Articles from November 2011

Trap Bar Training: Part II

by Thom Van Vleck

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

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

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

Rules for the Trap Bar Deadlift are pretty basic.

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


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

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

Trap Bar Training: Part I

by Thom Van Vleck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USAWA Official Dress

by Al Myers

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Welcome Mat Meet

by Jarrod Fobes

MEET REPORT: 1st Annual Welcome Mat Meet Report

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Meet Director: Jarrod Fobes

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

Lifts:  Turkish Get Up, Crucifix, Dumbbell Walk


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


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

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


Mike Murdock: Rectangular Fix 80#

Weight Over Bar

by Thom Van Vleck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your First Set of Weights

by Thom Van Vleck

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction To The Lynch Formula

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

by Ian Lynch (October 1988)

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

Y + (75 – 35)1/3  / (B – 35)1/3

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

Lynch Formula Graphs

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

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

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

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

Right.  now we are even on insults.

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

Dale is Again Back

by Dale Friesz

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

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

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

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

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

Updated Rules Test

by Al Myers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

by Al Myers

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

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

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

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

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

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

I25.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2”

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

Need to reference this rule -

I24.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1”

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

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


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

Causes for Failure: 

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

Need to reference this rule -


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

Causes for Failure: 

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

Need to reference this rule as well -


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

Causes for Failure:

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

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

Is the straddle stance legal? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret to my Strength

by Thom Van Vleck

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

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

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

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

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


by Al Myers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bars, Bars, and MORE Bars!

by Thom Van Vleck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Bars in the USAWA

by Al Myers

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

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

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

The barbell must meet the following specifications:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goerner Deadlift


Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Date:  Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Venue:  Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri

Weigh-ins:  9 AM

Entry Fee: None

Entry Form: None

Awards:  None

Membership:  Must be a current USAWA Member

Lifts:  Deadlift – Heels Together, Deadlift – 2 bars, Hack Lift, Jefferson Lift, Deadlift – One Arm (with both), Deadlift – One Arm, No Thumbs (with both),  Fingers Deadlift – Index, Fingers Deadlift – Middle, Fingers Deadlift – Ring, Fingers Deadlift – Little, and Reeves Deadlift

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

Backbreaker Pentathlon


Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Date:  Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Venue:  Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri

Weigh-ins:  10:30  AM

Entry Fee: None

Entry Form: None

Awards:  None

Membership:  Must be a current USAWA Member

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

Welcome Mat Meet

by Jarrod Fobes

First Annual Welcome Mat Meet

Date: Saturday,  November 5th, 2011

Meet Director: Jarrod Fobes

The Welcome Mat Dojo
8250 W Coal Mine Ave, #9
Littleton, CO 80128

Sanction: USAWA membership required

Check-in: 9am day of the event at the venue.

Entry Fee: $15, includes T-shirt

Lifts: Turkish-get up, Crucifix, Dumbbell Walk

Entries must be received by October 20th to get your T-shirt, otherwise entries accepted up to day of the event.

Mail entries and payment to:

Jarrod Fobes
2968 S Grant Street
Englewood, CO 80113

Contact: or call 303-339-0508

Click here for an entry form

World Championships

by Al Myers

The entry form is now available for the 2011 IAWA World Championships held on November 19th & 20th in Perth, Australia hosted by the ARWLWA.   The Worlds have not been held in Australia since 2003, so it is about time we get the opportunity to compete in the “land down under” in our most prestigious meet offered by the IAWA.  I know I’m looking forward to it!   Let’s show our support from the USAWA by several USAWA lifters attending.  This time of the year is a beautiful time in Australia, and making a trip like this could easily be combined with a vacation.  The promoters have made it easy on us – all you have to do is send in your entry “to commit” and then pay upon arrivial.  The selection of lifts look like a perfect list – all areas of All-Round Weightlifting will be contested. Entries must be sent in by October 3rd to secure a spot in this World Championships.


Date: Saturday 19 & Sunday 20th November 2011

Venue: Belmont Sports & Recreation Club, Cloverdale, Perth WA

Lifts: Zercher,Cheat Curl, Push Press from Racks, 1 Hand Dumbell Swing, Continental Clean & Jerk, Fulton Deadlift 2″ Bar, 2 Hand Vertical Lift

Participants must be current paid up members of their respective lifting clubs – IAWA UK, USAWA, ARWLWA, NZ

Entry Form (pdf) - World Entry Form 2011 

Entry Form (word doc) – World Entry Form 2011

Rules of Competition Lifts – WORLDS LIFTS GUIDE

The ARWLWA Website contains more details regarding directions to the meet site and possible hotel accomodations near the meet.  Please check out the ARWLWA website for this information.