The Power Row

by Al Myers

John McKean, of the Ambridge BBC, performing the lift he introduced to the USAWA, the Bent Over Row.

At the 2011 IAWA World Meeting in Australia, the Power Row got approved as a new IAWA Official Lift.  This was the only lift presented by the IAWA Technical Committee to the membership for approval, and it was accepted.  This lift was accepted as an Official USAWA lift in 2010, but under a different name!  John McKean, of Ambridge BBC, was the one to present it to the USAWA for lift acceptance under the name BENT OVER ROW.  So now like the many, many other lifts that have different names in IAWA than the USAWA, this lift will join that long list as well.   The interesting thing with this lift was that it was presented first to the IAWA membership at the 2010 meeting in Glasgow, but was rejected by the vote.  I felt at the time (at the Glasgow meeting) that the lift wasn’t fully understood by the members in attendance.  This time copies of the presented rules were distributed to those present at the meeting which I think helped describe what this new lift is about, and helped “gather support” in getting it passed and accepted as a new IAWA lift.  The Bent Over Row has been done in several USAWA events to date (including last year’s Club Challenge) and it has been well received.  Let’s review BOTH the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules:

USAWA RULE:  D6. BENT OVER ROW

The lift will start at the lifter’s discretion with the bar placed on the platform in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with an overhand grip with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. The width of grip spacing and feet placement is of the lifter’s choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar.  The body must be in a bent over position at the waist.  The upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift or it is a disqualification.  The legs may be bent during the lift and upon the completion of the lift.  The bar is lifted to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms.  The bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel if a belt is not worn.  It is a disqualification if the belt supports the bar at the abdomen upon the finish of the lift. The lift ends by an official’s command when the bar is held motionless at the abdomen or chest.

IAWA RULE: E37.  POWER ROW

The bar is placed on the platform in front of the lifter, who will grip the bar overhand with the palms facing the lifter, the width of the grip and feet placing is of the lifters choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The lifters body should be bent forward at the waist, and the upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift. The legs may be bent during and upon completion of the lift. The bar will be lifted up to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms, the bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel, if a belt is not worn. The belt must never support the bar. When the bar is held motionless and in contact with the abdomen or chest, the official will give the command to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:

1 . The lifters upper body straightening past 45 degrees parallel to the platform.                                                                     
2.  The Bar touching the belt, or anywhere on the body lower than the navel  
3.  Failing to hold the bar motionless, and in the finished position, to await the official’s command

One thing you will notice about the USAWA and IAWA rules are that even though they are written slightly different,  they are THE SAME (which is a GOOD THING!) in technical content. The only difference is the name of the lift.  Let me explain why this occurred.  The lift was presented with the name Bent Over Row, but after the group discussion, it was felt that the name POWER ROW better described the lift.  Peter Phillips made a good point that an old style Bentover Row is a STRICT style lift, in which the legs stay straight and the bar is brought to the upper chest instead of the abdomen.  The membership agreed with this point, thus the name was changed before it was presented and accepted.  Also, the point was made that by doing this it would “save the name”  Bent Over Row for the strict version of this lift, if it was ever presented as an IAWA  lift in the future. I definitely agree with this decision. The importance of this is that NOW the Power Row (or Bent Over Row) can be done in USAWA competitions for IAWA World Records.

World Wide Row

John McKean

Recent work on the bent over row shows good effects on the 65-year-old upper back of that chubby little rascal in front who we know as John McKean!

John Grimek, our FIRST USAWA Hall-of-Famer (I was there when Howard Prechtel nominated him!) once wrote that the bent over row is a lift where huge poundages are possible, because the movement employs the arms, shoulders, lats, lower back, hips, and thighs. Big John also stated that the row is the absolute best heavy exercise for building the biceps, as well as the upper back. I once met a young super-heavyweight at a power meet who took Grimek’s advice seriously – the lad ONLY trained the heaving row for biceps, and a few bench presses for the triceps. Without exaggeration, his well formed upper arms had to have measured 23 inches!!

Famed writer/lifter Terry Todd did a photo filled article of his deadlift training for winning one of the first National powerlifting contests – yep, the huge poundage-heaving ROW was given prominent mention as his major assistance exercise. Terry was rowing with over 450, as I recall; those pictures left a lasting impression on my young mind! Even today the row is king in building other ALL-ROUND lifts!

We in the USAWA have instituted the bent over row as an official lift during the past season. First to “test” it was Al Myers’ crew, who raved about the dynamic feeling to pull big weight and the genuine enthusiasm for officially performing this grand old exercise! As Al mentioned, it is a natural, basic exercise that we ALL started our weight training with, and requires a unique direction of pull that no other lift fulfills! Later, big Ernie Beath (who really was the one instrumental in pushing for the inception of this barbell keystone as official) and I rowed for records at Art’s Birthday Bash (I think one END of Ernie’s bar was more than I managed!!). At this point in time, world-wide, the IAWA has adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude, but I think our more carefully conceived, clearer version of the rules should tell how simple and direct the bent over row is as a lift.

USAWA Rule for the Bent Over Row

The lift will start at the lifter’s discretion with the bar placed on the platform in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with an overhand grip with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. The width of grip spacing and feet placement is of the lifter’s choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The body must be in a bent over position at the waist. The upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift or it is a disqualification. The legs may be bent during the lift and upon the completion of the lift. The bar is lifted to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms. The bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel if a belt is not worn. It is a disqualification if the belt supports the bar at the abdomen upon the finish of the lift. The lift ends by an official’s command when the bar is held motionless at the abdomen or chest.

Not only can our All-rounders benefit by direct effort applied to rows, but many who would come to us for weight training programs will make huge strides in OVERALL strength by utilizing the row as a LIFT.  As such, of course, we can draw these athletes into our fold to display prideful gains on a weightlifting platform!!  But these big bent over pulls can certainly serve wrestlers, martial artists, track and field athletes, football players, etc. I, for one, would love to see some of these new guys at our record day meets! Of course, it won’t hurt our image, either, to start associating IAWA lifters with that huge, old time “V” taper derived from concentrated, high-powered rows!

One Tough Character – Mike Murdock

by Al Myers

Mike Murdock, at 70 years of age, performing a record lift in the Bent Over Row with a lift of 205 pounds.

Last weekend at Dave’s Highland Games and Record Day, one person really stood out to me.  That person was Mike Murdock.  Mike is 70 years old and I know very few guys his age would have been able to withstand the rigors of last weekend.  Dave picked the HOTTEST DAY of the summer for his weekend affair, and for those not familiar with the Kansas heat, don’t know what heat really is.  It topped 100 degrees F (and with high humidity) on both days and EVERYTHING was done outside, including the lifting.  Mike was there for both.  He threw the entire day on Saturday and then returned to set a few USAWA records on Sunday.  It didn’t seem like it fazed him one bit!  Saturday night after the games, I asked Mike if he was coming back the next day, and he said, “Yep, and I’m going to be the first one to set a record in the Bent Over Row!”  (this was in response to my BOLD statement last week in a story where I said I was going to be the first).  Well, Amber Glasgow beat both of us to it the next day when she set the FIRST record in the Bent Over Row with a lift of 115 pounds.  Of course, I remarked to Mike how he  felt not being the first and he replied, “It’s ok, at least it wasn’t YOU!”  That’s the spirit I like in All-Round Weightlifting between competitors!  Everyone giving each other a hard time, but at the same time truly wishing your competitors the best of luck.  Mike has been a long-time supporter of the events I have held at the Dino Gym.  He is always there, and when he’ s not competing he’s helping out in some way.  Mike Murdock is indeed ONE TOUGH CHARACTER!

Also, congratulations to Mike Murdock for becoming an USAWA Official.

New Lift – Bent Over Row

by Al Myers

Al Myers training the Bent Over Row.

Another new lift that was approved at the 2010 National Meeting by the membership was the Bent Over Row.  This lift was proposed by John McKean of the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club.  The Bent Over Row  is an ole’ fashioned training exercise that has been part of training programs for years – but NOW is an official USAWA lift so it can now be done in competition and contested for records.  I was glad to see John propose rules for it that are consistent with how the lift is usually done in training.  The Bent Over Row is a tremendous upper back exercise.  John had this to say about the Bent Over Row when he proposed it as a lift to the USAWA, “This lift uses a combination of legs, hips and back.  It is a true all-round movement! This is an absolutely GREAT exercise certainly deserving its due as a very heavy weight, total body, competition lift.”

We do not have a lift even similar to the Bent Over Row in our extensive list of Official Lifts. I like to see lifts like this get approved – lifts which are basic movements and not just some “trick lift”, “gimmick lift”,  or a lift with a slight deviation of another official  lift (which isn’t really anything new).

The Rules for the Bent Over Row

The lift will start at the lifter’s discretion with the bar placed on the platform in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with an overhand grip with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. The width of grip spacing and feet placement is of the lifter’s choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The body must be in a bent over position at the waist. The upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift or it is a disqualification. The legs may be bent during the lift and upon the completion of the lift. The bar is lifted to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms. The bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel if a belt is not worn. It is a disqualification if the belt supports the bar at the abdomen upon the finish of the lift. The lift ends by an official’s command when the bar is held motionless at the abdomen or chest.

I will definitely be doing the Bent Over Row at the Ledaig Record Day this weekend, and hope to be the FIRST one to set an official USAWA Record with it.  The Bent Over Row will be included in the updated USAWA Rulebook which will be available the first of August.