Postal Series 2013

by Al Myers

Dan Wagman performing a 350 pound Reverse Grip Bench Press at the recent Dino Gym Record Day.

As the first quarterly postal meet of 2014 is less than 30 days from being completed, I finally got the results from the 2013 Postal Series tabulated.  The USAWA has 4 postal meets per year (March, June, September, and December), with the last one being designated as the Postal Championships.  All these together make up the Postal Meet Series.  Each postal meet a lifter competes in generates points for him/her, that total up for the final Postal Series Ranking.

The way the points are generated is pretty simple.  I take the overall placings of the meet and then reverse “the count” for the points earned for each lifter.  I.E – if three lifters compete lifter number 1 gets 3 points, lifter number 2 gets 2 points, and lifter number three gets 1 point.  The Postal Championships is worth “double points”. Obviously then, as more lifters enter more points can be earned for winning the meet, and ALL lifters earn points regardless where they place overall.  Just entering will earn points toward the Postal Series Ranking.

Overall there was good participation in the USAWA Postal Meets last year.  A total of 18 lifters competed in the various postal meets.  The first Postal Meet had 17 lifters, the second had 9 lifters, the third had 9 lifters, and the Postal Championship drew 11 lifters.   Several lifters competed in ALL of the postal meets last year and they deserve to be recognized.  These lifters are Ruth Jackson, Dan Wagman, Sam Rogers, Orie Barnett, Denny Habecker, and John Wilmot.

Now for the overall rankings for the 2013 USAWA Postal Series!

WOMENS DIVISION – TOP TWO

PLACING LIFTER MEETS ENTERED POINTS
1 Ruth Jackson 4 6
2 Gabby Jobe 1 1

MENS DIVISION – TOP TEN

PLACING LIFTER MEETS ENTERED POINTS
1 Dan Wagman 4 51
2 Orie Barnett 4 35
3 Al Myers 2 32
4 Sam Rogers 4 30
5 Barry Bryan 2 29
6 Chad Ullom 2 26
7 Eric Todd 3 22
8 Denny Habecker 4 18
9 John Wilmot 4 15
10 Les Cramer 2 15

Congrats to Ruth Jackson and Dan Wagman for being the OVERALL WINNERS of the 2013 USAWA Postal Series.  On top of winning the series both of these lifters won EACH and EVERY Postal Meet of 2013!  That has never been done before in the history of the USAWA Postal Series.

Dino Gym RD

by Al Myers

Dan Wagman performing a Feet in the Air Bench Press at the 2014 Dino Gym Record Day. Dan set a new record with a lift of 375 pounds!

Last weekend was a full weekend of great lifting at the Dino Gym!  Sunday picked up where Saturday left off with 5 lifters attempting to break/set new USAWA records.  I was surprised to see 3 new faces on Sunday who could not make the Grip Champs – Chad Ullom, Doug Kressly and Logan Kressly.  Dan Wagman and Ruth Jackson where the only Saturday lifters who made the full two day competition.

The record day started off strong with Dan setting a new USAWA record in the Bench Press – Feet in Air.  Dan broke a long standing record held by the great Barry Bryan (at 374 lbs. set in 1990) with a lift of 375 pounds. It was a very impressive lift.  Dan then backed it up with a record in the Bench Press – Reverse Grip at 350 pounds.

Ruth lifted fantastic as usual.  She set several new records – with some outstanding lifts in the Vertical Bar Deadlifts. She also completed her official’s practical on this day.  Once the paperwork has been approved – she will be added to the official’s list as a Level One Official.

Chad Ullom picked several of his favorite lifts to set new records in (Arthur Lift, Ziegler Clean, Continental to Belt).  Looked solid and strong as ever!

I was glad to see Doug and Logan back to the gym.  These two made my Dino Challenge in January as well.  Doug upped his teeth lift record from the Dino Challenge, and then helped Logan to many new records.  Logan had some tremendous marks – Fulton Bar Deadlift of 352, Dinnie Lift of 550, and a front squat of 300.  He tried 320 in the front squat, and took it way too deep to recover from. That’s a huge front squat for a young kid only 15!

Overall, a great day for the everyone!!!

My companion in the gym during the meet - Dan's dog Gram - short for Hamilton vom Naglersee.

MEET RESULTS:

Dino Gym Record Day
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
February 9th, 2014

Meet Director: Al Myers

Officials (1-official system used): Al Myers, Chad Ullom  In-training Ruth Jackson

Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Lifters and Lifts:

Ruth Jackson – 52 years old, 108 lbs. BWT

Clean and Press – Alternate Grip: 80 lbs.
Jackson Press: 75 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 2″: 176 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 1″: 202 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 187 lbs.
Squat – Front: 120 lbs.

Logan Kressly – 14 years old, 168 lbs. BWT

Squat – Front: 300 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 352 lbs.
Deadlift – Reeves: 155 lbs.
Dinnie Lift: 550 lbs.

Dan Wagman – Open, 184 lbs. BWT

Bench Press – Feet in Air: 375 lbs.
Bench Press – Reverse Grip: 350 lbs.
Bent Over Row: 300 lbs.
Curl – Cheat, 2 Dumbells: 160 lbs.

Doug Kressly – 34 years old, 286 lbs. BWT

Teeth Lift: 179 lbs.

Chad Ullom – 42 years old, 255 lbs. BWT

Ziegler Clean: 182 lbs.
Teeth Lift: 200 lbs.
Arthur Lift: 220 lbs.
Continental to Belt: 440 lbs.
Snatch – On Knees: 115 lbs.

Top Lifts of 2013

by Al Myers

Art proudly displaying his homemade Teeth Bit!

Today welcomes in a New Year, and  with it comes the excitement of another very promising year in the USAWA.   2013 had to be one of the best EVER in the history of the USAWA.  There were many great competitions and great individual performances.  Of the 22 official competitions that occurred in 2013 in the USAWA, I was a participant or attended 18 of them!

As I’m sitting here sipping a cup of coffee in the early morning hours of 2014 (my internal clock would not allow me to sleep in!), I’m reflecting on some of the fantastic lifts I was able to witness “first hand” in the USAWA in 2013.  It didn’t take me long to come up with a list of over 20, but I’m gonna narrow the list today to the TOP TEN lifts that impressed me the most. I want to reiterate  that this is MY LIST of the lifts that I was able to watch, and only reflects my viewpoints.  Many, many others were extremely impressive that did not make the list. A few individual lifters had multiple lifts that impressed me, but I’m only including THE ONE that impressed me the most by an individual lifter.  It took me three times as long to come up with my list as it did to write this blog!  Here it goes – counting down from number ten:

10. Lance Foster and his 575# Dinnie Lift at the OTSM Championships

This had to be one of the most tenacious lifts of the year.  Lance struggled at the Battle of the Barn with the Dinnie Lift, but came back a month or so later to up his performance by 75 pounds! If the USAWA offered a TRUE GRIT AWARD Lance would win it.

9.  Jera Kressly and Logan Kressly 600# heels together deadlift at the Team Championships.

Jera and Logan did this mixed pair (man/woman) lift quite easily at the Team Champs.  I should mention that Logan was only 15 at the time!  That’s a big deadlift for any mixed pair with a normal stance – let alone having the heels together!

8.  James Fuller and his 60 KG Bent Press at the Gold Cup.

James has been on a mission to mastering the Bent Press this year.  The Bent Press is one of the MOST old and obscure lifts of all round lifting.  Very few even know how to go about doing one.  I first saw James bent pressing Frank’s axle at the Heavies, with was extremely cumbersome to handle.  I was going to include that effort instead of this one for James, but his Gold Cup lift really deserves it more as it was done in a big competition.  It won’t be long before James puts up the highest Bent Press record of All Time in the USAWA.

7.  Joe Ciavattone Sr. and his 805# Neck Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

This HAD to make my list.  Joe is one of the best neck lifters in USAWA history, and held the overall record for many years.  To come back and hit a personal record now several years later shows true ability.  I was glad to be able to witness his lift (as I had not seen his previous record lift).

6.  Troy Goetsch and his 260# one handed Vertical Bar Lift at the Grip Championships.

I’ve seen many great VB lifts in the past, but Troy’s is one of the best.  Troy won the overall lifter at the Grip Champs, and his VB was the lift that I will remember from him on that day.

5.  Frank Ciavattone and his 202.5 KG Ciavattone Grip Deadlift at Nationals.

Frank still has some great lifting in him, as shown with this big lift at our National Championships which is named after him.  I never get tired of watching Frank do Ciavattone Grip Deadlifts – and this is one I’ll never forget.

4.  Dan Wagman and his 120# Pullup at the Dino Gym Record Day.

YES – that’s 120 pounds strapped to the waist and then performing a pullup with the chin OVER the bar with no kipping!!! And hold for a down command!  Not too many around could even come close to this performance of Dan’s.  I’ve seen a lot of great lifting out of Dan and often what he does does not surprise me – but this pullup did!

3.  Joe Ciavattone Jr. and the 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

Junior doesn’t realize yet that he will be a future superstar of the USAWA, but I see it.  His untapped strength is unreal, and this big H&T proves it.  He just finished with a 1200 at the meet,  I gave him a couple of tips between lifts, and then he adds 200 pounds and gets it easily!  Impressive to say the least…

2.  Eric Todd and this 1000# Neck Lift at the Battle of the Barn II.

ET has put up 1000 pound Neck Lifts before several times – but this one was done with rules beyond those of the USAWA.   He cleared the floor substantially, and then HELD the lift for over 2 full seconds recorded on a stop watch.  I’m still shaking my head after seeing that effort!

1.  Art Montini and his 107# Teeth Lift at the Presidential Cup.

All I can say is that I still don’t know how he did this!  Art is 85 years old and has FALSE TEETH.  This lift won him the Presidential Cup of the USAWA for the year, and I would say deserving of the lift that impressed me the most!  Art has been one of the most active lifters in the USAWA this year – attending most of the championship events, attending the “Big Three” (Nationals, Worlds, and the Gold Cup), and still involved with promoting his annual Birthday Bash.  He has a deeper resume than anyone in the history of the USAWA, and I’m glad to name Art’s lift as the most impressive lift of 2013.  Congrats Art!!

The Wagman Log – Not So Pristine

By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

Publisher/Editor in Chief: Journal of Pure Power (JOPP)

Consultant: Body Intellect Sports Performance Enhancement Consortium

Dan Wagman's homemade wooden log.

Recently Thom Van Vleck wrote a wonderful article about the Jackson Stones on his farm. One of the responses to that article on the USAWA Forum mentioned how strongman should be about lifting such oddly shaped stones, not what you find today with the “pristine standardized stuff you see anymore.” I immediately thought to myself, “Yeah, just like the silly perfectly balanced steel logs they use anymore.” So allow me to introduce you to my log—a real log.

Dan pressing Kaz's wooden log in the 1991 USA Strongman Championships.

In the early 90’s Bill Kazmaier put on the first USA Strongman Championships and I wanted to compete. Of course one of the events included the log press. My gym owner was very supportive of my powerlifting and we even put on a State Bench Press meet together. So as soon as he heard that I wanted to compete in strongman USA’s, he offered to “sponsor” me—by cutting down a tree in his yard so I could practice the log press. I thought he was kidding…until he pulled his truck up to the front of the gym, gesturing me to hop in. We proceeded to head to his place to take down a tree. It actually didn’t take very long at all. He had a chain saw, cut that thing down, cut off the branches, cut the log to four feet, and then used the tip of the chain saw to cut out hand-holds through which we drilled holes and inserted 1-inch pipe as grips—done!

We threw the log in his truck and went straight back to the gym. Next step, weighing the log…200 pounds. Next step…lifting it. My friend had first crack at it and couldn’t lift it. Then I went and with much, much difficulty I was able to press it out for one rep. After applying some of that new science I learned since I had just started my graduate work in exercise science, I was up to 16 reps in two weeks and then over 20 at the end of a month. At Kaz’s meet I ended up with the highest log press rep-count by knocking out 22 reps with Kaz’s real log. Those were the days…

After several months the log dried out and started to lose weight. To make it heavier I would periodically hose it down with water, but that made no difference and it stabilized in weight at 155 pounds. Of course I had to find a way to add weight, which I did by bolting floor flanges to each side and screwing in 2.5 inch pipe; now I could add plates. Time to crank!

After perfecting the clean and press or push-press with that log and then having to press a wonderfully balanced steel log, it’s no wonder why I tend to spank my competition in the log press. I’d go as far as saying that lifting a perfectly balanced steel log serves to limit your strength gains. It’s probably the same thing with stones…Maybe in this day and age STRONGMAN should be renamed to something more pristine such as not-as-STRONG-as-I-could-be-MAN.

Lifter of the Month: Dan Wagman

by Al Myers

Dan Wagman "in action" at the 2013 Dino Gym Record Day in February performing a 110# Dumbell Snatch.

Dan Wagman becomes the FIRST “two time” winner of the Lifter of the Month with him being declared the Lifter of the Month for the month of April!  Dan’s previous Lifter of the Month recognition was after he won the Overall Men’s  Best Lifter Award at the IAWA Worlds last October, with him earning the Lifter of the Month for October, 2012 following that big World Meet win.

This Lifter of the Month recognition was the result of his outstanding overall win in the Eastern Open Postal Meet, the first of the quarterly USAWA Postal Series. It was a “loaded” group of lifters who competed in this last postal, and as many entered as ever before.  Winning this meet was certainly worthy of receiving the Lifter of the Month for!!!  Congrats Dan!!!!

WEBMASTER NOTE:  All past USAWA Lifters of the Month are keep on a list available on the upper left hand side of the homepage, under USAWA Information.

WOMEN’S DIFFERENCES

WOMEN ‘S DIFFERENCES

10 Reasons why women shouldn’t train like men

By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

Publisher and Editor in Chief, Journal of Pure Power (JOPP)

Consultant, Body Intellect Sports Performance Enhancement Consortium

I can’t imagine living at a time when people thought that women can’t be medical doctors, lawyers, leaders in government—or athletes. Thanks to Title IX in the United States, women have been able to excel at any sport they desire. But in the desire to receive equal footing with men in sport—and to maintain it—women, coaches, and other sports professionals have almost forgotten one basic fact—women are not men.

So you might say to yourself, “Good one Dan, ain’t that obvious?” Well, of course it is. But that also extends into how women should train for sport because of how they adapt to training. You see, most people assume that if a guy can squat a lot of weight, so can a women, and if a guy trains this way for a big squat, well, so can a woman. I would argue that the point is not whether the woman can train the same way as a guy, rather whether the woman should train the same way—especially if she has max gains in mind.

Though the woman athlete and her coach is at the heart of making training decisions, we shouldn’t be too hard on them for adhering to outdated training principles. The fact is, exercise scientists have just recently begun to investigate in what areas, to what extent, and why women ought not train the same way men do. Basically the way it works is that some athlete or coach generates a hypothesis about how one ought to train. Then scientists test the hypothesis for its merit and degree of truth. If proven true, then the hypothesis gets bumped up to the level of theory, in which case it receives further scrutiny to see in what areas the theory may hold more or less true. So in the case of women vs. men, early thinking was that the bench press is a great exercise for the pecs. Research in men has proved this to be false as other muscles are much more involved in the execution of this lift. But to what extent do these findings hold true in women?

JOPP is, as you know, at the forefront of sharing the latest scientific findings in strength/power sport with its readership. And so this journal has a solid record for bringing women and their coaches up to speed on training issues. To follow, my top 10…

  1. Women fatigue less from an equal amount of weight training than men.
  2. Women lose more strength after a set than men.
  3. Women can demonstrate max power in a wider range of 1-RM (1-rep max, the max amount of weight you can lift once) than men; in the jump squat it’s between 30% to 40% 1-RM for men and between 30% to 50% 1-RM for women.
  4. Hamstring to quad activation ratios are lower in women than men.
  5. Women have a higher sweat threshold than men, meaning their body temperature regulatory mechanisms aren’t as efficient.
  6. Women show less muscle damage after training at the same level of intensity as men.
  7. Women have less passive resistance (kinda like sturdiness) in the ankle muscle-tendon unit than men, contributing to less efficiency and economy in various leg movements.
  8. Women synthesize about 55% less collagen than men, which is related to having smaller tendons, tendons not responding to training as well, and tending to hold higher injury potential then men.
  9. Women can train at a given high intensity, e.g., 90% 1-RM, more frequently than men and make more gains by doing so.
  10. Women show little difference in rest periods between sets of 60, 90, 120, 240, and more seconds, therefore women can rest for as little as 60 seconds between sets for optimal gains—men need much more rest.

That my top 10 list holds important training implications for women is clear. So as in all walks of life, paying attention to scientific developments—and implementing them in your training—is the key to success. And that’s where men and women don’t differ from each other.

CHINNING ADDICTION

 By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

Publisher, Journal of Pure Power

Consultant, Body Intellect

(WEBMASTER NOTE: Recently I issued a writing contest, in which I challenged lifters to write about an unusual training implement/device that they use in their training. The stories were submitted and judged, and I’m going to initially publish the top three stories in the USAWA Daily News as they were the contest award winners. Thank you to everyone who submitted stories for this competition, as they were all excellent. Here’s story RANKED NUMBER TWO:)

Dan Wagman performing a One Arm Chin Up on his fingerboard. The top picture is a "closeup" of the fingerboard.

My oddest training device is my fingerboard; it comes out of the realm of bouldering. In the rock-climbing world this strength-training device is rather common as climbers use it to strengthen their fingers and pull-up prowess. I use it in my Dungeon exclusively for weighted pull-ups and one-armed pull-ups.

What’s different with a fingerboard compared to a chinning bar is that you have different gripping options. You can use a narrow or shoulder-width grip, but you can also change the amount of grip your hands actually have. So you can use a grip that’s similar to what you’d have on a bar or you can pull while palming the fingerboard, meaning that your fingers aren’t wrapped around anything, but instead are flat on a slightly conical surface that extends from your fingertips down to your palm. That’s how I warm up my pull-ups and I have found it to increase my grip strength. Then there are slots and holes of different sizes so that you can pull with the first link of any number of fingers you’d like to use. And of course you also have the option of doing one-armed pull-ups with any combination of fingers or hand-hold method you’d like. All of this turns pull-ups into an entirely different dimension, quite different than what the usual weight lifter would do. But once I go from my fingerboard to a regular chinning bar, I’m moving a lot more weight.

My Historical Context

Recently Dan Wagman performed a Pullup with 120 lbs. extra weight at the Dino Gym Record Day. The USAWA rules of the Pull Up require the point of the chin to be above the bar and held for a down command. This is the BEST Pullup listed in the USAWA Record List, so it's obvious Dan's training approaches have been working! (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster).

Although I don’t know much about the history of fingerboards in the climbing world, I can tell you that it’s nearly non-existent in weight lifting gyms. But here’s how this training came about for me. When I started lifting as a teenager, I was consumed by trying to become as strong as possible. One of the guys in the gym would always do pull-ups. He also added weight around his waist with some silly looking ropes. But he also pulled himself over the bar with ONE ARM, and could do that with both arms for reps. That blew me away and after watching him for some weeks I built up the courage to approach him.

Turns out he was training for his main passion — bouldering. When you’re on a rock-face, it can be very important to be able to pull yourself up to the next hold with one arm. And so those silly ropes he used to hold additional weight, well, they were two different types of climbing ropes with specialty knots, one around his waist and the other attached via a carabiner for additional weight. The next time I saw him he brought ropes and a carabiner to the gym and made me my own chinning rig. Now that’s the best present I ever got and I still use it all the time.

Progressing Difficulty

So in my training back then I continued to pile on the weight for my pull-ups. But when I tried a one-armed pull-up, I couldn’t even bend my elbow an inch — literally. So I reduced the difficulty by doing one-armed pull-downs. Once I could do my body weight, I increased the difficulty by pulling on a chinning bar instead. But it still took some time until I was able to pull myself to the bar with one arm. For the last 15 years or so, however, I use a bouldering fingerboard for all my pull-ups. Why? It’s just another method to increase the difficulty of pull-ups. And I suppose I don’t have to explain to a bunch of all-round lifters why that’s a good thing, do I?

My passion for lifting weights and one-armed pull-ups lives on as strong as ever. I was able to send my friend a picture of me doing one-armed chins weighing 190 pounds with a 35-pound plate around my waist as it appeared in Milo. He was proud to know that he was the one who started this insanity in me. But of course he’s insane, too; how many guys do you know who in their late 50’s do one-armed pull-ups for reps with each arm?

Dino Gym Shooting Competition

by Al Myers

Dave Glasgow won the Handgun Division, as well as the Small Bore Rifle Division.

I’m sure everyone is wondering how the shooting competition following the Dino Gym Challenge turned out.   Well, it ended up taking about as long as the meet to complete!  I had several entrants in each shooting division, with some outstanding marksmanship taking place. Luckily, we had a perfect day of weather with very minimal wind.  Four divisions were contested, and each person could enter whichever division they wanted, depending on what their shooting expertise was.  Darren Barnhart was the only one to  enter all four divisions.  The four shooting divisions were:

1.  Shotgun Trap Shot
2.  Small Bore Rifle (.223 caliber and smaller)
3.  Large Bore Rifle (above .223 caliber)
4.  Handgun

Darren Barnhart entered all four divisions, showing his diversity as a shooter. He's indeed an All-Round shooter!

The TOP THREE in each division are as follows:

Shotgun Trap Shot  – 25 blue rock targets were throw from an electric trap thrower, with each shooter getting one shot per target.

1.  Darren Barnhart – 18/25
2. Thom Van Vleck – 16/25
2 (tie). Chad Ullom – 16/25

Small Bore Rifle – 5 shots at 100 yards and 5 shots at 200 yards.

1.  Dave Glasgow – 61 points
2.  Darren Barnhart – 58 points
3.  Chad Ullom – 36 points

Large Bore Rifle – 5 shots at 100 yards and 5 shots at 200 yards.

1.  Thom Van Vleck – 71 points
2.  Darren Barnhart – 16 points
3.  Dan Wagman – 0 points!

Handgun – 5 shots at 3 yards, 5 shots at 7 yards, 5 shots at 10 yards

1.  Dave Glasgow – 176 points
2.  Dan Wagman – 152 points
3.  Chad Ullom – 96 points

World Champ Dan Wagman takes aim - I just don't know at what!!!

Now for a little commentary on the days shooting.  First, I didn’t compete, but instead acted as the official to make sure everything was done on the “up and up”.  I was most surprised by Chad  Ullom.  Chad continues to show everyone that he seems to be a natural at everything.  He doesn’t even own a gun, and very rarely has ever shot one, but wanted to compete so he borrowed a shotgun from Darren to enter the shotgun contest.  He started off miserably – missing his first half dozen shots. At this point – he made a newbie mistake and jammed up Darren’s gun so it wouldn’t work anymore.  I then had to let him borrow one of mine to finish his shoot. At this juncture I gave him a few shooting tips and reminded him of the value of my shotgun, and that I would hold him accountably for it if he broke it.   Well, this motivational talk of mine must have got him focused and he seemed to “get on fire” and started hitting every target!!!  Thom was solid as expected in the Trap Shoot, but still ended up with a tie with Chad for second.  Darren won the event with a very good 18 out of 25.  Next up was the small bore rifle competition.  Again, Chad was up against a couple of seasoned shooters in Darren and Dave, but made a fine showing to get third with again a borrowed rifle, edging out John O’Brien who scored a 27.  Darren had the lead after round 1 at 100 yards, but sharp-shooter Dave eclipsed him in round 2 at 200 yards to win the small bore.  The large bore rifle had three entrants: Thom, Darren, and Dan. A controversy immediately resulted as Dan was going to enter using his 5.56 M4 Colt Carbine.  A discussion ensued that this division was for .223 caliber and above, but after a group consensus, it was determined that the 5.56 caliber was indeed just slightly larger than the .223 caliber, and thus within the rules to be entered.  Thom was one hand with his trusty 6mm Remington rifle.  I could tell by the way he carassed his gun that it was a trusty ole friend of his, and that he had an intimate relationship with it.  I want to mention something here about rifle shooting.  Long distance rifle shooting requires a steady hand and a silent concentration – not exactly the mindset that most  weightlifters have.  Most of us that have been around Dan in the weightroom know that he gets about “as jacked” as any lifter could before an attempt.  I could see his jugular pulse beating away as he set up for his shots.  I thought for a moment that he was going to pull an ammonia cap out of his pocket to give him more of an adrenalin rush.  Add in the fact that he was shooting “open sights” and that the M4 Colt is designed to be shot as “accuracy through volume”, it was not adding up well for him.  I was slightly embarrassed to tell him that not only did he not hit the target once – but that he wasn’t even on the paper!!!  Now Thom was another story.  He destroyed the target with each shot using his bolt-action rifle in systematic fashion, and won by a HUGE MARGIN.  But Thom told me afterwards that his years in the Marines trained him well for distance shooting, and that paid off in his victory in this division.  We finished the day with the handgun division.  We conducted the event under the rules established for qualifying for the Kansas concealed license.  Darren was shooting a ultralight handgun that looked like it would fit in your front pocket without being noticed.  Chad borrowed a .22 pistol from Darren, Dave was shooting a 9mm semiautomatic, and Dan was shooting a huge 45 caliber.  Quite a diverse set of handguns for this competition.  Dave showed his years as a policemen training on the 9mm that he was in a “class of his own”.  His shooting technique was superb and hit the center on practically every shot.   Dan shooting his huge 45 made it about impossible for me to tally his score as he shot the entire center of the target out, and Chad really surprised me by hitting the target on every one of his shots.  Overall, this was a great competition and a fitting ending to a great day at the Dino Gym!!!

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers

2013 DINO GYM CHALLENGE
“PRESENTING AN OLD TIME STRONGMAN POWERLIFTING MEET”

Group picture of the participants in the 2013 Dino Gym Challenge.

MEET REPORT:

I was expecting maybe 10 or 12 lifters for the annual Dino Gym Challenge – but then to my amazement lifters kept showing up and showing up!!  The total number of entrants came to 21 lifters!!!!  That’s only a few off what entered the World Meet that I promoted last fall!!!  I was very excited to see this, as it shows the interest that lifters have in the “new” Old Time Strongman Competitions.  This meet was promoted as an “Old Time Strongman Powerlifting Meet” because it contained three OTSM lifts that are partial-lift deviations of the three powerlifts (Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift).  The meet included two Official OTSM lifts (the Anderson Squat and the Peoples Deadlift) as well as one exhibition lift (the Hackenschmidt Floor Press).  The Hack FP  ”went over” really real with the lifters and I hope that it will become approved as an official OTSM lift this year. 

The three officials of the Dino Gym Challenge holding their souvenir beer mugs - complete with Dino Gym logo!! These mugs were given as the awards to all participants. (left to right: Chad Ullom, Thom Van Vleck, LaVerne Myers)

One thing that I GREATLY appreciate with the Dino Gym members is how we always “come together” to support each other in our promoted events.  Putting on any competition requires lots of “behind the scenes” work, and manpower on the day of the event. Even though we had more lifters show up than expected, things ran very smoothly because there was enough “helpers” to make it happen.   Often after meets the attention is always on the lifting performances, but things wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for those facilitating the meet.  In this meet report I want to mention these guys first (they’re often the last mentioned).  The USAWA OTSM Chairman Thom Van Vleck is first on my list to thank.  Thom has been promoting the yearly OTSM Championships, and he has made a effort to be at most ALL of the OTSM meets in the USAWA, offering leadership and support.  He took on the hardest event to officiate (the Anderson Squat) for the day.  Chad Ullom, who normally doesn’t miss an opportunity to compete, sat this one out so he could be one of the needed officials of the day.  He officiated the Peoples Deadlift as well as loaded that event the entire day.  LaVerne Myers officiated the new OTSM event, the  Hackenschmidt Floor Press.  LaVerne has been a very important official in the club, and does an outstanding job.  He is very professional in his officiating and keeps things on pace.  His group finished before Chad’s and Thom’s in every rotation!!!  I also want to thank Mike Murdock and Tyler Cookson for helping spot and load throughout the day.  This help allowed me to focus on the daily details, keeping the scores updated, and taking lots of pictures.  Finally, I want to mention and thank my wife Leslie who made the lunch for everyone and puts up with me for stressing over every “little detail”. 

Dan Wagman pressing 435 pounds, which was the top Hackenschmidt Floor Press of the meet.

Now onto the lifting performances.  The IAWA World Champs Dan Wagman and Ruth Jackson made their appearance from Colorado, and added another overall victory to their USAWA resumes. Both performed outstanding in all of these OTSM events.  Dan “put up” the top Hackenschmidt Floor Press of the day with 435 pounds. Newcomer Mike McIntyre lifted 410 pounds in the FP.  Mike is a member of the JWC, and at 29 years of age, has his best lifting years still ahead of him.  KC Strongman Eric Todd also lifted 410 pounds in the FP.  That’s THREE lifters over 400 pounds!!! 

I was very interested to see the big lifts in the Anderson Squat. I was hoping to see several lifts over 800 pounds – and that I did!! Eric Todd became the first USAWA lifter to ever go over 900 pounds (with a lift of 903#).  ET has been “making his name known” in the USAWA this past year with winning the Heavy Lift Champs last spring, and setting the ALL TIME neck lift record at Worlds.  His second place finish in this stellar-packed field of lifters show that he is also a top contender in any future OTSM competition.  John O’Brien of the JWC upped his personal record in the Anderson Squat to 810 pounds. I want to mention that John did this after losing over 30 pounds of bodyweight. This bodyweight loss while maintaining his same strength helped him with the formula adjustment and aided him to get third place overall at this meet. I say this because he “just edged” out Alan English by one point!!!   Alan is a Dino Gym member who I have FINALLY got to compete in an USAWA competition. He is a gifted strength athlete who has lots of strongman victories to his name.  I hope that this meet has inspired him to compete more in the USAWA, because if he does, you will see several great things out of him in the future.  Rounding out the top five was another Dino Gym member, Scott Campbell.  Scott finished off his day with the second highest Anderson Squat, with a lift of 881 pounds.  Scott is a seasoned Highland Game Athlete who has strength that he doesn’t really know he has. 

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson had the top Peoples Deadlift of the meet with this 800 pound lift!

I got a couple of other lifters that I want to mention.  First – Chuck Cookson.  Chuck started the meet off by putting up the top Peoples Deadlift of the day – 800 pounds!!!  However, he opened a little too high on the Anderson Squat (800 pounds!!!) and couldn’t get a lift in.  If he would have got in an Anderson Squat, he would have placed much higher in the overall.  I want to thank Art Montini and Denny Habecker for making the trip from Pennsylvania to compete.  It’s always inspiring to watch these two lift in meets.  I would like to know how many USAWA meets these two have competed in throughout the years. They seem to always be at USAWA events, and have been doing this for 25 years!!! I really doubt if there are very many other lifters in the USAWA that have competed as many times as these two.  I want to thank a couple of Jobe Steel Jungle lifters who made the trip – Tim Songster and Dan Bunch. I really appreciate it when lifters travel to my meets from out of state. This includes Dean Ross from Oklahoma.  I did a quick count and lifters from six states competed in this meet.  That’s simply amazing!!!

As always, I still have lots more to report on but I got to draw a conclusion to my meet report at some point.  Tomorrow I’ll reveal the results from the challenge between the Dino Gym and the Hoghton Barbell Club.  Also, I still have the results from the shooting competition that went on after the meet to report on. That’ll be coming later this week.  Again, I want to thank EVERYONE who competed, helped out, or just showed up to watch.  This will go down as one of the best Dino Gym Challenges of ALL TIME. 

MEET RESULTS:

Dino Gym Challenge
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Officials (1 official system used):  Thom Van Vleck, Chad Ullom, LaVerne Myers

Scorekeeper:  Al Myers

Loaders:  Tyler Cookson, Mike Murdock

Lifts:  Anderson Squat, Hackenschmidt Floor Press, Peoples Deadlift

WOMENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT SQ FP DL TOT PTS
Ruth Jackson 51 107 286 160 319 765 1180.1
Jera Kressly 28 219 319 0 379 698 593.2

EXTRA ATTEMPTS MADE FOR RECORD:

Ruth Jackson: Anderson Squat 308#
Ruth Jackson: Hackenschmidt Floor Press 180#
Jera Kressly: Anderson Squat 352#
Jera Kressly:  Peoples Deadlift 399#

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT SQ FP DL TOT PTS
Dan Wagman 50 185 738 435 677 1850 1917.6
Eric Todd 38 262 903 410 717 2030 1573.1
John O’Brien 44 262 810 380 554 1744 1419.0
Alan English 29 231 694 320 702 1716 1418.1
Scott Campbell 38 287 881 325 654 1860  1378.8
Mark Mitchell 52 316 672 365 624 1661 1329.4
Tim Songster Sr. 45 205 501 285 554 1340 1251.8
Mike McIntyre 29 273 600 410 604 1614 1225.5
Darren Barnhart 45 302 628 340 624 1592 1221.1
Dave Glasgow 59 252 507 250 504 1261 1195.4
Doug Kressly 33  276 540 320 604 1464 1106.1
Scott Tully 37 313  600 320 604 1524 1086.2
Dan Bunch 48 360 551 275 624 1450 1055.3
Denny Habecker 70 198 331 215 349 895 1052.9
Dean Ross 70 273 402 180 379 961 955.9
Ben Edwards 37 217 440 225 449 1114 951.4
Art Montini 85 175 209 120 306 635 895.2
Chuck Cookson 43  275 0 300 800 1100  865.7
Lance Foster 47 330  402 180 554 1136 851.9

 EXTRA ATTEMPTS MADE FOR RECORD:

Denny Habecker:  Anderson Squat 352#
Denny Habecker: Hackenschmidt Floor Press 225#
Denny Habecker: Peoples Deadlift 369#
Dan Bunch: Peoples Deadlift 649#
Dan Wagman: Anderson Squat 782#
Dan Wagman:  Peoples Deadlift 707#
Dean Ross: Peoples Deadlift 399#
Lance Foster: Hackenschmidt Floor Press 190#

EXTRA LIFTS MADE FOR RECORD:

Dan Wagman: Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip 204#
Dan Wagman: Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand 180#
Dan Wagman: Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand 217#
Dan Wagman: Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand 217#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Right Arm 44#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Left Arm 44#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Feet in Air 110#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Hands Together 93.5#
Ruth Jackson: Holdout – Raised 33#
Ruth Jackson: Holdout – Lowered 33#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Right Arm 181.75#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Left Arm 181.75#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Right Arm 90#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Left Arm 90#

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction.

Top Performances of 2012 – PART 2

by Al Myers

Now it’s time to finish the  count down of the TOP PERFORMANCES of 2012! 

5.  Bryan Benzel and his 355 pound Apollons Lift.

Bryan Benzel performing the Apollons Lift at the 2012 Battle in the Barn.

Bryan “THE BIG YOUNG BULL” Benzel made his “name known” at ET’s Battle in the Barn OTSM meet last spring.  Included in the list of events was the Apollons Lift, which represents the performance done by the old time strongman Louis Uni, aka Apollon.  Apollon lifted his famous Apollon’s Wheels, which weighed 366#, overhead in his show performances.   The Bull  about  beat the mark set by the mighty Apollon!

4.  Adam Glass lifting 822 pounds in the Dinnie Lift at the Minneapolis Meet.

Adam Glass performing the Dinnie Lift at the 2012 Minneapolis Meet.

Adam Glass is, without a doubt, a WORLD CLASS grip man.  I am so glad that I was able to see this performance of his first-hand, because if not, I don’t know if I would have truly believed that he could lift so much in the Dinnie Lift.   Hopefully someday Adam will have an opportunity to attempt the actual stones – because if we are taking bets I’m going to place my bet on him that he’ll lift them!

3.  Dan Wagman’s 359 pound Steinborn Lift at Worlds.

Dan Wagman performing the Steinborn Lift in route to winning the Overall Best Lifter at the 2012 IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas.

I’ve known Dan “PURE POWER” Wagman for several years, and know what an outstanding lifter he is.  I had the feeling that the OVERALL CHAMPION of the 2012 Worlds was going to come down to a battle between him and my training buddy Chad.  I felt Chad’s “ace in the hole” was going to be the Steinborn Lift, and a lift that he might be able to distance himself from Dan.  However, this was not to be (even though Chad put up his All Time best Steinborn of 202.5kg) when Dan put up a huge Steinborn Lift of 359 pounds.  I was not expecting this out of Dan – and in turn quite surprised me – and that is why it made my ranking of number 3 of impressive lifts of 2012.

2.  Wilbur Miller’s 457# 12 inch base Deadlift.

Wilbur Miller (left) and Denny Habecker (right) at the Dino Gym.

It’s been years since Wilbur Miller was nicknamed the Cimarron Kid, but at an age of 79 he still lifts like a kid!  This amazing deadlift of his has to be regarded as one of the best performances of ALL-TIME in the USAWA as well.  

1.  Eric “ET” Todd and the monsterous WORLD RECORD Neck Lift of 1030 pounds!

Eric Todd performing his World Record Neck Lift at the 2012 IAWA World Championships.

This was the most impressive lift in the USAWA for 2012. I’m sure most everyone would agree with me on this.   Following the World Championships, Eric and Chad Ullom engaged each other in an “one on one” Neck Lift Challenge to determine who the best neck lifter was.  Both guys eclipsed the 1000 pound barrier in a climatic fashion, and in doing so, set the new mark for Neck Lifting.  I would like to think that both of these guys learned everything they know about Neck Lifting from me – but I know that isn’t true! (but I did make both of their neck harnesses which might have helped them a little bit…)  

HONERABLE MENTION FOR NUMBER ONE -

1.  Chad “THE CHAMP” Ullom lifting the Dinnie Stones for 25 reps! I giving this Honorable Mention Number One because this was not a competition lift – but done within the realms of an IAWA event.

Chad Ullom lifting the Dinnie Stone.

The day after the Gold Cup in Glasgow several of us made a visit to lift the Dinnie Stones. Chad was only hoping to become the FIFTH American to ever lift the stones unassisted (without straps) when he set up for his first attempt.  However, the stones came up with EASE!  It looked like he was warming up with a 135# deadlift!  After that he decided to test himself for total reps and finished with 25 unassisted reps with the Dinnie Stones, the most by anyone in a single day (done along with Mark Haydock of England).  It was a remarkable display of strength.  His performance must have shocked the stone lifting community because afterwards he endured much criticism for this performance along with a personal attack on his character (which included being called a numpkie – I had to ask an English friend what that meant!!  haha ) .  Most of this was fueled by envy and jealousy to discredit him (along with Mark) and to try to take away from their great display of  Dinnie stone lifting.  However, both of these guys showed what class they have by not publicly responding to these personal attacks and proved to me (and others) that they are honorable  individuals.   That’s all I’m going to say about that – I don’t have the time or energy  to deal with the HATERS.

I do want to point out with all this that it was me that suggested they stop at 25 reps to mark the 25th anniversary of IAWA. That was NEVER a goal of theirs going into this day.  They could have done another 25-50 reps if they really wanted to.  Chad’s hands were not the least bit damaged, and his 25th rep was as strong as his first. His grip was not slipping at all and he could have done many more reps.  He looked to me that he was just getting “warmed up”!!  However,  lunch time was upon us and I had to think of some way to get them to stop. I was getting hungry and the fish and chips at the Potarch Hotel were calling to me!!

Lifter of the month: Dan Wagman

by Al Myers

Dan Wagman - USAWA Lifter of the Month for October

The month of November was a busy one for me and sorta “flew by”.  I just realized that I have someone who deserves recognition for the MONTH OF OCTOBER.  His name is DAN WAGMAN and he is the 2012 IAWA World Championship OVERALL BEST LIFTER.  Dan won this title the first weekend in October in Salina, KS at the 25th IAWA World Championships.  It’s a “no brainer” if you win the OVERALL BEST LIFTER at the IAWA World Championships that you will win the USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH.  After all – that’s the highest award any lifter can win during the course of the year in the IAWA.  

Since then, Dan has competed in the Welcome Mat Record Day (results will be coming soon) and has made plans to attend my Dino Gym Challenge in January.   As the new CHAMP of the organization – Dan has “duties” this year of making appearances at USAWA events and competitions.  I know Dan is more than up for this!!!!  Congrats Dan on winning the USAWA  LIFTER OF the MONTH for OCTOBER, 2012.

World Meet Videos

by Al Myers

Dan Wagman performing a IAWA World Record of 112.5 KG in the Pullover and Press at the 2012 IAWA World Championships.

Dan Wagman, the 2012 IAWA World Championships’  OVERALL BEST LIFTER,  has video recorded the Championships and has made this video available to everyone. But first let me say a few things about Dan.  I met Dan several years ago when he lived in Lawrence, Kansas getting his PhD from the University of Kansas.  At that time he came to my place to train a few times.  He has competed in the USAWA before, but it has been a few years (2006 Nationals), so he is no newcomer to All Round Weightlifting.   Dan has a VERY DEEP RESUME of lifting accomplishments.  It would take several pages to give an overview of everything he has achieved.  For those that don’t know this – Dan is the Publisher/Editor in Chief of the Journal of Pure Power.  It is a MUST READ for all strength athletes.  It is an online magazine that covers the scientific knowledge of weightlifting and sports training.  It gives just the FACTS that have been proven in research – not opinions and general ideas like most all other magazines. Dan’s journalistic efforts have been published in several other magazines throughout the years. 

I recommend that everyone “check out” the trial issue of Pure Power.  I am sure that you will be impressed.   I also recommend that you get a subscription so that you will be “up to date” on all the latest strength research.  It is one of the few magazines worth reading now a days.  Details of this are contained within this link to the videos from the World Championships.  

LINK TO WORLD MEET VIDEOS:

http://www.jopp.us/2012iawa.html

World Meet Report

by Al Myers

Group picture from the 2012 IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas.

WOW!  That sums up this past weekend’s World Championships!  I was SO IMPRESSED with the lifters that showed up to participate and celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the International All Round Weightlifting Association.  25 lifters entered, with 24 lifters actually competing.  The competition commenced with an opening ceremony which included lifter introductions and the playing of the anthems of each country represented.  A moment of silence was held in memory of  the late great John Vernacchio.  This was a “moving moment” to start the weekend festivities.

Dan Wagman (right) won the MENS OVERALL BEST LIFTER AWARD.

Competition in the Womens and Mens Divisions was fierce – with newcomer Ruth Jackson winning BEST LIFTER in the Womens Division and Dan Wagman winning BEST LIFTER in the Mens Division. Ruth set several World Records in her IAWA debut as well.  Paula Delamata of England was runner-up as the womens Best Lifter, with Jera Kressly taking third overall.  However, Jera put up the BEST TOTAL amongst the women, including an outstanding Steinborn Lift of 90 KGS and 130 KG Jefferson Lift.

Dan Wagman is NO newcomer to the USAWA.  Dan competed in the 2006 USAWA National Champs in which he did excellent.  Dan has a long and strong  resume of weightlifting accomplishments, so it is no surprise to me that he has now added the OVERALL MENS BEST LIFTER AWARD at the 2012 IAWA Worlds to it.  He is a complete lifter with a strong strength base, and lifts like a man half his age.  I did some checking and  he would have won the BEST LIFTER even without his age allowance.  Chad Ullom gave him a good run throughout the first day, but Chad ended up second overall.  Chad had an outstanding meet (one his best meet efforts that I remember)  and many other days would have walked away with best lifter honors.  Chad’s HIGHLIGHT was his 202.5 KG Steinborn Lift that now resides as the ALL TIME BEST Steinborn Lift in the IAWA, breaking that of 200 KG by Steve Gardner. 

Australian’s John Mahon and Sam Trew made their first appearance in the IAWA Worlds outside of their “home turf”. I met both of these guys last year at the 2011 World Championships in Perth.   These two young bucks have loads of potential – and I can see them being around for quite some time.  I am still marvelling at Sam’s technique in the 1-arm Clean and Jerk.  I had to watch him a couple more times  to really believe I was seeing what I thought I was seeing!  John took the Best Lifter honors for the 20-39 age group.  Great lifting guys!  The IAWA(UK) brought along quite a group to compete - Paula Delamata, Frank Allen, Graham Saxton, and George Dick.  Paula won the Best Lifter award for the 20-39 womens age group, and George took the 60-64 age group Best Lifter award.  The seasoned veterans Frank and Graham lifted exceptional as they usually do.  I was very glad to see this type of International support in our promotional effort of the World Championships. 

The women's division at this Championship was one of the strongest ever in the history of IAWA Championships. (left to right); Paula Delamata, Ruth Jackson, Jera Kressly, Dawn Piper, Susan Sees

I want to congratulate the Ledaig AC (the clubs real name is the Ledaig Heavy Athletics, but I think the way they lift they should be called the Ledaig Athletic Club because they are also very good lifters!)  for winning the Team Title.  Dave Glasgow has really been a big player in the USAWA competitions over the past couple of years. Dave took fourth overall this past summer at the USAWA Nationals in Vegas, and now he adds a THIRD OVERALL at the World Championships!  That’s quite an accomplishment!  I know several VERY, VERY, VERY  GOOD lifters who have never placed that high at the Worlds.  Add in a Team Victory over the host club Dino Gym, and I would say Dave has put himself and his club in the limelight!  I would thank him outright in person, but I already know how he would respond, with a  ”whatever”.  LOL  I do have one gripe with him though – he’s stealing members from the Dino Gym!!!  Doug and Jera Kressly recently have “defected” from the Dino Gym, and joined up with the club that has a name no one can pronounce.  I would have to say Dave that their addition is what gave Club Ledaig the win this past weekend!!!  (but well deserved)

After the meet on Sunday, we had a big Neck Lift One-on-One Challenge between the top two Neck Lifters in the World  Chad Ullom and Eric Todd.  These two have been going “back and forth” with the World Record, so I called both of them out for this challenge to decide it “once and for all”!  The show these two put on was beyond description, and worthy of a later blog just covering it.  So I’m not going to go into much detail yet, except to say that the 1000 pound “magical barrier” was broken by BOTH OF THEM, with ET coming out on top.  More on this story will be coming at a later date.

I have SO MUCH more I could write about covering last weekend, but I promised myself that I would keep this story under 1000 words.  I want to finish it by thanking those that were vital in making this event happen.  First of all, I want to thank my co-promoter Chad.  Without his checkbook I would have lost twice as much money.  Second, I want to thank my good friend and training partner Scott Tully for allowing us use of his facility, the Dino Strength Training Center.   Scott went out of his way to make room for us for the weekend.  Next I want to thank Steve Gardner for announcing and making sure the show ran according to schedule.  Chris Bass came all the way from England to do the scoring for us – BIG THANKS!  Chris is one of those “behind the scenes” guys who does alot for IAWA and doesn’t get thanked enough.  I can’t say enough about the loaders that worked all weekend – Eric Todd, Chuck Cookson, Scott Tully, Tyler Cookson, Matt Cookson, and Mark Mitchell.  A meet only runs as smooth as the loaders load – and this was a top notch performance.  I want to thank the officials as well – Frank Ciavattone, Chad Ullom, Dennis Mitchell, Frank Allen, George Dick, Thom Van Vleck, Karen Gardner, and Graham Saxton.  A premier field of judges for sure.  Lastly I want to thank the meet photographer Darren Barnhart for taking over 700 pictures over the course of the weekend.  I will make these pictures available to anyone who wants them – and once you see them you will see why Darren needs a “pat on the back”.  And last of all I want to THANK THE LIFTERS who showed up to compete!!!

Knee Sleeve Analysis

By Dan Wagman, PhD., CSCS

Consultant, Body Intellect

Publisher/Editor in Chief, Journal of Pure PowerBody Intellect Sports Performance Enhancement Consortium

As part of my training for worlds, I have visited the USAWA website off and on. A topic that caught my attention is the consideration by the IAWA to allow lifters to use knee sleeves. I thought that a rational and scientific analysis of this question might aid in the decision-making. Thus, I will look at what this sport stands for, what research shows on the topic of knee sleeves from a health and performance enhancement perspective, and what the sum of that information indicates in terms of allowing knee sleeves in all-round weightlifting.

ADVOCATING RAW STRENGTH

As step one let’s clarify what the sport of all-round weightlifting stands for. The mission of all-round weightlifting is to test pure, raw, unadulterated maximal strength in a large number of different exercises. A review of IAWA rules supports this. Only in the squat and front squat is the type of equipment that artificially enhances the strength of an athlete—in the form of knee wraps—allowed. This, despite the fact that many other lifts also test the muscles that provide strength and stability to the knee.

In the case of the squat and front squat the main mission of all-round weightlifting seems to be compromised. But consider that in all other lifts the use of performance-enhancing devices isn’t permitted and one must still come to the conclusion that in this sport the use of implements that artificially inflate an athlete’s strength is contrary to the sport’s purpose, mission, and conviction. Indeed, even the use of minor aids such as taping of the thumbs and/or fingers (as permitted in weightlifting) or the use of baby powder for the deadlift (permitted in powerlifting) is not allowed in all-round weightlifting. Though the use of wrist wraps and a belt is authorized, they don’t fall into the same category as knee wraps; the former’s primary function is to only provide joint stability as opposed to outright performance enhancement by aiding in the movement of the joint through its range of motion as knee wraps do. Admittedly, there does appear to be a lack of consistency within the rules of the sport regarding the use of equipment. However, it is equally apparent that because in the overwhelming majority of lifts no outright performance enhancing equipment such as knee wraps is allowed, the sport’s main mission is to remain pure and uncontaminated in the test of maximal strength.

WHY STRAY?

With the fundamental purity of all-round weightlifting in mind, what argument would support changing the rules to allow for the use of knee sleeves? Could it be overall knee health? From a sports medicine perspective, there is absolutely no reason, nor evidence, as to why a healthy knee would require any degree of support, or warming, or anything else in order to move through its full range of motion, even under the sort of substantial load you would experience from, say, a heavy squat.

Consider that one of the ligaments of the knee (posterior cruciate ligament or PCL), designed to keep the thigh and leg together firmly, has been found to have an ultimate strength of up to around 1,000 pounds and another (anterior cruciate ligament or ACL) up to 540 pounds (10, 12, 15), and that the forces of a squat would actually be distributed among a total of four ligaments (though to varying degrees), not to mention tendons and muscles and bones, then it seems clear that the knee joint doesn’t need any artificial help. Of course you might argue that the stresses of lifting weights adds to the stresses of the knee. But first you ought to consider that there is a training effect. In other words, as you train to get stronger so does the rest of your body, including all structures of the knee from exercises that stress that joint. Then consider that research has shown that the max forces of a 615-pound squat only amount to about 450 pounds of shearing forces upon the most highly stressed ligament of the knee during that exercise (PCL) (9), and you’ll have to again conclude that the knee doesn’t require any additional help.

ON HEALTH

But what about an unhealthy knee, say a knee with arthritis? Might that knee benefit from a knee sleeve? And does that benefit constitute the type of performance enhancement that would violate the spirit of all-round weightlifting? Allow me to share my findings with you from a search of all relevant sports medicine research on knee sleeves.

In a review study that looked at a total of 444 people with arthritic knees, knee sleeves improved pain over just taking medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).(2) In another study that looked at overuse injuries to the knee (not arthritis) in 395 army recruits, those that wore a simple elastic knee sleeve had significantly better comfort levels than those who didn’t.(5) Another study wanted to find out about the time-period of improvement.(11) Here, in the beginning weeks of the study patients with osteoarthritis who took meds and wore a knee sleeve did better than those who only took meds. But toward the end of the two-month study there was no difference between using a knee sleeve or just taking meds. Another study also found that wearing an elastic knee sleeve provided immediate pain relief for subjects with osteoarthritis who participated in a stair-climbing power test.(3)

So what about the heat-retaining aspect of a knee sleeve? Many athletes believe this to be perhaps the most important aspect of a knee sleeve. A study conducted at the Indiana University School of Medicine found that the differences were so minor between the knee sleeve and the no knee sleeve conditions, that the investigators couldn’t draw any meaningful conclusions.(8) Of course you have to take exercise into consideration, too. So a study seeking to find out what differences might exist in treating an arthritic knee with exercise, a knee brace, exercise and knee brace, or exercise and knee sleeve found no statistical differences between any of the treatments.(7) In other words, if you exercise, you get just as much pain relief as you would from adding a knee brace or a knee sleeve.

PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT

A critical concern for any sports organization has to deal with what sort of ergogenic aids it will or won’t allow. As it pertains to knee sleeves, one must obviously consider the type of knee sleeve because they aren’t all created equal. I have a knee sleeve that I received as a promotional gift from Titan Support Systems. It is difficult to argue that this knee sleeve is the same as what you would get from a pharmacy or physical therapist; it’s very thick, tight, and rather non-elastic providing much spring to a squat. Unfortunately, there is no research available that sought to quantify the differences in ergogenic properties from this sort of knee sleeve to the one manufactured for people suffering from arthritis. Despite the lack of empirical evidence, it seems rather clear that there is little difference between the Titan knee sleeve and knee wraps, especially if you also consider that a tighter knee sleeve, one that might require two people to don, just like tighter knee wraps will enhance performance more than loser ones. And of course, the more stability a knee sleeve provides the joint, it naturally follows that it will also provide resistance to bending the joint, which in turn means more assistance during lockout.

But performance enhancement doesn’t need to be limited to the obvious, such as aiding the knee in locking out. It can also entail more subtle things such as how a knee sleeve might be able to benefit your balance, kinesthetic feedback, brain signaling, etc. Naturally, the person who doesn’t get this sort of benefit is at a sporting disadvantage. Please consider that all of the findings that follow employed a medical knee sleeve, not the kind you find in powerlifting circles. Now, obviously balance is a big part in most if not all lifts contested in all-round weightlifting, but perhaps most in one-armed lifts. With that in mind, consider that patients wearing a knee sleeve were able to balance better in static and dynamic conditions compared to those who didn’t wear such a sleeve.(4)

Part of being able to balance effectively means that you actually have a sense of where your body is in space. A lot of this sort of kinesthetic feedback comes from the joints. So might wearing a knee sleeve improve a person’s sense of knee joint position during a leg extension and leg press? Yes, but perhaps the most interesting finding of a study that looked precisely at that was that the degree of benefit derived from wearing a knee sleeve was highly person-dependent.(1) In other words, some people got a lot from it, others much less. Another similar study found that wearing a knee sleeve consistently improved proprioceptive acuity, meaning that your sense of position and movements are enhanced.(6) Of course as an athlete you have to deal with the effects of fatigue. Obviously, as you fatigue your performance will suffer. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that by wearing a knee sleeve while fatigued, joint position senses were significantly enhanced.(14)

From a scientific perspective, it seems rather clear that wearing a knee sleeve can be beneficial in terms of enhancing performance. But what could be causing this? Scientists from the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy at Ghent University Hospital in Belgium looked at brain activity while wearing a knee sleeve.(13) They used a method called functional magnetic resonance imaging, which allows you to watch changes in the brain as they occur. What they found is that wearing a knee sleeve while moving influences brain activity in a positive way.

FAIR COMPETITION?

A logical and rational approach to answering the question regarding knee sleeves in all-round weightlifting must first address whether doing so would compromise what the organizations that govern this sport stand for. In this case, it seems clear that the overwhelming evidence stands for testing maximal strength sans any type of equipment that might enhance performance. Of the over 100 lifts that can be contested, only the squat and front squat allow for performance-enhancing knee wraps. Though perhaps misguided, to the rational person this only constitutes an aberration to the overall mission of the sport, not necessarily a precedent for allowing additional equipment.

And yet one must ask that if it’s indeed permissible to use knee wraps in two lifts, by what logic would it not be permissible to use the exact same equipment in all similar lifts? And by this extension of rational thought, why would knee sleeves not be permissible? Of course if they do become permissible, one must also ascertain under what rules of logic would it then not be permissible to use elbow sleeves? After all, an argument based on anatomy and physiology would fall way short in allowing for a sleeve around the large and powerful knee joint, yet not for the elbow joint.

Clearly the research on knee sleeves in an arthritic population shows that it can hold many benefits from pain reduction to increased proprioception and being able to deal with the effects of fatigue. A legitimate need to wear a knee sleeve would be having an arthritic knee. But from an organizational perspective, how does one determine the degree of arthritis and the extent to which it limits the athlete and causes pain? Does that athlete have to bring a doctor’s note to competition? How else would one determine wether a competitor suffers from this sort of medical condition, or a related one, or just wants to have an unfair advantage over his/her competition? And why should an allowance be made in the first place for an injured athlete? Isn’t sport supposed to test the most capable of bodies? It’s one thing to allow a person to use drugs to control pain, an entirely different situation for allowing the use of mechanical devices a person wears to control pain (and thus enhance performance).

In the final analysis it seems that the first test is what the sport of all-round weightlifting stands for. With that in mind, the only rational answer to the knee sleeve question is not to permit it for any lift. The second tier of reasoning ought to look at any anatomical, physiological, or biological need for the use of knee sleeves. As we have learned, the knee and its associated structures are immensely strong, rendering the need of knee sleeves gratuitous, even in the arthritic knee as exercise controls pain well. And in all-round weightlifting, we sure exercise.

References

1. Birmingham, T.B., et al. Effect of a neoprene sleeve on knee joint position sense during sitting open kinetic chain and supine closed kinetic chain tests. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 26(4):562-566, 1998.

2. Brouwer, R., et al. Braces and orthoses for treating osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. 25;(1):CD004020, 2005.

3. Bryk, F., et al. Immediate effect of the elastic knee sleeve use on individuals with osteoarthritis. Revista Brasileira De Reumatologia. 51(5):440-446, 2011.

4. Chuang, SH., et al. Effect of knee sleeve on static and dynamic balance in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Journal of Medicine and Science. 23(8):405-411, 2007.

5. Finestone, A., et al. Treatment of overuse patellofemoral pain. Prospective randomized controlled clinical trial in a military setting. Clinical Orthopaedics And Related Research. 293:208-10, 1993.

6. Herrington, L., et al. The effect of a neoprene sleeve on knee joint position sense. Research in Sports Medicine. 13(1):37-46, 2005.

7. Lun, V., et al. Effectiveness of patellar bracing for treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 15(4):235-240, 2005.

8. Mazzuca, S.A., et al. Pilot study of the effects of a heat-retaining knee sleeve on joint pain, stiffness, and function in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatism. 51(5):716-721, 2004.

9. Nissel, R., et al. Joint load during the parallel squat in powerlifting and force analysis of in vivo bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture. Scandinavian Journal of Sports Science. 8:63-70, 1986.

10. Noyes, F., et al. Biomechanical analysis of human ligament grafts used in knee-ligament reparis and reconstructions. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 66A:344-352, 1984.

11. Pajareya, K., et al. Effectiveness of an elastic knee sleeve for patients with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized single-blinded controlled trial. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. 86(6):535-42, 2003.

12. Race, A., et al. The mechanical properties of the two bundles of the human posterior cruciate ligament. Journal of Biomechanics. 27:13-24, 1994.

13. Thijs Y., et al. Does bracing influence brain activity during knee movement: An fMRI study. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy. 18(8):1145-1149, 2010.

14. Van Tiggelen, D., et al. The use of a neoprene knee sleeve to compensate the deficit in knee joint position sense caused by muscle fatigue. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 18(1):62-66, 2008.

15. Woo, S., et al. Tensile properties of the human femur-anterior cruciata ligament-tibia complex. The effects of specimen age and orientation. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 19:217-225, 1991.