Saturday, April 10, 2010

More About Bruce White - Peary Rader

More About Bruce White
by Peary Rader (1983)

Bruce White is the young man in Australia who has long been known for the tremendous grip strength he has developed. Along with this update we have many photos of some of the many feats Bruce performs consistently. Along with his regular training program Bruce has been specializing on gripping feats for many years and we would say he probably has one of the strongest grips in the world today. At least as strong as anyone that we know about, and if you know of somebody who can exceed all of Bruce’s feats, we would like to hear about it.

Along with the many photos shown here, we have several lists of the feats of strength Bruce performs with his hands. Wherever you go among weightlifters, you find some man with extremely strong gripping power capable of performing great feats of strength. We believe, however, that the oldtimers had better gripping powers and were able to perform feats of strength that the present day barbell men can not come even close to. This is largely due to the fact that they specialized in lifts and feats of strength that required amazing gripping power. Today most lifters will perform the snatch and clean & jerk, and the bench press, squat and the deadlift. Most of these do require considerable gripping power to hold the bar in the hands but this is a sort of specialized type of grip.

I believe that when I was a young man the most effective grip developer that I knew anything about was the one-hand snatch and the one-hand clean & jerk. I was able to clean 240 pounds with one hand and almost had 260 and even got a start with 300. We also used to do a lot of deadlifts with one hand and this gave you amazing strength. I think that my being able to do a one-hand deadlift with around 380 pounds had a lot to do with the gripping strength that I developed for a period of time. At one time I was able to tear three decks of playing cards at one time without any trickery – just plain strength. I used to do a lot of iron bending and spike bending and so on. This also tended to develop he forearms and wrists and the hands.

We also enjoyed doing chins from rafters with a pinch grip. We enjoyed collecting Sears/Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs just so we could use them to tear in exhibitions. I still have a big stack of these catalogs stored here that I never got around to tearing.

Bruce is not a big man and usually weighs somewhere around the lightweight class of 148 to 150 pounds. It is sort of a family trait to have a lot of gripping power as Bruce’s father is an outstanding man in this respect and you will see a picture of him above.

In September of 1978, Bruce was still able to hold a hundred pounds of smooth plates off the floor for six seconds. He could deadlift a plate of 115 pounds and move off the floor around 140 pounds. He also deadlifted a ¼” thick plate of 90 pounds and he could lift 77 pounds of a 4” thick plate with one finger and his thumb. He did a bathroom scale squeeze with 308 pounds – you might try this feat as it is an interesting one and very few people have even approached this figure. Of course, the thickness of the bathroom scale makes quite a difference and how you do it also makes a difference. If you do a straight squeeze, then 300 pounds is a tremendous amount, but some fellows will squeeze and squash inwards with their hands and get a bigger figure.

Bruce also did 16 repetition chins on 2” rafters with a pinch grip. He could also do chins with a total weight of 260 pounds. Any time you can do chins on a rafter with a pinch grip or even hang onto it for any length of time, you have a pretty good grip. But chinning with a pinch grip and 260 pounds is great.

Bruce has also done a deadlift with an anvil while holding onto the round horn of 147 pounds. If you haven’t tried this, it is an outstanding feat and I recall I used to do it this way with only 100 pounds and struggle. He has also done a deadlift hanging onto a 2” vertical pipe or bar with 270 pounds. Bruce has a large assortment of very thick bars which he lifts with. This not only helps him to perform certain feats of strength but it also greatly strengthens his grip and he also has a special bar made with a 2” thick plank of wood fastened to it and he uses this to do deadlifts with a pinch grip.

Bruce’s father, Harry White, can also do a pinch grip deadlift of 180 pounds on a 2” pipe and he is 80 years old.

Bruce practices lifting an Olympic plate by the hub which isn’t much to grip on and he also stacks more plates on this as can be seen in one of the pictures. He has worked up to a total weight of 60 pounds in this manner. Bruce has done a pinch grip deadlift on the wooden plank bar with 250 pounds using two hands, and 130 pounds (pinch grip) with 130 pounds. He has done a deadlift of 93 pounds with a 4” thick plate with thumb and two fingers.

Bruce, who was born and grew up in Western Australia, was born in 1934 on the 14th of August. Most of his life he has been a farmer, raising wheat and sheep and when he was 31 years old he married Maureen Jones. He has Scots/English ancestry. He is 5’ 7½” tall and weighs around 150 pounds most of the time. Even though he is enormously strong he does not have tremendous measurements: 42” chest, 12½” upper arm, 11 ½ forearm and 7½” wrist. He says his hands are 7¾” long and 4” wide. Man people feel that the size of the hand has a lot to do with the gripping power, although we have not found this to be necessarily so.

He has a brother, Harold, who is also quite strong and has pinch gripped and lifted 100 pounds as a middleweight. His dad, as we mentioned before, has pinch gripped 65 pounds as a middleweight at 80 years of age.

Bruce says that he started on his pinch gripping in 1960 and has been at it ever since. In training for gripping, he will usually specialize on one feat for a considerable period of about three months or so. He doesn’t do any other type of gripping feat during that period. He says he does not mix pinch gripping on a 1½” bar with gripping on his 4” plate. Bruce usually goes to his limit on his pinch gripping every three to six days with plenty of rest between.

He usually starts with a lighter weight and works up to 5 to 8 single attempts on up to his maximum, then sometimes works down to lighter weights that can be held for 5 to 10 seconds before having to let them go.

This story has covered material in letters for the past four years and in most letters we read that Bruce has about reached his limit and will not train anymore for greater gripping strength. However, in the next letter he remarks that he has been training again and has improved his gripping stunts above what they were before. Once a strongman, always a strongman.

Bruce has a dumbell of 172 pounds with a very thick handle that was used by the famous oldtime strongman Thomas Inch. He has one-hand deadlifted it 9” clear of the floor. Only three people in the world have deadlifted this dumbell. They were Thomas Inch, Henry Gray and David Prowse.

Below is a summary of Bruce White’s gripping feats as lightweight. Some of the feats we have commented on in the story may seem different than what he is showing in the summary but the letters we have used to compose this article were written over a period of four years and there is some variation in his ability and this summary is his feats as performed in July of 1982. Some of them have probably improved beyond what we have recorded here.

July 1, 1980.
Summary of my best gripping feats as a lightweight.

One hand pinch grip deadlift:
1½”x18” straight sided plate of 115 pounds. I consider this to be my best lift.

One hand pinch grip move off floor:
15” straight sided plate of 140 pounds.

One hand pinch grip deadlift:
¼”x15” straight sided plate of 90 pounds.

One hand pinch grip deadlift:
4”x6” thumb and one finger lift of 77 pounds.

One hand pinch grip deadlift:
4”x6” thumb and index finger lift of 60 pounds.

One hand pinch grip deadlift:
¼”x15” between thumb and clenched fist lift of 75 pounds.

Two hands pinch grip chin up on rafter:
total weight of 200 pounds.

Two hands pinch grip deadlift:
1½” wooden plank lift of 250 pounds.

One hand pinch grip deadlift:
1½” wooden plank lift of 130 pounds.

Two hands bathroom scale squeeze:
310 pounds.

One hand deadlift:
Olympic plate and added weights by hub, lift of 60 pounds.

One hand deadlift:
2” vertical bar of 270 pounds.

One hand squeeze hand grip dynamometer:
220 pounds.

One hand deadlift:
2½” bar, lift of 300 pounds.

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