Articles from July 2009

Denny Habecker

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker performing a Hack Lift.

A Hall of Fame Biography is now available for Denny Habecker. Denny is the current USAWA President and has been the biggest USAWA meet promoter for the past several years. He is the meet director for this year’s IAWA World Championships, which is going to be held in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on October 3rd and 4th, 2009.  Denny puts on top quality meets and this is one you don’t want to miss!!!

History of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen

by Dale Friesz

Dale Friesz, who holds the unofficial title as Historian of the USAWA, provided me with this chart of the past winners of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen. It not only includes the winners each year, but also the winner’s total and adjusted point totals. As you can see from this chart, Dale has the distinction of being the winner in the very first Goerner Meet. The lifts contested in the Goerner Deadlift Dozen are as follows:

Deadlift – Heels Together
Hack Lift
Jefferson Lift
2 Bar Deadlift
Right Hand Deadlift
Left Hand Deadlift
Right Hand Deadlift – Thumbless
Left Hand Deadlift – Thumbless
Index Fingers Deadlift
Middle Fingers Deadlift
Ring Fingers Deadlift
Little Fingers Deadlift
Reeves Deadlift

1995 Dale Friesz, Virginia
53 183 2800 3028.09
1996 Rex Monahan, Colorado
72 186 2742.5 3396.58
1997 Rex Monahan, Colorado
73 198.25 2685 3229.48
1998 Rex Monahan, Colorado
74 197.25 2615 3176.52
1999 Kevin Fulton, Nebraska
39 260.5 4195 3257.42
2000 Kevin Fulton, Nebraska
40 260 4200 3301.12
2001 Seth Holcomb, Nebraska
16 192 3340 3359.51
2002 Al Myers, Kansas
36 272 4020 3058.42
2003 Bill Clark, Missouri
71 237 2765 2996.41
2004 Mike McBride, Missouri
27 225 4025 3372.15
2005 Mike McBride, Missouri
28 229 2755 2231.83
2006 Al Myers, Kansas
40 251 4020 3214.90
2007 Cancelled Due to Ice
2008 Al Myers, Kansas
42 248 4325 3547.00

POINTS – formula adjusted for age and bodyweight

Discussion of the Age Adjustment

by Al Myers

At the recent USAWA National Meeting, a topic was brought up that created a lot of discussion. It was not brought up by anyone as a motion, only as a point of discussion. No official action was taken and no vote was taken by the membership. It involved the IAWA study into the age allowance, or as what the USAWA refers to – the age adjustment. Last year at the IAWA Meeting, this topic was brought up and a committee was formed to investigate it. The committee has done a study of three lifts and the decrease in performance of these three lifts with age. The summary of this can be viewed here – Study of Age Percentage Allowance. As of now, IAWA uses the same age adjustment percentages as the USAWA which is one percent per year starting at 40 years of age.

IAWA(UK) uses a somewhat different age correction where a lifter gains one percent per year starting at 36 years of age, until the age of 66 years where it increase to 2 percent. This 2 percent is only for the years of age over 66, not all the years. So you can see, the IAWA(UK) system favors older lifters slightly more than the USAWA system.

The big question is – What is fair? The majority amongst those present at the USAWA Meeting involved in the discussion felt that the current system is fine as it is – but that only applies to the USAWA. What is decided at the IAWA Meeting may be completely different as lifters from other countries will be involved in the discussion, and the vote on it if there is one.

Bill Clark made these comments in the last Strength Journal stating his viewpoint on this, “As a 77 year old, I get 38 percent and can come close to winning if I have a good day. I don’t expect to beat anyone simply by raising the percentage. For all purposes, we weren’t meant to beat up on a strong 30 year old by a formula. I’m very happy with my 38 percent and often feel guilty taking it. There’s no way I deserve 54 percent at age 77. Next thing, I’ll be taking steroids to enhance my 54 percent. Come on, get serious.”

If anyone wants their viewpoints on this stated, please send them to me and I will make them known. I will also try to obtain the graphs of this study so you can evaluate them yourself.


by Al Myers

This past weekend, the Dino Gym promoted two competitions on Saturday, July 18th. The first was a Bench Press/Deadlift Competition sanctioned through the organization 100% Raw Powerlifting. The second was the Central Plains Highlander sanctioned through the North American Highlander Association. NAHA is a new organization promoted by D.J. Satterfield, that provides competitions that are a combination of Highland Games and Strongman. This sport requires the athleticism of Highland Game athletes along with the strength of Strongman to be successful at it. The Dino Gym is promoting the first NAHA Nationals at the Dino Gym on September 19th, 2009. 100% Raw Powerlifting is an organization that limits the use of lifting gear (allows belts only!) and the meets are drug-tested. Both of these are good fits for the Dino Gym!!!! Even though the turnout was small and most of the competitors were gym members, the quality in these two competitions was outstanding!!!

Rex Monahan

by Al Myers

Rex Monahan, in 2003, training his favorite lift - the one handed Deadlift - in preparation for the World Championships.

We have a WINNER to the quiz of the week – Joe Garcia of Sturgeon, Missouri, correctly identified the oldest lifter to ever win the Goerner Deadlift Dozen as the late Rex Monahan of Sterling, Colorado. Rex won the Goerner Deadlift Dozen in 1996, 1997, and 1998. In his last victory he was 74 years old. Rex died January 19th, 2009 – 6 weeks after this past year’s Goerner Meet – and one in which he had hoped to compete in. He had made plans to ride with me to the meet, and even said it would probably be his last meet. I was disappointed when his declining health prevented this from happening. Rex was a Deadlifting specialist – having Deadlifted with heels together a best of 325#, a Hack Lift of 369#, and a Jefferson Lift of 375#. All these lifts were done over 70 years of age and under 200 pounds bodyweight. His best lift was the one handed Deadlift – where he pulled 353 pounds when he was over 75 years old!!!! That record may last as long as Hermann Goerner’s One Handed Deadlift record!!! Rex was also outstanding in the Finger Deadlifts. He has done 150 pounds on the Little Fingers Deadlift!! Rex was a great supporter of the USAWA, and went to every National and World event he could and won many championships. He has over 100 USAWA records. He was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame in 2002. As a special tribute to Rex, the Overall Best Lifter Award at this past year’s National Championships was named the Monahan Award.

Middle Fingers Deadlift Showdown

by Al Myers

Chuck Cookson pulling 340# in the Middle Fingers Deadlift.

More on the finger strength of Hermann Goerner…

Hermann Goerner trained the deadlift in many different ways. Pulling was always a part of his workouts – but he never really trained to have a maximum deadlift. He considered the variations of the deadlift to be more “showing” and useful in his strongman performances. He did one arm deadlifts in many different ways – thumbless grip, normal grip with no hook, grip with a hook, bent arm style, etc. He also did two hand deadlifts with different variations – such as an overhand grip with no hook, bent arm style, 2 bar deadlifts, finger deadlifts, etc.

This brings me to the topic of the day – The Middle Fingers Deadlift. Of all the Finger Deadlifts, the Middle Finger is the one where the most weight can be lifted. The rules of the Middle Fingers Deadlift are simple – you grip the bar with the middle fingers only (No other fingers may touch the middle finger when it is gripping the bar) and you do a deadlift. It is allowable to use an alternate grip on the bar.

Sam Cox topped Chuck's lift, with a lift of his own of 345 pounds.

Hermann Goerner claimed a best in the Middle Fingers Deadlift of 308 pounds set in the 1920’s. Compared with his other finger lifts, I don’t feel this “best” was anywhere near what he was capable of doing. The other day in the gym we had a Middle Fingers Deadlift impromptu competition – just to see what could be done. None of the guys participating in this are in training for finger lifting competition – and several of them had never even done a Finger Deadlift before. I was very surprised how well a couple of them did.

What is the best Middle Fingers Deadlift of All-Time???

I did some research of past USAWA record lists, and a brief internet search, and this is what I have found. I do not present this as an official list of the best Middle Fingers Deadlifts, as I am sure there are Middle Fingers Deadlift marks that I am not aware of. Also, some of these marks may have been judged by different standards. Some were in competitions and some just witnessed.

(Only lifts above Goerner’s Middle Fingers Deadlift of 308 pounds need apply)

Top List for the Middle Fingers Deadlift (that I am aware of)

1. 411 pounds by John McLoughlin.  Done at the German-American Athletic
Club in New York City in 1954.
2. 403 Pounds by David Horne.
3. 400 Pounds by Kevin Fulton.  Done at the 1994 Super Grip Challenge.
4. 345 Pounds by Sam Cox.  Done at the Dino Gym in Abilene, Kansas
in 2009.
5. 340 Pounds by Chuck Cookson.  Done at the Dino Gym in Abilene, Kansas
in 2009.
6. 330 Pounds by Steve Sherwood.  Done at the 1992 British Grip
330 Pounds by Steve Gardner.
330 Pounds by John Gardner.
9. 309 Pounds by Bill DiCioccio.  Done at the 1994 Gold Cup.

If anyone knows of other lifters who have exceeded Goerner’s Middle Fingers Deadlift of 308 pounds, please let me know and I will gladly give them credit and put them on the list. Or do it yourself – and beat a “Best” of Hermann Goerner.

Other Middle Fingers Deadlifts that should be mentioned:

230 Pounds by Mary McConnaughey. Done at the 2005 Goerner Deadlift Dozen. This is probably the top women’s mark of all time.

237 Pounds by Roy Mason. This is probably the best Middle Fingers Deadlift for a lifter over 75 years of age. Roy weighed only 150 pounds when he lifted this.

Top Ten Reasons you know you are getting old as an All-Round Weightlifter

by Al Myers

I’m a big fan of Dave Letterman’s TOP TEN – now lets apply it to all-round weightlifting!!!

10. You don’t take warm-ups anymore – they would just tire you out

9. “Enhanced” has a new meaning – you have at least one artificial joint

8. You really enjoy the lifts you get to lay down to do ….until you have

to get back up

7. You start thinking the loaders at the meet would make good pall bearers

6. Putting your lifting shoes on is all the stretching you need

5. You have to hand your cane to a spotter before lifting

4. You have become a Doctor’s “test subject” – and he

writes a paper about you

3. You have to explain to the judges that your press-out was really just

a very slow jerk

2. The drug testers laugh when you give your urine sample

And the #1 reason…

1. Instead of a post-workout protein shake and vitamins, you wash

down your heart pills with a beer!!!

Conner Wins Liberty Strongman Classic!!

by Al Myers

John Conner training for the Hummer Tire Deadlift - where he pulled 905 pounds.

John Conner, the Dino Gym Phenom, won the Liberty Strongman Classic this past weekend in Philadelphia. This professional strongman contest was directed by Al Thompson, and was attended by several of the top professional strongmen in the United States. I am very proud of John, as I have watched him train very hard these past few months with a new sense of determination. I don’t think John is anywhere near his potential yet.

At times, it was estimated that over 7000 people were watching the strongman show. Here is a YouTube Video of John being the first competitor to load all 5 stones at Frawly Stadium – just watch the fans go wild!!!

More on Jack Walsh……..

by Al Myers

Jack Walsh, the New Jersey Strongman, was a strongman showman more than a weightlifter. He loved the Heavy Lifts, such as the Back Lift and the Hand and Thigh Lift because they were crowd favorites with the large amount of weight lifted. He was not a big man, standing a little more than 5′6″ and weighing 180-200 pounds at his heaviest. Thus, his best claims in the Back Lift of 4700 pounds and 1900 pounds in the Hand and Thigh Lift seem even more spectacular. His best lifts were done in the early 1950’s. He was also good at the one arm Clean and Jerk, with a best of 210 pounds done with a barbell. He excelled at the finger lifts – doing a middle finger lift of 550 pounds (using a padded ring which is not used today).

But this lifting stunt of his caught my attention more than any others – he would hang from a chin-up bar with ONLY his chin supporting him, and while in this “hanging position” perform a crucifix with a pair of 50 pound dumbbells!!! Is this possible? I have some leftover USAWA Nationals T-shirts and will give one away to anyone who sends me a picture of themselves doing this!! I’ll make it easy – Just do it with a pair of 20 pound dumbbells!!

Powerlifting Saved This Man’s Life!

by John McKean

This is a reprint of an article by John McKean in the February 1979 issue of Muscular Development. It is a very well written story about Art Montini and how weightlifting helped him overcome severe burns and disability. Art was the oldest competitor at the 2009 USAWA National Championships, and after doing a Back Lift with 1000 pounds at 81 years of age is showing no signs of slowing down!! Read and enjoy.

Arthur Montini - his speedy recovery from a near fatality is an amazing testament to the benefits of powerlifting, and weight training exercises.

The 250 pound squat was a slow teeth-gnashing struggle toward completion even though the trembling lifter hadn’t quite hit the parallel mark. It was the most beautiful lift I can ever remember seeing!! Let me explain my excitement over such a mediocre performance. The lifter was 50-year old Arthur Montini, a very popular powerlifting competitor, official, and meet director in Western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountain Association. Certainly nowhere near his best, Art ground out the light squat in defiance of a severe accident three months earlier which threatened him with total physical debilitation.

A Steelworker from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Montini was caught in a disastrous furnace explosion at the mill, leaving him as little more than a burnt, barely alive, mass of human flesh. Doctors at the Western Pennsylvania Burn Unit confirmed that he received burns covering over 65% of his body. His chances of survival were practically nil. Although punished with pain almost beyond comprehension, Montini’s amazing body, toughened by over 30 years of heavy barbell training, proved to be the winning factor in the life or death struggle. Certain that this man’s age would be a negative factor, doctors were astonished when tests confirmed Art’s physical condition to be that of a very healthy 21 year old!! And, matching a fighting body, the old iron slinger had an unyielding desire and determination not only to live but to completely heal – and quickly!!! Showing unbelievably rapid progress from the start, Art was soon allowed visitors. The place looked like a major lifting meet after a while! Testament to the esteem held for this local iron game celebrity was the large influx of lifters and officials who kept pouring in. The nurses were most pleased to see so many good looking, muscular young men in the hospital corridors!

Although still bandaged from his recent, very serious accident, Art Montini performs a favorite strength building movement - incline sit-ups with a pair of York 110 pounders! Talk about abs -wow!

Art cheerfully greeted all his visitors, maintaining good spirits despite the pain and extreme discomfort he was constantly experiencing. Except for the “mummy” bandages which covered him head to toe, he remained the same old talkative, personable Art Montini. Naturally, conversation with his weightlifting buddies always revolved around training. Refusing to acknowledge his condition, Art claimed the worst part of his hospitalization was the inactivity – he desperately wanted to get back to his barbells!! All of us who visited, to the man, were left with absolutely no doubt that the old master would return to the lifting platform once more!!

Recovery from severe burns is a very slow and agonizing process. Daily removal of dead skin as well as constant medication and extensive bandaging are the necessary horrors burn patients must face. Body heat loss, due to the lack of outer skin, causes almost constant shivering, and chances of acquiring an infection are extremely high. But Art Montini is not the type of guy to lie around feeling sorry for himself, and he refused to merely endure a long, drawn out healing process. His three decades of training had convinced him that he could force cell growth if only he could exercise and acquire the necessary nutrients. He knew that his body would not let him down now, having been well versed in making speedy recuperation from constant heavy workouts over the years!

Shortly after his admission into the hospital, Art decided to make good use of a bar hanging across his bed, normally used to help patients pull themselves up to a sitting position. Not only did he sit up, but he proceeded to do set after set of chin-ups on the bar! Considering his blistered skin and total body bandaging, this movement was not exactly easy. But Art liked the feel of the exercise and welcomed the opportunity to get his blood circulating more rapidly and his muscles working again. Soon other improvisations, such as isometric contractions, were incorporated into his makeshift workout. The pain involved was inconsequential compared to this chance to make productive use of his excessive spare time. Now I’ve heard of training under adverse conditions, but this was almost incomprehensible – here was a man who was beginning his comeback while still on the critical list!!

Concentration with heavy attempts is the key to Montini's routine. Here he sinks his teeth into a heavy deadlift.

Supplements were next. Art had his friends sneak in boxes of his favorite Hoffman Hi-Protein Candy Bars, Massive doses of Vitamin C and E, and a few other vitamin and mineral aids. The hospital had already placed him on a high calorie, high protein, balanced diet in order to fulfill the massive needs of replacing dead and dying cells of the burnt skin. However, Montini knew that even huge quantities of today’s rather devitalized , processed foods would not do the job. Certainly the hospital food was not quite good enough for a weightlifter! The self-prescribed, highly supplemented diet quickly worked its magic. In light of Art’s ever accelerating recovery rate, even the skeptical doctors were forced to encourage him to continue his intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Fantastic physical condition and tremendous recuperative abilities are not normal characteristics of a 50-year old man. Of course, Art Montini has been very stubborn to acknowledge either physical or mental aging, having found his personal “fountain of youth” through powerlifting. By thinking and training like a young athlete, he has maintained the body of a young athlete – perhaps the saving grace from his terrible accident. Art has always ignored so-called “conditioning” programs – or “suggested” exercises for middle-aged men. In fact, I sincerely doubt that he has ever performed a truly light workout in his career. No calisthenics, 10-pound dumbbells, or high rep-low weight movements for this iron man!! Art goes to the gym to be challenged and loves to load those heavy plates on the Olympic bar! He is a competitor, always will be, and never plans to change the enjoyment he derives from powerlift training. Even after his relatively short hospital stay, though still healing and bandaged to some degree, Art was in the gym squatting, benching, and deadlifting!!

Montini has competed in area power meets since their inception in the 60’s, but has diligently performed the heavy movements since his earliest barbell training during the late 1940’s. Over the years he has acquired a vast knowledge of training methods and lifting techniques, determining those which work best for him. His body and mental attitude seem to prefer a very basic system of heavy weights and low reps. Depending on the nearness of a meet, he will perform maximum attempts for sets of five, three or single reps on the powerlifts. Also, with fondness for his Olympic lifting days, the “old man” likes to work up in singles to a heavy press, snatch, and clean and jerk as supplemental exercises.

Progress, not maintenance, is his constant goal. “When I can’t increase my poundages on the lifts, I’ll quit – and those days are a long way off!” claims the hardened veteran. Indeed, his best gains have been made in recent years as the iron “bug” has bitten harder than ever. Displaying the exuberance and energy of a teenager, Montini takes almost masochistic delight in forcing out reps with maximum or near-maximum weight. He loves to put himself to the test at a contest and is in his glory competing, officiating, coaching or just being with his fellow lifters.

When asked which bodybuilding exercises he performs to supplement his heavy lifting and for general physical fitness, Art just laughs. He very pointedly comments that max poundage powerlifting is bodybuilding! However, the old boy has often been observed doing sets of high incline sit-ups – while holding two 110-pound dumbells! Just can’t keep the guy away from those heavy weights! As far as a physique is concerned, that 50-year-old tank of a torso speaks for itself!

Montini is perhaps one of the premiere teachers of powerlifting in the country, based on his experience and the number of students he has reached. Over 20 years ago he and Harry McCoy founded the highly popular Ambridge V.F.W. Barbell Club. Devoting much of his spare time toward working for the betterment of this non-profit gym, Art has developed many fine Olympic and power lifters. He leads his teams into practically every area competition, and personally conducts several large meets at the V.F.W. each year. No matter how experienced or prestigious the trainee, this old wizard of weights is always sought for help and advice. Currently, the president of the club, Montini remains the head guru of power at the Ambridge V.F.W.

Presently Art chooses to ignore the wounds, scars, and bandaging remaining from his all too recent accident and has plunged knee deep into a competitive powerlifting routine. He is still upset that the untimely explosion ruined his plans to compete in the 1978 Masters’ Age National Championships, but vows to be ready for 1979! The body may still be a bit wracked up right now, but the competitive spirit has reached an all-time high!

Art has been grinding out heavy squats like this for over 30 years!

Art Montini has shown us all how our beloved sport can condition both body and mind to handle even the most severe stress. Some current fitness “experts” find it fashionable to dismiss heavy weight training as a viable source of exercise for health and longevity. However, Art’s punishing ordeal points out that in addition to providing stimulus for the muscles, powerlifting can create development of tremendous recuperative powers, strong resistance to physical damage, and a mental “toughness” not tolerant of defeat. And just ask Art about longevity. He’ll cheerfully tell you that not only has weightlifting given him so much health and happiness during his lifetime, its benefits have granted him life itself!!