dave went through the lineup and did a high pull on each weight with ease. Jedd with the medley at the Michigan contest this year was pretty good too- I put together a medley I thought would stump everybody, then Jedd starts out high pulling the inch. Ryan Klein setting the last 1" vbar record was also pretty cool.

Chad Woodall and David Horne stand out as well, just so many records and wins between them. The British guys in general, (you included!) have a level of competitiveness that I still think the guys in the states could learn from. I think Nick McKinless is the most unheralded guy in the grip game. He is a great all arounder and could likely beat anyone in the world on a given day, but you don't see him mentioned much.

Finally, I love the bending videos of Don Larkin, with a 60d nail and 80d spike. Given when those feats were performed, I think it would be hard to find a man in the world at that time who could do what he did. Also, the intensity is just unreal.

Steve: that's very kind. I also think the comments about the Brits is true. Hermann Korte described both Sam and myself as 'intense' and I know David Horne is. Jim Wylie, a few years back, was as bad/good. Nick? Nick on a good day is world class.

Pic: Bob does a double hammer lever to head. Looks heavy.

Q: How did you become involved in putting on grip competitions and more? I’m referring to your records list and website as well as the motivation.

It started with Rick Walker's grip competition a few years back. He held one, then I think the GGC was announced. I figured what the heck, I could probably do it too. Then Brian Carlton contacted me, and we made our best run at getting all the grip stuff organized. It didn't work then, but I figured if I kept up a records list, a list of contest results, and kept the upcoming contest section current, someday it might be of use. It looks like we are getting there now. Part of what keeps me going is that I really love this grip stuff, and if I stay active it would let me have a say in how the sport develops. I don't want it to be a mess like powerlifting is today.

Q: Where would you like to see what we all do go in the next 5 and 10 years?

I would like to see a consistent national championship in the US, and with some luck, a consistent world championship. One unified organization,with a sustainable sets of rules so that this thing can keep going after all of us are gone.

Whenever I have a big goal, I try to set a series of accomplishable goals. Right now, I am reaching out to prospective promoters and trying to help with rules and such so that the sport is active all over the country. The biggest and most important thing to me in the very near future is too keep interest in the National Championships high, and help create a viable qualification process. I want this to be a sport where it is a competition and the winner is important. Right now, powerlifting is the counterexample- Many of the most recognizable names in powerlifting aren't championship winners, but someone who sets an "all time world record" in a local meet. The big championships have lost alot of recognition, and getting a big lift in a tiny local venue, with often suspect judging and unreasonably favorable conditions is more important.

Q: Before we sign of have your say – if there’s anything you’d like to add be it a message to the guys or what-have-you here’s your chance!

For the guys that are competing and promoting, keep up the good work! If you want to compete but haven't, do it- You won't regret it. The motivation and learning experience is worth it. Thanks for the interview Steve!

A pleasure Bob. Now who will we have lined up next? :D

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

European Grip Championships 2008

Report by Steve Gardener
This years promoter was once again Hermann Korte of Choice of Champions gym in Haltern am See, Germany. Let me start by saying what a gym! You can feel the Westside Barbell inspiration here even though it's bigger, cleaner and tidier. Two proper power racks, assorted bars inc at least 2 super squat bars and 2 Texas power bars, a box squat set up, a massive duty bench press bench with lifting chains ready to go, what looked like 20+ kettle bells and a great deal more. With everyone in position at the appointed starting time of 1pm we were able to get under way.

Photo right: Johan is closely watched by Burkhard during his gripper attempts

Using calibrated grippers and a parallel set as judged by our referee the standard this year was high. Sam Solomi won this event with a very 'handy' (ahem) two hand tally of 7.08 made up of a combined 3.54 with each hand. New man on the block (in his very first competition of ANY kind) Gabriel Sum took second with 6.9 (3.25 and 3.65) and THREE athletes tied with 6.68 (all 3 getting 3.54 and 3.14) for 3rd (Martin Ressel, Johan Albrektsson and Florian Kellersmann).

Sam later commented to me that the standard across the board was, in his opinion, the highest in any gripper event. I tallied the scores and all ten competing athletes averaged 6.56 or 3.28 per hand. I'm not sure if Sam is correct but that's one hell of an average.
2 hand pinch
Using the now more or less standard Euro set numbers here seemed down across the board. It seemed, from talking briefly to the lads, that most use a wide set compared to yours truly and this was true of the referee, Burkhard Macht, whose equipment we were using. Thus the little chalk it held to grip onto was within 2-inches or so of the rim and so my bigger hands were touching bare steel much of the time. Gabriel Sum has a youtube video of him pulling 110-kilos on a wooden block set up and I've pulled close to 106-kilos on our well used and chalk encrusted kit at the Whey Gym here in Gloucester and did 97-kilos for 12 x 1 before leaving.

Image left: Sam pulling a big weight on the 2 hand pinch

However, this also meant all of the athletes were in the same boat. With my top weight on the day just about making it at 95-kilos, Gabriel's was 90.2 placing him in 4th! In between was a good performance by Matti Heiskanen with 92.5 and Sam in 3rd with 91.7-kilos.
Ironminds Apollon's Axle - double over hand deadlift
I've said in my log how awful my performance had been on this some three months ago. Like Matti and Johan I have partially prolapsed discs in my back. Indeed Matti was the worse, injury wise, of all three of us old war horses. On this and other events he was very slow to lock out and it was as far from show boating as can be. Genuinely in pain he wins my 'man of the match' award here.

Picture from Choice of Champions site shows Steve Gardener with the top weight (I like it because my forearm looks massive!).

I'm also sure I saw some lifters take more in warm ups then less for their openers but was hard at it trying to pull ahead at this point so didn't make any notes. With the lowest lifter getting a respectable 145-kilos and the top three seperated by a mere 10-kilos (160, 165 and 170) it was much closer than it felt at the time. Both during this and one or two other events a combination of missed lifts and some misunderstanding on the risiing bar principle (Hermann dealing with Spanish, Finnish, Swedish, German AND English speaking athletes) meant some retook weights on events as well as others coming in with lower weights. However, unlike the complete re-setting required with the pinch the loaders did a fine and timely job of keeping things moving.

I took first with 170-kilos having no discomfort once on the platform and in the zone feeling I could have hit a little more (just today managing a ragged 180-kilos). My hands felt good for more and the sumo style and practise allowed me to do what was required. Jose Jara was close behind with 165-kilos and Martin with 160-kilos.

One hand deadlift
Using one of the excellent (balance, spin and knurl all top notch) Texas Power Bars I've no idea how good or bad the others did compared to personal bests but both in recent training I'd been all over the place and had, back in early 2007, done much more (right handed 160 for 3 x 1 in the gym and 150-kilos against Theo on the platform). Winning with 135-kilos right and 115-kilos left was therefore fortunate. That almost all lost at least one attempt due to the tight but proper reffing by Burkhard (usually one end not quite making knee height) combined perhaps with the quality of the bar may have helped keep the numbers down. My choice of best form etc on this event was Stefan Folke. On all his succesful attempts I was able to watch I saw a great set up and approach and the bar balanced throughout. If it was too hevay it did not move at all, but if he could do it it was done extremely well. A fine example.

Ironminds Rolling Thunder - Thumbless
Using an 'illegal' (not allowed under current IM rules) thumbless grip this was the final event of the day. With the time approaching a little after 7pm or so as we started I am sure there was more than one tired athlete sitting around the gym hoping it would be over soon. Nevertheless it was time for a few more big efforts to see if you might change your score and move up from the medals and into cup territory. I, for one, did not slack up at all with Hermann commenting on his site that I 'never lost focus'.

I was also very fortunate that I was able to sit out much of the event. By the time I stepped onto the platform most had used up at least three attempts. Indeed second placed Stefan ended up with 85 R and 82.5 L for his 4th attempts and I OPENED with 80-kilos for both hands. I then did 85, 90 and 95 (plus the set up) with my left and 90, 100 and missed at 110-kilos with my right. That, again, my form had started to drop shortly before the event from over training and that I was right about where I had been prior to the British championships shows that the 4 days rest leading up to Saturday 16th had done it's trick.

It also meant I had done enough throughout the 7+ hours we lifted to get ahead and stay there. Tired faces all around while Hermann tallied and checked the results had some shine put back in them when Hermann produced a fine bottle of German beer for all of us to quench our thirsts with.

1. Steve Gardener 492,4%
2. Gabriel Sum 470,5%
3. Martin Ressel 461,0%
4. Sam Solomi 448,9%
5. Florian Kellersmann 438,6%
6. Johan Albrektsson 432,0%
7. Matti Heiskanen 431,0%
8. Stefan Falke 419,4%
9. Jose Jara 419,2%
10. Jorge González 410,7%

For a bargain 5 Euro entry fee all places from 4th downwards recieved a medal and the top three a trophy. That and an ice cold beer... can't complain.

Photo Left: Steve with his 1st place trophy

NB: Results subject to confirmation and update as there may be errors in the tallying up.

August product review - THE VULCAN GRIPPER

David Horne creator
Where does one start when talking about the Vulcan Grippers Creator David Horne? The man was described as a 'Grip Legend' almost as soon as he started posting on the then fledgling Gripboard ( That he has won competition after competition, has god only knows how many records and, together with myself, is the driving force behind the BHSA here in the UK only begins to skim the surface of his involvement in our chosen hobby.

He's always been thinking hard of how to use standard exercise equipment and at the same time has modified and even created the odd item over the years. More recently, however, he's started producing items on a more commercial basis.

The vulcan gripper
One such item is his Vulcan Gripper (see photos from his world of grip shop right -

Based on the ever popular torsion spring style grippers you can see from the photos that the various notches up the sides of the loading pins allow you to select, by movement of the spring, different levels of tension. Using one of the charts on David's site you'll see you can start at level one and should you be good enough continue onwards to (I think) 22+.

Unlike most grippers, regardless of just how many you own, one of the better features this style of gripper allows is the addition of small amounts of tension via adding standard rubber bands. I personally find adding 3 - 4 post office bands is enough to take me from one step to the next.

David has a guide and information on the use of the gripper, especially for certification purposes (level 7 and above requiring video etc), on his site here:

From a purely personal point of view, having brought one of these for myself, I have to say I highly recommend it. That's not a 'he just sent me one as a sample and I love freebies' view but one I have given months ago on various sites.

The handles take chalk well enough if you use it often, the feel of it in use is almost (say 95%) like using a stanadard torsion spring gripper and as a training tool it's served me very well. My biggest problem was that I kept losing my rubber bands... with the gripper? None.

Mobster rating

Highly recommended 10/10

Our first editorial

Starting with this baby here in late August I hope to present a monthly round up of all things Grip related. For the uninitiated 'grip' means grippers, pinch, thin and thick bar lifts and more. Where needed a little side bar will explain what the hell were doing but most of the time it'll be pics, videos, news and reviews.

As with any online magazine there will be two things... teething problems and your input required.

I'll do what I can as a passionate nut job but as with any sport the more you guys and gals add to this venture the better it will be. I'm not looking for training logs but please email me with submissions and articles. I'll jazz them up with the help of any web design whizz kids we have among us and together we will do our best to present an interesting face to the world.

August features

  • The European Grip Championships
  • Product reviews
  • Ideas to improve the game
  • And more

Future issues to include

  • Competition results
  • Product reviews
  • Interviews with grip strength athletes, promoters and fans
  • Latest record updates
  • Links to grip sites of interest
  • Training tips from the Elite

So it's one more rep on a crush gripper and into ass kicking mode.


Steve 'Mobster' Gardener