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Mash Monster Number 26: Ben Edwards.

Find all about who the newest Gripboard Mash Monster, Ben Edwards, see pics and video of his incredible feats of grip strength!

    Name: Ben Edwards
    Age: 30
    Height: 5'10"
    Weight: 220
    Date of Feat: 9-10-05
    Witness: Travis Mickelberry
    How Long Grip Training: 5 years

[ Q ] Could you tell us a little about your background in lifting (age, when started lifting, why you started, what you do now as far as lifts)?

    I started lifting at the age of 15 to gain a little weight. I bench press for whatever sets and rep scheme I feel like that day. Same for pushups and pullups.

[ Q ] How did you get into grip training?

    I was taking a Judo class and a good grip was about the only thing I had going for me. So I did a little research and decided to take the grip to another level by buying some Captains of Crush grippers.

[ Q ] You are now a GripBoard Mash Monster, what would you recommend to those aspiring to close this gripper?

    I would recommend that they build a wide base before trying to climb a ladder that leads all the way to the top.

    Lots of high rep work with Trainer, #1, #2 and mix that with a lot of singles with a #3 using a Mash Monster Set on most of their attempts, since that is the set allowed for the Mash Monster certs.

    They should also throw in some Table No Set work with whatever gripper they can handle for singles and the occasional multiple rep sets.

[ Q ] You are also a Certified Captain of Crush. How long did it take you from when you first started working on the grippers to closing the #3?

    It actually took me about 3 and a half years before the first time I closed my #3. But I didn't get to the point where it was consistent until about 4 and a half years had passed.

Click To Enlarge.
Ben Edwards, Mash Monster.

[ Q ] What does your current grip routine look like?

    My routine is whatever I want it to be for that training day. Nothing is set on paper. If I feel like messing with the grippers, then I usually mix some easy MM Set warm-ups in with some #3, Elite, and RB260 closes, still using the MM Set. I might also throw in some Table No Set work with the #3 and below. Usually singles on these since the gripper tends to get out of place quickly.

    I also do some thickbar and pinching work throughout the week. Apollon's Axle double overhand deadlifts and cleans, 2.5" Crusher deadlifts, 1" vertical bar lifts, and various hex block weight lifts-up to the 45 hex.

[ Q ] How has your grip routine changed since you first started training your grip?

    When I first started training with the grippers, I'd do a lot of sets and reps (up to 100 sets of 5) and barely any hard attempts or singles. I didn't like to fail because it was hard to gauge how close I came on a goal gripper.

    I wrote everything down then (and still do) and wanted it to be very cut and dried. I didn't do any hose clamp work and usually only used a very slight set or no set at all.

    There seems to be a significant variation in the frequency of grip workouts among trainees even with the common goal of ultimate grip strength. Have you experimented with workout frequency and its affect on your training?

    I have definitely experimented with workout frequency. I have done everything from 1 day a week grip workouts all the way up to 7 days a week. Somewhere around 5 works pretty well for me. That is counting all my grip work, not just the grippers. The frequency for gripper work varies, but is probably around 3-4 days per week.

[ Q ] What are your favorite grip exercises?

    Closing grippers with various sets is my favorite grip exercise! Thickbar work is second on my list.

View The Video Of Ben
Closing The MMG

Windows Media Player (1.71 MB)
MPEG (17.6 MB)

[ Q ] What kind of starting routine would you recommend for a trainee new to grip training?

    I'd recommend first keeping track of all grip workouts in a workout log. Then take whatever gripper they can currently close for a few reps or singles and start building volume with it.

    However many times per week that they feel like training with the gripper is fine. If they got 10 singles this workout, next workout they should try to get a few more.

    Then repeat until they've built enough volume and strength to move up to a harder gripper.

    Once at the #2 and above level, I'd recommend starting some hose clamp work if they don't already. Put a hose clamp around the top of the handles on a goal gripper. For example, if they're a #2 closer, hose clamp a #3. That is their new goal gripper.

    Start with the handles a pennie's width apart if necessary. As close as they need it to be able to fully close the handles together. Then when they have done a set amount of singles (maybe 10 or so) at that width, next workout loosen the hose clamp until 2 pennies can fit in between the handles.

    Repeat the progression until at least a close from parallel handles is achieved. At that point, they can either continue outwards with the hose clamp work, or they can start using the goal gripper for Mash Monster Set attempts too. That will get them used to the tension of the gripper.

[ Q ] Who do you most admire in gripdom?

    The Diesel Crew! They do their thing and are confident enough to put it out there for everyone to see and critique. They have some truly amazing and inspirational training videos that I watch often. They mainly put their videos and web site out to help people. This is a very cool thing.

Ben Closes The MMG.

[ Q ] If you were to start over again with your grip training, what would you do differently?

    I'd start immediately by doing more attempts with my goal gripper! Many, many more! I'd work on my setting technique constantly with each and every gripper I touched in training.

    I'd watch more grip videos to see if there is a tip or technique that someone else may have discovered that I could put to good use. I'd never again use an Olympic bar for any pulling or curling movement. Only thick bars would be used from the beginning.

[ Q ] What do you believe is the most difficult grip exercise?

    Closing big grippers. That might surprise a lot of people, but at the elite levels technique has a lot to do with whether the gripper gets closed or not.

    Learning the different sets and how to get the best leverage might seem to be a simple, one day task. But it isn't. There are many people who fail to close grippers that they are strong enough to close because they don't use the proper set for the gripper or because their hand is a bit too high on the handles or some other technique-related reasons.

[ Q ] What are some of your personal bests in grip exercise?

    I've Closed 5 Different Elites Now:

    • I have closed a Super Elite from parallel in a hose clamp.
    • Table No Set: closed 4 different #3s.
    • Left hand Table No Set: closed 2 different #3s.
    • 3 Finger Table No Set: closed 2 different #3s.
    • Table No Set closed a Certification Super Master and Certification Grand Master.
    • Pulled 181 on the Rolling Thunder.
    • Deadlifted 328 on the Apollon's Axle with a double overhand grip.
    • One hand deadlifted 250 with a thumbless grip (still a USAWA record).
    • Pinched (5)10s and (8)5s with 3 fingers.

[ Q ] What do you believe is the most common mistake made by new grip trainees?

    They don't do enough work. They usually get sore hands after about 10 or so attempts with a gripper. They need to increase the volume slowly but surely. The hands will get used to it. But until they do, they will bleed and be sore for weeks. That is, if they're working hard enough!

[ Q ] What do you consider to be the greatest grip feats of all time?

    Snatching a 50 pound York Blob (Matt Graham).
    Continental and jerking an Inch Replica.
    (6)10s pinch.
    Double overhand clean and jerk with the Apollon's Wheels or Replica.

[ Q ] Do you have any parting advice for readers?

    Work Harder!