Randall J. Strossen – Founder & President of IrondMind
We caught up with The Founder & President of IronMind, Randall Strossen. Randall lives in the foothills of the Sierras in Northern California. He has been interested in strength for well over half a century and started IronMind in 1988. He has a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford and for a little over 12 years, he wrote the monthly sports psychology column for Iron Man magazine, so that helps explain IronMind’s motto:“Stronger Minds, Stronger Bodies.”
His first book was SUPER SQUATS, which focuses on 20-rep squats . . . the embodiment of mind over matter.
For the last 25 years he has travelled worldwide as a documentary photographer for leading competitions in weightlifting, strongman, World’s Strongest Man, Highland Games and grip, and along the way, he was the Eurosport expert commentator for weightlifting for one Olympic cycle (2009 through 2012).
What got you into Grip Strength Training?
In the 1960s, Warren Tetting made grippers that were sold by the original Iron Man magazine – there was nothing else like them as among other things, they were ferociously hard to close. I still have mine from those days and used it when I was training for the fabled World Wrist Wrestling Championships (Petaluma, California) in the late 1980s.
When did you start IronMind and why?
IronMind was founded in 1988 and I mentioned the mind-body connection as being in IronMind’s DNA. There are two other key elements: I had a primary interest in strength and performance (rather than appearance only), so we favoured lifting over bodybuilding, for example; and we focussed on a professional-artisanal approach (rather than a mass market, mass production orientation).
What makes the Captains of Crush Grippers the best grippers in the world to train with?
Captains of Crush (CoC) grippers are gorgeous, accurate and durable, plus they have an unrivalled legacy in the field, all of which contribute to why they are known worldwide as the gold standard of grippers. Before Captains of Crush grippers, the market was defined by cheaply-made, easy-to-close grippers that were more of a plaything than a serious training tool. IronMind upended that concept and pioneered a performance level that had never been seen before: we used to say, “If closing grippers were an Olympic event, Captains of Crush grippers would be standard equipment.” We had very deliberate reasons for the changes IronMind brought to the gripper world and one way to measure their success is to note how many companies have since offered their attempted copycats: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
What advice would you give someone who is looking to purchase their first Captains of Crush Gripper and are not sure which one to get?
If you lift weights, think of your CoC not as a gripper, but as a barbell, and train the same way you would on deadlifts, squats, power cleans, etc. as it’s all the same principles, such as warming up, progressive resistance, recovery, etc. Grip(per) education has been one of IronMind’s focal points and in our earliest days we had a massive re-education program telling people that their traditional way of training with grippers (100s of mindless reps cranked out on a flimsy gripper while they were driving to work, for example) made no more sense than doing endless sets of high-repetition push-ups when their goal was to bench press 200 kg for a single. IronMind has extensive training information for our grippers and for the hard core, the Captains of Crush book is required reading.
What Captains of Crush Gripper can you close? Which one are you working on closing?
When I was training for Petaluma, I could close a Silver Crush No. 2 (Silver Crush grippers were the predecessors to Captains of Crush grippers) . . . that was my last foray into 1RMS on grippers and the focus of my gripper training now is conditioning.
What is your favourite Grip Strength training exercise?
Closing grippers has nothing even remotely close to it in terms of its natural appeal as a way to train and test one’s grip strength.
You have travelled all over the world sponsoring events; what is the most amazing feat of strength you have seen?
Andrei Chemerkin (Russia) attempting to clean and jerk 272.5 kg at the 2000 Olympics (Sydney, Australia). It was (and still is) the most weight ever loaded on a bar for an official attempt in the clean and jerk, and most impressive of all, this was no bluff with him backing out at the last second—Chemerkin really went for it.
What is your favourite food to cook on the BBQ?
Chicken or Char Sui
Any new products out or coming out that we should watch for?
Let’s keep that as a surprise!
How can people get in touch with you?
Everyone is welcome to call (+1 530 272 3579) or email (email@example.com) and we will be happy to help them. If the comment or question is specifically for me, calls and emails will be forwarded to me. For general information about IronMind and our products, please see our website www.ironmind.com and our YouTube channel. Strength aficionados can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
What is next for IronMind?
IronMind began as a niche marketer providing, “Tools of the trade for serious strength athletes.” It’s what we’ve always been and always will be, but long- time customers can see the trends as we introduced new designs, materials and assembly techniques to create our cutting-edge products over the years. Nobody has a crystal ball, but I would bet that our future will follow from our past.
Any competitions/events coming up?
European Weightlifting Championships (Bucharest, Romania), Europe’s Strongest Man (Leeds, England), APL Armlifting Championships (St. Petersburg, Russia), World’s Strongest Man (Manila, Philippines), Asian Games (Jakarta, Indonesia), World Weightlifting Championships (Ashgent, Turkmenistan) . . .
Again thank you Randall for doing the Blog Interview with us! Thank you for your continued support! We appreciate you taking time out of you busy schedule to do this!