Articles from March 2011



JWC Founding Member: Coda Baugher

by Thom Van Vleck

Coda Baugher, circa 1930's, part of the first generation of the JWC

The JWC traces it’s roots back to 1928.  This is not to say it’s been a continuously run organization during that time.  There have been good times, and bad.  There was a time in the mid 60’s where there were over 30 dues paying members and two team state championships in Olympic Weightlifting in Missouri and many State Champs.  One thing I can say, is that there has been at least one member of my family continuously training with weights since 1928!

One of those early members was Coda Baugher.   He was my Great Uncle and Brother-in-Law to JWC founder Dalton Jackson.   Coda passed on in 2007.   He pronounced his first name “Cody” (don’t ask my why) and the “Baugher” was pronounced “Bah-Er” or something close to “Bower” (again, don’t ask me why).  Coda and Dalton liked to share stories about training.  My understanding was they became friends when Coda would chaperon the dates Dalton had with my grandmother.  No wonder, my grandfather was 22 and my grandmother was 13 when they started dating….times have changed!

They fixed up some metal poles and filled buckets with cement to make their first weights and lifted things around the farm like anvils and stones.  They would lever sledges for grip and basically got creative with anything they could find.  They could barely afford a magazine….if they could find one in rural Missouri buy….and often made a lot of early mistakes.  One in particular was the grip they most often used.  They weren’t sure early on how to grip the bar so they would grip it with an underhand, or curl type, grip!   If you look closely at the photo above you can see it.

I have no idea how much Coda could lift.  Those numbers are lost to time.  As a matter of fact, this is the only known photo of him lifting weights!  He became a cattle rancher, taking over the farm my Great, Great, Great Grandfather started and it’s still owned by my cousin, his grandson and it’s a Missouri Century Farm.  This distinction goes to farms that are owned over 100 years by the same family.  My family always specialized in Black Angus cattle.  He also was a member of  Providence Baptist Church.  This was a Church founded by my ancestors and is now the oldest continuously attended Baptist Church in Missouri and when I attended Coda’s funeral there, they credited him with saving the Church in hard times over the years.

Basically, Coda was one of those guys that did his job, paid his bills, went to Church on Sunday, and took care of his family and friends.  I wish I would have asked him more about the type of training he did, but I do know he basically trained for the same reasons that Dalton trained for;  To keep his body in shape to fulfill his obligations as a man, not to win titles or trophies.  It is also because of the groundwork that he laid and Dalton laid that the future generations of the JWC could win titles and trophies and enjoy the luxury of lifting competition in general.  For that, I thank him and hope this article gives the man his due!

Deanna Springs Meet

by Al Myers

Garcia Wins 2011 Deanna Meet

Group picture from the 2011 Deanna Springs Meet. (left to right): Al Springs, Joe Garcia, Mike Murdock, Al Myers, Rudy Bletscher, Thom Van Vleck, and Dean Ross.

Last weekend at Clark’s Gym at the Deanna Meet a couple of things happened that NEVER HAPPENS. First, Bill was not there to “run the show” as he always is, and second, the meet had a big turnout.  I know -  7 lifters in alot of cases doesn’t constitute a big turnout, but for the type of meets that are hosted at Clark’s Gym – it is.   It was the second highest turnout for the Deanna Meet in its 16 year history (2004 had the most entrants with 10). It didn’t seem quite right having a meet in Clark’s Gym without Bill there.  I have been to MANY meets in Clark’s Gym and this is the first time the “man in charge” was not there.  But Bill had a good excuse – he was in Atlanta getting his shoulder replaced.  Maybe with this new bionic shoulder Ole Clark will get back in competitive shape and surprise us with his new-found pressing strength?  With him – anything is possible.  I hope the surgery was a great success and he will be able to get back into the gym and back to his love of weightlifting.   He was missed, but Joe Garcia took command and did an applaudable job as the interim meet director.  On top of these duties, he defended his Deanna Meet Crown, and won Best Lifter again for the 10th time. YES – that is 10 Deanna Meet victories for Joe, the most of anyone ever.    I tried to give him a little challenge but now that’s he’s lost weight (and he has KEPT his same strength) it was an imposing task which I failed at again this year.  Joe is a great Heavy Lifter (and I consider the Deanna Meet a Heavy Lift Meet) and a well-deserving Champion of this meet.  On top of this Joe turned in his BEST EVER adjusted point total (4018 pts), which is second of all time to Abe Smiths total in 2005 of 4111 adjusted points.  I had my best point total in this meet to date (3630 points) which would have gave me the victory in 9 of the previous Deanna’s, but Joe at age 57 just keeps getting better with each year.    I also got to mention that Joe kept the competition ”moving along”.    We started a little before 12:00 and was completely finished by 3.  Joe brought something into Clark’s Gym that I NEVER thought I would see there – a laptop computer!!  He kept the results and used this modern technology to efficiently tally the scores after the meet in quick fashion. 

Is THAT a computer in Clark's Gym????

This meet quickly divided into two competitive groups. In one group – Joe, myself and Thom battled it out, while in the other group Rudy, Mike, Dean and Al Springs lifted together.  This was the main reason we finished so quickly – we divided into two groups and as a result finished in half the time.   These four veterans, all of which are over the age of 65, had quite a competition!  It is a rarity to see 4 lifters of these guys ages together in a meet with the kind of lifting abilities they have.  Beforehand, I had no idea who would win between them. Dean Ross is a MOOSE and has more brute strength than anyone I know his age.  Rudy is the most gifted athletic lifter over the age of 75 that I know.   Mike knows no limits and will push himself harder than anyone I know his age.  He doesn’t give up.  (He ALSO competed in Thom’s Highland Games the day before AND did the USAWA Postal Meet).  Al is a wily veteran of all-round lifting and has the most experience in these lifts.  But in the end Rudy came out on top with his 750 pound Hip Lift.  Mike, being the gamer that he is, took a shot at 850 for the win, but it was not to be on this day.   I sure hope to see plenty more of these matchups between these guys, because I know how competitive and close it will always be between them. 

When we were finishing up the meet, several new lifters in Clark’s Gym showed up to workout.  There had to be close to 20 people in the gym at one time!  This has to be another record of sorts.  It was standing room only.  Clark’s Gym was the happening place on this Sunday afternoon.  I wish Bill could have been there to see it - it would have made him feel good to see the promising future of his gym and the USAWA.  Also, I got to thank Dave and James for loading throughout the day.  Their help really kept things on schedule. Afterwards, we took part in the Deanna Meet tradition of enjoying all we could eat at the Golden Corral while sharing stories and lies. 

Meet Results:

Deanna Springs Memorial Meet
March 27th, 2011
Clark’s Gym
Columbia, Missouri

 

Meet Director:  Joe Garcia

Officials (3 official system used):  Joe Garcia, Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck, Mike Murdock

Loaders:   Dave Beversdorf and James Foster

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

Lifter Age BWT Cruc Curl Dean H&T Hip Total Points
Joe Garcia 57 209 60 145 600 1400 1700 3905 4018.08
Al Myers 44 253 90 195 800 1300 2000 4385 3630.91
Thom VanVleck 46 299 70 165 525 675 1400 2835 2205.62
Rudy Bletscher 75 220 60 95 405 515 750 1825 2102.50
Mike Murdock 71 236 70 105 405 515 650 1745 1882.10
Dean Ross 68 275 60 95 405 565 750 1875 1830.99
Al Springs 69 200 40 65 335 375 650 1465 1702.05

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  All lifts recorded in pounds.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age adjustment.

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Dean Ross – 455# Deanna Lift

Dean Ross – 875# Hip Lift

WORKING MAN’S GRIP TRAINING

BY DAVE GLASGOW

DAVE GLASGOW IN FRONT OF THE FORGE THAT WAS USED TO HEAT THE DRILL BITS. DAVE IS USING THE 16 POUND SLEDGE HAMMER THAT WAS MENTIONED IN THIS STORY. THIS PICTURE IS FROM 1978.

FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER, SERIOUSLY, TRAINED GRIP, I THINK I HAVE A FAIR GRIP.   I AM CERTAIN I KNOW WHY!!  I SUPPOSE MANY WILL QUESTION IF THIS IS A TRUE “GRIP WORKOUT”, HOWEVER, I THINK THE STORY BARES TELLING, IF NOTHING ELSE.

MY DAD, JOHN, HAD A DRILLING BUSINESS THAT HE STARTED IN 1957.   I BEGAN HELPING POP FROM AN EARLY AGE.  WHEN I GOT OUT OF COLLEGE, (I DID’NT GRADUATE, BUT THAT IS ANOTHER STORY!), I WENT TO WORK FOR POP FULL TIME.   I WAS YOUNG, IN GOOD SHAPE AND I REVELED IN THE PHYSICAL ASPECT OF THE JOB.

WE RAN WHAT IS CALLED A “CABLE TOOL” RIG THAT DRILLED MUCH AS A GIANT CHISEL DOES.  THE MAIN COMPONENT OF THIS DRILLING RIG WAS A STRING OF “TOOLS’, AT THE END OF WHICH WAS A GIANT BIT. DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE HOLE YOU WERE DRILLING, THE BITS COULD WEIGH FROM #200 TO A HALF TON OR MORE.  THE BITS WERE NOTHING MORE THAN HUGE CHUNKS OF STEEL WITH A SHARPEN END.  IT IS THIS “SHARPENED” END THAT MAKES UP THE CRUX OF THIS STORY.

IN ORDER TO SHARPEN THESE BITS, YOU HAD TO PUT THEM IN A FORGE, HEAT THEM UNTIL THEY WERE WHITE HOT, THEN, BEAT THE END WITH A SLEDGE HAMMER TO GET THE ANGLE (POINT) YOU NEEDED.

MOST OF YOU HAVE HEARD THE PHRASE, ‘STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT!!?’   THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE HAD TO DO!  TWO MEN WERE NEEDED TO DO THIS, WITH ONE MAN ON EACH SIDE OF THE BIT AND HAMMERED THE END WITH A SLEDGE UNTIL ONE OF THREE THINGS HAPPENED.   ONE- YOU COULDN’T BREATH; TWO- THE IRON GOT TOO COLD OR, THREE- YOUR GRIP GAVE OUT!

NOW, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS,  I SEE IT HAS RECENTLY BECOME FASHIONABLE TO USE A SLEDGE HAMMER FOR AN AEROBIC WORKOUT.  THAT IS ALL WELL AND FINE;  HOWEVER, WE WERE DOING IT TO MAKE A LIVING!! AEROBIC WORKOUT BE DAMNED!!

THROW INTO THE MIX; WE HAD THREE DIFFERENT WEIGHTS OF SLEDGES. TWELVE, FOURTEEN AND SIXTEEN POUND, THE SIXTEEN HAVING BEEN USED BY MY GREAT UNCLE FOR THE SAME PURPOSE BACK IN THE LATE FORTY’S.  AS YOU SEE, YOU COULD VARY THE WEIGHTS, REPS AND NUMBER OF SETS, JUST AS YOU WOULD YOUR REGULAR WORKOUT.

BY THE TIME WE FINISHED, I SWEAR, THERE WERE TIMES I THOUGHT MY FOREARMS WERE GOING TO EXPLODE! THIS WHOLE PROCESS WOULD TAKE ABOUT THREE HOURS FROM THE FIRST “BEAT” UNTIL YOU HAD THE FINISHED PRODUCT, TAKING ABOUT FIVE TO SIX “BEATS”, WITH ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES BETWEEN “BEATS”. THE NET RESULT BEING, FOR THE REST OF THE DAY, AND WELL INTO THE NEXT, YOU WOULD WALK AROUND WITH ‘POPEYE’ FOREARMS!

NOW, BEING YOUNG, DUMB AND FULL OF ….EAGERNESS,  I FELT IT UNMANLY TO USE ANYTHING LESS THAN THE 16#.  HOWEVER, AFTER THE THIRD “BEAT”, I WOULD RELENT AND CHANGE TO THE 14#, AS MY LUNG CAPACITY WAS NOT NEAR AS GREAT AS MY BONEHEADED PRIDE!!

SO, YOU BE THE JUDGE!! IS THAT A WORKOUT OR NOT??

I MIGHT ALSO COMMENT THAT MY POP, WHO WAS FARM BOY STRONG AND OIL PATCH TOUGH, WOULD OUTLAST MY BROTHER AND ME, THEN STAND THERE, CALL US “CANDY-ASSES” AND BURST INTO UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER AT THE SIGHT OF HIS OFF-SPRING GASPING FOR BREATH!!

All-ROUND Grip Strength

by John McKean

Rob McKean showing total body work (and enjoyment!) from squeezing the life out of dear old Dad!

My neighbor once shouldered a 604 pound wrestler and body-slammed him.  A gym full of iron game devotees also witnessed him doing a strict bench press of 330 pounds for 38 consecutive reps – no wraps, no suit, no drugs! Except for a busy work schedule, my old buddy would have challenged Paul Anderson for a berth on the ’56 Olympic weightlifting team.   Art Montini knew him as a fellow “Odd-lift” competitor (curl, bench press, press-behind-neck, squat, deadlift – like a version of All-Rounds, before official powerlifting!). You may know him as Bruno Sammartino! Yes, THAT Bruno – pro wrestling’s “Living Legend,” the athlete responsible for selling more tickets than any wrestler in history!

Before breaking in to the pro ranks, Bruno set all Pittsburgh heavyweight lifting records and even won a physique contest or two. During very intense workouts, however, his most unusual exercise, always thinking toward wrestling, was to grip a long, heavy boxing bag and squeeze for all he was worth. We would call this a “bear hug,” and the young lion eventually acquired the power to EXPLODE these rugged combinations of thick canvas and sand! In his first crack at the heavyweight wrestling title (in what was later revealed to be much more of a serious grudge match than “entertainment”), Bruno applied his very brutal gripping hold onto longtime champion Buddy Rogers, acquiring a submission within 47 seconds of the match!

The total body Iso-Hug on a sparring mannequin, for all-round grip strength

Naturally, we young teens were anxious to emulate our hero’s training procedures. I found the heavy bag squeeze to be superb grip strength training, not only pumping the forearms, but also going full circle to yield arm, delt, and pec strength. Heck, the hips, legs, and back were intensely involved too – truly an all-round gripping exercise!! Since the material always “gave” a bit when hugged with intent, what started as an “isometric exercise” of sorts ended up more as a short range type movement, as in subsequent power rack lifts.

The old sand bags are still around, but few of our weightlifting gyms have them. I suppose you could sneak up and try this on a lifting partner – though I did this once with Art, and he BIT me (of course, I found out the hard way that Art was actually an undefeated collegiant wrestler in his early years!). These days, however, there are lifelike mannequins that provide a realistic type body gripping (see photos) and supply a rugged “moving isometric” form of work. Or you could build a bag – fill it with stones, sand, or straw.

John exploding the top of a small sparring bag with his killer headlock !

One old time wrestler, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, a generation before Bruno, built himself a special skull sized bag to religiously train his deadly headlock. It was said no other wrestler, back in the 1920s when the professional sport was entirely legitimate, could ever defeat him. In fact, his crushing arm grip was so intense that even willing sparring partners were hard for ole Ed to come by! I can personally attest to the gripping STAMINA that a headlock squeeze will yield; if one holds on, giving his all, for a minute or more to a small bag, then the forearms and biceps feel swollen to Mr. Universe proportions!

WE in the USAWA pride ourselves on lifts that work the total body! Throw away those wimpy little hand grippers or soft tennis balls, and grab onto something that’ll cause all-round crunching effort!

Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift & Farmer’s Drag

by Ben Edwards

Ben Edwards demonstrates the Ring and Pinky Fingers Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer's Drag.

The ring and pinky fingers are the weak link when training with thick bars. This article introduces the reader to specialized training designed to improve the support grip strength of the ring and pinky fingers. I call this combo exercise “Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer’s Drag.”

This is the hand placement for this grip.

The equipment needed is minimal. An Olympic barbell and about 200 pounds of weight plates will provide adequate resistance options for everyone from a raw beginner to an advanced strength athlete.

I borrow the name for this exercise from Farmer’s Walks – where an athlete walks while holding a weight in each hand.

A Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer’s Drag is performed by grasping one end of an Olympic barbell – at the end of the loading sleeve – using only the ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb. Then you simply deadlift the barbell and then you have the option of dragging one end of the barbell while you walk with the end you’re gripping elevated.

To minimize damage to one end of the barbell it’s best to drag the bar on grass or dirt – if you choose to do the Farmer’s Drag – instead of the Farmer’s Deadlift.

As with the Farmer’s Walk, there are two basic methods of increasing the difficulty of the exercise.

1. Add more weight to the bar. The weight is added to the same loading sleeve that you are gripping with your ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb. That way the weight plates won’t dig a wide furrow in your yard if you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag.

  • If you’re worried about the bar damaging your grassy training area you can secure the end of the bar that you’re not gripping into a single roller skate – duct tape comes in handy – and perform the Farmer’s Drag in your garage, on the street, or on a running track. All without fear of damaging the bar or the training surface.
  • The roller skate tip also works well for a trainee that isn’t strong enough yet to drag the empty barbell using their ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb strength.

2. Drag for longer distance if you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag.

  • Or hold for a longer period of time if you’re doing the Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift.

TAILORING A WORKOUT TO YOUR GOALS

For Maximum Strength – Heavy Loads and Short Holds.

  • Holds should be kept in the 5-second to 10-second range if maximum strength is your goal.
  • This holds true whether you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag or the Farmer’s Deadlift.
  • The Farmer’s Drag will simply be done for very short distances and the Farmer’s Deadlift will be done for low reps – anywhere from 1 to 3 reps.

For Strength-Endurance – Moderate Loads and Long Holds.

  • Holds can be much longer than when your goal is maximum strength. 30 seconds to 60 seconds is a common approach to strength-endurance training.
  • The Farmer’s Deadlift will be done for higher reps – anywhere from 8 to 20.

Thom Van Vleck’s “Get a Grip” Tips

While Mac Batchelor had huge hands, he also developed them with many different implements and techniques.

by Thom Van Vleck

This is my entry in the DB Walk 3.5″ handle contest!  I like my odds better this time with so many winners.  But honestly, me writing about grip training is a bit like a fat guy telling you how to diet!

A great grip has eluded me in my 34 year lifting career.  Sure, there are things that I do better than others, like the pinch grip.  I have also never lost a deadlift in a contest due to grip.  But the reality is that I have small hands for my size and a strong grip never came naturally to me.  So maybe you could consider me the “hardgainer” when it comes to grip and maybe that makes me more of an expert than I thought.  After all, they say mediocre players make the best coaches.  The best athletes generally don’t make good coaches because everything came naturally to them.

As a result, I’ve read a great deal about grip training.  I would recommend  any of John Brookfield’s books on grip training.  I have also got to train with two of the best short steel benders in the world, John O’Brien and Brett Kerby.  So, most of this comes from those experiences but I will end with one tip that I came up with on my own, so hopefully you will get at least one original idea out of this!

1. Specify

Over the years my focus has changed in the strength world.  I have competed in Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, Strongman, USAWA All-round, and my passion for the last 15 years has been Scottish Highland Games.  All require grip strength and lots of different types of grip strength.   If you are going to do a  bench press meet you don’t just work Behind the Neck Presses, you work the Bench Press and all the muscles specific to that event!  Don’t just throw in some wrist curls at the end of your workout.  Train your grip specifically for how you are going to need it.   This doesn’t mean you find one grip exercise and work it to death.  You need to get some books, read some articles, talk to some good grip guys and get a list going  and keep track of what you think works for you.   If you came to my gym I could show you over 100 grip exercises to do and all of them I have done myself at one time or another.    In the process, I have figured out what works for me and for the specific event I need it for!

2.  Training

Try to quantify your workouts as much as possible so you can be progressive.  Don’t just take a weight and do it every workout, it’s PROGRESSIVE resistance that’s key.  Keep some magnets around to add fractions of pounds.  Get some fractional plates or the “poor boy” method is go to the tractor supply and get some large washers that will fit on a 1″ bar, two of them will weigh from 1/4 to 1/5 of a pound.  Get enough to supplement your 2 and 1/2lb plates and if you can, get some 1 1/4lb plates.  You need to be able to add fractions of weight to any implement and push yourself.  Plan your workout, set goals, cycle your grip training just like you would for any contest, including giving it a break from time to time.

3.  Mental Aspect of Grip

I think Grip training is more mental than most any other kind of training.  I have watched John O’Brien and Brett Kerby grimace in pain doing the short steel bending and having folded a 60 penny nail a few times….it just hurts!  Your hands are full of nerves and that is why.  Sure, Squats are hard, but your hands will hurt!  So, there’s a mental aspect to this that needs to be overcome.  I saw John O’Brien drive a 60 penny nail deep in his hand and he still finished the bend and did three more shows that same weekend.   Most grip guys have mastered pain.  Working you grip requires pain tolerance and can also teach it!  Brett told me that his hands have hurt so bad he thought he’d seriously injured them.  It’ll hurt….get over it.

4.  Just One Original Thought

Ok, let’s see if I can impress you.  Most of what any of us knows about anything we learned from someone else.  Here is something I came up with on my own (but that doesn’t mean someone else didn’t come up with it first).  I noticed that when I trained my grip, everything involved my elbow being bent.  I also noticed that most everything that I needed a great grip for involved my elbow being locked out (throwing, deadlifting, cleaning, etc.).  So, I spend a lot of time working my grip keeping my elbow locked out.  This usually involves hanging from a bar and squeezing the bar for reps (hanging from a bar has the added benefit of tractioning your back).  It also means that whatever grip exercise I’m doing, I try and get myself in that “lockout” position and if possible, with my arm being stretched to get used to gripping as hard as possible with my arm straight and under tension.

So, those are my grip tips.   I hope you have gained some knowledge that will help you “get a grip” on your next contest!

Clubbells

by Jarrod Fobes

Karena Fobes demonstrating the use of Clubbells and the exercise Curls with Extensions.

My grip got a lot stronger from training my shoulders. Last year after multiple back injuries, a couple of rotator cuff tears, and even tearing the cartilage between my ribs (twice!) I was becoming very interested in exploring different ways to train. That’s when I discovered clubbells.

For those that don’t know, clubbells originated in India and have been in use for thousands of years. They enjoyed tremendous popularity in the west during the Victorian era, but fell out of favor with the advent of modern weightlifting. In recent years, renowned coaches such as Scott Sonnon and Louie Simmons have done much to bring club swinging back into physical training. They are steadily growing in popularity with martial artists and other oddballs.

Being the thrifty sort, my clubs are made out of PVC filled with cement mix. I put together a simple circuit of shoulder exercises consisting of front circles, windmills, and curls with extension and got to work on building up my shoulders.

The particular exercises are best learned via video or in person, but a brief description is as follows. All exercises begin with the clubs hanging at your sides.

FRONT CIRCLES: Draw circles in the air in front of you with the clubs. Your right hand will move clockwise from your perspective, and your left will move counter-clockwise.

WINDMILLS: You are still describing circles, but the angle has changed. Your right hand will start lifting in front of your left hip. As it rises, it will move back to the right side and fall behind you. The motions should be similar to doing a backstroke.

CURLS WITH EXTENSIONS: This exercise is as much to give your shoulders a slight rest as it is to work the rest of your arms. Perform an explosive curl that ends with your elbows pointed up and the clubs lying against your back, points down. From here extend your arms and fully tighten your triceps. Lower your clubs to the starting position. If you want, you can also combine this exercise with a squat to warm up your legs as well.

I did this circuit about every other day, doing the circuit for two rounds at first. After successfully completing two consecutive circuits for two workouts in a row, I would add another round, eventually working up to six rounds. When you can consistently perform six rounds of this circuit, it’s time to build heavier clubs.

The first thing I noticed was a dull ache in my hands and forearms, even before my shoulders began to fatigue. The clubs were just plain hard to hold on to, so I decided to come up with a little forearm circuit as well to conclude my clubbell sessions with. This consists of front wrist lifts, rear wrist lifts, and finger crawls.

FRONT WRIST LIFTS: Keep your arms as straight as possible, and lift the clubs to at least parallel to the floor using only your wrists.

REAR WRIST LIFTS: These are the same as front wrist lifts, except you hold the clubs in a reverse grip. Your wrist has a greater range of motion working this way, so try to whack yourself in the triceps with the clubs on each rep. Make sure your arm is straight though this will isolate your forearms more.

FINGER CRAWLS: You know how when you get really fatigued even the most simple task can seem difficult? Welcome to finger crawls. Let the clubs hang at your sides, and walk your fingers up the club until you reach the tip. Keep the club perpendicular to the floor until you reach the tip, then let the club flip over and crawl back to the handle. Repeat this circuit until one of the exercises fails. Most likely, it will be the finger crawl that you bonk out on.

After about six weeks on these two circuits, I had added noticeable mass to each of my hands. Even better, I went from being able to do 15 consecutive reps on my Captain of Crush trainer gripper, to 26 consecutive reps. My grip is as strong as it’s ever been, and what’s better is that my shoulders have never been stronger or more stable. No USAWA lifts incorporate clubbells, but consider adding them to your routine to bump your hand strength up to the next level.

A Subtle Way to Train Your Grip

by Mark Haydock

Mark Haydock demonstrates a three-finger bar grip.

From my early days of training I have always applied this approach to the way I grip and load the bar, as you read on I am sure you will agree it is a subtle way to train your grip.

There are two sections to this approach, the first is simply the way the bar is gripped, the second part is loading the bar.

Gripping the bar

The idea behind this approach to grip work is to train your grip all the time, even when it is not a grip session! I will use the deadlift as the example exercise, however, the same approach can be applied to most floor pulls, lat pulldowns/rows, shrugs, etc.

Most of the grip work is actually done with your warm up and lighter poundages. The first set of deadlifts may be with an empty bar, simply grip the the bar with your index finger, the second set use index and fore fingers, next set is three fingers, next set is all four fingers – with an open hand, the bar is almost resting on your finger tips, you may be able to maintain this grip for a couple more warm up sets, depending how strong your grip is. Once you hit a poundage that you cannot hold just adjust to your normal hook or reverse grip. Over time try to tweak your warm up poundages a little, as you would with your heavy singles or 1 rep max.

Using a finger tip grip to load plates adds grip training to every workout.

Loading the bar

The subtle element here is to only use I hand to pick up the weight plates when you are loading the bar for your training. Use your right hand when loading the right side of the bar and your left hand when loading the left side of the bar. Rather than use a deadlift loading lever to lift the bar use your fee hand to lift the end of the bar, grip the bar just inside the collar. Depending how good your grip is you can use a 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers to grip the bar, the same applies to loading the weight plate.

The one handed approach to loading the weight plate also includes carrying the weight from the storage tree to the bar! Don’t cheat by using two hands or rolling the plate. With the lighter plates, 1.25kg,2.5kg, 5kg try using 1 finger and 1 thumb, as you use heavier weights, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg, 25kg and even 50kg you may need to use 2 or 3 fingers and a thumb. If you are loading a 25kg plate and you simply can’t carry it one handed try a two handed pinch grip, it all helps!

The key thing to remember with this approach is that it is a long term project, massive grip strength doesn’t come over night. However, once you have a good grip it stays with you for the long run.

As a final testimony to my grip technique I can honestly say I have never missed a deadlift or clean due to poor grip, touch wood I have never had any real problems with my grip!

My Pinch Grip Training

by Scott Schmidt

Greetings, Fellow Strongmen!

Scott Schmidt shows his AMAZING Pinch Grip - with a 2 Hand Pinch Grip of 180 pounds and a 1 Hand Pinch Grip of 115 pounds.

After a recent performance at the Historic Ambridge Bar Bell Club Challenge, I was asked to submit an article describing my training techniques for the Pinch Grip Lift.

It is my pleasure to share these methods with anyone who is looking to improve their grip oriented lifting events. I will offer the recommended exercises I have used to improve my gripping strength. I have not “specialized” only in working on my grip. I do my grip exercises in between the heavy lift workouts of squats, pulls, overhead supports etc. I focus on grip movements in order to insure I do not have a weak link while doing the pulling in the Olympic Style quick lifts.

That said, among the best grip training exercises are the results you gain from doing the snatch grip dead lift. Since it is an awkward position, it forces your grip to respond. You know your limit easily when the bar doesn’t finish to the top of the thighs. You also are activating other groups of pulling muscles while doing the snatch grip dead lift. This is a bonus because to pick up modest weight for hand strength only will not enable you to progress as fast. And, since the “grip only” muscles can be used up quickly, i.e. hands, fingers, and forearms, by doing an exercise which involves other muscles, you are not as likely to over train your “grip only” muscles.

In addition to doing 3 sets of 3 reps in the snatch grip dead lift 80% of max single, which of course can produce strength gains in many areas, here are some other exercises I do to improve my results when targeting a record in a “grip only” lift:

Lift Sets Reps % of Max
2 Inch Vertical Bar Deadlift 3 3 75
2 Hand Pinch Grip 4 2 80
1 Hand Pinch Grip 6 1 90
Bent Over Row 5 5 60

In summary, these 5 exercises have been very useful to me in order to achieve grip lift record results. Another movement you can do to help you set targets for improvement is to lift something awkward with one hand at a time. For instance, I get Spring Water delivered to my front door in 5 gallon jugs. I then have to take them to my gym area. To test myself, I have used the full bottles to see how long I can hold them from the neck. Or, how long I can walk with one in each hand. Just an idea to have fun improving your grip and break up the “iron only” exercises.

Hope this article helps you get rid of any “bottle cap twist-off” issues.

My Extreme Wrist Roller

by Al Myers

Al Myers finishing a set with 200 pounds on his Extreme Wrist Roller.

I am going to start off this week of stories on grip training by describing one of MY favorite grip exercises!   Don’t worry – I am NOT one of the winning stories as technically I’m not eligible since I’m the one running the contest!  I just want to share an exercise that is the backbone of my grip training.

The Wrist Roller has been around for years.  Everyone has one and everyone has done this exercise at some point in their training history.  Fifty years ago wrist rollers were practically the only grip exercise trained, and where included as part of “packages” in weightlifting equipment sales.  York Barbell would sell equipment packages (back in the 50’s) like this – a 220# set of weights with a bar, a neck harness, a pair of Iron Boots, and a WRIST ROLLER.  It was an important training implement back then, and still is – it’s just most lifters have forgot about it.  I have used several wrist rollers through the years – from a rope on a dowel rod to now what I call My Extreme Wrist Roller.   I am not a grip specialist, but I really enjoy the training exercises for grip.  I do a little grip training every week.  I don’t specialize on any specific type of grip strength – I try to do a little of everything.  Some areas of grip strength I’m stronger at than other areas.  I have a good squeeze grip, an average round bar grip, and not the best pinch grip.  It is interesting how different lifters will have different areas of  grip strengths.

The one thing I really enjoy about the Wrist Roller is that it works not just the grip, but the forearm muscles as well.  Too many grip exercises are, what I call, “hand dependent”.  This means the “lifting capacity” of these grip exercises are more about the size of the hand or the contact area of the fingers.  Bigger hands and longer fingers – more surface adhesion.  Growing bigger hands is not exactly something you can do.  You are pretty much stuck with what you have.  That is why I like forearm training better.  You can ALWAYS increase the size of your forearm muscles or strength of your forearm muscles.  How many “hand dependent” grip exercises do you train that feel easy up to your max, and then you add 5 pounds, and it becomes impossible?  I can think of several – exercises like the Rolling Thunder and any Pinch Grip exercise.   These type of exercises go for me like this – easy, easy, easy, impossible.   And trying a little harder doesn’t help!!  It is still impossible.    The Wrist Roller is not like that.   You can push yourself as hard as you would like.  Sometimes I think I will NEVER get the loaded vertical bar to touch the bottom of the Wrist Roller (which I consider the finish of an attempt), but I keep after it till my forearms are SCREAMING WITH PAIN!  You can accomplish any lift with a Wrist Roller if you want to try hard enough!  That’s my kind of lift.

After a few sets with this Extreme Wrist Roller, your forearm will be PUMPED!

I like to do progressive loads with my Extreme Wrist Roller.  I will usually start with a couple 45’s and then add weight as I add sets.  I try to do 4-5 sets total in about 15 minutes.  As I said, I’m not a grip specialist and usually do my grip training at the end of a regular workout.   I only “train grip” with the time I have left over.   But I’ll tell ya – 15 minutes on my Extreme Wrist Roller and you will know it!  Your forearms will be “blood engorged” and cramping from the exertion.  At times I can hardly close my hands when I’m done.   I made this Extreme Wrist Roller several years ago.  I was getting tired of those silly “rope on a stick” wrist rollers because I felt my shoulders were limiting me in how much I could wrist roll, because of the way you had to hold your arms out in front of you during the exercise.  With my Extreme Wrist Roller, the wrist roller is supported by the cage and it takes all of the shoulders out of it, and places all of the stress of the exercise where you want it – on your forearms.  The roller has a two inch knurled handle.  Your grip will not fail before your forearm muscles give out.   A side benefit is that the knurled handle will shave off all of your hand calluses by the time you are finished.  After you get the VB to the top – the exercise is not over.  You then need to lower it under control.  Sometimes this seems like the hardest part.

Now I hope you won’t forget about wrist roller training.

Writing Contest Results

by Al Myers

The writing contest results  for the “best stories on grip training”  will begin to be announced tomorrow.  The judge has determined the winners, and has given me the results.  This judge even went a little farther than I  expected, and RANKED the winning 7 stories.  Only one small change – this judge convinced me to give 7 winners instead of 6 so I will have a story for each day of the week next week.  That sounded like a good idea, and what’s another winner, so I took the advice and now there will be 7 winners.  I want to thank everyone who sent in stories for this competition, and apologize to those who didn’t get selected as winners.  If it was up to me EVERYONE would win (that is why I put this difficult task of selection onto someone else) but that’s just not possible.  All of the submitted stories were great in their own way.  I may do a contest like this again in the future so I hope if you were not selected this time you will try again in a later competition.  I was overwhelmed by the number of entrants into this competition, and I know everyone will really enjoy the stories that will appear over the next 7 days in the USAWA Daily News.  Lots of great information on grip training!  As I said earlier, the winners will be announced one each day starting tomorrow.   Tomorrows story will be the 7th place story, and each day a higher ranked story will be ran, ending with the number 1 story next Sunday.  But the good news is – the ranking really doesn’t matter because EVERYONE who’s story is ran will receive the same prize -  a custom made 3.5″ dumbbell handle by me for the official lift the Dumbell Walk!

Jack LaLanne

by Dennis Mitchell

Jack LaLanne

Francolis Henrl LaLanne, better known as Jack LaLanne, was born an September 28, 1914, in San Francisco, California. His parents, Jennie and Jean LaLanne came to the United States from Oloron Sainte-Marie, France.  It was his older brother Norman who nicknamed him Jack.  He grew up in Bakerfield and Berkeley, California.  As a child he showed no indication that he would become a “Fitness Guru” or lead a healthy life.  As a youngster, he said that he was addicted to sugar and junk food, had a really bad temper, and was “A miserable goddam kid”.  He suffered from headaches and bulimia, and at the age of 14 dropped out of school.  The change in Jack’s life started at age 15 when he heard a lecture by Paul Bragg on health and nutrition.  He started working out and changed his diet.  He went back to school, and played football.  After high school he went to college and earned a degree of Doctor of Chiropractic.  In 1936 he opened his first health and fitness club in Oakland California, where he gave instructions on nutrition and exercising with weights.  This was quite radical at this time, as the medical profession felt that lifting weights would cause heart attacks and make you musclebound, and cause you to lose your sex drive.  He eventually had a chain of over 200 health clubs called The European Health Spas.  He later sold his clubs to another company and the name was changed to Bally Total Fitness.

Jack is credited with inventing the leg extension machine, pulley machines, weight selector equipment, and the forerunner of the Smith machine.  In the late 1930’s he had a short wrestling carrier.  Jack had a television program where he gave advice on exercise, diet, and healthy living.  The program lasted for 34 years.  He wrote several books, made exercise videos, sold vitamins and exercise equipment, and the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, which is still being sold.  Jack set many endurance records in swimming, push ups, and chin ups into is 70’s.  He continued his daily two hour workouts of lifting, walking and swimming into his 90’s.  Jack LaLanne passed away on January 23, 2011 at his home in Morro Bay California.   He was 96 years old.

The Continental

by Al Myers

Thom Van Vleck, of the JWC, has the perfect body type to perform a Continental to Chest.

Last week’s story on the Continental Clean and Jerk stimulated alot of discussion on the USAWA Discussion Forum.  I’m going to take a day and describe the term “continental” and some of the history about how it got named this way.  I have said this before but I want to reiterate this point.  I consider the term continental and the term clean to be two separate methods of bringing the bar to the chest.  It is a misnomer using the two together.  A clean is defined by bringing the bar from the floor to the chest in one motion while a continental is defined by using any method of bringing the bar to the chest (which often includes resting the bar on parts of the body as the lifter repositions).   Calling a lift a Continental Clean violates the definition of each!   To me it seems like the improper use of words – thus is why the USAWA calls it a Continental to Chest instead of a Continental Clean.  Truthfully, even calling it a Continental to Chest is redundant because by using the term Continental the implication of taking the bar to the chest is already there. So why say it again?  Now using the term Continental to describe a Jerk -  that seems even more wrong to me.  Continental should only be used to describe bringing the bar to the chest, and it is outside of its definition to describe an overhead movement.  We have another term for that – and it’s called ANYHOW.

But how did the term Continental get named?

As Thom described in yesterday’s story, the Continental got named originally after the way the Austrians and Germans were bringing the bar to the finish position upon the chest, which wasn’t the way the French and English were doing it.  It got named “continental” because that was the way “the rest of the continent” (besides the French and English) were bringing the bar from the platform to the chest.  As Thom said, the clean was initially called a clean because the bar was brought from the platform to the chest WITHOUT touching the body in any way, and YES – that included the front of the thighs.  Originally, a clean was  “clean” (meaning away) from the body.  The Continental was detailed quite well in David Willoughby’s book Super Athletes. Willoughby described in his book the history of the Continental much better than I can.  The following excerpt is from this great book on weightlifting history.

Since the majority of the heavyweight lifters in the two Germanic countries were men who loved to eat and drink, their physiques were of the type in which it was difficult to bend over and lift weights from the ground to the shoulders without brushing the belly on the way up.  Accordingly, the lifts favored by these men were two-handed barbell lifts in which the bar – prior to pressing or jerking it overhead – was brought to the shoulders not in a single clean movement, but by lifting it first onto the buckle of a strong, padded belt which was worn around the lifter’s middle.  From there the bar was heaved up to the shoulders. Sometimes the bar was even rested on the thighs prior to lifting it onto the belt.

As for the IAWA lift the Continental Clean and Jerk, it’s not the lift that is bad – the lift just has a bad name.  I think it should be called the Continental and Anyhow instead. That way the name properly describes the lift and doesn’t give the illusion that it is something that it’s not!

When is a Jerk not a Jerk?

by Thom Van Vleck

Phil Jackson doing Jerks on the back yard platform of the old JWC Club (circa 1964)

Al’s recent article on the Continental Clean & Jerk got me thinking and there was a discussion about this on the forum. Al brought up the history of the Continental. Al talked about how the German lifters were typically well fed with potato pancakes, German beer, and strudel and they took to using their beer bellies to assist in lifting the weight! The English lifters referred to this technique as the “Continental” method (likely in a derogatory way) and referred to their own style as the “clean” method. The English, French, and Germans had a big rivalry back then…..led to a couple of World Wars….though I’m not sure how they lifted weights had anything to do with it but you never know! I do know that however one side would do things, the other would do the opposite, like the metric system, which side of the road to drive on, etc.

There was also a debate about touching the thighs. This was actually not allowed in Olympic lifting until the 60’s which is part of why you saw a leap in records around that time. For those that don’t know what I mean, back before the rule change you had to pull the weight from the floor to the rack position WITHOUT brushing the thighs. You could not touch the thighs at all in the “true” clean. Then, in the 60’s, this rule was changed and my Uncle Wayne is still mad about it! So, what many of us call a “clean” is really not a clean at all technically! Maybe I’ll submit that as a new USAWA lift, the “TRUE Clean & Jerk”. Maybe I’ll even name it after myself!

Other debated aspects included hang cleaning the weight and using the thighs to get a good push. I know I can hang clean more than I can power clean. Also, there was a debate about not catching the weight cleanly on the chest and using the the arms to push the weight into the proper “rack” position.

I know, so when am I going to get around to the topic in the title of this article! Much like the fictitious “Continental Clean” (you either Continental it in some manner or you cleaned it…post 1960 style!) The Jerk with a press out is really not a Jerk at all, but a Push Press with foot movement (which, I guess, really disqualifies it as a push press by USAWA rules). Maybe it’s a “push jerk”…..geez, now even I am confused.

When the sport of “strongman” came out they contested the log lift pretty heavily and there were no rules on how to execute this lift. Guys got pretty creative in how they lifted the weights. Eric Todd, a top strongman and USAWA lifter, would push press the log and then set in on his head! He would then push press the log off his head to a lock out position! This actually became pretty common…..until they made a rule against it. I heard different reasons for this, including that it was dangerous and also that it just looked stupid. I do recall reading of a guy way back that would catch a standard Olympic bar on his head and finish it in this same method…..now that’s what I call a Continental Jerk!

Now, on a side note. If you watch the old 8mm films of the guys in the 50’s and 60’s…..you saw a LOT of press outs. You look at some of Paul Anderson’s “jerks” and he would literally push press the weight. It often really becomes a judgement call on whether it’s a press out or a jerk. Rules are rules and are intended to clarify what’s allowed and not allowed. Sometimes they just confuse us more! Different people have different leverages and thus different styles offer them advantages. One thing I like about the USAWA is there’s something for everyone. But even the USAWA has rules, but I would like to make sure those rules don’t take those advantages away (or are simply used by some to capitalize on their own advantages). So, if there’s enough lifters in the USAWA to create a Continental Jerk, then someone needs to put pen to paper, make the rules, then present it at the Nationals in June where new lifts are approved. I know I would if press outs helped me! I also have no interest in setting a bar on my head to finish a jerk! One final note, could we change the name of it? I get tired of my friends laughing and making jokes about me being a Big Jerk.

Club Challenge

by John McKean

THE 2011 USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE – THICK AS GRAVY

The Ambridge Barbell Club hosted this years USAWA Club Challenge. Pictured left to right: Art Montini, Phil Rosenstern, and John McKean.

I sure hope that nutritionists will discover that the Maple Restaurant’s famed thick, brown beef gravy is chock full of protein, vitamins, and minerals!  Our hungry Club Challenge competitors sure slurped a lot of the delicious sauce down with big beef platters!!  Joe Ciavattone Jr had been looking forward to this stuff all day (he even had his girlfriend research online the restaurant BEFORE he, his dad, and brother had left Boston!), and I think Chad and Al ordered an extra quart of the gravy as their beverage!!  But it was an absolutely wonderful meal that capped off a perfect lifting day – truly a family gathering of happy and starving USAWA men who had traveled from Kansas, Boston, Lebanon, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Aliquippa!!

Actually air flight arrangements were a bit off, with our Kansas group not being able to arrive before 2:30, but that eventually proved to be a big plus. While waiting, the rest of us hit the Ambridge gym at about 11 AM, and ended up setting sort of a record in itself – we actually completed FOUR meets within one afternoon!!  That is, we conducted a “Record Day”, 2 postal competitions, and then, well warmed, the Club Challenge.

Joe Ciavattone Sr., of Joe's Gym, performing an outstanding 2-Barbell Deadlift.

We have to give a huge thanks to co-meet director Art Montini for his skillful airport pickup & delivery system!!  Joe Ciavattone & sons were obviously a bit concerned when arriving at 9 AM on Friday morning at the big Pittsburgh terminal, heading toward the outside doors, and there was ole smiling Art at the ready!  They spent a relaxing day & night at Art’s place -as Joe told me  “I can’t ever remember being this relaxed going into a contest!”  Then, on Saturday afternoon, after lifting most of the day, ever energetic Art headed for the airport with perfect timing to intercept Al, Chad, and Darren ! They were back almost before we could get our second breath, and put us in real pain, as we entered into the main event !

As we warmed up, we had an unexpected treat -longtime powerlifter and Ambridge VFW member, 57 year old Phil Rosenstern, of deadlifting fame, was so impressed with the goings on (Phil was just innocently doing a normal Saturday workout when the craziness overtook him!)  that he immediately joined the USAWA, then hoisted a world record hack lift of 450 at 198 pounds bodyweight !!  It was fast, easy, and perfect, performed in front of 7 top level officials!!  Welcome aboard, Phil !

Scott Schmidt joined the Ambridge Club for this team event and is showing perfect technique in his 253 pound Bent Over Row.

The meet went in our usual “scatter fashion” with groups doing the 2 barbell deadlift, bent over row, and neck lift in various corners of the VFW pit. It worked to perfection, with everyone encouraging another to the very best efforts. Even the jet lagged crew from Kansas summoned their “inner animal” toward the end, with both Chad & Al neck lifting phenomenal 750 pound fourth attempts!  Their newcomer (to the Steel Valley) team mate, Darren was awesome in leading the Western men into battle, earlier having done a terrific, balanced 470 pound 2 barbell deadlift.

What more can be said about the Ciavattones – other than they are the strongest family team in the USAWA ?!!  It was just fantastic to see old buddy Joe & his teen sons Joe Jr and Jon!  And these men came to lift heavy, sticking at it all day,with records vanishing through their strong hands!  Not to mention thick NECKS – these three guys set the bar for neck lifting standards at this contest; it was their collective performance that inspired me to include this lift in the contest (despite all the grief EVERYONE gave me about this painful harness event!!!).

Dino Gym teammates Chad Ullom and Al Myers both ended the day with record performances in the Neck Lift, each with a lift of 750 pounds.

Denny and Kohl once again brought “knives to a gunfight”, as they were the two man team in a three man event!!  So, naturally, they won the two man team award with their usual record breaking prowess. I think they also had the meet record for the longest TIME traveled during that day with a round trip to/from Lebanon (PA) of about 12 hours (despite moans & groans about layovers from a certain group of cowboys!).

And what would a meet be without the smooth talking (he convinced the Maple restaurant over the phone to remain open for our after meet dinner!!) Scott Schmidt to drive over from Cleveland to be Ambridge’s third team member for the day? Scott did his usual stellar, perfect form performance, and even inspired old Art into setting 4 new Master’s records!

As Al summed up over dinner, the Club Challenge is certainly well established now as one of  the USAWA’s premier events. We just may have more fun & comradary at this contest than any other!  Next year let’s shoot for 10 teams!!!

FULL MEET RESULTS

2011 Club Challenge
Ambridge VFW BBc
Ambridge, PA
March 12th, 2011

Meet Directors:  John McKean and Art Montini

Officials: (3-official system used on all lifts):  John McKean, Art Montini, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Joe Ciavattone Sr., Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Darren Barnhart

Lifts:  Deadlift – 2 Bars, Bent Over Row, Neck Lift

1. Dino Gym – 3192.35 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Al Myers 44 248 590 300 550
Chad Ullom 39 238 510 285 550
Darren Barnhart 43 285 470 285 400

2.  Joe’s Gym – 3066.05 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Joe Ciavattone Sr. 42 254 410 285 600
Joe Ciavattone Jr. 17 220 410 205 550
Jonathon Ciavattone 16 234 350 184 550

3.  Ambridge BBC – 2773.84 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
John McKean 65 175 370 209 350
Art Montini 83 179 238 100 250
Scott Schmidt 58 251 363 253 264

4.   Habecker’s Gym – 1679.02 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Denny Habecker 68 188 290 209 270
Kohl Hess 16 285 410 220 300

All lifts recorded in pounds and adjusted points are adjusted for bodyweight correction and age allowance.

Extra attempts for Record:

Chad Ullom – Bent Over Row 300#
Chad Ullom – Deadlift, 2 Bars 550#
Chad Ullom – Neck Lift 750#
Al Myers – Neck Lift 750#

Record Day Session

John McKean – 175 pounds BWT, 65 years of age

Hack Lift – Fulton Bar: 195#
Squat:  225#
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar: 300#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 300#

Phil Rosenstern – 198 pounds BWT, 57 years of age

Hack Lift: 450#

Scott Schmidt – 251 pounds BWT, 58 years of age

Pinch Grip – Right Hand: 136#
Pinch Grip – Left Hand: 99#

Continental Clean and Jerk

by Al Myers

USAWA Hall of Famer Jim Malloy performing a Continental to Chest and Jerk. Or is he doing a Continental Clean and Jerk?

One of the lifts that is going to be contested next November at the 2011  IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia is the Continental Clean and Jerk.  Or is it the Continental to Chest and Jerk, as described in the USAWA Rulebook??    At first glance, one would think these are the same lift, just with different names.  I know I did.  But in comparing the IAWA(UK)  rules for the Continental Clean and Jerk and the USAWA rules for the Continental to Chest and Jerk I found SEVERAL DIFFERENCES.  The Continental Clean and Jerk is NOT an USAWA Lift and the Continental to Chest and Jerk is NOT an IAWA lift.  I know – that’s confusing!!

The USAWA Rule for the Continental to Chest and Jerk:

A23. Continental to Chest

The lifter starts with the bar on the platform in front of the lifter and raises it by any method of the lifter’s choosing onto the lifter’s chest above the pectoral muscle. The bar may be raised in one or a series of movements and may come to rest, be lowered, or make contact with any part of the legs and body during the lift. However, the bar must not be upended into any position on the body. Hand spacing and grip are of the lifter’s choosing and may be altered on the bar during the lift. The hands may be removed from the bar during the lift. The bar may come to rest on the lifter’s belt. A towel may be placed in the belt for the bar to rest on. Touching the platform with a knee or the buttocks is permissible. It is a disqualification for the bar or plates to touch the platform before the finish of the lift. Once the lifter’s legs are straightened, the lifter’s body erect, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, the bar motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is placed on the platform under control by the lifter.

A24. Continental to Chest and Jerk

The rules of the Continental to Chest apply for the first part of this lift. Once the bar is in the proper position on the chest, a jerk or behind the neck jerk is performed. The rules of the Jerk or Jerk-Behind Neck apply.

The IAWA(UK)  Rule for the Continental Clean and Jerk:

B28.  CONTINENTAL CLEAN

The bar will be lifted from the floor, coming to rest in the finish position for the clean. The difference between the continental and the regular clean is the fact that it can be raised by any method of the lifters choice, other than upending the bar into position. The bar may be raised in one or a series of movements, it may come to rest, be re-lowered, and make contact with any part of the legs or body during the lift. Touching the lifting surface with any part of the knees or buttocks is permissible. The grip is optional and may be altered during the lift. The signal to replace the bar will be given when the lifter is motionless in the finished clean position, the bar gripped with both hands, body erect, legs braced and feet parallel and in line with the torso. A supportive belt with a folded towel or similar material placed inside it and at the front, may be used to assist the lifter, who may choose to clean the bar from the belt.

Causes for Failure:

1 Allowing the bar to make contact with the lifting surface during the lift.

2 Failure to maintain the finish position, bar on upper chest, legs braced and feet parallel and in line with the torso.

3 Lowering or replacing the bar before the referees signal.

B30.   CONTINENTAL CLEAN AND JERK

The rules of performance for the continental clean apply to the clean part of the lift, and the rules of performance for the jerk apply to the jerk part of the lift, except that the jerk can be done from a position in front or behind the neck, it is the lifters choice. There is no limit to the number of attempts made to clean or jerk the bar, once it is lifted from the floor. The lift may also finish with a press out.

Causes for Failure:

1 The causes for failure are the same as for the continental clean, and the jerk, except that it is the lifters choice to jerk from a front or behind the neck position.

After reading these two rule descriptions it is pretty easy to see the differences.  The USAWA only applies the use of “continental” to getting the bar to the chest, whereas the IAWA rule allows even the Jerk to be “continentaled”.   Taking  multiple attempts at the Jerk and allowing a press out (which is a direct rules violation of a Jerk,  but then again the use of the term continental to describe a clean is also a direct violation of the definition of  a clean) definitely makes the IAWA version of this lift  a much easier method than the USAWA version.  I might add that the IAWA version definitely will make the judging easier on interpreting the lockout!!!

I’m not interested in debating which is the “correct” rule for this lift.  But I will say that these are two distinct different lifts.  I just want everyone from the USAWA who plans to compete in next years IAWA Championships to be aware of this before they get there.  It seems every year at the World Championships I am presented with a different IAWA  rule for a lift that I was not aware of beforehand, because we (the USAWA) have slightly different rules on several lifts.  This frustrates me because  I consider myself  “in the know” on the rulebook.   Why do these differences persist?  After all, all the rules for the lifts started with ONE WRITTEN RULE in the original rulebook from 1987.  The IAWA(UK) developed their rulebook from these rules and the USAWA developed our rulebook from these original rules.  As of now, there IS NOT a specific IAWA Rulebook, rather we use the IAWA(UK) Rulebook for the IAWA Rules.  Unlike us (the USAWA), the IAWA(UK) have only made changes (besides editing and clarifications) based on membership votes at the IAWA Annual General Meetings, which contains representation of all countries involved in IAWA.  We have made changes in the USAWA Rulebook based on membership votes at the USAWA Annual Meetings.  The IAWA(UK) have maintained their rulebook this way so ONLY IAWA rules and lifts will be in play in the UK.  This is the reason we have lifts in the USAWA that the English do not, as we have approved them at USAWA meetings and these same lifts were turned down (or not presented) at IAWA meetings by membership vote.  The IAWA(UK) only accepts new lifts and rule changes into their rulebook that are accepted at the world meetings.

I won’t go into my opinion on these matters, but I hope in the future we will work better together in at least having consistent rules in the individual lifts.  I know it will take time to identify and resolve all issues, but at least I feel we are taking steps in the right direction.

Another Daily News Story Competition

by Al Myers

After the story I did on the Dumbbell Walk the other day I got to thinking how “unavailable” this special dumbbell handle is.  It is a shame that a great all-round lift like the Dumbbell Walk is not performed more often just due to the fact that most lifters don’t have the implement.  We are fortunate in the Dino Gym to have the equipment to do ALL the all-round lifts in the USAWA Rulebook, and sometimes I take that for granted.

So it’s time for another writing competition!!! I received such a good response from the last one (on training tips or the use of a special training implement) that I’m going to do another one.  This time the GRAND PRIZE will be a Dumbbell Walk Handle.  But to make this competition even more interesting, I’m going to expand it.  I am going to award SIX WINNERS, each receiving a Dumbbell Walk Handle.  This way the odds are much better you will be a winner (because we all know how difficult it is to compete in writing contests with such notable writers as John McKean and Thom Van Vleck.  That’s like taking on Steve Schmidt in a Teeth Lifting Competition!).

Since this unique gripping tool is at stake, this writing contest will be over a training program or exercise that you use to train your grip.  Nearly everyone does some type of grip training in their training programs, so I think nearly everyone will have something that applies.  I want this to be about a grip training idea or technique that really has helped your grip strength.   The more original the better.

I plan to run these stories over a course of one week in the USAWA Daily News.  The first day I plan to write a story about one of my secret grip exercises that has really helped my hand strength.   But not to worry, I am not eligible.  You will know if you are one of the winners when you see your story printed.  That will build the suspense!!  I have secured a judge for these stories that is impartial.  This person is not very familiar with any of you, so “favoritism” will not be a factor.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to follow the rules of the competition for this one, because if you don’t your story may be rejected by the judge. Please send your story to me at amyers@usawa.com .  I will send you an email response indicating that I received your story submission.

Now I expect after this the Dumbbell Walk will  become a HOTLY contested USAWA lift next year.  Hopefully, several new USAWA records will fall next year in the Dumbbell Walk!!

RULES FOR COMPETITION:

1.  Stories are to be between 500-1000 words.

2.  A picture demonstrating the exercise must be included.

3.  The DEADLINE for submission is March 16th, by midnight.

4.  Stories must be grip training related and original.

Medley Training

by Al Myers

John Conner, of the Dino Gym, performing a Medley which consisted of a sled drag using live weight!

I REALLY like the big training days at the Dino Gym!  The enthusiasm is high, motivation is at its peak, and the gym is filled with energy!  You HAVE TO have a good workout on these days or you feel like you let down your training partners.  Everyone at the Dino Gym is training partners – we all train with and help each other out at different times.  Sure, some of us have different training objectives and might be on different training programs, but when it comes time for a lifter to put out a max effort in attempting a big lift or a personal record, we all come together to support each other.  This is what I like the most about our gym – we are a family.  Everyone supports the other in helping achieve progress or a just a good workout.

The big problem for me is trying to be part of all the action, and at the same time still get a good workout in for myself.   The older I get the more satisfaction I get from seeing other gym members improve.  This brings me to the story of the day.   Medley training has always been a big part of our strongman training.  It is a perfect way to end a workout because medleys will take you to the limit of exhaustion.  For those of you not familiar with Medley Training -  let me explain.  It is called a medley because multiple events are done in sequence, one immediately following the other.  It may just be a couple of events, or as many as you want!  Any combination may be used, with different weights or different implements.  Examples of events are drags, carries, or walks.  The combination of events is endless, and a different “challenge” may be brought to the training table every training session.  Medleys are a great way to get in a little extra cardio training at the same time as building functional strength.  We try to set up our medleys to last between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes.  It is a guarantee that you will be in a “pile” after finishing a difficult medley, and if you aren’t you didn’t put out enough effort and the boys will make you do it again.  That’s just how it is at the Dino Gym!  Peer pressure CAN be a good thing!

Last Saturday I witnessed Big John Conner perform one of the most entertaining medleys that I have seen yet.   It was a carry-drag medley, with Big John first carrying a 300 pound keg 75 feet, followed by a sled drag of 75 feet with Colby being the added weight.  Colby tops the scale at 325 pounds, so John didn’t pick a “light weight” for his drag.  The sled weighs 135 pounds, so it was a total weight of 460 pounds.  On top of this, he used my tire sled that is by far the most difficult sled around.  It consists of a metal sled with a car tire bolted on the bottom of it.   Talk about friction on concrete!!!!   I swear I could smell burning rubber as John dragged Colby across the finish line!    There was a point when I thought John wasn’t going to make the entire drag, but he gutted it out and finally got across the line.   On top of John performing one of the most intense workouts I had seen in a while, Colby seemed to enjoy himself with the free ride.  Since this  seems hard to believe,  I have included a YouTube Video of it just for your entertainment!

The Dumbbell Walk

by Al Myers

Darren Barnhart, of the Dino Gym, performing the Dumbbell Walk last Saturday at the Dino Gym.

Often in the Dino Gym when the workouts are over, different odd training toys get pulled out for impromptu challenges.  This happened the other day in the gym with an official USAWA lift, the Dumbbell Walk.  The Dumbbell Walk is one of the most unique and strange lifts in the USAWA Rulebook.  Years ago when I first read the rules on it, I thought “now there’s an odd one”.  This lift is surrounded with mystery.  How did it come about?  I took a little time and looked through all my collection of back Strength Journals, books, and other mostly irrelevant strength information.  I could not find one single bit of research on it!  Who came up with it?   It was one of the original lifts in the USAWA, meaning it was part of the group of lifts that got “adopted” with the first rules were adopted.  It is an official IAWA lift as well as is included in the IAWA(UK) Rulebook.

The rules for the Dumbbell Walk are as follows from the USAWA Rulebook:

A distance of 10 feet will be marked out on a surface before the walk. The dumbbell and lifter must be behind the line at the start. The handle of the dumbbell must be 3 ½ inches in diameter. The lifter must hold the dumbbell with one hand only. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. It is recommended to straddle the dumbbell during the walk, however, the lifter may carry it to the side. Once the lifter lifts the dumbbell and begins the walk, the dumbbell must not touch the walking surface before the finish line or it will be a disqualification. The dumbbell may be lifted to any height during the walk, but it must always be hanging at arm’s length downwards. The lifter must put the dumbbell down under control completely past the finish line for the walk to be complete. The non-lifting hand must not touch the dumbbell or lifting hand and arm during the walk. The non-lifting hand may be placed on other parts of the body. It is acceptable for the dumbbell to accidentally touch the legs or body during the walk, provided it does not aid in the walk.

This is the 3.5" dumbbell handle that must be used for the Dumbbell Walk.

This is one of only two USAWA lifts where a distance must be covered in the execution of the lift (can you name the other?).   It has been contested only once in USAWA competition – at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.  Only myself and training partner Darren Barnhart have a USAWA Record in the Dumbbell Walk.  At this record day a Challenge ensued between us and Darren edged me out, 100 pounds to 95 pounds.  I’m pretty sure the reason the Dumbbell Walk has not been contested more often in competition is due to the special dumbbell required, with the 3.5″ diameter.

This is an outstanding grip exercise.  I think I might even put it in next year’s Grip Challenge at the Dino Gym.  It is also one of those grip exercises where when you add just a little bit more, say only 5 pounds, and the exercise goes from easy to impossible!

This is a YouTube Video of Darren performing the Dumbbell Walk with 100 pounds at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.

Big MISTAKE!

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck overhead pressing with one hand a 110 pound anvil. By looking at this picture it is easy to imagine the consequences if something "goes wrong" and the anvil slips out of Thom's open grip and falls on Thom's head. My advice is to always train a new lift before attempting max poundages and leave crazy strongman stunts like this to the professionals. (photo and caption courtesy of the webmaster Al Myers)

In this article I will detail what I see as the biggest mistakes I see new guys make as they enter into the world of the USAWA.  Others might have an opinion and I”m not saying that I am right about this being “the” biggest mistake….but I think everyone would agree this can be a problem.

I entered my first “odd lift” meet 30 years ago, and since then I have been to many USAWA meets as well as all kinds of strongman, highland games, powerlifting and Olympic lifting meets.  I have also done over 200 strongman performances.  During that time I have seen guys witness a lift or feat of strength for the first time and say, “Can I try that”.  They then try something they have never done before and go 100% in the effort.  That, in my opinion, is a BIG MISTAKE!  Sure, most of the time you’ll be OK, but it’s that one time that will end a season, or worse, a lifting career.

Recently, a friend of mine was in a strongman contest that included a steel bar bend.  He sent me a video of his effort….that resulted in a  muscle tear that he is now getting surgery for.  He was trying to bend it behind his neck and dropped his elbows and ended up in a a position like someone trying to close a “pec deck” machine.  Having bent literally hundreds of steel bars in various shapes, I cringed as soon as I saw it and soon enough he dropped the bar and winced in pain!  He had never bent a steel bar before and had no plan on how he was going to bend it.  I bend them all the time in our strongman shows and practiced this many times before ever doing it in front of a crowd or a contest where the pressure is on to go all out.

The nature of the USAWA makes it the “worst” for this kind of mistake.  Other sports have a much more limited “range” of lifts which means they get practiced much more often.  You can’t train hundreds of lifts, you can only have a strategy to train all around strength.  I know Al Myers often trains one pressing movement, one pulling type movement, and one squat type, constantly mixing the specific lifts up.  I also know Al will train a particular lift until he knows exactly how to do it and exactly how much he can expect to do on it before he enters a meet.   I’m not sure if he was always a smart lifter, or if he became one as a result of many injuries (that’s how I got smart), or both.  But I do know Al is a smart lifter who knows exactly what his ranges are come contest day.  He not only knows this for safety reasons, but for strategy as well!

How often have you seen someone make a lift they have never tried before, say, “that was easy”, then say, “Throw on a couple 45’s” and then be buried by it!  It’s the nature of many of these lifts.  At best, it’s embarrassing, at worst, you get seriously hurt.  My point is that you NEVER want to go right to a maximal effort the first time.  The USAWA is full of fun, new, exciting….and dangerous….lifts.  But they are only dangerous when you don’t know what you are doing!   Take the time to learn the lift, warm up plenty, practice the lift before the meet, and pick your poundages wisely!  Live to lift another day!  Listen to the old timers….they are still lifting for a reason!

STAN PIKE – “I WAS BORN TO WORK”

BY DAVE GLASGOW

STAN PIKE LIFTING THE INVER STONE.

IN 2006, I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO FINALLY VISIT SCOTLAND, THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF MY PATERNAL GREAT-GRANDFATHER, JOHN GLASGOW. THIS HAD BEEN ON MY ‘TO DO’ LIST FOR SOME TIME AND WHEN IT DID COME TO FRUITION, I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED IN ANYWAY OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT I RAN OUT OF TIME MUCH TOO QUICKLY.

THE THING THAT STRUCK ME THE MOST DURING THIS TRIP WAS THE RUGGEDNESS OF THE LAND, THE TOUGHNESS AND ENDURANCE OF THE FOLKS THAT INHABITED IT AND THE ADMIRATION OF THESE PEOPLE FOR STRONG INDIVIDUALS. IT WAS AT THE WORLD MASTERS HIGHLAND GAMES, IN INVERNESS, THAT I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO RUN ACROSS AND VISIT WITH ONE OF SCOTLAND’S STRONGMEN. STAN PIKE.

WHAT IMMEDIATELY GETS YOUR ATTENTION ABOUT STAN, WHEN YOU FIRST MEET AND SHAKE HANDS WITH HIM, IS THAT TO DO SO IS AS IF YOU ARE SHAKING HANDS WITH A GRIZZLY BEAR!! I HAVE MET ONLY ONE OTHER PERSON IN MY LIFE THAT HAD SUCH HANDS AS HIS!! THESE HANDS, I FOUND OUT MORE RECENTLY, COME FROM A LIFE OF HARD WORK AND HARDER PLAY.

STAN WAS BORN IN NORTHEAST ENGLAND. HIS LINEAGE IS IRISH, NORSE AND AUSTRIAN. FROM A VERY YOUNG AGE, HE BECAME ACQUAINTED WITH BACKBREAKING, TEDIOUS WORK. THE SON OF A COAL MINER, HE WAS REQUIRED, EVERY DAY, TO PROVE HIMSELF.

“You wanted to be a man, especially in a mining community. You proved yourself being a man by being strong and tough. That was the way I was brought up. The lads that I used to work with were also strong, and part of the joy of the day was getting hold of each other and beating each other up”. – Stan Pike

THE LIST OF JOBS HE HAS DONE IN HIS LIFE WOULD TAKE FAR TO LONG TO PUT TO PAPER, HOWEVER, JUST SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT STAN HAS HAD TO WORK FOR A LIVING HIS WHOLE EXISTENCE. THE OCCUPATION HE HAS REMAINED AT FOR THE LAST 30+ YEARS IS BLACKSMITHING!! JUDGING BY THE QUALITY OF HIS WORK, ONE WOULD BE TEMPTED TO SAY THAT BLACKSMITHING IS NOT WORK TO HIM, BUT RATHER A CALLING. HIS WORKS ARE, TRULY, REMARKABLE! HE ALSO HAS THE PRIVILEGE OF HAVING A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY FORGE FROM WHICH TO CRAFT HIS WORKS!

HOWEVER, THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT STAN’S WORK, BUT HIS PLAY!! STAN HAS HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN BOTH STRENGTH AND AEROBIC ENDURANCE INVOLVING KETTLEBELLS, BICYCLING, WEIGHTLIFTING, MARTIAL ARTS AND THE SO-CALLED ‘MANHOOD’ STONES OF SCOTLAND; NAMELY THE DINNIE STONES AND THE INVER STONE.

STAN PIKE LIFTING THE DINNIE STONES.

ACCORDING TO WRITTEN RECORDS, STAN IS THE OLDEST PERSON TO LIFT THE ‘DINNIE STONES’ UNASSISTED (WITHOUT STRAPS). AT THE AGE OF 58!! THIS IS A COMBINED WEIGHT OF 785lbs.!!

FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE DINNIE STONES, THEY ARE TWO LARGE, IRREGULAR SHAPED STONES THAT, IN ORDER TO LIFT THEM, ONE MUST STRADDLE THEM AND LIFT THEM BY WAY OF RINGS PERMANENTLY AFFIXED TO THE STONES. THE COMBINATION OF STRADDLE, RINGS, WEIGHT AND THE AWKWARDNESS OF THE POSITION ONE HAS TO GET IN, MAKES THIS A VERY IMPRESSIVE FEAT OF HAND AND LIFTING STRENGTH, INDEED!

BY STAN’S OWN ADMISSION, HE STATES THAT SOME MAY QUESTION HIS RIGHT TO CLAIM HE “TRULY” LIFTED THE STONES, AS HE DID NOT COME TO A COMPLETE LOCK OUT AT THE TOP OF THE LIFT. I WILL LEAVE THIS ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS. AS ONE CAN SEE BY THE PICTURE, THERE IS PLENTY OF AIR BETWEEN THE STONES AND THE GROUND. I, FOR ONE, HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THE VALIDITY OF THE LIFT.

AS A SIDE BAR, STAN HAS LIFTED THE FAMED “INVER STONE” (AN EGG SHAPED, RATHER SMOOTH STONE OF 265#) SO MANY TIMES THAT HE IS ON A FIRST NAME BASIS WITH THE STONE!!

TRAINING FOR THE MONUMENTAL TASK OF THE LIFTING OF THE STONES WAS BY WAY OF A BASIC PROGRAM OF CONVENTIONAL WEIGHT LIFTING AND KETTLEBELL WORKOUTS. HIS WORKOUTS ARE TO THE POINT, WITH NOTHING FANCY ABOUT THEM. HE TRAINS AS HE WORKS. HARD AND STRAIGHT FORWARD. BELOW IS A SAMPLE OF HIS SYSTEM:

WEEK ONE

MONDAY

KETTLEBELL WARM UP

CONVENTIONAL DEAD LIFTS 5 X5

HACK LIFT

STIFF LEG DEADLIFT

DINNIE RING DEADLIFTS (BEING A BLACKSMITH, HE MADE HIS OWN RINGS THAT HE USES ON A REGULAR OLY BAR.)

GRIP WORK

WEDNESDAY

KETTLEBELL WARM UP

INCLINE PRESS 5 X 5 TO MAX

SEATED SHOULDER PRESS/OLY BAR 5X 5 TO MAX

SEATED DUMBBELL PRESS 10 X 10 WITH MODERATE WEIGHT

GRIP WORK

FRIDAY

REPEAT MONDAY’S WORKOUT

WEEK TWO

MONDAY

REPEAT THE SHOULDER WORK OUT

WEDNESDAY

REPEAT THE DEADLIFT WORKOUT

FRIDAY

REPEAT SHOULDER WORKOUT

STAN PIKE LIFTING THE DINNIE STONES AGAIN!

WITH THIS SYSEM, HE IS HITTING THE DEADLIFT WORKOUT TWICE A WEEK ONE WEEK AND ONCE THE NEXT, ALTERNATING WITH THE SHOULDER WORKOUT. HIS GRIP WORKOUT IS DONE AT EACH SESSION WITH “HOLDS” AND WRIST ROLLER BEING THE BULK OF THE WORKOUT.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO USE KETTLEBELLS, STAN IS AN AVID ADVOCATE OF THE KETTLEBELLS. HE AND HIS GOOD FRIEND, BOB BEAUCHAMP, WROTE A MOST EXCELLENT BOOK ON THE HISTORY AND PROPER USE OF THE KETTLEBELL. HE IS RECOGNIZED AS THE PERSON WHO “RETURNED” KETTLEBELL USAGE TO THE U.K. AND GIVES CLINICS AND DIRECTS COMPETITIONS ALL OVER BRITAIN.

FINALLY, I ASKED STAN WHAT HE CONSIDERED TO BE HIS FINEST ACHIEVEMENT. I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY HIS REPLY!!

“I don’t consider anything I have personally done to be of any significance at all, I am only pleased to be still here doing what I do.  I have plans for some other stuff as I get older.”  – Stan Pike

WHAT A FANTASTIC, REFRESHING ATTITUDE!! I SEE STAN AS A GUY WHO IS NOT AT ALL SATISFIED WITH HIS ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND, IN HIS OWN MIND, HAS ONLY BEGUN TO SEARCH HIS OWN BOUNDARIES AND LIMITATIONS.

“I believe if you lie back and let life take you over, it will and you’re not going to get anywhere. I’ve always pushed myself to the limit but now I’m approaching 60, it’s starting to hurt a little bit.” – Stan Pike

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT, STAN! GO GET IT!

SLAINTE!!

2011 Nationals: Guaranteed FUN!

by Thom Van Vleck

Just a reminder that we are just 3 months out from the USAWA Nationals this year.  I am working hard to make this event memorable in many ways.  It’s my goal to make it the “BEST EVER”!  But that will only happen if YOU come!  It’s the people that make the USAWA special and I NEED you to come to Kirksville this year!

I am getting some donations and I’m working hard to spend every penny of it to make sure this is a good time, but the entry money also goes a long way in making this meet special.  If you have never done this type of thing before, let me tell you, the MORE advance notice you have about who’s coming to the meet the less waste you will have (ordering too many shirts, too much food, etc) and the more efficiently money can be spent on those who come.  So make the commitment today, send me an entry and a check, and trust me when I issue this challenge:

If you can look me in the eye when this contest is over and tell me that it was the WORST you have ever been to, I’ll give you your entry money back (and of course, you have to give back any awards, shirts, or other goodies you got….that’s only fair).  So, have you ever been to a contest with that kind of guarantee?  And you can’t say worst if it’s the ONLY one you’ve been to!

Send in your entry today!!!!!  Thanks!

My Grandfather Clyde Myers

by Al Myers

My Grandfather Clyde Myers deadlifting 100 pounds at the 2006 USAWA National Championships. He is the oldest lifter (at age 90) to have EVER competed at the USAWA Nationals.

Yesterdays lead in question of  “who was the oldest USAWA member to ever compete in an USAWA National Championships?”  brings me to a story I would like to tell.  Actually, this is a story I have wanted to tell for a long time but just now am ready to tell it.   This lifter was none other than my Grandfather Clyde Myers. Gramps competed at the 2006 USAWA National Championships at the age of 90.  I was the promoter of this meet, and he really wanted to compete to show his support to me and our organization.  Grandpa was not a lifetime weightlifter,  but his years of manual labor as a farmer built his strength beyond that of “normal people” his age.  He was very active up till his death at age 92, on August 5th, 2008.  He was born on September 30th, 1915.   The last 8 years of his life he lived with me and my family.  Grandpa was always a very active man, and seemed to always be in great physical shape.  Now living with me, he started to take interest in my weight training.  Nearly every week he would spend time in the gym with me, and often he would do some light weight training.  He began to love exercise.  I know he would have been a great weightlifter if he would have had the opportunity to lift when he was younger.  But in his day the notion of physical exertion for the “fun of it” or for “health reasons” was looked down upon by those in the farming community.  Farming was so physically exhausting at that time it was felt you should be saving your strength for the work at hand, and use it for something beneficial, like providing a living for your family.    I remember as a kid when I first started weight training Grandpa didn’t understand why I would be wasting my time picking up a barbell when all I really needed to do was go out in the plowed field with him and pick up rocks all day!  That was the way he was brought up.  It wasn’t until he retired and was living with me till he discovered what  “physical culture” really meant.  His days of hard farm work was behind him and he soon realized that exercise was the “spice of life” and that if he spent his days doing some light weight training and exercise he felt better.

Clyde Myers with his World Record 2-Hand Pinch Grip of 66 pounds at the 2006 Dino Gym Record Day.

Grandpa Clyde usually did my record day every year, and joined the USAWA because of it.   He liked the idea of breaking or setting records and since he was in an age group where it is slightly easier (not too many records in the 85 and 90 age brackets) to get a record,  it was a sure thing he was going to “come away” with a few.  He especially liked the grip lifts because he could lift weights in these lifts comparable to younger age groups.  His best USAWA records are a 66# Pinch Grip, 118# Right Hand 2″ bar Vertical Bar Deadlift, and 134# 2 bar 2″ Vertical Bar Deadlift.   All of these records were set in the 90-94 age grouping, 80-85 kilogram classes.  He also was very proud of his grip strength in the Hand Dynamometer.  A Hand Dynamometer is a hand held device that measures your grip strength in pounds and kilograms.  Dale Harder has made this device well known in his books as he keeps track of ranking lists with it.  In one on his latest books, Strength and Speed published in 2009, he lists Clyde Myers as the best of ALL-TIME in the One Hand Dynamometer with a grip reading of 42 kilograms for someone over 90 years of age.  He also holds the ALL-TIME World Record in the One-Hand Partial Deadlift for a lifter over the age of 90, with a fine lift of 205 pounds.  In this lift, a chain and handle is attached to a bar and the bar is only lifted an inch or so off the floor.  This record is also included in Harder’s book.  His 66# Pinch Grip is also listed as a World Record for lifters over 90.  It is interesting to note that the 80 plus age group Pinch Grip World Record is held by the famous Australian Strongman Harry White, with a lift of 72 pounds.  I witnessed this lift of Grandpa’s as I judged it at one of my record days and I can tell you it was a sub-maximal effort.  He had never done a Pinch Grip before and I loaded it up for him thinking it would be “about right” for him and he did it easily.  He didn’t try anymore. In fact, he only took that one attempt and it was the World Record!!   When his records came out in Dale’s listings, he was very proud of it and made me make a photocopy of it so he could show his friends!

I was quite surprised when he said he wanted to enter the Nationals I was hosting.  I didn’t pressure him at all to do it.  Besides my little record days, this was the only official meet he ever entered.   Several of the lifts in this meet were very difficult – lifts like the Steinborn and the one arm Snatch.  I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be able to EVEN do the lifts!  But he surprised me and won Best Lifter for the over 90 age group (uncontested of course) and received a nice plaque for his efforts.  Again, this made him feel very good about what he had done, and it was well deserving, because he did what no one else has ever done, and that is competing in a difficult National Championships in the USAWA over the age of 90.  Others may eventually do it, but he will always be the first.

Grandpa in front of the Dino Gym Sign, which he drew and painted.

Most people don’t know this outside of the Dino Gym, but my Grandfather was a self-taught artist and was the one who drew the Dino Gym Logo.  I told him what I wanted and he went to work.  It was done entirely free hand and his first copy was the one we used!  It was perfect from the start.  The Dino Gym contains the original sign which he created.  When I first had T-Shirts made with the Dino Gym Logo on them he was amazed.  It was the first time (and only time) that one of his drawings was on a shirt!  That means alot to me now, and I often wonder how he would feel if he knew how many lifters are wearing the Dino Gym Shirts around today.

My Grandfather was very eccentric in lots of ways (I know I am too – so that’s where it probably came from!).   He was also an inventor and craftsman and built lots of interesting and unique things in his life. As he got interested in physical exercise he decided to “invent” an exercise device that catered to the elderly.  Most older people can’t do the exercises (like riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill) that younger people can do.  Grandpa designed and built a very interesting seated machine that allowed a combination of cardiovascular training, flexibility training and resistance training all  at the same time.  He “marketed” it to the local nursing homes and sold several of them.  I’m sure some are still in use today helping elderly patients in physical rehabilitation.  He picked a novel name for it – as he called it “The Exerciser”!  He considered himself the testimony of it and would always do the demonstrations himself when selling a unit.  How can anyone argue with the sales pitch when a 90 year old is making it look easy and appears in great shape???   He trained on it three times per day – every day.  The Exerciser kept getting more complex as he kept adding new parts to it to do different movements.  (I’m sure this story explains a little about myself for those that have seen my Dino Gym).  Grandpa always wanted to get a patent on it but never took the time to make that happen, as he was too busy thinking of the NEXT thing he wanted to build.  This was just one of the many original things that he built in his lifetime.

My Grandfather Clyde Myers was also an outdoors man, and loved to spend his free time fishing. We spent several hours together on the bank of a pond with our hooks baited waiting for a big catch. He is the reason I am also an outdoor sportsman.

Grandpa died the day I got back from the 2008 USAWA Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.  I was very worried about leaving as I knew he was in bad shape and might not last until I got back.  The day before I left he assured me that he would be alright until I got back, and for me to go “give it my all” at the meet.   He was always very supportive of my lifting efforts and would listen to all the details of the meets.  Well, the day I got back he passed in his sleep.  He was one of the most influential men in my life, and helped shape me into the man I am today.  There is not a day that passes that I don’t think of him and miss him, but I know his heart was with The Lord and I will see him again.

Oldest USAWA Members

by Al Myers

Jack Lano performing a Snatch. Is he the oldest current or past USAWA member?

After last weeks quiz, Tom Ryan presented some  additional questions on the USAWA Discussion Forum.  Tom’s questions were quite a bit harder than mine, and after much discussion on the forum, the group has came to a unified conclusion on the answers.  I think these should be shared in the USAWA Daily News because I know not everyone follows the discussion forum.  The answers to these two questions are a very important part of USAWA history.  These were Tom’s questions:

I’ve got another quiz question for you regarding USAWA members. Actually it is a two-part question:

(a) What deceased USAWA member was born before every other person who has at any time been a member of USAWA?

(b) Among current and past USAWA members who are still alive, which one has the earliest birthdate?

Immediately, I thought I knew the answer to the first question without looking anything up.  How could it be anyone other than the St. Louis Strongman Ed Zercher I ??  Ed competed in the first years of the USAWA and was in his early 80’s at the time.  I couldn’t imagine anyone who was a member born before Ed Zercher.  Ed Zercher I was born on 8-19-07.   But  I was wrong on this, and Tom pointed it out to me.  The legendary, ageless powerlifter Henri Soudieres actually has the oldest birthdate among any past USAWA members. He was born on 8-5-06.   There was some discussion that another lifter, the longtime well-known AAU Weightlifting official Jim Messer may have been the correct answer because he  had an older birthdate ( he was born on  10-19-05),  but his past membership in the USAWA could not be confirmed.  He competed once but it must have been just exhibition.

The second part of Tom’s question was even more difficult.  Everyone knows that the current active member who is the oldest is none other than Art Montini (Art was born on 10-11-27).   But surely there is a PAST USAWA member who is older?  Lots of names where proposed, and many lifters with older birthdays than Art were mentioned.  But are they still alive?  That is when the difficulty in answering this question comes into play.   My guess was none other than the man of many talents – Jack Lano.  Jack was born on 4-17-22.   No one came forth on the forum to prove me wrong on this – so that is the answer I’m going with.  However, Tom is still skeptical.  That is just how he is about confirming the facts (he will have to visit all past lifters gravesites before he is convinced),  but it is a good thing because he keeps me in check from giving out wrong information.   He is right in that several lifters were mentioned that had older birthdates, but confirming they were STILL ALIVE was the question.  I will gladly print a retraction of this story if someone proves things differently.  Please check out the discussion forum if you want more details concerning the discussions that led up to these answers.

And finally – thank you Tom for asking this question!  It was very thought provoking and brought up many names of lifters  that I have heard about.

Coming tomorrow

Since we are in the discussion mode of talking about old lifters, I want to mention a past USAWA member who was the oldest lifter to EVER compete at a USAWA National Championship.  He was 90 years old at the time.  This is a question that I have personal first hand information on, since this lifter was very close to me.  But that’s tomorrow’s story!!

Andy Goddard Postal

by Steve Gardner

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

Andy Goddard Tribute Postal Competition 2011

The Andy Goddard Tribute competition this year will be on two different lifts: (Alt Grip Bench Press – Straddle Deadlift) but still based around the Bench Press – Deadlift theme (they were Andy’s favourite lifts).  As last year, this competition will be open to all and everyone who wants their name and results to be listed in Andy’s memory.  Lifters can be listed in the official IAWA members record claim set of results, or in the listings for those not current members who just want to take part.

BUT…

1) All results must be sent in to Steve Gardner (steve-g@powerful.co.uk) by the END OF MARCH

2) All results must be clearly recorded to show if the lifter is

a) a current IAWA member or not, and

b) If the lifts were performed before 2 or 3 referees (which will be good for record claims) or

c) If the lifts were performed before just one referee which will be acceptable for the competition (but not record claims)

Good luck and lets get lifting in Andy’s memory!

Club Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – THE 2011 USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW BBC are the hosts for the 2011 USAWA Club Challenge.

After the overwhelming success of the USAWA Club Challenge last year, John McKean has announced plans to host this unique team competition again this year.  The date has been set – March 12th.  The Club Challenge will follow  along the same guidelines as last year.   This competition is a “team” competition – with each club bringing three members whose adjusted points will be added together to form a “team score”.  No awards will be given for individual performance.  The Challenge will occur at the famous Ambridge Barbell Club in Ambridge, PA.  John has set an afternoon start time to allow for lifters to fly in the morning of the meet.  This is a great opportunity for all USAWA Member Clubs to show their “team spirit” by pitting themselves against other clubs in the USAWA.  Even though I would like to see teams composed of USAWA members who list their club as their affiliated club on the membership roster, this is not required.  So if you are the only one from your club that wants to attend and you can find two other team members, that is allowed. If a club wants to bring more than one team – that is ok as well.  The Ambridge BBC is a very interesting gym, and contains equipment that you will not see anyplace else!  Plus after the meet, John knows the best places to eat in town and you will not be disappointed in the post-meet celebration!

2011 USAWA Club Challenge

Date:  Saturday, March 12th

Venue:  Ambridge BBC

Meet Director:  John McKean

Entry Fee:  None

Start Time:  2:30 PM

Sanction:  USAWA

Lifts:

Bentover Row

Deadlift – 2 Bars

Neck Lift

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John.

Eastern Open Postal

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT –


Eastern Open Postal Meet

Dates:  Between March 1st and March 31st, 2011

Entry form must be postmarked by April 5th, 2011

Must be a current USAWA member to be eligible for competition

Entry Fee:  None

Official USAWA rules apply as outlined in the Rule Book

Lifts:

Bench Press – Alternate Grip

Squat – 12” Base

Deadlift – Dumbbell, One Arm

PDF Entry Form – EasternOpen

Deanna Springs Meet

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – Deanna Springs Memorial Meet

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Date:  Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Venue:  Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri

Weigh-ins:  11 AM

Entry Fee: None

Entry Form: None

Awards:  None

Membership:  Must be a current USAWA Member

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

To enter, a confirmation must be sent to Bill Clark by the Tuesday preceding the meet.  Bill can be reached by phone: 573-474-4510, Fax: 573-474-1449, or mail:  Bill Clark, 3906 Grace Ellen Drive, Columbia, Missouri, 65202.