Articles from May 2010

The Pullover and Push Part 3 – Technique and my Secret Tips

by Al Myers

Al Myers attempting a 475# Pullover and Push at the 2004 Dino Gym Challenge

Since Part 1 already covered the rules of the Pullover and Push, I am going to assume everyone knows what is expected regarding the rules of this lift.  I am going to cover things here that AREN’T in the rules – and hopefully give you suggestions that will help you improve upon this lift. First of all, the Pullover and Push is a violent exercise and not for the “faint of heart”.  It is no wonder the modern day Bench Press has replaced it.  It is very easy to get hurt doing this exercise, and just being off a little in position and  technique can result in injury.  I have incurred several injuries myself from this exercise, and I consider myself knowledgeable of the proper technique. At the 2007 Nationals I fractured a carpal bone in my wrist. I have suffered bruised ribs, lacerations to the elbows, bruises to the chest area, wrist injuries, and even a couple of times been knocked unconscious from failing to get my head turned adequately when pulling the bar over my head. Now with THAT being said, if you don’t want to take any of my advice I would completely understand, and maybe THIS LIFT is one you might not want anything to do with!  But All-Rounders are a hard-headed group of lifters (myself included), and for some reason like pain and punishment.

A lot of lifters have benched pressed over 500 pounds, with some even doing it without bench shirts and with long pause counts on the chest.  But NO ONE has done over 500 pounds in the Pullover and Push!  I do think this is possible some day, but it will take a unique lifter who wants to specialize in this lift.  One big problem with the Pullover and Push is that it is not a good lift for large lifters.  Large lifters with big chests have an obstacle that smaller lifters don’t have – that is first you have to get the bar pulled over your head and chest to even START the push.  I have seen many strong bench pressers fail in even getting 200 pounds in position on the chest.  It is humbling to be a 400 pound plus bencher and fail with 200 pounds in the Pullover and Push! However, it will take someone with good size to be able to “break” the 500 pound barrier.  I think the “ideal body size” for putting up big weight in the Pullover and Push is a lifter around 6 feet tall that weighs between 220 pounds and 240 pounds. The height is needed to enhance an arch (or bridge) and 240 pounds is about the top bodyweight a lifter can weigh before excessive resistance is reached in the Pullover.

I was fortunate to learn many of “my secret techniques” from the best Pullover and Push lifter of All-Time – Bob Burtzloff. Bob has  the best lift of All-Time (and the All-Time USAWA Record) at 473 pounds, done in 1987.  Bob did over 200 kgs several times in competition.  You have to have “NO FEAR” when doing the Pullover and Push.  The Pullover and Push has a 1-2 punch, which you must be prepared for and overcome, before you will get to the Push portion of the lift.  The first “Punch” is the bar slamming into your chest during the Pullover, and the second “Punch” is the bar impacting your abdomen. You must have your abs “tighten up” when this happens or it will knock the breath out of you. Much like a hard punch to the gut.  I like to roll the bar three times on the platform, with the last roll pulling with EVERYTHING I got. I do the first two rolls to get me mentally prepared, much like a basketball player who will bounce the ball a set number of times before a free throw.  It is called a Pullover, but THAT is far from how it should be executed, as a pullover implies that you are lifting the bar onto the chest.  Instead, the bar should be PROPELLED onto the chest by the momentum of the rolling bar. Some of these tips on the pullover don’t really apply to smaller lifters – as I have seen lightweight lifters literally roll the bar into position onto the chest/abdomen without the plates ever leaving the platform.  It is very important to turn your head to the side when the bar is coming over the face as to prevent that knockout blow to the jaw. Once the bar has passed over the face I like to quickly turn my head face up and RAISE my head up as I think it helps drop the chest slightly to help the bar reach its desired location on my upper abdomen. Make sure you wear a shirt that doesn’t have a sticky vinyl logo on the front of it. Do everything you can do to reduce friction on the chest.  I like to wear a tight white T-Shirt.   Another “trick” is to take a wide grip on the bar (snatch grip).  This will shorten the length of “stroke” needed in finishing the push. Even if you are against wrist wraps, this is one lift where you should wear them.  The wrists have to “turn over” hard and fast in the transition between the pullover and the push, and lots of stress is placed on them.  I also recommend wearing a weight belt.  The bridge places lots of pressure on the lower back and a belt helps support the back.  I will wear my belt slightly higher on my abdomen than when doing a deadlift, and after I buckle it I leave a loop of belt sticking up. I have on occasion over pulled the bar to the abdomen and if not for this loop of belt “blocking” the bar and causing it to stop, I would have not have been in position to do the push.  Two styles of Pushing are used. Smaller lifters tend to pull the bar to the abdomen, let it pause while pulling the feet under, and lift it as high as possible with the bridge before finishing it out with a slight press. Larger lifters (like myself at 6 foot and 250 pounds) like to rebound it quickly from the abdomen to arms’ length.  To do this the feet must already be in position by the hips because you will need to bridge quickly. My biggest weights lifted have happened with this technique as I feel I get a “rebound” effect from the abdomen going directly into the bridge. Much like the rebound effect in the Clean and Jerk. However, everything has to be timed perfectly, because if you are slightly out of position you will lose the  direct line of push and miss the lift.  I find it important to have a mat under my body during the lift. Most lifters do this to cushion the impact of the elbows, but I find I need it to help “stick” myself to the platform.  On a slick wood platform during the  pullover without a mat, I will pull myself towards the bar and slide on the platform. It is best to use a mat that is thin with a rubber backing.  Usually these are not available in competition, so I resort to using a towel which works adequately.

I consider someone who is very proficient in the Pullover and Push to be able to do 150% of bodyweight. A goal everyone should have is to be able to do bodyweight. You are also considered good at the Pullover and Push if you can outlift your best raw Bench Press. You should DEFINITELY be able to do more in the Pullover and Push than the Pullover and Press!  I hope I have given a few tips that will help you improve your training in the Pullover and Push.

The Pullover and Push Part 2 – History

by Al Myers

Arthur Saxon performing the Pullover and Push

Just like the stories of Milo Steinborn developing the Steinborn Lift because squat stands didn’t exist, Old Time great strongmen like Arthur Saxon and George Hackenschmidt were performing the Pullover and Press and the Pullover and Push on the floor before the bench press existed.  This was the only way at the time to do a supine press since benches for bench presses weren’t around yet. The Pullover and Press (where the lifter lies flat and performs a strict press unlike the Pullover and Push where the lifter can arch) was performed before it “evolved” into the Pullover and Push. I can just imagine the lifter’s comments at the time when the first lifter did “the Push” instead of “the Press”. Much like the comments I here now when you see big bench presses put up with an armored reinforced bench shirt on!!  Such comments as, “THAT’S not a real bench press!”, “If you wear a bench shirt, you’re a cheater!”.  And so on.  Back then I bet you would hear comments like, “THAT”S not a real pullover and press!”, and “If you got to bridge like that, you’re a cheater!”. So, really nothing has changed in over 100 years of arguments and debates involving supine pressing! My opinion is that the Pullover and Push is a different lift compared to the Pullover and Press (just as benching with a shirt on is compared to without) and everyone should treat it that way.  Arthur Saxon even made this comment regarding the Pullover and Push in his book The Development of Physical Power “A more genuine test, perhaps, is to lay perfectly flat, and slowly press the barbell overhead.” And this came from our hero Arthur Saxon who HELD the record in the Pullover and Push for some time with a lift of 175 kilograms in the early 1900’s.

The Pullover and Push was contested heavily between 1900 and 1930, at which time the more modern Bench Press gained popularity. The Pullover and Push pretty much disappeared as a competitive lift after that, and most weightlifters at the time didn’t even know how to perform it. However, the Pullover and Push made a resurgence in the mid 1980’s with the organization of modern-day All-Round Weightlifting.  It is now one of the most popular lifts in All-Round competitions.  Of the over 200 official All-Round lifts, I can count on at least one meet per year will have the Pullover and Push in it.

Some of the best Pullover and Push lifters among Old Time Strongmen include Arthur Saxon (175 kg), Harold Wood (175.2 kg), and George Lurich (201.5 kg).  Lurich set this World Record in 1902 in Leipzig, Germany, but since he was wrestling professionally at the time, this was considered “the Professional Record”. Modern day All-Rounders have posted significantly higher records, possibly due to modern day bars and plates that allow the bar to reach the chest/abdomen easier.  These are the modern day best Pullover and Push records – all of which were done in official competitions.

Adrian Blindt (70 kg BWT) – 177.5 kg
Rick Meldon (80 kg BWT) – 190 kg
Phil Anderson (90 kg BWT) – 202.5 kg
Steve Angell (100 kg BWT) – 180 kg
Bob Burtzloff (110 kg BWT) – 215 kg
Al Myers (120 kg BWT) – 204.1 kg

The research for these modern day record holders was done by Roger Davis, who wrote a splendid article about the Pullover and Press and the Pullover and Push in the March 2009 issue of MILO.  Roger’s article is the best article covering these lifts that has ever been written, and if you get a chance and want to read about the Pullover and Push in more detail than what I have done here, I recommend you get that copy of MILO and read it.

Tomorrow I am going to cover techniques used in the Pullover and Push, and even give away some of “my secrets” that I have learned about this lift over the years.

The Pullover and Push Part 1 – The Rules

USAWA President and the 2010 National Meet Director Denny Habecker likes the Pullover and Push, and he is including it in this year's National Championship.

by Al Myers

The Pullover and Push is one of my favorite All-Round exercises and it is going to be contested at this year’s USAWA National Championships. I thought it would be a good idea to cover some of the basics of this exercise, starting with the rules.

Rules for the Pullover and Push

The lifter will lie on his/her back on the platform with the bar placed on the platform above the lifter’s head.  Padding, such as a towel or mat, may be placed under the lifter’s body and elbows. The bar is gripped with the palms of the hands facing up and with the bar at arms’ length prior to the start of the lift.  Width of hand spacing and feet placement is optional. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed multiple rolls with the bar on the platform to gain momentum to the bar. Hands must remain on the bar throughout the lift. The lifter will then pull the bar over and onto the chest or upper abdomen resulting in the upper arms resting on the platform. The bar must not be rolled once on the chest. The bar or plates must not make contact with the platform once the bar leaves the platform or it will result in disqualification. The lifter is allowed to move or lift the feet and hips during the pullover. Once the bar is on the chest or abdomen, the lifter may move the feet close to the hips, and raise the hips to create a bridging or belly toss to propel the bar to arms’ length. This is done at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed feet and hip movement during the push. The lifter may press the bar instead of pushing the bar if desired.  Once the push has begun, the bar must not be lowered in any manner. Only one attempt at the push is allowed. The bar must lock out with even extension. Once the arms are straight, the lifter must lower the hips to the platform and straighten the legs to a flat position on the platform. The arms must remain straight during this time.   When the lifter and bar are motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control. It is acceptable to drop the bar behind the head in the return to the platform as long as the lifter maintains hand contact with the bar.

How I do the Arthur Lift

Chad Ullom and his 258# Arthur Lift at the 2010 Arthur Saxon Pentathlon

By Chad Ullom

The Arthur lift starts off with a hack lift. I usually try and pop the weight up over my hips and drop under it and catch it ideally right on my belt. At this point, I bend over and work it into a good position where I know it won’t fall off. At this point, I reposition my hands to an underneath position and move them out to the collars. I try and pop the weight up my back, so I push up with my hips and pull the bar up toward my shoulders. It usually takes about 4 times to get it up high enough that I can get it onto my shoulders and ready for the jerk. Take your time and make sure the bar is centered and get your hands placed where you want them. I make sure that I’m ready for the jerk, drive hard up with my legs and hips and push through to lock out it out.

Stop The Rotation To Jumpstart Gains

by Ben Edwards

A lot has been written about training with thick-handled dumbbells and there are many methods to help you reach your strength goals.
Your training will usually consist of attempts to either increase your max lift for a single deadlift, or occasionally doing reps to increase the amount of time that you’re holding onto the dumbbell.  Occasionally it’s a good idea to switch your training up and focus on a different training method for a while to see if you can get break through a training rut or plateau.
A technique that has helped me drastically increase my Inch loadable dumbbell max over the past month is to stop the rotation of the dumbbell while performing a deadlift.  This is not something new and I’ve read about it being used by several guys who are training to lift the Inch Replica.
There are several ways to stop the rotation of a dumbbell

  • Press a finger against the plates with your non-lifting hand and apply inward pressure so that the rotation of the plates is arrested.  I used this technique after a grip contest about 5 years ago and lifted an Inch Replica to a full deadlift.  At that time I was about 40lbs away from a legitimate lift of an Inch Replica, so it’s a remarkable training tool.

  • Loosen the plates (applies to a loadable only) until they rattle when lifted and that will significantly reduce the rotation of the dumbbell.  I usually get about 10lbs more when I do this.

  • If you have an Al Myers Inch (loadable) Trainer -Use a hollow tube to slide over one of the “horns” on the screw-on collar.  Hold onto the tube with your non-lifting hand and that will prevent the dumbbell from rotating when you lift it.  This will add anywhere from 5 to 20lbs to your best unassisted lift.  The following pictures show this technique in action.

This is the starting position. The dumbbell hasn't left the ground yet. The left hand is already stabilizing the hollow tube, which prevents the dumbbell handle from rotating in your hand during the lift.

About a month ago I dusted off my Al Myers Inch Trainer and worked up to a max (contest-legal) lift of 139lbs.  I struggle with the rotation of thick-handled dumbbells.  I’ve trained it about 6 times since that test day and I did a contest-legal deadlift with 152lbs this morning.  That’s an increase of 13lbs in a month.  Some of that was just being a bit “rusty” with my thick-handled dumbbell technique.  But a good portion of that increase I attribute mainly to my rotation-stopping training.  Only on the first day did I actually do an unassisted dumbbell lift (without the rotation-stopping tube) during training.  The 6 workouts since that test day have consisted primarily of a few warmup 2-handed pulls and 1-handed negatives with 140lbs, and then 3 to 5 attempts – utilizing the rotation-stopping bar – with 150 to 170lbs.
I hope anyone training to lift an Inch Replica will put these suggestions to use and achieve their goal quickly and efficiently.  I’ve got a long way to go before I’m strong enough to lift an Inch Replica.  But at least now I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

This is the finished position of the dumbbell deadlift. The left hand is still holding on to the hollow tube. At this point in the lift, you could either continue to use the rotation-stopping effect of the hollow tube while you lower the dumbbell to the ground under control, or you could pull the hollow tube off the "horn" of the collar and try to control the dumbbell on the way to the ground without the rotation-stopping benefit of the hollow tube.

About a month ago I dusted off my Al Myers Inch Trainer and worked up to a max (contest-legal) lift of 139lbs.  I struggle with the rotation of thick-handled dumbbells.  I’ve trained it about 6 times since that test day and I did a contest-legal deadlift with 152lbs this morning.  That’s an increase of 13lbs in a month.  Some of that was just being a bit “rusty” with my thick-handled dumbbell technique.  But a good portion of that increase I attribute mainly to my rotation-stopping training.  Only on the first day did I actually do an unassisted dumbbell lift (without the rotation-stopping tube) during training.  The 6 workouts since that test day have consisted primarily of a few warmup 2-handed pulls and 1-handed negatives with 140lbs, and then 3 to 5 attempts – utilizing the rotation-stopping bar – with 150 to 170lbs.
I hope anyone training to lift an Inch Replica will put these suggestions to use and achieve their goal quickly and efficiently.  I’ve got a long way to go before I’m strong enough to lift an Inch Replica.  But at least now I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 4 – Bob Karhan

by John McKean

My all-round cohort and good buddy from Cleveland, Bob Karhan, has done more dumbbell home training than most. Very few trainees these days can match big Bob’s pure pressing power, the result of many years of concentrated work with various forms of dumbbell pressing. He’s kindly agreed to share some of his findings:

When training dumbbells I usually do 1-2 sets after my barbell exercises. For example, after a heavy press behind neck session I take a heavy pair of dumbbells and do a set of 5-6 reps in the dumbbell press. If this is fairly easy, I’ll add weight and go for on more set of 3-5 reps. If the first set proves to be a gut-buster, I’ll skip the second set.

I prefer sticking to a rep scheme of 3-8. The first rep always proves to be essential to jockey for ideal dumbbell positioning and establish coordination between muscle groups. Repetitions eventually enable one to discover a personal groove and fine tune it over the course of time. Only dumbbells permit this minute adjustment of positioning. In fact, I seriously doubt whether any two individuals could have the exact same degree of push.

In IAWA competition, the center of the ‘bell handles for presses can’t be higher than the clavicles. This presents a new level of difficulty because the initial drive requires a shoulder and elbow rotation to get the ‘bells started. This motion has a tendency to get the dumbbells out of one’s groove. By doing the exercise this way, the amount of weight is reduced by about 10-15% while shoulder aggravation is increased by 50%. It’s always important with dumbbells to work a lift in the most comfortable manner.

One other way to develop dumbbell power is to employ 2” dumbbell handles. These are hard to control and they’re tremendous for developing the grip. Mostly, when you go back to the standard 1” handles they feel like mere toys in your hands.

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 3 – The Nuts and Bolts

by John McKean

Sort of a surprise for any who have read my previous articles expounding the use of heavy single-rep lifts, but dumbbell strength training is best done is sets of 3-6 reps. At least a triple seems necessary to develop coordination and groove, absolutely essential to successful dumbbell work. In many gym experiments I’ve discovered I could take a particular poundage and do three good but fairly taxing reps with the dumbbell, then go but 5 pounds heavier only to find the stubborn ‘bells just wouldn’t budge an inch. Friends related exactly the same experience. So, if a “gym limit” can usually be pumped for 3-4 reps instead of only one, you might as well shoot for this number.

Singles can be attempted on widely spaced occasions – you need something to shoot for. But with dumbbells there’s a lot more control factors against you, and conditions won’t always be regulated as with a barbell. Your mood, drive, groove, coordination, incentive, and a well-rested, ready body has to be exactly in tune for that new dumbbell record. Plus, as any experienced dumbbell aficionado will tell you, it’s all too easy to mentally burn out on the short bars if you attempt too many maxes too frequently. Sad to report, misses with even previous marks occur a lot. Seems you must lose a little occasionally before your body allows you to advance. But take heart. When you do hit a new limit you’ll discover a unique exhilaration, ‘cause the dumbbells will let you know that you’ve really worked for and deserve it.

Many of us find that our top dumbbell weights are most easily achieved when done for a single set of 3-5 reps performed directly following a short session of singles with a similar barbell move. For instance, we work a standard barbell press for 70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, then finish – almost a “backdown set” – with a dumbbell press for, say a set of 4 reps. Since the dumbbell move is tougher and always lighter than its big brother barbell exercise, the body, and especially the mind, are better prepared (tricked) for dumbbell intensity when backing down to it instead of progressively building up in sets. It’s just so important to allow that first dumbbell rep to go smoothly and seem fairly light. Following that, reps 2, 3, 4 and, maybe 5, almost always flow easily. But there’s no second chance if the first one sticks.

A few barbell-up, dumbbell-down combos you may wish to try include snatches/swings, barbell hack squats/dumbbell deadlifts, push presses/one arm jerks, cheat curls/incline dumbbell curls, power cleans/dumbbell pullups, etc. Again, not that dumbbell lifts can’t be trained by themselves – some, such as all-rounds torturous two-hands anyhow, can’t be trained any other way. It’s just that quicker advances in poundages and better quality training come when the dumbbell lifts are combined with heavy single barbell movements. Just remember the formula of 4 sets of 1 with the barbell, 1 set of 4 with the dumbbell.

Progression can best be summed up this way – don’t be in too much of a hurry. Keep plugging at that set of 3-5 reps with a consistent poundage, workout after workout, until it starts to feel light and easy. Then just nudge the dumbbells up by 5 pounds the next session. Some may prefer to gradually raise reps, starting at 4 and eventually achieving 7 with a given weight before upping the poundage and starting over at 3 or 4. Regardless of which progression you prefer, always be a bit cautious during that next workout with the weight jump – attack it, because that addition of a mere 5 pounds per hand may prove far heavier than you expect. Smaller weight increases with loading dumbbells can be achieved by off-loading, or adding a single plate to only one side of the bell.

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 2 – A Lesson in Abbreviation

by John McKean

A good friend of mine – our past U.S. National All-Round President, Howard Prechtel – relates how he once specialized for a one-year period on the dumbbell clean & press as his only upper-body exercise. His only other exercise was the half-squat in a power rack. He stayed away from his regular gym at the time to increase his concentration on these two movements (and to avoid unnecessary “advice” from training partners who would have chided him for such limited training). When the year was up, a muscularly massive Howard Prechtel confidently strode into the training hall to easily clean and strict press over 300 pounds on a barbell – at least 50 pounds more than he had ever done before. Teammates were literally flabbergasted – this was absolutely without steroids, and they couldn’t figure out how this gym drop-out pulled it off. You can bet, tho’, that ole Howie didn’t wave around lightweight bells during his escape time from conventional stale routines.

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 1 – Dumbbell Training

by John McKean

Paul Anderson, Louis Cyr, Arthur Saxon, Hermann Goerner, Doug Hepburn, and John McKean. The question behind this answer is, “Name five all-time superstars of strength who extensively employed heavy dumbbells in training, and one other guy!” Of course, yours truly is the lowly other guy, but I do enjoy standing on the shoulders of these giants to seek some of the progress they found through brutally-intense dumbbell work.

Unfortunately, most dumbbell work nowadays is relegated to lightweight shaping movements, or, at most, relatively high-rip, non-goal oriented exercise with poundages that are “comfortable”. I don’t even like to recall how many gyms I’ve visited where the heavy half of the dumbbell rack is as dusty and untouched as their bench uprights shiny and worn.

Why is this? Simple – dumbbells hurt. That is, in exactly the opposite manner to how exercise machines ease and rob the work of a similar barbell move, dumbbells call for even more total bodily involvement than a long bar. Where machines isolate, dumbbells, on the other hand, require extreme control, utilization of many stabilizing muscles, coordination between muscle groups, and total concentration. They have a longer range of motion than barbells or machines, and bombard deep-lying muscle fibers from many different angles. Most importantly, with some intense effort, seriously-heavy dumbbells eventually adapt to our own personal groove – we’re forced to learn to control the weighty little beasts, and best compensate for out individual leverages. Eventually, then, we discover (perhaps even subconsciously) our own optimum angles of push or pull, to capitalize on innermost strengths.

Many of the old-time strongmen never seemed to lack incentive to go to limit poundages on dumbbell lifts. Of course, back then they regularly contested dumbbell clean & jerks, presses, snatches, swings, and the crucifix. A look at U.S. and British record lists printed in magazines from the 1920s and 30s will show a slew of dumbbell marks which were recorded under official conditions. Do we have any such incentive today? You bet! Under the auspices of the IAWA we currently have 27 registered dumbbell lifts to go after. And, brother, if you thought my insistence on training barbell limits in past articles was taxing, I’m really setting you up for a wonderful world of pain this time.

No, you may not be interested in jumping into one of our dumbbell competitions – the British would call these “single arm championships” – but you sure can obtain huge overall strength gains while bringing out previously unnoticed lumps, bumps and strands of muscle. All that’s required is the desire to see just how heavy a single rep you can eventually achieve with one or more dumbbell lifts. Specialize if you care to, or build a total routine on 4-10 dumbbell moves per week.

Art Montini

by John McKean

This is Art from his "younger days'. This picture is prominently displayed in the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club.

” I LOVE the aches and pains every morning! They tell me that I didn’t die in my sleep!!” Then, to assert this positive life-force, eighty four year old Art Montini heads to the gym every morning at 5 AM to lift weights. HEAVY ones!

You see, Art Montini of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania is perhaps the premiere Master (over age of 40) weightlifter in the world! He has been a competitor in olympic style weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round lifting for 64 years and a master lifter for 44 of those years.He currently holds around 250 US national records in All-Round weightlifting for the USAWA which places him as first or second on the list for most records ever ( Art laughs at his good friend and record-numbers competitor, Denny Habecker, the USAWA national president. “He’s just a “kid” of 67!”,crows Montini.).But Art has proven that heavy training, rather than lightweight “over 50″ programs is the fountain of youth & vitality.

With no sign of letting up (Art has been known to leave a hospital from minor surgery and typical age related procedures to drive straight to the gym for a workout!),  Montini plans to compete in this year’s All-Round National Championships in Lebanon,PA , set a few more records in the World’s Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, and finish the year by lifting in his own , annual birthday meet in Ambridge,PA.These days in his age group division of 80+ , ole Art doesn’t have a lot of head-on competition, but is quick to reveal his current secret of success -”If at first ya can’t outlift ‘em, OUTLIVE ‘em!”

My Pullum Patent Bar

by Roger Davis

Pullum Bar - made to exact patent specifications

“Thought you may be interested in my Pullum Patent bar. One of my engineer friends helped me make it to the exact specifications of the 1921 Patent. It has a brass sleeve that rotates around the bar, pre-dating the Berg Olympic Bar by some years. I also have an almost full set of CWLC (Camberwell Weightlifting Club, the famous gym of WA Pullum) plates to complement it. It is a real work of art, but it lives a full and useful life rather than being a museum piece. I train with it almost every day.”

Arm Over Arm Drag

by Al Myers

" A couple of weeks ago at the Dino Gym we did a training session with the Arm Over Arm Drag. These pictures show Dino Gym member Scott Tully pulling a 400# sled over a 80 foot course for time. This exercise will test the strength of the entire upper body, along with increasing your heart rate! Eric Todd is helping Scott by keeping the rope tight and out of Scott's way, while providing encouragement." - Al Myers

Seven Priniciples for Cleaning and Pressing Dumbbells

by John McKean

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, holds the Overall Record in the Clean and Press - 2 Dumbbells in the 125+ KG Class with a lift of 230 pounds (this is a picture of that record). This record was performed in the 2004 IAWA Postal Meet.

1.) Principles of cleaning and pressing barbells apply. You need an easy clean. If you’re stumbling all over as you rack the dumbells, or have to muscle them in over the last few inches, your chances of making a maximum single, triple, or even a set of five are slim.

2.) Concentrate on speed when you clean dumbells. You have to turn the dumbells over fast which requires getting the elbows to move rapidly. Remember, you’re not doing hammer curls.

3.) Dumbell cleans are easier if one uses ‘bells with thin, flat-style plates. I prefer 12½’s myself, the fewer plates the better. Hexagon-shaped dumbells are noticeably harder to clean, at least 90’s and up.

4.) For home training, spiral-lock dumbells are best. They can be changed quickly, and you never have to worry about the collars falling off and causing potential injury.

5.) For pressing heavy dumbells it’s essential to have a solid base. Total-body work comes into play here as you must maintain tight thighs and hips.

6.) When pressing the heaviest dumbells, I prefer palms facing each other, with elbows facing forward and angled slightly outward (as opposed to elbows to the sides).

7.) Keep dumbells directly over the shoulders and concentrate on driving them straight up, always being attentive to prevent the ‘bells from wandering out to the sides.

The Farmers Walk

by Al Myers

Big John Conner of the Dino Gym training the Farmers Walk with 405 pounds per hand!!

One of the most physically taxing exercises you can train is the ole’ fashioned FARMERS WALK.  All it takes is two identical implements to carry. Just pick them both up at the same time and start walking.  This event is very popular among strongmen and is contested at many strongman competitions. I think it is also a good training exercise for All-Rounders.  It works the entire body – and when you are finished with a WALK your legs, back, shoulders, and arms will be exhausted.  The Farmers Walk is an excellent last exercise (or often called “the finisher”) to your workout.  I would recommend you do it last because if you “push it hard” you will have had enough!  Brooks Kubik made this comment regarding the Farmers Walk in his book Dinosaur Training, “if you do this exercise the right way, you won’t have anything left for any other exercise.”

Like I said, you can carry about anything in the Farmers Walk.  If you don’t have special made FARMERS IMPLEMENTS – use dumbbells.  If you don’t have dumbbells -  use 5 gallon buckets filled with sand, water or rocks. When I was a young 12 year old kid my Dad would make me carry 5 gallon buckets of milk to feed the calves. I would have to carry these buckets over 100 yards from the milk barn to the calf shed.  Sometimes, I would have to come back for more milk-filled buckets!  I remember when I started doing this chore I HATED it and considered it HARD WORK, and thought my Dad was mean spirited making me work like that. But Dad knew what was best for me, and he kept making me do this every day after school. Soon afterwards, I felt stronger and in better shape, and I had suddenly developed muscles I didn’t have before. I’m sure this is one of the reasons that first got me interested in weight training.  I could feel myself getting stronger carrying the buckets, and soon it became easy – and I LIKED the way it made me feel!  My Dad knew farm work like this would make a young boy strong, and I got to thank him today for introducing me to progressive weight training using the FARMERS WALK the FARMER’S WAY (in which the Farmers Walk includes productive hard physical work)!

Give the FARMERS WALK a try in your training program.  If you are like me, you could use a little more cardio work in your training program!  This exercise is very challenging and easy to improve on.  You can always add a little more weight to your carry, go a little faster, or maybe go a farther distance.

The Giant Steel Pill

"One of the most challenging feats in the gym is shouldering what we have called THE GIANT STEEL PILL. It is an old air compressor tank loaded to 250 pounds. It is very slick and is hard to get a grasp on it. However, these pictures show Chris Anderson lifting it easily! Chris even smiled for the camera!" - Al Myers

My Toys

by Roger Davis

"Thought you might like a picture of some of my you just want to hop on a plane and come round to play. The globe dumbbell is 40 kg, and has a 2" handle. At a sponsored charity event later this year, I want to lift it overhead 40 times in 40 minutes to mark by 40th birthday" - Roger Davis

(webmasters comment:  Thanks Roger for sending along these pictures of some of “your toys” – and YES I would like to “play around” with them.  If anyone else has special training implements, please send me a picture with a short writeup and I will share it on the website.)

Harness Lift:Part 2

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck getting "Down and Dirty" to judge the Harness Lift with a helper!

My own story on the Harness lift goes like this.  After that 2006 USAWA Nationals mentioned in part 1: Harness Lift, I got one of the harnesses and heavy bars Al made special for that meet.  I brought it home but did not have enough weight to load it!  So I contacted my good friend, Bob McConaughey with the BNSF railroad and he set me up with a pair of railroad car wheels.  I thought the RR car wheels would be cool to lift and we could also use them in our strongman evangelism shows.  I’ll never forget our conversation when he asked me what size I wanted:

Thom:  “So, what size do you have?”

Bob:  “Well, they can range from 1000lbs and up to 4000lb”

Thom: “Apeice!!!!……uhhh…what’s the smallest you can get me?”

Bob (laughing):  “I think we could find you some coal car wheels that are in the 800lb range!”

So, it was off to Galesburg, Illinois to pick up some surplus steel!  I took my half ton truck to pick up a ton and a half of steel.  John O’Brien went along for the ride and upon arriving, the trainmaster took us down to the yard to get them loaded.  They were on a palate and I’ll never forget when the trainmaster asked the loading dock guy for help loading them and the loader looked at the wheels and at us and said, “Don’t you think a fork lift would be easier”!?  As he walked off to get the fork lift, the trainmaster mutter under his breath a more crude version of “NO CRAP”!!!  My poor pick up has hauled a lot of crazy stuff over the years, but you should have seen the it sink under that weight!

I got them home, and realized as I got them into my gym that these things were so heavy they were actually extremely dangerous, if they tipped over they could sever whatever was under them.  But, I got them modified and loaded on to my heavy bar.  My Dad had come over and helped me slip the harness on and I made my adjustments.  Finally, I had them adjusted and with an estimated 1700lbs, I began to pull….an pull….and pull.  It was then I realized that when you do Heavy Lifts, you have to have a whole new mindset!  Upon proper mental approach which involves pain tolerance and the feeling that something is going to rip in any given joint in your body, I lifted it.  I then loaded it to an estimated 2000lbs and after a couple of attempts, got that, too.  I was elated!!!  Later, I took my shirt off to shower and looked in the mirror and realize I had blood blisters all over my shoulders and hips.  I looked like I had been bull whipped!  The next day I felt some serious joint and muscle soreness, but a lasting satisfaction that I had “lifted a ton”!

If you want to get started in Harness Lifting, my recommendation is you need to work into it slower than I did and get some coaching by someone that knows what they are doing….it will save you some time and maybe injuries!  Since you aren’t going to buy a harness or Heavy Bar at the local sporting goods store, I would take a good look at a Harness before making one and ask guys who have them how they made them.  They have made all the mistakes for you and can tell you the best way to go about it.

Finally, you are always welcome to stop by the JWC Training Hall and give the Harness lift a shot!

Harness Lift:Part 1

by Thom Van Vleck

Big Al Myers lifted 2800# in the Harness Lift at the 2006 USAWA Nationals

The Harness Lift is one of the more intriguing lifts in the USAWA.  How often can a person lift a ton….literally!  Let’s review the Harness Lift rules from the USAWA rule book: A Heavy Lift Bar is used in this lift. A harness is also used, which fits over the shoulders and around the waist. An adjustable chain and hook is attached to the harness so it may be attached to the Heavy Lift Bar. The width of the harness must not exceed 4 inches around the waist and 3 inches over the shoulders. The lifter is also allowed to use hand rails to support the arms during the lift. The hand rails may be of any design. A hand rail does not need to be used, and the lifter may support the arms on the legs during the lift. The lifter assumes a position in which the lifter is straddling the Heavy Lift Bar. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter may adjust the chain length to his/her preference prior to the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed one test lift to check the balance of the weight and to make adjustments to the chain length. The lifter will stand and lift the weights from the platform. The shoulders and torso do not have to be upright upon the finish of the lift. The legs must straighten, but the knees do not need to be locked. Once the weight is motionless, and the plates on both ends of the bar are off the platform at the same time, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Steve Schmidt is responsible for some of the most amazing Harness lifts of all time.  At the 1988 Backbreaker he did 3500lbs in the 105kg class and in 1992 Backbreaker he did 3315lbs weighing in some 10kg less in the 95kg class.  But the best of all time, was at the 1991 back breaker where Steve did 3515lbs in the 100kg class! Another amazing Harness lifter is Joe Garcia.

But to me, my favorite memory of the Harness lift took place when I was a head judge at the 2006 USAWA Nationals.  There was a lot of big Harness lifts that day but a real battle emerged between Al Myers and Ian Reel.  Al was the wiley veteran and Ian was the young rookie.  It was a battle for the ages!  I was extremely impressed with Ian (I’ve come to expect big lifts out of Al!).  I recall getting down at floor level trying to check for clearance and seeing that heavy bar bend like a bow!  That was some serious weight!  When the dust settled, Ian (who was officially lifting in the 110kg class) equaled Al’s 2800lbs (Al was in the 115kg class) so by virtue of bodyweight, I have to give youth the victory on this one.  I hope when Ian is done with his collegiate throwing career he makes a return to the USAWA….I hear he’s “filled out” now!

Youth is served! Ian Reel matches Al Myers lift for lift in the Harness Lift while recording the top Harness Lift of All-Time by a teenager.

Award Candidates

by Al Myers

First, I want to thank everyone who made nominations and showed support to the USAWA Awards Program. I was overwhelmed by the number of nominations made – and the many athletes that were nominated.  One category had 7 athletes nominated – with EVERY ONE of them deserving of the award.  Now we will have to make the hard decision of picking just ONE athlete per award by having a membership vote.  I narrowed the candidates down to two per category, with the two being the ones that had the most nominations.  I listed them in alphabetical order (according to last name) so the order is NOT associated with their number of nominations.  I also want to point out that being the RUNNER-UP of these awards is quite an honor, and no one should feel disappointed even if they are not selected.  As I have said earlier, these kind of awards are the ones that mean the most as they are selected by your peers.  Anyone who is a current USAWA member is eligible to place a vote – so take the time and cast a vote.  Votes are to be sent to me at  The deadline for votes is May 26th – the same as the deadline for your National Championship Entry! These awards will be announced at the National Meeting.

Athlete of the Year

Al Myers
Chad Ullom

Leadership Award
Bill Clark
Al Myers

Sportsmanship Award
Denny Habecker
Art Montini

Courage Award
Frank Ciavattone
Dale Friesz

Newcomer Award
Dave Glasgow
Kohl Hess

It’s time to get your National Entry in

by Al Myers

JUNE 26 & 27, 2010

The deadline is approaching fast for this year’s USAWA National Championships, hosted by our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  The deadline is May 26th.  Please help Denny prepare by getting your entry in on time.  Considerable time and energy is spent in preparing for a competition like this, and a meet director needs to know how many competitors will attend so arrangements can be done accordingly. Planning for TShirts, awards, and food requirements have to be done way ahead of the meet date, so it is very important to get that entry in on time.  I know the USAWA has in the past been pretty lenient on this, but you never know, this year may be different if entry numbers are up.  Why take that chance??  Just fill out the entry form today and send it to Denny!

Denny had these words to share about this year’s upcoming Championships, ” I am looking forward to a great meet this year. I am expecting some very good new lifters this year, in addition to the great lifters from past years, which should make this a very good and exciting meet.  I hope every member that can make it will come and help make this the best meet ever. I know a lot of lifters liked the two day format, and the cookout in my yard after the meet will be very informal and I hope enjoyed by all.”

Below are the entry forms for this year’s National Championship:
2010 USAWA Nationals – info page


A True Spiritual Warrior – An Interview with Steve Angell

Interview and article by Cliff Harvey (

Interview – Steve Angell

Steve Angell

I faced a crisis back in around 2001…
I had been boxing with the great NZ coach Chris Martin out of the same Auckland Boxing Association stable that included Paula Mataele – at the time the Super Heavyweight Champion of New Zealand. After suffering several concussions during sparring, and having already sustained quite a few playing rugby over the previous 14 years I had been faced with the prospect of giving up my goal of becoming an international fighter. I was pretty despondent about this, and to be honest I needed a new challenge. I had always had a fascination with the seemingly superhuman levels of strength exhibited by people like Arthur Saxon, Herman Goerner, Geoge Hackenshmidt, Joe Greenstein and others. I had also never been truly strong. Sure – I was pretty strong and I threw around some OK weights in the gym – but naturally gifted in strength I certainly wasn’t…
As I researched the old time strongmen and became more and more interested in ‘All Round Weightlifting’, one name stood out, and kept popping up in the competitions of the time as one of the greats of lifting – Steve Angell. The lifts that Steve put up in competitions became the weights that I attempted to meet (pound for pound) and became a focus for me in my early days of strength sports. Years later and having competed in both All-Round and Olympic weightlifting it is my absolute pleasure to now know and be able to ’shoot the breeze’ with the man that was my inspiration to enter into competition. And it is my pleasure to introduce him to you.

Cliff Harvey – Hi Steve thanks for agreeing to talk with us. It’s a real honour!

Steve Angell – The pleasure’s all mine Cliff, I’m honoured that you feel me worthy of an interview.

CH – Thanks. Steve – I’m sure many of my readers will be aware of your accomplishments, but for the rest can you give us a little bit of your background and history in the iron game?

SA – Well it all started for me in Athletics. I was a hammer thrower who needed to get stronger for the event. I have been Buckinghamshire County Hammer Throwing Champion as a Junior, senior and in 2009 came out of retirement to win the senior championships as a 35-39 year master.

My need to get stronger for throwing led me to train at a great old school type gym in my area. The guy who ran the gym (Brian Clayton) saw the potential in me as a powerlifter and after just over a year of serious training became Junior British Drug Free Powerlifting Champion and I broke the British Deadlift record by 40kgs, recording a lift of 280kgs at 90kgs bodyweight.

The venue for the competition was Steve Gardner’s powerhouse Gym, and there we formed a friendship that would mould my All-round lifting career.

There was a picture on the wall of Steve’s gym of him performing the stone putt in a Highland Games competition. As a thrower this got my juices going, and upon talking to Steve found out he ran strongman and Highland Games competitions. I talked Steve into letting me compete in his next Highland Games competition, and as the youngest guy there, won the games.

As you know Cliff, Steve is one of the main men in the IAWA, and he encouraged me to have a go at an All-Round competition, and the rest as they say is history…
I became a multiple World Champion in the All-Rounds and in the last 20+ years have competed in just about every type of strength sport I could find. A rundown of my achievements are as follows.

County Hammer Throwing Champion
Junior British Powerlifting Champion and record holder
IAWA World Champion 7 times (4 times over-all champion)
IAWA World One Hand Deadlift Champion
WNPF World Deadlift Champion
British Strandpulling Champion 9 times
Britain’s Drug Free Strongest Man Winner 1997
British Deadlift Champion.
Closed the Iron Mind number 3 ‘Captains of Crush Gripper’
Lifted the ‘Dinnie’ stone 9 times (In two visits)
Lifted the ‘Inver’ stone 3 times

CH – That’s quite the wrap sheet Steve! Out of all the things you’ve done what are you most proud of?

SA – The thing I am most proud of, and it was emotionally the hardest thing I have ever had to do was back in September 1996. Just six days before I was due to compete in the World Championships in Glasgow Scotland, My father passed away from cancer. My mother and brothers and sisters wanted me to go to Scotland and compete. It was hard for me to travel to Scotland, but my weightlifting family helped me through it. I won my weight class and best over all lifter award and broke six world records. I then flew back to England and the next day with my brothers and cousin carried my fathers coffin at his funeral. The first time my dad saw me compete, he was shocked how his quiet son could become such an animal. I placed my trophy from my first competition in his coffin. I love and miss my father more than anything…

I am very proud of all of the above as far as winning titles goes. The lift I am most proud of is my 255kgs Zercher. i did this lift at 102kgs bodyweight in 1997, and twelve years later it is still the biggest lift ever done regardless of bodyweight. A lot of the things i am most proud of are what I call ‘off the cuff lifts’, where I did no prior specialist training. They are a 1660lbs Hand & Thigh lift performed in Frank Ciavattone’s basement in Boston USA. We just loaded up the bar to see what I could do. I also Closed an Ironmind No 3 Gripper on site. A guy brought one along to an all-round competition and I closed it. I also Lifted the Dinnie Stones 5 times with no prior training. In fact the lifts were the day after the 2001 IAWA world Championships held in Glasgow Scotland. I had performed 8 lifts over two days and was quite beat up, and after winning my weight class and best lifter award, was a bit worse for ware after celebrating with my Old friend Jack (Daniel’s) on the Sunday night. Never the less, after a 4hr drive to the stones, I lifted them 5 times. I have been back to them since and lifted them a further 4 times.

CH – That’s amazing stuff Steve, and what a great way to honour your father, that must have been terribly difficult. I know that we have agreed before that there is no weight in comp so heavy as that of loved ones coffin. Your family must be incredibly proud…

So Steve I’m interested to hear the story of how you ‘tamed the BEAST’!

SA – That’s one of the hardest off the cuff strength feats I have ever done. Recently I cleaned every rep and pressed a 48kg kettlebell for 100 reps (50 left & 50 right handed) For some reason a 48kg ball with a handle has gotten the name “THE BEAST”. To me that’s just a marketing ploy from Dragondoor, but also it’s setting limitations in peoples mind sets. 100+ years ago, strength Athletes gave us the Dinnie Stones, The inver stone, the Inch Dumbbell and the Apollon Axel. They were “BEASTS” to lift, not a 48kg kettlebell.

CH – Ha ha – that’s great stuff Steve. Too many people put limits on their performance. So talking about limits what are some of your best lifts in competition?

SA – I have always been a platform lifter. By that I mean all my PB’s have been done in competition and not in the gym. My best lifts ever are.

Deadlift 280kgs (90kg bodyweight) 300kgs (110kg bodyweight)
One Hand Deadlift 230kg
Zercher 255kgs
Continental to Belt 250kgs
Continental Clean 182.5 kgs
Continental Snatch 125kgs
Straddle Deadlift 310kgs
Hack Lift 300kgs
Trapbar Deadlift 300kgs
One Hand Snatch 75kgs
Hand & Thigh Lift 1600lbs

I think they are some of my best lifts. Although I did a training phase once doing half front squats out of the power rack and worked up to 800lbs. My coach at the time (Brian Clayton) said it was the best feat of strength he had ever seen drug free.

CH – You were certainly a big inspiration for me when I was first entering into weightlifting competition. who were some of your role models in strength sports?

SA – Thanks Cliff, that means a lot to me. My hero’s if you like were (to start with) Bill Pearl and Bill Kazmaier. I brought a copy of a bodybuilding magazine back in 1986 when I was 16 years old. There was an article about Bill Pearl in it and he was 55 years old at the time. He looked amazing and to this day, i have that magazine at hand to inspire me. Kaz was just a “BEAST” and I loved everything about him. I set out to be the next Kaz. If you see me getting psyched before a lift, it is modelled on Kaz. The two Bill’s are still hero’s of mine.

On the lifting scene a bit closer to home, I have a lot of people to thank for helping me become the best I could be. They include. My first coach Brian Clayton, My hammer throwing coach Jack Kee. My wieghtlifting Coach Chris Gladding, who is a second father to me. Steve Gardner has played a big part in encouraging me during my lifting career.

Just seeing some of my fellow lifters compete has inspired me. Just a few names are – Frank Ciavattone, John Vernacchio, Neil Abery, Howard Prechtel and Denny Haybecker.

Outside the lifting arena, my heroes are Mohammed Ali, English decathlete Daley Thompson and Liverpool football player Kenny Dalglish. And the greatest English Rugby player of all time Martin Johnson.

CH – Well being a Kiwi and rugby fanatic I won’t comment on Martin Johnson mate! But I think we can agree on the rest of the legends you listed.
You are heavily involved in kettlebells now – can you tell us a little about how you became involved with the UKKA?

SA – In 2003 I became the youngest English inductee into the IAWA hall of fame. Steve Gardner put a great evening of entertainment on for the inductee dinner, and one of the the people he booked was Stan Pike, the founder of the UKKA. He did a kettlebell demonstration and i was just instantly hooked. I had seen pictures of kettlebells being used by old time strongmen and just fell in love with them. After the awards ceremony, I chatted to Stan and we hit it off straight away. We were like two old warrior spirits meeting again after a millennium. Steve Gardner got Stan to come back to his gym so we could have a play with the bells and I purchased a 16, 25 and 32kg kettlebell from Stan on that day and spent some time using them to warm up prior to my lifting sessions.

I then contacted Stan about becoming qualified as a UKKA instructor. I travelled up to Scotland a few times over the next year and our friendship grew, as did my kettlebell collection. I now own KB’s from 6kgs through to 56kgs and I truly believe Stan’s ‘IntenseFitness’ kettlebells are the best designed bells in the world.

After my training with Stan, I was proud and honoured to be invited to become a senior Instructor with the UKKA. I now train personal trainers and certify them to become instructors.

I truly think kettlebells are the best training tool out there, but they are not the only tool. I incorporate them into a well balanced strength and conditioning routine. As a strength athlete, I use kettlebells, sand bags, rocks and stones etc to turn the strength I gain from free weight and machine training into functional strength. for instance, I could work up to 150kg seated press on my powertech plate loaded machine and then perform up to 100reps pressing a 48kg kettlebell.

I also love using kettlebells for circuit conditioning training. I perform 5 x two hand swings, 5 x one hand swings each hand, 5 x snatches each hand, 5 x clean and presses each hand, 5 x Fig 8 each direction and 5 x pass around the body each direction. i would warm up with a 16 kg, then work through 20, 25, 32, 40, and 45kg kettlebells.

CH – I’d like to get some ‘from the hip’ opinions from you on “The state of the fitness industry”

SA – It’s full of under qualified instructors. By that I mean under qualified in experience. It’s very easy to qualify as a personal trainer if you have a couple thousand pounds (or dollars) to spend, but I have to be honest, I would not pay most of the people who have come to me to qualify as a KB instructor to train my cat let alone myself. On paper most of the people I have put through their KB instructor courses are more qualified them me, but in a lot of cases they have become clients of mine because they can’t even (or have not been taught on their courses how to) squat correctly. I had one trainer want me to put them through a strength session. I was just ready too beast him because I automatically thought technique would be fine. The first session ended up resulting in me teaching a trainer who had spent around £7,000 on training courses the basic squat techniques.

I gave up on qualification when on my PT instructors course. They (WABBA) said there were only three exercises that trained the hands, wrists and forearms. The reverse curl, wrist curls and wrist roller. I wrote loads of exercises on my written exam amd they failed me. I went mad at the guy running the course. He wrote the answers they required on a piece of paper, handed it to me and said if your paper has these answers on it you will pass. I filled the papaer out, got my qualification – and it is the most worthless piece of paper I own. I think that just about sums up the closed mindedness of the industry as a whole.

CH - “Kettlebells in the industry”

SA – Too many people in it to make a quick buck.
Just about every man and his dog seems to be an expert in KB’s and bringing out very poor DVDs. When i started kettlebell training, bought lots of DVD’s and books trying to gain as much knowledge as possible. How ever most of them seem to be trying to think up new exercises just to bring their next DVD or book out. Just the same as everyone knows that deadlifts, squats, cleans, presses etc are the best compound type exercises to perform using barbells. Swings, snatches, cleans, presses along with some core type exercise like turkish get ups are the best kettlebell exercises to perform to gain the best results. Everything else is just an add on to your training after you have performed the basics.

CH – “Instability devices (bosus etc)”

SA – Deadlift 3 times bodyweight without a belt and you will have all the core stability you will ever need. The picture of you sitting on a bosu ball writing your training diary sums up their worth.
Just stick to basic heavy compound movements, supplemented with kettlebells, sandbags etc and you will get all the core stability you need.

CH – Thanks Steve! We got a lot of use out of that pic!
You know that my speciality is nutrition – what are your philosophies on nutrition? What sorts of things do you eat in a given day?’

SA – I like to work on the KISS theory when it comes to Nutrition. That is ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’.
I keep my nutrition simple and balanced. I like the theory I was taught when I studied the basics of nutrition. “If man has made it or tampered (processed) with it. Limit it or eliminate it from your diet all together.” When I made my mini comeback last year and got my deadlifts over 300kg again, I supplemented with more protein than I had before. On top of my meal plan, I was taking 30 grams of protein in a drink four times a day. I found this very useful in recovering from intense workouts. Other than that, I take a high potency Multi Vitamin, 2 grams of Vit C and B complex Vits daily.

CH – I agree Steve – and I use that analogy (‘if man made it don’t eat it’) a lot in my lectures too.

You have been called a ’spiritual warrior’ can you tell us a little about the role faith plays in your daily life?

SA – I read a quote in a book once from a Buddhist Monk that kind of sums up my religious faith. He said he loved Christ and Christianity, but was not so keen on ‘churchianity’. That sums me up quite well. I am a very spiritual person, but not mega religious. I believe in and love God, but also believe in the teachings of Buddha. Christ and Buddha are the two most peaceful people to have walked the earth. Once politics has been removed from the teachings of both of them, you come down to the fact that they both just wanted people to live in harmony, help one another and remove greed from their lives. What a great world it would be if that ever happened.

CH – It sure would Steve, great thoughts there. If more people would recognize the fundamental truths of faith and cultivate their own connection with God, ‘The Divine’, ‘The Superconscious’ or whatever you want to refer to it and stop just trying to be ‘right’ the better off the world would be.

So along those lines you’ve also become more heavily involved in yoga and tai chi lately. How did you come to be involved with those?

SA – I had my best ever year lifting in 1997. I was British champion twice, world Champion, did my 255kg Zercher and 230kg One Hand Deadlift and won Britain’s Drug Free Strongest Man competition. However all that obviously took its toll on my body, as in my first Competition of 1998 my back blew out on me. The heavy one hand deadlifts had compressed the lumber discs and to cut a long story short it took two years for me to recover from this injury. Part of my rehabilitation was me purchasing a yoga video for back health. I learnt the exercises on the video and carried on doing them for a few years. Then I took on a client who started telling me about a yoga holiday that she had just come back from run by a guy called Simon Low. My wife had just started getting into yoga at the time and when I told her about Simon Low yoga retreats, she looked him up on the internet and before I knew it had booked us on his next retreat. That was a great retreat and I made a good friend in Simon Low during that week. He admitted to me that when he looked at me as a 240lb weightlifter, he wondered what on earth I was doing on one of his retreats, but I kind of proved to him during that week that you can be very strong, but be flexible as well. With all the meditation, chanting etc we did during the week and me Om-ing with the best of them, I came away from the retreat with the new name, “Peaceful Warrior”. I now have that tattooed on my arm.

I had also become friends with a local Tai Chi teacher by the name of Peter Warr in the early nineties and he taught me a basic routine and some chi gong to help be breath deeper and help with the nerves before competitions. I always know I would take it further at some point. I started going to his classes again a few years ago, and have now done my coaching courses with him and am qualified to teach the Yang style 8, 16 and 24 forms along with the BCCMA 24 form

CH – How have these experiences changed your outlook on training and life?

SA – I have become a more balanced person with yoga and tai chi. Tai chi has taught my the Chinese yin and yang philosophy of hard (strength training) and soft (yoga and tai chi) and that the body works best when they are in balance. I am still very much a yang (hard) man, but try and create as much balance as possible. I also know, I will turn my back on the strength world one day and yoga and tai chi will become the foundation of the remainder of my life.

CH – I’ve certainly found the same Steve. I was introduced to yoga growing up with my Dad and more recently have gotten back into it and I both love it and feel that it for me to provides the ‘yin’ to the ‘yang’ of lifting and fighting.
Looking back over your career how have you evolved as a lifter?…and as a person?

SA – I will be 40 years old in 2010 and I believe I am a better all-round athlete and person than I was in my twenties. That is because I have introduced more conditioning in to my training as well as yoga and tai chi. In my twenties, I was just a beast with the aim of lifting more in each competition.
Looking back, never really enjoyed the moment with all my victories. As soon as the Gold medal was in the bag, I was thinking of the next. My father even said to once that I should sit back and realize what I achieved. It wasn’t until 1997 when my body could not take anymore beatings and subsequently I had to take two years out to rehab my back and body that I started bringing more balance it to my training. In 2001 / 2002, I had lost that balance again and despite being the strongest I had ever been, I took it too far again and completely detached my right distal biceps tendon. I had to have surgery to reattach it and another year to fully recover from the injury. It was then that I took a step back and could see what I was doing to myself and my wife and family. I retired from International competition in 2002 and that is is when I added boxing training into my routine and then the following year met Stan Pike and was introduced to kettlebells. From there my training has become much more balanced. I always felt I was only six months real hard training away from being able to hit big poundage’s again though. And this was proved right in 2009 when I competed in my County Championships at Hammer throwing after a break of 13 years and won the Gold Medal and then after 10 weeks heavy training broke the IAWA Trap -Bar Deadlift World Record pulling my first 300kg deadlift since 2002.

CH – What are you working on right now Steve? Any new projects on the way?

SA – 2009 was a bit of a comeback year for me winning the County Hammer throwing championships and deadlifting 300kgs again. The real inspiration behind this was my daughter Ella. I wanted to win medals and trophies for her, so she would know her daddy was at one time one of the strongest drug free people in the world. She really is my inspiration now. And also I have to stay big and strong to keep the boys at bay when she gets older Ha Ha.As I stated earlier, I will be 40 in 2010 and I wanted to do something mad to celebrate my 40 years on the planet. I am sharing this goal with you exclusively in the interview. As you know I have a love for stone lifting and the most famous stones in the world are the Dinnie stones in the highlands of Scotland. I have visited them twice, lifting them 5 times in 2001 and four times in 2007. For my 40th I am going to attempt to lift them 40 times. This is the biggest (and craziest) goal I have ever set myself. In the fourth rep back in 2007, I tore the skin from my hand and was unable to attempt any more reps, so I am going through some very strict training for this goal and am videoing my training and the attempt its self and if successful will be bringing a DVD out of the whole thing. As you say Cliff, “if you shoot for the stars and reach the moon, you have still had a great journey”. With this goal I am shooting for the stars and am very much looking forward to the journey.

CH – Wow Steve, that is one hell of a goal! Thanks for sharing it with me and my readers. If there’s anyone who can do it, it’s you mate.

Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me mate. It’s an honour and a pleasure to be ’singing from the same song sheet’ as you would say.

(Webmaster’s comment: I want to again thank Cliff for allowing The Daily News to run his interview with Steve Angell. This interview is also available on Cliff’s website and blog – which can be found at