Bob’s Bombs

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Ben Edwards lifting Bob's Bombs at the 2013 Dino Gym Challenge.

I’ll start this writing contest off by writing about a piece of equipment in the Dino Gym that is very “dear to my heart”.   I’m talking about Bob’s Bombs.  Yes, that’s right – these are actually bombs!!!  Years ago we lost a very special friend and training partner Bob Maxey.  Bob was the type of training partner that would NEVER miss workouts, and always knew how to motivate the rest of us to push ourselves in our workouts.  Because if we didn’t – Bob would “call us out” – and you didn’t want him to do that because he knew how to speak his mind in such a way that it bordered on being rude, but wasn’t. He didn’t “suger coat” it when he thought we were slacking.  He simply knew when we were capable of giving more effort than we were giving, and we knew he was right. 

One night Bob brought these beautiful pair of blue bombs into the gym (they were empty training shells thank goodness!!).  For a while in Salina Bob had ran a bar which he named the “Blue Bomb Bar”, and these bomb shells hung from the ceiling as decor.  I’ll never forget Bob’s request to me.  He wanted me to fill these bombs to 100 pounds  each and attach handles so he could use them as farmers walk implements.  Of course, I obliged.  At the time I had no idea what training Bob was expecting to do with them, but I never questioned his training methods which were ofter quite bizarre and unorthodox.

It took me that week to get them “in working order” for him.  I filled them with sand and perfectly center balanced the handles. Well, the first night in the gym after I finished them Bob revealed what he was going to do with them.  He planned to carry both of them to the “top of the hill and back” behind the gym every Tuesday night as a way of giving  himself a little cardio.  For those of you that have been to the Dino Gym know that this is no small feat.  I’m talking to the fence at the top of the hill.  This means down through the raven, pass the ballfield, pass the shelter, pass the throwing trigs, TO THE FENCE.  That’s a total distance of 200 yards, and then you have to walk back.  But when Bob set his mind to something – he was intent on accomplishing his goals.  That first night I had to watch him just because I didn’t believe he was going to try to carry 200 pounds over a distance of a quarter mile over rough up and down yard terrain.  I have no idea how many times he sat the weights down and rested (quite a few), but 30 minutes later he was back to the gym with the BOMBS in hand!!  I also want to mention for those of you that didn’t know Bob, that he was a large man at around 400 pounds.  He was “huffing and puffing” – but he accomplished what he set out to do.  That alone was worth the effort it took me to modify those bombs into farmers walk implements.  He repeated  this feat  several times over a period of 3 or 4 years.

Today Bob’s Bombs sit in front of the Dino Gym as a memory to him.  Occasionally I get to tell someone new to the gym this story about Bob, and remind them of the challenge that Bob left all of us with his pair of bombs.  The blue paint is now faded on them, but I will never repaint them. They are part of the lifting legacy of my great friend Bob Maxey.

2″ Vertical Bar Training Tips

by Ben Edwards

This is Ben's record lift of 251 pounds in the One Hand Vertical Bar Deadlift done at the 2011 Dino Days Record Day last weekend. This is the new ALL TIME Vertical Bar Deadlift record in the USAWA, breaking the record held of 250 pounds by Andrew Durniat. At this same record day, Ben also did a 240 pound LEFT HANDED Vertical Bar Deadlift, which is the highest left handed mark as well! (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

I’m going to share a few tips that have helped me push my record in the 2″ vertical bar significantly higher in my weight class over the past few years. 

The key to this lift is obviously grip strength.  But a sometimes overlooked factor that makes a big difference in the amount of weight that can be lifted is the grip taken on the vertical bar at the start of the lift.   An over grip is the most efficient grip when performing the USAWA version of the 2” vertical bar.  That distinction is made because in other grip contests that I compete in – those that are not USAWA contests – a supinated grip is far more efficient in lifting maximal poundages for most people.   USAWA rules dictate that the weights attached to the vertical bar will be lifted to the required height and then held motionless until the judge gives the down command.   When a supinated grip is used the weights will rotate quite a bit and tend to spin right out of the hand essentially.  The supinated grip is best used to lift heavy weights over short distances – 2” is the minimum height needed to be a contest-legal lift in most non-USAWA grip contests.    An over grip prevents the rotation of the plates and is therefore much more efficient than lifting the weight and then expending energy trying to stop the rotation of the weights before getting the judge’s down signal.   A handshake grip will involve less rotation of the weights than the supinated grip.  But it isn’t as efficient as the over grip in preventing rotation of the weights. 

One simple rule I adhere to in my training is to attempt to do every lift in contest-legal form.  If I fail to perform the lift in contest-legal form I note that in my training log and set my goal for the next workout a little higher than what I achieved in the last workout.   I videotape all of my near-max attempts in training.  While resting for the next set – I review the video to make sure that I performed the lift in contest-legal form.  I also critique my form to make sure that I’m not wasting energy stopping the rotation of the plates (using an over grip usually means that I don’t worry about rotation of the plates) and that I’m pulling the vertical bar in the most direct up-and-down motion as possible.

So to summarize:

  • Use the over grip exclusively in training.

-It is the most efficient grip for the USAWA 2” vertical bar rules. 

  • Perform each lift in contest-legal form. 

-That way when you’re attempting to break a record you won’t have any accidental lapses in form – due to training with a loose style that doesn’t exactly match the contest-legal performance of the lift. 

  • Videotape each near-max attempt in training.

-Review the video to ensure that all of your near-max lifts are performed in contest-legal form so that you won’t have any surprises in a contest setting.

One Inch Vertical Bar

This was a 387 pound 1” vertical bar training lift (December of 2006) that was pulled a little higher than the (non-USAWA) standard grip contest minimum height requirement of 2 inches.  What the photo doesn’t show is that the weights were rotating from the time they left the floor until they touched down again.  Standard grip contests don’t require the rotation of the weights to be stopped – or a judge’s down signal.  These more relaxed rules allow significantly more weight to be lifted compared to the strict USAWA rules.  

Two Inch One Handed Vertical Bar Deadlift by Ben Edwards.

This was my event-winning 2” vertical bar lift from the 2011 USAWA National Grip Championships held at the Dino Gym in February.  You can clearly see the over grip being put to work.  It allowed me to pull the weights straight up – without worrying about having to stop the rotation of the plates – and then lower the weights straight down as quickly as possible after receiving the judge’s down signal. 

Minimizing the time spent holding the weight is of paramount importance in maximizing your poundage lifted.

Dino Days Record Day

by Al Myers

DINO DAYS RECORD DAY

Ben Edwards set the ALL TIME RECORD in the 2" One Arm Vertical Bar Deadlift with a lift of 251 pounds at the Dino Days Record Day.

MEET REPORT

There were not alot of records set today at the Dino Days Record Day, but the ones that were set were great!  Only five lifters showed up on this second day of the two USAWA competitions hosted by the Dino Gym this weekend; Mike Murdock, Scott Tully, Ben Edwards, LaVerne Myers and myself. Mike lead the way with setting records in 9 different lifts, followed by LaVerne with 8, and the rest of us tied at 7.  Every lifter had a record lift which I would call OUTSTANDING, and I had a hard time “choosing” just one feature picture, so I just decided I would show a picture of everyone who lifted, in which I would call their “BEST” record of the day. 

Ben Edwards showed up today to SMASH some USAWA grip records, and that he did.  Ben is the KING of the Vertical Bar, and that was the first lift he set his record breaking sights on.  I have watched Ben several times with the VB, but never have I seen him this strong with it.  He kept going up and up with the weight, finishing with an ALL TIME USAWA record of 251 pounds with his right hand.  This broke the USAWA All-Time mark held by Andrew Durniat of 250 pounds, set at the 2010 Dino Gym Grip Challenge.  I also got to see Andrew set his record, and at the time I wondered if it ever would be broken.  Well, Ben did it!  He also lifted 240 pounds in the 2″ VB with his left hand, setting the highest mark in USAWA history with the left as well.  The next “grip lift” Ben went after was the Fulton Dumbbell (of which handle is 2 inches in diameter).  He did 175 pounds with his left, and 185 pounds with his right. The “185″ is the BEST EVER that has been done in the USAWA with a one handed Fulton Dumbbell. As some of you know, the Fulton Bar lifts utilizing the 2″ handle was named after Kevin Fulton, who was one of the grip-strength pioneers in the USAWA.   It all started that day when Kevin “upset” Wilbur Miller in a competition where a 2″ handle dumbbell was deadlifted with one arm.  Bill Clark “tagged” the name of the Fulton Bar to the 2 inch handle following this incident.  Now Ben better set his goal on Kevin’s best mark from the Old Missouri Valley Record List.   Just to let you know – Kevin Fulton lifted 195 pounds in the One Arm Fulton Dumbbell in 1983.  So get to work Ben!!!

Scott Tully set the ALL TIME RECORD in the Stifflegged Deadlift with a lift of 512 pounds at the Dino Days Record Day.

Scott Tully really did some damage to the Record List today as well.  Scott doesn’t mess around with “sissy lifts” when it comes to breaking records.  He gets right to the hard stuff!  He started off with breaking the record in the Stiff Legged Deadlift with a great lift of 512 pounds.  This not only broke the 125+ KG weight class record that was previously held at 502 pounds by Matthew Doster, but the ALL -TIME USAWA record of 507 pounds held by Ed Schock and myself.  Since I knew Scott was “taking my record down” as well, and I was the head official on his lift, I made sure he kept his legs straight!  This caused Scott to attempt this lift at least 4 times until he finally got it!  And well deserving.   Next Scott went on to some other “hard” lifts like the Fulton Bar Deadlift and the Fulton Dumbbell Deadlifts, of which he got several more records.  Scott is a great grip guy, and should get more recognition for his grip strength.  His One Arm Fulton Dumbbell of 175 pounds was unbelievable, and if it wasn’t for Ben overshadowing him on this day, I would be bragging that record lift up as well.

Mike Murdock set a new age group record in the Trap Bar Deadlift with a lift of 305 pounds.

Mike “Murdo” Murdock set the most records in the most events with 9.  Mike lifted the day before in the Team Nationals and I was surprised that he was planning on doing this much today!  He did a wide range of lifts.   I felt his best record lift of the day was his 305 pound Trap Bar Deadlift.  To me a guy lifting over 300 pounds at the age of over 70 in the Trap Bar Deadlift  is like a young lifter lifting over 600 pounds.  Not too many can do it either!   Mike has had an outstanding year in the USAWA, and has lifted in as many meets as anyone.  I’m keeping an eye on Mike as it won’t be long and he will be in the CENTURY CLUB for holding over 100 USAWA records.  And when he does, I’ll pat him on the back because he will be the first to do it starting in the 70 plus age group!

LaVerne Myers "stole the show" with his 117 pound Dumbbell Walk. The reason this picture is blurry is because he was moving so fast!

My father LaVerne made his faithful appearance today at the record day.  These past couple of years he hasn’t missed an opportunity to lift in the Dino Gym Record Days.  One of his highlights was setting a personal record in the One Handed 2″ Vertical Bar Deadlift with a fine lift of 182 pounds.  I was considering doing the Vertical Bar Deadlift myself but after watching his record setting effort I decided I better not!  I was worried that I might not be able to “measure up” to the standard set by ole Dad!  haha  However, Dad “stole the show” on the last lift contested at this record day – the Dumbbell Walk.   Of course when I got out the Dumbbell Walk handle, I “threw down the challenge” to Ben and Dad so they HAD to participate.  I hadn’t done any grip stuff all day so I was hoping to use this to my advantage  (I’m a crafty one!).   I was mainly concerned about Ben being my primary challenge, and I knew Ben had totally exhausted his grip by this point when he only managed 102 pounds on the Walk. If he would have done this first thing it would have been WAY MORE!  I then played a little “psych out” game with him  and made a big jump to 132 pounds which was outside of both of our limits, but I thought it would “finish of” his grip and then I would drop back and break his 102 mark, which I did with a Dumbbell Walk of 117 pounds.  At that point I thought I had it won, and was shaking Ben’s hand when my Dad, to our surprise, picked up the 117 and made the walk!!!  What can I say???  What a great way to end a record day at the Dino Gym. 

My "highlight lift" was this 772 pound Neck Lift, which is a personal record and USAWA record in the 120 KG weight class.

MEET RESULTS

Dino Days Record Day
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 28th, 2011

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Officials (3-official System used):  Al Myers, Mike Murdock, Scott Tully, LaVerne Myers

Lifts:  Record Day

Scott Tully – 35 years, 346 pounds BWT
Mens Open Age Division & 125+ KG Weight Class

Deadlift – Stiff Legged: 512#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 503#
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 150#
Clean and Push Press – 2 Dumbbells: 210#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 175#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 165#
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells: 290#

Ben Edwards – 36 years, 217 pound BWT
Mens Open Division & 100 KG Weight Class

Snatch – Kelly: 57#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand: 240#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand: 251#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 175#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 185#
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells: 320#
Dumbbell Walk: 102#

Al Myers – 45 years, 256 pounds BWT
Mens 45-49 Age Division & 120 KG Weight Class

Bench Press – Alternate Grip: 330#
Bench Press – Reverse Grip: 330#
Bench Press – Feet in Air: 330#
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 120#
Lateral Raise – Lying: 90#
Neck Lift: 772#
Dumbbell Walk: 117#

LaVerne Myers – 67 years, 246 pounds BWT
Mens Master 65-69 Age Group & 115 KG Weight Class

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand: 125#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand: 125#
Two Hands Anyhow: 70#
Snatch – Kelly: 35#
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand: 182#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbell, Right Arm: 135#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 135#
Dumbbell Walk: 117#

Mike Murdock – 71 years, 235 pounds BWT
Mens Master 70-74 Age Group & 110 KG Weight Class

Weaver Stick – Left Hand: 2.5#
Two Hands Anyhow: 100#
Deadlift – Trap Bar: 305#
Lateral Raise – Lying: 70#
Clean and Push Press – 2 Dumbbells: 100#
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat: 90#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm: 115#
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm: 115#
Dumbbell Walk: 62#

Introducing Larry Traub

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE:  Larry Traub will be hosting his first USAWA competition on April 30th in his hometown of Georgetown, Indiana .   This competition will introduce the USAWA to several new lifters.  The following story is an introduction to Larry and his past involvement in powerlifting and weightlifting.  Larry is a great addition to the USAWA!)

by Larry Traub

Larry Traub (on left), of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics, receiving his award from the 2010 Dino Gym Grip Challenge Meet Director Ben Edwards (on right).

The ReMoND Machine – Release Movement Neuromuscular Developer

My name is Larry Traub. I am 57 years old. I have just completed 24 years of teaching at St. Xavier High School in Louisville Kentucky and 28 years of teaching all together. I am a math teacher (Primarily Geometry) but I have also taught an elective P.E. class called Strength and Fitness during most of my tenure at St. Xavier. I have been involved in the weightroom almost all of my years at St. X and have served in various roles including, strength coach, powerlifting coach, and weight room coordinator. I retired as the powerlifting coach in 2007 after winning 5 successive National Championships at the USAPL (drug tested) teenage championships.

I was also a gym owner in the early 80’s and built most all my own equipment. I did a little competitive bodybuilding. My last contest was in1982 in which I won the Mr. Kentucky title. I have been an active powerlifter since the mid 70’s and have won 9 master’s National Titles in the USAPL and a gold and a silver in the IPF world championships. I have held American Records in the squat (635 @ 198 in the 40-44 group, deadlift (700 @ 198 in the 40-44 group) and 1630 total in the 50 plus age group which was also a world record total @ 198.

I have a son and daughter who both earned college athletic scholarships. My daughter in basketball and my son in track. They both were national teenage powerlifting champions and American record holders. My daughter did a 400 lb deadlift @ 165 as a teenager and my son was a world champion and a world record holder in the subjunior division (He did a 690 deadlift as an 18 year old in the 242 lb class). He presently holds the school record for shotput at Indiana State University.

I tell you this, not to blow my own horn (well maybe a little bit), but to give you an idea of the depth of my involvement in weightlifting and sports over the course of four decades and hopefully give myself enough credibility to allow you to carefully consider my invention.

I have always been fascinated with the correlation between strength and athletic ability. In my 35+ years of involvement in weightlifting I have seen a tremendous shift in attitudes regarding the benefits of lifting for almost every athlete. My personal experience with an increase in jumping ability shortly after I first started squatting convinced me of the athletic benefits of lifting. After a year or so of high intensity squatting for powerlifting I was delighted to find I could grab the rim on a basketball court. A year or so later after my max squat had improved considerably I was expecting a corresponding increase in jumping ability but discovered no significant difference. I later discovered that the reason for my plateau in vertical jump was my brains inability to send a strong enough signal to fully utilize the fast twitch muscles I had developed. My limitations were not muscular they were neuromuscular.

Over the years I have read about and tried all sorts of programs that were supposed to increase the bodies neuromuscular capabilities. I set up extensive plyometric programs but saw no real effect other than joint pain due to the stress that the exercises put on the body.

I used light weights with maximum speed, but received no noticeable benefit. I discovered that the use of high speed reps with lighter weights had huge limitations because your body knows that at the end of the motion it must stop or the weight will leave your body and come back and cause injury. The use of bands and chains was supposed to be the solution of slowing the movement at the top, but if that were to work effectively then the resulting slowing of the motion would be counterproductive to the goal of developing maximum speed. I have seen athletes perform jump squats with a barbell and I thought immediately that the fear of the bar coming down on them and causing pain would prohibit them from putting maximum effort into the exercise which in turn would minimize the results. My son, while in college, was instructed to jump with sand bags on his shoulders. This seemed a lot more reasonable but there was still no way to see a measurable progression. (Was he jumping higher than he did last week?) There was also the considerable stress on the body of landing with the combined weight of his bodyweight and the sandbags.

The latest trend I see is the use of the Olympic lifts and various exotic versions of them as being the “do all, end all” for athletes in the weightroom. They do require explosive movement but the actual number of muscles that are involved in the explosive part of the lift are very limited and once again there is a great deal of stress put on the joints of the body. I also feel that way too often the athletes are doing the Olympic lifts whose primary benefits are neuromuscular and ignoring the continued development of fast twitch muscle throughout all the major muscle groups.

Ideally, athletes should continue to develop fast twitch muscle fiber through conventional means but have a way to improve their neuromuscular efficiency so they can fully utilize those muscle fibers, and do it all with minimum stress on the joints of the body. The solution, as I see it, is a release movement machine that allows you to accelerate a bar using various exercises that stimulate all major muscle groups. You must be able to release the bar without fear of injury so the bar must stay at the peak of movement and be safely lowered to the athlete for the next repetition. The exercise must also be measurable. (A certain amount of weight is moved through a certain range of motion and progress occurs when you either move the same weight through a greater range of motion or move more weight through the same range of motion.)

This is what my machine is designed to do and I would appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate.

Sincerely,

Larry Traub

Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift & Farmer’s Drag

by Ben Edwards

Ben Edwards demonstrates the Ring and Pinky Fingers Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer's Drag.

The ring and pinky fingers are the weak link when training with thick bars. This article introduces the reader to specialized training designed to improve the support grip strength of the ring and pinky fingers. I call this combo exercise “Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer’s Drag.”

This is the hand placement for this grip.

The equipment needed is minimal. An Olympic barbell and about 200 pounds of weight plates will provide adequate resistance options for everyone from a raw beginner to an advanced strength athlete.

I borrow the name for this exercise from Farmer’s Walks – where an athlete walks while holding a weight in each hand.

A Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift and Farmer’s Drag is performed by grasping one end of an Olympic barbell – at the end of the loading sleeve – using only the ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb. Then you simply deadlift the barbell and then you have the option of dragging one end of the barbell while you walk with the end you’re gripping elevated.

To minimize damage to one end of the barbell it’s best to drag the bar on grass or dirt – if you choose to do the Farmer’s Drag – instead of the Farmer’s Deadlift.

As with the Farmer’s Walk, there are two basic methods of increasing the difficulty of the exercise.

1. Add more weight to the bar. The weight is added to the same loading sleeve that you are gripping with your ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb. That way the weight plates won’t dig a wide furrow in your yard if you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag.

  • If you’re worried about the bar damaging your grassy training area you can secure the end of the bar that you’re not gripping into a single roller skate – duct tape comes in handy – and perform the Farmer’s Drag in your garage, on the street, or on a running track. All without fear of damaging the bar or the training surface.
  • The roller skate tip also works well for a trainee that isn’t strong enough yet to drag the empty barbell using their ring finger, pinky finger, and thumb strength.

2. Drag for longer distance if you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag.

  • Or hold for a longer period of time if you’re doing the Ring and Pinky Thick Bar Deadlift.

TAILORING A WORKOUT TO YOUR GOALS

For Maximum Strength – Heavy Loads and Short Holds.

  • Holds should be kept in the 5-second to 10-second range if maximum strength is your goal.
  • This holds true whether you’re doing the Farmer’s Drag or the Farmer’s Deadlift.
  • The Farmer’s Drag will simply be done for very short distances and the Farmer’s Deadlift will be done for low reps – anywhere from 1 to 3 reps.

For Strength-Endurance – Moderate Loads and Long Holds.

  • Holds can be much longer than when your goal is maximum strength. 30 seconds to 60 seconds is a common approach to strength-endurance training.
  • The Farmer’s Deadlift will be done for higher reps – anywhere from 8 to 20.

Goerner Club

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards is now part of the "Goerner Club" with his 310 pound Middle Finger Deadlift at the 2011 USAWA National Grip Championships.

It’s not everyday that a lifter can break a mark done by the famous German Strongman Hermann Goerner.  This past weekend at the USAWA National Grip Championships Ben Edwards joined, as I’ve termed, the “Goerner Club” for exceeding Hermann’s best reported lift in the Middle Fingers Deadlift.  Ben lifted 310 pounds.   David Willoughby in his book The Super Athletes listed Goerner as having done a MF deadlift of 140 kilograms (308.5 pounds) around 1925.  I have always considered this the mark to beat to be outstanding in the middle fingers deadlift.  Now, compared to what Hermann has reported in his other finger lifts, this lift of his seems to be a sub-maximal effort.  None the less, it is a very good lift (and is actually believable compared to some of his other claims).   However, this 308.5# middle finger deadlift is not listed in Hermann’s autobiography by Edgar Mueller’s Goerner the Mighty.  I have read this book several times, and I don’t ever remember seeing this lift listed.  Mueller does talk in one chapter about the wide deviations of grips that Hermann uses for his deadlifts, and mentions a middle finger overhand grip  deadlift (of which he lists Goerner as having worked up to 220 pounds), but nothing about using an alternate grip as we allow in the USAWA for the Finger Deadlifts.

Just how many USAWA members are part of this “Goerner Club” for the Middle Finger Deadlift??

The list is quite small.  Only TWO other USAWA members (besides Ben)  have ever exceeded 309 pounds.  The KING OF the MIDDLE FINGER is none other than Kevin Fulton.  Kevin has the best middle finger deadlift of ALL-TIME in the USAWA with a lift of 400 pounds.  This lift was no fluke, as Kevin has exceeded 309 pounds in the MF deadlift several other times as well in official competition.  He set this HUGE MF deadlift at his own 1999 SuperGrip Challenge (which was the first year this meet was held).   The other lifter that is a member of the “Goerner Club” is USAWA Hall of Famer Bill DiCiccio.  In 1994 at the Gold Cup, Bill matched Hermann’s effort with a 309 pound lift.  Now that’s it!!!  I have spent a few hours looking back at past meet results over the past 20 years and I couldn’t find anyone else!!   Congratulations Ben – you are now part of a very small club in the USAWA.  Hermann would have been proud of you.

Check out the YouTube Video of Ben performing the Middle Fingers Deadlift (located on the upper right side of this website).

Grip Championships

by Al Myers

USAWA NATIONAL GRIP CHAMPIONSHIPS

The FIRST EVER USAWA National Grip Championships was a huge success this last weekend at the Dino Gym!  The bad weather we had earlier in the week  was past, and besides lots of snow on the ground, it was a beautiful day! Eight brave competitors showed for this inaugural event.  The quality of competition was very high and several new USAWA records were set.  I want to thank everyone who made it out to compete, help or just watch.  I was going to go over the “highlights” of the meet but Ben Edwards has already hit them all in the discussion forum!   He did such a great job covering the meet in the forum, I really think it needs to be shared here in the Daily News as the meet report.  Thanks Ben!!

Group picture of the 2011 USAWA National Grip Championships. Front row (left to right): Denny Habecker, Mike Murdock, Rudy Bletscher, Felecia Simms. Back row (left to right): Mark Mitchell, Dave Glasgow, Ben Edwards, Al Myers.

MEET REPORT by Ben Edwards

I had a great time and enjoyed seeing everyone and the after-lifting meal was great too because we all got a chance to just sit around and chat.

I’ve got quite a list of memorable moments but here are just a few since I’m home and want to spend some time with my wife.

Felecia Simms pulled 280 pounds in the 3" bar deadlift, breaking a record held by arm wrestling champion Mary McConnaughey.

-Felecia! Destroying the 3″ bar deadlift record in style. I have no doubt she could’ve pulled the weight I did and made it look a lot cleaner than I did too. It was also neat getting to offer my 2 cents on what weights you should attempt on one or two events – along with Dave. You didn’t think you’d be able to pinch lift the two 45s but you did that with ease – and about 10lbs more!

-Rudy! Beat HIS 2″ vbar record by 10lbs and didn’t even know it until I looked it up and made sure that was the case. I am somewhat of a rainman with certain numbers (usually my own of course) and remembered his lift on the 2″ vbar from last year.

-Mike! Loved the middle fingers deadlift attempt that went from being a failed attempt – no movement at all – to suddenly being a dominating pull after taking a very short break to re-set.

-Mark! Huge pinch strength! He made 175lbs look like a feather pillow and seemed to be close on the 190+lbs attempt too. And he doesn’t train his grip. Which would make me dislike him slightly – if he wasn’t one of the nicest guys in the world.

-Denny! Had very good and balanced strength on all the lifts that it’s hard to pick one that stood out in my head. Plus the aforementioned super integrity.

Al Myers had the highest 3 inch bar deadlift of the meet with a lift of 555 pounds.

-Al! MONSTER 3″ bar deadlift – 555lbs! – to end the meet in great style. Dave and I were puzzled by your 1-pound weight addition though to the 2″ vbar weight that you ripped off the ground and could’ve seemingly held for a day. I thought you were joking us, haha! Also considered “saving” a 3rd attempt on the 3″ bar deadlift and asking for 1 pound more than what you did on your best attempt. Then of course not being able to lift it wouldn’t be so funny, but hey.

-Dave! That 360lb (?) 3″ bar deadlift was the most impressive IMO of your lifts. Very nice!

Ben Edwards had the best Vertical Bar Deadlift of the meet with a lift of 222 pounds.

-Me. So glad to pull that 310lbs on the middle fingers deadlift! I thought the 275lbs was going to rip my fingers off and really didn’t “want” to try the 310lbs but I knew that with the great crowd behind me I would at least have a chance if I could block the pain. Well, I couldn’t block the pain, lol. But the lift inched up and I just reviewed the picture that Felecia took of me on that lift and it looks like I’m about to fall apart. Little disappointed that my 2″ vbar strength was down 13 pounds from my best pull. Pinch strength was right where it always is – in the crapper, lol. The thick bar deadlifts were very challenging and I’m glad I had enough sense to not choose more weight and hurt myself on either of them. Was embarrassed to only get 325lbs to my knees since I’ve been able to pull that weight on the Apollon’s Axle since 2004.

MEET RESULTS

USAWA National Grip Championships
February 12th, 2011
Dino Gym, Holland, Kansas

Meet Director:   Al Myers

Certified Official (1-official system used):  Scott Tully

Lifts:  Deadlift – Vertical Bar, 2″, One Arm;  Pinch Grip;  Deadlift – Fingers, Middle;  Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip;  Deadlift – 3″ Bar

Loaders:  Alan English, John Connor, Matt Cookson, Tyeler Cookson

Lifter Age BWT VB Pin MF DLFB DL-3 Total Points
Al

Myers

44 249 183-R 132 275 325 555 1470 1226.9
Ben Edwards 35 219 222-L 162 310 300 300 1294 1099.8
Dave Glasgow 57 248 152-R 132 190 275 360 1109 1042.5
Denny Habecker 68 189 132-R 102 165 225 250 874 1040.0
Mark Mitchell 50 360 152-R 174 245 330 450 1351 1001.3
Rudy Bletscher 75 220 122-R 87 165 225 250 849 979.2
Mike Murdock 70 234 132-L 102 165 225 205 829 891.3
Felecia Simms 28 313 132-R 102 155 205 250 844 600.6

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  Total is total weight lifted in pounds. All lifts listed in pounds. Points are adjusted points for age and bodyweight. R and L identifies right and left hands.

Extra lifts for records:

Pinch Grip:  Rudy Bletscher 92#
Deadlift – Middle Fingers:  Denny Habecker 180#, Mark Mitchell 275#
Deadlift – 3″ Bar: Denny Habecker 275#, Felecia Simms 280#

BEST LIFTER AWARDS

Best Senior Women:  Felecia Simms
Best Senior Men:  Ben Edwards
Best Master 40-44:  Al Myers
Best Master 50-54: Mark Mitchell
Best Master 55-59: Dave Glasgow
Best Master 65-69: Denny Habecker
Best Master 70-74:  Mike Murdock
Best Master 75-79:  Rudy Bletscher

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.




2010 Grip Challenge

by Ben Edwards

The 2010 Dino Grip Challenge started on time, as Al mentioned already, and it ended 3 hours later – which is an unofficial record as far as I know for grip contests. Most that I have competed in have been anywhere from 5 hours to nearly 8! A shorter contest is much more competitor-friendly and allows more time to do after-contest feats and record attempts. And more time to drive back to wherever the competitors call home.

Before listing who the competitors were, I want to mention the competitors who had planned on competing, but couldn’t make it for various reasons. Kevin Fulton, Mary McConnaughey, Nick Zinna, and Josh Dale. You were all sorely missed!

I’m going to list some thoughts and observations on each competitor, starting with 1st place and working my way to 8th place. The placings were age-adjusted and also used the Lynch formula, as is standard in USAWA competitions. I like the age adjustment and use of the Lynch formula in competitions because it lets many different ages and weights compete against each other on what I believe is fair footing.

1st Place: Andrew Durniat is fast becoming a legend in the grip strength world. His accomplishments are too numerous for this meet report. Simply put, he is the 2009 Grip Champion and the US Kettlebell Champion.

He stayed the night before the contest with me and my wife, Carrie. I really enjoyed getting to chat with him and pick his brain on everything that I had planned on asking him – and a few other things that popped into my head as we spoke. He’s very friendly, has a quiet demeanor, is extremely humble and generous with his time and help, and he pays close attention to the relevant details of anything relating to strength.

I expected a mindblowing performance from Andrew and was definitely not disappointed! He won every event except for the Deadlift – Fingers, Little. He went on to pull 25lbs over my event-winning performance on an extra record attempt! His loss in that event was only due to inexperience with choosing his attempts on a lift that he had never even attempted before the contest.

With all due respect to my fellow competitors, it quickly became apparent to me that this contest was really a case of who was going to be 2nd after Andrew! He won $100 cash for his 1st place finish!

Andrew did so many record-breaking lifts that it’s hard to pick the one that most impressed me. One that really strikes me as unbelievably strong is his 308lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm! That lift was 33lbs over the previous all-time record that Al Myers and I co-owned. Andrew also pulled it to full lockout – in front of his body, which I always found to be harder than straddle style – and then paused it with plenty of strength to spare. Phenomenal lift!

Andrew is an incredible addition to the USAWA membership pool. He brings a passion for strength sports and a vast in-the-trenches knowledge of many training methodologies from his personal training experience. He also generously gave out some of his great personalized shirts after the meet. I love collecting shirts from contests and from strength friends, so thanks Andrew!

2nd Place: Larry Traub was an unknown to me. He turned out to be a “sleeper” in this competition. Someone who most competitors probably wouldn’t have predicted would get 2nd place since it was his first grip contest. It definitely wasn’t Larry’s first strength competition though! He is an elite powerlifter with terrific deadlifting strength. Larry put that hard-earned horsepower to work and plowed through some heavy lifts. Along the way he set many age-group and weight class records. Larry is in very good shape and Al can attest to the fact that I had no idea Larry was 56 years old. I was very surprised since I thought he was somewhere around 48-50 years old.

He was a joy to talk to and a quick learner on the grip lifts! His homemade wine that he generously set out as an after-contest refreshment was well received. I liked the picture of Larry and his wife on the label too. Larry won $50 cash for his 2nd place finish!

Larry’s 203lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm was really an exceptional lift! His bodyweight was only 2lbs more than that. And it was his first time doing the lift! He has an incredible future in USAWA competitions.

3rd Place: I won 3rd place after age and bodyweight adjustments were calculated. My performances consistently netted me 2nd place in each event, sometimes tied with others, and one 1st place. My Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm performance really let me down, but I was very pleased to pull 175lbs on the Deadlift – Fingers, Little. An attempt at 200lbs on that lift left me with a sore tendon for my effort. I forfeited the $50 cash prize to the 4th place finisher.

I enjoyed showing a few competitors with no experience with the Deadlift – Fingers, Little how to efficiently set their fingers on the bar and what to do with their other fingers and wrist position to maximize their poundage. I think I was the only one there that had consistently trained that lift. I needed all the experience I could get because Andrew and Chad pushed me all the way to the 3rd attempt.

4th Place: Chad Ullom is a great all-round lifter and Highland Games competitor who I’ve competed with before this contest. His hand strength on the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2,” was much higher than he anticipated. And that’s an understatement! I heard him say that he might open with 120lbs. I told him that I estimated he would pull around the 200lb mark. He surprised himself by lifting an outstanding 212lbs on an extra record attempt! Someone coined the nickname, “Chad – I Don’t Train Grip – Ullom,” since Chad remarked during the first part of the contest that he doesn’t train grip. I think it rolls off the tongue nicely!

Chad is always very entertaining and quick to share tips or knowledge on any lift that he’s familiar with.

5th Place: LaVerne Myers is Al Myers’s dad. LaVerne (and Rudy!) has a great sense of humor and endured my wife’s comical remarks and catcalls throughout the 3 hours of competition. He has big, strong “farm hands.” I used to work for some farmers and they all had the same type of powerful hands that LaVerne has.

He had some really solid lifts but I was most impressed by his fantastic 6lb Weaver Stick – Forward! That performance (although LaVerne’s was an extra record attempt) tied Andrew’s event-winning performance!

6th Place: Dave Glasow performed very well and seemed to enjoy the grip lifts even though he had little experience with them. His 209lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm was the 3rd highest (tied with Chad) of the contest! I wish I had more time to talk to Dave and Larry about lifting in general. They are both very knowledgeable and have a knack for picking up very quickly on any new lifts.

7th Place: Rudy Bletscher is incredibly nice and my wife had a great time teasing and harassing him throughout the contest. We both enjoy talking to Rudy and have seen him at several contests since 2005.

He always seems to perform better than he thinks he will. I enjoyed seeing him do some lifts that he didn’t think he was going to get initially. In particular, the Deadlift – Fingers, Little was one that he really had to grit through the discomfort to pull the solid 70lbs that he worked up to! He originally thought that the 44lb bar would be his max on this lift. He added quite a bit to that original estimate. During everyone’s attempts he good-naturedly teased me and asked why I picked this lift to be in the contest. I jokingly replied that it was because I hated everyone! I think some of the guys probably thought that was true, but of course it wasn’t. I just thought it would be a good test of pain tolerance and grip at the same time.

8th Place: Jason Payne is a friend of mine who is a very strong armwrestler. He hasn’t trained grip specifically for a long time and has lost a lot of weight, but gained a lot of fitness in the process. He’s always bull-strong regardless of how much he weighs. He was inexperienced with a few of the lifts, but quickly figured them out and dialed his form in for the next attempts.

His 176lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm was very impressive since it was a lift he had never done before. It takes great balance and a strong grip to get that bar to come up evenly and then hold it at the top before the bar peels the fingers back and races back to the platform.

Jason really shined in the after-contest feats demonstration and record breaking session. He really excels at kettlebell feats and it was entertaining to watch him do flips and other exercises that required great control, strength, timing, and dexterity.

Dino Gym Grip Challenge

by Al Myers

Group Picture of the athletes at the Grip Challenge Front Left to Right: Chad Ullom, Larry Traub, Ben Edwards, Jason Payne Back Left to Right: LaVerne Myers, Dave Glasgow, Andrew Durniat, Rudy Bletscher

I knew this meet had the potential of being a major “grip showdown” – but the record lifts that were done even exceeded my predictions. Andrew Durniat, of Wooster, Ohio made his comeback to the USAWA and lived up to the hype by not only winning every event but setting ALL-TIME USAWA records in 4 of the 5 events. Andrew has competed once before in the USAWA, at the 2008 USAWA National Championships in Columbus, Ohio. It was at that meet that his great gripping ability became known. In the One Arm Deadlift, he did 440 pounds with his left and 429 pounds with his right to set overall weight class records! Andrew is the 2009 US Grip Champion and by his performance today, he left no doubters as to why he is the best! A quick run-down of his highlights today – first he did 250 pounds in the one handed 2″ Vertical Bar Deadlift, followed by 308 pounds in the One Armed No Thumbs Deadlift. If this wasn’t enough he broke the UNTOUCHABLE record in the Inch Dumbbell Deadlift of 344 pounds held by Matt Graham, by lifting TWO Inch Dumbbells weighing 180 pounds apiece, for a total weight of 360 pounds. Next up was taking out Kevin Fulton’s ALL-TIME record in the Little Fingers Deadlift by becoming the first USAWA lifter to lift 200 pounds. Andy has been invited to lift in a major grip competition next month held at the Arnold Classic. In this competition he will be going up against TEN of the best grip men in the World.

Meet Director Ben Edwards Awards Andrew Durniat his Cash Prize

Pulling in a surprising second place was USAWA newcomer Larry Traub of Georgetown, Indiana. Larry is a member of the newest club in the USAWA, the Ledaig Heavy Athletics. Larry has had a story book career as a drug free powerlifter, and has won several National Championships. Larry is 56 years old, but doesn’t look much over 40. I’m hoping that he has caught the “All-Round Bug” and we will see more of him again in the future. Larry is a fabulous deadlifter, and I can only imagine how great he would do in a more traditional All-Round meet.

Third place was held down by the Meet Director Ben Edwards. Ben put in solid lifts in every event. On top of this, he ran one of the most organized All-Round meets that I have seen. From start to finish the meet was done in three hours, and it started ON TIME. Ben gave back all of the entry fee money and then some in prize money. First place received $100, second place $50, and third place $50. Being the great guy Ben is – he forfeited his winnings and passed them along to the fourth place finisher Chad Ullom. Chad had a great meet. He left two BIG extra attempt records off the scorecard – 212 lbs. in the VB and 165 lbs. in the Little Finger Deadlift. These two lifts would have given him 60 more pounds on his total. Fifth place overall went to my father, LaVerne Myers, in his very first weightlifting meet. In the last event, he tied Andy for the best lift of the day in Weaver Stick with a lift of 6 pounds. Dave Glasgow made it to his second All-Round Meet in less than 30 days, and was very consistent in all the lifts. Rudy Bletscher was the oldest competitor in the meet, but pushed hard on all the events. I was glad to see Jason Payne make it to another All-Round meet. Jason saved his BEST performances for after the meet. He did some HUGE hub lifting and block pinching after the meet was over. He even demonstrated his kettlebell routine that involves “tossing” a 70 pound kettlebell and catching it over and over.

This was a great competition. It is exciting to see new faces in the All-Rounds. I want to thank Mark Mitchell and Scott Tully who helped me judge. By the success of today’s meet, I’m sure Ben will want to host this meet again next year.

FULL MEET RESULTS:

Dino Gym Grip Challenge
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
February 13th, 2010

Meet Director:  Ben Edwards

Officials (3 official system used): Al Myers, Mark Mitchell, Scott Tully

Loaders:  Scott Tully and Mark Mitchell

Lifts:  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar,  2,” 1 hand; Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm; Deadlift – 2 “Inch” Dumbbells; Deadlift – Fingers, Little; Weaver Stick – Forward

Results:

Lifter BWT Age 2″VB DL-NT Inch DL
DL-LF Weaver Total Points Adj Pts
Andrew Durniat
225 31 250 R
308 L
360 165 6 R
1089 912.36 912.36
Larry Traub
205 56 187 R
203 R
230 110 4 R
734 646.87 756.84
Ben Edwards
220 34 230 L
220 R
240 175 5 R
870 737.85 737.85
Chad Ullom
235 38 182 R
209 R
240 135 4 R
770 630.71 630.71
LaVerne Myers
244 65 177 L
176 R
180 80 5 R
618 496.43 625.51
Dave Glasgow
252 56 157 R
209 R
200 70 5 R
641 506.65 592.78
Rudy Bletscher
222 74 112 R
154 R
140 70 2 R
478 403.43 544.63
Jason Payne
252 44 182 R
176 R
200 60 3 R
621 490.84 515.38


BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are bodyweight adjusted Lynch Points.  Adj Pts are adjusted points for age correction.

Extra Attempts for records:

Chad Ullom  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, one hand:  212 lbs. R
Chad Ullom  Deadlift – Fingers, Little: 165 lbs.
Andrew Durniat  Deadlift – Fingers, Little: 200 lbs.
LaVerne Myers   Weaver Stick – Forward: 6 lbs. L

The Weaver Stick

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards training the Weaver Stick.

I saved the most interesting lift for this last story covering the lifts that are in this weekend’s upcoming Dino Gym Grip Challenge.  The Weaver Stick is one of the most perplexing and misunderstood lifts in the USAWA lineup of lifts.   Bill Clark once told me that “judging the Weaver Stick is more subjective than judging depth in a squat.”  I definitely agree!  I will be the Official Judge in this competition, and I will make sure that everything is done right and all competitors will be judged equally and fair.  The most subjective part of judging the Weaver Stick is making sure that the lifting arm remains straight at the side with elbow locked.  With just a little bend at the elbow, other muscles can be pulled in to play, and much more weight can be lifted. The Weaver Stick is a leverage lift that tests the ligament and tendon strength of the wrist, primarily above the thumb.  It is surprising how little weight can be supported this way.  John Grimek many years ago set the World Record in the Weaver Stick at 11 3/4 pounds.

The Weaver Stick is named after George Weaver of Brooklyn, who popularized it in the early 1940’s. However he didn’t really invent it.  Many years before this Paul Von Boeckmann of New York City found that he had a “special knack” for this type of lifting and had a early version of the Weaver Stick made out of a broom handle.  He won several bets with his ability to lift it with weight attached by a rope on the end of it.  George Weaver based the measurements of the Weaver Stick from Von Boeckmann’s broom handle, and the regulation Weaver Stick length of 36 inches was born. By the way, Paul Von Boeckmann was VERY GOOD with the Weaver Stick and is credited with a forward lift of 11 1/2 pounds. When he was over 60 years of age he could still do 9 1/2 pounds!!  The Weaver Stick has also been contested backwards – meaning you face away from the Weaver Stick.  Slightly more weight can be lifted this way.  However, at this meet you must perform the Weaver Stick in the forward manner.  I would say a great lift is anything over 6 pounds, with most lifters capable of between 4 and 6 pounds if done correctly.  Occasionally in the gym we have pulled out the Weaver Stick to “play around” at the end of workouts.  I am always surprised by what guys lift. You can never predict.  I don’t think there is any correlation between overall body strength and ability with the Weaver Stick.  It is a humbling feeling to fail with 5 pounds when you can deadlift over 500 pounds.  The great Warren Lincoln Travis is said to have been only able to do 4 1/4 pounds with the Weaver Stick.  The top lift ever done with the Weaver Stick in the USAWA is 7 pounds.  This was accomplished by two lifters – Tom Ryan and Mark Mitchell.

The Rules for the Weaver Stick

“A Weaver Stick is used for this lift. The Weaver Stick utilizes a wooden broomstick with these dimensions. The handle is 5 ½ inches in length. The junction of the handle and the rest of the Weaver Stick may be marked with tape, or with any material that is raised to provide a distinct separation between the handle and the rest of the stick. This marking is ½ inch in length. At a point exactly 36 inches from the end of the marking, or 42 inches from the end of the handle, a notch is made in the stick to allow a cord to be attached to it. This cord may be of any length.  Weight is tied onto the end of the cord. The Weaver Stick must rest on a flat lifting surface with the weight hanging free. The lift will begin at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter will take a position alongside the Weaver Stick, and grip the handle of the Weaver Stick by one hand, facing the length of the stick. The lifting hand and arm must remain straight with elbow fully locked, and must not be in contact with the body during the lift. The lifting arm must remain at the lifter’s side throughout the lift. The heel of the hand must remain on top of the Weaver Stick. If the hand twists under the stick during the lift, it is a disqualification. The non-lifting hand must not touch the lifting arm, lifting hand, or Weaver Stick during the lift. The lifter’s body must be upright with legs straight at the completion of the lift, but the legs may bend when picking up the stick. The Weaver Stick must be lifted entirely clear from the lifting surface while maintaining the stick parallel to the floor. If the end of the stick containing the weight dips to any degree, it is a disqualification. If the lifting hand moves to a position in front of the handle marking during the lift, it is a disqualification. Once the Weaver Stick is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. Records are also kept for the Weaver Stick with the lifter facing backwards, away from the length of the stick.”

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, 1 hand

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards doing a 235 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 1 Bar, 2", One Hand. This is the top All-Time record in the USAWA.

This lift was introduced to the USAWA several years ago by John McKean of the Ambridge Barbell Club.  Initially it was performed with a 2″ Vertical Bar in each hand, with the lifter completing the lift by standing up with the weight like a normal deadlift.  The first recorded meet this lift was done in was 1998, at Art’s Birthday Bash.  John McKean first introduced it as a One Hand Lift in 2003 at the Jump Stretch Record Day. Since then the popularity of the 2″ One Handed VB Lift has grown. The first big meet it was held in was the 2004 National Championships, in Youngstown, Ohio.  The Vertical Bar has a length limit of 18 inches.  The reason this became the USAWA standard length was because the original VB was the sleeve off of an Olympic Bar, measuring just under 18 inches.  The USAWA rules on Vertical Bar lifting are quite different than other grip competitions. The big thing to remember is the bar must become completely motionless at the completion of the lift, including any rotation.  Another USAWA rule I want to clarify is that in any One Handed lift the same hand must be used throughout all of your attempts. You can’t save “thy strong hand” for “thy hard lift”.

Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift

H18.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1”, One Hand

The setup for this lift requires a Vertical Bar, which is a bar of one inch diameter with a maximum length of 18 inches. A collar or plate must be tightly fastened or welded to the bottom so plates may be added to the bar.  No knurling is allowed on the bar. The lifter may straddle the weight or have it placed to the lifter’s side. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The bar may be gripped by any grip with only one hand near the top of the vertical bar.  The forearm is not allowed to touch the bar. The lifting hand must not touch the body during the lift, but the weight may accidentally touch the legs provided it does not aid in the lift. The non-lifting hand may be braced on the leg or body during the lift, but must be free from the body at the completion of the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bar from the

platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked at the completion of the lift, but the shoulders and body do not need to be erect. The lifting hand must be above the level of mid-thighs at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bar must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

H19.  Vertical Bar Deadlift -1 Bar, 2”, One Hand

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1Bar, 1”, One Hand apply except a two inch diameter Vertical Bar is used.

The Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards, the Dino Grip Challenge Meet Director, set the All-Time Record in the Deadlift - No Thumb, One Arm with a lift of 275 pounds at Clark's Gym Record Day last November.

This week I’m going to run stories describing the lifts that will be in this coming weekend’s Dino Grip Challenge.  Like I said earlier, the USAWA has several lifts that are grip oriented, but not necessary traditional grip events that are held in other grip competitions. All of the events in the Dino Grip Challenge are official USAWA events.  Ben Edwards has picked a good variety of lifts.  The competition will be scored according to USAWA format.  This means that the weight lifted in each event will be added up for total weight lifted, and then adjusted for bodyweight using the Lynch Formula followed by age adjustment.  Age adjustment starts at the age of 40, with 1% being added per year.  There are two divisions in this competition in which awards will be given – under 200 pounds bodyweight and over 200 pounds bodyweight.

Rules for the Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm

“The rules of the Deadlift – One Arm apply except that the thumb of the lifting hand must not be covering the bar. The thumb may lie alongside and touch the index finger and bar under the bar or be held in the air not touching the bar.  The thumb must not be touching the top of the bar.”

The bar must be raised to a point where both ends of the bar are above knee level, and then held motionless until the lifter receives the down command.  This lift tests the strength of the fingers’ flexor tendons and the ability to hold the fingers in a “locked” position on the bar.  My advice on this lift is to pick your attempts wisely, because this lift goes from being easy to missing the lift by sometimes as little as a 5 pound jump.

Ben Edwards – Meet Director of the Dino Grip Challenge

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards, of the Dino Gym, FINALLY closes the Dino Gym's OLD #3 COC Gripper. This was one of the very early COC grippers and noticeably much harder than other #3 Grippers. Ben was certified as closing the #3 COC gripper in May of 2005, and has been working on closing this #3 gripper since. He held the handles together for several seconds. He is only the third person to ever close this gripper - and many have tried. Congratulations Ben!!

When Ben Edwards asked me several months ago if he could sanction a USAWA Grip Meet at the gym, I didn’t hesitate in answering YES.  It has been a few years since the USAWA has had a grip  competition on the schedule – with the last one  being the Supergrip Challenge hosted by Kevin Fulton 5 years ago.  The USAWA is loaded with grip events, several of which never get contested in competition.  I really feel the beauty of the USAWA is with the great diversity of lifts – and ANY lifter should be able to find a niche. Meets like this exposes new lifters to the USAWA who might not have otherwise.

Ben has picked a good lineup of lifts – from the Weaver Stick to the Inch Dumbbell Deadlift.  From what I have heard, this meet may have a GREAT turnout.  Ben is still taking entries so get your entry sent in to him!   Over the next week I will be running stories on the lifts that will be contested at the Grip Challenge.

Meeting Bill Kazmaier

by Ben Edwards

Ben Edwards shaking hands with Bill Kazmaier

I’ve been fascinated by Bill Kazmaier since I was old enough to realize just how incredibly strong he was. I was only 8 when Kaz won his 3rd World’s Strongest Man contest. But even then it was quite apparent that he was almost superhuman in his strength and athletic abilities.

I found out on the KC Strongman forum that Kaz was going to be speaking in Parsons, Kansas on December 15th. I jumped at the chance to finally get to meet him! Got off early that day from work. I must’ve sounded like a star-struck kid when I explained to my supervisor who I was going to meet. Of course it also helped that Kaz is very well known among anyone who lifts weights. And luckily, my supervisor is definitely a guy who has spent time under the bar.

Ben "leaning" on Kaz for support

My wife offered to go with me, solely to take pictures of me with Kaz. That was a great offer, but I wanted to go alone so that if I embarrassed anyone – it would only be me. I was a nervous wreck by the time I got to the building where he was speaking. It didn’t really feel “real” until I got out of the car and walked by a big window where I saw Kaz standing in the middle of a room that was packed with people there to see him speak.

Good thing I hadn’t eaten very much before driving to Parsons. Because I puked right there in the grass outside the building! Puking might not have been such a bad thing because after that I felt much more relaxed than I had even on the 90-minute drive to Parsons. I mingled with the crowd and picked a spot near the back of the room – but one with an unimpeded view of Kaz – so I could take photographs while he spoke.

Kaz gave a great introduction to the youngsters in the audience who may not have known who he was. Most of the people in the crowd knew exactly who he was though. He was humble, genuine, friendly, charming, and the list goes on! I was extremely impressed with his 15-minute talk about the decline in the health and fitness of today’s youth. I don’t want to call it a “speech” because it didn’t seem rehearsed or like he was reading it from a cue card.

The event was ran in a very tasteful manner. There was no money exchanged before the speech, during the speech, or afterwards. Signing autographs was free, and the event staff even handed out free health and fitness items, such as pedometers and low-calorie cookbooks to anyone in the audience that wanted them.

I was second-to-last in line to get Kaz’s autograph. I already have four items signed by Kaz, thanks to my wife – who bought some items from Kaz on Ebay about 5 years ago and then asked him to sign them. One more signed item is always a good thing, so I brought up a photo that event staff was handing out to get it signed and add it to my collection.

Throughout his speech I took a good number of photos and got a few of him rolling up frying pans and then signing them and choosing someone from the audience to give them to. He also brought a few guys out of the audience and gave them a short lesson on how to roll the frying pan. Then he coached them through starting the bend to finishing it. It was really neat watching him really rooting for the guys he picked to come to the front with him! He was a true gentleman the entire time and even started the bend for one of the guys who couldn’t get it started. I also believe that he had several different types of frying pans, of varying difficulties, and that he specifically chose which frying pan to give to each guy – based on their physical appearance.

I was impressed that it wasn’t just a show about Bill Kazmaier. It was about helping someone else feel like a strongman in front of the audience (and their families) for a day. I didn’t volunteer to bend a frying pan, although I’m sure I could’ve bent anything he brought with him since I’ve bent a good number of them in the past few years. I reminded myself that it also wasn’t a show about what I could do. Everybody came to see Kaz perform and they were not disappointed!

By the time the line moved along and I made it up there to shake Kaz’s hand, I thought I had talked myself out of being nervous. Nothing could’ve been farther from the truth! I managed to shake his hand and say how glad I was to meet him. Then I froze up a bit when someone took our photo. All I could think to do was just lean on him awkwardly! He was a great sport and even has a friendly grin on his face in that picture. The photographer gently suggested that I just shake his hand on the next picture, haha! That turned out to be a much better picture than the first one.

Anyone who has seen Will Ferrell in the movie Talladega Nights will appreciate the first photo where I leaned on Kaz. I remember it was kind of like the scene where Will Ferrell is being interviewed on TV and he keeps saying “I don’t know what to do with my hands” – while his hands are inexplicably rising into the frame.

The drive home felt like no time at all. My mind was still racing even days later. One thing I didn’t mention is how solid his handshake was. That wasn’t a surprise of course. With forearms like his, I figure he could probably crush most normal hands. His hand was also as solid as a brick. My workouts since meeting him have been more intense because I know there is a lot more I can get out of this body.

For the record, I cleaned up my puke before driving home! It’s handy to have doggie-doo bags in your coat pocket.

USAWA Record Holders in the Reeves Deadlift

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, has the ALL-TIME USAWA Record in the Reeves Deadlift with a record lift of 400#. His record matches the best performance of the legendary Steve Reeves. In this picture, Mark is setting a Dino Gym record in the Reeves Deadlift with a lift of 455#! Mark is planning on entering a record day soon to increase his USAWA record in the Reeves Deadlift.

The following are the overall USAWA records for the Reeves Deadlift per weight class.  Records are listed for women and men.

Lift                                  Sex  Wt.Cls     Record    Lifter                                 Date               Location

DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 70 65 McConnaughey, Amber 12/10/2005 2005 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 75 155 Paul, Andrea 12/14/2003 2003 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 80 135 Fritz, Misty 12/10/2005 2005 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 125+ 215 McConnaughey, Mary 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 90 275 Holcomb, Seth 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 95 275 Hart, James 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 100 225 Bletscher, Rudy 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 105 325 Burks, Joe 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 110 225 Clark, Bill 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 115 300 Myers, Al 12/6/2008 2008 Goerner Dino Gym
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 120 335 Myers, Al 12/6/2009 2009 Goerner Deadlift
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 125 335 Fulton, Kevin 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 125+ 400 Mitchell, Mark 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner

Do you want to see a BIG Reeves Deadlift in action?

Then check out this YouTube Video of Ben Edwards successfully lifting 352# in Reeves Deadlift!

Clark’s Gym Record Day

The Missouri All-Round Double-Header

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards performing a 235# 2" Vertical Bar Deadlift

I had one of the most fun weekends of weightlifting I have ever had this past weekend. It is not very often that I get the chance to do TWO different meets in the same weekend. On Saturday, Thom Van Vleck hosted his first ever All-Round event at the JWC Training Hall, which is Thom’s private gym. I have been to Thom’s gym several times before so I know the history of his gym – but this time was extra special since I actually got to compete there! Representing the Dino Gym was Chad Ullom and myself, and representing the JWC was Thom and Josh Hettinger. Thom’s brother Tedd was there to help load and to provide comic relief. Thanks Tedd for everything you did to help us – but next time I am going to talk you into lifting! I’m not going to go into everything Thom has in his gym except to say that the JWC Training Hall is filled with about anything an all-rounder would want, and has more autographed pictures on the walls than any gym I have ever been in!! The “environment” of the JWC Training Hall inspires you – you feel like the great lifters and throwers in the pictures are watching over you while you lift as you try to perform up to their expectations!! Chad Ullom came ready to go – and started this record day off with some UNBELIEVABLE lifting. Chad went up to the 110K class and set several very impressive records including a 475# Continental to Belt (the top ALL-TIME in the USAWA), a 510# Hack lift, a 375# One Arm Deadlift – Left, a 410# One Arm Deadlift – Right, and a 410# Steinborn Lift (breaking Bob Burtzloff’s 20 year old record). I also should note that Chad had another commitment on this day and had to leave early – so he did all this in a little over 1 hour!! After Chad left, the rest of us just looked at each other and wondered how we could top that! Next, Thom got two of his kids involved – Morgan and Dalton. They each did a few records. I was very impressed with their efforts. Josh Hettinger isn’t a newcomer to the USAWA. He lifted in one of my Dino Challenges a few years ago and it was great to see him back in action. I made Thom a Circus Dumbbell (it has a 3″ diameter handle and is very big, with 12″ diameter ends). When I brought it into the JWC Training Hall I announced that the Dino Gym Record with this DB was 165 pounds (taken to chest with two hands and then taken overhead with one hand). Josh is a pressing machine and said, “then load it to 170#”, which he made it easily. So for the time being , the JWC has a record better than the Dino Gym (but THAT won’t last long haha). Thom’s Uncle Wayne Jackson was there to watch – and after Josh pressed this massive Circus DB – Uncle Wayne said, “seeing that made coming worthwhile”. This was quite a compliment to Josh as Uncle Wayne was a great presser in his day, having done over 300# in the Olympic Press. Josh did several other impressive records as well. Thom was “a man on a mission” when he started breaking records. He must have broke or set over 50 USAWA records! Finally, I was getting worn out judging him and hinted that he didn’t have to do ALL the lifts in the record list today and maybe it would be better if he “saved” a few for another day! I could tell Thom was disappointed hearing this as I think he had planned on doing 100! (Plus I knew he promised to grill me a BIG steak for supper and it was getting late and I was getting hungry!). This record day was a first rate event – and Thom even had medals for everyone who broke records. Thom and the JWC are a great addition to the USAWA and this was a great kickoff for them!

Al Myers performing a 370# One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift

The next day (Sunday) Thom and I made our way south to Columbia, to participate in Bill Clark’s Record Day. I always enjoy going to Bill’s gym – it takes you back in time. Most of Bill’s equipment and weights have been in his gym for years – and would be “collector’s items” on ebay. There are not very many gyms nowadays where you can train on York Globe Dumbbells and then load your bar with Milo plates!! His platform is made out of solid oak planks that have withstood the years of dropped overheads. There is no shiny chrome equipment around – just rustic equipment with names like “Hospital Harry”. The gym has no A/C and minimal heating. Any thing that needs lubrication is rubbed down with axle grease. Truly a Hard Core All-Rounders paradise! I was glad to see Ben Edwards already there when I walked in the door. Ben was polishing off the record list in one of his favorite lifts – the Vertical Bar Deadlift – both 1″ and 2″. Bill was judging him hard – there were no quick down commands!! Ben finished off with a 235# 2″ One hand VB deadlift – the best of ALL-TIME. Ben next took on another one of his favorites – the thumbless grip deadlift. He came into this record day with a best of 250#, set in 2003, which had him at the number 3 spot ALL-TIME. I decided to join him on this lift, mainly to “push him a little” as he was gunning for the top spot held by Mike McBride at 266#, set in 2005. We both started at 235#, which we both got easily, and kept adding 10# until we both hit our MAX at 275# – tying the two of us for the BEST ALL-TIME. This was the highlight lift of my weekend – and I hadn’t even planned to do it. This is by far more than I have ever done in this lift and it was done under the strict judging of Bill Clark. Ben is a great competitor and friend and “friendly competitions” like this bring out the best you. We concluded the day by gorging ourselves at the bunk of the Golden Corral – A Clark’s Gym Post Meet Tradition!!

Bill Clark stepped up to the bar to pull this 135# Index Finger Deadlift after a couple of record day participants (names withheld) missed this lift.

FULL MEET RESULTS:

Clark’s Gym Record Day
November 22nd, 2009
Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Official (1 Official System Used):  Bill Clark

Loader:  Tom Powell

Records:

Ben Edwards -  215 lbs, 34 years old

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Left Hand = 315 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Right Hand  = 255 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 1″ = 410 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Left Hand = 235 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, Right Hand = 210 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 2″ = 366 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Left Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells = 310 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm = 275 lbs.

Al Myers – 255 lbs, 43 years old

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm = 370 lbs.
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm = 330 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells = 480 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm = 170 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbell, Left Arm = 170 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbbells = 310 lbs.
Hack Lift – Left Arm = 235 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm = 275 lbs.

Thom Van Vleck – 288 lbs, 45 years old

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm = 240 lbs.
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm = 240 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells = 300 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, Right Arm = 115 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Fulton Dumbells = 230 lbs.
Hack Lift – Left Arm = 145 lbs.
Hack Lift – Right Arm = 145 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm = 165 lbs.
Deadlift – Fingers, Middle = 145 lbs.
Deadlift – Fingers, Ring = 145 lbs.

Ben Edwards

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards performing a One Handed Thumbless Grip Deadlift of 230 pounds at the 2009 Dino Gym Record Day. Ben's best One handed Thumbless Grip Deadlift is 250 pounds, which is one of the best in the USAWA Record List.

Ben Edwards, the winner of the latest Quiz of the Week, has announced he intends to host an USAWA grip competition. There has not been a grip competition in the USAWA since Kevin Fulton hosted the annual Super Grip Challenges.  Ben has been a “grip specialist” and has competed in numerous grip competitions over the past several years.  He also holds several grip records in the USAWA. He has expanded his lifting to training all the all-round lifts and competed in this past year’s National Championships.  Ben intends to enter more all-round meets in the future.  The USAWA needs more energetic, young lifters like Ben Edwards!!!!

Top 5 All-Time One-Handed Thumbless Grip Deadlifts in the USAWA

1.  266 pounds   Mike McBride
2.  254 pounds   Tom Ryan
3.  250 pounds   Ben Edwards
4.  230 pounds   Al Myers
5.  225 pounds   Matt Graham

Ben Edward’s wins Quiz of Week

by Al Myers

The winner of this week’s quiz is  Ben Edwards, of Lawrence, Kansas.  He correctly identified the two USAWA lifters that have  lifted the Dinnie Stones as Frank Ciavattone, of Walpole Massachusetts,  and Kevin Fulton of Litchfield, Nebraska.

Frank Ciavattone lifting both Dinnie Stones in September, 1996

The Dinnie Stones are still located near their original place in front of the Potarch Hotel -  which is next to the Potarch Bridge that the River Dee runs under. They are located close to Aberdeen, Scotland.  They were originally weighed at 435 pounds and 340 pounds (for a total weight of 775#), but since have been reweighed by Gordon Dinnie in 1998 at 413 pounds and 321 pounds (a total weight of 734 pounds).

Kevin Fulton lifting both Dinnie Stones in October, 2001.

Donald Dinnie is said to have picked up both of these stones (at the same time) and walked the width of the Potarch Bridge – a distance close to 17 feet!!!

For a complete listing of those of have lifted the Dinnie Stones – Click Here