One or Three Officials?

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom officiating the 2011 IAWA World Championships sitting in the Head Judges chair. Would you trust this guy to make the only call in the 1-Official System?? He looks half asleep to me.

A very good question was brought up recently on our USAWA Facebook Page regarding the use of officials (BTW – if you have not joined our USAWA Facebook Page by now, make sure to join as it is a constant source of current information, along with numerous meet pictures).  The question involved how many officials are required to be used in competition.  The confusion on this matter arises because the USAWA allows the 1-Official System to be used, whereas the IAWA sanctioned competitions requires that all meets be officiated using three officials.  The upcoming World Postal Meet is an IAWA sanctioned event, so THREE OFFICIALS (or two as I’ll explain later) MUST be used to enter lifts in this postal meet.  This meet is different than our USAWA Postal Meets where they may be officiated using  just one official. 

First, let me review the USAWA Rules regarding the Official’s Systems that are in place:

VII. OFFICIALS

4.  Two systems are approved for officiating USAWA competitions or events.

  • One Official System – The competition or event will be officiated by only one certified official.  This system is recommended for small competitions or events, such as record days or postal competitions.
  • Three Official System – The competition or event will be officiated by three certified officials.  Approval of the lift requires a minimum of 2 officials deeming the lift good.  This system is recommended for large competitions or events, such as the National Championship.

Second, these are the IAWA Rules regarding the use of three officials:

V1.   OFFICIALS

  • All officials must be approved by their National Governing Body, or IAWA where there is no NGB
  • Three officials should be used for all competitions, and for exhibitions also where possible (though World Records can be established with only two officials present, so long as both pass the lift).

The USAWA membership voted and passed, allowing the 1-Official System to be in place, at the 2006 Annual Meeting.  This issue was brought forth to the membership by Bill Clark.  If I remember right, it seemed at the meeting that pretty much everyone in attendance was in agreement with the vote.  I do know now that not all of the members of the USAWA believe in the 1-Official System and don’t use it at all in their gym meets.   Art Montini has told me that himself and the Ambridge “Gang” will not use the 1-Official System in their meets EVER!  This issue was presented at the IAWA meeting as well that year in Scotland.  After the discussion in which it appeared to me that most everyone was against the 1-Official System, a motion was never made to introduce the 1-Official System.  Thus the IAWA still requires 3 officials, while in the USAWA the 1-Official System and the 3-Official System is allowed.   But even if the 3-Official System is used, a meet could be done with ONLY 2 officials and fall within the realms of the IAWA rules.  However, both officials must agree that it is a good lift (read IAWA above – the second line).   If just one official feels that it is a bad lift, then it is a no lift.  So in a sense, since you only need two “white lights” for a good lift in the 3-Official System, you are assuming the nonexistent third official has given you a red  in the imaginary chair!    How does this impact records?  First of all, any USAWA record can be established using either system.  For IAWA World Records, the 3-Official System must be used, including any USAWA meet.

Now for my opinion on this subject, which hasn’t changed from the day it was proposed and passed in the USAWA.  No one can argue that 3 officials are always better than 1 official.  Using 3 officials, and one official makes a bad call it doesn’t fail the lift if it should be good (or pass the lift when it should be failed).   Three officials spreads the decision over more individuals, and hopefully with that, a better result could be obtained.  That is why I will always support using the 3 official System in big competitions where there are qualified officials present to allow for it.  The problem arises in small gym meets (like postals and record days) where the entry numbers are so small that lifters outnumber officials!  For these meets to even happen, the 1-Official System HAS TO BE IN PLACE to allow for officiating.  Otherwise, it becomes impossible to even conduct small meets, or enter postal meets.  I am also familiar with events having one official (like strongman competitions and the Highland Games) so I know that one good official can do a good job and make the right call.  Why is there not three officials in those events?  The answer – they are not needed!  I feel the problem why the IAWA membership never accepted the 1-Official was tradition – weightlifters are very use to having three officials in the chairs and the thought of having  just one make the BIG DECISION was not something they wanted to accept.  I can’t imagine that the IAWA(UK) meets don’t have the same problem as us with properly trying to find 3 judges to judge small meets, like this World Postal Meet.  Maybe with time, IAWA will come “on board” with the 1-Official System and be the same as the USAWA on this.  Without a doubt,  requiring 3 officials in this World Postal Meet will hurt participation.

History of the Dino Challenge

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom performing the Judd Clean and Jerk (a one leg C & J) in the 2009 Dino Gym Challenge. Chad has won the Dino Gym Challenge three times (2008, 2009, 2010), which is the most times it has been won by the same lifter.

The Dino Gym Challenge is approaching FAST!  It is this coming Saturday, with the event being hosted in the Dino Gym.  I’m still taking entries, so last minute entries will be accepted.  I do appreciate those letting me know ahead of time of their intent to enter, but if you want to just show up on meet day to compete that will be ok for this one.  The Dino Gym Challenge has been going on for 8 years now, with this being the ninth.   Only three CURRENT USAWA events have a longer running history in the same location  - the Zercher and the Deanna Meets hosted by Bill Clark, and Art’s Birthday Bash hosted by Art Montini.  Two other long standing meets have had “breaks” in their run:   Bad weather interrupted the Goerner one year and it was cancelled, and the Backbreaker was cancelled a couple of times due to lack of entries. 

Early on I named this meet the Dino Gym Challenge for this reason – every year there would be a different meet challenge to take on.  No two meets would be the same.  Each year a different “theme” is contested.  This makes this meet very interesting, and allows different lifters to have advantages because of the different lifts that are contested each year.  This year it is the battle of the one arm lifts: 5 lifts with each one contested with both arms.  I am going to give a “run-down” of the preceding Dino Gym Challenges and how they turned out.

2011 – Dino Gym Old Time Strongman Challenge

The Dino Gym presented the VERY FIRST Old Time Strongman competition that year.  Five new and exciting OTSM events were contested: Saxon Snatch, Cyr Press, Dinnie Lift, Apollons Lift, and the Goerner Stroll. This meet will forever be known as the first promotion of OTSM within the USAWA, and what a great inauguration this meet was!   A great turnout of 18 lifters took part.  The class winners were: Women – Felecia Simms, Mens Junior – Cody Lokken, Mens 40+ – Al Myers, Mens 60+ – Dean Ross, and Open – Sam Cox.  The top three placings of the day went to: 1. Sam Cox, 2. Eric Todd, and 3. Chad Ullom.

2010 – The Arthur Saxon Pentathlon

This meet was done  to honor the great German Strongman Arthur Saxon.  Five lifts were chosen which were some of Saxon’s favorites: the Dumbbell Swing, the Bent Press, the 2-Hands Anyhow, the Arthur Lift, and the Foot Press.  The Foot Press was done as an exhibition lift (not an official USAWA lift at that time, but it is now) and was a big hit of the meet.  It mimicked the stage act where Arthur would support a big plank loaded with people as natural weight.  5 lifters took part, with Chad Ullom being the overall meet winner.  A celebrity was in attendance – Wilbur Miller.  Wilbur is a legend in All Round Weightlifting and his presence at this meet enhanced the meet atmosphere.  Afterwards, several of us toasted Arthur Saxon with Arthur’s favorite workout beverage, the Saxon Health Drink.

2009 – The meet named after others

The 2009 Dino Gym Challenge was very unusual in that all 5 of the lifts contested were “named” after other lifters.  These lifts were contested: the Kelly Snatch, the Ziegler Clean, the Judd Clean and Jerk, the James Lift, and the Allen Lift.  All of these lifts required LOTS of flexibility that made them very hard to do.  Chad Ullom prevailed as the overall winner of the four lifters in attendance: Chad, Al Myers, Scott Campbell, and Rudy Bletscher.   However, despite all of these lifts being done with “light” weights, one of the biggest lifts in USAWA history was done on this day.  Steve Schmidt showed up to be officially judged in the Back Lift.  He finished with 3050 pounds (after doing 3000 pounds as well) to set an ALL-TIME USAWA record in the Back Lift.

2008 – The Roger Davis Selection

The 2008 Dino Gym Challenge saw lifts selected by Roger Davis.  Roger had just finished a compilation of the top All Round lifters of ALL-TIME in history using these lifts as the criteria: the one arm snatch, the one arm clean and jerk, the continental to chest and jerk, two dumbbells clean and push press, and the 12″ base deadlift.  His report was published in MILO and gave me the notion to have a meet using these lifts.   This meet must have scared off the competition because only two lifters showed up to compete: Chad Ullom and Scott Campbell.  I was going to compete as well, but I was the only one there to officiate so I judged instead.  Chad ended up the victor over Scott.  Wilbur Miller showed up as well and did some record-setting after the meet.  He first did a 350 pound Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, followed by a 400 pound heels together deadlift, and finishing with a 450 pound 12″ base deadlift.  Wilbur did these lifts at 75 years of age and 230 pounds!

2007 – The All Round Powerlifting Meet

The theme of 2007 was that of an All Round Powerlifting Meet.  These lifts were contested: Steinborn, Pullover and Push, and the heels together Deadlift. 11 lifters took part.  Al Myers was the overall best mens lifter and Kristen Barry was the top overall womens lifter.  A team award was given which was won by the Dino Gym.  A full record day was contested afterwards.  Some great lifts were done during the day: Chad Ullom 430# Steinborn, Kristen Barry 310# heels together deadlift, Bill Cookson 227# Index Fingers Deadlift, and myself teaming with Chad to hit a 407# Team Cheat Curl.  Afterwards, we all reconvened at a restaurant in town to celebrate the annual HASA banquet.  The big news of the banquet was the induction of Thom Van Vleck into the HASA Hall of Fame.

2006 – The Travis Lift Showdown

This meet had a record setting turnout of lifters – 23 LIFTERS!   Five lifts were contested: Fulton Bar Clean, Maxey Press, Front Squat, Jefferson Lift and the Travis Lift. The main event of this meet was the Travis Lift. This was the first time the Travis Lift had been held in competition.  Previously the only lifter in the USAWA who had ever done the Travis Lift was Howard Prechtel, and he did it only in record days.  At the time Howard held the ALL-TIME record with a lift of 1815 pounds.  Joe Garcia broke Howard’s record with a lift of 2000 pounds.  The class winners were:  Women Junior – Kirsti Griffis, Women Masters – Mary McConnaughey, Mens Junior – Kent Longbine, Mens Lightweight – Tim Pinkerton, Mens Middleweight – Eric Todd, Mens Heavyweight – John O’Brien, Mens Master – Joe Garcia.  The Mens Overall Best Lifter went to Eric Todd.

2005 -  The Back Lift Rematch

A big group of lifters turned out this year for the Dino Gym Challenge – 19 lifters.  Several difficult lifts were contested: the Fulton Bar Snatch, the Inch Dumbbell Deadlift, the Alternate Grip Bench Press, the Steinborn, and the Back Lift.  Steve Schmidt reclaimed his ALL-TIME Back Lift record with a lift of 2920 pounds at this meet.  Class winners were as follows: Junior Women – Misty Fritz,  Open Women – Mary McConnaughey, Junior Men – Ian Reel, Mens Lightweight – Tim Pinkerton, Mens Middleweight – Eric Todd, Mens Heavyweight – Chad Ullom, Mens Superheavyweight – Matt Graham, and Mens Masters – Joe Garcia.  Eric Todd was the overall Best Lifter of the meet.  Matt Graham put on a grip-lifting show after the meet by picking up two INCH REPLICAS at the same time! 

2004 – The First Ever Dino Challenge

A full field of 17 lifters took part in the first ever Dino Gym Challenge.  These lifts were contested: Fulton Bar Clean and Press, Pullover and Push, One Arm Clean and Jerk, Steinborn, and the Back Lift. Several records fell during this meet.  Al Myers broke Steve Schmidts All-Time record in the back lift with a lift of 2915 pounds.  Class winners were as follows: Women – Jessica Todd, Men Lightweight – Tim Pinkerton, Men Middleweight – Al Myers, Mens Heavyweight – Eric Todd, Mens Masters – Joe Garcia. The overall Best Lifter of the meet was Al Myers.

*** CHAD ULLOM IS THE ONLY LIFTER WHO HAS COMPETED IN EVERY DINO GYM CHALLENGE TO DATE***

All Round Lifting: The Big Brother Version

by Al Myers

Last month at the IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia, several of us rented a beach house together.  I organized this beach house rental for a couple of reasons – to save a little money and also to spend some time with a few of the masterminds in the organization.  Six of us spent close to 10 days living together – myself, Chad Ullom, USAWA President Denny Habecker, IAWA President Steve Gardner, English All Round lifting sensation Mark Haydock, and the MAN OF STEEL and all-round lifting legend Art Montini.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to “pick their minds” and hopefully “steal” some secret lifting information from them.  I liken myself to that of Robin Hood – but instead of stealing moneyI like to steal ideas from the rich and give to everyone else (ok – I won’t call you poor!).  But I was also worried that this living arrangement would turn into an episode of BIG BROTHER in which we would be at “each other’s throats” by the end of the stay!   I envisioned the alliances – the Americans versus the Brits (of which I knew ahead of time we would have the numbers on this one), the Wily Veterans (Denny, Steve, & Art) versus the Newbies (Chad, Mark, & myself), or the Drinkers versus the Nondrinkers (which would be pretty much everyone versus Art!!). Who would be the first one voted out of the house?   Luckily, no “drama” ever developed throughout the week so I can’t report on any fights or anything like that.

But I did learn alot.  Like I said, I spent every moment trying to steal some important secret from my roommates.  And like Robin Hood, I plan to share with you  everything I learned from these guys.  I consider these guys the “movers and shakers” of All Round Lifting.  Steve is closing in on 12 years as IAWA President and many, many years as the IAWA(UK) President.  He has been involved in the sport for over 20 years.  Denny is our USAWA President and filled with secrets – it’s just that he doesn’t always talk alot about things and I have to “pry” information out of him.  Mark was the 2009 IAWA World Champ and I knew for sure he knew something that would be to my benefit in my training.  Art is the “most seasoned” of all these guys and for sure he had something “to give up”.  Now with Chad, well let’s just say, I’ve already stole all of his secrets, which isn’t much. I planned to strategically just use him for distraction purposes to give me “a little one on one” time with my targets.

Steve feels "right at home" in a brewery or a pub. And YES - Steve has a drink in each hand, drinking both at the same time.

When you live with “your competitors” for a week you really learn something about them.  My primary focus of this investigation was with Steve.  He is a born leader, takes charge in everything he does, and I was hoping to find the secret of his sucess or perhaps a weakness in his personality.  Well, I only found a couple, and they were weaknesses. Just say I was dissappointed!   First, he snores like a sailor blowing a fog horn. It didn’t take the rest of us long to realize that his sleeping arrangement needed to be a FAR DISTANCE from the rest of us.  We put him in a room on the other side of the house which  only was close to Denny’s room, and that was on purpose as well, because Denny was suffering from some bad case of bronchitis and was coughing non stop.  He sounded like a dog with kennel cough.  I often had to get up in the middle of the night (if you must know it was to pee) and the bathroom was close to their rooms.  I listened for several minutes to these two “barking in the night” and I swear they were in unison with their nightly sounds.  I think Denny was doing the harmonizing.

The only other weakness I found with Steve was his passion for beer.  Now I’m not saying he is a drunk, he just enjoys his barley beverage.  Chad and I even set up “a trap” for him to see if he would drink anything.  We bought this really nasty beer that we wouldn’t even drink, and left it in the fridge.  Sure enough, Steve finished off  the six-pack while the rest of us watched in amazement.  He even said he LIKED IT!  He’s a passionate beer connoisseur.

I caught Mark reading his secret training book during the meet!

Another of my “targets” was Mark Haydock.  After watching him smash a couple of Chad’s World Records at the Gold Cup, I knew he must have some lifting secrets.  It took me all week but I finally found out the reason for Mark’s lifting success.   I caught him reading Steve Justa’s book ROCK IRON STEEL.  I knew immediately that had to be his secret training program – why else would he have carted that book the entire way from England to Australia???   A couple of times I “took a peak” at this secret book of his when he wasn’t looking.  Chad even snuck the book of to the private room a few times to read it.  I bet Mark was rereading that book for meet motivation!!  I got to get that book now so I will know Mark’s secret training programs.  But I will say this about Mark, I had the feeling that he was studying me as well.  He kept asking me questions that I was uncomfortable in answering.  I felt like he was trying to steal MY SECRETS!  He also bought this porridge that he was letting on as the “secret of his strength”.  I had it one day for breakfast and it about made me puke.  I think he was setting me up like I did Steve on the beer.  But Chad had the porridge EVERY DAY convinced it would make him stronger.  Everyone needs to have a gullible friend like Chad.

Like I said, Denny is a “tough nut to crack”.  He often just “sits back” and laughs along with everyone else’s jokes, and never really contributes any jokes of his own.   But I also found Denny’s secret to his strength during this week.  Even though he may limp around and look like he needs help getting out of a chair, Denny is INDEED a very conditioned athlete!   The gimpy persona is just a hoax.  He acts this way just so his competition doesn’t take him too serious.  I marveled at how he worked this to perfection at the meet against his arch rival, Frank Allen.  Now, how do I know this?  Well, after the meet Chad and I had planned to take a day trip to Rottnest Island, a small island off the coast of Perth.  We planned to spend the day bicycling around the island, a distance of over 30 miles and up and down many hills.  Denny asked to join us, and at first I was thinking this might be an issue.  I was initially worried that he wouldn’t be able to “keep up” with Chad and me and we would need to call in the rescue unit.  But after the day’s big bike ride, in which was as easy for Denny as a “walk in the park”, I knew he was just faking us out all the times in the past when he would  wobble around like a rookie on rollerskates.   On the ferry ride back to Perth, I asked him how he was in such great shape and he told me that he used to ride his bike 100 miles a day!!!  What???  I’m still “tossing that around” in my mind.  Just visualizing Denny in my mind biking 100 miles makes my heart go into palpatations.  It was at that point that I decided I wasn’t going to admit to Chad and Denny that a couple of times I had to get off my bike and walk it up a couple of big hills.

With Art, I already knew his secret of his strength, and it just doesn’t work for me.  I discovered it a couple of years ago when I stayed at his house for a meet in Ambridge.   It involves getting up really, really early to train (3-4 AM) and then eating donuts afterwards.  I’m going to save that secret for later in my life and then “pull it out of the bag” when I need it.   But I will say this about Art, he acts MUCH YOUNGER than his biological age and there must be something to that as well in his secret to success on the platform.  I should also mention Art’s special spaghetti, which must have something to do with his lifting longevity.  I have had it before and he made it for us in Perth.  Art makes some of the BEST spaghetti I have ever tasted.

When it comes to icecream, Chad is the expert. He will sample taste every flavor before making his choice!

Who did I forget?  Oh Chad.  Well like I said earlier, Chad has no secrets when it comes to training.  But I do know his main weakness – ICECREAM!  We had to make several stops during the week for icecream and if he keeps this up I will not have to worry about him because he will be out of my weight class and get KILLED on the Lynch Formula!  There are other things about Chad - but they are blood oath stories so I won’t tell.

I will say that week in Australia was one of the most fun weeks of my life!!

Otto Ziegler, 1919 to 2011

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom did a 200 pound Ziegler Clean at the 2009 Dino Gym Challenge. This is the top mark of ALL-TIME in the USAWA Record List.

Recently Otto Ziegler of Baytown, Texas passed away. He was 92 years old when he died, but throughout his life made a huge impact on weightlifting and even All Round Weightlifting.  Most of us know that he is responsible for his name being tied to a very unusual lift in the USAWA – the Ziegler Clean.  But his contributions to Olympic Weightlifting go far beyond what he has done for the USAWA.  In 2003 he was inducted into the Weightlifting Hall of Fame.  He has coached hundreds of lifters throughout his life, served as a meet director numerous times, officiated Olympic Meets, conducting weightlifting clinics and seminars, along with a long career of lifting himself.

Bill Clark tried for years to get Otto involved in the USAWA, but to my knowledge he never competed in an USAWA event. However, he was a longtime subscriber to Bill’s Strength Journal and incorporated several of the all round lifts into his  training. In an old Strength Journal, Bill highlighted some of  Otto’s All-Round poundages (from the Strength Journal Vol.IV.No.5 – 1993). 

  • Bent Press – 190 LH and 180 RH
  • Dumbbell Swing – a pair of 75 pound bells for 20 reps.
  • Pinch Grip – Used a 68# two inch smooth plate and held it for 12 seconds.
  • One legged Clean and Jerk – at age 63, did 110 pounds.
  • Leg Press – Made 12 reps with 370 pounds on a six-foot bar which he took off a wooden rack and, like Ed Zercher, handled it free-legged.

However, probably the most impressive thing he did was when he did a 154 pound clean balancing a 2.5 plate on his head at age 58. Thus the invention of the Ziegler Clean!  This lift by Otto Ziegler was performed in 1977, and was included in the old Mo-Valley Record List.  It was the top mark lifted in this record list, but the number of lifters with Ziegler Clean marks was pretty small. Wonder why????  I have done this lift in an USAWA competition before and my greatest fear was that the plate would fall off my head during the lift and land on my foot, breaking a toe in the process!  

The Ziegler Clean was one of the original IAWA/USAWA official lifts.  However, it has been contested only a few times in competition. At this past Gold Cup in England, Scottish lifter David McFadzean did a Ziegler Clean as his Gold Cup lift.  He made 62.5 kilograms, which I thought was quite impressive. Maybe next time he does this lift he will exceeds Otto’s best mark of 70 kgs?!?!

I’m pretty sure when Otto Ziegler did this lift the first time he never imagined that this strange and unorthodox lift would become a fixture lift in the USAWA/IAWA  and it would carry his name as his legacy in the organization. But “hat’s off” to Otto Ziegler (or in this case “plate’s off”) for all that he has done for weightlifting with his lifetime of contributions.  He will be missed, but never forgotten.  I issue a challenge to all All-Rounders that in your next workout do the Ziegler Clean in his remembrance!

(webmaster note:  I just realized that all these years we have misprinted the spelling of Otto Ziegler’s name.  In our Rule Books, both the USAWA and the IAWA, we have printed his name as “Zeigler”.  I will make an effort to get this mistake fixed.)

Bars, Bars, and MORE Bars!

by Thom Van Vleck

Al doing front squats, his favorite lift! But try to ignore him, what I really want you to notice is the wide variety of bars on the Dino Gym wall!

Ok, if you lift weights regularly I’m sure you have noticed there are a lot of bars out there!   Yesterday, Al pointed out what’s “legal” in the USAWA and how that rule has changed to allow some wiggle room.  He wrote that article in response to my use of the over sized “John Ware” bar used at the OTSM Championships.  I think I inadvertently opened a can of worms for Al using that bar.  I, for one, appreciate the wiggle room. Here’s why:

Back in the day, all bars were assumed to be made for competition so they were all made to exact specifications.  I remember sitting down with my Uncle Wayne Jackson as he ordered a new York 400lb Olympic set in 1977 (I still have it!).  Back then, you had few suppliers to order from……then came the fitness craze and people started making bars for training, not competition.  What’s the one thing that can end the life of a bar?  Getting bent!  How do you make a cheap bar last longer?  Make it thicker and out of harder steel, so you end up with these bars that are thicker and of hardened steel that won’t “whip” like a high quality Oly bar.  When you walk into my gym you will see the “gun rack” of bars and at first glance, they all look alike.  But look closely and you’ll see all kinds of subtle variations.  I’ll blame China, too.  Even Eleiko, the “Cadillac” of barbells, now has their bars forged in China, then assembled in Sweden.  I had a York bar that had “York, U.S.A” on it….made in China…but assembled in the USA so I guess they get around the loophole of not mentioning “China” on the bar.  I’ll blame China because I don’t think they worry too much about “exactness”.  They don’t care if it’s “legal”, they just crank out a product and if it’s close, then it’s all good to them.

I have about 15 or so bars (I don’t know exactly how many because I have so much of my stuff out on “loan” I’ve lost count.  But let’s just say I have a wide variety of bars (but not as many as the Dino Gym) and when you look closely at these bars there are all kinds of subtle…and not so subtle differences.  There are also many variations in the type of steel used.  The best kind of steel for a bar will bend and good steel will bend and then snap back into it’s original shape.  Hardened Steel will not bend and will tend to snap if you force it to bend or it will bend and stay that way.  You can even have good and bad batches of steel that are intended to be the same.  So, two bars that are “Exactly” the same upon visual inspection, maybe even made by the same company, may have very different characteristics.  Companies today will “contract” out jobs to factories in China.  That contract may be bid out after each order and a different company will supply the bar each time resulting in all kinds of variations.

Ok, just ignore he ugly guy doing the Continental to the Shoulders and focus on the bars on the wall! More bars in Al's gym!

Finally, it’s my contention the original size of an Olympic bar was developed for the average sized man.  I am 6′3″ and my wing span is 6′9″.  It is very difficult for me to get under a “regulation” bar and not bind up.  John Ware was the same way so he had that bar we used in the 2011 OTSM Championships custom made for him.  I know there are some issues with having the weights further away from the center of gravity and that can create more “whip” and help with certain lifts…but it’s easier for the shorter guy to adapt to a longer bar than the taller guy to adapt to a shorter bar.

Again....try not to focus on the ugly guys...and notice the bars leaning against the wall in the background! The JWC has it's fair share of bars! (btw...that's Dean Ross hitting a Anderson Squat at the OTSM in the JWC Training Hall!)

So, the moral of my story?  There are a lot of variations out there on the “standard” Olympic bar.   Some will bend, some will have good whip. I have 4 made by York and there are differences in width INSIDE the collars and there should NOT BE as these are regulation bars.  We need a little play so that we can allow for more bars to be used.  Weightlifting for fitness is a growing craze, but lifting as a sport is DYING!  Today’s generation is not the sticklers for details like Baby boomers who were raised by the WWII generation where almost everyone had served in the military and picked up on that “attention to detail”.  Today’s younger guys just want to lift more weight and they don’t like rules that make no sense to them.  Rules are made to make things more fair, not the other way around.  So, thanks to the USAWA for loosening up the rules on the dimensions of the bars but keeping the spirit of fairness by having rules that keeps the lifting true and comparable from contest to contest!  I think it will be good for our sport!

Team Nationals

by Al Myers

MEET REPORT

Group picture from the 2011 USAWA Team Nationals. (front row left to right): Al Myers, Chad Ullom (back row left to right): Russ Morton, Rudy Bletscher, Mike Murdock, Dean Ross

The 2011 USAWA Team Nationals was again an outstanding success this year.  It contained a couple of  regular teams (Myers/Ullom & Murdock/Bletscher) and one new team that made their debut (Morton/Ross) in team lifting.  Team lifting is MUCH different than just individual lifting. Teamwork is essential in being successful – things like timing and coordination between partners can either help you or hurt you in a big way.  The teams this year seemed very balanced in regards to the lifters size and height.  

Dean and Russ put up the top Team One Arm Dumbbell Press with a lift of 180 pounds.

The Dino Gym brought another new lifter to the USAWA arena in this meet and he did a phenomenal job considering this was his first exposure to the crazy things we do in the USAWA, and I consider this meet an extreme meet in our yearly meet lineup. This man is Russ Morton. He is a VERY seasoned powerlifter who has MANY powerlifting meets under his belt, and it was obvious he was not intimidated in the least by the lifts that faced him.  He teamed with Dean “the Boss” Ross who in my opinion, has made his presence known in the USAWA this year.  Dean is one of the STRONGEST GUYS his age I have ever met.  He powers through any lift whether it requires technique or not, and through brute determination makes big lifts.  These two guys put up the TOP Team One Arm Dumbbell Press of the meet with a fine lift of 180 pounds. I’m sure you are wondering – how do you do a Team one arm dumbbell press??  At first it sounds next to impossible, but after “scratching our heads” awhile we came up with a way.  First of all, there is barely enough room to get two hands on a 6 inch dumbbell handle so the grip on the dumbbell is not the best.  All of us pressed the dumbbell standing to the side of each other facing opposite directions.  So it can be done.

We were entertained during a break in the lifting action when Rudy and Dave sang a harmonized duet.

The second lift was the Team Continental Snatch using the 2″ Fulton Bar.  I was concerned grip might be an issue for the lifters but it wasn’t for anyone.  The difficulty with the lift was the minimal hand spacing on the bar.  You had to use a snatch grip much narrower than the normal snatch width, which made the lift slightly more difficult.  Chad and I had the top lift here with a lift of 320 pounds.  Mike and Rudy made a solid lift of 117 pounds, and Dean and Russ finished with 177 pounds.   Chad and I used a power snatch technique while the other two teams used the hang snatch technique.

Mike and Rudy teamed up for a 175 pound Team Continental to Chest and Jerk. Not too bad for a couple of lifters over 70 years of age!

The third lift was the Team Continental to Chest and Jerk.  Chad and I had the top lift of 452 pounds, which is now the top lift done in this lift in both the USAWA and IAWA record books.  I was hoping that we could also break the mark from the old Missouri Valley Record List which record is an outstanding lift of 463 pounds set in 1983 by two legendary mid-west lifters, Bob Burtzloff and Kevin Fulton.   We simply ran out of attempts and didn’t start high enough.  Maybe next time!!! 

Chad and I had to use some tight teamwork to lift 1000 pounds in the Team 2-bar deadlift.

The last lift done was the Team 2-bar deadlift.  Each lifter gripped each bar just like in the individual 2-bar deadlift.  I actually thought this would be an easy lift for a team to do since the balance issue would be removed that presents when doing this by yourself.  I thought for sure that the lifters could lift more as a team than the sum of their individual lifts.  I was wrong!  This lift turned out to give the lifters the most failed attempts of all the lifts, because if both bars didn’t rise in unison, the weight would “shift” to the lifter on the lower end and force the lifters feet to move.   We tried it all ways – facing away from each other, facing each other, and even standing facing the same direction. I don’t think we ever decided which “lineup” was most favorable.  Mike Murdock took a nasty fall on one attempt after the weight “shifted”.  Luckily, Mike was not hurt (at least he was not bleeding!).   Chad and I had the top lift on this one with a lift of 1000 pounds.  I think we could have done a little more, but at this time we were ready to call it a day and head to town for supper!  Thanks to everyone who showed up to lift, and special thanks goes to Dave Glasgow for serving as the official the entire day.

MEET RESULTS

USAWA Team Nationals
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 27th, 2011

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Dave Glasgow

Lifts:   Team Press – Dumbbell, One Arm, Team Continental Snatch – Fulton Bar, Team Continental to Chest and Jerk, Team Deadlift – 2 bars

Lifters:

OPEN AGE GROUP & 115 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Al Myers – 45 years, 253# BWT
Chad Ullom – 39 years,  244# BWT

MASTERS 50-54 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Dean Ross – 68 years, 281# BWT
Russ Morton – 50 years, 275# BWT

MASTERS 70-74 AGE GROUP & 105 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Mike Murdock – 71 years, 231# BWT
Rudy Bletscher – 75 years, 217# BWT

RESULTS

Lifters DB Press Snatch C&J DL Total Points
Myers/Ullom 175-R 320 452 1000 1947 1535.4
Ross/Morton 180-R 177 253 617 1227 1019.9
Murdock/Bletscher 90-R 117 175 440 822 896.7

Notes:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age correction.

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Murdock/Bletscher: MASTERS 70-74 AGE GROUP & 105 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Ross/Murdock: MASTERS 65-69 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Dean Ross:  MASTERS 65-69 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 70#
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 70#
Swing – 2 Dumbbells: 100#

How to make your training more productive

by Al Myers

(Webmasters note:  This was a story I wrote for the Braemar Stone Tablet several years ago that applied to Highland Game training, but it contains ideas that can be applied to All-Round Weightlifting as well.  I had actually forgot that I had written this!)

Nothing inspires your training as much as good training partners. I was fortunate to have two of the best training partners around when I was training the Highland Games. This is the three of us when we competed together at the 2005 Inverness Highland Games in Scotland. Pictured left to right: Chad Ullom, Al Myers, and Scott Campbell

The throwing season is upon us again!  Time to dust off those hammer boots and put a new coat of paint on the throwing implements!  It always amazes me how fast the winter goes and all that off-season weight training that you have been doing to make you a better thrower never seems to be enough. It is now time to hit the throwing field and put in time with the throwing weights.  I want to share some of the things I have learned (mostly the hard way!) about how to make your training more productive.  These are the 5 most important things to focus on in making your training better.

1.  Set workout times - This is critical.  It is too easy to procrastinate if you don’t have a scheduled workout time.  Saying too yourself that I’ll workout a couple of days this week after work, if I’m not too tired, if it is not too hot or cold, if nothing good is on TV, won’t do it!  Even if time only permits one workout a week, plan for that day and then no matter what DO IT!!! Remember, the highland games are not a leisure activity!

2.  Keep a training log – How in the world are you going to be able to evaluate different training programs if you don’t have a good record of what you have done?  I know, there days that really suck and you wish not to remember them, but at least put something in a training log!  Maybe you are over-training?  Maybe you have a nagging injury that is keeping that one throw down? These are the things you want to avoid and by looking at what you have done leading up to it, it may be avoided in the future.  This is where a log helps!  I often look back at my log from previous years and evaluate training programs that worked for me and those that don’t .  Remember, it doesn’t really count if you don’t write it down!

3.  Set Goals - I know, everyone knows this.  You always hear guys saying I want to do this and I want to do that.  By next August, I’m going to throw that light hammer 150 feet!! Yeah right!!!  There are goals and then there are dreams!!!  To me, goals are something that you are actually taking steps in working towards, whereas dreams are those thing that you imagine doing while sitting on the couch eating Doritos. Goals need to be specific, and along with them the steps needed to accomplish them.  They need to be realistic, and they need to be short-term.  Long-term goals are okay, but will not give you the focus you need today!  Again, write these goals down, and develop a plan to achieve them.  Remember, real success is achieving what you set out to do!

4.  Get information - To be a better thrower, you need to continually learn.  Never tell yourself that you know it all.  Listen to the experts.  Look at tapes. Read everything you can get on the games.  Get feedback from other athletes.  Spend time watching other throwers and studying them.  Then after you do all of this, forget most of it!! What you ask?  Let me tell you something – there are no magic secrets, just good advice and bad advice.  It is up to YOU to tell the difference!!!  What works for one athlete won’t for another.  You have to find out those things that work for you.  And whatever you do, don’t change your throwing on game day because someone gave you a good tip right before you stepped up to the trig!  Take these “pointers” home and find out in training if they are good or bad.  I know that all throwers mean well and want to help out their fellow comrades, but this trick of giving someone a good “pointer” right before they throw is one of the oldest psych-out tricks in the book!!! Get information and study it at home and try to apply it to your training program.  Remember, it is not illegal to “steal” throwing information! 

5.  Have fun – This can sometimes be overlooked.   It is easy to put so much pressure on yourself that sometimes fun can be lost.  Enjoyment and having fun is one of the reasons that drew you to the games in the first place, but it is easy to drift away from this as you get more dedicated and focused.  I know, it has happened to me in the past.  Sometimes you have to step back, and ask yourself, what do I need to do to enjoy this more?  Maybe you need a different training environment for awhile.  Go to the park until they kick you out.  Maybe try a new training program.  Do a little traveling on the weekends and find other athletes to train with.  Training with other athletes will help with training enthusiasm greatly!!  In the past, I have done a lot of training by myself, and I can tell you, it is a lot more fun to have other athletes that can share in the throwing agony with you!!  Having fun, and enjoying the sport for what it is will go a long way in making those training sessions better.  Remember, you can’t set a personal record in every training session, but you can have fun trying.

I know I didn’t address any specifics, but these general points are the ones to focus on first in making your training more productive.  You may notice that I didn’t mention anything about having good implements.  Good implements are nice to have and may improve your self-esteem, but believe it or not they are not critical in improving as a thrower.  I know a lot of throwers that have homemade weights and made a lot of progress with them.  Don’t use this as an excuse that you don’t have the weights to train with or the weights you have aren’t Dodd weights.  Improvise, get something and start training!  I hope that these ideas will help a little in making your throwing season this year the best ever.  Consider yourself lucky to be involved.

CREDIT:   the Braemar Stone Tablet, Volume #3, Issue #1

Welcome to the Century Club Chad and Rudy!

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom "in action" at the Ledaig Record Breakers last weekend. Chad is the only lifter in the Century Club that has done ALL of his USAWA records in the Senior Division.

I predicted this would happen this summer as Chad Ullom and Rudy Bletscher have been “knocking on the door” of joining the Century Club.  The Century Club is a club that recognizes the elite group of USAWA  lifters that CURRENTLY hold over 100 USAWA Records.  However, it didn’t happen exactly as I thought it would.  I predicted it would take place last weekend at Dave’s Ledaig Record Breaker.  This was the case for Chad but not for Rudy.  Rudy was not able to attend.   At the time, I thought it would take another day for him to make this milestone accomplishment (and a little more effort after watching Rudy’s nemesis Mike Murdock take down a couple of Rudy’s records at the Ledaig Record Breaker), but I forgot at the time that at the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the USAWA in June it was voted and passed by the membership to retroactively implement the records set at the 2011 Dino Gym Old-Time Strongman Challenge since the lifts in that competition were approved as new USAWA lifts at the meeting.  So Rudy is IN on his prior performances!  Chad knocked down several new records at the Ledaig Record Breakers putting him in as well.  We celebrated this accomplishment after he broke the USAWA Record in the Snatch on the Knees with a lift of 135 pounds. Coincidentally, both these lifters now stand at 107  USAWA records, which put them at a tie at the number 19 spot out of 21 lifters in the club.  Chad is the only lifter on the list that has done ALL of his records competing in the Senior Division (which makes him only eligible for OVERALL RECORDS).  This makes his accomplishment all that more impressive.  If you are in the Junior Division or Masters Division you have the opportunity to “double dip” on records, which means you may set or break an age group record and an overall record with the same lift.  This helps tremendously with “padding” your record count number.  I counted back through the USAWA Record list and Chad’s sits NUMBER TWO in OVERALL RECORDS (not age group records)  with his 107 (and all I will say about the guy at number 1 is that he has 141 overall records, and Chad knows him quite well as he is his training partner! ). 

There are several other lifters close to joining the Century Club that I’m keeping an eye on.  But just because you get in the club doesn’t mean that you can “sit back” and revel in your accomplishment, and spend too much time “patting yourself on the back”, because if others break enough of your records you can fall out of it.  This has happened (and it bothers me to see it) to a couple of legendary lifters in the USAWA recently, so you must keep up your involvement in the USAWA to “maintain your spot” in the Century Club.  Congratulations to Rudy and Chad – I’m very proud of both of you two, and you deserve this recognition.

Chad Ullom: Athlete of the Year

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom was awarded the 2010 USAWA Athlete of the Year at the awards banquet. (left to right): Chad Ullom, Al Myers, & Thom Van Vleck

After our banquet following the National Meet, we had the Awards Ceremony.  Included in this ceremony was the presentation of the Special Awards that were given on behalf of the USAWA to individuals that have shown excellence within the USAWA during this past year.  The recipients of these Special Awards were chosen and voted on by the USAWA membership.   I feel that makes receiving one of these awards all that more special, because you know that your peers in the organization were the ones who chose you.   The “highest award” that the USAWA recognizes is the Athlete of the Year, which is our version of a MVP award.  This year it went to a very deserving lifter – Chad Ullom.   Chad has had an outstanding year of competitions within the USAWA.   He placed second overall at last years National Championship, and then went on to win OVERALL BEST LIFTER at the IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland last fall.  All together, Chad competed in 14 USAWA events during the year 2010.  (YES – that’s 14 events and not a typo!).   There are not very many lifters that compete in that many events over a 5 year period – but Chad did it all in ONE YEAR!  I want to give you a quick run-down of his successes in 2010, and after I do this NO ONE would question why he is our ATHLETE OF THE YEAR.  He started the year off by winning the Dino Gym Challenge  which was the first USAWA event of the year (so he also has the distinction of winning the first meet of the year as well).  After competing in the Grip Challenge and the Dino Gym Record Day, he joined the Dino Gym Team at the Club Challenge in Ambridge and helped out the team to victory.  After this, he competed in a couple of postals (Goddard Postal & Eastern Open) and then onto his second place overall finish at the 2010 National Championships.  After that, he competed in the Ledaig Record Day before competing in Team Nationals, where he was part of the winning overall team.  After his crowning win at the World Championships, he competed in the World Postal Meet as a team member of the Dino Gym (which won the overall team title).  He finished the year off by competing in the JWC Record Breakers (where he set 18 USAWA Records) and then off to the Gold Cup in Boston, and finishing with competing in the National Postal Meet.   Now that’s a resume!! 

Congratulations Chad – you have had a year of successful competitions that would be hard for anyone to follow!

Chad’s 900 Pound Neck Lift

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom set the ALL-TIME World Record in the Neck Lift with a lift of 900 pounds at the 2011 Heavy Lift Championships. Take notice that you can see light under both ends of the weights in this picture.

Last weekend at the Heavy Lift Nationals in York, PA, Chad Ullom did what I would classify as one of the most outstanding feats of strength I have ever seen in the USAWA.  Chad set the ALL-TIME WORLD RECORD in the Neck Lift with an unbelievable lift of 900 pounds.  The previous World Record was held by Joe Ciavattone set at the 2005 Heavy Lift Nationals.  In March, Chad showed everyone that he had the potential to break this record as he took an extra attempt and made a 750 pound lift with ease at the USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge.  What made this record even more spectacular was that he broke the prevous World Record THREE TIMES in the competition.  His second attempt was 810, followed by a third attempt at 850, and ending with his historic 900 pound lift.  Often with heavy lifts, there is always speculation about the authenticity of the lift due to the nature of these type of lifts. Heavy lifts only need to clear the platform to be legal and if someone doesn’t have the right angle to view this, often people will feel like the lift didn’t clear adequately.  However, Chad’s lift was lifted so high there was no doubt among anyone in attendance.  The judging crew did an outstanding job in officiating this lift.  They didn’t get “caught up in the excitement” and they made sure Chad had to hold it at lockout the same as all other lifts of the meet.

What made this record even more special was the the largest crowd of spectators we had were present to watch it happen.  I was trying to “fire up the crowd” about what they were about to see, and I could tell many were in disbelief when it happened!  I knew before this meet that Chad had the potential to make this happen.  We trained together on the Neck Lift a couple of weeks prior and he made an easy 800 pound lift in training.  We actually considered having him open at the record, as he did this training lift as easy as an opener.  But after thinking about it for awhile, we decided a 700 pound opener would set him up better.  If you pick your attempts correctly, the first attempt shouldn’t matter anyways. 

After the record lift, Chad was "all smiles" as he posed with the record loaded heavy bar.

It is always a big thing to be the first person to break a barrier – and I consider this a major barrier.   Let me give you a little history on the Neck Lift.  Steve Schmidt was the first man to break the 400 pound and 500 pound barrier in the Neck Lift.  An English lifter, Adrian Blindt, was the first person to Neck Lift over 600 pounds.  Frank Ciavattone was the first American to Neck Lift over 600 pounds, with his lift of 603 pounds at the 1990 Strongest Man in New England.  Joe Ciavattone was the first man to Neck Lift over 700 pounds and 800 pounds.  And now Chad becomes the first man to Neck Lift over 900 pounds!!!  It makes you wonder who will be the first one to go over half a ton – or 1000 pounds! 

I have always considered 600 pounds as the “mark to hit” if you want to be in the elite club of Neck Lifters.  To date, there have been only 10 individuals who have done this or more in USAWA competition. 

USAWA Members in the “600 Club” for Neck Lifts over 600 pounds

LIFTER WEIGHT LIFTED MEET
Chad Ullom 900 2011 Heavy Lift Championships
Joe Ciavattone 804 2005 Heavy Lift Championships
Frank Ciavattone 750 2002 Heavy Lift Championships
Al Myers 750 2011 Club Challenge
Mike McBride 630 2005 National Championships
Jeff Ciavattone 625 2002 Heavy Lift Championships
Joe Garcia 623 1998 National Championships
Dale Friesz 605 1995 Goerner Deadlift
Nils Larson 603 2004 Heavy Lift Championships
John Monk 600 2000 Heavy Lift Championships

Congratulations to Chad on this amazing new record!

Two Ounces of Prevention

by Thom Van Vleck

As we are all aware, Big Al has created a contest where we are supposed to write a story on a training “secret” we have that would benefit others.  This was a difficult thing for me to do as I don’t keep secrets.  I share everything I have with anyone willing to listen.  I’ve always been that way.  So I really don’t have any secrets…..but I looked at what I do and came up with something I do almost every workout.  It’s something I think has allowed me to compete at a high level as I head into my 47th year and 34th as a weightlifter.

Al & Chad executing a very complicated two man stretch of the spine. Now really, do you have the time for this or for that matter would you be caught dead in such a compromising position???

A healthy back is essential to weight training.  If you lift weights and have never hurt your back, you are either a very good liar, you’ve never pushed yourself, or you just started yesterday.  Back injuries are a part of the sport.  Especially if you are a master lifter over 40, and most USAWA lifters are over 40…..some WELL over 40!  If you’ve had a back injury, you’ve probably tried to rehab it in different ways.  Some of these with drugs like anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or pain medication.  You may have seen a doctor, a chiropractor,  a massage therapist, or maybe an Osteopath.  You’ve probably been given stretching exercises, yoga exercises, or whatever the latest fad is.  You may have went so far to invest in some equipment, such as a stability ball, rubber bands, or went really expensive with a reverse hyper, or an inversion table!  You also may have found some really complicated and difficult ways to do what all these things try and do…..decompress your spine.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've had a little fun at Al & Chad's expense. These are great exercises, but their problem is the practicality of doing them every workout.

I’m going to share two very simple and basic stretches that require very little investment of time or money.  They can be very helpful in rehabbing a bad or injured back, but I would encourage you to do these EVERY TIME YOU WORK OUT to help keep your back healthy and prevent injuries!

First, there’s the good ol’ bar hang.  Sure, we’ve all heard of it and probably done it.  You hang from a chin up bar.  I know what your are thinking.  ”Geez, Thom, I thought you were going to give us some great secret!  Well, I am.  Sometimes the best things are the simplest things and they are the things we tend to ignore.  Like squats, which is a really great exercise, and yet there’s been a hundred ways developed to avoid squatting each one more complicated than the last!  Now, here is a real secret.  When you hang from the bar, put your heels on something about a foot or two in front of you.  Why?  Because you want to tilt your hips forward.  This will straighten out the lower spine.  Otherwise, if you just hang there the weight of your legs will pull you hips back and bend your spin inward in your lower back.  As a result, the weight of your legs will bend your spine and true decompression does not occur!  You also need to relax everything except your grip (and another thing, this can be a tremendous grip exercise, an added benefit).  If you can’t hang for at least a minute, then use straps until your grip gets to where you can.  Total investment:  A chin up bar.

Now, the only problem with the bar hang is it only decompresses the lower half of your spine.  While this is where most injuries occur, it is only half the picture.   Plus, most guys don’t think much about this, but your spine is more than your back, it’s you neck as well!  Many weight lifters will injure their neck and it’s also an area that gets a lot more abuse than you realize.  Why, because it holds up your fat head!  Seriously, the head is always FORWARD on the neck so any time you are not lying down with your neck supported it is being leveraged with pressure from that bowling ball that’s sitting on top if it!  Also, many of us will injure our neck at some point lifting, playing sports, or doing something stupid (most guys that train tend to be risk takers….admit it, you’ve done something stupid with your body).   And as for the upper back, it gets injured much more rarely than the lower, as a result, how often do we decompress our upper back and neck?

So, this leads me to the second “secret” exercise.  Like I said before, if you got loads of cash, you can spend it on a personal massuese and an inversion table….but if you don’t this will work just as well.  Maybe better because it is so easy you will do it more often!

Neck and upper back stretch....and yes, I used a photo of a pretty girl to "sell" this and influence the vote! Really, would you want to see me doing this or her! Vote for my article!

The second exercise involves sitting in a chair and letting your head and shoulders fall between you knees.  There’s an added benefit that if you get good at this exercise you can also use it to kiss your rear goodbye when you do some of the aforementioned “stupid” stuff.  But seriously, you sit in a chair and let your arms fall between you legs while sitting right on the edge of the chair.  I was taught to let my arms fall relaxed and then let my head fall forward relaxing it as much as possible.  If you do this enough you can fell you vertebrae relax.  I now fell a “pop-pop-pop” in my upper back when I do this.  Again, you want to stay in this position for about a minute.  I also do the added exercise of  doing some head rolls once I sit back up, this will seem to always pop my neck a couple times.  Total investment:  a chair.

So, there you have it.  Two exercises, two minutes, cheap, easy and I would argue for the amount of time and money invested you will do your spine more good than any of that other stuff.  Call this, 2 ounces of prevention!

My Thoughts on the Gold Cup

by Al Myers

Gold Cup Meet Director Frank Ciavattone (left) and IAWA President Steve Gardner (right) directed the Awards Banquet after the meet.

I am a little embarrassed to admit this – but the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup in Walpole, Massachusetts was the FIRST Gold Cup that I have attended.  Truthfully, in the past I just couldn’t understand why someone would go to a meet where ONLY one (or two if time permitted) lifts for records were allowed.  It just didn’t seem to make sense to me – especially since I could go to a local record day or a meet and set SEVERAL RECORDS.  So I always passed on attending “the cup”.  But now since I have been to one, I now understand the significance of this meet and have a completely different feeling about it.  The Gold Cup is one of only two IAWA Events (the World Championships being the other) that is contested each year.  It signifies the excellence of our lifts and recognizes those that are representative of our organization on an International level.  By attending, it shows that you are one of the elite lifters of the organization.  The Gold Cup was initially organized by Howard Prechtel several years ago with the concept that this meet would allow lifters who were World Champions to come to perform their BEST lifts for records, and in the process have a RECORD DAY that was the BEST of the BEST, and thus give our organization more exposure by demonstrating the tremendous abilities of the lifters within our organization.

Joe Ciavattone Jr., at 17 years of age, deadlifting 227.5 kilograms for a World IAWA Record.

What all can I say about the efforts of Frank Ciavattone for organizing this great event???  Frank has been a National and World Meet promoter for many years, and his experience of putting on a TOP QUALITY EVENT was evident.  Frank had an excellent venue for us to compete in.  It was held at the Italian American Club in Walpole (which is just outside of Boston).   Lots of room for lifting and viewing, a great platform to lift on, and plenty of weights.  Our IAWA President Steve Gardner handled the scoretable and announcing and kept things flowing very well. Judy Habecker assisted with the scoring and does more “behind the scenes” than anyone else in the USAWA.  Thank you Judy from all of us!!!  Eighteen lifters competed and set many new IAWA World Records.  I really enjoyed seeing the variety in lifts performed – from deadlifts to presses, to unique lifts like the Clean and Press on Knees.  Some of the lifters were “seasoned” competitors like Art Montini and Denny Habecker, while others were still teenagers, like Joe Ciavattone Jr, Jonathon Ciavattone,  Frankie Ciavattone, and Kohl Hess.  The age of the lifters varied between 16 and 83 years of age.

Dennis Mitchell, at age 78, performed 600 repetitions on the Roman Chair Situp!!

What were the highlights of the meet?  That is a hard question to answer because it seemed every Gold Cup Record was a highlight.   Things that really impressed me where:  seeing Frank do 160 kg in his signature lift – the one armed deadlift, watching the wily Dennis Mitchell performing 600 reps in the Roman Chair Situp at the age of 78, and seeing Art perform a stiff-legged deadlift of 100 kg with ease. Most guys his age couldn’t bend over to pick up 50 pounds and he does over 200 pounds with straight legs!!  Of course, I really enjoyed watching Joe Ciavattone Jr. deadlifting over 500 pounds for the first time!  I very clearly remember when I did that for the first time as a teenager.  That had to be one of the best lifts of the day.  My father LaVerne attended the meet with me and I talked him into lifting.  He did a 187# one handed Ciavattone Deadlift.  At the awards banquet when he was presented his trophy he remarked to the group that it was the first trophy he had won in a weightlifting meet!  And speaking of trophies, Frank went way beyond expectations with the trophies he gave out.   He awarded EVERYONE a large Gold Cup in appreciation of their performances.  Just another little thing that SHOWS why the Gold Cup means just a little bit more than another ordinary record day!  Chad and I were the only ones to do a two man lift for IAWA record.  We decided to do a 2-man deadlift, after first wanting to do a 2-man one arm deadlift (but it is not an IAWA lift).  After doing 1000# in the 2-man deadlift, we were allowed to do our 2-man one arm deadlift for exhibition and USAWA Record.  I wanted to do this lift for Frank – and thankfully (because I didn’t want to let Frank down) – we got our 800 pounds.  Another great performance of the day was John McKean’s one arm dumbbell deadlift of 266# (I know his inspiration was that DINO GYM SWEATSHIRT he was wearing!).  This broke a record he set over 10 ago – which shows he is getting better with age.  I really enjoyed getting to FINALLY meet Joe Ciavattone.   We always seem to “just miss” each other by attending different meets, and he is the great lifter and person I expected him to be.  His passion for lifting shows when he is busy coaching his boys.

Al Myers and Chad Ullom performed a 2-Man Deadlift of 1000 pounds, and a 2-Man One-Armed Deadlift of 800 pounds.

Afterwards, Frank hosted the banquet at his house.  That is the type of generous person Frank is – opening up his house to his lifting friends.  The food was fabulous!!  Frank’s Mom and his sister Cara prepared an Italian Feast that had everyone “licking their chops”!  I know I ate my share.  After the awards were given out, I conducted the ceremony in which Scott Schmidt was officially inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame.  Scott gave a very thankful response in appreciation.  I will have more on that in a future USAWA Daily News story. Another special moment for me was when Frank presented me with a special award thanking me for my work and efforts in the USAWA.  It meant more to me than the big Gold Cup I received for lifting.

NOW I know what the IAWA Gold Cup is all about, and it is more than just going to a meet to set a record.  It is about being part of an elite competition promoted by the  International All-Round Weightlifting Association.

COMING SOON – VIDEOS FROM THE GOLD CUP

The 10 Worst Lifts in the USAWA

by Al Myers

Ok, I’m getting tired of Thom getting all the recognition for his  “human interest” stories involving his weightlifting life experiences, while the deep  thought-provoking technical stories I write (which require actual research)  get ignored (I actually wonder if anyone EVEN read my last one on the fairness of the Lynch Formula).   It’s time I step up my game – and put a little controversy in what I write!!   The truth is that I really don’t like to OFFEND anyone, and thus my avoidance of any story that may seem offensive.  On the other hand, Thom doesn’t care if he gets hate mail!  He even reads it with a smile on his face. That is what makes him a much better columnist than myself – but TIMES ARE A CHANGING and I’m going to try to “stir the pot” a little with this story.  Here it goes – and I hope AT LEAST one person gets offended and makes a derogatory comment about this story on the USAWA Discussion Forum (and that’s NOT counting YOU Thom).

The Ziegler Clean even makes "The Champ" Chad Ullom look like a clown, despite the fact that he has lifted the most weight ever in this lift. But who really cares about that? All you see is that silly little plate balancing on the top of his head.

1.  French Press – Definitely the WORST  lift in our list of lifts.  That is why I’m listing it first.  Whoever wrote the original rule for this lift must have been a cynic.  Why else would the rules of this lift be written in such a way that it is impossible to perform and COMPLETELY different than how it is performed in the gym by EVERYONE else that trains it?  Judging this lift is even worse.  Did the bar touch the neck? Did the elbows drop?  The answers are always NO and YES. I have YET to see this lift performed the way our rules call for it to be done.  Any lift that has rules so subjective  that it would require instant replay in slow motion  to make an official  judgement needs to be RE-WRITTEN.

2. Press – Dumbbell, One Arm – This lift was just in the World Championships and after what I saw there  it now makes my list of Ten Worse.  The IAWA rules require the center of the rod of the dumbbell be no higher than the clavicle.  Obvious the person who decided on this rule knew NOTHING about human anatomy.  Do most lifters know where the clavicle is?  From watching the judging,  it was obvious the judges don’t.  I have a copy of Gray’s Anatomy, I’ll send you a picture. It is MUCH lower than the top of the shoulder. Practically no one  started the dumbbell this low (myself included!). Also, what’s up with all  the side pressing when doing a dumbbell press?  That’s not supposed to be allowed – we got ANOTHER LIFT for that one!  The bottom line – this lift is performed and officiated differently than how the rules are written so SOMETHING should change to “keep it real”!

3.  Deadlift – Stiff-legged - Another impossible lift to judge.   Judging is ALWAYS very subjective and lifters will bend their legs and get the lift passed.  And I can’t figure out WHY sumo deadlifting is allowed in the rules – it seems to defeat the purpose of a stiff legged deadlift.

4.  Ziegler Clean – Come on, this lift is just ridiculous.  Balancing a plate on your head while you do a clean?  When I first heard of this lift I thought the person telling me about it must be joking.  No one would really want to train for THAT!?!  Lifts like this make a mockery of All-Round Weightlifting, and you got to know people probably LAUGH at us when we report on the Zeigler Clean.

5.  Van Dam Lift – This lift got approved for one reason – us “selling out” for publicity that we never got. Did we really think Rob Van Dam and his professional  wrasslin’ buddies were going to start lifting in our All-Round Meets?   We should be ashamed of ourselves for approving this lift.

6.   Inman Mile – Carry 150% of your bodyweight in the form of a bar across your shoulders for 1 mile??  Give me a break – even the person it was named after couldn’t do THAT!!   This is just another “official lift” that makes us look like a goofy weightlifting organization.

7.  Lano Lift – I respect the fact that lifts are named after someone deserving.  I have met Jack, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he proposed this lift as a joke  just to see if the membership was gullible enough to approve it.  How many different movements are in the Lano Lift?    I can’t keep track of them!  Who would REALLY want to do this?  It is the lift with the longest written rule in the USAWA Rulebook.  Even Jack has never  set a record in this lift that carries his name.  That should tell you something.

8.   Phumchaona Lift – Another screwball lift named after a famous USAWA lifter.  This lift requires you to clean and press a pair of dumbbells WHILE doing a Hip Lift!!  Like THAT is going to be better than your max Hip Lift.  If I was going to do this lift, I would use a pair of 1/2 pound dumbbells and after doing my MAX Hip Lift just raise up my arms.  This “official lift” is so stupid NO ONE  has EVER done it.  That’s right – NO ONE!!

9.  Carter Lift – The only thing more ridiculous than clean and pressing a pair of dumbbells while doing a Hip Lift is SQUATTING a bar while Hip Lifting.  But I’ll give John credit – the picture of himself  performing this lift in our Rulebook  does look IMPRESSIVE, and at LEAST he had the courage to perform his lift in public.

10.  Weaver Stick – Absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to judge fairly.  The arm is NEVER straight, and it only takes a tiny little bend to add a few pounds to this lift.  The records in this lift really are meaningless.   Now STRAP your arm to a fixed pole and THEN see what you can do in the Weaver Stick.  That’s the way it should be done.

**** The above controversial comments are mine alone,  and may not reflect the opinions of the USAWA membership.  Please direct your hate mail to me and not to Thom Van Vleck****

2012 IAWA Worlds to be held in Kansas City

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom and Al Myers will be the Meet Promoters for the 2012 IAWA All-Round Weightlifting World Championships.

Another thing that arose from the 2010 IAWA World Council Meeting was that Chad Ullom and myself submitted a bid to host the 2012 IAWA World Championships – and it was ACCEPTED!!   Chad and I will be co-promoters (meaning that we will SHARE in the expenses!).  We plan to have the Championships the first weekend of October,  which is the traditional date for it.  It will be held in Kansas City, which has a major airport to allow for lifters to fly into the meet without much additional travel.   We have not selected a venue yet.  We are excited about this opportunity and plan to host it in a “FIRST RATE STYLE”.   This location (Kansas City)  is the “center point” of All-Round weightlifting in the United States, and hopefully, will stimulate a big interest in attendance. This is the first time the IAWA World Championships will be held in Kansas.   The entry forms will not be available until after next year’s Championships, but I wanted to announce the date now so everyone will have plenty of time to get this date on their schedule.

USAWA in Print: Book Review

by Thom Van Vleck

Steve Scott and John Saylor's latest book promotes USAWA members and USAWA lifts.

I recently got an issue of Steve Scott’s latest book.  He wrote it with John Saylor, a well respected martial arts instructor and Champion.  Steve sent me an autographed copy because of what was inside.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  First, let me tell you about Steve.

Steve is one of my best friends and someone I admire greatly.  When I first met Steve he was a top master’s thrower in Scottish Highland Games and was running Highland Games in KC.  Because of Steve, I became friends with Al Myers and Chad Ullom and was introduced to the sport that I’ve enjoyed my greatest athletic success.  For that, I’m very grateful.  Steve’s wife, Becky, also was a top thrower and always at his side in any project he took on.  I then found out that Highland Games were just the tip of the iceberg as far as Steve & Becky were concerned.

Steve was, and still is, a top Judo coach.  He has a widely respected club in Kansas City called the Welcome Mat that has been in operation since 1969.  It has produced National, Pan American,  and World Champs as well as some of the elite men and women in our fighting forces and a Secret Service Agent that was on George W. Bush’s personal detail.  Becky was a National, Pan Am, and World Champ and Steve once told me that Becky could have been an Olympic Champion but back then women did not compete in Judo in the Olympics!

Over the years, Steve has written over a dozen books on martial arts, training, coaching and this one is his best to date in my opinion.  It has a very broad appeal.  My Uncle, Phil Jackson, who is, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable person I ever met in regards to weight training, once told me that the hardest sport all the way around was boxing.  It was mentally, physically, and emotionally draining.  I would say the same applies to all combat sports.  You have to be tough and that comes from how you train.  Steve, with John Saylor, has (in my opinion) created the ultimate resource on Combat training.

This book is HUGE and full of all types of training.   There are over 300 pages of illustrated exercises.  There are detailed explanations of not only how to do the lift, but how to properly train and utilized the lift to fix a weakness. There are workout routines and tons of advice.   I would say that if you wanted to do some off season conditioning for USAWA lifting or Highland Games, this book would be a valuable resource.

Now, I’ll tell you why mine was autographed.  Inside were pictures of me, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom demonstrating some lifts.  Appropriately, it was in the “OLD SCHOOL” training section.  Steve  talks about training wisdom that came from Bill Clark,  and his book even contains an exercise that is a variation of the “Inman Mile”!  I knew Steve had requested the photos, but I had no idea what a first class product he was producing.

Taking Care of Your Back – Part 2

Part 2 – Be Sure To Limber Up

by Al Myers

I initially was going to title this part Stretching.  But that didn’t define it the way I wanted it to.  Stretching to me means doing movements  like touching your toes or light calisthenics.  I next thought I would title this part Flexibility, as that could result from many things, including stretching.  This still didn’t fit the message I wanted to convey. I finally (with much deep thought!) decided  to use the expression  “Be Sure to Limber Up”, because that fits exactly what the first part of my Thursday workouts are all about.

Al Myers suspended by bands to stretch out and limber up the back and hips.

As for my opinion on stretching, I believe a little is necessary but to much is harmful in developing maximum strength.  I know this is a BOLD statement, and there are probably many lifters who would disagree with me on this. Bill Clark once told a training partner of mine Mark Mitchell, when Mark trained at Clark’s Gym several years ago, that stretching the muscles in excess is like repeatedly stretching a rubber band – eventually it will SNAP.  I couldn’t agree more.  I have always been prone to hamstring pulls, and through the early years of my training  I did about everything to safeguard against this injury, including aggressive hamstring stretching.  Sure I got more flexible – but it didn’t solve my  problem of enduring hamstring injuries.  Being able to place your hands flat on the floor with the legs straight is beyond what is needed to be a competitive lifter (unless you are in training for the Mansfield Lift!).  Excessive flexibility, beyond what is required in doing a specific lift,  doesn’t help in being strong in that lift. In fact,  having just enough flexibility to “remain tight” in the bottom portion of a lift will enhance your strength in a lift. Think about the squat – do you WANT to be tight and ready to recoil when you break the legal depth?  I sure do.  This reminds me of a story my brother-in-law Bob Burtzloff once told me that re-enforces my opinion on this.  Many years ago Bob experimented with training the Bench Press using a cambered bench press bar (also known as a McDonald Bar). It allows the lifter to increase the range of motion on the bench press, with the hands going lower than the chest when the cambered portion of the bar touches the chest. Bob first thought training through this INCREASED range of motion would increase his Bench Press.  It did the opposite and made his Bench Press go down.  When he went back to a regular bar he didn’t feel the tightness in his chest and shoulder muscles when at the bottom position.

However, stretching is still part of my Thursday workout. I think you need a balance in flexibility to optimize your lifting abilities.  On the other hand, I have seen lifters who were so in-flexible that they couldn’t even properly perform some of the All-Round Lifts that require flexibility.  In these cases, spending a little time stretching would help their performance.

Chad Ullom performing a stretch with the Jump Stretch Bands that Dick Hartzell called "the rack". Chad is completely suspended off the floor and his back is being "stretched" by band tension.

For me, two days after a heavy back workout is when my legs and back are the most sore.  I start off this workout with some cardio, which usually includes  time on my recumbent exercise bike.  This “loosens up”  those bound-up leg muscles and hips, along with giving me some needed cardiovascular fitness.  After getting a good sweat going, I’ll proceed to wind down with some stretching.  Nothing fancy here – just 20 minutes of whatever stretches I feel like doing at the time. Next I’ll proceed to the “bread and butter” exercise that limbers up my back – Suspended Band Stretching.  I learned this “secret exercise” several years ago at the 2003 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. This meet was hosted at the Jump Stretch training facility, the birthplace of the Jump Stretch Bands.  Known as “the rubberband man”, Dick Hartzell showed several of us after the meet a very unique use of the Jump Stretch bands that I had never seen before.  It involved using the bands to decompress the vertebrae of the back by using band tension. Once I got home I immediately purchased a pair of the Big Black Monster Bands from Jump Stretch so I could replicate this movement  in my gym.  I wouldn’t really call it stretching.  But I’ll tell you, 15 minutes of hanging by the hips with these bands attached your back will be fully “limbered up”.  Any pain from tight muscles in your back will be gone.

More of this workout and the story “Taking Care of Your Back” tomorrow with – Part 3, Have Strong Abs

New Lift – the Turkish Get-Up

The starting position for the Turkish Get-Up.

by Al Myers

This is the only new USAWA lift approved at Nationals that I haven’t highlighted yet with a story.   It is a very unique lift in many ways.   The Turkish Get-Up  is NOT really a new lift as it was a favorite with old-time strongmen, and has been around forever.  It at times was called the “One Arm Get-Up”, and often trained by lifters that also specialized in wrestling, gymnastics or hand-balancing. Guys like Sig Klein loved it.  I first heard of the Turkish Get-Up several years ago when I read Brooks Kubik’s book Dinosaur Training.  In it he described the benefits of this exercise – how it strengthens the stabilizer muscles, improves flexibility, and  increases core strength.  The book mentions the old-time strongman Otto Arco and how he could do a Turkish Get-Up with MORE than his own bodyweight.  That is impressive!

During the rise from the platform, the lifting arm must remain straight.

We have two similar USAWA lifts to the Turkish Get Up – the Half Gardner and Full Gardner.  However, the Turkish Get-Up is a different lift in a couple of ways.  The TGU starts on the floor – the Gardner lifts start standing.  The TGU requires the use of a dumbbell or kettlebell – the Gardner lifts require use of a bar.  It is the “missing link” to the Gardner Lifts. I have mentioned this before but I am going to repeat it again.  This formula “sums” up these three lifts:

Full Gardner = Half Gardner + Turkish Get-Up

Last weekend at the Ledaig Record Day, several of us got to be the first ones to put a Turkish Get-Up record in the USAWA Record List.  This included  Dave Glasgow, Amber Glasgow, Chad Ullom and myself.  The TGU is a very popular exercise for trainees outside of the All-Round crowd.  Just “goggle” Turkish Get-Up and you will see what I am talking about.  The Cross-Fit trainees love this exercise!  But now since the TGU is an official lift of the USAWA, we are the ONLY weightlifting organization that maintains records for it.

Chad Ullom demonstrating the steps of a Turkish Get-Up with a 70 pound kettlebell at the Ledaig Record Day.

The Rules for the Turkish Get-Up

A dumbbell or kettlebell is used for this lift. The lift begins with the lifter lying on his/her back on the platform holding the implement in one hand above the body with a straight arm perpendicular to the platform. Once in this position, an official will give the command to start the lift. The lifter must rise to a standing position, holding the implement overhead with a straight arm throughout. The lifting arm must stay perpendicular to the lifting platform. The lifter may use the free hand to brace against the body or the platform during the execution of the lift, but must not touch the implement or the lifting arm. The implement may rotate in any direction. Once standing with the implement overhead, the implement motionless and the lifter’s feet in line with the body, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The Turkish Get-Up will be included in the updated USAWA Rulebook coming the first of August!

USAWA Award Winners for 2009

by Al Myers

Courage Award Winners Frank Ciavattone (left) and Dale Friesz (right).

One of the exciting things that has been developed in the USAWA this past year is the development of the USAWA Awards Program.  Included in the new USAWA bylaws is the creation of an Award Director for the USAWA, which is important to insure that the Awards Program will continue in the future. I was nominated for this position and upon receiving the membership’s blessing by an unanimous vote, I was appointed the Awards Director.  I feel giving “special awards” on behalf of the USAWA is VERY IMPORTANT and I will do my best to make sure this continues as long as I am in this position.  When someone shows that they are “going beyond what is expected” in the organization – it is only right that the USAWA gives them the credit they deserve.  I also want to make sure that these “special awards”  will continue to be selected by the membership, instead of by me or the Executive Board.  This makes them mean even more to the deserving award recipients – knowing that they were selected for these honorable awards by their peers.  These awards will be given out at the Annual National Meeting, which is always in conjunction with the National Championships. The 2009 Award winners are as follows:

Athlete of the Year Award Winners Chad Ullom (left) and Al Myers (right).

Athlete of the Year – Al Myers

Athlete of the Year Runner Up – Chad Ullom

Leadership Award – Bill Clark

Leadership Award Runner Up – Al Myers

Sportsmanship Award – Denny Habecker

Sportsmanship Award Runner Up – Art Montini

Courage Award – Dale Friesz

Courage Award Runner Up – Frank Ciavattone

Newcomer Award – David Glasgow

Newcomer Award Runner Up – Kohl Hess

Club of the Year – Dino Gym

Club of the Year Runner Up – Ambridge VFW BBC

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2009 SPECIAL AWARD WINNERS!! The USAWA is very proud of you and your accomplishments.

Team Nationals

Meet Announcement -

the 2010 USAWA Team Nationals

by Al Myers

Defending 2009 USAWA Team Champs Al Myers and Chad Ullom.

I  will be hosting the 2010 USAWA Team Nationals again this year on Sunday, September 19th.   This will be the fourth year the USAWA has had Team Nationals.  I am hoping for more participation this year – and I have picked a selection of lifts that should be accommodating to everyone.

This year’s lifts are:

Maxey Press

Bench Press – Hands Together

Rectangular Fix

Trap Bar Deadlift

Different divisions will be contested – the 2-Man, 2-Woman, and the 2-Person.  The 2-Person division consists of a man and woman team.  USAWA scoring will be used as required by our rules for all National Competitions. A record day for Team Lifts ONLY will held after the meet.

This coming  fall of 2010  marks the 5 year date that the Dino Gym lost a great friend and training partner in Bob Maxey.  There is not a training session that Bob is not remembered by all of us. His weightlifting belt still resides untouched on the mantle, and its presence still gives us motivation to train, much like Bob did when he was  in the gym pushing us to lift harder with his boisterous words of encouragement.   So, in remembrance of Bob, I have included the USAWA lift named after him – the Maxey Press. The Maxey Press is a strict press out of the rack with a Fulton Bar.  This was one of Bob’s favorite lifts.  This will be the first time it will be held in a competition as a Team lift.

Another unique lift that will be contested will be the Team Trap Bar Deadlift.  I just recently built a specialty bar for this purpose.  As far as I know, the Team Trap Bar Deadlift has NEVER been contested before so any records set will be the first ever.  I know everyone will enjoy this lift.

The Team Nationals will be held in conjunction with our gym’s annual Dino Days Weekend.  On Saturday, we will be hosting a Highlander Games, sanctioned by NAHA.  After the games on Saturday, we will be having a big backyard BBQ that evening. So, this is just another reason to put this date on your calendar!

Entry Form for Team Nationals – TeamNationals2010

How I do the Arthur Lift

Chad Ullom and his 258# Arthur Lift at the 2010 Arthur Saxon Pentathlon

By Chad Ullom

The Arthur lift starts off with a hack lift. I usually try and pop the weight up over my hips and drop under it and catch it ideally right on my belt. At this point, I bend over and work it into a good position where I know it won’t fall off. At this point, I reposition my hands to an underneath position and move them out to the collars. I try and pop the weight up my back, so I push up with my hips and pull the bar up toward my shoulders. It usually takes about 4 times to get it up high enough that I can get it onto my shoulders and ready for the jerk. Take your time and make sure the bar is centered and get your hands placed where you want them. I make sure that I’m ready for the jerk, drive hard up with my legs and hips and push through to lock out it out.

…And a Good Time Was Had By All

by Thom Van Vleck

Chad Ullom, Tedd & Thom Van Vleck, & Al Myers have a good time after a meet

I grew up in Schuyler County, Population about 3500. We had a weekly newspaper (long since gone) that often was filled with social items. There was this one lady that wrote about the gatherings and she would talk about who came, what they ate, and what they talked about…..big news where I came from. To be honest, I kinda miss that kind of news over the stuff we deal with now! At any rate, she would end her column with “…..and a good time was had by all”. That kind of became a “catch phrase” in my family for social gatherings.

Recently, Chad and Al came up for a contest I put on. Al’s Dad came along, too. As is usual, we all ended up at a “get together” at my place after meet. And, as usual, we ended up telling stories until the wee hours of the morning…and maybe a liquid refreshment or two. My wife went to bed at a reasonable hour (we did not!) and commented the next day, “Al sure laughs loud!!!”. The point is, we all laughed and we laughed a lot!

The next day, when we went to the Deanna meet, Al and I talked about this part of almost every meet and contest we have been to over the years. Al commented later that his dad told him, “I finally understand why you like to do these meets”. While I enjoy the challenge of competing and I have many memorable moments of contests, I have just as many stories about the trips to, and from, and the get together’s that happen afterwards. It’s all part of the fun.

I hopefully have many more contests to come in my life time, and win or lose, I will do my best to make sure they all end with “….and a Good Time was had by All!

USAWA Members Win Big at Highlander

by Thom Van Vleck

USAWA Member Thom Van Vleck on the front page of the Kirksville Daily Express

Proving that being an All-Rounder really means being an “all around” athlete, Chad Ullom won the Middle Weight class, Scott Tully was the Heavyweight winner, and Thom Van Vleck was the top Master at the recent Missouri State Highlander competition held in Kirksville, Missouri on March 27, 2010. Highlander combines Scottish Highland Games events and Strongman events, an equal number of each, to determine the best overall athlete.

For me, while I consider Highland Games my first love, training for recent USAWA events in the off season has been a huge plus.  It has revitalized my training and some of the lifts made me realize I had weaknesses that needed to be addressed.  The pay off was a big personal record in my 56lb Weight Over Bar event.  This is a Scottish Highland Games event that requires the athlete to toss a weight over a cross bar for best height.  I cleared 15′6″ using the spin technique (much to chagrin of USAWA Secretary Al Myers who prefers the traditional technique!).  This was a full 1′6″ over my previous contest best, and considering the number of years I have been throwing, that’s a huge jump for me!  I credit the USAWA training I did for that big gain!

All-round training proves it’s worth!

National Postal Meet

Results of the National Postal Championships

by Al Myers

Defending 2008 National Postal Champion Chad Ullom wins Best Overall Lifter in the Men's Open Division this year.

Yesterday I received the results of the USAWA National Postal Championships which was held in December, 2009. I was pleased with the participation, which matched the same number of entries as this past year’s National Championships. John Wilmot was the Meet Director for this Postal Championships for the second straight year, which culminates his postal series of four postal meets throughout the year. The Best Lifters for this years Championships are as follows:

Women Juniors – Molly Myers

Men Juniors – Joe Ciavattone Jr.

Master 40-44 Age Group – Al Myers

Master 45-49 Age Group – Orie Barnett

Master 55-59 Age Group – Dennis Vandermark

Master 60-64 Age Group – John Wilmot

Master 65-69 Age Group – Denny Habecker

Master 80-84 Age Group – Art Montini

Men Overall Open – Chad Ullom

Men Overall Master – Al Myers

Men Overall – Al Myers

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

FULL MEET RESULTS:

2009 National Postal Championships
December 1st – 30th

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Some used the three official system while others used the one official system:
Art Montini – Officials: Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, and John McKean
Denny Habecker – Officials: Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, and John McKean
Kohl Hess – Officials: Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, and John McKean
Molly Myers – Official: Al Myers
Al Myers – Official: Chad Ullom
Dennis Vandermark – Official: John Monk Jr.
John Monk Jr. – Official: No certified official used
Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Official: Mike O’Brien
Jonathan Ciavattone – Official: Joe Ciavattone Sr.
Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Official: Mike O’Brien
Orie Barnett – Official: No certified official used
John Wilmot – Official: No certified official used

Lifts:  Clean and Push Press, Zercher Lift, Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip

Results:

Women

Lifter Age BWT Wt Cls
Push Press
Zercher Deadlift Total Points
Molly Myers
11 128 60 60 85 175 320 506.59


Men

Lifter Age BWT Wt Cls
Push Press
Zercher Deadlift Total Points
Al Myers
43 257 120 264.5 407.7 462.7 1134.9 923.58
Chad Ullom
38 237 110 253.5 407.7 440.7 1101.9 898.60
Joe Ciavattone Jr.
16 207 95 200 325 365 890 858.19
Orie Barnett
48 228.6 105 188 330 415 933 845.10
John Monk Jr.
44 175 80 205 325 275 805 816.17
Joe Ciavattone Sr.
41 245 115 220 325 425 970 793.00
Denny Habecker
67 200 95 148 215 290 653 746.99
John Wilmot
62 212 100 135 205 335 675 718.25
Jonathan Ciavattone
15 207 95 145 230 300 675 680.46
Dennis Vandermark
56 206 95 95 225 285 605 621.99
Art Montini
82 181 85 80 158 200 438 592.83
Kohl Hess
15 264 120 130 215 290 635 563.75


“BWT” is bodyweight in pounds. “Wt Cls” is kilogram weight class.  “Total” is total pounds lifted.  “Points” is bodyweight and age adjusted points.

My trip to the York Barbell Museum

by Al Myers

A Bronze Bust of the founder of York Barbell - Bob Hoffman

Following the IAWA World Championships last month, I got to do something I have always wanted to do – go see the famous York Barbell Museum in York, Pennsylvania.  It only took Chad and I a hour or two to make the trip from Lebanon – and it was worth it!  The museum contains the entire history of York Barbell, photos and equipment of Old Time Strongmen, and the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.  We met up with Mike Locondro, who is the retail manager of York Barbell, and got insight into York Barbell beyond that normally seen by a normal museum tour.  As some of you know, Mike has competed in USAWA competitions in the past and was very good, placing 10th Overall in the 1993 & 1995 World Championships.  He was very gracious to us and gave us a tour of the York Gym, which is off-limits to the general public.  He spent over two hours visiting with us.  Chad and I thought we must have been receiving special treatment because we were All-Rounders, but the truth is Mike is just an outstanding salesman and treats all customers that way.

Chad posing with the full-size sculpture of Eugen Sandow

Now back to the York Museum – I can’t even start to describe everything that we seen.  A highlight for me was seeing the Travis Dumbbell, which Warren Lincoln Travis used in many of his strength shows.  It weighs 1500 pounds empty!! It seemed much bigger to me than the prior impression I had of it from pictures.  The York Museum contains the Challenge Barbells of Eugen Sandow and G.W. Rolandow.  Just getting to put your hands on a barbell with so much history is an amazing feeling.  The museum has the Challenge Dumbbell of Louis Cyr.  It weighs empty 202 pounds and fully loaded with lead shot weighs 270 pounds.  Cyr could easily take it one handed and Side Press it.  These are just a few of the museum items – there is much more!! The museum details  the complete history of York Barbell, and tells the story of how Bob Hoffman built York Barbell into a weightlifting empire. If you ever get the chance to go to the York Barbell Museum – make sure to give yourself at least a half day to see it all!

But give Mike a call first – and tell him you’re an All-Rounder.

World Championships

by Al Myers

Overall IAWA World Champion Mark Haydock 230 Kilogram Zercher Lift

“What we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality”, said IAWA President Steve Gardner at the World Council Meeting Saturday night. This quote really summed up this year’s World Championships. There may not have been alot of lifters present – but the competition was intense. Mark “Haystack” Haydock captured the 2009 Championship’s Overall Best Lifter on his last successful lift of the competition, by doing a monstrous 230 kilogram Zercher Lift!! This puts him in a small group of lifters who have exceeded over 500 pounds in the Zercher Lift throughout the history of the IAWA. The top four places were really close and decided by under 30 adjusted points. This competition had lifters of all age groups – from 15 year old Kohl Hess to 81 year old Art Montini. Denny and Judy Habecker did an outstanding job of making this event a special occasion for everyone. They even invited the lifters to their house Saturday and Sunday nights after the competition for food and refreshments. We were entertained by George “the Magician” Dick with his many card tricks. I am still scratching my head on the one where the card passed through Chad and ended up stuck on the glass on the shelf behind him. Denny and Judy know how to run a smooth meet. Everything went according to plan and both days finished in good time. The banquet was fantastic with a wide selection of food. Everyone left on a full stomach!! Steve Gardner worked the microphone and score table, and like always, kept the meet running efficiently. John Horn spent 2 full days loading and spotting and definitely deserves a big pat on the back. It takes people like John, who do the work behind the scenes, to make a meet successful.

Frank Ciavattone pulling a Ciavattone Grip Deadlift

It was a real pleasure getting to see Frank Ciavattone again. Frank has just recently had a hip replacement and wasn’t fully ready to compete in a meet yet. But Frank is a great Champion and made it to this meet to show support to the IAWA!! When he pulled his last Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, a lift named after Frank because of his amazing gripping power, he dedicated it to Karen Gardner in her battle in overcoming cancer – it was an emotional moving moment. Karen is the “First Lady” of All-Round Weightlifting and everyone has the utmost respect for her. It has now been 30 years since Frank has been cancer free himself.

Howard Prechtel and Bob Geib

Another great surprise this weekend was the return of Howard Prechtel. The meet about stopped when in walks Howard and Bob Geib!!! Howard spent many years as the IAWA President and has done as much through the years for the USAWA as anyone. Howard seemed to really enjoy himself at the meet, and even picked up a loaded barbell a couple of times. A person may forget a lot of things in life – but you never forget how to lift weights!!! Welcome back Howard!! Also – thanks to Bob for bringing Howard to this meet.

Group Photo of the IAWA World Championships

I had a great time – got to see alot of old friends, and even made a couple of lifts that I had to push myself on. Thanks again to Denny and Judy for hosting this Championship and I’m already looking forward to Scotland in 2010!!

Top Three Individuals at the 2009 IAWA World Championships Left to Right: Chad Ullom, Mark Haydock, Al Myers

FULL MEET RESULTS:

2009 IAWA World Championships
Lebanon, Pennsylvania
October 3rd & 4th, 2009

Meet Directors:   Denny and Judy Habecker

Lifts on Day 1: Hack Lift – One Arm, Clean and Press Behind Neck, Straight Arm Pullover, Deadlift                         -Ciavattone Grip
Lifts on Day 2: Snatch – One Arm, Pullover and Press, Zercher Lift

Officials (3 official system used):  Karen Gardner, Frank Ciavattone, Al Myers, Dennis Mitchell, George Dick, Art Montini

Loader: John Horn plus others

Scorekeeper:  Steve Gardner and Judy Habecker

Emcee:  Steve Gardner

Results:

Name BWT Class Age Division Hack C&P Pullover Deadlift Snatch
P&P Zercher Points
Mark Haydock ENG
122.9 125 34 Open 145 R
105 57.5 227.5 80 R
157.5 230 764.3
Al Myers USA
114.7 115 43 M40+ 150 R
90 60 210 70 R
160 190 763.1
Chad Ullom USA
104.3 105 37 Open 140 R
90 55 205 70 R
145 200 749.7
Roger Davis ENG
81.6 85 39 Open 117.5 R
80 45 185 60 R
120 170 738.4
Denny Habecker USA
86.1 90 67 M65+ 90 R
65 32.5 140 35 R
95 95 661.1
John Monk USA
79.8 80 43 M40+ 100 R
75 47.5 122.5 50 R
125 137.5 658.2
Bill Spayd USA
107.9 110 35 Open 110 R
90 55 200 60 R
120 170 655.2
Scott Schmidt USA
119.7 120 56 M55+ 100 R
92.5 40 182.5 40 L
92.5 115 598.5
Art Montini USA
78.2 80 81 M80+ 60 R
32.5 27.5 105 20 R
60 77.5 588.9
Josh Haydock ENG
66.9 70 19 J18/19 72.5 R
55 25 132.5 37.5 R
70 137.5 582.1
John Kavanagh ENG
94.3 95 21 Open 80 R
82.5 30 170 52.5 R
105 140 577.1
George Dick SCT
127.4 125+ 60 M60+ 102.5 R
60 30 175 40 R
90 120 559.7
Dennis Mitchell USA
72.1 75 77 M75+ 50 L
20 20 90 15 L
35 85 484.4
Dennis Vandermark USA
92.5 95 56 M55+ 75 L
30 130 22.5 R
60 110 442.0
Kohl Hess USA
118.8 120 15 J14/15 82.5 R
42.5 27.5 120 30 R
60 80 394.4
Frank Ciavattone USA
127.0 125+ 54 M50+ 90 R
20 15 182.5 20 R
25 20 321.3


BWT are bodyweights on day 1. All lifts are in kilograms. Points are age and bodyweight adjusted.
All lifters except Bill Spayd weighed in the second day for records. All lifters were in the same bodyweight class as Day 1.

Extra Attempts for Records:
Dennis Mitchell -  Hack – One Arm 50 R, Straight Arm Pullover 22.5, Deadlift Ciavattone Grip 98
John Monk – Snatch – One Arm 55 R, Straight Arm Pullover 50
Kohl Hess – Clean & Press Behind Neck 45, Straight Arm Pullover 28.5, Zercher Lift 92.5
Denny Habecker – Pullover and Press 98
Mark Haydock – Straight Arm Pullover 61

Best Lifter Awards:

Josh Haydock – Junior 18/19 70 kg Champion and Best Junior 18/19
Kohl Hess – Junior 14/15 120 kg Champion and Best Junior 14/15
Dennis Mitchell – Masters 75+ 75 kg Champion and Best Master 75+
Art Montini – Masters 80+  80 kg Champion and Best Master 80+
John Monk – Masters 40+ 80 kg Champion
Roger Davis – Open 85 kg Champion
Denny Habecker – Masters 65+ 90 kg Champion and Best Master 65+
Dennis Vandermark – Masters 55+ 95 kg Champion
John Kavanagh – Open 95 kg Champion
Chad Ullom – Open 105 kg Champion
Bill Spayd – Open 110 kg Champion
Al Myers – Masters 40+ 115 kg Champion and Best Master 40+
Scott Schmidt – Masters 55+ and Open 120 kg Champion and Best Master 55+
Mark Haydock – Open 125 kg Champion
Frank Ciavattone – Masters 50+ and Open 125+ kg Champion and Best Master 50+
George Dick – Masters 60+ 125 kg Champion and Best Master 60+

TEAM LIFTING

by Al Myers

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

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

Rules for Team Lifts (taken from the USAWA Rulebook)

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

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

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

There is still time to enter the USAWA Team Nationals.

History of the One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom has the Top One Arm Dumbbell Swing ever done in the USAWA with a lift of 143 pounds. This was accomplished at the 2007 IAWA World Championships in New Zealand.

The One Arm (or one-hand as it was originally known as) Dumbbell Swing has been contested in weightlifting competitions as far back as the late 1800’s.  In the early days, One Arm Swings were often done with Kettlebells. The USAWA rules only allow the use of dumbbells today.

There were originally two basic styles of One Arm Swings – the Classic French Style and the British Style.  The French Style was the technique used first in the late 1800’s to early 1930’s, whereas the British Style became more popular after 1920.  The differences between the two styles are significant. The French Style used equally loaded, balanced dumbbells and when swung overhead used a straight arm throughout. The British Style allowed the use of “Backhang” and the bending of the lifting arm.

Backhang is allowed by the USAWA Rules when doing Swings. What is Backhang? Backhang is the unequal loading of a dumbbell where more weight is put on the back end of the dumbbell prior to the lift. The USAWA rules allow backhang up to 10 kilograms or 22 pounds.  Several of the old time strongmen would use backhang up to 40 pounds!! Once you master the technique using  Backhang, it is possible to lift more in the One Arm Swing than with an equally loaded dumbbell.


The One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

My training partner Chad Ullom and I just spent a training session training the One Arm Dumbbell Swing. This is a lift not well understood today, but at one time was a very popular lift among old time strongmen. One arm lifts were once trained as much as two arm lifts – but not anymore. The USAWA rules for the One Arm Dumbell Swing are quite simple – but certain things must be done for a Dumbbell Swing to be “legal”. These include:

- once the dumbbell leaves the platform it must be in continual motion until lockout

- the rod of the dumbbell must maintain a 90 degree angle to the body

- the non-lifting hand must not touch the lifting arm or dumbbell

- the arm must be straight in receiving the dumbbell overhead – in other words – NO PRESS OUT

- the lift ends on command once the feet are in line and the dumbbell is in control overhead

Al Myers with a 145 pound Dumbbell Swing.

There are two styles that are used the most when doing an One Arm Dumbbell Swing. I use the more traditional style of “swinging” the dumbbell between my legs once to gain momentum to propel it overhead. Chad uses a “snatch style” where he takes it from the floor overhead in one motion and drops under the dumbbell when he catches it overhead. This is difficult in the sense that the hand is turned different than a Dumbbell Snatch. The USAWA Rules allow the lifting arm to bend during the lift and the feet to move.

Top Ten All-Time USAWA One Arm Dumbbell Swings


1. 143 Pounds Chad Ullom
2.
140 Pounds Mike McBride
140 Pounds Frank Ciavattone
4. 121 Pounds Al Myers
5. 120 Pounds Ed Schock
120 Pounds Jim Goviannini
120 Pounds Abe Smith
120 Pounds Robert English
9. 115 Pounds Scott Schmidt
115 Pounds Jason Weigle

Coming SoonThe Top Ten One Arm Dumbbell Swings of All-Time.

Will any of these USAWA lifters make the list?

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

Name this USAWA Lift and who it is named after. Also, name the USAWA lifter that has lifted the most weight in this lift in an USAWA event.

Step 1 - Lift the bar behind the back

Step 2 - Roll the bar up the back onto the shoulders

Step 3 - Perform a behind the neck jerk

Winner receives an USAWA patch

Rules: First correct answer to webmaster wins, and only one answer may be given per day.

Congratulations to Chad Ullom of Topeka, Kansas for correctly identifying this lift as the Arthur Lift, named after the great old-time German strongman Arthur Saxon (and demonstrated by him in these photos). This lift requires great shoulder flexibility. The bar starts on the platform behind the lifter, and is raised behind the back until the bar is positioned above the hips (or above the belt). At this point, the lifter bends forward, and in a series of steps rolls the bar up the back until it is fixed across the shoulders. The hands are allowed to come free of the bar during this. The lifter then stands and performs a behind the neck jerk, at which time the lift is completed. Saxon is reported to have done 386 pounds in this lift, as it was witnessed by Warren Lincoln Travis. This lift was introduced to the USAWA by Art Montini – so in a way it is named after two Arthurs. The top weight ever lifted in the Arthur Lift in the USAWA was done by Chad Ullom, who lifted 297 pounds at the 2007 National Championships.

Chad Ullom performing the Arthur Lift at the 2007 National Championships