The Snaggin’ Curl

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Casey Barten put his weight training to good use in landing this 75 pound paddlefish.

Use an over the top grip

As promised yesterday, today I am going to present an exercise to you that will show that weight training virtually helps EVERYTHING. Most people would think fishing was a relaxing low effort sport – but that depends on the type of fishing you do! For the past several years Casey and I have taken part in snagging for paddlefish (also known asspoonbills) during the Missouri season. Paddlefish are one of America’s largest freshwater fish, and can grow to weights of over 100 pounds. Every spring, paddlefish will make their “spawning runs” and migrate into the upstream rivers from the reservoirs. However, there is one big problem with catching paddlefish – they are filter feeders and won’t bite on a baited hook! So we use a much more strenuous method of “catching them” – we snag them! (All of this is legal by the way). I was introduced to this unique way of catching fish by a good friend, outdoor enthusiast Kevin Yaeger, and I was immediately HOOKED (or you could say snagged)! It is by far the most physically draining type of fishing I have ever done. It is done like this – you allow the heavy pound and half sinker on the end of your line to touch bottom, at which time you give a hard pull on the rod, fighting the water resistance of the three big treble hooks on your line. If you don’t snag anything – you do it again and again at the rate of one pull every 5 seconds. The harder you work at it – the greater chances you will have success. Reeling in a 75 pound paddlefish is the easy part. It is the thousands of “pulls” you do before you snag the big paddlefish that wears you out.

Lift the kettlebell straight up

So what does this have to do with weight lifting?

Well, after the first year I went snaggin’ I was somewhat embarrassed by how I was “worn out” afterwards. I don’t train for endurance! Casey and I decided that prior to the next season we had to get ourselves in shape for snaggin’! This is what lead to the Snaggin’ Curl. Many years ago I was introduced to this exercise by armwrestler Jason Payne. He told me it was an exercise that the armwrestlers loved – and they called it the Cobra Curl. I’m always up to try something new so I gave it a try and found that it worked the EXACT same muscles that are required in pulling back on a fishing pole – thus Casey and I renamed it the Snaggin’ Curl!!

This exercise is very easy to do. You can use a dumbbell, but I prefer a kettlebell. Sit on a seat and place the kettlebell between your feet. Place your elbow of the lifting arm against your leg, and grab the handle of the kettlebell with an over the top grip. Lift the kettlebell straight up from the floor until the wrist is turned over and you can’t go any higher. At the top position hold the kettlebell for a slight pause, at which time you lower the kettlebell slow back to the floor and repeat the motion. I am not usually a high reps lifter but we will go up to 50 reps per set with this exercise – all in a slow and controlled motion. Do several sets. When finished your forearms are BLASTED! Rest a minute and then do them with your other arm – after all I rotate arms when snaggin’ and I don’t one to be my weak link.

The top position of the Snaggin' Curl (notice the flexed wrist)

Casey and I are now a month away from snaggin’. We are training the Snaggin’ Curl hard – hoping that our training will pay off and we will snag a BIG ONE this year!!

Block Bar Curls

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Casey Barten performing a Block Bar Curl.

Would you like to try an exercise that works the grip, forearm muscles and the upper arm in one exercise?  Then try the Block Bar Curl!  This is a very simple exercise – but does require a piece of specialized equipment. I initially made this Block Bar for grip training, but the guys in the gym have found many other uses for it.  It has the same gripping dimensions as the IronMind Pinch Grip Block (3″ by 6″) and is painted with the same slick gloss paint finish.  The Block Bar is 36 inches long and weighs 45 pounds empty. I am really surprised no one has marketed a bar like this (at least I haven’t seen one). Really anyone could make one without even having shop skills. All it would take is two 2×6s nailed together, with a bolt on each end to bolt weight to.

It is very difficult to do curls with it, as all the arm muscles need to be contracting in unison to be able to execute the curl. You will find this exercise is great for developing wrist strength and stability.  Surprisingly, you will “feel” it in the biceps even with the much smaller amount of weight used versus a regular bar curl.  I think the reason for this is because of the added demands the Block Bar Curl places on the forearm muscles, and the forearm muscles must be in contraction at the same time as the upper arm muscles. This exercise has to be performed with good technique and under control or the grip on the block will be lost. The sets and reps we do with this Bar are pretty typical -  3 to 4 sets of 8-10 reps and adding weight with each set.

The Block Bar Curl  is a very practical exercise, and the strength it develops in the hands and arms will carry over to work applications.  Casey is a Veterinarian, and doing Large Animal Veterinary work requires strength in the hands and arms to perform some procedures. Much of his training is geared to increase the strength in his hands, arms and shoulders.   His training is not just about getting stronger, but about making his work easier!  You have to remember weight training can accomplish different things for different people.

Coming tomorrow -

Casey’s favorite weight training exercise for fishing!