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.
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!