T Nation

Interview With Real Chinning Great

Many of you know that I think pull-ups and chin-ups are very important movements to include in your routine. I also have a lengthy post on this forum giving my ideas on training these movements.

The following is an interview with one of the all time living legends of Chinning: Jasper Benincasa. The interview was taken from Girevik Magazine Issue #8. Enjoy!

A Conversation between Chinning Greats
by Brad Johnson with Jasper Benincasa

Once in a great while, a person becomes a master of his/her art. Becoming a master requires the rare combination of desire, natural ability and intelligent training. I had the opportunity to talk with a master of the art of chinning. What follows is a summary of the conversation that I had with Jasper Benincasa. This was not conducted as an interview and these were not the exact words used. However, I believe that this summary adequately portrays the conversation that we had. It was extremely rewarding for me and Jasper seemed to enjoy talking with someone who had an appreciation for bodyweight strength feats.
Brad: I got a copy of The Super Athletes about 10 years ago. I always viewed your feats with great interest because our height and weight was about the same. I understand from Jack Arnow that some of your greatest feats were not mentioned in the book.

Jasper: There is a lot of hearsay in that book. I never cared much for publicity and it is not important anyway.

Brad: What strength feat were you proudest of?

Jasper: The double bodyweight chin. At a weight of 130 pounds, I did a chin-up while holding a 265 pound man with my legs.

Brad: That is incredible! I heard that you did 19 consecutive one arm chins! What were some of your other strength feats?

Jasper: I once picked up a 90 pound person with my legs and did an Iron Cross. I also held an Iron Cross with one finger on each ring. I used to do a stunt where I stood on a platform with a hangman’s noose around my neck. When the platform was removed and I was falling, I would catch the rope above my head and do a one arm pull-up. I removed the noose with my free hand and then climb up the rope in front lever position.

Brad: Did you do any other rope climbing?

Jasper: Rope climbing was a sport back then. A friend asked me to climb in a competition at Penn State. I hadn’t done it before and when I got to the top of the rope, I missed the black mark. I would also climb a rope with one arm.

Brad: One arm without the use of your legs?

Jasper: Of course!

Brad: That means that you would have to hop!

Jasper: That’s right! It all comes down to I.M. (Initial Momentum). It is also important to have rosin on your hands for this or you will slip.

Brad: I understand that you did one arm front levers. I have been working on those for a while without much success.

Jasper: Yes. I got tired of doing them two armed. Do you have a solid two arm front lever?

Brad: Yes.

Jasper: Slowly let yourself down. Turn your body a little to the side and straddle your legs. Do you know what I mean?

Brad: Yes. I will try that!

Jasper: It will decrease the strain on your body.

Brad: Were you a gymnast?

Jasper: No. They use a lot of momentum. I liked the strength movements because they are pure.

Brad: What are your recommendations on dealing with and preventing injuries?

Jasper: I usually did my one arm chins by alternating arms and this decreased the strain on my shoulders and elbows. You will experience elbow tendonitis. The only thing you can do is rest.

Brad: How frequently did you train?

Jasper: My training was very haphazard. I’d train as often as I could. I was a construction worker and I would chin on the scaffolding after I was already tired from work. I would do alternate one arm chins down the length of the scaffolding and then turn and work my way back. My wife couldn’t understand why I was tired when I got home from work!

Brad: It has been an honor talking to you! Thank you very much!

Jasper: Thank you! You got my ego flowing! Call me any time if you have any other questions.