JWC Expands!

by Thom Van Vleck

The newest addition to the USAWA's list of clubs: The Jackson Weightlifting Club: Transcon!

The last weekend of August the three JWC Members, Josh Hettinger, Mitch Ridout and myself made the trip over to Galesburg, Illinois where my brother, Tedd, had just bought a new house due to a work transfer.  He had a beautiful, huge garage and wanted me to work my magic and set him up with the home gym for the hardcore lifter and that’s exactly what I did.  I felt like an interior designer for hardcore lifters!

For the platform we have two layers of 3/4 CDX board with a top layer designed for two lifting platforms side by side with plywood in the middle of each and heavy duty rubber for where the bar will land.  There is a power rack that used to belong to Zach Schluender, a top Olympic style lifter who has snatched around 375 and Clean & Jerked  around 440lbs as a superheavy.  There are squat racks that once rested in the Old JWC gym that just about everyone that’s ever lifted for the JWC has used, made from old truck wheels and axles for uprights.  He has a steel log for strongman training, two full Olympic sets, adjustable squat stands, a bench that once belonged to Russ Murphy that adjusts to several angles and is heavy duty, and an assortment of other equipment.  I even made him a metal sign with the JWC logo on it.  I should start a new business in hardcore gym design…I’m sure there’s a huge market for that out there!  Not only is Tedd’s gym ready for a hardcore workout but it already is filled with history of big lifts and lifters that will inspire your workout!

A fitting end to a hard day of training: STEAKS on the Grill! On a "Green Egg" no less, Al likes these so much he has TWO of them!

This will not just be a second location for the JWC but a second club. My brother is hoping to get some local guys interested in lifting and even hosting a meet in his gym!  He even plans to register his gym with the USAWA!  We have called it tentatively the “JWC Transcon” because Tedd works for the Railroad and the “Transcon” is the busiest Rail line in his company AND since has had to move his gym twice we wanted a name that could fit anywhere he goes…..but that name isn’t finalized yet!

The weekend was about as good as it gets.  We had a work day setting up the gym and moving things in the house.  Then we went to Peoria where we competed in the Scottish Highland Games on the next day.  Then the third day was lifting and grilling big steaks on Tedd’s new “Green Egg Grill”.  So, if  you are in central Illinois area or know someone who is, there is now a place for you to train.  Stop by and see Tedd and check out the JWC Transcon!

The Schubert Lifts

by Al Myers

John Schubert's bio from the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.

I never had the opportunity to meet John Schubert.  I wish that I had.  Since his passing, I have heard many stories from those that knew him about his positive influence on their weightlifting careers.   John was a true all rounder – he not only competed in All-Round Weightlifting meets, but also was a long time Olympic Weightlifter as well as competing in numerous “physique” (old term for today’s bodybuilding competitions) contests.   You hardly ever see that cross-over competing amongst weightlifters and bodybuilders today, but in John’s era it was not uncommon.  These guys trained to “be strong” as well as “look strong”.   John still has a couple of records in our USAWA Record List.  In the 65-69 age group, 90 KG weight class, he has the record in the Feet in the Air Bench Press with a lift of 175 pounds, and the record in the Heels Together Clean and Press with a lift of 132 pounds.

John did leave a legacy in the USAWA with two official USAWA lifts named after him.  In 2000, John presented these two lifts, the Schubert Clean and Jerk, and the Schubert Clean and Push  Press, to IAWA for official acceptance.  They were accepted by the IAWA that year, and became known as the Schubert Lifts in the USAWA in the beginning.   However, in 2009 when the USAWA Rulebook was majorly overhauled, these lifts were renamed the Reflex Clean and Jerk and the Reflex Clean and Push Press, in order to match the lift names given to these two lifts in the IAWA Rulebook.   I didn’t want the Schubert distinction to be lost, so I made special note in the first line of each rule in the USAWA Rulebook that the reflex lifts are “also known as the Schubert Lifts”.  John Schubert’s name will  be tied to the these two lifts in the USAWA forever! (actually this would be a good rule test question in the future!).

USAWA RULES FOR THE SCHUBERT LIFTS

 
Scott Schmidt performing a Reflex Clean and Push Press (aka a Schubert Clean and Push Press) at the 2010 USAWA Club Challenge. John Schubert had an influence on Scott’s lifting career.

A38.  Reflex Clean and Jerk

This lift is also known as the Schubert Clean and Jerk. The rules of the Clean and Jerk apply with these exceptions.  Once the clean has been made, the lifter must perform a jerk immediately from this position, whether the legs are bent or erect.  There is no pause between the clean and the jerk.

A39.  Reflex Clean and Push Press

This lift is also known as the Schubert Clean and Push Press. The rules of the Clean and Push Press apply with these exceptions. Once the clean has been made, the lifter must perform a push press immediately from this position, whether the legs are bent or erect.  There is no pause between the clean and the push press.

Rep Schemes

by Larry Traub

Dave Glasgow performing a Pullover and Push at the 2011 USAWA National Championships. Larry Traub is in the background to the left "looking on". (photo and caption by webmaster)

 The last two emails I received from Dave Glasgow who has been my lifting partner for the last 40 years, (even though we now live 800 miles apart) went like this.  The first one just encouraged me to start submitting some articles that could be used on the USAWA website.  The second one went exactly like this except for some expletives deleted.  (Only one, which is pretty good for Dave.)

“I was thinking last evening (yeah, laugh, ************). I am doing the 5/3/1 deal and it struck me. I know that you are a fan of the 7 rep system which got me wondering……

Take a weigh that you know you can’t get 7 reps with. Do however many sets it takes to get 7 reps. Example

Set 1… 2 reps, Set 2…2 reps, Set3 … 1rep, Set4…1 rep, Set5…1 rep.  OR

Set 1… 3 reps, Set 2…2 reps, Set3 … 2rep.   OR

Set 1… 4 reps, Set 2…3 reps.  OR

Set 1… 6 reps, Set 2…1 rep.  OR

You see where I am going. As you get stronger, the intensity increases but the volume ALWAYS remains the same. So I think you have a built in safety net of not actually doing the same workout twice.  When you can do one set of seven, that’s it for the day. You add weight the next workout and start over.

Thoughts??”

Well I did think about it and decided to use Dave’s idea as fodder for my article. First you need to realize how hard it is for Dave to take training advice from me.  So, even though he took a principal that I used and altered it beyond recognition before he considered using it, it is still a big step for him.  First, I’m not stuck on seven reps as being a magic number.  What I’m really doing is focusing on the development of the type 2B muscle fibers, which get maximum stimulation for growth when failure of an exercise is reached somewhere around the 7 to 10 rep range.  There are 3 types of fibers. First, the slow twitch type 1 muscle fibers which are stimulated by endurance activity and have no real ability for growth.  These have no real value for a weightlifter and too much endurance activity will result in the loss of our all important fast twitch fibers.   The second type is the type 2A fiber which is the fast twitch fiber that is geared  towards a little more endurance and is stimulated when failure of an exercise is reached somewhere in the 12 -20 rep range. This has some limited potential for growth.  It appears that it’s potential for growth is greatly increased with anabolic drugs so if you read articles about bodybuilders getting great results with high reps you need to consider the possibility of drugs being involved.  The last of course is the 2B muscle fibers which are the fibers that have maximum growth potential for the bodybuilders, and maximum potential for explosive movement which is probably a focus for most every athlete except the extreme endurance athlete.

I am first and foremost a powerlifter, so what I’ve done is taken the squat bench and deadlift and focused on 7 reps as my goal for a particular workout in those lifts. I am staying in the low end of the 7-10 rep range because these are the lifts I will compete in and I want to work with as heavy a weight as possible while stimulating the type 2B fibers.   For most of the other  “assistance” exercises in my workout I use a 10 rep goal because I am generally not concerned about my max on these.  This makes sense on another front also because it’s not really how many reps you do. It’s more about reaching failure in a certain amount of time.  I believe that doing a rep on squat, bench or deadlift will generally take longer than completing a rep on one of my assistance exercises.  For instance it seems reasonable that the time elapsed in doing a set of 7 in the squat might be the same or greater than doing a set of 10 on my hyperextension machine.

The late, great, West Virginia heavyweight , Luke Iams has often been quoted as saying, “Anything over 6 reps is bodybuilding.”  I might agree, but would have to ask, why is that a bad thing? Bodybuilding does not imply that you have to shave your body and get out the Speedos.  It just means that you are concerned with building muscle size which is directly proportional to strength.  My personal experiences with competitive bodybuilding some 30 years ago has made me conscious of training the whole body and maintaining a balanced physique while training at a bodyweight where I am fairly lean. I think this emphasis has aided me in my powerlifting.  It has also, absolutely, been a plus in my latest ventures in USAWA, where eventually every muscle in the body is tested and the bodyweight formula rewards a lean muscular body. 

Of course there is always the concern that the person who focuses on bodybuilding will become narcissistic and egotistical.  Was that a problem in my case?  I would have to say, no, I’m pretty sure those personality traits were probably firmly established before I ever oiled up and took the stage.  Actually, I can remember a time in college where several members of our lifting group were discussing bodybuilding.  I don’t remember details, but I’m guessing the conversation reflected a general disdain for the sport.  I was taken aback when a buddy spoke up and said, “You know, we’re all bodybuilders.”  This guy was on the football team and eventually became a pastor.  I’m sure he had no plans to ever compete as a bodybuilder.  He was just recognizing the fact that we were all enjoying how weightlifting changed the way we looked and the way we felt about ourselves. Maybe that’s OK.

So, what about the lower reps? What purpose does that serve?  Well, a powerlifter has to test his strength levels so he knows what attempts are feasible in a contest.  He also has to give his body, and maybe more importantly, his mind an opportunity to adapt to the heavyweights. But I really think that most of the benefit that lifters experience from doing lifts in the 1-5 rep range is neuromuscular. Training their brain and body to interact is a way that allows a strong signal can be sent to the muscles, so that every available muscle fiber can be recruited for one maximum explosion of power.  I usually switch to the lower reps 4 or 5 weeks away from a contest.  Would I get more benefit from spending more time with the lower reps in my lifting? Who knows, but I am convinced that some combination of the lower reps and the “bodybuilding” could benefit every lifter and probably most every athlete

What about Dave’s idea. Could it result in a nice mix of type 2B fiber development and neuromuscular activity?  Possibly so.  Lifting is definitely not an exact science, but there a lot of science involved.  A lot of different things have worked quite well for a lot of different people. I guess my feeling is this. If you have a better understanding of how all these different factors contribute to the big picture then you might have a little more success in designing the workout that gives you the results you are looking for.

ARE YOU REALLY WORKING HARD?

BY DAVE GLASGOW

Larry Traub performing a 325 pound Zercher Lift at the 2011 USAWA National Championships in route to winning the Overall Best Lifter Award in Larry's first USAWA National Meet appearance. Obviously, Larry has worked out very hard in his life to achieve this accomplishment! (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

ASK ANYONE WHO TRAINS WITH WEIGHTS. ARE YOU WORKING HARD?? NINETY NINE OUT OF A HUNDRED WILL LOOK YOU RIGHT IN THE EYE AND SAY, “YES, I WORK HARD!!” HMMMM…ARE THEY REALLY??

A FEW YEARS AGO, THE WINFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT SPONSERED MY BUDDY AND EARLIEST TRAINING PARTNER, LARRY TRAUB, TO COME AND SPEAK TO THE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES ABOUT LIFTING AND HIS TRAINING PHYLOSOPY.  WITH NUMEROUS NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS AND COUNTLESS NATIONAL CHAMPS TO HIS CREDIT, AS WELL AS HIS OWN RESUME’,  WE FELT HE HAD SOMETHING TO SAY!!  HE WAS SCHEDULED TO TALK FOLLOWING A MORNING WORKOUT BY THE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM.  HE TOLD ME HE WANTED TO GO WORKOUT AT THE SAME TIME AS THE KIDS WERE HAVING THEIR WORKOUTS. LITTLE DID I KNOW THIS WAS REALLY A RECONISCONCE MISSION!!

FOLLOWING THEIR WORKOUT, HIS TALK BEGAN.  LARRY’S PHIOSOPHY CAME OUT AND HE CALLED FOR ONE OF THE LIFTERS OF THAT MORNING’S WORKOUT TO COME FORWARD.  AS I RECALL,  HE WAS ONE OF THE ‘STRONGEST’ OF THAT GROUP AND HAD BEEN SQUATING WITH WHAT I WOULD CALL A MODERATE WEIGHT, FOR FIVE REPS.  THIS SEEMED TO BE ABOUT ALL THE KID COULD HANDLE.  LARRY TOLD THE BOY THAT HE WAS WATCHING HIM SQUAT EARLIER AND, ALTHOUGH HE HAD JUST FINISHED HIS WORKOUT FOR THE DAY, HE (LARRY) WOULD LIKE HIM TO TRY SOMETHING FOR HIM.  LARRY LOADED THE BAR WITH THE VERY SAME WEIGHT THAT THE LAD WAS USING PRIOR AND SAID, “OKAY. I’LL BET YOU THAT, EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE DONE YOUR WORKOUT, YOU CAN DO 10 REPS WITH THE SAME WEIGHT YOU WERE USING BEFORE!”  EVERYONE LAUGHED, THE BOY SEEMED SKEPTICAL BUT SAID HE WOULD GIVE IT A GO.  WITH EACH REP, THE LAD WAS ENCOURAGED TO “GET ONE MORE!”, AND EACH TIME, HE COMPLIDED! UNTIL HE HAD DONE 12 REPS!!

THERE WAS A LOT OF WHISPERING AND GIGGLING BUT THE POINT HAD BEEN MADE. “MAYBE WE NEED TO WORK JUST A LITTLE HARDER!”

I KNOW IN MY OWN CASE, I FIND MYSELF ON AUTO-PILOT, JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS A LOT OF THE TIME.  HOWEVER, THE POINT OF THE WHOLE TALK WAS THE NEED FOR INTENSITY!!  MOST ANY PROGRAM WILL BRING A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF SUCCESS.  BUT, YOU HAVE TO BRING THE INTENSITY IN ORDER TO GET THE FULL BENEFIT OF THE WORKOUT. SO, THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE TRAINING, ASK YOURSELF. “AM I REALLY WORKING HARD!!”  YOU MAY SURPRISE YOURSELF, IF YOU ARE HONEST, WITH THE ANSWER!!

Strongman Nationals

 by Thom Van Vleck

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

2011 USAWA OLD TIME STRONGMAN NATIONALS

Frederick Winters working with a really big Dumbbell at the 1904 Olympics. There were several Dumbbell lifts done at this contest and one is serving as the inspiration for a lift at this years Old Time Strongman Nationals.

The first ever USAWA Old Time Strongman Nationals will be held on Sunday,  Oct. 16, 2011 at the Jackson Weighlifting Club Training Hall.  This will be in conjunction with a fun filled weekend of strength that includes a Scottish Highland Games on Oct. 15th.  If you have ever wanted to try your hand at the Highland Games this is your chance to get two events in one weekend.  There is even a special discounted entry for both!  Soon I will have all the information up at www.jacksonweightliftingclub.com!

First, a quick note on the Highland Games on Saturday.  This will include 7 traditional Scottish feats of strength.  The hammer throws, the Weights for Distance, the Weight Over Bar, the Sheaf stone, the Stone put, and last but not least, the caber toss.

Now, to the Strongman contest.  Earlier this year Al Myers held the first ever USAWA Old Time Strongman contest at the Dino Gym.  It was a great success.  Al and I discussed it and said there ought to be a Nationals each year and I offered to hold it at the JWC Training Hall.  In the coming weeks we will be highlighting the events.  The rules of the lifts are included with the  entry forms.

OLD TIME STRONGMAN LIFTS CONTESTED

Anderson Press

Anderson Squat

Dinnie Lift

1904 Dumbbell to Shoulder

Entry form  for the USAWA Old Time Strongman Nationals (pdf) -  Old Time Strongman Nationals Entry Form

Entry form for the Kirksville Highland Games (pdf) -  Kirksville Highland Games Entry Form

Atomic Athletic Meet

MEET REPORTS and RESULTS

The 2011 Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet

Dave Polzin, at age 61, performed a 220 pound Clean and Push Press at the Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet.

MEET REPORT by Scott Schmidt

On August 20Th, Roger LaPointe was the Meet Director of another fun and successful USAWA All Round Weightlifting event. Located in Bowling Green, Ohio, the competition drew several Hall of Fame members as well as a good amount of new members. I am providing this brief overview for our organization for 2 reasons. One, to inform our readers what took place.  And two, to say Thank You to Roger for his efforts in helping grow our membership by being able to conduct competitions at his facility.

The lifts that took place were; The one arm dead lift, the clean and push press, and the trap bar dead lift. Since we had acceptable weather that day, the competition was held outdoors. Roger will be providing the detailed results from each lifter. I just wanted to let everyone know that we all had fun, many records were set, and a great spirit of camaraderie was felt by all participants.

As we know, to be successful in our sport takes a lot of effort. What was another great characteristic of this event was all the participants enthusiasm. Encouragement to one another, and a happy conclusion with the top 5 athletes receiving medals. Enjoy competing showing your strength? Join the USAWA. You will have an opportunity for recognition and be rewarded for your efforts. We have many lifts to chose from. So if you want to attend a record day meet and see what you can do, I am certain you will enjoy participating in the USAWA. We highly respect the accomplishments of any strength athlete. And you will feel  proud once you can get your name on the record list.

Stay Strong!

MEET REPORT by Roger LaPointe

Boy, we sure had a great day to lift.  Last Saturday, August 20, 2011, turned out to be a beautiful day.  Really, any day with a weightlifting meet that goes without a hitch is a good day, but this was a GREAT day.   The competition platform was outside at the Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend USAWA Meet.  Outdoor meets are always a risk in Northwestern Ohio, we can have all four seasons in one day.  Yet, just as it started to heat up, we had a few clouds roll in, making it slightly overcast.  Perfect.

Meet Highlights

Here are some highlights from a flawless three lift All Round Weightlifting event.  The lifts were: the One Hand Barbell Deadlift, Clean & Push Press, and Trap Bar Deadlift; which were competed at in that order.

The Top 5 Male Lifters, by formula were:

1stPlace: David Polzin

2ndPlace: John McKean

3rdPlace: Dennis Habecker

4th Place: Scott Schmidt

5thPlace: Roger LaPointe

While all the lifting was very well done, I really have to congratulate Dave Polzin for winning Best Lifter.  His first All Round Meet was our Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Picnic Meet, of this last May.   Dave was a National Level Olympic style weightlifter in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s.  Dave’s highest placing was second in the US Nationals, in the 110 kg weight class.  He was known for his powerful clean & jerk, with which he hit 200 kg (440 lbs.).  It was obviously a good background for the All-Rounds, which is not always an easy transition.  Dave had never done a one hand barbell deadlift until last April, yet, on Saturday, he pulled 132.5 kg (292.1 lbs.).  His clean & push press was another world record for his 61 year old age group (60-64 years), at 100 kg.  I believe he has more than that in him and he has to power clean the weight.  Like many of us, his knees are not what they used to be.  Dave had never seen a trap bar until he started training at Atomic Athletic and he pulled 205 kilos (451.9 lbs.).  Today, Dave lifts in the 100 kg weight class.  We hope to see a good deal more of his lifting in the All-Rounds.

Meet Facts

The officiating was outstanding, having five international level officials taking turns as judges.  This was also a drug tested event.  We have had two USAWA events here at Atomic Athletic, with both of them being tested.  There are an increasing number of officials and regular USAWA lifters checking out what we have going on here.  I really think they are most pleased by the number of new lifters we have been bringing into the organization.  There were three brand new lifters competing on Saturday, with many of the new lifters competing for a second time.  While attempting to maintain professionalism, we also like to keep it fun, with a relaxed and positive atmosphere.

Make sure to check out our next meet.  It will be announced in the very near future.  Call me at Atomic Athletic if you have any suggestions for lifts (419)352-5100.

MEET RESULTS

Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet
Bowling Green, OH
August 20th, 2011

Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe

Officials (3 official system used):  John McKean, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Art Montini, Bob Geib

Lifts:  Deadlift – One Arm, Clean and Push Press, Deadlift – Trap Bar

Womens Division

Lifter Age BWT DL-1arm C&PP Trap Total Points
Shannon Watkins 32 76.4 165-R 115 275 555 548.7
Susan Sees 48 89.8 99-R 94 209 402 393.8

Mens Division

Lifter Age BWT DL-1arm C&PP Trap Total Points
Dave Polzin 61 99.5 292-R 220 452 964 999.0
John McKean 65 74.9 264-R 88 341 693 873.9
Denny Habecker 68 88.0 242-R 148 330 720 824.7
Scott Schmidt 58 110.0 275-R 193 358 826 792.2
Roger LaPointe 40 74.6 270-R 165 308 743 752.9
Tom Ballengee 59 79.2 165-R 143 308 616 714.9
Art Montini 83 86.1 176-R 77 242 495 656.1
Bob Geib 68 117.0 154-R 88 375 617 621.8
Tom Montague-Casillas 14 130.1 165-L 132 341 638 567.8
Andrew Titkemeier 32 112.5 0 0 529 529 421.5

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

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Tom Montague-Casillas
Clean and Push Press: 143 pounds

Shannon Watkins
Deadlift – Trap Bar: 286 pounds

Susan Sees
Deadlift – Trap Bar: 220 pounds

2″ Vertical Bar Training Tips

by Ben Edwards

This is Ben's record lift of 251 pounds in the One Hand Vertical Bar Deadlift done at the 2011 Dino Days Record Day last weekend. This is the new ALL TIME Vertical Bar Deadlift record in the USAWA, breaking the record held of 250 pounds by Andrew Durniat. At this same record day, Ben also did a 240 pound LEFT HANDED Vertical Bar Deadlift, which is the highest left handed mark as well! (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

I’m going to share a few tips that have helped me push my record in the 2″ vertical bar significantly higher in my weight class over the past few years. 

The key to this lift is obviously grip strength.  But a sometimes overlooked factor that makes a big difference in the amount of weight that can be lifted is the grip taken on the vertical bar at the start of the lift.   An over grip is the most efficient grip when performing the USAWA version of the 2” vertical bar.  That distinction is made because in other grip contests that I compete in – those that are not USAWA contests – a supinated grip is far more efficient in lifting maximal poundages for most people.   USAWA rules dictate that the weights attached to the vertical bar will be lifted to the required height and then held motionless until the judge gives the down command.   When a supinated grip is used the weights will rotate quite a bit and tend to spin right out of the hand essentially.  The supinated grip is best used to lift heavy weights over short distances – 2” is the minimum height needed to be a contest-legal lift in most non-USAWA grip contests.    An over grip prevents the rotation of the plates and is therefore much more efficient than lifting the weight and then expending energy trying to stop the rotation of the weights before getting the judge’s down signal.   A handshake grip will involve less rotation of the weights than the supinated grip.  But it isn’t as efficient as the over grip in preventing rotation of the weights. 

One simple rule I adhere to in my training is to attempt to do every lift in contest-legal form.  If I fail to perform the lift in contest-legal form I note that in my training log and set my goal for the next workout a little higher than what I achieved in the last workout.   I videotape all of my near-max attempts in training.  While resting for the next set – I review the video to make sure that I performed the lift in contest-legal form.  I also critique my form to make sure that I’m not wasting energy stopping the rotation of the plates (using an over grip usually means that I don’t worry about rotation of the plates) and that I’m pulling the vertical bar in the most direct up-and-down motion as possible.

So to summarize:

  • Use the over grip exclusively in training.

-It is the most efficient grip for the USAWA 2” vertical bar rules. 

  • Perform each lift in contest-legal form. 

-That way when you’re attempting to break a record you won’t have any accidental lapses in form – due to training with a loose style that doesn’t exactly match the contest-legal performance of the lift. 

  • Videotape each near-max attempt in training.

-Review the video to ensure that all of your near-max lifts are performed in contest-legal form so that you won’t have any surprises in a contest setting.

One Inch Vertical Bar

This was a 387 pound 1” vertical bar training lift (December of 2006) that was pulled a little higher than the (non-USAWA) standard grip contest minimum height requirement of 2 inches.  What the photo doesn’t show is that the weights were rotating from the time they left the floor until they touched down again.  Standard grip contests don’t require the rotation of the weights to be stopped – or a judge’s down signal.  These more relaxed rules allow significantly more weight to be lifted compared to the strict USAWA rules.  

Two Inch One Handed Vertical Bar Deadlift by Ben Edwards.

This was my event-winning 2” vertical bar lift from the 2011 USAWA National Grip Championships held at the Dino Gym in February.  You can clearly see the over grip being put to work.  It allowed me to pull the weights straight up – without worrying about having to stop the rotation of the plates – and then lower the weights straight down as quickly as possible after receiving the judge’s down signal. 

Minimizing the time spent holding the weight is of paramount importance in maximizing your poundage lifted.

John W. Schubert

by Scott Schmidt

Recently, one of the Icons of our Strength Sports, John W. Schubert passed away. He was approaching his 90Th birthday. As a tribute to all his involvement with perpetuating weightlifting in my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, I thought it would be appropriate to let our USAWA organization know some of the history of all of John’s success.One of John’s closest ties to All Round Weightlifting was our past President, Howard Prechtel. The fellow Marines trained together, and both loved to conduct competitions in Olympic weightlifting and All Round weightlifting.

John started his weightlifting career in 1940.  By the 1950’s, he won several physique contests. In 1957, he won the Junior National title in Olympic weightlifting. He also started his very well known and extremely successful Olympic Health Club. For years, he coached hundreds of athletes. In addition to his training many National Olympic Weightlifting Champions, John also had a good deal of influence on the success of 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist Chuck Vinci. Based on his coaching and individual success, John has achieved Sports Hall of Fame status at both the Local and National level.

Besides John’s passion to help others reach the very best of their ability, he also had a strong desire to compete himself. Even before the Masters program was introduced, when John was in his 40’s then 50’s, he was often in a medal winning position in his weight class in the Open Division. He stayed very competitive for years. Once he was able to compete in the Masters, not only did he win many titles, he set a tremendous amount of National records. While Olympic weightlifting was his primary sport, John was also highly successful in All Round weightlifting. Again, winning titles and setting records.

Regarding any event involving strength and fitness, John would gladly assist with his connections and organizational ability so the competitions would draw great attendance.

 A true strength sport legend and innovator that helped positively influence and shape the character of hundreds of successful individuals.

May John Rest in Peace. And our thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family.

Dino Days Record Day

by Al Myers

DINO DAYS RECORD DAY

Ben Edwards set the ALL TIME RECORD in the 2" One Arm Vertical Bar Deadlift with a lift of 251 pounds at the Dino Days Record Day.

MEET REPORT

There were not alot of records set today at the Dino Days Record Day, but the ones that were set were great!  Only five lifters showed up on this second day of the two USAWA competitions hosted by the Dino Gym this weekend; Mike Murdock, Scott Tully, Ben Edwards, LaVerne Myers and myself. Mike lead the way with setting records in 9 different lifts, followed by LaVerne with 8, and the rest of us tied at 7.  Every lifter had a record lift which I would call OUTSTANDING, and I had a hard time “choosing” just one feature picture, so I just decided I would show a picture of everyone who lifted, in which I would call their “BEST” record of the day. 

Ben Edwards showed up today to SMASH some USAWA grip records, and that he did.  Ben is the KING of the Vertical Bar, and that was the first lift he set his record breaking sights on.  I have watched Ben several times with the VB, but never have I seen him this strong with it.  He kept going up and up with the weight, finishing with an ALL TIME USAWA record of 251 pounds with his right hand.  This broke the USAWA All-Time mark held by Andrew Durniat of 250 pounds, set at the 2010 Dino Gym Grip Challenge.  I also got to see Andrew set his record, and at the time I wondered if it ever would be broken.  Well, Ben did it!  He also lifted 240 pounds in the 2″ VB with his left hand, setting the highest mark in USAWA history with the left as well.  The next “grip lift” Ben went after was the Fulton Dumbbell (of which handle is 2 inches in diameter).  He did 175 pounds with his left, and 185 pounds with his right. The “185″ is the BEST EVER that has been done in the USAWA with a one handed Fulton Dumbbell. As some of you know, the Fulton Bar lifts utilizing the 2″ handle was named after Kevin Fulton, who was one of the grip-strength pioneers in the USAWA.   It all started that day when Kevin “upset” Wilbur Miller in a competition where a 2″ handle dumbbell was deadlifted with one arm.  Bill Clark “tagged” the name of the Fulton Bar to the 2 inch handle following this incident.  Now Ben better set his goal on Kevin’s best mark from the Old Missouri Valley Record List.   Just to let you know – Kevin Fulton lifted 195 pounds in the One Arm Fulton Dumbbell in 1983.  So get to work Ben!!!

Scott Tully set the ALL TIME RECORD in the Stifflegged Deadlift with a lift of 512 pounds at the Dino Days Record Day.

Scott Tully really did some damage to the Record List today as well.  Scott doesn’t mess around with “sissy lifts” when it comes to breaking records.  He gets right to the hard stuff!  He started off with breaking the record in the Stiff Legged Deadlift with a great lift of 512 pounds.  This not only broke the 125+ KG weight class record that was previously held at 502 pounds by Matthew Doster, but the ALL -TIME USAWA record of 507 pounds held by Ed Schock and myself.  Since I knew Scott was “taking my record down” as well, and I was the head official on his lift, I made sure he kept his legs straight!  This caused Scott to attempt this lift at least 4 times until he finally got it!  And well deserving.   Next Scott went on to some other “hard” lifts like the Fulton Bar Deadlift and the Fulton Dumbbell Deadlifts, of which he got several more records.  Scott is a great grip guy, and should get more recognition for his grip strength.  His One Arm Fulton Dumbbell of 175 pounds was unbelievable, and if it wasn’t for Ben overshadowing him on this day, I would be bragging that record lift up as well.

Mike Murdock set a new age group record in the Trap Bar Deadlift with a lift of 305 pounds.

Mike “Murdo” Murdock set the most records in the most events with 9.  Mike lifted the day before in the Team Nationals and I was surprised that he was planning on doing this much today!  He did a wide range of lifts.   I felt his best record lift of the day was his 305 pound Trap Bar Deadlift.  To me a guy lifting over 300 pounds at the age of over 70 in the Trap Bar Deadlift  is like a young lifter lifting over 600 pounds.  Not too many can do it either!   Mike has had an outstanding year in the USAWA, and has lifted in as many meets as anyone.  I’m keeping an eye on Mike as it won’t be long and he will be in the CENTURY CLUB for holding over 100 USAWA records.  And when he does, I’ll pat him on the back because he will be the first to do it starting in the 70 plus age group!

LaVerne Myers "stole the show" with his 117 pound Dumbbell Walk. The reason this picture is blurry is because he was moving so fast!

My father LaVerne made his faithful appearance today at the record day.  These past couple of years he hasn’t missed an opportunity to lift in the Dino Gym Record Days.  One of his highlights was setting a personal record in the One Handed 2″ Vertical Bar Deadlift with a fine lift of 182 pounds.  I was considering doing the Vertical Bar Deadlift myself but after watching his record setting effort I decided I better not!  I was worried that I might not be able to “measure up” to the standard set by ole Dad!  haha  However, Dad “stole the show” on the last lift contested at this record day – the Dumbbell Walk.   Of course when I got out the Dumbbell Walk handle, I “threw down the challenge” to Ben and Dad so they HAD to participate.  I hadn’t done any grip stuff all day so I was hoping to use this to my advantage  (I’m a crafty one!).   I was mainly concerned about Ben being my primary challenge, and I knew Ben had totally exhausted his grip by this point when he only managed 102 pounds on the Walk. If he would have done this first thing it would have been WAY MORE!  I then played a little “psych out” game with him  and made a big jump to 132 pounds which was outside of both of our limits, but I thought it would “finish of” his grip and then I would drop back and break his 102 mark, which I did with a Dumbbell Walk of 117 pounds.  At that point I thought I had it won, and was shaking Ben’s hand when my Dad, to our surprise, picked up the 117 and made the walk!!!  What can I say???  What a great way to end a record day at the Dino Gym. 

My "highlight lift" was this 772 pound Neck Lift, which is a personal record and USAWA record in the 120 KG weight class.

MEET RESULTS

Dino Days Record Day
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 28th, 2011

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Officials (3-official System used):  Al Myers, Mike Murdock, Scott Tully, LaVerne Myers

Lifts:  Record Day

Scott Tully – 35 years, 346 pounds BWT
Mens Open Age Division & 125+ KG Weight Class

Deadlift – Stiff Legged: 512#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 503#
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 150#
Clean and Push Press – 2 Dumbbells: 210#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 175#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 165#
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells: 290#

Ben Edwards – 36 years, 217 pound BWT
Mens Open Division & 100 KG Weight Class

Snatch – Kelly: 57#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand: 240#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand: 251#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 175#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 185#
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells: 320#
Dumbbell Walk: 102#

Al Myers – 45 years, 256 pounds BWT
Mens 45-49 Age Division & 120 KG Weight Class

Bench Press – Alternate Grip: 330#
Bench Press – Reverse Grip: 330#
Bench Press – Feet in Air: 330#
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 120#
Lateral Raise – Lying: 90#
Neck Lift: 772#
Dumbbell Walk: 117#

LaVerne Myers – 67 years, 246 pounds BWT
Mens Master 65-69 Age Group & 115 KG Weight Class

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand: 125#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand: 125#
Two Hands Anyhow: 70#
Snatch – Kelly: 35#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand: 182#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbell, Right Arm: 135#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 135#
Dumbbell Walk: 117#

Mike Murdock – 71 years, 235 pounds BWT
Mens Master 70-74 Age Group & 110 KG Weight Class

Weaver Stick – Left Hand: 2.5#
Two Hands Anyhow: 100#
Deadlift – Trap Bar: 305#
Lateral Raise – Lying: 70#
Clean and Push Press – 2 Dumbbells: 100#
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 90#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 115#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 115#
Dumbbell Walk: 62#

Team Nationals

by Al Myers

MEET REPORT

Group picture from the 2011 USAWA Team Nationals. (front row left to right): Al Myers, Chad Ullom (back row left to right): Russ Morton, Rudy Bletscher, Mike Murdock, Dean Ross

The 2011 USAWA Team Nationals was again an outstanding success this year.  It contained a couple of  regular teams (Myers/Ullom & Murdock/Bletscher) and one new team that made their debut (Morton/Ross) in team lifting.  Team lifting is MUCH different than just individual lifting. Teamwork is essential in being successful – things like timing and coordination between partners can either help you or hurt you in a big way.  The teams this year seemed very balanced in regards to the lifters size and height.  

Dean and Russ put up the top Team One Arm Dumbbell Press with a lift of 180 pounds.

The Dino Gym brought another new lifter to the USAWA arena in this meet and he did a phenomenal job considering this was his first exposure to the crazy things we do in the USAWA, and I consider this meet an extreme meet in our yearly meet lineup. This man is Russ Morton. He is a VERY seasoned powerlifter who has MANY powerlifting meets under his belt, and it was obvious he was not intimidated in the least by the lifts that faced him.  He teamed with Dean “the Boss” Ross who in my opinion, has made his presence known in the USAWA this year.  Dean is one of the STRONGEST GUYS his age I have ever met.  He powers through any lift whether it requires technique or not, and through brute determination makes big lifts.  These two guys put up the TOP Team One Arm Dumbbell Press of the meet with a fine lift of 180 pounds. I’m sure you are wondering – how do you do a Team one arm dumbbell press??  At first it sounds next to impossible, but after “scratching our heads” awhile we came up with a way.  First of all, there is barely enough room to get two hands on a 6 inch dumbbell handle so the grip on the dumbbell is not the best.  All of us pressed the dumbbell standing to the side of each other facing opposite directions.  So it can be done.

We were entertained during a break in the lifting action when Rudy and Dave sang a harmonized duet.

The second lift was the Team Continental Snatch using the 2″ Fulton Bar.  I was concerned grip might be an issue for the lifters but it wasn’t for anyone.  The difficulty with the lift was the minimal hand spacing on the bar.  You had to use a snatch grip much narrower than the normal snatch width, which made the lift slightly more difficult.  Chad and I had the top lift here with a lift of 320 pounds.  Mike and Rudy made a solid lift of 117 pounds, and Dean and Russ finished with 177 pounds.   Chad and I used a power snatch technique while the other two teams used the hang snatch technique.

Mike and Rudy teamed up for a 175 pound Team Continental to Chest and Jerk. Not too bad for a couple of lifters over 70 years of age!

The third lift was the Team Continental to Chest and Jerk.  Chad and I had the top lift of 452 pounds, which is now the top lift done in this lift in both the USAWA and IAWA record books.  I was hoping that we could also break the mark from the old Missouri Valley Record List which record is an outstanding lift of 463 pounds set in 1983 by two legendary mid-west lifters, Bob Burtzloff and Kevin Fulton.   We simply ran out of attempts and didn’t start high enough.  Maybe next time!!! 

Chad and I had to use some tight teamwork to lift 1000 pounds in the Team 2-bar deadlift.

The last lift done was the Team 2-bar deadlift.  Each lifter gripped each bar just like in the individual 2-bar deadlift.  I actually thought this would be an easy lift for a team to do since the balance issue would be removed that presents when doing this by yourself.  I thought for sure that the lifters could lift more as a team than the sum of their individual lifts.  I was wrong!  This lift turned out to give the lifters the most failed attempts of all the lifts, because if both bars didn’t rise in unison, the weight would “shift” to the lifter on the lower end and force the lifters feet to move.   We tried it all ways – facing away from each other, facing each other, and even standing facing the same direction. I don’t think we ever decided which “lineup” was most favorable.  Mike Murdock took a nasty fall on one attempt after the weight “shifted”.  Luckily, Mike was not hurt (at least he was not bleeding!).   Chad and I had the top lift on this one with a lift of 1000 pounds.  I think we could have done a little more, but at this time we were ready to call it a day and head to town for supper!  Thanks to everyone who showed up to lift, and special thanks goes to Dave Glasgow for serving as the official the entire day.

MEET RESULTS

USAWA Team Nationals
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 27th, 2011

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Dave Glasgow

Lifts:   Team Press – Dumbbell, One Arm, Team Continental Snatch – Fulton Bar, Team Continental to Chest and Jerk, Team Deadlift – 2 bars

Lifters:

OPEN AGE GROUP & 115 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Al Myers – 45 years, 253# BWT
Chad Ullom – 39 years,  244# BWT

MASTERS 50-54 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Dean Ross – 68 years, 281# BWT
Russ Morton – 50 years, 275# BWT

MASTERS 70-74 AGE GROUP & 105 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Mike Murdock – 71 years, 231# BWT
Rudy Bletscher – 75 years, 217# BWT

RESULTS

Lifters DB Press Snatch C&J DL Total Points
Myers/Ullom 175-R 320 452 1000 1947 1535.4
Ross/Morton 180-R 177 253 617 1227 1019.9
Murdock/Bletscher 90-R 117 175 440 822 896.7

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

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Murdock/Bletscher: MASTERS 70-74 AGE GROUP & 105 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Ross/Murdock: MASTERS 65-69 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Dean Ross:  MASTERS 65-69 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 70#
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 70#
Swing – 2 Dumbbells: 100#

Time Change for Team Nationals

by Al Myers

ANNOUNCEMENT

There has been a time change for TEAM NATIONALS this weekend on Saturday, 27th.   Weighins will begin at 12:00, and the meet will start immediately following this.  Note that this is two hours later than announced earlier.   I have not received very many entries, and the attendance looks to be small so meet time won’t be an issue and we should still be done by 4 PM.  I just want to give everyone plenty of time for travel Saturday morning.

Just for Laughs – HASA Humor

by Thom Van Vleck

If you have read these newsletters for awhile you have heard me give my buddy Mitch Ridout no end of trouble because he has always been gifted as an athlete, but rarely seriously trains.  He has jokingly told me he is in a “recuperation” phase and has been for several years.  Every time I call, inevitably I ask Mitch if he is working out or still in his recuperation phase.   Well, recently, when I called I found out the Ol’ Mitch-meister has added a whole new dimension to his routine.  He is now in the “Visualization” Phase of his workout.  He told me he is visualizing how he will soon be working out and until he has a clear mental picture he doesn’t want to push himself beyond what he is capable.  Well……I’ve know Mitch for a loooonnnng time, and if he’s waiting for a “clear” mental picture…..we might be in for a wait for his next “phase”.  And by then, he may need to recuperate some more.

CREDIT:  The Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #7, Issue #1

(Webmasters notes:  Well, I guess the vacation is over.  I hope everyone enjoyed these past exerpts from the Braemar Stone Tablet.   I promise that tomorrow I will get back to business as usual with the USAWA Daily News. But I gotta tell ya – there’s a lot more good stuff in the series of the Braemar Stone Tablet that I could rerun if I need a vacation again!  )

Accepting the Aging Process

by Thom Van Vleck

None of these guys are showing any sign of aging any time soon! This "unretouched" photo shows that lifting keeps you youthful! Joe Garcia, Chad Ullom, Al Myers, LaVerne Myers, and Thom Van Vleck getting ready to down Cheese Steak Sandwichs in Philadelphia before the Heavy Event Nationals!

I have said it before, the USAWA sometimes seems like a retirement sport for lifters.   The organization has it’s fair share of older lifters and I think it’s great.  I don’t think it has anything to do with it being an organization for older lifters but everything to do with the wide variety of lifts available to the lifters.  This allows those who have injuries that keep them from Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, or strongman meets to stay active and still make gains.

I have known Joe for at least 25 years, Al and Chad for 17 years, and have really gotten to know LaVerne that last 5 years.  We have all had long lifting careers and our fair share of injuries.  And yet, in the photo above we don’t seem to have a SINGLE grey hair…at least in our beards….that PROVES lifting keeps you young!

In particular, I have known Al through having his bicep reattached not once, but TWICE on his right arm a ONCE on his left.  Yet he continues to plug away breaking record after record.  Had he stuck to just powerlifting or just Highland games, that would have been difficult to do.   So that’s a second reason the USAWA is popular among older lifters, they can keep setting records and that keeps them motivated to lift hard.

Many of you know, but maybe a few don’t, that Al was a high ranked Professional Highland Games Athlete.  He even held a Pro world record!  That’s no easy feat!  It’s actually how I met him and not through my affiliation with Bill Clark and Bob Burtzloff (Al’s brother in law).  That was just one of those “small world” deals that we found out later.   There was a time when Al “retired” from throwing.  I was personally pretty sad about this because I had enjoyed our many road trips to Highland Games.  Al told me one time it was hard to stay motivated about throwing when he knew he’d peaked in that sport and would likely never be as good a thrower as he was when he was at his prime.  However, in the USAWA he could still find lifts that he could work on and set not only USAWA records in, but personal bests, too.  And that keeps a guy motivated about his training when he feels he can keep setting “personal bests”!

Now, the photo above, to be honest, was “retouched” just a little.  Al recently dyed….errrrr…I mean “highlighted” his beard because when he grew it back after a long absence (Al used to sport a beard for most of the early years I knew him) it had gotten a little grey…..OK, let’s be honest, it was as snow white as Santa’s beard!   So Al “highlighted” it a little and we gave him a hard time about it.  But seriously, Al is an ageless wonder and I have no doubt that someday he will challenge Art Montini, Dennis Habecker, and the other top record holders for most records ever.

USAWA is a sport that keeps you young at heart!

The Anvil Tree

by Al Myers

People often ask Thom where his fascination with anvils began.   It all started with a blow to the head…..

"All right Thom, you just go right ahead! I've warned you enough times about playing under the anvil tree!"

CREDIT:  The Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #4 Issue #2

HASA Winter Banquet

by Thom Van Vleck

(Webmasters note:  Every year HASA, Heart of America Scottish Athletes, would host a winter banquet where impromptu competitions and awards are given out to the members.  I always enjoy these banquets, and the camaraderie shared between friends.  The best part of the banquet is the “gag gifts”.  We each take turns making fun of each other.  Sorta like a roast.  Today I’m going to share the report from one of the best banquets HASA ever had,  the 2002 Winter HASA Banquet, which was covered in the Braemar Stone Tablet by Thom Van Vleck)

This year we had the HASA awards banquet at the community center.  Steve and Becky were in charge and everyone was asked to bring a carry in dish.   It was more laid back than in the past and I personally enjoyed it.  People could hang out, do whatever they wanted (which for us included pulling out a caber and trying to throw it in a tree).

We again had the “Stone Cold Heavies” contest with a WOB contest.   I had some mugs made up for awards, everyone that entered could get one.  Eleven gus and two gals entered for fun and bragging rights.  The final winners were as follows:

Men: Al Myers first (14 ft), Chad Ullom and Thom Van Vleck second (tie) (12 ft).
Women:  Lori Myers and Leslie Kress first (tie) (12 ft)

I would like to point out that Kevin McAllister beat out his brother Shawn for 10th place when he touched the bar at 10ft with the handle after both cleared 9ft.  Shawn failed to “touch” the bar and in a little known rule, Kevin declared himself the winner by virtue of “touching” the bar.

We had a little impromptu contest where the guys threw the 28 for height. Pretty fun stuff.

As for the awards winners for the year:

Al Myers: Angus Award (top athlete)
Dave Glasgow: Sportsmanship Award
Mike McGhee:  Most Improved Award (and most injured, too)
Scott Campbell:  Best Newcomer

We then handed out “gag” awards and had a blast.  Some notable awards included Dave Henderson’s propeller driven hammer for Steve Scott, who immediately vowed he would throw it “down hill” to pick up extra distance.  Below is a report on another gag award (luckily, the editor of this newsletter has a tremendous sense of humor and is a wonderful person…..Paybacks, Al, Paybacks….)

From Al Myers:

Thom Van Vleck accepting the insulated jockstrap award at the 2002 HASA Banquet, given to him by Al Myers. This gag award was given to Thom because he would always host his fall Highland Games on one of the coldest days of the winter.

I had a great time at the HASA Baquet last weekend.  I finally got my pictures developed and had a good one of Thom accepting his insulated jockstrap award.  I can only guess what he is mumbling to himself as he looks down –

1.  “Hey buddies, we are going to get a warm winter!”
2.  “This jockstrap is furrier than I am!”
3.   “Hey everyone – do you think it could cover this bald spot!”
4.  “I wonder how I am going to get this over my kilt!”
5.  “If I wore this thing backwards, it would be a thong!”

That Al, He’s a funny man…….Paybacks, you hear me Al, Paybacks…..

(Webmasters comment:  So now you know, Thom and my rivalry goes back LOTS of years and he is STILL trying to get the upper hand on me!  Since then I have to add Thom’s comment number 6. )

6.  ” I better wear this when I visit the Dino Gym so I can have some padding for protection for when I run into the Enforcer!”

CREDIT:   The Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #4, Issue #4

Just for Laughs: Scotty “Caber Killer” Campbell

by Thom Van Vleck

This issue we spotlight a relatively new athlete to HASA:  Scotty “Caber Killer” Campbell. (Scotty elicited these comments recently)

Scotty "The Caber Killer" getting ready to slay another caber. That's me standing there with my hand on the caber and head bowed. I'm PRAYING that the Caber Killer won't turn this nice innocent caber into firewood! (photo credit Al Myers)

I first met Scotty at the Heathen Games (AKA Wakenny Games, Festival of Beltane, and Seamus’s Follies).  It was there I first detected his disdain for the big stick.  In particular when the rest of us were turning their biggest stick with our eyes closed and one hand tied behind our back, I noticed that the Caber Killer first showed his face, much like Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk.  Scotty couldn’t get a turn and he slammed the stick down (at the time I thought it was an accident), and snapped the end.  But now, I know it was the ……CABER KILLER!!!!!!

Liam had these comments in regards to the Backyard Games:

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.  Fine games.  Except for the weather.   Try to order better weather next time.  And maybe you could use a rubber tree for your next caber.   Then maybe Scott “the Caber Slayer” Campbell can be thwarted in his attemp to rid the universe of evil timber.  The rain forest must shudder at the mere mention of his name.

Then “Big Shot” Al Myers weighed in (pun intended) with this comment:

As for a good solution to keep Scotty from breaking cabers, just put a price sticker on them!!!

AD’s beware.  The Caber Killer is lurking near your meet this summer.  Unless, of course, he becomes too whipped after his wedding and we never see him again. (Sorry, Scott, couldn’t resist, I guess you’ll show her who wears the pants in your family…..uhhhh….poor choice of words.)

CREDIT:  The Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #5, Issue #1

Ban the Spin

by Thom Van Vleck

(Webmaster’s notes:  The following is an editorial written by Thom Van Vleck 10 years ago in the Braemar Stone Tablet regarding his dislike of the spin in the Highland Game height events.  I found this editorial very ironic and humerous on so many levels because since then Thom has totally changed his tune and is now an advocate for the spin.  He has used the spin in the 42# WOB to set a World Record and numerous game records.  But he sure gives a good argument why the spin should be banned!!!!  How does it feel Thom to have to EAT YOUR WORDS??????)

Thom Van Vleck utilizes the spin in the Weight Over Bar to perfection. In 2005, Thom set the All-Time World Record in the 42# WOB with a toss of 20'6". He has won or tied in the WOB at 3 World Championships (2004, 2007, and 2010). (photo credit Kevin Viet)

Recently, there have been some innovations in technique in the highland games.  Namely, the spin on the sheaf and WOB.  I have talked to a great many people about this and want to make their voices heard and to give my own opinion.  You don’t have to like it, or even agree, but I think this is something we need to address before it goes too far. 

A couple of years ago we began to see a few guys spinning on the sheaf.  This year Harrison Bailey (I think) began spinning on the WOB.  This has started to push some records up, and will no doubt continue to do so.  I am opposed to the new techniques on several grounds.

First, they are dangerous. About a hundred years ago a woman was struck and killed in Canada by a wayward hammer.  The man that threw it was so despondent he never competed again.  I know how I would feel if I were responsible for a tragic accident.  I would feel just as responsible as an Athletic Director who allowed unsafe practices to go on.  It was also around that time that there was an innovation in technique.  The athletes began to spin with the hammer.  Yes, much like the Olympic hammer, the athletes would spin and throw the hammer.  However, they quickly realized how dangerous this was and the practice was stopped. I feel that spinning with the sheaf could lead to serious injury as I witnessed Mike Smith flatten a metal chair with a wayward sheaf toss (old style) in McPherson a couple of years ago.  A twenty pound sheaf could seriously hurt an adult and kill a child.  I won’t even go into what a 56 could do raining down from 15 plus feet in the air.

An answer to this would be to create large safe areas, but you push the crowds back when you do that and isolate the athletes even more.  That is a problem within itself.  Many venues I have been to are limited to a confined space and a large field is out of the question.  I want the crowds in as close as they can get, especially the children.  Otherwise, why not go throw in somebody’s back yard?

My second issue with the techniques is they take away the power events.  The Sheaf and the WOB were relatively simple to execute and the strongest guys would usually prevail in these events. There was no hiding your true level of strength.  Making them technical will take away from that aspect.  You also have a great many guys that are strong and love this sport, but have difficulty with the spinning events who will now be left out.  I will admit that I am one of those guys.  The WOB and sheaf, as well as the caber, were my best events.  I do not consider myself athletic, but I have built considerable strength over the years through weightlifting.  By making the event more athletic you will alienate a majority of athletes who are either not as athletic, don’t have the time to work on technique (i.e. have jobs, families), or do this for the love of the sport. YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE SELF-BUILT ATHLETE WHO MAY NOT BE BLESSED, BUT CAN BUILD ON WHAT HE OR SHE HAS THROUGH WEIGHT TRAINING.

Al Myers (left) and Thom Van Vleck (right) squared off against each other a couple of years ago in a 56# WOB contest, infamously referred to now as the WOB Border War. The rules of the contest required it be a traditional standing toss, in which the spin would not be allowed. I issued this challenge to Thom because I felt he had snubbed the standing toss and everything he once believed in! Chad Ullom served as the official, and due to his incompetence the outcome was questionable as to who had actually won. We each claimed victory, but Chad determined it a tie. (photo credit Chad Ullom)

An answer to this issue would be to only allow the spin in the A class and Pros.  The idea being that once you reach that level you should have worked on the technique enough that you would be safe as well as guys capable and have the time to master the style.  I do not agree with this, but would go along with this solution.

Third, it is hard on equipment.  I have run meets and they are quite expensive.  Al Myers made a good point to me that I feel every athlete should hear. On average at a good meet the AD will spend about $100 per athlete.  The most I have ever paid for entry is $20.  The rest is absorbed through sponsers, gate (which we all know is not great unless you are in a huge games), and straight from the pockets of the AD’s.  Plus sweat and toil equity.  I personally don’t want to have 3 sets of sheaf standards and WOB standards for back ups because the others are getting tore up.  And they will be once everyone starts doing these styles.  You run one meet and you will see how tore up the equipment gets and just how expensive it is to fix it back up.

The simple answer would be to make the athletes more financially responsible.  Higher entry fees or make them agree to pay for repairs to anything damaged by an errant throw.  I don’t want to do this at my meets so I will likely limit the Super A’s to the option of the spins and only if they can demonstrate they have mastered it enough in warm ups they won’t be be a threat to anyone.

While I personally would like to do away with the spinning styles this is not my sport to make demands.  I am not a cry baby and will adapt if that is what I have to do.  I have just heard so many complaints about it I felt I should lead a charge.  If no one follows then I will look foolish (as I have many times before) and walk back and get in line with my fellow athletes to learn the new styles.  If you agree, get on the chat rooms, talk to the AD’s, and organizations (NASGA, RMSA, SAAA, SSAA, etc).  Let’s make the push to make hard decisions on this matter before it goes too far.  Otherwise, it is moving along and until someone get hurt the athletes are going to do whatever it takes to get an edge.

CREDIT:  The Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3, Issue #2

How to make your training more productive

by Al Myers

(Webmasters note:  This was a story I wrote for the Braemar Stone Tablet several years ago that applied to Highland Game training, but it contains ideas that can be applied to All-Round Weightlifting as well.  I had actually forgot that I had written this!)

Nothing inspires your training as much as good training partners. I was fortunate to have two of the best training partners around when I was training the Highland Games. This is the three of us when we competed together at the 2005 Inverness Highland Games in Scotland. Pictured left to right: Chad Ullom, Al Myers, and Scott Campbell

The throwing season is upon us again!  Time to dust off those hammer boots and put a new coat of paint on the throwing implements!  It always amazes me how fast the winter goes and all that off-season weight training that you have been doing to make you a better thrower never seems to be enough. It is now time to hit the throwing field and put in time with the throwing weights.  I want to share some of the things I have learned (mostly the hard way!) about how to make your training more productive.  These are the 5 most important things to focus on in making your training better.

1.  Set workout times - This is critical.  It is too easy to procrastinate if you don’t have a scheduled workout time.  Saying too yourself that I’ll workout a couple of days this week after work, if I’m not too tired, if it is not too hot or cold, if nothing good is on TV, won’t do it!  Even if time only permits one workout a week, plan for that day and then no matter what DO IT!!! Remember, the highland games are not a leisure activity!

2.  Keep a training log – How in the world are you going to be able to evaluate different training programs if you don’t have a good record of what you have done?  I know, there days that really suck and you wish not to remember them, but at least put something in a training log!  Maybe you are over-training?  Maybe you have a nagging injury that is keeping that one throw down? These are the things you want to avoid and by looking at what you have done leading up to it, it may be avoided in the future.  This is where a log helps!  I often look back at my log from previous years and evaluate training programs that worked for me and those that don’t .  Remember, it doesn’t really count if you don’t write it down!

3.  Set Goals - I know, everyone knows this.  You always hear guys saying I want to do this and I want to do that.  By next August, I’m going to throw that light hammer 150 feet!! Yeah right!!!  There are goals and then there are dreams!!!  To me, goals are something that you are actually taking steps in working towards, whereas dreams are those thing that you imagine doing while sitting on the couch eating Doritos. Goals need to be specific, and along with them the steps needed to accomplish them.  They need to be realistic, and they need to be short-term.  Long-term goals are okay, but will not give you the focus you need today!  Again, write these goals down, and develop a plan to achieve them.  Remember, real success is achieving what you set out to do!

4.  Get information - To be a better thrower, you need to continually learn.  Never tell yourself that you know it all.  Listen to the experts.  Look at tapes. Read everything you can get on the games.  Get feedback from other athletes.  Spend time watching other throwers and studying them.  Then after you do all of this, forget most of it!! What you ask?  Let me tell you something – there are no magic secrets, just good advice and bad advice.  It is up to YOU to tell the difference!!!  What works for one athlete won’t for another.  You have to find out those things that work for you.  And whatever you do, don’t change your throwing on game day because someone gave you a good tip right before you stepped up to the trig!  Take these “pointers” home and find out in training if they are good or bad.  I know that all throwers mean well and want to help out their fellow comrades, but this trick of giving someone a good “pointer” right before they throw is one of the oldest psych-out tricks in the book!!! Get information and study it at home and try to apply it to your training program.  Remember, it is not illegal to “steal” throwing information! 

5.  Have fun – This can sometimes be overlooked.   It is easy to put so much pressure on yourself that sometimes fun can be lost.  Enjoyment and having fun is one of the reasons that drew you to the games in the first place, but it is easy to drift away from this as you get more dedicated and focused.  I know, it has happened to me in the past.  Sometimes you have to step back, and ask yourself, what do I need to do to enjoy this more?  Maybe you need a different training environment for awhile.  Go to the park until they kick you out.  Maybe try a new training program.  Do a little traveling on the weekends and find other athletes to train with.  Training with other athletes will help with training enthusiasm greatly!!  In the past, I have done a lot of training by myself, and I can tell you, it is a lot more fun to have other athletes that can share in the throwing agony with you!!  Having fun, and enjoying the sport for what it is will go a long way in making those training sessions better.  Remember, you can’t set a personal record in every training session, but you can have fun trying.

I know I didn’t address any specifics, but these general points are the ones to focus on first in making your training more productive.  You may notice that I didn’t mention anything about having good implements.  Good implements are nice to have and may improve your self-esteem, but believe it or not they are not critical in improving as a thrower.  I know a lot of throwers that have homemade weights and made a lot of progress with them.  Don’t use this as an excuse that you don’t have the weights to train with or the weights you have aren’t Dodd weights.  Improvise, get something and start training!  I hope that these ideas will help a little in making your throwing season this year the best ever.  Consider yourself lucky to be involved.

CREDIT:   the Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3, Issue #1

Just for Laughs – the King of Beasts Training System

by Thom Van Vleck

What do the two guys on the left and the lion on the right have in common? They both follow the King of Beasts Training System. The program's innovator Mitch Ridout is pictured on the left, and his one pupil Tedd Van Vleck is to his right.

It is my goal in life to make the King of Beasts or KOB training system as famous as the ab roller or Tony Little’s “Gazelle” fitness system.  As a matter of fact, when you think of Mitch think of Tony Little.  For those of you unfamiliar with the KOB it is based heavily on Mitch’s keen observation of the “real” KING OF BEASTS, the mighty lion.  The lion lays around all day “recuperating” (a key principle).  He only gets up for a contest (fight) and for sex (Mitch’s wife is expecting twins).  Diet is primarily very rare meat and lots of it, followed by extended slumber.

Anyhow, the KOB training tip of the month has to do with cross training.  Mitch has taken up Scotland’s “other” sport (no, not curling). Golf, yes, GOLF!  They call it a sport and I guess it is one.  Mitch likes to cross train with golf as it requires little real effort and if you have a cart it requires almost no effort at all.  Plus, it can be quite satisfying to the ego.  Afterall, Mitch could never throw the hammer or 28 a hundred yards and he can hit a golf ball almost that far….all in the air, too.  Mitch really wows them when he takes his driver three turns around like his hammer before actually hitting the ball.  Occassionally, he actually lets go of the driver and tape measures it before moving on to the bunkers. 

So the tip of the month is:  Cross training with Golf!!!  You’ll feel like the KING OF BEASTS!!! 

(Webmaster’s comment:  The KOB Training System must be catching on.  I hear another JWC member, Tedd Van Vleck, has taken it up as well, and is making an attempt at Golf.  It is also rumored that Tedd has purchased a Big Green Egg to add the meat element to the KOB program he’s on.  Don’t be discouraged Tedd, as succeeding on two out of three key parts of the KOB Program is not that bad!!!!)

CREDIT:  Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #1, Issue #3

Just for Laughs – more funny stuff

by Thom Van Vleck

Recently, Kevin McAllister asked some of his fellow HASA athletes for their training routines.  Some of them were so important to development of the all round athlete I felt I should include them in this newsletter.

Here was Larry Ventress’ response:

Off season:  Lift like hell, throw a little bit
In season:  Lift like hell, throw a little bit more
Results:  I still stink
Post season: Depression sets in
Results:  The oreo cookies come out
Post Cookies:  Feel guilty about not training and eating too many cookies.
Results:  Lift like hell, throw a little bit and get ready for next year.

It’s a vicious cycle!  Hope this helps, Larry.

Al Myers replied:  I also “cycle” train like Larry, but mine goes like this.

Off season:  Powerlift as hard as possible to get stronger and tighten up all tendons/muscle groups
Early season:  Throw as hard as possible and loosen up all tendons/muscle groups
In season:  Pull or tear some major tendon/muscle groups.
Next year:  Start it all over again!!!

Mitch Ridout clean and pressing the Jackson Anvil. Mitch often won this "challenge event" following past HASA Highland Games. I believe his best effort was 14 reps with the 150# anvil - quite amazing! (photo courtesy of Al Myers)

Now, I will include Mitch Ridout’s “King of Beasts” Training Routine for the Highland Games.  Mitch believes strongly in the “KOB”.  It dictates a focus on recuperation.  Mitch say, “It is during the recuperation phase that muscle is actually built, the act of working out actually tears down muscle. Look at our friend, the mighty Lion, the KING OF BEASTS.  He will lay around all day getting up only to eat, have sex, or to deal with competition and he carries a mighty frame of muscle.”  Now, I can tell you….. I have watched Mitch train and he fervently believes in the KOB philosophy.  I have also had to listen to him sleep.  That guy can fall asleep before his head hits the pillow and his snoring will rattle window panes.  I also know that he follows the eating part religously, eating copious amounts of red meat in one sitting.  As for the sex part, you would have to ask his wife or Kevin McAllister as I do know Kevin invited him to “sleep” over one weekend when Kev’s wife was out of town.

COMING TOMORROW – THE DETAILS OF THE KOB TRAINING SYSTEM

CREDIT:  Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3, Issue #1

NE Record Breaker

by Frank Ciavattone

MEET RESULTS – NEW ENGLAND RECORD BREAKER DAY

The meet was very successful, and I have the results, which will be  given from youngest to oldest.  This meet celebrates my 4 month anniversary of my cancer operation.  Though my lifts weren’t great, I  hope they can inspire others to never give up and continue to do what  they love no matter what challenges they may be faced with.  The officials were Joe Sr. and Mike Obrien for myself.  For Joe Sr it was myself and Mike Obrien, and for Mike it was Joe Sr and me.  The rest of the lifters were reffed by myself, Joe Sr, and Mike Obrien.  Everyone did great. Highlights include Joeys big reverse grip bench of 305 pounds, Joe Jrs 525lb deadlift, and the highest ever done on the one hand dumbell deadlift by Jeff!   Thanks to everyone involved in the meet, and to all that read this. 

MEET RESULTS

New England Record Breaker Day
Frank’s Barbell Club
Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Lifts: Record Day

Officials (3 official system used on all lifts): Frank Ciavattone, Joe Ciavattone Sr., Mike O’Brien

Jonathan Ciavattone - Age 16 years, BWT 241 pounds
(Mens 16-17 Age Group, 110 KG Weight Class)

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm:  200#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand: 200#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand: 175#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 225#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 130#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 130#
Right Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 20#
Left Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 20#

Joe Ciavattone, Jr. – Age 18 years, BWT 220 pounds
(Mens 18-19 Age Group, 100 KG Weight Class)

Deadlift: 525#
Bench Press – Hands Together: 225#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Right Hand: 150#
Curl – Cheat: 166#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″ Left Hand: 100#
French Press: 145#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 225#
Right Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press:  20#
Left Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 20#

Mike O’Brien – Age 29 years, BWT 158 pounds
(Mens Open Age Group, 75 KG Bodyweight Class)

Right Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 20#

Jeff Ciavattone – Age 31 years, BWT 240 pounds
(Mens Open Age Group, 110 KG Weight Class)

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 402#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Left Hand: 200#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 392#
Right Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 50#

Joe Ciavattone, Sr. – Age 43 years, BWT 246 pounds
(Mens 40-44 Age Group, 115 KG Weight Class)

Bench – Right Arm: 108#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Right Hand: 185#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Left Hand: 177.5#
French Press: 155#
Right Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 20#
Left Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 20#
Bench Press – Reverse Grip: 305#

Frank Ciavattone – Age 56 years, BWT 264 pounds
(Mens 55-59 Age Group, 120 KG Weight Class)

Bench Press – Hands Together: 185#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Left Hand: 145#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Right Hand: 175#
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Left Arm: 135#
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Right Arm: 135#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 192#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 192#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 110#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 22#
Right Hand Pinch Grip Clean and Press: 20#

Just for Laughs – Dave Glasgow is “My Personal Stalker”

by Thom Van Vleck

(Webmasters note:  This was written by Thom 10 years ago in the Bramaer Stone Tablet, but I think he was on to something.  Since I have just reread this, I have taken notice that Dave is “lurking” in the background of several pictures I have of Thom.  IS THIS JUST A COINCIDENCE??? )

Thom Van Vleck (right) and his stalker Dave Glasgow (left).

I am writing this to make everyone aware that Dave Glasgow is stalking me, and just in case he is successful and I am found dead under “mysterious” circumstances.  You may be next.

1.   I am judging the Mid-America Masters in 2002.   Dave is throwing the 22lb hammer and I am safely behind the cage carefully watching him for any transgression of the rules.  Suddenly, the hammer head comes off the handle and it punctures the cage hitting me in my ankle.  The impact tattooed the pattern of my sock into the ball of my ankle.  Luckily, my “cat like” reflexes allowed me to move before the hammer took my whole leg off causing me to bleed to death.  I’m not sure how Dave got that hammer head to come off at that precise moment, but he’s old and crafty (esp. old).  Then, and I’m not sure how he did it, but when I got home my water heater had burst flooding my house.  I’m not sure how he drove 185 miles to my house and sabotaged my water heater (after all, it was only 20 years old and barely half covered with rust), but he did it and got back to KC in between throws.

I took this picture a few weeks ago at the Ledaig Record Breaker. I didn't notice it at the time, but doesn't it look like Dave is "eyeballing" Thom? But then again do I blame him - I would be doing the same if Thom was carrying on a private conversation with MY WIFE! (photo by Al Myers)

2.  At that time, I was thinking it just a coincidence.  However, as I read through an old issue of Dan DeWelt’s old magazine I spied a picture of me throwing the stone.  Not that it was unusual that there was a picture of me, a top notch athlete (I would say world class, but I don’t like to brag….my wife once told me that…. but she stuttered at the end which made it sound like she said “World class ass”, but that was just a stutter… I’m sure).  At any rate, as I admired the picture of myself and the fine form I was demonstrating I saw it.  There he was, Dave Glasgow, standing in the background staring at me.  Obviously, he was casing me out at that early time, but I had been unaware.  But now I was on to him.

After a hot day throwing at the Ledaig Highland Games, Thom stripped down and cooled off in the tank. Of course I had to take his picture. But wait.... I think I recognize that kilt in the background!!!! Is it the stalker??? (photo by Al Myers)

3.   I began to notice Dave was everywhere.  It seemed that nearly half the highland games I went to, Dave was there, too.   Obviously this was getting serious.  He was following me.  But I had to be cool, and not let him know I was onto him.  I needed to keep the element of surprise on my side.  I told only a few my suspicions, but they all obviously agreed.  When I pointed out the picture of Dave “stalking” me, Steve Scott looked at me and laughed (obviously to keep from arousing suspicions) and said, “Oh, sure, obviously”.  And then he quickly left and didn’t talk to me again all day, which I am sure was to keep from arousing suspicions.

4.  Most recently, Dave came up to my HASA championships.  Sure, he was acting so nice, giving me a pitch fork, custom made, and acting as a judge for me.  But I was on to him.  However, Dave is a crafty one.  I was able to keep him in my sites all day, but the bastard waited until I was asleep.  He came out and sabotaged my sewer line that night causing my basement to flood.  Then, just to rub salt in the wound, he came out to my house to “visit” me and then when I went to show him my basement workout area only to find it flooded, he pretended he didn’t know a thing and actually tried to help me fix it.  Oh sure, he seems like a nice guy, but let this be your warning.  Dave Glasgow is a Stalker!!!!!!!!!!!

CREDIT:  The Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #4 Issue #4

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Just for Laughs – Caber Hills

by Thom Van Vleck

Caber Hills – A new, exclusive gated community for the Heavy Events Athlete

This may not be Caber Hills, but the JWC Throwing Field is one of the best Highland Game Fields around. It is complete with permanent standards, hammer cage, and pre-set trig boards. (photo and caption by Al Myers)

I have found investors (mostly golfers who are tired of being terrorized by us) who have agreed to provide the financing for Caber Hills.  This will be a gated community, mostly gated to keep us in rather than anyone else out, and will cater exclusively to the Heavy Events Athlete and his or her special needs.

Homes:  Caber Hills will be built exclusively from log homes that will include nothing but cabers turned at 12:00.  Our expert crew will build our home with a Heavy Events theme.  Hammer and caber wall paper, all caber wall construction, stair way rails made out of hammers, Braemar Stone fireplaces, 28lb light fixtures, Grandfather clock with caber hands and a hammer pendulum, and 56lb counter weights.

Club House:  The Caber Hills Club House will include a computerized throwing range.  A projector will show the fields of some of the greatest games sites in the world.  Such as Estes, Pleasanton, McFearsome, Calendar, Scotland, and more.  Athletes throws will be computed and a high speed digital camera will analyze technique.  The club house menu will include beer, Cokes, and 3lb T-Bones.  Nothing else.  The Pro Shop will include 50 kinds of tacky, Hammer adjustments, Bobby Dodd, Malcolm Doying, and premier equipment.  A massage therapist will be on hand that looks a lot like that St. Pauli Beer Girl.

Field:  The Athletic field will be the finest in the world.  A shooting range will offer buckets of hammers, 28’s, 56’s, and stones (large or small buckets).  Our ball boy drives a tank.  Exploding Hammers are offered on a limited basis.  The athletic field is all natural grass with constant divot repair.   Flat and sloped fields are offered.  Caddies will retrieve weights and are equipped with engineering equipment to find the slope.  Heavy Event Carts (much like golf carts, but 4 wheel drive and a 350 cubic inch, 4 barrel carb) are provided free of charge to members.  There is a Braemar Putting Green and a Caber Fairway.  Cabers available in increments of one inch and one pound all the way up to “Seqouia” size. 

Call today to reserve your building site at 1 (GET) – CABERED.  And remember Caber Hills….”where we always round up” and we never, ever, never, use a knock off bar.

CREDIT:  The Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3  Issue #3

Just for Laughs: Gym Etiquette Part 2

by Thom Van Vleck

Here is the rest of the list of Gym Etiquette that I made fun of last issue.

7.  Don’t hog the drinking fountain.  “If you have seven people waiting in line behind you, don’t start filling up your two gallon jug,” St. Michael says.

Thom sez: You want some water, pansy?  Then come and get it ’cause it’s cold, tasty, and quite satisfying here at the head of the line!!!  And my gallon jug ain’t full yet!

(Webmasters note:  and THAT explains why you are always ALSO standing in line for the toilet instead of lifting!)

8.  Observe the gym’s time limits on the cardiovascular equipment. Many clubs restrict you to 20 or 30 minutes on the treadmills, bikes, and stairclimbers during rush hour.

Thom sez:  Cardio-what? Never heard of it.  Oh, that.  Well that’s why God invented the internal combustion engine and the elevator.  I did enough “cardio” in the Marine Corps to last me for the rest of my life.  I did my lungs enough of a favor by never smoking. 

(Webmasters note:  Your satire is starting to rival that of Bill Clark!!!)

9.  Return your weights to the rack.  If you leave dumbbells on the floor, someone may trip over them, or the weights may roll onto someone’s toes.  Be sure to place them back in their proper spots.  No one should have to waste 10 minutes hunting for the 15 pound dumbbells, only to find them sitting between the 40s and the 50s.

Thom sez:  I usually find the hundreds right were I left them the last time I used them, but for the guy looking for the 15’s…..well he can just consider that part of his cardio work!!! 

10.   Exercise courtesy in the locker room.  Don’t take up three lockers and spread your clothing over an entire bench, forcing other people to put on their socks while standing up.  “People will rip off their sweaty clothes and run into the shower, leaving their undergarments all over the place,” St. Micheal says.

Thom sez:  I can’t help it if my shoulders are that wide (or my butt), but they really should make those damn lockers bigger.  And any one that uses the term “undergarments” needs to be pimp slapped.  Do you think “St. Micheal” is his real name or is it Ernie Abramowitz who had to go Hollywood to get some respect?

(Webmasters note:  I got a good story about a guy I know who would leave his dirty “undergarments” laying around at other people’s houses. He would just go home and leave his stinky undershorts under the bed.  But I’m not going to give out his name as to avoid embarrassment. )

11.   Be courteous in exercise classes.  Don’t show up late or distract the class by creating your own workout routine.  And play nice! ” In New York City, people will get in fights over spinning bikes,” Gostigian says. “It turns into a boxing class instead of a cycling class”

Thom sez:  One time my uncle was challenged by a boxer who told him he was going to teach him a lesson that weightlifting makes you slow.  My uncle waited until the other guy put his gloves on and then kicked his A$$ bare fisted WWF style.  I assume this part of New York City is not Greenwich Village. And PLEASE…..exercise class…. do I need to comment?

12.   Watch where you’re going.  “People are oblivious to what’s going on around them, “St. Micheal says.  “Sometimes when I’m doing lateral movements for my shoulders, someone will walk right by me and I’ll almost hit them. Weight lifting should not be a contact sport”.

Thom sez:  These are just getting better and better.  So are you then supposed to turn around and say, “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?” Where I come from the guy lifting has the right of way if you are dumb enough to walk under a 500 lb squat then please say hello to the accountant on the first floor when the bar drops on your little pin head and rams it down there. 

TRUE STORY:  I used to work out with this guy that owned the gym we worked out in so he could abuse the hell out of his own equipment.  One day he was doing deadlifts (on the second story of an old warehouse converted to office space) and dropping them from arms length at the end of each rep.  Since he could DL over 700 lbs he was hitting a 5.6 on the richter scale.  Suddenly this little old lady showed up madder than a wet hen and covered in bits of plaster.  It seems that the landlord had finally rented the downstairs office space right below the lifting platform.  The new drop ceiling they had just put in had collapsed on this lady and her first client.  The office was a mess and my buddy was less than sorry.  Nothing like having a dozen muscle heads coming down just to laugh at your misfortune.  The landlord had warned her that there was a gym upstairs and that it might bet a “little” loud sometimes.  I guess her client was pretty shook up and ran out.

CREDIT: Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3, Issue #2

Just for Laughs: Lifting Etiquette

by Thom Van Vleck

I found this list for gym “etiquette” on the internet.  As if it is not funny enough by itself, I have added my own comments.

1.  Don’t sit on a machine you’re using or when you’re between sets.  Let a fellow gym member “work in” (alternate) with you.  If someone else is using equipment that you have your eye on, feel free to say, “Mind if I work in with you?” It’s perfectly acceptable for you to change the weight setting or seat level; just be sure to restore them after your set. 

Thom sez:  First, if you’re using machines that is your first problem.  Second, if you did and some guy wants to work in then he better have the nads to say something better than “mind if I work in with you?” I would pimp slap him.

2.  Keep your grunting to a minimum.  Sure, a weight room isn’t a public library, but it’s not a championship wrestling arena, either. “Some of these guys scream like it’s the equivalent of male childbirth,” Gostigian says.  Loud noises not only distract other gym members but alert them to the fact that you’re lifting more weight than you can handle.

Thom sez:   I thought the whole idea of lifting weights was to lift more than you can handle so that you get stronger.  While I laugh at guys who grunt and groan with 225 on the squat I am pretty sure that I am not going to mess with the guy that screams while slamming 600 for 5.  I expect loud noises at a gym like I expect dead bats at an Ozzy Osbourne concert.  If you don’t like it, then don’t go and get a nordic track or one of those bowflex things. 

(webmaster’s comments:  The use of illustrations such as an Ozzy Osbourne concert, nordic track, and bowflex really shows your age Thom! But I do want to hear more about the concept of male childbirth. )

3.  Don’t tote around your gym bag.  That’s what lockers are for. “Gym bags on the floor are a hazard,” St. Michael says, ” Plus they take up space, and the gym’s crowded enough as it is.”

Thom sez:  My gym bag is my armor and weapons supply.  It is a part of me.  I knew a cop that carried a 9 mm in his gym bag (not sure why).  Besides, locker rooms aren’t safe.

4.  Don’t drop your weights.  When you’re finished using a set of dumbbells, gently place them on the ground. “I’ve seen people drop their dumbbells from four feet in the air,” Tucson trainer Steve Canis says.  “It’s a macho thing.” It’s also a dangerous thing; the weights can bounce around and break someone’s toes.

Thom sez: Good Lord!!!!!  You try setting a 600 pound deadlift down like a feather or a pair of 100 pound dumbbells after a set of cheat curls.  I don’t know about you, but I give it all to the lift with little regard to leave a little to treat the weights like fine china.

(webmaster’s comments:  dumbbell cheat curls????  REALLY???  You do those????)

5.  Keep your sweat to yourself.  Carry a towel and wipe off the equipment when you’re finished.  “Some people leave a puddle of sweat on the bench they’ve just used – it’s disgusting,” Gostigian says.

Thom sez:  Sweating….in the gym… how uncouth.  How are you supposed to clean it up when you ain’t got your gym bag?  I guess you could cover your body in “Secret”.

(webmaster’s comments:  I’ve lifted with you before, and the use of a little deodorant would help a little with your BO.  It doesn’t make you less of a man to abandon the smell.)

6.  Unload your weight bar.  Don’t assume that the next person who comes along has the ability or desire to clean up after you.  “A lot of guys leave heavy weight plates on a barbell and then walk away,” Gostigian says. “But for most people, just lifting those 45 pound weights is a challenge.” By the same token, a guy bench pressing 225 pounds isn’t going to want to bother removing someone’s 10 pound weight plates.

Thom sez:  If somebody leaves the bar loaded up, then that’s wrong, but if I ever walk into the gym and say, “Hey, who left these 10’s on the bar?” Who’s going to claim that?  Maybe the 13 year old in the corner mortified beyond belief?  “Hey, kid, maxin’ out again??”

NEXT ISSUE, PART TWO  OF GYM ETIQUETTE.

CREDIT:  Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3, Issue #1

Lack of News

by Al Myers

Everyone was amazed when Thom opened with a World Record attempt in the sheep toss.

The “dog days” of summer are upon us, and with that has come a lull in USAWA News.  We have hashed over the National Championships enough already, and it’s time to put that behind us.  I have said all I can say about the changes that were instigated at the Annual National Meeting.  I must be going through a “writers block” because for the first time I can’t think of any interesting topics to write about.  Not that my stories are all that interesting anyhow, but at least they fill the pages of the USAWA Daily News with something.   I really thought by now I would be receiving “stories by the bucket loads” from those wanting to see their words of wisdom in print on this website and I could just sit back and be the editor, and enjoy the “good life” of being in charge of what makes it to the press!  It doesn’t seem to be working out that way, and now I could use a break.  So until things pick up (and they will with the busy fall all round schedule in front of us) I’m going to be doing a couple weeks of “reruns” here in the USAWA Daily News.  AND NO – I’m not going to be that lazy to rerun prior website stories, but instead some old articles that were in the Braemar Stone Tablet.  The BST (short for Braemar Stone Tablet) was a newsletter published for around a half dozen years by none other than Thom Van Vleck covering several subjects of interest, with the intent being on the Highland Games.  It often contained good stories on training that could be applied to an All Rounder, stories covering different Highland Games, and stories containing Thom’s  attempts at humor (I found some of them funny, but then I share Thom’s sense of humor!!).  I even asked Thom if this would be acceptable to him for me to “rerun” these stories, and he has given me his permission to do so.  It was big of me to ask, because when it comes to Thom  I usually don’t  do that!   For those 25 people who were subscribers to the BST I apologize for this redundancy of material, and if you want to take a couple weeks break from the USAWA Website as well as me, you have my permission. 

Consider this a “vacation” for the USAWA Daily News.

Mail Order Muscles

by Dennis Mitchell

Joe Bonomo

Many old time strongmen supplemented their income by offering a muscle building course by mail.  The most successful being Charles Alas.  A contemporary of Charles Atlas was Joe Bonomo.  He learned the mail order muscle business from Charles.  Joe Bonomo was born in Coney Island on December 25, 1901.   His parents were Al and Esther Bonomo, who ran an ice cream and candy shop on Coney Island.  Due to his father’s business, Joe had a very sweet but nutritionally poor diet.  In spite of lots of ice cream, candy, and other sweets, Joe was a very skinny child and had the nick name of toothpick.  Joe was pretty much of a loner and spent a lot of time exploring the attractions of Coney Island, Dreamland, and Luna Park.  He was fascinated by the various carnival attractions.  It was while exploring the various attractions that he met, Ladeslaw, a Polish strong man.  Ladeslaw took a liking to Joe,and told him that he could become strong if he would work hard, start eating right, and have a positive attitude.  Following the Strongman’s advice, Joe rapidly went from “Tooth pick” to the school’s star football player, and a very good gymnast.  Living on Coney Island Joe met every strong man and wrestler who came to perform, including Eugene Sandow, and Charles Atlas who became his friend and mentor.  There were also people from many other attractions, including movie stars, dancers, and show people.  He grew up in a world glamor and make believe.  He felt that to be a success he would combine his physical, mental, and spiritual abilities.

This was one of the many books written by Joe Bonomo in order to give lifting pupils "mail order muscles".

After he graduated from school he entered a talent search for “The Modern Apollo”.  With the help and guidance of Charles Atlas he was able to beat out over 5,000 other contestants and won a part in a motion picture.  This led to parts in many motion pictures as both an actor and as a stunt man.  He even played the part of Tarzan in 1928 movie.  He became so popular that he had to hire people to help him answer his fan mail.  Much of his mail was requesting information on how he developed his body.  This was the beginning of his mail order muscle building courses.  With the advent of the talkies (Joe had only acted in silent movies) Joe, even with voice and elocution lessons could not get rid of his Brooklyn accent.  Sadly his stunt man career ended when he broke his hip in a car crash scene.  He had broken thirty seven bones during his stunt man career.  Leaving the glamor life of Hollywood was very hard for Joe.  More adversary followed when Charles Ludwig, the man who ran Joe’s mail order muscle building business, died.  Shortly after, Joe’s father also passed away.  Joe took over running both businesses.  Always looking for new ventures Joe teamed up with Tony Bruno, a well known Hollywood photographer.  They settled in New York and put out a magazine called Beautify your Figure.  This was in 1939.  It was so successful that they published another magazine called Figure Beautiful.  It not only had information on diet and exercise, but also skin care, dancing instructions, social instruction, and information on romance and feminine fulfillment, and most important, how to have an alluring bust.  He also published many “Mini-books”, which were small size books that could fit in your pocket.  They sold for twenty five cents.  They covered muscle building, make up, how to be a better host, birth control, the evils of drug use,  and how to simplify house work.  Some of his books stayed in print for thirty tears.  One of his last books was, “What I Know About Women, By Joe Bonomo”.  It contained sixty four blank pages. He continued publishing into the 1970’s, until the Joe Weider publications overtook him.

Joe Bonomo, man of many talents, died in Los Angeles March 20,1979.

Training with Friends

by Al Myers

Thom and I lifting the previous "unliftable" Combine Axle on a Tuesday night workout.

I am very fortunate by having great training partners.   We may only all train together as a full group a couple of times per week, but these are the days I look forward to the most.   A good training partner will bring out the best in you (and vice versa a bad training partner will pull you down), because during the workout you don’t want to let them down by giving nothing but your best effort.  I do several of my weekly workouts by myself, and I can tell you from experience, when “things are going good” you can have great workouts by yourself, it is just on those days that you are not feeling in top form that your workouts will suffer when training by yourself.  The Dino Gym is a family – we support each other even when one of us is not having our best day, and usually before the workout is over, the workout takes a turn for the better and this lifter ends up having a great workout.  This is what good training partners should do – help one another and in turn get that extra encouragement back when needed.  Often when one of us is getting ready for a big lift or set, everyone will stop lifting and just spend all our energy supporting the lifter on the platform.  I get “a rush” when someone else gets a big lift or personal record, just as if I had done it myself!

This past week I got to work out with my good friend Thom Van Vleck.  Thom and I only get to train together once or twice per year because Thom lives 8 hours from me (he says it is only 6 hours, but I don’t believe him).  We put aside our rival gym differences when training together, and ALWAYS have a great workout.  Just recently I acquired a very large combine axle with a solid shaft of over 3.5 inches.  My father found it in his scrape iron pile and  brought it down to me using his front end loader tractor, and dumped it in front of the gym.  It was much larger than what I had imagined, and I  knew that it would beyond what any normal man could lift, so I didn’t even weigh it.  I “guessed” it to be in the 800-1200# range based on the strain it was putting on the loader when it was set down.   Several gym guys have looked at it, including many strongman who showed up for my strongman competition a couple of weeks ago.  You KNOW it must have been an intimidating sight because it was in front of the gym for 3 weeks and NOT ONCE did anyone put their hands on it, or try to lift it.  When Thom and I started our workout, I TOLD Thom that we were going to lift that HUGE combine axle tonight, as a joint 2 man team.  I was trying to portray confidence that we could do it, but secretly I had my doubts (especially with his end, haha).  On top of the weight, the grip was going to be problem.  Thom agreed (because he knew I would not let him forget about wimping out if he didn’t).  We warmed up with some heavy Trap Bar Deadlifts, and then took our shot at being the first to lift what seemed previously like an unliftable object.  Relief soon rushed though our muscles as it came to lockout without an overdose of strain on either of our parts. 

Experiences and memories like this is what has me “hooked” on weight training.  So there is my advice of the day – enjoy your workouts, enjoy your training partners, and take the time to test your strength in unusual ways.  And THAT is what it should be all about!

Rulebook 5th Edition Now Available

by Al Myers

The USAWA Rulebook 5 Edition

The 5th Edition USAWA Rulebook is now available on the website.  As voted on by the membership at the 2011 AGM, the new rulebook became effective August 1st.  The Rulebook is free to download from the website.  I do want to warn you that the Rulebook file is a large one (over 4MB in a pdf) and may take a while to download depending on your connection speed.  It contains over 80 pictures of various lifts, with most of them in color.  I will have the Rulebook available in a bound hard copy if anyone wants to order one.  Just email me at amyers@usawa.com if you prefer it this way.  I plan to go to the printer shop at the end of the month, so that is the deadline.  I don’t have a cost yet for it, but plan to just “take orders” and sell it at the price it takes to get printed.  The price depends mostly on whether or not I have it printed with color.  Black and white is the cheapest way to go (which I had done last year) and the price will be in the $30 range.  Color print will at least double this.  I also have the summary of the 2011 Rulebook changes/additions/substractions posted on the website so if you already have a prior Rulebook and just want to print off those pages to add as a “loose leaf” addition, that might be a good way to go as well.   I also have the 2010 Rulebook changes posted.  All the new approved lifts this year are included in the Rulebook Changes file.  The Rulebook was completely overhauled in the Third Edition so you will want to have at least that edition to be somewhat current.

New Official – Judy Habecker

by Al Myers

Judy Habecker performing a Ciavattone Grip Deadlift at the 2010 Gold Cup in Walpole, MA.

I just received word from the USAWA Official’s Director Joe Garcia that Judy Habecker has passed the USAWA Rules Exam and is now a Level 1 Test Qualified USAWA Official.   I just placed Judy’s name on our ever growing list of officials.   I now feel sorry for the lifters in Habeckers Gym, because with Judy in the chair there won’t be any “shoddy” lifts passed. When I was sitting by Judy at our past USAWA Nationals (I was the announcer and she was the scorekeeper), it was obvious to me that Judy had a keen sense of the rules.  She ALWAYS KNEW what the infraction was when a lift wasn’t passed.  A few times she felt that certain shouldn’t have been passed!  (and a couple of times it was when her husband Denny was lifting! haha).  Like I said already, I now feel sorry for the lifters in Habeckers Gym!    I know Judy will make a great judge, and all I can say is IT IS ABOUT TIME she became an USAWA official!  There has been some confusion in the past with the thinking you must be a competitive lifter to be an official.  This is just not true.  There is NOTHING in our rules or bylaws saying this must be the case.  I’m not inferring that Judy is not a competitive lifter either – she often makes a least one appearance to the platform every year. She has USAWA records dating back to 2001, and is the holder of 30 USAWA Records.  She is most proud of her 304 pound 12″ base deadlift done at the 2005 Gold Cup in Hawaii. 

Congratulations Judy!

Welcome to the Century Club Chad and Rudy!

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom "in action" at the Ledaig Record Breakers last weekend. Chad is the only lifter in the Century Club that has done ALL of his USAWA records in the Senior Division.

I predicted this would happen this summer as Chad Ullom and Rudy Bletscher have been “knocking on the door” of joining the Century Club.  The Century Club is a club that recognizes the elite group of USAWA  lifters that CURRENTLY hold over 100 USAWA Records.  However, it didn’t happen exactly as I thought it would.  I predicted it would take place last weekend at Dave’s Ledaig Record Breaker.  This was the case for Chad but not for Rudy.  Rudy was not able to attend.   At the time, I thought it would take another day for him to make this milestone accomplishment (and a little more effort after watching Rudy’s nemesis Mike Murdock take down a couple of Rudy’s records at the Ledaig Record Breaker), but I forgot at the time that at the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the USAWA in June it was voted and passed by the membership to retroactively implement the records set at the 2011 Dino Gym Old-Time Strongman Challenge since the lifts in that competition were approved as new USAWA lifts at the meeting.  So Rudy is IN on his prior performances!  Chad knocked down several new records at the Ledaig Record Breakers putting him in as well.  We celebrated this accomplishment after he broke the USAWA Record in the Snatch on the Knees with a lift of 135 pounds. Coincidentally, both these lifters now stand at 107  USAWA records, which put them at a tie at the number 19 spot out of 21 lifters in the club.  Chad is the only lifter on the list that has done ALL of his records competing in the Senior Division (which makes him only eligible for OVERALL RECORDS).  This makes his accomplishment all that more impressive.  If you are in the Junior Division or Masters Division you have the opportunity to “double dip” on records, which means you may set or break an age group record and an overall record with the same lift.  This helps tremendously with “padding” your record count number.  I counted back through the USAWA Record list and Chad’s sits NUMBER TWO in OVERALL RECORDS (not age group records)  with his 107 (and all I will say about the guy at number 1 is that he has 141 overall records, and Chad knows him quite well as he is his training partner! ). 

There are several other lifters close to joining the Century Club that I’m keeping an eye on.  But just because you get in the club doesn’t mean that you can “sit back” and revel in your accomplishment, and spend too much time “patting yourself on the back”, because if others break enough of your records you can fall out of it.  This has happened (and it bothers me to see it) to a couple of legendary lifters in the USAWA recently, so you must keep up your involvement in the USAWA to “maintain your spot” in the Century Club.  Congratulations to Rudy and Chad – I’m very proud of both of you two, and you deserve this recognition.

Bobby Dodd

Bobby Dodd doing his favorite lift, the deadlift

by Thom Van Vleck

Bobby Dodd has been a friend of mine for many years.  Al Myers has known Bobby even longer, throwing with him in the late 80’s.   Bobby has been a friend of all strength sports since I have known him.  I know for a fact if he lived near some all rounders he’d take a keen interest in the USAWA.  I wanted to give the guy some credit for his amazing career in strength sports.

Bobby Dodd is a legend in Highland Games Athletics in the United States.  Not only as an athlete, though he has competed in probably more states in the U.S. and provinces in Canada than any other thrower ever, but as a true friend to the sport.  This has all been done with his usual quiet reserve letting his actions speak for him over words.  His contributions rival any other and I thought it was time he was recognized for his impact.

Bobby Dodd’s involvement in Scottish Highland Games Athletics has spanned over 40 years. His parents were born in Scotland and he was exposed the Highland Games at an early age.  He told me that when he was getting out of the Navy he made a “to do” list and turning a caber was in the top ten.  This led to his first foray into competition was in 1969 at the Santa Monica Highland Games where he walked on for a caber only event and he found himself hooked on the sport.  He realized right away he needed to get stronger and this led to his powerlifting career.

Bobby Dodd throwing in the Scottish Highland Games

The real reason that I wanted to write this story is to convey what a sportsman Bobby is and his valuable contribution to the sport he loves.  His influence goes beyond competition, judging, or the equipment he sells.  He has made many friends, brought so many into the sport he loves, but most importantly has set a standard of sportsmanship for all who have followed that has become part of why many enjoy the competitions today.  Some simply show up and compete and enjoy the fruits of the hard work put into making things happen.  Others work hard to make it happen.  Bobby has done it all!

Bobby began competing in Scottish Athletics in 1980.  His favorite event was the hammer throw.  But he found equipment hard to come by.  As a result, he contacted a local foundry about making some hammer heads for his personal use.  The expense was in making the mold and once the mold was made it was a cheaper process to make more, so Bobby started selling them to recoup the cost of the mold.  Eventually, this led to the development of Mjolnir hammers and a complete line of throwing weights for distance and height for the Games.   This endeavor was called “Hevy Gear”.   Bobby has had his equipment used at well over 100 highland Games in North America, and even Iceland and New Zealand.

Bobby, like many of us, first started giving back to the sport by judging. He first judged in 1984.  He did this off and on for many years and became an SAAA certified judge in 1997.  Since that time Bobby has judged at the Pro World Championships, Women’s World championships, Masters World Championships, North American Championships and numerous other Games from the local and regional level.

Bill Anderson (r) is one of the greatest Highland Games throwers of all time and maybe the greatest hammer thrower of all time. Bobby (l) sponsored the combined Scottish Hammers trophy for the Masters World Championships and named it after Bill. This was taken a the Masters World Championships in Scotland.

In 2004, I traveled to compete in my first Masters World Championships.  When we arrived, there was a mix up on judges and we were short. Since many of the athletes there were also certified judges or had years of experience, they asked for volunteers.  I recall thinking I had travelled half way across the country and didn’t want to miss out on the competition, but  Bobby, who was there to compete, offered to judge.   He sacrificed so others could throw!  I’ll never forget that and it’s just one example of how Bobby has given back to the sport that has given him so much.

I have another more personal connection with Bobby.  That is being a United States Marine.  Bobby was in the Navy and often having a military service connection makes for close friendships.  It has not escaped my notice that Bobby wears the Marine Corp tartan proudly and supports servicemen and women whenever he can.

Bill Scruggs, one of the founding members of the Masters World Championships in Highland Games, told me that Bobby was very supportive in the early days of the MWC.  Bobby not only donated hammers to be used, he developed the Master’s Hammer Aggregate trophy.  It was a traveling trophy awarded based on the aggregate of both heavy and light hammers thrown in the MWC.  While this award is no longer contested, it led to the current aggregate system used in the MWC to determine the best overall hammer thrower, weight for distance thrower, and stone putter.  Bobby has sponsored many other awards to further the sport.

Ryan Vierra, multi Pro World Champion in Scottish Highland Games, said:

“I consider Bobby Dodd one of the most influential people of our sport, past and present. Bobby has provided his valuable time to consult with games, and countless hours judging, as well as providing games all over the world with standardized equipment. When I started the games in 1987 Bobby was one of the athletes that welcomed me into the sport and I consider him a great friend and key asset to the future of our sport.”

Sean Betz, 2008 Pro World Highland Games Champ said:

“ Bobby is a great guy who always is in tune of what’s going on in the sport of highland games.  He takes a lot of pride is his equipment.  One of things I will always remember about Bobby is how he e-mailed me about his deadlift program.  Bobby had just been getting done with cancer treatment and is getting up there in age.   I was shocked as he is still up in the 400lb range for deadlifts and was very serious about increasing it.  A true highland games warrior and a great heart for the sport and for people.”

I competed at the North American Championships near Seattle, Washington in 2010 and Bobby was a judge there.  After the games were over, we enjoyed a libation together and talked about our love for the sport.  Bobby pulled out a huge scrap book.  I expected that it would be full of his own exploits, but instead it had dozens, maybe hundreds, of newspaper clippings of some the greatest ever to turn a caber!  He called it his “History of the Highland Games” and it’s a work in progress.

I was speaking with Steve Conway, the Athletic Director of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco Highland Games (one of the oldest and biggest Games in North America) about Bobby.  Steve talked about throwing with Bobby and Mike Qutermous starting in the early 80’s and the fun they had.  He also pointed out how the CCSF Games had used Dodd’s equipment for years and wondered out loud how many world records and games records had been set with Bobby’s equipment.  Steve also pointed out that Bobby often donated awards and equipment and donated women’s weights often just to get a Games to add women’s events!

Two photos, both of Cindy and Bobby Dodd. One in 1971 and the other in 2009. Over 40 years of Highland Games attendance!

Whenever Bobby Dodd’s name was mentioned, I heard words like “friend”, “mainstay”, “heart” and “influential”.  Sometimes those that do the most aren’t recognized for their efforts. Bobby Dodd one of those guys.  It would be my hope to be more like Bobby.  I want to give back more than I take from the sport I love, make lots of friends, and have a lot of fun in the process.

Glute Ham Machine

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Bryce Meuli performing a Glute Ham Raise.

After my recent Daily News stories on the Roman Chair, I alluded to a similar (but much different) machine called the Glute Ham Machine (or also Glute Ham Developer, or the old name of Calf-Ham-Glute Machine).   There is often confusion between the Roman Chair and the GH Machine, and I have heard lifters interchange the naming of these two distinct different apparatuses.  First of all to me, they look NOTHING the same.  And secondly, the muscles they work are completely different.  The internet is loaded with information on  GH Machines.  There are many manufacturers of them – some better than others.  The price tag for a good GH Machine runs from around $300 to over $1000.  (there’s another difference – Roman Chairs are MUCH CHEAPER!).  Most commercial gyms have a GH Machine, and the new age fitness crowd loves them.  They are very popular with powerlifters and Olympic lifters as well.  Dave Tate and Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell have done their part in promoting the GH Machine, embracing the many strength benefits the GH Machine offers.

The Dino Gym's homemade Glute Ham Machine.

As I said, the GH Machine works entirely different muscles than the Roman Chair.  The Roman Chair primarily focuses on the abdominal muscles and the lower back, whereas the GH Machine focuses on the “posterior chain” muscles, ie the calves, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.  I really feel the hamstrings are the most undertrained muscle in most strength athletes training program.  Competitive lifters place most of their training emphasis on the front quads (in form of squats) and neglect the ever important opposing hamstring muscles.   In my early days of training I thought just doing a few high rep sets of leg curls at the end of my leg workout would suffice, but I learned the hard lesson with suffering a few hamstring muscle tears as a result of heavy deadlifts which proved to me that my hamstrings where indeed not trained adequately, and lagged in opposing strength.  The hamstring muscles are a fast twitch muscle and needs to be trained with low reps, not high reps.  Plus leg curls neglect the upper hamstrings which serve as a primary hip extensor.  Louie Simmons knew this before anyone else, and that is why his “secret training programs” always included hamstring exercises like the GH Raises (as well as other things like Reverse Hyper exercises and weighted drags) to strengthen this typical “weak spot” in competitive lifters.  The most common exercise done on a GH Machine is the Glute Ham Raise.  I don’t have enough time in this story to describe how to do this exercise – just do an internet search and you will find TONS of descriptions on how to do this exercise as well as YouTube Videos demonstrating the GH Raise. 

Bryce performs a Back Extension on the Glute Ham Machine. The Back Extension is an Official USAWA Lift.

There is one detail in a good GH Machine that needs mentioned.  It should contain a knee pad that keeps the knees from “dropping” at the top end of the GH Raise. I have seen several commercial GH machines that don’t have this on them.   Also make sure the GH Machine adjusts adequately so each lifter can get the right settings to allow for  a GH Raise to be done correctly.   Another very important distinction between a GH Machine and a Hyperextension Machine is that the “pivot” should be at the knees for a GH Raise, instead of the waist as when using a Hyperextension Machine.  The body should remain straight from the knees up when performing a GH Raise.  My GH Machine can adjust so it can also be used to do Back Hyperextensions.  The Back Extension is an Official USAWA lift, but this lift has not been contested very often.  It is a tremendous lower back exercise.  The main difference between a GH Raise and a Back Extension is that you bend at the waist when performing Back Extensions, and the stress of the exercise is on the lower back.  

GH Raises are a difficult exercise for heavier lifters who carry alot of weight in their upper body.  I use my harness “walker” as a safety device in front of me when I do GH Raises.  I do this so if I have problems on my last reps, I can push off the walker with my arms to finish the rep.  GH Raises are one of my THREE FAVORITE hamstring exercises (and leg curls is not on my list!).   You will feel the entire range of the hamstring muscle engaged (from the  knees to the hips) with GH Raises, and afterwards you will feel the effects of your training in your ENTIRE hamstring.  I also want to mention that  GH Raises are a great exercise for young lifters who want to increase their vertical leap.  The muscles of the hamstrings and calves are the biggest players in leaping ability, and this exercise focuses intently on these important leaping muscles.   I don’t normally use added resistance when doing GH Raises, but it can be done easily with holding a plate on the chest.  I feel the best rep ranges are between 5 and 8 repetitions with the GH Raise.  If you have access to a GH Machine, give this exercise a try!

Hand & Thigh Club

by Al Myers

Only three USAWA members have lifted over 1500 pounds in the Hand and Thigh in official competition. (left to right): Joe Garcia, Frank Ciavattone, and Al Myers

After posting that picture last week of Joe Garcia and his 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the 2011 Heavy Lift Nationals, I got to thinking.  Just how many USAWA lifters have  lifted over 1400 pounds in the Hand and Thigh in official competition?  I have seen Joe lift over 1400 several times myself, so to me that is not an unusual or rare thing to see that much weight lifted in the Hand and Thigh.  But then again, Joe is the MASTER of the Hand and Thigh (WR and All-Time Record holder with a lift of 1910 pounds) and without a doubt more times over 1400 than any other lifter ever.  This “mark” of 1400 pounds seems like the “goal of excellence” in the H&T, and I “guessed” beforehand that probably not over a dozen USAWA lifters had ever achieved it. However, after I did my research I found the list much shorter than this, with only three lifters over 1500 pounds, and another 5 lifters over 1400 pounds.  Only one IAWA(UK) lifter has exceeded the 1400# mark, and that was Steve Angell with his H&T lift of 1500 pounds at the 1995 World Championships. 

USAWA Lifters in the 1400 H&T Club

Rank Lifter Age BWT Pounds Event
1 Joe Garcia 43 240 1910 1997 Zercher
2 Frank Ciavattone  40  260 1610 1995 NE Strongest Man
3 Al Myers 43 251 1505 2010 Deanna
4 Eric Todd 27 261 1475 2002 Deanna
5 Jim Malloy 53 244 1400 1995  Worlds
6 John Carter 38 225 1400 1996 Zercher
7 Steve Schmidt 49 220 1400 2004 Backbreaker
8 Sam Huff 23 266 1400 2005 Deanna

Ledaig Record Breaker

BY DAVE GLASGOW

LEDAIG HEAVY ATHLETICS WEEKEND AND RECORD BREAKER DAY

Group picture of participants in the 2011 Ledaig Record Breakers. (front left to right): Amber Glasgow, Molly Myers, Mike Murdock (back left to right): Dave Glasgow, Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck, Chad Ullom

SUNDAY, 31 JULY-2011 SAW SEVEN STRENGTH AFICIONADOS CONVERGE ON THE GLASGOW HOMESTEAD TO TEST THEIR ENDURANCE AGAINST THE WEIGHTS, AS WELL AS THE HEAT.  THIS RECORD BREAKERS DAY HAS BECOME KNOWN AS THE ANNUAL “SWEAT FEST” FOR GOOD REASON.  TEMPERATURES IN JULY CAN BE BRUTAL IN SOUTHERN KANSAS AND THIS DAY WAS NO DIFFERENT.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT FOUR OF THESE ATHLETES PARTICIPATED IN THE LEDAIG HIGHLAND GAMES THE DAY PRIOR.  NINE EVENTS IN LESS THAN SEVEN HOURS DRAINED A LOT OF ENERGY BUT NOT WILLPOWER FROM THOSE THAT WERE ‘DOUBLE DIPPING’.   AT 71 YEARS OLD, MIKE MURDOCK, WHO IS A STAPLE AT THE LEDAIG FACILITY, IS THE OLDEST OF OUR PARTICIPANTS.  YOU KNOW HE HAD TO HAVE SLEPT WELL THAT NIGHT!!   CHAD ULLOM, THOM VAN VLECK AND AMBER GLASGOW WERE THE OTHERS WHO SAW ACTION BOTH DAYS.  BELIEVE ME, IT’S TAKES SOMETHING EXTRA TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF TO DO THIS EVENT BOTH DAYS.  ROUNDING OUT THE CROWD WERE AL AND MOLLY MYERS, AS WELL AS EVENT COORDINATOR, DAVE GLASGOW.

FOLLOWING ARE THE TOTAL RECORDS BROKEN BY THE COMBATANTS:

                        AL MYERS  – 9
                        AMBER GLASGOW  – 8
                        CHAD ULLOM - 6
                        MOLLY MYERS  - 6
                        MIKE MURDOCK  - 5
                        THOM VAN VLECK  - 4
                        DAVE GLASGOW - 3

                        TOTAL  RECORDS – 41

GRACIOUS HOSTS ‘UNC’ KENNY GLASGOW AND AUNT JO GLASGOW PROVIDED THE VENUE AS WELL AS A FINE MEAL FOLLOWING THE EVENT.  WE WERE TREATED TO ANOTHER PULLED PORK LUNCH WITH ALL THE FIXIN’S AND GIVEN HONORED SEATS AT THE MAIN TABLE.  THIS WAS VERY MUCH APPRECIATED BY ALL PARTICIPANTS!!

WE WILL DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR.  PLAN FOR IT IN JULY!!   AFTER ALL, IT WOULDN’T BE THE ‘SWEAT FEST’, WERE IT NOT IN JULY!!

SLAINTE!

MEET RESULTS

Meet Director:  Dave Glasgow, and the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club
Lifts: Record Day
Date:  July 31st, 2011
Location:  Rainbow Bend, Kansas

Officials (3 official used): Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Mike Murdock, Thom Van Vleck, Dave Glasgow

Molly Myers – Age 12, BWT 156 pounds
(Womens 12-13 Age Group, 75 KG Weight Class)

Deadlift – 12″ Base:  135#
Deadlift – Heels Together: 135#
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip: 135#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 75#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 75#
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells: 150#

Amber Glasgow – Age 32, BWT 141 pounds
(Womens 20-39 Age Group, 65 KG Weight Class)

Curl – Strict: 50#
Two Hands Anyhow: 70#
Press – From Rack: 70#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm: 35#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm: 35#
Gardner – Half: 45#
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm: 95#
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm: 85#

Chad Ullom – Age 39, BWT 250 pounds
(Mens 20-39 Age Group, 115 KG Weight Class)

Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm: 105#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm: 105#
Gardner – Half: 105#
Snatch – On Knees: 135#
Arthur Lift: 265#
Hack Lift – Left Arm: 200#

Al Myers – Age 44, BWT 253 pounds
(Mens 40-44 Age Group, 115 KG Weight Class)

Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 165#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm:  155#
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells: 290#
Clean and Jerk – 2 Dumbbells: 150#
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 100#
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 120#
Snatch – 2 Dumbbells: 150#
Zercher – Left Arm: 200#
Zercher – Right Arm: 200#

Thom Van Vleck – Age 47, BWT 296 pounds
(Mens 45-49 Age Group, 125+ KG Weight Class)

Snatch – Left Arm: 115#
Snatch – Rigth Arm: 115#
Deadlift – Stiff Legged: 300#
Continental to Belt: 375#

Dave Glasgow – Age 58, BWT 249 pounds
(Mens 55-59 Age Group, 115 KG Weight Class)

Deadlift – Left Arm: 185#
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 95#
Deadlift – 2 Bars: 370#

Mike Murdock – Age 71, BWT 231 pounds
(Mens 70-74 Age Group, 105 KG Weight Class)

Bent Over Row: 185#
Rectangular Fix: 75#
Reflex  Clean and Push Press: 105#
Crucifix: 60#
Squat – Front: 155#

New England RB Day

by Frank Ciavattone

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
NEW ENGLAND RECORD BREAKER DAY

This meet will be held at my home, which is also the home of Frank’s Barbell Club.  Entry fee is free and weigh in will be from 9am-10am, with the meet starting at 11 am.  Medals will be given to all competitors, and the meet will be followed by a cookout and refreshments.  All lifters must be 2011 USAWA members.  This should be a fun, old-fashioned New England USAWA record day, with records and fun as the main goal.  If anyone needs more information, feel free to call or email me. 

Meet Director:  Frank Ciavattone Jr.

Location:  Frank’s Barbell Club
         204 East Street
                                   Walpole, Massachusetts, 02032

Date:    Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Entry form and fees:   None

Sanction:  USAWA, must be a current member to participate

Contact:   phone: (508)-668-5200
                               email:  fcsnowblizzard78@aol.com

WAYNE SMITH ENCOUNTER

BY DAVE GLASGOW

WAYNE SMITH IS THE AGELESS WONDER! THE PICTURE ON THE LEFT IS WAYNE IN 1956, AND THE THE PICTURE ON THE RIGHT IS WAYNE IN FRONT OF THE SAME OAK TREE IN 1998!

WE ALL HAVE HAD OUR “DUMBASS” MOMENTS.  I, FOR ONE, SEEM TO HAVE A PENCHANT FOR THEM!  MY LATEST ‘FAUX PAS’ WAS IN KIRKSVILLE AT THE USAWA NATIONALS.  HOWEVER, A LITTLE BACKGROUND IS IN ORDER BEFORE I GO MUCH FURTHER.

I HAVE A BACK ROUND IN LAW ENFORCEMENT.  I HAD A TOTAL OF 18 ½ YEARS SERVICE TO A SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT AND THEN AT THE LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT, AS A RESERVE.  WITH THAT SERVICE CAME LOTS OF TRAINING.  A POINT THAT WAS EMPHASIZED TO US WAS TO BE ‘AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS’ AND ‘LOOK FOR THE UNUSUAL OR SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THAT IS OUT OF PLACE’.  I ALWAYS FELT THAT, FOR AN ‘ALMOST COP’, I WAS PRETTY GOOD AT IT.  THIS ONE TRAIT, THAT I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PROUD OF, IS WHAT BRINGS US BACK TO THE STORY AT HAND.

AT THE NATIONALS, THE WARM UP AREA WAS RIGHT NEXT TO A LARGE, OPEN DOOR THAT LEAD INTO THE GYM ITSELF.  I WAS IN THE WARM UP AREA WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL CAUGHT MY EYE.  HE WAS ELDERLY, VERY SLIGHT AND APPEARED TO BE, SOMEWHAT, FRAGILE.  HIS OVERALLS COULDN’T HIDE THE FACT THAT HE SEEMED TO BE UNSTEADY ON HIS FEET.  WHEN HE SAW ME LOOK AT HIM WITH A QUESTIONING GLANCE, HE QUICKLY LOOKED AWAY, ATTEMPTING TO BREAK EYE CONTACT.  MY ‘SPIDEY SENSE’ IMMEDIATELY KICKED IN. WHAT COULD THIS OLD TIMER BE DOING HERE?  WAS HE LOST?  WAS HE LOOKING TO GRAB SOMETHING FROM THE VARIOUS BAGS LYING AROUND?  HAD HE WANDERED OFF FROM A NURSING HOME??  I DECIDED TO TRACK THOM DOWN AND TELL HIM OF THIS “INTRUDER”!

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, I WAS DISTRACTED FROM MY HUNT BY SOMETHING OR OTHER AND WHEN I FINALLY FOUND THOM, TO MY UTTER SHOCK, HE WAS WALKING TOWARD ME AND HAD HIS ARM AROUND OUR MYSTERY MAN!  APPROACHING, THOM GUIDED HIS GUEST OVER TO ME AND SAID, “DAVE, I REALLY WANT YOU TO MEET WAYNE SMITH.”  WHAT THE HELL??  THE ELDER STATESMAN OF THE JACKSON WEIGHTLIFTING CLUB STUCK OUT A GRIZZLED AND LEATHERY HAND THAT  I GLADLY TOOK AND FOUND A HAND SHAKE THAT, CERTAINLY, DID NOT BELONG TO A ‘FRAGILE’ INDIVIDUAL.  THIS GUY WAS THE REAL DEAL AND I HAD MISTAKEN HIM FOR SOME TRANSIENT PASSERBY!!  TO SAY I FELT STUPID AND FOOLISH WOULD BE THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR! 

I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT I SAID TO THIS GENTLEMAN, SOMETHING ABOUT I HAD HEARD OF HIM AND HIS LIFTING AND IT WAS MY PLEASURE TO MEET HIM.  IT MOST CERTAINLY WAS MY PLEASURE… AND EMBARRASSMENT!

THIS SO REMINDS ME OF A STORY I READ YEARS AGO IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. A VENERABLE, OLDER ARM WRESTLER WALKED INTO A GYM WHERE A COMPETITION WAS BEING HELD.  HE WENT RIGHT BY A LARGE, HEAVILY MUSCLED YOUNG MAN THAT WAS TAKING TICKETS AT THE DOOR.  WHEN THE YOUNGER MAN GRABBED THE MAN’S ARM, HE GROWLED, “IT’S TWO BUCKS TO SEE THE SHOW, POPS!!”  TO WHICH THE OLDER GENTLEMEN SIMPLY SAID, “I AM THE SHOW, SONNY!”

MR. WAYNE SMITH COULD HAVE SAID THE SAME THING TO ME………

USAWA Records using the Roman Chair

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Brian Krenzin is the ONLY LIFTER who has a USAWA record in the Abdominal Raise on the Roman Chair. His record lift of 60 pounds was done at the 2009 Dino Gym Record Day.

Yesterday I described and discussed the Roman Chair.  Today I would like to tell you about the USAWA Records that have been set with the use of a Roman Chair.  As I said yesterday, there are three USAWA Official Lifts that require the use of a Roman Chair in order to do them – the Abdominal Raise on a Roman Chair, the Roman Chair Bench Press, and the Roman Chair Situp.   In looking over the record list on these lifts, it seems that there are alot of “empty spots” in the list.  Most all of the records were set at record day competitions.  Only one meet has contested any of these Roman Chair exercises, and that was the No Weight Dozen held by Bill Clark in 1999 and 2000. Only one woman has EVER peformed a Roman Chair lift, and that is Cindy Garcia at a record day in Clark’s Gym in 1988.    So – at your next record day give one of these Roman Chair lifts a try and join this small group of lifters who have experienced the PAIN of the ROMAN CHAIR!

Overall USAWA Records in the Abdominal Raise on the Roman Chair

DIVISION WT CLASS RECORD LIFTER
Men 125+ 60 Brian Krenzin

Overall USAWA Records in the Roman Chair Bench Press

DIVISION WT CLASS RECORD LIFTER
Women 65 45 Cindy Garcia
Men 70 135 Kyle Achenbach
Men 75 135 John Monk
Men 80 115 James Muzzy
Men 90 75 Denny Habecker
Men 95 100 Lewis Heater
Men 105 210 Steve Schmidt
Men 110 85 Bill Clark
Men 115 200 Al Myers
Men 125+ 250 Dave Beversdorf

Overall USAWA Records in the Roman Chair Situp

DIVISION WT CLASS RECORD LIFTER
Men 75 110 Dennis Mitchell
Men 80 22 Abe Smith
Men 95 100 Lewis Heater
Men 110 738 Howard Prechtel
Men 115 45 Bill Clark
Men 120 1000 Al Myers
Men 125 905 Al Myers
Men 125+ 65 Casey Clark

NOTES:  Wt class is bodyweight class in kilograms. Records are listed in pounds.

Roman Chair

by Al Myers

The Dino Gym's homemade Roman Chair, complete with an adjustable upper back safety pad.

Recently on the USAWA Discussion Forum, there was talk about the Roman Chair.   A Roman Chair has an almost mystical name that shrouds confusion.   I have seen (and read) about lifters referring to something as a Roman Chair, and when in fact, it is not a Roman Chair at all, but rather some type of Hyperextension Bench or a Glute-Ham Developer (that’s another story!).  A few of the lifts that we do in the USAWA require the use of a Roman Chair to perform them so understanding what a Roman Chair is REALLY IS  important.  That is why I’m going to try to properly describe a Roman Chair and it’s description to the use of All Round Lifts.  Like I said, some Official USAWA lifts require the use of a Roman Chair – i.e., the Roman Chair Situp, the Roman Chair Bench Press, and the Abdominal Raise on a Roman Chair. 

This is an ancient medieval Roman Chair. But instead of using this chair for exercise, it was used to torture prisoners!

You will read on the internet that Roman Chair exercises (namely Roman Chair Situps) are inherently dangerous amongst the general consensus of the cross fit lifting crowd.  You will read some bad things about this exercise and ALL of the reasons why you shouldn’t do it.  I’m not going to get into that debate here (but aren’t MOST of the All Round Lifts dangerous???, and we love them anyways!), but rather provide an accurate description, and a little history of the Roman Chair.  Professor Attila is often credited with the invention of this device, as well as the Roman Column and the Roman Board (made famous by pictures of Sig Klein performing layouts using them).  And speaking of Sig Klein, I have also read in his writings that he said the Professor didn’t actually invent the Roman Chair, but rather popularize the Roman Chair by it’s use in his gym.  Klein had mentioned once that a Roman lifter who was visiting the Professors gym actually demonstrated exercises using a device similar to a Roman Chair, which gave the Professor the inspiration to build a Roman Chair and give it it’s name after this Roman lifter. In doing my research for this piece, I found that there actually WAS a Roman Chair in the Middle Ages.  It was a chair of torture that was used up till the late 1800’s in Europe.  I found this very symbolic – and could make for a good story on how the Roman Chair we use today got it’s name.  Afterall, most Roman Chair All Round lifts are VERY PAINFUL and could constitute torture to some individuals!  Just try doing a Roman Chair Bench Press and you will get my drift.  On our USAWA YouTube account there is a video of Dave Beversdorf doing a HUGE Roman Chair Bench Press of 250 pounds (YouTube Video of Dave’s RC Bench Press), which is the top All-Time Roman Chair Bench Press in the USAWA Record List.   Read some of the goofy comments regarding his video.  It is obvious that these critics giving these comments have NO IDEA what is required and the back-splitting pain that is involved in doing a heavy lift like this!  (the comments are so absurd that I didn’t even delete them because I found them funny, and I know ANYONE who has done this exercise would agree with me!).

Past USAWA lifting legend Howard Prechtel excelled at the Roman Chair Situp. He held the All-Time USAWA record at 738 pounds for many years. Amazingly, he did this in 1990 at the age of over 60 years!

The only description of a Roman Chair in our USAWA Rule Book falls under the rule for the Roman Chair Situp.  It says, “This lift is done on a Roman Chair or similar device.  The toes must be secured at floor level.  The seat of the Roman Chair must be level and parallel to the platform and must not extend above the top of the buttocks when the lifter is fully laid back on the Roman Chair.  A second bench of lesser height than the seat of the Roman Chair may be used for safety purposes under the lifter’s shoulders when laid back”.   Not all commercial Roman Chairs would fall under this description. I have seen some where the foot pad is level with the seat, some with “rounded” seats, and some with even inclined/declined seats.  These types of Roman Chairs would not be legal for use in the execution of the USAWA lifts.   The Roman Chair I have in the Dino Gym is one that I made.  It works very well, and is of a very simple design.  The seat is 12″ by 24″, the seat sits 20″ high, the Chair is 4 feet long,  and it contains an adjustable safety back support. The feet can be braced on a bar positioned at floor level.   

There is nothing more “old school” than training on a Roman Chair.   And if it was good enough for the Professor – it is good enough for me!

Omega Force: Christian Strongman Team

By Thom Van Vleck

Randy Richey: Founding Member of Omega Force.

I have met many of my best friends being involved in strength sports.  This is a story about one of them and the group he helped start.   I was competing in a Strongman contest called the “Strongarm Games” in Kansas City put on by Steve Scott.  This contest had a Scottish flair to it and I recall we did some strongman events with some highland games event thrown in.  It was then I first met Randy.  We competed together and hit it off really well.  Then, a couple years later a friend of mine invited me to be his guest in a VIP box for the US Strongman Pro Nationals in St. Louis at Harrah’s Casino.  The warm up show included some bending by John Brookfield and he was performing with Omega Force.  I kept looking at the guy that was the leader but could not place him….when suddenly he called me out by name!  I realized it was Randy, the guy I had met at the Strongarm Games.

Randy hitting a big squat with one of his custom built props.

After the show I talked with Randy at length about what he did.  At that time Bubba Melton was still with him and performing.  During the next year, I would find out that Bubba had passed away and he was only 34 years old.  Omega Force was doing Christian evangelism in the Paul Anderson tradition.  Randy built all his own equipment on his farm in Kentucky and had an ever changing group of guys that would do shows with him.  It was after that show that he told me that he would call me the next time they were up this way.

That next year, Randy did call me and I recruited Brian Kerby to go down with me.  Brian and I thought we’d be mostly helping set things up but quickly found ourselves in the middle of the show!  There were 6 shows in 4 days including two over two days for the US Pro Nationals Strongman Contest.  The final day ended up in the Family Arena in St. Charles where we performed for over 3000 there to see the strongman competition!  Brian and I were so inspired we came back and started our own local team.  From time to time we have helped out Omega Force as have greats like Bill Kazmaier, Paul Wrenn, and Anthony Clark!  A couple years back we went with Randy to the Arnold Fit Expo and were invited to provide security for Arnold himself.  Arnold autographed an 800lb log that Randy squats in his shows to show his gratitude.  It was at that show that Brian Schoonveld, a World’s Strongest Man competitor levered the special sledge hammer that I gave Al Myers and now rests in the Dino Gym.

One of Randy's creations. There's no hiding what Omega Force is all about!

Omega Force was started in 1996 by Randy Richey and Bubba Melton.  They do feats of strength showing their God-given talents and use it to entertain while delivering a Gospel message.  The Mission Statement of Omega Force reads: “To be a ministry that demonstrates love and compassion in bringing forth the gospel to win the lost and to provide spiritual guidance and direction to those in need.  Their purpose is to go into all the world and spread the gospel”.  While some may agree or disagree with what they are about and how they do it, there is no denying the intensity the bring to their efforts.  They also support being drug free and showing love to others.

Circus Dumbbell. This looks very much like the one that Al Myers made!

I had the pleasure of visiting Randy’s home gym in Kentucky a few years back.  I have to say that in many ways it rivals Al’s Dino Gym!  If measured by pure volume, I would say Randy has more stuff than Al!  But the way Al keeps adding to his collection, that may change!  At any rate, if you are in that area, it is worth the trip.  Randy’s gym may be more in the sticks than Al’s so don’t think you will just “drive my it”.  Randy told me he has guys that will travel hundreds of miles for their big weekend workouts!

Randy and Omega Force have been a good friend of the JWC over the years.  I know that in the future both teams will continue the work they do and if the chance to work together again comes, I know I will be there.   Check out their website:  www.omegaforceone.com or look them up on facebook.