Grip Championships

by Al Myers

USAWA NATIONAL GRIP CHAMPIONSHIPS

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

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

MEET REPORT by Ben Edwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEET RESULTS

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

Meet Director:   Al Myers

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

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

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

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

Myers

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

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

Extra lifts for records:

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

BEST LIFTER AWARDS

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

2010 Grip Challenge

by Ben Edwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dino Gym Grip Challenge

by Al Myers

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

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

Meet Director Ben Edwards Awards Andrew Durniat his Cash Prize

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

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

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

FULL MEET RESULTS:

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

Meet Director:  Ben Edwards

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

Loaders:  Scott Tully and Mark Mitchell

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

Results:

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


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

Extra Attempts for records:

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

Ben Edwards – Meet Director of the Dino Grip Challenge

by Al Myers

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

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

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