Anvil or Hammer

Gripmas 2007

Posted in Grip by Mike on December 10, 2007

The short version

The long version:
I have to say that after 5 days on the road, I was ready to go home. I missed Gripmas last year and I would have felt awful to miss it again. Considering the techs’ contract talks are due next year, it’ll probably be out for then as well. So I decided to tough it out.

picked up Scott Styles at the Columbus airport on Friday afternoon. He represents himself well in his blog.  I was not at all surprised by who I met. He’s a nice, quiet, intelligent guy. We did a fair bit of chatting, I think I may have dominated the conversation which I tend to do once I get rolling. It’s more habit that an attempt to be the center of attention.

He is pretty skinny these days which seems to suit his frame very well. He’s a vegetarian but is more cool than most about it which is good. We grabbed TGIFridays for dinner, I had a really great chicken breast and Italian salad, probably the best thing I ate all week.  We were staying at the Super 8 on the interstate which wasn’t the greatest, posh-est resort in town but I slept well and that’s all I really needed it for.

We met our first gripboard member, Josh Dale, at breakfast the next morning. A nice guy, a nutritionist and one of the higher placers out of the group. A whole different class of gripster from myself. We met up with Stew, Nick, Doc, David Thornton and Eric Milfield  (all names that almost any gripboard member would recognize) at a nearby park and ride and headed off to Chris Rice’s home for the contest/ get together. We arrive to Chris’s little shed (probably wide enough for two cars+ and deep enough for 1 1/2+ cars) to find a whole mess of guys milling about.

We were there for probably an hour while grippers were calibrated and we met all kinds of people. We drew lots for the order on grippers. The grippers were set in chokers which means they had a type of clamp around them to keep them from opening any wider from parallel. So you are just closing the last 10 – 20% of the gripper. They were all calibrated for pounds to close and laid out in order. I opened with a #2 that closed very easily. I skipped up two for my next close and got stuck. So I came down one and close the gripper I had skipped for my third attempt. After the contest, I played with my hand position and closed the one I missed as well as the one after it.

The second event was the Europinch. Think of the classic plate pinch, two plates turned face together, pinch from the top. This is basically that but to remove variation from plate set to plate set and to allow more fine loading, the plates themselves weight almost nothing and a pipe is run through the center hole and the plates are loaded in front and behind of where you actually pinch. I’ve never done this or anything really like it so I had to gamble a bit. I started a bit later than maybe I should have but I also didn’t want to miss the opportunity to make as many pounds as I could It worked out great. I hist 170lbs and missed my third attempt at 180, so I appear to have hit my max just right.

The third event was double overhand Axle deadlift. I have this on my 100 X 40 list with a goal of 400lbs as I recall. I haven’t tested this to see what my current max is so this was a perfect chance. I’m a lot more familiar with the axel than I am with the Europinch but I still had to gamble a bit. Again it worked out really well. I hit 256lbs easily so I skipped up to 275 for my second. I barely got that one and everyone knew it. I had to chase the axle down to keep from missing the lift. For whatever reason, the stars aligned and I hit a solid pull on 286. 286 is nothing special but just to show what a good crew this was, they recognized that I had done something surprising to myself and gave me a little applause, that a feel good moment. I attempted 297, the next jump, there was no chance. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have even pulled that off fresh. I would like to point out that when I started on gripboard about three years ago, it was because I was having trouble with the same weight, with a mixed grip, on an olympic barbell. I’m not progressing fast but I’m progressing.

Chris put  together a medley that had 21 different event, I couldn’t have even thought of them all without his having put it together. There were: double sledge lever, wrist rotation in, wrist rotation out, one finger lift, bomb lift, pinch lift, key pinch, rectangle block weight, very narrow v bar, strap hold lift one, strap hold lift two, blob, light blob (40 lbs), 2″ dumbell, 3″ dumbell, anvil, fake blob and fake blob by the face (I only count 18 there so I missed a couple). I managed to hit 9 of these, several of which were event I had never done. It was fun.

Reverse bending was the next event. I had to borrow wraps from Chris, he had nice set of leather wraps, I see why people use these. There is no pain so you can focus on bending. I manged to bend a 7″ X 1/4 CRS pretty easy so I skipped to 6″ X 1/4 CRS for another bend. That one was also pretty easy but not quite as easy. I took a shot at 7″ X 5/16  HRS for my final attempt. I kinked it but it was no where neat the required 40 degrees. I dunno, I might be able to do that fresh, but maybe not.

The final event was a face to face, stare down, 100lb plate hold for time. This was a great idea, the placed the guys nearest each other in the standings looking right at each other holding for time. The competition was close enough that this changed a lot of positions. My time was pretty pathetic at a mere 31 seconds. I have 100s at Dumbarton and plan to play with this bad boy. I may never see it as an even again but I like it as a training tool.

I came in 18 out of 22 on the events and it was a great time. I got to try all kinds of stuff I had never seen before. Then the real fun started. We had a feast for supper and all the blobs and inch replicas came out. I played a bit but was wearing down pretty bad by this point. I’m not really capable of playing with the big boys on pinch grip type stuff. I did get to play with Chris’s sandbags and stone. That stone is really nice to pick up, that was a great buy on his part. It’s a good stone to learn stones on too, not so light as to not make you learn technique but not so heavy as to be impossible on the first go.

All in all, it was a great experience. I found it really motivational. I really enjoy meeting guys who are out there, in their garage or back yard training, alone, just like most of us. Many of these guys are incredibly disciplined and doing great things. It shows me how much I can do if I decide to do.

Thanks Chris.

3 Responses to 'Gripmas 2007'

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  1. Chris Rice said,

    You are Welcome!

  2. Scott Styles said,

    I am glad you decided to make it out Mike. Due to the work stuff we talked about, I’d actually decided if you skipped the contest, I would as well. It was a great time and I am happy I went.

    I didn’t realize you closed those other grippers after the contest. That is awesome.

    I had no idea the supporting group improvements you made. Good job on the axle.

  3. Mike said,

    Thanks Scott. I was pretty happy with it, now, on to 400!

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