Try DIGGING into a heavy workout!

by John McKean

" Winning one of Al's Dumbbell Walk Handles helped crafty ole John to develop an enjoyable new fitness movement! Can ya DIG it?!"

Before we started dating, my future wife, Marilyn, told me I couldn’t touch her with a 10′ pole. So I got an 11′ pole – it musta worked as we’ll be married for 45 years this September!

Seriously, the long pole has figured its way into my training regimen ever since I studied and practiced Chinese long pole FORMS over 20 years ago in Wing Chun Kung Fu. In addition to use as a self defense tactic, this leverage form of resistance has been terrific for both cardio training, when done for a sufficient length of time, and is fantastic for a warmup to an all-round lifting program. A long pole’s smooth flow and circular motions, when done in precise martial arts patterns, really activates and awakens every muscle of the body.

However, while playing around with training tools this past winter, it occurred to me that the long pole, with one of Al’s homemade “Dumbbell Walk Handles” slid down and positioned on one end would yield a lot more resistance from the pole’s other far side. This would yield a heavier, rep oriented, leverage-weighted exercise, that maybe wouldn’t require a half hour of work, for use as a pre workout warmup. I recalled how my old friend, the late Dr. Len Schwartz, in his original “Heavyhands” text had advocated a digging type movement with the small dumbbells that he employed for aerobic training. Dr. Len was very high on all the benefits of his shoveling motion, but couldn’t convince many to attempt it, as this particular exercise seemed awkward to maneuver with 2 dumbbells. Later, however, as Schwartz formulated awesome “Longstrength” programs – which were much shorter duration than standard aerobic sessions, with slightly heavier fitness movements – shoveling fit right in. He even devised a screw-in 6″ dumbbell connector which welded two dumbbells into one solid unit.

Now my LONG lever “shovel” makes this exercise quite a bit more hardy than did Dr. Schwartz’ tool. With added barbell plates and collars it can be loaded heavy enough, if desired, to produce an actual one rep maximum lift ! Yet I still keep it unloaded as pictured here to go through wide arc front circles, back circles, and realistic over the head shoveling. Hitting both left and right sides, I find that about 35 reps for these 6 maneuvers instills a robust feeling that just begs the ole bod to attack some serious heavy barbell work!

Of course, there is plenty of room for much further exploration, and many other digging style exercises to be discovered. From my initial experimentation I can assure that besides a superb warmup, my forearms, biceps, and obliques are becoming seriously toned from this fun activity! Even Marilyn must see the positive benefits – I’m now allowed a mere 7′ pole around her and for workouts!

Perfect Powerful Pulls

by John McKean

Little known Pennsylvania lifter Jim Dorn of the 1963 era pressing 300 pounds!

Audience chanting called a halt to the proceedings at the 1963 Senior National Weightlifting Championships. No, not due to a poor judging decision, nor a new record lift. Rather the mere appearance of a little known 181 pound wonder named Jim Dorn created this immediate stir. The uninformed in the crowd assumed him to be a bodybuilder, rather than the dedicated olympic lifting stylist that he was, yet everyone demanded to see him flex his wing like lats! Heck, even the normally gruff, stoic John Terpak later wrote that Dorn had “unquestionably the broadest back in the world for his height and weight”! Fortunately the MC of the evening was Bob Hoffman, who was more than happy to promote one of his York team members, and to plug his top selling power racks (on which Dorn trained exclusively)! Of course the packed auditorium went berserk when the 5′7″ phenomenon flexed those lats, seeming wider than he was tall.

What an all-rounder Jim would have made! In addition to a 315 pound press, 285 pound snatch, and a North American Championship title (among others), Dorn performed a 275 pound cheat curl (205 strict), a 670 pound parallel squat (with hands on thighs), and a 405 pound jerk off the rack. And when pushed into it by Coach Hoffman, later took the Mr. Pennsylvania crown. Hard to believe that this type of power and physique were built primarily with mostly single holds inside a power rack, using 8 key partial lifts!

As indicated in an early 60s Strength & Health story, Jim’s usual home training featured only these power rack holds and ONE SET OF ONE format: top press 520 X 1, eye level press 360 X 1, chin level press 520 X 1,quarter squat 1000 X 6, middle pull 420 X1, front squat (from bottom up) 390 X 3, deadlift (just off floor for the start) with shrug 670 X 1, and bench press (starting from a rack pin 4″ above chest) 470 X1. On each of the single rack holds, he held either just off starting pins, into a slightly higher rack pin, or maintaining a support (as in the top press and quarter squat) for 10 SECONDS. Oh yeah, he finished each session with a set of 6 in a slow stretching type of chin behind the neck. However, I’m convinced that it was his pulling HOLDS over that TIME, that created his awesome pulling power and super wide upper back!

I’ve written previously, of course, of the value of slightly moving isometrics & holds, but wish to put forth some pulling experiments I’ve been doing for a while that just may make this treacherous exercise a bit more user friendly! After all, none of us in the all-round bunch are getting any younger, and these heavy duty holds are nasty to one’s blood pressure! But, though mostly forgotten, we should strive to discover how to make such miraculous, short & concentrated rack routines work for us. We may never get the world record pulls and back structure of Bill March, Lou Riecke, or Serge Redding. In case you don’t know Serge, he used mostly standard olympic lift training, tho included one special pull iso — musta worked because at 5′8″ and up to 308# bwt, he did an official 502 pound WR press, a 401 snatch, and measured 65″ around the shoulders!! More on him in another story!! However, using TIME in holding a row, continental from thigh level, snatch grip pulls, etc., could mean a whole bunch of ‘Rounder records!

Now, what I’ve found, old gomer that I’m becoming (68 last Sunday! and his wife who is proofing this reminded him that he’s well into full bloom gomerhood!), is that I don’t need to explode head veins from a 10 to 12 second hold as twenty-something Dorn & March were doing. Instead, I separate my rack lifts into 2 sets of 2, with each hold into a slightly higher rack pin, lasting only 3 seconds. I still get in the all-important HOLD of 12 seconds, but have not come even close to passing out as I did in the old days (so that’s what happened to him y’all are saying!)! For instance, I’ll get a pretty hefty poundage on the strict row, pull to a pin 4″ above and hold for 3 seconds, lower and pull/hold for another 3 seconds, then rest for a few minutes and do the second set. By the way, if you don’t have access to a power rack, this same performance can be achieved with chains & “S” hooks over the bar to secure various pull positions, or even rig up a thick rubber bungee around one’s barbell!

It must be working – my poundages are going up, even at an age where gains should NOT be achieved, and the all-round pulling lifts are feeling much easier! I’m even noting a big increase in wideness these days – though I expect this is mostly from Marilyn’s fresh stacks of Christmas cookies, rather than extra muscle on the upper back!

All-Round Peak Contraction

by John McKean

Maxick - the famous muscle control artist.

Each thigh was bigger in circumference than the lifter’s entire inseam measured. And those legs were CUT ! My good friend Santos Martinez was famed for his olympic lifting and physique wins here in Pittsburgh during the early 1960s, and later for powerlifting. Usually weighing 198 pounds at about 5′7″ in height, Santos always impressed with his rugged, deeply etched all-over body massiveness, yet I NEVER saw him perform a single bodybuilding exercise during the years I knew him ; he was strictly a LIFTER ! So it was a surprise to many of us when an upstart local physique competitor, an arrogant kid just out of his teens,named Bernie, challenged Santos to return to the posing dias. The gym conversation went something like “Hey,old man, you USED to win some of those dreary, ancient muscle shows, but you’d have no chance against a modern bodybuilder like me! I’ve been winning everything throughout the area for 3 years now, and these days they want MY definition, symmetry, and washboard abs. How about letting yourself get embarrassed and enter the Mr. Allegheny contest next month -it’s following the weightlifting meet , and I know you’ll be there!” Always up for a good laugh, a relaxed Santos agreed.

I just had to ask Santos what strategy he possibly hoped to use to have any chance whatsoever in this challenge. After all, young Bernie had almost taken the Mr. Pennsylvania title a few months earlier. Of course, an always philosophic Martinez wasn’t taking the whole thing seriously, so in his usual laidback fashion, he quipped ” Ah heck, I’ll just flex my fat in front of a mirror every day for the rest of the month, and hope the judges will enjoy the shape of my lard over the kid’s well tuned muscle!” (it might be mentioned that none of us in the area’s iron game ever saw a trace of fat on Santos’ body, but he apparently liked to imagine it was creeping up on him as he aged!). You can guess the rest – getting whatever “pump” he needed from the weightlifting meet earlier in the evening, Santos strode out under the physique lights,did a few early poses, then completely dominated obnoxious little Bernie with his trademark “most muscular” pose! Heck, Martinez’ trapezius itself looked bigger than Bern’s whole body! (Santos actually scared my girlfriend of the time , who thought a gorilla had escaped from the zoo!). I don’t recall that our loudmouthed young bodybuilder, sniffling home with his 2nd place trophy, ever competed again !

It’s interesting to observe that Mr. Martinez obviously had terrific genetics toward his strength and physique , but that he relied on seemingly simple “flexing”, or what some would term “muscle control” exercise to enhance both.Especially since many of our REALLY early all-rounders used a similar method during their build-up years. The phenomenal Maxick,back in the initial part of the 1900s, developed what may be argued as the best natural body ever built, with youthful reliance on self developed muscle control exercises. The 145 pound Max claimed this provided the base strength to almost effortlessly perform tremendous one arm swings,snatches, and jerks, and among the very first lifters to do over a double bodyweight continental and jerk. During the same time frame, Otto Arco utilized his own form of isometric muscle posing to develop a superbly dense muscle structure which served him well as a champion wrestler, gymnast, bodybuilder, and lifter -Arco actually was witnessed doing a Turkish Get-up(one arm,of course) ,his favorite All-Round lift, with nearly 200 pounds! (Arco usually weighed a mere 138 pounds!). From that time on, some very celebrated lifters got into muscle control (and all LOOKED it!) – Edward Aston, Monte Saldo, Sig Klein, John Grimek, etc. Often makes me wonder why or how “modern” bodybuilding ever became such a big event (oh yeah, hours upon hours in a gym daily “pumping up” with tiny weights gave a temporary illusion, followed by anorexia for definition, then later, drugs really enhanced the BLOAT !), when heavy lifting along with a small bit of muscle control exercise produced virtual human anatomy charts, with strength to match.

I also have to note that Dr. John Ziegler ,while working with York lifters on his famed isometric rack methods, also developed a machine to offer electric stimulas to obtain near maximum contraction of his lifter’s muscles. Dr. Ziegler apparently achieved some measure of success with this “artificial muscle tensing” toward increased strength , yet never recorded or published results. Indeed, even the famed Max Planck Insitute in Germany did research that proved “self willed, purposefull muscle contraction” (isometric posing) would yield tremendous, almost unbelievable gains if done with consistancy over time. I just have to consider that with many of the old muscle control books being reproduced lately -courses by Maxick, Arco, Saldo, Jubinville – many of us all-rounders can possibly instill this 10 minutes extra exercise to add a bit of hope and excitement for the long winter of training ahead.

However, I do foresee one very horrific downside. You see, the lower portion of the Ambridge VFW gym is lined with mirrors. If old Art Montini happens to read this information, we’re likely to face the gruesome prospect of him down there, shirt off, posing away. And we’ve long had a saying at the VFW – “If one is unlucky enough to see Art even partially naked, that person will instantly turn to stone!”

Club Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

2013 USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE

Meet director John McKean "in action" at last years Club Challenge under the watchful eyes of Art Montini and Rudy Bletscher.

The date for the USAWA Club Challenge has been set!  This meet has become the premier meet in the USAWA which features club (or team) competition. It is unique in that it is NOT a personal competition, but instead a 3-person competition of the representatives of each club.  The scores from each lifter are added together to form a club score.  No individual recognition is given in this meet.   The winning club has the bragging rights of having the “top performing” club in the USAWA for the year.  

John McKean, of the Ambridge Barbell Club, has been the meet director for this meet since it’s beginning.  The Ambridge BBC is one of the longest standing clubs in the USAWA, and has had club membership in the USAWA since 1993.  Only Clarks Gym has a longer running membership status.  The patriarch of the Ambridge Barbell Club, Art Montini, has been one of the most influential men in the history of the USAWA.

Eventually I would like to see each entered club in this challenge consisting of only club members (as identified on the membership roster).  This way the challenge would truly represent each individual club performance. However so far, this has not been required for entry into the Club Challenge.   So if two clubs want to “come together” to field a team, that is allowable.  You may also enter if you can’t be part of a three-person team, but when the scoring is done you will be at a disadvantage because the scoring is based on three individuals and it will be difficult to “single handily” compete against the scores of three.

MEET DETAILS:

Date: Saturday, March 2nd

Venue: Ambridge BBC

Meet Directors: John McKean & Art Montini

Entry Fee: None

Start Time: 1:00 PM

Sanction: USAWA

Lifts:

Bench Press – Fulton Bar

Peoples Deadlift

Bent Over Row

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John McKean.

25 Year Promotion Award

by Al Myers

USAWA President Denny Habecker and the "first Lady of the USAWA" Judy Habecker receiving the 25 Year Promotion Award.

Another “special award” presented at Nationals was the 25 Year Promotion Award.  This award went to the 4 Meet Promoters who have promoted the most National Championships over the 25 year history of the USAWA.  These 4 promoters each have promoted 3 Championship events.  They are:  Denny and Judy Habecker (2010, 2007, & 2000), John Vernacchio (2004, 1989, & 1988), Bill Clark and Joe Garcia (2001, 1997, & 1995), and Art Montini and John McKean (2002, 1999, & 1991). 

So to sum it up – these 4 promoters together have promoted about HALF of the National Champinships to date!  That’s worthy of a special award in my book!  Congratulations!!!

Club Challenge

by John McKean

MEET RESULTS
USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE: RITE OF SPRING

Group picture from 2012 USAWA Club Challenge. (front left to right): Rudy Bletscher, John McKean, Roger LaPointe, Art Montini (back left to right): Chad Ullom, Al Myers, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker, Andy Root

For me the first REAL day of Spring began with the bright, beaming smiles of Scott, Denny, Al, Chad, and Rudy as they bounded into the cave-like Ambridge VFW gym to get Art & me out of hibernation! Heck, just the day before it still looked like a typical Western Pennsylvania winter, with gray skies, wind, and snow flurries! Yet the Saturday team challenge had nothing but warming sunshine and crisp, crystal blue skies, which seemed to shout “Get off your lazy butts, it’s time for renewed vigor, a day for record setting!”

First in was an always energetic Roger LaPointe of the Atomic Athletic club from Bowling Green, Ohio. Rog presented each of us with outstanding “old tyme” posters of his upcoming Heavy Lift Championships in May, and was the “early bird” (no, we didn’t give him a worm!) onto the lifting platform. Roger wanted to “warm up” for the main team event by performing a series of record lifts of his specialties with various Olympic style lifts. As usual, his form was crisp and snappy, even inspiring this old achy author to wake up and get in a few records to alert my aging excuse of a body that serious activity was just ahead !

Despite a local bridge having just been closed, Art and Denny zoomed over to the Pittsburgh airport to fetch Al, Chad, and Rudy. Promptly at 11:50 the 3 Kansas stalwarts popped out of the gates, took the speedy drive (Art was at the wheel!) over the Ohio River, and set a new team record in getting ready to lift in the locker room. I swear they flew over in their singlets and warmed up on the jet! (These guys KNOW how to prepare for away meets – they seem to travel somewhere every weekend!).

Club Challenge Meet Director John McKean performing a one arm dumbbell swing of 55 pounds.

Andy Root, from nearby New Castle, showed up to treat us to his outstandingly powerful brand of all-round lifting. Andy, you may recall, first appeared last year at Art’s Birthday Bash, with his heart set on his initial USAWA lift to be the Inman Mile (we talked him out of it, and injuries prevented him from trying it today!!). Andy couldn’t coerce team mates to attend with him this time, though. Girlfriend Angela came along, but she was in serious training for a power meet in Ohio next month to perform a world record bench press of 240 pounds at a mere 123 #bwt! We tried & tried, but couldn’t convince the lovely little lady – a very determined and focused powerlifter – to lift today. Fortunately, in putting meet certificates together for the challenge, my wife Marilyn had created an award, “just in case”, for a “team” of one – the “Man Alone” award, which Andy took home!

Phil Rosenstern from our Ambridge club was in for his Saturday workout with his son. Like last year, he didn’t know a USAWA meet was going on. So he promptly entered in order to set a new “Reeves Deadlift” record. As one of the country’s top flight deadlifters for years, Phil made easy work of this difficult lift!  He must have inspired team mate Art, who sure never shows his almost 85 years – except, of course, for his characteristic surliness!! Art is already preparing for the Nationals, World’s, and his Birthday Bash!!

It was a sight as Art, Rudy, and I were performing our pullover and press lifts on our own separate platform. The lifts weren’t difficult, but getting each of us old timers back upright off the platform after attempts required the combined efforts of the other two!! I noted, however, that Rudy sure was spry and strong on his swing and hack lifts!

As expected, the big boys, Chad and Al, dominated the heavy lifts. Both showed amazing splitting form in heavy one arm swings, and huge stacking of plates for hack lifts. Chad in particular had bulked up, looking so big that I suspect the guys didn’t really take a jet at all – they just sat on Chad’s massive back and let him flap his huge arms to literally “fly” over from the mid-west! (Ground observers would’ve reported a gigantic “bald eagle” flying above!).

A fine, but all-too-quick day of lifting was punctuated with the annual trip down to the famous Maple Restaurant, home of the proclaimed best hot roast beef sandwich in the country (before we even started lifting, visibly salivating at the mouth, Al told me we could go to ANY restaurant afterwards -except pure vegetarian(!!) – as long as such a place served that fantastic rich beef gravy & gallons of it!). This year, for the first time ever, ALL lifters in the challenge attended the dinner!! And then Sunday we’re on Daylight Savings Time – Spring has truly sprung!!

MEET RESULTS:

USAWA Club Challenge
Ambridge Barbell Club
Ambridge, PA
March 10th, 2012

Meet Director: John McKean

Officials (3 official system used): John McKean, Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker, Al Myers, Chad Ullom

Lifts: Pullover and Press, Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm, Hack Lift

1. Dino Gym – 2047.0 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT P&P Swing Hack
Al Myers 45 247 320 140R 540
Chad UIlom 40 255 310 150R 490
Rudy Bletscher 76 218 108 55R 220

2.  Atomic Athletic – 1992.0 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT P&P Swing Hack
Roger LaPointe 40 165 154 80L 300
Denny Habecker 69 191 194 75R 270
Andy Root 31 180 245 98R 510

3.  Ambridge VFW BBC – 1666.9 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT P&P Swing Hack
John McKean 66 172 148 55R 330
Art Montini 84 184 118 35L 200
Scott Schmidt 59 246 209 88R 253

NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds. Adjusted points is the total adjusted points for all team lifters, adjusted for bodyweight and age. L and R designate the arm used in DB swing.

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

John McKean: Curl – Reverse Grip 100#
John McKean: Bent Over Row 202#
John McKean: Pullover – Bent Arm 80#
Roger LaPointe: Snatch – Fulton Bar 99#
Roger LaPointe:  Clean and Press – Fulton Bar 127#
Roger LaPointe: Clean and Push Press – Fulton Bar 127#
Roger LaPointe: Snatch – From Hang 152#
Chad Ullom: Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm 120#
Chad Ullom: Squat – Front 425#
Phil Rosenstern: Deadlift – Reeves 355#
(58 years old, 198# BWT)

The Power Row

by Al Myers

John McKean, of the Ambridge BBC, performing the lift he introduced to the USAWA, the Bent Over Row.

At the 2011 IAWA World Meeting in Australia, the Power Row got approved as a new IAWA Official Lift.  This was the only lift presented by the IAWA Technical Committee to the membership for approval, and it was accepted.  This lift was accepted as an Official USAWA lift in 2010, but under a different name!  John McKean, of Ambridge BBC, was the one to present it to the USAWA for lift acceptance under the name BENT OVER ROW.  So now like the many, many other lifts that have different names in IAWA than the USAWA, this lift will join that long list as well.   The interesting thing with this lift was that it was presented first to the IAWA membership at the 2010 meeting in Glasgow, but was rejected by the vote.  I felt at the time (at the Glasgow meeting) that the lift wasn’t fully understood by the members in attendance.  This time copies of the presented rules were distributed to those present at the meeting which I think helped describe what this new lift is about, and helped “gather support” in getting it passed and accepted as a new IAWA lift.  The Bent Over Row has been done in several USAWA events to date (including last year’s Club Challenge) and it has been well received.  Let’s review BOTH the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules:

USAWA RULE:  D6. BENT OVER ROW

The lift will start at the lifter’s discretion with the bar placed on the platform in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with an overhand grip with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. The width of grip spacing and feet placement is of the lifter’s choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar.  The body must be in a bent over position at the waist.  The upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift or it is a disqualification.  The legs may be bent during the lift and upon the completion of the lift.  The bar is lifted to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms.  The bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel if a belt is not worn.  It is a disqualification if the belt supports the bar at the abdomen upon the finish of the lift. The lift ends by an official’s command when the bar is held motionless at the abdomen or chest.

IAWA RULE: E37.  POWER ROW

The bar is placed on the platform in front of the lifter, who will grip the bar overhand with the palms facing the lifter, the width of the grip and feet placing is of the lifters choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The lifters body should be bent forward at the waist, and the upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift. The legs may be bent during and upon completion of the lift. The bar will be lifted up to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms, the bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel, if a belt is not worn. The belt must never support the bar. When the bar is held motionless and in contact with the abdomen or chest, the official will give the command to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:

1 . The lifters upper body straightening past 45 degrees parallel to the platform.                                                                     
2.  The Bar touching the belt, or anywhere on the body lower than the navel  
3.  Failing to hold the bar motionless, and in the finished position, to await the official’s command

One thing you will notice about the USAWA and IAWA rules are that even though they are written slightly different,  they are THE SAME (which is a GOOD THING!) in technical content. The only difference is the name of the lift.  Let me explain why this occurred.  The lift was presented with the name Bent Over Row, but after the group discussion, it was felt that the name POWER ROW better described the lift.  Peter Phillips made a good point that an old style Bentover Row is a STRICT style lift, in which the legs stay straight and the bar is brought to the upper chest instead of the abdomen.  The membership agreed with this point, thus the name was changed before it was presented and accepted.  Also, the point was made that by doing this it would “save the name”  Bent Over Row for the strict version of this lift, if it was ever presented as an IAWA  lift in the future. I definitely agree with this decision. The importance of this is that NOW the Power Row (or Bent Over Row) can be done in USAWA competitions for IAWA World Records.

MIM

by John McKean

“Oooh, Hon, how sweet – you remembered the nickname my family gave me when I was young!” purred my wife, Marilyn.

I noticed she was staring at a crumpled piece of paper I’d recently started scribbling on, that carried only the title “MIM.” So, thinking quickly, I replied “Yep, ya caught me. I was just penning you a little love note!” For certainly I would’ve lost this year’s batch of her famous Christmas cookies had I mentioned that the note was the nickname, and to be the recording  of my current training routine, which stood for “Monkey In the Middle”!!

John McKean training a backdown set, or as he calls it, a monkey set, with added band tension.

The MIM style workout refers to the middle-weight sets or “monkey,” and is my latest version of the “backdown set.” I learned about backdowns during the 1960s from famous Pittsburgh powerlifter Bob Weaver. Big Bob was one of our first National superheavyweight champions, using his 365 pound bulk to establish the U.S. record total and a national squat record of 807 – long before supersuits or other supportive gear, and when judging was STRICT. Bob typically would start his training squats with a set of 5 with 135 pounds on the bar, and add a pair of 45s for every set thereafter, until it stopped him. Then he’d reduce to a couple of hundred pounds lighter and bang out a few FAST sets – this was, of course, the backdown work. By the way, an amusing incident of his progressive training – Bob most often didn’t pay attention to the total amount of weight continually stacked on and once found, after the fact,  his final set to be 855; yes, he got stuck with no spotters around. But, the experienced squatter had a trick he used for such emergencies – he’d quickly frog-hop forward and shove the bar backwards (he taught this to me – it really worked and was actually more reliable and safer than half awake spotters!). Trouble was, ole Bob had his back to a big window on the second floor of the Oakland (uptown Pittsburgh) YMHA – it went right through the glass and a massively loaded, plate clanging Olympic set tumbled to the sidewalk below! Fortunately, the horrific crash was on a small, little used side street at night, so no one was nearby! Not that any of their cars were parked down there either, but the Y’s directors weren’t exactly laughing!

Anyway, MY “backdown” is what I consider the MAIN building set(done as “rest-pause” singles), as this is where I place bands over the barbell for “speed singles.” Usually used for training our various all-round deadlift type lifts, I begin a session with a non banded double using a medium weight, go to a heavy single (not a limit but enough to cause a bit of a strain!), then backdown to a weight right in the middle of those two sets for band work. I start these “monkey sets” with a normal initial pull, but then try to accelerate through the finish. These sets actually feel springy and easy, since they follow the heavy single for the day, yet are actually more resistant due to the extra band stress. Since they begin easier off the floor, I am able to “trick” the body into a harder, faster  lift!  Each subsequent middle weight single seem to become more vigorous and speedier! An important footnote – if I’d not use a heavy free weight single beforehand, the monkey speed singles couldn’t be performed as efficiently with quite as much weight.

Pavel's new book EASY STRENGTH

However, don’t go crazy with band speed singles.  I find 2 to, at most, 5 banded-bar singles will do the job. In fact, in the brand new book EASY STRENGTH by Pavel and Dan John (Dragon Door Publications), Pavel mentions a similar banded deadlift routine that I’d once  given him. He wrote that the speed singles seemed just too easy and merely 5 of them were probably only good for old men (like me!!). But after his first workout he learned the hard way that this is a MINIMUM quantity, high quality routine (he stuck to 5 or 6 thereafter and claimed he was so strong with such little work that it seemed like “cheating”!). For that matter, throughout the entire EASY STRENGTH text the authors continually stress the extreme value of employing minimum reps and sets for optimum strength gains. It’s one of the few teaching tools  that elaborate on TRUE strength strategies for athletes, as the old time lifters employed – our all-round forefathers!          

“By the way, Hubby,” cooed Marilyn. “What were you gonna tell me in your love note?”

“OH,” said I. “Just those three little words you always like to hear!”

“Really?” she gushed.

“Yep,” I whispered, ” Bake them cookies!”

I never learn.

Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

by Al Myers

Longtime USAWA member and IAWA supporter John McKean performs a 283 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 2 Bars, 2" at the 2010 USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge, PA.

One of the lifts that will be contested at this year’s World Championships in Perth, Australia will be the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″.  This a very difficult grip lift that requires grip strength in BOTH HANDS.  If one of your hands is weaker than the other, this lift will show it!   I have done this lift in several USAWA competitions to date, but never in an IAWA competition.  This event was contested at the 2003 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. 

A while back  I received a question regarding this lift which I thought was an EXCELLENT QUESTION, so I would like share this question and my response since I’m sure other lifters might be wondering the same thing.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could help me out with some lifting technique!?  It is with reference to the 2 x 2″ vertical bar lift for Australia – I had a go at this lift on friday night, I attempted it with one bar at either side of my legs and found the weight plates were catching my legs all the way up!!! Is the straddle stance, i.e. one pin in front and one pin behind a legal position? Also is it mechanically better?  Thanks for the help.

First, lets do a review of the rules for this lift.  By now most of you know my frustrations with the nuances of rule differences between the USAWA rules and the IAWA rules for lifts.  Well, this lift is no exception to that as you will see. (By the way, both of these rule descriptions are actually for the same lift!  It doesn’t appear that way when you read them. )  Even the names are drastically different - the USAWA calls it a deadlift while the IAWA rules just call it a lift.

USAWA Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

I25.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2”

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1” apply except two 2” inch diameter Vertical Bars are used.

Need to reference this rule -

I24.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1”

The setup for this lift requires two Vertical Bars, which is a bar of one inch diameter with a maximum length of 18 inches. A collar or plate must be tightly fastened or welded to the bottom so plates may be added to the bars. Both vertical bars must be loaded to the same weight.   No knurling is allowed on the bars. The lifter must start with the bars on each side of the lifter. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. Each bar may be gripped by any grip near the top of the Vertical Bars. The forearms are not allowed to touch the bars. The lifting hands or weight may accidentally touch the lifter’s body or legs during the lift, provided that it does not aid in the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bars from the platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked and the body upright at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bars must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

IAWA Rules for the Two Vertical Bars (one in each hand) – 2 inch rods

F26.  TWO VERTICAL BARS (ONE IN EACH HAND) – 2 INCH RODS

The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with  two x 2 inch diameter bars / rods, one in each hand.

Causes for Failure: 

1. Causes for failure are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that 2 x 2 inch rods are used.

Need to reference this rule -

F19. VERTICAL BAR LIFT – TWO INCH ROD 

The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with a two inch diameter bar / rod.

Causes for Failure: 

1.  Causes for failure are the same as for the one hand vertical  lift, except that a 2 inch rod is used.

Need to reference this rule as well -

F2.   ONE HAND VERTICAL BAR LIFT

The lifter will grip a vertical bar with one hand, and lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface, holding it motionless and under control for two seconds. On completion the legs should be erect and straight with the free hand clear of any contact with the body. The bar will be of 1 inch diameter, and can be up to 30 inches long. A collar or base plate should be tightened or welded  on the bottom to hold the vertical weight stack. The bar should not be knurled. The lifter can use an optional grip, and the lifting hand should not be in contact with or in close proximity to the weight stack, so as to avoid any tipping  or gripping of the bar  with the weight stack at an angle. The lifter should also be careful to ensure that the bar does not touch the forearm or leg, and the lifting hand is not locked against the thigh.

Causes for Failure:

1.   Any contact of the bar with the forearm or legs, or locking of the lifting hand or bar against the thigh.
2.  Any contact between the lifting hand and the weight stack, or any attempt to tip or grip the bar at an angle.
3.  Failure to achieve and maintain the finished position (weight held clear of the lifting surface, motionless and under control for two seconds, with the legs erect and straight and the free hand clear of any contact with the body.
4.  Replacing / lowering the bar before the referees signal.

Wow!  That is confusing – isn’t it???  Now add in the factor that the World Entry form, in it’s attached list of guidelines for the rules of the lifts to be contested,  has this lift misnamed as the 2 HANDS FULTON DUMBELLS DEADLIFT (I’m sure this is was just listed this way on accident),  but you can see why someone would have questions regarding this lift!  Add in the differences in rules between the USAWA and the IAWA and  it makes it nearly impossible for me to answer some parts of the question as well.

Is the straddle stance legal? 

The USAWA rules state that it IS NOT (the bars must be on each side of the lifter).  The IAWA rules don’t state that is an infraction (nothing is mentioned regarding the lifter’s stance) , so I  can assume that a straddle stance is allowed.  Now to the part about it being a mechanically advantage to use the straddle stance – I have tried it both ways and I prefer the side by side approach. It seems to me that my grip is dramatically reduced when holding one of  the VBs to the back, and since this event is limited by my grip and not my back strength, this reduces the amount I can lift. 

What are some other rules differences between the USAWA and the IAWA?

The big one that “jumps out” to me is the legal length  allowed.  The USAWA rules clearly state the VBs can not be over 18 inches in length while the IAWA rules allow a length of up to 30 inches long!  This is a HUGE difference!  Having  a VB  that long turns this lift into a partial lift.  For some short lifters, the VB may barely even clear the floor at lockout!   The USAWA rules require the lifter to stand totally upright with shoulders back (that is why it is called a deadlift in the USAWA rules) while the IAWA rules only require, as stated in the rules “to lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface”, thus I would say is why it is just called a lift. Nothing is stated in the IAWA rules about being required to stand upright (but I won’t be surprised that this will be required come meet day, and be justified with the explanation that standing upright was implied).   Here’s another question – my left hand strength on a VB is slightly less than my right hand, so can I load the VBs to different weights?   The USAWA rules clearly state NO on this - but this is not stated as an infraction in the IAWA rules so I’m going to assume I can do this (but then again I bet come meet day this will also not be allowed, with the explanation that this is ANOTHER  implied IAWA rule on this lift).  With these rule differences it appears to me that the USAWA rules are much more difficult than the IAWA rules for this SAME LIFT.  There is one rule issue that might make the IAWA rules a little more difficult than the USAWA rules as they state the weight must be  ”motionless and under control for two seconds” whereas the USAWA rules only require the VBs to be held till “the weight is motionless”.  Two seconds is a long time to hold at lockout after becoming motionless, and will definitely decrease the amount of weight that can be lifted versus getting the down command immediately when the VBs are motionless. 

Neither set of rules state limitations on the size of plates that can be loaded onto the Vertical Bars. When lifting the VBs at your side, large plates (45#s or 20Ks) will hit the side of your legs and cause drag, and in turn less weight can be lifted. I prefer loading the VBs with smaller plates(25#s or 10Ks) when performing this lift.  Hopefully this will be the way the Vertical Bars will be loaded in Australia.

I have stated my opinion on rules many times before but I’m going to repeat it.  I don’t really care WHAT the rules are for a lift as long as the rules are well written and are specific in what is allowed and disallowed.  NOTHING SHOULD BE IMPLIED WHEN IT COMES TO THE RULE BOOK.  

It also would be nice if the USAWA and the IAWA had consistent rules in all of the lifts.  We are far from that now. But if at Worlds, the Vertical Bars are 30 inches long and only need to clear the floor a 1/2″ to be a legal lift, I will adapt to that and do it that way!

Art’s Birthday Bash

by John McKean

Andraes and John McKean completing a 2 Man Jefferson Lift. Scott and Kathy Schmidt are in the background cheering on what may be the first grandpa/grandson straddle lift on record.

This past Friday my phone rang and there was Art Montini’s name on the screen. Either the ole man finally figured how to dial out with his telephone, or something was “up” concerning his birthday meet at the Ambridge VFW on Sunday! Answering, I heard Art loudly, excitement in his voice, ask “Guess who I just heard from?!”

“Well,I hope it’s not from one of your replacement specialists, demanding a recall of totally abused new body parts!” I commented.

“Naw”, barked Art, “you know if any of those medical types gives me hassles about lifting, then I just find a new doctor!! But DALE FRIESZ is driving up from Virginia to lift!!”

Sure enough, come Sunday morning,after a much longer hospital stay than ever before (and there’s been a bunch in his recent history), in popped an ever smiling Dale, thinner (hates hospital food!) and sporting a 1″ diameter rod where his lower leg used to be. Dale cracked up when I informed him that it was about time someone finally showed that had skinnier calfs than me!! Later,Dale broke records that, in his words, “normal” guys had set (I told Dale that he was never exactly “normal”, but we quickly agreed that no one in the gym that morning was!!)

Then a long lost Jim Malloy marched in, growling all the way (with his usual, unprintable choice of colorful language!) how he was only lifting on his hobbled old body because Scott Schmidt dragged him over from Cleveland! Scott brought along beautiful wife Kathy to lift and help haul ole Jim,kicking & sputtering, into the VFW gym.

Denny Habecker traveled from across the state with a restored old time superstar -the always personable Barry Bryan !Barry has been troubled with knee and back problems stemming back to the 90s, but now feels ready to embark on a master lifter’s all-round career.

To make matters even more interesting,  a brand new lifter, former “strongman” competitor Andy Root from nearby New Castle (PA), arrived with a whole team, and announced he would be attempting the Inman Mile! We told Andy to study Art,me, and the rest of this lineup of ” walking wrecks” present in the gym, because even on a classic, perfect weather  Autumn morning if he tried that Mile he’d shortly appear ,at 31, just like the rest of us when we scraped him off the local high school track!!(he says he’ll save the Inman Mile for the “team challenge” in March! I told him Big Al not only will judge it, but probably PAY to see the event!!) So , Andy wisely reconsidered and started his all-round career more sensibly -his first lift was the Shoulder Drop !

Youngest man in the contest, 6 year old Andraes McKean, starts out the festivities of our oldest US lifter's Annual Birthday Bash!

But the meet had everything: youngsters,open lifters,masters, females, teams, newbies, and interested onlookers!  It was a personal thrill to have our youngest lifter, my grandson,6 year old Andraes, to set a few records and become part (some of the wags present claimed he did ALL the lifting!) of a grandson/grandfather team effort ( a first??)on deadlifts, hacks, and straddles!

Even ole Art did some dynamic overhead snatching and jerking, along with other records, that startled everyone with his speed & agility; maybe the docs did remove some old ligaments and tendons (muscles if he ever had any!), still under the 100 year warranty plan, and provided better bionics for this meet!!

MEET RESULTS:

Art’s Birthday Bash
October 16th, 2011
Ambridge VFW Club
Ambridge, PA

Meet Director:  Art Montini

Lifts:  Record Day

Officials (3 official system used on all lifts):  Art Montini, Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, John McKean, Dale Friesz, Scott Schmidt, Barry Bryan

Andraes McKean – 6 years old, 96.5# BW
45 KG Class, Male Junior 6-7 Age Group

Deadlift – Trap Bar (Trap Bar Deadlift): 29.55 KG, 65 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar (Two Hands Deadlift – 2 Inch Bar): 15.45 KG, 34 lbs.
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar (Straddle Deadlift – 2 Inch Bar): 15.45 KG, 34 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2″, 2 Bars (Two Vertical Bars – 2 inch rods): 21.82 KG, 48 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand (VB Lift – 2″ Rod): 10.91 KG, 24 lbs.

Angela Sweet – 31 years old, 129# BW
60 KG Class, Female Open Age Group

Bench Press – Feet on Floor (not USAWA lift): 61.36 KG 135 lbs.
Bench Press – Hands Together (Hands Together Bench Press): 50 KG, 110 lbs.
Bench Press – Reverse Grip (Reverse Grip Bench Press): 50 KG, 110 lbs.
Bench Press – Alternate Grip (Alternate Grip Bench Press): 50 KG, 110 lbs.

Jason Houk – 9 years old, 132# BW
60 KG Class, Male Junior 8-9 Age Group

Bench Press – Feet on Floor (not USAWA lift): 38.64 KG, 85 lbs.
Bench Press – Reverse Grip (Reverse Grip Bench Press): 36.36 KG, 80 lbs.
Curl – Strict (Strict Curl): 22.73 KG, 50 lbs.
Deadlift (not USAWA lift): 84.09 KG, 185 lbs.

Dale Friesz – 71 years old, 143.25# BW
70 KG Class,  Mens Master 70-74 Age Group

Deadlift – Fingers, Little (Little Fingers Deadlift): 33.18 KG, 73 lbs.
Deadlift – Fingers, Index (Index Fingers Deadlift): 33.64 KG, 74 lbs.
Deadlift – Fingers, Ring (Ring Fingers Deadlift): 55.23 KG, 122 lbs.
Finger Lift – Right Middle Finger: 44.55 KG, 98 lbs.

Dennis Mitchell – 79 years old, 152# BW
70 KG Class, Mens Master 75-79 Age Group

Deadlift – No Thumbs (Two Hands Thumbless Deadlift): 85 KG, 187 lbs.
French Press (French Press): 18.18 KG, 40 lbs.
Deadlift – Stiff Legged (Stiff Leg Deadlift): 86.36 KG, 190 lbs.

Kathy Schmidt – 54 years old, 159# BW
75 KG Class, Womens Master 50-54 Age Group

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm (Right Hand Dumbbell Deadlift): 37.5 KG, 82 lbs.
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm (Left Hand Dumbbell Deadlift): 37.5 KG, 82 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells (Two Hands Dumbbells Deadlift): 82.5 KG, 182 lbs.
Deadlift – Trap Bar (Trap Bar Deadlift): 82.5 KG, 182 lbs.

John McKean – 65 years old, 164.75# BW
75 KG Class, Mens Master 65-69 Age Group

Deadlift – No Thumbs (Two Hands Thumbless Deadlift): 115.45 KG, 254 lbs.
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip (Ciavattone Deadlift): 131.36 KG, 289 lbs.
Bench Press – Alternate Grip (Alternate Grip Bench Press): 61.36 KG, 135 lbs.
Bench Press – Reverse Grip (Reverse Grip Bench Press): 56.82 KG, 125 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand (VB Lift – 2″ Rod): 63.18 Kg, 139 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand (VB Lift- 2″ Rod): 56.36 KG, 124 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar (Two Hands Deadlift – 2″ Bar): 90.91 KG, 200 lbs.
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar (Straddle Deadlift – 2″ Bar): 90.91 KG, 200 lbs.
Deadlift – 2 Bars (Two Barbell Deadlift): 140.45 KG, 310 lbs.

Andy Root – 31 years old, 176# BW
80 KG Class, Mens Open Age Group

Lano Lift (not IAWA lift): 45.45 KG, 100 lbs.
Turkish Get Up (Turkish Get Up): 29.55 KG, 65 lbs.
Shoulder Drop (Shoulder Drop): 45.45 KG, 100 lbs.

Art Montini – 84 years old, 190# BW
90 KG Class, Mens Masters 80-84 Age Group

Snatch – Fulton Bar (Two Hands Snatch – 2″ Bar): 25 KG, 55 lbs.
Clean and Press – Fulton Bar (2 Hands Clean and Press – 2″ Bar): 31.82 KG, 70 lbs.
Clean and Jerk – Fulton Bar (2 Hands Clean and Jerk – 2″ Bar): 34.09 KG, 75 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip (2 Hand Fulton Deadlift): 72.73 KG, 160 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar (2 Hands Deadlift – 2″ Bar): 90.91 KG, 200 lbs.

Denny Habecker – 69 years old, 191# BW
90 KG Class, Mens Masters 65-69 Age Group

Push Press – From Rack (Push Press from Racks): 70.45 KG, 155 lbs.
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm (Left Hand Dumbbell Cheat Curl): 20.45 KG, 45 lbs.
Clean & Jerk – Dumbbell, Left Arm (Left Hand DB Clean & Jerk): 25 KG, 55 lbs.
Clean & Jerk, – Dumbbell, Right Arm (Right Hand DB Clean & Jerk): 34.09 KG, 75 lbs.
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm (Left Hand DB Snatch): 25 KG, 55 lbs.

Barry Bryan – 53 years old, 195# BW
90 KG Class, Mens Masters 50-54 Age Group

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand (VB Lift – 2″ Rod): 70 KG, 154 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2″ (Two VBs – 2″ Rod): 117.27 KG, 258 lbs.
Bench Press – Reverse Grip (Reverse Grip Bench Press): 93.18 KG, 205 lbs.

Guy Marcantino, Jr. – 35 years old, 230# BW
105 KG Class, Mens Open Age Group

Bench Press – Feet on Floor (not USAWA Lift): 186.36 KG, 410 lbs.
Bench Press – Reverse Grip (Reverse Grip Bench Press): 143.18 KG, 315 lbs.
Bench Press – Hands Together (Hands Together Bench Press): 136.36 KG, 300 lbs.

Scott Schmidt – 58 years old, 240# BW
110 KG Class, Mens Master 55-59 Age Group

Press – From Rack, Behind Neck (Press Behind Neck from Rack): 75 KG, 165 lbs.
Seated Press – From Rack, Behind Neck (Seated Press BN from Rack): 70 KG, 154 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand (VB Lift – 2″ Rod): 80 KG, 176 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand (VB Lift – 2″ Rod): 80 KG, 176 lbs.

Jim Malloy – 70 years old, 241.5# BW
110 KG Class, Mens Masters 70-74 Age Group

Bench – Feet in Air (Bench Press – Feet in Air): 86.36 KG, 190 lbs.
Curl – Strict (Strict Curl): 45.45 KG, 100 lbs.
Curl – Reverse Grip (Reverse Curl): 34.09 KG, 75 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Right Hand (VB Lift – 2″ Rod): 58.64 KG, 129 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand (VB Lift – 2″ Rod): 42.73 Kg, 94 lbs.

Andreas McKean and John McKean
75 KG Class, Mens Open Age Group

Deadlift – 2 Man (Two Person Team Deadlift): 70 KG, 154 lbs.
Jefferson Lift – 2 Man (Two Person Straddle Deadlift): 70 KG, 154 lbs.
Hack Lift – 2 Man (Two Person Hacklift): 70 KG, 154 lbs.

Angela Sweet and Andy Root
80 KG Class, Male/Female Open Age Group

Deadlift – 2 Person (Two Person Team Deadlift): 295.45 KG, 650 lbs.

Jason Houk and Guy Marcantino
105 KG Class, Mens Open Age Group

Deadlift – 2 Man (Two Person Team Deadlift): 184.09 KG, 405 lbs.

Andy Root and Guy Marcantino
105 KG Class, Mens Open Age Group

Hack Lift – 2 Man (Two Person Hacklift): 370.45 KG, 816 lbs.

Resorteras, Rehab, and Records

by John McKean

John McKean in the shooting position with his resoteras. A strong pull is needed, which works both the triceps and delts.

“THWACK!!!” A golf ball left mighty Paul Anderson’s tee after a typical set of ten with 800 pounds on the squat. You see, it is said that ole Paul had a three hole golf course set up on the grounds of his famous youth home, and he’d play the holes in between sets! This proved to be ideal “active rest”, well deserved fresh air, and much needed recuperation for the strongest man of all time.

“THWACK!!!” This is the noise that my nosy next door neighbor may hate worse than the clanging weights resonating from my open garage door. No, I’m not a golfer, but get this similar sound effect while target shooting my “resortera”, a Mexican term for a homemade, powerful, hunting-capable slingshot. Last year I renewed my acquaintance with slingshot target work, and find it a very relaxing, yet exercise oriented way of calming down from heavy, home gym lifts. The outdoor few minutes, alone ( I don’t rest quite as long as Paul Anderson did!) seems to energize me into better lifting efforts! Certainly the equipment is easy to acquire – the “resortera” concept dictates that you build your own slingshot from tree branch “Ys” (or cut from board or metal- a hunter/lifter/builder like Al Myers would probably weld one from thick steel to keep it HEAVY !), basic office rubber bands, and stones,marbles, or hexnuts for “ammo” (easy instructions for building lots of variations can be goggled at rebelslingshotforum ). I can attest to an actual increase of tone in my arms, delts, lats, and pecs from this unique band work (With the powerful hunting set up of seemingly simple office type rubber bands, a slingshot pull can get rather intense. You should see the wild game that my friends Jamie, Nico, Chepo, and Xidoo acquire with their homemade killing machines!) and nutrition habits (pizza!) of son, Rob,keeps me well supplied with cardboard boxes that serve as targets on my outdoor ” range”!

John demonstrating a band back press

Now in terms of bands, always a favorite subject of mine, the slingshot was not my only rubber training tool during this past summer. I’d been having really spirited productive lifting sessions early on, but was out fishing (another favorite outdoor activity- I tease Big Al by telling him that the fish I catch are so big & plentiful that I should apply for a “fish lift” category in the USAWA!)  and once found my foot shifting quickly on a hill over loose gravel; well,both the right knee and left lower back went into sudden ache mode,and stayed that way. Even a few days off, and a serious visit to my chiropractor didn’t give much comfort. But,  heck, there were meets approaching and records to set, so I just couldn’t take a long layoff!! While limping out to fire my nifty, homemade driftwood resortera one morning, I began to formulate a plan as the fresh air did its usual magic to invigorate me. I’d simply start all lifting sessions with Dr. Len Schwartz’ “Longstrength” concept, via Jumpstretch’s medium strength “mini-monster” bands. I did 50 reps with 2 bands over my shoulders for braced squatting, cable pulldowns while lunging toward my wounded knee for 35-45 reps, back presses while lunging over the other knee, high pulls along with wide squats, lying cable flys with leg pull-ins, and good morning bends + tricep pushes with the band over my neck. All light resistance, high rep combination style movements (which is the Longstrength concept) that really “gave an excuse” for blood to flush into the wounded areas. The fast paced  250+ reps also served as the best lifting warmup I’ve ever done!

My main workout,of course, had to be treated with “kid gloves”. The slingshot breaks kept me from getting really crazy (all you who know me, keep the laughter down and continue reading!!) , with restoring fresh air allowing time for common sense to intervene. So I’d take some of our most stable all-round lifts and do them in as perfect form as I could, adding control and slower tempo by placing a flex band over the bar (as I’ve displayed in past articles). With a single “mini-monster” band, I needed only to do a few singles up to about 60-70% of an anticipated record lift, that I was planning for the Fall meets. Often, especially if the knee or back started hinting that they were uncomfortable, I’d do the lighter build up singles without a band, then place it over the barbell to repeat the final top weight for the day for just that set. Usually a lift was completed in 4 easy sets (singles), and the five lift workouts were performed quickly with minimum agony.

John performs a "Longstrength" upright row and partial squat combo with a band.

As an aside, Dr. Schwartz often warned me that his Longstrength system was potent medicine. Shortly before his death (he was still exercising daily at 84 and could perform 35 consecutive, perfect chinups!), we’d had numerous spirited discussions on the great value of flex bands to supply constant tension during the fitness building, combination exercises.We even concluded that rubber cables fit in perfectly with his “moving isometrics” strength-aerobics concept. Yet I was still totally shocked to discover that my rehab program, seemingly quite mild, had reduced me to the middleweight division!

As I write this, I’m now mostly pain free and all set to try those records at Art’s Birthday meet in a few short days! Recent workouts, still with the same minimal approach, have been going great with emphasis on the prime commandment for Master’s lifting -” Thou shalt not injure thyself during training, ever! ” Now, if only I don’t go outside and catapult  a 200 fps rock into my thumb, I’ll be in fine shape!

All-ROUND Grip Strength

by John McKean

Rob McKean showing total body work (and enjoyment!) from squeezing the life out of dear old Dad!

My neighbor once shouldered a 604 pound wrestler and body-slammed him.  A gym full of iron game devotees also witnessed him doing a strict bench press of 330 pounds for 38 consecutive reps – no wraps, no suit, no drugs! Except for a busy work schedule, my old buddy would have challenged Paul Anderson for a berth on the ’56 Olympic weightlifting team.   Art Montini knew him as a fellow “Odd-lift” competitor (curl, bench press, press-behind-neck, squat, deadlift – like a version of All-Rounds, before official powerlifting!). You may know him as Bruno Sammartino! Yes, THAT Bruno – pro wrestling’s “Living Legend,” the athlete responsible for selling more tickets than any wrestler in history!

Before breaking in to the pro ranks, Bruno set all Pittsburgh heavyweight lifting records and even won a physique contest or two. During very intense workouts, however, his most unusual exercise, always thinking toward wrestling, was to grip a long, heavy boxing bag and squeeze for all he was worth. We would call this a “bear hug,” and the young lion eventually acquired the power to EXPLODE these rugged combinations of thick canvas and sand! In his first crack at the heavyweight wrestling title (in what was later revealed to be much more of a serious grudge match than “entertainment”), Bruno applied his very brutal gripping hold onto longtime champion Buddy Rogers, acquiring a submission within 47 seconds of the match!

The total body Iso-Hug on a sparring mannequin, for all-round grip strength

Naturally, we young teens were anxious to emulate our hero’s training procedures. I found the heavy bag squeeze to be superb grip strength training, not only pumping the forearms, but also going full circle to yield arm, delt, and pec strength. Heck, the hips, legs, and back were intensely involved too – truly an all-round gripping exercise!! Since the material always “gave” a bit when hugged with intent, what started as an “isometric exercise” of sorts ended up more as a short range type movement, as in subsequent power rack lifts.

The old sand bags are still around, but few of our weightlifting gyms have them. I suppose you could sneak up and try this on a lifting partner – though I did this once with Art, and he BIT me (of course, I found out the hard way that Art was actually an undefeated collegiant wrestler in his early years!). These days, however, there are lifelike mannequins that provide a realistic type body gripping (see photos) and supply a rugged “moving isometric” form of work. Or you could build a bag – fill it with stones, sand, or straw.

John exploding the top of a small sparring bag with his killer headlock !

One old time wrestler, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, a generation before Bruno, built himself a special skull sized bag to religiously train his deadly headlock. It was said no other wrestler, back in the 1920s when the professional sport was entirely legitimate, could ever defeat him. In fact, his crushing arm grip was so intense that even willing sparring partners were hard for ole Ed to come by! I can personally attest to the gripping STAMINA that a headlock squeeze will yield; if one holds on, giving his all, for a minute or more to a small bag, then the forearms and biceps feel swollen to Mr. Universe proportions!

WE in the USAWA pride ourselves on lifts that work the total body! Throw away those wimpy little hand grippers or soft tennis balls, and grab onto something that’ll cause all-round crunching effort!

And we have a WINNER!

by Al Myers

Over a week ago when I announced this writing competition to find the best “secret tip or training idea” I wasn’t sure how it would fly.  Would anyone even participate??  I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to bride people to write for the Daily News (when truth be known that is probably a correct assumption!).  I was SO impressed when I received 4 EXCELLENT website stories from Thom Van Vleck, John McKean, Joe Garcia and Scott Tully.

Next – I left the vote up to the membership.   Would anyone even take the time to send in a vote?  Or is anyone really even reading all this garble that I turn out?  I have to admit I was a little nervous!  However, all my worry was for naught and the votes came flying in!!  Close to half the USAWA membership must have cast a vote, and the votes were for ALL the stories!  Not one author dominated.  In fact, it was a tie till last night when the last vote came in to determine who won a set of my hanging dumbbell handles.  Now THAT is a vote that counts!!!!

It’s time to announce the winner..  and the winner is….(drumroll)…..John McKean!!!!

Art’s Big Hook

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrates a band hookup for the 2-Bar Deadlift using a big S hook that attaches to his belt.

“SPROOOONG! SPLAT!!”  Those two sounds had Art Montini and the rest of the gym in stitches -complete howling laughter throughout the Ambridge VFW Barbell cavern!  The object of their mirth was this ever experimental author proving once again that some flex band set ups don’t adapt too well to certain all-round lifts!

You see, I’d looped each end of a band around the bar (braced from around my upper back) and attempted to do a pullover and push with the set up.  Overestimating the combined resistance, the push went halfway up then ROCKETED back down, the barbell being vigorously propelled by the stretched flex band!  Looking back, I think it must have appeared pretty darn funny, but at the time I felt like one of Al’s shotgunned ducks!

A close-up view of Art's Big Hook.

After that awkward episode, I became a bit more cautious toward THINKING how to best apply the advantages of bands to the individual mechanics of lifts!  And I determined that some moves can be done with a SECTIONED approach (not actually involving a wrap around the bar) to applying extra resistance.  For instance, in certain balanced moves such as one arm deadlifts, Zerchers, and two bar deadlifts the regular grips and positions can be taken, but the band pressure -sometimes considerable extra band pressure- can be simultaneously applied to just the thighs and hips. All that is necessary is a BIG “S” hook to attach the middle of a band to one’s lifting belt, leaving both ends of the band to wrap securely around the feet.  So, in a constant vigil to keep me from killing myself on our gym platform, good ole Art ,the man of steel, made one for me!

Recently I’ve been using this approach toward training the two bar deadlift.  As the above photo shows, I am free to grab the bars in a normal manner, with the bars’ delicate balance unimpeded by extra forces.  The band pressure goes just to the thighs and hips, not adding a lot of extra work, but certainly adding to the chore without necessity of hitting max poundage or leading to burn out.  Really , it’s like doing two exercises at once.  All the usual band advantages are there -this set up thwarts acceleration,yet encourages speed & finishing strong; concentration on the extra stress actually TEACHES proper form and channels power for two bar deadlifts.

OK, get yourself a big hook and add this” harnessed leg lift” into some of your pulling movements & deadlift types! Remember, you don’t want to ever shoot for an overburdening extra resistance, just enough to make the combined exercise “interesting”!

All-Round Approach – Part 2

by John McKean

Positioning for a band/bar deadlift. Notice the stepping on bands to yield initial tautness. Also note the thick bar for increased grip strength development.

Recently, a friend from England named Eddie Quinn used his long years in martial arts to develop an amazing, condensed self defense system that he calls THE APPROACH (http://the-approach.com/).  Eddie has asked me to create a strength routine that would benefit his many students around the world. Of course, I’d like to share it with our all-rounders as well!  I can think of nothing better than a few key all- round lifts using my minimum equipment oriented, energy conserving band/bar moving isos.  I’ve included some photos to show how I place the bands over a barbell and how to anchor these strands of stretch rubber by merely stepping on them.  Originally Mr. Quinn requested I make a DVD of the actual lifts, but my grubby face and strained expression would probably scare off any and all future students – we have much better looking all rounders demo-ing these mechanics in our ever growing library of You-Tube videos here on site!

Midway into the pull. Note that band tension will increase resistance toward lift completion. Fight this - try to ACCELERATE!

So, Eddie, here are the lifts to search, off to the right of this main page: JEFFERSON (for all important thigh and hip drive, to thrust in with authority on an opponent), BENT OVER ROW (immense straight in pulling power development to rip an attacker right off his feet), CLEAN AND PUSH PRESS (explosive arm thrusting via leg drive, for major league hammerfists and elbows), and 2” THICK VERTICAL BAR LIFTS (absolute best for gripping strength, when you need to hold-on, to literally tear a limb off!).  For each lift, place a medium strength rubber band (I suggest Jumpstretch.com “mini monster bands”) over the bar and perform a set of three reps, adding a bit of weight to go to a second set of two. Do this every other day, starting with relatively “easy” weight at first – you won’t FEEL fatigued, but it sure takes a toll on the musculature and requires 48 hours recuperation.  Be dynamic for each rep (which should be done as singles with slight pauses between each attempt) by starting with control and power then accelerating throughout the movement (try to “beat the bands”).  When the weight becomes too easy, be progressive and add just a bit more – over time this builds way up, with genuine functional strength developing that sticks with you for a lifetime!

Bands doubled and affixed to a Jump Stretch base stand.

Oh, by the way, this routine is not limited to martial artists.  Every wrestler, football player, track man/woman, and all rounder can experience huge gains with this 15 minute workout! And a quick, intensive strength workout leaves plenty of time for an athlete’s main skill development training. Just as Eddie Quinn preaches economy of movement for optimum personal protection, gym time should also hammer directly to the core of your power base.

All-Round Approach – Part 1

by John McKean

Bill March pressing 390# in strict style.

During the 60s renowned York Barbell Club weightlifter Bill March set national and world press records, won major Olympic lifting championships, took a Mr. Universe title, and was even invited to pro football tryouts.  At his most efficient, Bill completed his actual daily power rack lifting in 24 SECONDS!  His York teammate, Lou Riecke, did similar isometric routines, total training time of less than a minute, to break a world snatch record.  Later, Lou took his methods to the NFL as one of the first pro strength coaches – he helped a then mediocre little team known as – AHEM – the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl rings!  In this same time period, a rather large teenage track & field star named Gary Gubner used short range rack moves to build such phenomenal strength that he established world indoor records in the shot put AND earned himself a spot on the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team.

Unfortunately power rack routines didn’t quite stick.  Sessions seemed over before they began, movement range was too short, lifts were way too intense when done correctly, and, for the vain, no “pump” created.  Well, they did work very well for me, but even I got bored (and you guys know what a slug I am!).  So, some years ago (long after my original heavy weight power rack experiments) I started placing rubber flex bands over the barbell, did full range all round lifts thus “handicapped,” and termed them “moving isometrics.”  Like Bill March’s short range isos, momentum and acceleration were thwarted to yield solid, pure push through every inch of an exercise.  Yet the bands encouraged more SPEED and finish (actually, “pushing through” the top rather than “braking,” which somewhat discourages total effort).  Best of all, maximum results came from band/bar lifts that were NOT total, all out, explode-your-arteries, max weight killers.  In fact, from my findings, these work best with a comfortable barbell weight of 60-70% of one’s best single.  Even now, as “early middle age” (65!!!) approaches, these moving isos are giving me substantial gains on most lifts.

Coming Tomorrow

Part 2 of the All-Round Approach of properly using band resistance in your training.

All-Round Lifting, Jungle Style

by John McKean

John McKean "places his best foot forward" in setting up for a dumbbell deadlift using the modified T-Stance.

Big bellied and bubbly, the kindly, bespeckled old timer reminded me of a favorite uncle. Indeed, he chattered on endlessly and always treated me as a long lost, cherished relative. But, as a large man, he always stood kinda funny — his rear foot constantly at a 45 degree outward angle with the front foot’s heel jammed at its center, toes pointing directly at you. Seemed narrow and uncomfortable, oddly insufficient to balance a 280 pound person. Yet, I learned later that if he ever moved that front foot toward anyone while angered, that individual would become an instant corpse! You see, this absolute MASTER of the Indonesian martial art of Silat was once written up in a major magazine series entitled “The Deadliest Man on the Planet.” And, as I was informed from his senior students, during his covert assignment by our government during WW2 many U.S. enemies, as their final sight on earth, witnessed the lightning like speed and deadly power behind that stance!

The proper foot placement for the T-Stance. It may be used for any lift that requires the heels to be together.

So, years back, from training this art and experiencing firsthand the balance and channeled strength afforded by its modified “T -stance,” I adjusted it to experiment on certain all-round lifts. Surprisingly, the unusual footwork gave superior performance in the heels together press, and as the beginning stage (before slight foot opening for position) of the Jefferson and one arm Hack, among others.

Recently I played around with the one arm dumbbell deadlift in preparation for the Boston Gold Cup meet, and found my Indonesian stance was IDEAL for that awkward lift. The problem with the big plated dumbbell pull is that the DB handle is too far out from your body, thus thwarting initial power, and twisting uncontrollably as it ascends up the thighs. So I began with my right foot jammed in between the plates, shin almost touching the bar. The foot was at the best angle I could achieve, tho not quite 45 degrees. My left foot would begin at the outward plate, a few inches from the approximate center of my inner-DB foot, then I would advance it a bit to allow room for the pull. I discovered that my arm was afforded an absolute straight down position for a perfect initial deadlift pull, and that it rested within my right thigh so as not disturb the direct path of the big dumbbell (the weight, not me!). Just a bend of my legs yielded all power from hips and thighs, rather than stress and twisting of the lower back – really, more of a squat than a deadlift.

The tribesmen living within the highland jungles of West Java, where my Silat mentor was raised and taught, knew a thing or two about pinpoint balance and exacting body positioning for exerting maximum power. In their dangerous environment they HAD to! We in all-rounds can also certainly experiment and adapt our own individual structures as a means to stand solidly and “kick butt” on the record book!

Club Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – THE 2011 USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW BBC are the hosts for the 2011 USAWA Club Challenge.

After the overwhelming success of the USAWA Club Challenge last year, John McKean has announced plans to host this unique team competition again this year.  The date has been set – March 12th.  The Club Challenge will follow  along the same guidelines as last year.   This competition is a “team” competition – with each club bringing three members whose adjusted points will be added together to form a “team score”.  No awards will be given for individual performance.  The Challenge will occur at the famous Ambridge Barbell Club in Ambridge, PA.  John has set an afternoon start time to allow for lifters to fly in the morning of the meet.  This is a great opportunity for all USAWA Member Clubs to show their “team spirit” by pitting themselves against other clubs in the USAWA.  Even though I would like to see teams composed of USAWA members who list their club as their affiliated club on the membership roster, this is not required.  So if you are the only one from your club that wants to attend and you can find two other team members, that is allowed. If a club wants to bring more than one team – that is ok as well.  The Ambridge BBC is a very interesting gym, and contains equipment that you will not see anyplace else!  Plus after the meet, John knows the best places to eat in town and you will not be disappointed in the post-meet celebration!

2011 USAWA Club Challenge

Date:  Saturday, March 12th

Venue:  Ambridge BBC

Meet Director:  John McKean

Entry Fee:  None

Start Time:  2:30 PM

Sanction:  USAWA

Lifts:

Bentover Row

Deadlift – 2 Bars

Neck Lift

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John.

World Wide Row

John McKean

Recent work on the bent over row shows good effects on the 65-year-old upper back of that chubby little rascal in front who we know as John McKean!

John Grimek, our FIRST USAWA Hall-of-Famer (I was there when Howard Prechtel nominated him!) once wrote that the bent over row is a lift where huge poundages are possible, because the movement employs the arms, shoulders, lats, lower back, hips, and thighs. Big John also stated that the row is the absolute best heavy exercise for building the biceps, as well as the upper back. I once met a young super-heavyweight at a power meet who took Grimek’s advice seriously – the lad ONLY trained the heaving row for biceps, and a few bench presses for the triceps. Without exaggeration, his well formed upper arms had to have measured 23 inches!!

Famed writer/lifter Terry Todd did a photo filled article of his deadlift training for winning one of the first National powerlifting contests – yep, the huge poundage-heaving ROW was given prominent mention as his major assistance exercise. Terry was rowing with over 450, as I recall; those pictures left a lasting impression on my young mind! Even today the row is king in building other ALL-ROUND lifts!

We in the USAWA have instituted the bent over row as an official lift during the past season. First to “test” it was Al Myers’ crew, who raved about the dynamic feeling to pull big weight and the genuine enthusiasm for officially performing this grand old exercise! As Al mentioned, it is a natural, basic exercise that we ALL started our weight training with, and requires a unique direction of pull that no other lift fulfills! Later, big Ernie Beath (who really was the one instrumental in pushing for the inception of this barbell keystone as official) and I rowed for records at Art’s Birthday Bash (I think one END of Ernie’s bar was more than I managed!!). At this point in time, world-wide, the IAWA has adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude, but I think our more carefully conceived, clearer version of the rules should tell how simple and direct the bent over row is as a lift.

USAWA Rule for the Bent Over Row

The lift will start at the lifter’s discretion with the bar placed on the platform in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with an overhand grip with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. The width of grip spacing and feet placement is of the lifter’s choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The body must be in a bent over position at the waist. The upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift or it is a disqualification. The legs may be bent during the lift and upon the completion of the lift. The bar is lifted to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms. The bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel if a belt is not worn. It is a disqualification if the belt supports the bar at the abdomen upon the finish of the lift. The lift ends by an official’s command when the bar is held motionless at the abdomen or chest.

Not only can our All-rounders benefit by direct effort applied to rows, but many who would come to us for weight training programs will make huge strides in OVERALL strength by utilizing the row as a LIFT.  As such, of course, we can draw these athletes into our fold to display prideful gains on a weightlifting platform!!  But these big bent over pulls can certainly serve wrestlers, martial artists, track and field athletes, football players, etc. I, for one, would love to see some of these new guys at our record day meets! Of course, it won’t hurt our image, either, to start associating IAWA lifters with that huge, old time “V” taper derived from concentrated, high-powered rows!

Superior Strength for Athletes through All-Rounds

John McKean

John McKean, at 64 years of age and in the 80 kg class, performed a 120.9 kilogram One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift at the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup last month. This is the best One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift in the USAWA Record List, regardless of weight class, for lifters over 60 years of age.

Fierce looking, amazingly muscular, and sullen , the 181 pound powerlifter sat alone in a corner of the Ambridge VFW gym during one of our 1960s powerlifting meets. Nobody was crazy enough to disturb the thick thighed monster as he death-stared the warmup platform. Except me, of course; the resident nut! Surprisingly gracious and talkative, the young (but already bald & fu-manchu mustashed), record setting squatter explained his very basic leg routine -simply work up in singles from a power rack’s parallel pin position, starting dead stop at the bottom (eliminating rebound or “stretch-reflex”), going to an absolute limit, once per week. I’m sure this eventual all time great altered his approach over the years, yet not long ago I heard he became the only master lifter over 50 to set an official squat of over 900 pounds!

A similar power rack approach was taken by legendary Paul Anderson. In a story by Terry Todd, who witnessed the training, mighty Paul had 1050 pounds situated on a below parallel pin position (so low, recalled Todd, that he himself couldn’t even squeeze himself under it).  Anderson easily got himself up from this dead stop bottom position, many singles during training, figuring such easy work (for HIM!!) would allow a “regular” squat with 1150-1400 pounds!!

Olympian Russ Knipp, who the astounded Russians called one of the strongest pure pressers and squatters they had ever seen, described to me his “2/3 squats”.  Again, these were performed from dead stop in a position just a hair above parallel.  Just over the middleweight bodyweight limit, Russ used to do these for 5 sets of 10 with 515 pounds -and not even pushing it, as they were supplementary exercise for his olympic lifting! Russ told me after this “overload” work, any regular squat always felt easy & he never had trouble getting up from low 400+ pound cleans!

Of course, based on progress by these true giants of lifting, I, at my powerlifting best – an awkward, small boned, unmuscular little 165 pound geek- discovered that rack bottom-start squats took my stalled contest lift of around 450 up to a state record 555 in amazingly rapid time. And this was before super suits, big belts, wraps, and all the other “aids” were around.

OK, enter All-Round lifting -we have LOTS of quality lifts that build the same core strength in dead start fashion, as did the rack pin squats, without the need of a bulky, space consuming power rack station. Think about it – our Jefferson, trap bar deadlift, dumbbell deadlifts, Zercher, and others start with no momentum -on the floor- and work the same important core muscles. If modern athletes would simply adopt a few of our sheer strength movements, they would be WAY ahead on FUNCTIONAL power, as opposed to trying to mimic modern powerlifting’s super-duper suited/wrapped, enhanced quarter squats and steel spring shirted, assisted bench presses.

As a long time secondary teacher, I always cringed at the ridiculous weight training that high school and college football, wrestling, and track coaches offered to their athletes. Many times coaches that I knew would simply go to the internet and select bodybuilding style programs, as they themselves had no real experience (and their coaching egos would NEVER have them ask an actual weightlifter!!). I heard of one school’s “strength- coach” who had senior football players do nothing but curls(!!!!), and another who trained female soccer players, but not allow anything heavier, ever, than 3 pound dumbbells!  Equally upsetting were the athletic departments that would tell the youngsters to just do the powerlifts on their own -yep, more quarter squats, bounced bench presses, deadlift injuries, and the ever present assistance gear that easily conned kids bought on their own!

It seems to me that we in the USAWA could maybe initiate all-round contests or, at least, seminars, on high school & college campuses to demonstrate the superiority of our “old time” training methods.  Certainly we could really help athletic programs that could use REAL strength training for their students, and, who knows, our base of competition oriented lifters could expand tremendously!

Gold Cup One

by John McKean

Howard Prechtel as a young man, sitting and relaxing as he poses for a picture with over 1000 pounds on his back!

Howard Prechtel phoned me to describe, in his typical factual but low key manner, his idea for a meet where IAWA World Champions would strive to set individual world records in their favorite lifts. He was most pleased to inform that the Wide World of Sports was VERY interested in TV coverage! Of course a large Gold Cup would be awarded to each successful contestant in this “World Champions Record Breakers” meet (in later years , Gold Cup meet was easier to say & inscribe on trophies!).

Soon, all lifters were wildy excited about this concept, and planned to travel to Cleveland( Lakewood), where the meet venue was a large High school, famous for its legendary football teams, and other athletics. However, as Howard later told me, with a bit of mirth in his normally somber tone, one prominent US lifter wasn’t too thrilled. Seems this specialty lifter had not ever entered or won a World Championship, but, in his own ,rather unhumble opinion, was very worthy of competing ( a legend in his own mind !) in this unique record day event. He phoned, more than once I believe, and pleaded, begged, and implored Howard to let him appear before the TV cameras! But Howard was always very principled, and held his ground – ONLY legitimate world champs would grace the stage!

Another famous lifter was quite excited to demo his skills to a televised international audience. But, though “sparse” of hair,had a bit of vanity to him and often wore an absurdly thick , wavy brown wig when out on the town. So, in preparation for his network debut, he had his wife, a professional hairdresser, dye his sidehair to yield a perfect, flowing brown tone to exactly match the shade of the 6″ muffet that was to be pasted to the top of his bare skull.Only problem was, our boy fall asleep during the dying process, the extra time converting his remaining real hair to jet black!! The hair piece had to remain at home, and fellow contestants had to bite their lips to suppress chuckles when they saw their newly done old pal, the darkest haired chrome-dome in history!

During the meet, everyone marveled at Howard’s organizing skills -the weight set up & appearance of the large auditorium was spectacular! The Gold Cups on display lit up the room to create added excitement & atmosphere of a truly important, historic event. The only disappointment, and it really seemed minor at the time due to everyone’s enthusiasm with the lifting, was that the filming crews never showed.

Spectator involvement may have been the largest ever -as mentioned this was a Saturday at an athletic based high school and most student athletes were there for Saturday training. These kids didn’t even mind sharing their spacious weight lifting room with competitors; they were thrilled to see real competition style lifters warming up beside them. One of the bigger football players , a nice,polite young man, couldn’t help himself but ask my (then) 12 year old son,Rob, what he could possibly be lifting in what was deemed by them a virtual “professional” weightlifting contest. When Rob described his intent to do a hand and thigh with 800 pounds, the senior linebacker almost fainted! And when Rob went off to lift, EVERY athlete crowded in to watch a grade school child pull a hard fought 800 ! In fact, Rob was so intent on this performance that he apparently broke tiny blood vessels in his cheeks and was red faced for a week!!

In this, and following Prechtel meets, lifters were supplied every comfort and convenience by Howard. He was, indeed, a Bob Hoffman of all-round lifting, and even looked like the ole “Father of Modern Weightlifting”, with a similar beneficial demeanor! We’ll miss ya, Howie, your meets and your character were pure quality, and your hard work & dedication to promoting them will forever remain as “golden” as your cups!

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 4 – Bob Karhan


by John McKean

My all-round cohort and good buddy from Cleveland, Bob Karhan, has done more dumbbell home training than most. Very few trainees these days can match big Bob’s pure pressing power, the result of many years of concentrated work with various forms of dumbbell pressing. He’s kindly agreed to share some of his findings:

When training dumbbells I usually do 1-2 sets after my barbell exercises. For example, after a heavy press behind neck session I take a heavy pair of dumbbells and do a set of 5-6 reps in the dumbbell press. If this is fairly easy, I’ll add weight and go for on more set of 3-5 reps. If the first set proves to be a gut-buster, I’ll skip the second set.

I prefer sticking to a rep scheme of 3-8. The first rep always proves to be essential to jockey for ideal dumbbell positioning and establish coordination between muscle groups. Repetitions eventually enable one to discover a personal groove and fine tune it over the course of time. Only dumbbells permit this minute adjustment of positioning. In fact, I seriously doubt whether any two individuals could have the exact same degree of push.

In IAWA competition, the center of the ‘bell handles for presses can’t be higher than the clavicles. This presents a new level of difficulty because the initial drive requires a shoulder and elbow rotation to get the ‘bells started. This motion has a tendency to get the dumbbells out of one’s groove. By doing the exercise this way, the amount of weight is reduced by about 10-15% while shoulder aggravation is increased by 50%. It’s always important with dumbbells to work a lift in the most comfortable manner.

One other way to develop dumbbell power is to employ 2” dumbbell handles. These are hard to control and they’re tremendous for developing the grip. Mostly, when you go back to the standard 1” handles they feel like mere toys in your hands.

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 3 – The Nuts and Bolts

by John McKean

Sort of a surprise for any who have read my previous articles expounding the use of heavy single-rep lifts, but dumbbell strength training is best done is sets of 3-6 reps. At least a triple seems necessary to develop coordination and groove, absolutely essential to successful dumbbell work. In many gym experiments I’ve discovered I could take a particular poundage and do three good but fairly taxing reps with the dumbbell, then go but 5 pounds heavier only to find the stubborn ‘bells just wouldn’t budge an inch. Friends related exactly the same experience. So, if a “gym limit” can usually be pumped for 3-4 reps instead of only one, you might as well shoot for this number.

Singles can be attempted on widely spaced occasions – you need something to shoot for. But with dumbbells there’s a lot more control factors against you, and conditions won’t always be regulated as with a barbell. Your mood, drive, groove, coordination, incentive, and a well-rested, ready body has to be exactly in tune for that new dumbbell record. Plus, as any experienced dumbbell aficionado will tell you, it’s all too easy to mentally burn out on the short bars if you attempt too many maxes too frequently. Sad to report, misses with even previous marks occur a lot. Seems you must lose a little occasionally before your body allows you to advance. But take heart. When you do hit a new limit you’ll discover a unique exhilaration, ‘cause the dumbbells will let you know that you’ve really worked for and deserve it.

Many of us find that our top dumbbell weights are most easily achieved when done for a single set of 3-5 reps performed directly following a short session of singles with a similar barbell move. For instance, we work a standard barbell press for 70% x 1, 80% x 1, 90% x 1, then finish – almost a “backdown set” – with a dumbbell press for, say a set of 4 reps. Since the dumbbell move is tougher and always lighter than its big brother barbell exercise, the body, and especially the mind, are better prepared (tricked) for dumbbell intensity when backing down to it instead of progressively building up in sets. It’s just so important to allow that first dumbbell rep to go smoothly and seem fairly light. Following that, reps 2, 3, 4 and, maybe 5, almost always flow easily. But there’s no second chance if the first one sticks.

A few barbell-up, dumbbell-down combos you may wish to try include snatches/swings, barbell hack squats/dumbbell deadlifts, push presses/one arm jerks, cheat curls/incline dumbbell curls, power cleans/dumbbell pullups, etc. Again, not that dumbbell lifts can’t be trained by themselves – some, such as all-rounds torturous two-hands anyhow, can’t be trained any other way. It’s just that quicker advances in poundages and better quality training come when the dumbbell lifts are combined with heavy single barbell movements. Just remember the formula of 4 sets of 1 with the barbell, 1 set of 4 with the dumbbell.

Progression can best be summed up this way – don’t be in too much of a hurry. Keep plugging at that set of 3-5 reps with a consistent poundage, workout after workout, until it starts to feel light and easy. Then just nudge the dumbbells up by 5 pounds the next session. Some may prefer to gradually raise reps, starting at 4 and eventually achieving 7 with a given weight before upping the poundage and starting over at 3 or 4. Regardless of which progression you prefer, always be a bit cautious during that next workout with the weight jump – attack it, because that addition of a mere 5 pounds per hand may prove far heavier than you expect. Smaller weight increases with loading dumbbells can be achieved by off-loading, or adding a single plate to only one side of the bell.

Barbells Up, Dumbbells Down Part 1 – Dumbbell Training

by John McKean

Paul Anderson, Louis Cyr, Arthur Saxon, Hermann Goerner, Doug Hepburn, and John McKean. The question behind this answer is, “Name five all-time superstars of strength who extensively employed heavy dumbbells in training, and one other guy!” Of course, yours truly is the lowly other guy, but I do enjoy standing on the shoulders of these giants to seek some of the progress they found through brutally-intense dumbbell work.

Unfortunately, most dumbbell work nowadays is relegated to lightweight shaping movements, or, at most, relatively high-rip, non-goal oriented exercise with poundages that are “comfortable”. I don’t even like to recall how many gyms I’ve visited where the heavy half of the dumbbell rack is as dusty and untouched as their bench uprights shiny and worn.

Why is this? Simple – dumbbells hurt. That is, in exactly the opposite manner to how exercise machines ease and rob the work of a similar barbell move, dumbbells call for even more total bodily involvement than a long bar. Where machines isolate, dumbbells, on the other hand, require extreme control, utilization of many stabilizing muscles, coordination between muscle groups, and total concentration. They have a longer range of motion than barbells or machines, and bombard deep-lying muscle fibers from many different angles. Most importantly, with some intense effort, seriously-heavy dumbbells eventually adapt to our own personal groove – we’re forced to learn to control the weighty little beasts, and best compensate for out individual leverages. Eventually, then, we discover (perhaps even subconsciously) our own optimum angles of push or pull, to capitalize on innermost strengths.

Many of the old-time strongmen never seemed to lack incentive to go to limit poundages on dumbbell lifts. Of course, back then they regularly contested dumbbell clean & jerks, presses, snatches, swings, and the crucifix. A look at U.S. and British record lists printed in magazines from the 1920s and 30s will show a slew of dumbbell marks which were recorded under official conditions. Do we have any such incentive today? You bet! Under the auspices of the IAWA we currently have 27 registered dumbbell lifts to go after. And, brother, if you thought my insistence on training barbell limits in past articles was taxing, I’m really setting you up for a wonderful world of pain this time.

No, you may not be interested in jumping into one of our dumbbell competitions – the British would call these “single arm championships” – but you sure can obtain huge overall strength gains while bringing out previously unnoticed lumps, bumps and strands of muscle. All that’s required is the desire to see just how heavy a single rep you can eventually achieve with one or more dumbbell lifts. Specialize if you care to, or build a total routine on 4-10 dumbbell moves per week.

Art Montini

by John McKean

This is Art from his "younger days'. This picture is prominently displayed in the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club.

” I LOVE the aches and pains every morning! They tell me that I didn’t die in my sleep!!” Then, to assert this positive life-force, eighty four year old Art Montini heads to the gym every morning at 5 AM to lift weights. HEAVY ones!

You see, Art Montini of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania is perhaps the premiere Master (over age of 40) weightlifter in the world! He has been a competitor in olympic style weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round lifting for 64 years and a master lifter for 44 of those years.He currently holds around 250 US national records in All-Round weightlifting for the USAWA which places him as first or second on the list for most records ever ( Art laughs at his good friend and record-numbers competitor, Denny Habecker, the USAWA national president. “He’s just a “kid” of 67!”,crows Montini.).But Art has proven that heavy training, rather than lightweight “over 50″ programs is the fountain of youth & vitality.

With no sign of letting up (Art has been known to leave a hospital from minor surgery and typical age related procedures to drive straight to the gym for a workout!),  Montini plans to compete in this year’s All-Round National Championships in Lebanon,PA , set a few more records in the World’s Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, and finish the year by lifting in his own , annual birthday meet in Ambridge,PA.These days in his age group division of 80+ , ole Art doesn’t have a lot of head-on competition, but is quick to reveal his current secret of success -”If at first ya can’t outlift ‘em, OUTLIVE ‘em!”

Seven Priniciples for Cleaning and Pressing Dumbbells

by John McKean

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, holds the Overall Record in the Clean and Press - 2 Dumbbells in the 125+ KG Class with a lift of 230 pounds (this is a picture of that record). This record was performed in the 2004 IAWA Postal Meet.

1.) Principles of cleaning and pressing barbells apply. You need an easy clean. If you’re stumbling all over as you rack the dumbells, or have to muscle them in over the last few inches, your chances of making a maximum single, triple, or even a set of five are slim.

2.) Concentrate on speed when you clean dumbells. You have to turn the dumbells over fast which requires getting the elbows to move rapidly. Remember, you’re not doing hammer curls.

3.) Dumbell cleans are easier if one uses ‘bells with thin, flat-style plates. I prefer 12½’s myself, the fewer plates the better. Hexagon-shaped dumbells are noticeably harder to clean, at least 90’s and up.

4.) For home training, spiral-lock dumbells are best. They can be changed quickly, and you never have to worry about the collars falling off and causing potential injury.

5.) For pressing heavy dumbells it’s essential to have a solid base. Total-body work comes into play here as you must maintain tight thighs and hips.

6.) When pressing the heaviest dumbells, I prefer palms facing each other, with elbows facing forward and angled slightly outward (as opposed to elbows to the sides).

7.) Keep dumbells directly over the shoulders and concentrate on driving them straight up, always being attentive to prevent the ‘bells from wandering out to the sides.

The Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

by John McKean

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

Earlier this year the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club celebrated its 50th anniversary ! It was jointly founded by the USAWA’s own Art Montini and his long time friend, Harry McCoy, who went on to serve many terms as Western Pennsylvania’s Chairman of Olympic weightlifting. It was neat to see both men in attendance at the recent USAWA 3 man challenge meet!

Since the early 1960s the Ambridge club has been a hotbed of weightlifting competition. At one time or another, most of the top dogs in the Eastern US in olympic and power lifting, and physique competitors attended these exciting contests. Remember Phil Grippaldi, Tony Fratto, Hugh Cassidy, Frank Remschell, Mr America past 40 Jim Karas, Bob Weaver, George Crawford, Cal Shake, Roger Estep,etc,etc? -all attended VFW meets! Later, with Art, Bill DiCioccio, and me getting into the initial USAWA meets, it was just a natural to host annual all-round contests along with several nationals. Heck, Art’s birthday meet alone has gone on longer than most clubs last these days!

Part of the charm of the Ambridge gym is its old style “hardcore” decor -mostly older olympic sets and pegs chock full of plates, solid iron dumbbells, sturdy racks & benches, and multiple lifting platforms. Yes, there are a few heavy duty machines in the lower part of the gym, but even these “bodybuilding devises” only got in by heated screaming matches during rather wild club meetings!! Training here has always been geared to huge strength and lifting competition, so the well used barbells show more wear and tear than do lat machines seen in most health spas!

A key feature of many of the racks, supports, and odd gear seen in the gym is that they were mostly homemade, and one-of-a-kind. That is, during the 60s the local steel mills were thriving and most of the members were steelworkers – these guys were terrific at welding together all manner of heavy duty structures that would withstand an A-bomb! No one ever asked about the limits of a stairladder squat rack, for instance, because one look at it would quickly convince any user that its support limits would outdo even Paul Anderson’s top weights! If a member feels a piece of steel looks damaged or somehow unsturdy, or just needs modification, almost as his concern is expressed, ole Art Montini has his welding mask on and torch aflame! Believe me, it can make for a unique training session when sparks and superheated metal are flying around -even the rats run for cover (just kiddin’ , never saw a rat during my 43 year membership ,tho Art early in the morning and unshaven is close!).

All members dues,always quite reasonable, have been continually invested in new equipment. It may have been rather Spartan in 1960 when Art and Harry first pooled their own barbells and plates, but quickly evolved into a barbell club that would easily satisfy a healthy roomful of dedicated iron men. Regular clean-up and maintenance crews keep things tidy yet rugged looking. I well remember attending my first power meet at the VFW -it was the most impressive, well equipped “dungeon” I’d ever been in ; even the extensive solid dumbbells on the long rack had been freshly painted a neat shade of dark blue just for that contest! I immediately promised myself that right after graduating from college I was gonna join this group who took such pride in their facility!

I have to fondly recall the many big olympic, power, all-round, and physique meets held upstairs from the gym. This was in the large “dance hall” and stage behind the VFW’s bar on the main floor. Meets would begin at 9 am in the good old days, and last well past midnight! The place was packed with spectators, and even was often stacked 3 deep in the surrounding overhead balcony, and had all the noisy atmosphere that a big sporting event SHOULD have! Great food was sold (and sold OUT!) by the ladies auxillary upstairs, and the “occasional” lifter or official would sometimes sneak out to the front bar for a quick beer! The only problem was dressing downstairs in the locker room just below the lifting platform -when the olympic lifters dropped a big one the lights& rafters always threatened to bury those down below (never actually happened,though!)!

Nowadays, some of the old time trainees have departed, but current competitors, new barbell buffs, and student athletes still frequent this friendly old pit ! If you haven’t visited already, be sure to attend one of the upcoming USAWA meets that we’re planning!

Club Challenge

USAWA Club Challenge

by John McKean

Group Picture from the 2010 USAWA Club Challenge

It started as a rainy day, but with snow freshly gone, temperatures up, daylight savings about to begin (the promise of longer fun-filled days!), and lifters traveling in from Kansas, Ohio, Maryland, and Lebanon (the town, not the country!), we couldn’t help but begin the morning on a real high! Art & I got things opened up early and prepared at the VFW dungeon, after which Art drove the short distance across the bridge over a rising & fast moving Ohio River to his home to arouse the still slumbering Kansas contingent of Al, Chad, and Rudy!

Meanwhile Big Ernie Beath & his folks popped out of their motor home, parked right outside the VFW, and prepared for an early record assault! The long drive from Maryland the night before, through pounding rain, didn’t give ole Ern the best rest, but he looked all of his 400# worth of awesome power! He warmed up, and when officials arrived, he started the morning with an awesome push press, which unfortunately didn’t hit the groove, but sure woke everyone up when the 410# hit the floor! Passing the reload, Ern went to a few “easy” french presses (tricep extension, standing), ending with a strict, phenomenal 201 pounds! Now EVERYONE was psyched to begin lifting!!

Plates were loaded and we began our “round robin” (first “robin” of Spring? Sorry, couldn’t resist saying that!) approach to the challenge lifts of the 2 bar (2 inches thick) vertical lift,one arm dumbbell snatch, reflex clean & push press, and thick bar straddle lift. As Al noted, these particular lifts are not often contested and gave us all a chance to go for personal bests & records! And we discovered quickly that vertical bar lifts can be slippery on humid early mornings, though Chad offered a unique approach by lifting only his right vertical bar on the heavy attempts – maybe a new lift to be introduced will be his new “see-saw vertical bar lift”!!

Old Art Montini, at the high end of the age groups, was his usual efficient self – as astounded contestants noted “the ole man never missed an attempt!” He rarely does – a habit acquired from always training at 4 AM every morning & not wanting to wake everyone up! At the young end of the spectrum was Denny Habecker’s 15-year-old phenomenon, Kohl, who had his brother drive him cross state, starting at 4 that morning! Kohl made Denny proud (Denny couldn’t make the meet, being hampered with bronchial pneunomia and with strict orders from his doctor – and Judy(!!!!) – not to travel.) with new records in most of the events & especially impressive flair for the quick lifts. His explosive one arm snatch with long hair flying was a meet highlight for me (maybe if I trained that lift as well as Kohl, my own hair – all 3 strands of it – would regrow!!!). Talk about a young “Samson”!!

Man, was it neat to meet Rudy! This 70-some “youngster” really has the enthusiasm to lift and kept us all energetic with his passion for the sport! From what I hear, Rudy hasn’t been away from his wide open spaces of home much, so spending time in the crowded, old former steel towns of Ambridge/ Aliquippa must have reminded him “You ain’t in Kansas anymore!.” But his strength & form were awe inspiring!

Of course the old vets of olympic and powerlifting, Scott Schmidt from Cleveland and Big Al, did their usual efficient jobs with peak weights! Each captained their groups to team wins -Scott (and Kohl) took the 2- man team award (yeah, entering a 3-man team challenge with two people is like showing up at a gunfight with a knife!) and Al led the Kansas men to the overall 3-man challenge title!

The lifting concluded, the Ambridge & Kansas guys, who didn’t have to travel home right away, enjoyed the home cooking of Ambridge’s famed Maple Restaurant to ravenously devour the renowned roast beef. I believe Al & Chad set a new restaurant record, or would have liked to, on consuming their secret beef gravy! As we all said our goodbyes, they were still talking lifting, fishing, basketball, and looking just ahead to the ice cream store next where Art was leading them!

Results:

USAWA Club Challenge
Ambridge VFW BBC
Ambridge, Pennsylvania
March 13th, 2010

Meet Director:  John McKean

Officials – 3 officials used on all lifts: Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt, Al Myers, Chad Ullom

Lifts:  Snatch – One Arm, Dumbbell, Reflex Clean and Push Press, Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 2″, Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar

Results:

1. Dino Gym – 2715.08 adjusted points

Lifter Age
BWT DB Snatch
Reflex C&PP
VB DL
Jefferson
Al Myers
43 252 146 (R)
224 338 533
Chad Ullom
38 239 136 (R)
245 338 453
Rudy Bletscher
74 221 50 (R)
88 258 255

2.  Ambridge VFW Barbell Club – 2368.66 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT DB Snatch
Reflex C&PP
VB DL
Jefferson
John McKean
64 174 51 (R)
103 283 353
Art Montini
82 174 35 (L)
65 178 210
Ernie Beath
28 400 121 (R)
251 338 323

3.  Habecker’s Gym – 1709.41 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT DB Snatch
Reflex C&PP
VB DL
Jefferson
Scott Schmidt
57 259 92 (R)
198 358 303
Kohl Hess
15 272 96 (R)
138 313 407


BWT is bodyweight. All lifts recorded in pounds.

Extra Attempts for Records:
Ernie Beath  – French Press 201 pounds
Chad Ullom – Reflex Clean and Push Press 265 pounds
John McKean – One Arm Dumbbell Snatch 67 pounds (Right)
Al Myers – Reflex Clean and Push Press 250 pounds
Art Montini – Reflex Clean and Push Press 75 pounds

USAWA Club Challenge

by Al Myers

Multi-talented John McKean loves to fish when he's not lifting. He even wears weightlifting T-Shirts for good luck!

John McKean, of the Ambridge VFW BBC, has announced a new, exciting meet for this year – the USAWA Club Challenge. It will be held on March 13th, at the Ambridge Barbell Club. It seems very appropriate that one of the oldest USAWA Clubs (the Ambridge BBC have been a registered USAWA Club since 1993) is hosting this Club Challenge. In the recent years club membership in the USAWA has declined, but at one time club membership was the backbone of the USAWA. The early USAWA bylaws even had stipulations in them that changes in the USAWA would only happen by votes of the clubs, with each club having a voting representative at the National Meeting.

John McKean has always been a “major player” in the USAWA. His resume of involvement goes on and on. He has been a National Meet promoter, a USAWA Hall of Famer, multiple National and World Champion, distinguished writer of numerous articles promoting All-Round Weightlifting, and a foremost leader in the USAWA. Now, he is taking on the challenge of rejuvenating the Club Membership program in the USAWA. I feel club membership is the “secret” to stimulating growth in membership in the USAWA. One of the problems we face in attracting new members to our organization is the understanding of the multiple lifts. Potential new lifters look at all of our lifts with confusion. We have over 200 lifts to learn while Olympic Lifting has only two and Powerlifting has three. But by being part of a club, new lifters have the opportunity to learn from the experienced All-Rounders. A club environment gives new lifters confidence to give All-Round Lifting a try. This only starts by those “who have been around” being leaders, and inviting new potential lifters to be part of their group. I would like to see the day return where lifters are proud of their club, and when they compete they wear their club’s T-shirt with pride.

This meet will be a club challenge – with each club having three members compete together side by side with their total points being added up for a Team Score. This meet is not about individual scores, and individual rankings will not be recorded. Clubs that enter need to be registered with the USAWA, but at only $10 per year to register as a club, it is truly just a token membership fee. Clubs may register the day of the meet. There is no entry form or entry fee, but each club must contact John ahead of time to enter. The details of this can be found on the event calendar.

This is one of the most exciting new events that has happened in the USAWA in recent years. Let’s all join together and make this Club Challenge a great success so that it will continue for years to come – and THANKS to John McKean for making it happen!!!

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, 1 hand

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards doing a 235 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 1 Bar, 2", One Hand. This is the top All-Time record in the USAWA.

This lift was introduced to the USAWA several years ago by John McKean of the Ambridge Barbell Club.  Initially it was performed with a 2″ Vertical Bar in each hand, with the lifter completing the lift by standing up with the weight like a normal deadlift.  The first recorded meet this lift was done in was 1998, at Art’s Birthday Bash.  John McKean first introduced it as a One Hand Lift in 2003 at the Jump Stretch Record Day. Since then the popularity of the 2″ One Handed VB Lift has grown. The first big meet it was held in was the 2004 National Championships, in Youngstown, Ohio.  The Vertical Bar has a length limit of 18 inches.  The reason this became the USAWA standard length was because the original VB was the sleeve off of an Olympic Bar, measuring just under 18 inches.  The USAWA rules on Vertical Bar lifting are quite different than other grip competitions. The big thing to remember is the bar must become completely motionless at the completion of the lift, including any rotation.  Another USAWA rule I want to clarify is that in any One Handed lift the same hand must be used throughout all of your attempts. You can’t save “thy strong hand” for “thy hard lift”.

Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift

H18.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1”, One Hand

The setup for this lift requires a Vertical Bar, which is a bar of one inch diameter with a maximum length of 18 inches. A collar or plate must be tightly fastened or welded to the bottom so plates may be added to the bar.  No knurling is allowed on the bar. The lifter may straddle the weight or have it placed to the lifter’s side. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The bar may be gripped by any grip with only one hand near the top of the vertical bar.  The forearm is not allowed to touch the bar. The lifting hand must not touch the body during the lift, but the weight may accidentally touch the legs provided it does not aid in the lift. The non-lifting hand may be braced on the leg or body during the lift, but must be free from the body at the completion of the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bar from the

platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked at the completion of the lift, but the shoulders and body do not need to be erect. The lifting hand must be above the level of mid-thighs at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bar must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

H19.  Vertical Bar Deadlift -1 Bar, 2”, One Hand

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1Bar, 1”, One Hand apply except a two inch diameter Vertical Bar is used.

Meeting Louis Cyr

by John McKean

Statue of Louis Cyr in Montreal

While attending the 1987 Master’s Pan Am weightlifting championships ( I believe I was 41 at the time and had trimmed down to 132 # -too much aerobics!), my friend & driver John Harrison and I got slightly lost in the suburb of Montreal between the meet venue and our hotel. This was the third or fourth time we had become lost in that sprawling city during that exciting weekend! Since the hotel was only about 2 miles away, we knew we couldn’t be that far off course! Another group of lifters were following us back and, of course, they didn’t know exactly where we were either. So we pulled off beside a tiny park to check the map. As we got out of the cars some one pointed over and exclaimed “Look at that!! Isn’t that Louis Cyr?!” We all eyeballed the massive, well weathered statue and couldn’t miss the inscription! We lifters were like school kids over this find! Was this the neighborhood that Cyr himself once roamed?

In case anyone is not sure, Cyr is the big one in the background and the tiny figure in the bottom right in a similar pose (I think at that bodyweight I had the advantage in shape & definition over ole Louie for this pose-off!!) is yours truly! I captioned the photo as ” Louis Cyr asking John for All-Round training advice!”

Later we asked our Canadian hosts ( who did one heck of a job in hosting this big event) about the statue and they seemed completely mystified, not knowing of its existence. Since that time, in fact, NO ONE who I’ve ever heard of has seen this really cool statue! We couldn’t even locate it again ourselves when describing it to other lifters back at the hotel. Thank goodness we took the photo! I thought it would be neat to display this since the recent article appeared in a recent Daily News below.( the pic since has inspired me to bulk up!!).

Hall of Fame Biography – John McKean class of 1999

John McKean deadlifting.

John was born on December 15th, 1945 and has been competing in weightlifting for over 45 years, starting in 1962. He started as a lifter primarily as a powerlifter, but also has competed in master’s olympic lifting, having won two US National titles. However, all-round weightlifting soon captivated his attention and he has devoted all of his efforts toward all-round training and competition since its inception. John is a retired teacher (32 years in Jr. High math), a

John McKean performing a 2 bar deadlift.

retired martial arts instructor (American Combatives for individuals and airline crews), and a retired weightlifter. John has won so many National and World Meets that he has lost count!!! One accomplishment that he has done that is hard to top is that he went for over 20 years never losing a meet in his age and weight division! He presently has over 125 USAWA and IAWA records on the books. His earliest all-round weightlifting inspirations came from the great National and World Meets that John Vernacchio promoted, followed by the tremendous atmosphere that Frank Ciavattone created in his National and World Meets. John said, “These guys worked so hard to insure that everyone enjoyed themselves and they provided the absolute best conditions to do top notch lifting!! Their meets were more like great workouts with good friends than the usual cut and dry weightlifting competitions. Just big parties, really!!!”. John has served as an official at many meets, and served a term as the IAWA international secretary. He has wrote extensively about all-round weightlifting training methods in Hardgainer magazine and MILO. He has been involved in the promotion of several National Meets which includes being the meet director at two National Championships in Ambridge with Art Montini, and being the

John McKean performing a Hip Lift.

co-director at the two National Meets at Jumpstretch Fitness in Youngstown, Ohio. John has received much personal satisfaction from the great time he has had getting his two sons, Sean and Rob, involved in the USAWA along with many of his school students. One of his biggest thrills in lifting was being probably the only teacher to establish an official class for all-round weightlifting in the public school system. For four years he was given the state’s mandate (IEP) to take over the complete physical education of a legally blind student by the name of Matt Van Fossan. Matt, under John’s coaching, really took to lifting and established several teen National and World Records and even won a National Championship!!! These days John trains at home, still writes a bit, and lives near Pittsburgh with his wife of 40 years, Marilyn. He is still very involved in the lives of his two grown sons, Rob and Sean.

John’s B-day Record Day

by John McKean

Nature threw us one of its usual December curves with snow squalls on Saturday, which kept some away, but Sunday was sunny and clear, though cold! Art & I arrived early and weren’t sure if anyone would show up when the gym was still empty at 8:30, but we had a surprise official turn up for a workout – young Bill DiCioccio, veteran of most USAWA meets during the 90s. Then Big Ernie Beath, now at 400 pounds, “crowded” the gym all by himself! He and his mom & dad had driven their van up the previous day to slowly traverse any weather problems; traveling slow through the mountain areas, his dad said the drive from Maryland took almost 11 hours (normally 5). Then Scott & Cathy Schmidt bounced in from Cleveland – didn’t even see white stuff on the way over! Denny Habecker had given us frantic phone calls the evening before as he was almost snowed under in Lebanon, but made the drive on Sunday in record time!

Big Ernie was anxious to start and began as everyone else was just getting settled in. The drive & weather set him back just a bit, as he could “only” manage a rack jerk of 406 pounds!! He tried 426 three times, but had trouble holding the lockout!! Well, he may have been tired, but that lifting sure woke the rest of us up!! Ernie also did an EASY rack push press of 386. and a dumbbell side press of 154 that looked more like a strict stance DB press!! Denny, Art, and Kohl Hess, a promising new teen who Denny brought over, did the postal meet qualifying lifts under official judging, and set a few records while doing so! Of course ole Art ,just had to throw in a few extra lifts for records, as did the always smiling Scott Schmidt (probably smiling because his rolling barbell after the set down almost nailed me twice!). Even this old man, though not quite my birthday yet ( on the 15th I turn 64; all gifts freely accepted!!!), managed to lose the “return from retirement” rust to post a few new marks!

We managed to get done at about 12:30, so it turned out to be a very efficient session. Everyone was so enthused about the ” BIG WORKOUT” at the club, that Art & I have agreed to conduct several more throughout the calendar year. Heck, the gym is fairly vacant on Sundays, and it doesn’t cost us anything !! Besides EVERYONE does their best lifting with the shared adrenaline flowing through the air (or is that smell just our gym mold, some of which is almost older than Art??!!), and our new record certificates are already a hit! See ya all there at upcoming meets!

FOR FULL MEET RESULTS:

John’s Birthday Record Day

(and National Postal Meet Qualifier)

Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, Ambridge, PA

December 6, 2009

All lifts listed in pounds except as noted

IAWA International Officials: (3 judges on all lifts)

Art Montini, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, John McKean

Results:

John McKean – 174.5 lbs., 63 years old, 60+ 80K Class

Ciavattone Deadlift                    335

One-Arm Hack (L)                     175

One-Arm Hack (R)                    215

One-DB DL (R)                         225

Hack Lift – 2″ Bar                       275

Art Montini – 181 lbs, 82 years old, 80+ 85 K Class

Clean and Press – 2″ Bar          65

2 Hands Anyhow DB/BB           60

Clean & Push Press                 80

Zercher                                     158

Ciavattone DL                           200

Denny Habecker – 200 lbs, 67 years old, 65+ 95 K Class

Clean & Push Press                148

Zercher                                     215

Ciavattone DL                          290

Scott Schmidt – 262 lbs., 57 years old, 55+ 120 K Class

Clean & Seated Press-Behind Neck             75K

Clean & Seated Press                                   80K

Vertical Bar DL – 1 bar, 1″,  (L)                      92.5K

2 Hand (1 bar) 1″ Vertical Bar Deadlift          150K

Kohl Hess – 264 lbs., 15 years old, Jr. 14-15 120 K Class

Clean & Push Press                130

Zercher                                     215

Ciavattone DL                           290

Ernie Beath – 400 lbs., 28 years old, Open 125+ Class

Jerk From Rack                             406

Push Press From Rack                386

Overhead Squat (Arms Ext)          251

RH Side Press DB                        154

LH Side Press DB                         134

Alternate Grip Clean & Press        225

Reverse Grip Clean & Press         225

WHERE’S THE BEEF? At Future USAWA meets!

by John McKean

John McKean and Ernie "Beef" Beath

His online handle is “Beef” and at 6′2″ and 390 pounds, big Ernie Beath sure fits the billing! The polite and pleasant 28-year-old strongman from Cambridge, Maryland, and I started e-mailing sometime back, and I was simply astounded over his reported training poundages. It was only natural that the pressing variations he favors be verified for the world by doing them in sanctioned USAWA events, and he was most anxious to acquire official verification. So Ernie traveled over to Ambridge for Art’s annual Birthday Bash Record Day, and wasted no time doing a perfect world record rack push press with 381 pounds. It was so easy that we talked him into a 401 pound attempt, which was almost locked out, perhaps simply a victim of first meet jitters! But he’ll try over 400 at our December 6 meet (We’d like a big turnout guys!!! Come on over!) and will take a shot at a huge JERK from the rack, where’s his gym best is over 450!!

Ernie is a home trainee, and has developed his training concepts almost entirely on his own. He found out early on that he could make best strength gains with heavy singles, so goes almost to top limits on a variety of lifts (2 or 3 per session, 4 times per week on average) every workout. He really enjoys pushing big weights overhead, doing things like the above mentioned presses & jerks from the rack, clean & press behind the neck, and even strict presses while seated flat on the floor. However, he’s not too keen on flat benches or lying down to lift, ever since a training accident with 700 pounds in the partial close grip bench press cost him an eye (after the hospitalization, he bounced right back to the heavy lifting that means so much to him!).

Ernie Beath and a 381 pound Push Press from Rack

A true all-rounder, Ernie has always done “variations” from standard lifts, even without knowing about us in the USAWA, such as Zerchers, squats with the bar held overhead in snatch position, various close stance deadlift forms, and high pulls/continental types. An unusual move that both Ernie and I are trying to get established as an official IAWA lift is the bent over row in both strict and “power” forms. The Beefster hauls in over 500 pounds in this back strengthening, total body movement. Again he relegates this typical bodybuilding exercise away from its normal roots by pulling exclusively with heavy singles!

Another unique aspect of Ernie’s training is his use of heavy chains over the barbell. Quite often, for jerks, presses, and front squats he’ll place a 60 pound chain over each end of the bar. And on “good” days he has a pair of 100# chains! Of course the lifts start with lesser weight, with much of the chain linkage on the ground, but by lift’s end, ALL that unwieldy weight comes together! Ernie claims a regular 400# jerk with a barbell, for example, seems so easy and balanced in comparison to one with his heavy, awkward chains!!

We are fortunate to be witnessing just the beginning from this youthful behemoth ! A most welcome newcomer to our USAWA fraternity, I’m sure Ernie’s name will soon be all over the record book!

Strength Through Variety (Part 4)

(The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO – webmaster)

by John McKean

John McKean performing a 2-Bar Deadlift.

Can I entice you to try a short, intense, very stimulating all-round training schedule which capitalizes on these dynamic singular efforts? My training partner, Art Montini, has devised a unique circuit-like routine that is as exciting as it is challenging. Art schedules four or five exercises per session, each done for but 4 singles. Ordering the various lifts from lightest to heaviest, he does a first round of one exercise after the other with all of them at approximately 77% (based on their heaviest poundage for that day, not all-time bests – we still cycle the intensity to an upcoming contest). Art then does a second round with 85% for each lift, then a round with 92½ %, and a final rotation with 100% efforts. Montini claims a special mental “freshness” while powerfully bouncing from lift to lift and says the recuperation between rounds yields superior readiness for maximum attempts.

Following is a sample strength rotation schedule based on my current training for upcoming all-round competitions. I begin with a highly specialized, “heavy hands” total-body aerobic warmup (15-20 minutes) which thoroughly prepares my body to hit big poundages immediately. Note that the movements are ordered from lightest to heaviest.

John McKean perfoming an One Arm Deadlift.

Round 1: one lift/rep with 77½ % of that day’s maximum.

Round 2: 85%

Round 3: 92½ %

Round 4: 100%

Tuesday – Push Press, Steinborn, Neck Lift, Straddle Lift

Thursday – One-Arm Swing, Pullover & Push, Dumbell Squat, Zercher, Hand & Thigh

Saturday – Power Snatch, Dumbell Press, Pullover & Press, One-Arm Deadlift, Hip Lift

Each day’s session works every inch of the body, but any particular lift is only done once per week. One can freely substitute any power, Olympic or major bodybuilding movement, as long as attention is devoted toward involving the total musculature. Of course, workouts can be reduced if desired to two per week and with fewer exercises.

Strength Through Variety (Part 3)

(Webmaster comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean squatting 530 pounds for a Pennsylvania State Record in 1980. This was done at the Great Lakes Championships in Erie, Pennsylvania in the 148# weight class. John's best competition squat was 555 pounds - before the age of super squat suits!!

“All you need in life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure!” stated beloved storyteller Mark Twain. In his famous tongue-in-cheek manner, Twain may have unwittingly provided one of the biggest truths in strength training. For if, as lifters, we envision great success with a highly personalized, unique training pattern, and let our enthusiasm run rampant in its employment, we usually achieve stellar results. Yet, often such a self-styled program is never attempted if those ever-present “experts” are consulted.

Looking back, I suppose my own powerlifting career, which peaked about twenty years ago, could definitely be described as “ignorant yet confident”. Due to a particular fondness for squatting, I naively assumed that some serious specialization on this lift, sustained drive to excel, and very concentrated effort in the gym would allow me to outdo most competitors. Emphasizing mostly brutal, ever-heavier single attempts in training, I actually did manage to establish many local and state records, topping out at 530- and 550-pound bests in the lightweight and middleweight divisions. Heck, it was no real surprise to discover from magazine polls back then that my lifts were even listed among the top ten in the nation for several years. Only later did the shocking truth reveal itself – with my light bone structure (6” wrists), overly long thigh bones, use of neither drugs or supportive gear, and unsophisticated training methods, there was “no possibility” of becoming even mediocre in this event. Man, was I fortunate that nobody told me until it was too late.

My history has provided firsthand education of the absolute value of using a limited program of extremely heavy singles in order to approach one’s maximum power potential. When constantly knocking heads with tiptop poundages, many physical disadvantages can be placed on the back burner. Yet in modern strength literature, noted “authorities” constantly belittle the value of “ones”. Where, I’ve often wondered, did these hardheads come up with the ridiculous “testing strength vs. training for strength” theory which is used so frequently to knock the use of near-limit singles? In actual application, I’ve never seen just such a short, intelligent program fail anybody.

Perhaps many of us master competitors lucked out by starting our training in an age when strength was king – all major bodybuilding and weightlifting moves were keyed toward low-rep, heavy poundages. In the “good old days” we maxed out on everything all the time – and loved it. Our Iron Game heroes, now legends in the sport, regularly utilized short, basic programs which always culminated in several heavy singles. Interestingly, when the renowned Bulgarian national weightlifting team was asked how they developed their “revolutionary” training concept of singling out on all lifts every session, they replied, “from studying the old system of the Americans which we read about in the magazines of the fifties and sixties.”

So, with the advent of modern all-round competition, many of us enthusiastic older trainees already had a tried and true system which easily enabled as many as twenty lifts per week to be worked. Yep, those blessed singles allowed us to spread our energy around while still training with super intensity. Only now, with all-round’s vast array of maneuvers (over 150 lifts which can be contested), we find ourselves using fewer singles per move but making better gains in total body power than ever before, despite our ages being in the forties, fifties and sixties.

A real mental key to deploying a “singles” training schedule is simply to eliminate that word in favor of “a lift”. A near-max lift is certainly about as intense as effort as can be done, yet that low, low number still bothers some. Too many strength trainees today have been constantly brainwashed to the “more is better” concept, even within the context of a set. But, after all, what is a set of, say, eight reps? Simply seven warmups finalized by one tough rep (though with a sub-par poundage compared to a truly heavy single). Why not conserve time and energy by doing a lift with perhaps 40% more weight in the first place?

Strength Through Variety (Part 2)

(Webmaster comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrating the Jefferson Lift, which is also known as the Straddle Deadlift.

A brief look at weightlifting’s history will quickly show that many of the above-mentioned lifts were the basis of meets during the 1900-1930 era. Rare was it when an early contest didn’t feature a one-arm snatch, dumbell swing, or the amazing bent-press (yes, it’s once again being given its due – number 48 on our all-round list). Extensive record lists on about 50 events were kept in the US and Great Britain prior to 1940, with other informal local listings recorded in both countries during the sixties and seventies.

When serious interest once again picked up, officials from the two lands met in 1987 to write a constitution and promote the new-to-many concept of all-round competition. When these modern day founding fathers established the up to date rules and regulations, they insisted on pure body dynamics to do the lifting – no super suits or supportive gear, no wraps, and absolutely no drugs.

About now, I’m certain many will question the feasibility of training limit poundages on 10-20 big lifts at a time. Doesn’t this go against the grain of current advice to avoid long routines? No. In fact, the real beauty of our all-round sessions is that we’re actually forced to restrict quality training time on each individual lift to an absolute minimum. The necessity of these ultra-abbreviated strength routines has taught us how to reach maximum intensity for handling true top weights more often than ever before.

Although there’s a wide range of effective schedules used by our present crop of all-rounders, and highly specialized methods for handling some of our more unique lifts, here’s a sample training procedure used by 12 of us at the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Essentially, we’ve achieved phenomenal progress over the past five years by doing single repetitions on each of about 6 exercises per workout. We switch lifts every day of our three weekly sessions so that a total of 18 moves are given a short, high-intensity burst once a week. After a special non-weight warmup (more on this later) we do just 3 singles per exercise, best characterized as heavy, heavier, and heaviest. The last attempt is usually fairly close to a limit. And, because this quick, brutal style of training seems to fuel our mental competitive aggression, we always feel motivated to try to up that poundage each week.

Sure, this is heavy stuff. Yet in all our collective time with all-round training, none of us has ever felt even slightly burned out, suffered serious injury, or even felt overly tired from a workout (contests are something else, however). It seems when gains keep coming as rapidly as they have, lifts are always being rotated, and workouts are over before we have a chance of even getting mentally fatigued, our sport always stays fresh, exciting, and ever challenging. After all, how hard can it be to perform a workout of only 18 reps? (Better wait to answer till you actually experience this unique form of intensity and variety).

Most all-round movements are complex by nature and work the entire body at once. Each exercise serves as a supplement to the others, so there’s absolutely no need to waste extra time on assistance exercises. This is also a big reason why we get away with training any particular lift but once a week; all muscle groups are pushed totally each training day, no matter what combination of exercises is employed. After all, why should we bother with, say, the highly overrated and widely overused bench press – very one dimensional when compared to the whole-body functioning of all-round’s dynamic pullover and push.

How well does all-round training serve the average person? Let me offer two rather extreme examples. On a novice level would be my 13-year old son Robbie. Beginning when he was 10, Robbie found immediate pleasure over his rapid strength gains. Thanks to the wide variety of moves and abbreviated training (yes, I put him on heavy singles immediately, despite dire warnings I’ve read by “experts”), he never experienced much muscle soreness nor ever any boredom with his quick workouts. In three years he has gained fifty pounds of muscle (puberty helped), tripled his strength, and has established fifty world records in the pre-teen division.

Recently, while on the way to winning his third consecutive title at 1992’s national championship in Boston, this 165-pound “little boy” performed a show-stopping hand and thigh (short range deadlift). I’ve never seen another youngster of this age who could match Rob’s grip strength to do a 250-pound one-arm deadlift, or the neck power to equal his 300-pound head harness lift. But early in his training, Robbie perceptively put me straight on what this sport is all about. Telling him to follow me downstairs to begin “exercising” one day, he firmly replied, “Dad, I don’t exercise, I lift.”

On the other end of the spectrum is longtime powerlifting and weightlifting competitor, 65-year old Art Montini. As is the case with all of us master lifters, Art discovered that no form of training or competition is as much fun as all-round lifting. Montini never misses one of these exciting workouts and seems to heft new personal bests each time he sets foot in a gym. Who says you stop gaining beyond 35? Art’s name is all over the current record book and he’s never failed to win the outstanding master award at any of our national meets. Seeing the agile oldster deftly upend a 300-pound barbell, twist and stoop to shoulder it then easily squat in the complicated Steinborn lift, or perform his mind-boggling 1,800-pound hip lift would convince anyone that Art drinks gallons daily from the fountain of youth.

Strength Through Variety (Part 1)

(Webmasters comment: The following is part of an interesting article written by All-Rounder John McKean several years ago. John has won many All-Round National and World Championships in his weight class, and has written articles for Muscular Development, Hardgainer, Strength and Health, Ironman, Powerlifting USA, and MILO)

by John McKean

John McKean demonstrating the Pullover and Push with a thick handle, old style barbell. The Pullover and Push was done by old time strongmen before the days of the Bench Press.

Competition can certainly bring out the beast in you. An almost fanatical drive to excel, improve, and outdo the other guy always yields an unmatched training intensity. Yet even the most diehard lifter occasionally finds himself bored stiff with the same old squat, bench press, snatch or jerk, workout after workout. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find the incentive to add this competitive fire to shoot for maximum poundages on a lot of movements rather than just a few? How would you like the challenge offered by a huge variety of exercises which can instill tremendous total body power?

Well . . . welcome to the wonderful world of all-round weightlifting.

Simply put, all-round weightlifting consists of almost anything but the powerlifts or two Olympic lifts. In our IAWA (International All-Round Weightlifting Association) meets we perform many recognizable events such as dumbell and barbell presses, strict and cheat curls, hack lifts, leg presses, pullovers, weighted situps, etc. Also contested are forerunners of modern weightlifting which include one-arm snatches, one-arm clean and jerks, push presses, continental cleans and snatches, and jerks behind the neck. Early powerlifting forms are represented by the straddle lift, lying pullover and push, front squat, stiff-legged deadlift, and Steinborn maneuver. And a few ultra-heavy harness events, favored by old-time professional strongmen, are employed via the hip lift, hand and thigh, and back lift.

Lest any potential all-round trainee be intimidated by this awesome variety, let me be quick to explain that never are our listed 150-plus lifts all included in one contest. Generally, for a major contest, 8-10 of the more popular lifts are done over two days. For instance, the 1992 US National meet held in Boston, Massachusetts, featured the neck lift, Jefferson, continental snatch, press behind neck, pullover and push, Zercher, Steinborn, hip lift, hand and thigh, and one-hand deadlift. Local meets usually offer 3-5 movements or are “record days” where a competitor can select his own choice of lifts for record purposes. A few times, however, zealous promoters have posted lists of 15-20 lifts for grueling two-day affairs – believe me, a total body-numbing experience.