Posts belonging to Category USAWA Daily News



Joe the Turk Meet POSTPONED!

by Thom Van Vleck

The Joe the Turk meet set for the Macomb Salvation Army Gym for this weekend has been postponed due to a terrible flood in the gym.  They are still cleaning up and the decision was made to postpone the meet.   Updates will be given regarding a “make up date” at a later time.

Here is a story on the devastation and how you can help our brothers and sisters out!

Last fall I went over to help judge a meet in Macomb, Illinios.  It was the “Macomb Fall Record Breakers” meet and was being put on my Tim Piper.  Tim needed some help and I was glad to help out.  He was also donating some weights to the weightlifting club I am the staff adviser for at the University I work at (the Osteoblasters Weightlifting Club).  I had never been to the Salvation Army Gym in Macomb and was quite pleased when I got there!  It was “Old School” with tons of old equipment, platforms to do “REAL” lifting off of, and tons of trophies and pictures from some 40 years of operation.  It was a gym that any USAWA member would have loved to train in and every “Planet Fitness” members nightmare!  The “Salvation Army Gym” is also a USAWA official club and are currently in good standing.  That’s why it was such sad news to hear that the recent heavy rains had flooded the gym which is located in the basement of the local Salvation Army.

At least 2 feet of water filled the gym!

There were plenty of pictures on facebook but sometimes when you have been somewhere you can appreciate just how bad something is.  This particular club had a huge number of photos that went from floor to ceiling in some areas and a lot of equipment that ended up under water.   Here are some photos to give you a “before” and “after” perspective.

Here is a "before photo" with Tim Piper spotting Whitney.

The same corner of the gym underwater!

The clean up has begun and the water has been pumped out.  I understand they are taking photos that were water damaged and trying to scan them to make new ones.  There will no doubt be a lot of work left to do and I’m unsure if there was any insurance.  Most insurance won’t pay for flooding anyway unless you have a special flood policy and most don’t as it’s expensive and I’m sure a Salvation Army couldn’t afford it.

The water has been pumped out, leaving a huge mess!

Keep these guys in your thoughts and prayers.  This isn’t some fancy, high dollar gym….it’s a Salvation Army!  If you can help them out by either providing labor or sending a donation I’m sure it would be appreciated!  This gym needs to go on as it provides a workout area for many who couldn’t afford it otherwise.  It’s the type of place I got started in when I couldn’t afford the fancy gym membership!  I’m sure many of you can relate.  Plus, Tim and Dawn are such great people who work so hard to bring meets and weight training to others.  Let’s help’em out!  You can send a donation to Tim Piper at: Tim Piper, 15401 E. 1750th Street, Macomb, IL 61455 or you can call him at 309 221 0276.

Wilbur Miller

by Al Myers

Wilbur Miller pulling a 725# deadlift in York in 1965 (above), and then close to 50 years later pulling a 457# deadlift in 2012 at the Dino Gym (below).

Anyone involved with the All-Rounds in the midwest knows “the name” of Wilbur Miller.   I am very fortunate to know Wilbur personally, and he has been to my gym several times now.  He is an ICON amongst past strength athletes in the state of Kansas, and if I was voting,  I would vote him as the GREATEST ALL ROUND STRENGTH ATHLETE ever from the state of Kansas.  I know that’s saying alot, as there have been several others worthy of this distinction as well.  The reason I’m “putting my vote” on Wilbur is his diversity in strength and how he excelled in each discipline, whether it was Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting,  Grip, or All Round.  Recently, Wilbur was at the Dino Gym when some of the guys were doing Strongman, and he  commented to me how he wished that was around when he was younger.  I’m betting if it was, and Wilbur competed in Strongman – he would have excelled in that as well!

I’m glad to see Wilbur back into “action” in the USAWA.   The USAWA has alot to thank Wilbur Miller for.  He was a big part of the “grassroot movement” that started the USAWA and the IAWA.  At the time (late 60’s to mid 80’s), there were no organized associations for All Round Weightlifting like we have now with the USAWA, and the only option for this type of lifting (then known primarily as Odd Lifting) was within the Missouri Valley Region IV by Bill Clark promotions.  Wilbur often took part in these, and set at the time many Region IV records.   These records did not transfer into the modern day USAWA record book.   But if they did – many of Wilbur’s records would STILL be standing.

A little over a year ago, Thom Van Vleck wrote a nice biography about Wilbur for MILO (December 2011, Volume 19, Number 3).   I’ve told Thom that I thought this was one of his best Milo stories ever, but I know I am biased because of the respect I have for Wilbur and what he has done for All Round Weightlifting.  I want to highlight just a few of the things that Thom revealed about Wilbur in that story. However, if you are interested I recommend you order that issue of MILO, and it is worth it just for Thom’s story alone.

Wilbur was born in 1932 in Cimarron, Kansas.   That is the reason he acquired the nickname of “the Cimarron Kid”.  He was a gifted High School athlete – excelling in all sports.  It’s hard to believe but Wilbur ran the mile in Highschool.  He ran a best of 4 minutes, 33.6 seconds. In the state finals, he placed third behind two runners, Wes Santee and Billy Tidwell, who both went on to International Fame as World Class milers (that tidbit of trivia was not in Thom’s story, but rather told to me by Bill Clark).  Wilbur became interested in lifting at the age of 23, after injuring his back in a horse riding accident.  What started out  as physical therapy to recover from an injury turned into passion that lead to lifting greatness!  Wilbur was always known for having outstanding technique.  Thom titled his MILO story this way “Wilbur Miller: Lifting Perfection” because Wilbur was well-known for having perfect lifting technique.  Wilbur had a “story book” lifting career that propelled him into the Powerlifting Hall of Fame and the Weightlifting Hall of Fame.  My feeling is the only thing missing is that he should also be in the All Round (USAWA)  Hall of Fame!  After all, it was lifters like him (and a few others) that set the “groundwork” for the future of the USAWA.  Wilbur stills trains on York bars and plates that he purchased when he was a young man. I have a picture displayed in the Dino Gym that is “personally autographed” by Wilbur.  It is one of my favorites.  One of the reasons for this is that is because the bar is “fully loaded” with straps holding the plates on because there wasn’t enough room for the collars!  At the time the main plates available were Deep Dish York 45’s with wide-flanged rims which took up a lot of room on the bar.  Thom made this comment in his story which I think is worth repeating, “Some have claimed that the reason York quit making the deep-dish 4 and went to a thinner, sleeker version was because of Wilbur’s ability to max out the amount of weight on the bar with his monster deadlifts.”   Thom then went onto to say, “How would you like to be the reason the biggest maker of weights in the US had to change its design!”

This is that "autographed picture" in the Dino Gym that shows the plates loaded to the end of the bar!

Wilbur’s best lifts in competition were: 725# deadlift, 320# clean and press, 320# snatch (split-style), and a 385# clean and jerk.  Wilbur often competed in the 240-250 lb bodyweight range, which often put him as very light heavyweight because this was at the time that the heavyweight class started at 110 kilograms.  He often gave up over 100 pounds bodyweight to his competitors!  His 725 pound deadlift was an All Time Deadlift record at the time, and was done in 1965 in York, Pennsylvania.  He weighed 245 pounds in that meet.  I did some research on his best All Round lifts and this is what I found from an old Region VI Missouri Valley Record List.  Below is just a few of his records at the time:

LIFT RECORD
Middle Fingers Deadlift 320 pounds  (1983)
Hack Lift 650 pounds (1963)
Jefferson Lift 650 pounds (1963)
2-Dumbbell Deadlift 520 pounds (1984)
Strict Curl 180 pounds (1964)
Abdominal Raise 105 pounds (1962)
Miller Clean and Jerk 135 pounds (1979)

That last lift mentioned, the Miller Clean and Jerk, was named after Wilbur by Bill Clark in 1979.  It is that “dreaded lift” where a Clean and Jerk is performed by the middle fingers only!  It is a very painful lift!   Someday I will get Wilbur to demonstrate this lifted named after him for a picture.  I asked him to do it for me this past year, but he said it’s been awhile since he did it and he wanted to “train it” for a while before the photo op! I bet he’ll match his “bar and two plates’ for me like he did over 30 years ago!!!

Wilbur Miller (left) and USAWA President Denny Habecker (right) at the 2012 Dino Gym Challenge.

Wilbur currently has 7 records in the USAWA.  Like I said, those earlier Mo-Valley records didn’t carry over so these are records he has set recently.  All of them are in the 75-79 age group, 100-105 kg weight class.  I would like to see the lifter that can break these marks!!!

LIFT RECORD
12″ Base Deadlift 457 pounds (100kg class)
12″ Base Deadlift 450 pounds (105kg class)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip 397 pounds (100kg class)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip 350 pounds (105kg class)
Deadlift – Heels Together 419 pounds (100kg class)
Deadlift – Heels Together 400 pounds (105kg class)
12″ Base Squat 320 pounds (100kg class)

I have MANY MORE things and stories I could tell about Wilbur here, but I don’t want my story to be longer than the one Thom did for MILO (another reminder – BUY that issue!).  I want to close this by saying a few words about Wilbur as a person.  He is an extremely modest and humble person and it takes a bit to get him to talk about his accomplishments in the lifting game.   It is very obvious that he truly loves weightlifting and the people involved in it.  When he’s been at the Dino Gym, he’s “all smiles” and just loves to be part of day.  He’s always offering words of encouragement to the other lifters. In today’s world of BIG EGOS and SELF PROMOTERS, there are  few around anymore like Wilbur Miller who lifts  for the “love of the sport”.  I consider him a great weightlifting role model and I try everyday to have the attitude and character that he has shown.

Choosing Indian Clubs

by Roger LaPointe

Roger and a couple of his BIG Indian Clubs!

Boy oh, boy.  I am so glad the new web site is up and running.  Now I can start addressing some of the most popular questions. If you have not been to look at the Atomic Athletic web site recently, here is a link:  http://www.atomicathletic.com/

#1 QUESTION: What size Indian Clubs should I buy?

Atomic Athletic has a full supply and selection of Indian Clubs.

Obviously, if you are a 100 pound woman, you will be using clubs smaller than what a 300 pound man is going to use.  However, I can give you some advice that will apply, regardless of your basic strength level.

1. Everyone needs to learn technique.  Start smaller than what you think you will ultimately work up to using.  Just because you regularly use 50 pound dumbbells, does not mean that you can use a 50 pound Indian club.  In fact, I would say that the ratio is more like 4:1.  I will use 100 pound dumbbells for some exercises, but I don’t use anything heavier than 24 pounds as a club.

2. Roger, you use 24 Pound Persian Meel type Indian clubs, so do you still use lighter clubs?  Yes.  I start every workout with an antique pair of 1 1/2 Pound wooden clubs.  I work up from there.  Just like dumbbells, you would do different exercises with 10 pounders and 100 pounders, but both are useful, even within the same workout.

3. Based on my body size, how heavy will I be able to go with Indian Clubs?  Well, I am 5′3” & 160 pounds and I can use up to the 24 Pound Meels, but I have met 300 pound guys who can’t do much of anything with 12 Pound Meels – until they have learned the technique.  I have also worked with some women, who have great technique that can use 12 Pound Meels as well as doing an hour with 2 Pound HIP Clubs.  So, take that for what it is.

The Hub Lift Clean & Press

by Al Myers

James Fuller hub lifting an Old-style York Deep-Dish 45 lb plate, then cleaning and pressing it!

Last month at Frank’s Barbell Record Breakers  James Fuller did something that really impressed me.  Most of us know James by his secret forum identity only (61pwcc , ok – it’s not a secret anymore!!).  I first met him at the Heavy Lift Championships in York, PA in 2011.  James epitomizes an all rounder – he is constantly thinking of different lifting movements to incorporate into his daily training.  He is interested in ALL TYPES of strength.  Just watch some of his YouTube Videos of his training in his dungeon and you’ll see what I’m talking about!

Now what did he do that impressed me so much?  Well – even though he did several spectacular record lifts that wasn’t it. In fact, this strength feat was done as an exhibition lift that is not an official lift of the USAWA and thus is not a record of any kind.   It was him hub lifting an old style deep-dish York 45 plate, then cleaning it, and finishing off by pressing it.  That’s quite a grip feat.  James commented in the forum by saying, “I hub lifted one of Frank’s York Deep Dish 45’s and he in turn used MY York Deep Dish 45’s that I just got. Been wanting to Hub Clean & Press a 45er for awhile.”

I have a old York deep-dish 45 in the Dino Gym, and I’ve only seen a few lifters even lift it up by the hub.  I consider that a great grip feat and definitely puts a person in a “class of their own”.  Performing a Clean & Press by the hub is just unreal!  I just hope James shows up at the Heavy Lift Champs this spring in Walpole, as I’ll try to talk him into repeating this effort so I can see it first-hand!

REMINDER – Joe the Turk Meet

by Tim Piper

The date is quick approaching for the “Joe the Turk” OTSM meet in Macomb IL.  Because I know you are all going to need to refuel at the meet the Salvation Army will be selling lunch at the meet.  They haven’t decided what they will sell yet but last meet we hosted they had pulled pork and homemade cookies and brownies.  All the funds go directly to supporting the Salvation Army programs and they typically sell for FAR TOO LITTLE in my opinion. 

 We have our unique awards already in and I think they will be not only interesting but useful as well. 

Please send entries soon so they can plan their food purchases.  Hope to see you all there.

Ronnie Coleman vs. Roy Mason

by Al Myers

The other day on Facebook I saw this YouTube Video for the first time.  Actually I was surprised I hadn’t seen it before as I like to watch YouTube Videos of any type of lifting. It featured an unlikely duo competing in a deadlifting competition   - Ronnie Coleman and Roy Mason.  EVERYONE knows 8-TIME Mr. Olympia (1998-2005) Ronnie Coleman, but I bet just a few have heard of the elder deadlifting machine Roy Mason.  I’m going to start this story off with the video (which you MUST WATCH) as a teaser, then I’ll give a little USAWA history lesson as it applies to both of these great strength athletes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeGZOmtXpBU&feature=player_embedded

Under the caption of this video you will notice that mention was made that this was Ronnie Coleman’s first powerlifting competition. I have no idea how many more he ever did as his future in Bodybuilding fame was about to ignite.  He sure looked the part in that meet.  Also, you will notice by the date of the video the meet was contested on 1/29/1994.  You may ask “what’s the significance of that?” . Well, to most “not much” except if you are interested in the history of the USAWA, then it becomes a very important trivia question that you can quiz your workout partners on during an evening training session.  That meet was the Fourth Annual Texas Deadlift Classic held in Alvarado, Texas directed by the famed All Rounder Joe McCoy and SANCTIONED THRU THE USAWA! I checked back through old memberships rosters and Ronnie Coleman is indeed listed as a USAWA member for that year of 1994.  This was also the only USAWA meet that he competed in. His 728# deadlift from that meet is listed as the overall record in the 12″ base deadlift for the 120kg class.  It is the TOP 12″ base deadlift listed in the USAWA record list.  This came from the meet report published in the Strength Journal, “All lifts were done with the 12 inch maximum heel spacing and done with two hands.  All were judged by USAWA officials Howard Prechtel, Noi Phumchaona, Bob Cox, Phil Anderson, and Joe McCoy.”  After watching this video, I would question “how much” the 12 inch heel spacing was really adhered to – but I’ll let you make your own decisions on that!!

Now onto the story of Roy Mason and his ties to the USAWA.  Credit to getting Roy involved in the USAWA goes to Joe McCoy.  This was said by Bill Clark in an edition of a 1994 Strength Journal, “Roy Mason is a deadlifting wonder. At the age of 76, he beats most men 40 years younger in the regular deadlift.  The Red Wing, Minnesota resident has long thrilled powerlifting crowds with his rare ability. Joe McCoy has twice brought Roy to the platform in sanctioned exhibitions to join the USAWA record list – and Roy has done so in amazing fashion.  Roy not only lifts amazing poundages, but he preaches a sermon and excites the crowd as he lifts.” 

Roy Mason currently holds 3 individual USAWA records: 485 lbs. in the 12″ base deadlift in the 75 age group/70 kg class from the meet in the video (this is ALSO an overall record in the 70 kilogram class -  SIMPLY AMAZING!) and a record in the middle fingers deadlift of 237 lbs. in the 75 age/70 kg BWT class from a meet on 4/10/1994.  He also holds one TEAM RECORD.  This was done after the deadlift competition from the video in which he teamed up with Bill Decker to pull a Two-man Deadlift of 661 pounds in the 75 age group/75 KG BWT class.  This was covered in a past blog I wrote ( http://www.usawa.com/summary-of-usawa-team-records/) and contains a great picture of their record setting effort, which is a record that I think will be a long  while before anyone EVER BREAKS.  Following that Texas Deadlift Classic, Roy also performed these finger deadlifts for exhibition:  330.5 lbs. in the two fingers deadlift (ring and middle), 381.5 lbs. in the three fingers deadlift (no thumb or little fingers), and finally 463 lbs. in the deadlift with all but the little fingers.

Roy Mason's book, "The Life of a Truck-Driver Preacher and Weight Lifter for Christ".

I first met Roy in the mid-90’s when he stopped at our gym in Salina to give an evangelistic strength performance.  Roy Mason spent his life as a long haul truck driver and traveling evangelist spreading the word of Christianity. He used his God-given deadlifting skills to reinforce his testimony.  Certainly he made an impact on everyone in the room while he delivered his message -  and we listened in awe.   He was a gifted speaker and had a high degree of modesty.  I never remember him once bragging (or even mentioning) his lifting accomplishments during his testimony. As he went across the country on his truck runs, he would stop at many places along the way to spread his Christian beliefs.  I bought his book, “The Life of a Truck-Driver Preacher and Weightlifter for Christ” on that day and I have read it several times since then. These are some of Roy’s words from  the introduction of his book,” I am very proud to be called the truck-driver preacher.  I consider it a great honor that God has called me to be a spokesman of his. Also, what a privilege to proclaim the word of God to each and everyone that I am privileged to meet.”   His book contains a reflection of his life experiences, interactions he had with other people he met giving his testimonies,  and how it all has affected him spiritually. He spends very little time in his book talking about his weight lifting accomplishments, and it’s only at the very end.  I have no idea if this book of his is still available.  It’s a simple book with no color photos and bound with a plastic binder, but a great source of Christian inspiration.

However, I already knew of Roy’s great lifting accomplishments when I heard him speak.  When I started lifting in the early 80’s I remember reading his name from National Masters Powerlifting Championship meet results and other big meets and his unbelievable deadlifts at an age of over 60.  I’ll never forget seeing him on the cover of the July, 1986 issue of POWERLIFTING USA.  In that U.S.P.F. National Masters, he deadlifted 562 pounds at 68 years of age!!  I had to do “some digging” but I found that issue of PL USA so I could include that “cover shot”  in this story so you would believe me!

Roy Mason on the cover of July, 1986 issue of POWERLIFTING USA.

Take the time to watch that video again.  I heard Joe McCoy several times yelling encouragement in the background for both lifters. I also think that YouTube Video clip came from a video that was taken by Joe during the meet.   That meet will go down as “one of the classics” in USAWA history.  Thank you Joe McCoy for making it happen. 

Roy Mason died in 2005 at the age of 87 years – but he will not be forgotten.

Congrats to Paula!

by Al Myers

Paula DeLaMata receiving her Sports Scholarship Award for her outstanding weight lifting accomplishments in 2012.

I always like to see lifters get recognition by their local community for their personal accomplishments.  Recently, Paula DeLaMata was awarded the Sports Scholarship Award for her All-Round Weightlifting accomplishments for the year 2012.  This award was given to her on March 21st in East Staffordshire, England.  Anyone who has been involved at all in IAWA knows Paula. Her vibrant  and extremely outgoing personality makes her an “instant hit” at All Round meets.  This, combined with her outstanding lifting, makes her STAND OUT to all the other lifters. She won her class at the  2012 IAWA World All Round Championships last fall in Salina, Kansas.

The local newspaper featured Paula!

This exert came from a local paper, “The evening saw the Burton Albion Football Club Sports Personality of the Year awarded to weightlifter Paula DeLaMata .  Paula has had an amazing year in her sport, winning several major honors, including the IAWA 2012 Open World Championships which were held in Kansas in October.  Paula aims for this year are to defend her world title and maintain her position representing IAWA(UK) in International Competition.”

Congratulations Paula! I think I can speak on behalf of the entire IAWA membership when I say this, WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!

Championship Entry Reminders

by Al Myers

I just want to remind everyone that the entry deadlines for the Heavy Lift Championships and the USAWA National Championships are coming up.   Frank Ciavattone is hosting the 2013 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships on May 4th in Boston, MA  and Denny Habecker is hosting the 2013 USAWA Nationals Championships on June 29 & 30th   in Lebanon, PA. However, both of these MAJOR COMPETITIONS require prior registration to enter so you need to get your entry in by the entry deadline. I know I’ve “harped” on this issue before, but here I go again.  It takes considerable planning and upfront expense to promote a major event and a meet director needs to know in advance how many to “plan the party for”.  I consider it disrespectful to think you can enter at the “last minute” when there is an entry deadline in place.  That’s why I’m reminding everyone of these dates now.

ENTRY DEADLINES

Heavy Lift Championships  – April 19th

National Championships – May 28th

The entry forms for these meets are located in USAWA Future Events on the right column of the website.

WOMEN’S DIFFERENCES

WOMEN ‘S DIFFERENCES

10 Reasons why women shouldn’t train like men

By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

Publisher and Editor in Chief, Journal of Pure Power (JOPP)

Consultant, Body Intellect Sports Performance Enhancement Consortium

I can’t imagine living at a time when people thought that women can’t be medical doctors, lawyers, leaders in government—or athletes. Thanks to Title IX in the United States, women have been able to excel at any sport they desire. But in the desire to receive equal footing with men in sport—and to maintain it—women, coaches, and other sports professionals have almost forgotten one basic fact—women are not men.

So you might say to yourself, “Good one Dan, ain’t that obvious?” Well, of course it is. But that also extends into how women should train for sport because of how they adapt to training. You see, most people assume that if a guy can squat a lot of weight, so can a women, and if a guy trains this way for a big squat, well, so can a woman. I would argue that the point is not whether the woman can train the same way as a guy, rather whether the woman should train the same way—especially if she has max gains in mind.

Though the woman athlete and her coach is at the heart of making training decisions, we shouldn’t be too hard on them for adhering to outdated training principles. The fact is, exercise scientists have just recently begun to investigate in what areas, to what extent, and why women ought not train the same way men do. Basically the way it works is that some athlete or coach generates a hypothesis about how one ought to train. Then scientists test the hypothesis for its merit and degree of truth. If proven true, then the hypothesis gets bumped up to the level of theory, in which case it receives further scrutiny to see in what areas the theory may hold more or less true. So in the case of women vs. men, early thinking was that the bench press is a great exercise for the pecs. Research in men has proved this to be false as other muscles are much more involved in the execution of this lift. But to what extent do these findings hold true in women?

JOPP is, as you know, at the forefront of sharing the latest scientific findings in strength/power sport with its readership. And so this journal has a solid record for bringing women and their coaches up to speed on training issues. To follow, my top 10…

  1. Women fatigue less from an equal amount of weight training than men.
  2. Women lose more strength after a set than men.
  3. Women can demonstrate max power in a wider range of 1-RM (1-rep max, the max amount of weight you can lift once) than men; in the jump squat it’s between 30% to 40% 1-RM for men and between 30% to 50% 1-RM for women.
  4. Hamstring to quad activation ratios are lower in women than men.
  5. Women have a higher sweat threshold than men, meaning their body temperature regulatory mechanisms aren’t as efficient.
  6. Women show less muscle damage after training at the same level of intensity as men.
  7. Women have less passive resistance (kinda like sturdiness) in the ankle muscle-tendon unit than men, contributing to less efficiency and economy in various leg movements.
  8. Women synthesize about 55% less collagen than men, which is related to having smaller tendons, tendons not responding to training as well, and tending to hold higher injury potential then men.
  9. Women can train at a given high intensity, e.g., 90% 1-RM, more frequently than men and make more gains by doing so.
  10. Women show little difference in rest periods between sets of 60, 90, 120, 240, and more seconds, therefore women can rest for as little as 60 seconds between sets for optimal gains—men need much more rest.

That my top 10 list holds important training implications for women is clear. So as in all walks of life, paying attention to scientific developments—and implementing them in your training—is the key to success. And that’s where men and women don’t differ from each other.

HOME EQUIPMENT (THE BEGINNINGS)

BY DAVE GLASGOW

“MY IRONING BOARD!!”, YELLED MY MOM.  “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY IRONING BOARD??!!  DAVID!!  YOU GET DOWN HERE, RIGHT NOW!!!”  EVEN THOUGH I WAS IN MY UPSTAIRS BEDROOM, DOOR SHUT TIGHTLY, I COULD HEAR HER AS THOUGH I HAD ON HEAD PHONES.  SIGHING HEAVILY, I STARTED DOWN THE STAIRS TO MEET MY FATE.  AFTER FIFTY YEARS, A LOT OF WHAT I WAS THINKING HAS LONG SINCE BEEN ERASED FROM MY MEMORY.  WHAT I DO RECALL, HOWEVER, WAS IMPENDING DOOM AND A SUDDEN HOPE THAT I COULD BE TRANSPORTED, INSTANTLY, TO AN ISLAND OF LEPROSY INFECTED CANNIBALS; ANY THING WOULD BE BETTER THAN HAVING TO FACE THE WRATH OF MY, SOMEWHAT, FIREY TEMPERED MOM.

THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THIS SITUATION OCCURRED SOME WEEKS PRIOR.  MY BROTHER, FOURTEEN AT THE TIME, CAME HOME WITH A COPY OF A BODY BUILDING MAGAZINE.  STRIDING THROUGH THE DOOR WITH FIXED PURPOSE, HE SLUNG HIMSELF ON THE COUCH IN OUR FRONT ROOM AND STARTED TO PERUSE THE ARTICLES.  BEING IN CONSTANT AWE OF MY BROTHER, I GRABBED A SEAT NEXT TO HIM.  ALTHOUGH I WAS GREETED WITH A LOOK OF DISGUST, IT DIDN’T DISSUADE MY INTEREST IN WHAT HE WAS LOOKING AT.

MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS, “WHY ARE THE GUYS SO SHINY??”  MY NEXT THOUGHT WAS, “HOLY COW!!  HOW DID THEY GET SO BIG!!”  I KNOW THAT MY BROTHER WAS EQUALLY IMPRESSED AND WE BOTH WERE ‘WOW’ING ALMOST EVER TURNED PAGE.  YOU’D OF THOUGH IT WAS A GIRLY MAGAZINE!!  LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT THIS WAS MY INTRODUCTION INTO A WORLD THAT, UP UNTIL THEN, I NEVER KNEW EXISTED!  A WORLD THAT WOULD BECOME A VERY LARGE PART OF MY LIFE.

AFTER A LITTLE WHILE, I COULD SEE IN MY BROTHERS EYES THAT THE WHEELS WERE TURNING.  HE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID.  “I BET I CAN MAKE A LOT OF THIS STUFF TO WORKOUT WITH.  THEN, WE CAN START WORKING OUT.”  WE??  DID HE SAY WE???  WAS HE GOING TO INCLUDE ME??  WELL, HELL, YEAH!!  LET’S DO IT!!

NOW, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, MY BROTHER WAS THE TYPE PERSON WHO COULD MAKE THINGS FROM SCRATCH, AS HE DID JUST THAT YEAR WHEN HE MADE A BEAUTIFUL CHEST OF DRAWERS IN JUNIOR HIGH.  AS FOR ME, I COULDN’T THEN, AND STILL CAN’T, DRAW A STRAIGHT LINE WITH A RULER.  HOWEVER, I WAS SURE GAME FOR ANY TYPE PROJECT I COULD BE INVOLVED WITH IF IT MEANT SPENDING TIME WITH MY BROTHER!

HAVING SPENT THE FORMATIVE YEARS OF OUR LIVES ON A FARM , WE HAD A VURTUAL CORNECOPIA OF ODDS AND ENDS TO START OUR EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURING PROCESS WITH.  AGAIN, THE YEARS CLOUD THE PICTURE BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE DRILLING RIG WAS A PART OF IT.  AS I RECALL, ONE OF THE STAKES FOR THE GUY WIRES WEIGHTED 40 POUNDS.  THE FIRST TIME I PUT THAT OVERHEAD, I CAME AWAY FEELING AS THOUGH I WERE KING KONG AND ONE BAAAD DUDE!

IT WAS DECIDED WE NEEDED A DUMBBELL (THAT’S WHAT THE BIG BOYS HAD, AFTER ALL!).  LONG STORY SHORT, WE GATHERED UP ENOUGH LEAD TO MAKE A 20 POUND DUMBBELL, ‘ACQUIRED’ A PIECE OF HALF INCH ROD AND WE WERE IN BUSINESS.  FORGET THE FACT THAT WE USED MOM’S STOVE AS THE FORGE AND A COFFEE CAN FOR THE FORM.  YOU ALL ARE NOT STRANGERS TO THIS PROCESS, ARE YOU?! ( I AM QUITE POSITIVE IF OUR FOLKS HAD FOUND OUT THAT LITTLE FACT, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN SANCTIONS FORTHCOMING.)  I WAS GIVEN THE JOB OF ‘EYE-BALLING” THE ROD FOR PLUMB.  WE COOLED THE HOT LEAD WITH A COLD WASH RAG APPLIED  TO THE SIDES OF THE CAN.  IT WAS’NT LONG BEFORE THE FINISHED PRODUCT LAY IN FRONT OF US, AWAITING OUR EAGER ATTENTION.

WELL, I AM QUITE CERTAIN IT WAS MY BROTHER’S IDEA.  SURELY,  I WAS NOTHING MORE THAN AN INNOCENT BYSTANDER, ONE OF THE NAMELESS RABBLE THAT GETS CAUGHT UP IN THIS SORT OF THING.  I DO KNOW THAT, IN THE END, JUST AS MANY INNOCENTS FIND OUT, SOMETIMES THE HANGERS ON SUFFER WITH THE PERPETRATORS.  REGARDLESS, ACCORDING TO THE MAGAZINE, EVERY GOOD GYM HAD AN INCLINE BOARD FOR DOING SITUPS.  YEAH, YOU GUESSED IT.  OUT CAME MOM’S IRONING BOARD.

MOM’S BOARD, WHICH SHE RECEIVED AS A WEDDING PRESENT IN 1947, HAD BEEN A LOYAL AND PROVEN FRIEND UNTIL THIS ONE FAITHFUL DAY IN 1962.  I AM ALSO CONFIDENT THAT THE MANUFACTURERS HAD NOT FACTORED INTO THE DESIGN THEIR BOARD BEING USED AS A PLATOFRM FOR SERIOUS EXERCISE.  OBVIOUSLY, THIS SMALL FACTOR HAD BEEN OVERLOOKED BY THE HEROES OF THIS STORY.

PLACING ONE END OF THE BOARD ON THE COUCH, WE HAD THE PROPER INCLINE.   I WAS GIVEN THE ‘HONOR’ OF BEING THE FIRST TO TRY IT.  NOW, IN 1962, I DOUBT I WEIGHTED 60 POUNDS.  I COMPLETED THE TEST PHASE OF OUR ENDEAVOR WITHOUT INCIDENT.  NOW, IT WAS MY BROTHER’S TURN.  REMEMBER, MY BROTHER WAS FIVE YEARS OLDER THAN ME, AND, WELL, A LOT HEAVIER.  HE MOUNTED THE BOARD, LAID BACK AND BEGAN TO EXERCISE.  HE NO MORE THAN REACHED A POINT WHERE HIS BODY WAS PERPENDICULAR TO THE FLOOR WHEN WE HEARD A LOUD C-R-A-C-K!!  HE IMMEDIATELY LOST SOME ATTITUDE AND I LOOKED IN HORROR AT THE BOARD.  IT WAS NOW BROKEN IN THE MIDDLE, SHOWING ABOUT A THIRTY DEGREE INCLINE OF IT’S OWN!!   OH, MY SWEET JESUS!!!!  GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT MY BROTHER SAID, OR THOUGHT!!

AS HINTED PRIOR, MY BROTHER WAS A PRETY HANDY GUY.  HOWEVER, TRY AS HE MAY, HE COULD NOT GET THAT BOARD BACK TO ANYTHING RESEMBLING FLAT.  AFTER REPEATED TRIES AND NUMEROUS IDEAS, HE (WE) OPTED TO GET IT AS CLOSE TO ORIGINAL AS POSSIBLE, MAKE SURE THE COVER WAS AS SMOOTH AS WE COULD GET IT AND HOPE FOR THE BEST.

WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY. AGAIN, I HAVE TO DEFER TO THE FRAILTY OF AGE AS I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT WAS SAID, WHAT DIRE PUNISHMENT WAS DOLED OUT OR EVEN HOW  I MANAGED TO IMPLICATE MY BROTHER.  THE ONE THING THAT I DO KNOW, FOR SURE, WAS THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY NEVER LIED TO MOM AND DAD.  THIS WAS A LESSON LEARNED THE HARD WAY, BUT ONLY HAD TO BE TAUGHT ONCE.  I SPILLED THE BEANS ABOUT MY PART AND STOOD TO RECEIVE SENTENCE.  I HAD NO CHOICE BUT IMPLICATE MY BROTHER IN THE MISDEED.

FINALLY, THREE THINGS CAME OUT OF THIS INCIDENT.  ONE, WE NEVER DID SIT UPS ON MOM’S BOARD AGAIN.  TWO, DAD GOT MOM A NEW, METAL IRONING BOARD, WHICH, SMOOTHED THE FUR OF MY STLLL, FURIOUS MOM.  THREE, YOURS TRULY GOT HIS ASS BEAT BY AN IRATE BROTHER WHO REFUSED TO ACCEPT OR UNDERSTAND WHY I COULDN’T KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT AND KEEP HIM OUT OF DUTCH!!!

THUS, BEGAN MY FORAY INTO THE WORLD OF IRON, ONE OF THE MORE PRECARIOUS BEGINNINGS ANYWHERE, I AM SURE! 

I HAVE NOT DONE AN INCLINE SIT UP TO THIS DAY…….

Learning the Secret

by Roger LaPointe

The Firestorm Wrist Roller, by Atomic Athletic.

Lost variations of exercises can be your key to success. Because you know the secret, I am going to let you in on this one.  When I stumbled across this variation on wrist roller work, it was one of those DUH moments for me.  You know what I am talking about, when you see something for the first time and say to yourself, “Duh!  Why didn’t I think of that?”

This exercise does not come from an exotic locale, like the Shaolin Temple or a Kushti Wrestling school in Varanasi, but from strange and exotic 1960’s New Jersey.  Of course, to a kid from Michigan, it may as well have been the North Pole. Presented by Professor E. M. Orlick, we have “Series B: Arms Bent and Elbows Held In Against Your Sides”.  Try your wrist roller work with your arms like this.  “Your lower arms must be bent so that they are at right angles to your upper arms and parallel to the floor.” 

If you have one of the Firestorm Wrist Rollers we sell, it should be just long enough for you to have your arms straight out and not crowded in next to the cord in the center.  If you collect wrist rollers, like I do, then you will know how this exercise is virtually impossible to do with the little short red wrist roller that York sold many years ago.  You simply don’t get anything close to a full range of motion in the palms up, bent arm position with a short wrist roller.  Don’t get me wrong, you can do some other interesting things with some of the short wrist rollers, but this is not one of them.

Once you have mastered this movement with a light weight, cut your 10 reps down to 5 reps and really increase the weight.  With your arms in this position, you should be able to do a lot more weight than with the straight arm, palms down position.  In addition to pyramiding the weight, I like to do a set/rep variation in this position that goes from very light weight for 20 reps to very heavy weight where 5 reps may be impossible, then back again, repeating several times.

What a Mug on that Guy

by Roger LaPointe

Portrait of Maurice "The French Angel" Tillet, that hangs in the gym at Atomic Athletic.

I got the coolest photo the other day.  It is Maurice “The French Angel” Tillet. Just having a space to lift in is not enough.  There a lots of gyms that have no soul.  There are lots of gyms that are sterile and faceless or just fake and seem to be pandering to a certain client.  What you have to do is create a lifter’s atmosphere.

“Oh My God!”  laughed Andy as he walked up.  I hung that framed photo at the top of the stairs leading to my office. 

“That brightened my day.  I was dragging.  That is funny.  Thank you.”  Andy, my assistant, couldn’t say enough.

You have to create a real lifter’s atmosphere to get the attitude right.  I happened to get that frame out of an old barn in the middle of nowhere Ohio.  All I needed to do was blast it with the air compressor and it was ready to Tillet’s face, or as ready as anything could be.  What a mug on that guy!

I have two jobs going right now that include photos or posters or other customized art for different facilities.  Sure, having great equipment helps make for a feel in a gym, but operating rooms have expensive stuff too.  Great does not necessarily mean expensive, or on the other end, cheapee homemade.  Of course, homemade CAN be great.  For some gyms, having a Giant Circus Hammer hanging on the wall would be enough and in others it would be lost.  I stick with the Supreme Court on this one, when it comes to cool, I know it when I see it.

Introducing the DRAGSTER

by Al Myers

The DRAGSTER

I’m constantly thinking up new ways to impose self-induced torture on my training partners.  It’s the DINO GYM mentality!  We have a 150 foot cement “runway” in front of the gym that is perfectly level – that we use for pulling sleds, walking with yokes and farmers implements, carrying kegs,  and the like.  It’s a great way to get in a little “cardio” after a lifting session, and after a few runs, you are totally “wiped out”.  Plus doing these activities are WAY MORE fun than sitting like a puppet on the stationary exercise bike or walking  aimlessly to nowhere on the treadmill.  That type of cardiovascular training bores me to tears.  Actually, I can’t even stand it its so boring.  I just watch the clock constantly – waiting for my 30 minutes to elapse so I can quit.  Training is suppose to be fun!!!!!

Al "the DINOMAN" Myers giving Darren Barnhart a fast run on the DRAGSTER.

Well – NOW IT IS!!!  I’ve pushed on all types of prowlers, and love them.  But I always felt like the prowler could be improved, so thus, the invention of the DINO GYM DRAGSTER!  You can think of the dragster as the “ultimate prowler”  – it takes the prowler to a whole nother level!  I’ve spent a lot of time on this design, and after much prototype redesigning, it finally is perfected. 

Last weekend was the BIG TEST DAY for the final design of the dragster. I gathered several of my training partners for this grueling experiment, and we spent a couple of hours being test subjects.  I had no idea how exhausted I was becoming because I was having so much fun!  The next few days I paid the price with my front quads being so sore I couldn’t go up steps. The unique thing about the dragster is that it can take “live weight” along with added plates.  Of course, when I say “live weight” I mean one of your training partners.  Actually, I had as much fun riding the dragster as pushing it.  Sorta made me feel like a kid again riding my sled down the hill when it snowed.  This “live weight” added a whole new dimension to the training as when you were the one pushing you wanted to give the other guy a fast run – thus the reason for the name DRAGSTER!!!

This is the perfect training implement for everyone – lifters, athletes, strongmen, etc.   I’m going to take the Dragster to production. If anyone is interested in one – send me an email and I’ll give you a quote.

Milk Shake Challenge

by Roger LaPointe

Magazine advertisement for Hoffman's Super Hi-Proteen.

The old York Barbell gym had one of the first in-house “smoothie” operations.  They just called them protein shakes.  These were a big source of inspiration for friendly betting on lifts, particularly on Saturdays.

You see, Hoffman would come in on Saturdays.  It wasn’t so much that he would coach, but he handed out money.  Certain York lifters might get a $20, or possibly more, if they did a really great lift.  That meant that many lifters who did not have a contest that weekend would be maxing out.  Even if there wasn’t a possibility for cash, there was always the challenge possibility with your buddy.

Andy doesn’t know it yet, but he is going to get a challenge from me today.  Andy is 5 years my junior and he has 50 pounds in bodyweight on me, but I think I can take him in overhead squats.  I will let him choose, max weight or reps.  We shall see…
 
I just talked with Fred Lowe about the old York shakes on Facebook.  Here is what he said: ”Oh, it was just milk, a scoop of ice cream, some hi-protein, maybe some flavoring or berries. “   They were no more than a dollar.

Lifter of the Month: Troy Goetsch

by Al Myers

Troy Goetsch lifting 255# in the 2 hands Pinch Grip at the 2013 USAWA Grip Championships. This is the ALL TIME best Pinch Grip in the USAWA record book.

I’m glad to announce Troy Goetsch as the LIFTER OF THE MONTH for February.  Troy “sealed the deal” with his big win at the USAWA Grip Championships, by beating out a field of 15 other lifters.  Troy lifts for the Jobes Steel Jungle Club, the new up and coming club in the USAWA.  Troy also competes in strongman, and is a very good competitor in it.  He has lifted in several of the strongman comps put on by the Dino Gym, and always places high. 

Congrats Troy for being the February Lifter of the Month!

My tribute to Dale “THE MIRACLE MAN” Friesz

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz made the trip to Las Vegas for the 2012 USAWA National Championships last summer. This was Dale's 20th National Meet that he has competed in. Pictured left to right: Art Montini, Al Myers, Dale Friesz

The USAWA will greatly miss Dale Friesz.   Dale’s passion for All Round Weightlifting and his love for the USAWA was “way beyond” that of  most lifters.  He was in a ”class of his own” in terms of dedication.  Several lifters “come and go” in the USAWA through the years, but Dale kept steady with his never-ending involvement.  I want to take today’s story to share my tribute to Dale with everyone.  I know lots of the newer USAWA members are not aware of the things Dale has accomplished in the USAWA.   Dale stated in his USAWA Hall of Fame biography that he got started in lifting by the encouragement of his brother Leonard.  Leonard had a stellar lifting career, and at one time was competing in Olympic Weightlifting in the Missouri Valley Region.  I remember seeing Leonard’s  name in numerous  past meet results.  Dale was influenced into becoming involved in the USAWA by two legendary USAWA lifters, John Vernacchio and Bill Clark.  This was also stated in his HOF bio.  I want to mention this footnote as well – when I was working on the project to get all USAWA Hall of Famers to have a biography on this website I set out questionnaires to each member which I based writing their bios on.  Dale was one of “the few” who wanted to write his bio himself, which he did.  He told me in an email he wanted it to be written right! (which I took as him not trusting me to get all the important facts and details in it!!!!) .  

Dale receiving the award for winning the FIRST EVER Presidential Cup in 2012. Dale is on the left, with the USAWA President Denny Habecker on the right doing the presentation.

Dales first competition in the USAWA was on November 11th, 1989, in a meet in Valley Forge, PA hosted by John Vernacchio.  Dale’s first year of USAWA membership began the very first year the USAWA began collecting dues – 1988.  Since that time Dale has had a CONTINUOUS membership in the USAWA (26 years!!!).  Dale always joined before the membership year began, and often he was the FIRST MEMBERSHIP for the year I would receive.  That’s a testament to his strong connection and support to the USAWA.  Dale is one of only four USAWA members that has maintained continuous membership in the USAWA (Bill Clark, Joe Garcia, and Art Montini are the others) since the organization formed.  This makes him one of the CHARTER MEMBERS of the USAWA.  At this past year’s Nationals, a very special award was given to Dale.  It was called the “25 Year Participation Award”, given to the lifters that have participated in the most USAWA National Championships in the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Dale had competed in 20 out of the 25 Nationals!!!  That’s an amazing track record!!  The other winners were Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dennis Mitchell.  Dale only missed the 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006, & the 2011 Nationals.  I was glad to see him involved in our 25th Nationals in Las Vegas last June.  I met him at the airport and I could tell that the flight had taken a toll on him, but he seemed very excited to be there and able to take part in this very important USAWA meet.  No matter how Dale felt physically, he always seem upbeat and glad to be taking part in the competition.

Dale performing one of his favorite lifts, the Neck Lift, at the 2009 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in Lebanon, PA. This was the day that I got Dale to reveal his "neck lifting secrets" to me. He was the master of technique in the Neck Lift!!

Dale competed in several meets in Clarks Gym through the years.  His favorite was the Zercher Classic, which he competed in for the first time in 1991.  Dale had a good meet that day – placing one placing higher than Bill Clark!  The next year Dale returned to the Zercher and moved up a few places to fourth place out of 10 lifters (behind Steve Schmidt, John Carter, and Joe Garcia).  It was a tough field and had to be one of Dale’s best meets of his USAWA career. He raised his total by 735 pounds from the previous year. Then in 1994 he placed THIRD in the Zercher (his highest Zercher placing).    I know Dale was a big fan of this meet as he has provided me a complete historical review of all past Zercher Meets.  That’s one of the many reasons why I have often referred to Dale as the HISTORIAN of the USAWA even though it was a unofficial title.  He keep a record of this type of information and was always there for me when I had “questions”.  Much of the information on this website under the “history section” was researched and documented by Dale. Another one of his favorite “Clark Meets” was the Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen.  Dale has the distinction of WINNING the first ever Goerner Deadlift in 1995.  He beat such notable lifters that day as Rex Monahan, Joe Garcia, Al Springs and others.  I say it was one of Dale’s BEST EVER USAWA days – in addition to winning overall best lifter, he set his memorable 605 pound Neck Lift in a record setting session afterwards.  He was 55 years old and weighed 183 pounds that day. 

Recently I had received an email from Dale in which he commented how 2012 was, and I’ll quote him, “I consider this to be a decent year for me – as I broke 7 or so finger lift records (all previously set by someone with2 normal legs!), winning the Presidential Cup, and being named lifter of the month for August.  This made my efforts/pain worthwhile“.   He was looking forward to the year 2013.  Dale NEVER seemed to get discouraged, and always was thinking about his next competition.  I was so glad to see him win the Inaugural Presidential Cup last August.  His winning performance included a 154 pound Ring Fingers Deadlift with a prosthetic leg!  Later in the year I included this performance of his as one of the TOP TEN performances in the USAWA for the year 2012.  Dale sent me an email after that announcement thanking me, but he EARNED IT!

Dale performing the Pullover and Push in the 2010 USAWA Championships. This was the last meet Dale competed in before his leg amputation.

Dale has dealt with more physical obstacles than anyone I have ever known, and yet continued to train and compete.  The list is enormous and so long I have lost count.  But included is hip replacement, aortic reconstruction, back surgery with laminectomy, shoulder replacement, heart surgery several times, three heart attacks, numerous leg surgeries, and then the leg amputation.  I’m sure I’m missing many other health-related issues here.  It was common for Dale to compete in a big meet shortly after a major operation.  I remember once just a few weeks after open-heart surgery he was on the platform competing.  After his hip replacement, he was in a meet 3 months later.  This quote came from the Strength Journal from Dale before his hip replacement.  Dale said, “I always wanted to be like Tommy Kono and John Grimek and on February 12th, 2001, I’ll get me wish.  I’ll get a new hip.”  Dale always had a dry sense of humor when it came to things!  When he was staying at my place for the 2009 USAWA Nationals he “instructed me” on his medications so in case something went wrong I would be aware of what medicines he was on.  This was a list no shorter than 17 different pills!!!!  Dale’s mindset was like no other, and is the main reason he was awarded the Courage Award by the USAWA EVERY YEAR since the USAWA Awards Program  began in 2010. Before this, he was awarded the Ciavattone  Courage Award in 2004 by Frank Ciavattone, who gave out the award yearly to honor someone who showed great courage in remembrance of Frank’s dad.   I once  jokingly commented to Dale  that he’s won the Courage Award so many times it should be named after him when he’s gone!  Now…… I’m serious about that.

In 2009, the USAWA Nationals were held at the Dino Gym in Abilene, KS. Dale stayed at my house during that time and I will forever remember the stories that were told by Dale. This picture is from the meet of him performing a Cheat Curl.

Dale was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame in 2002.  His induction happened at the 2002 Nationals, held in Ambridge, PA.  I would like to share this story about Dale and his entering into the HOF by Bill Clark, someone who Dale had great respect and admiration for. “ When Dale Friesz showed up to lift at the USAWA Nationals in June in Ambridge, PA., USAWA President Howard Prechtel was prepared.  Dale needed to medal at the Nationals to be eligible for the Hall of Fame and Howard figured correctly that Dale would do that.  So much to Dale’s surprise, he was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame on the spot with the plaque already engraved in his name.  That Dale was even lifting in Ambridge was Hall of Fame material in itself.  In February, he spent 15 days in the hospital (six days in intensive care) and lost 21 pounds in 21 days from an already slender frame.  In a few weeks, he seemed on the road to recovery from what had been diagnosed as advanced vascular disease.  But, in May, along came what Dale called “Scary Story No. 2″ , viral heart infection, bronchial shutdown, pneumonia, liquid retention around the heart – back to the hospital for nine days.  And a matter of six weeks later, he was back on the platform earning his spot in the Hall of Fame.  I can assure you – no one was happier to be in Ambridge than Dale Friesz.”  – by Bill Clark in the Strength Journal Vol. XIII No. 3

Dale "in action" performing another one of his favorite lifts - the finger lift!

In 2006 at the USAWA National Meeting, the USAWA passed a rule requiring that all officials pass a Open Book Rules Test to be certified as an USAWA official.  Dale was the FIRST ONE to take and pass this exam.  He was one of the few LEVEL TWO officials in the USAWA.  He had a keen sense of the Rule Book, and kept up on it as things evolved.  Often he would “question” things in the Rulebook, and due to this, several discrepancies were found and corrected. Dale was never an officer in the USAWA, but his presence as a member exerted as much influence as any officer.  In my opinion, he was one of the TOP TEN most influential people ever involved in the USAWA.  He often served on committees, and provided valuable input.  His input on the HOF committee was instrumental in developing new guidelines for entry.  He also served on the Rulebook Review committee and was very helpful to me in the big Rulebook revision of 2009. In 2011 at my encouraging Dale registered his club with the USAWA.   He named it M&D Triceratops, and he was the only member.  Often at meets he would be wearing a ball cap or tshirt sporting his clubs logo.  I could tell this was something Dale was proud of, and it showed his commitment to the USAWA.

Dale’s favorite all round lifts were the finger lifts, the finger deadlifts, the Neck Lift, and the one arm deadlift.  I just did a USAWA record count of the number of current USAWA records Dale holds, and his count is at 160.  He holds records in 64 different USAWA lifts!  Dale was one of the original members of the CENTURY CLUB, a designation I gave to lifters who currently hold over 100 USAWA records.  The records he was most proud of were; 215# Ring Fingers Deadlift done at the 2001 Gold Cup, 354# Right Arm Deadlift done at the 1992 Gold Cup, and his 605# Neck Lift done at the 1995 Goerner. 

Dale’s National and World Meet Accomplishments:

2012 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 70-74
2010 Nationals 9th Place Overall
2008 Nationals 8th Place Overall
2005 Worlds Best Lifter Mens Master 65-69
1999 Nationals 6th Place Overall
1997 Nationals 7th Place Overall
1996 Nationals 10th Place Overall
1996 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 55-59
1995 Nationals 4th Place Overall
1992 Nationals 8th Place Overall

*plus numerous class/bodyweight National & World Championship awards*

Dale would often sign off his emails with these words, “Don’t let the USAWA die!!” That’s a promise that I will not let him down on. I owe Dale alot- he really helped me understand the historical importance of the USAWA and the philosophy of the organization. I will never forget Dale and his love for the USAWA and all round weightlifting. Often when I’m having a “rough day” in the gym, I think of Dale and the hardships he overcame with his lifting and it motivates me to keep positive and work harder. Afterall, my physical problems are NOTHING compared to what he endured when training!! I gave Dale the nickname “MIRACLE MAN” in several past blog stories. I know he appreciated that (he told me so) as it was given as a sign of respect to him in his ability to overcome serious physical  barriers miraculously.

Dale – YOU WILL BE MISSED! But I promise everyone this – I will keep Dale’s memory alive in the USAWA for as long as I’m involved.

The MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD – Dr. Robert Goldman

by Al Myers

Thom (right picture) and myself (left picture) with Dr. Goldman at the 2013 Arnold Higland Games in Columbus, Ohio.

A few weeks ago I made the trip to the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio.  The plans were made for this trip to be in conjunction with the USAWA  Club Championships in Pittsburgh, but when the Club Champs were called off because of bad weather that didn’t really end up happening , we decided to just make the trip to the Arnold anyways.  The four of us (me, Chad Ullom, Thom Van Vleck, and Mike McIntyre) had already made the plans to be gone, so instead of only getting one day at the Arnold, now we got two days. 

You always meet interesting people at these kind of events.  Some you heard of beforehand, and others for the first time.  On Sunday we attended the Arnold Classic Highland Games to support several throwers that we know.  It was a grand event, and sponsored by Dr. Robert Goldman.  Dr. Goldman put up the prize money for the invited pros as well as funding the game expenses. This was the first time I had met him, and I was very impressed.  When I got back home I did some research on him, and I might have to say, he is the MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD.  In fact, I have not met anyone who has accomplished what he has in his life in so many different arenas.  Add in the fact that he has a little “all round weightlifter” in him and I was thoroughly impressed.  But before I get to that, you need to read his resume first:

http://drbobgoldman.com/

Dr. Bob Goldman performing a WR 321 consecutive handstand pushups (photo courtesy of Dr. Goldman's website).

It would take a book to write about all of the accomplishments that Dr. Goldman has achieved (or a very extensive website like the one he has!). One of his first books was titled “Death in the Locker Room” which was one of the first unveiling’s of the drug and steroid scene in competitive sports. Dr. Goldman is very anti-drug, and even required steroid testing  at the Arnold Highland Games (which is not the common practice in Highland Games) .   Thom and I compared him to the mysterious Dos Equis man that you often see in beer commercials (who is portrayed as the Most Interesting Man in the World in the beer advertisements).  Dr. Goldman  just radiates confidence and vitality, and after meeting him, you know there is more to the story than what you experienced in that interaction.  On top of all the books he has written and the medical advances he is responsible for, he has achieved some great All Round lifting accomplishments.  He has set several Guinness World Records in such strength events as the handstand pushup, situps for repetitions, one arm pushups, and many others.  The following YouTube Video is very interesting, and is worth the 15 minutes it takes to watch.

YouTube Video –  A lifetime of firsts: The story of Dr. Bob Goldman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyDgV5WOxH8

It’s great the World has men like Dr. Robert Goldman.  He is proof that if you have a positive attitude and strong work ethic, anything is possible to achieve.  He’s a great role model for all of  mankind.

Frank’s Barbell RB

by Frank Ciavattone Jr.

Due to our area receiving 100 plus inches of snow in the past couple of months, most of our competitors were unable to attend due to plowing snow. This was the first Saturday that we had any number of attendees making it possible to hold this competition.

Our furthest entrant came from upstate Maine and the other two entrants were from Walpole, MA. I was the only qualified referee so my lifts did not count toward official records but the other two competitor’s lifts are valid. We had one loader, helper and spectator which was famous author on strength, Peter Vuono from Brockton, MA. Everyone gave 100% and made this competition a worthwhile event. After the competition we enjoyed a meal and award ceremony and then right back to snow plowing.

MEET RESULTS:

Frank’s Barbell Club Meet Record Breaker
Saturday, March 16, 2013

Location: Frank’s Barbell Club in East Walpole, MA

Meet Promoter:  Frank Ciavattone Jr.

Officials (1 official system used):  Frank Ciavattone Jr.

Jeff Ciavattone - 33 years old, 235 lbs.

One hand Fulton dumbbell (Ciavattone grip) – right 190 lbs. & left 190 lbs.
Index finger dead-lift – 231 lbs.
Ring finger dead-lift – 159 lbs.

Jim Fuller - 41 years old, 228 lbs.

Kelley snatch -  108 lbs.
Kneeling snatch – 108 lbs.
Middle finger dead-lift  -  266 lbs.

Frank Ciavattone Jr. -58 years old, 289 lbs.

Reeves deadlift  - 345 lbs.
One hand Fulton dumbbell (Ciavattone grip) – right 190 lbs.
Little finger deadlift w/ring – left 110 lbs. & right 125 lbs.

WEBMASTER NOTE:   James Fuller recorded the meet, and placed the video on YouTube which he shared in the USAWA Discussion Forum.  I am placing a link to it here, as it’s very inspirational!  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBpIg5btGVk&feature=player_detailpage

Take Control of Your Forearms

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe training his forearms from an elevated positions, using a wrist roller and a heavy rope attached to weight. (photo courtesy of Atomic Athletic)

You can take control of your forearm growth. This is what is great about progressive resistance training. You are in control.The key is consistency. I don’t know how many times I have heard people talk about muscle confusion, chaos, or randomness being the key to training. Now, if you are simply an out of shape slob, anything will work when you first start off, because something is better than nothing. However, purely random exercises are not going to help you reach your potential.

The first step in any kind of training is learning how to use your tools. They all seem very simple. For example, how hard can it be to learn how to use a wrist roller? Technically, it is a stick with a cord that holds a weight. The learning process is more than just reading or watching a video, it includes doing something. You must actually pick up the item and start emulating what you have seen.

For example, in the Frightening Forearms DVD I show several methods of using your whole body with a wrist roller.

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=VID111

In the book “72 Consummate Arts Secrets of the Shaolin Temple”, the chapter on the Pot Lifting Arts you will find out a great method on how to increase the weight you are lifting.

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK072

You have read about it and watched me actually do things with a wrist roller. That is the easy part. Get out of your arm chair and be an athlete. Pick up your Wrist Roller and try the techniques you have seen.

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=KT11WR

For a few weeks, you will try something new with your Wrist Roller every single day, regardless of what the rest of your workout is like. Even if you have to use nothing more than a 1 1/4 Pound Plate, you will try the various techniques until you feel you really understand what is going on. IN THE PROCESS, you will actually be getting more exercise than you can believe!

Here is the entire Pot Lifting Arts Kit I have put together:

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK72P2

That is STEP 1 toward grabbing control of your forearm strength.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

The Stiff-Legged Deadlift Must Die

By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

I’m glad that Al’s article on the Romainian Deadlift (RDL) and Stiff-Legged Deadlift (SLDL) mentioned the dangers of the SLDL. Everything about the SLDL is contrary to proper lifting technique, biomechanics, and physiology-and as such increases injury risk immensely. And since we’re talking about the back, an injury there can be life changing and lifting career ending. Please let me explain…and I’ll do this as briefly as possible and in a step-by-step sequence.

A properly executed RDL reduces the risk of injury over the SLDL many fold. For one, a properly executed RDL allows the lifter to simply deadlift the barbell off the ground; this means that proper lifting technique can be employed before you even start doing a RDL. Then, as you commence the RDL, the barbell is slid down the thighs, over the knees, and about half way down the legs, while at all times remaining in contact with the body. This is achieved by keeping the back in a neutral position (flat) and by shifting the center of mass back toward your heels as much as possible. If you find yourself losing balance backwards and your toes popping up a bit, then you’re doing a proper RDL. By keeping the back flat and keeping the center of mass as close to the coronal plane* as possible, the shearing forces upon the lower back are minimized. Research on the squat has demonstrated clearly and unequivocally, how the more the center of mass moves away from the coronal plane (forward), by as an example doing a low-bar sq compared to a high-bar sq, shearing forces on the lower back increase many fold. (Certain dl comparison studies have demonstrated this, too.)

So what about shearing forces? Whenever you lift something, joints move, and shearing forces exist. But by observing proper lifting technique, grounded in sound biomechanics, these shearing forces are something your body can handle and adapt to so that they become a non-issue. And so in the low-bar squat, even though the shearing forces upon the lower back are greater than in the high-bar squat, since proper lifting technique can nevertheless be maintained, these forces don’t add up to an increased injury risk. Not so in the SLDL!

Some of the technique strategies necessary to reduce shearing forces upon the lower back when you lift is to bend the knees, keep the back in neutral, and keep the center of mass as close to the coronal plane as possible. This can all be achieved with every pull off the ground-except the SLDL. And what makes the SLDL particularly insidious is that execution of this lift requires you to violate all principles of proper lifting. And that’s why this lift must die…

  • Whenever the center of mass moves forward…you’re increasing shearing forces upon the lower back; you can’t do a SLDL with the bar close to the body.
  • Whenever you lift something with locked knees…you’re increasing shearing forces upon the lower back; this is one of the chief aspects resulting in a barbell away from your body.
  • Whenever you round your back, you’re taking the curvatures out of your spine, thus reducing the structural strength of the spine, thereby increasing forces upon all vertebrae of the spine…and you’re also increasing shearing forces upon the lower back; you couldn’t lift with neutral spine (flat back) even if you tried when your knees are supposed to remain locked.
  • Whenever you lift more weight…you’re increasing shearing forces upon the lower back; but in the SLDL this occurs due to poor technique that places anatomical structures (tendons, ligaments, discs, muscles, etc.) at additional risk by ostensibly weakening them.

Up until now I’ve withheld personal opinion and just shared scientific fact. But based on these scientific facts, my personal opinion is that if the IAWA Worlds had the SLDL as a contested lift, I’d only do a token lift with the minimum amount possible, even if that meant losing the worlds by 10 pounds. And not trying to pick on Al here, I would like you to consider that him having done SLDL’s for 20 years without injury is simply a function of luck. If I were him, I’d consider the facts of biomechanics and I’d stop doing SLDL’s now and thank Lady Luck every day that I made it through the mine field intact.

So now some of you might be thinking that, “Yeah, well, but the SLDL does help my deadlift by giving me more strength off the ground.” Guys, let’s be honest here, that’s just conjecture based on what came out of the “Golden Age of Lifting.” It can be argued that these guys gave rise to the field of exercise science. And now that it has advanced, we should not hold on to old and unproven myths, but embrace the advances in knowledge these guys laid the foundation for. So, sure, you might think that SLDL’s will help you get the barbell of the ground, because that’s what you feel. But what you’re feeling there is just an acute sense of what’s going on due to a new exercise-it’ll fade…and the feelings are not a reflection of reality. Research has shown that in an effort to get the barbell moving off the ground, you need more speed-not a violation of good lifting form and enough luck to survive that. So you’d be much better off training high pulls than SLDL’s to increase your pull off the ground. There’s a reason weightlifters tend to be great deadlifters…and it’s not because they do SLDL’s.

Overall, there is absolutely no reason to do the one lift that violates all principles of proper lifting. And as to being a contested lift in IAWA and USAWA…who cares. Is it worth the risk? At the end of the day, that’s your decision. I can only hope that you’ll be able to take the above as useful evidence to derive at a more informed decision. As for me, SLDL RIP.

*Imagine looking at a person from the side and dividing that person into equal halves front and back. The center line that divides front and back is the coronal plane.

Remembering Dale

by Al Myers

Today I would like to share several of the tributes to him from friends and lifters.  These comments have been taken from several sources – emails, facebook comments, forum comments, etc.  It is obvious that Dale had many friends in the All Round community, and that he was very well respected.  First, I would like to say a few things about Dale.  I’ve always considered him the Historian of the USAWA, even though it was an unofficial title. Whenever I had a question on something that had happened in the past in the USAWA  and I didn’t know the answer – I would ask him and he would know.  Often his answer included more information than I requested.  He had a “complete set” of old Bill Clark Strength Journals and kept everything well-organized as an historical archive. I will greatly miss Dale’s help!  I also could count on Dale to give me his “honest opinion” on USAWA matters.   In his weekly emails, he would always have some comment on USAWA matters on how he would like to see things done.  I greatly respected him for that, and took his issues “to heart” as he presented them in a reasonable, logical manner.  I have NEVER meant someone who had such a passion and love for the All Rounds as Dale.  Most would have given up lifting facing the physical barriers that Dale faced – but he kept positive and maintained his involvement in the sport to the best of his ability.  I will forever remember this about him. 

After meeting Dale years ago during an All Around Weightlifting competition, it was obvious to me this man had his focus on success.  Not only was I impressed by his determination, but his positive attitude was remarkable as well. As our USAWA events continued, Dale displayed his commitment to competition not only for his own results, but also attended them to remain a great motivator in the background for other fellow athletes. Dale’s strong spirit enabled him to overcome countless critical health circumstances. I’m certain his strength training background allowed him to activate positive improvements to his condition. In spite of all the suffering Dale had to put up with, ultimately his faith in positivity kept him going. Dale’s record setting attitude has to be a USAWA textbook example of how determination leads to success. Rest in Peace, Dale. May our Dear Lord comfort and bless your family.  – Scott Schmidt

My sympathies go out to Dale’s friends and family. – Lance Foster

Condolances. Rest in Peace, DaleEric Todd

I would just like to say that Dale was Crazy…but he is my kind of crazy! What I mean by that is I’ve been lifting since 1977 and competing since 1979 and I have no plans on quitting….ever! I will lift up until the day God calls me home and I hope there’s a lifting platform there or in my book that won’t be heaven! Dale was a guy that never quit. Even when he was on his last leg…literally…the guy DID not quit. I know some folks would think that was crazy, but I think it took courage. I recall Michael J. Fox, after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s doing an interview. After he listed all his projects the reporter said, “shouldn’t someone like you be resting more” and he got mad and looked at her and said, “RESTING FOR WHAT…” He then went on to talk about how he knew he had limited time and he had things to do…well, Dale had things to do. Most guys would have rotted away in some retirement village…Dale had things to do and I respect that. The next time I am too tired, too sore, too something to workout I will think of the great length Dale went to lift and I’ll shut up and train a little harder. I remember reading a saying that went like this, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “Holy &hit, what a ride!” That was Dale and some day (hopefully in about another 30 or so years) it will be me! I am a Christian, I believe in heaven, and I see Dale young, strong, and working on his Clean and Jerk. One of my favorite lines for “Gladiator” is, “I will see you again…but not yet, not yet”.Thom Van Vleck

My condolences go out to friends and family of Dale. - Troy Goetsch

Dale will be missed. I remember the first few years I lifted in the USAWA, Dale and I were in the same age group and weight class and we had some great battles. He was always there to give you advice and encourgement. He was a great competitor and a realy great and couragous man. - Denny Habecker

Dale was a great competitor. I was fortunate to lift with Dale at Art’s Birthday Bash 2011 and recent Presidential Cup 2012. Dale was a fine example of never quit or give up.Barry Bryan

I was very sad to learn of the passing of Dale Friesz. Dale was known to several UK lifters who had met him at competitions in the US. Dale was a very nice man, and he performed some very good lifts over the years. He was one of the stalwart members of the USAWA and he will be sadly missed. Dale had suffered terrible ill health over recent years, but it did not stop his enthusiasm to lift. Even after losing a leg, he still battled his way on to the platform to strut his stuff.Steve Gardner

Never really got to know Dale that well on my travels to America, but a sad loss none the less. We have sadly lost a few of the old school lifters now. RIP Dale.Steve Angell

Oh how sad! Dale he was a nice guy! RIP Dale. – Cara Collins

Sorry to hear, another great lifter passes on. Big John Vernachio will have a bit of competition up there now. - Billy Bourne

Dale was one of the most dedicated lifters I’ve ever known.  I mean, I have seen the guy compete when he would have to hook up an IV between events to his pic line!  Dale dealt with many health issues the past few years, but he never let it get in the way of his lifting and competing.  I’m sure he gave his Dr’s fits! Dale was great to have at meets, especially during the meetings as he was not afraid to speak his mind and made sure to keep us on track and remind us the purpose of the USAWA!  Dale will be missedChad Ullom

Sad news of Dale. No doubt he touched and inspired many. From all here at All-Round Weightlifting Western Australia please accept our condolences on the passing of Dale. Although most of us have never met Dale, we have read and heard of his lifting career and battles.
“Passed friends and memories are but a thought away, Remember them often”.
- Robin Lukosius and Members of All-Round Weightlifting Western Australia

I’ll always remember the many meets that Dale and I competed in together. He was always there to do his best and to help and encourage the other lifters. He was the most determined lifter I can think of. He never complained about his problems. He will be greatly missed. - Dennis Mitchell

Dale’s Funeral Arrangements

by Al Myers

This information was sent to me today  by Dale’s daughter Pam.  It includes the details of Dale’s visitation and Funeral.

Dear family and friends,
Thank you for your many kind words and thoughts for all of us. Here are the details for Dad’s visitation and funeral. The obituary will appear in the Washington Post and also in the memory book on
www.moneyandking.com.  Thank you,
Penny, Pam, Mark, and Karen

 
Thursday, March 21
Money and King Funeral Home
171 W. Maple Avenue
Vienna, VA 22180
Visitation: 2:00 – 4:00 PM and 7:00 – 9:00 PM
 
Friday, March 22
St. Mary’s Historic Catholic Church
Ox Road and Fairfax Station Road
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
Funeral Mass: 11:00 AM
Burial immediately following – St. Mary’s Church cemetary
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wounded Warriors or
St. Katharine Drexel Mission Building Fund
14535 John Marshall Hwy, #210
Gainesville, VA 20155

Dale Friesz Passes

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz, July 30th, 1940 - March 18th, 2013. This picture was taken at the 2010 USAWA National Championships in Lebanon, PA.

Today I have some sad news to report.  Yesterday I received word that long time USAWA member Dale Friesz has died.  This is tragic news for the USAWA, as Dale has been a “foundation member” of the USAWA and has been such a tremendous supporter of the USAWA thru the years.  I am saddened by this news, as hardly a week goes by that Dale and I don’t correspond at least once via email.  Everyone knows about the health issues that Dale has been dealing with for years, yet he always rebounded and made it back to the lifting platform.  He has been an inspiration to everyone who has met him.

I will let everyone know when I get more details of the funeral arrangements.  In the meantime I would like to  ask everyone to share tributes about Dale that I can share in the USAWA Daily News.  These tributes can be emailed to me (amyers@usawa.com) or placed on the USAWA or IAWA Facebook pages.

Take a moment today and read Dale’s USAWA Hall of Fame Biography – http://www.usawa.com/hall-of-fame-biography-dale-friesz-class-of-2002/ .

Stiff Legged DL’s vs. Romanian DL’s

by Al Myers

Ed Schock performing a 210 KG Stiff Legged Deadlift at the 2007 USAWA National Championships in Lebanon, PA. Ed is one "of the few" lifters that have done a stiff legged deadlift of over 500 pounds in USAWA competition.

This is the question that often gets asked in the gym – which is better – stifflegged deadlifts or Romanian deadlifts?  That’s a question that is quite debateable as some don’t like either,  while some prefer one over the other, and gives passionate reasons.  Much like asking a guy if he prefers blonds or brunettes.  You’ll end up with someone saying they prefer redheads. 

However, I do believe that MOST lifters really don’t know the difference between Stifflegged Deadlifts and Romanian Deadlifts. I often hear lifters saying they are doing one of these lifts, when in fact, they are doing the other.  So I’m going to take a “step back” here and explain both of these common accessory deadlift exercises.  If all this is stuff you already know, just look at the picture of Ed Schock, skip the rest of the story, and hope I  write something more interesting tomorrow.  But I CONSTANTLY hear stuff from lifters that tell me that there’s more confusion between these two lifts than admitted.   Some even think they are the same lift!  But they aren’t! 

STIFF LEGGED DEADLIFT

This lift is actually an official USAWA lift.  The USAWA rules are pretty simple for it: ” The rules of the Deadlift apply except that the legs must be straight and locked before the beginning of the lift and must remain so throughout the lift.  Any width of stance is allowed.  The arms are allowed to be inside the legs.”  Now this official rule is a pretty good explanation of a proper stifflegged deadlift, with one exception.  That is allowing sumo stance!  That completely neutralizes the strength-gaining purpose of a stiff-legged deadlift in training.  The SL deadlift should be done with a narrow stance.  I feel these principles define a stiff legged deadlift:

  • Narrow stance.
  • Legs straight throughout the lift, or maybe “just slightly” bent and remain in same degree of flexion throughout.
  • Toes should be pointed out slightly, just like your regular deadlift stance.
  • Hands should be positioned on the bar in an overgrip fashion. If you have a weak grip – hook grip the bar or use straps.
  • Shoulders “rolled over”, and the back rounded at the beginning of the pull.
  • Bar starts over toes.
  • Hips positioned over the feet throughout the lift.
  • Back goes from a point of flexion to extension during the lift.
  • Bar comes into contact with thighs during lift and remains close to the body from that point on.
  • Each rep done slow and under control.

The SL Deadlift  puts extreme pressure on the lower back, especially at the beginning of the lift.  The starting position, with the shoulders rolled over, is what Doctors for years have said is “the WRONG WAY to pick something up”!  But that is what makes it such a great exercise for developing that strong lower lumbar strength.  It takes the back from flexion to extension throughout the execution.  The SL deadlift develops sudden strength from the floor, and if you have problems getting your deadlifts started, this lift will enhance your starting strength in the deadlift. 

ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

The Romanian Deadlift, or RDL’s as they are often called, is a favorite accessory exercise for Olympic lifters. The story goes that a World Class Romanian Olympic lifter popularized this lift, thus it became named that way. It is a much more difficult exercise to learn than the stifflegged deadlift.   The following principles define a Romanian Deadlift:

  • A normal shoulder width stance is taken, with toes facing straight ahead.
  • The bar is gripped with an overhand grip.
  • Knees are in a state of flexion of around 20 degrees during the duration except at the finish, and in the beginning are even slightly more flexed.
  • Shoulders stay up and the back remains in a neutral flat state.  This is the biggest difference between a SLDL and a RDL.  The back must never flex forward or straighten.  IT MUST STAY IN THE SAME STAIGHT FLAT POSITION THOUGHOUT.
  • Hips are “pushed back” behind the heels during the lift.
  • The bar stays close to the body throughout.
  • Plates may not touch the platform, depending on the lifters flexibility.

Now for my editorial.  Both of these exercises work the hamstrings and lower back extensively. Both are intended to be done for repetitions (with the exception of the Stifflegged DL if it is done in an official USAWA competition).  I will say this – do the RDL’s if you are an Olympic lifter and the SL DL if you are a powerlifter.  The reason for this is that I do believe that “form carryover” exists, and that RDL’s will cause breakdown in your deadlift form (pushing hips too far back) and SL DL’s will cause breakdown in your clean technique (by not keeping the shoulders up).  This is my opinion of course.  Another argument you will hear on SL DL’s is that they are a very dangerous exercise to do.  The reasons given are the rounding and unrounding of the back puts excessive pressure on the spinal erectors and and vertebral discs.  But this excessive pressure is  ”the secret” as to why SL DL’s will build extreme lower back strength.  If you perform them slow and steady for repetitions, they can be done safely.  RDL’s have received complaints that they put extreme pressure on the hamstrings, and can lead to hamstring pulls/tears.  But that is the reason they are being done – to strengthen the hamstrings!  Again, if a lifter has poor hamstring flexibility start the RDL’s from the hang.  With time, you will notice your flexibility improves and the hamstrings get stronger. Starting from the hang also helps maintaining the straight back alignment with the shoulders erect.  Some lifters will do stifflegged deadlifts standing on blocks as to increase the range of motion.  I have done them that way before as well, but prefer to do them from the floor now.  I do NOT feel this added range of motion is adding anything to the benefits, as you will have to use less weight and thus not stimulate the muscles to the same degree as from the floor.   The purpose of even doing this exercise is to enhance your pulling strength, and have carry over to your max deadlift.  Having flexibility beyond what is needed to do a normal deadlift serves no purpose in increasing your maximum deadlift.

I have always been a bigger fan of the Stiff legged deadlift.  I have done them weekly for over 20 years and I have never sustained an injury doing them. I have at times worked up to 450-500 lbs. for reps of 3-8, with each rep paused on the floor. I’ll push them hard – but not to failure.   My max deadlift has ALWAYS directly corresponded to the weight I was training my SL’s with.  The higher the SL’s – the higher the DL.  But I have never been a trained Oly lifter, thus that is the reason I prefer SL’s.  My training partner Scott Tully has always liked RDL’s, mainly because his start in lifting was with Olympic  weightlifting.  We argue constantly over this, as I’m trying to convert him to SL’s, but for some reason he can’t keep his legs straight (LOL) from too many years of doing RDL’s.  Bottom line is this – both of these exercises are OUTSTANDING exercises and at least you should consider implementing one of them into your training program.

Al Spings and his Tractor Lift

by Al Myers and Lance Foster

Al Springs performing his Tractor Lift, which weighs over 3000 pounds!

Most everyone in the USAWA knows or has heard of Al Springs from Dearborn, Missouri.  Al is an eccentric ole’ all rounder, who has been involved with the USAWA for many, many years and has a great passion for weightlifting and anything “all round” in nature.  He is reminiscent of the OLD TIME STRONGMEN of the turn of the previous century in his mindset, and takes on strength challenges that others might pass on.  He is still a very active USAWA member at over 70 years of age.  He competes a few times every year in our organization and even competed on the WORLD STAGE of IAWA this past October at the IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas. He won his age and weight class, earning him the right to call himself a World Champion. 

I always enjoy my conversations with Al.  We talk on the phone every couple of months, and when he calls I answer “this is Al”, and he responds, “this is Al” as well.  I know immediately who I am talking to. Recently Lance Foster shared this very interesting picture of Al Springs performing, what he calls, his Tractor Lift. Lance was able to get Al to share his story on his Tractor Lift and this is what Al said:

“Normal H Farmall tractors weigh about 6000 lbs which was too much for lifting, but long enough for what I wanted to transfer into a strongman project, actually a vision of my art to lift. After the transfer the tractor weighs about 3000 lbs.  I made the harness belt also.  The chains hooked to the tractor’s frame was 200 lbs.  While the tractor was in the barn, I would do reps with it. I moved it outside for my daughter to take pictures. My wife Deanna judged the lift.  As far as I know, this is the first time anyone has lifted a tractor that big.  I’ve heard that Paul Anderson lifted a car.”

All I can say is this – THAT’S AN IMPRESSIVE HARNESS LIFT!  Harness lifting was a common strength feat done by Old Time Strongmen as large amounts of weight can be lifted this way.  It was also common for Old Time Strongmen to perform their Harness Lifting on an elevated platform, with the weights below.  This gives a specacular view of the effort and the success of the lift.  Guys like Al Springs represent the roots of All Round Weightlifting and the Old Time Strongman connection, and he is the perfect example of someone who supports the mission statement of the USAWA.

MISSION STATEMENT OF THE USAWA

The USAWA was formed to continue the long standing tradition of old-time weightlifters like Eugen Sandow, Louis Cyr, Arthur Saxon, Hermann Goerner, Warren Lincoln Travis, and many others. We strive to preserve the history of the original forms of weightlifting, which in the past has been referred to as “odd lifting”. Many of the lifts we perform are based on stage acts or challenge lifts of old-time strongmen.

Designing a Dumbbell for One Lift

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe "in video action" performing a dumbbell swing.

I’ve got this really cool customer who used to be a Marine Sniper Instructor Trainer. Talk about a specialist. He had me make him a custom barbell a couple of years ago. He was very specific about what he wanted. Now, he had been buying from me for a while and I have a pretty good idea about how he trains and what he trains for today. It is not his previous job, after all, he is retired from the military. On the other hand, I know he appreciates using the right tool for the job.

I have been specializing my training around a single lift over the last year. You may have seen some of the articles and videos I’ve done on the One Hand Dumbbell Swing. As I have been doing this training, I have also been studying the literature on the lift. Some of this information is over a hundred years old. I like that old information. When I can find a tip that allows me to tweak what I am doing that little bit, it makes me feel like Indiana Jones. The archeologist in me feels like those long dead coaches are talking to me. It’s cool.

YouTube Video for the One Hand Dumbbell Swing:

http://www.youtube.com/atomicathletic

So, I am going to give you guys a list of parts/tools that will help you experiment. Think of it as an engineer’s proto – typing tool. Once you have these parts, if you want to talk to me about some of the other pieces that I play with, most of which are NOT on the web site. Then you can pick up a phone and call, but here is the starting line.

  • Long Dumbbell Bar
  • Allen Collars (I have bunches of these.)
  • Heavy Duty (3/4 Pound) Wrenchless Screw Collars(Great for quick changes.)
  • Shot Loading Dumbbell

You also need a selection of Plates. Get some larger ones, like 35 Pounders. Also get a variety of thicknesses: pancake vs. contoured with the lip. You may also want some other bar lengths. All of these variables are fun to play with. You don’t want to get hung up on what the other guys are doing, for example: experiment with back loading your dumbbell and tipping your dumbbells.

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

USAWA Officials Program

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom has just been promoted to a LEVEL 2 USAWA official. Chad has been one of the "top three" most active USAWA officials in IAWA competions over the past 5 years. In this picture, Chad (on left) is officiating at the 2012 Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland.

One thing that has happened over the past three years has been the development of an USAWA Officials Program.  The program started in mid-2009 with the initial guidelines. Since then the program has been improved with rule amendments requiring additional criteria.   I finally feel that we now have a TOP NOTCH officials program, and that is something to be proud of.  Before 2009 several programs had TRIED to be initiated, but failed.  Anyone at that time could be an official in an USAWA meet, without any qualifications.  The previous rulebooks had NO guidelines established for becoming an official, other than a couple vague lines such as these, “all officials must be approved by the USAWA”, and “the general secretary shall maintain a list of the national officials”.  That’s it.  There’s no point in having rules/laws if they’re ambiguous, and are not enforced.  Now if you want your lifts to count you MUST be officiated by a certified USAWA official that is listed on the Officials List.  If this does not happen – the lift/meet was not official, and all invalid results will not be reported in the meet results on the website as well as no records being established.  That’s “the bite” for not following the USAWA rules.

I’m VERY EXCITED to report a couple of “firsts” that have just occurred within the Officials Programs.  Ruth Jackson has just successfully passed the USAWA Rules Test and will become the first USAWA member to undergo the Practical Training Session in becoming an USAWA official.  This change was just passed at the past USAWA meeting as further development of the Officials Program.  She will have one year to accomplish this training.  The development of the Officials Program has been a gradual plan to allow for it’s success, with additional requirements being added yearly.  I have felt that the reason the previous official programs have failed were because of a couple factors, 1. requiring “too much” to begin with that NO ONE wanted to abide by, and 2. No penalties/ramifications for not participating in the program (afterall, before you could STILL be an official in all meets with the SAME privileges as someone certified ).  The IAWA(UK) has ALWAYS been WAY AHEAD of us with their officials program, and have required practical training for years before an IAWA(UK) official could be certified.  Now I feel our officials program is as good (if not better!) than theirs. 

The second “first” is that Chad Ullom has become the first member to apply and be granted  Level 2 certification.  Congrats Chad!  This requires an official to be qualified in TWO CATAGORIES , thus the name Level 2.  Level 2 officials are required to have passed the testing requirements, AND  the experience requirements.  Level 2 USAWA officials are considered the TOP TIER of USAWA Officials, and have Lifetime Certification. 

All the details of the USAWA Officials Program are outlined in the USAWA Rulebook and on this website under “Officials List and Rules Test”

 http://www.usawa.com/officials-2/

Bathroom Key Lift

by Roger LaPointe

The Bathroom Key at Atomic Athletic.

EVERYTHING becomes a game at Atomic Athletic… A lifting game.

PHOTO 1: Michael Codding is contemplating how badly he really needs to go to the john. One too many bathroom keys have disappeared here at Atomic Athletic, so we went one step further than the gas station attendant route. Yes, that is one of the base pipes that a fire hydrant would fit onto. It is just as heavy as it looks…

PHOTO 2: The bathroom key farmers walk is one of the dreaded events at the Atomic Athletic warehouse gym. What the heck! It’s only 110 pounds. However, Michael Codding starts his walk with an eager look on his face.

PHOTO 3: Fortunately, we did NOT have to mark a spot of failure in this farmers walk. We keep two pens for that purpose, one yellow and one brown. The bathroom key is heavy and control is really the issue here. Everything is a workout at Atomic Athletic.

Painful but true advice on successfully getting strong in a Garage Gym:

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK1000

For more tips:

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK90

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

The Most Sexy Bald Men in IAWA

by the DINO MAN,  AUTHORITY ON BALD WEIGHTLIFTERS

Just when you think the USAWA website has stooped to a new “all time low”, I try to take things a little deeper.  Thus today’s story. You know – our organization is loaded with bald lifters.  Several of these All-Round muscle-men got chrome-domes that radiate sexy.  It is a proven fact that baldness is a sign of vitality and virility (I think I read that in Mens Health…).   I have been known to shave my head for a big meet every now and then – just to give myself that extra BOOST of testosterone that comes from having a sweaty shiny crown!!!   I think is about time that these bald guys get a little recognition, so I conducted a survey of the MOST SEXY BALD MEN in IAWA.  Of course, I couldn’t make this decision by myself  so I assimilated a panel of women to make this big decision so it’s totally impartial on my part.  I collected pictures of all the good looking bald guys in IAWA and presented them to the panel to make a ranking.  I’m only going to reveal the TOP FIVE, but there were over 20 pictures entered.  Just in case you wondered – only lifters that have competed in the IAWA Gold Cup or the IAWA Worlds within the past 3 years were entered.  I’m keeping the identities of this panel a secret – as I don’t want them to get any complaints personally for not being picked,  or worse yet, words of passion  from a bald headed romeo.

Let the countdown begin to NUMBER ONE!!!

5.  Graham Saxton, ENGLAND

Graham Saxton

This burly built muscle bound man oozes sexyness from his shiny noggin.  I want to mention that Graham wasn’t always bald (I have pictures of him sporting a full head of hair and a beard!), but that was before he became handsome.  

4.  John Gardner, ENGLAND

John Gardner

I was somewhat surprised with Big John making the top five.   However, as one of the panelist remarked, “he looks like a big teddy bear to me”. Another lady said she would just love to rub his head, as she was sure it would bring her good luck.

3.  Chad Ullom, UNITED STATES

Chad Ullom

Chad was the only American to make the top five.  Comments from the panel ranged from, “he looks like a crazy man”, to “I bet he knows how to have fun”. 

2.  Andy Tomlin, SCOTLAND

Andy Tomlin

I expected Andy to make it to the top of this competition.  Andy has the perfect bald head – it’s perfectly shaped and it looks like he doesn’t even have to shave it!!  It’s always glossy.  I suspect that he waxes it. 

1.  Peter Phillips, AUSTRALIA

Peter Phillips

Peter didn’t just win the voting majority of the panel for top spot, he had TWICE as many votes as anyone else!  That makes Peter the SEXIEST BALD MAN IN IAWA.   I know Peter – and from what he has told me he is also quite the romantic.  When in Perth last year, he took several of us to this peaceful little stream outside of the city.  It was a beautiful quiet spot.  Peter told me, “this is the place I like to bring  a Sheila and enjoy a nice bottle of wine.”  I just know his perfected bald head probably helps out the romance.

CONGRATS to all bald men in IAWA!!! This is your day!!!!

COMING SOON FROM THE DINO MAN – the men in IAWA with the best hair!!

New Zealand All Round WL

by Al Myers

New Zealand All Round Weightlifting Association

I have just heard that ALL ROUND WEIGHTLIFTING may be rejuvenated in New Zealand.  Cliff Harvey has moved back there, and has taken an interest in promoting the sport.  Cliff has been very involved with All Round lifting for many years, and was a big of the 2007 IAWA World Championships held in Christchurch, NZ.   I attended that World Meet, and it was a unbelievable meet.  The meet director was Bruce Savage, but several others were instrumental as well in promoting this Championship.

Cliff Harvey performing an One Arm DL in the 2007 IAWA World Championships in New Zealand.

Cliff placed 6th OVERALL at the 2007 IAWA Championships in New Zealand.  That year has been the only year the IAWA Champs have been held in New Zealand.  Let’s hope that Cliff gets the New Zealanders reorganized and they host another big IAWA meet in the future!

DIY Pinch Bar

by Roger LaPointe

Sig Klein and the Pinch Grip.

Grip strength training is nothing new folks. Check out the photo of Sig Klein using a home made pinch grip bar.

Get yourself a nice 4 x 4 beam of wood, sink in a pair of eye hooks and you use that to lift your barbell. Slice up your beam to other thicknesses to work the grip with other sizes. Personally, I find a little stain and poly on mine makes it a nicer looking tool, but that’s really unnecessary. Here are some exercises for your grip with your new Wooden Pinch Bar.

Try these out for size:
Reverse Curls
One Hand Deadlifts
Two Hand Deadlifts
Bent Over Rows
Pinching From the Ends
Wrist Curls
Hack Lifts

That should give you enough to try out and fry your hands. If you want more ideas, check out these three publications:

Garage Gym Guide
http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK1000

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK072

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK90

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

IAWA World Postal

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
2013 IAWA ‘ANDY GODDARD’  WORLD POSTAL ALL ROUND CHAMPIONSHIPS

The late Andy Goddard performing a very difficult IAWA lift - the Middle Fingers Hack Lift.

Steve Gardner has just announced the details of the 2013 IAWA World Postal Meet.  Steve has been promoting the IAWA World Postal Championships for the past few years in memory of his good friend and training partner Andy Goddard.  I was very fortunate to have known Andy, and competed with him several times before his “too soon” departure.  He was an ALL ROUND GREAT GUY as well as a very good All Round Weightlifter.  I’m glad that this postal championship is dedicated to him, and I applaud Steve for keeping Andy’s memory alive by promoting this important IAWA event in his memory.

The three big promotions of IAWA are the IAWA World Championships, the IAWA Gold Cup, and this World Postal Championships.  Worlds and the Gold Cup requires traveling, but this Postal Champs can be done right in your own gym!  I think this meet is a very important one as it allows everyone the opportunity to compete in a big IAWA event no matter what your circumstances are.  It is also free to enter, so there are very few reasons as to not enter it!

The rules for this event are as follows (as outlined on the entry form):

This competition is open to all IAWA lifters, for teams of three, and individuals as well.  Teams may be a mix of open/masters/juniors/ladies, as well as all age and bodyweight allowances will figure in for the results.  No limit to the number of lifters, if a team or group enter more than three: the top three will form the team score.  A sheet caters or 5 lifters.  If you have two teams, then just copy, and use two sheets, etc.  All lifts must be officiated by  2 or 3 IAWA Referees (they should sign the score sheet).  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE IN A TEAM.  Individuals may also take part in the competition as all rankings will be listed for age/weight classes.  Have fun lifting in the Annual “Andy Goddard” Memorial Competition.  Good luck.

Now for some added important information:

1. The date for entry is the END OF JULY.  Make sure your lifts are completed and sent to Steve by that time . 

2. The lifts chosen for this event are the Snatch -One Arm (with bar), the Pullover and Push, the Clean and Jerk, and the Deadlift. The One arm snatch and the P&P are USAWA official lifts and the rules are outlined in the USAWA rulebook.  The Clean and Jerk and the the Deadlift are IAWA lifts (not USAWA lifts).  However, the rules for these two lifts are outlined in the USAWA Rulebook under Section X. Rules of the Basic Movements.

3. If you live in the United States, you MUST be an USAWA member to participate.  Make sure to join before you lift in this postal championships or you will find that your lifts will not be recorded in the official scoresheet.

4. All lifts must be performed in the same day.  This is not specified in the event rules, but is a assumed rule of all postal meets. 

5. Please enter your results in kilograms in the scoresheet.  Steve would make the conversions for you - but the meet is scored in kilograms so enter them that way.

6.  Make sure you PRINT the names of the three officials used as well as having the officials sign the scoresheet.  For USAWA lifters, these officials must be active current certified USAWA officials.  Make sure to check their “status” on the website before assuming  they are current.

7.  As per any meet and as OUTLINED in the rulebook, you get three attempts.  These must be declared and adhered to.  You don’t just keep adding weight till you miss and take unlimited attempts.  That’s not the way a meet runs. The fourth block in the entry form is for an extra fourth attempt for record.

8.  Make sure to list all attempts on the entry form.  Circle the ones you make and cross thru the ones that are missed.

9.  Please write CLEARLY on the scoresheet, and fill out the scoresheet completely!

10.  Remember this postal championship is ran on the HONOR SYSTEM.  Be truthful in your efforts,  and feel good about giving your best performance in an honorable manner. If everyone does that – the future of this meet is strong.

ENTRY FORM – 2013 World Postal Entry

Bikini Clad Phone Book Tear

by Roger LaPointe

Bikini Clad Phone Book Tear

Don’t let the marketing gurus pull the wool over your eyes. Two piece swim suits were around before 1946. The Bikini was just not the name. Here is Relna McRae tearing a Los Angeles telephone book, from the July 1944 Strength & Health magazine. If you want to see some great feats of strength, done live, check out the Night of Strength III DVD . The standout performer is Pat Povilaitis, who is NOT in a Bikini.

If that isn’t enough for you, Pat “The Human Vise” Povilaitis shows everyone at the picnic how he got his nick name. Here is a shot with Pat tearing a deck of cards, with his hands in hand cuffs and a 350 Chevy Engine Block hanging from is head!

You can also see more of Pat, or get the DVD for the 1st Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic:

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=VID210

Time to decorate the Training Hall or Den?

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=POS2006

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

LESSONS LEARNED FROM ‘THE PINES’

BY DAVE GLASGOW

WHEN I WAS A KID, MY FRIENDS AND I HAD A NAME FOR BEING SECOND STRING ON ANY TEAM WE PLAYED ON. WE CALLED IT “RIDING THE PINES”. I WAS VERY FAMILIAR WITH THAT TERM AS I HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE WITH THAT PARTICULAR VIEW OF MOST SPORTING EVENTS I ‘PARTICIPATED’ IN. IT STARTED FROM A YOUNG AGE.

I DISTINCLY REMEMBER MY FORAY INTO THE ATHLETIC WORLD. I WAS 5 YEARS OLD. MY AUNT AND UNCLE GOT ME A PLASTIC BALL AND BAT FOR MY BIRTHDAY. THE FIRST TIME I HIT THAT SPHERE IN THE ‘SWEET SPOT’, I WAS HOOKED. FROM THAT MOMENT ON, I WOULD PLAY ANY SPORT THAT CAME MY WAY. THE ONLY PROBLEM WAS, MY EAGERNESS TO PLAY FAR OUTSTRETCHED MY ABILITIES.

AS A ADOLESCENT AND TEENAGER, ESPECIALLY IN THE ERA I GREW UP, NO ONE (OR DAMN FEW) KNEW ABOUT ‘GENETICS’ OR NATURAL ABILITY. SURE, NATURAL ABILITY WAS TALKED ABOUT, BUT MOST OF US THOUGHT WE COULD OVERCOME THAT WITH HARD WORK AND PERSISTANCE. THIS WAS, TO A POINT, TRUE. HOWEVER, LITTLE DID WE KNOW THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF US DID’NT HAVE THAT ‘X’ FACTOR AND OUR EFFORTS WERE, MOSTLY, SELF FLAGELLATION. AS FOR ME, ‘THE PINES’ WERE MY CONSTANT COMPANIONS.

LOOKING BACK ON THOSE DAYS, I REALIZE, NOW, THAT I THOUGHT I WAS A LOT BETTER THAN I WAS. IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME THAT THE MANY COACHES I HAD SAW MY ABILITIES AND PRESCRIBED THE BEST PLACE FOR MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE TEAM.

HOWEVER, HERE ARE SOME THINGS I LEARNED BY BEING A UNIFORMED SPECTATOR.

PERSISTANCE. NO MATTER WHAT SPORT I WAS PLAYING, I MADE EVERY PRACTICE, EVERY MEETING, CHEERED MY TEAMMATES, WHATEVER WAS ASKED OF ME. THIS PERSISTANCE CAME IN REAL HANDY LATER IN MY LIFE.

DETERMINATION. WHAT MORE CAN I SAY ABOUT THAT. IT IS SELF EVIDENT. TO DO ANYTHING IN LIFE, YOU NEED THIS QUALITY, IN AN ABUNDENT AMOUNT. BELIEVE ME, SITTING ON THE PINES, SOMETIMES, TOOK ALL THE DETERMINATION I COULD MUSTER.

RESILANCE. SITTING ON THE BENCH TAKES A LOT OF THIS. DAILY REJECTION, IN FRONT OF YOUR PEERS, IS NOT SOMETHING I ENJOYED, AT ALL. HOWEVER, I WAS GOING TO BE DAMNED IF I WAS GOING TO GIVE IN AND QUIT. ALL I NEEDED WAS ONE ‘CHANCE’! (THAT ‘CHANCE’ CAME IN A COLLEGE SOCCER GAME. WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT GAME IS STILL PAINFUL, BUT I DID’NT STOP. I SHOWED UP FOR PRACTICE THE NEXT DAY. I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHY.)

WILL POWER. ANY OF YOU WHO HAVE HAD TO MAKE WEIGHT KNOWS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT HERE. SHOW ME A HIGH SCHOOL KID WHO IS’NT CONSTANTLY HUNGRY AND I’LL SHOW YOU A SICK KID. THIS AUTO-STARVATION WILL TEST THE VERY CORE OF YOUR BEING. AND QUESTION YOUR SANITY.

SELF ESTEEM. YEAH, I KNOW. HOW MUCH SELF ESTEEM CAN YOU GET ON THE PINES?? GOOD QUESTION. I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS A LOT. I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT MY PARTICIPATION MADE ME THINK MORE OF MYSELF, DUE TO THE FACT THAT, BY GOD, I MAY BE ON THE BENCH WITH PRECIOUS LITTLE PLAYING TIME BUT I WAS PART OF A TEAM! SOMETHING BIGGER THAN MYSELF. THE CAMMERADERIE CARRIED OVER TO A SENSE OF SELF WORTH THAT I AM STILL PROUD OF TODAY.

I HAVE COME TO REALIZE THAT MY TIME ON ‘THE PINES’ SHAPED ME INTO WHO I AM TODAY. LIFE THROWS A LOT OF CURVE BALLS AND TAKEDOWNS. STANDING IN TOUGH TO ATTEMPT TO HIT A CURVE BALL THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BREAK IS A PARODY OF LIFE THAT IS HARD TO DENY (YEAH, I DID GET TO PLAY. ONCE IN A WHILE!). BEING TAKEN DOWN IN A MATCH IS NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT CAN AND WILL HAPPEN TO YOU IN THE REAL WORLD. LAY THERE AND GET PINNED OR GET TO YOUR BASE AND WORK OUT OF IT.

FINALLY, THE SPLINTERS IN MY ASS HAVE LEFT ME WITH GREAT MEMORIES AND I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT BEING PART OF A TEAM KEPT ME OUT OF A LOT OF TROUBLE THEN. BESIDES, WHAT BETTER WAY TO GET A RING SIDE SEAT TO THE BEST SHOW IN TOWN!??

Discover New Eyes

by Roger LaPointe

Jackson LaPointe agrees with Yasser, "Don't be a crying baby!" Stone lifting is apparently in his genes. Jackson is only 6 days old and he is already hefting stone balls onto barrels!

“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust

I have had a stunning number of questions about how I “train” my son, who is five years old. This is thanks to my using him as a model for some of our shirts, as well as my relating truths I have learned from him. It is also a compliment, so I thank you all.

“So?” you ask, “what are the most popular questions and what perspective are people coming from?” Well, many questions seem to be from dads who want their kid to become a better athlete. Cool. I understand the desire. As for being an expert on raising a kid, this is my first time around, so take that for what it is. Here is my advice for “training” your future athlete: train your child’s mind.

If you are an Atomic Athletic fan, then you probably know or guess that I look at training and the world a little differently than most. This can be a double edged sword. A friend of mine recently quoted Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, who said, “I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” I did a day of volunteer work at my son’s kindergarten class and noticed that while all the other kids were using single colors, staying in the lines and making their coloring projects pretty much the same, my son’s was completely different. While he stayed in the lines, he also had multi-colored swirls, patches of color and pictures within pictures. I like to think that my 5 year old has the lessons of the good Dr. firmly ingrained in his head. He also loves to play outside, pick up heavy things and fight with a heavy bag. He regularly sees new, strange and unusual “toys” at my office and warehouse. His first reaction is to play with them.

If you are genuinely interested in training that will take you on a different journey, start here:

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK90

Train your mind first.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Give’em The Finger

by Roger LaPointe

The Set-up for the Finger Lifts.

Ever wanted to just give the whole world the finger? Yeah. I know. You do things your way, because that’s the way you like it.

Well, you be pretty sure you have some of the strongest fingers when you give’em the finger. Atomic Athletic has some tips and tools. One of the tools is a serious steel lifting ring.

3 Tips for Finger Lifts
1. Start off light. That’s every single workout. You don’t want to pop a tendon.
2. Exercise & Competition are two different things. Don’t use other fingers for support. Don’t train individual fingers for 1 Rep Maxing, unless that’s your thing…
3. Stretch your fingers before AND after this exercise, not just before and after your whole training session. Feel free to ignore this one, if you don’t care about fine motor skills, like typing.

We actually sell two different sizes, just specify the one you want in the Customer Instructions section of the order: choices are big or small. They are the same price.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

CLUB CHALLENGE CANCELLED

by Al Myers

URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT

I just received word from John McKean, the Meet Director of this weekend’s USAWA Club Challenge, that he is cancelling the meet.  John has concerns of the recent bad weather and poor road conditions, and does not want to risk anyone’s travel.  The weather has been unpredictable recently, and the roads could quickly become hazardous for travel.

Please pass this information along to anyone that may have planned to attend the Club Championships.

Building a Training Hall

by Roger LaPointe

The Ambridge Barbell Club can be classified as an "Old School" Training Hall!

Training halls are not built over night. What do you think of when you hear about a training hall? My guess is that a different image is conjured up from when you hear “fitness facility”. Am I right?

The old gyms and YMCAs, where many greats in the iron game trained, tended to be dingy after thoughts, as far as facilities would go. The great old training halls that I think of had beautiful woodwork. They may have had lines of old globe type barbells and Indian clubs lining the walls. There would always be a heavy duty, slightly raised wooden lifting platform in the center of the room. There was always some boxing equipment, or even and full ring.

These were the genuine “man caves” of a bygone era. You didn’t see pastel colors or ferns. There might be a mirror on one wall, but the art work would typically be nicely framed instructional courses, anatomical charts or promo photographs of strongmen from the past. There would be a bulletin board with the information on the next weightlifting contests or wrestling matches. Guys like Sig Klein would be your instructor, not a “personal trainer”. They were genuine record holders who had actually competed and set records. Respect was implicit and you asked them questions. You would never question them. You want to see training halls? Is it time that your place started morphing into a training hall, instead of just “weights in the basement”?

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

How to Evaluate a Lifting Bar

by Al Myers

COURSE 101: BAR BENDING. Any thoughts on whether this bar returned to its original straightness?

Most that know me know that I have an passion with lifting bars.  I have over 50 bars in the Dino Gym – some excellent high quality bars, some just good bars, and others that are just “run of the mill” bars.  I don’t consider myself a collector either, as I use most of these bars in training from time to time.

Most lifters don’t take notice of the bar they are lifting on.  It’s just a piece of equipment that is necessary to lift the plates that are on it.  There’s nothing wrong with that thinking.  After all, the purpose of training is to get stronger and that can be done using anything – including a bad bar.  Having HIGH QUALITY BARS for training is not a big determining factor in getting stronger.  The bar is just a means to an end result.  I’m saying this because I want to make the point that having TOP TIER bars for training are not necessary, they are more just a luxury.

Now how does one evaluate what constitutes a quality bar?  There are “hundreds” of bars on the market – with each one having a “sales pitch” behind it. Bars are generally broken into 2 categories:

1. Economy Bars (or Junk Bars)

Economy bars are bars made with cheaper steel, poorer sleeve designs,  ”looser” quality controls, and are sold at a lower price.  I refer to these as “junk bars”.  I have several of them by the way.  They usually don’t last long though in the Dino Gym, and get bent.  But they serve the purpose they are used for, namely exercises that put a bar at “high risk” for damage.  Like rack pulls, quick lifts in the rack, one arm lifts, etc.  I don’t want to jeopardize a good bar for these exercises as they are not designed for it.  I think of “junk bars” as disposable – use them till they bend, then throw them away. 

2.  Commercial Bars (or High Quality Bars)

This category should be named HIGH QUALITY bars instead, because it is very common for commercial gyms to have economy bars that are “passed off” as a commercial bar. Just put a shiny coat of chrome on a bar and it becomes a “good bar” in most gym-goers eyes.   There are many manufacturers of junk bars, but only a few make the top end bars.   Don’t always rely on this though, as most manufacturers of high quality bars also have a economy line as well.  There are probably over 20 junk bars to every 1 high quality bar sold. If you want to know the difference – just look at the price tag! Cheap bars are “cheap” and high quality bars cost more. You get what you pay for. 

High quality bars are made from higher tensile strength steel, sleeves are secured with roll pins or snap rings and contain either bearings or quality bushings, and have better knurling.  They are less apt to permanently bend when used. Often high quality bars are often made with a purpose in mind – Olympic weightlifting,  general powerlifting, deadlifting, squatting, etc.  They are designed for the exercise in question.  They often have a good  finish – having been zinc plated or a black oxide finish. They are not chrome plated!  Factors which influence steel properties are many – combination of alloys, heat treatment procedures, carbon content,  etc – I don’t want to get into that in this story as there’s too many other things to talk about.   I will keep it simple here and say high quality bars are made with better steel (and it’s not from China!!!).

From now on I’m just going to talk about high quality bars, as junk bars really don’t need evaluated.  Terming them “junk bars’ is evaluation enough. I like to break down the evaluation of a high quality bar into these 6 attributes:

1. Strength Rating
2.  Dimensions – bar diameter & lengths
3.  Sleeve Design
4. Knurling
5.  Finish
6.  Feel

1.  Strength Rating

This is often the NUMBER ONE thing that lifters look at when picking out a bar, and is really just a small factor in the total picture of a high quality bar. Years ago bar manufacturers would promote their product by giving  out a Static Rating, a number which was intended to mean the weight the bar could hold before it would bend permanently.  The first bar I bought was sold as a 700 lb. test bar.  I thought that sounded good – as I wasn’t squatting or deadlifting 700 pounds yet. Well, I bent it with doing explosive squats with 405 shortly after I bought it.  Something wasn’t adding up!  I then bought another cheap 700 lb. test bar and bent it as well.  It was at this time I was studying engineering at Kansas State University and was taking an engineering course, statics and dynamics, that I realized my errors in my thinking.  The Static Test in determining this POUND RATING was done entirely different than what I was doing with the bar in the squat rack.  In a Static Test the weight is loaded slowly on a bar as its supported, which allows the steel to “conform” to the bend, not under a sudden load as I was putting it under as I was ascending with my squats.  Its a Static Rating – not a Dynamic Rating.  Add in differences of where the bar is being supported during these Static Tests, and you can see this is a very poor rating system for evaluating bar strengths.  You would assume that the bar would be supported in the middle – but I question if that has always been the case in giving out test strength ratings. Moving the supports outwards would increase the Rating.   It wasn’t long before most bars went to a 1000 lb. rating, then onto 1500 lbs. and above.  After all, a higher Static Rating equated to a better bar and more sales (a marketing  fallacy that lifters have ”fell for” for years in my opinion).

Now most high quality bars are sold with a PSI Rating of Tensile Strength  instead of a Static Rating (even though often you will see both disclosed on a bar).  PSI stands for pounds per square inch.   This rating is intended to tell you how much force can be applied to a bar before it breaks.  This means more to me than a Static Rating because at least you know the force was applied at a set point, ie the middle.  The testing involves putting a bar in a press and applying pressure to higher levels, until it snaps.    The limitation is still that it is a static force measurement, not a dynamic one as the “real world” bar would be experiencing.  But it is a better testing method for determining a bars strength rating than the Static Test.  But what lifter really wants to know what PSI it would take break a bar? No one wants to push a bar to THAT LIMIT!  I’m more interested in how much force (in PSI) a bar can take and still return to straightness.  That is termed Yield Strength – and a measurement that bar manufactures rarely reveal for “who knows why”.  Probably because it is a much lower number than Tensile Strength PSI and marketing doesn’t  want lifters to mistakenly compare “apples to oranges”, because they don’t know the difference. 

2.  Dimensions

A bar’s dimensions are very important in evaluating a bar, and these measurements vary significantly from bar to bar.  Like I said earlier, most high quality bars are designed with a specific lifting purpose in mind.  For example, Olympic weightlifting bars have very different dimensions than a deadlifting bar.  Even among Olympic WL bars, these measurements are different.  One WL bar may have a diameter of 28mm, and another one may be 29mm.  The length between collars may be slightly different as well.  The high quality deadlifting bars have a diameter of 27mm, while the high quality squat bars may be 32mm.  The marker lines on bars are different as well.  Powerlifting bars should have the 32 inch marker line for hand placement, which is NOT the handspacing  for Oly lifting.  WL bars should have the weightlifting marker lines instead. The standard length for most bars is 7 feet, but some bars are longer (i.e. deadlifting and squat bars).   Pay attention to these  dimensions when  picking out a high quality bar.  You want the bar  to serve the purpose you intended for it.

3.  Sleeve Design

Sleeve designs are different for every bar, but are very important in making  a bar a high quality bar.  For weightlifting, the sleeves should rotate very smoothly to accommodate snatching and clean and jerks.  I have taken apart many bars, and I always marvel at the insides of bar sleeves.  This is the part of the bar no one ever sees. I enjoy taking sleeves apart, and I think of it as doing an autopsy on a bar (which it usually is as the bar was previously ”killed off” and bent, thus the reason  I was disassembling it).   There are many ways sleeves are designed to enhance rotation.  This is what I have seen, from worse to best:  1. metal on metal, 2. plastic bushings, 3.  nylon bushings/brass bushings, 4. ball bearings, & 5. needle bearings.  That pretty much sums it up.  Needle bearings have long been considered the “gold standard” – but I can tell you there are differences there as well.  I’ve taken apart several junk bars that I’m  surprised they rotate at all, as all they contain is a couple of worn cheap plastic bushings – yet are marketed as having bushings.  These type of bushings shouldn’t even be called bushings as they are so inferior to the quality bushings (like nylon and brass)  high quality bars have.  The diameter of the sleeves should always be checked.  Most high quality bars have sleeves that are very close to 2″ (sometimes as much as 1-31/32″).  If your plates are high quality as well (and in turn have close tolerances for the bar hole), the bar may not fit well in some plates.  The reason for this is that at the “top end” the bar is made for the plate being used, and BY THE SAME MANUFACTURER.  The Manufacturer makes the bar and plates as a set to “go together” with close tolerances, so the plates won’t be “sloppy” on the bar.  The way the sleeve is held onto the bar also tells alot about the quality.  You can quickly spot a low quality bar if the sleeve is held on by a bolt in the end.  This is the cheapest and easiest way to hold the sleeve on, but this bolt never seems to stay tight and requires constant attention so the sleeve doesn’t fall off!  This design allows lateral sleeve movement on the bar, which is undesirable.  It gets worse with wear. The “high end” bars use snap rings or roll pins.  A few use both.  The best design is using snap rings, as they are concealed and very rarely fail (yet I have seen it happen, but only when the bar was used in an unconventional matter). 

4.  Knurling

Every bar has its own unique knurling.  I think of knurling as the “fingerprint” of a bar.  It defines the bar and makes it different from other bars. Most people think knurling is cut into a bar, but that is false, as knurling is actually done by a pressing process.  There are many different “setups” for knurling, with each one giving a unique knurl.  Some are deeper, some wider, different patterns,etc.  The purpose of having knurling is to enhance your grip on the bar, without causing damage to your hand.  Different lifters have different preferences on the “aggressiveness” of the knurl.  The spacing of the knurling is different as well.  Some bars have center knurling, while others don’t . 

5.  Finish

The top choices for a bar finish are these:  1. none or blued, 2.  Chrome plated, 3. Zinc plated, and  4. Black oxide. If you are fortunate to have a stainless steel bar you have a bar that DOES NOT need a finish.  The stainless steel stays looking good always!  I have one Stainless Steel Bar, that I have had for over 5 years, and it has NO rust or corrosion on it.  It looks as good now as when I bought it.  However, stainless steel is very expensive (3 to 5 times that of other steel), and is difficult to machine which makes these bars prohibitively expensive.  That’s why you don’t see them much.  Chrome plating is the standard of economy bars because it’s the lowest cost way of keeping a bar shiny.  That’s what you see on bars in commercial gyms, as they can be wiped clean after usage and remain with a glossy finish.  I actually hate chrome plated bars – they are harder to grip, the chrome often starts to flake off after heavy use, and the chrome doesn’t hold chalk well.  Zinc plating has become more common recently.  At first glance you might think a Zinc plated bar was chromed, but you can tell the difference if you see both of them side by side.  Black oxide is also a very common bar finish. I really like this finish as these bars hold chalk well and the knurling is not coated with chrome or zinc and has a better feel.  Now there are also a few high quality bars that have no finish (or maybe just a bluing).  You can spot these in the gym because they are rusted and look like crap.  But that doesn’t bother me getting a little rust on my hands if the bar is a great bar otherwise!  I have one of these in the gym (I won’t name it!) that is one of my favorite bars.  You have to remember that a finish is put on a bar for only one reason – to make it look better.  It provides no benefit to the functionality or performance of the bar, and I’ve talked to several lifters that prefer the feel of the “natural steel” over that of a bar with a finish.  

6.  Feel

Now this is the intrinsic category.  No measurements or processing procedures here to make an evaluation.  It comes down to answering this question,”how does the bar feel in your hands when you lift on it?”.  Do you like it?  Or does it just don’t feel right?  A bar may look like the “bar of your dreams”, but when you load it up to a heavy weight and perform a lift, does it feel as good as it looks?  I’ve been disappointed before with a new bar.  There are several factors that make bars feel different.  The biggest one is “bar deflection”.  This is the bend that occurs when the bar is moved or accelerated during a lift.  It is purely a result of the steel properties of the bar, and is different for every bar.  Some bars deflect more, while others are stiffer when lifting on.  The bar diameter and ratings may tell you a little on this, but it comes down to the steel used.  I say this because I have bars that have the same diameters and ratings, yet deflect (or bend) differently when lifted on.  As well, each lifter has their own preference.  The same goes for “bar oscillation”.  This is sometimes referred to as whip.  It occurs when the bar is deflected during acceleration of a lift, and then the movement of the bar is ceased. The oscillation will continue upwards.  Some bars will deflect, then return to position quicker than others and have less oscillation.  Others will tend to oscillate, which can be viewed as favorable or not, depending on the lifter and how they can adjust to it.  Sometimes it can be used to the lifters advantage, as often seen in the clean when rebounding from the catch to the squat.  Sometimes “the feel” is purely psychological with a bar.   I have a couple of bars that are my “go to” bars when I want to get a big lift in for the workout.  I’ve had success with them in the past – and this confidence is propagated into future success.  The question is answered - the bar just feels good in my hands when I lift on it!

I hope all this helps in understanding how to evaluate a lifting bar.  I apologize for getting so long with all this – which I guess goes to show that I may be beyond passionate on this subject and bordering on obsessive/compulsive.  I’m going to cover a few of the bars in the Dino Gym over the next couple of months in USAWA Daily News stories.  Several of the Dino Gym bars have interesting stories that go with them. and I want to share this with you.

And to answer the question in BAR BENDING:101 – that poor bar was never straight again!

Flaming Indian Clubs

by Roger LaPointe

Flaming Indian Clubs!!!

I called Larry, an old friend, this morning. Just when I thought I had heard it all, Larry had another awesome story with visual impact to spare. Larry doesn’t even use “weights” for his weightlifting anymore. In fact, he gave away all of his barbell and dumbbell plates. Of course, resistance training is still part of his life and that means I have to ask him what he is doing now.

ROUTINE? Anything but…

Indian Clubs by Atomic Athletic.

Indian clubs are an integral part of Larry’s current training routine. We talked about some of the endless variations of club swinging. One key is how some practitioners get lazy and try to go too heavy with their clubs. Now, there is heavy and then there is heavy. Larry was talking about EGO heavy, where you start seeing the clubs flop around, or even sit on the shoulders. While being dangerous, it’s also not very helpful.

“So Larry, how do you recommend dealing with ego laziness? Are you a spiked club kinda guy?” Spiking clubs is something that you will occasionally see in the Kushti Wrestling schools in India, where there can be a hundred or more nails sticking out of the club. It provides incentive not to let the club get too close, but I don’t think insurance companies cover that sort of tool.

“No, of course not, Roger. That could lead to sliced up shoulders and blood. Nope. My Dad used to light his on fire.” “Really?” I replied. “Oh yeah,” he said, “he used wood ones that he coated with some kind of fuel. Then he would train at night in our back yard. It was one heck of a display. It really lit things up. Of course, I don’t recommend that. But he always said that it ensured perfect form. I like to think about that when I use clubs today. My form always improves.”

Next time you are training with your clubs, imagine they are on fire. Your form will get a little more precise as well.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”