Congratulations to our super grip champion Steve ‘Mobster’ Gardener who won four of the five tests of hand strength events and broke two world records, powered by BULK POWDERS™, at the World Alternative Games.
This is Steve’s account of the event for true strength athletes. The videos used are not of Steve but for demonstration purposes.
You don’t mess with this former British and European Grip Champion.
World Alternative Games 2014
David Horne, promoter, together with the organisers of the World Alternative Games, put on a contest designed to get visitors to have a go. In addition us ‘pros’ (competitive athletes) would also compete to put on a show for the same visitors to watch.
The games themselves were established back in 2012 as both an alternative to the more traditional events held during the Olympics and as a means of attracting tourists to Llanwrtyd Wells.
Being a rather successful athlete in the world of grip strength and with my 50th birthday just two days before I put my name down. The half century means I now decide to compete as and when and having been a multiple title winner it’d be a game of numbers to compete as often as I did. At the moment this is going to be my only 2014 competition in which I’ll actively take part.
Training was my usual heavy core lifts supplemented by contest event training (each done once a week but for the bar snapping). Supplements (all BULK POWDERS™) were D-Aspartic Acid, Cissus, Beta-Alanine (as a home-made pre-workout), flavoured Instant BCAA and copious amounts of flavoured Pure Whey Protein™.
David deliberately decided on a holds for time for three of the five events over the more usual ‘max weight wins’. It meant, as above, more could have a go – even if they only got a few seconds and, given the distance from his home, less of a need to bring hundreds of kilos of weights. As per previous efforts, I trained long, hard and with an eye on nothing less than a place on the podium.
STUB LIFT (MAX WEIGHT)
As I described to on-lookers during the mornings ‘have a go’ portion, some of the more esoteric of our grip lifts are based on old Victorian strongman challenges. The stub lift allows you to grip a short pin, all of two inches long at the most and about a ¼ inch thick. Then, squeezing as hard as you can with an index finger and thumb (the other fingers, of course, squeezing against that index finger but not touching the ‘stub’) you pick up as much weight as you can manage.
I’d been coaching 300-kilo deadlifter Carl Rogers in my home gym and he seemed to pull much quicker than I felt I was (it looked quicker on playback than it did as I pulled) but I managed 2-kilos more than anyone else lifting that day for my first win.
TWO HANDS PINCH LIFT – HOLD
Almost a staple of a grip competition this version allowed athletes to select from lighter weights to a max of 100-kilos. The bigger the weight lifted, even for a moment, compared to a lighter weight equated to greater points. However, this time it was a lift it and hold it. I opted to lift at the heaviest weight thus 1 second would win. My one and only error here was not warming up properly. In training I take 3-5 sets to work to a max load and here, distracted, it was set up, 55-kilos and a 100-kilos.
I ended up seeing if I could match David’s British record of 16-seconds and managed to do better on my second attempt than my first. No British record but a tidy 11-seconds and a second win.
ADJUSTABLE THICK BAR – HOLD
Essentially a loading pin to which one can affix non-rotating handles of varying thickness. I opted for 60mm and the heaviest weight again. In training I’d regularly hit between 9 and 11 seconds and more often than not did a lot of rest pause reps. I’d also used 120-kilos load so was, in fact, training with 122kg.
On the day for no reason I can think of, rather than stand square over it (better for my back in training) I stood offset and pulled. David was announcing records as he went and it was 17 seconds. On the day I managed 19 seconds for my first world record of the afternoon. It’s always a good day winning and a better day beating everyone else that’s ever done the lift. Onwards
PICKAXE LEVER TO THE REAR – HOLD
Essentially what it sounds likes but with a weight rod drilled through and weights added.
Again I lifted the max weight selectable – 6.4-kilos (13+ pounds). Because the weight is so far away this is a leverage event and pulls very hard and very painfully quickly on the upper part of the wrist (mine have bulges there where my tendons thicken after the wrist but before the forearms bulge).
I’ve always done very well on similar events. A stubborn keep going attitude prevailing over the ‘damn that hurts’ pain. In one of my last training sessions I hit 26 seconds with my left and 33 with my right. The event, under contest conditions, might be judged more tightly so I wasn’t sure how it might go.
When I heard the record was only 12 seconds I was all ‘damn I’ll kick butt’ ha ha. With an event to go did I dare raise the bar from 12 to close to 30 seconds or save myself for the last very hard for me event. I decided to be sensible. I just did 1 second more and got my 2nd and final record.
Thus far it was four events and for wins. The last event was, however, something else. You could elect from picking either a 12mm thick or 10mm thick 18-inch long cold rolled steel bar which, under the rules allowed, you bend, straightened and repeated until it snapped.
Going in with the least points (4) to everyone else’s tied 12 points even a last place meant I’d only have 8 points. So I had won the whole thing and could have just kissed the bar, set it down and waited for my medal. But it’s a ‘well I’m here lets see’. Maybe I ought to have tried the easier 10mm but I opted for the 12mm and nine plus minutes of ‘s**t it’s brutal’ had me in 3rd place when I finally gave up.
But, 2 days past my 50th birthday – with sixteen weeks training – I’d won 4 of the five events, got two more world records and a gold medal to polish.
2014 World Alternative Games – Grip contest results
Saturday 10 August, 2014
Venue: Victoria Hall, Victoria Square, Llanwrtyd Wells, LD5 4SS, Wales
Promoter: David Horne and the World Alternative Games
All weights in kilos
PRO MEN OPEN CLASS RESULTS (4 COMPETITORS)
1 Steve Gardener – (126.7k, 50) – 7.5pt
2 Carl Rogers – (127.6k) – 13pt
3 Shay Gosling – (113.3k) – 14pt
4 Jerome Bloom – (66k) – 15.5pt
PRO MEN 93K CLASS RESULTS (1 COMPETITOR)
1 Jerome Bloom – (66k) – 4pt
EVENT 1 – STUB LIFT
1 Steve Gardener – 18.51k
2 Jerome Bloom – 16.76k
3 Carl Rogers – 14.86k
4 Shay Gosling – 12.96k
EVENT 2 – TWO HANDS PINCH LIFT – HOLD
1 Steve Gardener – 100k for 11sec
2 Carl Rogers – 70k for 11sec
3 Jerome Bloom – 55k for 28sec
4 Shay Gosling – 55k for 9sec
EVENT 3 – ADJUSTABLE THICK BAR – HOLD
1 Steve Gardener – 120k for 19sec
2 Shay Gosling – 105k for 6sec
3 Jerome Bloom – 90k for 16sec
4 Carl Rogers – 90k for 8sec
EVENT 4 – PICKAXE LEVER TO REAR – HOLD
1 Steve Gardener – 6.4k for 13sec
2 Shay Gosling – 4.8k for 11sec
3 Carl Rogers – 4.8k for 8sec
4 Jerome Bloom – 4k for 14sec
EVENT 5 – BRACED SNAPPING STEEL BAR
1 Carl Rogers – 10mm x 18” CRS bar snapped in 9min 52secs
2 Shay Gosling – 10mm x 18” CRS bar snapped in 13min 41secs
3 Steve Gardener – DNF
3 Jerome Bloom – DNF