AN INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE WHITE
(R.I.P. 14 Aug 1934 - 9 Aug 2005)
This interview was featured in Iron Grip magazine Vol 2 # 3, July 2002
Conducted by Nick McKinless
Bruce White is a true link from the old timers to the new grip stars of today. He may well be the greatest pincher and perhaps even gripper of all time. His lifts are astonishing for such a light man and he continues to train and achieve amazing results into his twilight years when most would be happy to put their feet up!
He is also the only Australian gripper of any note and most of his lifts were done without the aid of others to compete against and therefore push him onto possibly bigger lifts through competition. Many of Bruce's best lifts were done in the 1970's but he is still today lifting big weights in grip feats, recently lifting 113lbs (51.3kg) in the one hand pinch lift.
Here are Bruce’s thoughts on lifting, gripping and life.
*Bruce, can you tell me when and where you were born?
14-8-34, at Gndwangerup, W.Australia.
*How did you get into training with weights?
My Dad used to train from 1932. I started training at 4 years old, in 1938, with standard lifts.
*Did you compete in Weightlifting competitions?
No, only in Powerlifting. Best Deadlift at Lightweight is 611 ½ lbs; this is still the W.A. record after 40 years, from 12-7-61. Best Deadlift at Middleweight is 632 lbs.
*How did the grip training come about?
Started proper grip training in 1960; but occasionally tried it right from 4 years old.
*How did you document your lifts for magazines, etc?
I’ve kept diaries from 1946, and an exercise book of all records, of all lifts and other lists and photos.
*Can you outline some of your grip training both now and in years gone by?
I am currently training on the “McKinless” pinch block, Ironmind grippers #2 and 3, long vertical nail and vertical 1” bar lift, weaver stick and a heavy 167 lb anvil lift by the horn with one hand (I’ll tell you about that later on). In the past, I’ve usually concentrated on just one lift at a time, until I reach the goal on that one lift. I don’t like ‘spreading’ lifts usually. It was the same with the deadlift i.e. No squats with it.
*What sort of specialized training would you do for a specific feat- like the Inch Dumbell?
I trained on 2 3/8” thick bars, with 2” ends for 5 years, 1979 to 1983. One a fixed bar, the other, a revolving bar. Also, on a 2 ½” thick bar, with 2” ends (fixed bar).
*Is there a particular thing you did that really made the difference in your training?
I can’t think of anything special.
*I have a list of your best grip lifts but can you tell the readers of Iron Grip what you consider to be your best and hardest lifts?
My best was a 115 lbs Pinch Grip Deadlift. The hardest to do was the Thomas Inch Dumbbell Deadlift; it took 5 years to do, 1979 – 1983.
*What do you consider to be some of the greatest tests of grip strength?
1st Pinch gripping.
3rd Thick bars (long hands are an advantage).
*What are the best lifts of all time in your opinion?
Herman Goerner’s 727 ½ lb One Hand Deadlift on an Olympic standard barbell in the 1920’s. 2nd; Thomas Inch’s effortlessly deadlifting and carrying the Thomas Inch Dumbell with one hand. 3rd; Arthur Saxon’s pinch gripping.
*Who do you consider the best grippers in history?
1st Herman Goerner.
3rd Arthur Saxon.
4th Thomas Inch.
*Your bodyweight is so light Bruce. Do you think a higher bodyweight would help you or not?
No; I’m at the best on formula at 148 lbs bodyweight, and also at less than that. I’m definitely weaker at over about 150 lbs.
*Have you sustained any injuries whilst training?
No, ‘touch wood’. Not in deadlift either.
*Your lifts are astounding Bruce! How have you managed to maintain your strength for so long?
This is a hard one to answer! I suppose a few of the things are to have patience, and expect a long time to reach a goal. Have perseverance, and never give up. Have consistency, and keep training all the time, except for short rests sometimes so as not to overtrain. For me, 2 or 3 times a week is plenty for most gripping training. I found about 2 times a week best for pinch gripping, and 3 times a week on the anvil horn and Ironmind gripper. About 2 times a week for thick bars. My recovery times are not as good as some people. Have a plan in place, i.e. put down in writing the proposed short-term goals, over a given period of time, and likewise, the long-term goal. Keep reasonably healthy and fit, and have good nutrition. I’ve never smoked. I haven’t got any other sports, so I can concentrate on gripping. However I do some high deadlifting on the power rack for my back strength. That doesn’t harm my gripping! Also, I do a fair bit of walking for fitness.
About nutrition again: my opinion is that all dairy products are very harmful in all sorts of ways, and I keep away from them. Also I never eat bread, biscuits, cakes, puddings, etc. I eat a fair bit of meat, although I realise that I’d be better off without it. I eat a lot of fish, which is good. I drink a lot of fruit juice every day, and have fruit, green vegetables, and lots of onions and garlic. The supplements I take are cider vinegar, green clorophice juice, vitamin B, and lots of vitamin C (3000 – 6000 mg a day), every day. Haven’t had a cold since 1978, ‘touch wood’. Straight after any training I take 2000 mg of vitamin C. My average calorie intake per day is about 1,500, to keep my bodyweight nice and low. I don’t take protein supplements; I think that too much protein is bad for you. Back in the 1950’s I used to eat a lot of junk food and had no vitamin supplements, and I was always getting colds and flu. The junk food included dairy products, and bread and biscuits, and I was generally unfit, even though I was strong at deadlifting. I think that butter and cream are especially bad, and most margarine is no good. Also white sugar and jam are very bad. I reckon that the less a person eats in general, the better off. I’m sorry, if I went on about the nutrition subject, I got a bit carried away. But I’ve been very interested in it for the last 43 years. Finally salt is a no-no, and I’ve never taken anabolic steroids, etc.
The way Bruce White measures his grippers:
I’ve got a large platform scales, and the way I measure them is to: put a long 1” rod through the eye of the gripper then put each end of this rod on a thin piece of wood; put it all on the scales; get my 90 lbs flat sided barbell plate; put my plate on top of the gripper; push down on the gripper, by holding the sides of the plate, and using my bodyweight until the handles touch together. The measuring beam at the top of the scales then shows the weight being pushed (the rod and gripper weight). If the grippers are very strong I put extra plates on top of the 90 pounder, to assist, because my bodyweight is light, and I have to have my feet on the ground (next to the scales) firmly. To measure the strength of differing distances apart of the handles, for example ¼”, ½”, 1”, or whatever distance, I have another person to get down low and look sideways at the handles distance gap (at ends). The same applies for the handles touching. One example was measuring my extra heavy duty gripper from Peary Rader. The approximate strengths at the ends of the handles are; 1” = 120 lbs, ½” = 140 lbs, ¼” = 150 lbs, closed = 160 lbs. Other examples are; my super duty gripper from Peary Rader, at the ends of the handles, are ½” = 180 lbs, ¼” = 200 lbs, closed = 220lbs. My #3 CoC gripper is closed at 210 lbs. I could not measure my #4 CoC gripper, as it’s just too strong for me to handle it! I’ve done as a lightweight of 148 ¾ lbs bodyweight, ½” on the super duty = 180 lbs, which is equal to 3/8” on my #3 CoC gripper at 180 lbs.
ONE HAND PINCH GRIP RECORDS
On straight-sided plate, round, 18” diameter, 1 ½” thick. All weights in pounds.