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???