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

1 comment:

Terminal said...

Cool project. I am totally new to grip (I am getting two CoC grippers for xmas)and look forward to learning lots.

Thanks for the interview and site,