Thursday, 29 October 2009

Products pretending to be steroids... grrr

Thanks to a hotly debated (inc by me) topic on RXMuscle I awoke this morning with an idea of what to write today... so he we are. To quote Peter Griffin / Family Guy 'things that grind my gears'.

Now just to clarify there are some products, Pro-Hormones, SARMS and products which MAY have anabolic or 'roid like' properties out there. Most are marketed as such. It might even be argued that the marketing of said items and how they are described is a reflection on the supplement industry. That by calling something 'Mega Anabolic RX 2000' you're allowing people to assume more than they should.

We're fortunate, at least in magazine marketing and adverts, here in the UK to not have too many of the US style over the top and very close to the wind in word choice type of adverts to contend with. You CAN still buy these kinds of products from reseller type companies who import US PH style products. However, in the US and US magazines page after page of them are filled with the near knuckle and, in my opinion, well past the knuckle adverts of these kind of products.

I'm not 'grrr'ing at that part of the market. At least not today. It's the section where a bottle, complete with, in their words, a legit holographic security sticker, also has a name like 'TrenX' or 'DeccaY'. Products even have images of cows (FinaH) and the like. Companies producing said products buy up domain names of sites which previously sold, if illegally, steroids. The same companies produce bottles with labels which offer a homage to the product they purport to be. From the same colours, font and layout.

They aren't even fake steroids, not that that's a good thing, but for all intents and purposes give the impression of being the real thing. Heavy use of words such as anabolic and steroid (for, in their words, search engine purposes) litter their pages. In some place on their page will be either a legal declaration (ok under FDA regs or the like) and a line which clearly, if in a small way, says 'our products do not contain steroids'. Yet you'll have searched for steroids, seen a site recommending site X as a seller of steroids and then, without checking the small print, thought you were on a naughty hush-hush site selling them (no I never got scammed). I could go on. The cash these freaks make is out of this world. Something which, at best, as DHEA or Tribulus in it is sold as a months supply for $200.00 (yes that's correct). Even with the money back in not satisfied guarantee offered the site rakes in the cash.

To use a Brit phrase - they are taking the fucking biscuit.

Friday, 23 October 2009

More Khan

Weider have already grabbed some in-shape gym shots. Check this out:

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Zack Khan DVD

It looks like this will be released after his next competition (next weekend) where he is expected to pick up a pro card. The teeny weeny snippets I saw on youtube... look good.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

So we arrive at what looks like a building that was finished just last week - it's that new looking. Chad has arranged for or put up himself a load of little signs pointing us grip nuts in the right direction. So that made it real easy to find. We walk out into what is the heart of the wellness centre - the gym. Clean doesn't cover how spotless it looks and there's a bunch of equipment I obviously wanna try. But before we even get into that I see some familiar faces.

First up, as mentioned before, is fellow Mashmonster tree climber Paul Knight who I hug and josh around with immediately. Having heard that he and some of the other lads had been in the bar I launch into 'and we was gonna buy a case over the phone and finish the job to (cue confused look as it's lost in translation) nobble you' LOL. More faces appear and more hands are shook, backs slapped and all round good natured ribbing takes place. I'm shown a small area where it's a teeny weeny bit more hard core. But, of course, we're far more interested in handling some of the toys we will be playing with for real later on. A little bit of experience teaches me to NOT REALLY TRY. So stuff is nudged, rolled or, in the case of grippers, given a baby squeeze to just before any biting point. But that's it. Shirts are handed out and the first of many (what seemed like loads) of Chad's family are met and I sign my first waiver (one for the event/Chad and one for St Mary's). We have a quick meet and greet and we're off.

Gripper time
I'd come with a plan, as usual, and for the most part stuck with it. This was very much the case with grippers. I saw Chad reach for the top one - the hard 4 - and thought I saw from across the room a close. But in fact he'd been a bit off. I don't get distracted with the idea of needing a big close and having played around briefly warming up stepped up and COC # closed a CoC 3.5. A little showmanship (I'd mentioned to some to 'sell it to the crowd and esp to Eddie on camera') meant not only did I do the deed for the ref but turned and said 'will that do you?' which garnered a 'hell yeah' from someone ha ha. I didn't pay too much attention to what else was being done because I still had the need to get the 4 down floating away at the back of my mind. So staying within the framework I'd set for myself I did the BBSE. It was about this time and checking with others and the big projector board that I pegged Chad has missed his opener but he still had some attempts left as did I (2). So it was time to step up a little more and so when I was due back on the platform I banged down the BBSE (Hard). I still wasn't sure what Chad would end up with so brought out the big gun. As I told others later I'd been off any closes of a 4 for about 5 weeks and so powered by caffeine I monstered the 4 (hard) to get a first place spot. Over the last few days I have since learnt it was the hardest calibrated 4 closed in competition to date - nice. There's only one time to do these sort of things and it's on the platform and when it matters. Luck was one my side as no one else managed to do the same. That meant, which was REAL NICE, I'd won the first event and was, for now, in the lead. GO RULE BRITANNIA.

2 Hand Pinch
As is always the case and indeed as I'd mentioned prior to leaving the Euro pinch can is and is sensitive to seasoning and humidity. so I wasn't too surprised to find it felt a little different to our very seasoned bit of kit here in Gloucester. I found myself advising a few to give it a light dusting of well rubbed in chalk and seeing how they got on. There were no great surprises as to who the top bunch were with Jedd, Chad and I in the mix and Rex coming up fast. Rex making 230lbs. I think all of the top three pulled 240lbs and from them Jedd and Chad equalled 245lbs. I had a lift spare and so once again made an attempt at 255lbs (the world record being 253lbs) but it sat there like an unmoving rock - not even a single mill of air. My first mistake of the day. Could I have equalled the 245 or perhaps done better with a 250 lift?? Hard to say now but what's done is done.

Ironmind's Apollons Axle
Ahh the dreaded axle. For a man that bitches about his o' so fragile glass like back this was always going to be one I could bomb on. I'd written out my usual event game plan thus: 1. 155KG/339LBS, 2. 170KG/374LBS, 3. 185KG/406LBS, 4. 200KG/441LBS. Others seemed to do the same warmups as I did then through what were my 2nd and some 3rd attempts then start with relatively high numbers. It would have been too, too easy to go off plan and play with the idea of following suit but as is often the case with me I went for the KISS approach. This meant Chad and I hung on in there with our 441's and Jedd + Aaron were sitting a spot beneath us at 379lbs. But, as we'd all suspected, kettlebell monster Andrew raised the bar higher from his 450+ record to a new PB and world (in grip competition) record 461lbs. He garnered a well deserved round of applause from all the attending athletes as well as the crowd.Me? I was happy with 1) getting my damned ass down as I knew the grip could take it and 2) felt (as is always the way) like I had 5 maybe 10 pounds in me on what was, again as per, my easiest and final lift. I should also offer thanks to the ref for some advice on my first lift as I went out of the groove. I'd set out with 440pounds or 200-kilos in mind and was 1lb out. Zer gut'.

Second boo-boo of the day for me. An event I could have won but brain freeze prevented me from doing so. I'd given the handle a little spin, sans weight, for feel and when asked what I thought the numbers could be said '260 or so'. As it happens more but anyways. I'd written out two sets of numbers (super spinning equalled low weight, slow spin mucho weight). I felt this handle was somewhere in between. For my third attempt I pulled what ended up being my final weight of 266lbs to Chad's (missed by me) 281lbs. I took a warm up with what may have been Chad's weight and no doubt may have put the cat among the pigeons with a successful lift. I then asked for a bigger 290 in plates (about 301 all in) and managed a few inches at best of pull. Tsk. If I'd taken 5 lbs more than the 281 I'd have won and it was, pun intended, within my grasp. No ones fault but my own.

If the axle was Andrews to win and always was in my mind then the medley was always Chads event for so many reasons. That said I was shocked and a little blown away when doing the rough numbers in my head because I was not expecting to see Andrew blow through them quite as well as he did. Chad's final score shows Andrew picked up one more object than I did (getting a 2nd to my third) but my confident 'second place easy' was a little shaken by his performance. The one lift I'd have liked to have made, being a nad off, was the Anvil as I did one of the best pulls on it on that day failing to just lock it out. I caned easily the three 25's that a bunch of the others had missed several times and pretty much had no problems with the blobs, pinching or thick bar objects . Another reason for not equalling Andrews performance was even though guys were calling out the time I literally was going too damned slow. I knew I'd huff and puff but wasn't going to get any faster. I avoided like the plague the hubs, the IM red 'nails' and the book tear and had said I thought I might hit 16 objects but managed 14. Chad hit 19 and just stood looking at the last shallow hub or the sky for the last 20 seconds on the clock seemingly huffing and puffing as much as I had.Final resultsWe took some time to fool around and I was handed two more CoC 4's post competition closing both. I was especially happy with the first as I did not use any chalk. Eddie, the camera man, did his post competition interviews which I took part in. Then it was prize time. As has been said elsewhere some of the items, esp for the lower places, were outstanding. Obviously the cash made up for this. Again, as above, my now glycogen deprived brain was not sure where I was... was it third or second? Once I heard Andrew was 3rd I KNEW I'd made second and had won the $600.00. I took my money and with a flourish bandied it about in front of the cameras and those gathered shouting (for effect) 'it's all about the Benjamin's baby!!'.We helped Chad move some of the usual rehab equipment back into place before heading over to his personal strength space for a cold brew and a burger. I came over all 'I'm done' in the Hummer getting the come down from a competition feeling so was not too shocked to bomb out at 250lbs in the post event 2" V-Bar event (a further $75.00 token being up for grabs). Much chewing of the fat and a little (check youtube) Inch dumbbell fooling around took place before it was back in the Hummer and home to the palatial mansion (oh yes ha ha) for the after-after party. The same crowd as before (Zach, etc) as well as, Ryan and Michelle and several young (too young) Southern Bell girl friends of Rex's sister (all in bikini's... man oh man!) were in attendance. For some reason the beer and the hot tub seemed to get those who'd been lifting's first attention easing the kinks out of our muscles. We may have also made something of the poll table room, several beers, some Jim Bean and some Sake shooters if memory serves me as we also chewed the fat and some pizza until about 1.30am.

Home again
A nice easy start and something of a lay in on the Sunday before those with a little ways to go started drifting off home with me joining them for my 4.35pm booking in time. I'd enjoyed my stay, winnings and esp the Hubbard families hospitality like never before. But for now the bed and seeing my cat back home was the focus of my attention and it was a case of head down, eyes pinned back open and please got no crying children on the plane (no such luck). I'm prety sure the return door to door, against the clock as it was, was on par with my 30 hour outward bound between sleep trip. It certainly felt like it.

I can take so much away from the trip. In competition a new PR on the axle and, so I am told, the best ever gripper close (hardest 4). I also enjoyed chewing the cud with the boys and have hopefully given a few a nudge towards some more progress with the US Hand Strength Association. But most of all was how well I was treated by everyone in the Hubbard household and I cannot thank them enough.
Chad woodall event - my take. Part 1
TravellingI guess it's a sign of impending age / doom - as I now officially approach geezerdom I get to moan and gripe about travelling. When you're younger leg room, sleep and food don't seem to matter quite so much. But, as us near geezers say 'when you're my age...' it all aches. So it 'ached' that my last sleep before arriving at Rex's place was Wednesday around 7pm. A 2am bus from central Gloucester taking some 4 hours or so to arrive at London Gatwick airport 'ached' too. Q class (cattle or also known as economy) ached too. I did enjoy a real good chin wag or chat with a US passenger who'd been on contract in Iraq. I also enjoyed eating as much of the near plastic airline food as they'd let me have but then got maybe 20 mins zees on that portion of flight and the two films (Clint's 'Grand Turino' was esp good).

Arriving for my second visit in the US I knew I'd have 'fun' with the so, so slow progress through visa and passport control but the edge of the snails pace entry was taken off by seeing big man Rex on the other side. The boy eats his greens and was an apparent 290+ when I got to shake the big old paw. Having made time to change up some sterling into dollars we then made our way to pick up the transport. BOOM! A big ass HUMMER. Oh yeah now we're rocking in style. Complete with the arm resting on the sill and the seat cranked back we cruised in style to Roswell where family Hubbard make their home.

Now I, like the rest of the guys arriving later and who Rex had kindly found some space for, were all of the mind that we'd be buddying up, making use of sofa space and the like. You know that you're, for all intents and purposes, invading some poor families home and trying hard not to eat them right out of it. I've ALWAYS enjoyed the catering, bed space and so on wherever I travelled but my previous experiences and expectations did not prepare me, nor those to come, for the sheer size, scale and just out and out good old fashioned Southern hospitality we got from Sissy (Rex's mom), Donny (step dad) and the rest of the clan. My jaw had to bolted in place to stop it dropping on stepping down and out of the Hummer but I still couldn't help the silly ass grin that grew on my face. It was real lifestyles of the rich and famous.

I was made to feel welcome the moment I arrived and more so later when Sissy and Donny had overheard me giving Rex my 'someone needs to up their game and get the US association a few more baby steps forward' (a speech given freely over the weekend to a few others also). They were very appreciative of my efforts at, as the 'youth' say of 'bigging Rex up'. My comments to Rex and co were of the 'Rex has gone from the guy prepared to argue with one and all (as a great debater (or master debater... say it quickly ha ha) to one now showing some of the leadership skills that could move the Yank game forward. That we all share the passion is by the by, we need a Barnum and Bailey kind of person to give it some of the old US style razzmatazz that's needed for media attention. For whatever reason, probably how well I was being looked after, relaxing in the jacuzzi or the very nice wine Donny was providing (Merlot??) I seemed to get a second wind and so rather than an early to bed approach I stayed up until around 1130 or so local time. Tomorrow was looking good.

Up a little late for me I found some oatmeal and was munching on down before Sissy pointed to the huge cast iron pot she had going on the stove of more of the same... oops... err pile it on. Some juice (or three) and back out on the loungers by the pool before easing out some of the aches, pains I usually have along with the kinks from the journey in the house gym (yes a gym in their basement too!). Once done it was dossing in the pool and chatting some more with Rex. As we did with some of the fellow Iron Brethren still to arrive we cast our net far and wide from media to personalities within the game. Indeed by late Sunday taking off back home my throat had been fried from all the talking, drinking and shouting to the point of soreness. Mercy for others ha ha.Being kept fed through the day with some of Sissy's sandwiches and Rex's protein drink I spent some more time back later in the gym working on the old back pains again before making sure I was about when Zach Coulter and Andrew Durniat arrived. They both had the same 'oh my gosh look at this' look on their faces and as I shook hands etc. I leant in and said 'it doesn't get better than this guys!!'. They'd driven some 650 miles (with Zach another 2 more hours after that) to get here with us which is about the same as Lands End to John O'Groats or the length of Great Britain. Us Iorn Freaks sure do love to travel don't we.

Sissy had prepared some Beef Tender Loin which she'd marinaded in some home recipe. I'm telling you know it was among the best beef I've ever had and the sweet potato, aspargus, green beans and sauce we had with it along with a locally brewed cold one just about topped the day off. Unlike those guys (Paul Knight and the gang) feeling a tad fragile following their night on the beers and (??) Crown Royal (whiskey??) on Friday Sissys fine food had us very well prepared for our efforts Saturday.

Indeed I was up with no help at all. My bathroom suite (yeah you heard ha ha) helped me be fresh for the day as did yet another readily prepared bowl of oatmeal. A shake just before we left, some vitamins I'd brought with me and my first coffee since the preceding Monday (I wanted the buzz to help me lift to be full on) and we were ready to go. It was back into the tank / Hummer and after a quick stop at the local gas station for some energy type drinks (Sissy having provided me with my usual banana, raisins and the like - again a great hostess) and we were off (as an aside I was wearing my Union Jack shirt for shits n giggles and overheard some guy in the gas station say 'he must be crazy with that on ha ha). Other than having to back up around when we passed our exit we had no problems finding the venue.

Game time

Friday, 27 March 2009

Grip Documentary

Rex 'The Natural' Hubbard has started something with the idea of a documentary on grip. The idea of our very iron iconic grip version of Bodybuildings Pumping Iron (a must see for Iron Game fans) or Power Unlimited - the powerlifting documentary is very exciting indeed.

There are a bunch of suggestions floating around. That we need to include something of the history of the sport goes without saying. But looking back at Pumping Iron they kinda covered that in the title sequence. Images of Sandow flexing and old time lifters doing muscle control. We might need a little more but it's a 50-50 thing. One needs to show what we do but Joe Public - our hoped for grip newbies doesn't want an hour of Warren Tetting making grippers. Yet, as with others, Warren's roll is important. There is a balance to be struck and it will be a difficult one.

What else do we need to show? Perhaps a few feats of strength. In the last day or so Rex suggested showing how what was once the pinnacle of grip strength for many - the closing of a Ironmind Captains of Crush (still impossible for some) - is now no longer quite the task it once was. I know how disappointed I was, after a year of trying, to miss my first certification attempt at Pullum Sports. Yet I offered to send Rex a clip of me doing a close upside down - hanging from a power rack using inversion boots and smiling all the while at the camera. Another has me literally crush a credit card between the handles. So what was once a monstrous lift is no longer so.

Interviews, voice overs (I'd personally do this quite a bit if I was running the show so as to get as many videos and filmed segments on as possible) and the historical section will form, I think, most of the early part of the film. The later section is, it seems, going to consist of a little battle royal build up between myself and Chad Woodhall (ie: best current British and European champ vs the undefeated US guy) as well as other lifters at Chad's big money (for grip it is) event.

Now, as you'd imagine, this is a big deal for me. My oh so fragile (ahem) ego loves the idea of being a part of the video never mind a potentially BIG part. With this in mind and as part of the crazy three events training I am currently doing (7-10 times a week) Paul Savage has been taping some stuff for me. With good short sharp editing, loads of hard rock music and the usual wizardry of the digital age to our amateur efforts I'm hoping Rex and Eddie (his cohort in the video department) might be able to find some useful stuff from our feeble recordings and use them in the grip version of Arnold vs. Louis. So I've been pushing myself real hard to give Paul something he can film. The aim, if it's usable, will be to show that the grip guys (in Chad and myself representing everyone else) train as hard as any high level athlete and especially those in the iron game.

But more than anything if the film succeeds it wont be because I or anyone else in our sport did a rep with X weight on whatever grip gadgets we use (see Joe 'X' pinch, squeeze etc) it'll be the capturing of the essence. It needs to show the hard work and tenacity, the sweat, the skin and yes the blood lost. The occasional nausea and the borderline obsession (perhaps not so borderline). It can and I hope will raise the profile of the sport as a whole here, in Europe, in Australia and of course in the US of A. It can and I hope will make some of us into little stars.

The more of the grip troops involved and playing a part in what has the potential to be our iconic moment the better. I'll paraphrase a famous saying:

'Ask not how you'll be entertained by what's on your screen but what part you played in getting it there'.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

If it works... oh boy!

Let me start by saying there is very little that is new in strength training. From time to time someone will put a name to something they think they came up with but you can bet a few of your hard earned bucks that someone somewhere has done that very same idea for years - just never thought to call it 'New program X' or whatever.

So is what I did today with the 2 hand pinch new? Nope. Now before we get in too deep I will NOT be going into detail just yet. As the title says... if it works OH BOY will some big numbers be pulled over the next three or so months. Loz (Laurence Shahlaie) and I did our usual straight set working our way up the pyramid. Topping out, as is our way, at 111.7-kilos or 245.74lbs. Loz then suggested something (he he) which is well-known as a technique in powerlifting and it was one of those 'why the hell didn't I try this before' moments.

Trust me when I say it was nothing unusual, outstanding or even new and novel. Just an old trick applied to a grip movement and WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS BEFORE!Seriously!! Let's just say the poundage, when we were done, was as close to 120-kilos or 264lbs as you can get and if we get what we think we'll get from this technique we will be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

I'm hoping in the 4 and a bit weeks between now and the April 11th Peter Horne competition to see some progress using this technique (probably just once weekly as well). Man... if it works... I'll be as happy as you'll be blown away with the poundage we will be shifting.

Interested? You should be.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Let's get ready to rummbbbblllleeee!!!

It's competition season and so now is the time to get serious. For the average Joe or Jane they pick January 1st to think about knuckling down and doing something special. But for those of us that compete today will do.

Coming up in the next few months are, for me, 3 competitions. My warm-up event is the Peter Horne gig in April. Then I have the British Championships in May. I plan on doing very well in the first (1st or 2nd again), winning in the May comp and then there is what seems to be the grip event of 2009...

The Chad Woodhall event.

Chad has, for a while, been a full on competitor. I know, just from PM's and emails, that he wants to compete in his words 'against the best' but with David Horne's CoC event now off the cards his chance disappeared. He'd considered a super match against a few including ours truly. But with another little one on the way he changed tack.

So using business connections and not a little wedge of his own he set his own competition plans into action. First prize of $1000 has only been beaten once before at the 'Mike the Destroyers' somewhat strange event held a few years back (guess who won his own money back... oops). Unlike Mike, competing against his training partners (although at a fantastic venue - a very well attended (100000+) baloon festival) Chad has managed to invite and attract what is the current cream of the grip freaks.

One rather off putting aspect, coming of the back on what was a pedantic discussion on what is a blob (jeezus C!), was the pulling out of some Sorinex facility using athletes. FFS guys!! I'll put that BS to rest right now. The 'real' (ie: ld and hard to get a hold off) blobs cost a fucking fortune and most, inc me, don't have access to or the necessary cash to buy said blobs. So we make do. Now as to whether or not they are that much harder to pick up etc... seriously how much harder might they be? 5%, 10%? I've picked one up YEARS ago (at David Horne's) and I don't think they are all that. Now I'm picking up a York Legacy 25-kilo blob with weigh attached and others have done a original 50lb with 20+ attached. So should anyone be arguing about a 50lb 'original' being all that? Do the same people think that those who've put their names down to kick ass in the competition would struggle? No. They withdrew because of an off topic argument.

In my gym we have old school challenge boards and records list and on one it says 'man the fuck up'. Wanna see a picture to get the message? What is more daft is three of the guys were 330-350+lbs!! Seriously. 330+ and pulling out because of a 'old blob vs new blob' argument?? For real??

Right... I'll post more on this competition and who's gonna do what etc in time. But right now I'm off to the gym to kick some mo-fo ass (mine) on legs. I'll train under something goes twang, ruptures and bleeds, recover and do it again. Then come the day, money allowing, I'll do my best to make a name for myself.

Now all I need do is find someone to look after my cat for a few days... ;)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Photos of grippers

With half an eye on self promotion and another on making what we do visually interesting, nay nigh on visually sexy (at least in advertizing and promotional terms) here's some attempts of mine and the thought process.

Take a quick look at the market place where grippers (as we know them) are concerned. Pretty much it this kind of image (red handle 'beast' to the left). Worse still, in my opinion, is it on a table still in the pack. The CoC grippers at least have photos of the GR8 springs and high resolution images. But the pack features more heavily than I'd prefer. Functional hand strength had some nice photos of the RB's they used to sell (the one with the differing color handles was taken handles end on, in hi-res and with some care.

For inspiration look at how some which can, in its most base form, be little more than a box with an engine and wheels on each corner, a humble car, is advertized. Close ups of brake calipers, bonnet grills and twin exhausts are used. That's without getting into the long but winding road, a fab 'babe' sitting in the passenger seat and someone like Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame exuding it's 'monsterous powerrrrr!!!' and the like. Bonnets are opened and engine bays inspected. Chrome is added here and there and photos are taken from angles which only enhance its appearence. Take this photo of a possible new Jaguar. Note the enhanced lines, special lighting and half side half front angle. The background is merely there to better the lit reflection off of the curves.

Now compare that with the first photo (not as bad as some I could show you). Some thought and quite possibly a little photoshopping, cropping and tweaking has been done to bring out the very best of the cars features.

With all of that in mind I set about creating (and with half a mind to save a buck or two) the best photos of the Robert Baraban grippers I now sell (the self promotion bit) via eBay. To save a buck I took three of the better images, all cropped and edited to buggery and montaged them. That way I only use one image and pay one fee but show (having paid for the small 'super-size' option - something others have not done) three different images in one.

I experimented with a white background as that is the same as the eBay background colour. But a strong contrast worked better. So black it was. Black also hides a ton of sins. I tried using a black cloth (a t-shirt in fact) both crumpled and flat but it still reflected more light than I liked. I ended up somewhat bizarrely using the inside mesh of a hi-fi speaker cover. Even with a flash (not used in the final photos) there was no bounce back from the material.

I then went into 'what do I look for when buying a gripper? mode. If you was to sell me one and with my knowledge of a gripper what would make it stand out for me? Well the finish, so that means close up shots showing the quality of the same. Depth of the knurl so I know it wont slip in my hand. Thickness of the spring, so I can guess at it's tension and so on. I don't want to see glue where the spring inserts into the handle. I don't want to see burrs of any kind. I don't want to see over thick or flaky chrome and so on. So if I have a gripper for sale... ahem... that does not have the bad but does have the good I want to show it well.

The image to our left here could have done with some more light onto the end of the handles (better to show the inch pound numbers) but is otherwise very close to how I wanted it. Not bad for no flash, macro setting and only a strip light for illumination.

The final eBay image is as can be seen. This was merged in, of all things, word using their insert image feature (cos I was too cack handed for paint shop pro). It's still not perfect but compare it to the first one. I even made a version using all the photos and of which is little more than a slide show with words for youtube here. It was done in about 20 minutes (indeed I just noticed a small cock up) so shows what can be done with even a little imagination.

I'd be very interested in hearing if anyone has some cool stuff like this. It's good for me and it's good for the sport.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Robert Baraban Grippers and me

As more than a few GWM readers will hopefully be aware Robert Baraban is the creator, maker and originator of his own brand of Grippers and Grip tools. Way back in 1997 Robert was among that elite group known as Captain's of Crush. So called because we (I managed the feat in 2001) had squeezed close an Ironmind No 3 gripper rated, according to its seller, at some 280 inch pounds.

Since that time Robert has been making a name for himself not just as a closer of grippers but as a manufacturer of grip strengthening tools. Using metal working skills and combining these with a 'hands on' (ahem) knowledge of what it takes to get truly strong hands, ndeed hands that are, quite frankly for those at the top of this particular (even peculiar) game of ours bordering in freaky strong, he has produced some very fine equipment.

Although not well known from his line of equipment he has made some thick handled bars and handles, grip machines, rolling handles and pinch blocks, bar bending trainers and even the highly prized grip dynometers (two different models but very high end).

As of a few days ago I took delivery of some 18 standard grippers and one prototype gripper. It is my intention to see if I can provide turn myself into the 'come to guy' for grippers here in the UK. Having made enough of a reputation with my ability to close them (being called 'probably the best on grippers right now' by none other than David Horne himself following a successful level 19 close with a 20mm set on his Vulcan gripper) I intend selling as many of the grippers and grip equipment as I can.

Without knocking the marketing savvy and selling skills of other sellers here only David Horne can also lay claim to actually being capable of having the high levels of strength and the knowledge which got him there. So I plan on starting with Rob's standard width hand grippers first then will add in his other bits of kit. In future I'd like to include other brands as well.

Rob's grippers can be brought from me directly (just drop me an email and I'll tell you how), via my hand gripper shop at: and via eBay (just search for RB grippers and there I'll be) Here's a link to the first eBay page:

Monday, 12 January 2009

Q & A with Martin 'pinchmonster' Arildsson

Martin is, as per my title, right up there when it comes to two hand pinching. With decent competition lifts (112.1) and youtube vids (115 and 117.5) of gym lifts. His efforts on the euro style of setting grippers (the so-called parallel set) aren't to be sniffed at with a PB of 3.85 per hand (read online about how grippers were and are rated). Being younger than most of the other guys on the lists means Martin is, as they say, one to watch. Onwards with the interview.

Photo: Martin and those pinching thumbs

Q: Hi Martin, Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself, where you’re from, how old, etc?
Hi Steve! I’m from Sweden, born and raised in Malmö which is in the south of Sweden. I’m now 24 years old. 182 cm tall and somewhere around 140 kg light. As this is for grip-nuts like me I can also say that my hands measure 7.5” inches. In March last year I started to work as an automation engineer. I started lifting weights in august or something 1999.

Q: You’re well known in the grip world. Have you competed in other strength sports and to what level?
I tried a couple of strongman contests when I was 16 or 17 years old, I won two of the three contests that I attended. These contests were on a very low level (don’t tell it to anyone, haha).
In 2003 and 2004 I competed in powerlift (IPF) where I took a couple of Swedish records in 125+, I won the Nordic championship in 125+ (maybe because I was the only lifter in my category…).

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?
Hmm… hard to say. When I was new to the grip-scene, I associated the word Grip to grippers, nowadays it is more all round grip strength. It’s place in training… It varies, but I never train grippers after that I have trained deadlifts or other kind of back exercises. That’s the only “rule” I have.

Q: What would you like to see happen, via associations and so on with events etc?
I’d like to have standardized events. Like grippers, two-hand pinch and one hand deadlift. And two more, which I don’t know of yet. It would be nice with a worldwide association. I think that we have taken a couple steps towards it, but it will take a long time before there is a real association. There is a lot of questions left. What should the association do? Who will run it, is there enough interest for it? And so on.

Martin gets air under a 120-kilo two hand pinch

Q: How do you get yourself ready to lift your maximums?
I start to focus on what I’m about to do a couple of seconds before I lift. Psyching up and getting angry doesn’t work for me, so I try to lift with a smile!

Q: We’ve seen some great gym lifts on the pinch – how high do you think it’ll go in 2009?
I don’t want to say too much, but at least 120 kg will be lifted. Ed:I agree. 120-kilos will fall this year

Q: I know from online chats etc you’ve not been as focused on training as you might be. Why is that and do you plan on getting your ‘game face on’ soon?
I started to work in March, and before that I just studied, and in November I moved to a house. So there have been a lot of changes for me. And I had a lot of other things going on too. But I feel more motivated now, than ever before!

Q: do you have any more plans for grip strength, feats and or competitions?
Well… It would be fun to finally close a #4 after all the talk that I’ve done about it, I’m actually stronger than ever. Oh, and break 120kg on 2hp! I think that we (me and Arne) will have the next LGC in April!

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’ve seen so many incredible feats on the gripboard the last couple of months so I can’t keep track on them anymore. Paul’s #4 close and Chad’s destruction of MM6 is insane!

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!
Don’t just train grippers! Add some thickbar, pinch and levering to the mix as well.

Ed: Good stuff

Thursday, 8 January 2009

2009 a New Year

And so it begins.

Already the competition scene begins to warm up. With our annual Whey Power Challenge done and dusted and a level 19 20mm set done with David Horne and Nick McKinless as my witnesses my mind turns towards what I will be doing this year.

I've been saying on several forums, blogs, etc I don't 'do resolutions'. I explained this by saying that I normally have anywhere from 3 to 5 things knocking around in my head and one of those takes place in August. In between there's the Peter Horne gig (March or April), the BHSA championships, MM3-6 certs, helping out at the Severn Valley, tripping off to watch our boy Loz at the BSM... I can carry on. That's without work, birthdays and others to think on. Who needs resolutions when you have so much on the go? Not me.

That said I still understand the nature of standing on Jan 1st, feet astride as it were, looking into '09 with a view to making an even bigger mark than you did the year before. But I'm keen on keeping on putting into practise all the good habits I have used to get me where I've managed to get thus far.

If you all keep on getting stronger, winning comps, breaking records and raising the bar then it's job done. Resolutions - who needs them eh???