By: Jesse Marunde as told to J.V. Askem

It's been nearly two years now since my friend and training buddy, Jesse Marunde closed the Ironmind "Captain Of Crush" # 3 gripper. In fact he was the first teenager in the world to accomplish this feat, and still to date no other teen has done this.

So, I thought readers would be interested in hearing how Jesse has progressed, and hearing how being on a full ride football scholarship at Montana State University has afforded Jesse some great opportunities for improvement. JVA

NOTE: Captain of Crush is a copyrighted name owned by Ironmind Enterprises.

Update. April 18th 2000
JVA: Has your grip improved since you first closed the #3?

JM: Yes, but the pace of my improvement is a lot slower.

JVA: How close are you to closing the #4?

JM: I've got a ways to go on that one, but I'm confident I'll eventually get it. It would be nice if they had a #3 1/2 for training purposes. Also, I think there's enough guys now, that have closed the #3, to just make the #4 the elite test.

JVA: Has your training on the grippers changed?

JM: Not really on the grippers themselves, but I am experimenting with other forms of grip strength.

JVA: Could you give me some details?

JM: I've been doing some farmers walks with thick handled dumbells. One of your favorites! NOTE: I got Jesse interested in "thick handled dumbells" on one of his breaks from school. JVA

JVA: What other things besides the thick dumbells are your most recent grip innovations?

JM: Well, I'm interested in the "Rolling Thunder". I plan to get one of those. Also I'm pinch gripping the plate stacks on dumbells. I've also been doing one handed deadlifts with my eagle loops.

JVA: Is pinch gripping the end of a dumbell the same as pinch gripping a pair of 45's?

JM: No, the dumbells ends are harder because you have very little surface to hold onto. I can only reach the surface with the tips of my fingers and thumb.

JVA: How much have you done so far, and how do you approach it?

JM: I grab a 125 pound dumbell with two hands, one hand pinch gripping each side, lifting it off the ground and holding it for time. Having large hands helps a lot on this one. I've also been messing around with holding hex and round dumbells on end for time. I can get a 65 lb hex for about 6-10 seconds with my right, but can only just barely clear the ground with a 55 left handed.

JVA: You mentioned the eagle loops. Are you still doing chins with those?

JM: No, I found something I like better. I've been doing chins while holding on with each hand to two towels draped over the chin up bar. I find this to be a great test of hand and forearm strength.

JVA: How about thick handled barbell stuff?

JM: Well, I only have so much time to work things in, but when I was home on Christmas break I did practice 2" barbell cleans.

JVA: How did you do?

JM: I had no problem working up to 300 lbs. with a 2" thick bar.

JVA: Any specific reason for doing that?

JM: Yes, two reasons, first for a change of pace, and second I heard the Beauty and Beast Strongman contest was going to have an event like that. So I thought I'd try it to see how much I could do.

JVA: Will you be entering any strongman contests soon?

JM: God knows I'd like to, but with my commitment to football, and a new son, money is a little tight to be doing a lot of traveling. I am hoping to do a little traveling to some Olympic lifting meets in the near future with the other MSU lifters. This is about the cheapest way to go, because as a team, we can share the expenses. My school also has a bus for us to ride in.

JVA: How does your grip compare with your college team mates?

JM: Ha Ha Ha! Well, I left my grippers in the weight room so that the other guys could work on them. A few other lifters were trying to close the #2. Nobody could do it. I then closed the #3 for 3 full reps, and with about one
minutes rest did no less than 27 reps with the #2.

As you know I never do high rep grip work because I don't feel that it carries over to limit strength. However, apparently the limit strength carries over to the high reps stuff though!

Also, I carried the thick handled 125 dumbells for a full lap around the weightroom, plus another 30-40 feet.

JVA: You seem to be more at ease and making better gains this year than your first year at MSU, why?

JM: I've got to give the credit to our new coaching staff, particularly our new strength coach, Brett Tudsbury. As you know Brett is a nationally ranked 85 kg class Olympic lifter. So he knows how a strength athlete is supposed to train. Also the fact that he's a competitive strength athlete himself makes him a great motivator.

JVA: Has Coach Tudsbury made any specific changes?

JM: Yes, a lot! He's gotten rid of most of the machines. He then ordered new and extra high power racks, 10 feet high and extra wide. He also got us 2 glute/ ham benches and 2 reversed hyper benches.

JVA: How have your training lifts improved and how much bigger are you?

JM: Well, within the past 12 months or so, I've gained about 30 lbs. from 245 to 275. My Snatch has improved from 253 lbs, at the 1999 Junior Nationals, to 308 lbs. 308 is all I could Clean and Jerk at the 1999 Juniors. I'm now Cleaning 380 lbs with a 397 lbs. Power Jerk off the rack.

JVA: You seem to favor the power jerk over the split. Any reason why?

JM: Well, I've tried both, the power and split, and the power jerk just seems to come more natural to me. So I'll just stick with what works best.

JVA: How are you doing on assistance exercises?

JM: Power Cleaned- 330 for 3 reps, Power Snatched- 264 for 2 reps, Full Olympic Style Back Squat- 528, Full Front Squat- 445, Seated Press-255, and RDL's (strict)- 440 for 4 reps. The RDL's were ridiculously easy. Not even close to a limit.

JVA: You seem a little low on the seated press?

JM: Yes, I have a ways to go on the MP, but at least I'm progressing fairly rapidly. It wasn't so long ago that my best was 185! This time last year I could only do 145x10.

JVA: I'm sure you'll be doing reps with body weight in no time at all. Pressing comes with maturity. Just keep grinding away at them.

JM: Anytime and thank you.