Perfect Powerful Pulls

by John McKean

Little known Pennsylvania lifter Jim Dorn of the 1963 era pressing 300 pounds!

Audience chanting called a halt to the proceedings at the 1963 Senior National Weightlifting Championships. No, not due to a poor judging decision, nor a new record lift. Rather the mere appearance of a little known 181 pound wonder named Jim Dorn created this immediate stir. The uninformed in the crowd assumed him to be a bodybuilder, rather than the dedicated olympic lifting stylist that he was, yet everyone demanded to see him flex his wing like lats! Heck, even the normally gruff, stoic John Terpak later wrote that Dorn had “unquestionably the broadest back in the world for his height and weight”! Fortunately the MC of the evening was Bob Hoffman, who was more than happy to promote one of his York team members, and to plug his top selling power racks (on which Dorn trained exclusively)! Of course the packed auditorium went berserk when the 5′7″ phenomenon flexed those lats, seeming wider than he was tall.

What an all-rounder Jim would have made! In addition to a 315 pound press, 285 pound snatch, and a North American Championship title (among others), Dorn performed a 275 pound cheat curl (205 strict), a 670 pound parallel squat (with hands on thighs), and a 405 pound jerk off the rack. And when pushed into it by Coach Hoffman, later took the Mr. Pennsylvania crown. Hard to believe that this type of power and physique were built primarily with mostly single holds inside a power rack, using 8 key partial lifts!

As indicated in an early 60s Strength & Health story, Jim’s usual home training featured only these power rack holds and ONE SET OF ONE format: top press 520 X 1, eye level press 360 X 1, chin level press 520 X 1,quarter squat 1000 X 6, middle pull 420 X1, front squat (from bottom up) 390 X 3, deadlift (just off floor for the start) with shrug 670 X 1, and bench press (starting from a rack pin 4″ above chest) 470 X1. On each of the single rack holds, he held either just off starting pins, into a slightly higher rack pin, or maintaining a support (as in the top press and quarter squat) for 10 SECONDS. Oh yeah, he finished each session with a set of 6 in a slow stretching type of chin behind the neck. However, I’m convinced that it was his pulling HOLDS over that TIME, that created his awesome pulling power and super wide upper back!

I’ve written previously, of course, of the value of slightly moving isometrics & holds, but wish to put forth some pulling experiments I’ve been doing for a while that just may make this treacherous exercise a bit more user friendly! After all, none of us in the all-round bunch are getting any younger, and these heavy duty holds are nasty to one’s blood pressure! But, though mostly forgotten, we should strive to discover how to make such miraculous, short & concentrated rack routines work for us. We may never get the world record pulls and back structure of Bill March, Lou Riecke, or Serge Redding. In case you don’t know Serge, he used mostly standard olympic lift training, tho included one special pull iso — musta worked because at 5′8″ and up to 308# bwt, he did an official 502 pound WR press, a 401 snatch, and measured 65″ around the shoulders!! More on him in another story!! However, using TIME in holding a row, continental from thigh level, snatch grip pulls, etc., could mean a whole bunch of ‘Rounder records!

Now, what I’ve found, old gomer that I’m becoming (68 last Sunday! and his wife who is proofing this reminded him that he’s well into full bloom gomerhood!), is that I don’t need to explode head veins from a 10 to 12 second hold as twenty-something Dorn & March were doing. Instead, I separate my rack lifts into 2 sets of 2, with each hold into a slightly higher rack pin, lasting only 3 seconds. I still get in the all-important HOLD of 12 seconds, but have not come even close to passing out as I did in the old days (so that’s what happened to him y’all are saying!)! For instance, I’ll get a pretty hefty poundage on the strict row, pull to a pin 4″ above and hold for 3 seconds, lower and pull/hold for another 3 seconds, then rest for a few minutes and do the second set. By the way, if you don’t have access to a power rack, this same performance can be achieved with chains & “S” hooks over the bar to secure various pull positions, or even rig up a thick rubber bungee around one’s barbell!

It must be working – my poundages are going up, even at an age where gains should NOT be achieved, and the all-round pulling lifts are feeling much easier! I’m even noting a big increase in wideness these days – though I expect this is mostly from Marilyn’s fresh stacks of Christmas cookies, rather than extra muscle on the upper back!

Shoulder Drop Continued…..

by Al Myers

Last month when Thom wrote that “controversial” story on the Shoulder Drop I thought maybe there would be some hotly discussed forum debate on it – but there wasn’t!!!  I guess that goes to show that the Shoulder Drop is not an All Round Lift that warrants attention, and most lifters really don’t care “one way or the other” what the rules dictate on it.  I was not really surprised by this.  The Shoulder Drop is one of those Official Lifts of the USAWA and the IAWA that is rarely performed, and only at a handful of record days.  There has been only a handful of records ever set in it.

I was intrigued by Thom’s history of the Shoulder Drop, as it was an old lift he learned from his Grandfather Dalton Jackson.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching old time all round  lifts – and there is very little information of the Shoulder Drop being a lift performed by lifters 100 plus years ago.  It does not have the rich historical significance  of lifts like the Steinborn Lift, Jefferson Lift, the One Arm Deadlift, and others. In fact, important old time strength writers like George Jowett and WA Pullom didn’t discuss it in their writings, which included many rules and regulations of the many lifts at the time. The Shoulder Drop appears to have originated as an USAWA/IAWA lift.

I did “some digging’ in my USAWA archives and found just a little as to the origins of the Shoulder Drop in the USAWA. This following is from the February 1st, 1990 issue of the Strength Journal (Vol. 1, No. 3) written by journal editor Bill Clark.

Two new lifts were approved by the board on January 20. They were the Travis Lift and the Shoulder Drop. The rules for each:

Shoulder Drop

The bar must be cleaned either to the chest and then to the shoulders or may be cleaned directly to the shoulders. Once the bar is motionless and held by both hands at the shoulders, the official will give the command to drop.  The hands are removed and the bar either dropped or shrugged from the shoulders at the moment of hand release. The bar then must be caught at arm’s length behind the body.  Once it is held motionless at arm’s length behind the body, the referee will give the command, “down”, thus completing the lift.  The weight may not be rolled down the back, but must be dropped.  Balancing the bar on the shoulders while placing the hands in position prior to the drop is not allowed.  Also – the body must be erect before the command to stop.

Bill then went on to state that the Shoulder Drop was nominated by Dr. Jim Clark of Houston, Texas.  This was a specialty lift of Dr. Clark, who was reported to be capable of big poundages in the Shoulder Drop. However, looking over the record list I see no mention of his name which tells me that he never did complete an official Shoulder Drop in the USAWA.

In reading these initial rules, do you see something missing???  I  sure do – there is no mention that the legs must be straight throughout, only that the body must be “erect” before the official’s down command, or as worded, “command to stop”.  Now that is interesting to me!  So it appears that Thom is not left lost out in the right field  bleachers eating popcorn by himself here with his argument of allowing knee bend.   This initial Shoulder Drop rule supports Thom’s cause!

When did the Shoulder Drop rule change to require straight legs throughout????  Who knows.  There is no mention of it is subsequent meeting minutes that a vote was ever taken.  However, the “straight leg requirement” was put into the initial 2002 USAWA Rulebook, as well as the IAWA(UK) Rulebook.   Maybe a vote was taken at a meeting sometime and due to sloppy minute taking, was never recorded. Or maybe the “straight leg requirement” was just added as an afterthought by the rulebook editor  with no vote approval???

It is obvious that the Shoulder Drop was not in the initial list of official USAWA/IAWA lifts since it was added in 1990 (3 years after the formation of the USAWA/IAWA).    I have performed the Shoulder Drop on a few occasions and I do agree with Thom that allowing leg bend with the lift would make it much safer (and more enjoyable to practice).   Maybe if the Shoulder Drop rule was changed to allow knee bend it would become a more popular All Round lift?

Let your “voice be heard” on this controversial (haha, said tongue-in-cheek) topic in the USAWA Discussion Forum.  If enough support is gathered – it may be time to make a change in the rules of the Shoulder Drop.

All-Round Peak Contraction

by John McKean

Maxick - the famous muscle control artist.

Each thigh was bigger in circumference than the lifter’s entire inseam measured. And those legs were CUT ! My good friend Santos Martinez was famed for his olympic lifting and physique wins here in Pittsburgh during the early 1960s, and later for powerlifting. Usually weighing 198 pounds at about 5′7″ in height, Santos always impressed with his rugged, deeply etched all-over body massiveness, yet I NEVER saw him perform a single bodybuilding exercise during the years I knew him ; he was strictly a LIFTER ! So it was a surprise to many of us when an upstart local physique competitor, an arrogant kid just out of his teens,named Bernie, challenged Santos to return to the posing dias. The gym conversation went something like “Hey,old man, you USED to win some of those dreary, ancient muscle shows, but you’d have no chance against a modern bodybuilder like me! I’ve been winning everything throughout the area for 3 years now, and these days they want MY definition, symmetry, and washboard abs. How about letting yourself get embarrassed and enter the Mr. Allegheny contest next month -it’s following the weightlifting meet , and I know you’ll be there!” Always up for a good laugh, a relaxed Santos agreed.

I just had to ask Santos what strategy he possibly hoped to use to have any chance whatsoever in this challenge. After all, young Bernie had almost taken the Mr. Pennsylvania title a few months earlier. Of course, an always philosophic Martinez wasn’t taking the whole thing seriously, so in his usual laidback fashion, he quipped ” Ah heck, I’ll just flex my fat in front of a mirror every day for the rest of the month, and hope the judges will enjoy the shape of my lard over the kid’s well tuned muscle!” (it might be mentioned that none of us in the area’s iron game ever saw a trace of fat on Santos’ body, but he apparently liked to imagine it was creeping up on him as he aged!). You can guess the rest – getting whatever “pump” he needed from the weightlifting meet earlier in the evening, Santos strode out under the physique lights,did a few early poses, then completely dominated obnoxious little Bernie with his trademark “most muscular” pose! Heck, Martinez’ trapezius itself looked bigger than Bern’s whole body! (Santos actually scared my girlfriend of the time , who thought a gorilla had escaped from the zoo!). I don’t recall that our loudmouthed young bodybuilder, sniffling home with his 2nd place trophy, ever competed again !

It’s interesting to observe that Mr. Martinez obviously had terrific genetics toward his strength and physique , but that he relied on seemingly simple “flexing”, or what some would term “muscle control” exercise to enhance both.Especially since many of our REALLY early all-rounders used a similar method during their build-up years. The phenomenal Maxick,back in the initial part of the 1900s, developed what may be argued as the best natural body ever built, with youthful reliance on self developed muscle control exercises. The 145 pound Max claimed this provided the base strength to almost effortlessly perform tremendous one arm swings,snatches, and jerks, and among the very first lifters to do over a double bodyweight continental and jerk. During the same time frame, Otto Arco utilized his own form of isometric muscle posing to develop a superbly dense muscle structure which served him well as a champion wrestler, gymnast, bodybuilder, and lifter -Arco actually was witnessed doing a Turkish Get-up(one arm,of course) ,his favorite All-Round lift, with nearly 200 pounds! (Arco usually weighed a mere 138 pounds!). From that time on, some very celebrated lifters got into muscle control (and all LOOKED it!) – Edward Aston, Monte Saldo, Sig Klein, John Grimek, etc. Often makes me wonder why or how “modern” bodybuilding ever became such a big event (oh yeah, hours upon hours in a gym daily “pumping up” with tiny weights gave a temporary illusion, followed by anorexia for definition, then later, drugs really enhanced the BLOAT !), when heavy lifting along with a small bit of muscle control exercise produced virtual human anatomy charts, with strength to match.

I also have to note that Dr. John Ziegler ,while working with York lifters on his famed isometric rack methods, also developed a machine to offer electric stimulas to obtain near maximum contraction of his lifter’s muscles. Dr. Ziegler apparently achieved some measure of success with this “artificial muscle tensing” toward increased strength , yet never recorded or published results. Indeed, even the famed Max Planck Insitute in Germany did research that proved “self willed, purposefull muscle contraction” (isometric posing) would yield tremendous, almost unbelievable gains if done with consistancy over time. I just have to consider that with many of the old muscle control books being reproduced lately -courses by Maxick, Arco, Saldo, Jubinville – many of us all-rounders can possibly instill this 10 minutes extra exercise to add a bit of hope and excitement for the long winter of training ahead.

However, I do foresee one very horrific downside. You see, the lower portion of the Ambridge VFW gym is lined with mirrors. If old Art Montini happens to read this information, we’re likely to face the gruesome prospect of him down there, shirt off, posing away. And we’ve long had a saying at the VFW – “If one is unlucky enough to see Art even partially naked, that person will instantly turn to stone!”

Lifter of the Month: Eric Todd

by Al Myers

Eric Todd lifting 710 pounds in the Dinnie Lift at the 2013 OTSM Championships, enroute to winning Overall Best Lifter.

The lifter of the month for December goes to Eric Todd, overall champion at this month’s Old Time Strongman Championships.  Eric has had a great year in the USAWA, and is one of the promising all rounders for future years. Eric has been involved as a meet promoter as well, and is founder of the registered USAWA club, KC STRONGMAN.

Congrats to Eric for being LIFTER OF THE MONTH for December!!!!

OTSM Championships

by Thom Van Vleck

2013 USAWA OLD TIME STRONGMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2013 OTSM Championships.

The 3rd annual Old Time Strong Man (OTSM) Championship capped off a great year for OTSM in the USAWA. This year saw FOUR OTSM meets with 38 total competitors. I will try and do around up of the four meets at a later time, but for now here’s the lowdown for the OTSM Championships at the JWC Training Hall.

Let’s do something different and lead off with those that make the meet happen. John O’Brien and Laverne Myers were my loaders and this is no easy task at an OTSM meet, especially when it comes to the Dinnie lift where you have to load one implement at 75% of the other…John O’Brien manned the calculator and I think he needed his Ph.D to figure that out! Not a single mistake! Al Myers was on hand as the scorekeeper and supplied the lifters with information on the current records for the lifts. I acted as the head judge and I think I did a good job as almost every lift was passed and I got no dirty looks!

We had 7 lifters brave the bad weather to come to meet. I had a few cancellations due to the weather but I totally understand. The Dino Gym was well represented with Scott Tully and Mark Mitchell. Al Springs came up for the meet. Mike McIntyre was there to represent the JWC for me while Lance Foster and Eric Todd represented KC Strongman while Denny Habecker was there representing his own “Habecker’s Gym”.

We started with the Anderson Squat and it became apparent that Eric Todd was going to be the man to beat as he topped all the lifters by a wide margin going over 800lbs. It also became clear there was going to be a fight for 2nd and 3rd.

Eric Todd used a 355 pound Anderson Press help him to Overall Best Lifter at the 2013 OTSM Championships.

The second lift was the Anderson Press. Again, Eric Todd was the top lifter. But Mike McIntyre put up a great effort and after the results were entered Mike was in 2nd overall and Denny was 3rd. Mark Mitchell was a very close 4th. Eric was going to have to bomb the last event to lose but it was turning into a very exciting finish with the Dinnie lift coming up.

In the Dinnie Lift Al Springs opened at 185 and did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen. He jumped 200lbs for his 2nd attempt…and MADE IT! He also went on to make 405 for his third. Lance Foster his several PR’s and the Dinnie lift was a big one as he jumped over 50lbs from his last meet. Mark Mitchell lost his grip on his last attempt and then struggled through several attempts and with the clock ticking down finally found the groove. It’s always impressive to me when a lifter struggles mightily and then comes through in the end. Denny went three for three which ended up being important to him as he barely ended up edging Mike McIntyre in points….it was a fraction of a point in the end. Mike did all he could to hang onto 2nd including pulling a 710lb lift…impressive because he had NEVER done the lift before. Eric pulled the 710 for his second and wanted to try a PR….the only problem was we couldn’t fit enough weight on the bar! Eric had easily won the meed so it was inconsequential to the meet but I still felt bad that Eric couldn’t take a crack at his own USAWA record.

All the lifters got the “famous” JWC anvil trophies and also a long sleeve JWC Club shirt. Everyone seemed to have a good time and it seemed to be one of the most friendly meets I’ve been to as the lifters seemed to be joking and laughing a lot and there was a lot of encouragement when it was time to lift. It is times like those that I am proud to belong to the USAWA! I am already thinking about next year and I hope we can continue to grow. If you have any ideas for lifts, let me or Al Myers know. See you next year!

MEET RESULTS

2013 USAWA OTSM Championships
December 7th, 2013
JWC Training Hall, Kirksville, Missouri

Meet Director:  Thom Van Vleck

Announcer and Scorekeeper:  Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Loaders: LaVerne Myers and John O’Brien

Lifts: Anderson Squat, Anderson Press, Dinnie Lift

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT SQ PR DINN TOT PTS
Eric Todd 38 261 810 355 710 1875 1455.9
Denny Habecker 71 194 365 180 440 985 1182.0
Mike McIntyre 29 308 630 305 710 1645 1179.6
Mark Mitchell 53 307 550 250 600 1400 1146.1
Scott Tully 37 328 500 280 630 1410 981.8
Lance Foster 48 328 450 160 550 1160 880.4
Al Springs 71 196 190 100 405 695 828.7

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Denny Habecker: Anderson Squat 410 lbs.
Mike McIntyre: Anderson Press 315 lbs.
Lance Foster: Anderson Press 170 lbs.
Lance Foster: Dinnie Lift 575 lbs.

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS is adjusted points for age and bodyweight correction.

Lifter of the Month: Al Myers

by Chad Ullom

Lifter of the month for November is Al Myers, here doing a 182.5 KG thumbless grip DL at the Gold Cup.

November lifter of the month goes to Al Myers.   Al was succesful with a 145kg (319lb) Power Row at the Gold Cup. Not only was this a new world record, but also earned Al The Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy! This trophy is presented to the highest amended total lift using Age, weight, and Blindt formulas.  Al also did a thumbless DL of 182.5KG (401lb) for his second world record. The contributions Al makes the USAWA and IAWA cannot be overstated. I’m not sure where we would be as an organization without Al’s committment, time and effort he puts into it every day! Congratulations Al!

Accepting New Memberships!!!

by Al Myers

It’s now past the first of December and it’s TIME to send in your membership dues for 2014!!

This process is pretty simple, 1. print off the membership application from this website, under “forms and applications”, 2. fill out completely and sign, 3. enclose application with the $25 membership dues  in an envelop and send to me for processing.

I want to remind everyone that membership in the USAWA is for the calendar year, so it is in your best interest to join before the year starts to be able to enjoy the full year benefits in our organization.    I’ve already received a few memberships for 2014 – and they have already been included in the NEW  2014 Membership Roster.   Any membership applications received before Jan 1st will be identified as “January 1st” on the roster list to show that these individuals sent their applications in ahead of time.  Last year we had 20 lifters do this – lets beat that number this year!!!

Lifter of the Month: Barry Bryan

Barry Bryan at the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup (left) with USAWA President Denny Habecker (right).

by Al Myers

The Lifter of the Month for October goes to BARRY BRYAN for his outstanding performances in Art’s Birthday Bash.   I am so glad to see Barry “back in action” in the USAWA.   Barry is a joy to be around at meets – always helping out lifters, the meet promoter, or just assisting in any way he can.   He is a LEVEL 2 certified USAWA official, and has been involved in many National Championships.

Congratulations to Barry Bryan for being Lifter of the Month for October!!!!

Lifter of the Month: John Wilmot

by Al Myers

As Tom Ryan performs a big Hip Lift in an All Round Meet in the late 80’s, John Wilmot looks on in the background.

The lifter of the month for September goes to our long-term USAWA Postal Meet Director John Wilmot.  The only USAWA competition held in the month of September was our 3rd quarter postal, the Delaware Valley Open Postal Meet.   Amazingly, since the USAWA Postal Series began - John has competed in EVERY postal meet.  That’s showing quite a commitment to the organization!!!

Congratulations to John Wilmot for being awarded USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH for September!!!

Lifter of the Month: Denny Habecker

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker competing in the 2013 Presidential Cup, here performing a 165 pound Right Arm Ciavattone Grip Deadlift. Denny also promoted this meet in his gym, Habeckers Gym.

I know I’ve got a little behind on the Lifters of the Month – so I’m gonna take this week to catch up!  The Lifter of the Month for August was a pretty easy choice, and it goes to our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  Denny was the ONLY lifter to compete in ALL of the USAWA competitions in the month of August (World Postal Champs, Presidential Cup, Team Championships, and the Dino Days Record Day).   That’s a very busy month of competing!!  Denny is one of the most persistent competitors I have ever met – he doesn’t EVER take any “down time” from competition. 

We are very fortunate to have Denny as our President.  I regard him as the best President the USAWA has ever had, and that says a lot as there have been some excellent men in this position in the past.  A President should be someone who is very involved in the organization, and attends a wide range of events to interact with the membership and support USAWA promotions.  Denny goes beyond  the call of duty with this!!!

Congratulations to Denny for winning the USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH for the month of August!!!!!

Grip Championships

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
2014 USAWA GRIP CHAMPIONSHIPS

LaVerne Myers performing a 112# Dumbbell Walk at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships under the watch of Denny Habecker (left) and Dave Glasgow (right). The Dumbbell Walk will be in this year's Grip Championships as well.

I will be hosting the USAWA Grip Championships again this year at the Dino Gym.  Last year this meet was a great success with many entrants – and hopefully this year will be even better.  This is one of the USAWA’s Championship events, and one of the signature competitions within the USAWA each year.  It is designed to recognize the top lifters in a selection of grip events, which are official lifts of the USAWA.  The USAWA has several lifts that are “grip oriented” and since this is a Championship Competition only official lifts of the USAWA are eligible to be in this competition. 

It is always a difficult thing for me to pick the lifts for this meet.  It seems no matter what I pick – there is always someone who doesn’t like my choices!  So this year I got myself “off the hook” by letting others chose a lift a piece for the Grip Champs.  The lucky participants for this assignment were Thom, Chad, Dave, and my Dad LaVerne.  I won’t reveal what each of their choices were – but it is pretty easy to tell by looking at the selected lifts in this meet.  Three of them picked their “pet lift” while the choice of the fourth was just being sadistic.

As with keeping with the traditional date of the Grip Championships, it will be held on the second Saturday in February (Feb 8th).  Put this date on your calendar and make it to the Dino Gym for a day of fun!!! 

MEET DETAILS:

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Meet Date:  Saturday, February 8th, 2014    10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Location:  Dino Gym, 1126 Eden Road, Abilene, KS 67410

Sanction: United States All-Round Weightlifting Association.  Individual USAWA membership is required of each participant. 

Weigh-ins:  9:00-10:00 AM the day of the meet.  Lifting will start at 10:00 AM

Divisions:  Juniors, Women, Masters, and Open

Awards:  Championship Certificates

Entry Fee:  None – but please notify me ahead of time if you plan to enter

Lifts:

Dumbbell Walk
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells
Deadlift – One Arm
Deadlift – Middle Fingers

Rules: USAWA General Rules and Scoring Apply.

This will be a DRUG TESTED event.

Registration: No Entry Form, but please contact me ahead of the meet if you plan to attend at amyers@usawa.com

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 9th, 2014 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

My Plate Collection

by Al Myers

The plate collection in the Dino Gym.

I’ve never been much of a collector – I’ve always thought why get something to just look at and not use?  However, I do have a plate collection in the Dino Gym from several different weightlifting plate manufacturers.  This collection started several years ago when my buddy Thom gave me a few different types of plates in one of our “topper gift” exchanges.  It contained mostly 1-1/4 and 2 1/2 pound plates.  Since then I’ve added to this collection.   Most of these plates were made by “iron casters” that are no longer in business – which makes them so unique and special to me.

This is a Milo Bar Bell plate that is over 100 years old!

This is the list of plates that I currently have:

Kung Cheng
Hercules
Milo Barbell
Champs Barbell
Healthways Hollywood
Beerbell
All American Ways to Health
Dan Lurie Brooklyn NY
Pro Gym Barbell
Fit for Life
Weider Barbell
Jack LaLanne
Keys
Billard Barbell
Prosport Fitness
York Barbell
Golds Gym
Paramount Las Angeles
DP
Intersport
Sunsport Champion

A few of these brand name plates were obviously cast by the same mold.  Champs Barbell, Healthways, and the All American Ways to Health look very identical in shape and size.  Altogether, I have 21 different plates out of well over 100 plate manufacturers that has been in existence.  My favorite is the Milo Barbell plate, that was cast by Alan Calvert and his Milo Barbell company that was the precursor of York Barbell.  It is the exact casting of the “first generation” York plates.   The one very unique plate in the above collection, which has NOTHING to do with being used to place on a bar to lift, is the Beerbell.  It is a 1 1/4 lb. plate that is shaped to sit a cold can of beer on!!  Other favorites of mine are the Jack LaLanne plate, the Dan Lurie plate, and the obscure Kung Cheng and Hercules plates.

I decided today would be a good day to run this story about my plate collection since Christmas is coming up.   I know I’m a hard guy to find a gift for – so I’m just throwing out some ideas here!!! LOL  I could always take a few additions to my plate collection.

KENNEDY – a modern HEALTH lift?

by John McKean

This is a drawing of David Butlers wooden machine used for the Health Lift.

Summoning all of his concentration and most of his strength, the sinewy young man tugged mightily at the bar across his thighs. 1100 pounds left the ground rather easily. Unfortunately, his much larger opponent soon placed a heavy leather harness around his hips for the next event in this contest and elevated a staggering 2100 pounds! Sound like another description of the mighty Steve Schmidt destroying his competition in winning yet another of his Zercher Classic titles? Surprisingly the contest mentioned occurred about 120 years before big Steve was amazing crowds with his awesome chain lifts!

To be fair, the loser of the above mentioned “challenge” meet weighed less than 150 pounds, and had  never even tried a hip lift before. His name was Dr. George Barker Windship, a famous Boston physician, lecturer, and self taught heavy lifting fanatic. Lifting around the 1860s (yep, the nineteenth century!) he eventually acquired a custom made hip belt and went on to perform a 2600 pound hip lift, plus other equally mind blowing harness events ; you can see the good doc was ahead of his time -heck, he was ahead of OUR time!!

To Dr. Windship’s credit, he promoted heavy lifting to large, appreciative audiences throughout the Northeast, even to the point of directing his patients to the gym attached to his doctor’s office. He did not enjoy, nor promote lightweight lifting schemes! Now, his speciality, suggested to all clients, was mostly a short range deadlift that was performed from a high platform,attached to massive weights below. It was almost a hand and thigh type of set up, except it had a bit of range to it, unlike some modern hand and thigh records whose only movement was mostly restricted to the imagination of a straining, isometric style lifter and a cooperative official.Windship achieved over 1200 pounds this apparatus deadlift, then limited from further gains as grip strength wouldn’t permit.

As impressive as Dr. Windship’s strength, fitness, and teaching were, it took an equally fascinating figure of this same time frame, David P.Butler, to really popularize heavy harness lifting to the general public. Building himself up from a complete physical wreck, so bad that doctors told him just to go away, lay down , and die (what, no Obamacare??!!), David totally redefined his body and strength with his amazing HEALTH LIFT. Then he showed genius in getting the word out to the public,eventually selling his wooden “machine” and establishing a chain of successful gyms throughout Boston and New York. Mr. Butler even wrote a rather amazing course on his one lift method, surprisingly similar in content to our “modern” training wisdom!

OK, you’re asking, where am I going with all this history,even though it is so rich in All-Round  lifting tradition? Simple -the lift that David Butler claimed was all anyone needed for unmatched internal and external fitness was essentially the KENNEDY lift that our own Al Myers is currently trying to establish onto the USAWA list! Butler believed the hand holding grip was vital to total body strength, as was an exact centering of the lift below one’s torso. He stood on his heavy duty wooden platform, straddled the long steel rod attached to weights below through a centered hole in the floor, hands fore& aft as in the Jefferson, and stood up several inches. By the way, I would have loved training in one of Butler’s gyms -he recommended only 4 progressively heavy singles on his HEALTH LIFT, done 3 times weekly, along with some light extra dumbbell & pulley work.

Much later in weightlifting history, all the way into the 1920s , the great Alan Calvert, in his classic “SUPER STRENGTH” text was also a huge believer in the Kennedy lift. Photos in his book display a “high Jefferson” performed with chains attached to a heavy barbell. Calvert indicated that this partial maneuver was superior to either the hand and thigh or the hip lift for developing sheer leg power, and safer for the lifter. In fact, some of the harness lift specialists of his day,he explained, relied heavily on the Kennedy lift to build power on the more limited movement chain events.

Well, we sure seem to have one heckuva case for setting wheels in motion to establish the Kennedy as an official lift. And history seems to support the fact that we could add significally to our own HEALTH by training it! As David  Butler put it  “A PERFECT lift develops a PERFECT  body!”

Teeth Lifting

by Al Myers

Art Montini Teeth Lifting at the 2013 USAWA Presidential Cup in Lebanon, PA.

Since the announcement of the Teeth Lift in the Dino Challenge in January it has received some discussion in the USAWA discussion  forum.  Probably the “most talk” the Teeth Lift has ever received in the USAWA!   The inclusion of the Teeth Lift in the WLT Dino Challenge will be the first time the Teeth Lift has been  contested in a USAWA competition.  To date it has only been contested by a few lifters in Record Days.   Here’s a little “refresher” on the USAWA rules of the Teeth Lift:

USAWA Rule I19. Teeth Lift

The setup for this lift requires a mouthpiece fitted to the lifter’s bite, a connecting chain, and a Vertical Bar to load plates to. The hands may not touch the mouthpiece, chain, or Vertical Bar during the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight may accidentally touch the legs during the lift, but the connecting chain must not touch any part of the body. The hands may brace on the legs and body during the lift, but must be free from the body upon completion of the lift. The width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter must lift the weight by the jaws clenched on the mouthpiece only, by extending upward. The legs must be straight upon completion of the lift, but the body does not need to be erect. Once the weight is clear of the platform and motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The rules are pretty straight-forward, and are similar to many other official USAWA rules for other lifts.  The critical things are – hands off legs at completion, legs straight, and weight clear of the platform.  The thing that makes Teeth Lifting a challenge is finding a Teeth Bit that one can use.  It’s not like this is a piece of lifting equipment that is readily available to buy nowadays!!  However, in the “lifting days of the past” it was easy to buy a Teeth Bit.  Virtually every issue of old “Muscular Development” had ads in the back with them for sale.  I would say the popularity of Teeth Lifting really went downhill by the mid 70’s.  Now if you want a Teeth Bit you have to have it custom made for you, or make one yourself.  It’s important that it fits “your bite” – not only for teeth protection but to give you the tightest fit for lifting more weight.

This is an ad for a Teeth Bit in an old issue of Muscular Development.

I’ve been lucky to see “the best” in the USAWA teeth lifting in action.  Years ago I was at the meet in Clark’s Gym when Steve Schmidt did his “record smashing” Teeth Lift of 390 pounds, which is the highest Teeth Lift record in the USAWA record list. I witnessed Steve exceed 300 pounds SEVERAL TIMES in the Teeth Lift.   The ole ironmaster Art Montini has the most Teeth Lift records “on the books”, and has been teeth lifting for years.  In August Art used the Teeth Lift to win the USAWA Presidential Cup with a fine lift of 107 pounds at over 85 years old!!!  Art is one of the few teeth lifters that have WORN OUT teeth bits thru years of use!  Just this year Art made himself a new teeth bit.

The legendary strongman Warren Lincoln Travis was quite the Teeth Lifter, and the best of his day.  Willoughby in his book “Super Athletes” reported him lifting 311 pounds in the Teeth Lift in Brooklyn, NY in 1918.  This was considered the unofficial WORLD RECORD for over 80 years!!!! That is until Steve Schmidt exceeded it several times in the mid-2000’s!!!  I consider Steve’s Teeth Lift record of 390 lbs. (which was done with the hands behind back, as was Travis’s) as the unofficial overall World Record in the Teeth Lift now. Maybe this Dino Challenge in January will bring Steve Schmidt out of competition retirement.  Especially since it contains ALL of his best lifts!!!!! I would love to see him in action teeth lifting again.

Gold Cup

by Steve Gardner

Al Myers of the USA is presented with the Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy at the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup, only the 2nd time the cup has been presented, Al won with an outstanding Power Row of 145 kilos.

What an outstanding event the 2013 Gold Cup turned out to be! despite losing a few entrants at the last minute we still had 16 IAWA Gold Cup Winners with their records broken on the day with a further 14 World Records to follow. Once again the event was put on in great style by meet directors Denny and Judy Habecker, and it was great to see everyone getting in there to help with setting up and tearing down afterwards. The loaders were just great as always, the referees worked well throughout and I was pleased to have my assistant Judy keeping check alongside me too!  The lifting was just great, where to start??

James Fuller of the USA was the Runner Up for the Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy at the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup - seen here with an impressive lift ' The Bent Press' (Anyhow to Shoulders) with 60 kilos.

Denny Habecker showed he was still King of the Press, Barry Bryan was a knockout on the Bench Press lifts and Laverne Myers wowed everyone with his lifts especially the One Hand Fulton! Karen Gardner lifted light as she was still recovering from her latest Breast Cancer operation saga and Toni Saxton was competing for her first time ever, husband Graham must have been impressed as we all were with her Vertical Bar Strength. Art Montini was outstanding on the 2” bar and Al Myers was exceptional in the Power Row and Thumbless Deadlift. Jim Malloy showed real grit with his lifts, as did Dennis Mitchell, also recently recovered from surgery. James Fuller performed a wonderful Bent Press and followed with a big 2” Bar Straddle, whilst Graham Saxton pulled a great Middle fingers Straddle and then did a Hand and Thigh lift for his first time ever. Scott Schmidt was excellent with his Clean and Press Behind the Neck, and Dean Ross had fun with the Trap Bar and the Hip Lift for new records too! Chad Ullom was on great form with a great Clean and Jerk followed by IAWA’s heaviest ever Front Squat, and big Frankie Ciavattone brought proceedings to an end with a One Hand Ciavattone Deadlift and a big Hip Lift to follow.

The English Contingent at the 2013 Gold Cup World Record Breakers Event - 2nd November 2013. Steve and Karen Gardner - Toni and Graham Saxton (Toni was making her debut on a weightlifting platform - Well Done Toni)

The whole day was a real positive advertisement for all round weightlifting, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Howard Prechtel (the founder of the event) was remembered on the day by the presenting of the Trophy bearing his name. James Fuller was a great runner up with his tremendous Bent Press lift, but Al Myers took the trophy for his exceptional Power Row.  For those that were able to stay, the banquet that followed was excellent, and all who attended knew they had witnessed something special that day – the 23rd Annual IAWA GOLD CUP!                            

Best Wishes to all and heres to the next time – Steve Gardner

2013 Gold Cup RESULTS – IAWA 2013 GOLD CUP

Kennedy Lift

by Al Myers

Here's an Old Time Strongman performing a variation of the Kennedy Lift by utilizing a Hand and Thigh Bar attached to a regular bar.

I’ve received  a few questions regarding the nature of the “Kennedy Lift” following my announcement of the Dino Gym Challenge, which includes a lift by this name.  It was one of the lifts that Warren Lincoln Travis included in his “Challenge to the World”, in which he challenges 20 repetitions at 700 pounds in 10 seconds.  In his Challenge WLT  calls it instead the Two Hand Grip Lift, but it is the same lift.  Other sources  originally called it  the Hands Alone Lift.  I’m sure the reason for this name was to different it from the Hand and Thigh Lift – meaning no parts of the implement should be touching the body besides the hands (thus Hands Alone), as illustrated in the picture with this story.

The Kennedy Lift is nothing more than a partial Jefferson Lift (or straddle deadlift).   I’ve  heard lifters in the past refer to the Jefferson Lift AS the Kennedy Lift , but this is only partially true (pun intended).  The Kennedy Lift is done by straddling the weight with the lift being close to lockout.  The range of movement is reported to be several inches to just clearing the floor, depending on sources.  The Kennedy is not an official lift of the USAWA, but is one worthy of it.  It will be performed in the Dino Gym Challenge as an exhibition lift that will count in the meet scoring (allowed under the rules of the USAWA). If it is well received by those in attendance, I may submit it for lift approval in the USAWA.  It has the “history” to be an official All Round   lift for sure. 

I had to do some “digging” in my files to find a good reference to the origins of the Kennedy Lift. Some of the information on the internet is not entirely true, so I had to make some decisions as to what I thought were the facts.   The following piece was written by Warren Lincoln Travis, titled “My 40 years with the World’s Strongest Men”, in which he talks about how the Kennedy Lift came to be.  I tend to believe what WLT says in his writings, and here it is:

About forty years ago, at the height of the new wave of strong man popularity, the late Richard K. Fox, then publisher of the Police Gazette, the leading sporting journal of America, had a 1000 pound dumb-bell cast, but it was not in the shape of the dumbbells today.  It was more like a massive block of iron.  He offered a very valuable gold medal and title to the first man to lift this 1000 pound weight.  At that time there was a man known as James Walter Kennedy who was athletically inclined and developed.  He was an oarsman and general athlete, leaning, however, more toward the strong man. He was about 6 feet tall and weighed around 190 pounds, had jet black curly hair and moustache and at a time was a special officer at the Globe Museum at 298-300 Bowery, New York City.  Kennedy took a notion that he could lift this 1000 pound dumbbell with his hands and he began to train with a big whiskey cask, not using whiskey in it, but water, sand and rock as he gained strength.  In other words, he used the Milo Bar Bell system of gradually increasing weight as he improved in his strength.  The first time he tried lifting the 1000 pound weight he failed but some time later he succeeded.  His style was to straddle the weight and have one hand in front of his body grasping the weight and the other hand grasping it in the rear of his body, this position being known as the Hands Alone Lift.  His body was erect with the exception that the knees were bent about 2 or 3 inches. – by Warren Lincoln Travis

I envision the technique to be very similar to how most lift the Dinnie Stones, using the straddle style.  I think it very fitting that the origins of this lift was described by Warren Lincoln Travis, and must have been one he appreciated, as he included it in his “Challenge to the World”.  James Walter Kennedy was 29 years old when he accomplished winning this challenge set forth by Richard K. Fox. He came from Quincy, Illinois. The date of this strongman debut of the Kennedy Lift was January 25th, 1890.  The “1000 pound dumbbell” was actually a 1030 pound solid iron block with handles affixed to the top 24 inches from the ground.

At the Dino Challenge we will be using a bar set up on blocks so weight can be added to that of  a lifters’ preference and the rules of the USAWA can be followed in adding weight over three attempts.  It will be done according to the rules of the Jefferson Lift, except the bar will be at a higher position than the floor. The bar height will be a set height (yet to be determined) so that it will NOT  just be a “lockout lift” like the Heavy Lifts are.

THE TRUTH MAY HURT (BUT IT’S STILL THE TRUTH)

BY DAVE GLASGOW

I LOVE WORKING WITH METAL.  CUTTING, GRINDING, FITTING, MELTING.  IT’S ALL FASCINATING TO ME.  HOWEVER, MOST OF ALL, I LOVE TO WELD.  NOW, I WILL GRANT YOU, I AM NOT THAT GREAT A WELDER.  I LEARNED MANY YEARS AGO FROM A MAN WHO WAS PRETTY DAMN GOOD AT FABRICATING THINGS.  HE COULD ‘EYE-BALL’  A BENT PIECE OF STEEL, AND IN NO TIME, HAVE IT BACK TO VERY NEAR PERFECT.  I ALWAYS MARVELED AT THAT AND ASKED HOW HE GOT SO GOOD AT IT.  HE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, ‘PATIENCE, PERSISTANCE AND YOU HAVE TO DO IT CONSISTANTLY.’

THE OTHER DAY, I WAS ATTEMPTING TO GET MY WELDER STARTED TO MAKE UP SOME STANDS I HAVE WANTED FOR A WHILE NOW.  TRY AS I MIGHT, I COULD NOT GET THE DAMN THING TO RUN.  I AM NO MECHANIC.  I KNOW THE RUDIMENTARY CONCEPTS BEHIND A COMBUSION ENGINE AND THAT IS IT.  I FINALLY PINNED IT DOWN TO A FUEL PROBLEM.  THAT ENGINE HAS NOT BEEN RUN ENOUGH OVER THE YEARS FOR IT TO PERFORM CORRECTLY!  BUILD UP IN THE FUEL TANK HAS CAUSED ALL SORTS OF CRUD AND SCALE TO BUILD UP IN IT AND HAS GOTTEN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK AND, THUS, INTO THE FUEL SYSTEM ITSELF.  NOW, I STILL HAVE NOT GOTTEN THAT BLESSED THING TO GO, YET.  BUT, I WILL.  IT MAY TAKE SOME TIME BUT I WILL.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE POINT OF THIS WRITING.  I ACTUALLY HAVE TWO POINTS, HOWEVER, BARE WITH ME.  ONE THING AT A TIME.

I AM GUILTY OF THE BIGGEST SIN IN WEIGHT TRAINING(LIFTING).  I AM NOT VERY CONSISTANT.  SUBCONSCIOUSLY, I HAVE KNOWN THIS FOR YEARS.  ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO, A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE WAS TALKING TO ME ABOUT TRAINING AND HE SAID, ‘YOUR MAJOR PROBLEM IS YOU DON’T STAY WITH IT LONG ENOUGH TO DO YOU ANY REAL GOOD!’  BUSTED!!  THERE IT WAS.  THE TRUTH WAS SHOOVED DIRECTLY DOWN MY THROAT.  I KNEW IT, IT DID’NT FEEL REAL GOOD BUT SOMEONE ELSE HAD TO SAY IT TO ME FOR IT TO REALLY SINK IN. 

THAT THOUGHT POPPED INTO MY HEAD, AS I WAS STRUGGLING FUTILLY OVER THAT WELDER ENGINE, ‘THIS DAMN THING IS JUST AS I AM.  IT WOULD BE A PRETTY GOOD WELDER IF IT WERE USED MORE OFTEN!’  HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE HEARD, ‘DON’T USE IT, LOSE IT?’  WELL, HERE WAS A MECHANICAL AND HUMAN EXAMPLE, INCARNATE.

THE OTHER POINT I WOULD LIKE TO SUBMIT IS THIS.  IN ORDER FOR THINGS TO WORK CORRECTLY IN OUR LIFTING, WE HAVE TO BE PATIENT AND PERSISTANT, WHICH MEANS WE MUST HAVE CONSISTANCEY OF TRAINING.  THIS MEANS YOU HAVE TO, SOMETIMES, ‘WILL’ YOURSELF TO THE GYM, WORK HARD AND ACCEPT THE SMALL GAINS THAT COME YOUR WAY.  AND BE GLAD FOR IT!!

THIS PAST YEAR, MY OWN TRAINING HAS BEEN MORE CONSISTANT THAN ANY OTHER TIME IN MY LIFE.  I HAVE A TRAINING PARTNER THAT NEVER MISSES A WORKOUT.  THERE ARE DAYS I AM SURE I WOULD JUST GO HOME IF I KNEW HE WAS’NT THERE, WAITING FOR ME.  GOOD TRAINING PARTNERS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS ANY EQUIPMENT YOU COULD EVER PURCHASE.

AND, GUESS WHAT?!  LAST SPRING, I POSTED A LIFE TIME BEST SQUAT!  EVEN AT MY AGE!!  I WAS VERY PLEASED WITH THAT.  HOWEVER, IT WAS JUST PROOF POSITIVE THAT YOU HAVE TO BE REGULAR IN YOUR TRAINING.  VERY SIMPLY PUT,  ………..‘SHOW UP, SHUT UP, GET TO WORK’!

‘PATIENCE, PERSISTANCE AND YOU HAVE TO DO IT CONSISTANTLY’.  THAT OLE MAN KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT!

I SURE DO MISS HIM.

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT -

DINO GYM CHALLENGE
“Presenting a Challenge Left by Warren Lincoln Travis”

The Coney Island Strongman, Warren Lincoln Travis.

Warren Lincoln Travis has always been one of my favorite Old Time Strongmen. WLT was the consummate circus Old Time Strongman, performing strength shows at the World’s Circus Side Show in Coney Island for over 25 years. He was one of the few strongmen of that era to keep his strength exhibitions in the United States.  In an interview with Sig Klein, Travis told him that he had many opportunities to travel abroad and perform, but had made a promise to his mother that he would not travel overseas to Europe!  Showdowns with other famous strongmen of that era, like Sandow and Saxon, never materialized for Travis.  At one time a match between Saxon and Travis about happened when Saxon was in New York performing for the Ringling Brothers Circus. WLT trained hard for that encounter.  WLT declared that he knew he could never beat Arthur Saxon in the Bent Press or the Foot Press, but was confidant he could out do him in the Harness Lift, Back Lift, and the Finger Lifts. 

WLT was also a strongman who excelled in competitive all round lifting.  He loved the one arm lifts, and was truly an all round weightlifter in addition to a strongman.  Some of his best all round lifts were: Pullover and Press 290 pounds, Bent Press 270 pounds, Clean and Jerk with Dumbbells 229 pounds, Dumbbell Curl 170 pounds, and two dumbbells Continental Jerk 260 pounds.

Travis was most known for his endurance lifting.  He set several records for repetition-lifting in the Back Lift and Harness Lift.  Part of WLT’s legacy is that he left a 10 lift “Challenge to the World” that he completed.  This challenge was left in his will, with the first person to accomplish it after his death receiving his prized jewel-studded belt!  No one has accomplished this “challenge” yet!  It has some hard stipulations – in addition to performing the 10 challenge lifts one must do the entire challenge in under 30 minutes and succeed with it for 10 straight years!!!  The basis of  the lifts for this year’s Dino Challenge comes from WLT’s “10 Lift  Challenge to the World”.

Warren Lincoln Travis – Challenge to the World

1. Take a 100 pound barbell from the floor with both hands, and press it overhead 10 times while seated (must be done in 30 seconds)
2. Take a pair of 90 pound dumbbells from the side of the body to the shoulders, and press it to arms length overhead.
3. Teeth lift from the floor, hands behind neck, 350 pounds.
4. Finger Lift from the floor 350 pounds with one finger, eight times in five seconds.
5. Finger lift from the floor 560 pounds with one finger once.
6. Two hand grip lift, straddling the weight, 700 pounds twenty times in ten seconds.
7. Hand and Thigh Lift 1600 pounds once.
8. Back Lift 3660 pounds once.
9. Harness Lift 3580 pounds once.
10. Back Lift 2000 pounds, 250 times in seven minutes.

Warren Lincoln Travis was born as Roland Morgan in Brooklyn (he was adopted), New York on February 21st, 1875.  He died July 13th, 1941.

MEET DETAILS:

Meet Director:  Al Myers, phone #785-479-2264
Meet Date:  Saturday, January 18th, 2014, 10 AM – 4 PM
Location: Dino Gym, 1126 Eden Road, Abilene, Kansas, 67410
Sanction: USAWA, must be a member to compete
Weigh-ins: 9-10 AM day of the meet
Divisions: Mens and Womens
Awards: None
Entry: There is no entry form and no entry fee, but I must be told a week in advance if you plan to attend. I will have a teeth bit available for use – but it will shared by all and may not be to your mouth size. I recommend you bring your own to use if this is an issue to you.

Lifts:

Teeth Lift
Finger Lift – Middle Finger
Kennedy Lift
Harness Lift
Back Lift

These were 5 of Warren Lincoln Travis’s favorite lifts.  This meet will allow you to see how you “stack up” against one of the best U.S. Old Time Strongmen in history.  If anyone wants to attempt to duplicate the “10 Lift Challenge” that WLT left as his legacy – please let me know and I’ll make arrangements for it.

Top 4 Questions to Ask a Strength Athlete

by Eric Todd

I have been competing in strength sports for a number of years now.  Anyone who knows me knows that is what I do.  Though the people I associate with outside the strongman and weightlifting community are for the most part a well-meaning group of people, I sometimes have gotten some interesting questions from them.  Here are some of my favorites:

1)      Why do you do that?  I usually get this when a person first finds out the arena in which I compete in, or find that I lifted x amount in a certain lift.  Definitely when I set the necklift record.   The arrogant response is “If you have to ask, you would not understand anyhow.”  The fact is, many people cannot understand this, because they cannot understand the quality of being competitive, or the drive to be the best at something.  They are satisfied with living in mediocrity.  That is fine for them, just not for me.

2)      Aren’t you afraid of hurting your back or Aren’t you afraid of getting a hernia? (these both kind of fall under the same category)  No.  I am not.  I choose not to live in fear.  As it turns out I have done both and continue to lift pretty heavy, so I guess there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.

3)      Are all the guys that compete on steroids?  No.  I am not (I assume that is why you are asking).   I know there are others who are clean.  However, in strongman I kept getting surprised by how many dirty lifters there were. Even some that I assumed were clean that were not.  I guess they better find some better stuff.   That is one reason that the USAWA is a HUGE breath of fresh air.  It is nice to lift against other clean lifters.

4)      Why haven’t I seen you on TV?  This is one of the more absurd questions, in my book.  While I have competed with the best, and have beaten some of the best at one time or another, at 5’11”, with small joints and no drugs, there is really only so far my work ethic and genetics was going to take me in the strongman arena.  I went all out, but this is the reality.  Secondly, I always thought of it like this:  I do strongman events on Saturdays.  Other guys go golfing on Saturdays.  They even might be pretty serious about their golf game.    Would it make a whole lot of sense for me to ask them why I have not seen them on TV competing in the Masters or something?  Competing  in the Masters or World’s Strongest Man is for the truly elite, the best of the best.  He hasn’t made it to that point, and neither have I.  It is that simple, and not something it seems I would have to explain.  It is not like I am one of  only 13 guys in the world who do strongman and the other 12 are the ones who go to Worlds.

Anyhow, those are my top 4 questions that the layman feels necessary to ask someone who competes in strength sports.  Some are kind of funny, and some just sad.  Aside from the steroids question, I assume they don’t mean much by them.  It is just humorous sometimes to realize how we are perceived by those on the outside.

My reflections on the Gold Cup

by Al Myers

Steve Gardner (left) and Denny Habecker (right) - two VERY IMPORTANT men in the IAWA.

I’ve just returned from the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  It was an exciting weekend!!  Today I’m going to give some of my reflections of “the cup”.  This is not intended to be a meet report as I have none of the meet results in hand yet.   That will be coming later.

The enjoyment of meets for me goes “way beyond” the day of lifting.  It includes the experiences of the travel, visiting with good friends, and learning new things about all round weightlifting.  And those things were in abundance with this trip!  My father LaVerne was traveling with me, along with training bud Chad Ullom.  We flew from KC to Harrisburg early Friday morning and arrived there before noon.  My dad has taken an interest in researching the family history of the Myers family, and he had planned out an afternoon agenda for this including meeting some relatives.  Our line of the Myers family settled south of Harrisburg near York Springs.   We visited a few cemeteries to confirm some of my dad’s research, and actually found the house of Nicholas II Myres (that is the way he spelled our last name!) who was the second generation Myers off the boat.   The house was built in 1795 and has been kept in excellent shape. We met the current owners who were quite helpful in our research – as they had a great interest in the history of their house.

After arriving in Lebanon finally after this long day, we were really tired so we decided to just grab a bite to eat and “hit the sack”.  I got a full 8 hours of sleep which I needed for the long meet day on Saturday.  The meet was held in a venue that Denny has had meets in before.  It has a big gym area with lots of lifting space.  Upon arriving, I soon met up with many all round friends.  It is amazing how many close friendships I have made thru the years from being involved in the USAWA/IAWA. The meet had a very good turnout – and I believe close to 20 lifters were on hand.    Steve and Karen Gardner, and Graham and Toni Saxton made the trip from England.  All four of them participated in the Cup representing the IAWA(UK).  I was so impressed by Karen even competing.  She has just recently had a serious surgery and I wasn’t even sure she was going to make the trip, let alone LIFT!  However, Karen’s support to the IAWA exceeds most everyone else’s and this proves it.  Steve was the first person on the platform doing his big Gold Cup lift in a finger lift, and then spent the rest of the day announcing and scorekeeping.   I’ve said this before but it  needs repeating again.  Steve and Karen Gardner and Denny and Judy Habecker are the FOUNDATION of our organization.  They are the ones that hold everything together in both the IAWA(UK) and the USAWA, and gives the IAWA the leadership that allows us to be successful and well-organized.   Judy spent the day helping keep score, and providing the “behind the scenes” work that made the day go smoothly. 

Graham Saxton of England performing a World Record in the Middle Fingers Straddle Deadlift.

I was glad to see Toni Saxton make it to the platform for the FIRST TIME.  She performed her VB lift perfectly.  Graham Saxton is as seasoned IAWA lifter as there it.  He did a huge middle fingers straddle deadlift, and a Hand and Thigh Lift (which I believe was the first time he has ever tried it?).  Graham also spent most of the day in the officials chair.  I consider Graham one of the best officials in IAWA and I know things will be “done right” when he’s judging the lifts.  The Gold Cup is intended to be an international competition, and the presence of these four from the Powerhouse Gym in Burton, England made it happen!

It was indeed a day of  “who’s who” in attendance.  The room was full of USAWA Hall of Famers and the elite lifters from our organization. I was very glad to see Jim Malloy there competing, as well as his Cleveland training partner Scott Schmidt.  These two Hall of Famers have been a mainstay in the history of the USAWA.  Speaking of Cleveland – I was REALLY surprised to see Dennis Mitchell returning to the platform so quickly following knee replacement.  Dennis has been a long time IAWA supporter and has attended as many IAWA events as any other lifter in the history of the organization, so a little “bump in the road” like a knee replacement wasn’t going to keep him away!  Frank Ciavattone made the trip to the GC as well.  Frank is another USAWA Hall of Famer and future promoter of the 2014 IAWA Worlds.  Frank performed one of his signature lifts – the one handed Ciavattone Grip Deadlift.   It’s always a pleasure to see Frank at work in a meet.  Another East Coast lifter – James Fuller – made his FIRST Gold Cup appearance.   Jim did the ever-difficult Bent Press Anyhow as his Gold Cup lift, and finished with a great lift of 60 kilograms.  I’ve always said the Bent Press is one of the most painful lifts to watch, and probably to do.

Frank Ciavattone performing one of his signature lifts, the One Arm Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, for a IAWA World Record.

The Dino Gym was well represented with myself, my father LaVerne, Chad Ullom, and Dean Ross being there to support the event.  LaVerne lifted exceptionally – with his One Arm Fulton Bar Deadlift impressing me the most.  I say that because he did 80 Kilograms and broke THE RECORD held by me!!!  Chad did two big type lifts for his GC lifts – the clean and jerk and the front squat.  Chad’s front squat of 211 kilograms broke the record held by current  OVERALL WORLD CHAMP Mark Haydock.  I kidded Chad by saying he was showing Mark NO RESPECT.  I might add that Chad did this wearing NO knee wraps Mark…….

Chad Ullom performed the last lift of the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup with this IAWA World Record Front Squat.

Barry Bryan did a couple of World Records in the bench press.  He made them looked very easy.  I was head judge on his lifts, and after I gave him a press command, he waited another second or two to press the bar.  I haven’t seen that happen very often before. Now who have I forgotten??  ART!!!   Art always ”steals the show” when he attends a meet.  Art, at age 86, continues to make it to all of the big IAWA meets and lift.  He performed a couple of Fulton Bar lifts and made them look ridiculously  easy.   He’s an inspiration to everyone.  

Afterwards, Denny and Judy planned a nice banquet meal at a local restaurant named Risser’s Family Restaurant (it was located in Myerstown!!).  It was a home-style feast that left everyone with a full belly.  Most of us then retired to Denny’s place for some post-meet celebration (actually just there to drink his beer haha).  Lots of good stories were told, parlor tricks were done by Steve and Chad, unbelievable tales were told by Al and Graham,  and Denny made all of our eyes water (mostly with his jokes….).

The Guy in the Gym

by Eric Todd

A number of years ago, when I was in my late teens, my sister was married to a real tool shed who fancied himself a bad mother. I  will from here forward refer to him as “Dick”.  He was always trying to impress us with stories about being some kind of a tai kung flung master whom his sensei considered one of the most dangerous men in the world.  A pretty big dude, but I later decided that while perhaps he may have been the baddest man in the dojo, it was one that catered to kindergarteners. Well, one day, my brother and I were wrestling in the yard as we often did for conditioning and fun, when “Dick” came up and grabbed me.  He clearly was in the mood to show who the alpha-male was, so I dug in with some underhooks and suplexed him to the ground.  He lay there whimpering, not wanting any more.

Another  time, when I was home on sebatical from college, I was lifting in my parent’s  basement.  I was warming up on bench with 225 and “Dick” came down the stairs.  He cockily indicated that he wished to lift with me.  I was fine with that, so I traded places with him to give him a spot.  Then, as I unracked the weight, it plummeted to “Dick’s” chest and pinned him down  to the bench.  I found myself deadlifting all 225 pounds off of him.  I was embarrassed for him and ashamed of him, so I suggested that he needed to warm up a little.  We dropped the weight down to 170ish.  Same result.  Finally, we dropped it down to one wheel, 135.  “Dick” was able to grind out a rep.  After that he made a hasty retreat upstairs.

From that time on, “Dick” no longer challenged me during the remainder of his tenure as my sister’s husband. On many occasions after that,however, I did get to hear about the proverbial “guy in the gym”.  This guy was amazing!  His arms were definitely bigger than mine.    When Dick found out how much I was benching, this guy was doing almost double.  I am pretty sure he could curl the whole stack on the nautilus machine.  When I asked how much he could squat, “Dick” really didn’t have a frame of reference, so I am pretty sure he said like 1000 pounds, which at the time was world record poundage. 

I have said it before, I like physical strength.  But in my eyes, it pales in comparison to what lies between your ears.  I really do not care what you can lift, if you give your all in whatever arena you are in, you are a strong individual.  If you are bested, you will continue to come back and try again and again.  Maybe winning, maybe losing, but you don’t give up.  Tenacity. 

Then there are those weak minded cowards  who, when bested, not only give up, they also try and find a way to bring he who has bested him down as well.   We have all heard about the guy in the gym.  The one at “Dick’s” gym may or may not have existed.  But it is for guys like “Dick” that I choose to while my time with doers.  Guys who enter the arena.  Those who tell themselves that the body can handle things that the mind tries to tell it aren’t possible.  Guys who believe.  Life is too short to listen to guys like “Dick”.

Gold Cup History

by Al Myers

British All Round Champion Steve Angell (left) and Howard Prechtel (right) together at the 1994 IAWA Worlds in Burton-upon-Trent, England.

The 2013 IAWA Gold Cup is coming up this weekend.  It is one of three big IAWA promotions (the Worlds and World Postal are the other two).  I am really looking forward to attending this prestigious meet hosted by our USAWA President Denny Habecker  in Lebanon, PA.  Denny has promoted several other Gold Cups and is one of the premier meet promotors in the USAWA – so it, without a doubt, will be a well organized affair.

The Gold Cup is often a misunderstood event, especially if you have never attended it before.  I’ve had lifters question me why “go to a meet where you can only do one lift for record?”, especially considering you can  potentially set several World Records at a local record day.  Let me tell you – the Gold Cup is not like any local record day.  The Gold Cup is about the experience of competing in an international event where lifters from several countries will be represented.  The direction of the Gold Cup is overseen by the IAWA officers and technical committee to insure that the Gold Cup  gives the atmosphere of something very important (which it is!).   It allows a lifter to showcase their best lifts on a BIG STAGE for IAWA World Record in front of their IAWA peers.  Each lifter and their record lift receives the total attention of those present.  When a lifter is performing their Gold Cup lift they have the stage to themselves - and is the only thing going on at the moment. After the meet is over there is always a big banquet to enjoy a great meal, fellowship with other lifters, and have a formal awards ceremony.  The banquet is always a highlight for me at the Gold Cup. 

Now a little “history lesson” on the Gold Cup:

The first Gold Cup was held in 1991 in Lakewood, Ohio  under the direction of Howard Prechtel, IAWA President at the time and originator of the Gold Cup.  This year marks the 23rd  year of the Gold Cup.  In this span the Gold Cup has been promoted every year, without missing a single year.  The following came from a 1991 issue of Bill Clark’s  Strength Journal outlining Howard’s concepts on the Gold Cup:

On November 23, in Cleveland, Howard will be directing the First Meet Of Champions.  The concept is thus: Only people who have won IAWA titles will be invited….a list of some 25 from the USA and England.  Each lifter will be allowed to do only one lift of his choice….and he’ll get only one attempt at that lift – which must be a world record.  That means only 25 lifts and 25 lifters.  Better warm up good – for the TV cameras will take only one look at you.  Of the 25 lifters, it looks like we’ll have at least 15 different types of lifts.  Howard will be trying a record sit-up, for instance. If you’re a world record holder, but not an IAWA champion, don’t ask.  It is a record-makers meet open only to IAWA Champions. 

You can see that Howard had a lofty goal originally that this would become a televised feature of All Round Lifting.  That never really materialized.  Also, you can see that the original criteria for even entering the Gold Cup was pretty strict.  Things have evolved with the Gold Cup since then, but there still are entry criteria.  For the past few years this has been the main rules regarding entry into the Gold Cup:

1.  Lifter must open on their first attempt at an IAWA  World Record lift.  However, a lifter is given three attempts to repeat an attempt or increase the poundage.
2.  To enter the Gold Cup, the lifter must be a current holder of an IAWA World Record.
3.  The lifter must be a member of the IAWA, or a member in an affiliated organization of IAWA.

If a lifter can not accomplish a World Record in any IAWA lift, an entry can still be approved.   It is of the IAWA philosophy now that NO LIFTER be denied the opportunity to compete in this event.  The offering of a Silver Cup Award (for setting a National Record) and the Bronze Cup Award (for a lifter setting a personal record) has been added to allow for this.

You may wonder how that FIRST EVER Gold Cup turned out.  Of the 34 lifers that were invited (yes – the first year this meet was by invitation only), 31 entered.  All 31 lifters were successful setting new IAWA World Records.   As for Howard, it turned out well for him in the success of the promotion and with his quest of setting a new record.  The following report from the Strength Journal sums up Howard’s day quite nicely:

After all the effort and money Howard put into the meet, he was the final lifter.  He attempted to break an 85-year-old mark in the Travis Lift by doing 60 reps in 60 seconds with 1510 pounds.  Travis had done 56 reps in 60 seconds with 1500 pounds in 1906…when he was a young man.  Howard, at 66, hardly qualifies as young (except at heart), but he banged out 45 reps with the 1510 in 60 seconds….easily a new IAWA record.

I would truly encourage all all-rounders to try to make it to a Gold Cup.  Once you go once, you will understand why I think it is an elite type competition.  You meet the “legends” of the sport, and get to see world class all rounders perform their best lifts for World Records.

A good POWER RACK is hard to find

by Al Myers

This is the custom-built Power Rack in the Dino Gym, which I made many years ago. It has many unique features (like hydraulic jacks attached to the bar hooks for easy adjustment of a loaded bar) that benefit lifters and lifting!!

I’ve spent a good part of my adult life in the gym training, and with that experience comes exposure to many different type of power racks.  Some good, but most have deficiencies in my opinion.  There always seems to be some feature that is less than optimal on each one I have used.  But Power Racks (or often called Power Cages – same thing, different name) have come a long ways since the early York Cages or Iron Man Power Racks.  I consider a good power rack as the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT piece of equipment in a gym (behind bars and plates).   A good power rack is the centerpiece of any serious gym, and often the most used piece of equipment in a free weight based training facility.  Up to 50% of my training time is spent in the “rack” each week doing a multitude of different lifts.  Having a good power rack to fulfill your training objectives goes a LONG WAYS to making continued strength improvement.  Today I’m going to go over power rack features that I feel are very important in having the ultimate power rack, from most important to least important. 

1.  Sturdy construction and Size

There are many racks on the market made out of lightweight tubing, with bolt-on construction.  A Power Rack should be heavy duty and not “bouncing around” every time a squat is racked in it.  A frame made out of at least 2.5″  11 gauge square tubing is necessary.  Also – the side frames should be welded and not bolted together.   Most commercial racks that are sold will use bolt-on construction to minimize the shipping costs – but in turn will cause inherent weaknesses in the power rack.  Bolts will loosen up with time, and bolted construction allows “wiggle room” in the joints.   Depth of power racks is also important to give plenty of room for lifting.  The depth of a power rack should be at least 36 inches.  The power rack should be high enough to not interfere with any type of overhead lifting you want to do – but this is often limited by ceiling height.

Power Racks have come a long ways since this "top of the line" power rack advertised in a 1966 issue of Iron Man.

2.  Bar Hooks (or J-hooks as they are normally called)

I think the bar hooks (which holds the bar in the power rack) either “makes or breaks” a good rack.  They are the most functionally used piece of the Power Rack, and should be of the highest quality, yet often good racks have junky bar hooks.  A bad bar hook will be an ongoing frustration and will soon completely overshadow all other aspects of your power rack.  Most bar hooks are made by utilizing bending, which often gives an inconsistent product.  Most  bent- type bar hooks I’ve seen have a sloppy fit on the rack.  The reason for this because of the bending a good consistent tolerance can’t be maintained – and thus manufacturers make them loose to insure that they will fit in all cases.  I just hate bar hooks that “swing in the breeze” on a rack.  Every time the bar is moved the bar hook will slide to the side.  Bar hooks should also be of adequate length, but at the same time not too long as to catch the bar as a lifter comes up from a squat.  Short bar hooks are a bigger problem.  A bar hook should be of length to allow a lifter to rack the weight easily.  Another important feature is NO SHARP EDGES.  I have scars on both of my shoulders that occurred as the result of bar hook injuries in the gym.  Both times I wasn’t paying attention and caught the edge of my shoulders on bar hooks attached to the front of the rack.  Add in the number of times I’ve cut the outside of my palms from sharp edges on hooks as I was racking a heavy squat, and you can see why I think this is an important feature.  Bar hooks should also be easy to adjust to different heights, and not require specialized wrenches or tools to do this.  

3.  Elevated bottom cross member

Most of the commercial power racks available DO NOT allow a wide based squatter to get proper foot placement.  A floor cross member interferes with the feet when trying to take a wide stance squat  (often limited to 43″ or 44″ at width).  This problem is easily addressed by raising the bottom cross member  up 12 inches.  That’s it – but for some reason power racks often are not designed that way.   A good power rack should allow for “sumo stance” lifting.

4.  Multiple adjustments

A good power rack should allow for any spacing of the bar hooks or safety supports.  I’ve seen some manufacturers go way overboard with the number of holes they place in their uprights (and make a holey looking rack, haha), but most have hole spacings that are too far apart, thus making it more difficult to get the correct setup for the hooks and supports.  Most serious lifters like their bar height setting for unracking a bar down to an inch of being correct.  I think anything over 2″ spacing is too much.  But placing more holes in tubing is an expensive manufacturing cost – so this is often compromised in providing a top quality product.

5.  Safety supports

A good power rack will have quality safety supports.  Safety supports are the adjustable cross members that will catch the bar in case of a failed lift.  Think of them as your safety net.   They should adjust easily, yet be very sturdy and secure.  Often you will see a rod inserted through the holes of the rack for this.  That is a poor design in my book as no rod is going to stay straight after dropping a loaded bar on it.   Some manufacturers have a pipe that you insert the rod through for the safety supports.  Again that is a cheap poor solution to safety supports.  Safety supports should be strong enough to lift off of – like doing rack pulls.  For this they need to be well made.   Having them lined with rubber to protect the bar is also a good idea, yet most all of them don’t have that.  They should be easy to adjust to different height as well.

6.  Able to take Add-ons

Add-ons for power racks are the new thing amongst the leaders of manufacturers of power racks.  However,  I prefer a power rack that “looks like a power rack” and not cluttered with unneccesary appendages hanging off it at all angles, but I know I’m in the minority on this.   As for the add-ons I’m talking about here – chin up bars, plate storage, bar racks, band/chain peg attachments, land-mine attachments, chain/band storage, dip attachments, front safety supports, med ball bounce plates, etc.  And there’s even more!!!  Before long the  power rack doesn’t even look like a power rack anymore.   Gyms and training facilities like to keep a “clean house” and with all the new training devices being used nowadays, it is hard to find a place to store them so the solution seems to be to just hang them on the power rack.   The important thing here is to have a power rack that has the capability to utilize whatever add-on YOU WANT.

I know I’ve covered a lot here – but Power Racks are something that I’m passionate about.  If anyone ever wants to either discuss power racks, or has specific questions about them just drop me an email (amyers@usawa.com) .  I’m always glad to hear from other power rack enthusiasts!

Delaware Valley Open

by Al Myers

2013 DELAWARE VALLEY OPEN POSTAL MEET

MEET RESULTS:

Meet Director:  John Wilmot
Date:  September, 2013
Lifts: Clean and Press – 12″ Base, Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm, Deadlift – 2 Bars
Lifters and Officials:

Lifters using the 3-Official System:
Bill Crozier – Certified Officials Jim Malloy, Scott Schmidt

Lifters using the 1-Official System:
Denny Habecker – Certified Official Judy Habecker
Eric Todd – Certified Official Lance Foster
Lance Foster – Certified Official Eric Todd

Lifters using a non-certified Judge:
Ruth Jackson – Judge Dan Wagman
Dan Wagman – Judge Ruth Jackson
Sam Rogers – Judge Orie Barnett
John Wilmot – Judge Emile LeMoigne
Orie Barnett – Judge Sam Rogers

WOMENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT C&P Swing DL TOT PTS
Ruth Jackson 51 106 87 50-R 220 357 553

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT C&P Swing DL TOT PTS
Dan Wagman 50 183 180 115-L 520 815 850
Eric Todd 38 260 245 125 520 890 692
Orie Barnett 52 237 180 105 454 739 681
Denny Habecker 71 185 148 70 330 548 676
Sam Rogers 50 205 170 90 314 574 562
John Wilmot 66 215 100 40-R 270 410 447
Lance Foster 47 330 135 55 350 540 431
Bill Crozier 76 207 80 50 180 310 372

NOTES:  AGE is age in years.  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds.  TOT is total weight lifted.  PTS are total adjusted points corrected for age and bodyweight.

Battle in the Barn II

by Eric Todd

Group picture of participants at the Battle in the Barn II. (left to right): Conan Wass, Mike Pringle, Eric Todd, Lance Foster, Thom Van Vleck, Dean Ross, and Scott Tully

Battle in the Barn 2013 is done and in the books.  We had lots of fun, and some great lifting occurred.  I would like to thank Al for coming out and running the score table, and Thom for being our Judge.  I would also like to give a huge thanks to Conan Wass for loading for us.   Five lifters competed in 4 lifts.  Dean Ross came all the way from Oklahoma for the event.

Eric Todd (left) being presented the overall lifter awards from Al Myers (right).

Some of the highlights from the meet for me were:

Dean Ross absolutely grinding out his last deadlift.  HE just got edged out on a final lift from getting 3rd by formula.

Lance Foster’s Dumbbell to the shoulder.  He hit a big number, but missed out on his next one which would have been a BIG PR.  If he had not bombed on the deadlift, he would have been right in the mix.

Thom Van Vleck, the USAWA chair of the OTSM, served as the official.

Professor Scott Tully making a clutch Dinnie lift to put himself into 3rd by formula.

What I was most impressed with was a lean, mean Mike Pringle.  I hardly recognized him when he rolled in. This was Mikes the second ever all-round meet that he has competed in, and he came in STRONG!  I was very impressed with his dumbbell to the shoulder technique.  It seemed very efficient, though I could not duplicate it.  His People’s deadlift was also incredibly strong.

We scored this meet two ways.  One was by the standard formula, and the other was by straight weight lifted.

By formula, the meet ended like this:

5th-Lance Foster
4th-Dean Ross
3rd-Scott Tully
2nd-Mike Pringle
1st-Eric Todd

By straight weight the results are as follows:

5th-Lance Foster
4th-Dean Ross
3rd-Mike Pringle
2nd-Scott Tully
1st-Eric Todd

 
 
Lance Foster performing a 495 pound Dinnie Lift.

MEET RESULTS:

2013 Battle in the Barn II
Saturday, October 19th, 2013
ET’s House of Iron and Stone
Turney, Missouri

Meet Director:  Eric Todd

Meet Announcer & Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Official (1 official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Loader:  Conan Wass

Lifts:  Cyr Press, Dumbbell to Shoulder, Peoples Deadlift, Dinnie Lift

LIFTER AGE BWT Cyr DB DL Din TOT PTS
Eric Todd 38 262 170 265 605 770 1810 1402
Mike Pringle 37 175 110 225 520 535 1390 1342
Scott Tully 37 342 130 150 565 605 1450 990
Dean Ross 70 273 60 125 375 435 995 989
Lance Foster 47 330 80 175 0 495 750 562

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction.

RECORD LIFT FOLLOWING MEET:

Eric Todd – Neck Lift 1000 lbs.

This lift was officiated by three officials (Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck, and Lance Foster).   The plates were weighed individually as well as the bar to verify the accuracy of the final weight, and the lift was held for 2.06 seconds.

The VBAR has been raised

by Al Myers

Timo Lauttamus of Finland performing a new ALL TIME overall IAWA record in the Vbar lift at the 2013 IAWA World Championships with a lift of 122.5 KG.

One of the exciting BIG LIFTS of the 2013 IAWA World Championships included a new ALL TIME IAWA RECORD  in the one arm 2″ vertical bar.  Timo Lauttamus of Finland performed a new record lift of 122.5 KG with ease.  I was glad to be able to witness this lift first hand, and see the perfection in which it was performed. This was a fourth attempt for record as he had just previously got 117.5 KG on his third.   For those of you that  get kilogram confused – this comes out to 270 pounds!

Timo is one of the best grip guys I’ve been around.  Pretty much any type of grip-lift he excels in.  The day after the meet I went over to Mark Haydock’s (the meet promoter) gym and he told me that Timo had visited his gym prior to the meet and easily picked up Mark’s Inch Dumbbell replica.  That didn’t surprise me!!!

The IAWA rules for the vertical bar are slightly different than the USAWA rules.  I won’t get into that here as I’ve hashed it over in prior blog stories – but I consider the USAWA rules to be more difficult.  The reason I say this is that the USAWA rules require the VBAR to be raised to the point where the hand is mid-thigh and the length of the VBAR is limited to 18″ maximum.  IAWA rules allow up to a 30″ Vbar to be used and it only needs to be clear of the floor motionless till the down command to be given.  Well – in this comp the Vbar was less than 18″ and Timo lifted it plenty high to pass USAWA rules.  He left NO DOUBT that he is now king of the vertical bar.

Art’s Birthday Bash

by James Fuller

Barry Bryan (left) and Art Montini (right) performing a 2-Man Deadlift of 515 pounds at Art's Birthday Bash!

I had a great weekend getting down to lift @ Art’s Birthday Bash(86 years old)!!  It was worth the 11 hour drive down. The Ambridge VFW Hall gym is worth the trip in of itself. Lots of good old equipment. Art was his usual jovial self. I got to meet Jim Malloy, John McKean and Barry Bryan. I met up with Denny Habecker and Barry @ Denny’s and we rode to Art’s in the A.M.  Of course, Art had boxes of doughnuts waiting for us as we rolled in @ 9:30. Now seeing as Art gets to the gym @ 4:30, he was ready for his midmorning nap. Fortunately, he stayed awake long enough to do some Team Deadlifting with Barry Bryan….they got over 500lb!!!

I got a new record on my Kelly Snatch of 113lb and missed 118. Barbell Bent Pressed 130lb with my Right and Left. Did a Reeves Deadlift of 275lbs which, was odd for I thought I was going to go 300+ for certain. Finally, I smoked a 528lb Fulton Jefferson Lift. I felt each and everyone of these lifts all the way home @ 4 AM!! I can’t wait ’til next year!!

Art taking a little rest in between record lifts - but at 86 years of age he deserves it!!!

MEET RESULTS

2013 Art’s Birthday Bash
October 12th, 2013
Ambridge BBC
Pittsburgh, PA

Meet Director: Art Montini

Lifts: Record Day

Officials (3-Official Used): Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Jim Malloy, Art Montini, Barry Bryan

Lifts and Lifters:

James Fuller – Age 41  [ 40-44]   110 Kg. Class

Snatch – Kelly:   113 Lbs   / 51. 25 Kg.
Bent Press – Left : 130 Lbs.   / 58.96 Kg.
Bent Press – Right:  130 Lbs   / 58.96 Kg.
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar:  529.1 Lbs.    / 240 Kg.
Deadlift – Reeves:   275.57 Lbs. / 125 Kg.

Barry Bryan  – Age 55  [55-59]    90 Kg Class

Curl – Reverse Grip:   118 Lbs.  / 53.52 Kg.
Push Press - From Racks: 220.46 Lbs. / 100 Kg.
People’s Deadlift:   440.92 Lbs.
2- Man Deadlift  with Art Montini:   515 Lbs.   /  233.6 Kg.       

Scott  Schmidt  – Age 60  [60-64]  110 Kg. Class

Seated Press – From Rack, Behind Neck:  143.3 Lbs. / 65 Kg.

Denny Habecker  – Age 71  [70-74]   85 Kg. Class

Curl – Strict:   75 Lbs.  /  34 Kg.
Seated Press – From Rack, Behind Neck:   105 Lbs.   / 47.6 Kg.
Push Press – From Racks:  160 Lbs. /  72.57 Kg.
Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 70 Lbs.  / 31.75 Kg.
Bench Press – Feet in Air: 180 Lbs.   / 81.65 Kg.

Jim Malloy   – Age 72  [70-74]    120 Kg. Class

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand:  141 Lbs. /  64 Kg.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand:  178 Lbs. / 70.74 Kg.  
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand:  178 lbs.  / 70.74 Kg.
People’s Deadlift: 365 Lbs.

Art   Montini    Age 86 [85-89]   80 Kg. Class

Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Left Arm: 77.16 Lbs.  / 35 Kg.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Right Arm: 77.16 Lbs. / 35 Kg.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip: 165.34 Lbs.  / 75 Kg.
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Right Arm: 154.34 Lbs.  / 70 Kg.
2- Man Deadlift with Barry Bryan:  515 Lbs.   /  233.6 Kg.

GOLD CUP REMINDER

by Steve Gardner

IAWA GOLD CUP – Annual WORLD RECORD BREAKERS TOURNAMENT

Gold Cup is coming up soon!

Saturday November 2nd – Lebanon Pennsylvania USA

Promoter – Denny Habecker.

This is IAWA’s second most important event after the World Championships, a lifter must be a current IAWA Member and a World Record Holder to take part. The lifter can elect to go for any World Record they like BUT they must start with the World Record Attempt for their opening Lift!…

It is a great event, and also an opportunity to remember Howard Prechtel (the event founder from the USA) those members of IAWA that remember Howard, remember that he was a proud lion of a man, still lifting good iron into his later years. An ex Marine that was badly injured in World War 11, he was liked by all, so the Gold Cup will always be linked with his memory!

Anyone interested in taking part don’t forget to contact: Denny Habecker. Tel: 001717 2725077 E Mail:liftingliar@comcast.net

And do it soon!

IAWA World Meeting

by Al Myers

At the IAWA Worlds last weekend I conducted my first IAWA World Council Meeting as the IAWA President.  It was a well attended meeting – possibly one of the largest attended ever.  I took roll call and counted 28 members in attendance.  This report is not intended to be the official minutes of the meeting.  Frank Allen is the IAWA General Secretary and with that title comes the duty of keeping the official meeting minutes.  If I receive the official minutes from him I will also run them on the USAWA website.

The IAWA Vice President’s (up to 2 from each member nation) were confirmed: United States – Denny Habecker and Chad Ullom, UK – Steve Gardner and George Dick, Australia – Peter Phillips and Robin Lucocious, and New Zealand – Cliff Harvey.  The only VP’s not in attendance at the meeting were Chad Ullom, Robin Lucocious, and Cliff Harvey.  The IAWA Technical Committee was confirmed: Dennis Mitchell (chairman-USA), Denny Habecker (USA), Al Myers (USA), Steve Gardner (UK), Steve Sherwood (UK), and Peter Phillips (Australia).  It was unfortunate that Dennis Mitchell could not be in attendance.  Dennis NEVER misses a World Meeting,  but had to this time since he has just recently had a knee replaced and could not fly.  No one on the technical committee had anything to report on so there were no technical reports.   During new business, Peter Phillips from Australia presented a new lift to be considered by the membership. It is an overhand deadlift using what is called a “Phillips Grip” – a grip in which the bar is held be the end of the fingers only, and can not touch the palm or thumb. The Australians had contested this lift in a local meet and felt it was well received.  Akele then presented a dumbbell lift in which a db is pressed overhead, and then a squat is performed holding the dumbbell overhead. After some discussion, it was agreed that these lifts need to be presented to the IAWA technical committee first for review, and then when proper rules are written be presented next year at the World Meeting for a vote and possible acceptance.  I addressed this at the meeting, and I want to here as well on the proper way I feel new lifts should be presented in IAWA.  First, I think both of these presented lifts sound good, but need more review first before being accepted as a new lift. Once accepted as an official lift, there is no going back so we need to be diligent in making sure that new lifts are “good lifts” – meaning they have well written rules in hand first before being voted on and accepted.  The problem is that a process for this (lift proposals) is not outlined anywhere in IAWA.  I feel  this protocol should be the proper procedure for this: 1. When a lifter has an idea for a lift, he provides a good description and written rules for the lift to the IAWA Technical Committee first during the year, 2. The Technical Committee evaluates the lift, makes recommendations on the rules of the lift with possible changes or adding more technical detail, and then take a vote on whether the lift should be proposed to the membership for vote, 3. The proposed lift, with a well written rule in hand, is presented to the membership for vote, 4. The lift AS IS either passes or fails, and no changes are made once presented.  If it fails for some reason, it should be “taken back” to the Technical Committee for re-evaluation and possible changes to be proposed the following year.   By having a process like this in place, it provides adequate time for a thorough evaluation before a lift is presented and accepted.  Also, what is the point of the Technical Committee if they are not really in charge of addressing technical issues like new proposed lifts?

Other new business included a proposal from me that we OFFICIALLY have an IAWA World Postal Meet.  We have been having World Postal Meets (in some form) every year, but never under official direction of the IAWA.  Everyone was in agreement on this and during the discussion a couple of other items were added to my motion as amendments.  First – the IAWA World Postal Meet could be conducted using one official (instead of the three required in IAWA), and Second – it  would contain the first days lifts of that year’s  World Championships, and Third – it would be conducted in the month of August which is a couple of months in advance of Worlds.  Having it as this time would allow the lifters who are training for the Worlds to easily be able to “work in” these postal lifts for the World Postal Meet, plus add incentive to others to attend Worlds since they have already done half of the World Meet lifts in preparing for the World Postal.  Steve Gardner agreed to promote the World Postal Meet next year, but only wanted to commit to one year on it at this time.

The lifts that were submitted by Frank Ciavattone, the promoter of the 2014 IAWA Worlds, were voted on and passed as submitted.  The lifts will be: Day 1- Cheat Curl, Pullover and Press, and the 1 Arm Deadlift.  Day 2 – 1 Arm Clean and Jerk, Continental Clean and Jerk, and the Ciavattone Grip Deadlift.  The date was set as September 27th & 28th in Norwood (close to Boston). 

Proposal were made and accepted for upcoming  years IAWA Events. These bids were accepted:

2014 Gold Cup – Burton, England Promoter – Steve Gardner
2015 Worlds – Glasgow, Scotland  . 
2015 Gold Cup – Perth, Australia
2016 Worlds – Auckland, New Zealand Promoter – Cliff Harvey
2016 Gold Cup – Abilene, Kansas Promoter – Al Myers

Overall it was a very productive IAWA Annual Meeting.  The meeting lasted less than 2 hours and a lot was decided upon. I feel very good about the future of IAWA!!!

New England RB

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
NEW ENGLAND ALL ROUND RECORD BREAKERS

Frank's Barbell Club

A sanction request has just been approved for Frank Ciavattone to host a Record Breakers Day at his gym on November 30th, 2013.  Frank has an excellent home gym that can virtually accommodate any all round lift – thus making it an ideal venue for a record day.  His gym is filled with a historical collection of lifting equipment, awards, and pictures.  Frank has promoted several New England Record Breakers with great success in the past. 

MEET DETAILS:

Meet Director: Frank Ciavattone

Location: Frank’s Barbell Club

Date: November 30th, 2013

There is no entry form but please contact Frank in advance with your intentions of entering so he can make adequate plans.

World Championships

by Steve Gardner

IAWA World Championships – Accrington, England 2013

Mark Haydock, Best Overall Open Lifter and Best Overall Male Lifter with IAWA President Al Myers (left picture). Paula De La Mata, Best Overall Female Lifter with IAWA President Al Myers (right picture).

Right, I don’t know where to start…so much to report on… this had to be one of the best IAWA World Championships ever! Sorry that with illness and injury problems Gary Ell and Mark Rattenberry didn’t make it but they would sure have been proud of their young team mate, Junior lifter Jevan Cockbain who was great. In the Junior ranks young Connor Mansell was also outstanding! Mark Haydock and his team of support headed up by wife Sam, put on an amazing championships, full marks guys, and also Dean Kent and Exertrain who provided equipment etc all in all a great job.

Dan Butterworth and his partner Andy Milner were ace on the platform loading every lift over the weekend, and the other platform was looked after by a rotation of the lifters, I have never known so many to volunteer to help and get stuck in – a credit to IAWA. The referees were diligent and ever keen to take position when asked in the hot seats, we used 21 officials this year, 17 in the chairs, 1 as Technical Officer and Drug Tester (many drug tests carried out and Technical issues addressed – well done Frank Allen) and 3 working the scoring announcing table. I was so impressed with my assistant on the MC Announcing / recording task, I have had a lot of experience of handling 2 platforms at the same time, but Al Myers, our IAWA President, from Kansas USA took to the task like a ‘good un’ and made my job easier and well done again Al! Chris Bass was on top of his game with all the figures and records on his computer, he was a great aid to the lifters throughout the weekend! We had a great young man named Ollie Melidoni in action all weekend providing a great service for sport massage and injury / strain treatment. Everyone commented on his friendly and professional approach to the job, he doesn’t know it yet but  he will be adopted by IAWA and we hope to see him at future events!

As for the lifting…where to start? on a personal note, some of the most exciting moments for me were: Timo from Finland with an amazing World Record Vertical pull on the 2 inch bar, Paul Barrette pulling the 250 kilos on the Trap Bar for a record at 70 kilos bodyweight, John Kavanagh with his 65 kilos Dumbell Clean and Jerk (also Sam Trew on that lift) Jenn Tibbenham on the Squat, new World Record, my son James taking the World Record with 260.5k, Mark Haydock with his 342.5 Trap Bar – heaviest ever! the list is endless, of course I was overjoyed for the lifters from my club who I have worked hard with over the last 8 weeks and it was magic to see them come through: my son James, Paula and Graham taking World titles and Luke Davis with a super performance and taking a runners up spot (it will be there for you if you keep working like you do Luke)

On a general note, I was so impressed with all of the lifters, it really was an outstanding weekend, The Scotland team did a great job! the lifters from Spain were great and took a bagful of records home with them as did the Australian team – excellent guys, just cant say enough, our friends from the USA stalwarts like Denny Habecker and Art Montini – hey what about it Art Montini 85 years of age, a role model to us all. and the other Nations represented too for Ireland, Pakistan and Finland – just amazing! The lifters from across England came together for a great display, and the Metamorfit Club from the South East bringing 7 lifters along to have a great time, full of enthusiasm – just great. Well done to all, each and every one who made the effort to be there. More info and results to follow soon!!!

MEET RESULTS:

World Champs 2013 Day1         World Champs 2013 Day2       

World Champs 2013 Both Days

The Adventures of Russ Murphy

by Al Myers

Russ Murphy crossing Boulder Falls - using only a cable and his strength!

This past weekend  I had a visitor for the weekend, an ole friend from Colorado, who spent the weekend with me so we could attend the McPherson Highland Games together.  I have known Russ for over 25 years and we have spent much time together during the course of our Highland Games pursuits. Most of you that know me know how I like to tell “Russ stories” - as Russ is one of the most interesting men I have ever met in my life.  He has had many exciting adventures in his life, and has many great stories to tell because of these adventures. I had heard this one before, but I always like to hear Russ’s stories “over and over” as I pick up new details each time that help my storytelling! 

The year was 1962.   It was mid summer, July to be exact.   Russ had just came off his “big win” of winning the Rocky Mountain Olympic Weightlifting Championships in the heavy weight division in May.    He was weighing a slim but muscular body weight of 235 pounds.  At 24 years old he was a physical specimen from those many weight training sessions.   He was bull strong, yet still very athletic.   This adventure occurred west of Boulder, Colorado on route 119 – near Boulder Falls.  Russ was hiking with some friends in the mountains near the falls, when they came upon a steep canyon river below the falls.   Russ told his friends that he wanted to go to the other side.   The canyon wall was too steep to climb down -  plus Russ told me he didn’t want to get wet crossing the river.  Between the canyon walls was an old mining cable used to transport a mining bucket from one side to the other.  The cable was old, but very rigid and secure, and with a diameter of 1 1/2 inch Russ felt it was secure enough to use to climb across the canyon!   His friends thought he was crazy and elected to stay on the canyon ridge while Russ took hold of the cable and used it to make this daring crossing.  I should mention that he had no safety harness or way of attaching himself to the cable.  If  he would have lost his grip – he would have fell into a swirling rocky pool below and would have met his demise. It’s a good thing his friends stayed and took pictures of this wild stunt, because otherwise it would be a hard story for me to believe. I asked how far a drop it was (like it really matters as anything over 20 feet would be deadly), and Russ wasn’t sure – he said he didn’t look down!!!  He guessed it was something like 100 feet or so at the highest.  He used his legs over the cable most of the way, but during the finish he went “hand over hand” dangling above the rapid falls.   He said the cable went at least the length of a football field (that’s over 100 yards!!!).  The cable was tied to an old tree above the bottom canyon floor, so at the end of the cable climb Russ dropped onto a soft sand bar 20 feet below.  He then free-climbed the canyon wall over 100 feet high to reach his destination!!

I asked him how he felt during all this, and whether at any point he felt he shouldn’t have started, and Russ responded with his ever present smile, “I was a flea opposed to an ox”.  I took that as meaning that he wasn’t worried at all, and knew he would be able to achieve something this treacherous without any risk of self-injury. 

Just another chapter in “the Adventures of Russ Murphy”.

Founding USAWA Principles

by Al Myers

I’ve been appreciating the comments on the USAWA Discussion Forum recently in regards to ET’s editorial story the other day about problems and issues the USAWA faces in stimulating new memberships.   I have to admit – most of ET’s sentiments I have felt at some time or another.  Our organization is very unique in several ways compared to other lifting organizations.  Some of the comments in the forum suggested ideas that sure sound good on paper (and would mimic the policies of other established lifting organizations), but they go against the founding principles of the USAWA.  I know there are several new members to the USAWA that are not “in tune” to the historical philosophies of the USAWA, so I want to go over them today.  These were foundation Principles of the USAWA, established by Bill Clark and the initial founding members of the USAWA 26 years ago when the initial USAWA bylaws were written.  These ideas were the groundwork of the USAWA, and have been maintained throughout  the years.   Here they are – the 5 founding principles of the USAWA:

1.  Contest lifts not currently contested in other lifting organizations.

The concept of the “all -rounds” was to offer a competitive avenue for contesting lifts not being offered by other lifting organizations, ie powerlifting and Olympic lifting.  These means the Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift, Clean and Jerk, and the Snatch are not eligible to be USAWA lifts.  This statement is and has been the VERY FIRST rule in the USAWA rulebook since the beginning.  The intention here was to offer competition in lifts “outside” of the other forms of lifting – and to recognize what was called the “odd lifts”.  The idea of this is to have an organization that is not just another form of powerlifting or Olympic lifting.

2.  Drug Free Organization

From the beginning drug free competition within the USAWA was a goal.  Drug Free competition is only insured by actually having drug testing occur.  I know at times in the past this had to be questioned (adequate drug testing), but now we have one of the best drug testing programs of any lifting organization.  We test at many meets, and a wide range of lifters are tested. 

3.  Use of minimal supportive equipment.

The initial intention of the USAWA was to have an organization that only included the use of a belt. No wraps, no suits, no anything else.  But this principle was compromised with the addition of wrist wraps within a couple of years.  The argument for wrist wraps was for wrist protection doing one arm swings, not wrist support.  This “opened the door” to allowing wrist wraps for all lifts.  Next came the use of knee wraps for the squats.  However, the USAWA for the most part has maintained this original principle and has not allowed the wide range of supportive equipment that is now available to the lifters.  

4.  Age and bodyweight corrections.

From the beginning, the idea in the USAWA was to have all competitors competing against each other with formula adjustments.  This includes using the Lynch Formula to correct for bodyweight, and the Age Allowance Percent for age correction.   I won’t get into my views here on whether I feel these corrections are “fair” – but just making the point that this was an original principle that the USAWA was founded on.

5.  Affiliate with IAWA for World Competitions.

From the day of the official organization of the USAWA, the IAWA was formed as well to give international competition.  However, the USAWA has always had their own set of working bylaws separate from the IAWA.    With time things have “evolved” within the USAWA to have some differences between the USAWA and the IAWA(UK), but integrity was kept in the main rules and concepts which has allowed this peaceful union over the past 26 years.   It is important  that when changes are made in the USAWA, we must always remember our IAWA affiliation and how this may affect our relationship within IAWA.  Making changes about  ”little things” within the USAWA is one thing – but when “big issues” are addressed the decision is much larger than the USAWA.   The last thing we want to do is damage our IAWA affiliation.

I may not fully agree with  all of these founding principles of the USAWA – but I will support them because they are what our organization was formed from.  Much like the articles in the United States Constitution  – they were set for a reason by our founding fathers and should be respected and not changed or challenged.     I just wanted to write this editorial because I know people often wonder how I stand on these issues.  Well, the above Founding Principles are “set in concrete” in my opinion and should not be changed  EVER within the USAWA.  If we do change them we might as well change our name as well – because we wouldn’t be the same USAWA that our founding fathers envisoned for us.

York Adjustable Krusher

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker and his York Adjustable Krusher.

When I was at Denny’s last month for the USAWA Presidential Cup I got to spend some more time in the Habecker’s Gym.  I really enjoy private club gyms as they have character (unlike commercial gyms), and often have interesting pieces of equipment in them that are “part of the collection” of the owner.  As I was nosing around in Denny’s stuff, I found just one of these neat collectable  pieces!  He had a York Adjustable Krusher. Most lifters would have no idea what that even is.

The York Krusher was a novelty piece of equipment that was intended to train the pectorals and the upper back.  Unlike the York Hercules Cable Sets which worked by pulling against steel strands (springs), the Krusher worked by pushing the handles together against spring tension. The Krusher was made out of cast aluminum and had the capacity to add up to 5 springs for added tension. The handles were straight which allowed a lifter to push them together from several different angles – in front, to the side, or overhead. 

Advertisement for the Krusher from an issue of Muscular Development.

I find it interesting that they named this device the Krusher (with a K) instead of Crusher.  Adds a like uniqueness to it from a marketing standpoint.  I gather it was first marketed in the early 60’s and  thru the 70’s from the advertisements in York’s muscle magazines at the time.  It was not advertised in their magazines prior to this.   Also interesting is that the Krusher was never really “pushed” in any of their magazine stories (that I recall, I may be wrong here).  It’s sole inclusion was the small ad in the back of  the magazines with a short advertising pitch.  I’ve heard a rumor (might be true) that John Grimek once suffered a bad eye injury when one of the springs in his Krusher came loose while he was using it and it snapped back into his eye ball!!   That’s the kind of thing Bob Hoffman would want to keep quiet when the lead spokesman for his company had that happen to him with one of their  products!!

The Krusher was never a big sell item for York, and this is the first one I had ever seen first hand.  They can still be found selling on ebay – I seen one selling for close to $300 recently.   I also don’t remember seeing the Krusher displayed in the York Museum.  Most of their other past historical training items are, so this must never had been a popular item for them.   

Next time I see Denny I’m going to ask him if he’ll consider putting his Krusher in his will to be willed to me!  And to remind him to wear safety glasses when he trains on it!

News Update for 2013 IAWA Worlds

by Steve Gardner

Information for those attending the IAWA Worlds in Accrington.

Friday

5.30pm to 7.30pm the IAWA World Council Meeting will take place at the Lifting Venue (Hollins Tech College).

Scales should be available for practice weigh ins.

At 7.30pm the group will move along to the Main Bar at the nearby Dunkenhalgh Hotel as a meeting point for any that want to meet up and socialise:

The Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Blackburn Road, Clayton-Le-Moors, BB5 5JP, Tel : 01254 426800

Saturday

8am to 9.30am Weigh In (You will need your starting attempts)
9.45am Officials and Lifters Briefing
10am Sharp – Lifting will Start
NOTE: Lifters should not leave the building unless they have checked if they are required for Drug Testing!

Sunday

9 – 9.45am Weigh In (only those hoping to claim World Records on day two need to weigh in – otherwise the Saturday weigh in is good for the two days)
i.e. if you want to claim a record you need to weigh!
10am Lifting will start Prompt!

Because of the large entry field, the lifting will be divided into 2 groups and each group into 2 Flights

Some lifts will be performed on just one platform, but most will be done on two platforms, this is for time purposes, not wishing to see people still lifting late in the evening and on Sunday we have to finish on time ready for the presentation and then the Banquet- and also for Equipment Logistics!

Mark has some volunteer loaders who will be helping out over the weekend, but any other help will be appreciated too by any lifters who are not lifting or refereeing.

The officials schedule will be put together on Friday and all will be informed in time of their refereeing times – Don’t forget your official’s shirt!

Where do we go?

by Eric Todd

The USAWA has been around for 26 years.  To my knowledge, there is no other governing body for all-round lifting in the USA, and only a small splinter group in the UK outside of our world organization, the IAWA.  Anybody who is anybody in all-round in America is a member of the USAWA.  So why is it, that after 26 years we still have fewer than 100 members?  I believe there are several reasons behind this, which I will address in this essay.  So, we need to decide if we like the status quo.  If not, do we want to grow, and if so, how?

People do not like to get out of their comfort zone.  In most of the other strength disciplines, there are a handful of movements that you must become proficient at.  So, an individual may find one area that he excels in, and stick with that.  I would say the vast majority of competitors find one discipline they are comfortable in and then do not deviate from it  The USAWA has over 200 lifts to tackle, some of them quite unorthodox.  So, most lifters choose to stick to their bench press meets, or Oly lifting, or even strongman in order not to risk failure in competing at something they are not familiar with.  I would argue that the USAWA has something for everyone, so most anyone can find success in all-round.  In addition to that, I would argue that in order to be a true strength athlete, you need to get outside your comfort zone.  My forte was always strongman, but I would compete in powerlifting, all-round, highland, and even an oly meet just to challenge myself, to broaden my horizons, to grow, and to be a true strength athlete.  All-round pretty much affords you that opportunity all blanketed in one organization.

There is not a lot of glamour in all-round.  Our meets, including our championships and national meets are held in small gyms or  at people’s private facilities, and the crowd of spectators is a handful of family members.  There are no magazine covers, no opportunity to “go pro”, no money, no live streams, and often not even a cheap plastic trophy to lug with you when you go home.  Definitely not the place for trophy hunters. 

People in the US have not been exposed to all-round.  People recognize the benchpress, squat and deadlift of powerlifting.  They are familiar with the men in kilts “flipping telephone poles” in highland games.  They have seen the mighty men during the Olympics snatch and clean and jerk.  They have come across world’s strongest man on ESPN whilst flipping through channels.  So, if I compete in one of those disciplines, they have a frame of reference to what I am doing. The VAST majority of people have never heard of all-round.  Nor have they ever heard of a Steinborn or a harness lift.  Unfortunately, if they were to read the requirements of a few of our lifts, they would probably have no desire to try them.

Furthermore, we are a raw, drug tested organization.  There is no possible way to artificially inflate your numbers in the USAWA.  There are  people whose egos cannot handle lifting less than what they were able to do when artificially aided.

One last reason I will mention that I feel we struggle to draw competitors is “the formula”.  I know I have walked away from my share of meets irritated by it.  I have out-lifted people by 1000 and more pounds in a meet, only to be beaten by “the formula”.  If you are  a 300+ pound behemoth,  you will struggle to find great success in all-round.  Though I understand the need for a formula to compare across divisions, I feel that we lose a lot of the bigger lifters because  of ours. 

So, the question remains-do we want to grow?  I spoke with Al about this on an occasion or two.  My opinion is this, take it for what it is worth.  We do not want to grow at all costs.  Growth is good, but we don’t just need more lifters.  We need more of the “right” lifters.  When I started competing in strongman, it was a small organization.  The competitors knew and respected each other.  We competed hard against each other, but would root for the other guy because we respected him and wanted to beat him at his best.   We would travel to train with each other, eat dinner with each other, email or call each other about training, competitions, etc.  This is kind of how I feel all-round is in its current state.    You go to a meet, and it is like a family reunion.  The guys you are competing with have probably been tested, and even if it has been a while, you know their character well enough at this point to know they are clean.  You are treated with respect amongst the lifters as well as within the organization.  When strongman started growing, it eventually drew some individuals I did not like being around.  Not collectively, but there was a lot more than before.  There was a lot more narcicism, more ego-centrism.  It became much less a brotherhood, and more just a sport. 

So, growth can be a double edged sword.  I know I hate to see meets that get only 2 or 3 lifters or have to be cancelled for lack of competitors.  And with so few competitors in our pool, this is going to happen. I would like for every meet to have 15+ competitors, competition within the divisions, and awards for the competitors.  I would love to see increased membership numbers helping us increase our organization financially.  But do we want to sacrifice the integrity of our sport as well the great camaraderie within to accomplish this? 

I, for one, do not have any answers.  However, I am interested to see what you all say.  I am just hoping to create some dialogue that could potentially  serve to help guide our direction into the future.

Training arms with Bill Pearl

by Al Myers

Bill Pearl performing a standing Barbell Curl.

Thom’s story the other day about Bill Pearl and his leg training got me thinking about the great Bill Pearl and his training.  I always greatly admired Bill Pearl’s physique, and consider it the IDEAL muscular build.  I know nowadays the trend in bodybuilding is to build muscular mass to the extreme, but in doing so it portrays a body image that is unrealistic for any normal individual. It is hard for me to look at today’s top bodybuilders and feel a sense of inspiration, as their body’s muscularity is “way over the top”.  It’s more a freak show to me than anything else.  Totally unattainable for anyone who wants to lift weights naturally, be healthy,  and still have a life of going to work everyday and raising a family.  When you look at the old pictures of Bill Pearl – you see a man who built his outstanding physique through hard work and proper diet, utilizing the same things that are available to the vast majority of weight trainees.  At least you feel that you might be able to accomplish the same thing he did (but that’s probably unlikely as well as not everyone is blessed with the muscle building genetics and symmetry that Bill Pearl has!!!)

I always thought Bill Pearl’s strong areas were his arms.  He had deep muscular triceps and very big balanced biceps. His arms had “the look” that they were very strong as well as being impressive in sight.  I like to read old lifting magazines for my training knowledge instead of the new muscle ”rags”.  I feel the information in the old magazines to be  more truthful.  Last night I ran across an article in the January, 1968 issue of Dan Lurie’s Muscle Training written by Bill Pearl, titled How to Build Big Arms.  It was a great article, and one in which I’m going to share part of here as to Bill’s favorite arm exercises outlined in his article.  You will notice that these exercises are not anything new and secret.  Instead they are basic movements that are often overlooked by lifters who are on the constant search for the latest and newest training program.  Most of the time the BEST training programs are the ones that have been tried and used successfully by the many – not the latest fab program used by the few.  Now onto Bill Pearl’s arm program!

A couple more of Bill Pearl's favorite arm exercises.

EXERCISE NO. 1 – TRICEPS PUSH DOWN ON LAT MACHINE

He recommended 4 sets of 10 reps, and emphasized  keeping good technique – arms’ to the sides of the body keeping the elbows in a “fixed” position, and performing complete extension on each repetition.

EXERCISE NO. 2 – SEATED DUMBBELL CURLS

Again he recommended 4 sets of 8-10 reps, and using good form.  Keep the back straight, and perform full curl movements. Keep the curls strict and do not swing the weights.

Still more of Pearl's arm favorites!

EXERCISE NO. 3 – TRICEPS EXTENSIONS WITH BARBELL

He liked doing this exercise standing with a regular barbell with 4 sets of 8 reps. After reading his description it seemed practically identically to our USAWA rules for the FRENCH PRESS.  He keep the elbows high, and even stated that he used an 8 inch hand spacing (the USAWA rules for the French Press call for a 6 inch spacing).  He performed it very strictly.

EXERCISE NO. 4 – TRICEP DIPS ON STOOLS

Here he recommended 3 sets of 10-12 reps. He braced himself across two stools with his feet supported on a bench (see picture). One interesting thing Bill mentioned was to have your feet HIGHER than your hands, as it forces the triceps to work harder. Take the dip as low as you can go. He preferred the stool dip over the parallel bar dip.

EXERCISE NO. 5 – STANDING BARBELL CURLS

Again 4 sets of 8-10 reps. He liked doing them strict. These are his words, “Do NOT press your elbows into your sides. Do NOT swing the barbell. Do NOT bend over backwards.”

There you go – a very simple 5 exercise arm program that will make functionally arm strength and size improvements. Anything that is “good enough” for Bill Pearl is good enough for me!!!

Super Arm Blaster

by Al Myers

Arnold using the Super Arm Blaster!

The Super Arm Blaster, now that’s a “blast from the past’, or should I say “blaster from the paster”!  The other night while training alone I spotted something shiny sticking out from behind the dumbbell rack. As I dug through miscellaneous plates and other lifting paraphernalia that I’ve accumulated other the years, there it was – the SUPER ARM BLASTER.  It brought back memories of when I bought the thing as I thought it’s use would give me monstrous arms, just like Arnold’s.  Now it has been residing in obscurity for years without any use.  One of many training tools that I’ve tried and found just didn’t work well for me in my training objectives.

Of course, I had to take a picture of it and send it to Thom to see if he knew what it was. He did, and  answered my text very quickly with the correct response so I know he didn’t “look it up”.   I give Joe Weider the credit for inventing this isolating bicep training device.  He started marketing it in the mid 1970’s in his magazines, and it “sold strong” through the 1980’s. That’s when I bought mine.  It was initially called the “Joe Weider’s Super Arm Blaster” or “Arnold’s Super Arm Blaster”, and sold for $19.95.  Early magazines often contained advertisements for it picturing Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrating it’s use.  He was Weider’s selling point man on the Arm Blaster,  and I’m sure propagated many sells. 

This came from an early advertisement:

Something new and fabulous has happened for creating Super-arm size….real fast! Blast your arms into new and exciting growth no matter how big they are now – just as Arnold Schwarzenegger did, increasing his arms from 21″ to 22 1/2″ with Joe Weider’s new patented “Arnold’s Super-Arm Blaster”.  It isolates the arms so that you can put out 100% muscular effort and mental concentration without having to fight arm balance at the sides – thereby allowing you to stimulate all of the deeper under-lying muscle fibers with greater intensity!

The Dino Gym's Arm Blaster, which is still in working shape after 30 years!

The ad goes on from there with more selling points on how the Arm Blaster would take your arm size to new heights –  that would leave any newbie iron boy in a frenzy.  How could you NOT have one of these????  I admit – the sales pitch made me fork over money I didn’t have at the time!   But looking back – the image of Arnold pounding out EZ bar curls with his super arm blaster probably was worth the money in inspiration alone.  Whether he really used it much in his training is really just a mute point!

Arnold does mention the Arm Blaster in his book, “The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding“.  It includes a picture of him using the Arm Blaster while performing a set of Alternate Dumbbell Curls with this caption, “Using the Arm Blaster you get the strictness of a preacher curl, with the elbows fixed solidly in place, which is especially good for training the lower biceps”.  This book was published in 1985, well after his financially binding endorsement days with Weider. At this point his bodybuilding fame days were over and he was enjoying box office success with his Conan movies  and the first Terminator movie.  Money could not have been an issue for him at this time to continue to promote the Arm Blaster – so I’m assuming he felt there was some merit to it’s use.

I hadn’t thought of the Arm Blaster for years until this workout.  I assumed this antiquated piece of equipment was no longer on the market, but after doing a short internet search I see that there are other manufacturers that have continued to market it.  That’s good news for any iron newbie -  buy one and be inspired to bicep greatness!

Louis Abele’s Training Program

by Al Myers

Louis Abele

At our Nationals in June, Dennis Mitchell loaned me a pamphlet that outlined Louis Abele’s Training Programs.  It was compiled by Chester O. Teegarden, and  published in 1948.  It is only 15 pages long, and has lots of interesting training information and insight into the training philosophies of Louis Abele.  I actually had set this pamphlet aside and just rediscovered it to read (so I haven’t forgot about it Dennis!).  I blame my distraction on this to all that was going on at the National Meet.

Louis Abele was often in the shadows of other great York lifters at the time – namely John Grimek, Steve Stanko, and John Davis.  However the progress he made in Olympic lifting compelled him onto the national stage as one of the best heavy weight lifters of the time. I asked Dennis about Louis Abele and this was his reply, ” I never had the opportunity to meet Louis Able. He had the misfortune of being at his best when John Davis was at his best. He could never get the recognition that he deserved as he was overshadowed by John.  The thing that I found very interesting about his training was that he used a large verity of lifts. I’ve only read one other study where it was felt that instead of doing, for example four sets of squats, to do one set of lunges, one set of front squats, a set of back squats and then one set of leg presses. I’ve used this form of training as I’ve gotten older as I am trying to keep as many parts moving in as many directions as I can.”

I want to thank Dennis for sharing this Louis Abele Training Program with me, and thus in turn I’m gonna share it with you!  Interesting historical information like this is easily lost with the passage of time.  It is a pdf so simply open it, print it off, and save it for future generations of lifters (or put it in some digital file that will soon “die off” when your computer crashes because you forgot to have it backed up!”)

The Training Programs of Louis Abele  (PDF)Louis Abele Training Programs

I very much enjoy visiting with Dennis and discussing such issues as how he has seen lifting change in his lifetime.  Dennis is over 80 years of age and STILL COMPETING in competitions (both all round and Olympic lifting).  He has a wealth of information and wisdom.  He has had a lifting career that has spanned over 60 years so he has “been there” and “seen it all”.  I can’t help but finish with a little story on Dennis that I found humorous.  At Nationals he made a comment to my daughter Molly (age 15) and Chad’s daughter Bree (age 16) as they were “playing” with their cell phones.  I was fortunate to overhear this story that he told these two young girls about how he has seen communication improve over the years. It is priceless, and left a look of disbelief on the girls’  faces!!

“In 1954, Fort Monmouth in New Jersey  I was in the last class to learn how to use carrier pigeons. They were still being used in the Korean War. Any time I use E-Mail or cell phones I think of this. We had a special net pouch that we could carry the birds in when we out in the fields. The only company the army found that could make these pouches was a company that made ladies undergarments, the Maidenform Co………………………..Denny M.. ”