Lifter of the Month: Dave Glasgow

by Al Myers

Dave Glasgow with a 1200 pound Harness Lift at the 2014 Dino Gym Challenge in January.

Congrats goes to Dave Glasgow for being the USAWA Lifter of the Month for January!!  Dave competed in the Dino Gym Challenge in January – the tribute to Warren Lincoln Travis.  Along with competing, Dave encouraged other Ledaig Club members to attend (Larry Traub, Doug Kressly, and Logan Kressly).  Without Dave’s support of this meet – it would not have been the success it was!  Dave has been one of the most active members in the USAWA these past few years and has promoted several meets (including last year’s Club Championships).  He is well-deserving of this award, and is a great representative of the organization.

Bill Good and the Good Dumbbell

by Al Myers

Bill Good and the Good Dumbbell.

Dennis Mitchell’s story on the Good Brothers got me thinking about the Good Dumbbell, and the brother who made it famous – Bill.  Bill would often celebrate his birthday every year by Harness Lifting the Good Dumbbell for repetitions. He did this up to the age of 90 years. In 1986 on Bill’s 76th birthday, he promised to lift the dumbbell 76 times, one rep for each year of age. This “stunt” was picked up by television and was well publicized.  He easily exceeded this mark.  The Good Dumbbell has a storied history, encompassing more than one famous strongman.  The Good Brothers purchased it from an Oldtime Strongman who’s name is embedded in the history of the USAWA, and of which we have a lift named after.  This man was Warren Lincoln Travis, and it is reported they purchase it from him for $110 in 1929.  The Good Dumbbell was displayed publicly for many years at the Crystal Spring Water Company in Adamstown, PA.  Around 2007, the Good Dumbbell went missing.  No one knew what happened to it for a couple of years.  Luckily, the new owner has made it known that the Good Dumbbell is in “safe keeping” and hopefully in the future it will once again be on display.

Harness Lift:Part 2

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck getting "Down and Dirty" to judge the Harness Lift with a helper!

My own story on the Harness lift goes like this.  After that 2006 USAWA Nationals mentioned in part 1: Harness Lift, I got one of the harnesses and heavy bars Al made special for that meet.  I brought it home but did not have enough weight to load it!  So I contacted my good friend, Bob McConaughey with the BNSF railroad and he set me up with a pair of railroad car wheels.  I thought the RR car wheels would be cool to lift and we could also use them in our strongman evangelism shows.  I’ll never forget our conversation when he asked me what size I wanted:

Thom:  “So, what size do you have?”

Bob:  “Well, they can range from 1000lbs and up to 4000lb”

Thom: “Apeice!!!!……uhhh…what’s the smallest you can get me?”

Bob (laughing):  “I think we could find you some coal car wheels that are in the 800lb range!”

So, it was off to Galesburg, Illinois to pick up some surplus steel!  I took my half ton truck to pick up a ton and a half of steel.  John O’Brien went along for the ride and upon arriving, the trainmaster took us down to the yard to get them loaded.  They were on a palate and I’ll never forget when the trainmaster asked the loading dock guy for help loading them and the loader looked at the wheels and at us and said, “Don’t you think a fork lift would be easier”!?  As he walked off to get the fork lift, the trainmaster mutter under his breath a more crude version of “NO CRAP”!!!  My poor pick up has hauled a lot of crazy stuff over the years, but you should have seen the it sink under that weight!

I got them home, and realized as I got them into my gym that these things were so heavy they were actually extremely dangerous, if they tipped over they could sever whatever was under them.  But, I got them modified and loaded on to my heavy bar.  My Dad had come over and helped me slip the harness on and I made my adjustments.  Finally, I had them adjusted and with an estimated 1700lbs, I began to pull….an pull….and pull.  It was then I realized that when you do Heavy Lifts, you have to have a whole new mindset!  Upon proper mental approach which involves pain tolerance and the feeling that something is going to rip in any given joint in your body, I lifted it.  I then loaded it to an estimated 2000lbs and after a couple of attempts, got that, too.  I was elated!!!  Later, I took my shirt off to shower and looked in the mirror and realize I had blood blisters all over my shoulders and hips.  I looked like I had been bull whipped!  The next day I felt some serious joint and muscle soreness, but a lasting satisfaction that I had “lifted a ton”!

If you want to get started in Harness Lifting, my recommendation is you need to work into it slower than I did and get some coaching by someone that knows what they are doing….it will save you some time and maybe injuries!  Since you aren’t going to buy a harness or Heavy Bar at the local sporting goods store, I would take a good look at a Harness before making one and ask guys who have them how they made them.  They have made all the mistakes for you and can tell you the best way to go about it.

Finally, you are always welcome to stop by the JWC Training Hall and give the Harness lift a shot!

Harness Lift:Part 1

by Thom Van Vleck

Big Al Myers lifted 2800# in the Harness Lift at the 2006 USAWA Nationals

The Harness Lift is one of the more intriguing lifts in the USAWA.  How often can a person lift a ton….literally!  Let’s review the Harness Lift rules from the USAWA rule book: A Heavy Lift Bar is used in this lift. A harness is also used, which fits over the shoulders and around the waist. An adjustable chain and hook is attached to the harness so it may be attached to the Heavy Lift Bar. The width of the harness must not exceed 4 inches around the waist and 3 inches over the shoulders. The lifter is also allowed to use hand rails to support the arms during the lift. The hand rails may be of any design. A hand rail does not need to be used, and the lifter may support the arms on the legs during the lift. The lifter assumes a position in which the lifter is straddling the Heavy Lift Bar. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter may adjust the chain length to his/her preference prior to the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed one test lift to check the balance of the weight and to make adjustments to the chain length. The lifter will stand and lift the weights from the platform. The shoulders and torso do not have to be upright upon the finish of the lift. The legs must straighten, but the knees do not need to be locked. Once the weight is motionless, and the plates on both ends of the bar are off the platform at the same time, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Steve Schmidt is responsible for some of the most amazing Harness lifts of all time.  At the 1988 Backbreaker he did 3500lbs in the 105kg class and in 1992 Backbreaker he did 3315lbs weighing in some 10kg less in the 95kg class.  But the best of all time, was at the 1991 back breaker where Steve did 3515lbs in the 100kg class! Another amazing Harness lifter is Joe Garcia.

But to me, my favorite memory of the Harness lift took place when I was a head judge at the 2006 USAWA Nationals.  There was a lot of big Harness lifts that day but a real battle emerged between Al Myers and Ian Reel.  Al was the wiley veteran and Ian was the young rookie.  It was a battle for the ages!  I was extremely impressed with Ian (I’ve come to expect big lifts out of Al!).  I recall getting down at floor level trying to check for clearance and seeing that heavy bar bend like a bow!  That was some serious weight!  When the dust settled, Ian (who was officially lifting in the 110kg class) equaled Al’s 2800lbs (Al was in the 115kg class) so by virtue of bodyweight, I have to give youth the victory on this one.  I hope when Ian is done with his collegiate throwing career he makes a return to the USAWA….I hear he’s “filled out” now!

Youth is served! Ian Reel matches Al Myers lift for lift in the Harness Lift while recording the top Harness Lift of All-Time by a teenager.