Inspiration for the Inman?

By Thom Van Vleck

In Indonesia, men walk down into Mount Ijen, an active volcano, to haul out sulfur. They will carry an average of 100kg out for several kilometers as a way to make a living.

One of the most diabolical lifts in the USAWA is the Inman Mile.  It’s so different you have to wonder where Jerry Inman came up with the idea for this! Let’s review the rules:

D17.  Inman Mile
The lifter will take a bar onto the shoulders with a weight equal to 150 per cent of the lifter’s bodyweight. The lifter will then carry this weight a distance of one mile. Gait is optional.  Stopping to rest is allowed, but neither the lifter nor the weight may be supported in any manner.  The bar must not be touched by any assistants once the mile has begun or it will be a disqualification. The bar must stay on the back the entire mile. The lifter may be handed refreshments during the mile. Records will be kept for time.

It’s different to say the least.  I often wonder where someone could have come up with such a test of strength and I have even questioned if this is more endurance than strength.

The other day I was watching a travel show.  I enjoy seeing different parts of the world.  In this one they were talking about men in Indonesia who go down into and active volcano called Mount Ijen.  They load up baskets with sulfur and haul them up and out of the volcano.  They make it a point to spend as little time as possible in the volcano because of poisonous gas so usually once they are loaded they beat a hasty path out!  They claimed they would not rest until they got out of the volcano and this was “well over a kilometer”.  Their loads average around 100kg or 220lbs.  I would estimate these men weigh in the neighborhood of 150lbs on average.  The should some of them with their shirts off and they had unbelievable trap development, I assume from letting the weight ride on the shoulders.

It got me to thinking…..was this the inspiration for the Inman mile?  Maybe someone can tell me what it is and while this likely is not…you can certainly see where it could be!   If it is, I’m glad they didn’t include dodging poisonous gas and it being all uphill in the rules….this seems hard enough!  I think this lift is safe from any records from me but I’d like to see it done.

Hack Squats for Olympic Lifting

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe getting ready to pull a Hack Lift.

The old school strongmen had some really innovative ways of training. Sometimes you did a lift to force someone to learn technique, they just happened to get strong at the same time.

Where did I read about this one? I have no idea. Yet, I remember reading that a deadlift, which “started from the floor and behind the calves” was helpful in learning the clean. Whoever wrote that was absolutely correct.

Use the same barbell that you will be using to do your cleans. Use the same hand position on the bar. Here are some of the things that the Hack Lift will force you to do.

1. High Chest
2. Narrow grip will make you have narrow foot position off the floor
3. Curling your wrists
4. Pulling the bar back

Try doing three hack lifts then immediately do three power cleans with those ideas in mind.

Don’t worry. You do not even have to do super heavy weight in the Hack Lift to get those benefits for your cleans.

Live strong,
Roger LaPointe



One Arm Clean & Jerk

by Thom Van Vleck

Bob Burtzloff, one of the greatest of all time on the one arm Clean & Jerk. You can tell that Bob is lifting this from a racked position, one of the two ways to complete the lift.

The USAWA National Championships have been set for Las Vegas, Nevada next June.  One of the lifts that will be contest is the One Arm Clean & Jerk.  This lift is a difficult lift so you can’t start working on this one too early!  This lift takes a lot of balance, strength, and flexibility that not all lifters may have without some practice.  Let’s take a look at the rules:

The rules of the Clean and Jerk apply with these exceptions. Only one arm is used to perform the lift. The bar is gripped in the center by one handand may be cleaned in front or cleaned to the side. Any grip may be used by the lifter. The bar must be cleaned to the same shoulder as the lifting arm in a single movement. During the clean, the bar must not touch any part of the legs or torso.  In receiving the bar at the shoulder, the bar must not make contact or rest on the shoulder or chest opposite to the lifting arm. The center of the sternum is the line of lineation.  The non-liftinghand may be supported on the thigh or knee of either leg but must not contact the bar, platform, or lifting arm during the lift or it will be a disqualification. With a single distinct effort the lifter will jerk the bar to arms length above the head. The non-lifting hand must be clear of the body upon completion of the lift.  The bar may be in any degree of rotation when overhead. Once the bar is overhead motionless, the lifter’s body in an upright position, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, an official will give a command to lower the bar. Both hands may be used to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control.

So, assuming you know the basic rules of the Clean & Jerk, you are ready to do a One Arm Clean & Jerk.  Now, there are two ways that I know of to complete this lift.  One involves pulling the bar into a rack position and jerking it out of that rack position just like a regular two hand Clean & Jerk.  Another is to lift the bar and catch it to the side with the bar at a 90 degree angle to the body, this method may work best for those who lack flexibility.  Below is a great photo of Bob Burtzloff showing that method.

Bob Burtzloff setting the Best One Arm Clean and Jerk Record in the USAWA. This was done at the 2004 Dino Gym Challenge with a lift of 175 pounds.

Now, one final word of advice.  I know when I was a kid, I did some one arm cleans.  I was taught, to pull high and then use the free arm to help rack the bar.  In other words, you ended up in a position at the finish where it looked like you had done a two hand Clean, but the bar had popped free of one hand.  This is NOT ALLOWED in the rules.  The first time I thought of attempting this lift I did not read the rules carefully and this impacted my lifting considerably.  Not only did I not lift what I had planned, but I was not prepared to lift in any other way.  So learn it, practice it and we’ll see you in VEGAS!!!!!


by John McKean

“Oooh, Hon, how sweet – you remembered the nickname my family gave me when I was young!” purred my wife, Marilyn.

I noticed she was staring at a crumpled piece of paper I’d recently started scribbling on, that carried only the title “MIM.” So, thinking quickly, I replied “Yep, ya caught me. I was just penning you a little love note!” For certainly I would’ve lost this year’s batch of her famous Christmas cookies had I mentioned that the note was the nickname, and to be the recording  of my current training routine, which stood for “Monkey In the Middle”!!

John McKean training a backdown set, or as he calls it, a monkey set, with added band tension.

The MIM style workout refers to the middle-weight sets or “monkey,” and is my latest version of the “backdown set.” I learned about backdowns during the 1960s from famous Pittsburgh powerlifter Bob Weaver. Big Bob was one of our first National superheavyweight champions, using his 365 pound bulk to establish the U.S. record total and a national squat record of 807 – long before supersuits or other supportive gear, and when judging was STRICT. Bob typically would start his training squats with a set of 5 with 135 pounds on the bar, and add a pair of 45s for every set thereafter, until it stopped him. Then he’d reduce to a couple of hundred pounds lighter and bang out a few FAST sets – this was, of course, the backdown work. By the way, an amusing incident of his progressive training – Bob most often didn’t pay attention to the total amount of weight continually stacked on and once found, after the fact,  his final set to be 855; yes, he got stuck with no spotters around. But, the experienced squatter had a trick he used for such emergencies – he’d quickly frog-hop forward and shove the bar backwards (he taught this to me – it really worked and was actually more reliable and safer than half awake spotters!). Trouble was, ole Bob had his back to a big window on the second floor of the Oakland (uptown Pittsburgh) YMHA – it went right through the glass and a massively loaded, plate clanging Olympic set tumbled to the sidewalk below! Fortunately, the horrific crash was on a small, little used side street at night, so no one was nearby! Not that any of their cars were parked down there either, but the Y’s directors weren’t exactly laughing!

Anyway, MY “backdown” is what I consider the MAIN building set(done as “rest-pause” singles), as this is where I place bands over the barbell for “speed singles.” Usually used for training our various all-round deadlift type lifts, I begin a session with a non banded double using a medium weight, go to a heavy single (not a limit but enough to cause a bit of a strain!), then backdown to a weight right in the middle of those two sets for band work. I start these “monkey sets” with a normal initial pull, but then try to accelerate through the finish. These sets actually feel springy and easy, since they follow the heavy single for the day, yet are actually more resistant due to the extra band stress. Since they begin easier off the floor, I am able to “trick” the body into a harder, faster  lift!  Each subsequent middle weight single seem to become more vigorous and speedier! An important footnote – if I’d not use a heavy free weight single beforehand, the monkey speed singles couldn’t be performed as efficiently with quite as much weight.

Pavel's new book EASY STRENGTH

However, don’t go crazy with band speed singles.  I find 2 to, at most, 5 banded-bar singles will do the job. In fact, in the brand new book EASY STRENGTH by Pavel and Dan John (Dragon Door Publications), Pavel mentions a similar banded deadlift routine that I’d once  given him. He wrote that the speed singles seemed just too easy and merely 5 of them were probably only good for old men (like me!!). But after his first workout he learned the hard way that this is a MINIMUM quantity, high quality routine (he stuck to 5 or 6 thereafter and claimed he was so strong with such little work that it seemed like “cheating”!). For that matter, throughout the entire EASY STRENGTH text the authors continually stress the extreme value of employing minimum reps and sets for optimum strength gains. It’s one of the few teaching tools  that elaborate on TRUE strength strategies for athletes, as the old time lifters employed – our all-round forefathers!          

“By the way, Hubby,” cooed Marilyn. “What were you gonna tell me in your love note?”

“OH,” said I. “Just those three little words you always like to hear!”

“Really?” she gushed.

“Yep,” I whispered, ” Bake them cookies!”

I never learn.

The Worlds Strongest Man

by Dennis Mitchell

Vasily Alekseyev

There have been many men who claimed to be the worlds strongest man. Vasiliy Ivanovich Alekseyev was born January. 7,1942 in the village of Pokrovo-Shishkino, Soviet Union. During his reign as heavy weight world and Olympic champion he was the world’s strongest man. He was never a small or sickly child. At the age of 12 he was working as a lumberjack, and at the age of 14, he stood 6′ tall and weighed 200 pounds. He started training with weights at the age of 18 under the guidance of Rudolf Plyukfueldor, his first and only coach. Most of his career  he coached himself. He stated that he had no set program, trained when he wanted to and how he wanted to. Often his workouts were quite unorthodox.

In 1970 he competed in his first world championships, held in Columbus Ohio, U.S.A. At this meet he became the first person to clean and jerk over 500 pounds (501.5). In 1971 he continued setting records, setting 27 world records. He continued setting records, and winning a total of eight world championships and two Olympics. Over the next seven years he set a total 80 world records, including a 1,322.76 pound total (600 Kg.) In his prime he stood 6′1″ tall and weighed 357 pounds. His best lifts were, a 521.39 pound press, a 418.87 pound snatch, and a 564.38 pound clean and jerk.

After his competition days were over he coached for a while but soon left this. Alekseyev passed away November 25, 2011, at the age of 69, in a Munich Germany hospital where he was being treated for a heart condition.

All Round Lifting: The Big Brother Version

by Al Myers

Last month at the IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia, several of us rented a beach house together.  I organized this beach house rental for a couple of reasons – to save a little money and also to spend some time with a few of the masterminds in the organization.  Six of us spent close to 10 days living together – myself, Chad Ullom, USAWA President Denny Habecker, IAWA President Steve Gardner, English All Round lifting sensation Mark Haydock, and the MAN OF STEEL and all-round lifting legend Art Montini.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to “pick their minds” and hopefully “steal” some secret lifting information from them.  I liken myself to that of Robin Hood – but instead of stealing moneyI like to steal ideas from the rich and give to everyone else (ok – I won’t call you poor!).  But I was also worried that this living arrangement would turn into an episode of BIG BROTHER in which we would be at “each other’s throats” by the end of the stay!   I envisioned the alliances – the Americans versus the Brits (of which I knew ahead of time we would have the numbers on this one), the Wily Veterans (Denny, Steve, & Art) versus the Newbies (Chad, Mark, & myself), or the Drinkers versus the Nondrinkers (which would be pretty much everyone versus Art!!). Who would be the first one voted out of the house?   Luckily, no “drama” ever developed throughout the week so I can’t report on any fights or anything like that.

But I did learn alot.  Like I said, I spent every moment trying to steal some important secret from my roommates.  And like Robin Hood, I plan to share with you  everything I learned from these guys.  I consider these guys the “movers and shakers” of All Round Lifting.  Steve is closing in on 12 years as IAWA President and many, many years as the IAWA(UK) President.  He has been involved in the sport for over 20 years.  Denny is our USAWA President and filled with secrets – it’s just that he doesn’t always talk alot about things and I have to “pry” information out of him.  Mark was the 2009 IAWA World Champ and I knew for sure he knew something that would be to my benefit in my training.  Art is the “most seasoned” of all these guys and for sure he had something “to give up”.  Now with Chad, well let’s just say, I’ve already stole all of his secrets, which isn’t much. I planned to strategically just use him for distraction purposes to give me “a little one on one” time with my targets.

Steve feels "right at home" in a brewery or a pub. And YES - Steve has a drink in each hand, drinking both at the same time.

When you live with “your competitors” for a week you really learn something about them.  My primary focus of this investigation was with Steve.  He is a born leader, takes charge in everything he does, and I was hoping to find the secret of his sucess or perhaps a weakness in his personality.  Well, I only found a couple, and they were weaknesses. Just say I was dissappointed!   First, he snores like a sailor blowing a fog horn. It didn’t take the rest of us long to realize that his sleeping arrangement needed to be a FAR DISTANCE from the rest of us.  We put him in a room on the other side of the house which  only was close to Denny’s room, and that was on purpose as well, because Denny was suffering from some bad case of bronchitis and was coughing non stop.  He sounded like a dog with kennel cough.  I often had to get up in the middle of the night (if you must know it was to pee) and the bathroom was close to their rooms.  I listened for several minutes to these two “barking in the night” and I swear they were in unison with their nightly sounds.  I think Denny was doing the harmonizing.

The only other weakness I found with Steve was his passion for beer.  Now I’m not saying he is a drunk, he just enjoys his barley beverage.  Chad and I even set up “a trap” for him to see if he would drink anything.  We bought this really nasty beer that we wouldn’t even drink, and left it in the fridge.  Sure enough, Steve finished off  the six-pack while the rest of us watched in amazement.  He even said he LIKED IT!  He’s a passionate beer connoisseur.

I caught Mark reading his secret training book during the meet!

Another of my “targets” was Mark Haydock.  After watching him smash a couple of Chad’s World Records at the Gold Cup, I knew he must have some lifting secrets.  It took me all week but I finally found out the reason for Mark’s lifting success.   I caught him reading Steve Justa’s book ROCK IRON STEEL.  I knew immediately that had to be his secret training program – why else would he have carted that book the entire way from England to Australia???   A couple of times I “took a peak” at this secret book of his when he wasn’t looking.  Chad even snuck the book of to the private room a few times to read it.  I bet Mark was rereading that book for meet motivation!!  I got to get that book now so I will know Mark’s secret training programs.  But I will say this about Mark, I had the feeling that he was studying me as well.  He kept asking me questions that I was uncomfortable in answering.  I felt like he was trying to steal MY SECRETS!  He also bought this porridge that he was letting on as the “secret of his strength”.  I had it one day for breakfast and it about made me puke.  I think he was setting me up like I did Steve on the beer.  But Chad had the porridge EVERY DAY convinced it would make him stronger.  Everyone needs to have a gullible friend like Chad.

Like I said, Denny is a “tough nut to crack”.  He often just “sits back” and laughs along with everyone else’s jokes, and never really contributes any jokes of his own.   But I also found Denny’s secret to his strength during this week.  Even though he may limp around and look like he needs help getting out of a chair, Denny is INDEED a very conditioned athlete!   The gimpy persona is just a hoax.  He acts this way just so his competition doesn’t take him too serious.  I marveled at how he worked this to perfection at the meet against his arch rival, Frank Allen.  Now, how do I know this?  Well, after the meet Chad and I had planned to take a day trip to Rottnest Island, a small island off the coast of Perth.  We planned to spend the day bicycling around the island, a distance of over 30 miles and up and down many hills.  Denny asked to join us, and at first I was thinking this might be an issue.  I was initially worried that he wouldn’t be able to “keep up” with Chad and me and we would need to call in the rescue unit.  But after the day’s big bike ride, in which was as easy for Denny as a “walk in the park”, I knew he was just faking us out all the times in the past when he would  wobble around like a rookie on rollerskates.   On the ferry ride back to Perth, I asked him how he was in such great shape and he told me that he used to ride his bike 100 miles a day!!!  What???  I’m still “tossing that around” in my mind.  Just visualizing Denny in my mind biking 100 miles makes my heart go into palpatations.  It was at that point that I decided I wasn’t going to admit to Chad and Denny that a couple of times I had to get off my bike and walk it up a couple of big hills.

With Art, I already knew his secret of his strength, and it just doesn’t work for me.  I discovered it a couple of years ago when I stayed at his house for a meet in Ambridge.   It involves getting up really, really early to train (3-4 AM) and then eating donuts afterwards.  I’m going to save that secret for later in my life and then “pull it out of the bag” when I need it.   But I will say this about Art, he acts MUCH YOUNGER than his biological age and there must be something to that as well in his secret to success on the platform.  I should also mention Art’s special spaghetti, which must have something to do with his lifting longevity.  I have had it before and he made it for us in Perth.  Art makes some of the BEST spaghetti I have ever tasted.

When it comes to icecream, Chad is the expert. He will sample taste every flavor before making his choice!

Who did I forget?  Oh Chad.  Well like I said earlier, Chad has no secrets when it comes to training.  But I do know his main weakness – ICECREAM!  We had to make several stops during the week for icecream and if he keeps this up I will not have to worry about him because he will be out of my weight class and get KILLED on the Lynch Formula!  There are other things about Chad - but they are blood oath stories so I won’t tell.

I will say that week in Australia was one of the most fun weeks of my life!!









Records, Records, Records

by Al Myers

The year is coming to an end and the opportunities to set any more USAWA records for the year is over.  Sure there is still the National Postal Meet, but the results won’t be reported for it until after the first of the year.  In my heart I knew this had to be a good year for the USAWA when it came to “broken records”.  We have had more events than normal and membership has swelled to a level that has not been seen in a long, long time.  So I did a little “counting” in the USAWA Record List and what I found was, VERY INTERESTING!

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to all members in the USAWA who have set new records within the past year.  You are now part of a RECORD BREAKING YEAR.  758 new USAWA records were established in the USAWA Record List.  This now stands in the NUMBER ONE spot of ALL-TIME!  Now this is a count of only the “records on the books” at this time – not the ones established per year as when old records are broken they disappear from the current list.  I also want to mention that in order to set a USAWA Record now you must do it in front of a certified official.  There were several “other marks” done this year at record days and postal meets which could have been records, but weren’t because they weren’t officially judged.  This pulled down the record count for the year, which in the past would have been higher when there were no guidelines on this and “ANY OLE RECORD” was put into the record list.   I’m proud that we have made this year the BEST EVER and have done it with TOUGHER RULES!!


1 2011 758
2 2005 675
3 2002 654
4 2000 563
5 2010 553
6 2006 540
7 2003 518
8 1995 458
9 2004 448
10 1999 434

This brings us to the INDIVIDUAL record counts next.  With a year like this, you would think that the individual record counts would have been increased as well.  I have not reported on individual counts since last July, when I announced the two latest members of the CENTURY CLUB (lifters who hold over 100 USAWA Records) – Rudy Bletscher and Chad Ullom.  Well, the list is still the same lifters, just different count numbers.  There is STILL the 21 members in this exclusive CENTURY CLUB.  Our Prez Denny Habecker still leads the list and the RECORDS RACE with his 410 records, which gives him a pretty comfortable lead over Art Montini at 392 in second place.  The “top ten” is still the same lifters as it was the last time I did the count.


1 Denny Habecker 410
2 Art Montini 392
3 Al Myers 320
4 John McKean 258
5 Joe Garcia 239
6 Dennis Mitchell 229
7 Noi Phumchaona 214
8 Frank Ciavattone 212
9 Bill Clark 206
10 Bob Hirsh 201
11 Howard Prechtel 171
12 Dale Friesz 143
13 Jim Malloy 135
tie Scott Schmidt 135
15 Ed Schock 134
16 John Monk 123
17 Mary McConnaughey 117
18 Chris Waterman 114
19 Rudy Bletscher 108
20 Chad Ullom 104
21 Joshua Monk 101

This lead me to thinking just who set the most records in 2011?  So I did that count as well and below is the TOP TEN record setters of 2011.  I was quite surprised to see Mike Murdock listed with 60 records!  That made me question his total count so I recounted it and he is still short of the CENTURY CLUB.  Mike has been competing in the USAWA for over 3 years now – so how can that be??  Well let me tell you why.  I have lifted in LOTS of meets/record days with Mike and he is constantly breaking his OWN RECORDS.  Mike – that doesn’t help you one bit in your overall count. You need to “go after” records you don’t already own buddy!!!


1 Al Myers 83
2 Mike Murdock 60
3 Denny Habecker 40
4 Joe Garcia 31
5 Dean Ross 30
6 Rudy Bletscher 24
tie LaVerne Myers 24
8 Art Montini 22
9 John McKean 20
10 Dennis Mitchell 19

I also want to mention that the USAWA Record List is now over 10,000 line items long!  That is A LOT OF RECORDS! We owe a huge thanks to the USAWA Records Director Joe Garcia for keeping this list up to date for us. Joe has maintained this list for over 20 years!

Ice it down!

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom enjoying a post-competition "hydrotherapy" session following last summers Ledaig Highland Games. A cold group bath with your sweaty buddies is a great way to enhance recovery following a hard day of competition! (photo courtesy of Al Myers)

Ok, I’m sure by now half of you are thinking I mean beer….but I mean your body!   I’m talking about what some call “hydrotherapy” or the used of heat and coolness to reduce inflammation, soreness, and recovery times between workouts.  Now, there’s a ton of stuff out there on the good, ol’ world wide web and if you found this, you can find that.  I’m just gonna give you some basics.

First, what led to this was me getting old.  After numerous injuries over the years, broken bones, etc.  it’s all catching up to me.  when I was young I just worried about working out, now I feel I have a pretty good understanding of how to develop a good work out routine so now I’m more focused on how I can recover more quickly….especially with age!  I remember Mickey Mantle once saying he wished he’d taken better care of himself when he was younger.  Well, Mickey was past his playing career when he said that but for those in the USAWA our playing career is never over.   You can make a big difference.

Before your workout, be sure and spend some time warming up.  My warm up time has probably tripled from my 20’s.  I have a special routine that I do and I pay attention more to my preworkout diet, load up on fluids all day, and I don’t push the time…..when I’m ready and I’m ready and not before.  I also use anti-inflammatory type medication (Ibuprofen, sodium naproxen, etc.).

After the workout, ice the areas you’ve worked out down.  My knees (especially my right one) tend to swell after my squats.  I have found that after the workout I have a heat pad and an ice pack that I alternate back and forth it does wonders.  I will also take a hot and cold shower, start warm, take it down, the up, then down.  I end it with cold water.  In the winter, I’ll take a snow bath alternating with the hot tube or sauna.  If you don’t have a hot tub or sauna, get a chair for you shower and do the “poor man’s sauna”.  Throw a large beach towel over you, you can get that water incredibly hot without burning and the hot steam will fog the mirrors for a square mile!

I also bought something called “the stick”.  Basically, it’s a human rolling pin.  I work the areas I can myself and then I recruit my wife to get the areas I can’t.  I use this thing to the point of it being painful, but afterwards I feel like a million bucks….kind of the poor man’s deep tissue massage.

Well, I hope these few things get you to thinking……and if all else fails… that beer down while you ice down!

Zercher’s Zercher Lift Record Broken!

by Al Myers

Art Montini breaking Ed Zercher's USAWA record in the Zercher Lift.

Often when someone’s record is broken, it just “disappears into obscurity” and no one really cares or thinks about it anymore.  All the attention goes to the one who BROKE the record.  But something historic happened recently when it comes to “broken records” that I think needs pointed out to everyone. At the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Australia, Art Montini broke Ed Zercher’s record in the Zercher Lift.  I mention this because this was the LAST USAWA RECORD held by Ed Zercher in the Zercher Lift, the lift named after him. In 1988 at the Zercher Strength Classic, Zercher did a 160 pound Zercher lift in the 80 plus age group, 90 kilogram weight class.  Art broke his record with a fine lift of 176 pounds.  This act removed an All-Round lifting legend from the USAWA Record List!  Lately, Art has broken several of Ed’s records which have been “on the books” for over 20 years, but none as meaningful as this one.  Art now owns 10 age group/wt class records in the Zercher Lift, which is a record in itself.

I still have not seen a picture of Ed Zercher performing his signature lift. But at least now I have a picture of THE MAN who broke Ed’s Zercher Lift record.   I predict someday Art Montini will have legendary All-Round lifting status equal to or above that of Ed Zercher, and this picture will be worth BIG BUCKS!


by Al Myers

It’s that time of the year that lifters need to think about renewing their USAWA memberships.  Membership in the USAWA runs for the calendar year, January 1st to December 31st  - so you might as well renew now so you can enjoy a full year of USAWA membership.  I plan to list the new 2012 membership roster on January 1st and if you send me your dues before that time you will be listed with the “join date” of January 1st beside your name.  That’s something to be proud of! So far I have recieved only a handful of 2012 membership dues: John Wilmot, Dean Ross, Dale Friesz, Jim Malloy, Al Myers, Bill Clark, and Dennis Mitchell. Last year I recieved 16 memberships before the start of the year.  Let’s try to beat that mark this year!

Membership applications are located on the left side of the homepage, under the heading “Forms and Applications”.

Otto Ziegler, 1919 to 2011

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom did a 200 pound Ziegler Clean at the 2009 Dino Gym Challenge. This is the top mark of ALL-TIME in the USAWA Record List.

Recently Otto Ziegler of Baytown, Texas passed away. He was 92 years old when he died, but throughout his life made a huge impact on weightlifting and even All Round Weightlifting.  Most of us know that he is responsible for his name being tied to a very unusual lift in the USAWA – the Ziegler Clean.  But his contributions to Olympic Weightlifting go far beyond what he has done for the USAWA.  In 2003 he was inducted into the Weightlifting Hall of Fame.  He has coached hundreds of lifters throughout his life, served as a meet director numerous times, officiated Olympic Meets, conducting weightlifting clinics and seminars, along with a long career of lifting himself.

Bill Clark tried for years to get Otto involved in the USAWA, but to my knowledge he never competed in an USAWA event. However, he was a longtime subscriber to Bill’s Strength Journal and incorporated several of the all round lifts into his  training. In an old Strength Journal, Bill highlighted some of  Otto’s All-Round poundages (from the Strength Journal Vol.IV.No.5 – 1993). 

  • Bent Press – 190 LH and 180 RH
  • Dumbbell Swing – a pair of 75 pound bells for 20 reps.
  • Pinch Grip – Used a 68# two inch smooth plate and held it for 12 seconds.
  • One legged Clean and Jerk – at age 63, did 110 pounds.
  • Leg Press – Made 12 reps with 370 pounds on a six-foot bar which he took off a wooden rack and, like Ed Zercher, handled it free-legged.

However, probably the most impressive thing he did was when he did a 154 pound clean balancing a 2.5 plate on his head at age 58. Thus the invention of the Ziegler Clean!  This lift by Otto Ziegler was performed in 1977, and was included in the old Mo-Valley Record List.  It was the top mark lifted in this record list, but the number of lifters with Ziegler Clean marks was pretty small. Wonder why????  I have done this lift in an USAWA competition before and my greatest fear was that the plate would fall off my head during the lift and land on my foot, breaking a toe in the process!  

The Ziegler Clean was one of the original IAWA/USAWA official lifts.  However, it has been contested only a few times in competition. At this past Gold Cup in England, Scottish lifter David McFadzean did a Ziegler Clean as his Gold Cup lift.  He made 62.5 kilograms, which I thought was quite impressive. Maybe next time he does this lift he will exceeds Otto’s best mark of 70 kgs?!?!

I’m pretty sure when Otto Ziegler did this lift the first time he never imagined that this strange and unorthodox lift would become a fixture lift in the USAWA/IAWA  and it would carry his name as his legacy in the organization. But “hat’s off” to Otto Ziegler (or in this case “plate’s off”) for all that he has done for weightlifting with his lifetime of contributions.  He will be missed, but never forgotten.  I issue a challenge to all All-Rounders that in your next workout do the Ziegler Clean in his remembrance!

(webmaster note:  I just realized that all these years we have misprinted the spelling of Otto Ziegler’s name.  In our Rule Books, both the USAWA and the IAWA, we have printed his name as “Zeigler”.  I will make an effort to get this mistake fixed.)

National Venue Update

by Al Myers

Average Broz Gym - the venue site for the 2012 USAWA National Championships.

Last week I was fortunate to be in Las Vegas on business, so I took a little extra time to go visit with John Broz, owner of Average Broz Gym and venue site of the 2012 USAWA National Championships next summer.  For those of you that have been to Las Vegas, you are fully aware of the “hustle and bustle” of activity that goes on “around the clock” in Vegas.  But when I got to John’s Gym several blocks south of the strip, it was in a very peaceful neighborhood.  His Gym is located very close to the airport and is very easy to get to.   I am still in the process of finding a host hotel close by, of which details will be released later when this decision has been made.

John Broz (left) and Al Myers (right)

I was completely overwhelmed by Average Broz Gym.  It caters pretty exclusively to Olympic Weightlifters, and has numerous platforms with full weight sets for each.  John has a major investment in bars and weights, and he has only the BEST STUFF – Eleiko bars and Eleiko bumpers.  It will be BY FAR some of the best equipment we have ever lifted on in any of our National Meets.  John is a very seasoned Olympic Lifter and Coach.  I greatly enjoyed our conversation together – I could have visited with him all day long but he had coaching responsibilities to attend to so I didn’t want to take too much of his time.  It didn’t take me long to realize that this venue will be the PERFECT SPOT to celebrate our 25th USAWA National Championships!

During our conversation we found that we knew several people in common.  The “brotherhood of weightlifters” is truly a small fraternity and there are alot of links between individuals.  John is originally from Cleveland.  He grew up lifting weights coached by the well-known allrounder and weightlifter John Schubert.  John had several stories of his experiences with John Schubert and it was obvious to me that John had been influenced quite a bit by him.  John was just recently in Cleveland following John Schubert’s death, and was involved in liquidating Schubert’s lifting equipment.  He plans to set up a display in his gym featuring some of John Schubert’s gym equipment.  So you can tell John is familiar with All Round Weightlifting and has even done several of the All Round Lifts in the past himself!  When I told him the lifts we would be doing, he knew exactly what I was talking about. 

I am very excited and looking forward to this meet.  It will be the first time the USAWA has ever promoted a meet in Las Vegas.  Start making plans now to attend because this is an All-Round meet you will not want to miss out on!

RULE CHANGE – Feet in Air Bench Press

by Al Myers

These are the two ways the Feet in the Air Bench Press must be performed - legs straight off the bench (left) or with legs crossed (right). No longer is a support bench allowed to rest the lower legs on. These pictures were taken at the 2006 USAWA National Championships. Dennis Mitchell is lifting in the picture to the left, with head official Bob Burtzloff seated behind him. Al Myers is lifting in the picture on the right, with head official Thom Van Vleck looking on (and intently I might add!)

One of the IAWA rule changes that happened at the 2011 IAWA World Meeting involved the rule for the Bench Press – Feet in Air.   This proposed change was presented by the IAWA Technical Committee at the meeting, chaired by IAWA Technical Committee Chairman Dennis Mitchell.  The “issue” involved disallowing a support bench during the lift, which has been allowed under previous IAWA rules.  The USAWA rules have NEVER allowed the legs to rest on another (a totally separate) support bench.  This issue was discussed at this past years USAWA meeting as well.  These past couple of years rule changes have been presented to the USAWA   membership to bring our rules (the USAWA rules) into compliance with IAWA rules.  You would be surprised how many differences there are.  All of the other changes were passed at this meeting, but the USAWA membership voted NOT to allow a support bench to rest the legs on.  This decision led to this being presented to the IAWA Tech Committee to see how the IAWA membership felt on it.  There was some opposition, but the majority in attendance felt that a support bench was not within “the intent” of the feet in the air bench press.  Thus the IAWA rule is now changed, and the USAWA rule and the IAWA rule is the same on this now. The bottom line – NO SUPPORT BENCH!

As I’ve said before, there are many subtle (and some not so subtle!) rules differences between the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules. These rules differences can make some lifts harder or easier, depending on which rules you follow.  I would say DEFINITELY having a support bench to rest the lower legs on is an advantage as it would provide more balance to the lifter resting on the bench during the press.  That is one of the biggest difficulties in the feet in the air bench press, maintaining proper body position as you press the weight up.  The interesting thing is that this difference between the IAWA rules and the USAWA rules came about because of how the original rule was interpreted.  The original rule stated that the “ankles and heels” must not be supported or resting on the floor.  This was interpreted by IAWA as meaning the lower legs WERE allowed to be supported by a support bench, whereas the USAWA made the assumption that NO PARTS of the legs could be supported.  Again, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, THERE SHOULD BE NO INTERPRETATIONS WHEN IT COMES TO THE RULES, everything should be “spelled out” and very clear in what is allowed and not allowed! 

But this leads to an even bigger issue.  What about all the IAWA World Records that were set by lifters resting their feet/lower legs on a support bench?  Should these records still count?  And how would you go about identifying these cases? It will definitely take a much better effort to break one of these records in the IAWA World Record List from now on.  Also, what about all of the other differences between the IAWA rules and the USAWA rules where rule differences might give an “added advantage” to set World records?   These are issues that need to be worked out in my opinion.

Lance Foster – New Official

by Al Myers

Lance Foster completing the Dumbbell to Shoulder at the 2011 OTSM Championships.

I want to welcome Lance Foster to the “growing list” of USAWA Officials.  Lance just recently passed the Officials Test and now is certified to officiate within the USAWA for the next three years.  Lance has been very involved this past year with the Old Time Strongman Competitions that have been promoted by the USAWA.  He competed at my Dino Gym Strongman Challenge last January, and then again at the OTSM Championships hosted by Thom Van Vleck in Kirksville, MO.

Steve Sherwood – the new WORLD CHAMP

by Al Myers

Steve Sherwood (left) receiving the OVERALL BEST LIFTER AWARD from meet director Peter Phillips (right). IAWA President Steve Gardner is in the center.

Last month at the IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia a new World Champ was crowned.  The new champion, Steve Sherwood, is very deserving of this title.  Steve is an amazing lifter, and he sure doesn’t look his age.  He is listed at 60 years of age, but physically he doesn’t look a day over 35!  Steve hails from Hull, England and has been lifting his entire life.  Recently at the 2011 Gold Cup held in Burton, England Steve was inducted into the IAWA(UK) Hall of Fame.  I was honored to be able to be in attendance at this event.  Steve has a great all round lifting resume – but surprisingly this is his FIRST TIME being crowned the Best Overall Lifter at the World Championships.  He was third overall in 2010 in Glasgow, and third overall at the 1994 Championships in Burton.  Before that, he was second overall in the 1993 World Championships in Walpole, MA and 5th overall at the World’s in Twickenham, England.  You will notice that there has been a “break in the action” for Steve of several years of World Competition, but he has returned to the platform with the same success as when he left.   He has been close so many times to winning the overall, so I congratulate him on finally achieving this highest yearly honor in the IAWA.  The way he lifted in Australia I predict it won’t be the last of overall victories for him.  I really thought at the time that  his margin of victory (872 pts to my 793 pts for second place) might be the largest of All-Time in the IAWA World Championships, but after doing some research on this, I see that it is the THIRD largest margin of victory.  In 2008, Rick Meldon won by a margin of 85 points, and in 1995 Bob Hirsh won by a margin of 122 points.

On top of all Steve’s success as a lifter, he is one of the most modest guys I have ever met and a true sportsman. He is the perfect example of what a CHAMPION should be like. Congratulations Steve!

Proper Dress Code Continued

by Al Myers

I'm not perfect either when it comes to violating USAWA dress code. Last summer at the Ledaig Record Day I wore a cap when lifting, which is a violation of proper dress. But then again, I was lifting outside in the blinding sun and 110 degree scorching temperatures!! It was a matter of survival!!

Before I left for Australia, I ran a blog on the proper dress code in the USAWA.  I also issued a “quiz” to everyone on how many violations of dress code that are in the pictures in the USAWA Rulebook.  Well, I almost forgot all about that quiz!  But before I get to who the big winners are, let me say a few more things on this issue.  I appreciate the comments on this subject in the discussion forum.  Most of those that posted felt that our policy of allowing lifters to wear shorts and t-shirts is acceptable, and requiring singlets for competition would be too much to ask.  I do feel that this is the way the majority of USAWA lifters feel on this, even though personally  I think the requirement of a more formal attire of wearing singlets is the way to go.  But I will always try to represent the feelings of the MAJORITY and thus why the feedback on the discussion forum is so important.

Next, I would have to say I was slightly disappointed in the number of responses to this quiz.  I only got THREE RESPONSES!!  No one was “dead on” with correctly identifying the number of violations in the pictures, but our USAWA Official’s Director Joe Garcia was the closest with identifying 24 violations of dress code.  The actual number of violations is 28!  That is out of 102 pictures total in the USAWA Rulebook, which comes out to over 25% of the pictures containing some type of dress code violation!  As I said earlier, most of these pictures are from competitions, so you can tell this is something that has not been addressed in the past.  How can we expect to impose tighter dress code standards when our Rulebook pictures portray the complete opposite?!?!  The next closest answer came from Eric Todd, who gave an answer of 23.  Eric also pointed out that he himself was in violation in BOTH PICTURES of himself  in the Rulebook, and he felt  that alone should gather him a  prize.   Let me tell ya  ET – prizes like that are called a BOOBY PRIZE in my book, but since you showed the modesty of pointing that out to me (and now everyone else in the World!) I’m going to send you a water bottle as a prize for being a repeat violator!  Third in line was the latest of USAWA Officials Lance Foster – who correctly identified 20 dress code violations. I’m going to send you a water bottle as well Lance because I appreciate you taking the time to participate in this little quiz.  Now see what the rest of you missed out on – everyone who entered was a winner!   I didn’t even count the few pictures of lifters wearing shorts that appeared below the base of the quadriceps, which is a violation, because I felt this would be a judgement call on my part.  I ONLY counted pictures that contained OBVIOUS INFRACTIONS. 

I don’t want to appear to be going “overboard” on this issue, but I do think it is something that should be mentioned at meets to lifters when they are in violation of proper USAWA dress code during this upcoming year, because I truly believe the reason lifters are in violation is because they just don’t know better.  I know there are much bigger (and important!) issues regarding our Rulebook, rules, and policies than this!

One last note on this – I want to point out the lifters in the Rulebook who have 100% compliance with dress code.  This list only contains lifers who have the  three maximum pictures of them in the Rulebook.  These lifters are: Joe Garcia, Scott Campbell, Denny Habecker, Frank Ciavattone, Chad Ullom, John McKean, Al Myers, and Kevin Fulton.  However,  I WON’T point out the lifters who have the most violations!!!

The Randall Lift

by John McKean

“GOOD MORNING!” was my response to son Sean’s query as to exactly what kind of rubber band longstrength warmup maneuver I was doing.

“Hey, I’ve been up for two hours now,” curtly replied the 29-year-old. “The hearing is apparently going quickly, old man!  So what the heck kind of exercise is that, anyhow?”

“GOOD MORNING!” I responded.

“Geez,” howled Sean. “Senility is taking hold, too!”

Then I proceeded to give the sarcastic youth an iron game history lesson – the astounding story of Bruce Randall.  During the 1950s Randall, a U.S. Marine, decided to bulk up to play football on his base team.  He had access to perhaps the best weight room in the Armed Forces, and a superb coach in Chief Petty Officer Walter Metzler.  Bruce found he gained bodyweight amazingly quickly as the Marine Corps supplied tons of free food (yes, a breakfast of 28 eggs, two loaves of toasted bread, several quarts of milk, and “extras” could get you “grand-slammed” out of Denny’s in a hurry), and his strength on basic all-round lifts skyrocketed.  Soon Bruce forgot all about football, deciding he loved lifting far more; he challenged himself to see just how big and strong he could get.  A little more than a year later he was up to 401 pounds bodyweight, with some equally huge training lifts such as a 392 pound military press off a rack, 45 degree incline clean and press of 410, 2100 pound half squat, and a 228 pound curl.

Bruce Randall showed a very symmetrical physique when he won Mr. Universe.

However, Bruce was a bit uncomfortable carrying around such bulk and, after leaving the Marines, actually did not have the free, unending food supply!  So, never say die, he decided to discover what muscle hid beneath the flab and planned to enter the prestigious NAABA Mr. Universe event in London, England.  One day at a New York gym, an infamous bodybuilding “trainer of champions” told him to his face, “NEVER!”  Of course, 28 months later Randall became one of the biggest, shapeliest, and most defined contestants ever in winning the 1959 Mr. Universe (222 pounds bodyweight)!  Incidentally, the bodybuilding mogul approached him shortly thereafter for a cover photo/story – Bruce smiled, waved his finger, and replied, “NEVER!”

Of interest to us in the USAWA, Bruce Randall did not employ standard bodybuilding exercises or routines, but had a natural inclination to heavy, always progressing standing presses, dumbbell bench presses,  hack lifts, bent over rows, curls, and deadlifts.  All OUR stuff!  And his workouts were extremely sensible, rarely more than 3 sets of 3 to 6 reps for 4 or 5 lifts, even when at lower bodyweight and keying in on big time physique events.  His upper arm size alone, with some of the most magnificent triceps ever, was indicative of results from extremely heavy presses, curls (100+ pound dumbbells) and French presses (a rarely contested all-round event).

Randall’s most famous lift, however, was the GOOD MORNING. Bruce specialized on this unconventional movement since, at first, he could squat almost nothing after breaking his leg in 7 places during a nasty accident (not lifting related).

As he approached his most efficient bodyweight of 380, Bruce had worked to a typical Good Morning session of 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps with 565!  His top single was 685, back parallel to the floor, and a bare miss with a mind blowing 750 because the weight unexpectedly shifted!

To show the strengthening effects of the Good Morning, Bruce performed only 9 random singles in the squat over the months leading up to his bulkiest,  yet achieved an easy, deep 680.  And his deadlift hit 770.   Both powerlifts were certainly world class during the 50s – without ever training them!

Bruce Randall executing his famous Good Morning lift with BIG WEIGHT!

In light of the recent inception of “strongman lifts,” I’d like to propose the “Randall Lift.” Certainly this event should rank right up there with the rack-based “Anderson Squat.”  For, you see, Bruce Randall didn’t achieve his 685 Good Morning in the strict format of our USAWA rulebook.  His lift often used a cambered bar and always bent knees.  But he did get his torso parallel to the floor, even with a (necessary) rounded back.  Heck, as Al Myers once pointed out, it’s near impossible anyway to judge (or do!) a Good Morning with completely straight legs and back.  But I believe this lift’s inclusion will be an important tribute to a legendary, almost forgotten, true ALL-ROUNDER.

Typing this during early evening, Sean zoomed past, heading toward our garage gym.  “What’s up, kiddo?” I questioned.

“GOOD MORNING!” he yelled.  “I’m gonna be Mr. Universe!”

Yes, senility strikes early in this family!

JWC Around the World!

by Thom Van Vleck

Brian Hare, top Highland Games athlete sporting his JWC hat while doing some stone lifting in ICELAND!

I have had a lot of fun (and sometimes frustration) putting on meets over the years.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed doing is creating new meet shirts, and sometimes hats for something different.  I have also enjoyed seeing my shirts pop up at the most unusual places.  Recently, Brian Hare, a top Highland Game thrower posted the above photo of him doing some stone lifting in Iceland wearing his JWC stocking cap.

Front and center, you will see Bob McConaughey sporting his JWC shirt, that year he set the masters World Record in the Bench Press with 744lbs at 242lbs bodyweight.

I also got one from Bob McConaughey, a top Powerlifter and Highland Games thrower where Bob was representing the Frantz Power Team but wearing a JWC shirt!  I am not surprised when I’m in the local super market and see one of my shirts, but I was surprised when I was in Edinburg, Scotland and turned around to see one of my shirts!  Sean Betz was wearing it before throwing in the Pro World Championships!  Sean told me he took that shirt to every meet as he liked it as warm up shirt since it was roomy and had long sleeves.  I have seen photos of him in it all over the place!

Hey, I can't resist running this photo of Tully one more time!!!!! Here's a JWC shirt showing up in California! This may be the most published photo in ever on the USAWA website!

I have many more examples and sometimes I know that a shirt may be worn just because it fits well, happens to be the only one clean, or just at the top in the shirt drawer!  But whatever the reason, whenever I see it, it makes me feel pretty good and motivates me put all the negatives aside in running a meet and make plans for the next one.  If you have one of my shirts and you end up wearing one in some cool or exotic location, send me a copy!  It will make my day!

Hot Stove Workout

by Thom Van Vleck

A Hot Stove is where work gets done, and managing what's important means putting it up front or in back....managing your workout is the idea of this article.

I just wanted to share a workout plan I have for this winter.  As most of you know, I do a lot of throwing in the Scottish Highland Games.   Winter time for me is “off season”.  It is a time where I am trying to build strength again.  I also want to increase my conditioning and flexibility.  In season, I do a lot of throwing, and in the process I get pretty burned out on it by the end of the year and it’s good to get back in the gym for some old school training.

The first thing I need to tell you is that there is NOTHING I enjoy more than the adrenaline rush that comes with heavy lifting.  I get a high that will last for days.  Any hardcore lifter will know what I mean, that moment when the weight starts piling on and the goosebumps pop up on your arms and a chill runs down your spin and it’s “GO TIME”!  I love it.  But, as I get older I have to deal with a couple of factors:  Recuperation and Injuries.

Because of the increased recuperation time that comes with age and the injuries my body has endured, I can’t hit the max attempts like I did 20 or 30 years ago. I have to be smart!  Part of the problem is that I want to work my entire body at once and be cycling into heavy lifts that involve  my entire body.  So this year I came up with my “Hot Stove Workout”.

The “Hot Stove Workout” has my hitting the big numbers on a particular lift during my “Big Saturday” workout.  This is when I’m hitting that adrenaline rush and feeling good about moving some heavy iron (heavy for me!).  This is what I call my “Front Burner” exercise.   I am also using that time to work on my Erector Spinae and hamstrings using the Reverse Hyper, swiss ball (leg curls), and leg curling on the Reverse Hyper (a little exercise I stole from Al Myers).

Then Sunday is my conditioning day.  Right now I’m doing football agility drills with my son, who’s playing football in school, medicine ball drills, and tossing the pigskin around along with hitting the volleyball back and forth with my wife who’s on a volleyball league.

Monday is a day when I work on Grip, Neck, and Abdominal exercises, really going crazy on them.  Then my “Big Tuesday Workout” I hit two exercised that are my “Back Burner” exercises.  They are on their way to being “Front Burner” exercises and when one gets moved up, then another takes it’s place…destined to eventually make it to the “Front Burner”.  I always have three exercises and I make sure I have one that’s a leg movement, one a pressing movement, and another that’s a pulling or back movement.  It is also this day that I do any assistance work.

I then finish off with a set of 100 on the leg press.  These are very explosive, I drive up on the toes, and I usually have to crawl out of the gym after that.  By then I’ve worked out for 4 days and then I have three days to rest and get ready for the next Saturday.  I enjoy this workout very much and for now, that’s all I need to keep me lifting.  It doesn’t matter how great the workout is, if you don’t enjoy it or it doesn’t motivate you, then it’s the same as worthless.

By keeping a couple exercised on the back burner, using less weight, I’m able to be ready to switch them to the front burner.  That way I’m always hitting something heavy on Saturday and not having to build up over time for a big lift.  By lifting only once a week with over 90% poundages, I am able to recuperate and stay fresh.  I hope my workout has given you some ideas for your own training.  Everything I know about training I learned from someone else!!!!

Wayne Smith Update

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith, long time USAWA lifter and even longer time member of the Jackson Weightlifting Club was recently featured by me in two part website article.  Wayne also attended the USAWA Nationals hosted by the JWC in Kirksville this year.  Wayne has many friends in the lifting world and I thought maybe some of you would like to hear the latest.

A couple of weeks ago Wayne was rushed the hospital.  He was having some problems and they were very concerning.  I went several times to check up on him and left with more questions than answers.  The doctors just didn’t know what was going on with him.

Well, I have good news.  I visited with Wayne yesterday and he is doing much better and appears to be on his way to recovery and has moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation unit.  He was his old self again and was enjoying visits from three JWC members in one day.  Wayne Jackson had made a visit, and then Wayne Gardner, then myself.

It is nice to know that we take care of our own and the friendships made on the lifting platform are often life time ones.  We hope that Wayne will be back home soon and if you have a message for him, just let me know at and I will make sure he gets it!  He tells me he is not going to let this keep him from making his comeback in lifting!   You have to admire the dedication.

Goerner Deadlift

by Joe Garcia



Bill Clark, at 79 years young, pulling a 2-Bar Deadlift of 270 pounds at the 2011 Goerner Deadlift.

It is amazing the lengths that some people will go to in order to miss this event.  Al ran off to some little contest in Australia, dragging Chad with him,  Eric was chowing down on turkey, and from the looks of the website, Thom was writing more ‘fluff’ pieces. Everyone not here missed out on a fun day at Clark’s gym.  When I drove up in the morning, Dean Ross and Mike Murdock were already there as was Bill Clark.  Evidently, Dean and Mike had arrived in town around 3:30 AM, not wanting miss out on one of the coveted parking spots in front.  We all weighed in, including Bill, who was on the platform for the first time in over a year.  Even though his right shoulder would give him painful problems all day, he managed at least one successful in each of the thirteen lifts and sometimes a second and a third attempt.  There were no fourth attempts taken during the day.

The day started out with the Thumbless Deadlifts.  That is definitely a lift that you can go from greatness to humility in 5 lbs.  One thing we elected to do during the day was to allow the lifter to do any of the lifts that he wanted in the order he wanted with the exception that the finger lifts were contested last.  This way, the loading was kept to a minimum by the lifters-loaders-officials.  That’s right, more multi-tasking at Clark’s gym.  Next up was standard One-Hand Deadlifts, if any lift in the USAWA could be called standard.  After finishing up with the one hand stuff, attention was turned to the two hand lifts.  Dean pulled the biggest Reeves lift with a 275, could have done a bit more but took a little too big of a jump and was unsuccessful in his next attempt.  I was happy with my 225 as I don’t remember the last time I did a Reeves deadlift.  Not only did Dean do a great job of lifting, he also kept us entertained with his stories and jokes.  Problem is that I think he believes most of them.  After the Reeves, the 2 Barbell, Hack, Heels Together and Jefferson lifts followed.  Finally, the dreaded finger lifts commenced.  Everyone began with the Little Fingers Deadlift, then the Ring, Index, and Middle Finger, except for Mike, who had to go back and finish with an Index Fingers Lift.  Everyone was grateful that Mary wasn’t around to show us up.

Dean Ross had the top Reeves Deadlift of the day, with this 275 pound lift.

The organization had elected to present Bill with both a letter of appreciation and a Lifetime Achievement Award.  I was honored to read the letter to Bill and to present him with his well deserved plaque for everything he has done for the USAWA over the years.  Bill also wanted everyone to know how much he appreciated the honor.

Results of the meet are listed below.  Amazingly, I won the Goerner, a deadlift contest.  I suppose that means I will have to defend it next year.


2011 Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One
November 26, 2011
Clarks Gym
Columbia, Missouri

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Lifts: Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm (left and right), Deadlift – One Arm (left and right), Deadlift – Reeves, Deadlift -2 Bars, Hack Lift, Deadlift -Heels Together, Jefferson Lift, Deadlift – Fingers, Little, Deadlift – Fingers,Index, Deadlift – Fingers, Ring, Deadlift – Fingers, Middle

Officials: Joseph Garcia, Bill Clark, Mike Murdock


Lifter Age Bwt DL Heels 2 Bar Hack Jefferson
Mike Murdock 71 234 225 270 135 185
Dean Ross 69 266 315 300 185 315
Bill Clark 79 235 225 270 185 185
Joe Garcia 58 203 315 300 275 275
      1 Arm R 1 Arm L 1 Arm NT R 1 Arm NT L
Mike Murdock     135 135 115 115
Dean Ross     185 185 160 160
Bill Clark     160 160 115 115
Joe Garcia     275 275 205 205
      Index Middle Ring Little
Mike Murdock     75 135 65 55
Dean Ross     120 170 120 95
Bill Clark     135 135 105 65
Joe Garcia     185 205 135 120
      Reeves   Total Points
Mike Murdock     205   1850 2004.1
Dean Ross     275   2585 2584.9
Bill Clark     135   1990 2282.0
Joe Garcia     225   2995 3158.1

NOTES:  Bodyweights listed in pounds.  All lifting poundages listed in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age amendment.

Highlights of IAWA Meeting

by Steve Gardner

IAWA World Council Meeting – Friday 18th November – Perth, Australia

Confirmation of the 2012 IAWA International Events:
World A/R Champs – Sat/Sun 6th/7th Oct – Salina, Kansas, USA – Promoters: Al Myers and Chad Ullom
Gold Cup World Record Breakers – Sat 3rd Nov – Castlemilk, Scotland – Promoter: Andy Tomlin

Confirmation of the 2013 IAWA International Events:
IAWA World Championships – Accrington, England – Promoter: Mark Haydock
IAWA Gold Cup – Lebanon, PA, USA – Promoter: Denny Habecker

Acceptance of a new lift: A new lift in the Rule Book is E37 Power Row

Ammendment to an IAWA Lift: The following sentance was added to B 35 Bench Press Feet in the Air:
No extra support bench or similar equipment can be used for extra leg support.

If you wish to have the updated IAWA(UK) Rule Book as of November 2011 including these changes,
please contact Steve Gardner:

Information on the 2012 World Championships Lifts from Al Myers and Chad Ullom:
Lifts Day One: Reverse Curl / 1H C+Jerk BBell / Pullover and Press / Steinborn
Lifts Day Two: 2 H Snatch 2″ Bar / 1 H Hacklift / Straddle Deadlift

World Championships

by Steve Gardner, IAWA President

Group picture from the 2011 IAWA Worlds Championships.

A great two days of action at the Belmont Sports Centre in Perth. The lifters had to perform 4 disciplines on Day One: 2 vertical 2″ bars lift, 1/H Dumbell Swing, Continental C+Jerk, Fulton Deadlift and Day Two: Cheat Curl, Push Press from the Racks and Zercher.

The Overall Best Ladies Open and Masters winner was Jackie Giglia of Australia, The Overall Best Open Winner was Mark Haydock of Preston, England with Kris McIntyre of Australia in runner up position, The Overall Best Masters Winner was Steve Sherwood from Hull, England with Al Myers of the USA in Runners Up Position.

The battle for the Overall Champion of Champions, the Overall Best Lifter of the whole competition was Steve Sherwood from England, with Al Myers of the USA in second and Mark Haydock of England in third.


2011 IAWA World Championships
Belmont Sports Club
Perth, Australia
November 19th & 20th, 2011

Meet Promoter:  Peter Phillips

Recorder and Announcer:  Steve Gardner

Officials: John Patterson, Mark Haydock, Paul McManus, Chad Ullom, Steve Sherwood, Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, Frank Allen, Julia Phillips, Al Myers

Lifts: 2 Vert 2″ Bars (Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2″), 1 H Swing (Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm), Continental Clean and Jerk (Continental to Chest and Jerk), Fulton DL (Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip), Cheat Curl (Curl – Cheat), Push Press Racks (Push Press – From Racks), Zercher (Zercher Lift)

Lifters and Lifts:

Lifter VB DL Swing C&J FB DL Curl PP Zerch
Jackie Giglia 60 22-R 47.5 75 45 40 77.5
Lainie Connell 60 22-R 45 70 48 47.5 80
Anne Whitehead 50 20-R 42.5 65 40 42.5 60
Dennis Mitchell 65 15-L 25 70 37.5 25 85
Hercules Perryman 45 12-L 20 60 30 12.5 45
Steve Sherwood 145 52.5-R 85 150 80 77.5 150
Denny Habecker 100 35-R 60 100 50 72.5 95
Art Montini —– 15-R 37.5 77.5 32.5 35 80
Frank Allen 80 35-R 60 115 62.5 60 112.5
Robin Lukosius 120 40-R 70 110 60 65 140
Peter Phillips 140 64-R 100 140 85 90 170
Stefan Polglaze 95 40-R 90 95 65 82.5 90
Glen Phillips 100 37.5-R 70 90 60 70 90
Kris McIntyre 130 58-R 115 120 80 105 160
Esad Selman 100 37.5-R 90 115 75 85 125
Steven Salis 100 50-R 110 120 95 100 130
Tom Edwards 160 52-R 95 160 92.5 95 150
John Mahon 140 52.5-R 120 125 90 110 150
Chad Ullom 145 60-R 137.5 145 100 125 190
Al Myers 170 60-R 135 160 92.5 125 205
Samuel Trew 110 47.5-L 105 120 80 70 172.5
Mark Haydock 182.5 66-R 140 170 100 130 220

NOTES: Glen Phillips was the only lifter to change classes for record purposes on day two, weighing 81.2 KG on day 2.  All lifts recorded in kilograms.


2 Vert 2″Bars – Anne Whitehead 55 kg
2 Vert 2″ Bars – Art Montini 50 kg
2 Vert 2″ Bars – Stefan Polglaze 102.5 kg
2 Vert 2″ Bars – Al Myers 185 kg
Dumbbell Swing – Steve Sherwood 57.5 kg
Cheat Curl – Steve Sherwood 83.5 kg
Push Press from Racks – Anne Whitehead 45 kg
Push Press from Racks – Steve Sherwood 78.5 kg
Zercher – Jackie Giglia 80 kg
Zercher – Lainie Connell 82.5 kg


Womens Division

Lifter BWT Age Class&Division Total Points
Jackie Giglia – AUS 58.3 50 60 KG M50+ 367 644.0
Lainie Connell – AUS 67.0 41 70 KG M40+ 372.5 542.4
Anne Whitehead – AUS 72.8 49 75 KG M45+ 320 477.2

Mens Division

Lifter BWT Age Class&Division Total Points
 Steve Sherwood – ENG  78.1  60  80 KG M60+  740  872.4
 Al Myers – USA  114.1  45  115 KG M45+  947.5  793.2
 Mark Haydock – ENG  117.5  36  120 KG Open  1008.5  786.1
 Peter Phillips – AUS  109.9  57  110 KG M55+  789  750.7
 Kris McIntyre – AUS  77.4  35  80 KG Open  768  750.3
 Chad Ullom – USA  113.4  39  115 KG Open  902.5  715.7
 Tom Edwards – AUS  103.7  40  105 KG M40+  804.5  673.7
 Denny Habecker – USA  82.0  69  85 KG M65+  512.5  647.7
 John Mahon – AUS  106.4  28  110 KG Open  787.5  645.7
 Frank Allen – ENG  88.0  69  90 KG M65+  525  638.8
 Steven Salis – AUS  92.0  41  95 KG M40+  705  638.4
 Stefan Polglaze – AUS  62.5  25  65 KG Open  557.5  626.9
 Robin Lukosius – AUS  96.9  58  100 KG M55+  605  615.6
 Esad Selman – AUS  84.4  27  85 KG Open  627.5  584.3
 Samuel Trew – AUS  116.6  29  120 KG Open  705  551.7
 Dennis Mitchell – USA  69.0  79  70 KG M75+  322.5  525.1
 Glen Phillips – AUS  79.9  41  80 KG M40+  517.5  505.7
 Art Montini – USA  85.1  84  90 KG M80+  277.5  421.2
 Hercules Perryman – AUS  73.4  82  75 KG M80+  224.5  362.2

NOTES:  Total is total weight lifted in kilograms.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight and age.



Trap Bar Training: Part II

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck performing Trap Bar Deadlifts with the addition of 60 pounds of chains attached to the bar. Thom joined us at the Dino Gym for one of our "Tuesday Night Workouts" and discovered the FUN OF TRAP BAR DEADLIFTS. (photo and caption courtesy of Al Myers)

Now, to continue with the Trap bar, I learned a couple of things as I began to work this lift.  First, I needed to start with the bar where the center of gravity was where it normally would be with a regular deadlift.  Then, as I pulled up, I would shift that center towards the center of my thigh.  The began to engage the hips more.  Your “groove” might be different but it’s critical you play around with it and find it…it’s different than a straight bar for sure!!!!

My plan is to work this lift hard over the winter with a goal of 700lbs!  I will let you guys know what I end up with, but the truth of the matter is that I’m as motivated about pulling again as I was 10 years ago when I got the 640 deadlift!  When I got that lift I was on a quest for 700 but had worked for so long and so hard on doing deadlift after deadlift after deadlift I got burned out on heavy lifting from the floor.  So it’s more more important to me the trap bar has captured my imagination and made me believe I can hit big numbers again. That’s the real gift of it.  Maybe I’ll finally pull that 700!  Even if it’s on a trap bar!  So, try some trap bar pulls to spice up your training….and don’t forget, it’s a USAWA official lift so you can set records on it, too!!!!!

Rules for the Trap Bar Deadlift are pretty basic.

I9.  Deadlift – Trap Bar
The rules of the Deadlift apply except a Trap Bar must be used. The Trap Bar must not be of the type that contains elevated handles.


Al Myers even has a two man trap bar!  So you can go to the Dino Gym with your training partner and hit some big “two man” lifts.

So go “Trap” and see if your pulling power doesn’t come up!

Trap Bar Training: Part I

by Thom Van Vleck

Al Myers doing a 650 pound Trap Bar Deadlift at the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

I have been training for over 30 years.  I realized the other day that I have competed in 5 different decades.  My first meet was in 1979, so I have competed in the 70’s, the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s.  Not sure if that makes me proud or makes me feel old!   When you do the same thing for many years you need to do things to “change it up” and stay fresh.  Not only by putting new physical demands on your body but more importantly, in my book, staying fresh mentally.  I do two things to try and stay motivated and avoid a rut.  I will travel to other gyms to train to get ideas and I will buy new equipment.

About a year ago, I bought a trap bar.  I had never really used one in my training even though it was available at a gym I used to work out at.  I had just considered it kind of a gimmick. I mean, aren’t you just deadlifting?  When I first got it, I had used it to do some shrugs, some jump shrugs, and some “frame carry’s” (think “farmers walk”).  But funny enough….I didn’t deadlift with it.  My offseason training switched over to my throwing season as a Highland Games athlete and for man years that meant lots of throwing and no lifting.  What I’m setting up here is that I had a trap bar, but had not used it in the way it was intended….deadlifting!

Then, in July, I traveled to the Ledaig Highland Games held by Dave Glasgow.  Dave also held a USAWA record day that same weekend.  On Monday I traveled to visit Wilbur Miller and then Tuesday I headed to Al’s Dino Gym for the “Big Tuesday” workout.  My plan was to work out with Al and “steal” some secrets! HAHA.

Workout day arrived and I planned on doing whatever Al did.  Now, I have to say, this throwing season I have been following Al’s training advice (after all, he WAS a world record holding PROFESSIONAL Highland Games thrower before his USAWA days!) and lifting heavy while “in season”.  Something I had not done for some time.  I mean, really, why would I go to Al’s and do my regular lifts when I’m there to learn.

One of the lifts we did was the trap bar deadlift.  At first, I did not do well with it.  I’m a decent deadlifter with a 640lb lift to my credit and I had recently pulled 555 with just a little work.  It was an ego buster, and I ended up with a 551lb lift while Al shot up to 700!  But then we did sets and reps and I began to get a feel for it.  I realized a couple of things so when I got home I did a 4 week cycle on the trap bar deadlift and pulled a nice 645lb lift.  I was ecstatic!  I know that it doesn’t compare with the 640 I pulled about 10 years ago, but I was still thrilled.

Next up: Part II  Trap bar training and the “rules”.

USAWA Official Dress

by Al Myers

Dennis Mitchell competes in every meet wearing a singlet. This picture is from the 2011 USAWA National Championships.

One of the issues that has presented itself recently in the USAWA is the issue of the “official dress” in USAWA competitions or events.  The USAWA has always been very lenient in what lifters wear in competitions.  We allow lifters to wear tshirts and shorts, unlike most other lifting organizations. Most other lifting organizations I have competed in don’t allow a lifter to wear shorts and tshirt, but require the lifter to wear a singlet for competition.  The only thing we insist on is that the lifters don’t wear supportive gear, like knee wraps or super suits.  The thoughts of this go back to the ideas of our founder Bill Clark, who felt that lifting in shorts and tshirts is acceptable.  I don’t have a problem with this either, but this “relaxed dress code” has lead to even more relaxed dress, and lifters have been wearing long sleeve tshirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and even jeans in competitions!  I think part of this is the “change of times” in everyday life.  It used to be that businessmen dressed in suits and ties for work everyday.  Then along came casual Friday, and before we knew it EVERYDAY is casual Friday, and now I go into businesses and see people wearing shorts and tshirts to work!  What has happened?  It has been a gradual trend of decline in the acceptable code of dress.  Now that is happening in the USAWA!  I guess this is showing my age, because I still want to LOOK like a weightlifter in a competition, thus the reason I always wear a singlet.  Most of the lifters my age or older do the same.  I look at guys like Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Dennis Mitchell – and these guys always look the part of weightlifters at meets by wearing weightlifting singlets, instead of some ratty old tshirt and sweatpants.

I’m going to go over some of the rules on official dress, which comes straight from our USAWA Rulebook.


2.  The lifting uniform may be a one piece suit or it may consist of shorts and a shirt.  The lifting uniform must not provide any support that would aid in lifting.
3.  Upper body must be covered by a one piece suit, shirt or both. No tank tops are allowed. If a one piece suit is worn, the straps must be over the shoulders.
4.  Lower body must be covered by a one piece suit or shorts.  No sweat pants are allowed. The suit or shorts must not extend lower than the base of the quadriceps muscle. An undergarment is allowed to be worn under the suit or shorts, but must not provide any support that would aid in lifting.
5.  Headgear of any kind is not allowed except for religious purposes.  This would include stocking caps, ball caps, headbands, or any other covering of the head.
6.  Lifting gloves are not allowed.
7.  Lifting straps are not allowed.
8.  Braces or supports on any part of the body are not allowed. This would include neoprene elbow and knee sleeves.  An exception to this rule may be made by the officials if the lifter has proof that it is medically necessary.
9.   Socks must extend no higher than the bottom of the kneecaps and must not be an aid in lifting.
10.   Suitable shoes or slippers must be worn. They must not provide an unfair aid in lifting.
11.    A belt may be worn and must not exceed 12 centimeters or 4-3/4 inches in width.
12.  The lifter may be required to have his/her gear, which may include shoes, lifting belt, wrist wraps, and lifting attire inspected at weigh-ins. Approval of proper dress code will be determined by the Meet Director.  Lifting attire which contains inappropriate language or images, is too revealing, sloppy in appearance, or deemed otherwise inappropriate by the weigh-in official or Meet Director is a violation of the USAWA dress code.

These rules pretty much “lay it out” what is expected.  I truly believe that most of the violations are due to  lifters  just not being aware of what is required to meet the USAWA dress code.  Very rarely do I feel there is any malicious intent by a lifter to “cheat” by violating these requirements. There is reasons behind all this and let me explain a few.  Wearing long sleeve shirts is not allowed because some lifts require the elbows be locked.  A long sleeve shirt could hide this infraction.  The same thing applies to wearing sweat pants – if the knees are covered it makes it difficult for the official to tell if the legs are straight in lifts that require this.  Headgear, like loose stocking caps or ball-caps, might impair the ability of an official to determine if a lifters head is flat on the bench, or against a wall in lifts like the strict curl.  Obviously knee sleeves can be “lift enhancing”, but even if they were loose and non-supportive, they could undermine an officials view of the legs just like sweatpants would. 

Read over article 12.  Our rules allow a meet director to approve the proper dress, and if wanted, a meet director could disallow inappropriate dress. I had to do this at the National Championships where a young lifter was wearing tight fitting spandex shorts (like biker shorts) under his singlet.  This undergarment was in violation of rule number 4, because it extended below the base of the quadricep.  No harm was done, and he just took it off when I asked him. He was not aware that this was a violation.  But in this meet the Zercher was contested, and wearing a tight fitting undergarment this low on the quadriceps would allow a lifter to rest the bar on the shorts instead of on the legs alone, which I feel would give an unfair advantage. 

My feeling is that all lifters should be required to wear singlets in competition, and not just shorts and tshirts.  When I was throwing in the Highland Games kilts were required by all athletes in competition (outside of novice classes).  All throwers “looked the part” of being a Scottish Athlete this way. By requiring singlets in the USAWA, all lifters would also “look the part’ of being a weightlifter.   I welcome input and discussion on this topic in the USAWA Discussion Forum.  I would like to know everyone’s opinion on this. 

Speaking of improper dress code – it is time for another quiz.  There are a number of pictures in our Rulebook demonstrating the USAWA lifts. Among these pictures there is a NUMBER of improper dress code violations (which obviously were overlooked in competitions because most of these pictures came from competitions).  I have counted them up and was surprised at the number.  For anyone who emails me the correct number of violations regarding the USAWA Dress Code among the pictures in the Rulebook I will send you a free  USAWA Water Bottle.  The deadline for this quiz  is when I get back from the World Championships in Australia.

Welcome Mat Meet

by Jarrod Fobes

MEET REPORT: 1st Annual Welcome Mat Meet Report

Mike Murdock and Grace Jividen at the 1st Annual Welcome Mat Meet in Colorado.

The first of what I hope to be many meets at Colorado Welcome Mat is in the books.  The meet was an overall success, thanks in no small part to Mike Murdock whose experience as an official and a competitor was an enormous help.  Besides Mike, every competitor was completely new not only to all-around weightlifting, but to weightlifting competitions in general.  But don’t think there weren’t some talented athletes competing: Olympian and world SAMBO champion Grace Jividen made a last minute entry despite a persistent elbow injury.  Grace set at least two records, and I think it’s safe to say that we will see a lot more of her in the USAWA.  In her own words, “I’m hooked!”   

The lifts contested were the Turkish Get-up, the Crucifix, and the Dumbbell walk.  The TGU and Dumbbell Walk were especially popular with competitors and spectators alike.  My friend and training partner Brandon Gurr even hopped in for some unofficial attempts at the Dumbbell Walk, ultimately beating my PR!  The real star of the day for this lift though was Mike Cadwallader, who ran 100lbs at a bodyweight of 74kg, which put him in first place at the last minute by a two point spread.  As disappointed as I was to see the best lifter award slip away from me, I have to say I was highly impressed.  Incidentally, “Dr. Mike” is my chiropractor, and is the main reason that I’m able to even consider competitive weightlifting. 

Every lifter who participated in the TGU did well and showed promise to do even better.  Dr. Mike put up an impressive TGU at 80lbs, beating the previous best in the USAWA by 10lbs.  I was able to set a new PR for myself and for the USAWA at 115lbs.  (Don’t tell James Gardner, but I’ve got my eye on his record!)  Grace pushed 55lbs, and this was only the second time she had done this lift!  Young Frank Policky matched his PR at 45lbs and will only get stronger.  Karena fell short of her PR by 5lbs, putting up 45lbs.  But I happen to know she is addicted to this lift and I think we can expect more from her in days to come. 

The Crucifix was all Mike Murdock, who set a new record at 76lbs.  This was the noisiest lift of the day, with pops coming from the elbows, shoulders, and sternums of almost every competitor.  This is tough lift that uses a lot of muscles that aren’t used to working together, and I think all of us novice lifters enjoyed trying to figure this one out.

This being a smaller meet, all the lifters helped each other with loading and spotting when necessary.  So far as I know this is the first all-around meet held in Colorado, and I was very happy to have six lifters.  Several spectators and friends have promised to enter future meets now that the ground as been broken and they have an idea of what USAWA is all about.  I really hope we can see this sport grow in Colorado.   


Welcome Mat Meet
November 5th, 2011
The Welcome Mat/Gracie Judo Club
Littleton, Colorado

Meet Director: Jarrod Fobes

Certified USAWA Officials (1 official system used):  Mike Murdock, Jarrod Fobes

Lifts:  Turkish Get Up, Crucifix, Dumbbell Walk


Lifter Age BWT TGU Cruc DBW Total Points
Grace Jividen 47 65.4 55 36 48 139 164.2
Karena Fobes 36 76.7 45 36 58 139 137.1


Lifter Age BWT TGU Cruc DBW Total Points
Mike Cadwallader 34 74.3 80 66 100 246 247.2
Jarrod Fobes 34 84.7 115 70 78 263 244.4
Frank Policky 14 56.9 45 22 38 105 152.3
Mike Murdock 71 105.0 —— 76 63 139 151.5

NOTES:   BWT is bodyweight in kilograms.  All lifts reported in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted for bodyweight and age.


Mike Murdock: Rectangular Fix 80#

Weight Over Bar

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck tossing the 42lb weight at the 2011 Kirksville Games

Some of you may know that several of our USAWA members are currently, or have been, participants in the Scottish Highland Games.  These are strength events, but mostly involve throwing or tossing weights.  One of the events, and my personal favorite, is the “Weight Over Bar”.  I thought I might give a little background on this event, discuss the rules, and explain why I think throwing this type of movement into your training occasionally might be a good way to mix things up and avoid a training rut.

This event involves throwing a weight with a handle over a cross bar for height using one hand only.  Women use a 28lb weight, masters men and under 190lb throwers use a 42lb weight, and all other men use a 56lb weight.  It is thought the weights were originally balance beam scale weights.  In the old system in Scotland a “hundredweight” equaled 112lbs.  Half that was 56lbs and half that was 28lbs.  A “stone” was 14lbs and the 42lb weight was half way between the 28 and 56.  So, basically the 28 was 2 stones, the 42 was 3 stones, and the 56 was 4 stones!  It should be noted old English Anvils also used this measuring system and that is why if you find an English anvil and it says 112 on the side, it’s NOT 112lbs, but 1 hundred weight (112lbs), 1 Quarter Hundred weight (28lbs) and then 2 odd pounds.  So it would be 112 + 28 + 2 = 142lbs!  I know, pretty complicate, just know in the Highland games we throw a 28lb, a 42lb, and a 56lb weight!

There are two ways to get the weight over the bar.  You can “stand” and basically do what would be a “super one hand snatch” and pull the weight up and over your head and over the bar.  Or you can do the “spin” and basically do a “turn” (much like the rotation on the shot put).  That technique is not widely accepted (such as by our USAWA secretary!) plus it’s very difficult to master so unless you are going to take this up as a sport let’s focus on the standing style.  Typically, in competition, you would have “standards” that look much like a high jump bar or pole vault set up.  The bar goes up until only one competitor is left.  Out of the 9 events in the Highland Games, this is the most basic.   It requires the least technique and is often dominated by the strongest athletes.

That is why I think it would make a good training tool to add to the rotation of your training routine.  It would be a good event to use to train for the one arm snatch, the DB Swing, DB Snatch….any movement where you have to move the bar quickly from the floor to overhead!  You could use a kettlebell to practice this event, or a solid dumbbell.  Since the idea is to throw it as high as possible I would only do this outside where the weight can fall safely on the ground.  Use a weight you can get up in the air 12 to 15ft.  You don’t need a cross bar, just get out there and get some rips in and see what happens.  Pulling a weight hard enough to toss it several feet over your head should develop explosive power and speed.  Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!  If you do it in your back yard you can give your neighbors something to talk about!

Sometimes this event is called the Weight for Height.  I have no problem with this, but just so you know it is thought the Weight for Height actually refers to how the Irish  would perform this event.  Instead of tossing the weight over a bar (the term “toss” is used whenever you speak of height events and “throw” whenever it is a distance event) you have a target, often made of wood, hanging in the air and you try and hit the target.  If you hit it, it is raised and you go again.  Some of the other rules for the Weight Over Bar include you have three tries at each height.  If you make it, the bar goes up and you get three fresh attempts.  So, in competition it’s not unusual to take 5, event 10 or more attempts.

So, mix up your training a little, the kilt is optional!   Try some Weight Over Bar!

Your First Set of Weights

by Thom Van Vleck

One of my granddad's original York plates from his "first set" of weights

Do you remember your first set of weights?  When I was 10 I was in a terrible car accident and was injured pretty badly.  I broke both legs, both arms, my hip and various other injuries….I still hurt!!!!   As I recovered from that, I could not go to the JWC gym so my Mom bought me some plastic coated cement weights.  They were “Randy White” weights, he was a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys.  I made it a goal to lift the entire set  of 110lbs overhead.

I also remember, around 1977, sitting with my Uncle Wayne Jackson as he ordered a brand new York set of weights, a 400lb set of the “top of the line” olympic weights.   A short time later, somebody STOLE that set and I remember being angry and heartbroken.  Luckily, insurance covered it’s replacement and soon we were back in business.  Although, I have to admit, I still wonder where that bar ended up!

I also recall my grandfather Dalton Jackson talking about waiting 10 YEARS to order his first set of weights.  Before that, he made weights out of buckets of cement and old metal rods and supplemented that by lifting anvils, rocks, whatever was around.  He had an assortment of flywheels and other scrap metal discs that had odd shaped holes in them he used for weights.  It was 10 years and he was even married by then before he could order his first weight set.  It was a York 1″ set, I think it was 110lbs.  I have a good portion of that set, and that’s a story unto itself as part of that was out of our family for over 40 years and only recently was reacquired!  I’m sure my Grandfather very much appreciated that first set!

Finally, my kids have all the best stuff.  When my daughter started lifting I bought her a “top of the line” 33lb women’s Olympic bar.  I try to make sure they have all they need, but I wonder, will they have an appreciation for what they have?  Will they have that feeling that comes with that “First Set of Weights”?  I hope so, it’s a good feeling, a special one.  And a feeling I get almost every time I get a new toy to lift in my gym.

Introduction To The Lynch Formula

(WEBMASTERS COMMENTS:  The following story was given to me by Roger Davis some time ago.  I just “found it” again as I was cleaning off a portion of my desk looking for something else.   As most of you know,  the Lynch Formula is the formula we use in the USAWA & IAWA to make the correction adjustments for lifters of different bodyweights.  I’m not even sure what publication this article is from, but it does outline the ideas Ian Lynch had when he developed the Lynch Formula.  It appears to have been written in 1988, which is about the time we started using the Lynch Formula.  I’m still thankful to Roger for keeping this information with the original Lynch Formula so the Lynch Formula Factors could be extended to lifters of higher bodyweights, which we did a couple of years ago.  I won’t rehash the fairness of the Lynch Formula at this time.  That was covered in depth a couple of years ago, and for those of you interested, those blogs are still on the website.  This story should have been ran at that time, but I’m doing it now so it will be saved on the website before I lose this paper again.  I know it is a little boring if you are not the mathematical type, and if you don’t want to read all of it that is fine.   Come back tomorrow and I promise to have some entertaining  ”feel good” piece full of fluff by Thom Van Vleck!!)

by Ian Lynch (October 1988)

The O’Carroll Formula is familiar to most Guild members, and is used to handicap lifters of different weights.  In devising the Formula, Mike O’Carroll used both statistical and physiological evidence to arrive at a fairly complex mathematical function:

Y + (75 – 35)1/3  / (B – 35)1/3

Y is the O’Carroll coefficient used in tables
75 is to make the coefficient 1.000 at this weight.
B is the assumed weight of the lifter’s “non-muscular” mass, eg. bones, brain, etc.

Lynch Formula Graphs

There are many other Formulas, eg Austin, (the original one used in Britain) Lietzke, Vorobyev and , of course, Schwartz.  The strength of the O’Carroll system is that Dr. O’Carroll looked at the physiological reasons to arrive at a basis for the mathematics then cross-referenced this against actual performances to arrive at the constraints, eg. 35 kg.  The Formula is tried and tested and was worked out before the drugs era, which is important since it is difficult to say how “Smartie-taking” might change the physiological factors on which the Formula is based.

Unfortunately for the Guild, however, the Formula was designed before even a 52 kg. weight class appeared, and is very unreliable at weights below this.  This is because the 35 kg. “non-muscular” component of a person’s body is not, in practice, constant.  If it was, anyone weighing 35 kg. would be a totally non-muscular skeleton like me or, in Cookie’s case, a 35 kg. tub of lard, and indeed, no one would weigh less than 35 kg.  In the Guild we have opened up competition to more ladies and younger people who, invariably, are lighter than the weight classes provided for by the formula.  To combat this I have taken a small liberty with the Formula.  Instead of assuming that the non-muscular weight is constant, I have assumed it to be a non-linear function.  The particular function was chosen because it means that the final curve produced fits very closely to the O’Carroll curve at greater weights than 52 kg., but at lighter weights produces realistic allowances down as far as we likely to need.  See Fig. 1 .  There is no deliberate physiological reason for choosing the function I have used other than it fits experience and data so far available.  I suspect that there are too many other factors such as age, sex and such like, to arrive at a simple system that is perfectly fair to everyone, but I feel we should make every effort to develop good practice  to cater for as many as possible.

For those who like maths, I have replaced the constant 35 by 39.53 – (300/w) – (3000/w^2), in order to preserve the 1.0 coefficient at 75 kg. and modify the curve as illustrated in Fig. 1.  Fig. 2 shows how what was previously a value fixed at 35 kg. varies with the weight of the lifter.  In practical terms it means that a 40 kg. lifter is assumed to have a non-muscular weight of about 30 kg., a 75 kg. lifter 35 kg. (as in the old system) and a 120 kg. lifter about 37 kg.  This marginally helps lifters heavier than 75 kg. and marginally hinders those less than 75 kg.  I have stuck to kgs, but it would not be difficult to convert this to pounds if required. 

*** Ed’s Note:   Curious isn’t it, that someone like Ian who, you must agree, exhibits at the very least a modicum of Intelligence, has a non-muscular constant (head) of 2.25 kg.  However, this was mostly bone as brain mass wasn’t discovered and the question was mooted that perhaps he was a Scots Powerlifter.  Close.  Still, when his teaching days are over he always has his legs to fall back on as those who have enjoyed the dubious pleasure.

Right.  now we are even on insults.

Seriously, we cannot thank Ian enough because his expertise will give us a greater platform on which to base the accuracy of our results in the coming years.  We have used the O’Carroll Formula in every aspect of our activities and now we will use the”LYNCH FORMULA” with the same degree of confidence and to the same satisfying effect.  For the moment – at least – I am only publishing the new figures in Kilos.  If it becomes a trial to those applying the new system, then I’ll publish in Imperial Pounds, but I’d prefer if everybody used the metric Kilos from now on – as a matter of course – for uniformity and ease of application

Dale is Again Back

by Dale Friesz

Dale Friesz in action at Art's Birthday Bash performing a 122 pound Ring Fingers Deadlift for a new USAWA Record.

After some 15 months away from the platform, I was finally able to try my hand at Art’s Birthday Meet, October 16th, 2011.  This is the longest period I have gone without training or competitive lifting in the last 31 years.  What I find amusing is I lifted at Art’s with very limited training in the 5 weeks preceding the meet.  I was able to do three singles per workout 2-3 times per week on the two hand finger lifts.  The reason for the finger lifts was that they have been a consistant part of my training since 2005.  During the 15 months after losing my leg I was unable to stand as the stump would not heal and I have 2 injured shoulders thus no bench work.

Since 2000, I have normally had one or more fairly major medical issues each year.  These include joint replacements (hip and shoulder), aorta reconstruction, triple heart by pass, three heart attacks, stent implants in the bypass, two congestive heart failures, implanting of a defibrillator/pace maker, two gastric bleeds, several episodes of MRSA, right leg vein reconstruction and compression surgery, eight vein transplants to establish blood flow in my left leg, the loss of two toes, and then finally the loss of my left leg.  After the loss of the left leg there have been some seven additional surgeries on the left stump so that it would heal.  It is now about 95%.  I have no word on when I will be fitted with a permanent prosthesis.

I am extremely fortunate to have the Doctor I do.  He understands my compulsion to lift weights.  He has also said that the weights are the reason I am still breathing.  Without my wife, my care giver, I would not have made it. 

Al Myers has asked how do you train when you have all this down time?  Prior to the last 15 months I always returned to the all-round basics plus the finger lifts using 3 to 4 sets of one rep on each exercise.  As limited as I now am I am trying to figure out balance on next years national lifts and hope for a prosthesis with ankle flexibility.  I still do the finger lifts!!

Updated Rules Test

by Al Myers

USAWA President Denny Habecker (left) and the late Wilf Chapman (right) of Australia officiating at the 2007 IAWA World Championships in New Zealand.

I just want to announce that the USAWA Rules Test has been updated. The USAWA Official’s Director Joe Garcia and myself have made a few changes to the Open Book Rules Test that must be passed in order to become an USAWA Certified Official. Joe had identified some “bad questions” on the old exam and these questions  have been changed or modified.  Now I’m not saying we made the test easier – because a few new “hard” questions were added as well.  From this point on, this new test must be the one taken.  Don’t fill out and send in the old test!  If you do, you will be asked to take this new one instead. So this is YOUR WARNING!!!!!  Also, due to some rule changes in the past couple of years, the answers to some questions have changed. This new test is much improved, with very few “open ended” questions. 

There are actually rules for the Rules Test.  Since there are no questions covering these rules of the Rules Test in the Rules Test (wow, say that three times quick!), I’m going to go over them.  This is taken from Section VII of the USAWA Rule Book as it applies to the Rules Test:

10.   There will be two levels of classification for Certified USAWA officials.

  • Level 1 Test Qualified – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test.
  • Level 1 Experience Qualified – The official has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.
  • Level 2 – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.  

11.   The USAWA Secretary will maintain a list of certified officials, their level of classification, and their active/inactive status. This list will be available to the membership.

12.   The USAWA Rules Test will consist of 100 open book questions regarding rules within this rulebook.  The test must be completed and returned to the Officials Director to be judged.  There is no time limit in taking the test. To pass the test, an applicant must score over 90 percent.  The Officials Director will inform you only of a pass or fail.  You will not be told the questions you missed. If you fail, you may retake the test as many times as you like.  Once an applicant has passed the test, the Officials Director will inform the USAWA Secretary to include you on the list of Certified USAWA Officials.

13.  Once an official has passed the Rules Test, the Officials Director will issue an Officials card that will be valid for 3 years from the date the official passed the test.  Level 1 Test Qualified Officials will be required to retake the Rules Test after 3 years to maintain Certified Official Status. Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials will receive an Officials card that is valid for 3 years and will be automatically renewed unless the official has been inactive as an official during the previous three year period, in which a new Officials Card will not be issued unless the individual makes a written request to the Officials Director. Level 2 Officials are exempt from recertification, and are issued a lifetime officials card.

14.   An individual must make a written request to the Officials Director in order to apply for Level 1 Experience Qualified Certified Status and provide proof that the individual has the 25 competition experience requirement. This also applies to an official who wants to change their level of certification from Level 1 Test Qualified to Level 2.  

 In a couple of years  (2013) we will begin to have a few officials that will need to renew their certification.  Joe and I have discussed this, and we have decided that we will work up a new test in a year from now.  This way those re-certifying will have a new and different test to take.  I’m sure some questions will remain the same or just be changed slightly.  I KNOW  myself  (and Joe) will hear some complaining and bellyaching when this happens, but THAT IS JUST THE WAY IT IS in order to have a good officials program.  Our officials program already lets the “experienced” officials “off the hook” when it comes to taking the Rules Test.  That is why there is that “25 event” loophole in the rules now.   My opinion is that EVERYONE should be taking the test and this is why – we have over 200 official lifts in the USAWA, and the rules are being changed and amended every year now, plus new lifts are being added.  Even the experienced officials have to “stay on top of things” in order to be a good official.   The main reason of the Rules Test is to insure that the officials are familiar with the current USAWA Rulebook.   All the questions on the test can be “looked up” and answered, since it is an open book exam.  This process FORCES someone to at least know where to look for the answers to judging questions or where the individual lifts rules are located in the Rulebook.  Since I’m on a “soapbox” right now, let me tell you about another gripe I have with officiating (besides the USAWA and IAWA(UK)  rules differences).  First of all, wrong calls on lifts will always be made by officials.  I even see it watching NFL games with instant replay, and these guys are paid “big bucks” to be professional officials.  Making a bad call doesn’t bother me – and I believe the officiating is as good in the USAWA as it ever has been.  Judgement calls are judgement calls – and everyone sees things differently. What bothers me is when “experienced officials” really don’t even KNOW THE RULES.  That is inexcusable.  All you have to do is have a rulebook and READ THE RULE of the upcoming lift before sitting in the chair.  I watch outstanding seasoned officials like Denny Habecker and this never happens to him, and this is why.  He is always carrying his Rulebook with him when officiating  and reads over the rules for the upcoming lift (which he probably knows like the knurling on his favorite bar) just TO BE SURE he hasn’t forgot something.  That’s what it takes to be an outstanding official!!!

This new Rules Test is located on the website under “USAWA Information – Officials & Rules Test” .

Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

by Al Myers

Longtime USAWA member and IAWA supporter John McKean performs a 283 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 2 Bars, 2" at the 2010 USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge, PA.

One of the lifts that will be contested at this year’s World Championships in Perth, Australia will be the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″.  This a very difficult grip lift that requires grip strength in BOTH HANDS.  If one of your hands is weaker than the other, this lift will show it!   I have done this lift in several USAWA competitions to date, but never in an IAWA competition.  This event was contested at the 2003 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. 

A while back  I received a question regarding this lift which I thought was an EXCELLENT QUESTION, so I would like share this question and my response since I’m sure other lifters might be wondering the same thing.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could help me out with some lifting technique!?  It is with reference to the 2 x 2″ vertical bar lift for Australia – I had a go at this lift on friday night, I attempted it with one bar at either side of my legs and found the weight plates were catching my legs all the way up!!! Is the straddle stance, i.e. one pin in front and one pin behind a legal position? Also is it mechanically better?  Thanks for the help.

First, lets do a review of the rules for this lift.  By now most of you know my frustrations with the nuances of rule differences between the USAWA rules and the IAWA rules for lifts.  Well, this lift is no exception to that as you will see. (By the way, both of these rule descriptions are actually for the same lift!  It doesn’t appear that way when you read them. )  Even the names are drastically different - the USAWA calls it a deadlift while the IAWA rules just call it a lift.

USAWA Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

I25.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2”

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1” apply except two 2” inch diameter Vertical Bars are used.

Need to reference this rule -

I24.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1”

The setup for this lift requires two Vertical Bars, which is a bar of one inch diameter with a maximum length of 18 inches. A collar or plate must be tightly fastened or welded to the bottom so plates may be added to the bars. Both vertical bars must be loaded to the same weight.   No knurling is allowed on the bars. The lifter must start with the bars on each side of the lifter. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. Each bar may be gripped by any grip near the top of the Vertical Bars. The forearms are not allowed to touch the bars. The lifting hands or weight may accidentally touch the lifter’s body or legs during the lift, provided that it does not aid in the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bars from the platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked and the body upright at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bars must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

IAWA Rules for the Two Vertical Bars (one in each hand) – 2 inch rods


The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with  two x 2 inch diameter bars / rods, one in each hand.

Causes for Failure: 

1. Causes for failure are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that 2 x 2 inch rods are used.

Need to reference this rule -


The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with a two inch diameter bar / rod.

Causes for Failure: 

1.  Causes for failure are the same as for the one hand vertical  lift, except that a 2 inch rod is used.

Need to reference this rule as well -


The lifter will grip a vertical bar with one hand, and lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface, holding it motionless and under control for two seconds. On completion the legs should be erect and straight with the free hand clear of any contact with the body. The bar will be of 1 inch diameter, and can be up to 30 inches long. A collar or base plate should be tightened or welded  on the bottom to hold the vertical weight stack. The bar should not be knurled. The lifter can use an optional grip, and the lifting hand should not be in contact with or in close proximity to the weight stack, so as to avoid any tipping  or gripping of the bar  with the weight stack at an angle. The lifter should also be careful to ensure that the bar does not touch the forearm or leg, and the lifting hand is not locked against the thigh.

Causes for Failure:

1.   Any contact of the bar with the forearm or legs, or locking of the lifting hand or bar against the thigh.
2.  Any contact between the lifting hand and the weight stack, or any attempt to tip or grip the bar at an angle.
3.  Failure to achieve and maintain the finished position (weight held clear of the lifting surface, motionless and under control for two seconds, with the legs erect and straight and the free hand clear of any contact with the body.
4.  Replacing / lowering the bar before the referees signal.

Wow!  That is confusing – isn’t it???  Now add in the factor that the World Entry form, in it’s attached list of guidelines for the rules of the lifts to be contested,  has this lift misnamed as the 2 HANDS FULTON DUMBELLS DEADLIFT (I’m sure this is was just listed this way on accident),  but you can see why someone would have questions regarding this lift!  Add in the differences in rules between the USAWA and the IAWA and  it makes it nearly impossible for me to answer some parts of the question as well.

Is the straddle stance legal? 

The USAWA rules state that it IS NOT (the bars must be on each side of the lifter).  The IAWA rules don’t state that is an infraction (nothing is mentioned regarding the lifter’s stance) , so I  can assume that a straddle stance is allowed.  Now to the part about it being a mechanically advantage to use the straddle stance – I have tried it both ways and I prefer the side by side approach. It seems to me that my grip is dramatically reduced when holding one of  the VBs to the back, and since this event is limited by my grip and not my back strength, this reduces the amount I can lift. 

What are some other rules differences between the USAWA and the IAWA?

The big one that “jumps out” to me is the legal length  allowed.  The USAWA rules clearly state the VBs can not be over 18 inches in length while the IAWA rules allow a length of up to 30 inches long!  This is a HUGE difference!  Having  a VB  that long turns this lift into a partial lift.  For some short lifters, the VB may barely even clear the floor at lockout!   The USAWA rules require the lifter to stand totally upright with shoulders back (that is why it is called a deadlift in the USAWA rules) while the IAWA rules only require, as stated in the rules “to lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface”, thus I would say is why it is just called a lift. Nothing is stated in the IAWA rules about being required to stand upright (but I won’t be surprised that this will be required come meet day, and be justified with the explanation that standing upright was implied).   Here’s another question – my left hand strength on a VB is slightly less than my right hand, so can I load the VBs to different weights?   The USAWA rules clearly state NO on this - but this is not stated as an infraction in the IAWA rules so I’m going to assume I can do this (but then again I bet come meet day this will also not be allowed, with the explanation that this is ANOTHER  implied IAWA rule on this lift).  With these rule differences it appears to me that the USAWA rules are much more difficult than the IAWA rules for this SAME LIFT.  There is one rule issue that might make the IAWA rules a little more difficult than the USAWA rules as they state the weight must be  ”motionless and under control for two seconds” whereas the USAWA rules only require the VBs to be held till “the weight is motionless”.  Two seconds is a long time to hold at lockout after becoming motionless, and will definitely decrease the amount of weight that can be lifted versus getting the down command immediately when the VBs are motionless. 

Neither set of rules state limitations on the size of plates that can be loaded onto the Vertical Bars. When lifting the VBs at your side, large plates (45#s or 20Ks) will hit the side of your legs and cause drag, and in turn less weight can be lifted. I prefer loading the VBs with smaller plates(25#s or 10Ks) when performing this lift.  Hopefully this will be the way the Vertical Bars will be loaded in Australia.

I have stated my opinion on rules many times before but I’m going to repeat it.  I don’t really care WHAT the rules are for a lift as long as the rules are well written and are specific in what is allowed and disallowed.  NOTHING SHOULD BE IMPLIED WHEN IT COMES TO THE RULE BOOK.  

It also would be nice if the USAWA and the IAWA had consistent rules in all of the lifts.  We are far from that now. But if at Worlds, the Vertical Bars are 30 inches long and only need to clear the floor a 1/2″ to be a legal lift, I will adapt to that and do it that way!

The Secret to my Strength

by Thom Van Vleck

My lovely wife, Kelly, serving up cake at the USAWA Nationals hosted by the JWC. She is the icing on my cake!

I have a secret to my strength, however much of it I have, and I owe it to someone special in my life.  It has nothing to do with secret supplements, or special workout routines, or coaching I have received,  but everything to do with the source of my motivation to be successful in life.  It’s my wife.  And since we are celebrating our 21st Anniversary this week (and more importantly to me the 25th Anniversary of our first date and the “real” first day or our life journey!!!!) I wanted to give her the credit she deserves.

My awesome wife, Kelly, by my side. She not only makes me feel younger but I even look younger.

Like a lot of us, we have a wife that puts up with what we do.  Some are more supportive than others.  I have admired some of the older guys in the USAWA and their how their wives seem to support what they do, like Dennis Mitchell and Denny Habecker. My wife takes care of a lot of the “behind the scenes” things at the numerous meets I run and I’m lucky to have someone who understands that my training is part of who I am and without it, I’m much less of a man.  I really need it to stay balanced and focused and my wife let’s me do that.

So, thanks for letting me give credit to someone who had been there by my side for 25 years….but let’s all take some time to thank those who help us out and let us do the things we love to do!   A solid partner in life is maybe the most important ingredient to success.  Thanks Kelly, for choosing to be mine!


by Al Myers

One of my favorite sections of Bill Clark’s old Strength Journals was his “Ramblin” commentaries.  These often went “on and on”  about any significant or insignificant activity within the USAWA, or just his general viewpoints regarding an issue pertinent at the time.   So pretty much, Bill just rambled on about anything and everything, thus the name of the section – Rambin’.   Well, I’m no Bill Clark, but I got several things to announce or comment on today so I will be Ramblin’ a bit myself. 

First of all,  I want to wish Jarrod Fobes the best  of luck for his meet in Denver, Colorado on Saturday.  The meet is named “The Welcome Mat Meet” and will be Jarrod’s first promotion within the USAWA.  I really wanted to be there, and made plans to do so, but a family issue has interfered with my travel plans so I will be staying home dealing with that instead.  I believe this will be the FIRST EVER USAWA meet or event sanctioned in the State of Colorado.  I will need to do some checking to see for sure, but I don’t ever remember a meet in Colorado.  (If any of you “oldtimers” remember one please let me know.)  Of course, the most famous Colorado USAWA lifter is Rex Monahan.  Rex was a mainstay in major competitions for many years.  There is rarely a major meet where the conversation doesn’t turn to Rex, and a story or two is told in his remembrance.   But I don’t think Rex ever put on a USAWA meet in Colorado???? I can’t forget mentioning the Backbreaker this weekend as well.  This meet has been a mainstay at Clarks Gym for many years, and emphasizes all the heavy lifts – the Back, Hip, H&T, Neck, and Harness.  If you get a chance to make this meet on Sunday – DO IT!  More than likely you will get to meet up with the Heavy Lift PHENOMS Steve Schmidt and Joe Garcia, and they will very nicely give you the BEAT DOWN!

Before I forget, I want to congratulate  Jarrod for passing his USAWA officials test.  His name is now added to the list of Certified USAWA Officials.   This list is getting “longer and longer” and the USAWA Officials Program is growing.  I am glad we n0w have an Officials Program in the USAWA, after going many years without one.  I know the critics will always say that “passing a test doesn’t make a good official”, and I’m not going to argue that point.  But passing a test does do TWO THINGS that we didn’t have before: number 1, insures that an official has at least looked at the USAWA Rulebook once in their life, and point number 2, shows that the official at least cares enough to put a little time into taking the test to  become certified.   I don’t think we are asking too much!!!  Plus, every year I know we will do things to “strengthen” the officials program.  Last year at the National Meeting it was passed that an USAWA Official must also be a current member of the USAWA to be active.  Again, that is NOT TO MUCH TO ASK, but it is a small step forward.

BTW – the USAWA Online Store is making sales!   I just sent out a big order yesterday to Jim Malloy.   Thanks Jim for your order!  Jim has been a HUGE SUPPORTER of the USAWA for many, many years.   He always keeps his membership up to date and has supported practically every thing the USAWA has done.  Before I know it I will need to be ordering more merchandise.   Also, our inventory stock is very limited and it is VERY LIKELY that certain sizes of shirts will be sold out before I restock.   I will list this on the store item blog site as it happens.  PLEASE CHECK THIS before ordering items that may be out of stock.  Also, if anyone has ideas for other online store items just let me know and I’ll consider it (unless someone wants something silly, like say, USAWA labeled beer!). 

The IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia is getting closer!  It looks like the USAWA will have a good representation of competitors present.  Besides myself and Chad Ullom, I know that Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dennis & Flossy Mitchell will be making the trip.   I don’t know of any other USAWA lifters that are going, and if you are, please let me know.  Come to think of it – this is the SAME GROUP that made it to the IAWA Championships in Glasgow last year!  Best of luck to all competitors and safe travels. 

I better call it quits before this gets too long.  After all, Bill usually kept his “ramblins” to only a page in the ole Journal!

Bars, Bars, and MORE Bars!

by Thom Van Vleck

Al doing front squats, his favorite lift! But try to ignore him, what I really want you to notice is the wide variety of bars on the Dino Gym wall!

Ok, if you lift weights regularly I’m sure you have noticed there are a lot of bars out there!   Yesterday, Al pointed out what’s “legal” in the USAWA and how that rule has changed to allow some wiggle room.  He wrote that article in response to my use of the over sized “John Ware” bar used at the OTSM Championships.  I think I inadvertently opened a can of worms for Al using that bar.  I, for one, appreciate the wiggle room. Here’s why:

Back in the day, all bars were assumed to be made for competition so they were all made to exact specifications.  I remember sitting down with my Uncle Wayne Jackson as he ordered a new York 400lb Olympic set in 1977 (I still have it!).  Back then, you had few suppliers to order from……then came the fitness craze and people started making bars for training, not competition.  What’s the one thing that can end the life of a bar?  Getting bent!  How do you make a cheap bar last longer?  Make it thicker and out of harder steel, so you end up with these bars that are thicker and of hardened steel that won’t “whip” like a high quality Oly bar.  When you walk into my gym you will see the “gun rack” of bars and at first glance, they all look alike.  But look closely and you’ll see all kinds of subtle variations.  I’ll blame China, too.  Even Eleiko, the “Cadillac” of barbells, now has their bars forged in China, then assembled in Sweden.  I had a York bar that had “York, U.S.A” on it….made in China…but assembled in the USA so I guess they get around the loophole of not mentioning “China” on the bar.  I’ll blame China because I don’t think they worry too much about “exactness”.  They don’t care if it’s “legal”, they just crank out a product and if it’s close, then it’s all good to them.

I have about 15 or so bars (I don’t know exactly how many because I have so much of my stuff out on “loan” I’ve lost count.  But let’s just say I have a wide variety of bars (but not as many as the Dino Gym) and when you look closely at these bars there are all kinds of subtle…and not so subtle differences.  There are also many variations in the type of steel used.  The best kind of steel for a bar will bend and good steel will bend and then snap back into it’s original shape.  Hardened Steel will not bend and will tend to snap if you force it to bend or it will bend and stay that way.  You can even have good and bad batches of steel that are intended to be the same.  So, two bars that are “Exactly” the same upon visual inspection, maybe even made by the same company, may have very different characteristics.  Companies today will “contract” out jobs to factories in China.  That contract may be bid out after each order and a different company will supply the bar each time resulting in all kinds of variations.

Ok, just ignore he ugly guy doing the Continental to the Shoulders and focus on the bars on the wall! More bars in Al's gym!

Finally, it’s my contention the original size of an Olympic bar was developed for the average sized man.  I am 6′3″ and my wing span is 6′9″.  It is very difficult for me to get under a “regulation” bar and not bind up.  John Ware was the same way so he had that bar we used in the 2011 OTSM Championships custom made for him.  I know there are some issues with having the weights further away from the center of gravity and that can create more “whip” and help with certain lifts…but it’s easier for the shorter guy to adapt to a longer bar than the taller guy to adapt to a shorter bar.

Again....try not to focus on the ugly guys...and notice the bars leaning against the wall in the background! The JWC has it's fair share of bars! (btw...that's Dean Ross hitting a Anderson Squat at the OTSM in the JWC Training Hall!)

So, the moral of my story?  There are a lot of variations out there on the “standard” Olympic bar.   Some will bend, some will have good whip. I have 4 made by York and there are differences in width INSIDE the collars and there should NOT BE as these are regulation bars.  We need a little play so that we can allow for more bars to be used.  Weightlifting for fitness is a growing craze, but lifting as a sport is DYING!  Today’s generation is not the sticklers for details like Baby boomers who were raised by the WWII generation where almost everyone had served in the military and picked up on that “attention to detail”.  Today’s younger guys just want to lift more weight and they don’t like rules that make no sense to them.  Rules are made to make things more fair, not the other way around.  So, thanks to the USAWA for loosening up the rules on the dimensions of the bars but keeping the spirit of fairness by having rules that keeps the lifting true and comparable from contest to contest!  I think it will be good for our sport!

Legal Bars in the USAWA

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Matt Cookson squatting using the Dino Squat Bar in a recent workout. The Dino Squat Bar is a custom made bar that is longer than most commercial bars. But - is it legal for use in USAWA competition?

I really enjoyed Thom’s Daily News Story last week on his “15 Year Journey”.  In his story he mentioned how he recently acquired a bar that was once owned by the Late Powerlifting GREAT John Ware.  Thom was able to get this bar by a “stroke of luck”, and when he first got this bar it was rusted up so bad the collars wouldn’t even spin.  It was about thrown away and turned into scrape iron!  Thom saved the life of this barbell.  Thom completely refurbished this great find to “working order” and it now a big part of the JWC Training Hall.  We used it for the Anderson Squat in the USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships. It gave us all a good feeling knowing that this was the bar that John Ware used when he was training for his 1000# squats.   This bar has all the good qualities you want in a squat bar – good knurling, very stiff, thick diameter, and EXTRA LONG!  When Thom mentioned the bar being extra long in his story, I was FOR SURE thinking I would be getting an inquiry from some all-round lifter wondering if this was LEGAL for use in the USAWA.  Surprisingly, I didn’t get this email from anyone. 

This brings us to the question, “What is a legal bar in the USAWA?”.  Several lifting organizations have VERY SPECIFIC criteria for the design specifications of the bar being used in the competition (like the USWA).  This was one issue that was TOTALLY REVISED with the updated USAWA Rulebook that took effect in 2009.   I was the one who made these changes and here’s why. This was the rule in the Rulebook PRIOR to the 2009 edition regarding a legal bar in the USAWA:

The barbell must meet the following specifications:

  • 20 kilogram (45 lbs) in weight
  • Length of the bar shall be 2200 millimeters (86.6 inches)
  • Diameter of the bar is 28 millimeters (1.1 inch)
  • Diameter of the sleeve is 50 millimeters (1.96 inch)
  • Distance between the inside collars is 1310 millimeters (51.6 inch)
  • Width of the inside collars including the collar of the sleeve must be 30 millimeters (1.2 inch)
  • There shall be knurling on the bar 245 millimeters (9.6 inch) from the inside collars towards the center.
  • There shall be a center knurling of 120 millimeters (4.7 inch) located in the exact center of the bar.

Those are PRETTY SPECIFIC criteria is determining what a legal bar is.  Also notice that the rules state “barbell must meet”.  This means there is no “wiggle room” on this.  The bar is either legal or not legal according to what is listed above.  I remember reading this in the rulebook the first time many years ago and upon reading it, went to the gym and measured all my bars and found I had NO BARS meeting those specs.  And I have over 30 different type of bars in the Dino Gym!!  That means I couldn’t even conduct a meet within the USAWA if I was going to be “technical about things”.  I have no idea where these very specific specifications came from.  My guess is that they were copied from some other organizations rules – and probably from the 1950’s!  When I asked about this, I was told that this rule wasn’t enforced so “that was that”.   I’m one who like things “spelled out”, and especially when it applies to rules.  I have voiced “my gripes” about things like this in the past, but I feel a rule should be followed if there is one, and if it’s not followed then it should be changed to something that can be adhered to.  That is the reason I made major changes to the rules concerning a legal bar in the USAWA.  The rule for bars now is this (much looser in guidelines):

SECTION VI. ARTICLE 16.  The bar must meet the following specifications.

  • The bar must have a minimum diameter of 28 millimeters or 1.1 inches.
  • The sleeves of the bar must have a minimum diameter of 50 millimeters or 1.96 inches.
  • The minimum distance between the inside collars is 51 inches. 
  • The maximum distance between the inside collars is 58 inches.
  •  The minimum total length of the bar must not be less than 7 feet. An exception to this is when lifts are done where the combined weight of the bar and the plates does not exceed 20 kilograms or 45 pounds, whereas a lighter and shorter bar may be used. Another exception is allowing a lighter and shorter bar to be used for women and junior lifters. 
  • The maximum total length of the bar must not exceed 8 ½ feet.
  • All bars must be marked with a clear indication of the bar’s weight if the bar’s weight is not 45 pounds or 20 kilograms.
  • The bar may contain knurling on any parts of it. 
  • For one hand lifts, the bar must contain knurling in the center of the bar.
  • The bar must be straight.
  • The sleeves of the bar are allowed to revolve.

I feel our new guidelines are much more appropriate than what we had previous.  We allow alot of leniency in the type of bar used in our competitions. Now meet directors can conduct meets without worrying about being in violation of the rules concerning a legal bar. You would be “hard pressed” to find a commercial bar that does not fit the new rule criteria. These new bar rules hit all the main points that should be addressed, i.e. not allowing the use of a bent bar for the one handed deadlift. ( THAT’S NEVER HAPPENED! )   I want to also mention that the IAWA(UK) Rulebook (which we follow for IAWA competitions) still lists our OLD SPECS as defining a legal bar for competition.  I haven’t asked, but I bet the response would be the same one I’ve heard before that this rule isn’t enforced!  Of which my response would be THEN CHANGE THE RULE!!  But THAT is another story for another day.

By the way, the Ware Bar and the Dino Squat Bar are LEGAL BARS  in the USAWA!

USAWA Online Store

by Al Myers

Last June at the National Meeting in Kirksville, I proposed to the membership that we should  develop an Online Store for the USAWA. This would allow USAWA members to purchase merchandise promoting the USAWA.   The membership was all in favor of this and voted unanimously to do it. Of course I volunteered to head up this project, and it has turned into a BIG PROJECT.  It has taken me a little longer getting this USAWA store online than I imagined  – but the GOOD NEWS is that it is finally up and running!  Initially I had big plans in setting it up, but after running into a few “roadblocks” I decided we would just start simple.   The membership allocated me $1000 to buy merchandise (which I spent every dime of) and I selected 7 basic store items to start with.  The inventory is very slim when you consider having to stock many different sizes of shirts.  Add in offering two colors (Grey and Black) and that leaves only a few shirts of each.  My plan is once our store inventory drops to around $500 worth (that means we have sold $500 worth) I’ll “beg” the USAWA Executive Board to allocate me another $1000 out of the USAWA treasury to buy more stuff. 

These are the 7 items that are now available:  Short Sleeve T-Shirts, Long Sleeve T-Shirts, the Officials Shirt, Patches, Water Bottles, Hoodies, and the Rulebook.   All profits from the sale of these items goes into the USAWA Bank Account so make sure to make your check or money order out to the USAWA.  DON’T MAKE IT OUT TO ME!!   I marked the items up sufficiently to make some money for the USAWA, but hopefully not so high that it hinder sales.  You have to remember when you order these items that the profits all go to benefit the USAWA, so in a sense when you spend this money you are helping out yourself!!  I don’t envision the USAWA making alot of money off of this Online Store, but hopefully we will make a little that could go to some beneficial cause for the organization.  I talking about the possibility of nicer USAWA Awards for our yearly awards, or even helping subsidize our National Championship with some extra dollars to make our National Meet even better.  But whatever this money is used for, it will benefit EVERYONE!  If this doesn’t ”sale you” on ordering – I don’t know what sales pitch would!

The items available in the Online Store are located at the far bottom of the left-hand side of the website under the heading “USAWA Store”.  The order forms are available under “Forms and Applications”. 


Forms and Applications

by Al Myers

This past weekend I made some MAJOR CHANGES to the Forms and Applications section.  These Forms and Applications reside under the top spot on the left hand  side of the website.  Most of these forms were in need of some serious updating, of which I did.  Please take the time to check them out.  There are FIVE major forms/applications used in the USAWA:  Individual Membership Application, Meet Sanction Application, Club Membership Application, Hall of Fame Nomination Form, and the Online Store Order Form.  I included them as both PDF’s and as Word Documents.  The Word Document allows someone to download it, and then edit the form with the needed information.  This is the way I would prefer the forms be filled out.  Most of you have handwriting as bad as mine, and it sometimes seems IMPOSSIBLE for me to read!  I also made the forms much more user friendly.  I eliminated alot of unnecessary information from them.  I combined the Individual Membership Application with the Drug Waiver Form, so now there is only ONE FORM to fill out and sign when applying for USAWA membership.   You would be surprised how many times in the past I have received membership applications and the drug waiver is missing.  I eliminated the requirement of sending in Club Bylaws and the list of Club Officers from the Club Membership Application.  This always seemed ridiculous to me to require this, as most Clubs are like my Dino Gym and we don’t have bylaws!! I greatly simplified the Meet Sanction Application.  Now only the pertinent information is required to fill out this form. 

One last note on this, and let this be a warning.  If ANYONE sends me an old Application from the Strength Journal from now on you will be DENIED MEMBERSHIP.  I went to ALL THIS WORK and I want these new forms used from now on. And in case anyone is wondering, this comment is directed towards  John McKean (I’m just joking ya John!!)