Articles from September 2012

Pullover and Press on Floor (Pullover and Press)

by Al Myers

Pullover and Press

The Pullover and Press is the “original” chest press with a bar.  In the days before there were benches to lie on, if you wanted to chest press a weight you had to lay on the floor to do it.  Thus, the exercise FLOOR PRESS got its name.   The funny thing is that now Floor Presses are making a comeback in the weight game, and more lifters are including them in their training programs.  I’m sure the oldtimers who remember getting that first bench in their gym to lay on while chest  pressing are shaking their heads in disbelief!  I’m sure they felt at the time like a big advancement had been made when getting that bench. No more getting down on the dirty floor to lift. Nice supports to hold the bar in place.   Now with the comeback of the Floor Press it seems like a ”step backwards!”  Sorta like me wanting to go back to a flip-phone. But I digress.  The topic of today is the Pullover and Press.  That’s a Floor Press with the pullover added to get the bar to the chest.  This lift even predates the Floor Press.  This was done before lifters even had boxes to rest the plates on so they could crawl under the bar to press it.  With the Pullover and Press, the bar & plates start on the platform and the lift ends when the bar and plates are back on the platform.  A true original All Round Lift!!!

The IAWA Rules for this lift are:


The rules for the pullover are the same as for the pullover and push (B43), except that the legs must stay flat, and must not be moved during the pullover so as to gain assistance. The lifter can choose the width of the legs position, but once elected they must remain in that position. With the bar at fore arms  length and the elbows on the floor, the lifter must await the referees signal to press. The bar is pressed to arms length as per the bench press, and on completion the official will signal for the bar to be returned to the lifting surface. Note: when the lifter has pulled the bar over, movement of the upper arms is allowed whilst the lifter finds a better / stronger position, prior to the press.

Causes for Failure:

1. Failure to keep the legs flat and motionless during the lift.
2.  All other causes for failure are the same as for the pullover and push

Now I know you are probably wondering why the IAWA name for this lift is different in the blog title than the rule description?  Well, if you didn’t –  I did.   That’s just the way it is in the IAWA Rulebook.  The name of this lift in the outline in the front on the IAWA Rulebook calls this lift the PULLOVER AND PRESS ON FLOOR, while deeper in the IAWA Rulebook where the rule is written, this lift is called the PULLOVER AND FLOOR PRESS.  Not a big deal – but with as many all-round lifts that there are  this just adds to the confusion.  You would think the name of a lift would be consistent in the same Rulebook!  The USAWA Rulebook calls this lift just the PULLOVER AND PRESS, but the good news here is that the content of the USAWA Rules and IAWA Rules are the same!!


by Al Myers

The 2012 IAWA World Championships is ONE WEEK AWAY!   Chad and I are in the final stages of having everything ready – just the “small stuff” now to take care of.  The list of registered competitors is set.  This is the 25 lifters who are entered:

Art Montini USA  Dawn Piper USA  Susan Sees USA
George Dick SCOTLAND  Dennis Mitchell USA  Dave Glasgow USA
Frank Allen ENGLAND  Ruth Jackson USA  Doug Kressly USA
Sam Trews AUSTRALIA  Al Springs USA  Jera Kressly USA
John Mahon AUSTRALIA  Denny Habecker USA  Randy Smith USA
 Chad Ullom USA  LaVerne Myers USA  
 Lance Foster USA  Rudy Bletscher USA  
 Paula De La Mata ENGLAND  Frank Ciavattone USA  
 Graham Saxton ENGLAND  Dan Wagman USA  
 Tim Piper USA  Bob Geib USA  

Yesterday I went to pick up the awards and t-shirts from the “trophy shop”.   I think everyone will be very pleased with both!  The trophies are as nice as I’ve ever received in a competition, as they should be since this is a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS.  I want to emphasize that every weight class within age groupings will be represented.  After all, this is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!   I plan to award certificates for the Best Lifter awards.  I also made up something “special” for all competitors.  I don’t want to reveal what this is yet, so it will be a surprise.  But it is something that you will keep and cherish as it represents the 25th Anniversary of the International All-Round Weightlifting Association.

As stated on the entry forms, this Championship will be held at the Dino Strength Training Center in Salina, Kansas.  The address is 742 Duvall Avenue. It is easy to find.  There is plenty of parking at the gym.  The General IAWA World Meeting will be held Friday night at 7:30 in the gym for those wanting to attend.  I will be in the gym most of Friday afternoon doing the final meet setup so if you get in town early please stop by (but if you do I will probably get you to help with the setup!).  IAWA President Steve Gardner will organize and preside over the meeting.

Weighins will be from 8-9 AM on Saturday.   This first-day weighin determines your weight class for the entire weekend.  You must also weigh in Sunday morning if you want to be eligible to set records on Sunday.  If you are not interested in this, you do not need to weigh in on Sunday.  At 9 Am we will have the opening ceremony and lifter introductions.  Immediately following this the meet will start.  The meet will be ran in a 2-session 1-platform format.  The two sessions will be divided this way – women and older men in first session, and younger men in the second session.  Sunday’s lifting will follow the exact way.   Also, since this is an IAWA event IAWA Rules and Scoring will be used.  The IAWA official scorekeeper Chris Bass from England will be in attendance to do the scoring.  IAWA President Steve Gardner will do the announcing. 

Immediately following Sundays lifting, we will have the award ceremony.   After that for anyone interested, we will have a post-meet celebration at my place.  I am calling it that instead of a banquet because this will be an informal affair.  Dress casually and show up ready to have an enjoyable evening.  This will be a good ole fashioned Kansas backyard BBQ, complete with “all-you-can-eat” barbecued meats, potato salad, baked beans and homemade ice cream!!  Refreshments will be there as well, but if you have something special you like to drink I would recommend that you bring it along.  I will have plenty of chairs and tables to sit back and relax, and hopefully will have a nice cool October night as well!  This BBQ is included as part of the “package entry fee” for all lifters, and for anyone else that is attending there will be a donation jar.  I highly recommend that anyone who can attend this evening event to make it, as it will give a time to meet new friends (or catch up with old friends) from overseas.  I will have directions available to my place at the meet for anyone who wants them.

One Hand Clean and Jerk (Clean and Jerk – One Arm)

by Al Myers

Tony Terlazzo performing a One Arm Clean and Jerk.

The second lifting event on DAY ONE of the IAWA World Championships is the one arm Clean and Jerk.  This is one of  “the original” all-round lifts, and once was even contested as part of the Olympics Weightlifting.  The athlete can choose either arm for this lift, but once the arm “is chosen” it must be used for all the attempts.   The IAWA rules are very similar to the USAWA rules for this lift:


The rules for the two hands clean and jerk apply except that the lift is done with either the left or right hand only. An optional grip is used, and the bar is raised to the commensurate shoulder as the lifting arm, in a single movement. The bar must not touch any part of the legs or trunk below the line of the nipples. In receiving the bar at the shoulder it should not make contact with or rest, on the opposite shoulder or chest. The centre of the sternum is used as the line of indication. The free hand may be supported on the thigh or knee of either leg, but must not touch the lifting surface, lifting arm or bar during the lift. With a single distinct effort the lifter will jerk the bar to arms length above the head. The signal to replace the bar will be given on completion of the lift, when the lifter is erect and motionless with the feet on a parallel plane to the torso.

Causes for Failure:

1.  Touching the lifting surface, bar or lifting arm with the free arm.
2.  Touching the bar with the legs or trunk below the line of the nipples.
3.  Touching the chest or shoulder with the bar, on the opposite side to the lifting arm.
4.  Allowing the bar to rise above the lower level of the ear, when adjusting the grip prior to the jerk.
5.  Failure to control the bar and fix it motionless, at completion.
6.  All other causes for failure are the same as for the two hands clean and jerk.

The USAWA Rules for this lift are practically the same. However, there is one additional rule stipulation in the USAWA Rules which states, “the nonlifting hand must be clear of the body upon completion of the lift.”  This is not stated in these IAWA Rules, so it appears to be technically allowed under the IAWA Rules??  However, I wouldn’t take that chance – so remove the supportive hand upon completion!

Reverse Curl (Curl – Reverse Grip)

by Al Myers

The strict Reverse Curl has a long tradition of being an All-Round Lift. This picture was published in a 1946 issue of Strength and Health.

Over this next week I’m going to highlight each lift that will be contested at the 2012 IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas on October 6th and 7th.  The total lifts contested is 7 – 4 on day 1 and 3 on day 2.  It is a good mix of lifts to test the all round strength of any lifter. The order in which the following list is listed is the order these lifts will be contested on meet day. 

Lifts on Day 1:

Reverse Curl (Curl – Reverse Grip)
One Hand Clean and Jerk (Clean and Jerk – One Arm)
Pullover and Press on Floor (Pullover and Press)
Steinborn (Steinborn Lift)

Lifts on Day 2:

Two Hands Snatch – 2 Inch Bar (Snatch – Fulton Bar)
One Hand Hacklift (Hack Lift – One Arm)
Straddle Deadlift (Jefferson Lift)

You may notice that each lift has 2 names.  The reason for this is that the IAWA rulebook has different names for several of the lifts than the USAWA rulebook.  The first name listed is the IAWA name while the second name (the one in parenthesis) is the USAWA name.    It is important to know that for this meet the IAWA rules for the individual lifts will be followed instead of the USAWA rules since this is an IAWA event.  The following is the IAWA rule for the Reverse Curl:


The rules of performance for the rectangular fix apply, except that once the curled bar reaches the midway point, it does not stop fixed, but continues in one movement, until the bar is at the top of the sternum / neck configuration.

Causes for Failure:

1. Starting to lift before the referees signal.
2.  The causes for failure are the same as for the rectangular fix, except that once curled the bar continues upwards to a finished position at the sternum / neck configuration.
3.  Any stopping or lowering of the bar on its upward journey.
4.  Lowering / replacing the bar before the referees signal.


The barbell should be held at arms length, resting across the lifters thighs with the legs and body upright and erect. With a hand grip spacing of no more than shoulder width, and with the knuckles facing the front, the referee will signal to start the lift. With the upper arms remaining held in contact with the torso, the lower forearms will raise, holding the bar firm (not sagging at the wrist) until they are at right angles to the body and parallel to the floor. No raising of the heels and toes, or swaying of the body is allowed. When the bar is held fixed and motionless in the finished position, the referee will signal to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:

1.  Starting the lift prior to the referees signal.
2.   Failure to hold the bar in the fixed, finished position, forearms at right angles to the body and parallel to the floor, until the referees completion signal.
3.   Any movement of the feet or swaying of the body during the lift.
4.  Failing to keep the legs and torso braced, upright and erect during the lift.
5.  Failure to keep the upper arms in contact with the torso throughout, or allowing wrists to sag.

The USAWA Rule for this lift (Curl – Reverse Grip) is the same, but just worded differently.  However, it is important to know that the USAWA does have a similar lift (Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip) that follows the rule of the Cheat Curl instead of the Rectangular Fix.  That lift is NOT the one being contested!!! I’m reinforcing this point because the Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip was contested at this past USAWA National Championships, and by that, could cause confusion!

New Rulebook – 6th Edition

by Al Myers

USAWA Rulebook 6th Edition

The new updated USAWA Rulebook is now available.  It is the 6th Edition, and contains all the updated rules changes.  It is available in the USAWA Online Store for $30 plus shipping.  The USAWA bylaws are now included as part of the Rulebook.  As always, the Rulebook is on the website FREE OF CHARGE to download (but it is a large pdf at over 4 MB, so it takes a little while).   The Rulebook for sale is a spiral bound book with a clear cover.

John’s History in the USAWA

by Al Myers

John Vernacchio completing a Clean and Jerk.

It’s been a sad past couple of weeks with the passing of John Vernacchio.  He had many friends in the all-round weightlifting community.  However, it is a glorious occasion as well, because I know he is in heaven right now meeting family members and friends that have gone before him.  My bet is that he and Howie are having a hard training session together right now – with John pumping out those famous presses of his, while Howard is hooking up the belts to do a Harness Lift.

I would like to take today and share some of the accomplishments that John has achieved throughout his lifting career.  Most of this will be with his time lifting in the USAWA as I don’t have much information on his lifting before that.  However,  Joe Roark ( recently provided some important information on John that I wasn’t aware of prior to his USAWA involvement. Initially John did some competitive bodybuilding in his early weightlifting days.  These were his physique competition accomplishments:

Mar 12, 1960 was 11th at Mr. Jr. Middle Atlantic
Dec 09, 1961 was 7th in an Open Physique contest in Norristown, PA
Oct 13, 1962 was 18th in an Open Physique contest in Philadelphia
Apr 04, 1964 was 21st in a physique event at Holy Saviour

After that John become involved with Powerlifting and Olympic Lifting, lifting for the Holy Savior Weightlifting Team.  Joe Roark also provided some contest history of PL and Olympic meets that John competed in in the early 60’s:

Oct 19, 1963 at Atlantic Coast PL: curl 140, Sq 360, BP 200, Total 700 for 6th place in the 181 class
Mar 21, 1964 was last in an Open PL contest in Pittsburgh where his only successful lift was a 380 squat
Feb 13, 1960 in the 148 class at the Greater Philidelphia Open 200-170-235 = 605

In John’s Hall of Fame Bio, it stated that he won his first National Championship in 1961, at the National Collegiate WL Championships.  John also stated in his bio that his two favorites lifts were the Military Press and the Squat – which shows why John eventually found his calling in All-Round Weightlifting by enjoying two such different lifts the best. Most of his Powerlifting was done in his club – the Valley Forge WL Club.  This continued into the early days of the USAWA, as John usually brought a team from his club to represent in all-round meets.  The Valley Forge WL Club was a member club of the USAWA from 1989 to 1995. 

John Vernacchio (left) presenting Jerry Turner (right), a member of the Ambridge Club his award after a meet John was promoting.

John was one of the pioneer leaders of the USAWA.  He promoted the VERY FIRST USAWA National Championships in 1988.  That is still a meet the “old-timers” tell stories about.  He went on to promote three USAWA National Championships (1988, 1989, & 2004).  At this years Nationals, a special award was given to John for this contribution, as he was one of 4 that have promoted the most, at 3, USAWA National Championships.  I am really glad now that he received this final award from the USAWA before his death.  He deserved it! 

John was the second President of the USAWA, elected in January 1989 and serving till the end of 1992.  He also served as one term as the IAWA Vice President (elected in 2000).  In addition, he has served several terms on the IAWA Technical Committee.  He did several IAWA promotions as well.  He promoted three IAWA World Championships (1989, 1991, & 1997), as well as three Gold Cups (1992, 1996, & 2003).  John was “no stranger” to competing overseas.  Numerous times he attended the IAWA Worlds when it was held out of the states. I did some research and have discovered John competed in 12 World Championships!  He had a continuous 10 year run from the the first one in 1988 in Leicester, England to 1997 Worlds in Collegeville, PA.  This included World Meets in Glasgow, Scotland twice and England three times.  His last two World entries came in 2002 & 2005 in Lebanon, PA. John also promoted many Powerlifting meets and Olympic lifting competitions. He promoted the 1987 National Masters WL Championships as well as the 1991 Pan American Masters  WL Championships.  He promoted multiple Eastern Masters PL and WL Championships.

John was an active participant in the USAWA National Championships as well.  All together – he competed in 15 Championships (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, & 2007).  He won numerous Best Lifter Age Group Awards through the years: 1988 Best Lifter 50-54, 1990 Best Lifter 50-54, 1992 Best Lifter 55-59, 1993 Best Lifter 55-59, 1997 Best Lifter 60-64, 2004 Best Lifter 65-69.  He probably won more Best Lifter Awards than this number, as this information came from the old meet results and often not all Best Lifter Awards were recorded.  His highest overall placing at the USAWA Nationals was 4th overall at the 1988 Championships.  He had 4 total “top ten” finishes at Nationals: 4th in 1988, 10th in 1989, 6th in 1990, and 8th in 1997.  John “V” also really supported the IAWA Gold Cup.  He competed in 13 Gold Cups, including Gold Cups  in England and Scotland.  He entered the “very first” Cup in 1991 directed by Howard Prechtel in Lakewood, Ohio and performed a 190 Kg 12″ Base Squat.

Masters Benching Secrets

by Roger LaPointe

Rudy Bletscher, at 70 years of age, performing a Feet in the Air Bench Press at the 2006 USAWA National Championships.

How much do you bench?

How many times have you been asked that question?

To me, the bench press is an exercise. To other people, I know it can be a way of life. For the Masters Age lifter, it can be an enigma..

I have recently been doing more bench pressing, because of my focus on the Crucifix Hold records. Thanks to a torn rotator cuff twelve years ago, I quit doing regular bench pressing. Now, thanks to the Indian Clubs, I am not so hesitant to bench. It used to put that shoulder out of commission for a week, or two, if I pushed it at all.

5 Training Lifts for the Master Bencher

  1. Crucifix Hold – I deal with a lot of Masters Age lifters and we all seem to have our particular collection of injuries, big or small. The Crucifix Hold is a funny lift. I have definitely found the classic flat bench press to be a helpful training lift to help with the crucifix 1RM, and vise versa.
  2. Olympic Power Clean and Press – Don’t use a super arched lay back, like the Russians of the early 1970s, instead press like Schemansky. Jim Bradford told me that Norb (Schemansky) told him he needed to “massage the bar”. My buddy Dave Pohlzin has been teaching me to do it. It’s pretty cool. One day I hope to Clean & Press more than I can bench.
  3. Incline Dumbbell Bench Pressing – Man, you need to crush it like Casey. I have an old Meet poster from Dr. Ken’s Iron Island Gym with a photo of Pat Casey doing incline dumbbell benches with some dumbbells that look to weigh around 220 pounds. Awesome. Most guys over do it with the flat benching and develop tendonitis and other problems at the point where the pecs, front delts and biceps meet at the front of the arm pit. This helps to avoid that problem.
  4. Side Lateral Raises – I know you have heard it a million times before but you really do need to avoid muscle imbalance in the delts. On some of these things, the bodybuilders have it right. If you hate this classic bodybuilder movement, try a one arm barbell snatch high pull. I won’t beat a dead horse on this concept. Just try it.
  5. Dumbbell Bent Over Rows – This will solidify the shoulder girdle like nothing else you can do.

Round out these movements with Indian Club work. Masters lifters all seem to have rotator cuff and biceps problems. In many cases, the Indian Clubs seem to solve that problem. They will help you bench more weight. Follow up the Indian Club work with the 5 exercises listed above and you might be benching more than when you were in your 20’s.

Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

OHHH! My Toe!

by Roger LaPointe

Al Myers doing a Steinborn Lift at the 2010 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The Steinborn Lift is a lift that requires very tight quality collars that won't slip off!

Clang! Ding! Bang! Ohhh! My TOE!

Imagine the sound of plate after plate hitting the floor and then the other plates bouncing off those plates and rolling on the floor, with the ringing sound of milled cast iron followed by intense cursing and swearing…

Yes, the catastrophic failure of a crappy spring collar is what I have just described. Of course, it is followed by intense pain, maybe a little blood and a quick trip to the emergency room. None of this is anything I want to be a part of. I really don’t want to be the guy being taken to the emergency room.

Before you do a lift, make sure someone reliable has checked your collars, particularly if you are doing a dumbbell lift. Equipment failures happen. If there is a bolt, it can come loose. If there is a collar, someone can forget to tighten it down. If there is a weld, it can break. As unbelievable as it sounds, I have even seen dumbbell heads that have sheared off the steal handles. The long and short of it is that people abuse gym equipment and there is NO way a manufacturer or gym owner can anticipate every stupid thing that can happen in a gym… Believe me, I can tell you stories.

Quality Spin-Lock Collars are available from Atomic Athletic.

You have to be responsible for your own actions. Check your equipment.

I never use crappy collars for dumbbell lifts and ALL Spring Collars are crappy.

If I am the one who might be injured, I check the equipment before lifting with it.

See Rule #1 and Rule #2. If I violate them, then I only have myself to blame.

I can get a little OCD and excessive about certain things and will simply go overboard sometimes. For example, I have a collection of collars, both standard size and Olympic sized. I use different ones for their ideal applications. If you are just realizing that your collars are an important part of your equipment arsenal, then here is a good place to start looking. I love spin-lock collars. I highly recommend that everyone own at least one pair.

Happy lifting. Make sure to tighten down your collars.

Live strong, Roger
“Today is a good day to lift.”

World Entries

by Al Myers

Art Montini, the oldest active lifter in the USAWA, was the first person to send his entry in for the IAWA World Championships!

The deadline has passed (September 15th) for entry into the IAWA World Championships to be held on October 6th & 7th in Salina, Kansas.   A total of 25 lifters have entered, which looks to be a good field of competition!  I am excited that there are 6 overseas lifters registered – from England, Scotland and Australia.  This will make this years meet a TRUE World Competition.  In the past there have been people who have not liked to refer to this big IAWA meet as a “World Meet” because of the limited number of countries in attendance.  I will say this – the invite is open to ANYONE IN THE WORLD to attend, so why is it not a World Meet?   Just because most countries elect not to attend?  No one is being excluded from participating in this one, so I would say that qualifies it as a World Competition.  I will always refer to this competition as the World Meet. 

I want to thank everyone who has entered.  Chad and I are “in the middle” of making the final plans to insure that this will be  a TOP NOTCH Championship.  Part of this plan-making process involves getting the final count of awards for the lifters, which was done first thing this morning.  That is one of the many reasons we needed to get a good “head-count” by enforcing a deadline for entry.  The awards we are giving out are VERY NICE and we want our order to be exact on this as to not leave any “left overs”.  So the order went out for 25 this morning for those 25 lifters which got entered in time -  and which was the final date deadline the trophy shop gave me.

Now onto “my soapbox” for a spell.  Promoting these type of big competitions cost money.  Anyone who thinks meet directors “get rich” are clueless – and these people should promote a competition themselves firsthand to find out how much it costs to put on a good show.  The entry fees never cover all expenses. I’m just lucky Chad agreed to “share the losses” with me on this one.   We made it pretty clear that there was a entry deadline with penalties for late entries (if they were going to be accepted).  Chad and I have decided we MAY take late entries with this stipulation – entry fee is now $100 and the late entrant will receive no award (since this order has already been placed), and you have asked us and received permission before the day of the competition  if there is still “room” for you to enter.  Another thing – an entry is not complete until the entry form AND ENTRY FEE is in hand.  I’m not interested in good will gestures of taking the word that a lifter will show and making plans for that, only to be stiffed.  It’s happened too many times to me in the past. 

Again – I want to thank all lifters who have entered.  Chad and I will do our best to insure that you will have a very enjoyable time!   And special thanks goes to Art Montini for getting the first entry in!!!

Art Montini USA
George Dick Scotland
Frank Allen England
Sam Trews Australia
John Mahon Australia
Chad Ullom USA
Lance Foster USA
Paula De La Mata England
Graham Saxton England
Tim Piper USA
Dawn Piper USA
Dennis Mitchell USA
Ruth Jackson USA
Al Springs USA
Denny Habecker USA
LaVerne Myers USA
Rudy Bletscher USA
Frank Ciavattone USA
Dan Wagman USA
Bob Geib USA
Susan Sees USA
Dave Glasgow USA
Doug Kressly USA
Jera Kressly USA
Randy Smith USA

Motivations from Castro

by Roger LaPointe

Pablo Lara

Do you know who Pablo Lara is?

Even if you do, I’m betting that almost nobody you know has a clue who Pablo Lara is or what he is famous for doing. For those of you who don’t know of Pablo Lara, he won the gold medal in the 76 Kg Weight Class in Weightlifting during the 1996 Olympics. His 205 Kg (451.9 lbs.) Clean & Jerk was an Olympic Record.

Motivations are funny things. By the year 2012, anyone knowing who won the 75 Kg (167 lbs.) weight class is filling up brain capacity with some pretty useless trivia. Yet, For PABLO LARA, that information is NOT TRIVIA. Lara set five world records during his career and was a national hero in Cuba.

You want to know about intensity? In 1997 I was able to watch Lara lift. I never spoke with Lara. I wanted to shake his hand, but really didn’t have a good opportunity. He was being watched pretty closely by the Cuban coaches. I was lucky enough to be sent down to Guatemala for the NACACI Championships in order to politic and try to sell weights for the York Barbell Company. Lara was my hero. I was able to watch every one of his warm-up attempts and his lifts on the platform. This was not a big contest, so he ONLY did a 190 kg Clean & Jerk. That is 418.9 pounds, more than any middle weight lifter has ever done from the United States.

Here’s some real motivation. I watched Lara come into the hotel, before the meet, with at least a pound of gold chains around his neck. I thought it was pretty ostentatious, but I had grown up in the Detroit area and had seen that sort of thing before. Leaving Guatemala, I saw Pablo in the airport and he didn’t have any chains. I found out, from one of the Canadian Coaches, that he had sold all of his gold so that he could bring back dollars to Cuba. Essentially, the Cuban team lived a good life sponsored by the state, but the lifters families were still in poverty and that is what the lifters would go back to when they were no longer part of the National Team. Those gold chains were going to be a chunk of Pablo Lara’s retirement. I have no idea how true that may be, as I have never heard anything more about him after that meet. I have heard similar stories about successful lifters from other third world countries. That is some motivation.

You have to find your motivation. I know that through that look of intensity, Pablo Lara also seemed like one smiling happy guy. Weightlifting is hard work. I also know that no one sticks with it without truly enjoying it. Ultimately Lara was done after 1996.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Result of Knee Sleeve Poll

by Steve Gardner, IAWA President

Announcement – Knee Sleeves – An IAWA Worldwide Members Poll

As you will all be aware, there was a proposal recently being put to IAWA about allowing the use of ‘Knee Sleeves’ to be worn in all lifts when competing with IAWA. The Knee Sleeves were not being proposed to be performance enhancing or assisting, but simply, we were led to believe, to help keep the lifters knee joints warm and comfortable. Whilst that proposal could be easily understood there would of course be concern that this might well lead eventually to items being worn that would in fact become performance enhancing. It was decided that in this unusual circumstance, rather than let the issue be decided by the group of members that happen to be in Kansas this October, it would be a far better way to decide the issue if we conducted an individual poll of all IAWA members in all Countries. Many of those who did comment, made the point that it was easy enough to wear such an item whilst training and warming up, and then remove them whilst going onto the platform to perform lifts. Of those who spoke for allowing the move, most said that they not wish to see knee supports used as an aide to lifting, and many then went on to say that in fact, they couldn’t really see the point of bringing in such a move if it wasn’t going to be of any real assistance. IAWA does allow the use of wrist wraps, a belt (and knee wraps for the front and back squat only) and in the event, it seems that is how the IAWA membership want to see it remain.

My thanks go to Al Myers in the USA and Robin Lukosious in Australia for helping me conduct the poll, which was quite an undertaking. My thanks again to all those members who returned poll forms, and for the many constructive comments that were made ‘for and against’ and thank you to Dan Wagman from the US who forwarded a full report on the matter. The poll return was roughly 40% of the total membership who were polled. Of those that made returns, the result was 40% for the proposal and 60% against the proposal. The matter is now closed, and IAWA will continue without knee sleeves as per the majority vote result, in line with our democratic principle.

John Vernacchio

by Al Myers

John Vernacchio Sr. - December 27, 1937 to September 2, 2012.

The following newspaper article was given to Denny by Dick Durante at John’s funeral.  The article tells about the Holy Savior weightlifting team going to California in 1980 to compete in the World and National Weightlifting and Powerlifting Championships.  John took second in his class in both events.

Holy Savior Weightlifting Team


by John McKean

John "V" Vernacchio performing a hip lift

I’d just met the extremely muscular 40-something-year-old weightlifter, and it appeared he was trying to kill me! I often have that effect on people, but they usually have to talk to me at least for a few minutes prior to reaching for my throat; not so for no-nonsense John Vernacchio; he was all set to drop a 300+ pound barbell on my head practically at first sight! You see, I was the head judge at one of the very first National Masters Olympic lift meets, held at our own Ambridge VFW. John was noticeably more husky than most of the masters competing, and had opted to take one of the heaviest final clean and jerk attempts. It was a mighty struggle but John thrust it overhead to a good lock. Only problem was that his feet weren’t too content with their position. John shifted a little to get balance, then a few more steps toward the front of the platform, followed by some faster shuffling forward, then a bit of a run to catch up. With merely one foot of platform left, I reflected on one sage old judge mentioning that the head ref should always hold his position, no matter the jeopardy. Forget that, my integrity wasn’t so solid, and I dove for the audience!!  But I kept an eye on ole John, who now just took baby steps, finally staying steady – he actually returned the bar to the edge of the platform after the relieved down signal, and earned three white lights! I shook my finger in amusement at John, who, I’m convinced, started my rapid subsequent hair loss in those scary few seconds!!

Oh, I got even with him some years later, via my then 6-year-old wild child youngest son, Sean. John was holding one of his elaborate All-round meets in his big carpet store and warehouse near Philadelphia. As was the case with most of V’s promotions, this was very well attended, and the warehouse portion certainly was a huge, wonderful facility to stage such events. The store section was closed to the public that day, but well furnished and a nice place to sit or lay down to relax before or after attempts for us lifters. But some of the guys complained to John about the “damn bird” in that room which was somewhat annoying when trying to rest! John said there were never any birds in his store, but came out for a listen. He THOUGHT he heard a slight “peep” after a while, and old time lifter, Paul Eberhardinger, identified it as a parakeet. Completely puzzled, John & Paul searched every corner of the room, hearing several more “peeps” all the while, but seeing no bird. In desperation, John started lifting sections of his sample carpetting. Finally on one pull of a plush piece, John came eyeball to eyeball with a smirking Sean who just looked him square in the eye and said “PEEP!” John coulda strangled the impish little lad! Later that day, Sean managed to throw a rock at a beehive and kick up an angry swarm of bees, and still later, John found he’d uncovered a deep open retaining pit outside the store and was attempting to do parallel dips over the treacherous hole!! Not that John ever told me, but I suspect Sean still has a lifetime ban from any Philly meet!!!

Yes, it was always an adventure and a first class thrill to compete in any Vernacchio contest! He went all out to make sure every detail was in place so competitors were free to do their very best. His combination olympic & powerlift weekends via his Easter National Masters contests were legendary! His enthusiasm was so contagious during these events, that he even managed to talk ME into olympic lifting on the Sunday Olympic lift portion, and I actually ENJOYED it, even as an awkward 42-year-old novice to those tricky lifts! I’ll never forget the time Art & I were at the Easterns and the overall best lifter trophy (both days-olympic & powerlift total), a huge sucker, was awarded to Art Montini by a proud and smiling John Vernacchio  – Art smiled back, but then whispered to me, “Get the car started quick, and let’s get outa town in hurry; they must have made a mistake!!”

John was always a joy to compete with at all the many all-round contests we shared. Always grinning, he was as good a competitor as he was a coach & friend. Yet for as strong and dedicated a lifter that he truly was, he never took himself all that seriously – He laughed as hard as the rest of us when this very powerful man was beaten by my older son Rob, then 10 years old, in the hack lift one year (try as he may John just couldn’t get much more than a bare bar up past his massive thigh biceps!!!). Or the time during one of his IAWA world championships that he planned just ONE Steinborn lift (because it caused him TREMENDOUS shoulder agony to get the bar onto his back), but was three red lighted because he didn’t squat deep enough! (Yeah, he easily corrected that on a second attempt, laughing all the while!).

Yep, we’ll be telling John Vernacchio stories forever in the USAWA – there were so many crazy antics with him around, and he was so well loved by everyone! When you think about it, John will certainly ALWAYS be with us!

John’s Funeral

by Al Myers

John Vernacchio's funeral handout.

This was sent to me by Denny Habecker, which was the funeral handout from John Vernacchio’s service.  I know John had many friends from all over the World that were unable to attend his funeral, so that is the reason I’m sharing this on the website. 


More Tributes for John

by Steve Gardner

John Vernacchio front squatting at the 1997 Gold Cup in England.

Still cant get over the fact that my old friend is not with us anymore. This photo was from the Gold Cup in 1997 which I ran at Bass Museum in Burton. It doesnt seem 5 minutes ago but John would be about 60 here I guess. He is performing the front squat, the Squat and the Military Press were Johns favourite lifts and he excelled in both in his glory days. I met John at the first IAWA Worlds in Liecester in 1988, we became friends there and in 89 I went over to his place in Philadelphia for the 2nd World Championships. John came over to England to all of the competitions I ran including the 93 Gold Cup and the 94 Worlds. I went over to Johns every single year for Gold Cups, Worlds or even just for a holiday. John was the same age as my Dad but was more like a Brother. He was a part of my family, and me and my family became a part of his. I am so sad he is gone but I have a lifetime of great great memories. John used to laugh when we would talk him up and call him the ‘Legend’ but I know this for sure, John did have something special and I will never forget him.

by Frank Ciavattone

My heart goes out to the Vernacchio family. Like the many stories that all my friends are writing to you about John, they are not only true but without John most of us would not of even had been in this Great wonderful sport. I spent a countless number of hours from 1988 to two days before the 1989 I.AW.A. & U.S.A.W.A. Championships held in Pennsylvania, U.S. As being a prior Olympic lifter I needed some coaching on the All-Rounds. He never once did not take my call and was able to coach me to win my first championships in both the Worlds and the U.S. title. Most of all through him I met a true family which is second to none over my acclompishments and thats Judy & Denny Haybeker, Karen & Steve Gardner, Steve Angell, Barry Bryan, Bill Clark, Dennis & Flossy Mitchell, Howard Prechtell, John Mckean, Art Montini and there families! I went through many diffacult times in my life and without my All-Round family and my own family it would have been tough. My condolenses to the Vernacchio family and to thank John for making me part of this family.

by Steve Andrews

John was a top guy and a great lifter. I remember him hosting Worlds in Pennsylvania in 1989 where i lifted with Adrian Blindt and Frank Allen. I enjoyed competing with him over the years. Condolences to John’s family at this sad time. RIP John.

by Tom Ryan

I am very sad to read this. Yes, John was 75 and would have been 76 near the end of the year. Technically, he didn’t live in Philly but lived outside Philly. John was indeed a USAWA pioneer and was very active in staging competitions, including competitions in the building that housed his carpet business! I knew him well, especially from the 1989-90 academic year that I spent in the Philly area and trained a few times in John’s gym. John told me after one of those training sessions that his father suffered a lot during the final years of his life. Since John had a stroke a few years ago, as Denny informed us some time ago, his final years obviously weren’t great, either, so at least he is now free of earthly pain and troubles. RIP, John, you were a very giving person in many ways, including once treating my mother and I to dinner at that famous all-you-can-eat place that I believe was/is in Collegeville. You contributed a lot to the USAWA and you will be greatly missed.

John Vernacchio performing a Fulton Bar Deadlift of 375 pounds at the age of 68 at the 2005 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio.

by Steve Angell

Been thinking about John a lot today (Feels the same as when my father passed away) I am full of sadness AND guilt as i lost contact with John in resent years. Just wanted to re-share the post i put up a couple of months ago regarding John. Looking back John was there to shout for me during all of my best ever lifts and i will always be grateful for the help & support he gave me. I have looked at the results of resent IAWA world championships with a little envy, as i would love for my body to have given me one chance to put it on the line against Al, Chad & Mark Haydock. That would have been a battle royal! But do you know what? Being around in the 90’s and sharing a platform with and being inspired by John, Howard & co were amongst the best days of my life. I would not change that for anything. Al asked for stories about John. I have an encyclopaedia full of them, but this will make you all smile. John was telling me about when he was a school teacher and one of his pupils who was a good football player was getting a hard time from the school bully. John kept him back after class. Had a John V type chat with him (I loved those no BS chats we had). Then looked him in the eye and said “Now go kick his fucking ass” which the kid duly obliged. The world should have more teachers like JV!!!!

Quote from home page.
Tireless John Vernacchio directed and lifted and led his Valley Forge team to first place in a one-man demonstration of dynamic energy July 9-10 in Plymouth Meeting, PA. as the new United States All-Round Weightlifting Association staged its first-ever National All-Round Championships. Vernacchio thus completed his second in a three-sport round of national lifting championships. In 1987, he was the meet director (and organizer and lifter) for the National Masters Weightlifting Championships. In 1989, he’ll do the same for the National Masters Powerlifting meet for the USPF.

I just wanted to elaborate a little on John as some of you guy’s may never have had the pleasure of meeting him. John Vernaccio is a LEGEND pure and simple. Not only was he a National Masters Champion in Olympic lifting, All-Round lifting and Powerlifting; He was also World Champion in all three sports Winning the Masters World Olympic lifting Championships on Oxford (England) in 1992?. I had the absolute pleasure of staying with, training with and competing with John on many occasions, and i will openly say, i love John Like another Father, and i owe him so much for all the help and support he gave me during the 90’s.

Just some of the competitions i lifted in with (Against) John that he promoted include:

England V America 3 match tour 1994
England v America v Scotland 2 match tour 1996
1996 Gold Cup
1997 World Championships

I also stayed with John and travelled across to Ohio for the 1994 Gold Cup and 1995 World Champs. I also Competed in the WNPF World Powerlifting Championship with John in 1995. He won the Masters title and i won the Deadlift title. Unfortunately, i have not been in contact with John for a while, and the last i heard he was having some health issues. I just wanted to take the opportunity on this forum to let the World know how John played an integral part of my success as a strength Athlete, and i put him along side Howard Pretchtel in my list of heroes and strength legends.

by Al Myers

I first met John at the 2003 National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. I have to admit that at first I was taken back by John’s imposing physical presence – heavily muscled physique, commanding voice, strong facial features, and slicked back dark hair. I had previously “heard about him” and his involvement in the USAWA, and I would have to say, was a little intimidated by him at first impression! We didn’t talk much during the meet. However, the day following the meet as I was hitting the hotel’s continental breakfast, John was there already eating and invited me to join him at his table. I couldn’t believe how nice he was to me. He commended me on my lifting performance, and offered several words of encouragement to me in pursuing all round weightlifting. I was a little taken back – as I was just “newbe” to the USAWA, yet this legend of the sport was taking interest in me and thanking me for making it to the meet? It made an impression on me as I left that morning. That’s how John was to all new lifters. He is responsible for getting more lifters involved in the USAWA than probably anyone else throughout the years. He also was a man who put “the organization” above his own personal lifting goals, and because of this, has left a legacy in the minds of many.


John V laid to rest today

by Steve Gardner

John Vernacchio pressing big weight in his earlier lifting days. This picture is on the wall of Steve Gardner's Powerhouse Gym in Burton. (caption by webmaster)

Long time All Round Weightlifting enthusiast from Pennsylvania USA: John Vernacchio, is being laid to rest today. John was a superb lifter, Promoter of several World Championships and Gold Cup Events, Official, and USAWA Board of Officials Member. John had suffered ill health in recent years and finally suffered a very bad heart attack which led to his sad demise. On this day of his funeral I am sure all members of IAWA(UK) would join me in sending our deepest sympathy to his family and friends, and keeping John and them in our thoughts. John was a really good guy, friendly and helpful to everyone, not only in lifting but in life too. I and many others in the UK had the pleasure of knowing him well. He was a good friend and he will be missed by many! John will leave a big hole in the family of friends that is all round weightlifting, but John V you will never be forgotten xxx

John’s Funeral Plans

by Steve Gardner

Details for John Vernacchio’s Funeral:

 Boyd Horrox Funeral Home
200 W. Germantown Pike
Norristown, PA 19401

Viewing Wednesday evening 6pm-8pm
Viewing Thursday morning 9am-10am, followed by service\

Sympathy and/or Remembrane cards can be sent to John’s brother Sal at:

Sal Vernacchio
2929 Third Street
Trooper, Norristown PA 19403, USA

Dan Lurie – For Real

by Tom Ryan

(Webmaster’s note: Occasionally posts are made on the USAWA Discussion Forum that deserve to be seen by more than just those that follow the forum, and this post by Tom Ryan regarding Dan Lurie is one of those.  A while back Dennis Mitchell wrote a nice bio story on Dan Lurie, and these were the followup comments made by Tom Ryan, which included a few pictures he emailed to me.  Thanks Tom for providing this interesting information!)

Dan Lurie Bent Pressing Miss California.

I did want to add a few comments to supplement Dennis’s article on Dan Lurie.

Dan has both a website and a Wikipedia entry and I have observed that the latter is updated almost immediately when someone passes away. So I am pretty sure that Dan is still alive — at the age of 89.

I recall seeing Lurie appear on TV each week in the early or mid-1950s as “Sealtest Dan, the Muscle Man” on the Sealtest Big Top show. He can be seen in this YouTube video at about the 6:25 mark doing some overhead presses on the show, in what amounts to a commercial for Sealtest milk. There is also an interview of him, conducted a few years ago, here

Sealtest Dan, The Muscle Man

During the late 1950s, when I was getting started in weight training, he had a mail order catalog that included a photo of him bent pressing Miss California. Now we know that Dave Whitley goes around bent pressing women when they are vertical, but Lurie did it when they were more like horizontal.

I had a copy of that catalog but I no longer have it. Although I am not a big collector of strength memorabilia, I do some collecting, so about 10 years ago I contacted Lurie’s son in an attempt to obtain a copy of that catalog, or at least the photo. He knew what photo I was referring to but they no longer had either the catalog or the photo. He did send me a photo of his father bent pressing some other woman, however, as Lurie may have made a habit of this. LOL

Dan Lurie Bent Pressing a man that weighs around 200 pounds.

Fortunately, one of my collector friends has the catalog and sent me the photo and a photo of the cover of the catalog. I also have a photo of Lurie bent pressing a young man of maybe 200 pounds that presumably occurred on the TV show. I am e-mailing these photos to Al.

Now about Lurie’s claim that he bent pressed 285. That would be a prodigious bent press for someone his size and I doubt if he ever lifted that much. John Y. Smith also weighed 168 (same as Lurie) when he bent pressed a dumbbell weighing 275.5 and Willoughby claimed that was equivalent to doing 313 with a barbell. Lurie was not in the same league with Smith as a strongman, however.

Lurie does, however, deserve a prominent place in history as a bodybuilder, promoter of physique contests, entrepreneur (I still have some Lurie barbell plates), and TV strongman performer.

Rest in Peace, John Vernacchio

by Al Myers

Two legends in All-Round Weightlifting, John Vernacchio (left) and Frank Ciavattone (right) at the 2009 IAWA World Championships in Lebanon, PA.

Yesterday brought some bad news to the All-Round Community with the news of the passing of John Vernacchio.  Anyone who has been involved with the USAWA for any length of time knows John.   John has been one of the primary leaders in our organization since the beginning, and without his efforts the USAWA might not even exist today.  I could go “ON AND ON” regarding John’s titles and lifting resume, but today I want to take the time to remember John for “the man he was”, and from the comments that I have received about him, it is obvious that he was loved and well-respected by all.  Please continue to send any comments and/or stories about John, and I’ll share them here on the USAWA website.

by Steve Gardner

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but for those who knew him, just wanted to let you know John Vernacchio has passed away. John was my very good friend and buddy from Philadelphia USA, a prolific all round weightlifter and powerlifter in his early days and a big mover and shaker in the US all round organisation too. John was 75 I think, and he suffered a fatal heart attack this morning. So very very sad. Rest in peace John.

by Andrew Tomlin

he was a gentleman and a legend R.I.P john

by Barry Bryan

Very sad news to hear. I lifted for his gym,trained with him, and he is the one who got me in the all round lifting. We had many great times.

by James Gardner


by Joe Garcia

Sad news indeed. Remember a lot of good times with John at his meets. I called Bill and let him know. If anyone has current address or funeral data shoot them to me.

by John Gardner

Very sad to loose the legend will miss you mr v

by Steve Angell

Am sitting here with tears in my eyes. This has just become one of the saddest days of my life. l owe that man so much and had a love for him like a father. RIP John. You really were a legend!

by Rick Meldon

Horrible news, a great bloke indeed

by David Horne

Very sad news. I always remember my time at his place in Philly with fondness. A great chap!

by Tom Ryan

Yes, very sad news. I echo the comments made above. I knew John well, especially from the 1989-90 academic year that I spent in the Philly area and trained a few times at his gym. John was very active in staging competitions during the early years of the USAWA, in which he was a charter member. And he was a force on the lifting platform! He was a good Olympic lifter who switched to powerlifting after the press was eliminated, as the press was his best lift. John retained his strength as he aged much better than most of us do, as he squatted with 601 at the age of 47, which tied his personal record. Yes, John was 75 and would have turned 76 near the end of the year.

by Graham Saxton

Very sorry to hear the news. I had the pleasure to spend sometime with him on a number of occasions. Treasured memories.


Olympic Dumbbell Swing

by Roger LaPointe

Chad Ullom performing a 150 Right Arm Dumbbell Swing at the 2012 USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge, PA. Chad has the best Dumbbell Swing of ALL TIME in the USAWA.

As a competitive lift, the dumbbell swing has not been part of the Olympics since the first one, or maybe it was the second modern Olympics? I don’t know and the records are a least a little sketchy. So why do it?

Dumbbell Swings are simply AWESOME for your grip work.

Leading up to our last All-Round Weightlifting Meet, I hadn’t done any traditional deadlifting and hardly any clean pulls. Instead, I did a lot of stone lifting, snatches, cleans and the three lifts in that competition: the crucifix hold, one arm deadlift and thick bar Jefferson lift. I was doing the stone lifting because I was training Casey Pelton for the German American Festival Steinstossen event and because I just love summer outdoor stone lifting.

“Wow! Isn’t that actually over training you back?” exclaimed my Dad.

The quick answer, is “Yes… and No.” The volume of back training was pretty big, but most importantly, the volume of grip training was really high. I needed to hit my grip and single arm work, in a genuinely periodized fashion. I really needed to hit some lighter weights, with super high intensity. I felt like the dumbbell swing might just fit the bill.

There is no way to do a serious dumbbell swing being highly intense about it. Without intending to create this dichotomy, it also happens to be a nearly perfect lift to balance out the crucifix hold. Nice.

If you want to see the dumbbell I use to train the Dumbbell Swing, check out this shot. It is a very nice Olympic Plate Loading Rotating Dumbbell. The handle diameter and knurling is about as perfect as you could hope for and my York weights were not sloppy, like on the old one I was previously using. It was a wonderful upgrade.

Lifter of the Month: Dale Friesz

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz (center) at the 2012 USAWA Nationals in Las Vegas. He is surrounded by Dennis Mitchell (left) and the meet venue owner John Broz (right).

The choice for the lifter of the month of August was a pretty simple one – DALE FRIESZ.   In the month of August he won the prestigious Presidential Cup, the premier of the USAWA Record Days.  Dale has been involved with the USAWA from the very early days, and at the USAWA Nationals was “one of four” awarded the special award of Top Participation Award of past USAWA Nationals.  I consider Dale one of the “founding members” of the USAWA.  He has a passion for All-Round Weightlifting and the USAWA that very few others have. Despite having endured MANY physical hardships that would have put other lifters “on the sideline”, he continues to make a presence at meets, and in turn gives inspiration to any lifter that is facing a physical obstacle themselves.  Because no matter how bad you may think your issue is – it is NOTHING compared to what Dale has been faced with, and yet he continues to work out and compete.  That puts things in perspective.  In fact, I have NEVER met anyone like Dale who has such a underlying passion for weightlifting.   He is a true champion and very deserving of winning this month’s LIFTER OF THE MONTH.

Delaware Valley Postal

by Al Myers

USAWA Delaware Valley Open Postal Meet

Dates:  Between September 1st and September 30th, 2012

Entry form must be postmarked by October 5th, 2012

Must be a current USAWA member to be eligible for competition

Entry Fee:  None

Official USAWA rules apply as outlined in the Rule Book


Clean and Press – Heels Together

Snatch – 2 Dumbbells

Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip

Entry Form (pdf) – 2012 Delaware Valley Open Postal Meet Entry Form