Accepting the Aging Process

by Thom Van Vleck

None of these guys are showing any sign of aging any time soon! This "unretouched" photo shows that lifting keeps you youthful! Joe Garcia, Chad Ullom, Al Myers, LaVerne Myers, and Thom Van Vleck getting ready to down Cheese Steak Sandwichs in Philadelphia before the Heavy Event Nationals!

I have said it before, the USAWA sometimes seems like a retirement sport for lifters.   The organization has it’s fair share of older lifters and I think it’s great.  I don’t think it has anything to do with it being an organization for older lifters but everything to do with the wide variety of lifts available to the lifters.  This allows those who have injuries that keep them from Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, or strongman meets to stay active and still make gains.

I have known Joe for at least 25 years, Al and Chad for 17 years, and have really gotten to know LaVerne that last 5 years.  We have all had long lifting careers and our fair share of injuries.  And yet, in the photo above we don’t seem to have a SINGLE grey hair…at least in our beards….that PROVES lifting keeps you young!

In particular, I have known Al through having his bicep reattached not once, but TWICE on his right arm a ONCE on his left.  Yet he continues to plug away breaking record after record.  Had he stuck to just powerlifting or just Highland games, that would have been difficult to do.   So that’s a second reason the USAWA is popular among older lifters, they can keep setting records and that keeps them motivated to lift hard.

Many of you know, but maybe a few don’t, that Al was a high ranked Professional Highland Games Athlete.  He even held a Pro world record!  That’s no easy feat!  It’s actually how I met him and not through my affiliation with Bill Clark and Bob Burtzloff (Al’s brother in law).  That was just one of those “small world” deals that we found out later.   There was a time when Al “retired” from throwing.  I was personally pretty sad about this because I had enjoyed our many road trips to Highland Games.  Al told me one time it was hard to stay motivated about throwing when he knew he’d peaked in that sport and would likely never be as good a thrower as he was when he was at his prime.  However, in the USAWA he could still find lifts that he could work on and set not only USAWA records in, but personal bests, too.  And that keeps a guy motivated about his training when he feels he can keep setting “personal bests”!

Now, the photo above, to be honest, was “retouched” just a little.  Al recently dyed….errrrr…I mean “highlighted” his beard because when he grew it back after a long absence (Al used to sport a beard for most of the early years I knew him) it had gotten a little grey…..OK, let’s be honest, it was as snow white as Santa’s beard!   So Al “highlighted” it a little and we gave him a hard time about it.  But seriously, Al is an ageless wonder and I have no doubt that someday he will challenge Art Montini, Dennis Habecker, and the other top record holders for most records ever.

USAWA is a sport that keeps you young at heart!

John O’Brien: Part 2

John O'Brien "blowing up" a pop can using his incredible grip in one of our JWC evangelism shows!

by Thom Van Vleck

I will continue my story on my friend and strength athlete John O’Brien.

In part one I ended with John coming to one of our strongman evangelism shows.  John approached us about joining our team.  We are always happy when guys want to join us, but we also want to make sure they are in it for the right reasons.  Now, I’ve NEVER turned down anyone that wants to join us, but I also want to make sure guys know that it’s not “all about physical strength” but a real Christian ministry effort.  We don’t “show off” we “share” our God given talents for strength for God’s glory.

I invited John out the the JWC gym to meet with him about his desire to join the evangelism team.  John had this amazing and wonderful story about his son, Xavier (who recently became an Eagle scout!).  He talked about how he had drifted away from God and Church and that science had, in essence, become his religion.  He came to believe that science could answer any question about life.  Then along came Xavier.  He was born at 23 weeks (normal is 40 weeks!) and weighed 1lb and 4oz at birth.  His weight actually dropped to 15oz….LESS THAN A POUND!

The doctors told John that Xavier had a 25% chance to live and a 5% chance of being normal.  It was touch and go and things were tough emotionally for John and his wife Andrea.  But it was a moment when John realized that science did not hold all the answers and surrendered himself to a higher power.  Xavier began to improve to the amazement of all.  John credits God for Xavier’s progress and recovery and what a recovery it was and continues to be!  He is a top scholar in school, he looks like a normal teen in every way,  and he’s a mature, tough, likable young man that we are all proud of.

It was at that meeting that I knew John was a special man, not just in strength, but in all the ways that make a man a real man in my book.  John became a core member of the JWC Strongman evangelism team and we have had many great shows together which now number in the hundreds and I hope we have many more to come!  We have even traveled to the Arnold Expo in Columbus, Ohio where we met Arnold himself (a story unto itself!) and got to perform for hundreds.  If there’s any question to John’s “go time” attitude regarding his strength, it was at this show John drove a nail deeply into his hand during a tough bend and he not only finished the bend, he taped up and performed the rest of the weekend.

John is a world class bender.  Another core member of our group is Brett Kerby.  Brett was already a world class bender and John took a keen interest in it.  With Brett’s tutelage, John soon became the master!  It was funny that later he commented that Brett was not a very big guy and surely if he could do it, then John thought he could, too.  That’s John’s attitude about a lot of things….if you can do it….he can, too!   Brett and John have pushed each other to greater heights than they probably would have ever done alone.

John approached bending like he does most everything he does….obsessively….my kind of guy!   He began to bend all the time.  He told me a story that his division head at Truman State, where he teaches, came to him and said he had to stop bending in labs….because the students were afraid to come up to him as he bent 60 penny nail after nail and threw them in a pile.  He bent his first red nail in one of our shows.  I got the crowd all worked up and he had 60 seconds….he bent it in about 15 seconds…making it almost anti-climatic!  His best bends to date are the 4.5″ Red Nail (5/16th cold rolled steel), 7″ X 5/16th grade 5 bolt, and a 4.5″ X 1/4″ grade 8 bolt.  He also bends horseshoes and wrenches in our shows.

John is a good friend.  His recent accomplishment merited an update on an earlier article and I’m sure that there’s plenty more to come from him.  If the USAWA version of Old time Strongman catches on, I think John will be a top contender!

John O’Brien: A TRUE All-Round athlete

John O'Brien in a photo that decorates the Dino Gym showing an Ironmind Red Nail that John hammered shut for Big Al's amusement.

by Thom Van Vleck

John O’Brien has been my training partner, member of the JWC, and most of all, friend, for many years now.  When I think of what an All-Round athlete is, I think of John.  He is good, maybe a better word would be “great” at everything strength related.  I have written about him before but I’m hoping to add to what you already know about him and make the case for him being a TRUE All-Rounder.

He has competed in a strongman contests and Olympic lifting meets and placed or won his class in many contests.  He has competed in Highland Games and always places high.  He has competed in the USAWA with great success in about a dozen meets and has a couple dozen records to his credit.  Not to mention he is a world class short steel bender and performing professional strongman with over one hundred performances under his belt.  That, to me, it a true All-Round athlete!

John started lifting around the age of 13.  His older brother had a weight set at home and then at age 15 he started lifting for sports on programs set up by his coaches.  John mainly played baseball until high school and then he made up for lost time.  He played football (varsity for three years), wrestling, baseball, and track.  He said that he was best at football and baseball, but played the other sports so he could have access to the weight room year around.  He also mentioned maybe watching the girls run in track was a bonus!  Funny how many of us start lifting to impress girls!

John played on a football team in high school that had a dubious distinction.  They lost every game his junior and senior year!  The losing streak became so long that David Letterman started to track in on his show and when they finally won (long after John had left) they had some of the team members fly out to New York to be on the show.  John was a lineman and played both ways, he also played a couple years of college ball at Graceland College.

Then John entered graduate school at the University of Kansas to become the Chemistry Professor he is now at Truman State in Kirksville.  I was around this time that his oldest son was born very premature and lifting ended up being sacrificed for many years.  Then about 8 or so years ago John was very overweight and decided to do something about it.

John was training hard and lost 50lbs in the process.  There were a couple of students that were entering my JWC Strongman contest and they challenged John to enter, John told me they “teased” him and for them…..that was a bad idea!  John not only entered that contest….he won his weight class and rather decisively as I recall.

John had strength, but he is also very athletic, able to adjust to events on the fly.  He will tell you he operates off of “brute” strength, but I say it’s more than that.  He has an intelligent strength that is also athletic.  If strongman contests did not divulge the events, my money would be on John.   Recently, we were at Al’s Dino Gym where there is something called the “pill”.  A giant pill shaped metal object loaded with sand.  John spotted it, walked over and hoisted it…becoming the oldest person to do it (at age 42)….but more than that, what impressed me was his ability to lift it without much planning or practice, or even warm up!!!!  He walked up, sized it up, then lifted it!  That’s more than brute strength.

John said after that first JWC contest he began to only train for strength, beginning a  lifting career in his mid 30’s….when most guys are quitting!  Since that time, he has competed in Olympic lifting, Strongman, USAWA, Highland Games, and most recently, Highlander meets.  John has done well in all and is a two time masters National Champ in Highlander.  More importantly, that first contest was how we met and our friendship began and most of these contests were events we traveled to and/or competed in together!

Another aspect of our relationship started right after that first Strongman Contest that John entered and won.  The next day the JWC was doing a strongman evangelism show at the local YMCA.  I noticed John was in the front row.  He told me later he watched us and thought, “I can do those things” but more than that, he believed in the REASON we were doing them.  Which I will go into in Part 2 of my article!

Next:  Part 2 of “John O’Brien: True All-Round Athlete”.

Heart of America Festival – Day 2

(Webmasters note: This is a reprint of the meet report covering the Heart of America Festival that occurred in August 1963 as published by the oldtime lifting magazine, the Lifting News. Dale Friesz passed this along to me to share, which characterizes one of the early-days All-Round Weightlifting Meets. Dale’s brother, Leonard, is included in the results as he was a member of the Columbia Athletic Club at the time. Our very own Bill Clark served as Meet Director, Head Judge, and Meet Reporter. He also competed! Past meets such as these are the reason why Bill organized All-Round Weightlifting into the USAWA. You will recognize several of the “meet stars” as they are legends in All-Round Weightlifting today. The meet was a two day affair, so I will divide the story into two parts, one covering each day. Enjoy!)

by Bill Clark

On the second day the squat and dead lift marks of Saturday are used and four other events are added to test a man’s back, endurance and will power.  The front squat opens the second day and Miller was very unhappy with his 390 front squat.  Wachholz made 385 and Friesz 380.  The Jefferson lift was next and Wachholz almost caught the lanky Kansas wheat farmer.  Miller did a straddle with 650, but Wachholz surpassed him on bodyweight with a 640 and moved within range with two lifts remaining.  Paul was able to make “only” 600 in the hack lift, but Miller endured with a 650 effort.  In the Zercher lift, Miller made 425 while Wachholz was good for only 365.   The meet was Miller’s once again.  This time with a total of 3320 and 2148 points.  Wachholz was close behind with 3020 pounds and 2072 points.  Your writer was third and felt happy with a mediocre performance after not working out more than five times since February.  He squatted 470 cold, made a 530 dead lift, front squatted 320, straddled up 560, hacked only 500 (has done 600) and Zerchered just 420 – 40 pounds under tops.  This was the meet he had planned to make a 600 squat, but baseball took care of that boast.  Maybe next year.  Too much umpiring this year and not enough time in the gym.

Lifter Squat Front Sq Deadlift Hack Zerch Strad Total Points
Miller 530 390 675 650 425 650 3320 2148
Wachholz 455 385 585 600 365 640 3020 2072
Clark 470 320 530 500 420 560 2800 1817
Friesz 445 380 490 450 385 475 2625 1790
Hahn 400 320 475 475 385 475 2530 1771
Hamilton 280 205 420 420 315 440 2080 1714
Witt 470 295 525 315 335 500 2400 1596
McPheeters 375 475 500
Lewellen 385 500 500
B. Fellows 420 315

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Officials:  Bill Clark, Don Wickell, Ed Zercher

The question here, then, is how these two great lifters rank with strong men of the past.  Surely, in two days, few men of this size have ever lifted more.  To dead lift 675, hack 650 and straddle 650 along with the others is a phenomenal performance, and Wachholz was superb.  His 640 straddle must rank with the best.

These men are not goons, as power lifters have often been called.  Wachholz has done over 800 as a mid-heavy in the Olympic lifts and won the 100 yard dash, final event of the meet, in an amazing time of 11.3 seconds, running on asphalt in tennis shoes after a hard day on the platform.  Wachholz also throws the discus well over 160 feet and has a beautiful frame, placing high in every physique contest he enters.  He’s married and has two children.  He works in a bank and travels thousands of miles a year to meets. (No relation between his work and his ability to travel).  The marks he set at the Power Festival were all personal records.  In addition, he entered several of the side contests and won them.  He was best in the bench press with 315 pounds and did a stiffarm pullover with 110.

Miller was impressive as always.  He stands 6′3″, and weighs 235.  In high school he was a top miler and turned down a track scholarship at Kansas University after finishing his senior year at Ensign (Kansas) High School.  In his final high school race, he covered the mile in 4:33.6 and wound up third behind two great runners – Wes Santee, who later ran the mile in 4:00.2 and was America’s greatest miler until barred by the AAU for excessive expense money – and Billy Tidwell, a half-miler who represented the U.S. on many international fields.  Miller has done 930 in the Olympic Lifts and was second in the Junior Nationals this year.  He won one other event in the Power Festival, doing an abdominal raise with 105 pounds.  When the meet was over, a side bet came to pass concerning Wilbur’s ability to lift cars.  He promptly picked up the rear end of a Volkswagon, engine and all, and held it a foot off the ground.  He made the lift from the normal deadlift position.

Ed Zercher Sr., an old-timer who has moved enough weight to kill an elephant in his forty years on the platform, refereed all the lifts and branded Miller and Wachholz as two mighty strong youngsters.  He pointed out that their lifting was different from that in the old days when bars were not machined, but allowed the pair could have held their own with many of the greats.  Zercher, at 56, proved to be a horse even yet.  He took 600 pounds on his feet, and without any supporting devices, made 10 reps and held his balance perfectly in the leg press.  He then built a Roman Chair all by himself with 235 pounds balanced on his feet: 145 pounds in his hands and 130 pound Art Tarwater sitting astride the chair doing presses with 100 pounds.  When Tarwater lost his balance, Zercher held the chair steady – much to the amazement of the onlookers.

This meet was held in a shelter house the first evening and on the grass under a large shade tree the second day.  People driving through the park would stop and watch the lifting until they grew tired.  The crowd changed many times and townspeople still talk about the show they say in the park – for no charge.  It seems until someone comes up with a better performance, this must go down as one of the greatest ever.

Heart of America Festival – Day 1

(Webmasters note:  This is a reprint of the meet report covering the  Heart of America Festival that occurred in  August 1963 as published by the oldtime lifting magazine, the Lifting News.  Dale Friesz passed this along to me to share, which characterizes one of the early-days All-Round Weightlifting Meets.  Dale’s brother, Leonard, is included in the results as he was a member of the Columbia Athletic Club at the time.  Our very own Bill Clark served as Meet Director, Head Judge, and Meet Reporter.  He also competed!   Past meets such as these are the reason why Bill organized All-Round Weightlifting into the USAWA.  You will recognize several of the “meet stars” as they are legends in All-Round Weightlifting today.  The meet was a two day affair, so I will divide the story into two parts, one covering each day. Enjoy!)

by Bill Clark

Wilbur Miller, the Cimarron Strongman, and Paul Wachholz, an outstanding athlete from Englewood, Colorado, waged a duel in the Heart of America Power Festival, August 3-4 in Columbia, Missouri, which brought nostalgia to the hearts of the old timers in the crowd and may have established an all-time record for weight hoisted in a two-day period.  The Power Festival, in its third year, is sponsored by the Columbia Athletic Club, Inc., and is a fun meet all the way.  Many lifts, pets of various lifters, are contested and except for eight established events, the meet follows only a vague pattern.  Often more than one contest is under way at the same time.  Last year Homer Lewellen, a mid-heavy from the host club, lifted in 34 different events and totaled well over 15,000 pounds during the two-day session.

This year, however, the number of events was cut down by the tremendous interest in the Miller-Wachholz battle.  There are two sets of trophy lifts in the meet.  On the first day, a Saturday, the contest is the jerk from the rack, squat, and dead lift.  The entire meet is on a bodyweight formula basis because never more than 15 hardy souls enter.  Medals are given for each lift and trophies back five places overall.  Leonard Friesz won the jerk from the rack with a 350 jerk at a bodyweight of 198.  Miller was close behind with 370 and Wachholz was third with 320.

Lifter BWT Jerk Squat Dead Lift Total Points
Miller 235 370 530 675 1575 1014.30
Wachholz 195 320 455 585 1360 932.96
Friesz 198 350 445 490 1285 876.37
Witt 214 225 470 525 1225 807.98
Hahn 187 275 400 475 1150 805.00
Tarwater 130 230 260 410 900 801.00
Fellows 160 265 345 400 1010 776.69
Hamilton 145 230 280 420 930 766.32
Skinner 129 230 280 340 850 760.75
McPheeters 232 260 375 475 1080 698.76
Lewellen 190 280 385
B. Fellows 238 305 420

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Officials:  Bill Clark, Don Wickell,  Ed Zercher

Friesz, an army captain stationed in Columbia, stayed in the running with a 445 squat, but Miller made 530 to grab the lead and Wachholz came up with 455.  In the dead lift, Wachholz shot ahead of Friesz with a great 585 effort and a near miss with 600.   Miller opened with 600, a weight he does five reps with, then jumped to 675.  He held the listed world amateur heavyweight record at 672 1/2 and made the 675 so easily that 700 or more seemed quite possible.  Miller is a perfect deadlifter.  The weight never touches his thighs as it goes up.  His shoulders are back before weight and thighs get together.  The 700 broke loose twice and went easily to the knees but Wilbur couldn’t get his shoulders back after such a fine effort and the lifts were no good.  He vowed that he would make 700 in Leavenworth in September.

Miller thus won the first day’s trophy event with a 1575 total and 1014.3 points.  His dead lift was a world mark and his lifts and total were all Missouri Valley records.  Wachholz made a 1360 total and established himself as a strong young man. He strengthened this fact considerably the following day.

COMING TOMORROW – DAY 2 OF THE HEART OF AMERICA FESTIVAL

JWC Record Breaker

MEET RESULTS

JWC  SECOND ANNUAL RECORD BREAKER

by Thom Van Vleck

On October 29, 2010 the 2nd Annual JWC Record Breaker meet was held in conjunction with Faith Lutheran School’s annual fundraiser.  The format was that for every USAWA record broken, there would be a donation pledged.  As a result, over $2000 was raised by the lifters alone and the overall event raised over $12,000!  This was over $4000 more than the previous year and the event was deemed a huge success. Over 500 attended and were able to watch the lifting!

All of the lifts attempted were record attempts.  A total of 125 Open, Youth, and Master USAWA records were set or broken.  Thom Van Vleck, Mike Murdock, Joe Garcia, and Chad Ullom were the Certified Judges for the meet and also lifted.  The other lifters were Morgan and Dalton Van Vleck, Mitch Ridout, John O’Brien, and Josh Hettinger.

The event started at 5:00pm with the “Youth Division”.  Morgan and Dalton Van Vleck took the lifting platform to attempt some records.  By the time they were done they had broken or set 20 age group and open records.

10 RECORDS

Morgan Van Vleck – Age 13 (12 – 13 Age group) Weight 46.4kg (50kg Class)

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Left Hand – 80 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Right Hand – 80 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – 12” base - 165 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip – 165 lbs. (Age and Open Record – broke record of 155 lbs.)
Deadlift – Trap Bar – 175 lbs. (Age and Open Record – broke record of 100 lbs.)

10 RECORDS

Dalton Van Vleck – Age 11 (10 – 11 Age Group) Weight 44.8kg (45kg Class)

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1”,  Left Hand – 55 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Right Hand – 55 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – 12” Base -  145 lbs. (Age and Open Record – broke record of 130 lbs.)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip145 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – Trap Bar – 150 lbs. (Age and Open Record)

Then at 5:30pm the Open Class began. We ran until 7:30pm at which time it was estimated we were at 77 records.  After the Jackson Weightlifting Club did a strongman show to end the night for the fundraiser, the lifters returned to the platform to finish the night.  At the end we weren’t sure how many records had been broken (since some were open and age group) but we were certain we had achieve our goal of 100!  A special thanks to those that traveled up and took part!  Your participation was greatly appreciated and when I presented the money to our principal she got a tear in her eye….and so did I.  Thanks!!!!!!

17 RECORDS

John O’Brien – Age 42 (40-44 Age Group), Weight 126.5 kg (125kg+Class)

Crucifix – 70 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Jerk – 2 Dumbbells – 150 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Jerk – Behind Neck – 245 lbs.  (Open and Master Records)
Clean & Push Press -  245 lbs. (Master Record)
Squat – Overhead – 140 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Press- from Rack – 210 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Jerk – Fulton Bar – 170 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Zeigler Clean – 75 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Clean & Seated Press – 180 lbs. (Open and Master Records)

20 RECORDS

Mitch Ridout – Age 42 (40-44 Age Group), Weight 116.1 kg (120kg Class)

Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 110 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat -110 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm -55 lbs. (Master Record)
Swing – Dumbbell, Left  Arm – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm – 75 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Curl  – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right  Arm – 85 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Clean and Jerk – Behind Neck – 135 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar – 190 lbs. (Master Record)
Press – from Rack – 135 lbs.  (Master Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell,  Right Arm – 90 lbs. (Open & Master Records)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar,  2”, Left  Hand – 128 lbs.  (Open & Master Records)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar,  2”,  Right Hand – 128 lbs. (Open & Master Records)

7 RECORDS

Joe Garcia -  Age 57  (55-59 Age Group), Weight 93.8 kg (95kg Class)

Snatch – Dumbbell, Right Arm -75 lbs.  (Master Record)
Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 110 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Fingers, Middle -250 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Continental Snatch – 140 lbs. (Master Record)
Push Press – from Rack – 135 lbs. (Master Record)
Continental to Chest – 210 lbs.  (Master Record)

13 RECORDS

Mike Murdock – Age 70  (70-74 Age Group), Weight 106,4 kg (110kg Class)

Crucifix – 70 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 130 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 150 lbs. (Master Record)
Rectangular Fix – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Seated Press – 90 lbs. (Master Record)
Curl – Reverse Grip – 125 lbs. (Master Record)
Zeigler Clean – 95 lbs. (Master Record)
Push Press from Rack – 135 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Press – Reverse Grip – 95 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Press – Alternate Grip – 95 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Press -Heels Together, Fulton Bar – 105 lbs. (Master Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2”, Left Hand -  88 lbs. (Master Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2”, Right Hand – 88 lbs. (Master Record)

25 RECORDS

Thom Van Vleck – Age 46 (45-49 Age Group), Weight 135kg (125+kg Class)

Crucifix – 90 lbs.  (Master Record)
Clean and Jerk – 2 Dumbbells – 120 lbs. (Master Record)
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat – 120 lbs.  (Master and Open Records)
Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 120 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm – 85 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Right Arm -85 lbs. (Master Record)
Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 85 lbs.  (Master Record)
Snatch – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 105 lbs.  (Master Record)
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – 140 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – 12” Base – 140 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – Alternate Grip -  140 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – on knees – 145 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Fingers, Index – 145 lbs.  (Master Record)
Jefferson Lift – 315 lbs. (Master Record)

5 RECORDS

Josh Hettinger – Age 29 (Open Age Group), Weight 141.5 kg (125+kg Class)

Swing – 2 Dumbbells -120 lbs. (Open Record)
Press – from Rack – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Deadlift -  No Thumb, Left Arm – 180 lbs. (Open Record)
Deadlift – No Thumb,  Right Arm – 205 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean & Jerk – Behind Neck – 135 lbs. (Open Record)

18 RECORDS

Chad Ullom – Age 38 (Open Age Group), Weight 108.0 kg (110kg Class)

Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Left Arm -120 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Right Arm -120 lbs. (Open Record)
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 110 lbs. (Open Record)
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 110 lbs. (Open Record)
Bench Press – Hands Together – 225 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean & Press -  12” Base – 190 lbs. (Open Record)
Side Press – Right Arm – 95 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean & Press – Fulton Bar – 190 lbs. (Open Record)
Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 150 lbs. (Open Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 90 lbs. (Open Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 90 lbs. (Open Record)
Snatch – On Knees – 115 lbs. (Open Record)
Miller Clean and Jerk – 125 lbs. (Open Record)
Zeigler Clean – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Press – From Rack – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Press – From Rack, Behind Neck – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Reflex Clean & Jerk – 250 lbs. (Open Record)
Continental to Chest – Fulton Bar – 225 lbs. (Open Record)

* Three Certified Officials used on ALL LIFTS – Thom Van Vleck, Joe Garcia, Mike Murdock, and Chad Ullom

JWC Record Breaker

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

JWC RECORD BREAKER : LIFTING FAITH

by Thom Van Vleck

Oct. 29 we will be attempting a feat never before seen in the USAWA.  Quite frankly, I wonder what I was thinking when I dreamed this up!  We will attempt to break 100 USAWA records in about 2 hours for charity.

Last year I had my first ever JWC Record day and we had a blast.  This year I decided to combine it with our annual school fundraiser to try and get pledges for each record we break.  This money will go towards funding the Faith Lutheran School.  This school has over 150 students from preschool to 3rd grade.  Most of these students don’t attend our Church, and many do not have a Church home at all.  So the money is more than just about giving to a Church but to a school that reaches out to many different families and children.

I have decided to call it “Lifting Faith” because we are lifting weights to benefit Faith Lutheran School.  I already have several athletes who have committed to this feat and I am looking for more!  There is no entry fee and no awards, just the satisfaction of not only breaking individual records, but being part of a 100 record breaking day,  AND raising money for a good cause.

I will be going out and getting pledges for each record we break.  If we break 50 records and I have pledge totaling $10 per record, we raise $500 and if we break 100 records it will be $1000!  So, it’s important that we break as many as possible with the maximum being 100!  I will have loaders and spotters there and I will have a lifting platform and a warm up platform.  We will likely have over 500 people, most of them kids,  in attendance and towards the end, we will be the CENTER of the event!  I will have someone running a tote board to update progress and multiplying that by pledges to show an every rising dollar amount.  I will have an emcee and a PA system.  At the end, the JWC will do our strongman show as part of a finale the evenings festivities.

All YOU need to do is BE THERE and be READY to break some records!!!!!

Contact me as soon as possible to verify your attendance.  I need all entries by Oct. 25th, NO LATE entries due to the need to develop a flow chart of records.  Also, due to the time limits, when it’s your time to lift, you need to be ready!  We will be moving quickly!!  No chain lifts, only platform lifts!

Be a part of the record day to beat all record days!

Here is my contact info:

Thom Van Vleck

tvanvleck@yahoo.com

660 341 1755

JWC Straight Weight Postal

Heavyweights Battle it out in Postal Challenge

By Thom Van Vleck

Team Dino Gym wins the Straight Weight Postal Challenge. Pictured from left to right: Scott Tully, Al Myers, and John Conner

Two teams participated in the challenge and the Dino Gym pulled out the victory.  This meet was a new concept for a USAWA meet and we will see if it catches on.  The idea being there would be no formulas used, the winners decided on who lifted the most weight…period.  I proposed the idea of the “straight weight” meet to get some of the bigger guys to come out and participate and as a result, some big boys showed up.  The Dino Gym had a combined weight that was a “Big Al Bacon n’Eggs style breakfast” short of a half ton at 991lbs.  The JWC was a relatively svelte 915lbs.  The average weight of the lifters involved was 318lbs!  I can only guess what that weight would have been had Al not had to replace his original team member, Mark Mitchell, who had to withdraw with a back injury!  Al’s paltry 255lbs brought the average way down!!!

I hope this meet was taken as intended:  Just another alternative and one that the Big Boy’s could embrace as their own.  I know my guys had fun doing it and hopefully it will motivate them to do some more USAWA lifting!  Oh, and one more thing, I calculated the age and weight factors just to see the outcome….and the Dino Gym doesn’t want to know those results!

Full Meet Results:

Officials for Dino Gym Team:  Al Myers and Scott Tully

Official for JWC:  Thom Van Vleck

Dino Gym Team: Al Myers (44 yrs, 255lbs), Scott Tully (34 yrs, 344lbs) John Conner (25 yrs, 392lbs)

Jackson Weightlifting Club: Thom Van Vleck (46yrs, 295lbs), John O’Brien (42 years, 285lbs), Josh Hettinger (29yrs, 335lbs)

Push Press – From Rack

  1. John Conner 380lbs
  2. Josh Hettinger 335lbs
  3. John O’Brien 300lbs, Scott Tully 300lbs, Al Myers 300lbs
  4. Thom Van Vleck 255lbs

DG: 980lbs & JWC: 890lbs

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 1″

  1. John Conner 500lbs
  2. Scott Tully 420lbs
  3. Josh Hettinger 400lbs, Al Myers 400lbs
  4. John O’Brien 380lbs
  5. Thom Van Vleck 280lbs

DG: 1320lbs & JWC: 1060lbs

Continental to Chest

  1. John Conner 385lbs
  2. John O’Brien 335lbs
  3. Al Myers 325lbs, Scott Tully 325lbs
  4. Thom Van Vleck 315lbs
  5. Josh Hettinger 275lbs

DG: 1085lbs & JWC: 925lbs

Cheat Curl

  1. John Conner 250lbs
  2. John O’Brien 235lbs
  3. Thom Van Vleck 215lbs, Josh Hettinger 215lbs
  4. Al Myers 201lbs
  5. Scott Tully 181lbs

JWC: 665lbs & DG: 632lbs

Shoulder Drop

  1. John O’Brien 95lbs, Josh Hettinger 95lb
  2. Thom Van Vleck 85lbs
  3. John Conner 45lbs, Al Myers 45lbs
  4. Scott Tully 30lbs

JWC:  275lbs & DG:   120lbs

Totals: 1st Place: Dino Gym 4087lbs, 2nd Place: JWC 3835lbs

Real All-Round Strength

by Thom Van Vleck

Anthony Parker demonstrating the "strength" of his hair

Prof. Anthony Barker is not one of the most well known strongmen.  He is perhaps better known by those he influenced, namely Warren Lincoln Travis and Bernarr McFadden, to name a couple.

Barker also practiced early “All Around Strength”.  He was famous for not only having strong muscles, but being strong all over!  He would do all the “normal” strongman training, but he would also train his jaws with teeth lifting, he would practice lifting with his hair, he did deep breathing to develop his lungs, he was even know to work on developing the muscles in his face!

He claimed to have done 500lbs in the teeth lift and a one arm bent press of 250lbs.  He was said to “cultivate” his “luxuriant, wavy hair” and massaged his scalp daily as part of his training.  He would allow any man to jump for 6 feet onto his stomach as he lay on the floor.  He would roll spoons and crumble china plates to increase his hand strength.  He was an expert boxer and was said to have hit the heavy weight champ Bob Fitzsimmons so hard he knocked him across the room!  Fitzsimmons had beat Jim Corbett and was the first ever three division champ….so he was no slouch.  Barker would even allow a helper to jump off a 4 ft height right on his face to prove his well developed facial muscles.  Barker also did all the feats of lifting people in every way imaginable.  One of his favorite feats was to lift a 250lb barbell on his shoulders and then have two big men hang on the ends.  He would begin to twirl around often sending them flying!

Now, today, I think we realize that some of his “strength”, such as his hair, was more genetic than developed and I don’t think I’m going to let anyone jump on my face any time soon (even if it might be an improvement).  But really, have we lost something becoming so specialized in our training?  In the USAWA we pride ourselves on having literally hundreds of lifts that can be competed and records recorded.  But the old time “All-Rounders” literally “DID IT ALL”.  My grandfather trained that way, coming up with all kinds of unique physical feats and stunts to challenge himself.  Now I’m beginning to think that the Old Timers had it right.

So, be like Prof. Barker, and think like a real All-Rounder!

Close Enough to Get the Job Done

By Thom Van Vleck

As I read Al’s recent story on the history of formulas several things come to mind. First, it made me think of a “formula” I used to use to calculate my one rep max. (.0333 X weight lifted X reps) + weight lifted = one rep max. I swore by that, but the reality is that it just gave a “probable” one rep max and obviously has a lot of flaws (such as going high reps not being a strong an indicator). I can’t remember where I got it, or why I came to “believe” in it…..but I did and used this to calculate contest openers and goals. I believed it was right and somehow that made it a good formula. But how often did it work? Not work? How often did I stop at that max and validate my own belief and not try more?

The reality is that the FIRST lesson I learned in Physics 101 in my freshman year in college was that every measurement is flawed. The real question is: “Is it close enough to get the job done!” I recall doing an experiment where we measured a long metal rod, then heated it and cooled it and got different measurements. We then discussed the nature of matter and that it’s made up of atoms which are dynamic, etc. Finally, the instructor took the rod and bent it and said, “Now, how far apart are the ends and how do you measure it, point to point, or along the length”?! Formula’s are like measurements, NO formula would be perfect. But his real lesson was, is your measurement “close enough to get the job done”.

I was at a ball game last night and there were two umpires. At one point, one called a guy safe and the other over ruled him and called the baserunner out. I thought the base runner was safe from my vantage point. There was a groan from the crowd….but the game went on. There was a recent major league game where a picture had a perfect game into the last out and the ump blew the call and the pitcher lost his perfect game. Television revealed his error, but the flawed call was upheld….because that’s the rule! The umpire makes the call and “calls it as he sees it”. Just like judges at meets calling depth on squats, or knee kick on a strict press. If we want to compete, we accept those human failings. The real question becomes: Are they good enough to get the job done?

Then there is the equipment. Recently, Dave Glasgow got us started on the subject of how much barbells weigh. I had actually weighed ALL of my stuff and come to realize that a 45lb plate rarely weighs 45lbs. I have a set of Ironman 50lb plates that are unmilled and they weigh 57.5lbs!!!! I should point out that they were sold that way, back in the day you could get cheap weights if you would be willing to take them “unmilled” or milled to the exact weight. However, I have milled plates and they are off, too. But not nearly as much. However, they are “close enough to get the job done”.

So, we have a flawed formula, developed by flawed people, using flawed equipment, in a flawed world. We can’t have perfection so to me, the real question is: Is it accurate enough to get the job done. I think one thing Al’s article showed was that the formulas do seem to have some decent reliability. There is some variability. I doubt there’s been a lot of testing on the validity of these formulas, so where are we?

Here is where we are at in my opinion. The USAWA is an organization like no other. I think we should continue to use the formulas but I hope that we would be open to having contests that don’t use them. I would think ideally, we do both. If I competed in the Nationals and I lifted more than anyone in my age group and weight class….I’m the winner. I also get the added BONUS of being ranked in an overall. We need to look at the formulas as a way to add another layer of competition to the meet. We either accept they are “close enough to get the job done” or we don’t compete.

Dave Glasgow and I compete in Scottish Highland Games. This is a unique sport like the USAWA. There is no central governing body and often meets are open to having their own rules and standards. For example. the Braemar Stone event (like a shot put) will have stones that vary 10, 20, even 50lbs in weight from meet to meet. Or in some meets you can spin and throw the Weight Over Bar, and another meet may only allow to throw from a stand. Each style will fit different athletes better, giving advantages and disadvantages. This is often debated and Dave delivered the best quote on it I can recall (which he said he actually got from Mike Smith), “You know the rules, either go and throw or stay home, don’t complain about it”.

Maybe someday, we’ll have so many lifters, the formula’s will be more like the “best lifter” award stuff, but right now we need them to make the meets more competitive. Otherwise, just lift in your gym and go buy a trophy. I have a buddy that owns a trophy shop and he’ll help you out….as a matter of fact he told me he makes trophies for non existent contests all the time! Or lift in the USAWA and have a good time and don’t expect perfection from a formula, like you don’t expect perfection from a judge, weight, or weather man!

The One and Only Steve Schmidt

There is only one SUPER HEAVY LIFT LIFTER:

THE ONE and ONLY STEVE SCHMIDT

by Dale E. Friesz

Steve Schmidt set many Back Lift records using his custom-built Back Lift Apparatus.

What follows is a history of the male and female winners of what has progressed, in name only, from the STRONGMAN PENTATHLON, to the SCHMIDT’S PENTATHLON, to the SCHMIDT’S BACKBREAKER PENTATHLON, to the USAWA NATIONAL HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS, to the STEVE SCHMIDT’S BACKBREAKER, and to the USAWA HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS.  The data source is our former organization’s newsletter written by Bill Clark, the STRENGTH JOURNAL.  I believe it is safe to assume that Bill Clark was involved in the meet name changes.  The same five lifts have been contested since the first meet on 11/25-1986 – the lifts are the NECK LIFT, the HAND & THIGH, the HIP LIFT, the HARNESS LIFT, and the BACKLIFT.  It seems that Steve Schmidt, together with Bill Clark, conceived of the meet as it contains the four chain lifts and the biggest lift of all the USAWA – the BACKLIFT.  Steve has competed in 14 of these meets since the first in 1986 in his yard and barn in Sullivan, Missouri. He is UNDEFEATED!  The small table that follows shows how Steve has managed to cheat father time:

TOTAL YEAR LOCATION BWT AGE
10377 1991 Sullivan 220 36
10231 1988 Sullivan 223 33
10219 1992 Sullivan 209 37
10200 1987 Sullivan 218 32
10037 1989 Sullivan 220 34
9647 1990 Sullivan 219 35
9645 2004 Columbia 220 49
9415 2008 Columbia 224 53
9345 2007 Columbia 224 52
9330 1986 Sullivan 224 31
9315 2005 Columbia 218 50
9305 2003 Columbia 208 48
9160 2006 Columbia 223 51
9055 2002 Columbia 209 47

I have enjoyed the recent forum discussions that Steve’s apparatus and large diameter heavy bar made it possible for him to lift such “unreal” poundages. Also, as he aged he was not able to lift as much weight.  I point out that no one has been able to beat him regardless of the equipment used.  Also, that after nearly a quarter century of training he cracked the 3000 pound backlift ceiling twice in one meet, maxing at 3050 pounds.  Big Al was very much present when it was done as it took place in his gym, using his state of the art backlift equipment.

The Cheat Curl: Part 2

by Thom Van Vleck

I once saw my Uncle, Wayne Jackson, deadlift 300lbs with a reverse grip, then do a reverse grip hang clean with it, and then press it overhead….still with the reverse grip.  When I told him how impressive that was he chuckled and told me that when he started lifting at age 14, that he (and my Uncle Phil) were so naive that they thought you were SUPPOSED to have a reverse grip.  When you grow up on the farm before the days of television and magazines were a rare luxury then you just had to make due with what you “thought” was the right was to do something.

Wayne told me that part of the problem was my grandfather Dalton did them both ways as he often switched his grip around for variety.  He would lift with all different grips and would supinate his grip about 50% of the time.  So they just figured that was the right way.  Wayne said they lifted for about a year before they met Wayne Smith who was an experienced lifter who set them straight.  Wayne told me Smith’s eyes bugged out the first time he saw Wayne do a clean & press that way.  As a result, Wayne was pretty good at it.

Again, because of my granddad, I would throw in some reverse grip cleans early on.  Then, I came to the conclusion that these were of no use to me and that no one else I saw in the gym were doing them so they must be bad.   There were a lot of things I bowed to conventional wisdom on that I now wish I’d went my own way on.  It seems that after 30 years I find myself full circle on a lot of things!

So, many years later, about 6 or 7 years ago to be exact, I was working on Power Cleans.  I had read an article about doing some “reverse grip cleans” for the discus and since I was into throwing, I tried some of these.  These weren’t “Cheat Curls” in the USAWA rule book, but “Cheating Cheat Curls” where I would cheat curl it up while driving up on my toes and driving the hips hard without regard to keeping my legs perfectly straight.  I had been stuck on 290lbs for some time for a single in the power clean.  I wanted that magical 300!

After 4 workouts with the reverse grip cleans I switched back to the regular grip.  For the next 4 weeks I did 5 sets of 5 and ended with an all time best of 265lbs at 5X5.  I then maxed out and hit 300!  I was elated.  I also notice, as did my training partner at the time, that I was “finishing” with my hips.  Using the supinated grip had forced me to exaggerate my hip drive and as a result when I went back to the regular pulls, I was finishing harder and that made all the difference.

So, using the cheat curl or going the extra step and doing a reverse grip clean (Cheating Cheat Curl!!!!) you will learn to finish your pull.  It can make all the difference!

Tuesday Night at the Dino Gym

by Al Myers

This week's Tuesday night training group at the Dino Gym.

“Man – I love Tuesday nights!!”  That is my feeling every Tuesday night at the Dino Gym, because that is our club’s big group workout night of the week.  EVERYONE tries to make Tuesday night to train. The Dino Gym is a club gym, and membership is by invitation only.  We probably have 30 plus members that train at the gym at least once per month, and many more who live a ways off and just show up for a workout every now and then.  It is a “key gym” – meaning that each member gets a key that allows them to train when it is convenient for them, sometimes with another gym member and sometimes by themselves.  I often do several of my workouts by myself in the early mornings before work.  Occasionally, others are on the same schedule and I get someone to train with, but not always.  The Dino Gym caters to several aspects of strength training.  We have powerlifters, highland game throwers, olympic lifters, strongmen competitors, and of course my lifting interest, All-Round Weightlifting. It is quite interesting just watching the different gym members train – everyone has a different training focus and routine.  Most all members are actively competing in a strength sport and different members are always preparing for an upcoming competition.  There is NEVER  down time in the Dino Gym!

But Tuesday nights we all come together and train as a group  for a workout.  I “hit the gym” around five, and often don’t leave till things are “wrapped up” which often is as late as ten.  Some guys come early and leave early, while others come a little later and finish later. I like to be part of ALL OF IT!!  The problem is that when I’m in the gym I want to train, so I keep doing more and more until everyone’s done and I’m totally wiped out!  Four to five hours of continuous training is seldom recommended by ANYONE,  and I can just imagine the “experts” would say I am over-training. But I have done this for years and seem to never tire of it, and always look forward to Tuesdays. One thing it does for me is build up my training endurance, which I feel helps me on days of competition.  A long day of competition is nothing compared to what I put  myself through weekly on Tuesday nights.

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson pulling his FIFTH rep at 600 pounds in the deadlift!

One of the things that makes me love “Tuesday Nights” is the hard-nosed, all-out training that is going on.  There seems to be energy and excitement  in the air, and it is contagious!  Everyone in the weight-room has one unified purpose – and that is to get stronger. If you are interested in doing a sissy workout, the Dino Gym is not the place to hang out at.  We don’t ALLOW anyone to “take it easy” on Tuesday nights – if YOU don’t know how to train hard we’ll introduce you to 20 rep squat sets or some timed deadlift singles.  I find myself “feeding” on everyone’s training intensity and I just want to push myself all the harder.  Watching efforts like  Scott hitting set after set in time squats with over 400 pounds, Chuck hitting heavy sets of 5 in the deadlifts, and Mark using weights over 500 pounds in the Zercher Harness Lift provides visual motivation more than words would ever do.   I lift harder than I would by myself, mainly because I don’t want to let the guys down.

As I said the Dino Gym has a very diverse group of members.  We have members who have been around forever, like founding members Mark Mitchell and Chuck Cookson, to young men just getting started, like Tyler and Matt and several others. We have inexperienced lifters just getting started, and we have VERY advanced competitors, like professional strongman John Conner.  Everyone helps everyone  get stronger.  That is what the Dino Weightlifting Club is all about.

Hall of Fame Biography – John C. Grimek class of 1993

by Dennis Mitchell

John Grimek - This photo is from the cover of the February, 1969 issue of Muscular Development.

John Grimek was born June 17, 1910 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He got his interest in weightlifting and body building from his older brother George. John stated that his brother was bigger and stronger than he was, but just didn’t have the interest in the Iron Game that he had. John’s first competition in weightlifting was in 1934 where he took a first place as a heavy weight in New Jersey with a total of 710 pounds. Later that same year he entered his first National meet in Brooklyn. His press of 242.5 pounds was the highest of the meet. However he failed to total due to his lack of training in the snatch and clean and jerk. The following year he placed second to Bill Good in a five lift meet with a total of 1,072 pounds. The five lifts were the one hand snatch, the clean and jerk which had to be done with the opposite hand used in the snatch, the two hands press, snatch and the clean and jerk.

John then moved to York PA. to improve his training. In the 1936 National meet in Philadelphia he pressed 285.5 pounds, snatched 220 pounds, and clean and jerked 308 pounds. He placed first in the heavy weight class while weighing just two pounds over the light heavy limit. His press was a National record. Later the same year he competed in the Olympics in Germany. Though he did not place he lifted more than any other American lifter. In 1937 he reduced to the light heavy weight class for the Sr. National meet in Detroit. In this meet he was to light and was not at his best. But in 1938 he won the Jr. National meet with an 810 pound total in the light heavy weight class. At this time, before physique contest were added to the lifting meets, John continued to compete in lifting. In 1938 still lifting as a light heavy weight he made a total of 830 pounds. (261 press, 245 snatch, and a 325 clean and jerk). John’s best meet was in the 1940 Sr. National meet held in Madison Square Garden, where he did a 285 pound press, snatched 250 pounds and a clean and jerk of 325 pounds. He placed third behind Steve Stanko and Louis Abele. However he did win the Mr. America physique contest, and at this point decided to put his efforts into body building.

In 1941 he once again won the Mr. America contest. The AAU then made a rule that once you won the Mr. America contest you could not enter it again. The first Mr. Universe contest was held in 1947. John could not enter because the AAU said that he was a professional because of his work with the York Barbell Co. However the 1948 contest was open to both amateurs and professionals and he became Mr. Universe. In 1949 he won the Mr. USA contest in a highly publicized meet as it had become a battle between the IFBB organization and the York Barbell organization.

John died November 24 1998, having never been defeated in a body building contest.

The Pullover and Push Part 2 – History

by Al Myers

Arthur Saxon performing the Pullover and Push

Just like the stories of Milo Steinborn developing the Steinborn Lift because squat stands didn’t exist, Old Time great strongmen like Arthur Saxon and George Hackenschmidt were performing the Pullover and Press and the Pullover and Push on the floor before the bench press existed.  This was the only way at the time to do a supine press since benches for bench presses weren’t around yet. The Pullover and Press (where the lifter lies flat and performs a strict press unlike the Pullover and Push where the lifter can arch) was performed before it “evolved” into the Pullover and Push. I can just imagine the lifter’s comments at the time when the first lifter did “the Push” instead of “the Press”. Much like the comments I here now when you see big bench presses put up with an armored reinforced bench shirt on!!  Such comments as, “THAT’S not a real bench press!”, “If you wear a bench shirt, you’re a cheater!”.  And so on.  Back then I bet you would hear comments like, “THAT”S not a real pullover and press!”, and “If you got to bridge like that, you’re a cheater!”. So, really nothing has changed in over 100 years of arguments and debates involving supine pressing! My opinion is that the Pullover and Push is a different lift compared to the Pullover and Press (just as benching with a shirt on is compared to without) and everyone should treat it that way.  Arthur Saxon even made this comment regarding the Pullover and Push in his book The Development of Physical Power “A more genuine test, perhaps, is to lay perfectly flat, and slowly press the barbell overhead.” And this came from our hero Arthur Saxon who HELD the record in the Pullover and Push for some time with a lift of 175 kilograms in the early 1900’s.

The Pullover and Push was contested heavily between 1900 and 1930, at which time the more modern Bench Press gained popularity. The Pullover and Push pretty much disappeared as a competitive lift after that, and most weightlifters at the time didn’t even know how to perform it. However, the Pullover and Push made a resurgence in the mid 1980’s with the organization of modern-day All-Round Weightlifting.  It is now one of the most popular lifts in All-Round competitions.  Of the over 200 official All-Round lifts, I can count on at least one meet per year will have the Pullover and Push in it.

Some of the best Pullover and Push lifters among Old Time Strongmen include Arthur Saxon (175 kg), Harold Wood (175.2 kg), and George Lurich (201.5 kg).  Lurich set this World Record in 1902 in Leipzig, Germany, but since he was wrestling professionally at the time, this was considered “the Professional Record”. Modern day All-Rounders have posted significantly higher records, possibly due to modern day bars and plates that allow the bar to reach the chest/abdomen easier.  These are the modern day best Pullover and Push records – all of which were done in official competitions.

Adrian Blindt (70 kg BWT) – 177.5 kg
Rick Meldon (80 kg BWT) – 190 kg
Phil Anderson (90 kg BWT) – 202.5 kg
Steve Angell (100 kg BWT) – 180 kg
Bob Burtzloff (110 kg BWT) – 215 kg
Al Myers (120 kg BWT) – 204.1 kg

The research for these modern day record holders was done by Roger Davis, who wrote a splendid article about the Pullover and Press and the Pullover and Push in the March 2009 issue of MILO.  Roger’s article is the best article covering these lifts that has ever been written, and if you get a chance and want to read about the Pullover and Push in more detail than what I have done here, I recommend you get that copy of MILO and read it.

Tomorrow I am going to cover techniques used in the Pullover and Push, and even give away some of “my secrets” that I have learned about this lift over the years.

Stop The Rotation To Jumpstart Gains


by Ben Edwards


A lot has been written about training with thick-handled dumbbells and there are many methods to help you reach your strength goals.
Your training will usually consist of attempts to either increase your max lift for a single deadlift, or occasionally doing reps to increase the amount of time that you’re holding onto the dumbbell.  Occasionally it’s a good idea to switch your training up and focus on a different training method for a while to see if you can get break through a training rut or plateau.
A technique that has helped me drastically increase my Inch loadable dumbbell max over the past month is to stop the rotation of the dumbbell while performing a deadlift.  This is not something new and I’ve read about it being used by several guys who are training to lift the Inch Replica.
There are several ways to stop the rotation of a dumbbell

  • Press a finger against the plates with your non-lifting hand and apply inward pressure so that the rotation of the plates is arrested.  I used this technique after a grip contest about 5 years ago and lifted an Inch Replica to a full deadlift.  At that time I was about 40lbs away from a legitimate lift of an Inch Replica, so it’s a remarkable training tool.

  • Loosen the plates (applies to a loadable only) until they rattle when lifted and that will significantly reduce the rotation of the dumbbell.  I usually get about 10lbs more when I do this.

  • If you have an Al Myers Inch (loadable) Trainer -Use a hollow tube to slide over one of the “horns” on the screw-on collar.  Hold onto the tube with your non-lifting hand and that will prevent the dumbbell from rotating when you lift it.  This will add anywhere from 5 to 20lbs to your best unassisted lift.  The following pictures show this technique in action.

This is the starting position. The dumbbell hasn't left the ground yet. The left hand is already stabilizing the hollow tube, which prevents the dumbbell handle from rotating in your hand during the lift.

About a month ago I dusted off my Al Myers Inch Trainer and worked up to a max (contest-legal) lift of 139lbs.  I struggle with the rotation of thick-handled dumbbells.  I’ve trained it about 6 times since that test day and I did a contest-legal deadlift with 152lbs this morning.  That’s an increase of 13lbs in a month.  Some of that was just being a bit “rusty” with my thick-handled dumbbell technique.  But a good portion of that increase I attribute mainly to my rotation-stopping training.  Only on the first day did I actually do an unassisted dumbbell lift (without the rotation-stopping tube) during training.  The 6 workouts since that test day have consisted primarily of a few warmup 2-handed pulls and 1-handed negatives with 140lbs, and then 3 to 5 attempts – utilizing the rotation-stopping bar – with 150 to 170lbs.
I hope anyone training to lift an Inch Replica will put these suggestions to use and achieve their goal quickly and efficiently.  I’ve got a long way to go before I’m strong enough to lift an Inch Replica.  But at least now I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

This is the finished position of the dumbbell deadlift. The left hand is still holding on to the hollow tube. At this point in the lift, you could either continue to use the rotation-stopping effect of the hollow tube while you lower the dumbbell to the ground under control, or you could pull the hollow tube off the "horn" of the collar and try to control the dumbbell on the way to the ground without the rotation-stopping benefit of the hollow tube.

About a month ago I dusted off my Al Myers Inch Trainer and worked up to a max (contest-legal) lift of 139lbs.  I struggle with the rotation of thick-handled dumbbells.  I’ve trained it about 6 times since that test day and I did a contest-legal deadlift with 152lbs this morning.  That’s an increase of 13lbs in a month.  Some of that was just being a bit “rusty” with my thick-handled dumbbell technique.  But a good portion of that increase I attribute mainly to my rotation-stopping training.  Only on the first day did I actually do an unassisted dumbbell lift (without the rotation-stopping tube) during training.  The 6 workouts since that test day have consisted primarily of a few warmup 2-handed pulls and 1-handed negatives with 140lbs, and then 3 to 5 attempts – utilizing the rotation-stopping bar – with 150 to 170lbs.
I hope anyone training to lift an Inch Replica will put these suggestions to use and achieve their goal quickly and efficiently.  I’ve got a long way to go before I’m strong enough to lift an Inch Replica.  But at least now I’m closer than I’ve ever been.




Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 3 – The Nuts and Bolts

by John McKean

Sort of a surprise for any who have read my previous articles expounding the use of heavy single-rep lifts, but dumbbell strength training is best done is sets of 3-6 reps. At least a triple seems necessary to develop coordination and groove, absolutely essential to successful dumbbell work. In many gym experiments I’ve discovered I could take a particular poundage and do three good but fairly taxing reps with the dumbbell, then go but 5 pounds heavier only to find the stubborn ‘bells just wouldn’t budge an inch. Friends related exactly the same experience. So, if a “gym limit” can usually be pumped for 3-4 reps instead of only one, you might as well shoot for this number.

Singles can be attempted on widely spaced occasions – you need something to shoot for. But with dumbbells there’s a lot more control factors against you, and conditions won’t always be regulated as with a barbell. Your mood, drive, groove, coordination, incentive, and a well-rested, ready body has to be exactly in tune for that new dumbbell record. Plus, as any experienced dumbbell aficionado will tell you, it’s all too easy to mentally burn out on the short bars if you attempt too many maxes too frequently. Sad to report, misses with even previous marks occur a lot. Seems you must lose a little occasionally before your body allows you to advance. But take heart. When you do hit a new limit you’ll discover a unique exhilaration, ‘cause the dumbbells will let you know that you’ve really worked for and deserve it.

Many of us find that our top dumbbell weights are most easily achieved when done for a single set of 3-5 reps performed directly following a short session of singles with a similar barbell move. For instance, we work a standard barbell press for 70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, then finish – almost a “backdown set” – with a dumbbell press for, say a set of 4 reps. Since the dumbbell move is tougher and always lighter than its big brother barbell exercise, the body, and especially the mind, are better prepared (tricked) for dumbbell intensity when backing down to it instead of progressively building up in sets. It’s just so important to allow that first dumbbell rep to go smoothly and seem fairly light. Following that, reps 2, 3, 4 and, maybe 5, almost always flow easily. But there’s no second chance if the first one sticks.

A few barbell-up, dumbbell-down combos you may wish to try include snatches/swings, barbell hack squats/dumbbell deadlifts, push presses/one arm jerks, cheat curls/incline dumbbell curls, power cleans/dumbbell pullups, etc. Again, not that dumbbell lifts can’t be trained by themselves – some, such as all-rounds torturous two-hands anyhow, can’t be trained any other way. It’s just that quicker advances in poundages and better quality training come when the dumbbell lifts are combined with heavy single barbell movements. Just remember the formula of 4 sets of 1 with the barbell, 1 set of 4 with the dumbbell.

Progression can best be summed up this way – don’t be in too much of a hurry. Keep plugging at that set of 3-5 reps with a consistent poundage, workout after workout, until it starts to feel light and easy. Then just nudge the dumbbells up by 5 pounds the next session. Some may prefer to gradually raise reps, starting at 4 and eventually achieving 7 with a given weight before upping the poundage and starting over at 3 or 4. Regardless of which progression you prefer, always be a bit cautious during that next workout with the weight jump – attack it, because that addition of a mere 5 pounds per hand may prove far heavier than you expect. Smaller weight increases with loading dumbbells can be achieved by off-loading, or adding a single plate to only one side of the bell.

Seven Priniciples for Cleaning and Pressing Dumbbells

by John McKean

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, holds the Overall Record in the Clean and Press - 2 Dumbbells in the 125+ KG Class with a lift of 230 pounds (this is a picture of that record). This record was performed in the 2004 IAWA Postal Meet.

1.) Principles of cleaning and pressing barbells apply. You need an easy clean. If you’re stumbling all over as you rack the dumbells, or have to muscle them in over the last few inches, your chances of making a maximum single, triple, or even a set of five are slim.

2.) Concentrate on speed when you clean dumbells. You have to turn the dumbells over fast which requires getting the elbows to move rapidly. Remember, you’re not doing hammer curls.

3.) Dumbell cleans are easier if one uses ‘bells with thin, flat-style plates. I prefer 12½’s myself, the fewer plates the better. Hexagon-shaped dumbells are noticeably harder to clean, at least 90’s and up.

4.) For home training, spiral-lock dumbells are best. They can be changed quickly, and you never have to worry about the collars falling off and causing potential injury.

5.) For pressing heavy dumbells it’s essential to have a solid base. Total-body work comes into play here as you must maintain tight thighs and hips.

6.) When pressing the heaviest dumbells, I prefer palms facing each other, with elbows facing forward and angled slightly outward (as opposed to elbows to the sides).

7.) Keep dumbells directly over the shoulders and concentrate on driving them straight up, always being attentive to prevent the ‘bells from wandering out to the sides.

The Farmers Walk

by Al Myers

Big John Conner of the Dino Gym training the Farmers Walk with 405 pounds per hand!!

One of the most physically taxing exercises you can train is the ole’ fashioned FARMERS WALK.  All it takes is two identical implements to carry. Just pick them both up at the same time and start walking.  This event is very popular among strongmen and is contested at many strongman competitions. I think it is also a good training exercise for All-Rounders.  It works the entire body – and when you are finished with a WALK your legs, back, shoulders, and arms will be exhausted.  The Farmers Walk is an excellent last exercise (or often called “the finisher”) to your workout.  I would recommend you do it last because if you “push it hard” you will have had enough!  Brooks Kubik made this comment regarding the Farmers Walk in his book Dinosaur Training, “if you do this exercise the right way, you won’t have anything left for any other exercise.”

Like I said, you can carry about anything in the Farmers Walk.  If you don’t have special made FARMERS IMPLEMENTS – use dumbbells.  If you don’t have dumbbells -  use 5 gallon buckets filled with sand, water or rocks. When I was a young 12 year old kid my Dad would make me carry 5 gallon buckets of milk to feed the calves. I would have to carry these buckets over 100 yards from the milk barn to the calf shed.  Sometimes, I would have to come back for more milk-filled buckets!  I remember when I started doing this chore I HATED it and considered it HARD WORK, and thought my Dad was mean spirited making me work like that. But Dad knew what was best for me, and he kept making me do this every day after school. Soon afterwards, I felt stronger and in better shape, and I had suddenly developed muscles I didn’t have before. I’m sure this is one of the reasons that first got me interested in weight training.  I could feel myself getting stronger carrying the buckets, and soon it became easy – and I LIKED the way it made me feel!  My Dad knew farm work like this would make a young boy strong, and I got to thank him today for introducing me to progressive weight training using the FARMERS WALK the FARMER’S WAY (in which the Farmers Walk includes productive hard physical work)!

Give the FARMERS WALK a try in your training program.  If you are like me, you could use a little more cardio work in your training program!  This exercise is very challenging and easy to improve on.  You can always add a little more weight to your carry, go a little faster, or maybe go a farther distance.

My Toys

by Roger Davis

"Thought you might like a picture of some of my toys...bet you just want to hop on a plane and come round to play. The globe dumbbell is 40 kg, and has a 2" handle. At a sponsored charity event later this year, I want to lift it overhead 40 times in 40 minutes to mark by 40th birthday" - Roger Davis

(webmasters comment:  Thanks Roger for sending along these pictures of some of “your toys” – and YES I would like to “play around” with them.  If anyone else has special training implements, please send me a picture with a short writeup and I will share it on the website.)

Harness Lift:Part 2

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck getting "Down and Dirty" to judge the Harness Lift with a helper!

My own story on the Harness lift goes like this.  After that 2006 USAWA Nationals mentioned in part 1: Harness Lift, I got one of the harnesses and heavy bars Al made special for that meet.  I brought it home but did not have enough weight to load it!  So I contacted my good friend, Bob McConaughey with the BNSF railroad and he set me up with a pair of railroad car wheels.  I thought the RR car wheels would be cool to lift and we could also use them in our strongman evangelism shows.  I’ll never forget our conversation when he asked me what size I wanted:

Thom:  “So, what size do you have?”

Bob:  “Well, they can range from 1000lbs and up to 4000lb”

Thom: “Apeice!!!!……uhhh…what’s the smallest you can get me?”

Bob (laughing):  “I think we could find you some coal car wheels that are in the 800lb range!”

So, it was off to Galesburg, Illinois to pick up some surplus steel!  I took my half ton truck to pick up a ton and a half of steel.  John O’Brien went along for the ride and upon arriving, the trainmaster took us down to the yard to get them loaded.  They were on a palate and I’ll never forget when the trainmaster asked the loading dock guy for help loading them and the loader looked at the wheels and at us and said, “Don’t you think a fork lift would be easier”!?  As he walked off to get the fork lift, the trainmaster mutter under his breath a more crude version of “NO CRAP”!!!  My poor pick up has hauled a lot of crazy stuff over the years, but you should have seen the it sink under that weight!

I got them home, and realized as I got them into my gym that these things were so heavy they were actually extremely dangerous, if they tipped over they could sever whatever was under them.  But, I got them modified and loaded on to my heavy bar.  My Dad had come over and helped me slip the harness on and I made my adjustments.  Finally, I had them adjusted and with an estimated 1700lbs, I began to pull….an pull….and pull.  It was then I realized that when you do Heavy Lifts, you have to have a whole new mindset!  Upon proper mental approach which involves pain tolerance and the feeling that something is going to rip in any given joint in your body, I lifted it.  I then loaded it to an estimated 2000lbs and after a couple of attempts, got that, too.  I was elated!!!  Later, I took my shirt off to shower and looked in the mirror and realize I had blood blisters all over my shoulders and hips.  I looked like I had been bull whipped!  The next day I felt some serious joint and muscle soreness, but a lasting satisfaction that I had “lifted a ton”!

If you want to get started in Harness Lifting, my recommendation is you need to work into it slower than I did and get some coaching by someone that knows what they are doing….it will save you some time and maybe injuries!  Since you aren’t going to buy a harness or Heavy Bar at the local sporting goods store, I would take a good look at a Harness before making one and ask guys who have them how they made them.  They have made all the mistakes for you and can tell you the best way to go about it.

Finally, you are always welcome to stop by the JWC Training Hall and give the Harness lift a shot!

It’s time to get your National Entry in

by Al Myers

2010 USAWA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
JUNE 26 & 27, 2010
LEBANON SENIOR CENTER
LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA


The deadline is approaching fast for this year’s USAWA National Championships, hosted by our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  The deadline is May 26th.  Please help Denny prepare by getting your entry in on time.  Considerable time and energy is spent in preparing for a competition like this, and a meet director needs to know how many competitors will attend so arrangements can be done accordingly. Planning for TShirts, awards, and food requirements have to be done way ahead of the meet date, so it is very important to get that entry in on time.  I know the USAWA has in the past been pretty lenient on this, but you never know, this year may be different if entry numbers are up.  Why take that chance??  Just fill out the entry form today and send it to Denny!

Denny had these words to share about this year’s upcoming Championships, ” I am looking forward to a great meet this year. I am expecting some very good new lifters this year, in addition to the great lifters from past years, which should make this a very good and exciting meet.  I hope every member that can make it will come and help make this the best meet ever. I know a lot of lifters liked the two day format, and the cookout in my yard after the meet will be very informal and I hope enjoyed by all.”

Below are the entry forms for this year’s National Championship:
2010 USAWA Nationals – info page

2010 USAWA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Bob Burtzloff at the 2002 SuperGrip Challenge

by Ben Edwards

"This is Bob Burtzloff's double overhand deadlift of 305 pounds on a 2" bar at the 2002 SuperGrip Challenge at Kevin Fulton's farm in Nebraska. It was a great contest and a great group of people." - Ben Edwards

History of the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet

Written and Compiled by Dale Friesz

There has been 15 Deanna Springs Memorial Meets.  Joe Garcia owns this meet – he has won 9 of these meets.  He participated in two others – 2003 and 1997.  Amazingly he failed to total in 2003 and 1997.  In 2003, he was unable to do a Hand and Thigh Lift and in 1997 he failed in the Hip Lift.  He could not do the Hand and Thigh Lift in 2003 as he had been kicked by his own horse! In 1997, his choice of weight in the Hip Lift was too heavy.  That amounts to 9 wins in 11 contests. My hat is off to Joe!!

Deanna and Al Springs, performing a 2-person Cheat Curl

The following is from the USAWA Strength Journal, Vol. VI-7 11/25-1995:

Deanna Springs Dies in Auto Crash
by Kerry Clark, a national USWF titlist like Deanna, contributed the following eulogy for her close friend.

On October 5, 1995, Deanna Springs was killed in a car accident at the age of 45. Deanna was the wife of Al Springs of Dearborn, Missouri. Deanna met Al when she came to his fitness center for rehabilitation for shoulder and wrist problems. She lifted in her first USAWA meet at Steve Schmidt’s in 1992, and although she continued to battle back and arm problems she developed into an excellent and enthusiastic lifter over the last few years.  Al and Deanna were rightfully proud of her record-making marks of 600 pounds in the Hand and Thigh and 1100 pounds in the Hip Lift. But more than a devoted lifter, Deanna Springs was a wonderful person.  She and Al came to all of our meets at Clark’s Gym. Deanna was always the friendliest and most supportive person in the room.  She worked hard to become a better lifter herself and she always gave out encouragement, even to her competitors.  I always looked forward to our meets because I knew that Deanna would be there.  At her funeral, the minister spoke of Deanna’s accomplishments in the USAWA and her National Championship medal was placed in the casket with her.  I felt glad to know that Deanna cared so much about the USAWA because I know that my experience in this organization was enriched by her presence. Deanna Springs was a great lifter, supporter of the USAWA, and a friend. She was also Al’s greatest booster.  Her death was an unexpected blow and she will be greatly missed.

Past Winners of the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet:

MEN’S DIVISION
DATE WINNER AGE BWT TOTAL POINTS
2010 – 3/28
JOE GARCIA
56 215 3770 3611.64
2009 – 3/28
JOE GARCIA
55 240 3950 3711.88
2008 – 4/06
AL MYERS
42 239 3525 2948.17
2007 – 3/25
ABE SMITH
25 171 3610 3534.55
2006 – 3/26
JOE GARCIA
52 245 4035 3655.85
2005 – 4/02
ABE SMITH
23 165 4105 4111.98
2004 – 4/04
JOE GARCIA
50 231 3980 3650.87
2003 – 4/06
STEVE SCHMIDT
47 215 3940 3654.37
2002 – 4/07
JOE GARCIA
48 241 4120 3627.67
2001 – 3/31
JOE GARCIA
47 242 3195 2783.60
2000 – 3/26
JOSH PEMBERTON
24 209 2960 2581.12
1999 – 3/28
JOE GARCIA
45 241 4525 3876.54
1998 – 3/28
JOE GARCIA
44 229 4140 3608.4
1997 – 4/12
JOHN CARTER
39 226 4245 3553.07
1996 – 3/30
JOE GARCIA
42 223 2550 2210.98

WOMEN’S DIVISION
DATE WINNER AGE BWT TOTAL POINTS
2004 – 4/04
JESSICA TODD
28 188 1850 1712.18
2001 – 3/31
ANGELA McBRIDE
22 132 2140 2490.32
1996 – 3/30
AMORKOR OLLENNUNKING
33 175 1875 1810.50

Notes:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.

LIFTS:

1996 – Cheat Curl, Zercher Lift, Crucifix, Jefferson Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift
1997 – Cheat Curl, Crucifix, Jefferson Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift
1998 to present – Crucifix, Cheat Curl, Deanna Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift

LOCATIONS:

1996 – Springs’ Garage Gym (Dearborn, Missouri)
1997 to present – Clark’s Championship Gym (Columbia, Missouri)

Meeting Bob Hoffman

by Dale Friesz

"This picture is of myself, the one and only Bob Hoffman, and my youngest daughter, Pam age 4. This picture was taken in 1972 at the Junior Nationals Olympic Lifting Competition, just outside of Washington D.C." - Dale Friesz

All-Round Weightlifting in Egypt

by Bill Cookson

Picture left to right: Major General Ludvigsen, First Lieutenant Kevin Farrell, SSG Jared Allen, and Bill "Doc" Cookson

My newest military journey started in December of 2007 and after prayer and consideration with my family I swore an oath to God and Country on January 24, 2008 and was again a proud member of The Kansas Army National Guard at the tender age of 43. During training in Ft. Riley about 60 days later I learned our Battalion would be deployed to Egypt. The mission here is a peace keeping mission between Egypt and Israel started by President Jimmy Carter and employs several different militaries from around the world to operate it. You can learn more at mfo.org.

I had some work to do before getting back in. At 5’9” I weighed around 240. The Army’s max weight for my height and age is 186 lbs. Fortunately the Army recognizes that we’re all built different and therefore has a body fat calculation test. We call it the tape test. I was too thick in the middle so I worked my way down to 222 with lots of stair running at the hospital parking garage, made tape, and passed my over 40 physical. Why is it that the skinniest doctors have fingers as big as bananas? The older guys can explain that one to the younger generation. Anyhow I got the green light and started again.

Bill training One Arm Dumbbell Bench Presses in Egypt.

I joined Charlie Battery out of Abilene and became a member of the Fire Direction Center for Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. In January 2009 my Operations Sergeant told me we needed a Medic for the deployment and asked if I was interested. So I went to school and became a medic. I continued to work full time for our unit when I returned from medic school. So I’ve been active duty since January 2009. Training balance is tough to manage. I’ve been back in the Guard for a little over 2 years and have had to modify the way I train. Fitness training for the Army and maximum strength training do not go hand in hand, so you sacrifice a little of each to be better in both. However weight training is and always will be a staple in any program I use. The iron always pays great wages for the toil the lifter endures. That’s a fact not an opinion.

This journey started back at the end of June when we had 3 weeks of pre-mobilization training at Salina. Most of it was combat occupation oriented. We left for Ft. Lewis, WA on 23 July for mission specific training. At Ft. Lewis we had shots, health screenings, and death by PowerPoint because we had more briefings than we care to remember. We were quartered at North Ft. Lewis which is where the old fort is situated. The post there is mostly WWII vintage but is all still fully functional. They really need new beds though. I thought my back was broke a couple of times. They have a real nice fitness center though with plenty of weight and a couple of power racks. The worst thing is those silly octagon plates. They aren’t deadlifter friendly. We moved to the neighboring McChord Air Force Base on 9 September where we were welcomed by the USO and some staff well wishers before our departure. I really appreciated the Chaplain. He shared Eph. 5:15-16 with us. He cautioned us to walk circumspectly for the days are evil. In other words, be careful and watchful because there are things and people around that can cause us harm. We boarded a DC-10, and flew from there straight to Bangor, Maine refueled then to Shannon Ireland refueled then on to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

A remote training facility in Egypt

The people who drive here make aggressive drivers back home look like school girls. There’s no traffic enforcement here like at home either, really frustrating for an old cop. Driving is the most dangerous activity here. The locals are like kamikaze pilots on the road.

With this mission being in effect for about 30 years there are decent accommodations here at our main camp with a fully functional training facility known as, “Herbs Gym”. Herb is a local gentleman that adopted the MFO (Multi National Force and Observers) and it adopted him. He welcomed every new rotation of soldiers coming here prior to our arrival. He was forced to retire before we arrived. The beach where we do combat water survival training is also named after Herb.

Bill training the deadlift with 550 pounds at Herb's Gym.

We rotate out to remote sites and they have a gym as well. It’s a pole shed with weights, benches, a rack, stationary bike, and concept 2 rower. Inside the fence of the sites is usually a makeshift running track which is basically a dirt road we run on. Nothing is state of the art, except those old rusty York plates we have at the remote site I’m deadlifting in the picture. They have those silly octagon plates here at Herbs gym. I generally train 6 days per week with two days devoted to weight training, two days of conditioning which usually consists of 1 or 2 dumbbell movements like swings, snatches or C&P and bodyweight work such as burpees, mountain climbers, rope skipping, pull-ups, push-ups, and dips. The other two days are usually just aerobic. I usually do something other than running. I like to run but my knees don’t agree.

After damaging my rotator cuff benching for the Andy Goddard memorial I have to concentrate on rehab so I can get back to it. In the meantime I’m relegated to lots of aerobics. We’ll see what the Physical Therapist says. Until then I wish all the membership well in life and lifting.

God Bless.

Bill Cookson

Get Out and Compete in the USAWA

by Al Myers

Dr. Charlie Scott, at age 74, competed in his first USAWA National Championships last year. Dr. Scott was previously an Olympic Lifter and Gymnast, and now a great addition to the USAWA!

I have often heard this answer in the gym when I have asked guys if they compete or not, “I’m not strong enough yet to enter a competition”.  It’s amazing how this time never comes for them.  It seems the expectations of what they want to lift in order to enter a competition is not EVER enough – and in the mean time they lose out on having enjoyable experiences challenging themselves in a competitive meet environment.  That is one of the great things about weightlifting – your competition is the bar and weights laying in front of you on the platform. You have full control on whether you are successful or not.  It’s not like boxing or the UFC, where you may be at the top of your game, and the “other guy” is just better than you, and you end up with your face smashed in!   I would understand it, if in those sports, someone says they are not ready for competition!  But competitive All-Round Weightlifting – give me a break!  The challenges are always there to get stronger, or maybe just get better at a lift no matter what your age is.  I have come to the conclusion and accepted that I have probably reached (or passed) my physical peak.  At age 43, I know my best years are behind me.  But I still enjoy training and “giving it all I have” in competition.  All-Round Weightlifting has been a blessing for me – the multitude of different lifts provide unique opportunities to get better at lifts for a long time.  I am constantly learning new techniques in particular lifts that make me better.  Just at this past World Championships, Frank Ciavattone gave me a tip that put 20 pounds on my Ciavattone Deadlift immediately!  Last year at the Heavy Events National Championship, Dale Friesz and Art Montini told me “the secret” on the Neck Lift which has translated into over a 100# increase in my Neck Lift.  Bill Clark has given me numerous training advice through the years that has helped me tremendously – which I only got because I went to the meets that he hosts. Joe Garcia has helped me in the Hand and Thigh Lift  – I was doing it totally wrong until Joe showed me the correct technique.  Now if I was staying home training by myself waiting for the day to enter a competition, would I have learned these things?  Not much of a chance.

For those of you that have never tried a weightlifting competition, or just want to try something different – give the USAWA a try!  You will find out that the competition is fun. The lifters involved in the USAWA are a special breed – everyone involved is down to earth and just enjoys challenging themselves with weights. Everyone is very helpful and supportive to each other at meets. They are no EGOS in this organization – mainly because everyone involves knows that even though there may be lifts that you can excel in, there are also ones that humble you.  But even with those lifts  – if you work at them you will improve. Don’t be one of those gym lifters that really would like to compete – but just doesn’t.

Give All-Round Weightlifting a try – and Get Out and Compete in the USAWA.

World Team Postal Competition

World Team Postal Competition
“IAWA World Open Team All Round Weightlifting Challenge 2010″

USAWA President Denny Habecker and IAWA President Steve Gardner at the 2009 IAWA World Championships.

by Al Myers

Our IAWA President Steve Gardner has just released the details of the World Team Postal Competition. Last year it was a great success – with 10 teams and 33 individuals entering! Steve has picked new lifts for this years competition. The lifts this year are – One Arm Barbell Snatch, Two Hands Pinch Grip, Feet in the Air Bench Press, and the Ciavattone Grip Deadlift. I always felt one of the reasons lifters lost interest in the prior World Postal Championships (before it was hosted by Steve Gardner) was because the same lifts were contested year after year. However, I competed in it every year to show my support. But one of the main things that attracted me to the All Rounds was the variety of lifts and I was starting to get bored with this meet because it was the same meet year after year. So I’m glad to see Steve “mixing things up” with the lifts in this new World Postal Meet. It also changes the dynamics of the meet – because different lifters are stronger in different lifts. When the same lifts are done every year, the same lifters win every year. Changing the lifts every year will enhance the excitement of the outcome of this World Postal Championships!

There is no entry fee for this meet. Everything is done over email and the website, with practically no expenses incurred. Another problem with the prior World Postal Meet was the expense of sending everything through the postal service, and the money spent on medals and plaques for the winners. There was never enough income through entry fees to offset the expense of hosting it. Steve sends nice certificates to the winners via email, allowing the recipients to print them out if they wish at their own expense. This is a great opportunity to compete in a “World Meet” without ever leaving the confines of your own gym. Steve has done a great job putting this meet together, and has organized it in a way that should have continual success. One thing I want to point out is this is an IAWA competition – thus THREE OFFICIALS are required instead of one. These officials must be Certified USAWA Officials. The information page and the entry form for this meet are available on the Website Event Calendar. Steve has given plenty of notice on this meet – so put the dates on your calendar, organize your team, and get ready to TAKE ON THE WORLD!

Dave Brown

by Al Myers

Dave Brown becomes ONLY the fourth person to ever pick up the Dino Gym's Inch Dumbbell Replica.

This past week the Dino Gym had a surprise visitor for our Tuesday night workout. It was my old friend Dave Brown, who was on vacation and decided to “stop by” and pay me a visit. He picked a good day – because Tuesday is our BIG NIGHT in the gym. This a big DEAL for the Dino Gym – having a STRENGTH CELEBRITY join us for a workout. It has been a few years since I have seen Dave – but he is still as big and strong as he used to be. Dave stands 6′3″ and weighs a little over 350 pounds – but carries his weight very well. His build reminds me of Paul Anderson when Paul was in his younger days. Dave has been a top level professional Highland Game athlete for 15 years. Before this, he was a record setting amateur athlete with the 28# and 56# weights for distance. Dave now resides in Redding, California and works as an engineer for a timber company. He is married to Shauna, and they have two children, a son Taylor (10 years old) and a daughter Arabella (2 years old).

Dave currently holds the WORLD RECORD in the 56# weight for height with a toss of 20′1″, which he set in 2006. I remember when I started throwing in the Highland Games (over 20 years ago) and athletes would “talk about 20 feet” in the WOB with anticipation that maybe someday someone would top that mark. Much like Olympic Lifters talking about a 600 pound Clean and Jerk. It seemed like an impossibility at the time, but the hope was always there that a SUPERMAN would come along and make the impossible happen. Well, that SUPERMAN is Dave Brown. Yet, Dave is as modest as they come. I have known him for close to 20 years and he is the same guy now as when he first started throwing. I remember many years ago when Dave was a 19 year old kid living in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was just starting in the games. Dan DeWelt commissioned me to “come down to Tulsa” to put on a Highland Games Clinic for new throwers, as I was the only Highland Games Pro around in the Midwest in those days. That was the first time I met Dave, and when we got to the weight over bar and he was matching me throw for throw – I knew he was going to be something special someday in the Highland Games. For a couple of years Dave would drive to my place so we could train together. He started going to more games. It wasn’t long before Dave turned professional and we were seeing and competing with each other several weekends a summer. And then it wasn’t long before Dave was far surpassing ALL of my throwing distances!!

I introduced Dave to an All-Round lift I knew he would excel with - the One Arm Barbell Snatch. In his first workout ever he snatched an unbelievable 170 pounds!!

Dave is a “student of the game”, and when mixed with his amazing genetic ability and work ethic, has accomplished things that others just dream of. I really believe if Dave had decided on focusing on another sport besides the

Dave has tremendous squatting ability. Here he breaks a Dino Gym record in the Zercher Harness Squat to a 15" box with a lift of 515 pounds.

Highland Games he would have been just as successful. In 1998, he tried Strongman Competition and with minimal implement training won the NAS Heavyweight Championships! And this was against seasoned Strongmen. I wonder what his Strongman career could have been if THAT was his focus? Dave also has a WORLD CLASS grip without working on it much. Many years ago at a Pro Highland Games in Arlington, Texas I will never forget him closing the #3 COC grippers with ease. This was in the days when that was a BIG DEAL! Carl Braun brought along a #3 gripper to “Challenge” Dave over our noon lunch break. I don’t even know if Dave had ever seen one before – but while he was sitting there with a sandwich in one hand and the gripper in the other he SMASHED it shut! Then he switched hands with the sandwich and #3 gripper – and did it again with his other hand! I’ll never forget how nonchalantly he did this! It just wasn’t that big of deal to him at the time. World renowned Strength Historian Dale Harder has been measuring athletes grips with a Baseline Dynamometer to get a very accurate reading of gripping strength. He has done this for over ten years now and has tested 1000’s of athletes. To date, Dave has the HIGHEST Dynamometer reading of ALL-TIME with a squeeze of 122 kilograms. Now THAT’S a firm handshake! It’s a shame Dave never gave football a try. With his size and agility I’m sure he would have had a lucrative pro career as an Offensive Guard in the NFL.

I only wish Dave would have planned his vacation so he could have made it to today’s Dino Grip Challenge. He would have been a MAJOR FORCE in the gifted lineup of grip-masters that are entered in this meet. Hopefully, the USAWA will see more of Dave Brown in the future.

What it feels like to lift 150 pounds with one hand

by Arthur Saxon

Arthur Saxon demonstrating the proper technique for the Bent Press.

I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting. In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting. The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitors, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail. This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed.

As the weight steadily rises aloft, perhaps half way it wavers, the balance alters, and I have immediately, yet very carefully and quietly, to adjust my position to the altered balance of the bar. Then I proceed with the press, my body gradually falling lower towards the left knee, my eyes fixed all the time upon the ponderous weight balanced over my head, ready to fall at a moment’s notice should I weaken or place myself in a false position, and should at this moment anyone shout out, it might startle me, make me waver, and cause the weight to fall. Therefore, if I am attempting a world’s record in this position, I generally ask for complete silence until I have either failed or succeeded, and I might mention here that to think of failure is to fail, and always tell myself all the time that I am certain to succeed even though I am attempting a weight more than I have hitherto lifted. Eventually, my arm is straight, and before coming to an upright position I engage in another tussle with the enormous barbell, in which I have to exert all my will power to hold together the flagging powers of tired muscles, which have been strained by the tremendous pressure which 350 lbs. brings on to them in the effort of pressing aloft. By supreme effort of the will I fix the bell in a good position and then stand upright. Often the bar will roll on to the fingers instead of being directly over the wrist, in which case severe pain is inflicted, and I have to persevere with the lift under doubly hard conditions, or else drop the weight and try again.

Credit: The Development of Physical Power by Arthur Saxon

Hall of Fame Biography – Howard Prechtel class of 1993

The Life of Howard Prechtel

by Dennis Mitchell

Howard Prechtel and one of his favorite lifts - the Hip Lift

Back in the late 1940’s Howard Prechtel was competing in Olympic Lifting. At that time it was the only way to compete. However, his real love in lifting was the odd lifts. That was what the All-Round lifts where called then. As power lifting became more popular he competed in that also. With the organizing of All-Round lifting Howard was in his true element. He still competed in both Olympic and Power lifting, while competing in All-Round meets, setting many National and World records. Besides competing he was active as a referee and meet promoter for both National and World meets. He organized the Gold Cup Record Day, which has become an annual event. For many years he held the Buckeye Record Day every February. He has been both the National and World President. Howard is also known for his ability as a “Bone Setter”. Though he had no formal training, he learned his skills from a fellow lifter who was a medical professor, and taught him the art of manipulation.

Howard Prechtel in his earlier days competing in Olympic Weightlifting

Here are some of Howard’s lifting accomplishments. At age 52, he did a Harness lift of 1,910 pounds for 22 reps in 30 seconds. At age 57, he broke Warren Travis’ record set in 1927, by lifting 1,111 pounds 5,460 times in 3 hours and nine minutes. What lift? The Travis lift! At age 62, he did a Roman Chair sit up with 908 pounds. At age 70, he did 105 reps in 75 seconds with 1,102 pounds, in the Travis lift. Other than his lifting accomplishments Howard was a decorated Marine in the second world war, where he served for four years in the Pacific. He took part in several invasions and was wounded twice. He seldom talked about this except that it was very horrible and it was best left in the past.

My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 1

by Al Myers

Recently at the World Championships I got the great honor of getting the opportunity to compete with Frank Ciavattone again. It has been several years since Frank has been able to compete because of various injuries, with the last one being a hip replacement. Frank is a true Pioneer in the Sport of All-Round Weightlifting and contains a wealth of information. He is also the ultimate sportsman by demonstrating that a big man can be very strong without the use of drugs, showing that strength comes from within, and displays the unselfish attitude of always helping out his fellow competitors.

Frank Ciavattone performing a One Arm Hack Lift at the 2005 USAWA National Championships. I'm standing behind him watching and learning. Frank has the top USAWA lift of All-Time in this lift at 402 pounds.

Al: Where do you current live and what do you do for a living?

Frank: I live at 204 East St. E. Walpole, MA 02032. I am a self-employed Excavator Contractor two-thirds of the season and a Heavy Snow Remover the remaining time.

Al: When did you first start weightlifting and how did you get started?

Frank: I started to lift after I received a 75lb. weight set for Christmas in 1966. My uncle Ralph (my godfather) was a bodybuilder in the early 1950’s. He actually placed 5th in the 1951 Mr. Boston Contest. Plus my dad was a Marine during the Korean War and was a Power Shovel operator (steam shovel). Running this type of equipment makes you strong. I remember how big, calloused and strong his hands were. No doubt they were my inspiration.

Al: What got you started in All-Round Weightlifting?

Frank: I trained for many years (1971 to 1988) with my coach Joe Mills of The Central Falls Weightlifting Club in Central Falls, R.I. Joe trained some of the best Olympic lifters in the country and the world, such as Mark Cameron and Bob Bednarski. Joe did this with respect and honesty. I was always very close to Joe and he knew I would never make it as a World champ in Olympic lifting. He suggested to me to work the lifts that I could out lift all the other lifters from the club in and go for the best there ever was. His only suggestion was stay around 275lbs. or less. I never ever got the drug speech from him as he knew my family and how we were raised and the rest is history. I also had some tremendous help from Bill Clark, John Vernacchio, and Howard Prechtel. I met Bill at the 1984 American Championships in Conn. He told me how they do Allround lifting in Missouri and sent me newsletters to see the records and THEN another sparkplug lit. I’ve got all his newsletters ever since. I basically was a charter member in 1988 but due to a personal problem could not go to England. John & Howard gave me endless phone time on educating me how to do a lot of the lifts before upcoming contests. I can not leave without mentioning Frank Gancarz and Ed Jubinville (both deceased) who played a big part in making me feel Allround lifting was just as important as life itself! To these MEN I truly admire and respect and I thank them from the bottom of my HEART!

TEAM LIFTING

by Al Myers

The date for the USAWA Team Nationals is approaching fast (Next Weekend -Sunday, September 20th, 2009). Team lifting is when two individuals (the Team) perform a lift together. The USAWA provides divisions for 2-Man, 2-Person, and 2-Woman Teams. A 2-person team is a team made up of a male and a female. All of these divisions are contested at the National Team Championships.

My training partner Chad Ullom (to left) and myself training the 2-Man Zercher Lift in preparation for the 2007 Team Nationals. We ended up lifting 705 pounds at Nationals.

Rules for Team Lifts (taken from the USAWA Rulebook)

“Any approved lift may be done as a Team Lift, provided it is done according to the rules of the individual lift. Team Lifts consist of two lifters performing a lift together. This may consist of male-male, female-female, or female-male teams. The combination of lifters may be of any age or weight. The weight class the Team will be in will be that of the heaviest lifter and the age class that of the youngest lifter. An exception is if a Junior lifter is teamed with an Open or Master lifter, in which the age class will be the class of the older lifter. “

Team lifting is very challenging because factors come into play that when lifting on a bar by yourself you don’t experience. The timing of the lift with your partner has to be the same or imbalances occur. It helps if both lifters are of the same height and body type so the bar is at the same height during and at the finish of the lift. Flexibility becomes more of a factor because of the limited space a bar provides when two lifters have a hold of it!! Lifting styles also come into play. For example – when doing a clean, one lifter can’t squat clean the bar while the other power cleans it!! Another factor you don’t think of until you actually do Team Lifting is trust. A missed lift can be catastrophic in team lifting because one person may be successfully completing the lift when this happens and unaware that one side of the bar is dropping fast!!! You have to know each others capabilities and be able to TRUST that your lifting partner won’t let you down.

But at the same time, Team Lifting provides a great challenge. In some lifts you can actually lift more together than the sum of each of your individual lifts. Chad and I found this out a couple of years ago when the Team One Arm Deadlift was contested at Team Nationals. We had an idea of what we thought we could do together based on each of our individual One Arm Deadlifts – but forgot a big difference that was going to occur when we were both gripping the bar. That difference was we were able to create an “alternate grip” on the bar by facing away from each other, thus helping in blocking the “bar roll” that occurs in any one arm deadlift. We ended up lifting more together than the sum of our “Bests” at the time.

There is still time to enter the USAWA Team Nationals.

Strength Through Variety (Part 4)

(The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO – webmaster)

by John McKean

John McKean performing a 2-Bar Deadlift.

Can I entice you to try a short, intense, very stimulating all-round training schedule which capitalizes on these dynamic singular efforts? My training partner, Art Montini, has devised a unique circuit-like routine that is as exciting as it is challenging. Art schedules four or five exercises per session, each done for but 4 singles. Ordering the various lifts from lightest to heaviest, he does a first round of one exercise after the other with all of them at approximately 77% (based on their heaviest poundage for that day, not all-time bests – we still cycle the intensity to an upcoming contest). Art then does a second round with 85% for each lift, then a round with 92½ %, and a final rotation with 100% efforts. Montini claims a special mental “freshness” while powerfully bouncing from lift to lift and says the recuperation between rounds yields superior readiness for maximum attempts.

Following is a sample strength rotation schedule based on my current training for upcoming all-round competitions. I begin with a highly specialized, “heavy hands” total-body aerobic warmup (15-20 minutes) which thoroughly prepares my body to hit big poundages immediately. Note that the movements are ordered from lightest to heaviest.

John McKean perfoming an One Arm Deadlift.

Round 1: one lift/rep with 77½ % of that day’s maximum.

Round 2: 85%

Round 3: 92½ %

Round 4: 100%

Tuesday – Push Press, Steinborn, Neck Lift, Straddle Lift

Thursday – One-Arm Swing, Pullover & Push, Dumbell Squat, Zercher, Hand & Thigh

Saturday – Power Snatch, Dumbell Press, Pullover & Press, One-Arm Deadlift, Hip Lift

Each day’s session works every inch of the body, but any particular lift is only done once per week. One can freely substitute any power, Olympic or major bodybuilding movement, as long as attention is devoted toward involving the total musculature. Of course, workouts can be reduced if desired to two per week and with fewer exercises.

Strength Through Variety (Part 3)

(Webmaster comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean squatting 530 pounds for a Pennsylvania State Record in 1980. This was done at the Great Lakes Championships in Erie, Pennsylvania in the 148# weight class. John's best competition squat was 555 pounds - before the age of super squat suits!!

“All you need in life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure!” stated beloved storyteller Mark Twain. In his famous tongue-in-cheek manner, Twain may have unwittingly provided one of the biggest truths in strength training. For if, as lifters, we envision great success with a highly personalized, unique training pattern, and let our enthusiasm run rampant in its employment, we usually achieve stellar results. Yet, often such a self-styled program is never attempted if those ever-present “experts” are consulted.

Looking back, I suppose my own powerlifting career, which peaked about twenty years ago, could definitely be described as “ignorant yet confident”. Due to a particular fondness for squatting, I naively assumed that some serious specialization on this lift, sustained drive to excel, and very concentrated effort in the gym would allow me to outdo most competitors. Emphasizing mostly brutal, ever-heavier single attempts in training, I actually did manage to establish many local and state records, topping out at 530- and 550-pound bests in the lightweight and middleweight divisions. Heck, it was no real surprise to discover from magazine polls back then that my lifts were even listed among the top ten in the nation for several years. Only later did the shocking truth reveal itself – with my light bone structure (6” wrists), overly long thigh bones, use of neither drugs or supportive gear, and unsophisticated training methods, there was “no possibility” of becoming even mediocre in this event. Man, was I fortunate that nobody told me until it was too late.

My history has provided firsthand education of the absolute value of using a limited program of extremely heavy singles in order to approach one’s maximum power potential. When constantly knocking heads with tiptop poundages, many physical disadvantages can be placed on the back burner. Yet in modern strength literature, noted “authorities” constantly belittle the value of “ones”. Where, I’ve often wondered, did these hardheads come up with the ridiculous “testing strength vs. training for strength” theory which is used so frequently to knock the use of near-limit singles? In actual application, I’ve never seen just such a short, intelligent program fail anybody.

Perhaps many of us master competitors lucked out by starting our training in an age when strength was king – all major bodybuilding and weightlifting moves were keyed toward low-rep, heavy poundages. In the “good old days” we maxed out on everything all the time – and loved it. Our Iron Game heroes, now legends in the sport, regularly utilized short, basic programs which always culminated in several heavy singles. Interestingly, when the renowned Bulgarian national weightlifting team was asked how they developed their “revolutionary” training concept of singling out on all lifts every session, they replied, “from studying the old system of the Americans which we read about in the magazines of the fifties and sixties.”

So, with the advent of modern all-round competition, many of us enthusiastic older trainees already had a tried and true system which easily enabled as many as twenty lifts per week to be worked. Yep, those blessed singles allowed us to spread our energy around while still training with super intensity. Only now, with all-round’s vast array of maneuvers (over 150 lifts which can be contested), we find ourselves using fewer singles per move but making better gains in total body power than ever before, despite our ages being in the forties, fifties and sixties.

A real mental key to deploying a “singles” training schedule is simply to eliminate that word in favor of “a lift”. A near-max lift is certainly about as intense as effort as can be done, yet that low, low number still bothers some. Too many strength trainees today have been constantly brainwashed to the “more is better” concept, even within the context of a set. But, after all, what is a set of, say, eight reps? Simply seven warmups finalized by one tough rep (though with a sub-par poundage compared to a truly heavy single). Why not conserve time and energy by doing a lift with perhaps 40% more weight in the first place?

Strength Through Variety (Part 2)

(Webmaster comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrating the Jefferson Lift, which is also known as the Straddle Deadlift.

A brief look at weightlifting’s history will quickly show that many of the above-mentioned lifts were the basis of meets during the 1900-1930 era. Rare was it when an early contest didn’t feature a one-arm snatch, dumbell swing, or the amazing bent-press (yes, it’s once again being given its due – number 48 on our all-round list). Extensive record lists on about 50 events were kept in the US and Great Britain prior to 1940, with other informal local listings recorded in both countries during the sixties and seventies.

When serious interest once again picked up, officials from the two lands met in 1987 to write a constitution and promote the new-to-many concept of all-round competition. When these modern day founding fathers established the up to date rules and regulations, they insisted on pure body dynamics to do the lifting – no super suits or supportive gear, no wraps, and absolutely no drugs.

About now, I’m certain many will question the feasibility of training limit poundages on 10-20 big lifts at a time. Doesn’t this go against the grain of current advice to avoid long routines? No. In fact, the real beauty of our all-round sessions is that we’re actually forced to restrict quality training time on each individual lift to an absolute minimum. The necessity of these ultra-abbreviated strength routines has taught us how to reach maximum intensity for handling true top weights more often than ever before.

Although there’s a wide range of effective schedules used by our present crop of all-rounders, and highly specialized methods for handling some of our more unique lifts, here’s a sample training procedure used by 12 of us at the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Essentially, we’ve achieved phenomenal progress over the past five years by doing single repetitions on each of about 6 exercises per workout. We switch lifts every day of our three weekly sessions so that a total of 18 moves are given a short, high-intensity burst once a week. After a special non-weight warmup (more on this later) we do just 3 singles per exercise, best characterized as heavy, heavier, and heaviest. The last attempt is usually fairly close to a limit. And, because this quick, brutal style of training seems to fuel our mental competitive aggression, we always feel motivated to try to up that poundage each week.

Sure, this is heavy stuff. Yet in all our collective time with all-round training, none of us has ever felt even slightly burned out, suffered serious injury, or even felt overly tired from a workout (contests are something else, however). It seems when gains keep coming as rapidly as they have, lifts are always being rotated, and workouts are over before we have a chance of even getting mentally fatigued, our sport always stays fresh, exciting, and ever challenging. After all, how hard can it be to perform a workout of only 18 reps? (Better wait to answer till you actually experience this unique form of intensity and variety).

Most all-round movements are complex by nature and work the entire body at once. Each exercise serves as a supplement to the others, so there’s absolutely no need to waste extra time on assistance exercises. This is also a big reason why we get away with training any particular lift but once a week; all muscle groups are pushed totally each training day, no matter what combination of exercises is employed. After all, why should we bother with, say, the highly overrated and widely overused bench press – very one dimensional when compared to the whole-body functioning of all-round’s dynamic pullover and push.

How well does all-round training serve the average person? Let me offer two rather extreme examples. On a novice level would be my 13-year old son Robbie. Beginning when he was 10, Robbie found immediate pleasure over his rapid strength gains. Thanks to the wide variety of moves and abbreviated training (yes, I put him on heavy singles immediately, despite dire warnings I’ve read by “experts”), he never experienced much muscle soreness nor ever any boredom with his quick workouts. In three years he has gained fifty pounds of muscle (puberty helped), tripled his strength, and has established fifty world records in the pre-teen division.

Recently, while on the way to winning his third consecutive title at 1992’s national championship in Boston, this 165-pound “little boy” performed a show-stopping hand and thigh (short range deadlift). I’ve never seen another youngster of this age who could match Rob’s grip strength to do a 250-pound one-arm deadlift, or the neck power to equal his 300-pound head harness lift. But early in his training, Robbie perceptively put me straight on what this sport is all about. Telling him to follow me downstairs to begin “exercising” one day, he firmly replied, “Dad, I don’t exercise, I lift.”

On the other end of the spectrum is longtime powerlifting and weightlifting competitor, 65-year old Art Montini. As is the case with all of us master lifters, Art discovered that no form of training or competition is as much fun as all-round lifting. Montini never misses one of these exciting workouts and seems to heft new personal bests each time he sets foot in a gym. Who says you stop gaining beyond 35? Art’s name is all over the current record book and he’s never failed to win the outstanding master award at any of our national meets. Seeing the agile oldster deftly upend a 300-pound barbell, twist and stoop to shoulder it then easily squat in the complicated Steinborn lift, or perform his mind-boggling 1,800-pound hip lift would convince anyone that Art drinks gallons daily from the fountain of youth.

Strength Through Variety (Part 1)

(Webmasters comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrating the Pullover and Push with a thick handle, old style barbell. The Pullover and Push was done by old time strongmen before the days of the Bench Press.

Competition can certainly bring out the beast in you. An almost fanatical drive to excel, improve, and outdo the other guy always yields an unmatched training intensity. Yet even the most diehard lifter occasionally finds himself bored stiff with the same old squat, bench press, snatch or jerk, workout after workout. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find the incentive to add this competitive fire to shoot for maximum poundages on a lot of movements rather than just a few? How would you like the challenge offered by a huge variety of exercises which can instill tremendous total body power?

Well . . . welcome to the wonderful world of all-round weightlifting.

Simply put, all-round weightlifting consists of almost anything but the powerlifts or two Olympic lifts. In our IAWA (International All-Round Weightlifting Association) meets we perform many recognizable events such as dumbell and barbell presses, strict and cheat curls, hack lifts, leg presses, pullovers, weighted situps, etc. Also contested are forerunners of modern weightlifting which include one-arm snatches, one-arm clean and jerks, push presses, continental cleans and snatches, and jerks behind the neck. Early powerlifting forms are represented by the straddle lift, lying pullover and push, front squat, stiff-legged deadlift, and Steinborn maneuver. And a few ultra-heavy harness events, favored by old-time professional strongmen, are employed via the hip lift, hand and thigh, and back lift.

Lest any potential all-round trainee be intimidated by this awesome variety, let me be quick to explain that never are our listed 150-plus lifts all included in one contest. Generally, for a major contest, 8-10 of the more popular lifts are done over two days. For instance, the 1992 US National meet held in Boston, Massachusetts, featured the neck lift, Jefferson, continental snatch, press behind neck, pullover and push, Zercher, Steinborn, hip lift, hand and thigh, and one-hand deadlift. Local meets usually offer 3-5 movements or are “record days” where a competitor can select his own choice of lifts for record purposes. A few times, however, zealous promoters have posted lists of 15-20 lifts for grueling two-day affairs – believe me, a total body-numbing experience.

Joe Garcia and the Hand & Thigh

by Al Myers

A Hall of Fame Biography is now available for Joe Garcia.  Joe is famous for his Hand and Thigh Lifting – and holds the all-time record in this lift by lifting 1910 pounds! Not only has he lifted more than anyone in the history of the USAWA, but also of All Time, even exceeding the Hand and Thigh Lifts of the old time strongmen.

Joe Garcia with the Hand and Thigh Lift

Quiz Question: Name the lifter whose all-time record was broken by Joe Garcia, and the weight of the previous record.

Rules of contest: 1 answer per day, first correct answer to webmaster wins

Winner receives a USAWA Patch!!!!

Mike McBride, of Columbia Missouri, correctly answered the quiz. The

previous Hand and Thigh Lift record holder was the New Jersey Strongman,  Jack Walsh.  He did a Hand and Thigh Lift of 1900 pounds in 1950 at Trenton, New Jersey.  This beat the previous record held by Louis Cyr of Canada, who had a Hand and Thigh Lift of 1897 pounds, set in 1896.  Will it be another 50 years before Joe Garcia’s Hand and Thigh Lift record is broken?


Deanna Springs Meet

by Al Myers

Joe Garcia wins the Deanna Meet

Group Picture - Front row Bill Clark. Back row left to right Al Springs, Joe Garcia, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom

Four lifters made their way to Clark’s Gym during a late spring snow storm to participate in the Deanna Springs Memorial. The day I left for the meet I received over 6 inches of snow at home, which is unusual for Kansas in March. I was able to stay ahead of the storm and was fortunate that the weather had improved when it was time to return home. This meet is a memorial meet honoring the late Deanna Springs, who was the wife of Al Springs. So, it was a quite a highlight, when Al Springs showed up!!! Al has had a rough year having just had heart bypass surgery this year. He has been involved with the USAWA for many years, not just as a lifter but also as a meet promoter. Most lifters would give up lifting after heart surgery. But Al is a hardcore lifter, like many of the other USAWA lifters, and shows what determination is all about. He is a true inspiration to everyone!! Joe Garcia easily won the meet with his strength in the heavy lifts. Joe made a huge hip lift of 1875#, and almost made 2075#. Joe is a technician in the heavy lifts. One thing I really admire about Joe is his willingness to share lifting tips with his competitors. My training partner Chad Ullom again turned in a solid lifting performance. Chad is a very well-rounded lifter and has very few weak lifts. I want to thank Bill Clark again for hosting this annual event. We concluded the day with our traditional post-meet meal at the Golden Corral. Everyone left with sore muscles and a full belly.

FULL MEET RESULTS:

Deanna Springs Memorial Meet
March 28, 2009
Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri

Meet Director: Bill Clark
Official (1 official system used): Bill Clark
Loader: James Foster

Lifts:  Crucifix, Cheat Curl, Hand and Thigh, Hip Lift, Deanna Lift

Lifter Age BW Crucifix Cheat Curl H&T Hip Deanna Total Points
Joe Garcia 55 240 70 155 1275 1875 575 3950 3711.88
Al Myers 42 253 90 190 1105 1475 755 3615 2936.31
Chad Ullom 37 232 80 175 1105 1475 665 3500 2886.45
Al Springs 67 212 40 65 375 525 235 1240 1373.01

Body weight in pounds.  All lifts in pounds.