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



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




                        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





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


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











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

Men 125+ 60 Brian Krenzin

Overall USAWA Records in the Roman Chair Bench Press

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

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: or look them up on facebook.

Grandma’s Wooden Dumbbells

by Jarrod Fobes

Grandma's wooden dumbbells.

We’ve been cleaning out the crawlspace in my basement in preparation for a yard sale.  The house was built in 1924, and belonged to my wife’s maternal grandparents until they passed.  Anyway, tucked behind a box of knitting supplies from the 1950’s, I came across what looks like a pair very well used wooden dumbbells!  You can see in the picture that they are marked as weighing 2lbs, so I suspect they belonged to Grandma.  I never met the grandparents, but I know that Grandpa was in the Alaska gold rush and was something of an adventurer, so I suspect 2lbs might have been a bit light for him.

Rubber Grip Trainers

The night before, my lovely wife Karena also came across these rubber grip trainers in the storage room. They’re made out of dense rubber, have a nice feel to them, and provide some pretty good isometric grip work.

I know these aren’t exactly artifacts of old-time famous strongmen, but I still thought it was interesting because Karena has recently started more serious strength training and is showing some real potential. Her mom keeps pretty fit as well, and it’s fascinating to me to see the roots of all that go back to Grandma!  In any case, I was wondering  if anyone knows the approximate age of these things?

Big Muscles or Strong Muscles?

 by Thom Van Vleck

Dennis Rogers next to Thom Van Vleck at the York Barbell Benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project. Dennis is one of the top short steel benders of all time!

The Jackson Weightlifting Club does a lot of Strongman “Evangelism” shows (like Paul Anderson used to do).  To date, we’ve done around 250 total shows with over 100 being full blown productions with the full team.  The smaller shows are what we call “gym bag” shows where we bring in stuff we can carry in a gym bag to put on a small one or two man show.  We often get called by local groups to entertain.

One time, we got a call from the local YMCA to do an “after school” show.  I was planning on doing it solo, but had something come up so Brett Kerby went instead.  We have four core members of our team and Brett is by far the smallest, but he’s the best of the group when it comes to short steel bending and ripping decks of cards in half!  He went to do the show and when he showed up a local TV news crew was on hand and this was not planned (which Brett is not comfortable with that kind of stuff at all!).  At the end, the news crew interviewed the kids and that night we watched it.  Several kids said things like, “That was awesome” or “I liked it when he ripped the phone book in half”.  One little girl really caught our attention.  She said, “I thought you needed to have big muscles to do that…..but I guess not!”   Needless to say, we had a lot of fun kidding Brett about that.  One time we were getting ready to do a show and Brett got there early to set up the sound system.   A guy there to see the show asked, “So….when do the strongmen get here”.  No respect!

Two Thirds of the Jackson Brothers: Phil and Wayne "Staggo" Jackson. Little Brother and Big Brother! Wayne could move big weights but Phil could do some amazing feats of strength that Wayne couldn't!

Meeting Dennis Rogers made me think of Brett.  Dennis also reminded me of USAWA legend Steve Schmidt.  None of these guys are huge, muscle bound, behemoths.  But they are also NOT guys you would want to mess with.  Short steel bending requires a suspension of pain.  I once saw John O’Brien drive a 60 penny nail into his hand at least a half inch…..and he put some tape on it and kept bending for a half dozen more shows that weekend before seeking treatment….he didn’t even flinch.  If you watch these guys you will see how painful it really is and if you try it, you will KNOW how painful it is.  I have managed a 60 penny nail, halving and quartering a deck of cards, and doing phone books.  My hands hurt, my elbows hurt, and my shoulders hurt.  All lifting involves pain tolerance, but that stuff requires “pain suspension”.

So, big muscles impress the novices and sometimes even the experts….but there’s much more to it than big muscles.  Pain tolerance, tenacity, leverage, and being smart and calculating are all factors that guys like Dennis Rogers, Steve Schmidt, and Brett Kerby have mastered.  They are the kinds of guys I would want in a back alley fight because they won’t quit…..and really, who would expect such strength from someone their size!

Century Club

by Al Myers

Joe Garcia is moving up the Record List Count faster than anyone else! This past year he has went from 9th to 5th. This picture is from the 2011 Heavy Lift Nationals in York, PA where Joe added another USAWA record in the Hand and Thigh with this 1400 pound lift. Joe has more H & T records (17 total) than anyone else, everywhere from the 90 KG class to the 110 KG class.

A couple of years ago  I tagged the term “Century Club” as a way of identifying lifters who currently hold over 100 USAWA Records.  It has been a while since I have given an update on these record-setting lifters, so I think it is time I revisit this topic again.  I believe it has been a year (after last year’s National Championship) that I gave my last update on the current members in this Century Club.  I know I have highlighted the “records race” between Denny and Art a few times since, but now since Denny has stretched his lead over Art 401 USAWA records to  Art’s 378 USAWA Records, the drama with this has been  subdued and the  records race has taken a seat on the sidelines until Art starts to make ”a run” on Denny.  

The Century Club is an ever-changing list, and it changes constantly.  It is based on CURRENT records, so it is possible to be on the list and then if some of your records are broken, you may fall out of the club.  I sadly report this has been the case this past year.  John Vernacchio’s record count has fallen to 97 records,  and now he is out of the Century Club.  No one new has joined since Scott Schmidt in the fall of 2009!  Scott was sitting at the number 20 spot when he made the Century Club in December 2009, climbed to spot 17 after last year’s Nationals, and now resides at the 15 spot.  By John falling off the list, the Century Club now stands at 19 members.  Who will be the next to join??  Two Dino Gym members are “knocking at the door” of accomplishing this.  Rudy Bletscher just BARELY missed the list this time as he currently stands at 99 USAWA Records.  Chad Ullom made a big push on his USAWA records this past year and now has 97 records.  With Chad hitting the Masters Class next year that will open up the record book for him to set more records as he will then be eligible for age group records.  I got my money on both of these guys to make the Century Club this summer! 

There were some changes in the orders and number counts, but the same names hold the Century Club down.  The top four spots on the list remained the same.  The biggest dropper was Bill Clark, as he dropped from the number 5 spot to 10th with only a decrease of records from 214 to 199.  I know the reason for Bill’s decrease in records as I’ve been lifting with this guy in meets all winter and have watched him break several of Bill’s records.  I’m talking about Mike Murdock.  The biggest increaser on the list is our USAWA Records Chairman Joe Garcia.  Joe added several new records this past year and moved from the number 9 spot to 5th overall with 226 records.  Dennis Mitchell notched up one spot to number 6. Take notice of  all the USAWA Hall of Famers who are members of the CENTURY CLUB (marked with a *).

Century Club

1.  401 Denny Habecker *
2.  378 Art Montini *
3.  274 Al Myers
4.  247 John McKean *
5.  226 Joe Garcia *
6.  223 Dennis Mitchell *
7.  214 Noi Phumchaona *
8.  206  Frank Ciavattone *
9.  201 Bob Hirsh *
10. 199 Bill Clark *
11. 171 Howard Prechtel *
12. 138  Dale Friesz *
13. 134 Ed Schock
14. 132  Jim Malloy *
15. 131  Scott Schmidt *
16. 123  John Monk
17. 117  Mary McConnaughey
18. 114   Chris Waterman *
19. 106  Joshua Monk

Middle Atlantic Postal

by Al Myers


I just received the meet results for the 2nd quarter postal meet results for the USAWA Postal Series from the USAWA Postal Meet Director John Wilmot.  Congratulations to Orie Barnett for being the BEST LIFTER.  The turnout for this postal meet was a little less than previous ones, but the month of June presents many conflicts for people (with summer vacation plans and other competitions).  I know this was the reason I didn’t get my lifts in – I was busy getting ready for the USAWA Nationals and then I had a business trip right at the end of the month.  The deadline entry date passed before I could get my lifts done! 

Meet Results:

Middle Atlantic Postal Meet
June 30th, 2011

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts:  Clean and Press – Reverse Grip, Cheat Curl – Dumbbell, One Arm, Continental to Chest and Jerk

Officials: (1 official system used for all lifters)

Lifters using a Certified USAWA Offical:

Kohl Hess – Official Denny Habecker

Lifters using a judge who is not an USAWA Official:

Denny Habecker – Judge Kohl Hess
Orie Barnett – Judge Sam Rogers
John Wilmot – Judge Kay Wilmot

Lifter Age BWT Press Curl C&J Total Points
Orie Barnett 50 230 183 95-R 225 503 462.1
Denny Habecker 68 191 110 75-R 132 317 375.5
Kohl Hess 17 315 154 85-? 198 437 326.8
John Wilmot 64 221 115 60-R 125 300 317.2

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are points adjusted for age and corrected for bodyweight using the Lynch Formula.

USAWA Nationals: Let’s Celebrate!

 by Thom Van Vleck

Some of the 2011 USAWA lifters with family and friends at the Banquet following the meet celebrating a great day!

The recent USAWA meet really got me to thinking.  We all work really hard to train, prepare, and then travel to a meet.  Often at great expense.  I have been doing that for over 30 years now.   When I was younger, I would often go to the meet and head right out after collecting my trophy (if I got one!) and my drive home was filled with obsessive thoughts on how I was going to get better.  I have always been really hard on myself and as a result, I can honestly say I’ve never felt like I deserved to celebrate after a meet.  Even though I’ve had meets where I did quite well!

We need to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  Even when we don’t live up to expectations, we need to unwind a little and enjoy the moment.  That’s exactly how I felt at the USAWA Nationals Awards Banquet afterwards.  I enjoyed the moment (plus a great meal, some caked, and a scotch!).  I’ve missed to many of these in the past.  I have been a Counselor for 20 some years, but I”m often my toughest patient because my reflection won’t call me out when I need it.  Results come from getting your body to do things it does not want to do.  Rewarding yourself is an important part of training, it makes it worthwhile.

Now, I know that some folks have other obligations, such as work the next day, or small kids, or a long drive home, but give yourself a break.  Enjoy the moment.  Take a breath……then get back after it!

5th Edition Rulebook Changes

by Al Myers

At the Annual National Meeting of the USAWA last month, a few minor rule changes were approved by the membership that I want to let everyone know about.  Most of the changes in the individual lift rules were made to bring the USAWA rules into compliance with the IAWA rules.  As I’ve said before, I feel this is a very important step in accomplishing uniform rules between the USAWA and IAWA.  However, this will be an ongoing process that will need to be addressed every year for a few more years until this problem is resolved completely.

A few “big changes” were made to the General Rules.  The first was requiring Officials to be USAWA members in order to serve in an active capacity. Our official’s program has really taken off the past couple of years,  and I feel this is just another “small step” in developing a solid program for officials (I still feel we are not there yet, and more improvements need to be made).   I want to stress that there will be NO LOSS of certification status if an officials membership lapses.  All that is required is rejoining the USAWA in order to be an active official again.  These inactive officials will be identified on the Officials Roster with an asterisk.  Another change is from now on all new Fulton Bar lifts will need to be approved as new lifts by the membership.  Once approved, any new Fulton Bar Lift  will be added to the rulebook.   The next big change is that sanction requests must be turned into the USAWA at least 6 weeks prior to the meet date.  This is necessary in order to allow ample time to adequately announce the event on the website. 

These new changes will become effective August 1st, at which time the new 5th Edition USAWA Rulebook will be available.     

USAWA Rulebook Changes/Additions/Subtractions

Individual Rules of the Lifts:

  1. D7. Curl – Cheat:  Remove “Heels and toes must not rise during the lift.”  Add “The heels may rise during the lift” and “the bar may be lowered below the knees during the lift”.   These changes will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  2. A15. Clean and Press – On Knees:  Remove “However, touching the buttocks to the feet or lower legs during the press is a disqualification.”  Add “The lifter may press with the buttocks touching the feet or lower legs or press in an upright position, but if the buttocks are touching the feet or lower legs at the beginning of the press the lifter is not allowed to become upright during the press.”  This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  3. A44. Snatch – On Knees:  Add “The knees are allowed to move on the platform during the lift.”   This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  4. H24. Vertical Bar Deadlift: Add “Both vertical bars must be loaded to the same weight.”     
  5.  E9. Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat:  Remove “The dumbbells must be turned so the rods of the dumbbells are in line with each other prior to the curl and during the curl.” Add “The dumbbells may be in any degree of rotation during the curl, but must finish with the rods of the dumbbells in line and parallel to the shoulders.”  This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  6. H15. Pinch Grip:  Add “front hang or backhang is allowed to the loading of the center bar”.  
  7. H21. Turkish Get Up:  Add “A dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell is used for this lift, but only one record will be kept regardless of the implement used.”  This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.


General Rules:

  1. VII. Officials:  Add “USAWA Officials must have current USAWA membership to be active officials.  Officials who do not have current USAWA membership will be identified on the list of certified officials as inactive.  The lack of current membership will not result in the loss of certification status.”
  2. Fulton Bar (2” Bar) Lifts:  Remove “Fulton Bar Lifts are approved for all bar lifts using a Fulton Bar and the rules of the individual lifts. Listed below are the rules for the Fulton Bar Lifts in which records have been set”.   This would require that all new Fulton Bar Lifts would need to be proposed and passed as new lifts.   
  3. VII.3 The Competition:  Add “Sanction requests must be sent in for approval at least 6 weeks prior to the scheduled event.”



  1.  B7.  Deadlift – Fingers, Middle:  The photo caption changed from “Deadlift – Fingers, Little by Dale Friesz” to “Deadlift – Fingers, Ring by Dale Friesz”.


All changes will be made to the 5th Edition USAWA Rulebook, which will become effective August 1st, 2011.

Wayne Smith: All Round Legend Part II

 by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith pulling a partial deadlift with everything but the kitchen sink on the bar!

In Part II of my story on Wayne Smith, we will look at some of his best lifts, his personality, and his hard work ethic.

Wayne Smith was most impressive when he was deadlifting.  He had a best of 460lb at 148lbs (triple bodyweight).  He also had a 240 bench, snatch 145, C&J 200, squat 290, and a Clean & Press of 160.  Wayne Jackson told me that one of the most impressive things he saw Wayne Smith do was a bent arm pullover from the floor to the chest while lying on a bench with 250lbs.  Some of Waynes old records on the Pre-USAWA “All-Round Records” list include a 230lb Middle Fingers deadlift, a Pinch Grip of 115lbs, and a Miller Clean & Jerk of 90lbs all done in his late 40’s.

Phil Jackson remembers meeting for the first time in 1957.  He said he was around 13 and Wayne was the “expert” who actually was friends with Tommy Kono!  Phil said they all enjoyed Wayne’s wry sense of humor and it made training sessions funny and the long, late night trips back from meets tolerable.  Wayne was always saying something off the cuff.  Some of his best that I remember include:

“Bodybuilding is like a dog show”

“I complained to my wife about how sore I was and when she found out it was from doing a heavy deadlift she told me to see a vet because only a jackass would try something like that”

One time, Ed Zercher, Sr was the head judge at a lifting meet and smith was up on the deadlift.  Zercher was really serious on judging.  Smith walked up and took a “clean grip” as Ed looked on through his trademark tiny spectacles.  Smith stood up, snapped his fingers and said, “That’s right, this is the deadlift…..I was getting ready to clean this”.  Phil said Zercher didn’t bat an eye and said, “One minute” indicating Smith better lift or get off the platform.

Smith up in a tree cutting limbs.

Smith was a tree trimmer his whole life and he was famous for scaling unbelievably tall trees with little or not climbing gear and like a surgeon dropped limbs with great precision.  One day a guy said, “You must like heights” and Smith told him he HATED heights.  The guy asked him why he climbed such tall trees then and Smith said, “Because that’s where my grocery money is at!!!!”

Smith was a great tree trimmer and my Uncle Phil and I both share the experience of helping Smith in his tree trimming business.  Smith was not a wealthy man, as a matter of fact, he usually just got by.  I recall one time Smith was trying to get one of three chain saws going to finish a job when he turned to me and said, “There’s nothing shameful about being poor….it’s just d@med inconvenient”!!!  It’s hard work trimming trees and Smith made extra money cutting that wood up for fired wood that he would sell.  He was one of the hardest working men I knew and the fact that he trained with weights at all was a feat unto itself.  There is no doubt he would have had a much greater career if he hadn’t been breaking his back all day working!

That might explain Wayne’s training regime.  He worked so hard trimming and cutting down trees and often when the work was there he’d put in dawn to dusk days that he hardly had time or energy to train.  Getting that “grocery money” out of the trees was more important than a trophy!  He would often show up at the gym and lift for about 20 minutes at a time hitting all the major lifts he was going to do in the next contest.  For example, if he were going to do a powerlifting meet he’d hit his warm ups, hit his opener and move on to the next lift.  No frills, just right to the point.  Smith got plenty of “assistance” work in his job….the kind of stuff people now do and call “old school” training, Smith did and made a living at it!  Wayne also would focus on some new stunt that he’d practice when he could on the job.  When I was working for him it was around the time Mt. St. Helen’s erupted.  So Wayne was working on doing chins while pinch gripping the rafters.  He also would “monkey bar” across the room pinching the rafters.  He quite seriously would tell me if a volcano erupted and the room filled with lava he’d be safe!  I never knew how serious he was because I thought to myself….”If the room is full of lava then I would think that would be the least of your worries”!  His wry sense of humor kind of always left you wondering!

Smith with his custum made truck hauling a "typical" haul for him. He was talented at getting huge trees out by himself. The truck had a strong wench with an I-beam on the top that would pull a large log right in!

Later Wayne Smith became interested in bowling.  He became very good at it and  and was so successful he was inducted in the Missouri Bowling Hall of Fame.  He is a local legend in the bowling alley and he is proud of the fact that he’s the only person in both the Bowling and Lifting Halls of Fame.

Wayne has been a big part of the JWC for OVER 50 years.  Who knows, maybe if he had not been there to guide my Uncle’s when they first started training maybe there would never been a JWC.  I feel we owe him a lot and his contributions to Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, and the USAWA should not be overlooked!

Wayne Smith: All Round Legend Part I

 by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith deadlifting the front end of a Volkswagon.

Wayne Smith was one of the original Jackson Weightlifting Club members.  He usually lifted in the 148lb class and competed in Olympic lifting meets, Powerlifting, and early “odd lift” meets and later USAWA meets.  Smith was born in 1932 and is currently 78 years old.

Wayne told me he first became interested in weightlifting as a kid with his twin brother, Ward.   But it was not until he joined the Navy that he actually started training regularly.  While in the Navy he was stationed in Hawaii and it was at this time he made a life long friendship with Tommy Kono (If you don’t know, Kono was one of the greatest Olympic lifters of all time and was actually voted “Weightlifter of the Century”).  Wayne has letters he has received over the years and a personally autographed copy of Kono’s book on lifting (Weightlifting: Olympic Style).  There is also a letter from Gary Cleveland.  Cleveland was a great York lifter who later put out a newsletter called the Avian Movement Advocate that Smith would often contribute to.  The letter talks about a letter Kono sent to Cleveland about Smith and it was very positive.  Smith told me that it meant a lot to him that Kono would write that letter about him.

Wayne Smith "wowing the crowd" with his Chinup prowess.

It was around 1957 that Wayne returned from the Navy and was approached by a group of brothers trying to find out more about weightlifting.  Smith felt he was no expert but these young men, the Jackson Brothers,  knew almost nothing and were lifting makeshift barbells made of concrete poured in buckets, old flywheels for extra plates, anvils, and pretty much anything that wasn’t tied down.  My favorite story was about the first thing Smith told them was to reverse their grip on their cleans, presses, and jerks.  They were using a “curl” or “reverse” grip!  Soon they were working out on a regular basis and the foundation for the Jackson Weightlifting Club as we know it today was laid.

Wayne’s first meet was in Omaha, Nebraska in 1958.  His Olympic lifting and Powerlifting career lasted until 1971.  During that time he entered many meets as a member of the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  He was part of a JWC team that won two state team titles.  He was also proud of the fact he never failed to total and he never failed to make weight for his weight class.  He said Kono had taught him to take a safe lift then go all out on 2nd and 3rd attempts and this served Wayne well.  In 1964 won the Missouri State Championships as a middleweight.  Just prior to winning that title he was told he had a lung condition and at the rate he was deteriorating he had maybe two years to live!  He received treatment from Dr. Valuck who he credits with diagnosing him and treating him back to health!

Smith at the top of one of his "perfect" one-arm chins at a powerlifting meet in Minnesota in 1966. You will find a poster of this picture on the wall in Clark's Gym.

In the late 70’s, Wayne began entering “odd lift” meets put on by Bill Clark.  He also lifted in the early USAWA years.  It was in 1977 that Bill nominated Wayne for the AAU Weightlifting Hall of Fame and Wayne was later inducted.  During his lifting years Wayne won 4 major titles.  Other than his state title in 1964, in 1966 he won the City Championships in Kirksville, in 1966 he won the Open Powerlifting title in St. Paul, Minnesota (where the chin up photo was take, more on that later!), and in 1971 he won his last title, a powerlifting meet in Jefferson City were he won the Open title.

Wayne was also a chin up specialist.  He would often challenge all comers to a chin up contest.  He told me he was only beaten one time.  It was by another JWC member named Dr. Rex Lee.  Rex had joined the club while going to the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and lifted as 114lber.  Rex weighed only 105lbs when he beat Smith by one rep.  My Uncle Phil told me that every meet they ever competed in at some point Smith would put on a chinning exhibition.  If there was no bar to chin on then Phil and another member of the club would hold a 45lb bar up for Smith to chin on!  In 1998 I “revived” the club and in 1999 held a strongman contest and Highland Games that eventually turned into the Kirksville Games and the JWC Strongman Championships/Highlander.  My brother and I held a bar up and at age 68 Wayne did a perfect one arm chin up!  When I say perfect he did a “dead weight” pull and no “kip” or “kick”.  That’s how he always did them and had a best of 6 one arm chins.

Coming Soon: Part II

Judy Habecker: the USAWA Official Scorekeeper

by Al Myers

It was my privilege to work alongside Judy Habecker at the 2011 USAWA National Championships. (left to right): Al Myers, Judy Habecker

Today I want to mention Judy Habecker and how her input into the USAWA is so vital.  Usually the lifters get all the recognition and the people who provide all the support “behind the scenes” don’t receive the recognition they deserve.   For those of us that have been actively involved in USAWA competitions for 10 years or more, we know who these people are.  I know alot of “first timers” or new lifters might not be aware of this as much, but I know I REALLY APPRECIATE THEM.  Judy has been our main scorekeeper at our big competitions (Nationals, Worlds, and the Gold Cup) for many years and because of her efforts, meets “go off” without a hitch.  Most lifters just take this for granted and don’t realize all the work that is done by Judy. 

Judy takes her job as meet scorekeeper very serious.  I have to confess that I didn’t fully understand how serious she was with her scorekeeping until  this past National Championships where I was the announcer and had to work “side by side” with her all day.  I was a little nervous if I could “pull my weight” as announcer since I know Judy has kept score alongside such reputable and famous announcers as IAWA Prez Steve Gardner and “the Father of the USAWA”  Bill Clark.  I told Judy from the very start of the day that I was going to rely on her VERY MUCH – and she didn’t let me down!  Judy is a perfectionist when it comes to keeping the scores right and in keeping the proper information in front of me the entire day so I could do my job as the announcer.  And I’ll say it again -NEVER ONCE did she let me down!  To sum up this past National Meet, we had 18 lifters, 6 lifts apiece, a total of close to 400 total lifts with extra attempts, and all done in 7 hours on ONE PLATFORM.  Do the math – that is close to one attempt per minute!  There are not very many scorekeepers who could keep up this pace and not let down throughout the day, but for Judy it was nothing more than a “walk in the park”!  Another thing most lifters don’t realize is the amount of work that needs to be done AFTER the meet by Judy in tallying the scoresheets.  The formulas need applied, and calculations need made.  This has to be done correctly or the wrong lifters may get announced as the winners.  While the rest of us were enjoying our beverage of choice at the banquet, I noticed Judy was still “double checking” her calculations on the scoresheet to make sure “everything was right”.

We are very fortunate to have someone like Judy to “step up” and take on this very important job within our organization.  It is a position that has no glory, and if no mistakes are ever made, the scorekeeper does not get noticed.   I also consider Judy one of the KEY MEMBERS of our organization.  She always joins the USAWA every year whether she plans to compete or not, and takes active involvement in our meetings, always giving very valuable input.  I’m pretty sure if she ran for President of the USAWA she probably would get elected (haha Just kiddin ya Denny!). 

Please do me a favor and at the next meet thank Judy for all she does.  She DESERVES IT!



The Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club won the overall team title at the 2011 USAWA National Championships last month. (photo courtesy of the webmaster)



(Webmasters Note:  The entry details for the Ledaig Record Breakers are located on the right of the home page, under “USAWA Future Events”. )

Bent Press

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith, JWC member and All Round legend, performing a Bent Press while still in the Navy in Hawaii at Tommy Kono's Gym

The Bent Press is a very unusual lift.  It is difficult for just anyone to perform even with an empty bar, but with practice fantastic poundage’s can be lifted as evidenced by men such as Arthur Saxon (370lbs officially and 385 unofficially).  In the USAWA I believe that Bob Burtzloff was the finest bent presser our organization has seen.  Bob had the top Bent Press in the Missouri Valley All-Round Record List with an official competition lift of 209 pounds in 1985.  In 1984 I saw Bob do a 225lb Bent Press at Sailor’s Gym in Wichita after an old odd lift meet and was told at that time he had done 253lbs.  Al Myers has told me that Bob’s best training Bent Press was 275 pounds!   Just recently at the Heavy Lift Championships in York, PA I witnessed the heaviest Bent Press that has been done officially in the USAWA.  David Whitley joined the USAWA following the meet with the sole intent of doing a record Bent Press.  He performed a 137 pound Bent Press with the bar using both arms. To me, it looked like he could have done much more but just settled for setting the All Time record on this day. Dennis Mitchell has been the most proficient Bent Presser in the history of the USAWA. At the age of over 60, Dennis performed a Bent Press of 88 pounds weighing only around 175 pounds.  Dennis has the most USAWA Records in the Bent Press, totalling over 25 in number.  He has told me that his best Bent Press when he was younger was 175 pounds, which was bodyweight.  That is quite impressive and should be the goal of anyone wanting to achieve excellence in the Bent Press.    The Bent Press has been criticized as a dangerous lift by some,  and lauded as a great lift by others.  If done properly, I feel it is not dangerous at all.

Newcomer to the USAWA, David Whitley does 137 pounds in the Bent Press for the All Time best mark in the USAWA.

Here are the USAWA rules on the lift:

The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The bar may be taken from the platform to the shoulder in any manner. This may be done with a one arm clean, or with two hands, or stood on end and taken onto the shoulder using one or two hands. The bar will then be gripped in the center by one hand with the bar parallel to the platform. Once the lifter is in a standing position, with the bar held at the shoulder, the body is bent forward and sideways while the bar remains in a stationary position.  This bending away is continued until the lifting arm becomes straight.  The body will be in a bent over position at this point of the lift. The bar is allowed to rotate in any direction during the lift. The non-lifting arm may rest on the body or legs during the lift.  Width of feet placement is optional.  The lifting elbow may be brought into contact with the hip during the lift. Once the bar is locked out and the lifting arm straight, the lifter may stand when ready. The lifter may use the non-lifting arm as support on the knee or thigh. The lifting arm must remain straight once locked out. The lift will end on command from an official when the lifter is upright, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, the non-lifting hand free from the body, and the bar overhead and motionless.

Al reprinted a great story by Arthur Saxon in the USAWA news titled “What it feels like to lift 350 pounds with one hand” and I recommend going back and reading that one if you missed it or re-reading it if you have an interest in this lift.  Personally, I believe the Bent Press is an exercise that if done properly (and getting flexible enough to do it properly) is very beneficial.  But trying to just go to the gym and “do it” could lead you to real injury trouble.  So, read the rules, watch some videos, try to find someone like Dennis, Bob, or David who are proficient at it to coach you and then “GET AFTER IT”!

Training at Habeckers Gym

by Al Myers

Habeckers Gym (left to right): Al Myers, Denny Habecker

I had the opportunity to train at Habeckers Gym following my trip to York, PA a couple of months ago.   I always like to train in other gyms which are set up to  have the same training focus as my gym.  All Round lifting is quite different than general weight training, and unique equipment is needed to be able to practice the lifts that we have in our competitions.  Most big commercial gyms are not geared to provide this.  These big gyms may have LOTS OF STUFF – fancy machines, shiny bars, and ergonomic designed plates – but when it comes to doing lifts like the heavy lifts or even a common All-Round lift like a Zercher Lift, they can not be done.  For the Heavy Lifts it is because of lack of this special equipment (heavy bar and belts) and for the Zercher Lift it is because of liability issues!  (Try doing a Steinborn in a Commercial Gym and you will soon be showed the door!).  Denny’s gym is not a large gym, but has everything I would need to get in a good workout.  He didn’t even mind me using chalk! (which ALSO is often not allowed in commercial gyms).

I had a very good workout doing some heavy floor presses off a couple of old tires!

I also really enjoyed the opportunity to train with Denny.  I have been to many meets with Denny, but when you train with someone it is different altogether.  I hope to get the chance to train at all the USAWA Clubs someday.  I learn something new every time when I am in another gym training with other lifters.   And how many lifters get to say, “I got to train at the gym that was the USAWA Club of the Year!”

Habeckers Gym: Club of the Year

by Al Myers

Habeckers Gym won the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year Award. (left to right): Denny Habecker, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck.

The only USAWA Award that was preannounced before the awards banquet was the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year.  However, I still think a few words should be said about Habeckers Gym, which is the USAWA Club of the Year for 2010.  Habeckers Gym is a club ran by our USAWA President Denny Habecker. Points are generated throughout the year for various activities and events that add to a club’s total, with the club gathering the most points declared the Club of the Year.  The previous year’s Club of the Year is not eligible, but has the honorable distinction of presenting the award to the new winner.  I was honored (the Dino Gym was the 2009 USAWA Club of the Year) to be able to make this presentation to Denny and Habeckers Gym.  Our club program has grown considerable this past year with many new clubs involved, thus the competition for this award is getting stronger.   I really believe the future success of the USAWA hinges on increased club activity, and Habeckers Gym is the example to follow. 

As I said, several factors play into gathering points for a clubs total.  Club membership is a big part of it.  Each USAWA member that lists on their membership application the club they are part of adds one point to the tally.  Habeckers membership during 2010 included these 5 members: Denny Habecker, Judy Habecker, Barry Bryan, Andrew Hess, and Kohl Hess.   Points are also accrued for those club members that participate in the big events – Worlds, Nationals, and the Gold Cup.  Promoting sanctioned events and competitions also gain points for the award total, and bonus points are earned for putting on big events which the Habeckers did in 2010 with the promotion of the National Championship.  

A runner-up Club of the Year Award was also given.  Again for the second year in a row, Ambridge VFW BBC was the recipient.

Al Myers: Leadership Award

by Thom Van Vleck

Leadership Award Winners (left to right): Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck

This years leadership award went to Al Myers.  I won’t mention who was 2nd….Ok, maybe it was me.  But I must have been a distant second in the voting because Al had quite a year last year and was well deserving of this honor.

Bill Clark was the heart and soul of the USAWA for many years.  For over 40 years some member of my family was getting his newsletters.  Having done a newsletter myself for several years I KNOW the work and cost involved.  Al took over the secretary job from Bill and has upheld the high standard Bill set.  There is no doubt that for years Bill kept the USAWA going and now that mantle has fallen on Al.  Bill brought his unique skill set to the job and so has Al.  It’s like comparing apples and oranges, each one is great in their own way.  Let’s focus on some of the things that led me to vote for Al, and I’m sure others for the same reason.

First, the website.  Back in the day, I got several newsletters.  They were the way to go.  I can recall when a First Class stamp was 6 cents…now it’s 7 times that amount!  Al realized that newsletters were becoming more and more impractical and a website with daily news on it was a necessity.  He also realized that the news needed to be updated daily so that people who check back daily and keep interest up.  I’m not saying websites are better than newsletters (honestly, I enjoyed the paper in my hand reading it during a workout) it’s just more practical in this day and age.  With the younger people, they are used to fast updates, fresh news, early and often and a website is the only way you are going to do that.  Al also recruited some top notch writers (ahem….) to help him out.  He knew people would get tired of just meet reports, so get in some variety and step outside just USAWA news from time to time.  This has also shown the light of day to quite a few stories that would have never been read otherwise.  One in particular was Larry Traub’s story on “Things I Hate about the Sport I Love”.

Second, getting others involved.  Al contacted me one day and asked if I would be interested in hosting the USAWA Nationals.  He wanted a new location for the meet in the hopes that the variety might help attendance.  I knew this was a big job, but I also knew Al would not leave me hanging so I accepted.  Al has talked many of us into going to meets that we might otherwise not attended.  That’s what leadership is all about.

Third, providing equipment.  Al has produced much of the apparatus needed to perform all the various lifts in his gym.  I wonder how many records have been set at the Dino Gym?  I also wonder how many records have been set on equipment that Al made?  So he not only provides  opportunities for setting records in his own gym he has made equipment that has been used in other gyms to set USAWA records.  For example, last year he had a writing contest and the prize (and several were provided) was a thick DB handle to to the DB walk.

Finally, Al will make you feel good about yourself.  Al is a great friend to many of us and I know I appreciate that.  Often, as lifters, we should be encouraging one another and often we do not do this as much as we should.  I believe Al has encourage many and again that is the mark of leadership.

I am excited to see what will happen to the USAWA under Al’s leadership.  For many years Ol’ Clark kept things going, now Al is keeping things going.  I hope he sticks around a long as Bill did!

Rudy Bletscher & Mike Murdock: Sportsmanship Award

by Al Myers

Rudy Bletscher receiving the Co-Award for sportsmanship. (left to right): Rudy Bletscher, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck. Missing from this picture is the other Sportsmanship Award Winner Mike Murdock.

For this first time ever we had a tie in a vote for an USAWA Special Award, so this year a Co-Award was given on behalf of the USAWA in regards to the Sportsmanship Award.  The two award winners were a great selection, because both of these guys have “gone at it”  in competition with each other this past  year and have done so in a most fitting style, showing utmost sportsmanship towards each other.  The Sportsmanship Award goes to Rudy Bletscher and Mike Murdock.  Mike had to leave early following the banquet before the Awards Ceremony, so I wasn’t able to get his picture taken receiving his Award as I had hoped, but I did get one of Rudy and the surprise look on his face when he received it.  

I have enjoyed watching Mike and Rudy compete against each other throughout this past year.  They are both pretty close in age, bodyweight, and strength so it always makes an interesting competition.  They seem to go “back and forth” in beating each other from one competition to the next, but the both of them always enjoy each others “competitive company” as they do so and don’t seem to mind when they come out on “the short end of the stick”.  These guys understand what its all about, and always seem to really enjoy themselves at meets.  Both of them are tremendously supportive of the other lifters, and it is a pleasure being around them at meets.  One of the things I remember about them from this past year was when they teamed up together to form a duo for Team Nationals.   They were a formidable team!  As they did the team lifts neither one of them wanted to let the other one down so they pushed themselves as hard as I have seen!  I’m hoping they will form a team again this year at Team Nationals.  In fact, I’m going to hold onto Mike’s award till then so maybe I can finally get my picture of them together as Co-Sportsmanship Award Winners of the year!

Dale Friesz: Courage Award Winner

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz receiving the USAWA Courage Award last year. Now Dale will have another Courage Award to add to his collection! (left to right): Al Myers, Dale Friesz

For the second time in two years, Dale Friesz won the Courage Award on behalf of the USAWA.   Dale was the unanimous selection among the membership votes, so it goes to show the respect Dale has amongst the membership of the USAWA.  In fact, if Dale wins this award again next year, it should be renamed the Friesz Courage Award!  Dale really wanted to compete this year at Nationals but due to a training injury a couple weeks prior to the meet was not able to make it.  I know this was a big disappointment for him. I know how tenacious Dale is about competing when he’s not 100%, as I have watched him compete when he probably shouldn’t have been!   This has been a tough year for Dale physically, but he has corresponded with me about his training and how he is still trying to do what he can.  Dale’s attitude  epitomizes the courage it takes to overcome obstactles and continue to lift despite whatever challenges he is faced with.  Without a doubt, most other lifters would have called it quits – but NOT DALE!   I was really glad to see Dale receive this award again because he DESERVES IT.  I just hope that I would have HALF the courage Dale has if I was faced with the same physical training barriers he has been faced with.   Congratulations Dale on behalf of the USAWA, and we all hope to see you again soon on the platform!

Larry Traub: Newcomer Award

by Al Myers

Larry Traub won the voting for the USAWA Newcomer Award. (left to right): Larry Traub, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck.

The Newcomer Award is an award given on behalf of the USAWA to recognize someone who has just become involved in the USAWA.   This year’s Newcomer Award Winner made “a big splash” in the USAWA by not only winning this award, but also the OVERALL BEST LIFTER in his very first USAWA National Championships!  Larry Traub is the man I’m talking about – and remember his name because you will be hearing much more of it in the future!  It wouldn’t be fair of me to call Larry “a rookie” just because he won our Newcomer Award, because Larry’s one of the most experienced lifters I know.  He has been involved in coaching his entire life and has knowledge of the iron-game that few have.  He is a very technical lifter, and I know with a little more time, will become a master of all the All-Round lifts.   He lifts as part of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club, which without a doubt, will be in the running for next years USAWA Club of the Year.  Larry first competed in the USAWA at the USAWA Grip Championships in 2010, and this past spring promoted his first USAWA competition.  Congratulations Larry and welcome to the USAWA!

Chad Ullom: Athlete of the Year

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom was awarded the 2010 USAWA Athlete of the Year at the awards banquet. (left to right): Chad Ullom, Al Myers, & Thom Van Vleck

After our banquet following the National Meet, we had the Awards Ceremony.  Included in this ceremony was the presentation of the Special Awards that were given on behalf of the USAWA to individuals that have shown excellence within the USAWA during this past year.  The recipients of these Special Awards were chosen and voted on by the USAWA membership.   I feel that makes receiving one of these awards all that more special, because you know that your peers in the organization were the ones who chose you.   The “highest award” that the USAWA recognizes is the Athlete of the Year, which is our version of a MVP award.  This year it went to a very deserving lifter – Chad Ullom.   Chad has had an outstanding year of competitions within the USAWA.   He placed second overall at last years National Championship, and then went on to win OVERALL BEST LIFTER at the IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland last fall.  All together, Chad competed in 14 USAWA events during the year 2010.  (YES – that’s 14 events and not a typo!).   There are not very many lifters that compete in that many events over a 5 year period – but Chad did it all in ONE YEAR!  I want to give you a quick run-down of his successes in 2010, and after I do this NO ONE would question why he is our ATHLETE OF THE YEAR.  He started the year off by winning the Dino Gym Challenge  which was the first USAWA event of the year (so he also has the distinction of winning the first meet of the year as well).  After competing in the Grip Challenge and the Dino Gym Record Day, he joined the Dino Gym Team at the Club Challenge in Ambridge and helped out the team to victory.  After this, he competed in a couple of postals (Goddard Postal & Eastern Open) and then onto his second place overall finish at the 2010 National Championships.  After that, he competed in the Ledaig Record Day before competing in Team Nationals, where he was part of the winning overall team.  After his crowning win at the World Championships, he competed in the World Postal Meet as a team member of the Dino Gym (which won the overall team title).  He finished the year off by competing in the JWC Record Breakers (where he set 18 USAWA Records) and then off to the Gold Cup in Boston, and finishing with competing in the National Postal Meet.   Now that’s a resume!! 

Congratulations Chad – you have had a year of successful competitions that would be hard for anyone to follow!

USAWA Records from Past Nationals

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker "padded" his lead in the most USAWA Records set at the National Championships with this Zercher Lift of 231 pounds. It broke the record held by Andy Komorny from the 2003 Nationals of 230 pounds.

As promised, today I am going to highlight those USAWA Records that were set at National Championships. To me setting a record at Nationals is a much harder endeavor.  The pressure of competition is on, the judging is the best it gets, and the day of competition is long.  It is not like a record day where you can warm up as you please, and then take your time to pace yourself for a maximum effort in achieving a new record.  That is easy compared to “taking down” a record on a big stage like the National Championships.  Truthfully, there should be a separate list just for records established at the Nationals because of the difficulty it takes of getting a record at this meet. When I watch the Olympics I always notice that there are Olympic Records (which are separate from American and World Records) for the events.  I’m sure the reasons for this are the same as what we have -because it is way more difficult to set a new World or American Record at the Olympics, and there is merit to setting an Olympic Record as well.  (Maybe I can talk our Record Chairman Joe Garcia in setting up a different Record List just for records set at the National Championships???)   Irregardless, I looked over our USAWA Record List and was surprised how many records we have “on the books” from National Championships.  I counted 1843 records (out of close to a total record count of 10,000) that were established at past National Championships.  That number is approaching close to 20% of all records set.  I didn’t think it would be that high, but when I looked it over I could tell that the quality of these records was very high.   Overall, I counted 169 lifters who have possession of at least 1 USAWA Record that was set in the Championships. Now onto the lifters that own the most!


1 94 Denny Habecker
2 77 Art Montini
3 73 Dennis Mitchell
4 (tie) 63 Noi Phumchaona
4 (tie) 63 Howard Prechtel
6 57 John McKean
7 54 Frank Ciavattone
8 51 Jim Malloy
9 50 Dale Friesz
10 37 Randy Smith

Now that is a lineup of “heavy hitters” in the USAWA!  Honorable mention should go to these lifters who just missed the list: Chris Waterman (36 records), Joe Garcia (34 records), and Bob Geib (34 records).  I was surprised about some great USAWA lifters who didn’t make the list – but the reason was that these lifters didn’t compete in enough Championships to get their numbers added up.  Longevity counts for something!  The lift from Nationals that has the most records in it is the Clean and Press, heels together with a count of 90.  The next four were the Pullover and Push (86), One Arm Snatch (85), the One Arm Deadlift (82) and the Zercher Lift (79).

Records From Nationals

by Al Myers

It was great to see Bob Geib back in action at the USAWA Nationals. In this picture Bob is setting a new USAWA Record with his 320# 12 inch base deadlift.

It is always exciting to see new USAWA Records set or broken.  As our Record List gets longer and longer, getting new records becomes more difficult. The USAWA has been accumulating records for close to 25 years, and the USAWA  Record’s Director Joe Garcia has been the “man in charge” of this for nearly this entire period. That’s a lot of entering numbers!!  In fact at the Annual National Meeting, Joe announced that the USAWA Record List is approaching 10,000 records in length!  The lifters at this year’s Nationals “did their job” of adding to this list.  89 new USAWA Records were established.  I looked back at the list and believe it or not, but this year’s National Championships made the TOP TEN of ALL-TIME amongst the number of records in the Record List from National Championships! That is quite an accomplishment considering that we have now had 24 USAWA National Championships, and several Championships with more lifters and more lifts contested than this one.  That goes to show the quality of lifting that we had at this years Championship.  Of the lifts contested at this Championship, the One Arm Dumbbell Snatch provided the most records with 24 Records.  The Zercher Lift provided the fewest new records with 9.   Susan Sees and Helen Kahn tied with the most new records set in the Women’s Division with 9 records each. In the Men’s Division, Bob Geib and John O’Brien tied with 8 new records each.  I always notice when old records (those set years ago) get broken.  Dean Ross had this distinction of breaking the OLDEST RECORD with his 240# Zercher Lift in the 65+, 125+kg Class.  The previous record was held be Buck Harris at 220 pounds set at the 89 Nationals on June 25th, 1989.  Now lets take a look at the TOP TEN Nationals considering number of USAWA records:

1 119 2003 Nationals  Hartzell & LaRosa  Youngstown, OH
2 117 2004 Nationals  John Vernacchio  Lansdale, PA
3 116 2005 Nationals  Hartzell & LaRosa  Youngstown, OH
4 108 1990 Nationals  Attilio Alacchi  Akron, OH
5 107 1999 Nationals  Montini & McKean  Ambridge, PA
6 97 1997 Nationals  Clark & Garcia  Columbia, MO
7 95 1998 Nationals  Frank Ciavattone  Mansfield, MA
8 94 1989 Nationals  John Vernacchio  Plymouth Meeting, PA
9 90 1995 Nationals  Clark & Garcia  Columbia, MO
10 (tie) 89 2000 Nationals  Denny Habecker  Lebanon, PA
10 (tie) 89 2000 Nationals  Thom Van Vleck  Kirksville, MO

I would like to make the comment that this year (2011 National Championships) is the ONLY EVENT on this list where the meet contained less than 20 lifters.  That is something the lifters at this meet should be proud of! 

New USAWA records established at the 2011 USAWA National Championship – NationalsRecords

Coming tomorrow – The TOP TEN INDIVIDUALS who have records in the USAWA Record List that were set at a National Championship.

2011 Nationals: Meet the Loaders

by Thom Van Vleck

Mitch Ridout and Tedd Van Vleck were the loaders for the entire meet and didn't make a SINGLE MISLOAD!

Every meet I’ve been to the loaders have been thanked and rightfully so.  I’ve been a loader before and one time at a meet with about 70 lifters!  It’s hard, thankless work.  The only time anyone notices the loaders is if there’s a miss load!  And at Nationals there were none!  So these guys were barely noticed.

Often, when you look for volunteers for loading the room will empty quicker than a request for a suicide mission during Armageddon!  But I had two guys step up to save the day.  My brother, Tedd Van Vleck, and my “brother from another mother” Mitch Ridout.  Actually, Mitch rented a room from my Mom at one time and she jokingly calls him her “favorite” son (at least I think she’s joking).  Mitch has been my friend for over 20 years and anybody that can put up with me for that long deserves a trophy……especially after the work I get out of him!

Tedd and Mitch both were signed up to lift.  But I was short loaders and I asked them to step in and they took a bullet for JWC team (or maybe Team Ledaig wouldn’t have had a cake walk for the team title!…..Ok, so maybe they would have still won since they had the best lifter in both men and women’s catagories).  But that thinned the JWC ranks out considerably.  I do know that my brother said at the end of the day he wished he’d lifted instead….he thought he’d be less sore!  I also noticed that Dean Ross, who lifted in the morning session, was helping Mitch and Tedd in the afternoon.  That’s the kind of stuff that makes these meets work!

So a special thanks to Mitch and Tedd for being our loaders and allowing the lifters to focus on lifting!  We appreciate you!

2011 Nationals: Behind the Scenes!

by Thom Van Vleck

If it wasn't for my wife Kelly, we would have missed out on the cake!

If you’ve ever run a meet before you know the work that is involved in it and how “Murphy’s Law” can and will apply.  I thought I would share a few of the “behind the scenes” stories.

The Venue Change

Some time ago I had secured the Rieger Armory for our meet.  This is the home of our local Army National Guard.  It is a great venue and I was pleased to get it.  Plus, it had air conditioning!   Two weeks out I called up to “confirm” the date and the time I could start moving things in.  It was at this time I found out they were on their annual two weeks of active duty.  I left a message to call me back.  The Tuesday before the meet I got the call and I found out they were being put on “standby” due to flooding and they were “commandeering” the armory!  At that point, the scramble was on.  I had several back ups, but the big issue you run into with more of the better locations is insurance.  I used to hold things on city owned property and they would sponsor the event and we would fall under their umbrella coverage….but no more (I suppose a special thanks goes to frivolous lawsuits).  As I made calls and found most were already booked, I narrowed it down to two places.  One with air conditioning that would basically be like lifting in a warehouse (it was an auction house) or the Willard School Gym where we ended up which had no air conditioning.  I checked the long range forecast and saw a high of 77 with a low of 59 the night before.  I borrowed a huge fan and rolled the dice.  The next weekend the forecast was for mid 90’s and that gym would have been miserable!  That worked out great in the end.  It was not the first time I lost my venue last minute….probably not the last….always have a back up plan!!!

The Shirts

I love Sunbrite laundry.  The Hettinger family that runs it have been really good to me, it’s one of the few family owned, locally owned business in Kirksville and I try to keep as many of my $$$ locally as I can.  But Josh Hettinger always seems to run up until the last minute with the shirts I order from him.  I have to say this, he ALWAYS comes thru…..but he has to admit….he did bring the shirts in Saturday morning and that gives the meet director high blood pressure.  The first event I EVER ran my shirt guy (not Sunbrite….this guy later went our of business and for good reason) showed up at NOON with my shirts and they were screwed up.  This was after me going by repeatedly trying to proof them and get him to get them done.  ”Checks in the Mail” comes to mind!

The Awards

For the last several years I have bought 2lb anvils from Grizzly tools.  They were unique awards and symbolic of Grandpa Jackson’s anvil that led to my grandfather starting his weightlifting career in the first place.  I went to order more and found out they were no longer selling them!  So I scrambled on the internet to find a replacement and finally did.  However, when I ordered them they were placed on back order!  The sales rep assured me I’d have them on time for the meet (again “Checks in the mail” comes to mind) and sure enough a few days before the meet they came in!  This did not help my blood pressure!

The Cake

This was pretty minor compared to the other things, but my wife suggested we make a “USAWA” cake for the banquet.  I liked the idea and had Al send me the USAWA logo digital file.  He had no idea what I was going to do with it, I thought it would be a nice surprise.  Well, I forgot to order it!  After all, I was already worried about the venue, shirts, and awards!   So, my wife jumped in and took charge and literally ordered the cake on Saturday morning!  She picked it up that afternoon!  Clutch play on her part.

Last minute equipment issues

I had in my mind using some 1″ bars I had for the DB Snatch.  Al called me and said he assumed I had some Oly style handles.  I did not so he stopped at a sporting goods store in Topeka to pick a couple up.  The thick bar was one Al had made and was too heavy for some to open with.  So I sent John O’Brien on a quick run home to get a lighter one that I had meant to bring, but forgot.  I think I sent him a “list” of things to get, but you always seem to forget something!

The Weather

Those that were there will recall that right before the meet started that a storm blew in.  It was not a bad storm but it had plenty of lightning and was dumping ran like crazy.  I had a couple people who were not from the midwest kind of concerned about tornadoes and rightfully so.  But then the roof started to leak!!!!  I had visions of the roof starting to leak all over and ruining the meet!  The funny part is that I run a lot of outdoor strongman and Highland Games….I was thinking before hand that the weather would be no concern since we were inside!  Boy, was I wrong.  Luckily, the ran stopped and so did the leaky roof!

Other than that…haha….the meet ran fine!  I considered it a success and I hope those attended had a great experience!  Again, you never pull these things off alone and if I didn’t have an understanding wife first and foremost, this would never have happened.

Minutes from the 2011 ANM

by Al Myers, USAWA Secretary

Minutes from the 2011 Annual National Meeting

The 2011 USAWA Annual National Meeting was called to order by USAWA President Denny Habecker.  The meeting started promptly at 6:30 PM on June 24th in the Jackson Weightlifting Club’s Training Hall.  Roll call was taken and these 12 USAWA members were in attendance: Denny Habecker, Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck, John O’Brien, Rudy Bletscher, Randy Smith, Helen Kahn, Judy Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, Larry Traub, Chad Ullom, and Joe Garcia.  The first agenda item was the reading of the previous meeting’s minutes by USAWA Secretary Al Myers.  Although they were quite long and boring, Randy Smith still moved that they be accepted.  Chad Ullom provided the second and they were passed unanimously. The next item was the financial report by USAWA Treasurer Al Myers.  A net loss for the year of $1242.60 was reported.  A budget for 2011 was presented that had been prior approved by the Executive Board.  Chad Ullom moved to accept the report, with a second by Thom Van Vleck, and it was passed unanimously.  The next report given was by the Officials Director Joe Garcia.  Joe detailed the number of current officials, along with a suggestion that it was time to update the Officials Test. The next report given was by the Website Director Al Myers.  Several of the website statistics, along with some general comments regarding soliciting sponsorship for the USAWA by using the website as the means of giving our sponsors advertising exposure was reported.  The next agenda item was the report from the Records Director Joe Garcia.  Joe reported that the USAWA Record List is approaching 10,000 records.  He also gave some interesting statistics regarding the records.  The report from the Awards Director Al Myers was next.  The report explained the purpose of the award programs and what awards were given this past year on behalf of the USAWA.  Chad Ullom, the Drug Enforcement Director, gave his report next.  He explained our current drug testing program, and how it has been improved by testing more competitions and more competitors. 

The next agenda item was the discussion and vote on 6 new proposed USAWA lifts.  These six lifts were: the Appollons Lift, the Cyr Press, the Saxon Snatch, the Dinnie Lift, the Goerner Stroll, and the Jackson Press.  After a little discussion, Larry Traub moved these lifts be accepted, which was seconded by Judy Habecker.  An amendment to the motion was made by Al Myers to accept as USAWA records in these lifts any records that have been done during this past year under the proposed rules.  The amendment was seconded by Judy Habecker and the motion passed unanimously.  At this point a vote was called on accepting the proposed lifts and it passed unanimously.  At this point as required by our USAWA rules, a call from the floor was made to ask if anyone had an official USAWA  lift they wanted proposed to IAWA for acceptance.  Only one lift was proposed, and that lift was the Bent Over Row as proposed by Al Myers on behalf of John McKean.  Chad Ullom provided the second and it was passed unanimously.  The next item was several proposed USAWA Rulebook changes that was presented by Al Myers on behalf of the Executive Board.  Most of the proposed Rulebook changes were to bring the USAWA rules into compliance with the IAWA rules.  After reading all of the proposed changes, only one item caused the membership to be in disagreement, and that was the rule involving the Bench Press – Feet in Air.  The proposed change was to allow a bench to rest the lower legs on during the lift, as allowed by the IAWA.  Judy Habecker moved  to strike this proposed change from the list, with Chad Ullom providing the second.  A vote was taken and the motion was upheld with a vote of 8 in favor, 1 opposed, and 3 abstaining.  After some more discussion, Chad Ullom moved to accept the remaining Rulebook changes. Judy Habecker provided a second. Al Myers moved to amend the motion by adding that the new proposed rules take effect August 1st, to allow time for the updated Rule Book to be put on the website.   Judy Habecker provided a second, and the amendment passed unanimously.  A vote on the amended motion was then called for, and it passed unanimously.  The next agenda item was the development of an online store on the USAWA website.  Website Director Al Myers explained how this could benefit the membership by allowing purchase of USAWA promotional items, rulebooks, and other items off the website.  Also explained was the upfront expense of around $500-$1000 that would be required to make this happen to allow for the saleable items to be bought before they would be sold.  The membership seemed to be in agreement on this, and Chad Ullom moved that up to $1000 be used to develop an online store under the direction of Al Myers.  Judy Habecker provided the second and the motion passed unanimously.   The next agenda item was any other new business brought forth by the membership.  The discussion of lifetime membership was the only item brought up.  Several members were in disagreement on whether this would be beneficial for the USAWA.  After much discussion, Chad Ullom moved that this item be looked into further by forming a committee that would report back to the membership at the next meeting.  Rudy Bletscher provided a second and the motion passed unanimously.  The ad hoc committee that was formed consisted of Al Myers, Judy Habecker, and Randy Smith. 

At this point, USAWA President asked if there were any bids for the 2012 National Championships.  There were none.  Judy Habecker moved that the Executive Board be responsible for finding a venue for the next year.  Chad Ullom gave the second, and it passed unanimously.  The last item was the election of officers.  Judy Habecker moved that the current officers and Executive Board members be retained for another term. These officers include: President – Denny Habecker, Vice President – Chad Ullom, Secretary/Treasurer – Al Myers, at large Executive Board Members - Dennis Mitchell and Scott Schmidt.   Larry Traub provided the second, and the motion passed unanimously.  At this point Thom Van Vleck announced that the steaks were done and it was time to eat.  The meeting was in session for 1.5 hours.  Judy Habecker moved to adjourn, Chad Ullom provided a second, the motion  passed unanimously, and everyone quickly exited for the supper table.

National Championships

by Thom Van Vleck AND Al Myers

USAWA Nationals: 2011 Official Meet Report

Group picture from the 2011 USAWA National Championships.

The 2011 USAWA Nationals held in Kirksville, Missouri and hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club on June 25th is now in the record books. The event was held in the old Willard School Gym. This building is around 75 years old and for many of the older lifters, it was the type of gym they grew up in! It had old, hardwood floors and a stage on one side with baskets at each end. There was a partitioned warm up area at one end with the main platform at center court. The platforms were well constructed with the main one being 12′x12′. We had a nice light system for the judges and a top notch PA system for the announcer (Al Myers). Wayne Smith, honored guest and original JWC member, made the comment that Al was the best announcer he had ever heard and since Wayne has attended many Olympic lifting Nationals, a World Championships (in Columbus, Ohio when Alexeev broke the 500lb C&J barrier) and even a Pan Am Games I thought that said a lot!!!!

The morning session included the Women and the older master lifters. Amber Glasgow won the women’s overall with Susan Sees getting second in her first ever trip to the USAWA Nationals! Helen Kahn was a close second to Susan.

Three guys that must be mentioned in this early morning group includes Mike Murdock, Dean Ross, and Rudy Bletscher.  These guys have had some epic battles going head to head in the past but what sets them apart is the great respect they have for one another and the wonderful encouragement they give each other. Denny Habecker and Dennis Mitchell both traveled a long way to compete and did some fantastic lifting. I know my mother guessed Denny was 20 years younger than his actual age (see….weight training keeps you young!) and Wayne Smith was so inspired by Dennis Mitchell (they are the same age) that he told me he felt like training and competing again.

Now, let’s take a look a the overall top ten men’s lifters as adjusted by age and weight coefficients.

10. Joe Garcia. Joe was handicapped in this meet by the fact that we did not have a “heavy lift”. Joe is one of the greatest “heavy” lifters of all time but that did not stop him from cracking the top ten.

9. Denny Habecker. Denny came a long way to compete and did not disappoint. He also pulled double duty judging and his wife Judy was the scorekeeper all day long.

8. Dave Glasgow. Dave is looking at elbow surgery soon but that did not stop him from having a great day. All while coaching Team Ledaig to the team championships.

7. John O’Brien. John came in at a heavy 290lbs and he had power to spare. He seemed to be strongest on his third attempts. John was the JWC’s top finisher. John made an easy 240lb Cheat Curl that showed his explosiveness.

6. Randy Smith. Randy has been a top finisher for years in the USAWA and did not disappoint. His Continental of 225lbs on the thick bar really impressed several of us.

5. Sammy Ibrahim was the top junior lifter and showed his potential with this top 5 finish in the men’s overall. Sammy broke several records in the process and his explosiveness in the Dumbbell Snatch was a sight to see.

4. Sam Cox, the winner of the first ever USAWA Old time Strongman contest was barely edged out by Chad Ullom who was 3rd. Sam is only 22 years old and will undoubtedly improve and be a force in the future.

3. Chad Ullom. To give you an idea of the caliber of the lifting in this contest, Chad is the CURRENT IAWA World Champion. No, he did not have an off day, it was just that great of a contest. Chad really impressed me with his  Zercher lift of 445 pounds.

2. Eric Todd. Eric usually competes in strongman competitions as a professional. He has been an All American Wrestler in College and is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. He dumped a Continental to the Chest attempt right across his leg and simply shrugged it off and on the the next lift.

Larry Traub of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club won the Overall Best Mens Lifter in his very first USAWA Nationals appearance.

1. Larry Traub. Larry is a 9 time Master’s National Champ in powerlifting as well has numerous other titles. He lived up to his pedigree by edging out the slimmest victory we’ve seen in some time. Eric missed his last Zercher attempt and had he made it he would have beaten Larry for the overall. Just 5lbs either way! Larry pulled a nice 560lbs Deadlift that in the end won the contest for him.

No meet report would be complete without those who work behind the scenes. I would especially like to thank my wife, Kelly, who helped me with lots of details on this meet. She was solely responsible for the Friday night meal, the lunch on meet day, the beautiful cake at the awards banquet, and making sure the banquet ran smoothly until I got there.

The loaders were JWC members Mitch Ridout and Tedd Van Vleck. I know they really wanted to compete, but took the bullet for the team and helped all day. Scorekeeping was done by Judy Habecker and the announcer was Al Myers. JWC Member Brett Kerby set up or spectacular sound system and made sure we were able to open our ceremony with the National Anthem.

Be sure and check back in the following days. We will have special reports on the USAWA Awards that took place at the awards banquet, the special display honoring past champions at the meet, and some of the “stories within the story” that really made this event special.



2011  USAWA National Championships
Kirksville, Missouri
June 25th, 2011

Meet Directer: Thom Van Vleck

Lifts:  Snatch – Dumbbell, One Arm, Curl – Cheat, Pullover and Push, Continental to Chest – Fulton Bar, Deadlift – 12″ Base, Zercher Lift

Officials (3 -0fficial system used on all lifts):  Session 1 – Steve Schmidt, Joe Garcia (head judge), Randy Smith; Session 2 – Steve Schmidt, Denny Habecker (head judge), Dennis Mitchell

Announcer:  Al Myers

Scorekeeper:  Judy Habecker

Loaders:  Mitch Ridout, Tedd Van Vleck

Photographer:  Flossy Mitchell

Sound System: Brett Kerby


Lifter Age BWT Snat Crl P&P Con DL Zer Total Points
Amber Glasgow 32 142 45-R 75 110 85 240 155 710.0 784.8
Susan Sees 48 197 40-R 90 90 80 210 100 610.0 599.4
Helen Kahn 59 163 25-R 60 55 60 170 95 465.0 562.2

Extra attempts for records:

Amber Glasgow: Deadlift 12″ Base – 255#
Helen Kahn: Continental to chest – 75#
Helen Kahn: Deadlift 12″ Base – 185#
Susan Sees: Continental to Chest – 90#


Lifter Age BWT Snat Crl P&P Con DL Zer Total Points
Larry Traub 57 203 90-R 190 235 195 560 325 1595 1668.7
Eric Todd 36 248 130-R 215 425 340 560 420 2090 1665.1
Chad Ullom 39 250 140-R 215 355 320 550 445 2025 1606.8
Sam Cox 22 215 130-R 185 325 315 505 405 1865 1601.7
Sammy Ibrahim 17 172 105-L 175 300 220 425 345 1570 1563.1
Randy Smith 56 196 90-R 170 225 225 405 300 1415 1495.5
John O’Brien 42 290 140-R 240 250 340 475 365 1810 1375.5
Dave Glasgow 57 248 90-R 175 245 195 440 300 1445 1356.7
Denny Habecker 68 194 70-R 120 235 150 325 231 1131 1327.2
Joe Garcia 57 209 90-R 150 225 200 315 225 1205 1239.9
Dean Ross 68 276 70-R 125 175 125 350 225 1070 1043.2
Mike Murdock 71 230 50-R 120 95 125 275 200 865 945.9
Rudy Bletscher 75 215 45-R 90 100 110 275 150 770 899.3
Dennis Mitchell 79 156 27.5-R 76 80 60 210 185 638.5 881.6
Bob Geib 68 268 50-R 115 115 85 300 225 890 880.2

Extra attempts for record:

Dennis Mitchell: Dumbbell Snatch -27.5# Left
Dennis Mitchell: Cheat Curl – 85#
Denny Habecker: Dumbbell Snatch – 75# Right
Denny Habecker: Pullover & Push – 245#
Bob Geib: Dumbbell Snatch – 60# Left
Bob Geib: Deadlift 12″ Base – 320#
Dean Ross: Zercher – 240#
Sammy Ibrahim: Dumbbell Snatch – 110# Left
Sammy Ibrahim: Deadlift 12″ Base – 440#
Chad Ullom: Dumbbell Snatch – 110# Left
John O’Brien: Dumbbell Snatch – 110# Left

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


BEST MEN 65-69 MASTERS LIFTER – Denny Habecker
BEST MEN 70-74 MASTERS LIFTER – Mike Murdock
BEST MEN 75-79 MASTERS LIFTER – Rudy Bletscher

TEAM AWARD – Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club


by Al Myers

I just got home from one of the BEST USAWA Nationals that I have ever been to!  It was a weekend packed with fun, great lifting, and camaraderie.  Eighteen lifters took part in this elite National Competition sanctioned by the USAWA, and hosted by meet director Thom Van Vleck of the JWC.  Thom did an extraordinary job as the meets director and provided amenities beyond what is expected.  We owe Thom a big “pat on the back” for his efforts.  This is not intended to be a meet report (I’ll leave that to Thom to write) but instead just a NEWS FLASH of the meet results.  A full report with full meet results will be available in a day or two.  The following are the top three women lifters and the top ten men lifters based on amended totals.


1.  Amber Glasgow – 784.8 points
2.  Susan Sees – 599.4 points
3.  Helen Kahn – 562.2 points


1.  Larry Traub -  1668.7 Points
2.  Eric Todd -  1665.1 Points
3.  Chad Ullom – 1606.8 Points
4.  Sam Cox – 1601.7 Points
5.  Sammy Ibrahim – 1563.1 Points
6.  Randy Smith -  1495.5 Points
7.  John O’Brien – 1375.5 Points
8.  Dave Glasgow – 1356.7 Points
9.  Denny Habecker - 1327.2 Points
10.  Joe Garcia – 1239.9 Points

TEAM CHAMPIONS - Ledaig Heavy Athletics

Old School Meet in Old School Gym: USAWA Nationals Location Change!

 by Thom Van Vleck

Attention: This article contains important information on a change in venue for the 2011 USAWA Nationals!

No School like the Old School: Williard Elementary, new location for the USAWA Nationals!!!

My Uncle Phil once told me, “Through no fault of your own….you always seem to have the worst luck”.  I guess he was saying that while I do most everything right the variables I can’t control seem to often conspire against me.  However, I have always believed that when the world gives you lemons make lemonade and then grill a nice steak to go with it!

I was notified today that the local National Guard Unit is being activated due to flooding in Missouri.  Their home is the Rieger Armory and since they are being activated we have lost that location as the meet site.   I was told this was the first time since 1993 this had happened!  This caused me to take off from work and search frantically for a new meet location!  I did NOT want anyone to be disappointed when they showed up!  As a result, I tried to be picky….but on short notice “beggars can’t be choosers”.  However, I think the location I have found will work out even better!

It is the old Williard School.  Just a few blocks away from the downtown square and the Dukum Inn where our banquet will be held.  The address is 707 N Centennial Street, Kirksville, MO 63501.  This is an old elementary school built about 80 years ago that has been converted into a private daycare.  A good friend of mine runs it and was willing to let us use the location.  The building is on the corner of Centennial and Cottonwood streets and the gym entrance is on the South side of the building (the Cottonwood street side).

This gym is straight out of the 1950’s and since we are an “old school” type lifting organization I thought it was pretty fitting that we end up in an “old school” for our meet.

If you have any questions on the location, just let me know.  I will have me cell phone on me that day and if you attend the annual meeting the night before we will tell you how to get to the meet.  Cottonwood actually intersects with Highway 63, which is the major North/South highway in town so it is actually only involves one turn to get there from the highway!  Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Zercher Lift: A Missouri Original

 by Thom Van Vleck

Denny Habecker completing the Zercher Lift. Denny will be at the 2011 USAWA Nationals where this lift will be contested

When I was selecting lifts for the 2011 USAWA Nationals to be held June 25 in Kirksville, Missouri I very carefully selected my lifts.  I was trying to get a good mix from each of the major categories.  I wanted a thick bar lift (Continental to Chest), a dumbbell lift/one arm lift (DB Snatch), a power type lift (Deadlift 12″ base), a miscellaneous lift (Cheat Curl), a pressing movement (Pull over and Press), and a squat movement.  For the squat movement I picked the Zercher!  I also wanted all the lift to come off the floor so that the meet could move along quickly and I was not sure how many spotters I would have.

While the list was then passed on the USAWA board to approve and they did approve it the only one that was questioned was the Zercher.  Not because it’s a “bad’ lift, but because it’s been used several times before and there was just some thought that maybe we should “mix it up” a little.  The problem for me was this was the ONE lift I felt I HAD to have in my meet.  The reason:  The Zercher was named after Ed Zercher and he’s a true MISSOURI born strongman!

The man himself: ED ZERCHER, one of Missouri's greatest strength athletes!

One of the things I like about the USAWA is it’s respect for history and the desire to make sure many of these lifts from bygone years are remembered and practiced.  Many of them have real merit and are often “rediscovered” in modern times.  Look at Kettlebell lifting!  My grandfather used to do Kettlebell training when I first stared lifting in the 1970’s and I remember thinking how “old fashioned” that was and he needed to get “modern” if he wanted to get strong!  How naive I was!   The Zercher has made a bit of a comeback for that same reason……in a way!

Many modern lifters have begun to do what they call “Zerk’s” or Zercher Squats.  They take a weight out of low squat rack or power rack, squat with the bar in the crooks of the arms, and then reload it on the rack.  This has become a variation that some lifters use in a mix with front and back squats but it is also one that guys have added that have trouble holding the bar in the front squat position or some other injury the precludes regular type squats.  But of course, as “Ol’ Clark” himself would tell you…..THIS IS NOT A ZERCHER!  Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing “Zerks” and they are a fine exercise to anyone’s repertoire of lifts.

There were some guys recently discussing “Zerks” on a message board and I got on there and pointed out the difference in what I thought was a polite, informative way.  One of them blew up!  He thought I was being petty bringing up the difference.  But to me, Ed Zercher developed that lift and we need to honor the man by keeping things straight!  With that said, here’s the rules for the Zercher lift:

C8.  Zercher Lift
The bar starts on the platform and at the lifter’s discretion the bar is deadlifted to a position where it may be supported on the knees or thighs.
Feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. The lifter will then bend down, with the bar resting on the legs, to a position in which the lifter is able to secure the bar in the crooks of the elbows. The lifter will then stand erect with the arms bent and the bar fixed at the articulation of the upper and lower arms.  The lifter’s arms may be inside or outside of the legs. The hands may be locked together. Once the bar is
motionless, the legs straight, the body erect with shoulders upright, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The bar must be returned to the platform under control for the lift to be complete. It is acceptable to drop the bar once it is below the level of the knees provided that the hands follow the bar to the platform.

So, come to Nationals and help me honor one of Missouri’s greatest Strongmen!  Let’s Zercher!

Deadlift – 12″ Base

 by Thom Van Vleck

Wilbur Miller doing a partial deadlift, but still demonstrating the proper foot placement for the 12" base dead lift

Let’s talk about the 12″ Base Deadlift.   This lift will be contested in the upcoming USAWA 2011 Nationals held by the Jackson Weightlifting Club in Kirksville, Missouri on June 28th.  Make sure you know the rules!

The USAWA Rule Book says:

B1.  Deadlift – 12 inch Base
The rules of the Deadlift apply except that the maximum width of foot placing must not exceed 12 inches between the inside of the lifter’s heels. It is recommended that a 12 inch space be marked on the platform by a drawn line or tape.
Now, just to cover all the bases, let’s cover the rules for the Deadlift just to be sure we all understand it:
A.   Deadlift
The bar will be placed on the platform at the lifter’s feet, directly in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with both hands with any grip and any hand spacing. The lifter may use an alternate grip in which the palms of the hands are opposed. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion.  The bar may be uneven during the ascent, but it must finish evenly.  The bar may touch the legs during the ascent, but must not be rested on the legs, bounced, hitched, or lowered. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Heels and toes may rise during the lift, but foot placing must not change.  No substance of any kind may be applied to the legs. When the legs are straight, the arms are straight, the shoulders erect, the bar motionless, the lifter will receive a command from an official to lower the bar.  The bar must be returned to the platform under control for the lift to be complete.

Pretty straight forward!  At the Nationals this year we WILL have tape on the floor to help the lifters and judges make the call.

Continental to Chest: It’s not a Clean!

 by Thom Van Vleck

The mid point of the Continental to Chest.

The Continental to Chest (Fulton bar) will be contested at the 2011 USAWA Nationals hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  Let’s get familiar with the rules:

A23.  Continental to Chest

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

F.  Fulton Bar (2” Bar) Lifts
Fulton Bar Lifts are approved for all bar lifts using a Fulton Bar and the rules of the individual lifts. 


We wanted to have one Fulton bar (or thick bar) lift and the Continental to Chest happens to be it.

In the past, this lift has often been referred to as the “Continental Clean”.  This was a pet peeve of  former USAWA secretary Bill Clark.  He would point out that the “Clean” refers to lifting the bar “cleanly” from the floor to the chest.  So, saying “Continental Clean” is an oxymoron……kind of like “near miss” or “alone together”.   Everyone knows what you mean but it really doesn’t make sense!

There’s a deeper story on how the Continental got it’s name.  In the early days of lifting, the British were often in competition with the French and German lifters (or Continental Europe, which did not include the British Isles).  The British took pride in how strictly they would lift the bar “cleanly” to the chest and would make fun of how the French and German would bounce the bar up anyway they could and the would refer to that method as the “Continental Style” in a negative fashion.  Later, the British were instrumental in the early lifting rules and the continental style was phased out and the clean style was accepted for major lifting competitions.  But the USAWA keeps the style alive and well!

So study the rules and get ready for some Continental action!

Meeting Agenda

by Al Myers

One of the big parts of our 2011 USAWA National Championship will be the Annual National Meeting (ANM) of the USAWA.   I have put together the meeting agenda, and it has been approved by the USAWA Executive Board.   There are no “big topics” on the agenda like there has been the last couple of years (i.e. the rulebook and the bylaws).  The biggest agenda item will be the election of officers.   All officer positions will be up for re-election (the USAWA bylaws require this every two years, on odd-numbered years).   Only those present at the meeting will have voting privileges (no proxy votes, which is also outlined in our bylaws).  So if you are upset about how the administration of the USAWA is “running the show”, this is your chance to voice your opinion or “throw your hat” into the candidate pool for an officer position. 

The ANM will be held on June 24th, Friday evening at 6:30 PM.  The meeting site will be the JWC Training Hall (for directions contact Thom or myself).  Immediately following the meeting a meal will be provided for the membership present.   Thom has assured me that this meal will be a “steak and potatoes” type of meal and NOT a “frank and beans” type of meal so bring your appetite.   The cost of this will be donations only.  

Business Agenda for the 2011 USAWA Annual National Meeting

1. Meeting called to order by USAWA President Denny Habecker

2. Reading of previous meetings minutes by USAWA Secretary Al Myers

3. Report of financial status by USAWA Treasurer Al Myers

4. Report from the Officials Director Joe Garcia

5. Report from the Website Director Al Myers

6. Report from the Records Director Joe Garcia

7. Report from the Awards Director Al Myers

8. Report from the Drug Enforcement Director Chad Ullom

9. Discussion and vote on new proposed lifts

10. Discussion and vote on Rulebook Changes

11. Discussion and vote on Online Store

12. Discussion of other new business brought forth by the membership

13. Accept bids for the 2012 National Championships

14. Election of officers

15. Meeting adjourned

Pullover and Push: Old School “Bench Pressing”

Pullover and Push as demonstrated by the great Arthur Saxon. He was a favorite of JWC "founding father" Dalton Jackson

by Thom Van Vleck

Those of you who know me know that I can’t make things simple.  I put a lot of thought into things and when I was thinking about lifts for the 2011 USAWA Nationals to be held June 25th in Kirksville, Missouri this process was in overdrive.  I wanted a pressing movement and I also wanted a lift that would honor my grandfather in some way.  Well, he was a big fan of Arthur Saxon and when I saw this photo in the USAWA photo archive it just sealed the deal for me that the Pullover and Push would be that “pressing” movement in the list of lifts for Nationals.

Let’s review the rules to make sure we know how to do the lifts!

A35.  Pullover and Push

The lifter will lie on his/her back on the platform with the bar placed on the platform above the lifter’s head.  Padding, such as a towel or mat, may be placed under the lifter’s body and elbows. The bar is gripped with the palms of the hands facing up and with the bar at arms’ length prior to the start of the lift.  Width of hand spacing and feet placement is optional. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed multiple rolls with the bar on the platform to gain momentum to the bar. Hands must remain on the bar throughout the lift. The lifter will then pull the bar over and onto the chest or upper abdomen resulting in the upper arms resting on the platform. The bar must not be rolled once on the chest. The bar or plates must not make contact with the platform once the bar leavesthe platform or it will result in disqualification. The lifter is allowed to move or lift the feet and hips during the pullover. Once the bar is on the chest or abdomen, the lifter may move the feet close to the hips, and raise the hipsto create a bridging or belly toss to propel the bar to arms’ length. This is done at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed feet and hip movement during the push. The lifter may press the bar instead of pushing the bar if desired.  Once the push has begun, the bar must not be lowered in any manner. Only one attempt at the push is allowed. The bar must lock out with even extension. Once the arms are straight, the lifter must lower the hips to the platform and straighten the legs to a flat position on the platform. The arms must remain straight during this time.   When the lifter and bar are motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control. It is acceptable to drop the bar behind the head in the return to the platform as long as the lifter maintains hand contact with the bar.

Now, you have to make sure you distinguish this lift from the Pullover and Press and the Pullover and Press with Wrestler’s Bridge.  They are often confused.  The last thing I will say is that if you have a big nose or a big head… may want to turn your head when you pull the weight over to the push position!  If you’ve ever done this lift, you know what I mean!  Now, come to the Nationals and try it first hand!

Can you Cheat on the Cheat Curl?

 by Thom Van Vleck

I love me some Cheat Curl! There may be some rule changes that bring the USAWA in line with IAWA rules that will open this up for lots of new records!

The Cheat Curl will be contested at the 2011 USAWA Nationals held June 25 and hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club in Kirksville, Missouri.  An interesting paradox will take place with this lift.  As always, the USAWA annual meeting will take place.  This is the one time when rule changes can be discussed, voted on, and passed.  Interestingly enough, one of the lifts being contested is the Cheat Curl.  The USAWA rules currently are different from the IAWA rules and there is a proposal to change the USAWA rules to bring them in line with the IAWA rules.  One of the major differences is the USAWA requires the feet to stay flat on the floor while the IAWA rules allow for the heels to raise.  So, according to the USAWA rules if you did a Cheat Curl following the IAWA rules…you’d be CHEATING?  So I guess it is possible to cheat on the Cheat Curl! Now, here’s where the paradox comes in.

Traditionally, the rules meeting has taken place after the meet.  Since the meeting can be lengthy and since there’s usually a banquet of some sorts afterwards Al Myers and myself decided to have the meeting the night before the meet.  That way, we get the “business” out of the way and the day of the meet only focuses on the lifting and the fun afterwards!  This has created an interesting situation.  One of the lifts being contested on Saturday may have the rules changed on Friday!  If so, then which rules apply!

Currently, the USAWA rules state:

D7.  Curl – Cheat
The bar begins on the platform, and at the lifter’s discretion, is picked up with a grip that has the palms of the hands facing up or away from the lifter. Feet placement and hand spacing is optional, but must remain the same throughout the lift.  Heels and toes must not rise during the lift. Once the lifter is upright in a standing position with the arms and legs straight, the bar on the thighs hanging at arms’ length, an official will give a
command to curl. The knees must remain locked and the legs straight during the lift. The lifter is permitted to bend at the waist, sway the body, or drop the shoulders to gain momentum of the bar. The bar may be lowered prior to the beginning of the curl. The bar must be curled from arms’ length to touching the upper chest or neck in one motion. Any downward movement of the bar during the curl is a disqualification. Once the bar is motionless, and the lifter is upright, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar returns to the platform under control by the lifter.

So, be ready for both sets of rules and we will see how this plays out!