Jump to content

Under the Radar - Grip Profile - James Retarides


Recommended Posts

Today's profile features James Retarides.


His story?  Okay.  It was never easy for James. He was born a poor black child.  He remembers the days, sittin' on the porch with his family…singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi. (Steve Martin-The Jerk)


I can't help but open this introduction with a movie quote.  James shares my habit (the wife calls it Asperger-ish) of quoting movies…or working them into conversations.  When I got the chance to train with the Pick-Up-Artists in Charlotte (something all gripsters should), James and Jason (Otto) hammered me with movie quotes…most notably from "Rocky," and "The Godfather."  I couldn't help but join in the fray…all the while Bob Sundin doing his best to ignore us and focused on his INCH lift of the day.  None of them were deterred by the incessant rain that pelted the group.  At one point, I watched James (unofficially) hit World Record lifts on the Griptopz Levertop…soaking wet and an hour into a workout.  It was then I decided I needed to reevaluate the company I was with.


For any who don't know…James is a renowned armwrestler. He's won National titles in three different weight classes (187, 198, 220) and won both Northeast and Southeast Regional Overalls.  He has won "Overall" in competitions weighing as light as 165 and won professional classes at every weight class (in 11lb increments) from 143lbs through superheavyweight. He won as many as four classes AND placed in six…in single events. Prior to leaving the sport, James was ranked #1 in the Southeast Region at 198 and 220 simultaneously.  He has trained with legends of the sport and actually trained a few guys who went from novices to national (even world) champions.


With this impressive resume, it's easy to understand how strong his wrist and grip strength must be.  His wrist curl strength is not-of-this-world.  Now that he has turned his attention to Grip…goals are starting to fall like rain.  He's closed #3's from 20mm set and is currently working towards the double 2x45 farmers walk.  As someone new to training grip (for grip training sake), he's racking up a number of substantial grip feats. Rather than read a lengthy list of everything he's done, you can simply watch him on his youtube channel… Click here..


It's been my pleasure to train and simply hang with James and the PUA crew.  It turned out that having a brother-in-law in North Carolina was fortuitous. 


Anyway..."I run a business here, not a soup kitchen".  Let's see what this "tomato" has to say…


James profile pic.jpg


7 questions to get to know James.



1.  What are your stats?  Gripboard Name, Age, Height (inches/meters), Weight (lbs/kgs), R/L dominant hand size (cm/in), Country/City (or region … whatever you are comfortable with), Relationship Status, Kids?, Occupation ("international spy" is acceptable) 


Gripboard Name: "James Retarides"

Age:  39

Height: 5'10" (178cm)

Weight:  206lbs (93.4kg)

Hand:  Right hand dominant  7 5/16" (18.6cm) (7 7/16" Left)  However, all of those numbers (including the height unfortunately seem subject to change).

Location:  USA/Charlotte, NC  (I have lived in Charlotte, NC for the past 10 years but I spent my previous three decades in Southwestern CT and the Bronx, NY.)

Relationship Status:   Married (Lovely wife Nicole)

Kids:  Two sons…Noah (16yo), Evan (4yo)

Occupation:  I am a psychotherapist at a private practice in Mooresville, NC and I have extensive experience working with people with post-traumatic stress disorder but also help with other individual and relationship issues.


2.  Why did you start training grip (and how long is it now)? 


I started training grip in 1998 when I began armwrestling.  I bought John Brookfield’s book "The Mastery of Hand Strength" and adapted some of his methods to apply to armwrestling.  I specialized for such a long time on developing ring and pinky finger strength (to contain my opponent’s hand and what armwrestlers call flat-finger pressure or cupping strength) by doing hangs and pull-ups off of flat beams.  I only used grippers and thin pinch as a means to try to thicken my hand to make it uncomfortable for my opponents to grip.  I didn’t really start dedicating two days a week to grip training until I reconnected with Bob Sundin in 2013.



3.  Before you die, what is your ULTIMATE grip goal/goals? 


I want to rim-lift the 200lb Zuvers plate (http://davedraper.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/200s.jpg ) left-handed.  I have hoisted that sucker a few times with my right. Pinching two 55lb plates is another and I would like to close a COC 4 gripper.  I would like to reverse a red nail someday as well.  I know you would appreciate that one, Nate!   Also, I yearn to distract Bob Sundin (Odin) from lifting things with my excessive horseplay at training.



4.  How do you currently structure your overall training/how do you incorporate your grip training? 


My training varies based on what is hurting these days but I always manage to get in every muscle group (with the exception of biceps these days) at least once per week.  I find heavy bicep training takes more than a week to recover for me as I find myself pushing the limits (perhaps dangerously) of what they can handle.  However, a typical week for me these days would be:

Sunday:  Sledgehammer training, choke-lifts and levers

Monday:  Legs (squats, calf-raises, deadlifts etc…) and core (ab wheel, weighted pull-downs, various types of planks, alternating knees to the heavy bag)

Tuesday:  Chest (Bench, incline/decline dumbbell and scale-weight presses, chest-fly etc..) and Back (weighted pull-ups on a beam, rows, pulldowns etc…)

Wednesday:  Grip and forearms (wrist curls, pronation and supination training, reverse wrist curls with the wrist wrench, pinch training and some thickbar work) I generally do not go beyond 2-inches on the thick bar.  I also train wide pinch with a 32.5lb hex with the handle still attached.  I add weight to the handle and tend to avoid going any wider.  Lately I have been block-setting grippers too.  I avoid handles thicker than 2 inches, wide block weights, blobs and credit card setting because I tend to be more interested in feats of hand strength not hand size/strength).

Thursday:  Biceps (strict curls, preacher curls, concentration curls, table curls etc…Sometimes I will work in scale-weight hammercurls and curls with the toproller) and Triceps (seated overhead triceps extension with the barbell, single-arm extensions with dumbbells and scale-weights and pushdowns with the rope and toproller, dips etc..

Friday:  Shoulders (scale-weight, tractor-weight bottoms-up presses and dumbbell clean/presses, front raises, internal/external rotation work. I am limited with two hand overhead presses and shrugs due to ongoing neck issues)

Saturday:  Bob’s house!  Grip time!  Lately that has included more pinch work, some thickbar training and occasional David Horne's Lever-top.  Been doing some hub lately too, though I find it annoying.  I tend to work some grippers with Jason Otto (my spirit animal) and hone my movie quoting skills.  Every three months or so, someone will come over to Bob’s to armwrestle despite rampant rumors that I hold some secret trainings that only a select few are invited to attend.  That’s hullaballoo.


5.  What hobbies (other than grip/bending/lifting) do you enjoy?


I write.  I authored "Strong Arm Tactics."  The book focuses on the technique and training for Armwrestling.  find the book here... I have also authored two more books that are nearly ready for print: "Thursdays in El Salvador" (a book based heavily on my experiences working with Hispanic and Latino immigrants), and "Thanatos" (a fiction book about an ethics professor turned vigilante).  I also love spending time with my dogs.  I enjoy some of the broadcast work I have done.  I would certainly consider that a hobby as I am a color commentator for the Professional Armwrestling League.  Since acquiring all of this grip strength, I have gotten the itch to start dabbling in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


6.  Do you have a personal anecdote, topic or thoughts you'd like to include in your profile?


I have had so many great experiences meeting friends, taking road-trips and traveling to events but I would have to say the most eye-opening experience I have had was in Seoul, Korea in 2012 when I put on an Armwrestling seminar.  I met so many great grip athletes, steel-benders and new armwrestlers with such an infectious, hungry attitude about training.  I also had a chance to spend a couple of weeks with my friend Seung-Min Bae.  I honestly wish the rest of the world could see what that man does with limited resources to do some major promotion of Grip and Armwrestling in his country.  I first met Seung-Min at an Armwrestling event (Greenville, NC in 2008) and to see how far he has come and what he has accomplished…I just couldn’t be more proud.



7.  Who's Grip profile would you like to see?

Seung-Min Bae


Thanks James.  Seung-Min Bae will be profiled in two weeks.  This series will return next Wednesday with Heath Sexton.


  • Like 16
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great read James!! Wish I could come down and get some AW pointers and train together!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great read!! Is the book "Strong Arm Tactics" also available as a paperback?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great read!

I got the -Strong Arm Tactics e-book,its packed with tons of excellent training advice! A definite must have book ,even if your not an arm wrestler you will gain from having read it.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, burkhardmacht said:

Great read!! Is the book "Strong Arm Tactics" also available as a paperback?

From James..."If you could please let them know there won't be any paper versions reprinted until the second edition comes out".

(probably late 2016)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great write up Nate... well done sir! 

James is an all around, great guy.. good as they come!  

Oh, & he happens to be strong as an ox too!  

Cheers sir! 


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Such a great read.

Also going to Bobs house sounds like a blast on the weekend.

Edited by Jared Goguen
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

James is one of the nicest most hopeful guys I have ever met. Even with his busy schedule he always has time to lend advice or to help with what ever he can.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good read!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy policies.