Articles from September 2009



Techniques for Pressing a Barrel

by George Jowett

There are several interesting ways of raising a barrel from the ground to arm’s length overhead. One way is by what Swedish athletes term the “slow hang” position. That is, you lift the barrel off the ground slowly to the position as shown in Exercise 5. There you pause a moment and with a snap move to the position in Exercise 6 and from thence to the shoulder as in Exercise 7(a), and to arm’s length overhead as in Exercise 7(b).

Another method is to pause as in Exercise 5 position and then in one movement sweep to the shoulders. This can be changed to sweeping the barrel from the ground to arm’s length overhead or to the shoulders only. Another movement which will stimulate powerful forces is to pause at the point shown in Exercise 5 and then in one movement sweep the barrel to arm’s length overhead.

Apart from the manner in which other muscles in the body will respond, the grip and the arms will obtain tremendous development through these exercises. You will not have to do much of this training before you will feel the results on the grip and in the arms. Man for man the old-time strength athlete was miles ahead of the present day athlete for grip. Rarely did one see a strength athlete of those days without a powerful and splendidly shaped pair of arms. The reason why we do not see so much grip and arm stunts today is because most of the crop of modern strength athletes are incapable. If they were equal to the tests they would perform them. A strong man is only bounded by the limitations of his own strength.

You should study carefully the illustrations accompanying these barrel exercises. I took great care when posing for them so that every detail would be caught by the artist. The finger grips and the hand positions are the most important, but overlook nothing. The stance of the legs, the position of the back and the distance when leaning back. The positions of the elbows are very important. Study them and you will find that progress will come faster to you in every way.

Credit: Molding a Mighty Grip by George Jowett, published in 1930

Bed of Nails

by Al Myers

Thom first got "comfortable" on the bed of nails, and then I asked him, "Do you really want to go through with this?"

This past weekend at the McPherson Scottish Highland Games in McPherson, Kansas my friend Thom Van Vleck and I did a noontime performance that was reminiscent of a classic old-time strongman show act – laying on a Bed of Nails!! Thom laid on the bed of nails while I broke a block of cement with a sledgehammer that was placed on his body! Thom is blessed with a thick hide, which is the only explanation how someone could actually endure something like this. When he approached me with this idea – I quickly volunteered to be the hammer man. I know now that Thom must really trust me as a friend – after all he didn’t even know if I could swing the 8# sledgehammer straight!! We warmed up “for the big event” with me striking the sledgehammer on an anvil, which was on his chest, a few times just to make sure I wouldn’t miss! (Truth be known – we didn’t even practice this beforehand which further questions our sanity). I knew I would have to make a pretty hard swing if the block was going to break – and I sure didn’t want it not to break and then having to make more than one swing!

The show turned out to be a big success! Afterwards, several spectators came up to “check out” the bed of nails to see if it was real. It was – Thom didn’t even take the points of the nails!!

I took a steady aim, brought the sledgehammer up, and then WAM!! - the block busted into many pieces!!!

Barrel Pressing

by George Jowett

Matt Tyler, of the Dino Gym, pressing a 205 pound keg (the modern version of a barrel) overhead for reps in a recent workout.

As I have remarked in this book, barrel lifting was very popular with the old-time strength athletes. For developing the fingers, hands, wrists and arms, there is nothing any better. Apart from this, barrel lifting is great for general body building. Of course, a barrel is not the handiest thing in the world to have around the house, but if a person is sincere in his search for great strength and muscular development he will always find a way to practice .

The difficulty lies in getting the barrel to the shoulder, therefore it is very necessary that the exercise be first practiced with a small nail keg or an empty regular-sized barrel. If you employ a regular-sized barrel you will find it easier to manipulate it if you will pull the barrel in close to the body, then back, and thus aid in the upward movement by allowing the barrel to roll up the body to the shoulders. From this point push the barrel to arm’s length overhead. This, in addition to developing great strength, will teach you equilibrium in lifting objects overhead as nothing else will.

Credit: Molding a Mighty Grip by George Jowett

History of the USAWA – What happened 5 years ago?

by Al Myers

(It is amazing how fast time goes sometimes – and 5 years does not seem like a long time.  The following is a summary of the USAWA September news that happened in 2004, as taken from the Strength Journal published by  Bill Clark. )

USAWA News from September, 2004

Joe Garcia, representing Clark's Gym, pulls a fire truck at the Mid-Mo Strongman Competition.

Ciavattone Best at Heavy Lift Meet


Frank Ciavattone was the best lifter at the USAWA Heavy Lift Championships, which was held in Lebanon, PA and directed  by Denny and Judy Habecker. This was a big event for Frank, as it marked his 25th anniversary of beating colon cancer. This meet was attended by 13 lifters!!  Frank finished the meet with a 1902# Hip Lift. John Vernacchio was on hand to officiate.

Mid- Mo Strongman Competition


Clark’s gym hosted their first-ever strongman competition. Helping Bill Clark in the promotion was Demetrius Davis, Sam Huff and Joe Garcia.  These events were selected – clean and push press,  burlap bag hold,  medley consisting of carrying an anvil,  a farmer’s walk, and a tire flip, bus/fire truck pull, and a stone load.

Steve Schmidt at the Knox Fair


Steve Schmidt made his second appearance at the Knox Fair in Knox, Indiana  to put on a teeth pulling performance. Steve pulled a Mack truck, weighing 18,700 pounds, with his teeth down a 50 foot course on the main street of Knox.  He also put on a bending performance – bending bars over his head and nose.  Steve even bent a half-inch bar, 4 feet long, over his lower teeth!!

Is The IAWA Age Adjustment Fair??

by Al Myers

A topic that will be discussed at this year’s World Meeting at the World Championship will be the age adjustment. This was brought up last year and an IAWA committee was formed to investigate it and present a recommendation to the meeting this year.  The membership will be called on to vote on this, whether to make a change or keep things as they are.

This subject is very interesting to me as I hear arguments from both sides. Young lifters think the older lifters get too much adjustment, while the older lifters don’t feel like they get enough.  Formulas are always hard to develop and make completely fair as there are so many variables to consider.

I did a study of my own on three lifts.  I want to emphasize THIS IS NOT THE IAWA STUDY. It is merely a study which I did to satisfy my own curiosity on this subject. I think it is important that I have this information in hand in order to make an informative vote. I just collected some numbers and did a few calculations.  I am not doing this to try to “sway votes” one way or the other.  I just wanted to see what “the numbers” really show in regard to decreased lifting performance with age.

Study of the Age Adjustment


Objective:  To collect information from age group USAWA records, make USAWA and IAWA(UK) age corrections for comparison, and determine what correction for age group records are needed in order for the age group records to be the same as the overall records.

Design: I collected information from age group USAWA records in three lifts – Bench Press Feet in Air, Hack Lift, and the Zercher Lift. I picked these three lifts for these reasons: they  evaluate all areas of overall strength -pressing, pulling and squatting, and the data base for these records was full in regard to records in all weight classes and age divisions. I calculated an average of all weight class records within an age group so bodyweight adjustments would not be a factor in this study.  I utilized this formula to determine what correction is needed in order to adjust to the average of the Overall Record.

Correction Needed = (Overall Record – Age group Record) / Age Group Record


Assumptions: I used the USAWA and IAWA(UK) age correction for the top age of each division despite the record may have been set a younger age within the division. The record list does not provide that data.

Results:
All Records listed in pounds.

Bench Press Feet in Air


Age Group
Overall Record
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Correction Needed
Overall 353 353 353 0%
40-44 280 294 305 26.1%
45-49 268 295 306 31.7%
50-54 246 283 293 43.5%
55-59 228 274 274 54.8%
60-64 209 261 270 68.9%
65-69 194 252 268 82.0%
70-74 167 225 247 111.4%
75-79 141 197 223 150.4%
80-84 116 168 195 204.3%

Hack Lift


Age Group
Overall Record
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Correction Needed
Overall 538 538 538 0%
40-44 465 488 507 15.7%
45-49 401 441 457 34.2%
50-54 382 439 455 40.8%
55-59 330 396 409 63.0%
60-64 320 400 413 68.1%
65-69 321 417 443 67.6%
70-74 304 410 450 77.0%
75-79 242 339 382 122.3%
80-84 168 244 282 220.2%

Zercher Lift


Age Group
Overall Record
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Correction Needed
Overall 452 452 452 0%
40-44 372 391 405 21.5%
45-49 352 387 401 28.4%
50-54 339 390 403 33.3%
55-59 331 397 410 36.6%
60-64 296 370 382 52.7%
65-69 280 364 386 61.4%
70-74 246 332 364 83.7%
75-79 204 286 322 121.6%
80-84 180 261 302 151.1%



Summary:

Age Group
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Data Range
Data Average
Overall 0% 0% 0% 0%
40-44 5% 9% 15.7% – 26.1% 21.1%
45-49 10% 14% 28.4% – 34.2%
31.4%
50-54 15% 19% 33.3% – 43.5%
39.2%
55-59 20% 24% 36.6% – 63.0%
51.5%
60-64 25% 29% 52.7% – 68.9%
63.2%
65-69 30% 38% 61.4% – 82.0%
70.3%
70-74
35% 48% 77.0% – 111.4%
90.7%
75-79 40% 58% 121.6% – 150.4%
131.4%
80-84 45% 68% 151.1% – 220.2%
191.8%

As you can clearly see, the USAWA and the IAWA(UK) age corrections do not keep up with the performance decrease with increased age for these three lifts that where selected from the USAWA Record List.  No calculations were done to determine the statistical significance of this study.

What’s the most painful lift in the USAWA?

by Al Myers

I have done most of the lifts in the USAWA by now (out of a list of close to 200) and after a tough workout last night doing the Zercher Lift and waking up today with several new bruises – I was thinking – What lift is more painful than Zerchers?? Well, I have got to put my vote in for a lift that seems innocent enough but will leave you shaking your hand in pain – the Little Fingers Deadlift!!! I think my problem with this lift is that all the pain is focused on one little body part and not spread out over a larger area!! The Little Fingers Deadlift is always the last event in the Goerner Deadlift – but I always wish it was the first event so I could get it over with! It doesn’t matter what weight is on the bar – it always HURTS!!

I even think Bill Clark might agree with me on this -especially when the bar "pops out" and immediately you feel the burning sensation of your little finger's flexor tendons snapping back into place!!

So – email me your vote and I’ll keep a tally.

By the way, I don’t think Ben Edwards will be voting for the Little Fingers Deadlift. Watch him in this YouTube Video doing a Little Fingers Deadlift of 160 pounds with ease. I can’t believe anyone actually trains this lift! But that is the beauty of all-round weightlifting – there’s a lift for everyone.

The JWC Perspective on Team Nationals

by Thom Van Vleck

John O'Brien (of the JWC) loading the last stone at the NAHA Nationals to secure his first place finish!!

John O’Brien and I have trained together for about 6 years now. John is one of my partners on our Strongman Evangelism team and since we are similar height and strength, we figured this would be a good event for us.

Believe it or not, I last competed in an “odd lift” meet nearly 30 years ago. I have helped with USAWA meets and even helped coach John in his USAWA efforts over the years, but I was so focused on my Highland Games career I just hadn’t had the right time to do a meet. Well, having just finished the NAHA Highlander meet the previous day, I had no excuses so John and I joined in. I soon realized what I was missing out on!

Team lifting puts a premium on team work. You have to match your partner’s efforts while applying your own maximum effort into the lift. Timing is everything. A lesson learned on the first lift of the day, the Two man one arm Snatch. John and I can both power snatch around 225lbs…..but it ’s a whole new ball game when you have to do it together. We managed 215lbs. On the other lifts, the Straddle or Jefferson Lift, the thick bar Ciavattone grip deadlift, and the Bench Press Feet in Air did not require split second timing, but still you had to lock out together.

I don’t think at any point John and I felt we were a threat to Chad and Al…..they had been training for this event while John and I had not. We just might have to put some more effort into it for next year and see if we can catch Al and Chad napping. We did manage to beat them on one lift, the BP with Feet in Air with our age handicap, but to be honest, their last attempt looked easier than ours.

It is a lot of fun to walk up to a bar loaded to 850lbs and think that you are going to lift it. Even if it’s a two man lift, seeing all those plates rise up is a real adrenaline rush. I know we were too tentative on this lift and next year I see 1000lb as a real possibility.

I think the best part of All around lifting is the fun of trying new things and having so many ways you can set a record. You get sore in ways that regular training will never make you sore. You also learn how to “lift on the fly”. What I mean by that is that many guys train a limited number of lifts and their strength gets very specific. In other words, a powerlifter will get very strong on the Bench, Dead, and Squat, but they ever find themselves in need of tapping into that strength outside their usual training range of motion, they’ll find themselves coming up short. All around does just that, it trains you to be all around strong.

At any rate, it was a blast. I look forward to the Dino Gym/JWC rematch next year. I plan on bringing more than one team of lifters to take out the Dino Gym crew once and for all! Anybody going to stop us! It was great fun, how lifting should be.

Blowing Up a Hot Water Bottle

by Al Myers

Thom getting ready to blow up water bottle.

I got to see firsthand someone blowing up a hot water bottle this past weekend. At the conclusion of the Team Nationals, Thom Van Vleck (President of the JWC) amazed us by blowing up a hot water bottle in 31.62 seconds!! This takes tremendous abdominal strength and chest/lung capacity to accomplish this feat. This was the first time I had ever seen this performed – although I have heard about others having done it for quite some time.

What does this have to do with All-Round Weightlifting?

Well, for one thing all-round strength comes in many forms and sometimes not always involves lifting some sort of implement, like a barbell or dumbbell. Second, the Old Time Strongmen often performed similar feats to this (that required some sort of “special” strength) that were done purely for show performances to impress the crowds. And there is nothing as showy as watching a water bottle constantly expanding with each breath to the point that it explodes!!! Bob Hoffman, of York Barbell, wrote many articles about doing exercises that developed lung capacity and chest expansion. He would even do deep breathing exercises in between his workout sets to help in developing a larger chest.

The water bottle is about ready to BURST!

Take this as a challenge – all you need to do is buy a hot water bottle and start blowing!! A few cautions though – don’t inhale on the bottle when it is expanded or the water bottle pressure may damage your lungs and be sure to wear eye protection!!

More Coverage of the Dino Days

by Al Myers

GROUP PICTURE

NAHA Nationals – Class Winners

Lightweight    Justin Cantwell, Kansas City
Middleweight – Mark Wechter, Oregon
Heavyweight – Matt Vincent, Louisiana
Masters – John O’Brien, Missouri

Part of this past weekend Dino Days activities involved hosting the 2009 NAHA Nationals. NAHA stands for North American Highlander Association. This organization offers competitions that are a cross between Highland Games and Strongman Competitions, in which events are selected from both.   It was well attended with 22 athletes competing.  We had great weather and I think everyone had a great time!!  The Dino Gym had several gym members competing – Chad Ullom, Ryan Batchman, Matt Tyler, Jesse Landes,  and Darren Barnhart.

NAHA is possible because of the efforts of D.J. Satterfield and Richard “Vince” Vincent. These two guys are “for the athletes” and do everything possible to make sure that their competitions are fun and well ran.  Elite Nutrition was the official sponsor of this event, and among many things, provided $1000 in CASH as prize money!!!   I also need to thank fellow gym member, training partner, and Kansas NAHA State Chairman Scott Tully – he was the “man behind the scenes” that made this whole event happen!!!

For full event coverage – Check out the NAHA Website

Team Nationals

Team Nationals – The Dino Gym versus The JWC

by Al Myers

Front row (left to right) - Al Myers and Chad Ullom Back row (left to right) - John O'Brien and Thom Van Vleck

The Dino Gym and the JWC squared off against each other as the only two entries in this year’s USAWA Team Nationals. The Dino Gym Team consisted on Chad Ullom and myself,  while the JWC Team consisted of Thom Van Vleck and John O’Brien.  Team Dino Gym took the early lead and held on for the Overall Win – but there were no losers in this event as both teams were in different weight classes and divisions.  Several difficult lifts were contested this year that required the teams to work well in unison. The meet started out with the Team One Arm Snatch.  Performing an One Arm Snatch by yourself is difficult enough – but it is twice as hard when doing it as a Team.  Both lifter’s lockouts have to be in perfect synch with one another – or the weight will shift to the lifter with the slower lockout and make it impossible for that lifter to finish the lift. The next lift was the Team Deadlift with the Fulton Bar, done with a Ciavattone Grip.  Again, both lifters need to pull with the same speed and style because if the bar doesn’t come up even, the weight shifts to the lifter on the low side and you will lose your grip. The Team Bench Press – Feet in Air had to be the most difficult (and unnerving) lift in the entire competition.  Balance was a big factor in this lift, and not only did it require total confidence in your team partner but the other team as well. After all, we had to spot each other!!!  Both Teams could have done more in this lift.  The meet ended with the Team Jefferson Lift.  The Team Jefferson Lift is much easier together than you would originally think. By positioning your feet “opposite of each other”, the bar comes straight up and doesn’t want to twist.  Several new USAWA Team Records were set today and much fun was had by all in this “friendly” competition.  In fact, Thom and John wanted a rematch – and Chad and I accepted. So there will be more to come involving the Dino Gym versus the JWC.

FULL MEET RESULTS:

Team Nationals
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
September 20th, 2009

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Lifts:  Team Snatch – One Arm
Team Bench Press – Feet in Air
Team Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip
Team Jefferson Lift

Officials (3 official system used):  Scott Tully, Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Thom Van Vleck, John O’Brien

Scorekeeper:  Scott Tully

Dino Gym Team:
Al Myers -  43 years old, 255 pounds BWT
Chad Ullom – 37 years old, 232 pounds BWT
OPEN DIVISION & 120 KG WEIGHT CLASS

JWC Team:
Thom Van Vleck – 45 years old, 293 pounds BWT
John O’Brien – 40 years old, 280.5 pounds BWT
MASTERS 40-44 AGE GROUP DIVISION  & 125 KG PLUS WEIGHT CLASS

Results:

Team Snatch Deadlift Bench Press
Jefferson Total
Points
Dino Gym
235 606 575 1000 2416 1897.8
JWC
215 518 575 850 2158 1600.0


All lifts recorded in pounds.  Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.


Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

I did not receive a correct answer for this week’s Quiz of the Week.  The USAWA lifter who currently has the most USAWA records is our one and only USAWA President Denny Habecker. Denny has been setting records since the USAWA Record List started and is still going strong!!! Denny currently has 341 records, but is followed very closely by Art Montini who has 337 records. They both lead the rest of the pack by over 100 records!!!

Denny Habecker added more records to the Record List at this year's National Championships

Top Ten ALL-TIME USAWA Record Holders

(number of current records listed first)


1.    341   Denny Habecker
2.    337   Art Montini
3.    221   John McKean
4.    217   Bill Clark
5.    214   Noi Phumchona
6.    208   Joe Garcia
7.    204   Dennis Mitchell
8.    201   Bob Hirsch
9.    199   Frank Ciavattone
10.   171   Howard Prechtel

The Entry Deadline has PASSED for this year’s IAWA World Championships hosted by Denny Habecker in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  Any entries at this point require special permission from the Meet Director – so contact Denny and hope that space still exists!!

USAWA Records in the Gardner Lifts

by Al Myers

These are the current overall weight class USAWA records for the Half Gardner and the Full Gardner. John Monk is the only USAWA lifter to have lifted his bodyweight in the Half Gardner – which he did at the 2001 Gold Cup. John has a best Half Gardner of 165 pounds and a best Full Gardner of 111 pounds. These are the top marks ever done in the USAWA.

Half Gardner


Weight Class
Lifter Pounds Lifted
60kg Mike O’Brien
71
65kg Izzy Mabrey
88
70kg John Monk
154
75kg John Monk
70
80kg John Monk
165
85kg John Monk
143
90kg Denny Habecker
99
95kg Ed Schock
110
100kg Chad Ullom
121
105kg Bill Spayd
126
110kg Jason Weigle
143
115kg Ralph Cirafes
99
120kg Kevin Fulton
122
125kg Frank Ciavattone
132
125+kg
Frank Ciavattone
96


Full Gardner


Weight Class
Lifter Pounds Lifted
60kg Mike O’Brien
45
65kg Barry Pensyl
65
70kg John Monk
111
75kg John Monk
110
80kg Abe Smith
95
85kg John Monk
110
90kg Tim Piper
68
95kg James Foster
65
100kg Bill Spayd
100
105kg Ed Schock
110
110kg Mike McBride
95
115kg None
None
120kg None None
125kg Demetrius Davis
70
125+kg
Bill Rogers
70

Rules for the Gardner Lifts

by Al Myers

(The following are the USAWA Rules for the Full and Half Gardner Lifts, taken from the USAWA Rulebook)

D11. Gardner – Full

The first part of this lift is to perform a Half Gardner according to the rules of the Gardner – Half. Once in the finished position on the platform of the Half Gardner, an official will give the command to rise. The lifter must not rise before the command or it will be a disqualification. The rules of the Gardner –Half apply to the rise as well. Once the lifter is standing upright, with the bar motionless at arm’s length overhead, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The bar may be in any degree of rotation when overhead. The bar must be returned to the platform under control by the lifter to complete the lift. It is acceptable to use both hands to lower the bar.

D12. Gardner – Half

The lifter may put the bar overhead into the starting position by any method, except upending the bar. This may be done using a One-Arm Clean and Jerk, One-Arm Snatch, pushing the bar overhead in one hand using both hands, putting the bar overhead with two hands and then moving it to one hand, etc. The bar is gripped in the center. The start position is when the bar is held motionless overhead with a straight arm, the lifter’s body upright with legs straight, and the feet parallel and in line with the torso. The non-lifting hand must be free from the body. Once in this position, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter will then lower the body to a lying position on the lifters back on the platform by any method, ending with the bar held at arm’s length overhead. The lifting arm must remain straight throughout the entire lift. When the lifter is in the lying position on the platform, the shoulders, legs, hips, head and non-lifting arm must all be in contact with the platform. The bar or plates must not make contact with the platform during the lift. The bar must be under control at all times. The non-lifting hand may be placed on the platform for support during the lift. The bar is allowed to have a slight tilt to it during the lift, as long as the lifter has the bar under control. The bar is allowed to rotate during the lift and may be in any degree of rotation when the lift is complete. Once the lifter is in the proper position lying on the platform, with the lifting arm straight and the bar motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. The lifter may use both hands to lower the bar or spotters may assist in removing the bar.

The GARDNER LIFTS

by Al Myers

James Gardner doing a Half Gardner at the 2008 IAWA World Championships. James is the master of this lift which carries his name - and successfully lifted 176 pounds at a bodyweight of only 87.5 kilograms in front of IAWA Officials.

After the article regarding the Turkish Get Up (TGU) last month, I received a couple of emails from All-Round lifters reminding me of the similarities between the the Turkish Get Up and the Official IAWA and USAWA All-Round Lifts – the Gardner Lifts. Steve Gardner presented this lift to the IAWA World Council Meeting in Cleveland in 1995 for new lift approval, and the council not only approved the lift but named it after him!!!! In fact, there are two Gardner lifts – the Half Gardner and the Full Gardner.

However, there are some differences between the Turkish Get Up and the Gardner Lifts. In the Gardner Lifts, the lift starts at the top, while the TGU starts lying on the floor. The Gardner lifts allow only the use of a barbell, while the TGU allows the use of any implement – bar, dumbbell, or kettlebell. The Half Gardner Lift ends when the lifter is lying on the platform on his/her back, with the bar held in a single, straight arm overhead under control. In a sense – the starting position for the Turkish Get Up. In the Full Gardner Lift, once a Half Gardner is completed, the lifter receives a command to “Get Up” and return to the standing position with the bar overhead. So – part of the Full Gardner involves doing a Turkish Get Up. This sequence of lifts is easily summed up with this formula:

Full Gardner = Half Gardner + Turkish Get Up

These lifts are more difficult than just standing and lying down with weights. There is technique involved with steps taken in lying down and standing that helps in making these lifts easier to perform. It is important to first learn the “steps” and then follow the same step pattern each time. These lifts also involve flexibility – especially with the shoulder. It is a good lift for any age. I was amazed by Art Montini at last year’s World Championship when he did a Half Gardner of 39 pounds – and Art is over 80 years of age!! Most guys his age have difficulty getting out of bed and tying their own shoes. Art is living proof that weight training is indeed the “fountain of youth”!!!

Sad News from the Strength Journal

(I just received the Strength Journal, published by Bill Clark, and learned of the death of two all-round weightlifters. The following is from the Strength Journal).

by Bill Clark

Word comes to us well after the fact that Cleveland’s Bob Cox has died. I have no obituary to pass along to the membership. If anyone has such, please get it to me. Bob was an active lifter until knee replacement put him on the sidelines. He was 84 years old and a major contributor to the Journal. He was a training partner with Fred Kwast, Howard Prechtel, and many other Cleveland lifters dating back to World War II.

Kevin Heavner, who still holds the Mansfield Lift record, died recently at age 52. He lived in Columbia, trained in his garage, and dropped out of Olympic competition years ago. He was an excellent Olympic lifter with a chance to be a national class competitor, but chose to lift for fun. He lived no more than five minutes from Clark’s Gym and occasionally dropped by to check if anyone had broken his Mansfield record, but chose to train at home. Death was sudden. He seemed to be in excellent health. Some of his weights have been donated to our gym. Kevin was one of those folks about whom Ring Lardner once wrote – “The World of Men Who Might Have Been” – but he was happy with his place in life and in lifting.

TEAM LIFTING

by Al Myers

The date for the USAWA Team Nationals is approaching fast (Next Weekend -Sunday, September 20th, 2009). Team lifting is when two individuals (the Team) perform a lift together. The USAWA provides divisions for 2-Man, 2-Person, and 2-Woman Teams. A 2-person team is a team made up of a male and a female. All of these divisions are contested at the National Team Championships.

My training partner Chad Ullom (to left) and myself training the 2-Man Zercher Lift in preparation for the 2007 Team Nationals. We ended up lifting 705 pounds at Nationals.

Rules for Team Lifts (taken from the USAWA Rulebook)

“Any approved lift may be done as a Team Lift, provided it is done according to the rules of the individual lift. Team Lifts consist of two lifters performing a lift together. This may consist of male-male, female-female, or female-male teams. The combination of lifters may be of any age or weight. The weight class the Team will be in will be that of the heaviest lifter and the age class that of the youngest lifter. An exception is if a Junior lifter is teamed with an Open or Master lifter, in which the age class will be the class of the older lifter. “

Team lifting is very challenging because factors come into play that when lifting on a bar by yourself you don’t experience. The timing of the lift with your partner has to be the same or imbalances occur. It helps if both lifters are of the same height and body type so the bar is at the same height during and at the finish of the lift. Flexibility becomes more of a factor because of the limited space a bar provides when two lifters have a hold of it!! Lifting styles also come into play. For example – when doing a clean, one lifter can’t squat clean the bar while the other power cleans it!! Another factor you don’t think of until you actually do Team Lifting is trust. A missed lift can be catastrophic in team lifting because one person may be successfully completing the lift when this happens and unaware that one side of the bar is dropping fast!!! You have to know each others capabilities and be able to TRUST that your lifting partner won’t let you down.

But at the same time, Team Lifting provides a great challenge. In some lifts you can actually lift more together than the sum of each of your individual lifts. Chad and I found this out a couple of years ago when the Team One Arm Deadlift was contested at Team Nationals. We had an idea of what we thought we could do together based on each of our individual One Arm Deadlifts – but forgot a big difference that was going to occur when we were both gripping the bar. That difference was we were able to create an “alternate grip” on the bar by facing away from each other, thus helping in blocking the “bar roll” that occurs in any one arm deadlift. We ended up lifting more together than the sum of our “Bests” at the time.

There is still time to enter the USAWA Team Nationals.

John Grimek and the One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

John Grimek performing an One Arm Dumbbell Swing.

I can’t finish the story on the One Arm Dumbbell Swing without mentioning John Grimek.  As most All-Rounders know, John Grimek has had a tremendous influence on the USAWA.  He is one of the very few USAWA Hall of Fame members who didn’t earn his way into the USAWA Hall of Fame by competing in USAWA competitions.  He got nominated and inducted with the first USAWA Hall of Fame Class in 1993 because of the way he trained, how he promoted odd lifting (or all-round lifting as it is known today), and the great respect all-round lifters have for him.

Most lifters know John Grimek the bodybuilder.  After all, he is the only man to ever win two AAU Mr. America titles (1940 and 1941).  He had the “perfect physique” and was way ahead of his time in bodybuilding. He also won the Mr. Universe title in 1948 and the Mr. USA title in 1949.

Most lifters know John Grimek the weightlifter. After all, he was a National Weightlifting Champion and member of the famous Olympic Weightlifting Team that competed in Berlin in 1936.

But I argue he was foremost an All-Round Weightlifter!!!  His training program consisted, as he put it, of using “1001 exercises” to not only increase muscle size and strength, but flexibility and athleticism as well. He excelled at one arm lifts like the bent press, one arm snatch, side press, and the one arm dumbbell swing.  He even did support lifts like the Harness Lift and Hip Lift. He was also a great gymnast – and often did handstand pushups with ease.  But this is not intended to be an autobiography of John Grimek – I don’t have enough space for that -  instead just an article showing his great ability in the One Arm Dumbbell Swing. I was hoping that I could find proof that John Grimek had done a Swing that would have put him into the Top Ten of All-Time.  I have read that he did swings with over 200 pounds in training – but I couldn’t substantiate them.   An article by one of his training partners, Gord Venables in 1943,  stated that he and Grimek had both done 175 pounds in the One Arm Dumbbell Swing in training.

I ran across this old YouTube Video showing John Grimek doing some lifting and posing at a weightlifting picnic at York around the year 1940.  The quality of the video is not the best – but it clearly shows what a great lifter and performer John Grimek was!!

John Grimek died on November 20th, 1998.

Top Ten ALL-TIME One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

It is a difficult task to try to come up with an All-Time Top Ten list for any lift, and the One Arm Dumbbell Swing is even more difficult than others. I used many resources in formulating this list and want to state that I have tried my best to make this list as accurate as possible but I know that the list is not perfect.  Several factors made this research difficult.  Were the lifts official or unofficial?  Was a dumbbell used or a Kettlebell used?  Was the lift actually an One Arm Swing or was it an One Arm Dumbbell Snatch?  I want to thank everyone on the Iron History Forum for helping me with this project -  their knowledge on lifting history far exceeds mine!!!

TOP TEN PERFORMANCES ALL-TIME
THE ONE ARM DUMBBELL SWING

Rank Pounds         Lifter                                                           Date
1. 220
Hermann Goerner  (Germany)
1920
2. 219
Charles Rigoulot  (France)
1932
3. 202
Maurice Deriaz  (Switzerland)
1912
4. 199
Jean Francois LeBreton  (France)
1907
5. 198
Ernest Cadine  (France)
1925
6. 194
Emile Deriaz  (Switzerland)
1904
7. 190
Ron Walker  (England)
1937
8. 187
Arthur Saxon (Germany)
1905
9. 178
Stan Kratkowski  (United States)
1934
10. 176
Gabriel Lassortesse (France)
1907

As you can see from this list – all the top ten lifts of ALL-TIME in the One Arm Dumbbell Swing happened before the year 1937.  The swing is definitely a “forgotten lift”.  As I said the other day, one arm lifts were often contested in lifting competitions in the early 1900’s.  Today, the only opportunity to do an One Arm lift is in an All-Round weightlifting competition.  And given the large number of All-Round lifts – the chance to do an One Arm Swing in competition does not come around that often.  It takes extra time to load a swing dumbbell during competition which leads Meet Directors in not selecting the One Arm Dumbbell swing for a competition lift.

Steve Angell, in an IAWA competition, did an One Arm Swing with 165 pounds.  Rick Meldon, weighing only 160 pounds, did an One Arm Swing with 172 pounds in an IAWA event – the highest over bodyweight One Arm Swing ever in competition!!!

History of the One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom has the Top One Arm Dumbbell Swing ever done in the USAWA with a lift of 143 pounds. This was accomplished at the 2007 IAWA World Championships in New Zealand.

The One Arm (or one-hand as it was originally known as) Dumbbell Swing has been contested in weightlifting competitions as far back as the late 1800’s.  In the early days, One Arm Swings were often done with Kettlebells. The USAWA rules only allow the use of dumbbells today.

There were originally two basic styles of One Arm Swings – the Classic French Style and the British Style.  The French Style was the technique used first in the late 1800’s to early 1930’s, whereas the British Style became more popular after 1920.  The differences between the two styles are significant. The French Style used equally loaded, balanced dumbbells and when swung overhead used a straight arm throughout. The British Style allowed the use of “Backhang” and the bending of the lifting arm.

Backhang is allowed by the USAWA Rules when doing Swings. What is Backhang? Backhang is the unequal loading of a dumbbell where more weight is put on the back end of the dumbbell prior to the lift. The USAWA rules allow backhang up to 10 kilograms or 22 pounds.  Several of the old time strongmen would use backhang up to 40 pounds!! Once you master the technique using  Backhang, it is possible to lift more in the One Arm Swing than with an equally loaded dumbbell.


Single-handed Dumbbell Swing

by Arthur Saxon

Arthur Saxon perfoming a One Arm Dumbbell Swing

The muscles called into play are practically the same here as in the one-handed snatch , but the bell must be placed on end between the feet as shown in illustration. Keep the head down, then, with a perfectly straight arm, pull up, using a combination of muscular efforts and concentration as described in the snatch lift. Lean back and watch the dumbbell with your eyes, and when it is at a suitable height suddenly dip beneath same and twist your wrist violently, so that you may place a straight arm beneath the bell.

Credit: The Development of Physical Power by Arthur Saxon

The One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

My training partner Chad Ullom and I just spent a training session training the One Arm Dumbbell Swing. This is a lift not well understood today, but at one time was a very popular lift among old time strongmen. One arm lifts were once trained as much as two arm lifts – but not anymore. The USAWA rules for the One Arm Dumbell Swing are quite simple – but certain things must be done for a Dumbbell Swing to be “legal”. These include:

- once the dumbbell leaves the platform it must be in continual motion until lockout

- the rod of the dumbbell must maintain a 90 degree angle to the body

- the non-lifting hand must not touch the lifting arm or dumbbell

- the arm must be straight in receiving the dumbbell overhead – in other words – NO PRESS OUT

- the lift ends on command once the feet are in line and the dumbbell is in control overhead

Al Myers with a 145 pound Dumbbell Swing.

There are two styles that are used the most when doing an One Arm Dumbbell Swing. I use the more traditional style of “swinging” the dumbbell between my legs once to gain momentum to propel it overhead. Chad uses a “snatch style” where he takes it from the floor overhead in one motion and drops under the dumbbell when he catches it overhead. This is difficult in the sense that the hand is turned different than a Dumbbell Snatch. The USAWA Rules allow the lifting arm to bend during the lift and the feet to move.

Top Ten All-Time USAWA One Arm Dumbbell Swings


1. 143 Pounds Chad Ullom
2.
140 Pounds Mike McBride
140 Pounds Frank Ciavattone
4. 121 Pounds Al Myers
5. 120 Pounds Ed Schock
120 Pounds Jim Goviannini
120 Pounds Abe Smith
120 Pounds Robert English
9. 115 Pounds Scott Schmidt
115 Pounds Jason Weigle

Coming SoonThe Top Ten One Arm Dumbbell Swings of All-Time.

Will any of these USAWA lifters make the list?