The Many Types of Blobs

Ready for a challenge?

UPDATE : Jedd's just released the superb 'Lift the Blob', a package focused on helping you tackle this challenging beast. If you love a little blob-work yourself - or are just curious about what/who/how - take a look at 'Lift the Blob'. Highly recommended.

One of the most renowned Grip Strength feats is lifting the 50 pound Blob.
Richard Sorin
Richard Sorin.
The Blob is one head cut from a 100 pound cast iron dumbbell. It was named by Richard Sorin, a pioneer of grip strength specialization, in the 1970's. When Richard saw the severed head of a dumbbell, he didn't see just a piece of scrap metal, he saw a training tool. And train he did until finally he was finally able to lift it.

Recently, there has been some confusion about true Blobs, and it is my goal with this article to set the records straight so that the new athletes who are entering the ranks of the sport of Grip strength can be clear about what they are purchasing and training with. After all, it wasn't too long ago that a new grip trainee wrote in about purchasing what he thought was a legitimate blob only to find out he had been misled in the deal. Here we go.

The Original Blobs

The Original Blob
The Original Blob.

True Original Blobs are very rare for many reasons. One thing that makes them rare is credited to their color. Because they are a dark brown to black color, they do not look like the flashy, silvery colored dumbbells that are so common in gyms and health clubs today. For that reason, they are often discarded and replaced by "nicer looking" dumbbells.

I recently heard a story from a friend in New York state. He said he was checking out gyms to see if they had any of these dumbbells and he was told that they had just swapped out their old dumbbells for new ones. Where'd the old ones end up? The dumpster. Now that's a crying shame.

The version of York dumbbell that Richard Sorin first trained on and named looks much like the Blobs that many Grip enthusiasts currently own, but are actually a bit different and more difficult to lift.

One of the first
One of the first.

If you really take a hard look at the original style Blobs, both sides of them curve out almost equally. This curvature on both sides of the blob is what makes them so much more difficult to lift that the blobs that many of us have run across today. It is very difficult to get any kind of dig or bite with the thumb like can be done on the next generation of Blobs.

York Blob Replicas

York Blob Replica
York Blob Replica.
At some point, York discontinued the Original style of their dumbbells that had two bulging sides. The next type of dumbbell that came out was shaped slightly differently resulting in different Blobs. As I have already hinted at, they are not identical. I will refer to these as York Blob Replicas because they were actually manufactured by York themselves, and they were at best a replica and not a duplicate.

As noted, one edge of this generation of Blob is straighter than the original. Experienced lifters know that the most advantageous way to situate their hand when lifting the Blob is to put the thumb against the straighter side and the fingers along the side that is more curved. Since the thumb is the weakest part of the hand in this equation, it needs to get any advantage it can when you are lifting the Blob. This advantage is attained by digging it into the sharper edge of the blob.

Training now
Training now.

On the Gripboard, I maintain the Records Lists for many established feats of Grip Strength. There is a list dedicated to Blob lifts there, and because of the rarity of true blobs, these York Replicas are also honored for that list.

In Summer 2003, I picked up a 100-lb dumbbell from York, right at their facility. Shortly after this time I began hearing and reading that York would be stopping the production of this style of dumbbell, hence cutting production of new Blobs. Ever since then, half 50's from old York dumbbells have gotten more and more rare...

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In March of 2004, with the eminent threat that the York company would be stopping production of this style of dumbbell that was so popular to grip enthusiasts, Gordon Vizecky, a certified IronMind® Captain of Crush™ from Minneapolis, MN struck a deal with a foundry to begin making replicas of the Blob so that members of the Gripboard could more readily obtain them. Although not exact replicas either, they are very close and they also qualify for the records list.

Gordon aptly named his replicas Blob50s. The top of each of them has Blob50 cast into it. This makes it very easy to identify these replicas from the real thing.

I have tried many Blob50s. The first one I tried belonged to a friend of mine, John Mannino, and was more difficult for me to lift than my blobs, even though the texture of it was much more rough. It seemed to me that Gordon captured the roundness of the original blobs well. The same can not be said for York Legacy Blobs.

York Legacy Blobs

York Legacy Blob
York Legacy Blob.
Within the last couple of years, York began producing Legacy Blobs. In communications that I had with one of the representatives at the York Barbell store in York, Pennsylvania, my understanding was that these Blobs would be very similar to the Blobs of long ago that Richard Sorin began training with and made famous, but the fact is they are not. Unfortunately, according to feedback from athletes who have tried them, and according to my own speculation, the legacy blobs seem to be much easier to lift than any of the other generations of Blobs.

As you can see, the Legacy Blobs have a side to them that is much straighter - the top side in the pic above. I am sure this straight angle dramatically reduces the challenge of lifting this Blob, and the new Grip athlete should not be lured into thinking that working with one of these newer models will yield accurate crossover to lifting an Original York, York Replica or Blob50. I just don't think they are not close enough to accurately represent the authentic challenge.

Blobs are some of the best implements to train with in order to gain major hand strength. Richard Sorin knew what he was doing when he put the work in to be able to lift the Blob. However, there have been many forms of block weights that have garnered the name "Blob" over the years and it can be tough to sort them all out. Hopefully, I have been able to clear up some of this confusion with this article.

I invite everyone to post a comment here if there is anything else you need me to explain, and please feel free to email me.


Jedd 'Napalm' Johnson

Jedd 'Napalm' Johnson is a name synonymous with grip strength, and he has been training, sharing and competing with these skills for many, many years.

To acquire some serious grip strength yourself, head over to The Grip Authority and check out his superb ebooks and DVDs.

One of our favourites - Fixing Elbow Pain - takes a very thorough look at banishing elbow injuries completely. If you've ever experienced something like Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow, you'll understand just how incredible that is. Fantastic.

Jedd blogs over at The Diesel Crew, and can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Swing by.

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