Articles from May 2011



Judging at York

by Al Myers

Joe Garcia had the last lift of the meet at the Heavy Lift Nationals with his successful 1900# Hip Lift. By this time at meets, most officials are "nodding off", hoping to be finished with their obligation. But look at these guys, they are judging like it is the first lift of the day. (officials left to right): LaVerne Myers, Denny Habecker, and Thom Van Vleck

I know I have already mentioned this in a previous story, but I want to reiterate how pleased I was with the officiating at the Heavy Lift Nationals in York.  Thom wrote a story about professionalism amongst officials in a Daily News Story a while back, and how in the “old days” officials took their job as officials serious and looked the part of officials at meets by dressing up in suits and ties.  Thom had a picture of his Uncle Phil officiating a meet in his suit, of which he changed into after competing in his singlet.   You don’t see that at any meets anymore nowadays. In the business workforce, people used to dress up for work as businesses felt it set a positive image for the company.  Then along came casual Friday, followed by EVERYDAY becoming casual Friday and dress codes became relaxed or nonexistent.  This same thing has happened to the way officials dress at meets.  I have been at meets where the officials were dressed in shorts and a ratty t-shirt, which definitely doesn’t send a good message to those watching the meet.  

It was a great pleasure to be at a meet where the offiicals came to do their job because that is what they wanted to do, and not rely on the lifters judging themselves.  I never mind judging at meets I’m competing in as I know it is an important part of contributing to the days event. But it was nice FOR ONCE to have dedicated and committed officials who only job was to make sure that everyone was officiated justly and fairly.  We are a small organization and we all are know each other and are good friends, so it is hard not to have personal bias even when we try our best not to.  But I have always felt it was a conflict of interest when an lifter is judging another competitor.  Even when you make your best call, and in turn have to turn down a bad lift, it may appear that it was turned down for other reasons.   At the breakfast table the day of the meet, Thom remarked to my father in jest that it would be best  for them to sit at another table away from us lifters.  I found this pretty funny, because in the “old days” that is how it was.  The officials were “stand offish” to the lifters as not to have any personal relationships with them that might lead to future biased judging. (However, I tried to bribe Thom the night before with free scotch but I don’t think it worked!!). 

I hope with our new USAWA Officials Program that the pride of being an official will be restored like it used to be.  We have made great progress in our Officials Program and will continue to make improvements to it until it gets where it needs to be.  It is not there yet.  I hope to someday have ALL of our meets like this one – where the officials show up to just officiate because they WANT to, and in turn get the respect and recognition they deserve.

The Long Journey to York Barbell: Part II

by Thom Van Vleck

In part I of my story about my trip to York Barbell and I detailed my trip.  Now, I’m going to share my feelings about my trip.

The current York Gym

May 28th, 1064 was the date of the Missouri State Championships in Olympic lifting.  How do I know?  Because my Uncle Wayne won that year and he told me that when he got home with the rest of the JWC gang he said I upstaged him being born that day.  He said they all headed down to the hospital to see me.  It was literally a couple blocks away.  Later, he would give me that medal because of the significance of the date he won it.  Without Wayne, I’d never been a weight lifter and I would not be half of what I am today.  Without my Uncle Phil, you could halve that again and without my Grandfather Dalton, I’d be nothing today.  So me wearing that medal was like them being there at York with me.  That medal has been to every lifting meet, highland games, strongman contest, and USAWA event I’ve ever been to, including a couple trips to Scotland where I “dipped” it into Loch Ness.

So, you can see, lifting has been a big part of my family.  It’s not about winning, it was always about getting better.  Being stronger, healthier, and self improvement.  York Barbell was always a part of that.  I practically “teethed” on a 5lb plate.  I remember taking an interest in throwing the discus and not having one, so I took a 5lb York plate out and practiced with it!  In 1963, my Uncle Wayne ordered a Jackson International set and he told me that he sold it partly out of feeling disloyal to York….plus he said his York sets (and the JWC had several by then) were superior in his mind.

Thom Van Vleck checking out the Cyr Dumbbell. My grandfather told me a story about it when I was just a kid.

But the opportunity never came up to travel to York.  Phil told me they talked about it often.  They would lift and talk about meeting Tommy Kono, John Grimek, Steve Stanko, Bob Hoffman and the rest.  They would day dream of lifting in the York Gym  with the greats and seeing where all the weights were made.  But time and circumstance intervened and the dream faded away.  Until now.

So when I went out, I had a lot riding on this trip.  I needed to soak up every detail and take lots of pictures.  I even called both of them in the museum and gave each one a walk through.  They both asked me if I saw the Sandow Statue or the Grimek statue.  They knew a lot of the stuff that was in there!

Thom with the Grimek statue....I don't think he's impressed with me.

Overall, it was a great trip.  But later, I did get a little melancholy.  York is well past it’s pinnacle.  But then again, I  remember stopping at Peary Radar’s old Ironman Headquarters in Alliance, Nebraska a few years back.  It’s all long gone and not a thing remains as is the fate of a lot of the other American barbell makers.  At least York Barbell is still there and it seems the guys that work there appreciate the history.  Mike Locondro told me that the event we attended (Wounded Warrior Project Strength Fest) was all about getting York back to were it belongs….but more than that he told me that his Uncle was John Grimek’s brother in law and to him it was not just about “company policy” but it was personal.  That gave me hope and took a little of that melancholy away.  Maybe York isn’t what it was, but it seems to be rising up again!

On a side note, I traveled 15 miles to the west of York and went by the burial place of my Great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather (yes, that’s right….6 “greats”).  He was a Lutheran pastor that has been credited with starting over 50 churches.  His home still stands and members of my distant family still occupy it.   I hope to go back some day and see some more and meet some of my relatives…the dead one’s and live one’s!

The Long Journey To York Barbell: Part I

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck completes the 73 year journey to York Barbell

Recently I traveled to York, Pa to the home of York Barbell to judge at the USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals.  This, however, is not a meet report but a story about a Long Journey.

Back in 1938 my Grandfather ordered his first “real” barbell set.  Oh, sure, he had been training for along time before this, since 1928 to be exact, but it was at this point he finally could afford a real barbell set to replace the bodyweight exercises, the concrete “bucket” weights, and the assorted things like anvils he would find to train with.  By that time he was married and I recall he had a real fight with my grandmother over ordering that set since they were short on cash.  But it was his dream.  I still have what is part of that set.

Then, in 1957, my Uncle’s Phil and Wayne began to train and scrimped and saved until they could order a real “Olympic” set.  There was other choice but York!  This was the classic deep dish York set.  At that time, Wayne and Phil became avid Olympic style lifting fans and at that time York Barbell was the center of it all.  When I started training, in 1977, my Uncle Wayne bought a new set to encourage me.  I remember vividly him ordering it with a mail order form and a check.  I’m pretty sure he wanted it as much as I did and it was just a good excuse to order a new set!

I have a few hundred Strength & Health and Muscular Development magazines that were published by York Barbell.  I’m not a collector, most are the magazines that my grandfather and Uncles bought off the news stand to read.  I would read these for countless hours as a kid when I started training and as a result, probably know more about York Barbell than all the people who currently work there!

So, when Al asked me to come along and be a judge, I pushed aside a chance to go to Iceland and compete in a highland games and chose to go to York.  You see, even though my family had been “York Men” since 1938, NOBODY from my family had ever been there!

So, here it was, 73 years after that first York barbell set was mail ordered by my grandfather and I was on my way to York.  I was pretty excited but at the same time, I was realistic.  I knew it was not what it was in the glory days.  But I hoped it would still be a great trip.

We arrived the morning of the contest and pulled up out front.  There was Bob Hoffman’s statue standing as proud as ever.  My grandfather used to tell me that Bob was “a little full of himself” and I had to chuckle as I looked at the statue.  Most accomplished men are a little full of themselves.  It often takes a big ego to drive great success.  I wish I could have met the guy, big ego aside, he did much for lifting and made America quite literally….a lot stronger.

The life size barbell mobile hanging in the York Barbell HQ....is that thing real!!!!

Soon, we went inside.  There was a large “Barbell Mobile” hanging from the ceiling.  Barbell plates and bars balanced from a single point from the ceiling.  Not sure if they were real….but if they were that’s a lot of weight hanging there!  Then to the right was a lifting auditorium where the hall of fame induction took place.  I walked through and into the gym area.  It was loaded with platforms and weights, much more modern than I expected but then again, this is not the “original” club where the “York Gang” trained.  That place was long gone and while we drove by the location, nothing remains of it downtown.

The York lifting auditorium

Next, I walked through the museum.  I won’t detail all of it, but while what was there was very cool, it was not as big as I expected, but still not a let down.   What was there oozed history.  I would detour through the museum many times while I was there, taking just a minute to look at something else I had missed.  I then went into the retail store, that was nice, again not as big as I expected but it had “one of everything”.  While there I picked up matching York Barbell shirts with the old style split jerk logo for me and my Uncle Wayne.  I took tons of photos so that later I could show Wayne and Phil a “virtual” tour of the place.  I didn’t go anywhere else, but looked around at the warehouse.  The foundry is gone, they don’t make anything on site anymore.   Later, we also traveled by Bob Hoffman’s old house as the sun set on my York trip and we called it a day.

Next:  Part II My feelings about my Trip.

Heavy Lift Nationals

by Al Myers

MEET RESULTS
HEAVY LIFT NATIONALS

Group picture from the 2011 USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals. (front row left to right): Denny Habecker, Chad Ullom, James Fuller, Al Myers (back row left to right): Thom Van Vleck, Joe Garcia, Scott Schmidt, Randy Smith, Dennis Mitchell, LaVerne Myers (not pictured): Art Montini, Kohl Hess

Last weekend was a weekend I had been looking forward to for a long time!  Mike Locondro, of York Barbell,  had graciously invited us to be part of special day at York Barbell that included the York Hall of Fame induction of Slim “The Hammerman” Farman.  The days festivities included many functions, and our meet was just a small part of the things going on.  This report will only cover the Heavy Lift Nationals.  I’m sure the other activities and special events will be covered in future USAWA Daily News stories – so I’ll save those for that time.

Due to this meet being contested at the “mecca” of weightlifting York Barbell, we had the largest turnout of lifters for a Heavy Lift Nationals in a long time.  The attendees included some old veterans (Art Montini and Dennis Mitchell), some experienced Heavy Lifters (myself, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt, and Joe Garcia), as well as some newcomers to the Heavy Lift Nationals (James Fuller, Randy Smith  and Kohl Hess).  The judging crew was as good as it gets.  These guys took their job serious and looked the part of competent officials as they were all dressed in the new USAWA Officials Shirts with black slacks.  Our USAWA President Denny Habecker served as head judge and did an excellent job. Every lift was held for a count with a down command.  All lifts were required to “become motionless” as the rules require before the down command was given.  I don’t even recall a questionable lift being passed.  Thom Van Vleck served as one of the side judges and seemed very focused on his duties all day.  LaVerne Myers, my father and recent new USAWA Official, made his judging debut and looked the part of an old seasoned judge.  These guys didn’t just sit in the chairs half asleep, but instead, got down on the floor to make sure the weights cleared the platform.

The officials at this meet were dressed in official judging attire. I felt their professional appearance provided a positive reflection on the USAWA. (left to right): LaVerne Myers, Denny Habecker, and Thom Van Vleck

Now on to the lifting!  The first lift contested was the Neck Lift.  The expectations were high for Chad Ullom, as he just recently did a 750 pound lift at the Club Challenge in Ambridge.  Let me tell ya – he didn’t disappoint anyone!  He opened with an easy 700 pound opener, and then jumped to an ALL-TIME WORLD RECORD lift of 810 pounds.  He made it with ease.  At this point, the largest crowd of the day that were watching our meet had gathered.  For his third attempt he went for 850 pounds.  It looked as easy as his opener.  I was doing my best to get the crowd “fired up”.  It didn’t take much prodding to get Chad to take a shot at 900 pounds, which is more than 90 pounds more than anyone had ever done in history.  Chad didn’t waste any time in getting to it and made HISTORY by becoming the first man to ever Neck Lift over 900 pounds. And with this, broke the previous record THREE TIMES in one day.   This amazing lift made quite the impression on several of those in attendance, as throughout the rest of the day he was receiving congratulations on his record lift.  I’m tremendously happy for Chad and this record.  There was no question on it being a good lift (I have a picture showing the weight off the platform and evidence recorded on video).  It marked a great start of the day. 

Following the Neck Lift, we were scheduled to take a break for the Hall of Fame Inductions and other performances on the main stage.  This added to the difficulty of this meet.  We had to constantly ”warm up” again for the next lifts as we had to take breaks throughout the day.   The next lift was the Hand and Thigh. Joe Garcia showed everyone that he is still “King of the Hand and Thigh” by putting up the meet best lift of 1400 pounds.  I was next in line with a 1300 pound lift, followed by Chad’s 1250.  The last lift of the day was the Hip Lift.  By this time, Joe had pretty much sealed the victory and the battle was for second place between Chad and myself.  Chad has really progressed in the Heavy Lifts, and put up a 1800 which is a personal best. I managed a 1900 pound Hip Lift on my last lift to edge him out for second place overall.   The interesting thing is that Chad, Joe and me all tied in total poundage with 3900 pound totals.  But when the age and bodyweight corrections were made, Joe won fairly easily.  I consider Joe one of the “top 3″ heavy lifters in USAWA History,  and he proved it again at York.

There are several other lifters I would like to mention.  What more can be said about Art Montini??  He makes all of his lifts look easy and you just have to scratch your head in disbelieve at the amount of weight he lifts at his age.  He doesn’t seem to age, as his lifts are always as good as the year before.  Dennis Mitchell was solid in everything.  He does his Hip Lifts facing the bar (instead of straddling it), but uses this technique to his advantage.  James Fuller made his first USAWA appearance, and what a trooper he is!  This is not the best choice of a meet for your first outing in the USAWA, but James fit right in with the rest of us and with a little more specific training on these lifts he will be a force to be reckoned with.  Randy Smith made the trip from Michigan with Helen and has showed tremendous improvement in the Heavy Lifts.  Randy is now equipped with all the Heavy Lift Equipment, and I could tell his training had paid off. Scott Schmidt was a steady as ever.  I know he was nursing a sore knee that held him back a little, but not once during the day did I hear him complain about it.  Things like that impress me.  He was there to support the event even when he wasn’t 100 percent.  Scott has the spirit of  a Champion, and every lifter has the utmost respect for him.  After the meet was over, David “The Iron Tamer”  Whitley from Nashville, TN, came over and signed up for the USAWA.  David wanted to try for a record in the USAWA, and when I asked him what lift he wanted to do, he replied, “the bent press”.  I was somewhat surprised as this is not an easy lift to do.  But once David started his attempts it was clear to me that he had trained it before.  His technique was picture-perfect, and even Bob Hoffman himself would have given it his seal of approvement.  David went on to set the ALL-TIME best Bent Press with both arms with lifts of 137 pounds.  I hope to see him again soon in the USAWA.

This event would never have happened if it was not for York Retail Manager Mike Locondro. Mike organized the entire event and even put on his suit to serve as the Master of Ceremony!

This meet turned out better than I expected.  All lifters received beautiful awards for their Championship efforts.  The meet T-Shirts were very special.  The front of the shirts contained a picture of USAWA Heavy Lift Legend Dale Friesz performing a heavy Neck Lift.  Dale was not able to be in attendance, but he deserves a big THANK YOU from all of us for providing the intial inspiration for making this event happen. His initial contact with York Barbell is what led to our involvement on this special day.  Mike Locondro has already made his intentions known that he will be hosting this event next year,  and in the process has extended another invitation to us.  So – Heavy Lift Nationals may be held in York again next year.  Put it on your calendar now!!!

MEET RESULTS:

2011 Heavy Lift Nationals
York Barbell, York, PA
May 21st, 2011

Meet Director:  USAWA Executive Board

Lifts:  Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift

Officials:  Denny Habecker, Thom Van Vleck, LaVerne Myers

Lifter Age BWT Neck H&T Hip Total Points
Joe Garcia 57 212 600 1400 1900 3900 3981.2
Al Myers 44 252 700 1300 1900 3900 3236.7
Chad Ullom 39 244 850 1250 1800 3900 3132.9
Scott Schmidt 58 251 350 1000 1400 2750 2589.9
Randy Smith 56 194 400 850 1000 2250 2390.0
Art Montini 83 184 250 450 800 1500 2024.1
Dennis Mitchell 79 158 250 425 600 1275 1838.4
James Fuller 39 217 350 700 1000 2050 1751.7
Kohl Hess 16 297 400 0 0 400 320.9

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

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORD:

Chad Ullom – Neck Lift: 900 pounds
David Whitley – Bent Press, Left Arm: 137 pounds
David Whitley – Bent Press, Right Arm: 137 pounds
(Age 41 years, bodyweight 284 pounds)

Chad’s 900 Pound Neck Lift

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom set the ALL-TIME World Record in the Neck Lift with a lift of 900 pounds at the 2011 Heavy Lift Championships. Take notice that you can see light under both ends of the weights in this picture.

Last weekend at the Heavy Lift Nationals in York, PA, Chad Ullom did what I would classify as one of the most outstanding feats of strength I have ever seen in the USAWA.  Chad set the ALL-TIME WORLD RECORD in the Neck Lift with an unbelievable lift of 900 pounds.  The previous World Record was held by Joe Ciavattone set at the 2005 Heavy Lift Nationals.  In March, Chad showed everyone that he had the potential to break this record as he took an extra attempt and made a 750 pound lift with ease at the USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge.  What made this record even more spectacular was that he broke the prevous World Record THREE TIMES in the competition.  His second attempt was 810, followed by a third attempt at 850, and ending with his historic 900 pound lift.  Often with heavy lifts, there is always speculation about the authenticity of the lift due to the nature of these type of lifts. Heavy lifts only need to clear the platform to be legal and if someone doesn’t have the right angle to view this, often people will feel like the lift didn’t clear adequately.  However, Chad’s lift was lifted so high there was no doubt among anyone in attendance.  The judging crew did an outstanding job in officiating this lift.  They didn’t get “caught up in the excitement” and they made sure Chad had to hold it at lockout the same as all other lifts of the meet.

What made this record even more special was the the largest crowd of spectators we had were present to watch it happen.  I was trying to “fire up the crowd” about what they were about to see, and I could tell many were in disbelief when it happened!  I knew before this meet that Chad had the potential to make this happen.  We trained together on the Neck Lift a couple of weeks prior and he made an easy 800 pound lift in training.  We actually considered having him open at the record, as he did this training lift as easy as an opener.  But after thinking about it for awhile, we decided a 700 pound opener would set him up better.  If you pick your attempts correctly, the first attempt shouldn’t matter anyways. 

After the record lift, Chad was "all smiles" as he posed with the record loaded heavy bar.

It is always a big thing to be the first person to break a barrier – and I consider this a major barrier.   Let me give you a little history on the Neck Lift.  Steve Schmidt was the first man to break the 400 pound and 500 pound barrier in the Neck Lift.  An English lifter, Adrian Blindt, was the first person to Neck Lift over 600 pounds.  Frank Ciavattone was the first American to Neck Lift over 600 pounds, with his lift of 603 pounds at the 1990 Strongest Man in New England.  Joe Ciavattone was the first man to Neck Lift over 700 pounds and 800 pounds.  And now Chad becomes the first man to Neck Lift over 900 pounds!!!  It makes you wonder who will be the first one to go over half a ton – or 1000 pounds! 

I have always considered 600 pounds as the “mark to hit” if you want to be in the elite club of Neck Lifters.  To date, there have been only 10 individuals who have done this or more in USAWA competition. 

USAWA Members in the “600 Club” for Neck Lifts over 600 pounds

LIFTER WEIGHT LIFTED MEET
Chad Ullom 900 2011 Heavy Lift Championships
Joe Ciavattone 804 2005 Heavy Lift Championships
Frank Ciavattone 750 2002 Heavy Lift Championships
Al Myers 750 2011 Club Challenge
Mike McBride 630 2005 National Championships
Jeff Ciavattone 625 2002 Heavy Lift Championships
Joe Garcia 623 1998 National Championships
Dale Friesz 605 1995 Goerner Deadlift
Nils Larson 603 2004 Heavy Lift Championships
John Monk 600 2000 Heavy Lift Championships

Congratulations to Chad on this amazing new record!

Black Swamp Meet

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE:  The following was taken with permission from Andrew Durniat’s blog covering the Atomic Athletic Olde Time Strongman Picnic and USAWA Black Swamp Meet. Congrats to Andrew and his record lift in the One Arm Deadlift!)

by Andrew Durniat

Andrew Durniat and his record setting lift in the One Arm Deadlift (519 pounds).

It was a good day to lift this past Saturday, May 14 while in Bowling Green, Ohio. It was here at the Atomic Athletic Olde Time Strongman Picnic and US All-Round Weightlifting Association (USAWA) meet that I set the single arm deadlift record. My lift of 235.5kg (518.1 lbs.) on my left arm bested Steve Angell of Britain previous record of 219kg (479.6 lbs.).

The running joke at the Durniat household leading up this event was; ‘there’s my problem, I just didn’t have a world record scheduled on my calender.’ You see, when Atomic Athletic approached me about this event, they did so asking me to break a world record. I then put a plan together and executed it perfectly.

The next time a challenge is presented to you, just schedule it in writing on your calender. Put together a plan and take action. You’ll be setting records in no time.

YouTube Video of Andrew’s Record One Arm Deadlift

MEET RESULTS:

Black Swamp Meet
Bowling Green, OH
May 14th, 2011

Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe and Atomic Athletic

Lifts:  Deadlift – One Arm, Clean and Push Press

Officials:  Denny Habecker and Scott Schmidt

(All lifts besides Habecker’s and Schmidt’s were passed with 2 whites using the 3-Offical system and are eligible for IAWA World Records.  Habecker and Schmidt were officiated using the 1-Official System and their lifts are only eligible for USAWA records)

Lifter Age BWT DL-1arm C&PP Total Points
Andrew Durniat 32 103.1 228-L 105 333 277.6
Chris Rice 62 94.7 138-R 75 213 228.6
Denny Habecker 68 87.5 120-R 70 190 223.5
Michael Rogowski 25 78.6 135-R 95 230 223.4
Scott Schmidt 58 113.3 136-R 85 221 208.8
Tom Montague-Casillas 14 121.0 55-R 60 115 106.0

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight recorded in kilograms.  Lifts recorded in kilograms.  Total is total kilograms lifted.  Points is adjusted points for age correction and bodyweight adjustment. )

Extra lifts for record:

Andrew Durniat – 235.5 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Left
Denny Habecker – 125 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Right
Chris Rice – 138 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Left

Awards as Motivation

by Al Myers

This is part of the collection of awards present in Clark's Gym.

I have been in numerous club gyms, and one thing that sets them apart from commercial “chrome and fern” gyms is that there is always an abundance of old trophies, medals, plaques and award certificates hanging around.  Some of these places have awards that are over 30 years old!  Yet, they still bask in their glory of being visible for all gym members to see, as the day they were shiny new.  I always marvel at these old awards, and take the time to check all of them out.  I wonder, “who won this one?, and “what competition did this one come from?”.  This is a sight full of mystery, but at the same time gives you the burning desire of motivation. Anyone who has won an award knows the satisfaction that it brings, and not because of the hardware itself, but the hard work that goes into earning it.  The time in the gym pushing those extra sets, and the commitment and sacrifice training time takes away from the rest of your life.  If it was just the trophy that gave you this fulfillment – go out and buy yourself a big trophy and put wording on it proclaiming yourself the greatest weightlifter of all time!!  I assure you – that award would not mean near as much as the tiny certificate that you won the day you had a personal record lift.

In the Dino Gym I have a large collection of old weightlifting, strongman, and Highland games awards placed on a mantel overlooking the gym.  This mantel runs the entire width of the gym – 40 feet.  Most awards are “double stacked” on this shelf.  I haven’t counted them but it has to be well over 100 trophies. The funny thing is that I have at least that many in boxes in the attic!  When the mantel was full, I had to call it good.  When I first put up this trophy mantel, my wife referred to it as “my shrine” to myself.  I tried to let it slide, but her comment really hurt my feelings (even to this day and that has been a dozen years ago!).  That was not my intention.  I wanted to have a gym that any lifter would take serious when they enter the doors. I wanted us to not just “talk the talk, but walk the walk”.   Displaying hard-earned awards shows a gym newcomer that we are serious about what we do – and that we have the proof to back up what our training is all about. 

The trophy case in the Ambridge Barbell Club.

Most all of the other USAWA Clubs have a “trophy wall” as well.  Last November at the Gold Cup, Frank Ciavattone took me down into his basement which holds Franks Barbell Club.  I was overwhelmed by his collection of trophies and such.  Just a quick glance at this, and ANYONE would know  that Frank was a Champion.  As we browsed through things, Frank had a story on each award.  To him – these trophies were mementos that held a collection of memories from the competitions he has been in.  I have been to the historic Ambridge BBC a few times now, and each time I spend a little time looking over their collection.  Their collection is a lesson in weightlifting history – some awards date back 40-50 years.  The JWC Training Hall has many very unique awards.  Thom has on display some awards that were won by previous JWC members.  Truly a compliment to those that had a significant part of  the JWC history.  Clark’s Gym is another gym that has a great display of awards that is rich in history.  As you look over Clark’s Gym extensive collection of awards, it is a true inspiration.   I could go on with several other examples like these.

The point I want to leave you with is that it is not egotistical to display awards if done for the right reasons.  If it motivates one young kid to change their life by forming a commitment to training and physical fitness that keeps them out of trouble, it is worthwhile!   But now I gotta go – it’s time to polish my shrine!!!  (haha – THAT’S A JOKE!!)

York Barbell Shirts

 by Thom Van Vleck

Gene Thudium, JWC member in the 50's and 60's, sports his old school York Barbell T-shirt.

I don’t know about you, but I have received about 300 meet shirts in the last 30 years.  Probably 200 I competed in, the rest I was a judge, loader, spotter, scorekeeper, patron, or meet director.  I know how many because every few years I thin them out and keep the ones that have sentimental value in a special drawer, give away some, and keep the rest for workouts.  Some shirts become “lucky”…I have a good meet or workout in it and I then use it when I need some “mojo” for a contest or record day.  Some, a select few, get retired and are never worn again.  The ones I give away go to good homes, guys who are really into the lifting or throwing and really appreciate the shirts.  I gave a fellow highland gamer 75 shirts and he made it into a quilt that was pretty cool and he hung it in his living room.  I can go over and point to different designs and almost tell you how I placed, my throws, and even what the weather was like that day. 

Recently, Al and I traveled to Colorado and met with Russ Murphy, a highland games legend.  I got some really old meet shirts from him, about a dozen or so that go back 20 to 30 years.  He even had one that was from the first meet I ever competed in, in 1995.  Mine had been “retired” so I got his and now I have one I can wear, too.  Years ago, World Powerlifting Champ and the man that broke Kaz’s total record, John Ware, gave me a shirt he wore when he broke Kaz’s record.  I kinda felt like the kid in the Coke commercial getting the jersey from Mean Joe Greene.

Shirts can be pretty special.  Today some of us will be heading to York Barbell for the USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals this weekend.  I can’t wait to get there.  I also know that Al has designed the meet shirts using the  York Barbell logo.  I have a feeling this trip will be epic in many ways, mostly me traveling to the “mecca” of weightlifting for the first time in my life!  I remember seeing many photos of Gene in his York Barbell shirt and thinking I would like to have one….now I will and it will be pretty special.  But I wonder, will this shirt become a retired one, or a lucky shirt, or will I give it away…..only time will tell.

York Barbell, here we come!

by Al Myers

The event we have been waiting for a long time is almost here!  Mike Locondro, retail manager of York Barbell, has put LOTS of work and effort into this historic event.  We are very fortunate to be able to share in this event by having our Heavy Lift Nationals in conjunction with it.  Mike has made it clear that this may become an annual affair, and plans to continue the tradition that Bob Hoffman started many years ago of hosting an annual York Picnic that drew in lifters and spectators alike that wanted to share in the experience of celebrating a day of enjoyment centered around York and all types of strength feats.

The official name for this function is the “Wounded Warrior Kettlebell Benefit and Strength Festival”.  Mike Krivka will be teaching and conducting a RKC Kettlebell workshop throughout the day.  There will also be crossfit demos and bending demos.  Other contests of strength will be contested throughout the day.  I have heard there might be a 2″ bar lift competition - I might have to enter that one!  There will also be lots of raffles.  Steve Stanko’s daughter has donated some of her Dad’s personal equipment to be sold in a silent auction with proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project benefit.  So bring along extra money!!!  You may want to take part in some of the special auctions.  Mike has told me that because of this charity benefit, several members of our armed forces will be in attendance.

The highlight of the day will be the York Hall of Fame Induction of Slim the Hammerman.  What an opportunity to get your picture taken with a strength legend!  Now on top of this, Mike has said that Joe “the Mighty Atom” Greenstein will also be inducted into the York Hall of Fame.  Things just keep getting better!  I know, without a doubt, that this day will go down in USAWA history as a day we will never forget. I’m sure the attendance will include a “who’s who” of the strength world.   See everyone there!

Nomination Time!

by Al Myers

The USAWA Awards Program was established last year with the first award winners being recognized at the 2010 USAWA National Meeting.  Well, it is time to make nominations for this years’ candidates.  The rules of this are the same as last year. 

  • You  must be a USAWA member to make a nomination or cast a vote
  • Nominated individuals must be a USAWA members to be eligible
  • Only one individual may be nominated per person per award
  • The awards are for the calendar year 2010
  • An individual may be nominated for more than one award

 Athlete of the Year – This award is for the individual who has accomplished the most athletically within the last year in the USAWA. Top placings at the Nationals and World Championships should figure in high. Also, participation in other National Competitions such as the Heavy Event Nationals or Team Nationals could factor in, along with the Gold Cup.

Leadership Award – This is for an individual that has shown exceptional leadership qualities within the USAWA during the past year. Things that should be looked at are: going above the level expected of an Officer position, promoting sanctioned events with emphasis being on promoting National or World Competitions, promoting the USAWA by developing a strong club, writing articles for publications about the USAWA, or through other means.

Sportsmanship Award – This goes to an individual who possesses and shows great sportsmanship within the USAWA. The act of sportsmanship may be by conduct at all events, or by an specific example of exceptional sportsmanship.

Courage Award – This goes to an individual who shows the courage to overcome an obstacle in order to return to competition. This may be a comeback from an injury, or just having to deal with difficult personal issues but still shows the courage to compete in the USAWA.

Newcomer Award– This award goes to an individual who in new to the USAWA or has become involved again. It doesn’t have to go to someone in their first year of being involved in the USAWA.

Please send your nominations to me (at amyers@usawa.com) by June 1st.  All nominations will be kept confidential.  The awards will be presented in conjunction with the awards ceremony at the USAWA National Championships in Kirksville, MO on June 25th.

USAWA Nationals: The AWARDS

Special awards for the USAWA Nationals for 2011 (purchased at pjtool.com)

by Thom Van Vleck

The USAWA Nationals for this year will have a unique award for the participants.  The Jackson Weightlifting Club (JWC) had long been defined by Grandpa Jackson’s Anvil.  For the last few years I have used these real anvils for awards.  Each award will come with a CUSTOMIZED plaque engraved by a Jim Spalding (Jim’s Gems) who is a local jeweler and also happens to be a 6 time Masters World Champion in Highland Games.   When the results are tabulated, we will write down you address and send you an engraved plate that will fit on the award with your placing and name.  How many personalized awards do you have in you trophy case?  I bet not many!  There will also be an 11lb Anvil for the overall best lifter.  Again, it’s a REAL anvil.

The “Original” JWC anvil will be present as well and used in the strongman show at the awards banquet.  We will take it outside and give anyone who wants a crack at lifting the anvil like Grandpa Jackson used to from the ground to overhead.  It is a 150lb Anvil and it’s very “doable”!  The real challenge is to lift it by the horn with one hand, pinch grip it by top or lift it by the neck.

Grandpa Jackson's Anvil - The Centerpiece of the Jackson Weightlifting Club

I will also have a 300lb anvil present….This is the MONSTER that so far has defied all who have tried to lift it overhead.  I want to see someone put that thing overhead!  But at the least, We will have the Whiskey Barrel there and the challenge is to lift the anvil onto the whiskey barrel.   Come on out, the USAWA Nationals will be more than just lifting weights…..we will try and make some history!

THE IRON MISTRESS

BY DAVE GLASGOW

DAVE GLASGOW SPENDING A LITTLE PLAY TIME WITH HIS "IRON MISTRESS"

I ALWAYS ENJOY MY TRIPS TO INDIANA.  IT NEVER FAILS TO CHARGE MY BATTERY JUST SPENDING TIME WITH MY BUDDY, LARRY (FLOYD) TRAUB.  DURING MY RECENT TRIP TO OFFICIATE THE USAWA SANCTIONED POWER MEET THERE, LARRY MADE A COMMENT THAT I CHEWED ON ALL THE WAY HOME.  HERE IS SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT COMMENT.

I MADE MENTION OF THE COMMENT ON LARRY’S ‘CREAKING’ SHOULDER (SEE ‘POWER IN SOUTHERN INDIANA’ ON THIS WEB PAGE).  ONE OF THE KIDS ASKED HIM IF HIS SHOULDER HURT WHEN HE BENCHED, TO WHICH HE SIMPLY SAID, “YES.” A LITTLE WHILE LATER, I SAID TO HIM, “DAMN IT, FLOYD, I TOLD YOU YEARS AGO TO QUIT BENCHIN’.” HE GRINNED, SHRUGGED HIS SHOULDERS AND SAID, “IT’S WHAT I DO!”

EXACTLY RIGHT.  IT’S WHAT HE, AND ALL OF US “DO”.  I UNDERSTOOD INSTANTLY WHAT HE WAS SAYING. PAIN, INJURY, INCONVENIENCE, … YOU NAME IT. WE FIND A WAY TO GET AROUND IT. BECAUSE ‘NOT’ LIFTING IS NEVER AN OPTION.  IT’S A LOT LIKE THAT GIRL YOU USED TO GO OUT WITH. YOU KNOW THAT SHE’S NO GOOD FOR YOU, AND SHE WILL EVENTUALLY BREAK YOUR HEART. HOWEVER, YOU CONTINUE TO SPEND TIME WITH, AND MONEY ON, HER. TRY AS YOU MAY, YOU CAN NEVER END THE ONE WAY AFFAIR.  THERE IS NOT ONE OF US THAT HAS NOT MADE CONCESSIONS SO THAT WE COULD CONTINUE TO DO THE THINGS WE LOVE. IT’S AN INDESCRIBABLE PULL, URGE, CALL IT WHAT YOU WILL. BUT, IT JUST WILL NOT GO AWAY.  I AM NOT SURE IT SHOULD EVER GO AWAY.

WELL, GOTTA GO. THE MISTRESS IS CALLING. HEY, IT’S WHAT I DO, TOO!!

USAWA Nationals: UPDATE

 by Thom Van Vleck

Private room at the Dukum Inn. This is where the banquet will happen after Nationals

Just an update on the USAWA Nationals.  I have ordered shirts.  They are POLO type shirts –  so better than your standard meet t-shirt!  They will have a stitched USAWA Nationals 2011 patch on them.  I have also ordered the awards.  These are like none you have ever received and I will be putting up a photo at a later time showing them.  Al Myer’s will be bringing his top notch equipment for the meet supplemented by my own.  If you ever wanted to lift on a set of York Hub plates or Jackson International Barbell plates, we will be using them in the meet!

I have recently confirmed reservations at the Armory and the Dukum Inn.  I recently attended a private party there and I was more than pleased.  The bar in the private room was built in 1938 and was the original bar that used to be downstairs.  There is a stage area opposite the bar that will offer a really nice podium for our awards ceremony.  You can see a big screen behind the bar and during the banquet we will scroll pictures of past and present USAWA meets and legends.  I highly recommend the onion rings at the Dukum….they are the best!

Outdoor Lifting: Time for Fresh AIR!

Phil Jackson lifting outdoors at the old JWC club

by Thom Van Vleck

I have a photo album full of old photos of the Jackson Weightlifting club in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  Many of the photos, maybe even more than half, are taken outdoors.  Back then, there was a very practical reason for lifting outside in the summer time….NO AIR CONDITIONING!  My Uncle’s told me they built a platform outdoors so they could get some fresh air and keep cool.  The JWC gym moved around several times and often was in an old unairconditioned building.  One of the favorite places of my Uncle Wayne of gym locations was on Jefferson Street near the old Kirksville  Railroad Depot.  Wayne said they rented an old store and they would lift in the store front during the winter.  There were large plate glass windows open to the street with a potbelly wood stove for heat and in the summer they would move the weights out back and lift right under the down town Water Tower.  The Water tower is still there but the store is long gone.  Sadly, not a single picture exists of the gym from that time.  Just the many great stories….including one of how my Aunt Linda would walk by there every day going home from work and see Wayne lifting…..and now they have been together for over 40 years!  She would stop and watch them workout with other girls…..she must have been impressed.

My Uncle Phil told me that lifting outside was also a benefit in other ways besides a cool breeze.  The bright sunshine helped get rid of the winter blues come spring and the fact that girls might walk by just motivated them to lift a little harder!   It might be a hassle to move the weights outdoors, but I think you’ll find a little lifting on a sunshiny day will boost your motivation and be a nice change of pace.

The Blob

by Al Myers

Scott "THE ENFORCER" Tully demonstates a pinch grip lift of two 50 pound blobs, one in each hand!!

A very popular gripping device that originated in the mid 1990’s was the Blob.  Initially, the term “the blob” referred to only the 50 pound end of a  York 100 lb. dumbbell (the heaviest dumbbell from the casting), but since then has been applied to all weights of these York dumbbell ends.  The dumbbell in question is the York Dumbbell design from the 1970’s where the ends are round with sloping sides - a shape much like a hockey puck.  The preferred method of lifting a blob is to use a one hand pinch grip. The sloping sides add to the difficulty of maintaining a hold.  In the Dino Gym, we have a “complete set” of York Blobs – from 20 pounds to 50 pounds in 2.5 pound intervals. Often, challenges arise and we will start with the smaller ones and work our way up.  I’m usually in “this game” until we get to the 40-42,5 pounder, and then I have to bow out.  Darren and Scott always win,  as both have picked up the 50 pound blob many times.  One hand pinch lifting a 50# blob is considered the ultimate accomplishment.  It takes someone with an exceptional pinch grip to be able to accomplish this.  The “pure way” of lifting them is without chalk – and using tacky is forbidden!!

Around 2005, York discountined the production of this dumbbell style for awhile.   It made those that had York Blobs worth alot!  I remember watching ebay and seeing some of the prices paid for York Blobs.  For a while, one of these York Dumbbells was worth more as two blobs than an intact dumbbell!! You gotta say the grip guys can be quite the fanatics!  I know lots of  hard-core weightlifting collectors didn’t like to see a collector dumbbell like these getting cut up into two pieces!!  It wasn’t long after this and these dumbbells were manufactured again using the original foundry casting, and in return, the value of blobs came back down to an affordable rate.  They are now sold under the “Legacy Line” of York products.

Link to York Barbell Website - www.yorkbarbell.com

Monster Garage Meet

BY DAVE GLASGOW

MEET REPORT AND RESULTS

POWER IN SOUTHERN INDIANA

Larry Traub squats 520 pounds in the Monster Garage Meet.

Abstinence of chemical assistance when building strength has long been the message of Larry Traub. His inclination and mind set are that anything worth having is worth working (hard) for and, thus, earning.  He has preached this message to hundreds of his high school lifters over the years.  That is what led the multi-time national masters powerlifting champ to the USAWA.  It was against this backdrop that 5 of his former high school pupils/lifters returned to their mentor, joined his current protege and took to the platform.  All to be a part of the first, and now to be annual, USAWA sponsored Monster Garage Powerlifting Meet and Record Breakers Day.  The pedigrees of each of these young men is impressive.  Even the spotters were former high caliber lifters!  One of the judges, Larry’s brother Barry, can even boast a 650 deadlift!  The only mongrel in the house was yours truly!!  This was, indeed, an exceptional day of lifting.

The premise was simple. The lifts contested would be the three powerlifts. The ‘catch’ being that the rules of the USAWA would be enforced (rules are no joke!).  So, all the lifts were truly raw, and as they used to say in drag racing, ‘run what ya brung!’  With only seven contestants, the action was fast and furious. As there were a wide range of weight classes being contested, so were the weights being handled by the lifters.

Monster Garage Participants: upper left - Adam Roth, upper right - Tyler Baines, lower left - Blake Dedas, lower right - Bobby Bonifacio

The youngest of the crowd was 18 year old high school senior, Adam Roth.  His flawless technique helped him accumulate a total of 930 pounds at a body weight of 58.8 kg. (he was voted ‘best lifter’ junior and senior years at st. ‘X’ high school, Louisville).  Tyler Baines kept the momentum rolling, posting a total of 935 pounds.  Another technician, he used that along with determination to secure his place in the meet (he was teen national champ/bronze medalist at sub junior worlds).  Showing true competition experience was Felix Rodriguez.  His 455 pound deadlift was outstanding and gave way to his final total of 1070 pounds (he was 2nd at teen nationals).  Blake Dedas came to show that strongman training has left him in good stead as he posted a fine 1485 total at a 220 pound body weight (he was a subjunior team member and collegiate national champ).  Drew Traub, Larry’s boy, provided proof that strength does run in families.  He took a break from his usual 60 hour work weeks and ran up a total of 1385 pounds with next to no training for the past year (he was a teen national champ and subjunior world champ).  The new kid in the house was Bobby Bonifacio, Larry’s son-in-law (and my god-son in-law, lol).  Bobby started training about 9 months ago and to say his lifts needed help, at that time, would be the understatement of the year!! Bobby has persistence, a great attitude and a top notch coach to thank for a very creditable total of an even grand. I am certain this will spur him on to even greater totals in the future.

When the final attempt was made, the tally sheets said that it was the old man, Larry Traub himself, who carried the day!  His bench presses made one of the spotters remark, “coach!!? is that your shoulder creekin’?? It sounds like someone is trying to open an old door!!” . His 520 pound squat and 560 pound deadlift would make most lifters days, however, this was a ‘down’ day for him. Regardless, it was enough to win by 175 points on the formula.

Monster Garage Meet Participants: left - Drew Traub, right - Felix Rodriguez

As a side note, I want to mention our loaders. Mike Tullis (who was a subjunior world team member) and his running buddy, Jon Clark (who was selected to be on the world subjunior team but subsequently passed up that opportunity to ‘walk on’ as a player at the University of Louisville, where he is today) spent the competition loading for their friends and adding good stories and commentary at the ‘after glow’.  These were great kids to be around, indeed!!  Although this meet was touted as a ‘record breakers’, I think the days lifting damped spirits for any further lifting as only four USAWA records fell; two by the youngster and two by the ole man.

Plans are already being made for next year’s version of the Monster Garage Powerlifting Meet. the last weekend in April will be the permanent date. We are looking for this meet to be much bigger by then!!

Good friends, great lifting and superb food/drink - what could be better!? Plan NOW to attend next year!!  YOU WON’T BE SORRY!

SEE BELOW FOR TOTALS AND PLACINGS

Monster Garage Powerlifting Meet
Georgetown, Indiana
April 30th, 2011

MEET DIRECTOR:  Larry Traub and the Ledaig Heavy Athletics

LIFTS CONTESTED:  Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift

OFFICIAL (1-Official System Used): Dave Glasgow

RESULTS:

Lifter Age BWT BP SQ DL Total Points
 Larry Traub  57  92.0  290  520  560  1370  1433.0
 Blake Dedas  26  100.0  355  545  585  1485  1257.9
 Adam Roth  18  58.8  205  320  405  930  1129.3
 Felix Rodriquez  21  75.0  255  360  455  1070  1070.0
 Tyler Baines  23  64.5  235  300  400  935  1033.5
 Drew Traub  27  128.8  310  525  550  1385  1032.2
 Bob Bonifacio  30  118.5  205  365  430  1000  776.5

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

Angelo Siciliano, aka The 97 Pound Weakling

by Dennis Mitchell

Angelo Siciliano, aka The 97 Pound Weakling

Angelo, sometimes called Angelino, was born in Calabria Italy in 1893, either on October 30, or April 20, depending if you asked his mother,Teresa, or his father, Santo.  He arrived in the United States at the age of ten, and lived in a poor section of Brooklyn, New York.  After a short time his father, who worked as a farmer, returned to Italy.  His mother, a devout Catholic, raised him while working in a sweat shop as a seamstress.  Angelo soon left school and went to work in a factory making ladies pocketbooks.

Angelo was a frail child, and two times was beaten up, once near his home and once at Coney Island on the beach.  Humiliated that he could not defend himself, he joined the Y.M.C.A. where he started working out on stretching machines and doing gymnastics. He read Bernard Macfadden’s Physical Culture magazine, and using a set of home-made barbells followed his instructions. He said that his results were very disappointing.  At this time in order to sound more American, he changed his name to Charles.

While visiting the zoo at the age of seventeen, he was fascinated with a muscular lion and watched as the lion would stretch and “flex” his muscles. Charles thought this may be a more natural way to develop his muscles. Using a system of using one muscle against another muscle, he began to show results and by the age of nineteen, he was demonstrating a chest developer in a store on Broadway.  He was soon working as an artist’s model and performing strength feats in vaudeville with a strongman named “Young Sampson”. He worked with Earl E. Liederman and in the ConeyIsland Circus side show.

This was a popular advertisement for the Dynamic Tension Training Program.

In 1918 he married Margaret Casana and in time they had two children.  It was somewhere around this time that he legally changed his last name to Atlas. In 1921 he won Bernard Macfadden’s ” Worlds Most Perfectly Developed Man” contest at Madison Square Garden. When he won again the following year, Macfadden said there was no use putting on future contests because Atlas would win every time. In 1922 Atlas started his mail order body building business.  His course needed no equipment, and he also gave advice on nutrition, grooming and personal behavior. For several years his business was struggling. He opened and soon closed a gym in Manhattan. He worked as physical director at a summer camp for two years, with no pay. His mail order business finally started to make money in 1928, when he hired a young advertising agent named Charles P. Roman.  Charles Atlas Ltd. was formed in February 1928 with the two men being equal partners. Under Roman’s guidance the business was very successful. It was Roman who came up with the name of “Dynamic Tension”, which was the main part of the Charles Atlas system. They advertised in many pulp magazines, Popular Science, and many comic books. The course sold for $30.00.  He opened branches in London, England in1936, and one in Rio de Janeiro in 1939. By the early 1940’s, over 400,000 copies of the Atlas course had been sold. Even with his financial success, Atlas lived a private and simple life. The partnership lasted until 1970, when Atlas retired and sold his half of the business to Roman.

This body building article would not be complete without a list of Charles Atlas’s measurements.  He stood 5′10″, 180 pounds, 17″neck, 47″ chest, 17″ biceps, 14″ forearms, 32″waist, and 23.75″ thighs.

Charles Atlas died in Point Lookout, New York, December 23, 1972.

York Update

by Al Myers

We are now just a little over two weeks away from our Heavy Lift Nationals at York Barbell, in York, PA.   The event organizer and the person who made this whole affair happen, Mike Loncondro, just sent me the days itinerary.  There will be many activities happening at the same time.  We will have our competition in the Main Gym while the kettlebell workshop will be in the auditorium.  We will need to have our meet done by noon in order for all attention to be given to the main feature of the day – the York Hall of Fame induction of Slim the Hammerman.  In the afternoon, we will have a record day session and All-Round Weightlifting demonstrations.  Hopefully, this will give us the opportunity to introduce the All-Round Lifts to several new lifters.

The meet t-shirts are being picked up today.  On behalf of the USAWA, several of these shirts will be donated to this event to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. This charity helps wounded soldiers restore their physical abilities through the pursuit of athletic fitness.  It is truly a worthwhile cause!!  I think everyone will really like the t-shirts I designed for this.  The awards will be ordered the first of next week for the competition.  So – all the plans are “in motion” to make this day a very special day for everyone involved.   

Kettlebells For Warriors – May 21, 2011          Schedule of Events
  Main Gym Auditorium Main Hall
0800 USAWA Contest    
0830      
0900 Crossfit Workout KB Workshop Registration  
0930      
1000 USAWA/Crossfit Opening Ceremony  
1030   KB Workshop (until 0100)  
1100 BREAK    
1130      
1200 USAWA/Crossfit    
1230      
0100 LUNCH (until 0300) LUNCH (until 0300) Dan Cenidoza and Slim
0130      
0200      
0230      
0300 USAWA/Crossfit KB Workshop (until 0500) Mighty Mitts Bending
0330      
0400      
0430      
0500      
0530 Main Gym Clean Up Auditorium Clean Up Main Hall Clean Up
0600      

Team Spirit

by Thom Van Vleck

We have a lot of fun with our team rivalries in the USAWA.  While it is all in good fun, it has gotten heated from time to time, but that’s OK.  Sometimes that’s what it takes to get fired up for big lifts!  It reminds me a lot of the rivalry I felt when I was a Marine.  We hated the Army, Air Force, and Navy, but when we had a common enemy we quickly banded together.  In the Marines we had a saying: “You won’t find a better friend or worse enemy”.  I also believe: “Once a Marine, always a Marine” (Chesty Puller said that, the most decorated Marine of all time and a personal hero). I feel the same about my affiliation with the JWC.

A great photo of Dino Gym member and enforcer Scott Tully....in a great shirt! While I've kidded Scott about this photo, it would not be hard to find one of me in a Dino Gym shirt. And, no, that's not my bald head in the photo!

We all enjoy our training for lots of reasons.  I’m sure most of us have a primary reason for doing it and for most, that primary reason is probably to get strong!  For a bodybuilder it may be to “look strong” (I never understood why you would want to look stronger than you really were….I want to be stronger than I look!).  The reality is that we probably train and compete for lots of reasons beyond that.  One of those reasons is for the social aspect.  We are humans, we generally seek out companionship….even loners will have a dog or cat for companionship! So, for social interaction, we join teams.  Now, I’m not talking about “socializing” (although that certainly happens!) but the act of finding a common bond or thread.  Common interests, so to speak.  That’s the social aspect I’m talking about.

We also like competition.  I can recall going out to the old JWC gym at about age 10 with a buddy of mine and doing a powerclean and push press.  The first thing he did was slide on a little more weight and lift it….and it was “ON”!  We didn’t stop until we’d about killed ourselves!   Teams give us the best of both world’s.  We can hook up with like minded individuals and find the motivation of competition within our own team and then against other teams.  But we can also have mutual respect for our rivals.  I know I have a lot of respect for my “rivals” in the Dino Gym, Clark’s Gym, Ledaig…and the rest.  That’s why I own at least a t-shirt from each and in the case of the Dino gym almost a whole wardrobe of clothes!

Teams are a good thing.  They give us motivation, friendships, rivalries, and in the end, good times.   Being a part of a team can hold us to a higher standard than standing alone.  It can also reflect a lot about who we are and if done right, in a very positive way.  So join a team in the USAWA, or start a new one and join the rivalry for bigger gains and good fun.  I’m sure Scott will love the fact I used his photo for my example….and I’m sure it will motivate him to lift a little harder the next time we compete!

The One Best Exercise

by Thom Van Vleck

My brother Tedd is a Clean and Press man. It goes to show that different exercises work best for different lifters.

I was out throwing with Bill Leffler the other day.  We were talking training and some of our frustrations.  Between us, we have about 75 years of lifting and throwing experience and the topic became “The One Best Exercise”.

I recall many years ago in an old Ironman there was a question posed to several top lifters and trainers: “If you could do only one exercise, what would it be”?  The answers centered around two lifts.  The squat and the Clean & Press.  Debates and arguments were presented.  It kind of reminded me of a recent thread on the USAWA forum centered around Al Myers’ article on the Deadlift.

The reality is that there are exercises that are better than others, but all exercises have some merit, and it all depends on what you want and how you use it to get what you want.

1.  Does the exercise work the most muscles in the body?  The Clean & Press certainly does that,  but the Squat and Deadlift certainly work the biggest muscles in the body the hardest.  If that were the only criteria for the One Best Exercise, that would probably be the end of it…but that is not the only criteria.  I would argue it’s not even the best way to chose the One Best Exercise.

2.  Does the exercise create the adaptation that you desire?  We all lift for different reasons.  I lift mainly to improve my throwing for Scottish Highland Games.  Does the lift fulfill that need?  Do you grind out reps, or do you explode through them?

3.  Any exercise done for too long will become more and more dangerous and less and less effective.  You get stale, you get lazy on your technique, and eventually the boredom, lack of focus, repetition on the body will lead to injury.  Your body is always fighting against you because it is trying to protect itself and when it knows what is coming, it will resist damaging itself.

4.  Do you perform the Deadlift in a way that creates the muscle adaptation you desire?  The JWC has a member that has done a 4 times bodyweight deadlift.  He can’t clear 8 ft with the 56lb Weight in the Weight Over Bar event.  Al is a great deadlifter and when he was deadlifting 700 plus he could clear nearly 16ft!!!  The JWC member is very much a specialist and he’s very happy with the adaptation he has created.  Al trains for different reasons and his lifting has adapted to that.

So, my opinion is the “ONE BEST EXERCISE” changes over time and it depends on how you perform the exercise.  You have to find what works for you, and you must think outside the box from time to time.  I was stuck at 360 on my Bench Press for a year and made a point to specialize on my Bench for a year and managed only 365!  I used the best routines I could find.  So, out of desperation, I started doing 10 sets of 10 reps.  I started with 185lbs and kept adding 10lbs a week until I finally got 300lbs for 10 sets of 10.  After only 12 weeks I then maxed out and hit 400!  A 35lb jump!  I have theories on why this worked but my point is that it was unorthodox and I don’t know if I even recommend it!  So, don’t get too hung up on finding that “magic” exercise because it’s kind of like the old saying “Just when I figured it out, they changed the rules”.  Just when you find that “One Best Exercise” your body adapts and its time to shake things up and keep an open mind.  As for me….I’m doing deadlifts and squats right now, but not forever!

Black Swamp Meet

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

ATOMIC ATHLETIC GREAT BLACK SWAMP OLDE TIME STRONGMAN PICNIC AND ALL-ROUND MEET

Roger LaPointe, of Atomic Athletic, is hosting an All-Round Weightlifting Meet on May 14th.  Roger is not new to the USAWA as a meet director, as he has hosted a couple of competitions in the past – but it has been a few years.  I am REALLY GLAD to see him get back into the USAWA fold by promoting this meet!  Roger owns a very unique equipment company, Atomic Athletic,  that caters to lifters wanting to buy unique equipment that we as All-Rounders would appreciate.  He also sells about anything else that a lifter would need.  Take a little time and check out his website for his business.

This meet will feature two popular all-round lifts – the One Hand Deadlift and the Clean and Push Press.  This day will be more than just a meet.  Roger has planned a picnic and other Strongman Shows to compliment the meet.  It sounds like a great day of fun!!

Great Black Swamp Olde-Time Strongman Picnic Promotional Poster.

For an entry form, click here -  Black Swamp Meet Entry Form

Heavy Lift Nationals

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – 2011 HEAVY LIFT NATIONALS

Welcome USAWA to York Barbell!!!

This is an upcoming USAWA meet that you will not want to miss!  For the first time ever, the USAWA will host an All-Round Weightlifting Meet at the meca of American Weightlifting – the YORK BARBELL COMPANY!  York Barbell retail manager Mike Locondro has invited us to be part of a very special day in York on May 21st.  Mike is reviving the tradition started many, many  years ago by Bob Hoffman in sitting aside a day to invite EVERYONE who is interested in lifting weights to come together at York for a day of enjoyment.  Bob Hoffman’s annual weightlifting picnics at York were always sensational, and created memories that have withstood generations of lifters.  Mike is very familiar with the USAWA, having competed himself several times throughout the 90’s.  It was very generous of him to invite us to be part of this day. This will be a special day in more ways than one.

For the FIRST TIME, we (the USAWA) will be competing in a BIG STAGE ENVIRONMENT.   That is why I proposed to the USAWA Executive Board to have our Heavy Lift Nationals on this day.  These lifts are very crowd pleasing – lifting BIG weights in OLDTIME lifts.  Due to time and space constraints, we will have only 3 hours in the main auditorium to complete our competition so this year only 3 heavy lifts will be contested – the Neck Lift, the Hand and Thigh Lift, and the Hip Lift.  If our competitor list is over a dozen, we will run two platforms. Entries will have to be in advance in order for us to plan accordingly.  I expect there will be LOTS of spectators throughout the day so this will give us the opportunity to showcase our unique lifting skills to many people.  In the afternoon (from 2 PM to 6 PM) we will move to the York gym area and  have a record day.  However, most of our purpose will be to demonstrate the many All-Round Lifts of the USAWA and talk to people coming through the show.  This will be our chance to “show the World” what the USAWA has to offer.  Hopefully, we will be able to recruit some new lifters to our organization.

The main purpose of this day is raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  All proceeds from this event will go to this organization.  The Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit organization that helps injured service men and women in physical rehabilitation.   They have a Disabled Sports Project that introduces wounded service members to new sports activities that help in their physical recovery.  Truly a noble cause.  As I said, this day will be a special day in more ways than one!

There will be several other activities going on this day besides our involvement.  The highlight of the day will be the York Barbell Hall of Fame induction of Slim “The Hammer Man” Farman, which will occur during the noontime ceremony.  Other strength demonstrations will be going on – strongman demos, bending demos, a kettlebell instructional session, etc.  Plus – I heard there might be a raffle.  You need to add in a tour of the York Hall of Fame and York Museum,  and visit the retail store.  As I said earlier, this is one meet you do not want to miss!

FOR ENTRY FORM – 2011HeavyLiftNationals