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Dr. Darden Comes to Visit

By Ellington Darden


Today, April 17, 2008, I'm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, visiting John Wood. John helped me write Chapter 30 on Grip Strength in my latest book, "The New Bodybuilding for Old-School Results." John's father, Kim Wood, is an old friend of mine from my Nautilus days, as well as the former strength-training coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Yesterday was an interesting day for us. John and I had lunch with Mike Gittleson, who recently retired after 30 years as the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Michigan. Boy does Mike have some strength stories about his experiences with Michigan's football teams.

When he finished the 2007 season, Michigan's conditioning complex contained 175 strength-training machines.

You name it - Nautilus, MedX, Hammer, Body Masters, Strive, Pendulum - Gittleson and his athletes tried and tested them all. Interestingly, only the best survived. It was enlightening for me to hear Mike compare the best and worst features of the major brands, machine by machine, body part by body part.

What a shame, when the University of Michigan hired their new football coach, they decided to sell every one of those 175 machines at a low price.

Michigan's loss, however, was somebody else's gain. John bought a Nautilus Multi-Exercise machine for $200 and a Nautilus Rotary Neck machine for a mere $50.

Anyway, after spending a great couple of hours with Mike Gittleson, John and I retreated to his garage gym, and had an old-school workout, consisting of:

1. barbell squat
2. dumbbell pullover
3. stiff-leg deadlift
4. overhead press
5. standing curl
6. wrist curl
7. hand gripper
8. Nautilus rotary neck

Wow! Am I sore this morning - especially along the back of my ears from the Nautilus Rotary Neck and throughout my hands from John's unique twists he coached me on with the hand grippers.

Once a week, for the last year, I've included a set of Captains of Crush Grippers in one of my four routines. But I had reached a plateau in my grip strength with my No. 1 gripper. After my normal reps, John showed me how to use my thighs to assist me in closing the gripper, which allowed me to do a couple of slow negatives. Much of my hand soreness this morning was from those three negatives with each hand.

Grip strength is a neglected area of concern for most trainees, whether they're beginners, intermediates, or advanced. And John Wood has what Mike Gittleson calls "the strongest hands and grip of any athlete I've seen at the University of Michigan."


John Wood and Ellington Darden Get in a Quick Workout



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