Continental Clean and Jerk

by Al Myers

USAWA Hall of Famer Jim Malloy performing a Continental to Chest and Jerk. Or is he doing a Continental Clean and Jerk?

One of the lifts that is going to be contested next November at the 2011  IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia is the Continental Clean and Jerk.  Or is it the Continental to Chest and Jerk, as described in the USAWA Rulebook??    At first glance, one would think these are the same lift, just with different names.  I know I did.  But in comparing the IAWA(UK)  rules for the Continental Clean and Jerk and the USAWA rules for the Continental to Chest and Jerk I found SEVERAL DIFFERENCES.  The Continental Clean and Jerk is NOT an USAWA Lift and the Continental to Chest and Jerk is NOT an IAWA lift.  I know – that’s confusing!!

The USAWA Rule for the Continental to Chest and Jerk:

A23. Continental to Chest

The lifter starts with the bar on the platform in front of the lifter and raises it by any method of the lifter’s choosing onto the lifter’s chest above the pectoral muscle. The bar may be raised in one or a series of movements and may come to rest, be lowered, or make contact with any part of the legs and body during the lift. However, the bar must not be upended into any position on the body. Hand spacing and grip are of the lifter’s choosing and may be altered on the bar during the lift. The hands may be removed from the bar during the lift. The bar may come to rest on the lifter’s belt. A towel may be placed in the belt for the bar to rest on. Touching the platform with a knee or the buttocks is permissible. It is a disqualification for the bar or plates to touch the platform before the finish of the lift. Once the lifter’s legs are straightened, the lifter’s body erect, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, the bar motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is placed on the platform under control by the lifter.

A24. Continental to Chest and Jerk

The rules of the Continental to Chest apply for the first part of this lift. Once the bar is in the proper position on the chest, a jerk or behind the neck jerk is performed. The rules of the Jerk or Jerk-Behind Neck apply.

The IAWA(UK)  Rule for the Continental Clean and Jerk:

B28.  CONTINENTAL CLEAN

The bar will be lifted from the floor, coming to rest in the finish position for the clean. The difference between the continental and the regular clean is the fact that it can be raised by any method of the lifters choice, other than upending the bar into position. The bar may be raised in one or a series of movements, it may come to rest, be re-lowered, and make contact with any part of the legs or body during the lift. Touching the lifting surface with any part of the knees or buttocks is permissible. The grip is optional and may be altered during the lift. The signal to replace the bar will be given when the lifter is motionless in the finished clean position, the bar gripped with both hands, body erect, legs braced and feet parallel and in line with the torso. A supportive belt with a folded towel or similar material placed inside it and at the front, may be used to assist the lifter, who may choose to clean the bar from the belt.

Causes for Failure:

1 Allowing the bar to make contact with the lifting surface during the lift.

2 Failure to maintain the finish position, bar on upper chest, legs braced and feet parallel and in line with the torso.

3 Lowering or replacing the bar before the referees signal.

B30.   CONTINENTAL CLEAN AND JERK

The rules of performance for the continental clean apply to the clean part of the lift, and the rules of performance for the jerk apply to the jerk part of the lift, except that the jerk can be done from a position in front or behind the neck, it is the lifters choice. There is no limit to the number of attempts made to clean or jerk the bar, once it is lifted from the floor. The lift may also finish with a press out.

Causes for Failure:

1 The causes for failure are the same as for the continental clean, and the jerk, except that it is the lifters choice to jerk from a front or behind the neck position.

After reading these two rule descriptions it is pretty easy to see the differences.  The USAWA only applies the use of “continental” to getting the bar to the chest, whereas the IAWA rule allows even the Jerk to be “continentaled”.   Taking  multiple attempts at the Jerk and allowing a press out (which is a direct rules violation of a Jerk,  but then again the use of the term continental to describe a clean is also a direct violation of the definition of  a clean) definitely makes the IAWA version of this lift  a much easier method than the USAWA version.  I might add that the IAWA version definitely will make the judging easier on interpreting the lockout!!!

I’m not interested in debating which is the “correct” rule for this lift.  But I will say that these are two distinct different lifts.  I just want everyone from the USAWA who plans to compete in next years IAWA Championships to be aware of this before they get there.  It seems every year at the World Championships I am presented with a different IAWA  rule for a lift that I was not aware of beforehand, because we (the USAWA) have slightly different rules on several lifts.  This frustrates me because  I consider myself  “in the know” on the rulebook.   Why do these differences persist?  After all, all the rules for the lifts started with ONE WRITTEN RULE in the original rulebook from 1987.  The IAWA(UK) developed their rulebook from these rules and the USAWA developed our rulebook from these original rules.  As of now, there IS NOT a specific IAWA Rulebook, rather we use the IAWA(UK) Rulebook for the IAWA Rules.  Unlike us (the USAWA), the IAWA(UK) have only made changes (besides editing and clarifications) based on membership votes at the IAWA Annual General Meetings, which contains representation of all countries involved in IAWA.  We have made changes in the USAWA Rulebook based on membership votes at the USAWA Annual Meetings.  The IAWA(UK) have maintained their rulebook this way so ONLY IAWA rules and lifts will be in play in the UK.  This is the reason we have lifts in the USAWA that the English do not, as we have approved them at USAWA meetings and these same lifts were turned down (or not presented) at IAWA meetings by membership vote.  The IAWA(UK) only accepts new lifts and rule changes into their rulebook that are accepted at the world meetings.

I won’t go into my opinion on these matters, but I hope in the future we will work better together in at least having consistent rules in the individual lifts.  I know it will take time to identify and resolve all issues, but at least I feel we are taking steps in the right direction.

Definition of a Clean

by Al Myers

Longtime USAWA veteran Jim Malloy properly demonstrates how to "catch" a Clean.

The Clean is a lift that is not contested by itself in the USAWA as an Official Lift, but is a big part of several other lifts.  Lifts like the Clean and Press, Clean and Seated Press, Clean and Push Press, and the Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells are very common lifts contested in the USAWA.  We (the USAWA) define a Clean differently than what is commonly referred to as a  “Clean” in gyms all over the country.   The USAWA Rulebook clearly outlines the Rules for the Clean:

The bar will be placed on the platform, in front of the lifter’s feet. The lifter will grip the bar with the palms of the hands facing the lifter, and then in one single and continuous movement lift the bar to the chest. The lifter may choose any width of hand spacing. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter may drop under the bar as it goes to the chest, using a squat-style catch in which the legs are bent, or a split-style catch in which the legs split. The lifter may also choose to drop only slightly, using a power-style catch. The bar may touch the lifter’s thighs and body during the lift. The bar must come to rest on the clavicles or on the chest above the pectoral muscle in a smooth continuous movement with arms bent. The feet may move during the lift. The elbows and the upper arms must not touch the knees or legs during the lift or it will be a disqualification. No other part of the body other than the feet may touch the platform during the lift. The lifter will recover and stand when ready, from the squat or split position, to an upright standing position. The legs must be straight with the feet parallel and in line with the torso. Once in this position with the bar motionless and under control, the clean portion of the lift is finished.

As you can see from this Rule Description  the bar must go from “the floor to the chest” in one motion.  Also,  you can not support the bar on the body during a Clean as that is a violation, as outlined in the General Rules of the Lifts in the USAWA Rulebook. Section IX.3 states, “Neither the body nor the equipment may support a weight in any manner during a lift.” Of course if the Individual Rules of a Lift state exceptions then they over-ride General Rules.  This is the case with this lift, The Continental to Chest, which in some ways is similar to a Clean.  The beginning and end of the Clean and the  Continental to Chest is the same – it is just what happens in between that is different!   This is where the confusion arises.  Continental is even defined in the USAWA Rulebook in the Glossary.  It states, “Continental – This means that the lift may be done in any manner, with minimal restrictions.  The bar may stop, be lowered, be supported by the body, or be lifted unevenly. The hands do not need to stay on the bar and any grip may be used.” In other words – ANYTHING GOES!!

So, a lift from the platform can be called either a Clean or a Continental.  It can not be called BOTH!  And please don’t use the terminology “Continental Clean” to describe a lift  – that is a misnomer due to  being a conflict of description between  both words. The USAWA has adopted the “modern day” rules of the Clean.  Look back in history and you will see the Rules of the Clean were more difficult than what we use now.  The word Clean, was first used because it applied to the bar being taken to the shoulders clean, or clear, of the body.  In other words – no touching of the legs on the way up!!  How many proficient Olympic Lifters do you see keeping the bar “away” from the body?  NONE!! Our Rules of the Clean allow the bar to touch the legs or body without it being a rules infraction.

When the USAWA Rulebook was updated last year, several of the lift names changed to better reflect how the lifts were performed.  In example, the “Two Hands Standing Press” was changed to the “Clean and Press”.  The new updated Rulebook (the 4th Edition which will be released  the first of August) will have some added rule descriptions as it applies to a Dumbbell Clean.  This will be added, “Both dumbbells must be cleaned at the same time and in one motion from the platform to the shoulders. It is an infraction to clean the dumbbells from the hang position”.  THAT is the way it has always SUPPOSED to have been but I wonder how many times, because it wasn’t laid out clearly in the Rulebook, this rule of the clean has been  violated.  I’m willing to bet that several records have been recorded in the USAWA Record List where the dumbbell/or dumbbells were taken to the shoulders using a Hang Clean.  Here is an example that I am sure even some “seasoned officials” have been confused on.  Both are one arm dumbbell lifts in which the dumbbell needs to be taken to the shoulder first in order to perform the lift.  What is the difference in taking the dumbbell to the shoulder between the “Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, One Arm” and the “Press – Dumbbell, One Arm”?  You should now know this if you have been reading and following what I have described above.  In the first lift the dumbbell needs to be Cleaned correctly, while in the second lift the dumbbell can be taken to the shoulder in any manner, even using BOTH HANDS. Our previous Rulebooks called these two lifts the “One Hand Clean and Jerk with Dumbbell” and the “One Hand Dumbbell Press”.  It would be easy to see how the name “One Hand Dumbbell Press” could imply that ONLY ONE  HAND must be used throughout, which is not the case.

Our Rulebook is far from being perfect.  However, it is far better written now than before.  If we continue to update and correct it every year with issues like this  brought up during the year, it will only get better.

Hall of Fame Biography – Jim Malloy class of 1996

Jim Malloy performing a Clean and Press.

Jim Malloy was born July 7th, 1941 and currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Following High School graduation, Jim went to work in a steel mill where he has worked for over 47 years. He has been married to his wife, Sandy, for over 45 years. They have one daughter, Tracey, who now lives in Texas. Jim started out with Olympic Weightlifting in 1968, and then got involved with the USAWA in April of 1990 after being introduced to all-round weightlifting by Bob Karhan. Jim spends most of his training time lifting in his garage. When asked if there were any lifters that inspired him in all-round weightlifting, Jim named two great lifters – Howard Prechtel and Art Montini. Jim worked out with Howard quite often, and often helped Howard in the promotion of several competitions, which included a National Championship, a World Championship and several Gold Cups. Jim is a true all-rounder with his lifting and has set USAWA records in many lifts that are very different from each other. Jim has done a 400# Front squat, a 400# one handed Deadlift, a Continental to Chest and Jerk of 300#, and a 420# Zercher Lift. I should also mention that these were all done after the age of 50!!!! Jim has set over 100 USAWA records and has lifted in close to 100 competitions. Among his greatest accomplishments in the USAWA was winning overall Best Lifter at the National Championships in 1997. He was the Master’s Best Lifter in 1994 and 1997 at the National Championships. He has also won many Championships in his age and weight class. Another thing that is very impressive is Jim has placed in the Top Ten Overall in 12 National Championships!!!! He has also placed in the top six in 4 IAWA World Championships, with his best placing being 3rd Overall in 1995. When asked what he likes about the USAWA, Jim replied, ” I have lifted in several other weightlifting organizations, but nothing compares to the people I have met in the USAWA.” Jim is a great Champion and role model in the sport of All-Round Weightlifting.

Jim Malloy performing a Jefferson Lift.

Records Race

by Al Myers


After the recent activity of several record days and meets, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the USAWA Records Race between Denny “Prez” Habecker and Art “Man of Steel” Montini.  After Worlds, Denny was holding a slight lead over Art for most current records held in the USAWA (4 records).  It is still very close, but Denny has increased his lead over Art.  These two are WAY AHEAD of the rest of the field, and I have a feeling the battle between the two of them will continue for quite some time.  I have expanded the list from the TOP TEN to the lifters who hold over 100 USAWA current records. I’m going to call it the CENTURY CLUB, which seems appropriate since most lifters in it are approaching that age!  To date, there are 20 lifters who hold over 100  USAWA records. Special recognition goes to Scott Schmidt – the most recent addition to this elite group of lifters.

Century Club


1.   361  Denny Habecker
2.   350  Art Montini
3.   225  John McKean
4.   216  Bill Clark
5.   214  Noi Phumchona
6.   207  Dennis Mitchell
6.   207  Frank Ciavattone
8.   204  Joe Garcia
9.   201  Bob Hirsh
10.  195  Al Myers
11.  171  Howard Prechtel
12.  138  Dale Friesz
13.  137  Jim Malloy
14.  134  Ed Schock
15.  123  John Monk
16.  118  Mary McConnaughey
17.  114  Chris Waterman
18.  110  Joshua Monk
19.  106  John Vernacchio
20.  106  Scott Schmidt

Congratulations to JIM MALLOY – who just recently passed the USAWA Rules Test. Jim has now joined the ranks of a LEVEL 2 Official – which includes passing the Rules Test and having the experience of officiating in over 25 USAWA/IAWA competitions.  I want to point out that all certified officials (both level 1 and level 2) have the same authority as officials. “Level 2″ just distinguishes those who have completed both avenues in becoming an USAWA official.  I know there probably are individuals who have met the “experience requirement” to be on the list (as a Level 1 Official) and are not listed there. I have no way of knowing who these are if I am not told, especially if these individual’s involvement happened many years ago, before I got involved in the USAWA. Most old result sheets didn’t list who the Officials were even.  If this is YOU , and you have officiated in over 25 USAWA All-Round Competitions in the past,  and want to get involved again in the USAWA as an Official – PLEASE let me know and I’ll gladly put you on the list. The USAWA would LOVE to get you back into the fold!!  The “experience” route was developed in the Rule Book as a “Grandfather Clause” so those very qualified and experienced officials would not have to “start over” in getting certified as an USAWA Official. After all, these individuals have already “earned” their official status the hard way – by sitting in the judges chair for many, many hours.  The purpose of the Rules Test is about certifying NEW officials.