Articles from February 2012



Clark’s Gym Rules

by Al Myers

The Gym Rules of Clark's Gym. This is posted by the front door and is the first thing you see when you enter the gym.

Every gym has their own rules, but I have found that Club Gyms have completely different types of rules than commercial gyms.  Clark’s Gym Rules pretty much “sum up” how club’s operate different than big commercial gyms. Let’s spend a little time going over Bill’s rules of the gym (while I make a few comments):

Rule # 1: No Drugs or Steroids

This is a big one in most drug-free clubs!! Bill makes it very clear that this behavior will not be tolerated in his gym. I have no doubt that Bill would pursue this to the point of criminal prosecution if someone was “dealing” in the gym premises.  I feel the exact same way in the Dino Gym.  Steroid users are a “rotten apple” in a gym full of drug free lifters.  They must be thrown out with the garbage.  We (the Dino Gym) make our DRUG FREE STANCE well-known and have not had this problem yet.  I do think I would have a “weightlifters intervention” with a fellow friend and gym member before throwing them out. I would enlist help from the gym’s enforcer Scott Tully, who would “slap them upside the head” and tell them “what the **** you doing!!! Quit that **** or your gone!!”  If that intervention didn’t work – then they would be kicked out.

The ironic thing about the whole “steroid scene” is that most commercial gyms don’t really care if gym members “juice”.  It looks good for business if other gym members see guys who are “buff from the roids” and gives them the false illusion if they keep paying their gym dues they will look the same someday. Now if these “roid heads” start grunting to much when lifting or sweat on the equipment – that’s another issue – and will soon be shown the door. Hard training is NOT TOLERATED in most commercial gyms!

Rule #2: No spitting. No profanity. No spitting. No Resin. No Food/Drink.

I put all these in the same rule because they all mean the same thing.  And that is – SHOW SOME RESPECT!  It’s Bill’s gym and he’s the one who has to clean up the mess you made! He doesn’t have a cleaning crew come in at night like a commercial gym has.  I know Bill doesn’t take these rules “to the extreme”  because I have seen some of the above rule number 2’s  ”violated” before in Clark’s Gym and Bill didn’t seem to mind much – as long as you didn’t leave a cluttered mess behind!  I face these same issues in the Dino Gym.  If you have to spit – use the trash can, go outside,  or use a “spittoon”.  I don’t mind your water bottles if you take them with you after working out, throw the emptys in the trash, and not leave them on the floor.  Resin or chalk is not a problem – I expect some mess, but don’t crush an entire block on the floor.  I would say “treat the gym as you would your home”, but that might not be a true assessment as some guys are just born slobs.  Treat the gym BETTER than your home.

Now for profanity – that’s hard to prevent totally.  A few choice words after missing your last rep on a set of squats that you should have  made probably deserves a few choice words. But not from you – but from your training partners TO YOU for not putting out enough effort to get the lift!!

Rule #3: Safety first. Unload all weights when finished. Use Spotters. Tighten Collars on all overhead lifts.

This one just makes sense. The collars in the gym are there for a reason – so you can PUT THEM ON THE BAR!  The gym isn’t the beach where a lifeguard is watching to save your carcass when you go out too far and can’t swim back!  There’s no one to save you when you do something STUPID in the gym.  You put spotters at risk as well when you don’t use collars.  I have seen multiple injuries  occur because of collars not being on the bar and plates sliding off.  And PLEASE put the weights back where you found them!  There’s a reason I have plate racks in the gym, and it’s not because I need space to be taken up. Leaving stuff laying around creates hazards that others may stumble over. 

Rule #4: Park only in designated lot

OK – this rule of Bill’s confused me a little. There’s only one parking lot, and it’s right in front of the gym. His gym is the only business within a block.  Often it’s only partially filled because there’s more parking spots than gym members. Where does Bill think I’m going to park? Down the street half a mile at the gas station???  Most weightlifters I know try to MINIMIZE physical activity like walking so I doubt if this rule is very often violated. 

But it’s HIS GYM and he can make whatever rules he wants!!

Making Weight for Competition (Part 2 – water loss)

by Larry Traub

Chad Ullom performing the Thumbless Grip One Arm Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. Chad weighed in at 238# for the Grip Champs, and then weighed in at 248# the next day for the Dino Gym Record Day. He utilized water loss to make this 10 pound difference in weighins a day apart. (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

In the first article I talked about my high school wrestling days and how my extreme dieting made my life miserable and certainly made me less of a wrestler.  I do remember however the fall of my senior year I decided I would start a month or so before wrestling season and start gradually decreasing my weight through diet and a running program. I remember hanging in there a weeks or so, losing a couple of pounds and thinking; ‘This is stupid, I can lose 5 pounds in a couple of hours in the wrestling room with my rubber suit on, I’ll just enjoy the time between now and the start of the season and worry about it later’. In retrospect, I was on the right track, but I abandoned my plan because I didn’t distinguish between fat loss and water loss.

I believe it is possible to use moderate dehydration to your advantage in making a weight class for an athletic activity.  However, it can be tricky and the percentage of body weight that you choose to lose should be determined by several factors.  The method I have used in power lifting competitions many times is to dehydrate approximately 5% of my bodyweight over a 3 day period.  If I am going to compete at 198, I want to reduce my bodyweight to 208, using the fat loss method described in the previous article. I would then lose the last 10 lbs by dehydration and hopefully compete at a bodyweight around 208 or possibly even more.  Let’s say I have a Saturday morning weigh in. I would basically eliminate liquid from my diet after my noon meal on Wed. My projected bodyweights would look something like this:

  • Wed morning – 208
  • Wed night – 208
  • Thu morning – 206
  • Thu night – 203
  • Fri morning – 201.5
  • Fri night –199
  • Sat morning – 198

Notice that the rate of loss decreases over the dehydration period because, as you dehydrate, it will be more difficult to lose additional fluid.  In order to accomplish this, you should be eliminating fluids, as well as eating DRY food.  You must remember your goal is to lose water weight, not muscle, and, at this point, no fat loss, so you must continue to eat well.  If you have been following the fat loss program you really want to take in your normal calorie intake plus at least an extra 500 calories per day. This would put you around your BMR and should keep you from losing anything but water weight.  Actually, I don’t count calories during the dehydration period but I become concerned about getting enough calories. I’m actually reversing the rule of thumb that I used in the fat loss phase. I am trying to get a maximum number of calories from a minimum amount of food. I am still concerned about taking in an appropriate amount of protein and other nutrients, but if I’ve been craving pecan pie, I will go for it.  Just don’t plan on enjoying it as much as you would if you were washing it down with a glass of milk.   In the later stages of the process, I suspect you will have little desire to eat and you may decide you would rather have 6 ounces of water instead of the dry meal in front of you. Stay with the plan or at the very least treat yourself to six ounces of ice cream where you will get substantial calories while enjoying something with moisture in it.

Over the years, I have tried a number of different things. Once, I determined that if I spent some time in the sauna, I could then drink a glass of water at bedtime and eliminate going to bed thirsty.  The glass of water tasted good going down but provided little or no relief for my thirst so I decided it wasn’t really worth it.  Sucking on hard candy seemed to conquer the thirst issue as well as any other thing I tried.  You should also be aware that the morning of the competition you will feel like you would be lucky to squat a 45 pound bar, but as you rehydrate your energy levels will return.  I actually learned to like the dehydration process, somewhat. Normally, a few days before a competition I would start obsessing over my projected lifts and start to get anxious about the contest.  However, when you are dehydrating the process becomes your entire focus.  All you care about is making weight and drinking that first bottle of water. I really feel I’m more relaxed and confident going into the competition because I have spent time concentrating on the dehydration phase instead of the competition itself.   So, you endured 3 days of hell (actually the first day and a half aren’t too bad) in order to give yourself an edge. Let’s make sure you take advantage of it.  Several times I’ve been able to weigh myself shortly before my final deadlift and I would usually weigh around 210. At this point my bodyweight is closer to the 220 lb class than the one I am competing in. This is quite an advantage and I have planned well and worked hard to make it happen!

I start my rehydration as soon as I get off the scale. I usually have a bottle of water, a bottle of pedialyte, and a banana set aside. The water will go down easy, so I quickly consume that and the banana. Then I would force the pedialyte down on the way back to my motel room. The pedialyte was suggested to me years ago by my friend, Dave Glasgow who was an R.N. This nasty stuff was developed for infants who are dehydrated and it works better than sports drinks because it doesn’t contain sugar, which is a diuretic.  By the time I walk back to my hotel room, I hope to be a few pounds heavier and I will sit down, continue to hydrate, and eat a little. I focus on carbohydrates with some sugar for energy. One of my favorites is a whole wheat bread with honey. I will switch to sports drinks but it would probably be to your advantage to get the reduced calorie types that are now available which will help you avoid an excess of sugar. I focus on hydrating and eating without getting bloated and uncomfortable.   Knowing how much time you have before you lift is crucial. Typically I could figure I had close to two hours before my first squat but If I got lucky and I was in the second flight, I might have an additional hour and I would eat and drink a little more,  knowing that I had a little more time to absorb and digest.  I do not intend to be fully rehydrated by the time I squat, but I should be at least 6 or 7 pounds heavier. By the time I bench I will probably be pretty much fully hydrated (around 208) and, if I execute my plan well, I should be overhydrated for deadlift. It is possible to overhydrate because your body compensates for its period of having insufficient water by holding on to all that it can. (I’ve discovered several times that providing a sample for the drug test can become a lengthy process.)  Now, in order to gain 12 pounds I must consume at least 12 pounds over the course of the competition. I accomplish this by having a sports drink or water with me at all times. I will basically sip my way back to being fully hydrated being careful not to make myself uncomfortable in the process. I will also eat small meals throughout the day. Bread and honey, fresh fruits, small sandwiches; one of my favorites is to buy a small unfrosted angel food cake and periodically grab a chunk of that.  Again, don’t make yourself bloated or uncomfortable.  If I finished my last squat and I know I have an hour before I have to start warming up for bench I will eat and drink a little more, but basically you need to listen to your body. 

Of course, the model I’m using here is a full day contest with competition starting two hours after weigh in. Adjustments should be made for different competitions. If it was a bench press meet where the lifting would be completed within 3 hours of weigh in I would probably dehydrate around 3% instead of 5%. If there was a night before weigh in I might push it up to 6% and try and lose the last pound or so in a sauna right before the weigh in.  I imagine the process of dehydration is not extremely healthy; however, I usually competed only once or twice a year, so I don’t have any great concerns about that. If you are going to compete more often, then you should think twice about how much you should dehydrate.  If I could go back to my wrestling days, where I had to make weight a couple times a week, I think that maybe losing about 1% of my bodyweight would be appropriate.  The bottom line is that the fat loss, as described in the first article, combined with dehydration and proper rehydration, may provide significant benefits to your totals. Good luck!!

Making Weight for Competition (Part 1 – fat loss)

by Larry Traub

Randy Smith performing the Cheat Curl at the 2011 USAWA National Championships. Randy maintains his competition bodyweight year-round by regular exercise and proper diet. (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

This is going to be a two part article.  First I will write about the process of slowly losing weight over the course of time to get you reasonably close to your competition weight. (Probably within 5%.)  The first article will be the fat loss article, which in my opinion would apply to anyone who would like to reduce the amount of fat on their body.  The second article will deal with water loss (dehydration) and it’s very important that you distinguish between the two.  It should also be noted that muscle loss is in no way desirable and is generally what happens to millions of people who just think in terms of “weight loss”.

Trivia question: What was Arnold’s first major movie?  ————– Wrong !  Before the documentary “Pumping Iron” Arnold was in a movie with Sally Fields and Jeff Bridges called “Stay Hungry”.  Prior to this movie I had spent what seemed a great deal of my life ‘staying hungry’ trying to make a competitive weight class, due to my involvement with high school and collegiate wrestling.  The great irony is that it wasn’t until I decided to try my hand at bodybuilding (Arnold’s sport) that I realized that staying hungry was counterproductive to what I was trying to accomplish.

Muscle is good.  I know I’m preaching to the choir given the readership of this site, but we know that muscle is so desirable that we are willing to do what we do to attain it.  The question is, what can we do to retain it during the weight loss process?  To make sure we retain all that valuable muscle we need to understand survival mode.  The cave man eats well when game is plentiful but never knows when things will change and he may have to go an extended time without food.  When he gets hungry his body anticipates a period of insufficient food and switches to survival mode.  First, it slows down the body’s metabolism.  Secondly, it makes muscle the preferred source of energy in order to preserve as much fat as it can, because the stored fat is what it needs to get through the period of little or no food.  If it sounds like staying hungry is a bad idea then you’re getting the picture.

Not only is staying hungry a bad idea, it is a battle you have little or no chance of winning.  Ghrelin, sometimes referred to as the hunger hormone, is there to make sure you lose this battle. The caveman has very little energy because his metabolism has been slowed to a crawl, he has depleted much of his muscle so his strength levels are way down and yet he has to go out there and do whatever it takes to hunt down and kill a wild animal or he will die.  Ghrelin becomes his friend.  It makes his hunger so intense that he is willing to do whatever it takes to feed himself.  If ghrelin can make a hungry caveman go kill a bear with a club then there’s a good chance that it will make the modern day hungry man get off the couch, get in his car, go to McDonald’s and supersize whatever combo appeals to him.

How do we avoid survival mode, retain muscle, and accomplish our weight loss needs?  We must avoid being hungry.  I feel certain that most everyone could eat as much or more as they do now and reduce calories sufficiently to achieve a slow steady weight loss.  A maximum of one pound per week is the rule of thumb that I think is ideal for weight loss.  Since there is 3500 calories in a pound of fat then a reduction of 500 calories per day is what we need.  You need to discover your basic metabolic rate (BMR) which is simply how many calories you would normally burn in a 24 hour period.  The old formula is 15 times your bodyweight but you can google BMR and get a more sophisticated formula. The number you come up with, regardless of your method, is based on averages and it’s probable that yours is significantly better because you (as a reader of this site) should have a greater percentage of muscular composition.  Finding out your true BMR is a matter of trial and error.  I would suggest you use the number from your formula, subtract 300 to 500 calories and carefully evaluate the results.  First, disregard the results of the first 2 weeks because there will be significant water loss due to the fact that you are changing the types of food you eat.  You should probably be weighing daily, first thing in the morning and pretty much disregarding the weekly highs and lows. If you are losing slower or faster than a pound a week then make small adjustment until you are consistently losing a pound a week.  At that point you’re BMR is 500 calories greater that your intake.

You can use this knowledge and an adjustment in the types of food you eat to avoid survival mode.  The basic concept is this.  Eat as much food as you possibly can in the process of taking in your prescribed calorie intake.  You need to know that fat and sugars provide the most concentrated amount of calories per gram so minimizing your intake of both will probably result in you taking in a lot more food than you ate before you reduced your calorie intake.  You will not be hungry, therefore no survival mode and your body will gladly use stored fat for energy and allow you to keep, or even build muscle during the process. And you will feel great.

As a clueless high school wrestler I was convinced that staying hungry was what I had to do.  For years my parents would tell the story that during wrestling season their electricity bill would go up because I would constantly open the refrigerator, stare into it for several minutes, and then eventually close it without taking anything out.  It was me against the ghrelins and I guess I defeated them for a few months each year.  The sad part was, even though I loved the sport I learned to dread wrestling season because of the misery of being hungry.

Contrast that with the dieting that I did years later in preparation for a bodybuilding contest.  I was eating practically no fat or sugar and I was counting every calorie by carrying around a little clicker.  I can remember many times where I was watching TV in the evening and thinking about going to bed.  I had eaten very well all day long and was not at all hungry.  I would look at my clicker and tell my wife, “geez, I still have to eat 300 more calories.” I can still remember the sympathy my wife would express when I made these announcements.  Fortunately she is not the type of person that is prone to using hand gestures.

I know that carrying around a clicker to count every calorie is probably a bigger leap than most are willing to take.  In more recent years I have had a more haphazard approach with similar results.  The last time I made 198 lbs for a powerlifting competition I determined how much fat loss was necessary.  I allowed one week for every pound I needed to lose and made adjustments in my diet without actually counting calories.  I watched my weight closely and made adjustments if I was losing too fast or too slow.  It’s been several years ago now, but for a period of 6 or 7 consecutive years I competed in the masters nationals held in early May.  After letting my weight climb during the holidays I would do the math and alter my diet shortly after the beginning of the year.  I can honestly say I started looking forward to this time of year.  I knew I could do it without any hunger and my energy level would actually improve.  I guess the word diet will always contain four letters but maybe when you learn how to defeat the ghrelins you won’t have to think of it as a four letter word.

NOTE:  I feel compelled to admit to plagiarism.  Dr. Bryant Stamford is the local fitness Guru in the Louisville Area and writes a fitness column for the local paper and does fitness segments on the radio.  He is also an accomplished author and a college professor.  I am a math teacher but for years I taught an elective PE class called strength and fitness.  I used many of Dr. Stamford’s articles in my class for all sorts of topics.  I did not really go back and pull any articles while I was writing this but I know that most of the ideas in this article are ingrained in my head because of the many times I discussed his articles in class.  Dr Stamford and I knew each other a lifetime ago when we served on an AAU committee together but since then he unknowingly become a mentor to me and I thought if I said some nice things about him then maybe I won’t hear from his lawyers.  I heard him say something on the radio several years ago that relates to this article and really stuck in my head.  When people realize who he is, they often want to tell him about their accomplishments.  Quite often someone will brag about losing a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. (I’ve lost 25 lbs in 6 weeks.)  Dr. Stamford says that he politely congratulates them but, what he really wants to say is, “Oh, I’m so sorry !”  Sorry because you’ve lost muscle.  Sorry because you’ve messed up your metabolism.  Sorry because eventually the ghrelins will win, you will gain it back and because of your muscle loss you will be fatter then before.

2011 Postal Series Final Ranking

by Al Myers

Al Myers was the overall best lifter in the 2011 USAWA Postal Series.

Last year the USAWA started a quarterly Postal Series that would “add up points”  for the 4 postal meets for a FINAL STANDING.   There were postal meets before these, but this was when the postal series started.  This series is a way to acknowledge the lifters who participated the most and best in the postal meets the USAWA offers throughout the year.

The Postal Series Ranking is done using this simple scoring system. Each lifter accumulates points based on their overall placing in each postal meet. For example, if there are 10 lifters entered, first place receives 10 points and the last place finisher receives 1 point. This way EVERY lifter at least receives some points toward their yearly ranking total. If more lifters are entered – more points goes to the winner. The National Postal Meet is worth DOUBLE POINTS since it is the most important competition in our Postal Meet Series.  Now for the final 2012 POSTAL SERIES RANKING:

WOMEN’S DIVISION

1. Karena Fobes – 2 pts
2.  Helen Kahn – 1 pt

MEN’S DIVISION

1.  Al Myers – 46 pts
2.  Orie Barnett – 39 pts
3. Joe Ciavattone Jr. – 31 pts
4. Joe Ciavattone Sr. – 24 pts
5. Denny Habecker – 21 pts
6.  Eric Todd – 18 pts
7. Chuck Cookson – 17 pts
8.  Chad Ullom – 16 pts
9.  Dave Beversdorf – 14 pts
10. John Wilmot & Randy Smith – 13 pts

Overall the participation was OUTSTANDING in the postal meets this year.  A record 26 lifters took part (24 men and 2 women).  Three lifters need special recognition for participating in ALL FOUR meets: Orie Barnett, Denny Habecker, and John Wilmot. The first quarterly postal meet (Eastern Open) drew the most participation of any postal meet to date – 19 competitors!

There are no awards for the final postal series standings.  Postal Meet Director John Wilmot sends certificates to the winners of the individual postal meets, but the series ranking is just an accumulation of the results from the individual meets and does not have awards.  This year at the National Meeting I am going to ask the membership to allocated some funds to the Awards Program to at least send out some small awards to the Postal Series Best Lifters.  I think having some awards for the “final standings” would provide a nice “closing touch” to a our great postal program within the USAWA.

Making Your Weight Training “All-Around”

by Jarrod Fobes

Dean Ross performing an Index Fingers Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. This is one of the many variations of deadlifts within the USAWA that could be done as a "warm up" prior to a heavy deadlift training session.

Let me start off by saying that I am very new to the sport of weightlifting, and in that regard my opinions on how weight training should be done don’t count for squat. But I am a long time athlete and coach, and I do know a thing or two about creating an effective training program. So I thought I would share how I have been incorporating all-around lifting into my overall strength training, and see what the athletes of USAWA think.

Initially I tried training two days a week; one day of Olympic lifting and one day training whatever all-around lifts I was most interested in at the time. This didn’t work because if I had to miss a day of lifting, I either had to sacrifice my beloved all-around lifts, or miss out on some desperately needed Olympic practice. Also, my all-around sessions tended to focus on the lifts I was good at, rather than the lifts I needed to do. I needed to find a way to make sure I got a good full body workout on either day.

The general program I settled on is nothing revolutionary or even particularly intense: one or two full-body workouts a week, three or four lifts, each one for three or four sets of heavy singles, doubles, or triples. I pyramid up each set. I realize this is a pretty inexact scheme, but between teaching four martial arts classes a week and holding a physical job, I have to be able to vary the intensity based on how rested and ready I am. What is not inexact is my record-keeping. I think it’s important to diligently record the weight lifted each workout, regardless of whether it was a PR day or not.

With such a necessarily limited workout, it’s pretty hard to train the nearly 200 lifts included in the USAWA. So I’ve started “stealing” sets from the core lifts. For instance instead of doing four sets of Clean & Jerks, I might warm up with a set of Miller C&J. While this is a tough finger lift, it’s just a warm up for the back, leg, and shoulder muscles. Afterwards, I’ll struggle through a couple sets of Clean & Jerks, going up in weight if I feel my technique has improved enough. Then I’ll do one or two sets of an all-around lift that trains muscles or movement similar to the clean & jerk. If I’m sore and tired that day, I’ll pick something I’m not very good at (like One-Arm C&J, Judd C&J, etc) and focus on technique. If I’m feeling strong, I’ll pick one of my better lifts like the Turkish-Get Up and really try to push weight. Not only do the all-around lifts function as assistance exercises to the core lift, but the strength and technique gained from the core lift helps the all-around training too!

I bet there are a ton of creative ways to get some all-around practice in during your training, and I’d love to see some follow-up stories from veterans as well as other beginners.

LESSONS

BY DAVE GLASGOW

WILBUR MILLER TRAINED ALL-ROUND LIFTS ALONG WITH OLYMPIC LIFTS AND POWER LIFTS.

I DON’T SUPPOSE THERE IS ONE OF US THAT, AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, DON’T THINK, “GEE, IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN THAT BACK WHEN….” OR “I SURE WISH I WAS YOUNGER.”  FOLLOWING MY WORKOUT LAST EVENING, I HAD SUCH A MOMENT.  YOU SEE, WHEN I FIRST STARTED LIFTING, IN THE LATE ‘60s, EARLY ‘70s, POWER LIFTING WAS MAKING A BIG ENTRANCE.  BY THE TIME I LEFT COLLEGE IN THE MID ‘70s, IT WAS KING.  FOR STRENGTH ATHLETES, IT WAS POWERLIFTING AND THE REST BE DAMNED.  OR SO I THOUGHT…  THIS IS WHERE THE LESSON SHOULD HAVE STARTED, BUT WAS LOST IN THE TRANSLATION.  THIS WAS ESPECIALLY TRUE TO ME, A KID IN HIS EARLY 20s., AND NOT A BIT ‘HEAD STRONG’ , I MIGHT ADD.

IN AN ATTEMPT TO ‘EDUCATE’ MYSELF, I SUBSCRIBED TO ‘IRONMAN’ MAGAZINE.   THOSE OF YOU IN MY AGE GROUP WILL REMEMBER PERRY AND MABLE RADER AND THE VERY, EXCELLENT PUBLICATION THEY PUT OUT.  (TO MY MIND, THIS MONTHLY CHRONCILE HAS YET TO BE MATCHED.  YES, I UNDERSTAND THIS IS GOING TO START A RIFF; HOWEVER, THAT IS MY OPINION.  THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A MORE DIVERSIFIED AND UNBIASED MAGAZINE, BEFORE OR SINCE.)  I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER PASSING OVER THE OLD TIME STRONGMAN ARTICLES, SKIMMING THE OLY LIFT STORIES AND INSTRUCTIONAL ADVICE TO GET TO THE POWERLIFTING SECTION. WHAT WERE THESE OLD GUYS FROM THE TURN OF THE CENTURY GOING TO TEACH ME?  HOW COULD OLY LIFTING POSSIBLY HELP ME?  I CAN ONLY SHAKE MY HEAD, NOW. WHAT A MISTAKE!!  I HAD ALL THE INFORMATION I NEEDED RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME BUT I CHOSE TO TOTALLY DISREGARD IT.  ALL THAT WAS IMPORTANT WAS A BIG BENCH PRESS.  ‘WHAT CAN YA  BENCH??’, WAS THE COMMON PHRASE BACK THEN.  AS I KNOW NOW, THE CATCH PHRASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN, ‘WHAT CAN YA SQUAT OR DEADLIFT??’

THE MORE I GET INVOLVED IN THE USAWA, THE MORE I REALIZE THAT I, TOTALLY, MISSED THE BOAT.  THERE ARE SO MANY LIFTS THAT INVOLVE STRENGTH, ATHLETICISM AND POWER THAT IF ONE BECOMES ‘STALE’, IT WOULD CERTAINLY BE THE FAULT OF THE TRAINEE FOR NOT IMPLEMENTING THESE MIRIADE OF LIFTS.  IT JUST STANDS TO REASON THAT AN INCREASE IN OVERALL BODY STRENGTH WILL ONLY INCREASE THE ABILITY TO PERFORM ANY OTHER LIFT TO A HIGHER DEGREE.  HOW CAN ONE GO WRONG DOING SNATCHES, CLEANS, OVERHEAD PRESSES (WHICH I TOTALLY AVOIDED IN MY IGNORANCE), ONE HANDED LIFTS, DUMBBELL WORK…….MY GOD, THE LIST IS ENDLESS.  FROM TIME TO TIME, I HAVE BEEN ASKED BY SOMEONE TO SET UP A ‘PROGRAM’ FOR THEM.  WHILE I AM ALWAYS QUICK TO HELP, I HAVE GOTTEN INTO THE HABIT OF TELLING THE INDIVIDUAL TO DO THEIR OWN RESEARCH AND GET BACK WITH ME.  IT IS AT THIS TIME THAT I WILL TELL MY OWN STORY AND STRONGLY ENCOURAGE THAT PERSON TO MAKE HIS WORKOUTS WELL ‘ROUNDED’ AND DYNAMIC.  I NEVER FAIL TO CAUTION THEM TO BE CAREFUL THEY DON’T FALL IN THE SAME RUT I DID.

MAYBE THOSE ‘OLD TIMERS’ HAD SOME LESSONS TO TEACH, AFTER ALL!!

USAWA: The First Year

by Al Myers

Steve Schmidt, of Clark's Gym, was the first member of the USAWA.

This is a big year for the USAWA. It is our 25th ANNIVERSARY of being an organization. I got wondering the other day, “just when was the official beginning day of the USAWA?”. I had a general idea of when this was, but not for sure on an actual date (if there even was one). So I did some research and now I’m going to share what I found out with everyone. The “FIRSTS” are always noteworthy. Here it goes, and I’m going to try to stay on a timeline.

November 29th, 1986

Bill Clark met with several lifters from England in Grimsby, England to “draw up the final plans” of the IAWA. There had been previous meetings, but this was the date the final, BIG DECISIONS were made. The USAWA origins correlates directly with the creation of the IAWA (which will be the topic someday of ANOTHER STORY. I will try to keep on track here.). The constitution and bylaws of the IAWA were approved, which were the basis of the original USAWA bylaws. On this day it was decided that each individual country involved with the IAWA would form their own governing body. Also, the Rules of the original 110 lifts were decided upon.

January 1st, 1987

The first USAWA officers took office. These officers were appointed (by Bill I assume) at the November 29th meeting. This included Jon Carr of Missouri as President and Joe McCoy of Texas as Registrar and Record Keeper.

July 1st, 1987

The USAWA began collecting memberships. Dues were $12, of which $6 went to the USAWA bank account and the remaining $6 went into an IAWA bank account. Club dues were set at $10 and sanction fees set at $10 (which are the SAME FEES we charge today!!!). Steve Schmidt was the first person to buy a membership card in the USAWA.

September 20th, 1987

The first sanctioned USAWA event was held in Clarks Gym. Steve Schmidt put on a solo exhibition of lifts. He did a 2450# Hip Lift, 405# Neck Lift, 3205# Harness Lift, 1125# Hand and Thigh, and a 270# Wrestlers Bridge Pullover and Press. Steve’s Bridged Pullover and Press is still in the Record List, and is the oldest record in the current Record List. This sanctioned event would also make Steve the first USAWA member to officially do a lift in the USAWA.

July 9-10th, 1988

The FIRST EVER USAWA National Championships were held in Plymouth Meeting, PA. John Vernacchio was the meet director. The meet’s best lifter was Steve Schmidt, followed by Phil Anderson, Joe Garcia, John Vernacchio, and John McKean. The Team Champion was John’s club, the Valley Forge Club.

Bill Clark began publishing THE STRENGTH JOURNAL in the fall of 1989, which covered all the news of the USAWA. Bill continued this until 2009, and throughout the years “turned out” over 150 issues. This publication was the “backbone” of the organization for years. All of this research came from old Strength Journals. As I said earlier, this year will MARK the 25th USAWA National Championships held. That is why we are going “big time” and having our National Meet in Las Vegas this year. I plan to have several awards to present to recognize those that have been involved with the USAWA since the beginning.

But back to my original question – Just when did the USAWA officially start? I’m going to say July 1st, 1987 as that was the day the USAWA was officially “open for business” and collecting memberships. Also I like that day because it is the same time most of us will be in Vegas, so that we can celebrate this special day the way it should be celebrated.

The First Mr. America

by Dennis Mitchell

Roland Essmaker

Over the years there have been many physique contests, some of which even had the title of Mr. America. The first official Mr. America contest was sanctioned by the AAU, and was held in conjunction with the 1939 Senior National Weightlifting Championships, July 4, 1939, in Chicago Ill.

Roland Essmaker was born March 24, 1916 in Richmond, Indiana. These were difficult times in America. His mother died during the flu epidemic in 1919. Roland and his brother Alvin were living in St. Vincent’s orphanage while his father was in Davenport, Iowa studying to become a Chiropractor. About three years later he opened an office in Richmond Indiana and brought Roland and his brother back to live with him. Times were still hard, and Chiropractic was new and not generally accepted. Roland and his brother helped by selling newspapers. In 1933 Roland went to work with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government work force, where he received food and clothing and lived in army type barracks. He received $5.00 a month, and $25.00 a month was sent to his father.

It was about this time that Roland became interested in body building from reading Bernarr Macfadden’s magazine, Physical Culture, and Bob Hoffman’s Strength and Health magazine. The cheapest set of barbells advertised, was a 205 pound Milo set that cost $10.00. This was more than he could afford. With the information he got from reading the magazines he put together his own body building course. Using window sash weights and other scrap from a local junk yard he worked out. Later he obtained mail order courses from Earl Liederman and Lionel Strongfort. His gains were slow as he trained with his home made equipment and saved his money to buy a real barbell set. He now had a job as a sign painter and was making $6.00 a week, working six days a week. From there he went to work at a bus body manufacturer. He was now making abut $40.00 a week and was supplementing his workouts by lifting sections of the bus part before they were assembled. Roland later met a body builder named Paul Hamilton. They pooled together their equipment and worked out together for several years. Their workouts were mostly body building with a little olympic lifting added one day a week.

In June of 1939 Roland entered the Indiana State weightlifting championships which were held at Fred Hofmeistor’s gym. Roland said, “To put it mildly, my lifts were not outstanding”. It was Fred who convinced him to enter the Mr. America contest. All the contestants in the Mr. America contest also had to compete in the weightlifting. Third place in physique went to Herbert Marquardt, second place to Tony Terlazzzo. Roland, who was an unknown, was completely surprised when he took first place, and became the first official Mr. America. Winning the contest opened up other opportunities for him. He worked as a model for both artists and sculptures, and worked at Walt Disney’s studios. He auditioned for an adagio act and was selected, and went on tour. In 1941 Roland went into the Army Medical Corp and became a surgical technician. While home on leave he met Virginia Stanley. They were married Oct. 31, 1942. They had two daughters and in 1946 moved to California where he opened a gym. He later sold it to George Redpath. Roland did enter a few more physique contests but there was no information on how he did. In 1950 he went to radio and broadcasting school and became a radio newscaster and disc jockey. Next he became a journeyman multi color printing pressman. After retiring he and his wife moved into a house in San Marcos, California, that he and his wife had literally built with their own hands. I could not find anything about his measurements or how much he could lift, only that he could chin himself three times with either hand. Roland died October 3, 2002

Dino Record Day

by Al Myers

Dino Gym Record Day

The USAWA welcome Jobes Steel Jungle to their first USAWA event! (front): Gabby Jobe (back row left to right): Troy Goetsch, Corey Kenkel, Jesse Jobe, Bryan Benzel

MEET REPORT

On Sunday the Dino Gym had the most participants in a record day than EVER BEFORE.  There was a total of 15 competitors setting new USAWA records!  I haven’t done an absolute record count yet, but I won’t be surprised to see it number over 150.  There were so many outstanding lifts that it will be impossible to cover everything in this meet report, so I’m going to save some of  ”the best stories” for individual news stories at a latter date.  Plus I am under a time crunch to get this announced today, so the meet report will be short (that’s a FIRST FOR ME!). 

First of all I want to thank all the new lifters from the USAWA’s newest club, Jobe’s Steel Jungle, for attending.  I really enjoyed watching  them set new USAWA records.  They were all like “kids in a candy shop” as they got introduced to the many, many lifts of the USAWA.  One of them would do a lift and then the rest of them wanted to join in!  I also was quite impressed with Jesse’s daughter Gabby.  She is only 9 years old but I could tell she was “trained up” to do the lifts she set records in.   Jesse’s gym is in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  I made the mistake as referring to them as “the Nebraska boys”  (which NOT all live in Nebraska)  - I won’t do that again!!!  I KNOW we will be seeing more of Jobes Steel Jungle in the future. 

Wilbur Miller deadlifting 457 pounds at the age of 79!

The BIG NEWS of the day was that Wilbur Miller made an appearance – and this time he came ready to lift and set records!  Alot of the new lifters didn’t know Wilbur – but after the spectacular lifting he did they know him now!  Wilbur lifts like a man half his age.  He started off with the squat for record.  I told him the USAWA requires a 12″ base (the regular squat is not an USAWA lift), but that didn’t make any difference as Wilburs stance is close to 12″ normally.  He finished with an unbelievable 320 pounds!!!  (YES – I said that right!).  He then went to his favorite lift, the deadlifts, and set some big records in several different variations. I will be covering Wilburs performance at this record day in more detail in future stories.

Dean Ross set the most records.  Dean had A PLAN and he executed it perfectly.  He had the lifts he wanted to do and he went about setting records in a systematic fashion.  I had to take a break when I was imputing his lifts into this meet report because that alone was tiring me out!  At this rapid pace Dean is on with record breaking, it won’t be long and he’ll be in the CENTURY CLUB (and may I say faster than anyone else has ever done it!)

Chad Ullom performing a 480# Continental to Belt, the most ever done in the USAWA.

My dad LaVerne didn’t get enough “grip lifting” the day before at the Grip Champs and came to break some finger lifts.  Well, he did records on every finger including his thumb!   He was the first one in the gym to do his lifts and I think he did all of them in under 20 minutes!  Every record lift he did he had much more in him to do more. 

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson didn’t set alot of records, but the ones he did were HUGE!  He broke the ALL TIME records in the French Press with a lift of 207 pounds and in the  Bent Arm Pullover with a lift of 195 pounds. I have seen very few people do a French Press in the proper manner as defined in our USAWA Rule Book, but Chuck’s has perfect body mechanics for this lift and performed this big lift of his very strict. His elbows stayed high and the bar touched the back of his neck easily. 

I could say so much more, but that’s it for today.  I want to thank everyone who showed up to lift in this record day.  Participation is what makes a record day a special event.  I especially want to thank Mike Murdock and Denny Habecker for taking their time officiating all day, at the expense of doing all the record lifts they wanted to do.

MEET RESULTS

Dino Gym Record Day
Dino Gym, Holland, Kansas
February 12th, 2012

Meet Director: Al Myers

Officials: Al Myers, Denny Habecker, Mike Murdock

Gabby Jobe – Female, 9 years old, 89# BWT

Maxey Press: 38#
Push Press – From Rack: 45#
Hack Lift: 115#
Jefferson Lift: 115#
Deadlift – 12″ Base: 115#

Bryan Benzel – 24 years old, 284# BWT

Holdout – Raised: 71#
Holdout – Lowered: 71#
James Lift: 159#
Clean and Press – Reverse Grip: 259#
Miller Clean and Jerk: 110#
Clean and Jerk – Fulton Bar: 253#
Continental to Chest and Jerk: 298#
Hack Lift: 507#
Saxon Snatch: 95#

Troy Goetsch – 25 years old, 194# BWT

Maxey Press: 183#
Press – From Rack: 185#
Press – From Rack, Behind Neck: 155#
Clean and Press: 192#
Continental to Chest and Jerk: 220#
Deadlift – Heels Together: 429#
Deadlift – 12″ Base: 429#
Deadlift – Civattone Grip: 429#
Deadlift – Reeves: 300#
Bench Press – Hands Together: 250#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 506#
Snatch – Fulton Bar: 143#
Continental to Chest – Fulton Bar: 220#

Corey Kenkel – 29 years old, 206# BWT

Maxey Press: 203#
Push Press – From Rack: 185#
Press – From Rack: 185#
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 75#

Jesse Jobe – 35 years old, 225# BWT

Maxey Press – 193#
Push Press – From Rack: 205#
Cyr Press: 125#
Curl – Reverse Grip: 154#
Bent Over Row: 286#
Continental To Belt: 407#
Pinch Grip – Right Hand: 63#
Pinch Grip – Left Hand: 70#
Bench Press – Left Arm: 100#
Bench Press – Right Arm: 110#
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar: 385#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 451#
Rectangular Fix: 80#
Saxon Snatch: 85#

Scott Tully – 36 years old, 344# BWT

Clean and Jerk – Fulton Bar: 203#
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar: 403#
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 170#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm: 90#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm: 90#
Lateral Raise – Lying: 80#
Turkish Get Up: 40#

Chad Ullom – 40 years old, 248# BWT

Gardner – Half: 110#
Clean and Press – Alternate Grip: 159#
Miller Clean and Jerk: 110#
Squat – Piper: 230#
Continental to Belt: 480#

Chuck Cookson – 42 years old, 286# BWT

French Press: 207#
Pullover – Bent Arm: 195#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm: 110#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm: 110#

Al Myers – 45 years old, 251# BWT

Pullover – Bent Arm: 145#
Bench Press – Reverse Grip: 310#
Bench Press – Alternate Grip: 310#
Bench Press – Hands Together: 280#
Lateral Raise – Lying: 70#

Mark Mitchell – 51 years old, 360# BWT

Clean and Press – Fulton Bar: 223#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 403#
Maxey Press: 272#
Pinch Grip: 252#
Saxon Snatch: 107#

LaVerne Myers – 67 years old, 250# BWT

Finger Lift – Little, Left Hand: 48#
Finger Lift – Little, Right Hand: 48#
Finger Lift – Index, Left Hand: 58#
Finger Lift – Index, Right Hand: 58#
Finger Lift – Ring, Left Hand: 58#
Finger Lift – Ring, Right Hand: 58#
Finger Lift – Middle, Left Hand: 78#
Finger Lift – Middle, Right Hand: 78#
Finger Lift – Thumb, Left Hand: 48#
Finger Lift – Thumb, Right Hand: 38#
Curl – Cheat: 141#

Denny Habecker – 69 years old, 186# BWT

Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells: 120#
Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells, Heels Together: 110#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm: 50#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm: 60#
Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 60#

Dean Ross – 69 years old, 272# BWT

Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 80#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left: 50#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right: 50#
Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells: 80#
Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells, Heels Together: 80#
Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 55#
Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 50#
Snatch – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 60#
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 60#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand: 127#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand: 127#
Bent Over Row: 179#
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip: 223#
Pullover and Push: 135#
Curl – Reverse Grip: 104#
Clean and Press – Reverse Grip: 104#
Clean and Press – Alternate Grip: 104#
Clean and Press – 12″ Base: 104#
Clean and Press: 104#
Clean and Push Press: 104#
Two Hands Anyhow: 80#
Deadlift – Trap Bar: 317#

Mike Murdock – 71 years old, 236# BWT

Bench Press – Hands Together: 145#
Bench Press – Left Arm: 55#
Bench Press – Right Arm: 55#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm: 55#
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm: 60#

Wilbur Miller – 79 years old, 218# BWT

Squat – 12″ Base: 320#
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip: 397#
Deadlift – Heels Together: 419#
Deadlift – 12″ Base: 457#

Jesse Jobe and Corey Kenkel

Team Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip: 556#

Bryan Benzel and Troy Goetsch

Team Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip: 628#

Grip Championships

by Al Myers

2012 USAWA GRIP CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. (front row left to right): LaVerne Myers, Mike Murdock, Denny Habecker, Rudy Bletscher, Dean Ross (back row left to right): Chad Ullom, Al Myers, Darren Barnhart, Scott Tully, Dave Glasgow, Mark Mitchell

MEET REPORT

Saturday was a big day for the Dino Gym!  For the second straight year, it was the host site for the USAWA Grip Championships.  Eleven lifters participated, and I think every lifter had an enjoyable time.  I was expecting a few more, but there were some last minute “drop outs”.  All had good excuses (except one which was fishy) for not making their appearance.  I was hoping to “upstage” the IAWA(UK) in attendance (they had 18 in their grip champs the weekend before), but we fell a little short of this.    I’ll give them kudos this time, but NEXT YEAR will be our turn at grip glory! 

We divided up into two different groups to speed up the competition.  Since there were FIVE LIFTERS over the age of 60, they lifted together in one group while the rest of us lifted in the other group.  By doing this the competition only last 3 hours – and we even took a half hour lunch break!!!  I think we spent as much time after the meet presenting the awards and visiting than the meet itself.   The meet contained 5 grip lifts which are all official lifts of the USAWA.  I thought it was a good selection – but my old buddy Scott thought we should have had a pinch lift in the group.  Well next year Scott, I’ll just do that for ya! 

LaVerne Myers performing a 165 pound One Arm Fulton Dumbbell Deadlift. This is the top lift in the record books for any lifter over the age of 60!

I want to go over a few individual highlights of the meet.  First of all, my dad LaVerne surprised a few with his high placing overall (he was second overall).  He has been in training for this so I knew what he could do, and I wasn’t really surprised (maybe worried a little that he would beat me, but not surprised!).   He was solid in everything, but almost pulled off the biggest Dumbbell Walk of the day.  He had held the gym record in the Dumbbell Walk at 117# before this day, but Darren and I upped it to 122# in this meet.  He then tried to get his record back with a 124# effort, and came within a foot of accomplishing it.  His 165# One Arm Fulton DB Deadlift was amongst the best of the entire meet.  Scott Tully also had an exceptional day.  Scott had the top lifts of the entire meet in the One Arm Fulton DB Deadlift (192#), the One Arm No Thumb DL (225#) and the VB Deadlift (394#).  Scott tried 416# in the VB Deadlift and came very close to getting it.  We did it last and I know his grip was tired by that point which made the difference.  Scott has the top lift of ALL TIME in this lift (414#), and I know he has the ability to do more.  Scott was also the only lifter in the Senior Division (20-39) and the youngest competitor in the meet. 

Chad Ullom was solid in every lift as he always is.  Chad doesn’t really have any “weak spots” in his all round game.  His Index Fingers Deadlift of 231# tied me for the top lift of the meet in that lift.   He did it with more ease than myself, as I tore some skin at the base of my index finger afterwards which wouldn’t stop bleeding.  I guess it was worth it as I broke an overall record previously held by Kevin Fulton (225#) as I consider Kevin one of the best finger deadlifters the USAWA has ever seen.  The bleeding did affect my performance in the VB deadlift some, but “oh well”.  I don’t ever plan to attempt more than this ever again!! (we’ll see…).  Darren Barnhart had a great day.  Darren didn’t miss a single lift all day and could have done more on several of the lifts.  His Dumbbell Walk of 122# was outstanding!  Mark Mitchell is one of the best grip guys I know, and in certain grip lifts no one is even close to Mark, but these weren’t the best selection for him.  However, he still put up some great numbers and was one of five lifters who put up a total over 1000 pounds.  Wait till tomorrow’s story covering the record day and you will see what Mark can do in the Pinch Grip!

Denny Habecker made the long drive from Pennsylvania to compete again this year.  Denny pulled in a 6th place overall which is outstanding considering the depth of competition in this meet.  Denny was also the lightest lifter in the meet, and the only lifter under 200 pounds.  I’ll say this about Denny – having a light bodyweight favors a lifter in a meet when the Lynch Formula is used, but it does not favor a lifter in the after meet party (LOL – inside joke).  Mike Murdock and Rudy Bletscher had their usual battle.  You never know how things are going to turn out.  Rudy edged Mike out this time  around.  Both of these guys lifted exactly the same weight in all lifts except one (Dumbbell Walk in which Rudy did 10# more).  That’s close!!  I consider Mike one of the greatest assets the USAWA has gained – he is always there to help out with ANYTHING and you can always count on him for coming through on things. Mike is in the process of developing a computer program for the  USAWA scoring and we used it in this meet.  His program is getting at the point that all “bugs have been worked out”.   It won’t be long and Mike’s program will be available on the website for anyone to use to score their meets.

Dave Glasgow finished very strong with a fourth place overall finish.  I could tell Dave was surprised he placed this high – but he did well in all the lifts and it paid off in the end.  Dean Ross also made the trip to this meet.  There hasn’t been very many all round meets that Dean hasn’t attended this winter and fall.  He may be competing in more meets than myself!  I always enjoy having Dean at meets because I know I’ll hear a few new jokes throughout the day! 

As is the custom of Championship competitions in the USAWA, all age groups were recognized with best lifter awards.  I also was glad to give away my “special awards” to the top three BEST LIFTERS in the Senior Division, Masters 1, and Masters 2 Divisions.  Thanks to Rudy and LaVerne  for declining on of these awards everyone else took home some steel. 

BEST LIFTERS

Senior:  Scott Tully
Masters 40-44: Chad Ullom
Masters 45-49: Al Myers
Masters 50-54: Mark Mitchell
Masters 65-69: LaVerne Myers
Masters 70-74: Mike Murdock
Masters 75-79: Rudy Bletscher

BEST LIFTERS OF AGE DIVISIONS

Senior (20-39): Scott Tully
Masters 1 (40-59): Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Dave Glasgow
Masters 2 (60 plus): LaVerne Myers, Denny Habecker, Rudy Bletscher

MEET RESULTS:

USAWA Grip Championships
Dino Gym, Holland, Kansas
February 11th, 2012

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Officials (3 official system used):  Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Scott Tully, Darren Barnhart, Mike Murdock, Dave Glasgow, Denny Habecker, Mark Mitchell, LaVerne Myers

Scorekeeper:  Mike Murdock

Lifts: Dumbbell Walk, Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell One Arm, Deadlift – Fingers Index, Deadlift – No Thumb One Arm,  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2″

LIFTER AGE BWT Walk DB DL IF DL DL NT VB Total Points
Al Myers 45 247 122 185R 231 220R 334 1092 923.9
LaVerne Myers 67 249 112 159L 135 185L 259 850 864.9
Chad Ullom 40 238 102 170R 231 210R 334 1047 860.4
Dave Glasgow 58 252 92 160R 176 187R 294 889 835.8
Darren Barnhart 44 306 122 185R 200 209R 354 1070 808.0
Denny Habecker 69 187 52 125R 120 125R 224 646 779.3
Rudy Bletscher 76 217 77 105R 120 140R 224 666 779.2
Mark Mitchell 51 360 92 180R 220 204R 334 1030 770.3
Scott Tully 36 346 92 192R 187 215R 394 1080 733.9
Mike Murdock 71 233 67 105L 120 140R 224 656 712.4
Dean Ross 69 274 77 125R 140  135R  234 711 700.8

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight recorded in pounds. R and L designate right and left. All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total points lifted. Points are adjusted points for bodyweight and age.

EXTRA ATTEMPTS FOR RECORDS

Rudy Bletscher: Deadlift – Fulton DB, Right Arm 115#
Denny Habecker: Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm 135#
LaVerne Myers: Deadlift – Fulton DB, Left Arm 165#
Dave Glasgow: Deadlift – Fulton DB, Left Arm 160#
Mark Mitchell: Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm 210#
Darren Barnhart: Deadlift – Fulton DB, Left Arm 185#
Darren Barnhart: Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm 210#
Chad Ullom: Deadlift – Fulton DB, Left Arm 165#
Chad Ullom: Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm 198#
Scott Tully: Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm 225#

The Weaver Stick Controversy

by Al Myers

John Gallagher demonstrating the Weaver Stick, the lift made popular by George Weaver. This photo was in an article written by Weaver, in which he said "demonstrates the proper method of lifting the Weaver Stick". Take notice of the bent arm and non-upright body position. This makes me wonder - was this the way he INTENDED the Weaver Stick to be done?

Yesterdays Daily News Story by the famous strength historian David Willoughby was just a “set up” for today’s story.  In it, he described the origins of the Weaver Stick and the foundation for the Weaver Stick rules.   I feel the Weaver Stick is a misunderstood  (most don’t know how to even MAKE a Weaver Stick) lift of the All-Rounds, and after what I reveal today it will now not just be misunderstood, but will be a controversial lift as well.  I have written blogs on the Weaver Stick before and have went over its historical significance in the USAWA.  I have even covered the best lifts ever done in the USAWA using the Weaver Stick.  That is not what today’s story is about.  This lift was part of my grip meet a few years ago as well. So I know there are several lifters who are familiar with it.  I was introduced to the Weaver Stick for the first time when I went to Clarks Gym years ago for a record day.  After putting up “BIG LIFTS” all day for records in several full body type lifts, Bill brought out his Weaver Stick to ”humble us”. It did the trick.  I could barely lift 5 pounds!  I then went home and made my own Weaver Stick, which still resides in the corner of the Dino Gym for anytime I feel like “humbling someone”.  Ole Clark did it to me – and now I’m returning the favor!

But what’s the controversy you ask? Well, lets go over both the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules and you’ll soon find out!

USAWA RULE I26. Weaver Stick

A Weaver Stick is used for this lift. The Weaver Stick utilizes a wooden broomstick with these dimensions. The handle is 5 ½ inches in length. The junction of the handle and the rest of the Weaver Stick may be marked with tape, or with any material that is raised to provide a distinct separation between the handle and the rest of the stick. This marking is ½ inch in length. At a point exactly 36 inches from the end of the marking, or 42 inches from the end of the handle, a notch is made in the stick to allow a cord to be attached to it. This cord may be of any length.  Weight is tied onto the end of the cord. The Weaver Stick must rest on a flat lifting surface with the weight hanging free. The lift will begin at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter will take a position alongside the Weaver Stick, and grip the handle of the Weaver Stick by one hand, facing the length of the stick. The lifting hand and arm must remain straight with elbow fully locked, and must not be in contact with the body during the lift. The lifting arm must remain at the lifter’s side throughout the lift. The heel of the hand must remain on top of the Weaver Stick. If the hand twists under the stick during the lift, it is a disqualification. The non-lifting hand must not touch the lifting arm, lifting hand, or Weaver Stick during the lift. The lifter’s body must be upright with legs straight at the completion of the lift, but the legs may bend when picking up the stick. The Weaver Stick must be lifted entirely clear from the lifting surface while maintaining the stick parallel to the floor. If the end of the stick containing the weight dips to any degree, it is a disqualification. If the lifting hand moves to a position in front of the handle marking during the lift, it is a disqualification. Once the Weaver Stick is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. Records are also kept for the Weaver Stick with the lifter facing backwards, away from the length of the stick.

IAWA RULE  F9.   WEAVER STICK LIFT

This lift can be performed with either hand, and to the front or the rear. The lifter will use a 36 inch long stick, it will have a notch half an inch from one end where the weight will be suspended or attached. The stick will be gripped a full 36 inches away from the weight, with one hand. The stick will be set down on a chair or table, the lifter must lift the stick off the surface parallel to the floor and not with the weighted end tilting down. There is no minimum height that it has to be lifted, just clear of the table. It must be lifted straight up, no rocking motions are allowed. The lifting hand and arm must remain free of the body, and the heel of the hand must remain on top of the stick, the hand is not allowed to twist around the stick. When the stick is held clear of the table and motionless the referee will signal to replace the bar. A hand grip guard can be made using two metal right angles, screwed to the stick in such a manner as to prevent the hand from being closer than 36 inches. The handle can be taped around to suit the lifters hand and afford a good grip.

Causes for Failure: 

1.  Failure to keep the stick held parallel (approx.) to the floor at all times during the lift.  
2.  Touching the body with the lifting hand or arm and failing to keep the heel of the hand on top. 
3.  Failure to lift the stick clear of the chair or surface, under control. 
4.   Lowering / replacing the bar before the referees signal.

Do you notice the BIG DIFFERENCE between the USAWA rule and the IAWA rule???????

It’s a BIG ONE – the IAWA rule for the Weaver Stick DOES NOT require the arm to be straight!!! It can be bent to any degree.  Let me “tell ya” – that’s a big difference!  Much more weight can be lifted with the Weaver Stick if the arm does not have to remain straight.  Bending the arm allows other arm muscles to come into play and helps with the wrist stabilization.  I am sure most USAWA lifters are not aware of this IAWA rule for the Weaver Stick.  I know I wasn’t until IAWA President Steve Gardner and I got into this discussion during one of our “beer drinking sessions” a few days after the IAWA Worlds in Australia.  He was not aware that the USAWA required a straight arm either (just as I was not aware that the IAWA allowed a bent arm) - as we have since the beginning.  Maybe this all arose because of the misinterpretation of Weaver’s account by Willoughby.  Re-read yesterdays story and you will now notice that he didn’t mention at ANY TIME the arm must be straight.  But at the same time he referenced that drawing of Grimek as the “correct position” using the Weaver Stick, and in it John Grimek’s arm is as “straight as an arrow”.  Now I can only imagine at this point in this story Weaver Stick extraordinaire Tom Ryan is getting out of his chair and  ready to give someone “a thrashing” with HIS Weaver Stick for insulting the Weaver Stick Rule this way.  After all, I witnessed Tom set his big Weaver Stick  ALL-TIME USAWA RECORD of 7 pounds at a record day in Clarks Gym in 2002.  I also remember very clearly that Tom’s arm was very straight when he did it, as Bill Clark was officiating him and wouldn’t let “nothing bend” on the issue of requiring a straight arm. That’s how it has always been in the USAWA.  I contested the Weaver Stick at my 2010 Grip Challenge at my gym, and close to a dozen good “grip guys” tested on it. I was the judge, and judged it as hard as Bill would have.  Grip sensation Andy Durniat lifted 6 pounds, along with my father LaVerne (everyone was surprised with that one!).  But ole Dad has spent a lifetime of building his grip doing farm work, and it paid off with  building the right muscles for the Weaver Stick.  These were the top Weaver Stick lifts of the day, and both very solid and reputable lifts with the Weaver Stick using a straight arm. This meet sure reiterated the great Weaver Stick Record of 7 pounds done by Tom Ryan.

We (the USAWA) have made great strides in the past couple of years to get our USAWA rules into compliance with the IAWA rules.  We have been changing ours to met theirs. But this is one I would argue that we have RIGHT – as any rule should represent THE INTENT of the original development of the lift.  I truly feel Weaver intended for the Weaver Stick be done with a straight arm and NOT a bent arm.  Or did he INTEND it to be done with a bent arm????  That’s the controversy. 

One thing is for certain - officiating the Weaver Stick with a bent arm allowed would be a whole lot easier.  Making the decision of “red lighting” a lift on arm bend is very subjective.  Bill Clark once told me this, “officiating the bend of the arm in the Weaver Stick is as subjective as judging the depth of a squat!”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Please let your opinion on this be known in the USAWA Discussion Forum (and Tom you can lead the way with this discussion!).

The Weaver Stick

(WEBMASTERS NOTE: The following was written years ago by the famous strength historian David Willoughby.   This is an exert from an article he wrote, titled, Feats of Strength with Levers.  Willoughby’s writings about the Weaver Stick provided the inspiration to adopt the Weaver Stick as an official USAWA lift. The purpose of reprinting this story is to provide the lead-in for my story tomorrow on the Weaver Stick, which for sure will create a Weaver Stick controversy.)

by David Willoughby

Drawing of John Grimek performing the Weaver Stick. This photo is from David Willoughby's book, The Super Athletes.

A direct and practical means of developing and strengthening the abductor muscles of the forearm is simply to swing a sledgehammer, preferably one that is sufficiently small and light to be gripped and swung with one hand. Such a movement is “practical,” because the use of the hammer, in one way or another, is something that has been going on for thousands of years and is still an essential element in many manual occupations. And so long as one is endeavoring to develop muscular strength, why use odd, artificial movements that rarely if ever occur in everyday life, when there are other movements, or exercises, that employ the muscles in a natural, practical manner? Away back in June, 1908, at the Crystal Palace in London, Arthur Lancaster swung a blacksmith’s 8-pound hammer for TWELVE HOURS without stopping. He was said to have “. . . the strongest wrist and forearm of any man alive.”

Many a feat of so-called “wrist strength” – actually, strength of the abductor muscles of the forearm (those that draw the hand toward the thumb side) – has been performed using either a standard, commercial sledgehammer, or “sledge,” or a long wooden bar, like a broom handle, with a light weight attached to the far end of it. Unfortunately, in most of the feats of this kind that have been reported, it has been difficult or impossible for one reason or another, to evaluate the merit of the performance. In some of the reports even the weight of the sledgehammer is left unmentioned; and rarely if ever does the performer state the exact length of the handle and how far his hand was away from the weight when he lifted it. Of course, without these essential items of information, no reliable comparison of the feat can be made with others of its kind.

Some years ago, in order to obviate these difficulties, my friend and co-enthusiast, George Weaver, who was then living in Brooklyn, designed a leverage-lifting bar of specified dimensions, with which he tested the “wrist strength” of many strongmen and weight trainees who were living in that area. In due course this bar became known as a “Weaver Stick.” This was a round stick (such as a mop handle), about nine-tenths of an inch in diameter, cut to the exact length of 41 inches. Here is Weaver’s description of the details of his stick:

Half an inch from one end, cut a notch. EXACTLY 36 inches from the CENTER of this notch, circle the stick with a line. Get two metal right-angles at a hardware store, and screw them into the top and bottom sides of the stick so that the rear edges of the right-angles come exactly to the circled line. The top side of the stick is the side where the notch is cut. lf one angle has once screw hole, and the other angle has two screw holes, the screws will not conflict. You can shave the bottom of the stick a little with a knife at these places, to make a flatter base for the angle. This leaves you with a “handle” just 5½ inches long, which you can tape to a thickness that suits your hand and affords a good grip.

It is important that the following rules be observed. The stick must be lifted approximately parallel to the floor, and not with the weighted end tilted downward. Above all, the stick must be lifted straight up from the chair; there must be no rocking of the stick on the chair before lifting. The lifting hand and arm must remain free of the body. And the heel of the hand must remain on TOP of the stick. If the hand twists under the stick, the lift is no good and cannot be allowed. The stick, when lifted, need not be held for any length of time; but it must be clearly lifted free of the chair (an inch is enough) and held in control (one second is enough).

This lift may also be made by turning the back on the weight and grasping the stick with the little finger toward the weight, instead of with the thumb toward the weight. More weight can be lifted in this manner. When lifting with the back toward the weight, the body may be bent forward as the lift is made.

The accompanying drawing of John Grimek shows the position to be assumed in making a Forward Lift on the Weaver Stick.

Many years before George Weaver thought up his leverage lifting stick, Paul Von Boeckmann, a professional strongman and physical instructor in New York City, by practice became exceptionally capable at feats of “wrist strength,” and used to win bets by raising weights on the end (straw) of an ordinary broom. He, like Weaver, saw that it was essential to establish a fixed distance on the stick between the center of the weight and the front (thumb-side) of the lifting hand. By doing this he eventually made a record by lifting 11½ pounds at a distance of 36 inches in front of his grip. This was equivalent to raising the same amount in a Forward Lift on a regulation Weaver Stick. At the age of 62 (in 1933), von Boeckmann could still raise 9½ pounds in this manner.

Weaver’s tests with his stick revealed a remarkable range in ability among the various persons who lifted on it. In this lift (in the Forward style) the “average” man would seem capable of about 4 pounds. Yet Warren Travis, the one-time world champion in back and harness lifting, who in addition could pick up over 100 pounds in a one-hand pinch lift, could only raise 4¼ pounds on the Weaver Stick. The best lift performed in the Forward style was recorded by recorded by Weaver was one of 10 pounds with the left hand by John Grimek. Later, in York, Pa., Grimek raised 11¾ pounds with his right hand on a stick that was 2” shorter than a regulation Weaver Stick. This would have made his lift, if it had been made on a 42” stick, equivalent to about an even 11 pounds. In any event, Grimek’s lift would appear to be the best on record with the exception of that made long ago by Paul von Boeckmann. But it would be interesting to know how much weight could be raised in this style by such old-time champions of grip and forearm strength as Louis Cyr, Horace Barre, Apollon (Louis Uni), John Marx and Hermann Goerner.

Of more recent weightmen, Mac Batchelor and Douglas Hepburn should have made good showings in this test. However, any guesswork in this direction could be highly unreliable. One would suppose that thick wrists and tight wrist ligaments would be of great assistance in this lift; yet actually some strongmen who possessed these attributes came out very poorly on the Weaver Stick, while others, who had more slender wrists and limber wrist joints, did unexpectedly well. I myself had, and still have, very limber wrist joints (which used to handicap me in heavy one-hand overhead lifts), yet I managed to raise correctly 7 pounds on a standard Weaver Stick, at a time when I was well past my prime.

In view of the fact that John Grimek was capable of raising approximately 11 pounds on a Weaver Stick in the Forward Lift Style, while weighing about 195 pounds and having a wrist of 7¾” and a forearm of 13¾”, it would certainly seem that one of the present-day superheavyweight powerlifters, with correspondingly larger wrists and forearms, should be able to similarly raise at least 12 pounds. However, unless and until such a lift is made, Grimek must be credited with being the contemporary record-holder in this test of forearm strength. Indeed, the nearest lifts to the 10 pounds recorded for Grimek’s LEFT- HAND record of 10 pounds were right-hand lifts of 8 pounds performed by John Davis and Steve Stanko, who were then at the peak of their Olympic lifting efficiency.

In the Backward Lift on a Weaver Stick, a considerably heavier poundage is possible than in the more commonly performed Forward Lift style. In the Backward style the highest possible poundage recorded by Weaver was 12½ pounds. This was accomplished by John Protasel, a heavyweight of New York City. However, in order to be equal in merit to a Forward Lift of 11 pounds, as performed by John Grimek, a Backward Lift (which employs the stronger adductor muscles of the forearm) should be somewhere between 14½ and 15½ pounds.

Grip Champs Reminder

by Al Myers

The BEST LIFTER AWARDS for the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships, held at the Dino Gym on Saturday, February 11th.

This upcoming weekend is the USAWA Grip Championships and the Dino Gym Record Day.  This gives you the opportunity to make two competitions in the same weekend!  Saturday will be the Grip Champs, and I have already received commitments from several lifters. It looks like it will be a big meet (if there is such a thing in the USAWA, LOL).  I expect at least 15 lifters.  Our USAWA Prez Denny “the LIFTING LIAR”  Habecker is going to make an appearance again this year.  Believe it or not, but Thom “BIG T” Van Vleck is going to compete as well!  Newcomer Jarrod Fobes from Denver is going to make his first appearance at the Dino Gym.  Several others are “committed” as well (in the Dino Gym Asylum that is) - Murdo, The Champ, Ross the Boss, the Professor, the Barn,  and BIG POPPA..   All weight divisions & age groups will be contested individually, as is the custom of Championship competitions within the USAWA.  But to add “icing on the cake”  I have made some special awards for the BEST LIFTERS.  I have decided to give awards to the top three best lifters in the Senior Division (20-39 age group), Masters 1 (40-59 age group), and Masters 2 (60+ age group).  The awards given will be a Dumbbell Walk handle, a 2″ Vertical Bar, and a Dinnie Lift Ring with pin loader.  What better awards than this????  You may win an award that you can take home to train with.  I plan to make this lifters choice – top lifter gets first choice of these three things, second lifter gets choice of the two remaining items, and the third best lifter gets whats left.  Of course, if you want to do some trading with the other division winners that is acceptable!

The IAWA(UK) hosted their grip meet last weekend, directed by my English nemesis, Mark “HAYSTACK” Haydock.  They ended up having 18  lifters enter.  Let’s show the English and Scots  that we can do better than that!

Announcement of Postal Meets

by Al Myers

The USAWA Postal Meet schedule has been released for 2012!  John Wilmot has been the USAWA Postal Meet Director for several years now, and once again, has planned a challenging set of postal meets for the USAWA for the coming year.  The USAWA quarterly postal series has been gaining in popularity, with this past year being the most participated series to date.  John deserves a “BIG THANKS” for the work he puts into setting up these postal meets and doing the scoring.  He always sends out nice certificates to recognize  a lifters performance.  And I want to mention this again – entering these postal meets is at NO CHARGE! 

This year’s schedule is as follows:

Eastern Open Postal Meet
March 1st to March 31st

Middle Atlantic Postal Meet
June 1st to June 30th

Delaware Valley Postal Meet
September 1st to September 30th

National Postal Championships
December 1st to December 31st

The rules of entering postal meets are pretty simple: 1. Do all the lifts in ONE DAY only, 2. Follow the rules of the USAWA, 3. Fill out the entry form correctly and send it to John Wilmot, 4. Submit the entry form by the deadline date, and 5. Be a current PAID UP member of the USAWA.  That’s it – pretty simple.  Anyone should be able to follow those simple rules, and if not, find a training partner who is smarter than yourself to do it for you.  You may have anyone judge your lifts to score for the competition, but if you want your lifts to count for an USAWA record, this judge MUST be a USAWA Certified Official.  Also, if you are not a USAWA member your results will be omitted from the websites results when I receive them, so it’s a good idea to join the USAWA before you send your postal meet results to John.

The entry forms for these Postal Meets are available under the heading  ”USAWA Future Events”, which is located on the right side of the home page.

Multiple Sized Plates

by Thom Van Vleck

The JWC logo, based on a previous drawing by my Uncle Phil over 50 years ago, incorporates a "York" 400lb "hub style" Olympic set.

I have a lot of weights.  I don’t think of myself as a collector, I use everything I have in my gym.  Nothing gets put in a “glass case”.  I have to say that some things I have for practical reasons.  Certain bars work better for Deadlifts, some for Push Presses, some weights just have a “better feel”.   But sometimes I just like the “looks” of something.  I think it goes back to when I was a kid reading all those old Weightlifting mags.  Most of them were basically advertisements for barbells, supplements, and other related stuff being sold by the publisher.  I remember looking at the advertisements and generally you would get these weight sets that had various sized plates and they load them all on the bar for a photo.  Basically, you ended up with what’s in the logo above.  A bar loaded with plates that not only decrease in weight, but in size.  Keen eyes may have noted I actually drew one extra plate on the drawing for the JWC logo….that’s been a long held secret of mine and to date if anyone has noticed, they didn’t say anything.  As far as being an artist….all I know is I know what I like.  When I was drawing that barbell, it just “looked” right to add one last little set on the ends.  Purely aesthetic! 

A York "iron shoe", a Milo DB, and a standard 1" DB, loaded with the "taper" of smaller and smaller plates

Sometimes, when I lift, I want to load up the bar and have that “assortment” on there.  No reason other than it just pleases me!  It is aesthetic which to me always meant that it was cool to look at but doesn’t have any real reason other than that!  I recently bought some 7.5lb, 12.5lb and 20lb solid 1″ barbell plates to go with my 1.25lb, 2.5lb, 5lb, 10lb, and 25lb plates.  Why,  just so I can load them all up and get that “look”.  To me, its a classic look, and it looks cool…….but I do think there is a reason for wanting all those odd little plates on there.

When I first started lifting I was spoiled having all kinds of weights at my disposal since my Uncle’s had quite a collection from the early days of the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  But I recall my Uncle Wayne telling me how they initially had cement weights they had made using buckets and scrap metal for bars.  They had saved up for the York set….a pretty penny in those days!  When they got that first 300lb set it became their goal to put that overhead.  My Uncle Phil told me that Gene Thudium joined the club and at 145lbs of bodyweight, he clean and pressed 165lbs and declared he was going to “lift that whole 300lb” set.  To Gene’s credit, he did do 280lbs at 181lbs in competition….a great lift and had he not been disillusioned when they dropped the clean & press from competition in 1972 I think he would have done it!   My Uncle Wayne recalls the day Thudium walked in the gym and Wayne told him they had dropped that lift.  Thudium, who had been on that mission for a dozen years, threw his hands up, quit, and NEVER came back to the gym!  At any rate, they wanted to lift that whole set which meant all the smaller plates loaded on there.  So, I think there was that challenge of “lifting the whole set” that came along!   As a side note, they ordered a 400lb set and my Uncle Wayne ended up Jerking that out of the rack. 

So, for whatever reason, I like the look and honestly, anything that will motivate me to lift is a good thing in my book.  Even if my wife wonders why I had to order those “odd” sized plates when I have about a 1000lbs of 1″ plates already!

Pullover Tips

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell performing a Pullover and Push at the 2004 Dino Gym Challenge. Mark doing a pullover onto his 60 inch plus chest is the All-Round Weightlifting version of climbing Mt. Everest!

Recently I was asked about if there were any “secrets” to performing the pullover in the Pullover and Press. This lift (the Pullover and Press) will be a big part of this next years competitions, since it will be contested in both Nationals and Worlds.  And don’t forget the Pullover and Push either, as it will be contested in the World Postal Meet coming up.  So you can see the importance of understanding how to do a pullover, since it IS the first part of BOTH  of these lifts.  First let me say this about the pullover – IT IS NOT A PULLOVER!  Too many lifters think it is, and try to lift the bar with their arms and shoulders onto their chest.  They soon find out that this motion severely hinders their ability to get much weight to their chest, plus puts terrible unnatural stresses on the shoulder joints.  You have to remember the OBJECT of the Pullover and Press is to lift as much as possible, and since it is a two part lift, one of the parts WILL be the limiting movement.  Your goal should be to have the press or push be your limit, not what you can do in the pullover.   However, I have seen the pullover be the limiting factor to many lifters in competition. 

Now on to some advice from the Dino Man.  I am going to make a disclaimer first: “If you weigh under 200 pounds- NONE of this advice applies to you!”.  Light lifters with puny chests have no problem getting the bar in position on the chest for a press or push. They just roll it into place without encountering any difficulties.    It’s the BIG GUYS I’m trying to help here.  Guys over 250# BWT who have spent entirely too much training time on the bench press and have pecs that “mound up” like implants on the chest of a Vegas showgirl  (haha, I can’t believe I SAID THAT because I don’t attend those sort of deviant activities  But just LOOK at the chest of  a bench press specialist,  someone like Dave Beversdorf of Clarks Gym. Its freaky, but spectacular at the same time.  Not that I’m saying Dave looks like a Vegas showgirl….Ok, I’m getting off course here. ).   For these guys the pullover can be quite an embarrassment the first time they try it.  As the bar approaches the chest as its rolled forward  it “runs into a brick wall” as it encounters the pecs.  I had one lifter ask me how its possible to get it onto his chest – because his chest is 6 inches higher than the bar!  Well, that’s what I’m going to try to answer here.

Tip #1  Think FAST ROLL – not pullover

The main secret to getting the bar to the chest is a fast roll.  More speed equals more momentum.  And let me remind you of another thing – it’s going to hurt a little before it makes the climb to the chest.  I like to have the bar at arms’ length on the platform and make a couple of slow “warmup” rolls to the top of the head before my final ALL OUT pull. This builds my confidence and prepares me mentally for the inevitable SLAM. I try to pull the bar as fast as I can with no regard to how much it might hurt when it impacts the chest.  I think of it as just “taking a punch” before the lift starts. Also, be sure you turn your head slightly before it crosses over the head or the bar might impact the nose which could cause a broken nose.

Tip  #2 Lift head at impact

This helps tremendously in getting the bar on the chest.  Just as the bar is about ready to impact the chest, raise your head.  This action causes the chest to drop slightly and the throwing of  the head up helps with bar momentum at the last second.

Tip #3 Minimize resistance

Do everything possible to decrease resistance.  This includes wearing a slick-fronted tshirt.  DO NOT wear a tshirt with a sticky vinyl logo on the front as the bar will “stick” to this.  I like wearing a tight fitting white tshirt. This is one lift where I don’t like to wear my singlet, as the straps will “catch” on the bar and add sliding resistance. Also, use a bar that does not have center knurling.  I have found my deadlift bar to be the best bar to use for the pullover.  Try to not use big thick rubber bumpers on the bar as this causes more friction resistance on the roll as well.  Having the plates roll on wood is faster than on rubber mats. All of these things add up.

Tip #4 Use padding under the body

This is very important for a couple of reasons.  The obvious first reason is to give some protection to the elbows when the forearms “turn over” as the bar goes onto the chest.  It is critical that you use padding that is not to thick as this will raise the body up and make the pullover harder.  I like using a towel or a thin rubber backed floor mat.  However, the most important aspect of padding is to “stick” your body to the platform.  I pull on the pullover so hard that my body will slide on a wooden platform without padding (towards the bar which slows things down). 

Tip #5  Wide Grip

You can get a stronger pull with a wide grip than a narrow grip. When I do the pullover and push, I like a wide grip for my push so that is the grip I take for the pullover on that lift.  However you can press more with a bench press grip, but you can still use a wide grip for the pullover part.  Changing your hand spacing on the bar when it is on the chest is NOT a rule violation (as was clarified at this past years annual meeting when the rules changes where discussed).  So if you NEED to do this for the pullover and press to help your pullover – do it.   

These are my top five tips for the pullover.  Incorporate these ideas and your pullover WILL NOT be the limiting factor in these two lifts (pullover and press and the pullover and push).   Other little things help as well – wear wrist wraps to protect and support the wrists, wear elbow sleeves in training to protect the elbows from abrasions and hematomas (but elbow sleeves are not allowed in competition), and  shaving your chest to minimize hair resistance (haha, maybe this is a stretch for most, but for guys like Scott Campbell it would take an inch off his chest height).

Make sure you practice the pullover for several training sessions before a competiton with the Pullover and Press/Push.  Don’t be discouraged the first time you do it (or the first time back after a layoff of these lifts).   Each subsequent training session you will find improvement if you follow these training tips.

Polar plunge 2012

by Chad Ullom

Brianna, Tasha, and Chad at the Polar Plunge in Topeka, Kansas.

My daughter Brianna, girlfriend Tasha and I participated in the Polar plunge this year to benefit Special Olympics.  Tasha was a real trooper.  She pinky swore Bree last year that she would do it with us this, but the closer it got she was really having second thoughts!  Bree and I did it last year and I was expecting this year to be a bit easier to be honest. Last year, they had to chain saw a 30X30 foot section of ice out of the lake so we could jump in!  It was thick enough that the rescue crew sat on the edge of the ice.  With the milder winter we’ve had this year, there really wasn’t much ice except in shallow areas. It was colder on the day of the plunge than it was last year and it was a bit windier.  We ran in and I went under like I did last year and it really took my breath away!  As we ran around high fiving the rescue crew, my legs were burning!  I could hear Bree behind me and it sounded like she was having the same issues! We made it through the water and headed right for the tent to put on some warm clothes!

This really is a fun event.  People go in teams and there is a costume contest.  We went as the wolf pack this year, but honestly didn’t put a lot into it. Bree had a baby in a backpack we turned into a baby bjorn, Tasha had a tiger and I carried a “satchel”.  The best team by far in my opinion was the toy story group. They put a lot of thought and time into their costumes and looked great!  Before the plunge they do a 5k “strut”.  Bree and I ran it last year and she beat me. She’s been talking trash, so I was really going to try this year. I can’t say I really trained for it, but I thought I could just out run her. I pushed the pace this year, but she was able to keep up . I really kicked in on the last downhill thinking I would put some distance between us. It didn’t work, and she outlasted me to the finish.  The polar plunge is a great event and we’ve had a great time the past 2 years. We look forward to doing it again next year and Tasha said she would do it again with us! I’m proud to say that we raised over $400 for the cause!  I highly recommend the plunge, it is invigorating!

Grip Championships

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUCEMENT
2012 USAWA GRIP CHAMPIONSHIPS

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, put up the best Pinch Grip of the 2011 USAWA Grip Championships with a fine lift of 174 pounds.

The USAWA Grip Championships will be hosted again this year for the second time by the Dino Gym on the second weekend of February.  As per requirement of the USAWA, all events in this USAWA Grip Championships will be official lifts of the USAWA.  A complete “different set” of lifts have been selected this year which should provide a challenge to all entrants.  This Championship is the premier grip competition within the USAWA during the year.  I want to remind everyone that traditional USAWA scoring is used in this competition, which may be different than other organizations scoring.  The “total pounds” of all the lifts are tallied together, and then amended using the Lynch Formula for bodyweight and age corrected for the lifter’s age.

LIFTS

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Dumbbell Walk
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm
Deadlift – Fingers, Index
Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2″

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For entry form – 2012 Grip Championships Entry Form

Dino Gym Record Day

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
DINO GYM RECORD DAY

Meet Director: Al Myers and the Dino Gym

Meet Date: Sunday, February 12th, 2011 10:00 AM-4:00PM

Location: Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas

Sanction: USAWA

Entry Form: None – just show up

Entry Fee: None

Lifts: Record Day – Pick any lifts you can set a USAWA record in!

Contact me at amyers@usawa.com if you have any questions