2017 USAWA Grip Championships Write-up

Josie made herself right at home at the Dino Gym.

Josie made herself right at home at the Dino Gym.

The 2017 USAWA Grip Championships took place on Saturday, February 11th, at Al Myers’s Dino Gym in Abilene, KS.  It was a spectacular contest – like it has been every year Al has hosted it.

I went home with my lowest placing in a USAWA grip contest.  But the day was not a total bust.  I got to spend it with Carrie (my wife) and Josie (my daughter, AKA: Tiny Overlord)!  Josie enjoyed herself in the gym and she was pretty entertaining during some of the attempts where she mimicked my verbal encouragement.  Her sweet little voice shouting “Smoke it!” or “You can do it!” was pretty hilarious to everyone, as far as I could tell.

My minor injury from two weeks before the contest – badly torn middle finger skin and deep bruise of the area that was torn – turned out to have a major negative influence on every lift of the day.  I had prepared myself beforehand for a dismal placing overall.  But I had hoped that my skin had healed enough to haul up a 320 pound Middle Fingers Deadlift.  I hauled it up…only to have it pop out of my fingers a half-second before the down command was given.  It tore the same spot that was previously torn and didn’t stop bleeding until about 10 hours later.

Here are the events in order:

  • Pinch Grip
  • Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm
  • Deadlift – Fingers, Middle
  • Hack Lift – Fulton Bar

The Pinch Grip went better for me than it ever has before.  Front hang was permitted and was not something I had used in a USAWA contest before.  Although, I have only done the Pinch Grip (2 hands) in a USAWA contest once before Saturday.  Front hang resulted in me getting a 206 pound success.  The results haven’t been posted yet, so I don’t know where I placed in this event.  My goal was 180 pounds.  So 206 pounds was a nice surprise.  My right middle finger was in pain by the second warmup lift on this event.  I passed on my 3rd attempt to try to dull the pain in my finger before the next event.

The 2″ Dumbbell Deadlift was a bummer for me.  I lifted 150 pounds with no trouble.  I felt quite a bit of pain in my right hand where it was badly bruised on the middle finger two weeks before the contest though. But I thought I could just squeeze through the pain for my next heavier attempt.  I was wrong.  175 pounds came up to legal deadlift height on two attempts.  But I couldn’t hold it for the required pause, so I missed both attempts.  In hindsight, I should’ve done this event with my left hand.  That cost me at least 25 pounds in the total.

The Middle Fingers Deadlift was a catastrophic event.  It cost me a much higher placing overall.  My finger hurt horribly even on the 135 pound warmup pull.  I did 225 pounds as a first attempt.  That felt terrible.  No surprise.  I talked it over with my wife and she said something to the extent of “If you’re going to tear your finger again, you might as well do it on something big.”  That mirrored my remark about “going big or going home” – at least on that event, since it was my strongest event of the contest.  Or it was my strongest, pre-injury.  I called for 320 pounds as my second attempt.  Pulled it to full lockout and the bar just blasted out of my fingers a half-second before Al gave the down command.  I was so disappointed in myself for that failure.  I lost 95 pounds in the total on that lift.  Not to mention the pounds that it would take off the final event.


Look closely and you can see the bar zooming out of my fingers.

I debated just throwing in the towel after I tore the hell out of my middle finger again.  It bled all over Al’s yard.  I taped it up and eventually talked myself into doing a token opener of 220 pounds on the next lift…both my left and right middle finger tendons were TWANGED badly when that bar shot out of my fingers.  I couldn’t even make a fist on either hand.  It was two days before I could make a fist with either hand, that’s how much my tendons were banged up from that fail.

Axle Hack Lift went much better than I expected it to after my middle finger injury.  I couldn’t squeeze with my left hand after the tendon twanging fail on the Middle Fingers Deadlift.  What I did was just basically shape both my hands into a cup – kind of a “GI Joe Kung Fu Grip” type hand shape.  Then pulled the weight that way.  There was one funny moment on my 220 pound opener when for some reason (I think it was because I was still lamenting the skin tear and failed Middle Fingers Deadlift attempt) I faced AWAY from the judge – Al Myers – when I did the lift.  That meant that my ass was essentially right in his and everybody’s face when I did my lift.  I didn’t even realize what I had done until the lift was over and he politely told me that next time it would be better if I faced him when I did the next attempt, haha!

I also thoroughly enjoyed catching up with old friends and meeting a few new faces at the contest.  That always makes these contests so much fun.  No matter what the eventual placing might be.


Al Myers presenting me with my cool medal and certificate!

Posted in 2" Dumbbell Deadlift, Axle, Hack Lift, Middle Fingers Deadlift, pinch grip | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch “325lb Axle Hack Lift” on YouTube

Posted in Grip Strength, Hack Lift, USAWA, USAWA contest | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I posted

I tore my right middle finger skin badly pulling 380lbs on the middle fingers deadlift last week.  Now it’s 5 days until the USAWA Grip Champs and it is healing up about as slowly as I expected.  It will probably hold for a single low-poundage effort at the contest.  Not happy at all with that.


I haven’t done any contest-related lifting since the skin tear.  I’ve been keeping myself occupied working and trying to do other non-strenuous exercise with Tiny Overlord.

Here she is after some stair sprints yesterday:


If I do manage to pull at least 140kg (308 pounds) at the contest, I will do this pose to celebrate:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grip Strength Training And Testing For Children

If your child is ANGRY that you are clueless about how to train or test their grip strength – look no further than this helpful post.


“A child that trains their grip is a HAPPY child.” -Mark Twain


Avoid the MONSTER that lurks in the heart of all kids.  If you’re not already letting them train their grip – start today.  Don’t forget to test their grip training progress, too…before it’s too late! (for you)



Well, in order to warrant testing, there has to be some training.

I wouldn’t call what Tiny Overlord (Josie) does “training” – at least compared to how I approach grip training.  But she has fun with it and whenever she feels like it (which may be once a week or 10 times a week), she will grab her custom gripper that Aaron Corcorran (he is a friend of mine, and will make your child a custom gripper at your request) made her and either squeeze it closed with both hands (one helping the other close the gripper), or she’ll attempt it first with her right hand, and then I’ll encourage her to replicate the effort on her left hand.

A crushing grip is a wonderful thing.  Unless it’s used against you in anger.  Our cats and dog would agree with this sentiment.  I have also felt her rage-fueled titanic grip strength on occasion.  But we’re working on reducing her anger as much as her grip strength.


Hers is the tiny gripper.  The tiny kettlebell also helps increase her grip strength.

Sometimes she opts to work on her pinch grip with her homemade pinch block.  Because a threenager can never have too strong of a pinch grip, right?  Said NO PARENT EVER.


Other times she does one hand deadlifts.  These are one of my favorites.  She actually tries my 70lb kettlebell about once a week, just to see if gravity is fluctuating or constant in our house.


Other times she does kettlebell high pulls.  Usually while I’m trying to watch something on tv that isn’t Dora The Explorer.  How dare I.


Sometimes she improvises and uses a pumpkin as a vertical bar.  This was about half her bodyweight.  Lifted by the stem.  Who says you need to BUY your workout equipment?  This pumpkin was a gift from a friend.


She loves working on her support grip by hanging on the gymnastics rings at open gym.  Working on her rage face is just a side benefit she enjoys.  I call these RAGE HANGS. 


Climbing is fun and works the grip thoroughly.  She likes working on her parkour skills too, so she can more efficiently run away from me at the park – and make me look like an idiot parent.


Occasionally, a barbell is the only thing that will appease her.  I have high hopes that she will join the circus as a performing strongwoman and let me tour with her.


Bike rack?  Or a great way to build grip strength and irritate anyone who wants to store their bike there.






Good old fashioned rope hangs build plenty of grip strength.


I recently bought a Camry grip dynamometer (dyno, for short) with her grip strength testing in mind.  It has a dial that adjusts the handles closer or wider, based on the hand size of the user.  Her hands are small enough that she can fit both hands on the handle.  I placed my hand under the dyno so that she didn’t have to stabilize the unwieldy (for her tiny hands) dyno while she squeezed.  And now we have an easy way to test her grip strength (she also tested each hand, separately) every few months to see the upward progression.  She is fascinated by numbers and strength already.  And this will only help fuel that even more.




Posted in Grip Strength, Grip Training For Children, Josephine, Tiny Overlord, Tiny Overlord Strength Training | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tiny Overlord Buys A Punching Bag

Well, technically I paid for it.  It was a solid Craigslist find last week.  Josie has asked me several times to punch the freestanding heavy bag since I brought it home.  She has also straddled it and growled it.  And even bitten it at least once.  All part of her esoteric fighting style that she’s working on writing a book about.

img_20161115_161858.jpg img_20161115_160600.jpg

Started working on her punching skills.

Started working on her punching skills.

Posted in Josephine, Punching Bag, Tiny Overlord | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Tiny Overlord Begins Her Chess Training


Hmmm…what would Capablanca do?

Posted in Chess, Josephine, Tiny Overlord | Tagged | Leave a comment

Grandpa and Tiny Overlord Ninja Warrior


Walt was asking Josie if he could climb the “warped wall” – which on our makeshift American Ninja Warrior course is her slide.




Posted in American Ninja Warrior, Josephine, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Watch “Dinnie Lift” on YouTube

Posted in USAWA, USAWA contest | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Watch “Saxon Snatch” on YouTube

Posted in Saxon Snatch, USAWA contest | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Watch “One Hand Deadlift Tire Axle” on YouTube

Posted in Grip Strength, One Hand Deadlift | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment