Articles from March 2010

Deanna Springs Meet

Garcia Wins Deanna Springs Memorial  Meet

by Al Myers

Deanna Meet Participants (left to right) in front of the Heavy Bar Al Myers, Joe Garcia and Thom Van Vleck

A slimmed down Joe Garcia still shows he has the mastery of the Heavy Lifts, and won this year’s Deanna Springs Memorial Meet. Joe has won this meet hosted annually by Bill Clark numerous times in the past. He had two challengers – Thom Van Vleck of the JWC and myself of the Dino Gym. The meet was about canceled this year due to lack of entries, but when Bill found out there were interested participants he graciously opened his gym up to another year of the challenging lifts contested in the “Deanna Meet”. Missing this year was Al Springs, who often attends in memory of Deanna.

Joe has been busy with starting his new business, but it was obvious he hasn’t let his training slack and looked in great shape. This was Thom’s first exposure to the Chain Lifts and did quite well his first time out – and with time no doubt will become very proficient in them. The meet started out with the Crucifix and I had the top lift, matching my personal best of 90 pounds. The next event was the Cheat Curl and Thom ended up with the top Cheat Curl at 195 pounds. I usually consider these first two events as warmups because at this point the Heavy Lifts start – and it’s time to get serious. The next event is the Deanna Lift – which was invented and named after Deanna Springs. It is the meet’s signature event – and has never been contested outside of this meet. It combines two of Deanna’s favorite lifts – the Zercher Lift and the Hand and Thigh Lift. This lift is very painful as it involves the Hand and Thigh bar positioned on the arms like a Zercher Lift, but with MUCH more weight involved. I had the top lift at 775 pounds.

The fourth event was the Hand and Thigh Lift. It is always a great privilege to compete in this event against the ALL-TIME record holder Joe Garcia. Everything I know about the Hand and Thigh Lift I have learned from Joe. Well, the years of tutelage finally paid off for me as I put it all together in this lift and broke 1500 pounds for the first time. My final lift was 1505 pounds, which broke Joe’s overall record in the 115K class. Joe was a class act about me breaking one of his Hand and Thigh records (not that he doesn’t have many others!!!) and sincerely congratulated me on my efforts. This meant a lot to me, and even more when Joe said, “this is the first time in 20 years that I have been beaten in a meet in the Hand and Thigh and I am glad that it is by you”. He then reminded me that he was at his Hand and Thigh peak when he was 43 years old (the same age I am now)! I’m still trying to figure out what he meant by that – but regardless, thanks Joe for all the help you have been to me in this lift!!

The meet ended with the Hip Lift. Thom got an easy 1205# lift (and had MUCH more in him) and Joe and I both ended at 1685 pounds. We were both capable of much more, but I made a huge jump on my last attempt as a strategic move to put the pressure on Joe for the overall. He made the jump with me but this big jump was just too much for both of us on this day. When it comes to a meet like this, that includes an assortment of Heavy Lifts, Joe is about impossible to beat. I was just glad to be able to push him a little on this day – something I haven’t done in previous Deanna Meets.

We concluded the day by filling up on the buffet at the Golden Corral – a Clark’s Gym post meet tradition. I also want to mention the All-Round celebrity guest we had in attendance – Wayne Jackson. Wayne is Thom’s Uncle, and one of the founders of the Jackson Weightlifting Club. Wayne told me that he first met Bill in 1962 while attending a meet hosted by Bill. They both enjoyed “reminiscing about the old days”. I want thank Bill for putting this meet on – EVERYONE had a great time!!

Below is the full meet results:

Deanna Springs Memorial Meet
Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri
March 28th, 2010

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Official (one used):  Bill Clark

Lifts:  Crucifix, Cheat Curl, Deanna Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, and Hip Lift


Lifter Age BWT Crucifix Curl Deanna H&T Hip Total Adj. Points
Joe Garcia
56 215 70 155 575 1285 1685 3770 3611.64
Al Myers
43 251 90 175 775 1505 1685 4230 3487.68
Thom Van Vleck
45 299 80 195 485 885 1205 2850 2196.57

BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Adj. Points is adjusted Lynch Points for age and bodyweight.

The Theft of the Championship Belt

by George Jowett

The Championship Belt of Warren Lincoln Travis, which now resides at the York Barbell Museum.

Talking about getting sore, can you imagine the even-tempered Warren Lincoln Travis getting sore? He did once.  He was giving an exhibition down in New England, and at the entrance of the show he had his diamond belt and some other trophies on display.  He had hired a man to watch them but Warren forgot to hire somebody else to watch the watcher.  The result was, the caretaker of the trophies beat it with the whole outfit, which is worth a snug fortune.  Did Warren camp on that guy’s trail? OH! boy, he didn’t wait for a train. The spirit of Achilles was in his heels, and he was traveling faster than any train. But, the best Travis could do was to locate the pawn shop where the smart boy had hocked the goods.  Warren wept for joy when he grabbed his cherished possessions, but the thief got away.  Luckily for him, for if Travis had ever got his hands on him, it would have been the parting of the ways, as Warren would have distributed him to the four winds. However, Warren still remembers it and is willing to laugh with you over the escapade.

Credit:  The Key to Might and Muscle by George Jowett

Get Out and Compete in the USAWA

by Al Myers

Dr. Charlie Scott, at age 74, competed in his first USAWA National Championships last year. Dr. Scott was previously an Olympic Lifter and Gymnast, and now a great addition to the USAWA!

I have often heard this answer in the gym when I have asked guys if they compete or not, “I’m not strong enough yet to enter a competition”.  It’s amazing how this time never comes for them.  It seems the expectations of what they want to lift in order to enter a competition is not EVER enough – and in the mean time they lose out on having enjoyable experiences challenging themselves in a competitive meet environment.  That is one of the great things about weightlifting – your competition is the bar and weights laying in front of you on the platform. You have full control on whether you are successful or not.  It’s not like boxing or the UFC, where you may be at the top of your game, and the “other guy” is just better than you, and you end up with your face smashed in!   I would understand it, if in those sports, someone says they are not ready for competition!  But competitive All-Round Weightlifting – give me a break!  The challenges are always there to get stronger, or maybe just get better at a lift no matter what your age is.  I have come to the conclusion and accepted that I have probably reached (or passed) my physical peak.  At age 43, I know my best years are behind me.  But I still enjoy training and “giving it all I have” in competition.  All-Round Weightlifting has been a blessing for me – the multitude of different lifts provide unique opportunities to get better at lifts for a long time.  I am constantly learning new techniques in particular lifts that make me better.  Just at this past World Championships, Frank Ciavattone gave me a tip that put 20 pounds on my Ciavattone Deadlift immediately!  Last year at the Heavy Events National Championship, Dale Friesz and Art Montini told me “the secret” on the Neck Lift which has translated into over a 100# increase in my Neck Lift.  Bill Clark has given me numerous training advice through the years that has helped me tremendously – which I only got because I went to the meets that he hosts. Joe Garcia has helped me in the Hand and Thigh Lift  – I was doing it totally wrong until Joe showed me the correct technique.  Now if I was staying home training by myself waiting for the day to enter a competition, would I have learned these things?  Not much of a chance.

For those of you that have never tried a weightlifting competition, or just want to try something different – give the USAWA a try!  You will find out that the competition is fun. The lifters involved in the USAWA are a special breed – everyone involved is down to earth and just enjoys challenging themselves with weights. Everyone is very helpful and supportive to each other at meets. They are no EGOS in this organization – mainly because everyone involves knows that even though there may be lifts that you can excel in, there are also ones that humble you.  But even with those lifts  – if you work at them you will improve. Don’t be one of those gym lifters that really would like to compete – but just doesn’t.

Give All-Round Weightlifting a try – and Get Out and Compete in the USAWA.

John Godina and the Worlds Throw Center

By Thom Van Vleck

John Godina and Thom Van Vleck at the Godina World Throws Center

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Athletes Performance in Phoenix, Arizona.  It is a world class training facility that is home to the John Godina World Throws Center.  I was there to do an interview with Mr. Godina for a publication I write for.

I really like throwing as a sport (shot, discus, Scottish Highland Games) and I especially like John Godina because he just may be the greatest drug free thrower of all time.  He has adamantly spoke out against performance drugs and made no secret where he stands on them and those who use them.

As for the Center, well, it was quite a place.  I have been to Clark’s gym, Big Al’s Dino Gym, and of course, the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  I have heard about other USAWA clubs and there seems to be a theme.  That theme is perhaps best described as “Old School” or maybe “Dungeon” might be a better word.

If you are like me, that’s how you like it.  Godina’s digs were of a different nature.  They had a kitchen that specially prepared food for each athlete, there was training room with massage available, there was a snack bar that only had healthy foods and drinks, a film room to study films on your sport, and of course, a pretty amazing gym.

I’m not talking a “Gold’s Gym” or one of the fancy pants gyms that most of us would probably agree….well…they SUCK!  But the Throws Center had lifting platforms to do pulls from the floor, heavy Dumbbells and kettlebells, and a row of power racks that stretched the length of the gym.  There were all kinds of equipment, but none of them focused on biceps!  This was a place to lift and get strong, explosive, and powerful. Not a place to admire yourself in the mirror!

I still prefer old school, and to be honest, I don’t think I could ever afford Godina’s place, but still, it was quite an experience.  John Godina was a genuinely nice guy and I’m excited to be doing a story on him, and his training facility blew away the Olympic training center in quality all the way around.  Quite a place and one that I think any USAWA’er could enjoy.

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

Name these two lifters from the “Golden Era of Weightlifting”.  The first correct answer emailed to me wins. You may only give one answer per day.  The winner will receive a USAWA patch.

Scott Schmidt, of Westlake Ohio, provided the correct answer. Scott gave the “fastest answer” yet to the Quiz of the Week, with me receiving the answer ONLY 1.5 hours after putting the Quiz up!!! Way to go Scott!!

A pair of the best lifters of all time. On the left is STEVE STANKO who officially snatched 310 1/2 pounds and officially clean and jerked 385 pounds. STEVE STANKO was the first man to total over 1000 pounds. On the right is JOHN GRIMEK, who weighing only 180 pounds officially pressed 285 pounds in National Competition. Credit: Strength and Health, March 1947

Carl Moerke

by George Jowett

Carl Moerke, the West Haven, Connecticut German in a feat that is as unusual as it is extraordinary.

Carl Moerke, reminds me of Cyr, in build, except that Cyr was a much bigger man.  Carl is only five feet two inches and weighs two hundred and twenty pounds, but his bulk for his height can be compared with Cyr’s. Moerke is also tremendously strong. If you want to give yourself an idea of what his capabilities are, ask yourself what you could do with one of the steel rails that lie on a railway track.  Perhaps you do not know much about them, but the next time you see the men laying railroad rails, see how many men it takes to carry one.  A long rail weighs about one thousand pounds. On one occasion, Moerke carried one of these rails in his hands, with the rail balanced across his abdomen, to its resting place on the track. No wonder he can do a deep knee bend with nearly six hundred pounds. When he was visiting me, I saw him snatch a bar bell of one hundred and sixty pounds overhead with one finger.  Not off the floor as you might imagine.  First he stood erect with the weight hanging at arms’ length on his finger, then with a quick knee bend he took the weight to arms’ length overhead. He is not lacking in the real stuff, and I have often had the pleasure of seeing this for myself.

Credit:  The Key to Might and Muscle by George Jowett

The Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

by John McKean

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

Earlier this year the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club celebrated its 50th anniversary ! It was jointly founded by the USAWA’s own Art Montini and his long time friend, Harry McCoy, who went on to serve many terms as Western Pennsylvania’s Chairman of Olympic weightlifting. It was neat to see both men in attendance at the recent USAWA 3 man challenge meet!

Since the early 1960s the Ambridge club has been a hotbed of weightlifting competition. At one time or another, most of the top dogs in the Eastern US in olympic and power lifting, and physique competitors attended these exciting contests. Remember Phil Grippaldi, Tony Fratto, Hugh Cassidy, Frank Remschell, Mr America past 40 Jim Karas, Bob Weaver, George Crawford, Cal Shake, Roger Estep,etc,etc? -all attended VFW meets! Later, with Art, Bill DiCioccio, and me getting into the initial USAWA meets, it was just a natural to host annual all-round contests along with several nationals. Heck, Art’s birthday meet alone has gone on longer than most clubs last these days!

Part of the charm of the Ambridge gym is its old style “hardcore” decor -mostly older olympic sets and pegs chock full of plates, solid iron dumbbells, sturdy racks & benches, and multiple lifting platforms. Yes, there are a few heavy duty machines in the lower part of the gym, but even these “bodybuilding devises” only got in by heated screaming matches during rather wild club meetings!! Training here has always been geared to huge strength and lifting competition, so the well used barbells show more wear and tear than do lat machines seen in most health spas!

A key feature of many of the racks, supports, and odd gear seen in the gym is that they were mostly homemade, and one-of-a-kind. That is, during the 60s the local steel mills were thriving and most of the members were steelworkers – these guys were terrific at welding together all manner of heavy duty structures that would withstand an A-bomb! No one ever asked about the limits of a stairladder squat rack, for instance, because one look at it would quickly convince any user that its support limits would outdo even Paul Anderson’s top weights! If a member feels a piece of steel looks damaged or somehow unsturdy, or just needs modification, almost as his concern is expressed, ole Art Montini has his welding mask on and torch aflame! Believe me, it can make for a unique training session when sparks and superheated metal are flying around -even the rats run for cover (just kiddin’ , never saw a rat during my 43 year membership ,tho Art early in the morning and unshaven is close!).

All members dues,always quite reasonable, have been continually invested in new equipment. It may have been rather Spartan in 1960 when Art and Harry first pooled their own barbells and plates, but quickly evolved into a barbell club that would easily satisfy a healthy roomful of dedicated iron men. Regular clean-up and maintenance crews keep things tidy yet rugged looking. I well remember attending my first power meet at the VFW -it was the most impressive, well equipped “dungeon” I’d ever been in ; even the extensive solid dumbbells on the long rack had been freshly painted a neat shade of dark blue just for that contest! I immediately promised myself that right after graduating from college I was gonna join this group who took such pride in their facility!

I have to fondly recall the many big olympic, power, all-round, and physique meets held upstairs from the gym. This was in the large “dance hall” and stage behind the VFW’s bar on the main floor. Meets would begin at 9 am in the good old days, and last well past midnight! The place was packed with spectators, and even was often stacked 3 deep in the surrounding overhead balcony, and had all the noisy atmosphere that a big sporting event SHOULD have! Great food was sold (and sold OUT!) by the ladies auxillary upstairs, and the “occasional” lifter or official would sometimes sneak out to the front bar for a quick beer! The only problem was dressing downstairs in the locker room just below the lifting platform -when the olympic lifters dropped a big one the lights& rafters always threatened to bury those down below (never actually happened,though!)!

Nowadays, some of the old time trainees have departed, but current competitors, new barbell buffs, and student athletes still frequent this friendly old pit ! If you haven’t visited already, be sure to attend one of the upcoming USAWA meets that we’re planning!

Siegmund “Zisha” Breitbarth – The Ironking

by Dennis Mitchell

Siegmund "Zisha" Breitbarth

Siegmund “Zisha” Breitbarth was born in Starwieschtch, City of Lodz, Poland in 1883 in an orthodox Jewish family. He was the second of seven children. His father was a blacksmith. The first evidence of his strength was at age three. While playing in his father’s shop, a heavy bar fell on him and he was able to lift it off and free himself. By age four he was helping his father with his work. He was a bit of a trouble maker and was expelled from several religious school for demonstrating his strength on his fellow students.

During the first World War he served in the Russian army and was a prisoner of war in Germany. After the war he remained in Germany and made his living by performing as a strongman in the market place. It was there that he was spotted by the manager of “Circus Bush”, the largest circus in the world at that time. He traveled with the circus performing as a clown, acrobat, and as a strong man, and was featured as the opening act. From the circus he went into vaudeville, performing in Vienna. At that time political events were quite unsettled. The emerging Nazi Party was active as a result of France’s occupation of the Rue. There were many bloody confrontations. Even with the anti-Semitism, hostility, and prejudice at a post war high, Siegmund was very popular in Vienna, more than any other entertainer or sports figure at that time.

In 1923 he emigrated to the Unite States, and in 1924 became a citizen. He continued to work in vaudeville and was reported to be earning $7,000 a week, an unbelievable amount of money in the 1920s. His act consisted of bending iron bars (that’s where he got the name “Ironking”), breaking horse shoes, pulling a wagon full of people with his teeth, supporting an elephant in the event known as the “Tomb of Hercules”, and carrying a baby elephant up a ladder. He would support a car full of people on his chest while lying on his back. He could drive a spike through a thick plank with his bare hands.

He wrote a book called Muscle Power, and also sold a mail order body building course. He thought of himself as a modern day Samson, and wanted to train an army of strongmen in order to free Palestine from British rule. While touring Europe he pierced his leg with a rusty spike while driving it through a plank with his hand. He developed blood poisoning, and in spite of two surgeries, died in Berlin Germany Oct. 12th, 1925 at the age of forty-two.

At the age of thirty-one he had the following measurements: Chest 50″, neck 19″, arms 15.5″, waist 35″, and calf 17″. There are no records of what Siegmund could lift with either barbells or dumbbells. He said that the audiences were more interested in his supporting events and bar bending.

Trap Bar Training

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson set a new Dino Gym Record in the High Trap Bar Deadlift this week, with a lift of 800 pounds.

The Trap Bar Deadlift has been contested in the USAWA since 1996. I think this is one piece of equipment that every gym should have. The original Trap Bar was the Gerard Trap Bar developed by Al Gerard, a powerlifter from North Carolina, over 20 years ago. Since then several other companies have developed Trap Bars that are very similar, but with minor design changes, getting around the original patent held by Al Gerard. For those not familiar with a Trap Bar, it is an apparatus that contains a frame around the lifter, and has parallel handles located at the lifter’s side for gripping.

Trap Bar training is beneficial and supplemental to deadlift training for several reasons. First of all, it gives a “different line of pull” than deadlifting with a straight bar. By having your arms to your sides, the hips and legs are engaged much more than a bar deadlift, with less demands being placed on the lower back. It is easier to maintain good lifting technique in keeping the shoulders up and the back curved (instead of rounded). More weight can be lifted with the Trap Bar than a straight bar, unless you are a very experienced deadlifter. The grip is easier to maintain. Also, unlike a traditional deadlift where bad technique can lead to “hitching”, it is impossible to “hitch” a Trap Bar Deadlift. I have in the past trained young kids in weight training during the summer, and I always include the Trap Bar Deadlift as one of their key exercises. It is very safe for young kids to do as long as you limit the maximum you allow them to lift. I have a rule that I only allow them to lift up to 150% of their maximum squat set with the Trap Bar. So if they want to improve their Trap Bar Deadlift – they better be improving their squat! I once started training a young girl on the Trap Bar Deadlift, and immediately she complained about the “rough knurling” on the handles. Well, at the end of the week when I was reviewing the kid’s training logs, I noticed she had written the name of this lift as “the Death Grip”. Apparently she misheard me call it “the Dead Lift”, and innocently named it what she thought it should be called!

The "Hex" Trap Bar

The "Hex" High Trap Bar

The Baier Trap Bar

I am not going into set and rep schemes done with the Trap Bar. There are several good programs that can be done -and in the gym we have tried them all. Describing all of these programs would take more space than I have for this story. We also have a couple of other types of Trap Bars in the gym – one with 3″ elevated handles (only regular handles are allowed in USAWA competition) and one very unique Trap Bar given to the Dino Gym by Shawn Baier, which we call the Baier Trap Bar. It has three adjustable handles with diameters of 1″, 1.5″ and 2″. The height of the pick is 12 inches from the floor (a normal Trap Bar pick is 9″). The use of these High Trap Bars is great for giving variety to Trap Bar Training. We will often add chains to the Trap Bar in order to increase the difficulties at the top of the lift. Chains really help in developing a quicker pull, as less weight is on the bar at the bottom position. I even like to do Trap Bar training in the same workout as straight bar pulls. I find I can do them after regular deadlifting and still able to workout heavy on them.

The Trap Bar Deadlift is going to be a big part of All-Round competition this year. It is in the USAWA National Championships and in the IAWA World Championships. This seems like reason enough to get one for yourself – if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it – and the progress you will make with it will pay off in overall strength gains.

Summary of the Zercher Strength Classic

America’s Oldest All-Round Weightlifting Contest
by Dale Friesz

The concept of the ZERCHER STRENGTH CLASSIC originated with the founder of the United States All-Round Weightlifting Association, Bill Clark. The first ZERCHER STRENGTH CLASSIC was held in 1982, six years before the first USAWA National Championships became a reality. The meet was created to honor Ed Zercher Sr., the famous St. Louis Missouri Strongman who performed at an extremely high level for over sixty-five years in all areas of the strength games.


2010 – 1/30
28/180 13 8105 7698.90
2009 – 1/31
27/180 13 8370 7950.66
2008 – 1/26
54/226 13 8020 7635.38
2007 – 2/03
53/233 13 8135 7635.20
2006 – 1/21
24/172 13 7897.5 7708.75
2005 – 1/29
51/242 13 8085 7304.83
2004 – 1/31
50/240 13 8190 7364.64
2003 – 2/01
70/238 13 5180 5523.64
2002 – 2/02
20/169 13 7790 7684.84
2001 – 2/03
47/241 13 8050 7029.97
2000 – 2/05-06
46/239 13 8792.5 7654.33
1999 – 1/30
38/185 13 6765 6321.90
1998 – 1/31-2/01
40/224.5 13 10080 8542.71
1997 – 2/01-02
39/227.5 13 9895 8243.50
1996 – 2/02-04
38/225 13 10645 8918.30
1995 – 2/04-05
37/218.5 13 9790 8334.23
1994 – 2/05-06
36/211.5 13 9345 8097.44
1993 – 2/06-07
37/215.5 13 10470 8975.93
1992 – 1/18-19
36/223 13 10250 8628.45
1991 – 1/19-20
35/227 13 10380 8656.92
1990 – 1/20-21
34/225 10 6430 5387.06
1989 – 1/21-22
33/212 14 8285 7189.72
1988 – 1/23-24
32/215 18 12260 10568.12
1987 – 1/24-25
31/215 16 10955 6139.18
1986 – 1/25-26
30/161 16 9345 6672.33
1985 – N/A
29/165 20 8320 5969.29
1984 – 1/21-22
28/- 17 N/A N/A
1983 – 1/22-23
27/- 18 N/A N/A
1982 – 1/23-24
26/- 16 N/A N/A


2003 – 2/01
40/165 13 6165 6226.65
2001 – 2/03
38/158 13 6355 6538.66
1999 – 1/30
19/136 13 3740 4235.37
1998 – 1/31-2/01
19/124 13 3470 4235.83
1997 – 2/01-02
34/171 13 6070 5897.00
1996 – 2/03-04
33/176 13 5920 5699.30
1995 – 2/04-05
30/171 13 4565 4473.24
1994 – 2/05-06
29/165 13 4695 4702.98
1993 – 2/06-07
28/163 13 4660 4794.67
1989 – 1/21-22
29/147 14 3420 3687.79
1988 – 1/23-24
28/142 18 4395 4880.65


STEVE SCHMIDT – (8) – 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
JOE GARCIA – (6) – 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008
JOHN CARTER – (5) – 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
SID LITTLETON – (4) – 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986
ABE SMITH – (4) – 2002, 2006, 2009, 2010
DAVE DEFOREST – (1) – 1999
BILL CLARK – (1) – 2003


AMORKOR OLLENNUKING – (4) – 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003
KERRY CLARK – (3) – 1993, 1994, 1995
DORIS De La ROSA – (2) – 1988, 1989
AMY BURKS – (1) – 1998
ANGELA McBRIDE – (1) – 1999


MISSOURI STATE PENITENTIARY (Jefferson City, MO) – 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986
CLARK’S CHAMPIONSHIP GYM (Columbia, MO) – 1988 to 2010

38 New USAWA Records at Club Challenge

by Al Myers

Kohl "the Young Samson" Hess set the most USAWA Records at the Club Challenge with seven.

An amazing 38 new USAWA Records were broken or set at the most recent Club Challenge in Ambridge.  The Kohl “Young Samson” Hess lead the way with 7 records.  Kohl has made great strength gains since I last seen him lift at Worlds in October, undoubtedly the result of hard work and good coaching from Denny Habecker. Kohl is only 15 – but weighing a solid 272 pounds he is built like a grown man.

A few more meets like this and this will be a RECORD YEAR for records. Records that impressed me the most were these:  Kohl Hess and his 407# Jefferson Lift with the Fulton Bar, John McKean and his 353# Jefferson Lift with the Fulton Bar (more than he did over 20 years ago at the 1988 Nationals with a regular bar), Ernie Beath and his HUGE 201 pound French Press (he had no problem touching his neck since Big Ernie’s neck goes to his ears), Chad Ullom doing 265# in the Reflex Clean and Push Press, Art “the Man of Steel” Montini benching 135# in the Andy Goddard Postal (and he INSISTED on keeping his feet up even though that is not required for this meet), and Scott Schmidt doing 358# on the 2″ 2 Bar Vertical Bar Deadlift (the TOPS of the meet and the bars were VERY slick!).

The RECORDS RACE between Art and Denny is heating up, with Art taking advantage of Denny’s absence at this meet due to illness. Art has increase his TOTAL NUMBER of USAWA records to 353, which is one more than Denny had after Worlds, but Denny still has the lead with 361 TOTAL RECORDS.

An interesting lift we did at this meet was the Reflex Clean and Push Press.  This lift was introduced many years ago by John Schubert (and is also known unofficially as the Schubert Clean and Push Press).  It is like a normal Clean and Push Press but the bar must not come to a stop after the clean, and must be immediately put over head with a push press.  This adds great difficulty to the lift as the lifter can not “collect himself” after the clean to prepare for the Push Press.  Also, since you can’t move your feet during a push press you must have your feet in good position after the clean. Scott Schmidt is a very experienced Olympic Lifter and great presser so this lift came very natural for him.  Scott had just competed at the Arnold in the Master’s Olympic Meet and didn’t even prepare for this lift, but still put up a big lift.  Check out this YouTube Video of Scott showing how to properly do the Reflex Clean and Push Press.

Club Challenge

USAWA Club Challenge

by John McKean

Group Picture from the 2010 USAWA Club Challenge

It started as a rainy day, but with snow freshly gone, temperatures up, daylight savings about to begin (the promise of longer fun-filled days!), and lifters traveling in from Kansas, Ohio, Maryland, and Lebanon (the town, not the country!), we couldn’t help but begin the morning on a real high! Art & I got things opened up early and prepared at the VFW dungeon, after which Art drove the short distance across the bridge over a rising & fast moving Ohio River to his home to arouse the still slumbering Kansas contingent of Al, Chad, and Rudy!

Meanwhile Big Ernie Beath & his folks popped out of their motor home, parked right outside the VFW, and prepared for an early record assault! The long drive from Maryland the night before, through pounding rain, didn’t give ole Ern the best rest, but he looked all of his 400# worth of awesome power! He warmed up, and when officials arrived, he started the morning with an awesome push press, which unfortunately didn’t hit the groove, but sure woke everyone up when the 410# hit the floor! Passing the reload, Ern went to a few “easy” french presses (tricep extension, standing), ending with a strict, phenomenal 201 pounds! Now EVERYONE was psyched to begin lifting!!

Plates were loaded and we began our “round robin” (first “robin” of Spring? Sorry, couldn’t resist saying that!) approach to the challenge lifts of the 2 bar (2 inches thick) vertical lift,one arm dumbbell snatch, reflex clean & push press, and thick bar straddle lift. As Al noted, these particular lifts are not often contested and gave us all a chance to go for personal bests & records! And we discovered quickly that vertical bar lifts can be slippery on humid early mornings, though Chad offered a unique approach by lifting only his right vertical bar on the heavy attempts – maybe a new lift to be introduced will be his new “see-saw vertical bar lift”!!

Old Art Montini, at the high end of the age groups, was his usual efficient self – as astounded contestants noted “the ole man never missed an attempt!” He rarely does – a habit acquired from always training at 4 AM every morning & not wanting to wake everyone up! At the young end of the spectrum was Denny Habecker’s 15-year-old phenomenon, Kohl, who had his brother drive him cross state, starting at 4 that morning! Kohl made Denny proud (Denny couldn’t make the meet, being hampered with bronchial pneunomia and with strict orders from his doctor – and Judy(!!!!) – not to travel.) with new records in most of the events & especially impressive flair for the quick lifts. His explosive one arm snatch with long hair flying was a meet highlight for me (maybe if I trained that lift as well as Kohl, my own hair – all 3 strands of it – would regrow!!!). Talk about a young “Samson”!!

Man, was it neat to meet Rudy! This 70-some “youngster” really has the enthusiasm to lift and kept us all energetic with his passion for the sport! From what I hear, Rudy hasn’t been away from his wide open spaces of home much, so spending time in the crowded, old former steel towns of Ambridge/ Aliquippa must have reminded him “You ain’t in Kansas anymore!.” But his strength & form were awe inspiring!

Of course the old vets of olympic and powerlifting, Scott Schmidt from Cleveland and Big Al, did their usual efficient jobs with peak weights! Each captained their groups to team wins -Scott (and Kohl) took the 2- man team award (yeah, entering a 3-man team challenge with two people is like showing up at a gunfight with a knife!) and Al led the Kansas men to the overall 3-man challenge title!

The lifting concluded, the Ambridge & Kansas guys, who didn’t have to travel home right away, enjoyed the home cooking of Ambridge’s famed Maple Restaurant to ravenously devour the renowned roast beef. I believe Al & Chad set a new restaurant record, or would have liked to, on consuming their secret beef gravy! As we all said our goodbyes, they were still talking lifting, fishing, basketball, and looking just ahead to the ice cream store next where Art was leading them!


USAWA Club Challenge
Ambridge VFW BBC
Ambridge, Pennsylvania
March 13th, 2010

Meet Director:  John McKean

Officials – 3 officials used on all lifts: Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt, Al Myers, Chad Ullom

Lifts:  Snatch – One Arm, Dumbbell, Reflex Clean and Push Press, Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 2″, Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar


1. Dino Gym – 2715.08 adjusted points

Lifter Age
BWT DB Snatch
Reflex C&PP
Al Myers
43 252 146 (R)
224 338 533
Chad Ullom
38 239 136 (R)
245 338 453
Rudy Bletscher
74 221 50 (R)
88 258 255

2.  Ambridge VFW Barbell Club – 2368.66 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT DB Snatch
Reflex C&PP
John McKean
64 174 51 (R)
103 283 353
Art Montini
82 174 35 (L)
65 178 210
Ernie Beath
28 400 121 (R)
251 338 323

3.  Habecker’s Gym – 1709.41 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT DB Snatch
Reflex C&PP
Scott Schmidt
57 259 92 (R)
198 358 303
Kohl Hess
15 272 96 (R)
138 313 407

BWT is bodyweight. All lifts recorded in pounds.

Extra Attempts for Records:
Ernie Beath  – French Press 201 pounds
Chad Ullom – Reflex Clean and Push Press 265 pounds
John McKean – One Arm Dumbbell Snatch 67 pounds (Right)
Al Myers – Reflex Clean and Push Press 250 pounds
Art Montini – Reflex Clean and Push Press 75 pounds

Bed of Nails: A Classic Strongman Feat

By Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck laying on the Bed of Nails

The first time I ever remember the “Bed of Nails” feat was hearing my Uncle’s talk about it after a JWC trip to a lifting meet where Ed Zercher performed the feat. I remember being amazed at it and how only someone “special” could withstand the nails without being punctured. Now I realize it is a trick of physics and virtually anyone could do it, but not everyone WOULD do it! And if they did it once, they might not want to do it again! It is currently a regular feature in the JWC Christian Strongman Shows and I am always the guy on the bottom. Why? Because one time I wasn’t able to make it and Brian Kerby did it and swore he’d never do it again. No blood was drawn, he just found it so painful and mentally challenging that he refuses to do it again!

I was introduced to the “Bed of Nails” when I first performed with Randy Richey’s Omegaforce Christian Strongman team. We were setting up the script for the show and Randy said, “Who wants to lay on the bed of nails?” Interestingly, there were no takers! That should have been my first clue. I then volunteered and that night found myself on a bed of 500 sixty penny nails with another guy on top bench pressing a 440lb engine block for 10 reps! After that, I built my own “bed” and it became a regular feature in the JWC strongman shows as it is a real crowd pleaser….although I honestly don’t think of it as a real feat of strength.

At an “after contest” get together at my place, I got the Bed of Nails out and only Chad Ullom wanted to give it a try. Chad was able to handle everything we put on him. I think this is partly because Chad is a top notch strength athlete and his pain tolerance is amazingly high. But it also may be a comment on his (and my own) mental state!

If you have ever wondered, here is what it “feels” like. When you first lay on the nails, they hurt surprisingly bad. I have lots of people lay on the bed after shows, but none go beyond that because of the pain. The funny thing is, they never hurt worse than that! The compression is what gets you worse. Usually, I try to get my self as flat as possible. Then we usually will put my 150lb anvil on my stomach and pound it with hammers. Believe it or not, that hurts worse than what is to come. I think it’s because the hammer pounding drives straight thru the anvil and drives me into the nails. But as the weight gets put on, you “flatten” out on the nails and the weight gets distributed. Then, we usually break blocks, which the worst thing is pieces hitting you in the face so we usually use a shield to block my face. Finally, we will have someone lay on me, then someone will climb on top of them. Usually, Brian will lay on me and Brett Kerby or John O’Brien will stand on Brian’s stomach and bend a nail or rip a license plate in half. Sometimes we’ll put a large board on me and invite people to come and stand on me and I’ve had well over 1000lbs of people on top.

I do a couple of “tricks” to help. One, is I try to keep the weight more on my hips than my chest. Second, I then grab the board on top of me and “bench press” it to try and get some room for my chest to breath. Because with all that weight, you really CAN’T BREATH and that’s the thing that got Brian that time he tried it. You feel like you are drowning and you really have to keep your cool! The compression coupled with the pain make for a miserable, helpless combination. You are literally trapped on there until everyone gets off! If you start to panic and try to move, you will get yourself cut up fast! Another final “trick” is that you need to flatten yourself out, not like you are going for a bench press, but you are trying to “roll” your back onto the bench and make every inch of contact you possibly can. One final comment is that I usually feel better after the feat, I think it’s because of the endorphins released by my body caused by the pain and the immense relief at it being over!

That’s the “Bed of Nails” and if you come to the JWC sometime, ask me and I’ll pull it out for you to try! Just sign the waiver first……just kidding!!!!

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!

A Lift for Andy

Tribute to Andy Goddard

by Steve Gardner

Andy Goddard performing one of his favorite lifts - the Bench Press

It will be a year on March 26th since I said goodbye to my friend Andy. The Gym has not been the same without him, but we carry on with Andy always in our thoughts.

I have decided to run a postal competition as a tribute to Andy Goddard. The lifts will be simple and contain two of his favorites: the Bench Press and the Two Hands Deadlift.

I am inviting friends of Andys, and all IAWA members in general, to take part in this ‘Tribute Lift for Andy’. Lifts are to be completed by the end of March. One referee will be ok for the tribute lifts, but if you want the lifts to be considered for record purposes they must be clearly marked as refereed by two officials.

Remember – it doesn’t matter how much you lift or whether you are not fully training or injured. Just submit token results if you can’t do more, just to be a part of our ‘Tribute to Andy’.

There will be an Andy Goddard Trophy kept at the Powerhouse Gym and the overall Winners name will go on that trophy!

USAWA News Updates

USAWA News Updates
by Al Myers

Meets this Month

This is a big month for meets in the USAWA.  This coming weekend (March 13th) will be the Club Challenge, hosted by the John McKean and the Ambridge Barbell Club.  Entries must consist of three lifter teams – since scoring will be done by adding up individual adjusted points for a team score.  March 28 is the day for the Deanna Springs Meet, hosted by Bill Clark in Columbia, Missouri.  Bill has hosted this meet for many years in memory of Deanna Springs. Also, don’t forget the Postal Meet hosted by John Wilmot. Lifts must be done and turned in by the end of this month.

History of Gold Cup

Thanks to Dale Friesz, the history of dates, locations and meet directors of past Gold Cups has finally been completed.  Dale has worked hard doing the research for this going back to the FIRST Gold Cup. This coming year will be the 20th year for the Gold Cup, which was started in 1991 by Howard Prechtel.   All of Dale’s research on this can be found in the Past Champions Section.    Thanks again Dale for finishing this project I started several months ago. It might never have got finished without you.

Drug Testing

The USAWA is making some changes in drug testing this year.  Our new USAWA Vice President Chad Ullom has assumed the role of the USAWA Drug Enforcement Director.  We have had a very good drug testing program in the past, but Chad has some ideas to even make it better. This year we will test at more meets, but with less tests done per meet.  Hopefully, this will save the USAWA some money and make our drug testing program even better.

Club Memberships

This so far has been a great year for club memberships.  Registered USAWA Clubs for 2010 stand at 7.  This has only been  topped by 8 registered clubs in 2002 and 2003.  The longest standing Club Membership belongs to Clark’s Championship Gym, which has been a registered club since 1989.  That was the first year club memberships were issued.

Individual Memberships

Individual memberships in the USAWA are $25, and must now be sent to me instead of Bill Clark.  Don’t forget to sign and date the drug waiver when sending in your membership application.  Memberships are for the current year, from the first day of January to the last day of December.  They are required in order to compete in any USAWA meet or event.  Once I receive your membership money with the completed application, I will immediately put your name on the membership roster. Membership cards will NO LONGER be issued.

USAWA Discussion Forum

The website contains a discussion forum, but is only available to those who have registered for the website.  This can be done in the Website Registration Section.  There is no fee for this and has nothing to do with membership in the USAWA.  You must be logged in to the website in order to see the Members Section which contains the discussion forum.  I do have to approve your website registration so it may take a while, but I check it daily so it won’t be longer than that.  This discussion forum is a great place to discuss current lifting events or just interact with others interested in All-Round Weightlifting.

My Shot-Loaded Dumbbell

by Al Myers

I'm performing a 130# One Arm Dumbbell Snatch with my shot loaded dumbbell.

I have always been intrigued by shot loaded globe barbells and shot loaded dumbbells. These were very common training implements of the Old-Time Strongmen, and at one time every professional strongman or circus strongman had one they would use in their performances. Today shot loaded equipment is not very available commercially, so I decided I would just build my own shot loaded dumbbell. My design requirements were very simple: make a dumbbell that could be shot loaded to around 200 pounds full, very durable if dropped, and have a handle that would be optimum for lifting. I was very pleased how my project turned out, until I had to go buy lead shot and discovered how much it has increased in price since my days of reloading shotgun shells 20 years ago!

Years ago they even allowed shot loaded barbells to be used in the Olympic Games. The last Olympic Weightlifting Games that allowed this was in 1924, in Paris, France. Only one lifter took advantage of this, and that athlete was the famous Old-Time French weightlifter Charles Rigoulot. He ended up winning the Gold Medal in the Heavyweight class that year. In the early 1900’s Alan Calvert, owner of the Milo Barbell Company, marketed shot filled barbells and dumbbells. There was a good market for shot loaded equipment then because metal plates were not readily available and a lifter could get by with just one piece of lifting equipment that could be “filled” to the weight of a lifter’s choosing. One of the most popular shot loaded dumbbells is the one owned by Louis Cyr, which now resides at the York Barbell Museum. Cyr’s shot loaded dumbbell weighed 202# empty and 273# fully loaded.

The Dino Gym's Shot Loaded Dumbbell

I love training one arm dumbbell swings and snatches – and these were the first exercises I tried out my new dumbbell with. An obvious advantage with the shot loaded dumbbell is that the weight is more “compact” when it is loaded heavy compared to a traditional dumbbell loaded with 10# plates. However, I soon found out that unless the dumbbell is loaded full the lead shot will “shift” and create balance issues when put overhead. This is very noticeable when doing swings with it compared to a plate loaded dumbbell. Another problem is that you got to remember what you loaded it to last. I have changed the weight of mine, forgot I did, only to be “shocked” when lifting it the next time thinking it was loaded lighter. After all, it looks the same at 100 pounds as 200 pounds! I really can’t see shot loaded dumbbells making a comeback in today’s lifting world. They are a mess to fill and empty – even with a funnel you get shot everywhere. Most people nowadays have great fear of lead toxicity, with due cause, so precautions need to be taken in handling the lead shot. But all of this is worth it to an old weightlifter like myself – because when lifting a shot loaded dumbbell you feel like you are in the company of the great Old Time Strongmen like Louis Cyr, Charles Rigoulot and Eugen Sandow.

History of USAWA Records

by Al Myers

I was thinking the other day about the history of the number of records set in the USAWA throughout the years.  Joe Garcia has been the Official Records Chairman since the beginning of the USAWA, and has entered THOUSANDS of records into our Record List. Joe’s efforts on this has been impressive and the USAWA owes him  a lot of thanks for all the work he has done in giving us a 20 plus year Record List.  The list is now approaching 10,000 line items in length.  But, what years have the most records been set in?  This can’t possible be answered because records are continually broken and the list updated, so an absolute count is about impossible for any year except the most current year. However, we can count the records that are STILL on the books from previous years.  Well, I did this and found the results interesting so I am going to share my research with you!

Year Records Year Records
1987 38 1999 453
1988 114 2000 586
1989 154 2001 422
1990 250 2002 682
1991 307 2003 538
1992 294 2004 474
1993 291 2005 702
1994 346 2006 566
1995 468 2007 367
1996 425 2008 360
1997 427 2009 475
1998 433 2010 103

As you can see, 2005 was the year that resulted in the MOST records.  The last three years there has been a drop-off. But it appears 2010 is off to a good start – maybe THIS YEAR will be the year the most records are set??

Congratulations to Dave Glasgow for passing the Official’s Test and becoming an USAWA Official!

What happened 10 years ago in the USAWA?

by Al Myers

Garcia wins Zercher

On February 5-6, 2000, Joe Garcia wins his first Zercher Strength Classic at Clark’s Gym.  Fellow gym members Mike McBride  took second place while James Foster came in third.  Seven lifters participated in this 13 lift meet which occurred over two days. Garcia dominated the Chain Lifts – with lifts of 1600# in the Hand and Thigh, 2300# in the Harness Lift, and 1805# in the Hip Lift.  This meet also included the comeback of John Carter, who had been sidelined for two years with two knee surgeries.

Postal League

Four registered clubs (Clark’s Gym, Prechtel Athletic Club, Ambridge VFW Barbell Club and Frystown Power Zone) have entered the Postal League.  The first leg of this year long competition was completed.

Nebraskaland Strength Classic

Meet director Kevin Fulton won the Nebraskaland Strength Classic, barely edging out Elijah Kucera.  Fulton put up big lifts in the Jerk-Behind Neck (305 pounds) and the Deadlift – Fulton Bar (505 pounds) to secure the win over 17 year old Kucera.

Deanna Springs Memorial

Josh Pemberton won the Deanna Springs Meet, beating Abe Smith and Al Springs.  The meet was very close, with Josh slipping past Abe by only 13 points!  A highlight of the meet was having two old JWC lifters in attendance – Wayne Smith and Wayne Jackson.  Smith had developed a reputation by being a one arm pullup champion, and on this day he performed a record in the Pinch Grip with a lift of 90 pounds.

Buckeye Record Breaker

This record day was promoted by USAWA President Howard Prechtel on March 4th. An amazing 16 lifters took part!  The list of those competing: Noi Phumchaona, Anna Holter, Jim Loewer, Dennis Stahnke, Chris Waterman, Bob McKenzie, Lee Gesbeck, Dennis Mitchell, Bob Cox, John McKean, Art Montini, Bob Hirsh, Walter Moss, Bill Crozier, Bob Geib, and Scott Schmidt.

Courtesy of The Strength Journal published by Bill Clark.

Rounded Back Platform Deadlifts

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Ryan Batchman demonstrating the proper way to do a Rounded Back Platform Deadlift.

We have our “Big Workout Night” at the Dino Gym on Tuesday night, and usually have a large turnout of lifters.  Everyone has their own workout, but it is the night to go heavy so most exercises trained involve the back and legs.  Lots of squats and deadlifts!  We start at 6:00 and sometimes don’t finish until 10:00 or 11:00.  The last part of the workout usually involves doing exercises that help with recovery or flexibility, or more commonly referred to as “accessory exercises”.  I am a firm believer in training heavy to get stronger, but at the same time don’t overlook lighter exercises as a way to supplement your heavy work. We constantly change these exercises from workout to workout as this is our way of “winding down” a hard workout. We have several back accessory exercises we do but I want to explain one that is not well known, which we call the Rounded Back Platform Deadlift.  This exercise could be a great addition to your back training program.

The Rounded Back Platform Deadlift is done is this manner. First, you place a foot on two different raised platforms, and place the weight on a loader in front of you between your feet. It is best to have a loader that a handle can be attached to so weight can be added. The height of the handle should be just above the level of the feet, but not as high up on the lower leg as a loaded bar on a lifting platform.  Use an overhand grip when picking up the weight, and with a bend of the knees allow the lower back to round over.  When rising, stand and come to a complete lockout. Lower the weight as low as possible without allowing the weights to touch or rest on the floor.  Keep constant tension on the body at all times. Perform the repetitions at a controlled pace, paying attention to keeping the proper form of rounding the back when rising up with the weight.  We perform sets of 10 reps, adding weight to each subsequent set. Usually we will do between 4 and 6 sets.  We rotate quickly between us and try to keep the rest minimal.  This exercise is not about maximum exertion – but rather about stimulating blood flow to the lower back and legs. You will feel “the burn” in your hamstrings after performing this exercise.

The Rounded Back Platform Deadlift improves flexibility because the weight has a deep pickup that requires a good stretch.  The cross-over benefits to an All-Rounder is that it will help with rounded back type lifts, such as the Zercher Lift or Hack Lift.  It is also a very good exercise for Strongmen to help build strength for Stone Lifting, which is also a rounded back type of lifting.

George Barker Windship, MD

by Dennis Mitchell

One of the very few pictures of George Barker Windship, MD (Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society)

George Barker Windship was born in 1834 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and entered Harvard University at age 16. He stood five feet tall and weighed one hundred pounds. Because of his small size he was constantly teased and tormented by his classmates. He started practicing gymnastics at the Harvard gym in an effort to build himself up. He spent some time every evening after classes at the gym doing chins, dips, and working on the rings and various bars. By the time he graduated he was well known for his strength. He could chin twelve times with one arm, and do a one arm chin with either arm using just his little finger.

On a trip to Rochester New York, he saw a lifting machine and lifted 420 pounds in what was similar to a Hand and Thigh Lift. After returning home he made his own hand and thigh apparatus, lifting a barrel that he would fill with rocks and sand. He became a dedicated weight lifter.

He returned to Harvard University and following in his father’s, grandfather’s, and great grandfather’s foot steps entered medical school. However, he stated that his main reason for medical school was to learn about the human body in order to improve his lifting.

He graduated in 1857, and had increased his Hand and Thigh Lift to 1208 pounds. He also fashioned a yoke type apparatus similar to the Harness Lift and could lift 2200 pounds. At this time he also added dumbbells to his training and in time could press a pair of 100 pound dumbbells. He also added barbell lifting with a globe barbell that he could vary the weight from 141 pounds to 180 pounds by adding shot to the globes. He was never a very big man reaching the height of 5′7″ and weighing 147 pounds.

This is a lifting apparatus designed and built by George Barker Windship, MD. It was patented in 1893, and is a forerunner of the Universal Machine.

Dr. Windship had his gym next to his medical office, and would tell his clients that if they would spend more time in his gym they would spend less time in his medical office. Dr. Dudley Sargent, the head of the Harvard Physical Education Department, after watching Dr. Windship work out, stated that, “he was exceeding strong and that he used very heavy weights in a number of different movements and angles with both weights and on machines that he invented”.

Dr. Windship gave many lectures on the health benefits that would come from being strong, and would end his lectures with a demonstration of his strength. He preached that heavy lifting was a form of medical therapy.

He had patents on various equipment. He made a dumbbell that could be adjusted in half pound increments from eight pounds to one hundred and one pounds. He invented the forerunner of the Universal Machine, and invented a leg and hip machine. his training methods were quite modern and he stressed very heavy short workouts with ample rest between training sessions. One of his patents in 1870 was for a machine that used compressed air in a piston for resistance in a rowing machine and a cable apparatus used for working the chest.

On September 12th, 1876, at the age of just 42, Dr. Windship died of a massive stroke. There were those who were against heavy lifting stating that it was dangerous, and used Dr. Windship’s death as proof. It did have a negative affect on lifting and for some years lifting was looked on as being dangerous.