80’s Inspiration

If there’s one thing that they got right in 80’s movies, it’s the training montage. There WILL be times when the only thing standing between working out and doing nuthin’ is a great song. Here’s a few clips that still make the hair on the back of my neck stand up whenever I watch them:


KUMITE! KUMITE! This video makes me want to roundhouse kick EVERYTHING I see.


Sammy won… SAMMY WON. Only in the 80’s man. And yes… the winner does indeed take it all.


This song has the distinction of not actually being in any of the Rocky movies ~ but it sure should have been. James Rolfe, film maker and part time Angry Video Game Nerd, put this video together in his spare time ~ and the world is much better for it. I would probably never have come across it otherwise. Thanks man, At least a few thousand of the views for this clip are mine.
If there’s one thing that they got right in 80’s movies, it’s the training montage. There WILL be times when the only thing standing between working out and doing nuthin’ is a great song. Here’s a few clips that still make the hair on the back of my neck stand up whenever I watch them

Hand Strength for Golf

Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone went around and interviewed all the legends in a particular area for their tips to success? That’s exactly what Jack Zanger did back in the early 1960’s – ol’ Jack spent six months traveling around the country “talking shop” with the most successful golfers of the day, his interviews became a series of articles and later a book on the physical preparation side of golf.

Interestingly, many of the interviewees seemed to have one key element in common…



Here’s a look:

…The average golfer’s problems center around his hands; they simply are not strong enough to hit a golf ball consistently well.  The Golf grip is the key to good golf — so why not keep your hands in shape? Several years ago an eye infection forced me to remain indoors and off the tour for six weeks. I wanted to keep my hands in condition. To keep them from losing strength, I did a series of hand exercises every other day. Six weeks later I rejoined the Tour and, much to my amazement, resumed the routine of 18 holes and two hours practice a day without any difficulty at all…”

Jay Hebert

Winner:
1954 Long Island Open
1957 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship
1957 Texas Open Invitational
1958 Lafayette Open Invitational
1959 Orange County Open Invitational
1960 PGA Championship
1961 Houston Classic
1961 American Golf Classic

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“[For golfing success] I have always been a strong believer in two things: good balance and strong hands.  I can’t tell you anything about developing good balance but I can tell you about hands.  You have to have strong hands for more than driving the ball.  How about when you’re stuck in a thick rough? It’s got the be the hands–strong hands–that guide the club through the weeds and pop that ball out there.”

Jimmy Thompson

Winner:
1936 Richmond Open
1938 Los Angeles Open

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“While I think strong legs are most important to a tournament golfer, I believe the average weekend player should concentrate on building up his hands and making them as strong as possible…With strong hands, you can overcome most other deficiencies in your game.  I have proven this with with some of my women pupils.  Some of the ladies as my club have lower handicaps than man because they worked at strengthening their hands–as a result, they can hit the ball better.”

Tom Nieporte

Winner:
1951 NCAA Golf Championship
1959 Rubber City Open Invitational
1960 Azalea Open
1967 Bob Hope Desert Classic

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…And what is the very best way to build stronger hands? That would be with hand grippers (which were unsurprisingly recommended highly by these individuals and many other famous golfers besides.)

Of course, the grippers that were to be found back in their day were, for the most part, the sporting goods store variety that you could probably close for three hundred reps without breaking a sweat. I have little doubt that a more serious gripper – and the training to go with it – would have been very welcome to these folks. One other thing that I think should be pointed out is that what we are dealing with here is a development of the “raw materials” so to speak.  You would not do a gripper workout and then go out and expect to shoot your best round. It doesn’t work that way.  The physical training should be done away from the course — then, once recovery and subsequent improvement occurs, you can hit the links with your new and improved hand strength.

Seeing how most people don’t golf but once a week anyway, it works out just about perfectly here, or this time of year with snow on the ground. In golf, as in all other physical activities, it is going to be specific practice which is most important to overall skill development.  Physical training simply allows you to practice that much more efficiently and frequently. And if you play for a paycheck, which the folks quoted above did, some grip training will undoubtedly make one heck of a difference in who comes out on top when knockin’ that little white ball around.

I would recommend getting started immediately, and you can do so, right here:

Train hard,
John Wood signature
John Wood

Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone went around and interviewed all the legends in a particular area for their tips to success? That’s exactly what Jack Zanger did back in the early 1960’s – ol’ Jack spent six months traveling around the country “talking shop” with the most successful golfers of the day, his interviews became a series of articles and later a book on the physical preparation side of golf.

Interestingly, many of the interviewees seemed to have one key element in common…

Hand Gripper Reps

Many people have written in over the years to ask what my hand gripper “reps” look like when I train. I can’t (and won’t) speak for anyone else but here is a short video clip illustrating what things look like when I do my thing.

For best results, I prefer a full range of motion, a “pause” when the handles touch and letting the handles open in a somewhat deliberate manner – no monkey business here. Preferences aside, a greater range of motion means a greater percentage of muscle fibers are involved, ergo: a more efficient and effective workout.

The reason that I bring this up is that tempo is important, and some people had asked if reps should be done rapid fire, etc. You can do your reps in any way you like… What is shown here is simply my preference but I have certainly gotten very strong training grippers in this manner.

It should also probably be noted that any reps that I do, even with much lighter grippers, follow the same guidelines.

If you want to know what I recommend, then this style of would be it, at least the vast majority of the time. When it comes to reps, I have done it all: fast reps… slow reps… full reps… partial reps… timed holds… assisted reps… upside down reps… negative reps… all of those are worth experimenting with and some are more useful than others. My recommendation is to establish a “baseline” to see what you can do in the super-strict “style” outlined above — that way it makes it much easier to see whether or not you are getting stronger.

Train hard,
John Wood signature
John Wood
Many people have written in over the years to ask what my hand gripper “reps” look like when I train. I can’t (and won’t) speak for anyone else but here is a short video clip illustrating what things look like when I do my thing.

For best results, I prefer a full range of motion, a “pause” when the handles touch and letting the handles open in a somewhat deliberate manner – no monkey business here. Preferences aside, a greater range of motion means a greater percentage of muscle fibers are involved, ergo: a more efficient and effective workout.

The reason that I bring this up is that tempo is important, and some people had asked if reps should be done rapid fire, etc. You can do your reps in any way you like… What is shown here is simply my preference but I have certainly gotten very strong training grippers in this manner.

It should also probably be noted that any reps that I do, even with much lighter grippers, follow the same guidelines.

If you want to know what I recommend, then this style of would be it, at least the vast majority of the time. When it comes to reps, I have done it all: fast reps… slow reps… full reps… partial reps… timed holds… assisted reps… upside down reps… negative reps… all of those are worth experimenting with and some are more useful than others. My recommendation is to establish a “baseline” to see what you can do in the super-strict “style” outlined above — that way it makes it much easier to see whether or not you are getting stronger.

Train hard,
John Wood signature
John Wood

Handbalancing: Even Big Guys Can Do It

I’m about as far removed from a typical gymnast as you can get. Not only am I 6’5″ and very firmly in the heavyweight class, I’m also bottom-heavy (i.e. I carry a lot of weight in my legs) which makes me ill-suited to any type of handbalancing…yet I’ve still become pretty decent. Check this out:

The “Secrets” of handbalancing, if there are any, are simply knowing what to do and then putting in plenty of practice time. I’m not ready to run off and join the circus quite yet, but I can still impress the neighbors any time I want. Of course, handbalancing isn’t just about showing off, the upper-body strength and shoulder stability built through handbalancing have gone a long way toward improving pressing power and other facets of upper body strength — so it will pay to add some practice to your program.
I’m about as far removed from a typical gymnast as you can get. Not only am I 6’5″ and very firmly in the heavyweight class, I’m also bottom-heavy (i.e. I carry a lot of weight in my legs) which makes me ill-suited to any type of handbalancing…yet I’ve still become pretty decent. Check this out:

The “Secrets” of handbalancing, if there are any, are simply knowing what to do and then putting in plenty of practice time. I’m not ready to run off and join the circus quite yet, but I can still impress the neighbors any time I want. Of course, handbalancing isn’t just about showing off, the upper-body strength and shoulder stability built through handbalancing have gone a long way toward improving pressing power and other facets of upper body strength — so it will pay to add some practice to your program.

Joe Kinney’s Monster Gripper

The purpose of the Monster Gripper is to condition the hand/gripping muscles to a force above and beyond what it is used to. This is the reason behind the long handle, so that it can be put into a door frame, or a power rack and then cheated shut using gravity and the body weight of the trainer.

You could also say that the Monster Gripper is as much of a “Mental” strength developer as physical — the #4 spring sure doesn’t look so tough after playing around with it.

The purpose of the Monster Gripper is to condition the hand/gripping muscles to a force above and beyond what it is used to. This is the reason behind the long handle, so that it can be put into a door frame, or a power rack and then cheated shut using gravity and the body weight of the trainer.

You could also say that the Monster Gripper is as much of a “Mental” strength developer as physical — the #4 spring sure doesn’t look so tough after playing around with it.

A Simple Upside Down Workout

Of all the different types of training I have ever tried, there is nothing quite like handbalancing…. and  you don’t have to be an expert to get in a great workout. Here’s a great example of a simple — but very effective — workout that you can do without needing any equipment: all you need is a stopwatch and a wall (also ideally, a wrestling mat or a semi-soft landing surface, just in case.) Now kick up in a hand stand against however you can and hold for five sets of one minute using the wall for only as much support as you need to keep you up. If this is “too easy” you can, of course, increase the holding time or frequency.

Of all the different types of training I have ever tried, there is nothing quite like handbalancing…. and  you don’t have to be an expert to get in a great workout. Here’s a great example of a simple — but very effective — workout that you can do without needing any equipment: all you need is a stopwatch and a wall (also ideally, a wrestling mat or a semi-soft landing surface, just in case.) Now kick up in a hand stand against however you can and hold for five sets of one minute using the wall for only as much support as you need to keep you up. If this is “too easy” you can, of course, increase the holding time or frequency.