Posts belonging to Category USAWA Daily News



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.

Ironman Lost…and FOUND!

by Thom Van Vleck

Thin style Ironman 50lb plate

There were Ironman triathlons, Iron Man comics, Black Sabbath singing “I am Iron Man”, Iron Man movies…but when I think of Ironman…I think of Peary Radar’s old magazine and all the equipment he made over the years.  In the JWC training hall we have had a pair of Ironman plates my Uncles (Wayne and Phil Jackson) ordered back in the 60’s.  There is also a missing set.  In case you didn’t know it, back then you could order them “milled” to exact weight or “unmilled” which were half as much in cost.  With the “unmilled” you never knew what you were going to get.  Both sets of plates were unmilled.

First, the plates I still have.  They are thick around the edges and weigh 57.5lbs each while they have “50″ on them….looks like my Uncle’s got their money’s worth on those babies!  I have used them many times over the years because they are slightly larger than my other plates and are lifting from the floor and  put these plates on it makes the others easier to slide on and off.  Plus the fact that I gained 15lb seemed to be a psychological boost and let’s face it…they are just cool.

Thick style plates that weigh 57.5lbs each!

Now, to the story of the lost plates.  They were what I’ll call a “thin” style plate.  The one’s we had actually weighed 47.5lbs each.   There was a local lifter that was a kid my Uncle was trying to help out. He loaned the plates to him and over time the kid kind of claimed them.  That happened to my Uncle Wayne a lot!  When I tried to get them back he had SOLD them!  That also happened more than once.  I remember them in vivid detail.  They were thin, flat, with circular ridges that made them look like a bullseye.  One of the plates had a chip out of it.  I found the guy that bought them, but he gave them to his brother who lived out of state.  After a couple of attempts and promises….I finally gave up on ever getting these back.

Now that was the early 80’s so fast forward almost 30 years.  A good friend of mind called up looking for an incline and I had one.  He said he wanted to trade some stuff including a pair of Ironman plates.  When I got there I wish I could say they were he exact “long lost” pair….but they were not.  However, they were a “spot on” twin…or twins!  While not the exact pair, I am pretty pleased that somehow after all these years these plates seemed to fall right into my lap!  A plus is I might have gotten a better deal as these are right on 50lbs each.

Needless to say, like everything in my gym, they will be put to use.  And when I do….may I’ll have to put on some “Ironman” on the stereo!

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….).

No Stupid Lifts, Just Stupid Lifters

by Thom Van Vleck

Wilbur Miller doing a barbell leg press

Recently I got kind of sore at a guy for criticizing a leg press done by my friend Wilbur Miller.  Wilbur and my Uncle Wayne had some epic battles back in the day and while Wilbur won the overall in every meet he was never able to beat my Uncle in the Clean and Press.  Wayne took great pride in that as Wilbur was, in his mind, the greatest of his era.  I have written an article for MILO magazine on Wilbur and he continues to be involved in the USAWA to this day.

So this picture came up and this guy took it for face value and called it “Stupid”.  Well, I let him have it.  I was probably too harsh but I knew the story behind this photo.  The guy also said that if this was a good lift then you would see people doing it everywhere.  First of all, Wilbur usually did his lifting in an old York Power Rack where he could leg press in a rack with a very tight gap.  I did leg pressed that way early in my training as well.  Second of all, this photo was take out of the rack to demonstrate the lift.  Third, Wilbur did them because he didn’t have a proper leg press or leg sled.  It might be stupid to do this lift if you had a good leg press or out of a power rack….but it was dang smart to do them when Wilbur had some back issues and wanted to work his legs hard and he had no other recourse.

This got me to thinking about all the name calling and commentary from know-it-all lifters on the internet.  And to be honest, I’ve been one, too and I regret it.  A quick glance and you might think a lot of lifts would be useless or even dangerous.  But the reality is there are no stupid lift…only stupid lifters!

I would contend that ANY lift that can be done could have a useful purpose at some point of any lifters career.  Maybe because of injury, or an unusual weakness, or a lack of proper equipment.  Over the years I have made it a point to train with many of the best lifters in the country and I have found that almost ALL of the best have all kinds of unusual lifts they have developed that fits their needs.  Those same lifts, in the wrong context, could be disastrous to others.

Many times I have had a lifter tell me of a lift they do and my initial reaction is to roll my eyes and shake my head.  But in my 35 plus years of lifting there have been countless times I’ve ended up adopting that lift for my own needs.  So, my point is don’t judge, keep your mind open, and be like a U. S. Marine: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”.   In other words….don’t be stupid!

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!

OTSM Championships UPDATE

by Thom Van Vleck

Now that my Scottish Highland Games has been completed my focus has shifted to the OTSM on December 7th.  So far I have one entry in hand (thank you to Dean Ross) and several who have shown interest.  Here are some updates to the previously posted information.

1.  Shirt deadline: I have promised a shirt for those that enter but I’m going to have to put a deadline on the shirt as they were so popular at my Highland Games…I SOLD OUT!  So, if you are coming and want a shirt I need your shirt size (at the least) by November 15th.  I don’t necessarily need your entry……but that would be nice.  I will take entries on meet day….BUT DON’T EXPECT A SHIRT.

2. Location: The contest will be held at my gym in the basement of my home.  The first year we had 10 lifters, but last year we had fewer.  I can’t justify loading all my equipment up, renting the old school gym, and hauling all the stuff in, then hauling it back out.  It’s a tight fit, but if the weather is nice, one or more events will be outside.

3. Breakfast: It has been a tradition for my contests to eat breakfast at Pancake City before the meet (dutch).  Anyone that wants to weigh in BEFORE breakfast be at my place at 7:30am and please, give me a heads up or you might find me sleeping…or WORSE!  We will then head in to Pancake City for a good, ol’ greasy breakfast or a stack of flapjacks….or BOTH.  If Art comes….THEY HAVE COFFEE!!!!

I hope all the USAWA members will consider coming to the meet!  See you there!

WEBMASTER’S COMMENT:   The entry information and entry form for the 2013 USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships is located under “USAWA Future  Events” in the column to the right. Simply “click” on it to access this important information!

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.

Hercules Chained

by Thom Van Vleck

Who can forget Steve Reeves in "Hercules Unchained"using the chains that imprisoned him to then turn the tables and vanquish his enemy.

Have you been workin’ on the Chain Gang?   Well, earlier in this century that would not have been a compliment when prisoners were put to hard, manual labor all while chained to each other or chained to an iron ball to keep them from running away.  The word “Chain” comes from a latin word that referred to a “snare” or “net”.  In Modern times when we think of chains we might think of Chain mail, Chain of stores, or a Chain reaction.  But what I’m talking about today using metal chains to help you get stronger in your lifting.

A few years back I bought 40 feet of half inch chain.  The half inch is the diameter of the rod used to make the chain, which means they were quite big and they weighed about 2lbs a foot.  I initially bought them to use in our strongman shows.  I would do this squat and offer my personal testimony on how my legs had been broken badly and my faith had let to my recovery.  I found that most folks didn’t relate will to a barbell so I bought the chain and draped it over me, the bar and the weights.  I would also use it as an object lesson on how we can become “chained” by lies and sin and forgiveness can set us free from that burden.

Then they started to become more and more popular for training in general. Often they are hung on the ends of barbells or in some way so that as you lift, you slowly pull more and more chain from the floor.  So if I had a 300lb barbell and 100lbs of chains on a squat bar then at the start of the squat you would have 400lbs on your shoulders.  As you went down and the chaines slowly bunch up on the floor you would drop the weight to 300lbs at the bottom.  I think there are several reason they can be a help to training.

First, the practical reasons:

1. Increased stability.  Nothing like a shifting weight to make you work to stabilize the weight.  This is one advantage chains have over using the rubber bands….you are challenges to keep the weight balanced.  One of the reasons barbells are superior to machines is this factor and chains amp that factor up.

2. Speed training.  It’s not uncommon on some lifts, like the squat, to find yourself backing off at the top.  Having the chains increasing the weight as you go up causes you to keep pushing.  My opinion is that increases the efficiency of the lift for the athlete and makes it more useful for those lifting for other reasons than weightlifting competition.

3.  Weak Points.   Chains might help you work on your weak points or sticking points.  Sure, this is debatable but in my mind you basically take one lift with chains and do two lifts at once.  For example, on the bench press you can do a full movement then work on your lock outs with partials….or just do bench’s with chains and increase the load at the top!

Second, the mental impact:

1.  If you use chains and then switch to a regular barbell, the regular barbell will seem easier to handle and increase your confidence.

2.  We can all get stale or stagnant in our training and adding chains can mix things up and bring some freshness to your training.

3.  Finally….let’s face it…chains hanging around your gym look cool and I’ll admit….a couple of times I’ve grabbed a hold of a couple of 8 ft sections of my largest chain and done my best “Steve Reeves” impression!  When I bring people who don’t train regularly to see my gym guess what one of the first things they focus on….the BIG CHAINS.

I’m not making any promises that you will add big pounds to your lifts using chains.  I’m just offering up some ideas to add to your arsenal of training methods.  I wouldn’t…and don’t….use them year around.  I mix them in here and there.   Chains are symbolic in so many ways and they can get your most important training tool inspired and working hard again….YOUR BRAIN.  Get some chains and become Hercules…but CHAINED!

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!!!

Why Progressive Resistance isn’t always Progressive Pt 2

by Thom Van Vleck

Next year I turn 50.  When I was a kid I remember when my grandmother turned 50 and she made it out like she was practically dead!  On the other hand I am enjoying life quite a bit as of late.  I’m the happiest I’ve ever been to be honest.  I’m healthy, I like my work, my marriage the best ever.  All my kids are teenagers and yet we get along very well.  Life is good.  I have nothing to complain about as I roll into the 2nd half of life should I live to be 100.

I also am working out as hard as I ever have.  But there have been adjustments in how I measure progress.  When I was young I needed to have actual “progress” in my progressive resistance to be happy.  When I was 30 I benched 360.  I worked my bench for a year and then I maxed out and hit 365.  When I was 30….that was a major disappointment.  There was also a time when I squatted 400 and then spent a solid year focusing on my squat and ended at 600!  That was great progress!

As I bear down on 50 my idea of progress has changed.  It would be unrealistic for me to look at adding 200lbs to any lift….except maybe some heavy lift in the USAWA.  I am now at a point in my life where holding the line is a huge victory for me.  I push pressed 300 for the first time almost 20 years ago.  Every so often I do a few and I seem to always hit 300….but my long ago goal of 400 will not likely happen.  I throw in the highland games and I’m throwing as well or better than I ever have….but setting personal bests are few and far between.  I also understand that the day will come when I will set my last personal record.  Then my idea of progress will have to change again.

At that point, it will be begrudgingly giving up my strength.  Mark my words, I plan on going down swinging.  But I know I’ll eventually go down.  I recall trying to get a buddy that had been a good lifter in his 20’s to try masters lifting.  His comment was, “I want to be good….not good for my age”.  While I can appreciate that statement, I’ll tell you that I’m happy to be good for my age!

So as I get older my idea of progress will adjust.  Otherwise it will all become an exercise (no pun intended) in futility.  My Uncle Phil once asked me, “Why do you continue to train when you know someday age and time will take it all away”.  Of course he knew the answer and was just challenging me as he so often has in my life.  To me it’s like climbing a mountain.  Once you are at the top, the only way to go after that is down.  But I would rather enjoy the view as from up high as long as I can.  Not everyone gets to the top but everyone eventually finds the bottom.  Life is a precious gift and I plan on sliding into my grave sideways someday as they say….well worn and yelling what a ride!

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!!!

Roman Chair Squat

by Thom Van Vleck

The Roman Chair Squat

Some time back Al Myers wrote a great article on the Roman Chair and it’s place in the USAWA as a contested lift.  It can be found here: http://www.usawa.com/roman-chair/.  It even inspired me to make a Roman chair and add some Roman Chair sit ups to my workout.

Recently, I have been doing some bodybuilding.  My workouts have traditionally been basic movements for low reps and heavy weights.  Not much assistance work.  My transition was not an easy one as I didn’t want to be too much of as sissy bodybuilder.  So I decided to pull out some of my Bill Pearl Training Manuals (purchased by my Uncle Phil Jackson and autographed to Phil by Pearl himself no less) and follow Bill’s advice.  Why?  Because Bill was BIG and STRONG.  My Uncle saw Bill give a seminar in 1967 after his third Mr. Universe.  He said Bill loaded 300lbs on an Olympic bar and easily power cleaned it, pressed it overhead, then pressed it behind the neck twice!

At any rate, right or wrong, I figured if Bill Pearl did it then it must be good!  I also believe most any program will help you if you believe in it and I was raised to believe that Bill Pearl was almost mythological….the Babe Ruth of Bodybuilding.  So as I looked at how Bill trained his legs I found that one of Bill’s favorite exercises was the Roman Chair Squat.  It is very similar to the Sissy Squat.  My legs have always been a weakness for me so I’ve started doing them.  I like them, but you can’t handle much weight (as a matter of fact, this is a body weight exercise for me).

I also learned a little bit of history as I went about my research on this exercise.  In Al’s article he mentioned that a lifter from Rome did work on the Roman Chair at Professor Attila’s gym and it became quite popular.  This was shared with Sig Klein who did a type of plank movement (and I suspect this led to the Roman Chair Bench Press lift in the USAWA).  But I believe I’ve found the original purpose the Roman Chair was invented for!  In ancient times latrines were basically ditches.  You would have to squat over them and since you didn’t want to fall in you would hook your feet under something and leverage out to “do you business”.  I think this is much better explanation than Al’s medieval torture device chair in his article!

What ever the case, the Roman Chair can be used for much more than sit ups!  But regardless of what you do on a Roman Chair…..it all is painful!  And I, for one, am thankful to have a modern toilet!

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!

Best Exercise Ever

by Thom Van Vleck

This man used the "Best Exercise Ever" to great effect!

Many years ago I was reading an old Ironman Magazine.  When I say “old” I mean when Peary Radar ran it and when it was a great strength publication and not a bodybuilding rag.  They had asked a question of a number of lifters and gym owners (those that trained people in their gym).  The question was if you could only do one exercise what would that exercise be?  The idea seemed to get at what they thought the best exercise was.  Now, I have to be honest here, I can’t remember which exercise won but I do recall pretty much all the the answers were one of two exercises.

One of these two exercises is still a pretty common exercise.  I bet everyone that reads this has done it and almost all would agree it’s a great exercise.  I know Paul Anderson would agree.  Have you guessed?  That’s right, the squat.  I’m sure that just about everyone that’s lifted has at one time done a squat.  Sure, most don’t do it much but I bet they at least tried it!  Most found out that squats are hard to do because they utilize almost all the largest muscles in the body.  If you are doing them right, you can get really strong and fit doing them.

The other exercise, the one I think won the most votes for being the best single exercise, is hardly done at all.  As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen anyone do them in a gym other than one man and I hang around a lot of lifters.  The one man that did them was my Uncle Wayne Jackson.  And he did them because it was his favorite lift to do.

This “mystery” lift has a strange history.  Let me give you some hints.  First of all, you can do it with a standard barbell.  You need no special equipment like the squat (squat racks…unless you are Henry Steinborn).  Second of all, I bet if you were told you could only do one lift the rest of your life you WOULD choose this lift.  But how realistic is that?  Even if you were stuck on a deserted island with a barbell the only way that would happen is if someone held a gun to your head every workout until you died.  Finally, this lift used to be one of the most contested lifts on the planet.  There was a time when it was contested more than the Bench Press, the Squat, or the Deadlift in competition.  You could win an Olympic medal doing this lift and you cannot win one doing the Powerlifts.  Have you guessed?

The Clean & Press.  For some 50 years the Clean & Press was one of the THREE Olympic lifts along with the Snatch and Clean & Jerk.  It was dropped from competition after 1972.  There were several reasons but mainly because the judging had gotten so lax that records were meaningless.  Instead of trying to fix the problem the lift was just dropped. My Uncle Wayne still holds the Missouri State record in that lift and it was his favorite lift to do.  When they dropped it….his competition career ended as the lift meant that much to him.

My understanding was that early Olympics had many lifts and it took too much time so they condensed it down to three.  The Snatch was considered a “quick” and “athletic” lift while the Clean & Press was considered a “strength” and “power” lift.  The Clean & Jerk was in between.  It was felt the three lifts together were the ultimate measure of athletic strength.  I tend to agree and am sad that the the lift in no longer contested.  I don’t think Olympic lifting in the USA has ever recovered from that loss and led to the rise of powerlifting at that same time.  But that’s a history lesson.

The Clean & Press arguably is the most complete exercise there is.  I know if I could only do one exercise it would be that lift or some variation.  In particular, I have enjoyed training the log lift C & P.  I’m curious if any of you have ever done this exercise (not parts of it, but all together!).  If not, I would suggest trying a few some time.  Nothing works more muscles using a standard barbell in a single exercise movement and there is nothing that says “strong” than lifting a barbell from the floor to overhead using brute upper body strength on the press!  Just take a look at Zydrunas Savickas clean and press a 400 pound plus log!  So, throw in a C & P to your training and do what some have called the “BEST EXERCISE EVER”!

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.. ”

SUPERMAN CANCELLED

by Al Myers

I just received word that this weekend’s USAWA all round meet at Jobe’s Steel Jungle is CANCELLED  due to lack of entries.  Jesse was advertising this meet as the “SUPERMAN MEET”.  It contained the all round versions of the two Olympic Lifts and the 3 Powerlifts – 5 lifts in total.  Several of the lifts were going to be using the Fulton Bar instead of a regular lifting bar to add to the challenge. 

I was planning on attending this meet to announce and score-keep, and was looking forward to seeing some big lifts in these lifts, which are perfect to demonstrate who the really strong lifters are.  I’m disappointed this had to happen, but as I told Jesse, I fully understand why.  As Bill Clark used to say, “I threw a party and no one showed up” after some meets that he had with very poor attendance.  One must remember that hosting meets is a costly endeavor to a meet promoter and it takes entry fees to pay the bills so you “come close” to breaking even.  Having sanctioned meets is the backbone of the USAWA, and without them we are not an organization that promotes all round competition lifting. I’ll quit harping now – but as I told Jesse his idea of having this SUPERMAN MEET was a brilliant idea – but brilliance doesn’t always sell tickets.

To Kettlebell or Not

by Thom Van Vleck

Here's a photo that shows a handle like the one that my grandfather used to convert his dumbbell into a kettlebell.

I work at a University and we have a rec center on campus.  It’s a small school so the rec center is actually pretty decent for our size but still small.  The guy that runs it has been there for 30 plus years and he is very upbeat and positive.  Dan came out of the 70’s running craze and still runs to this day.  Nothing wrong with that, but he’s not really a weightlifter and he knows it.  I am a weightlifter and not much of a runner…so we keep each other balanced.

Dan tries to stay on top of the latest trends and has bought a handful of Kettlebells.  They get used a great deal in the Osteoblasters “crossfit” style workouts that we have 4 days a week.  We have a more traditional weightlifting group but the ratio is about 10 to 1 (the crossfit wins hands down).  If you don’t know what that type of training is just imagine multiple stations where people move rapidly from one high rep, low weight or bodyweight exercise to another done in an open area and NOT in the regular lifting area)  We have both been surprised at the success of the workouts.  He likes the cardio aspect and I like the lifting aspect…..but neither of us would have guessed how well this would have went over.  The problem is…we’re old and we don’t know what’s “in” these days.  At least that’s the only explanation I can think of.

So we try and keep each other up to date on what’s “hot” in the fitness and lifting world.  Dan wants to appeal to all the students including the students who lift heavy…like us.  He asked me the other day if I thought he should get a set of Kettlebells for the gym.  His concern is that the space is small and most of what he sees is people doing dynamic movements with them such as swings and flipping them to arms length.  He’s worried about somebody getting conked on the head or a kettlebell going out a plate glass window.  I’m worried NOBODY will use them enough to justify valuable gym space as the place is often packed!  Plus that money could go for other things that would get used more often.

Here's what standard kettlebells look like.....as if you really needed to see them! But there are an ever increasing list of variations of them out there much like how the globe dumbbells became all different shapes.

Now you have to understand that me and Kettlebells go way back….well…sort of.  I have never….EVER…trained with them.  Sure, I’ve pulled them out and played with them and I even bought three of them for my gym that were close to the weights used in the highland games.  Right now I’ve loaned them to the club because after I bought them and built a cool shelf to put them on….they were pretty much paperweights and novelties after that.  Now before you Kettlebellers get your panties in a bunch let me go on.

My long relationship with kettlebells was that my grandfather had a kettlebell handle that went on a regular York 1″ loadable dumbbell making it a makeshift kettlebell.  He also had some block scale weights that were kind of like using kettlebells.  He would do high reps and sometimes would just grab it and do a few reps between chores around the house.  My grandfather never trained to max out…always for fitness.  He lived a very healthy and active life to the age of 85….when he was hit by a car!  I think he would have live to be 100 and been one of those guys that would be in fantastic shape his entire life.  But we all thought his lifting routine….especially the kettlebells was….uhhhhh….well….we called it the “fruitcake” routine because it seemed to have a little of everything and a lot of nothing and appeared thrown together most of the time.  However, I think he may have had the last laugh.

So, what’s all this mean in regards to kettlebells.  I told Dan that I thought they were a great idea to be used for the Osteoblaster workouts and we needed some more for the 45 to 90 people that show up for each workout.  But as far as having a rack in the gym….so few would use it that it would be not worth it in my opinion.

There used to be a business supply chain centered locally that went out of business.  It seemed to be a powerful business and I wondered why.  I met someone that knew.  He said his grandfather (who was the patriarch of the business) said, “Computers are just a fad…typewriters are where its at and where its always gonna be”.  We can laugh now at that business decision but some of us older guys probably all had a typewriter at one time (Bill Clark still does).  Kettlebells are kind of like typewriters in my mind.  But again…before the kettlebell nuts get a screw loose…one more story.  When I was in the Marines 30 years ago I copied Morse Code.  We used teletypes (a cross between an electric typewriter and early computer) and actual computers.  When the power went out….we pulled out our trusty “Royal” manual typewriters.  I still have one in the closet in case I need to continue to write after the zombie apocalypse.  So my point is, Kettlebells can be useful and every once in awhile pulled out for something different and they can be VERY useful in the crossfit type workouts.  But their use is limited for those seeking pure strength and cannot, in my opinion, be a central part of your training like the dumbbell.  The dumbbell….with the dumbest name next to the “Jerk” and “Snatch” (that’s another story altogether about stupid names in lifting) is still the Prince of the gym next to the King Barbell!   Okay, I’m done and I’m sure there’s some kettle bell heads out there ready to burn my house down.

Lifter of the Month: Chad Ullom

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom performing a 793.5# Anderson Squat at "Joe the Turk" Old Time Strongman Meet in Macomb, Illinois.

Congratulations goes to Chad Ullom for being selected as the USAWA Lifter of the Month for the month of July.  Chad had a very active summer – placing second overall at Nationals in the Mens Division, competing in the World Stone Challenge in Scotland, participating in the USAWA Club Championships,  and finishing with a FIRST PLACE overall finish at Joe the Turk OTSM in Macomb in July.  Add in that he was “one of the few” USAWA members to represent the USAWA in the IAWA World Postal Meet which was contested in July, and he becomes a VERY WORTHY choice for lifter of the month.

CONGRATS CHAD!

RIP Casey Viator

by Al Myers

Casey Viator

News has spread this week “across the web” of the death of 1980’s bodybuilding icon Casey Viator.  He died on September 4th (on his birthday!) at his home from a reported heart attack. 

Casey Viator was best known for winning the 1970 AAU Mr. America at the age of 19, the youngest to ever win that title.  I remember following his pro bodybuilding days in the 80’s.  He placed third at the 1983 Mr. Olympia in a controversial  bodybuilding contest (aren’t they all???), behind Mr. O winner Chris Dickerson and Frank Zane.  This was at  the time that I was really getting interested in weight training, and followed all top contests intently.  Casey Viator had a “thickness” to his muscularity that many of the other top bodybuilders did not have at the time.  He also had the reputation of training with maximum intensity, and was one of the first top bodybuilders to embrace the HIT (High Intensity Training) program.

I will say his legacy will be forever tied to Arthur Jones and the COLORADO EXPERIMENT held in the spring of 1973.   His death brought that to my mind, as I remember reading the report of that over 30 years ago, yet I still had vague memories of it  and the remarkable growth Viator made during that experiment.  I had to “go to the files” and find it to reread again - and it still boggles the mind to think that a man could gain over 63 pounds of muscle of a period of 28 days training exclusively on Nautilus equipment!   From the report it states, “during a period of 28 days, as a result of 14 workouts, involving a total training time of 7 hours, 50 1/2 minutes, an average of 33.6 minutes per workout, his gains were as follow…an average muscle mass increase of 4.51 pounds per workout…or .36 pounds per set…an average gain of 8.04 pounds from each hour of training.”

As a younger newbie weight lifter this scientific study (hic, hic…) sounded like the groundwork of a master lifting plan to me.  To say I was more than intrigued at the time would be an understatement.   I later realized that this  was nothing more than a grand marketing scheme by Arthur Jones to promote his Nautilus equipment line.  Careful review of that “flimsy study” now would be critiqued to death with obvious flaws present.  But regardless, it is a GOOD STORY and makes for an interesting discussion amongst those that are interested.   The debate is better left for a discussion forum over the scientific merit of the COLORADO EXPERIMENT.

However, Casey Viator was one of many that inspired my early “battle with the iron”.  It is sad to see your lifting hero’s die, and especially at a young age (Viator was only 62).  It seems like just yesterday to me that he was THE MAN with the biggest bi’s battling it out in the Mr. Olympia!!!

Why Progressive Resistance Isn’t Always Progressive

by Thom Van Vleck

Milo of Croton is often credited with originating the concept of Progressive Resistance.....at least in folk lore.

Most everyone knows the story of Milo.  He was a Greek wrestler that dominated wrestling in ancient Greece in his time…that is pretty much a fact.  The legend is he became that way because he observed that he could lift a bull on his shoulder and he supposed that if he did that every day that he should still be able to do that when the bull was full grown.  He then did that, and carried the bull on his shoulders into the Olympic Stadium, slew it and ate meat from it raw to intimidate his fellow wrestlers.  That part may be fact, partly true, or just a great story.  I know it would play well in modern professional wrestling!

The idea was that if you put the body under increasing progressive resistance it would adapt slowly but surely and become stronger.  I think most of us understand that if you weight train, that’s the idea!  What I don’t think most realize is that the adaptation to work load is a flat, linear line from weak to strong.  It actually probably looks like a zig zag line to slow climbs over time where you see ups and downs that if averaged made a nice linear line.

Most people handle making gains pretty well.  Who doesn’t!  What really separates those who make great gains is those who handle the down times.  My point is that when you have times that you slide it’s how you react to that lack of progress or even loss of progress that dictates long term success.  It’s the reason they set up great boxers with “bums” they can beat up on.  Sure, lots of wins and knockouts will sell lots of tickets but that’s not why they really do that.  It’s to create confidence in the fighter.  Getting you butt kicked does not instill confidence in most people.

Those most successful are those that learn to deal with failure and find the ways to most quickly turn it around.  They have short memories on failure and stay focused on success.  They know that failure is part of the process and keep their head down and keep working.  They understand that progress isn’t always linear, accept it, and make each failure a part of their learning process.  They also understand that a lack of progress means a time for change and they don’t stubbornly hold onto a set routine just for the sake of finishing that routine.  They make adjustments and keep focused on what’s going to help them reach their goal

So, my point is, progressive resistance my not always be as progressive.  Success comes from dealing with that quickly, efficiently, and getting back on track.  So the next time you hit a sticking point…know that’s when champions are made…not when it’s going well.  Because even great boxing champs get knocked out once and you never see them at the top again.  But the greatest come back time and again!

Battle in the Barn

by Eric Todd

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
2nd ANNUAL BATTLE IN THE BARN

Warning signs as you enter the gym!

On October 19, ET’s House of Iron and Stone will play host to the 2nd annual “Battle in the Barn”.  The following events will be contested:

Cyr Press
Dumbbell to the Shoulder
People’s Deadlift
Dinnie Lift  

I feel our gym has one of the best environments for an Old Time Strongman meet.  While our “barn” has more the appearance of half a giant tin can than what most would visualize when you say barn, I would argue that many of the conditions are similar to the barns that many old timers would train and compete in back in the day. It is a place to get strong.  Period.   

There are no frills.  There is iron, and lots of it.   Some of it is rusty.  There is a large collection of strongman equipment.  In the summer, it is hot.  In the winter we have a couple of wood stoves to help take the edge off.  We can usually get it up to 35-40 degrees in there for our weekend workouts.  If you want something to drink, bring it with you.  We don’t have running water.  So, if nature calls, find a nice spot outside where the Johnson’s can’t see you, or walk out back to the outhouse.  The TP is in the ammo box. So, come on out.  It should be a fun day of lifting and camaraderie.  I am doing the awards a bit differently this year.  We are doing top 3 by formula as well as top 3 by total weight lifted.  This way we reward the pound for pound as well as top weight moved.  Maybe we will break a record or two after the meet.  I know that I will be attempting to break the neck lift record for the Guinness book that day.  Hope to see you there.

ENTRY FORM (PDF):  Battle in the Barn II

New Rulebook Available!

by Al Myers

USAWA Rulebook 7th Edition

A new, updated USAWA Rulebook is now available.  It is located on the website, under the top heading “Rulebook”. It is available as a pdf download, or available in hard copy form which can be ordered from the USAWA online store.

This is the 7th Edition of the USAWA Rulebook.  Since 2009 there has been an updated Rulebook available every year based on the rule changes that occurred at the Annual Meeting. Before that there were only 2 Rulebooks printed in the previous 20 years plus. The current Rulebook is always the one to follow in terms of the current rules and regulations of the USAWA.  This year only one new official  USAWA lift was added – the Old Time Strongman Lift the Hackenschmidt Floor Press.  The major changes in the Rulebook were the addition of two sections – Official Scoring and National Championships Guidelines.  Both of these sections were very warranted as they contain several of the previous “unwritten rules” of the USAWA, and everyone knows how I dislike unwritten rules!  An appendix was also added which contains the Lynch Factor Chart, weigh-in forms, and meet scoresheets.  The USAWA Bylaws are also included in this Rulebook.

I also added a few new pictures to our great Rulebook.  I feel very good about the progress our Rulebook has made over these past few years.  It is still far from perfect, but at least now when problems are addressed as they occur and decisions are made to rectify the situation – it happens.  I always welcome comments from the membership concerning questions or misunderstanding of statements in the Rulebook if they appear to be confusing.  Only through this diligence can the Rulebook continue to be improved!

Phumchaona Lift

by Al Myers

Noi Phumchaona performing a Clean and Press at the 1999 IAWA World Championships in Australia.

The USAWA is full of odd and weird all round lifts.  Some have been performed rarely – and some NEVER!  Well, at my Dino Days Record Days one of these lifts was performed for USAWA Record for the first time.  It took someone as odd as the lift itself to finally make this happen in the USAWA (and that is supposed to be a compliment!). Anyone with normal sense would have passed on attempting this lift for record.

Jesse Jobe, of the Jobe’s Steel Jungle, performed a Phumchaona Lift of 840 pounds.  This is the FIRST and ONLY record lift established in the Phumchaona Lift. I appreciate lifters like Jesse bringing recognition to the “less popular” lifts in the USAWA by performing them in record days.  If you look hard in the Rule Book and compare it to the Record List you will find there are a few other USAWA lifts that have never been performed for record.  I know which ones they are – but I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the ones!

The Phumchaona Lift was named after Noi Phumchaona, the most celebrated female USAWA lifter in history.  Noi was the OVERALL BEST LIFTER at the USAWA Nationals four times (2002, 1999, 1998, & 1997).  She was married to the legendary Hall of Famer Howard Prechtel.  Together they made a dynamic husband/wife duo, and their presence was at most every major competition during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Together they have more USAWA/IAWA Championships than any other husband/wife combo in the history of our organization. The Phumchaona Lift is an official lift of the USAWA only (not an IAWA lift).

The rules for the Phumchaona Lift are as follows:

I14. Phumchaona Lift

This lift combines a Hip Lift and a Clean and Press with two dumbbells. The rules of the Hip Lift and Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells apply with these exceptions. The lifter gets in position for a Hip Lift holding two dumbbells at arms’ length by the sides. The dumbbells may be cleaned and pressed before, during, or after the Hip Lift. Any combination of movements is allowed. The only command from an official during this lift will be a command to end the lift when both the Hip Lift and the Clean and Press with two dumbbells are completed.

As you can see, this is a extremely difficult lift which combines a heavy lift and a dumbbell lift.  It is definitely a “one of a kind” lift.  The interesting thing is that there is not a documented case of Noi actually performing this lift.  I have done some research on when this lift originated – and I am at a dead end. I even went to the effort of contacting several of the “long in the tooth” USAWA members to give me input for this story,  and I’ve only received one email response back in which he didn’t have anything to add.  So this makes the Phumchaona Lift an all-round mystery for now.

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

BY DAVE GLASGOW

THE WEIGHTROOMS POWER RACK, COMPLETE WITH A GOOD STUMP TO SQUAT TO.

I ENJOY PRIVATE GYMS THE MOST.  MOST PERSONAL GYMS I HAVE BEEN IN HAVE THAT ‘LIVED IN’ FEELING.  THEY ALL HAVE A PERSONALITY OF THEIR OWN.  SOME OF THE MORE RECENT ONES I HAVE BEEN IN ARE FLOYD TRAUB, THOM VAN VLECK AND, OF COURSE, THE MECCA OF THEM ALL, AL’S DINO GYM.

THEY ARE ALL AS YOU WOULD EXPECT FROM THEIR OWNERS.  FLOYD’S SMALL, CONCISE, BASIC.   THOMS IS SMALL BUT CRAMMED WITH LIFTING EQUIPMENT FROM THE PAST AND PRESENT, ALONG WITH MEMORABILIA OF TIMES PAST.  AL’S IS SO JAMMED WITH ITEMS THAT IT IS SOMETIMES HARD TO GET AROUND WHEN THERE IS LIFTING GOING ON!

I SUPPOSE I DIDN’T THINK ABOUT IT UNTIL THOM CAME HOME WITH ME A COUPLE WEEKS AGO FOR A QUICK ‘LOOK SEE’ OF MY PLACE.  WHILE THERE, I NOTICED HIM TAKING A VIDEO OF THE YEAR OLD WEIGHT ROOM I HAVE IN MY TWO YEAR OLD SHOP (YEAH, I’M BRAGGIN’, JUST A LITTLE!).  I WONDERED AT THE TIME WHY HE DID IT BUT I DID’NT SAY ANYTHING TO HIM AT THE TIME.  MAYBE HE WAS PLANNING TO STEAL MY IDEAS!!!

THIS NEW WEIGHT ROOM IS THE CULMINATION OF DECADES OF PRIOR WEIGHTROOMS I HAVE HAD MY STUFF IN.  I TRIED TO COUNT THE PLACES A COUPLE TIMES AND I FINALLY SETTLED ON ELEVEN DIFFERENT SPOTS THAT I COULD RECALL.  THERE HAVE BEEN BARNS, BASEMENTS(ONE IN PARTICULAR REMINDS ME OF A STORY, BUT THAT IS FOR A LATTER TIME), AN OLD V.F.W. HALL, TWO GARAGES, A FORMER BAR (NOW DOJO), WELL, YOU GET THE DRIFT.  JUST ABOUT ANY PLACE THAT SOMEBODY WITH SOME ROOM WOULD LET ME HANG MY HAT. THE UNIQUE THING ABOUT EACH OF THESE DOMAINS WAS THAT EACH HAD THERE OWN LITTLE QUIRKS AND NUANCES.  I HAVE MEMORIES OF EACH OF THESE PLACES THAT I WILL CHUCKLE AT TO THIS DAY.  THE ONE THAT MAKES ME SMILE THE MOST, HOWEVER, INVOLVED MY BOY, DEREK.

WHEN WE HAD THE WEIGHTS IN THE OLD V.F.W. HALL, IT WAS RIGHT NEXT TO A CONVENIENCE STORE.  NOW, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, MY BOY NEVER GAVE TWO HOOTS ABOUT WEIGHTLIFTING (HE WAS 6-7 AT THE TIME), HE DID, HOWEVER, LOVE A SOFT DRINK CALLED ‘CLEARLY CANADIAN’.  IF HE KNEW I WAS HEADED OUT TO LIFT, HE WOULD WANT TO TAG ALONG.  HE WOULD WATCH ME FOR THE HOUR AND A HALF THAT I WORKED OUT, ENTERTAINING HIMSELF IN WHATEVER WAY HE COULD.  THEN, WHEN I WAS FINISHED, HE WOULD RUN TO TURN THE LIGHTS OFF AND HEAD FOR THE DOOR.  ABOUT HALF WAY ACROSS THE PARKING LOT, I WOULD HEAR, “DAD, CAN WE GET A CLEARLY CANADIAN?”  IT MAKES ME A LITTLE MISTY EYED TO THINK OF IT BUT HE NEVER FAILED TO GET WHAT HE CAME FOR AND I GOT A CHRISHED MEMORY I  WILL CARRY TILL THE END.  I EVEN TOOK TO MAKING SURE I HAD THE MONIES ENOUGH TO SNAG A COUPLE DRINKS BEFORE I LEFT THE HOUSE EACH TIME.

THE MOST ACTIVE OF THE PREVIOUS DOMICILES WAS IN THE GARAGE OF THE FIRST HOUSE GUNN AND I OWNED.  IT HAD A DIRT FLOOR UNTIL I SAVED UP ENOUGH TO PUT A CONCRETE FLOOR IN IT.  WE ALSO HAD A WOOD STOVE THAT WOULD RUN YOU OUT OF THE PLACE!!   IN THE SUMMER, HOWEVER,  WE WERE ON OUR OWN!!  WE HAD 5 OR 6 GUYS AT ANY ONE TIME AND I LOOKED FORWARD TO EACH SESSION DUE TO THE COMMERADERIE THAT IT PRODUCED.  MOST OF THE GUYS WERE FOOTBALL PLAYERS FROM THE LOCAL COLLEGE BUT WE HAD CONSTRUCTION WORKERS AND OTHER HANGERS ON THAT MADE FOR A ROWDY MIX!

LOCATING THE WEIGHT ROOM IN A DOJO GOT US SOME STRANGE LOOKS AND I LAUGHED MORE THAN ONCE WHEN WE WOULD BE LIFTING AT THE SAME TIME TAE KWON DO CLASSES WERE ABOUT TO START.  THERE WOULD BE LAUGHING, JOKING AND GENERAL ‘GRAB ASSING’ FROM THE STUDENTS UNTIL THEY SAW WE WERE THERE, THEN IT WOULD GET VERY QUET!!!  I HAVE NO IDEA WHY!??

THE ONE THAT CAUSED THE MOST UP-ROAR, HOWEVER, WAS WHEN WE PUT MY GEAR IN A BUDDY’S GARAGE.  HE HAD A THREE BAY SET UP THAT WE WOUND UP USING TWO OF THE BAYS.  THIS CAUSED ALL KINDS OF HELL FROM MY PAL’S WIFE, BECAUSE YOU CAN GUESS WHO’S STALL GOT TAKEN!!  MY PAL WAS A COP, AND HIS REASONING WAS BECAUSE, ONE, HE NEEDED TO STAY IN SHAPE FOR HIS JOB AND, TWO, THERE WAS NO WAY HE COULD LEAVE HIS UNDER COVER COP CAR ON THE STREET!!!  WHICH MEANT HER CAR WAS LEFT OUT IN ALL SORTS OF WEATHER, AND, SEEING AS SHE HAD TO LEAVE FOR WORK VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING, MADE FOR SOME TENSE SITUATIONS!!   I LAUGH AS I WRITE THIS BECAUSE KATHY DIRECTLY BLAMED YOURS TRULY FOR THE INVASION OF “HER SPACE”!  TO MY KNOWLEDGE, SHE STILL HARBORS A CASE OF THE ASS TOWARD ME!!!  (ALTHOUGH, AFTER 25 YEARS, I AM SURE IT IS MOSTLY TONGUE IN CHEEK.)

WHEN THE NEW WEIGHT ROOM WAS BUILT, I KNEW IT WOULD HAVE A FEW STORIES OF IT’S OWN BEFORE IT WAS OVER.  POSSIBLY, THE BEST STORY THAT WILL BE TOLD IS HOW A COUPLE COLLEGE BUDDIES GOT TOGETHER TO BUILD WHAT I HAD ALWAYS DREAMED OF.  I WILL NOT RECOUNT THAT STORY BUT I, MOST CERTAINLY WOULD NOT HAVE IT WERE IT NOT FOR FLOYD TRAUB.  HOW DO YOU REPAY SOMEONE FOR KINDNESSES SUCH AS THAT?? UNLESS THERE IS SOME NATURAL DISASTER, THIS WILL BE THE FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR MY EQUIPMENT. 

BEING A SENTAMENTAL SORT, I CAN’T HELP BUT HONOR ALL THOSE PLACES THAT I HAVE USED FOR MY WEIGHTS AND THE GUYS THAT SHARED THE WORKOUT TIME WITH ME.  I ALSO REMEMBER THE NAME WE GAVE TO THE FIRST PLACE.  SO, TO RECOGNIZE THE PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT HAVE MADE MY WORKOUTS MEMORABLE FOR ALMOST FOUR DECADES, I NAME THIS FINAL WEIGHTROOM, ‘SCRAPIRON WEIGHTHOUSE-#12’, THE CROWN JEWEL OF THE LEDAIG HEAVY ATHLETICS TRAING FACILITY.

My Visit to Ledaig Heavy Athletics

by Thom Van Vleck

Banner that hangs in the Ledaig gym

Recently I got to make my first trip to Ledaig since Dave built his new facility.  This is Dave Glasgow’s family gym.  I say family gym because it belongs to his whole family.  You drive down that road and it’s hard to figure out which “Glasgow” to stop at as each mailbox has that name on it. But if you know Dave and he counts you as a  friend, then you are family, too!  This sits on some family property about 30 miles from Wichita, Kansas but really miles away from anyone!  It is near Rainbow Bend, Kansas and if you can find that then you are right up there with Columbus and Magellan as an explorer.  Dave used to train in a round metal tank that would literally roast you on a hot day.  The frame for the gym was put up years ago, I believe Dave’s Dad had built a metal frame and never finished it.  Dave got it done and there is a gym, shop and garage housed in the large building.  You could park a dozen cars in there if it were cleared out, but Dave has a quarter sectioned off for the gym that is walled in and the rest is full of tools, cars, and projects!

Dave Glasgow cutting some steel rod in his gym to make stakes for Highland Games trigs.

I have been to many gyms overthe years and to me my favorites also include other “manly” pursuits.  My Uncle Phil has a reloading room attached to his gym.  Al Myers has a full scale metal shop in his gym.  Randy Richey (http://www.usawa.com/omega-force-christian-strongman-team/) has one of the coolest gyms I’ve ever seen with the a massive metal shop.   Hard to believe anyone could top Al’s gym, but Randy just might! I can’t top those guys but my gym has a workshop as well. Dave has entered the fray with a huge workshop area with the ability to cut, weld, and shape metal along with working on the two antique corvettes parked in his gym.

Some old school Eleiko bumpers at Ledaig

Another hallmark of a cool gym in my book is to have historical and cool things to lift.  Ledaig has many things, old and new to lift.  I was especially salivating over his Eleiko plates.  They are old and well used, but still cool nonetheless.  Dave has some equipment that he has used for many, many years in his gym and you can just feel the positive “mojo” in there!

If you get a chance to make it to a USAWA meet at Ledaig, it’s worth the journey.  You can fly into Wichita and that gets you close.  But if you drive there just know this:  The cell phone reception is not very good and on more than one occasion I have fielded a call from a lost lifter driving the countryside looking for “Rainbow Bend”.  Be sure you know how to get there!   Because it truly can be one of those places that “you can’t get there from here”!

Boxes for Lifting

by Thom Van Vleck

Boxes of different sizes can be a real plus to any gym.  They can be used for a variety of things.  Let’s look at some of the types.

Squat Boxes

My squat boxes with a 1 inch spacer that I can use to take them from 8" to 25". They are reinforced with a 2x4 frame inside.

Most people think of them for box squats which is what mine probably get used for the most.  I prefer to NOT do the box squats where you actually sit down on the box, but instead use mine to gauge depth.  But that debate is for another article.  These boxes aren’t always the strongest because they typically aren’t used to drop weight on.  Mine are strong enough to hold someone standing on them plus weight, but not drop the weight.  I made mine so that one box could be flipped on a side for a different height (I stole that idea from Al Myers….who probably stole it from someone else).  I have used mine for setting weights on to allow for different starting heights, as plyo boxes, and for many other things over the years.  They are just handy to have!

My "Jerk Boxes" that Al Myers made for me. These are made of metal and are a fixed height.

Jerk  (High) Boxes

These boxes are built with the intent of dropping the weight on them.  They need to be super durable.  I have some high ones that Al Myers made me that I asked for after injuring my should trying to “catch” a heavy push press.  Al made them….then liked them so much he made some for himself.  They have a thick sheet of rubber on them as well.  The High “Jerk” boxes I have are a steel frame with wooden platform on top.  They are usually made of wood.  Mine set high enough from me to do push presses and Jerks while standing over them.  I can also take squats out of them but from a low position. Usually these have a way to makes some adjustments on them, mine were custom for my height.

Pull (Low) Boxes

These are 3"-6" short solid wood boxes. They are stackable up to 9" for the Peoples Deadlift.

These boxes are also built with the intent of dropping weights on them.  In this case they are low for doing pulls and are built very strongly for dropping the heaviest of weights.  I have 4 boxes.  Two are 3″ thick and the other two are 6″ thick.  I can stack them and make them 9″ or the same as a People’s Deadlift.  Mine are scrap boards sandwiched with plywood and rubber matting.  I put handles on them to make them easy to move.  They are solid wood glued and screwed together.

Other “Boxes”.

There are many things you could use to achieve the same purpose and often it can mean re-purposing other objects.   If you are like me, you will find many other uses for these boxes in your training than what they were first built for.  This is especially true as I get older but at the same time as my kids train more and more I find them coming up with creative ways to use the boxes (and not all of it involves lifting…but that’s okay, too!).