Today we held a late spring meet up of the Chicago Grip Association. Paul, Mike, Matt, and Steve were able to make it. We had a great time, and I am amazed how much was covered. The training broke out like this:
Matt came very close on several of the #2's that were floating around. Steve closed Paul's hard #2, which means he is dominant over just about any #2 he will encounter. I believe Paul was very close on my hard #2, but I am not sure if he closed it. Mike hit several grippers around the #2 level and came very close on my Super Master. The heaviest gripper I closed was a 1.5. We covered some excellent material on getting the most out of setting a gripper, which I think will lead to Matt dominating #2’s in the near future.
It was excellent to try the wide range of grippers available. Mike brought a Vulcan gripper replica he made, along with one of his ring and pinky trainers. Having tried the Vulcan style gripper, I can now appreciate why someone would prefer it over an array of standard torsion spring grippers. The lack of spring skew makes for a very stable close and removes the need for a knurled handle. The ring and pinky trainer was also very cool, offering the combined advantages of a Vulcan gripper and a Tug. Anyone who is serious about grippers should be looking into one.
Mike and I stepped back when it came time to bend. The other guys more than made up for it. Paul brought over his bending trainer from David Horne. That is a sweet piece of kit. He has the easy spring, and on the easy setting, it's still too hard for me! Very cool design though. We tried putting a Vice Gripper spring on there, but it was still too much.
I saw several solid bends. I know for sure Matt hit a standard 60d, as well as a piece of 7"x1/4" FBBC hex. I think Steve got a 60d of mine that he failed on last year. His bending has come a long way. I think Paul took down a 12" spike, and I know he was giving Steve pointers on the mid-length bending as well. I saw Steve working on a 12" spike, not sure exactly how far he got it. Paul took down a couple nice short bends as well, I'm not sure exactly what. I want to say there was a 5.5” Grade 8 he took a good run at.
A couple guys tried to figure out horseshoe bending with a Diamond 0 I had, but none of us know how to do it. I gave it to Steve to work on, since he kept out lifting the rest of us. I get a feeling that shoe won't be safe for long. Paul was generous with the bending stock, handing out a bunch of 70d's to Steve and I. I'll need to talk Rick into coming over at some point so these get bent
FBBC 2" V-bar
We worked through the 2" V-bar in a rising bar fashion. I got all the lifts on video, which I'll process and put online for certs. I think everyone hit PRs on this lift. Consensus was the FBBC 2" V-bar is nicer than the homemade bars guys have been training on. This is a solid exercise, and it goes over much better than the 1" version. Steve made a big showing here, breaking the 225lb barrier. We also spent some time comparing the best way to grip and lift the 2” v-bar, which was helpful.
Block Weights / Wide Pinch
For the most part, I avoided the block weight work, saving myself for a 2 hand pinch PR attempt. As a result, I am not sure exactly what was lifted. I do know everyone else put a big hurt on the blocks though. Paul brought over an awesome 37.5lb hex block that was narrower than most hexes. I managed to lift that righty, I think everyone else did it with both hands. He also had a length of coat hanger cut for adding weight to the blocks. A very simple idea, but it worked great and is the best method I have seen for loading blocks.
Paul and Steve played around a little with pinching 10lb plates. I think Paul got 4 with a loading pin through them, Steve got 5 with a loading pin through. Removing the loading pin made a huge difference, sticking the plates to the floor for both of them. There was also some interesting conversation on the impact hand spread has vs. hand size when lifting a block.
Steve demonstrated some impressive pinching of the block weights by the face. I told him that sort of thing makes my thumb feel like it will rip off. He indicates he got the feeling at first as well and was able to train it away. Perhaps I am capable of wider pinching than I thought.
Two Hand Pinch (FBBC Big Squeeze)
We took this one up to 110lbs in plates. I am sure Steve, Mike, and I got it. I think Matt might have, but cannot remember. Mike and Steve had more left for sure, but stopped there on my pet lift, preserving my ego Mike's observation last year was there are certain tools that work better without chalk. This barbell is definitely one of them.
We played around with static front levers on the 6lb sledge. Mike and Steve were very close to the end of the handle. I think Paul was as well. I am still stuck near the middle. Discussion came up about getting ready for the Michigan contest. It sounds like there is a chance Steve is going to come out for it, and I encouraged him to. I think he will make a solid middle of the pack showing if he competes.
We spent some time playing with my different kettlebells. Paul and Steve both cleaned my 40k kettlebell. Steve even put it overhead. That is a big kettlebell! Matt, Paul, and Steve played around with bottoms up presses. I am sure Matt got the 16k and 20k, not sure about the 24k. Paul and Steve did the 24k, but I don't think anyone got the 28k overhead bottoms up.
We also spent some time talking about getting the most out of a two handed swing. The distinction between thrusting the hips out vs. up was covered, as well as the need to use the hips instead of the upper body when doing a swing. None of us are experts on this stuff, but I find it helpful to talk about it with others in person. It was also refreshing that we were all prepared to admit the limits of our expertise.
We spent some time talking about bodyweight training and mobility work. Matt gave some excellent advice and demonstrations on how one works up to doing a muscle up. He showed us a false grip like one would use on the rings, but did it on my heavily knurled chin bar. He was doing pull ups like that, which must of hurt. He also touched on how one is supposed to work up to a muscle up on a chin bar. None of us are there, but I think both he and Steve have definite potential for one.
We also touched on the user of trigger point therapy and myofascial release for managing back pain. I showed Matt how to hit the ITB band and deep hip extensors on a foam roller. I also encouraged him to look into a foam ball for doing the same (performbetter.com). Mike talked about using a knobber type device to dig into trigger points. Matt also showed us a good mobility exercise for opening up the hips. I was surprised to see how easily Mike dropped into the deep squat for it. There is something to this training stuff!
Matt's moving and brought over a few things for us. Mike made off with a couple block weights, I got a military duffle bag for a sandbag and the head for a 10lb sledge. Totally sweet. Matt got the first edition of Starting Strength and a copy of Brad Johnson's body weight training book. I think he'll definitely be able to make better use of it than I could. Matt also gave me some good advice on the best way to fill the duffle bag so I can train with it, without sand going everywhere. Very cool.
Mike made me an excellent short box for box squats. I told him it would need to hold 400lbs at most, I bet this thing would hold twice that. It is super heavy duty and makes a great addition to my gym. I am slowly assembling the equipment needed to make a solid run at the Westside beginner's program.
The other custom stuff Mike has built was very cool. I touched on the ring and pinky trainer earlier. He has a real talent for bringing stuff like this together. We also showed the rolling handle he made me last year to Matt. He'd never seen one. The topic of hook gripping it came up, none of us are even close.
Steve and I hit the FBBC bomb at the very end of the session. He learned how to perform the lift for a contest setting and worked up to 70lbs in plates, plus the 8lb implement and loading pin. I’d guess the total was around 82lbs. I got this one on video.
I had an excellent time, and I am very happy everyone was able to make it. Whenever we have one of these events, I am always struck by how genuinely nice the people are. There is nothing but encouragement, generosity, and good will. It creates an extremely constructive environment that leads to PRs all around.
Without fail, the guys humble me with their performances. It is refreshing to train with people stronger me, especially when they share the work it took to develop that strength.. The advice handed out was top notch and will help my training long term without question. One of the things I find most interesting is the fact that everyone is working around some sort of injury or issue. They all deal with it and get stronger anyway.
I intend to host a few more events this summer and highly encourage lifters in the Chicago area to attend. We cover more over a few hours in the gym than you will get in months training alone and posting on the internet.