My Favorite Unusual Workout And a Contest For Readers (ladies too!)

by Josh Hanagarne on June 26, 2009

I’ve got a contest, a challenge, and a prize for anyone with some guts and as little sense as I do.

Boredom Can Be Sinister

Behind the scattershot nature of the varied topics I dicuss here on World’s Strongest Librarian is the fear of getting bored.  Too many people think that boredom is just one of the costs of living.  I say no!  Reject that and engage with your life, your training, your job, whatever, just engage!  This is slightly at odds with pieces I’ve wrote about focus being essential for reaching your physical goals.

Boredom is one of the reasons people jump from program to program without making real progress.  But not everyone is going to toil away with that sort of concentration and diligence.  They’re just not.  This doesn’t mean we should abandon them.  They just need a kick in the pants and some good times.

So for the sake of keeping you enthusiastic with your training, I’m going to recommend a workout I’ve come to love more than anything when I need variety.  This workout is only “unusual” in that you won’t see them in a gym.  I do not waver from the goals I set, but tossing in some fun now and then does not hinder me, provided that I don’t backslide on my long-term progress.

Tearing Cards

In the early days of my blog, I wrote a piece called How And Why To Tear Cards.  I was very new to card tearing at the time and mentioned what an exhaustive (and fun) feat it is.  That has not changed.  What has changed is that I love to tear cards even more now than I did before.  The reason?  I’m getting better and stronger at it.  I’m too the point where I need to find ways to make my tearing more difficult, not less.  Reading this book led me to study the odd history of grip training itself.

Here’s my entire pitch: tearing cards–and feats of strength in general–is fun.  Really fun!  It is a way to be stronger than you look.  If you see a guy with broad shoulders, you might assume that he’s strong.  But you won’t look at his hands and say “Hmmm….I wonder if he could tear cards or phonebooks?  His hands certainly look strong enough.”

Provided you don’t walk into a bar, pull out a deck, and yell, “Who wants to see how awesome I am because I spend all my time tearing cards?” it’s also a fun, benign way to show off occasionally.

Jedd Johnson, American grip champion, wrote this book on card tearing which is how I learned and how I continue to progress.  It is how I would recommend learning.  And you need to learn how to do it so we can talk about how super-heroic you feel after you tear that first deck!  I feel a little silly saying it, but have I mentioned that tearing things in half is really fun and a great way to spend your time!

The Contest

Next week I will be unveiling the rules for submitting and voting.  For now, here’s what you need to know:

  • After getting the card book, study and start practicing your tearing
  • When you are ready, film your best tearing efforts.  If you can’t tear a deck, film your best, most creative attempt.  Everyone will get to participate
  • The winner for the men will be the man who tears the most decks in 90 seconds
  • The winner for women will be she who either tears a complete deck, or she who tears the highest number of cards
  • There will be three winners: One man, one woman, and one winner for creativity which will be chosen by voters.  Remember, attempts count as well

For now, get that book and start practicing!  There’s no reason you won’t be able to tear a deck a couple of months from now, even if you’re starting cold.   It could happen much sooner than that.  It did for me.

I am so excited for this!  It’s going to be a blast!  If you have questions, please ask them in the comments section or send me an email through the contact form.

Josh


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff June 26, 2009 at 7:53 am

Sounds like fun Josh, I haven’t torn a deck in a little while because of focusing on other things, but this may get me back at it. I just hope that I won’t be competeing against Adam and Jedd : )

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Josh Hanagarne June 26, 2009 at 8:45 am

Don’t tell those guys I told you, Jeff, but I have it on good authority that they are terrified of your might and majesty. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard them both say you taught them everything they know.

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Laura June 26, 2009 at 8:18 am

Do I get bonus points for attempting to tear _American Psycho_?

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Josh Hanagarne June 26, 2009 at 8:44 am

Absolutely! You win already! Where should I send your prizes?

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Mark Powell June 27, 2009 at 2:51 pm

There’s a guy named Dr. George Pransky who’s like the big cheese in this cool psychology system called Health Realization (kind of Easterny). Anyway, he said something I’ve always found cool about boredom.

He said that boredom is actually a symptom of the “busy mind.” It’s that your head is too full of your own, repetitive thinking, so the ever-new NOW of life can’t “get in” and touch you. Cuz’ we’re “carrying the world around in our heads.” He contrasts the busy mind with the mind of children, who find endless fascination with so many simple things.

This notion has helped me. When I can really quiet and clear my mind, and slow down inside, I find that whatever’s happening in the moment comes to life, gets all technicolor and interesting. Including KB workouts.

Dunno about tearing cards. I think I’d have to start with one or two. Cards, not decks. Might have to soak them in water overnight, too. Boiling water.

Anyway, how frickin’ verbose of me! Time to hit the KBs. Thanks for the cool post. Glad your hand is okay!

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Josh Hanagarne June 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm

That’s intriguing. Have you ever heard the term “monkey mind?” Sounds similar. It’s the Eastern concept of the mind that just can’t focus–basically, you have monkey mind when everything is reaction, a fire drill.

Thanks for the concern–it was the back of my arm that got cut, not my hand. I’m not sure how I escaped, but I don’t even think there will be any visible damage two days from now.

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Ilaria/Swimturtle June 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Hi Josh,

love your blog. Did you just begin this in April of this year? If so, I can already tell you’re destined for greatness. I’m an unemployed librarian (that is not employed “as” a librarian) but am still a librarian in my heart.
So, my question for today, where do you get the decks to tear? It seems a great pity to buy brand new decks of cards only to break them in half and throw them away… enlighten me, please!

Reply

Josh Hanagarne June 28, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Thanks! Yes, it was mid April that I published the blog. As to the cards–I go over to the dollar store a couple of times each week and get two decks for $1.00. Unfortunately, this is considered lame in the tearing world because there is a hierarchy of cards, Bicycles and Casino cards being much more difficult to tear than cheapo dollar store fare. But they’ve been good enough for me to practice with, and when they get too easy, you can always add cards. Try tearing 70 cheap cards when 52 feels easy. And it will be a while for anyone new before 52 cheap cards feel easy.

So you’re a librarian at heart–what else do you do? Who pays you?

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