Where do we go?

by Eric Todd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Training arms with Bill Pearl

by Al Myers

Bill Pearl performing a standing Barbell Curl.

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

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

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

EXERCISE NO. 1 – TRICEPS PUSH DOWN ON LAT MACHINE

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

EXERCISE NO. 2 – SEATED DUMBBELL CURLS

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

Still more of Pearl's arm favorites!

EXERCISE NO. 3 – TRICEPS EXTENSIONS WITH BARBELL

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

EXERCISE NO. 4 – TRICEP DIPS ON STOOLS

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

EXERCISE NO. 5 – STANDING BARBELL CURLS

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

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

Roman Chair Squat

by Thom Van Vleck

The Roman Chair Squat

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

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

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

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

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

Super Arm Blaster

by Al Myers

The Super Arm Blaster, now that’s a “blast from the past’, or should I say “blaster from the paster”!  The other night while training alone I spotted something shiny sticking out from behind the dumbbell rack. As I dug through miscellaneous plates and other lifting paraphernalia that I’ve accumulated other the years, there it was – the SUPER ARM  …… More

Best Exercise Ever

by Thom Van Vleck

Many years ago I was reading an old Ironman Magazine.  When I say “old” I mean when Peary Radar ran it and when it was a great strength publication and not a bodybuilding rag.  They had asked a question of a number of lifters and gym owners (those that trained people in their gym).  The question  …… More

Louis Abele’s Training Program

by Al Myers

At our Nationals in June, Dennis Mitchell loaned me a pamphlet that outlined Louis Abele’s Training Programs.  It was compiled by Chester O. Teegarden, and  published in 1948.  It is only 15 pages long, and has lots of interesting training information and insight into the training philosophies of Louis Abele.  I actually had set this pamphlet aside  …… More

SUPERMAN CANCELLED

by Al Myers

I just received word that this weekend’s USAWA all round meet at Jobe’s Steel Jungle is CANCELLED  due to lack of entries.  Jesse was advertising this meet as the “SUPERMAN MEET”.  It contained the all round versions of the two Olympic Lifts and the 3 Powerlifts – 5 lifts in total.  Several of the lifts were going to  …… More

To Kettlebell or Not

by Thom Van Vleck

I work at a University and we have a rec center on campus.  It’s a small school so the rec center is actually pretty decent for our size but still small.  The guy that runs it has been there for 30 plus years and he is very upbeat and positive.  Dan came out of the 70’s  …… More

Lifter of the Month: Chad Ullom

by Al Myers

Congratulations goes to Chad Ullom for being selected as the USAWA Lifter of the Month for the month of July.  Chad had a very active summer – placing second overall at Nationals in the Mens Division, competing in the World Stone Challenge in Scotland, participating in the USAWA Club Championships,  and finishing with a FIRST PLACE overall finish at  …… More

RIP Casey Viator

by Al Myers

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

Casey Viator was best known for winning the 1970 AAU Mr. America at the age of 19, the youngest to ever win that title.  I  …… More

Why Progressive Resistance Isn’t Always Progressive

by Thom Van Vleck

Most everyone knows the story of Milo.  He was a Greek wrestler that dominated wrestling in ancient Greece in his time…that is pretty much a fact.  The legend is he became that way because he observed that he could lift a bull on his shoulder and he supposed that if he did that every day that  …… More

Battle in the Barn

[ October 19, 2013; 9:00 am; ]

by Eric Todd

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
2nd ANNUAL BATTLE IN THE BARN

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

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

I feel our gym has one  …… More

New Rulebook Available!

by Al Myers

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

This is the 7th Edition of the USAWA Rulebook.  Since 2009 there has been an updated  …… More

Phumchaona Lift

by Al Myers

The USAWA is full of odd and weird all round lifts.  Some have been performed rarely – and some NEVER!  Well, at my Dino Days Record Days one of these lifts was performed for USAWA Record for the first time.  It took someone as odd as the lift itself to finally make this happen in the USAWA (and  …… More

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

BY DAVE GLASGOW

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

THEY ARE ALL AS  …… More

My Visit to Ledaig Heavy Athletics

by Thom Van Vleck

Recently I got to make my first trip to Ledaig since Dave built his new facility.  This is Dave Glasgow’s family gym.  I say family gym because it belongs to his whole family.  You drive down that road and it’s hard to figure out which “Glasgow” to stop at as each mailbox has that name on  …… More

Boxes for Lifting

by Thom Van Vleck

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

Squat Boxes

Most people think of them for box squats which is what mine probably get used for the most.  I prefer to NOT do the box squats  …… More

Dino Days Record Day

by Al Myers

The Dino Days Weekend finished off with a USAWA Record Day on Sunday.  For the first time EVER, I had a conflict and could not be present at the record day on Sunday.  However, I left Denny Habecker and Scott Tully in charge, and would you believe this – it was the BEST record day the Dino  …… More

Team Championships

by Al Myers

2013 USAWA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Dino Gym hosted the USAWA Team Championships last weekend.  This is a championship event that contests “team lifting”.  Team lifting consists of lifting on the bar with a partner – and consists of three divisions:  2-MAN, 2-WOMAN, and MIXED PAIR.  Mixed pair is a team that consists of a male  …… More

Unorthodoxy: A Training Program

By Thom Van Vleck

Anybody that trains for any length of time will get stale on any particular routine.  Everybody knows that.  We constantly switch things around to keep things fresh.  For many of us this means recycling many of the basic routines over and over….which can become stale within itself.  I have been training for 36 years and it’s  …… More

Team Champs Reminder

by Al Myers

REMINDER – the USAWA Team Championship is this weekend!

Presidential Cup

by Al Myers

MEET RESULTS & REPORT

2013 USAWA PRESIDENTIAL CUP

The second annual Presidential Cup only brought four lifters to the platform, but it was filled with some outstanding lifting performances in the host site, Habecker’s Gym.  This USAWA Championships crowns a Champion of the Record Days.   The basis of this honor is chosen by our USAWA President  …… More

Presidential Cup & Century Club

by Al Myers

The Presidential Cup is coming up fast (THIS WEEKEND)!  It is hosted by our USAWA President Denny Habecker at his gym, Habeckers Gym, in Lebanon, PA.

I have my plane ticket bought and ready to “join in”  this premier Record Day event in the USAWA.  The Presidential Cup is modeled after the IAWA Gold Cup, to allow  …… More

Interview with Chad Ullom

by Al Myers

Al: Recently you participated in the World Stone Championships in Scotland. Could you tell me how you got invited to this prestigious event? Please feel free to share any other details of the event.

Chad:  Well, Francis Brebner has been planning on doing this type of challenge for many years, but circumstances caused it to fall through.   …… More

World Postal Meet

by Steve Gardner

MEET RESULTS

Andy Goddard Memorial – World Postal Challenge 2013

A Total of 62 Lifters took part in this year’s event, 25 teams in all. Results from teams that lifted in front of 3 refs, were submitted for record claims. Several prominent lifters were injured and having to lift below par, but the IAWA spirit saw them  …… More

OTSM Championships

[ December 7, 2013; 9:00 am; ]

by Thom Van Vleck

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

Third Annual Old Time Strongman Championships

A date has been set for the OTSM.  December 7th!  So mark your calendars! Here are the details to date:

Date: 12/7/2013

Time: 10:00am weigh in begins, warm ups with a start time of noon.

Place: Kirksville, Missouri (exact location TBD)

Events:  …… More

Grandpa’s Farm: A Legacy of Strength

by Eric Todd

I have shared this story in a number of forms on a number of different occasions.  But I feel it is worth repeating here once again.  For anyone interested in seeing a brief video, the condensed version, please look here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK3NYJs4nec

My Grandpa, Gus Lohman, was a farmer.  He was a farmer all of his  …… More

David Webster & the Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

If it wasn’t for David Webster, the stone lifting World might never have heard of the Dinnie Stones. David Webster  is the man who made the presence of the Dinnie Stones well known.  Without this, all the recent notoriety the Dinnie Stones have received would have never happened.  These famous lifting stones might be laying obscure at the  …… More

The Wagman Log – Not So Pristine

By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

Publisher/Editor in Chief: Journal of Pure Power (JOPP)

Consultant: Body Intellect Sports Performance Enhancement Consortium

Recently Thom Van Vleck wrote a wonderful article about the Jackson Stones on his farm. One of the responses to that article on the USAWA Forum mentioned how strongman should be about lifting such oddly shaped  …… More

Club Award to the Salvation Army Gym

by Al Myers

I was glad to be able to personally award the Salvation Army Gym their Runner Club Award from the USAWA at their USAWA meet last weekend.  These awards, presented on behalf of the USAWA, were given out at the National Championships.  However, since no representatives from the Salvation Army Gym were able to be present at Nationals,  …… More

Joe the Turk OTSM

 by Tim Piper

“Joe the Turk” Old Time Strongman Meet- Press Release

The Macomb Salvation Army hosted the “Joe the Turk” Old Time Strongman Meet on July 27.  “Joe the Turk” was Macomb Illinois’ original “strongman” and holds a unique and special place in the history of the Macomb Salvation Army.  At the turn of the 2o th  …… More

Jackson Stones

by Thom Van Vleck

When you come to my place I have a circle drive in front of my house.  In the center is a tree planted on honor of my mother in law, Peggy Lynn Barton-Baybo, who passed away about 10 years ago.  Around the tree are four limestone fence posts that weigh around 225lbs each that came from  …… More

Jobe’s Superman Meet

by Jesse Jobe

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

Superman Meet

I have always been fascinated by all forms of lifting. And years ago I remember reading about some meets called Superman meets, where a lifter performed the Olympic lifts and the Powerlifting lifts for a Superman total.  I wanted to be able to stay as close as possible to the traditional  …… More

Joe the Turk reminder

by Al Myers

This will be the last reminder for the “Joe the Turk” OTSM competition tomorrow, hosted by Tim Piper and the Salvation Army Gym in Macomb, Illinois.  It is looking to be a good turnout on hand.  I’m leaving with Chad shortly, and I talked to Denny yesterday and him and Art are making the trek from PA.   …… More

Scott Schmidt – New LEVEL 2 OFFICIAL

by Al Myers

It’s always exciting news when a new USAWA certified official reaches LEVEL 2 officiating status.  Congratulations goes to Scott Schmidt for becoming the most recent Level 2 official.   Scott went about reaching Level 2 status in an unorthodox manner.  Let me explain.

The typical process of becoming a USAWA official involves taking the Rule Test first.  This consists of  …… More

Looking for Mr. Goodbar

by Thom Van Vleck

I consider Al Myers to be the definitive expert on bars and he has written article before on them that I could never compete with in regards to expertise.  I just have to admit…I’m a bit of an addict when it comes to my training and the equipment involved.  The Pendlay bar is the 19th in  …… More

Lifter of the Month: Molly Myers

by Al Myers

The lifter of the month for the month of June goes to Molly Myers!  The lifter of the month was established to recognize an outstanding performance over the course of the month in USAWA competitions/events.  Molly was awarded BEST OVERALL FEMALE LIFTER at the 2013 USAWA National Championships in Lebanon, PA.   I consider winning Best Overall Lifter at Nationals as a “slam  …… More

Middle Atlantic Postal Meet

by Al Myers

The “second quarter” USAWA Postal Meet has just been compiled.   The date of completion was the end of the  month of June. Nine lifters took part – 8 men and 1 woman.  It was a great selection of all round lifts contested – press from rack, reverse grip curl, and the hack lift. 

The big winners of  …… More

New Orleans Anvil Lifting

by Thom Van Vleck

Recently a friend of mine said that every weightlifter is always secretly sizing up objects around him to see if he can lift them.  I guess I do that to.  Some you know are impossible, others not so impossible.  I like to keep my eye out for Anvils.  Most of you know my affinity for anvils,  …… More

LEDAIG – CLUB OF THE YEAR

by Al Myers

I was glad to be able to personally present Dave Glasgow and the rest of the Ledaig  “gang”  their USAWA Award for 2012 Club of the Year at the Club Championships last weekend! Congrats to the Ledaig HA!!