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Old Forum Steve Justa Singles Routine

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Would Steve Justa Singles routine will be effective on one arm KB military press as well?

I would want to focus on ROP but due to busy schedule and insufficient sleep, I would like to get geared towards low volume routine.

I would appreciate for great advice.

I've posted a question regarding about Steve Justa's Singles

but seems like it would fall behind so I would like to ask in this thread.

If this is disturbing, then I will erase this.

Thank you everyone and have a great weekend.
@ Pavel: My pleasure!  I have had a lot of fun writing up training programs for grippers and other grip stuff for nearly 10 years.  Grip training is a lot of fun.  It's also pretty easy to get caught up in it and spend more time on it than conditioning and just plain getting your body strong.  Which, I don't have to point out to most here, is a mistake.  I will say that chasing the #3 Captain of Crush cert was something I would do all over again, no matter how much time it took.  It was well worth it to me and has had positive carryover to other training, not just grip. 
@ Michael & Rickard: Here is an article I wrote two years ago regarding certifying on the #3.  Two guys have contacted me since I wrote it, telling me that it was instrumental in them getting certified on the #3 gripper.   
Zero to Certified Captain of Crush in 5 Years: Lessons Learned Along The Way
By Ben Edwards

Certifying on the Ironmind #3 gripper in May of 2005 was one of the proudest moments in my strength training experience. That certification was the culmination of 5 years of hard, focused gripper training.

From 2003 to 2005 my desire to certify on the #3 eclipsed all of my other training goals. I experimented with several methods of training from 2000 to 2005. By 2005 I often dreamt about grippers – that’s how much gripper work I was doing and how much energy I put into visualizing the moment when I could earn the right to call myself a Certified Captain of Crush.

This article will ideally shorten the time it takes you to certify on the #3 – by illustrating some mistakes I made along the way, and explaining what worked for me when everything else was just maintaining my strength. If simply getting stronger on the grippers is your immediate focus, this article will help in that regard too. But don’t be surprised if you start your gripper training with no thought of certifying – and then decide that you want to get certified so bad you can taste it after a few months of productive training.

From 2000 to 2003 I did my gripper training with no set. Meaning, I didn’t use my non-gripping hand to help pull the handles closer together – to get a more advantageous starting position – before attempting to shut the gripper.

Was this an effective method of training? Yes! Even though I stagnated at the Super Master (roughly equivalent to an Ironmind #2.5) level, I had still built up a solid level of grip strength by 2003. I continued to fall short of my goal of closing a #3 though. So I sought out others who had achieved the goal I had set for myself – certifying on the #3.

Two changes that I credit the most for my progress from 2003 to 2005 are:

Beginning to use a parallel set (commonly referred to as a Mash Monster Set – MMS) in training – along with the no set work that I had built my gripper strength base with. This allowed me to build more top-end closing strength. The no set training continued to supply me with the strength necessary to get the handles to parallel and a bit closer.

The MMS training took over where that strength fell short and together – MMS and no set – they pushed my gripper strength up enough so that when I certified in mid-2005, I actually did the certification both left and right handed – with plenty of strength to spare.

Finding a #3 that was significantly easier than my original #3 to train with. Note: this easy #3 was not the gripper that I certified with. I certified on my original #3. I’m pointing this out because it became a misunderstood topic with a few people on one of the big grip strength forums.

I searched for – and eventually found – an easy #3 to train with. I wanted to certify with my orginal #3 of course. But I needed a mental and physical boost to get there. A "stair-step gripper" – one that was harder than my current max, but easier than my goal gripper – was just the ticket. Even if it was an easy #3, it would be a start and the mental barrier would be broken down.

Grip strength didn’t come easily to me – even though I started off a bit above average. I began training my grip in May of 2000. I bought the Trainer and was able to close it for about 10 no set reps with both hands right out of the package.

About six months later, I bought the #1 and was able to close it for about 10 no set reps with both hands out of the package. Next, I bought the #2 and was not able to close it. For quite a while. About 9 months passed before I closed my #2 for the first time! And remember, that was after training for close to a year with my Trainer and #1 before even attempting the #2. I was pretty disappointed by that. But, looking back, I realize that if I had just walked right through the #2 it wouldn’t have meant nearly as much to me when I closed it as it did after spending 9 months training specifically for it.

By May of 2002 (two years of grip training) I was capable of occasionally no set closing a hard Beefbuilder Master. This particular gripper was harder than my #2 but easier than a #2.5.

I attended my first grip contest – the 2002 Super Grip Challenge – in late 2002 and was introduced to the world of competition gripper closes. I only closed the #2 with both hands. But that’s because the jump was too high between the #2 and the #3. I don’t remember if that contest had a Beefbuilder Master. But if it did, it must’ve been really hard if I didn’t close it with my right hand at least. I did my closes at the contest with no set – as I did in training at that time. But I saw that the experienced grip guys (Certified Captain of Crush Kevin Fulton and grip phenom Matt Graham) were using a set that was close to parallel handles. It allowed their hand to get in a much more advantageous position before starting the close. I continued to train with no set even after my first contest exposure. Thinking back on it, I wish I had started using a parallel set back in 2002 because I would’ve certified on the #3 at least a year earlier than 2005.

It was another year – May of 2003 - before I no set closed a Beefbuilder Super Master consistently. A Super Master is the rough equivalent of an Ironmind #2.5. I attended my second grip contest – the 2003 Super Grip Challenge – in late 2003. There I closed a Beefbuilder Master with both hands and had strength to spare. But not enough strength to close the #3 that was at the contest. I saw the parallel set (it might’ve been the 1" set that Ironmind allowed to certify on the #3 at that time) used again at this contest and realized that if I had been training it since 2002 I would’ve placed higher in the gripper event at the contest. My parallel set training began in earnest soon after this valuable learning experience.

In early 2004, after training for several months with a parallel set – I closed an easy #3 with a parallel set. My training buddy altered his #3 to allow extensions to the handles – which of course made it easier to close. I worked with that altered gripper for a few months and then closed another easy #3 – this time an unmodified #3. That’s when I started to get really excited.

From mid-2004 to early 2005 I worked very hard on parallel set closes and no set closes with my easy #3 and my original #3 – the one I eventually certified with. I also did some parallel set training with grippers a bit harder than a #3. More specifically, Beefbuilder Elites. These are roughly the level of an easy Ironmind #3.5.

The closer my goal certification date came – I set May as a fluid goal – the more I worked with higher volume gripper workouts. It was a relatively normal occasion for me to do well over 100 total reps (actually all the closes were singles – which I still prefer) in a parallel set and/or no set workout with my easy #3 and sometimes with my certification #3.

All this high volume work did the trick and I certified on the #3 in May of 2005. Passed with flying colors. I showboated a little and did the certification both left and right handed – using what Ironmind coined the "Credit Card Set." Meaning that a credit card was inserted between the handles to show a "legal" starting position. This rule change effectively prevented people from setting the handles deeper than about 2.25".

After the official cert was finished, I no set closed my certification #3 with both hands – with the judge still present – just to make it doubly official.

So a quick summary for those without enough time or patience to read the entire article:

I did no set closes for about 3 years – but stalled out at approximately the #2.5 level in 2003.



<strong>PROBLEM: </strong>Stalled at the #2.5 level and couldn’t force my way to the #3 level.


<strong>SOLUTION: </strong>Started doing parallel set closes – and kept doing maintenance no set closes.

After incorporating parallel set closes into my training – while continuing to do no set closes to maintain my wide set strength – my strength began to rise again and I broke through the easy #3 barrier in 2004.



<strong>PROBLEM: </strong>Going from my friend’s adjustable #3 to my original #3 – which was significantly harder – was a large jump.


<strong>SOLUTION: </strong>Bought another easy #3 that was a little bit harder than the adjustable #3 my friend loaned me. But it was still easier than my original #3. So it helped bridge the gap between the easiest #3 and my original #3.

I wanted to make sure that I dominated my #3 certification. To accomplish that I had to be capable of closing my original #3 at will – with strength to spare. I increased my gripper volume over the course of about a year – solely by performing singles – and eventually built up a tremendous amount of strength that carried over to my certification date.



<strong>PROBLEM: </strong>How to make sure that I got strong enough so the certification was not a "close call" but a "done deal."


<strong>SOLUTION: </strong>Increase my gripper volume – both no set and parallel set closes – and wave that volume from workout to workout. Sometimes it would be very high volume – 100s of closes with grippers easier than a #3 (usually a #1 and #2) and other times it would be around 50 reps – but with harder grippers like the easy #3. Shortly before certifying I did a no set workout consisting of over 150 singles with my original #3. Workouts like that ensured that there would be no doubt on my certification day.
"Would Steve Justa Singles routine will be effective on one arm KB military press as well?

I would want to focus on ROP but due to busy schedule and insufficient sleep, I would like to get geared towards low volume routine."
@ Seung: I don't see any reason why the Steve Justa Singles Routine wouldn't work for the one arm KB military press. 
However, you state that you want to focus on ROP, but due to a busy schedule and insufficient sleep, you'd like to get geared towards a low volume routine.  The Steve Justa routine might not be the one you want to do then.  It's pretty low volume, but it's a 7 day per week program.  Every day.  You'd be better off trying to get in as much sleep as possible on your training days and do ROP instead.  In my opinion.



@ Ben

Thank you very much for your kind thoughts on my thread.

A great example of what makes this community so awesome!

@ Andrew

Ditto with that. So much to digest on this single thread. Wish I had more space on my stomach :p

Will appreciate more about the feedback regarding on this thread

Be S1
Thats a great article Ben. I have been going around and thinking about perhaps working up to the CoC3, might be a future goal. Or goal inbetween other goals.
your dedication, detail, results and willingness to share your programs and experiences are a true inspiration. many thanks.
"I did Justa’s singles routine daily with getups – started with a 16kg, and peaked during week 4. I got a 40kg getup when my previous best was a shaky 32kg."
Wow, a lot of interesting info. Thanks!
I ended up using this instead of the Justa Singles Routine. Today is the last day of Week 4, and I'll be sure to keep all of you posted on the PRs!
Also, I'll run the Justa in December/January.
Just curious about one more thing - people mention that your diet has a lot more to do with hypertrophy than your actual program. How true is that? Say, if one was on a strictly strength-based program like PTTP, what would a caloric surplus yield? I'm asking because I'm currently doing this ->


One-armed press: (1, 2, 3) x 3 - as heavy as possible

Pullups: (2, 3, 5) x 2

DB bench press: (2, 3, 5) x 2 - as heavy as possible

Deadlift: 5 days a week, as in the aforementioned singles program

Kneeling ab wheel: 2 sets of 10, weighted + 3-5 sets of 10 myotatic crunches


-> every other day, with the deadlift as an exception as it is to be done 5 days/week. Should I expect hypertrophy/mass as I'm eating in a caloric surplus?

So, after taking a week off as prescribed, I tested my deadlift today. My max, tested a week before I started this program, was 290 lbs x 2 reps. For the sake of simplicity, I used 300 lbs as my max to calculate the poundage for each workout.

7 weeks of deadlifting 5 times a week and 6 days of no lifting later, my calendar announced the arrival of the dreaded max day. The last workout of the program - 6 singles with 285 - felt very hard, and the bar almost slipped out of my hands twice. I was VERY nervous when I stepped into the gym - I was eager, but not ready. I was hoping for 315 (hey, three plates!) but expecting a measly 300. Here's exactly what happened:

135 - 5 reps

225 - 3 reps

275 - 2 reps

295 - 1 rep

315 (!) - 1 rep - felt like a feather!

325 - 1 rep - just like a middle school dance, no grinding!

335 - 1 rep - felt this one!

340 (!!!) - 1 rep - back rounded, but I completed the lift!

Holy mother of PRs! A 50-lb increase in 7 weeks!

That's the program - GO FOR IT!


Question: Is a 405-lb deadlift a good goal for New Year's Eve? Also, should I repeat this program?

Those are some fantastic results! Awesome work. How did you program your other lifts?
Wow congrats on the PR Cole, that's freakin awesome progress! Did you notice any hypertrophy after doing this program?
Awesome progress. Love to see posts like this and btw, everyone should start these posts with "BOY, DO I HAVE RESULTS FOR YOU!" :)
@Andy: I used a simpler approach for DB bench presses, pull-ups, and one-arm overhead presses:

Pull-ups - (2, 3, 5) x 2 sets, followed by an occasional (1, 2, 3).

One-arm overhead press - some heavy singles/doubles (that I later eliminated) followed by (1, 2, 3) x 3 sets - went rather heavy on this one.

DB bench presses - again, I started out with some heavy singles/doubles that were "ramped up" to a 3x3 over the course of a few weeks. To up the volume, I then performed a "back-off" set of (5, 3), followed by 2 lighter sets of (2, 3, 5) - still considerably heavy on this one.

- Done on alternate days, with an occasional weekend off, of course -

- 10 reps x 2-3 sets of the ab wheel + 10 reps x 2-3 sets of myotatic crunches were also done on alternate days or so -


@Pavel: I can either add another 5 lbs to the poundage and repeat the cycle, or start over using 340 lbs as my new max. What do you suggest?


@Evan: Along with the hypertrophy that I got in my arms, chest, and shoulders, I got "thicker" overall. I ate in a caloric surplus - 2.5 litres of milk daily, steaks, and all the good stuff. The difference was visible, as a lot of my friends noticed/commented. Besides the weekly volume, "intensity" must be the main factor in hypertrophy here - you're staying above 70% for most of the program. Highly recommend this one!
Also, a big "THANK YOU" to everyone!

@Rickard: Thanks, and I know right? Hopefully, we'll see more of these happy posts later this year! ;)
I decided to run through it again, and am on the second-last day of Week 6. I CANNOT wait to max out, as this cycle has been better than the last one. I've set two PRs in training (!) here: a double overhand 315-lb deadlift done with ease, and a pull-up with 55 lbs hanging from my feet. Since I stopped doing pull-ups after a minor shoulder strain in September, I was ecstatic and shocked at the same time. I have NEVER done weighted pull-ups in my life, and have only gained weight since September. The "WTH effect" at its best, comrades!

Again, after a week off, I finally went to the gym today. It was a bad idea, partially because my day started with two 2-hour practical tests and an hour-long lecture. Despite my sleep-deprived/ fatigue-addled state, I was ITCHING for a deadlift session and just couldn't let the opportunity slip by.

So, long story short: warm-up, warm-up, hoist, hoist, and BAM! My new PR is 365 lbs. A 25-lb improvement, and enough to make me a happy man for the next few weeks!

However, not gonna lie, I was expecting more. I tried 405 twice, but failed. I also think that my warm-up wasn't "thorough" enough, as I didn't "work up" to a PR systematically like I did the last time. My session today:

135 - 5 (touch-and-go)

225 - 3 (touch-and-go)

275 - 3 (touch-and-go)

315 - 1

365 (!) - 1 - could barely hold it at the top, dropped it literally.

405 - couldn't get it up x 2 - slapped some plates off, missed 375 once.


School gym, so I kinda had to rush things.

Now, I'm thinking: either max out "properly" on Friday, or start another deadlift routine. I am VERY happy though; my old PR was more than twice my bodyweight, and my new PR is a 25-lb improvement on top of that - same bodyweight. Great program, WOULD CERTAINLY RECOMMEND.

I'm shooting for 4 plates + some mass by the end of this year - suggestions on a deadlift-only routine?

I don't care for weight gain (in fact, some would make me happier) and mostly eat in a caloric surplus (minus the last 2 weeks or so). I would also like to tone down the frequency a bit, a M/W/F deal would be great!
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