SGPT: Tell us about yourself
JJ: Hey brother. I am a strength coach in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. I run DieselCrew.com and love blogging and doing articles and videos on all kinds of different strength training and fitness topics.
I guess you could say my specialty is Grip Strength and Feats of Hand Strength. I have put together countless resources on hand, wrist, and forearm training in order to perform awesome feats, how to dominate in various sports, as well as how to prevent injuries and conditions in the lower arms and hands.
Video – Pull up and grip workout with Jedd Johnson
SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?
JJ: Yeah brother. I played Baseball and Basketball in High School. At 6’2″, I was the Center, but I would have been like a Guard or something in College, so I stopped after H.S., but I did go on to play two years of college baseball at Mansfield University. A slew of injuries those two years eventually led me to quit and just focus on weight training and building muscle. That was what I always wanted to do anyway, because I was a HUGE Pro Wrestling fan growing up and dreamed of being a wrestler myself one day.
SGPT: How did you get into grip training?
JJ: Eventually, my interest in bodybuilding was overtaken by strength training. I began working different types of strength training into my program in order to not just get bigger but also stronger. First, I began dabbling in Powerlifting. Then I really got into Olympic Weightlifting. Then I started doing Strongman in 2002. This is also when I found out about GRIP.
I found I was actually pretty good at Strongman and did between 1 and 3 competitions per year from 2003 to 2006. I actually won a handful of comps. Strongman was my main focus during that time. I was doing a lot of Grip competitions too, and on top of being a lot of fun, it was also a way to improve my performance at Strongman. Eventually though, injuries from Strongman got to be too much and I stopped doing Strongman comps and began focusing entirely on Grip Sport.
Jedd Johnson works on grip with the Blob
SGPT: What is an advantage to training the grip?
JJ: There are advantages to having a Strong Grip, many of which people do not think about. They think they can just get away with using Straps, but this is a mistake.
The first benefit to having a strong grip is that you’re going to be able to Lift more weight. When you can lift more weight, you build more strength and more muscle.
The next benefit of having a strong grip has to do with endurance. Because you are stronger, you will be able Hold weights and maintain your grip for a much longer time. You will go deeper into sets without having to take breaks and when you can perform more reps with the same or heavier weight, you are going to see strength and muscle building results.
Another benefit to having a strong grip is the idea of Control. This is one that people never think about, but it is the most important one for athletes. For athletes, when your grip is strong, you can have your way with opponents. You can tie them up into a ball on the wrestling mat and you intimidate the hell out of them in the MMA ring. Plus, if your sport involves a bat, stick, or ball, you have a huge advantage. You can drive through the ball in sports like baseball, golf, and lacrosse, you can maintain your grip on the basketball or football while everyone is trying to knock it out of your hand. All of this makes you more confident in your abilities.
For lifters, when you have a stronger Grip (everything from the elbows down to the hands) you can make the weights do what YOU want them to do. So, you track the barbell better in the Bench. You keep the bar where you want it in the Squat. You can turn easier with the Farmers. You can balance the Log better in the overhead press.
As you can see, there’s really no down-side to having a strong Grip.
SGPT: What about overtraining? How can an athlete avoid that?
JJ: It’s definitely something to be aware of. Your hands, with all their nerve endings, are intimately connected to the central nervous system, so going overboard on your grip training can have an effect on the rest of your body. That is why I always have people start out with one or two movements once or twice a week and then move up from there when they first start training Grip. That way, we can see how they will respond.
When you are new at something, you don’t need a lot of a new thing in order to get better, so plugging in a few simple grip exercises will get you going in the right direction. Once you lay the foundation, then you can increase the workload on your hands and build from there.
Keep in mind, super high volumes of Grip work are not necessary for most athletes. High volume grip training is mainly for grip enthusiasts who are planning to compete in Grip Sport or who are working towards one particular Grip goal, like accomplishing a world-class feat of strength or certifying on a specific gripper. The general athlete should first work on laying a foundation of grip strength and correcting injuries, and then begin focusing on sport-specific grip training opportunities.
SGPT: What is one quick grip workout that athletes can do to improve grip strength?
JJ: Here’s one that will accomplish the three primary types of Grip: Crushing, Supporting, and Pinching.
Crushing: Loop a couple of towels over a Pull-up Bar. Grip these and perform a set of 10 Pull-ups. In order to maintain your hold on the towels you MUST crush hard into the towel material.
Supporting: Grab a pair of dumbbells that are about 1/3 your bodyweight (if you weigh 150lbs, grab 50’s). Hold them in a thumbless grip at your sides. Aim for 30 seconds. This is your active rest to recover from the Pull-ups before you go on to the next set.
Pinching: Grab either 3-10lb plates or 2-25’s and place them so the outer plates have their smooth sides facing out. Pinch the plates together in one hand and pass them around your back to the other hand. This is called a Plate Hula. See if you can get 10 to 12 repetitions in one direction.
Once you finish that, perform the Dumbbell Holds a second time for 45 seconds. Then do the Towel Pull-ups one more time, the Holds one more time for 30 seconds again, and the Plate Pinch Hulas one more time in the opposite direction.
Jedd Johnson Grip Workout #1
So it will go like this:
Towel Pull-ups => Dumbbell Holds => Plate Hula => Dumbbell Holds => Towel Pull-ups => Dumbbell Holds => Plate Hula
Your grip will be thoroughly blasted in a short time, and you will have worked it in all three areas of Grip Benefit:
Lift: You will have to be strong enough to lift the plates and pull your bodyweight in the Pull-ups (the dumbbells should be no problem)
Hold: You will need endurance to get all the reps in the Pull-ups, to maintain your grip on the dumbbells, and to continually make revolutions with the Pinch Plates.
Control: It would be easy for most people to just pick up and hold the Pinch Plates at Lockout, but that is boring, brother. Passing them around the back requires more strength and requires you to be strong through many more planes.
SGPT: Where can athletes check out more information and learn more?
JJ: I have a website that has become the go-to reference location for Grip Strength Instruction at TheGripAuthority.com. It’s NOT just a site to learn about Grip Competition and Feats of Strength like Bending Steel and Tearing Decks of Cards (although I have those subjects covered). This is also where athletes of all sports can go to learn how to strengthen their hands for their specific sport.
SGPT: Thanks for the interview Jedd.
JJ: Absolutely brother. I also invite everyone to come to my main site, DieselCrew.com and grab my free reports on Strength and Grip Training. In the Quick Wins for Grip Strength report, they will learn about High Impact equipment and exercises they can do in their workouts to get the best bang for their buck with their grip training.