Jaw Lifting : What, Why and How

How to do it the Right way.

Old time feats of strength. Card tearing, phone book ripping, nail and steel bending, nail driving, hammer levering and many more that require specialized training and focus both on mental and physical strength. Why are they old time feats? Because those strongmen of past trained a certain way to be able to accomplish these feats.
Today you just don't see that many people focused on performing these feats of old. They are not easy and there is a process that takes time to get you from beginner to strongman. Very few want to take this journey let alone have the resolve to stay the course and rise victorious over these inanimate objects that were not meant to be bent, ripped, torn, or overcome. Another feat of strength is jaw lifting, where an object or weight is lifted by attaching the object or weight to an apparatus that is put in your mouth and lifted using jaw strength. I will share with you several ways to train for jaw lifting. What to use, how to train safely, and why it may be useful.

Being a feat of strength, it comes down to specialized training with the goal of lifting a heavy weight/object with your jaw. Is it safe? Use caution, as with all feats of strength, they are not normal and there is a risk you take when you undergo training for any of them. I'm not a dentist either, so if you lose some teeth in the process, make sure you have your dentists' number handy.


Lets start with training. You must have a strong neck, so even though it's called jaw lifting, you MUST have a strong and conditioned neck to attempt it. Do some 4-directional neck training using a harness, plates, bands, or isometrics. Do them diligently and work your way up to some solid neck strength. Jaw lifting can be added into your neck training, it's simple and not much different than the neck training except that you'll be doing some exercises with a jaw lift device instead of a head harness.

The jaw lifting will put great stress on the back of your neck. So start with a comfortable weight and build up the conditioning and feel of the exercise. In the actual feat you'll be either picking up a weight or object straight off the ground or as I do in shows, swinging someone in a swing that's attached to a special jaw device that I made. Start off with high reps of the neck and jaw work. Then after a period where you feel comfortable with the exercises, you can start using higher weight and lower reps. When you get to the lower reps and heavier weight, use caution and have your body in a very solid position. Make a solid base starting with your feet, hands on your quads and feel the strength from the ground through your arms and transfer to your neck and jaw. Now, use caution with higher reps also and you can use same strength base. Your jaw and neck are not the strongest body parts, so chaining and spreading the tension will help you feel stronger and keep the exercises a bit safer.

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What to use for jaw lifting

Here are a few suggestions. A chain with a towel wrapped around it. You bite on the towel and hook the chain to a loading pin, kettlebell or whatever you want for weight. You can use a piece of leather with two grommets to hook chains or carabiners to. Finding the right setup is really a matter of personal preference and of finding your comfort level (and 'comfort' is used loosely.)

My last suggestion is one that I like best, a piece of thin steel (I use stainless) with leather adhered to each side that I bite down on. The steel extends out each side of the mouth about 1" and has holes to put carabiners where chains are hooked up to loading pin or other weighted objects. For me this is comfortable and feels about as good as it can and allows me to do the jaw lifting and swinging better.

What might jaw lifting be good for other than cool looking for performances? A stronger jaw may be beneficial for those in MMA or other pugilistic sports where people are trying to knock you out. It certainly couldn't hurt. Hey and you will be chewing your food with more authority as well!

As with all feats of strength, use caution and don't expect results overnight because you have to put the time in to reap the rewards. And with this kind of training, patience & persistence will reward you with less injuries and more victories.

Ryan Pitts

Ryan Pitts is a performing old-time strongman and manufacturer of the world's toughest grip tools. To see exactly how he trains - and to pick up some great gear in the process - swing by the main site (strongergrip.com), his blog and YouTube channel. Superb.

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