Crucifix – Part 3

by Roger LaPointe

Crucifix Part 3 – Questions about the Crucifix Lift

Actor John Saxon utilized Kettlebells to develop a symmetrical muscular build.

How about the lower body when doing the crucifix (iron cross)?

The official competition crucifix lift is properly performed with the feet together.  The feet are brought together once the weights are brought together overhead and before the weights are allowed to descend.  As you are learning the lift, don’t worry about the legs.  Get the weights overhead and learn the upper body movements first.   The Crucifix is an awesome movement for highlighting that old physical culture concept of symmetrically balanced physical development.  You see this as topic of apparently huge importance in the older bodybuilding literature, as measured by the amount of print space devoted to it.  However, from a practical issue, no where has it been better highlighted than during a Crucifix Lift.  I thought the 2 Hand Barbell Snatch made this obvious, with press outs, spear fished barbells and other dramatic missed attempts, but it is even more obvious in the crucifix.  No one in the Atomic Athletic Club has properly held out those weights, with their feet together, the first time.  You will be surprised at how much of an impact the foot position will be, as you get closer to limit lifts.  Once you get everything else nailed down, add in the foot placement.

Read the specifics of the competition lift in the USAWA Official Rule Book, which can be found on this website.

What is the best dumbbell for the crucifix?

Man, that is a great question.  I always believe that solid dumbbells are the best, for just about anything.  Obviously, a solid dumbbell is terrible if you need to adjust it.  For training purposes, I am not a big fan of Olympic sized dumbbells.  They are so big that they really limit what you can effectively do with them.  However, if you only have Olympic sized plates, they are clearly the cheapest way to go.  I am a big fan of a rotating dumbbell as well, which is satisfied by the Olympic dumbbell concept.  Standard sized equipment, plates and bars, are much more compact and they are cheaper than the Olympic ones.  We sell a variety of bars, rotating handles, collars, plates and other equipment, including the kettlebell handles that I like for the crucifix.  However, that may not be an invest you are willing to make.


Crucifix – Part 2

by Roger LaPointe

Crucifix Part 2 – Kettlebell Weirdness

Joe Southard performing a "perfect" Crucifix. This picture is from the USAWA Rulebook.

While a number a strongman contests have had some form of the crucifix hold, each one seems to be somewhat different, with the “made for TV” aspect seeming to be paramount.  The USAWA Official Rulebook has the only “officially” written rules for a Crucifix Hold that I can find.  If anyone can find anything else that would qualify, I would love to see it.  That being said, I will assume that we are using the USAWA rules for the competition form of the exercise.

Three  Training Tips

1. Start of extremely light: Vic Boff recommends that you start off with no more than 12 ½ pounds.  I deferred to Vic’s experience, because he has never steered me wrong.  Well, he was right again.  Certainly, experiment light and then continue light for your first week or two of training, after getting some of the technique down.

2. Kettlebells Hang:  Of course they do, you might say.  Now is the time to read the USAWA Official Rule Book, Lift # E8.  It can be downloaded from their web site.  (Just a tip.  I had several copies spiral bound: 1 for the gym, 1 for the office and 1 for the announcing table during contests.  It has become a valuable reference tool.)  The Crucifix can be done with either dumbbells or kettlebells.  I don’t know which one is easier, but they are two different lifts, with the kettlebell version being the more interesting and dramatic, as they hang down when the arms are outstretched.  As you start from the press lockout, with the palms facing each other, the kettlebells will hang down, increasing the leveraged force as they are lowered.

3. Dynamic Stretching:   As I started doing training for the Crucifix I did my typical warm-ups with Indian Clubs.  I am really glad I did.  I have since also added curls.  Those are done with light weight in a full range of motion, as a warm-up.  I feel like this combination is really helping my lockout in my snatch as well. 

For those of you unfamiliar with some of the terminology I have used here, you may want to check out Traditional Training Legendary Strength.


Crucifix – Part 1

by Roger LaPointe

Part 1 – Crucifix Holds

Crucifix using two kettlebells.

Strange lifts abound in the world of old school strongman feats, but the classic Crucifix Hold would seem to be pretty easy to understand.  Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  You simply have to start doing this movement to really grasp the coolness and easy application to a variety of training programs.

This first Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin, covering the Crucifix Hold is going to highlight some of the many benefits, where to fit it into your routine and some initial tips for you to get started.  This will help you bypass a few of the stumbling blocks I hit along the way. 

1.  Shoulder Development:  The crucifix is just one of the exercises that Vic Boff recommends for use with kettlebell handles.  As Vic Boff says in his “Body Builder’s Bible”, “The exercises, when carefully followed through,will give excellent results when intelligently applied.” (Boff, p. 125)   I highly recommend that you actually work the various kettlebell handle exercises in Vic’s book.  They provide outstanding supplementary training for the competition lift, which is not just part of the USAWA, but frequently seen in strongman contests as well.

2.   Tools:  The old classic shots of strongmen, from fifty to one hundred years ago, almost always show the strongman doing the Crucifix Hold with some sort of globe kettlebell.  As I have a pretty good selection of equipment, including antique Milo Bar Bell globes, I figured this was the way to go.  Wrong.  Then I tried various dumbbells, which turned out to be varying degrees of “acceptable”.  The best was definitely NOT solid kettlebells, as the small solid heads and somewhat rounded handles had strange torque issues.  Maybe competition grade kettlebells would have been better, but I don’t have any of those here to try.  Certainly the best, and cheapest, were the kettlebell handles.  I would love to push sets of solid kettlebells, simply from a profit perspective, but I would be giving you my honest opinion.

3.   Timing:  I am finding that a solid warm-up with light Indian Clubs is essential, but I would be doing that for my Olympic weightlifting anyway.  Then do some of the light exercises Vic recommends, with no more than 15 pounds per kettlebell.  Then go right into progressively heavier poundages.

The USAWA Official Rulebook has the Crucifix in Section E8, which would correspond to the Top Exercise on Page 129 of Vic’s Book.


Garage Rope Climbing

by Roger LaPointe

The benefits of rope climbing can be accomplished by hanging a rope from the ceiling or a power rack.

I am tired of hearing about guys who “can’t” do rope climbing because they don’t have the ceiling space.   You simply don’t need twenty foot ceilings to work rope climbing.  I have many customers who hang a rope off their rafters, in their standard garage and practice rope climbing. The dedicated ones even get to the point of doing “Touch’N Go” style climbing in an L-Sit. One guy started off weighing 300 pounds and not able to hang from a chin-up bar.   A hundred pounds of bodyweight down the drain and he is doing one hand chins and those “Touch’N Go” Climbs.

Cool dude.

If you can’t do a chin-up, start with any kind of pulling/rowing exercises on our Rack Ropes and assisted chins and pull-ups. You will be ripping out 10 dead hang pull-ups in a hurry. You just have to dedicate yourself. You may have to lose some weight at the same time. You know what to do. Dedicate yourself.  The first time you hit ten reps, everyone will see that accomplishment in the way you walk. It’s up to you.


Iron Boots

by Roger LaPointe

Iron Boots – A full leg workout that fits in your gym bag

Iron Boots by Atomic Athletic

Before leg extension and leg curl machines there was Iron Boot training.  Iron Boots have been helping athletes get unbelievable leg development for decades.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Iron Boots, they are a pair of iron sandals that strap on your feet.  They utilize a small bar placed through the sole of the boot which allows them to be loaded with weight plates and used for several different leg exercises.  For many years, the Iron Boot was one of the premier products of the York Barbell Company. If you are lucky enough to own a copy of “How to Build Super Strength, Health and Development with the York Leg Developing Course” published by Bob Hoffman in 1943, you can see many classic shots of the Iron Boot in action.

Our Iron Boot set now includes the Atomic Athletic Leg Development Course FREE!

The secrets of the past are now revealed.  While Iron Boots are ideal for leg exercises, most people don’t realize that Iron Boots are also perfect for abdominal training. Hanging leg raises, and various forms of sit-ups can be taken to the extreme with the addition of Iron Boot exercises to your routine. They are also a very efficient way to add weight to your pull-ups and stretch out your hip flexors. No matter what you use them for, Iron Boots are worth their weight in gold.

Note: These are NOT made by Ivanko, and they are exclusively available at Atomic Athletic. One size fits all. Flat sole means you can now stand on one foot to do standing single leg exercises. This is especially useful for the martial arts guys.  Each Iron Boot Set comes with the pair of Iron Boots, and the tough steel pressure buckle straps to keep them on your feet. It now also comes complete with the written Atomic Athletic Leg Development Course. Iron Boots only take “Standard” size plates, meaning that the hole is the smaller one (1″) inch diameter hole. Please do not confuse this with “Olympic” or “International” size plates.


Pure Rebellion

by Roger LaPointe

Be rebellious and order this poster from Atomic Athletic for your gym!

Picking up the phone I heard silence, followed by the distinctive sound of an old man clearing his throat.  I still answer the phone and talk to customers.  I used to love it, but in today’s world of instant gratification I rarely hear from anyone with a clue about how to hold a conversation.  This guy was different.  I knew I could help him out.

Still lifting sixty or more years after he first picked up a barbell, he told me of a time when that act alone was pure rebellion.  It was an age before Arnold.  No one had a gym membership, because you were lucky if there was even a YMCA in your town, regardless of whether or not there was a set of weights in the basement.  Almost all the gyms were garage gyms, because commercial ones didn’t really exist.  Tough guys in motorcycle jackets lifted weights and wore white undershirts, to show off their rebellion.  Today, everybody wears T-shirts, with or without a clever picture or slogan.  Athletes, you defied your coach if you lifted weights, because weightlifting made you “muscle bound”. 

I never considered my weightlifting to be an act of rebellion, but this old guy remembered that first day he picked up a barbell.  That thing could have been red hot out of the foundry, burning the experience into his brain because it screamed rebellion. His older brother learned to lift weights in the navy, the one who had come home with the tattoo of a hot red head pin-up girl, not his brother the army officer. 

I guess things have come full circle.  When you lift in your garage, instead of a commercial gym, you are rebelling.  If you lift free weights, instead of running on treadmills and lifting with machines, you are rebelling.  Heck, just lifting heavy low reps is considered an act of rebellion today.  “Cut abs” seem to be more important than a strong back.

That old guy was building a gym for his grandson.  He sent me a couple photos and told me to match his gym as closely as possible.  You guessed it.  He hadn’t updated anything since the 1950s: lots of standard sized iron, bars, kettlebell handles, speed bag & heavy bag, thick handles, iron boots.  You get the idea.  Now, you ask, why wasn’t the kid doing this project himself?  I asked the same question.  The quick answer was that he had, but because of a divorce, Mom did not approve.  It was up to Grandpa to help instill a little rebellion in the kid. 

PS.  The old guy had also included a picture of the red head and he was right about it, she did have the right amount of curves.  I made sure to point out that Red Head Retro Pin-Up poster we have.  It’s now framed in the kid’s bedroom.


Atomic Athletic Meet


The 2011 Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet

Dave Polzin, at age 61, performed a 220 pound Clean and Push Press at the Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet.

MEET REPORT by Scott Schmidt

On August 20Th, Roger LaPointe was the Meet Director of another fun and successful USAWA All Round Weightlifting event. Located in Bowling Green, Ohio, the competition drew several Hall of Fame members as well as a good amount of new members. I am providing this brief overview for our organization for 2 reasons. One, to inform our readers what took place.  And two, to say Thank You to Roger for his efforts in helping grow our membership by being able to conduct competitions at his facility.

The lifts that took place were; The one arm dead lift, the clean and push press, and the trap bar dead lift. Since we had acceptable weather that day, the competition was held outdoors. Roger will be providing the detailed results from each lifter. I just wanted to let everyone know that we all had fun, many records were set, and a great spirit of camaraderie was felt by all participants.

As we know, to be successful in our sport takes a lot of effort. What was another great characteristic of this event was all the participants enthusiasm. Encouragement to one another, and a happy conclusion with the top 5 athletes receiving medals. Enjoy competing showing your strength? Join the USAWA. You will have an opportunity for recognition and be rewarded for your efforts. We have many lifts to chose from. So if you want to attend a record day meet and see what you can do, I am certain you will enjoy participating in the USAWA. We highly respect the accomplishments of any strength athlete. And you will feel  proud once you can get your name on the record list.

Stay Strong!

MEET REPORT by Roger LaPointe

Boy, we sure had a great day to lift.  Last Saturday, August 20, 2011, turned out to be a beautiful day.  Really, any day with a weightlifting meet that goes without a hitch is a good day, but this was a GREAT day.   The competition platform was outside at the Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend USAWA Meet.  Outdoor meets are always a risk in Northwestern Ohio, we can have all four seasons in one day.  Yet, just as it started to heat up, we had a few clouds roll in, making it slightly overcast.  Perfect.

Meet Highlights

Here are some highlights from a flawless three lift All Round Weightlifting event.  The lifts were: the One Hand Barbell Deadlift, Clean & Push Press, and Trap Bar Deadlift; which were competed at in that order.

 The Top 5 Male Lifters, by formula were:

1stPlace: David Polzin

2ndPlace: John McKean

3rdPlace: Dennis Habecker

4th Place: Scott Schmidt

5thPlace: Roger LaPointe

While all the lifting was very well done, I really have to congratulate Dave Polzin for winning Best Lifter.  His first All Round Meet was our Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Picnic Meet, of this last May.   Dave was a National Level Olympic style weightlifter in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s.  Dave’s highest placing was second in the US Nationals, in the 110 kg weight class.  He was known for his powerful clean & jerk, with which he hit 200 kg (440 lbs.).  It was obviously a good background for the All-Rounds, which is not always an easy transition.  Dave had never done a one hand barbell deadlift until last April, yet, on Saturday, he pulled 132.5 kg (292.1 lbs.).  His clean & push press was another world record for his 61 year old age group (60-64 years), at 100 kg.  I believe he has more than that in him and he has to power clean the weight.  Like many of us, his knees are not what they used to be.  Dave had never seen a trap bar until he started training at Atomic Athletic and he pulled 205 kilos (451.9 lbs.).  Today, Dave lifts in the 100 kg weight class.  We hope to see a good deal more of his lifting in the All-Rounds.

 Meet Facts

The officiating was outstanding, having five international level officials taking turns as judges.  This was also a drug tested event.  We have had two USAWA events here at Atomic Athletic, with both of them being tested.  There are an increasing number of officials and regular USAWA lifters checking out what we have going on here.  I really think they are most pleased by the number of new lifters we have been bringing into the organization.  There were three brand new lifters competing on Saturday, with many of the new lifters competing for a second time.  While attempting to maintain professionalism, we also like to keep it fun, with a relaxed and positive atmosphere.

Make sure to check out our next meet.  It will be announced in the very near future.  Call me at Atomic Athletic if you have any suggestions for lifts (419)352-5100.


Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet
Bowling Green, OH
August 20th, 2011

Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe

Officials (3 official system used):  John McKean, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Art Montini, Bob Geib

Lifts:  Deadlift – One Arm, Clean and Push Press, Deadlift – Trap Bar

Womens Division

Lifter Age BWT DL-1arm C&PP Trap Total Points
Shannon Watkins 32 76.4 165-R 115 275 555 548.7
Susan Sees 48 89.8 99-R 94 209 402 393.8

Mens Division

Lifter Age BWT DL-1arm C&PP Trap Total Points
Dave Polzin 61 99.5 292-R 220 452 964 999.0
John McKean 65 74.9 264-R 88 341 693 873.9
Denny Habecker 68 88.0 242-R 148 330 720 824.7
Scott Schmidt 58 110.0 275-R 193 358 826 792.2
Roger LaPointe 40 74.6 270-R 165 308 743 752.9
Tom Ballengee 59 79.2 165-R 143 308 616 714.9
Art Montini 83 86.1 176-R 77 242 495 656.1
Bob Geib 68 117.0 154-R 88 375 617 621.8
Tom Montague-Casillas 14 130.1 165-L 132 341 638 567.8
Andrew Titkemeier 32 112.5 0 0 529 529 421.5

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight listed in kilograms.  All  lifts recorded in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points corrected for bodyweight adjustment and age allowance.


Tom Montague-Casillas
Clean and Push Press: 143 pounds

Shannon Watkins
Deadlift – Trap Bar: 286 pounds

Susan Sees
Deadlift – Trap Bar: 220 pounds

Atomic Athletic Meet

by Al Myers




Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe

Contact: email –
phone – (419)-352-5100

Location:  TBA, Bowling Green, OH 43402

Sanction: USAWA Membership Required

Weigh-Ins: 10 AM, Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Divisions:  Juniors, Women, Masters and Open

Awards:  Medals for 1st five places by formula

Entry:  $20 Make Payment to Atomic Athletic
(Includes Official Meet T-shirt and Poster)

Lifts:  One Hand Deadlift, Clean and Push Press, Trap Bar Deadlift

Send entry form and fees to:

Atomic Athletic
500 Lehman Ave, Suite 21
Bowling Green, OH 43402


For a pdf of the entry form – Atomic Athletic Meet Entry Form

Black Swamp Meet

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE:  The following was taken with permission from Andrew Durniat’s blog covering the Atomic Athletic Olde Time Strongman Picnic and USAWA Black Swamp Meet. Congrats to Andrew and his record lift in the One Arm Deadlift!)

by Andrew Durniat

Andrew Durniat and his record setting lift in the One Arm Deadlift (519 pounds).

It was a good day to lift this past Saturday, May 14 while in Bowling Green, Ohio. It was here at the Atomic Athletic Olde Time Strongman Picnic and US All-Round Weightlifting Association (USAWA) meet that I set the single arm deadlift record. My lift of 235.5kg (518.1 lbs.) on my left arm bested Steve Angell of Britain previous record of 219kg (479.6 lbs.).

The running joke at the Durniat household leading up this event was; ‘there’s my problem, I just didn’t have a world record scheduled on my calender.’ You see, when Atomic Athletic approached me about this event, they did so asking me to break a world record. I then put a plan together and executed it perfectly.

The next time a challenge is presented to you, just schedule it in writing on your calender. Put together a plan and take action. You’ll be setting records in no time.

YouTube Video of Andrew’s Record One Arm Deadlift


Black Swamp Meet
Bowling Green, OH
May 14th, 2011

Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe and Atomic Athletic

Lifts:  Deadlift – One Arm, Clean and Push Press

Officials:  Denny Habecker and Scott Schmidt

(All lifts besides Habecker’s and Schmidt’s were passed with 2 whites using the 3-Offical system and are eligible for IAWA World Records.  Habecker and Schmidt were officiated using the 1-Official System and their lifts are only eligible for USAWA records)

Lifter Age BWT DL-1arm C&PP Total Points
Andrew Durniat 32 103.1 228-L 105 333 277.6
Chris Rice 62 94.7 138-R 75 213 228.6
Denny Habecker 68 87.5 120-R 70 190 223.5
Michael Rogowski 25 78.6 135-R 95 230 223.4
Scott Schmidt 58 113.3 136-R 85 221 208.8
Tom Montague-Casillas 14 121.0 55-R 60 115 106.0

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight recorded in kilograms.  Lifts recorded in kilograms.  Total is total kilograms lifted.  Points is adjusted points for age correction and bodyweight adjustment. )

Extra lifts for record:

Andrew Durniat – 235.5 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Left
Denny Habecker – 125 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Right
Chris Rice – 138 kgs One Arm Deadlift, Left

Atomic Athletic

by Al Myers

This is the logo for Atomic Athletic.

I was very excited when Roger LaPointe, owner and operator of Atomic Athletic in Bowling Green, Ohio, contacted me about promoting a USAWA competition in conjunction with his Great Black Swamp Olde-Time Strongman Picnic.  This event has been an annual event at Atomic Athletic for several years, and draws in lots of people interested in all aspects of strength.   I really wish I would have been  able to attend this event on May 14th, but I had previously made another commitment on this date.  So I’ll have to miss it this year – but hopefully, Roger will sanction another USAWA event next year and I can make it!! 

Now for a little more on Roger’s company – Atomic Athletic.  Atomic Athletic sells a full line of strength related products, and caters to the serious weightlifter.  Atomic Athletic has an outstanding website (   Check it out – and you will be surprised how comprehensive it is in regards to product selections.  You can buy high quality weightlifting bars, premium weightlifting plates, and about any piece of equipment you might want.  He also sells DVD’s, books and training courses, and even gym charts!  My favorite sections are the “Retro Strength” and “Classic Gym Equipment”.  These two areas have stuff like this for sale - kettlebells, lifting harnesses, iron boots, Indian clubs, sledgehammers, block weights, and heavy bars.  Atomic Athletic is the only company that I know of that sells a heavy lift bar.

Atomic Athletic has the full endorsement of the USAWA!  And because of this – Atomic Athletic has been added to the commercial links on the USAWA Website.

Black Swamp Meet & Picnic Reminder

By Andrew Durniat

Saturday, May 14 in Bowling Green, Ohio is again the location of the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic. This is the 5th year for the picnic and it stands to be the best one yet.

Old time strongmen and martial artists will perform amazing feats of strength and dexterity at the new Atomic Athletic building in Bowling Green, OH from 1PM to 6PM.  No where else have you seen performances like this!  Not since the Bob Hoffman Birthday Picnics at the old York Barbell has anyone seen a classic picnic like at Atomic Athletic.

There will be a Kettlebell Sport mini-clinic, performers bending steel and rolling up frying pans with there bare hands.  Martial Arts demonstrations and booths, Indian clubs, circus performers, barbell and kettlebell juggling.  The feats of strength will continue all day.

This year, Roger LaPointe, owner of Atomic Athletic has added a sanctioned USAWA record breakers meet.  Two lifts will be contested; One Hand Barbell Deadlift and the Clean and Push Press.

I will be going after the One Hand Barbell Deadlift Record of 475 lbs.  Training has been good, so if you have the day free, come to Bowling Green, Ohio and cheer everyone to big lifts.  I feel 500+ lbs. will be lifted.

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE:  Andrew Durniat graciously allowed us to “rerun” this meet reminder from his website DurniatStrengthTake a little time and browse through his website – it is filled with LOTS of interesting news and information. )

Black Swamp Meet

by Al Myers



Roger LaPointe, of Atomic Athletic, is hosting an All-Round Weightlifting Meet on May 14th.  Roger is not new to the USAWA as a meet director, as he has hosted a couple of competitions in the past – but it has been a few years.  I am REALLY GLAD to see him get back into the USAWA fold by promoting this meet!  Roger owns a very unique equipment company, Atomic Athletic,  that caters to lifters wanting to buy unique equipment that we as All-Rounders would appreciate.  He also sells about anything else that a lifter would need.  Take a little time and check out his website for his business -   Atomic Athletic.  

This meet will feature two popular all-round lifts – the One Hand Deadlift and the Clean and Push Press.  This day will be more than just a meet.  Roger has planned a picnic and other Strongman Shows to compliment the meet.  It sounds like a great day of fun!! 

Great Black Swamp Olde-Time Strongman Picnic Promotional Poster.

For an entry form, click here -  Black Swamp Meet Entry Form