Top Performances of 2012

by Al Myers

Today I was thinking about all of the GREAT lifting performances done in the USAWA throughout this past year.  I have been fortunate to have witnessed many of these performances firsthand.  I’ve given it a little thought and I have came up with the LIST of PERFORMANCES that I have watched during this past year, and compiled my TOP TEN.  This list is completely of my opinion, and does not represent any official view of the USAWA.  It also only includes lifts that I have seen myself – as there are many other great lifts done in the USAWA that I did not have the privilege of viewing and thus are not on this list.  I have also  ranked them – but this was extremely difficult as they are all worthy of top recognition.  I might have well just “flipped a coin” to determine the order – but here it goes!!! I’ll even do the countdown from number 10.

10.  Doug and Jera Kressly’s Team Deadlift of 650 pounds.

Doug and Jera Kressly performing a Team Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Team Championships.

At this year’s USAWA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS, Doug and Jera entered the first Mixed Pair (male & female) team in the Championships history.  And to add to the drama of this – the two of them are married!  I was extremely impressed when we got to the last event, the deadlift, and they pulled 650 pounds. I was really worried Doug was going to let Jera down and not pull his weight on the lift!   

9.  Denny Habecker and his Clean and Jerk at the Gold Cup.

Denny Habecker at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland.

I’ve already told the story about Denny and his performance at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Scotland, despite being sick with the intestinal flu.  I was impressed that he would even attempt to lift feeling like that.  However, I DID NOT sit in the front row when he was lifting as I didn’t want to be in the path of any possible eruption! 

8.  Joe Garcia’s 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Deanna Meet.

Joe Garcia and his signature lift, the Hand and Thigh Lift, at the 2012 Deanna Springs Meet.

Garcia and the Hand and Thigh Lift are becoming synonymous.  You think of one and you have to think of the other.  I keep thinking one of these days Joe G will lose his touch with the H&T which will  give me the edge – but it doesn’t look like it will ever happen! I knew my chances of winning the Deanna  meet was over at this point.

7.  Dale Friesz and his 154# Ring Fingers Deadlift at the Presidential Cup.

Dale Friesz won the 2012 USAWA Presidential Cup with this lift.

Last year Dale “the Miracle Man” Friesz performed a 122# Ring Fingers Deadlift and I raved and raved about it.  Now he’s UPPED his record to 154 pounds – that’s over a 30 pound increase!  This was the lift that WON Dale the prestigious PRESIDENTIAL CUP this year.  I beginning to think there must be bionics in that prosthetic leg of his.

6.  Larry Traub’s 529# Jefferson Lift at the National Championships.

Larry Traub (left) receiving his award at the 2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas, NV.

Everyone knows Larry is an “out of this World” deadlifter, but at the 2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas he also showed he is quite good at the Jefferson Lift as well.  Larry is 58 and only weighs 200 pounds, which makes his lift all the more impressive.  It would take over a 630# Jefferson Lift for an Senior Age group lifter (at the same BWT) to beat Larry in this lift with the age correction.  We make lifters weigh to verify their bodyweights, but we don’t make lifters show their ID’s to verify their ages.  Larry looks like he’s only 30.  Maybe it’s time for him to be “carded” at the next meet?


Athlete of the Year

by Chad Ullom

Al Myers (left) and Larry Traub (middle) - Athletes of the Year.

The final yearly recognition award that was given this year was our Athlete of the Year. This is the “MVP” of the USAWA.  Ironically, the winner and runner-up for the Athlete of the Year were both present and finished in the same order the next day! I wonder if that’s ever happened?!

Athlete of Year-Al Myers
Runner up-Larry Traub

Larry, a relative newcomer to the USAWA, has shown he will be a force to be reckoned with! At this point, Larry is still learning most of the lifts. With just a couple of pointers this year, he added 20 lbs onto his 1 arm clean and jerk! He’s nearly impossible to beat now with his pulling, pressing and squatting power. Give him some time to get more comfortable with more lifts and look out! Larry is the defending national champion and placed 2nd this year. He repeated his victory at the Monster garage meet. Hopefully we’ll see Larry in October for his first world championships. I’m sure we will open some eyes!

The winner of the athlete of the year is Al Myers. I can’t imagine that we had a more active lifter than Al in 2011. He competed in 12 Usawa/Iawa meets, not including record days!  Not only that, there were several others that he sat out to help, or that number would have been much higher. Here’s a quick rundown of 2011 of Al’s overall placings:

Dino Strength challenge-1st place
Grip Championship-1st
Club Challenge-1st place team Dino
Goddard postal (iawa)-1st place team, best overall lifter
Eastern Postal-1st
Heavy lift nationals-2nd
Team Nationals-1st place team Dino
Gold cup(iawa)-world record DL with daughter Emily
Strongman championships-1st
Delaware open-1st
Iawa World Championships, Australia -2nd overall.

That is quite a list! Most of us could go a few years and not be able to put that type of resume together! Al is a humble guy, you won’t see him point out his accomplishments. If I’m not mistaken, he currently sits 3rd all time on the USAWA record list and with that type of activity, it won’t be long before he’s on top. He is an increbible lifter and has been a great teammate, mentor, coach, travel buddy and hetero life partner to me:). Congratulations Al!

Making Weight for Competition (Part 2 – water loss)

by Larry Traub

Chad Ullom performing the Thumbless Grip One Arm Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. Chad weighed in at 238# for the Grip Champs, and then weighed in at 248# the next day for the Dino Gym Record Day. He utilized water loss to make this 10 pound difference in weighins a day apart. (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

In the first article I talked about my high school wrestling days and how my extreme dieting made my life miserable and certainly made me less of a wrestler.  I do remember however the fall of my senior year I decided I would start a month or so before wrestling season and start gradually decreasing my weight through diet and a running program. I remember hanging in there a weeks or so, losing a couple of pounds and thinking; ‘This is stupid, I can lose 5 pounds in a couple of hours in the wrestling room with my rubber suit on, I’ll just enjoy the time between now and the start of the season and worry about it later’. In retrospect, I was on the right track, but I abandoned my plan because I didn’t distinguish between fat loss and water loss.

I believe it is possible to use moderate dehydration to your advantage in making a weight class for an athletic activity.  However, it can be tricky and the percentage of body weight that you choose to lose should be determined by several factors.  The method I have used in power lifting competitions many times is to dehydrate approximately 5% of my bodyweight over a 3 day period.  If I am going to compete at 198, I want to reduce my bodyweight to 208, using the fat loss method described in the previous article. I would then lose the last 10 lbs by dehydration and hopefully compete at a bodyweight around 208 or possibly even more.  Let’s say I have a Saturday morning weigh in. I would basically eliminate liquid from my diet after my noon meal on Wed. My projected bodyweights would look something like this:

  • Wed morning – 208
  • Wed night – 208
  • Thu morning – 206
  • Thu night – 203
  • Fri morning – 201.5
  • Fri night –199
  • Sat morning – 198

Notice that the rate of loss decreases over the dehydration period because, as you dehydrate, it will be more difficult to lose additional fluid.  In order to accomplish this, you should be eliminating fluids, as well as eating DRY food.  You must remember your goal is to lose water weight, not muscle, and, at this point, no fat loss, so you must continue to eat well.  If you have been following the fat loss program you really want to take in your normal calorie intake plus at least an extra 500 calories per day. This would put you around your BMR and should keep you from losing anything but water weight.  Actually, I don’t count calories during the dehydration period but I become concerned about getting enough calories. I’m actually reversing the rule of thumb that I used in the fat loss phase. I am trying to get a maximum number of calories from a minimum amount of food. I am still concerned about taking in an appropriate amount of protein and other nutrients, but if I’ve been craving pecan pie, I will go for it.  Just don’t plan on enjoying it as much as you would if you were washing it down with a glass of milk.   In the later stages of the process, I suspect you will have little desire to eat and you may decide you would rather have 6 ounces of water instead of the dry meal in front of you. Stay with the plan or at the very least treat yourself to six ounces of ice cream where you will get substantial calories while enjoying something with moisture in it.

Over the years, I have tried a number of different things. Once, I determined that if I spent some time in the sauna, I could then drink a glass of water at bedtime and eliminate going to bed thirsty.  The glass of water tasted good going down but provided little or no relief for my thirst so I decided it wasn’t really worth it.  Sucking on hard candy seemed to conquer the thirst issue as well as any other thing I tried.  You should also be aware that the morning of the competition you will feel like you would be lucky to squat a 45 pound bar, but as you rehydrate your energy levels will return.  I actually learned to like the dehydration process, somewhat. Normally, a few days before a competition I would start obsessing over my projected lifts and start to get anxious about the contest.  However, when you are dehydrating the process becomes your entire focus.  All you care about is making weight and drinking that first bottle of water. I really feel I’m more relaxed and confident going into the competition because I have spent time concentrating on the dehydration phase instead of the competition itself.   So, you endured 3 days of hell (actually the first day and a half aren’t too bad) in order to give yourself an edge. Let’s make sure you take advantage of it.  Several times I’ve been able to weigh myself shortly before my final deadlift and I would usually weigh around 210. At this point my bodyweight is closer to the 220 lb class than the one I am competing in. This is quite an advantage and I have planned well and worked hard to make it happen!

I start my rehydration as soon as I get off the scale. I usually have a bottle of water, a bottle of pedialyte, and a banana set aside. The water will go down easy, so I quickly consume that and the banana. Then I would force the pedialyte down on the way back to my motel room. The pedialyte was suggested to me years ago by my friend, Dave Glasgow who was an R.N. This nasty stuff was developed for infants who are dehydrated and it works better than sports drinks because it doesn’t contain sugar, which is a diuretic.  By the time I walk back to my hotel room, I hope to be a few pounds heavier and I will sit down, continue to hydrate, and eat a little. I focus on carbohydrates with some sugar for energy. One of my favorites is a whole wheat bread with honey. I will switch to sports drinks but it would probably be to your advantage to get the reduced calorie types that are now available which will help you avoid an excess of sugar. I focus on hydrating and eating without getting bloated and uncomfortable.   Knowing how much time you have before you lift is crucial. Typically I could figure I had close to two hours before my first squat but If I got lucky and I was in the second flight, I might have an additional hour and I would eat and drink a little more,  knowing that I had a little more time to absorb and digest.  I do not intend to be fully rehydrated by the time I squat, but I should be at least 6 or 7 pounds heavier. By the time I bench I will probably be pretty much fully hydrated (around 208) and, if I execute my plan well, I should be overhydrated for deadlift. It is possible to overhydrate because your body compensates for its period of having insufficient water by holding on to all that it can. (I’ve discovered several times that providing a sample for the drug test can become a lengthy process.)  Now, in order to gain 12 pounds I must consume at least 12 pounds over the course of the competition. I accomplish this by having a sports drink or water with me at all times. I will basically sip my way back to being fully hydrated being careful not to make myself uncomfortable in the process. I will also eat small meals throughout the day. Bread and honey, fresh fruits, small sandwiches; one of my favorites is to buy a small unfrosted angel food cake and periodically grab a chunk of that.  Again, don’t make yourself bloated or uncomfortable.  If I finished my last squat and I know I have an hour before I have to start warming up for bench I will eat and drink a little more, but basically you need to listen to your body. 

Of course, the model I’m using here is a full day contest with competition starting two hours after weigh in. Adjustments should be made for different competitions. If it was a bench press meet where the lifting would be completed within 3 hours of weigh in I would probably dehydrate around 3% instead of 5%. If there was a night before weigh in I might push it up to 6% and try and lose the last pound or so in a sauna right before the weigh in.  I imagine the process of dehydration is not extremely healthy; however, I usually competed only once or twice a year, so I don’t have any great concerns about that. If you are going to compete more often, then you should think twice about how much you should dehydrate.  If I could go back to my wrestling days, where I had to make weight a couple times a week, I think that maybe losing about 1% of my bodyweight would be appropriate.  The bottom line is that the fat loss, as described in the first article, combined with dehydration and proper rehydration, may provide significant benefits to your totals. Good luck!!

Making Weight for Competition (Part 1 – fat loss)

by Larry Traub

Randy Smith performing the Cheat Curl at the 2011 USAWA National Championships. Randy maintains his competition bodyweight year-round by regular exercise and proper diet. (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

This is going to be a two part article.  First I will write about the process of slowly losing weight over the course of time to get you reasonably close to your competition weight. (Probably within 5%.)  The first article will be the fat loss article, which in my opinion would apply to anyone who would like to reduce the amount of fat on their body.  The second article will deal with water loss (dehydration) and it’s very important that you distinguish between the two.  It should also be noted that muscle loss is in no way desirable and is generally what happens to millions of people who just think in terms of “weight loss”.

Trivia question: What was Arnold’s first major movie?  ————– Wrong !  Before the documentary “Pumping Iron” Arnold was in a movie with Sally Fields and Jeff Bridges called “Stay Hungry”.  Prior to this movie I had spent what seemed a great deal of my life ‘staying hungry’ trying to make a competitive weight class, due to my involvement with high school and collegiate wrestling.  The great irony is that it wasn’t until I decided to try my hand at bodybuilding (Arnold’s sport) that I realized that staying hungry was counterproductive to what I was trying to accomplish.

Muscle is good.  I know I’m preaching to the choir given the readership of this site, but we know that muscle is so desirable that we are willing to do what we do to attain it.  The question is, what can we do to retain it during the weight loss process?  To make sure we retain all that valuable muscle we need to understand survival mode.  The cave man eats well when game is plentiful but never knows when things will change and he may have to go an extended time without food.  When he gets hungry his body anticipates a period of insufficient food and switches to survival mode.  First, it slows down the body’s metabolism.  Secondly, it makes muscle the preferred source of energy in order to preserve as much fat as it can, because the stored fat is what it needs to get through the period of little or no food.  If it sounds like staying hungry is a bad idea then you’re getting the picture.

Not only is staying hungry a bad idea, it is a battle you have little or no chance of winning.  Ghrelin, sometimes referred to as the hunger hormone, is there to make sure you lose this battle. The caveman has very little energy because his metabolism has been slowed to a crawl, he has depleted much of his muscle so his strength levels are way down and yet he has to go out there and do whatever it takes to hunt down and kill a wild animal or he will die.  Ghrelin becomes his friend.  It makes his hunger so intense that he is willing to do whatever it takes to feed himself.  If ghrelin can make a hungry caveman go kill a bear with a club then there’s a good chance that it will make the modern day hungry man get off the couch, get in his car, go to McDonald’s and supersize whatever combo appeals to him.

How do we avoid survival mode, retain muscle, and accomplish our weight loss needs?  We must avoid being hungry.  I feel certain that most everyone could eat as much or more as they do now and reduce calories sufficiently to achieve a slow steady weight loss.  A maximum of one pound per week is the rule of thumb that I think is ideal for weight loss.  Since there is 3500 calories in a pound of fat then a reduction of 500 calories per day is what we need.  You need to discover your basic metabolic rate (BMR) which is simply how many calories you would normally burn in a 24 hour period.  The old formula is 15 times your bodyweight but you can google BMR and get a more sophisticated formula. The number you come up with, regardless of your method, is based on averages and it’s probable that yours is significantly better because you (as a reader of this site) should have a greater percentage of muscular composition.  Finding out your true BMR is a matter of trial and error.  I would suggest you use the number from your formula, subtract 300 to 500 calories and carefully evaluate the results.  First, disregard the results of the first 2 weeks because there will be significant water loss due to the fact that you are changing the types of food you eat.  You should probably be weighing daily, first thing in the morning and pretty much disregarding the weekly highs and lows. If you are losing slower or faster than a pound a week then make small adjustment until you are consistently losing a pound a week.  At that point you’re BMR is 500 calories greater that your intake.

You can use this knowledge and an adjustment in the types of food you eat to avoid survival mode.  The basic concept is this.  Eat as much food as you possibly can in the process of taking in your prescribed calorie intake.  You need to know that fat and sugars provide the most concentrated amount of calories per gram so minimizing your intake of both will probably result in you taking in a lot more food than you ate before you reduced your calorie intake.  You will not be hungry, therefore no survival mode and your body will gladly use stored fat for energy and allow you to keep, or even build muscle during the process. And you will feel great.

As a clueless high school wrestler I was convinced that staying hungry was what I had to do.  For years my parents would tell the story that during wrestling season their electricity bill would go up because I would constantly open the refrigerator, stare into it for several minutes, and then eventually close it without taking anything out.  It was me against the ghrelins and I guess I defeated them for a few months each year.  The sad part was, even though I loved the sport I learned to dread wrestling season because of the misery of being hungry.

Contrast that with the dieting that I did years later in preparation for a bodybuilding contest.  I was eating practically no fat or sugar and I was counting every calorie by carrying around a little clicker.  I can remember many times where I was watching TV in the evening and thinking about going to bed.  I had eaten very well all day long and was not at all hungry.  I would look at my clicker and tell my wife, “geez, I still have to eat 300 more calories.” I can still remember the sympathy my wife would express when I made these announcements.  Fortunately she is not the type of person that is prone to using hand gestures.

I know that carrying around a clicker to count every calorie is probably a bigger leap than most are willing to take.  In more recent years I have had a more haphazard approach with similar results.  The last time I made 198 lbs for a powerlifting competition I determined how much fat loss was necessary.  I allowed one week for every pound I needed to lose and made adjustments in my diet without actually counting calories.  I watched my weight closely and made adjustments if I was losing too fast or too slow.  It’s been several years ago now, but for a period of 6 or 7 consecutive years I competed in the masters nationals held in early May.  After letting my weight climb during the holidays I would do the math and alter my diet shortly after the beginning of the year.  I can honestly say I started looking forward to this time of year.  I knew I could do it without any hunger and my energy level would actually improve.  I guess the word diet will always contain four letters but maybe when you learn how to defeat the ghrelins you won’t have to think of it as a four letter word.

NOTE:  I feel compelled to admit to plagiarism.  Dr. Bryant Stamford is the local fitness Guru in the Louisville Area and writes a fitness column for the local paper and does fitness segments on the radio.  He is also an accomplished author and a college professor.  I am a math teacher but for years I taught an elective PE class called strength and fitness.  I used many of Dr. Stamford’s articles in my class for all sorts of topics.  I did not really go back and pull any articles while I was writing this but I know that most of the ideas in this article are ingrained in my head because of the many times I discussed his articles in class.  Dr Stamford and I knew each other a lifetime ago when we served on an AAU committee together but since then he unknowingly become a mentor to me and I thought if I said some nice things about him then maybe I won’t hear from his lawyers.  I heard him say something on the radio several years ago that relates to this article and really stuck in my head.  When people realize who he is, they often want to tell him about their accomplishments.  Quite often someone will brag about losing a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. (I’ve lost 25 lbs in 6 weeks.)  Dr. Stamford says that he politely congratulates them but, what he really wants to say is, “Oh, I’m so sorry !”  Sorry because you’ve lost muscle.  Sorry because you’ve messed up your metabolism.  Sorry because eventually the ghrelins will win, you will gain it back and because of your muscle loss you will be fatter then before.

Chasing Squirrels and Bench Pressing

by Larry Traub

Larry Traub training the squat in his wet suit, getting ready to take the weights for a deep dive! (photo caption courtesy of the webmaster)

I ran into a childhood friend of mine a while back. We were standing outside a business, waiting for some things to be done and catching up on each other’s lives.  He had a small dog with him who kept wandering off, but returned when called.  He proceeded to tell me that the dog was old and in pretty bad shape. He told me the dog had some kind of degenerative condition with his hips, but then added, “He couldn’t be hurting too much because he chases squirrels around the yard like he was a young pup.” Now I don’t claim to be a ‘dog whisperer’ but I would bet the farm that his hips hurt like the devil when he was chasing those squirrels.  I just think that his addiction to chasing squirrels outweighed the pain that it caused him.

Lifting weights for a lot of us old timers can be a lot like that. Forty years of lifting and I have never had any serious injury of any type which I would like to attribute to good form and training hard without overtraining.  The glitch for me has been joint pain. The big one for me has been arthritis in my shoulders, but at different times my elbows, wrists and knees can get fired up also.

A few years ago I was adding on to the back of my garage to house my new weightroom and create more room for my toys. The process of building, which involved constantly climbing ladders and going through about 50 lbs. of 6”pole barn nails, proceeded to create pain in my elbows, knees, and wrists. During this process I discovered the power of neoprene. Neoprene sleeves seemed to keep the area warm as well as provide support, and that gave me some relief from the pain. I started considering how I could provide that relief for my shoulder and the only thing I could come up with was a wet suit.  I found out you could buy a “shorty” wet suit which was short sleeved and went to mid thigh. I figured I could get the desired effect for my shoulder, hips, and lower back and wear it under workout clothes without looking totally ridiculous.

So I walked into a local dive shop. (I have been to a couple of dives over the years, but this was my first trip to a dive shop.) I explained what I wanted and then I made the mistake of telling him why I wanted it.  When I explained how I wanted to minimize all the pain that I was having his response was, “Shouldn’t you just quit.”

Hell of a salesman!  I bought one off the internet.  As a matter of fact, I wore that one out and I’m on my second one.

Should I “just quit”?  It’s not going to happen. I’ve made some adjustments over the years but right now quitting is not an option. Since my strengths as a powerlifter have always been in my squat and deadlift, I have been able to minimize the actual bench pressing I do in my workout without a disastrous affect on my total, so it seems reasonable, to me, to keep competing.

I was bench pressing at my first annual Monster Garage meet last spring and there was a loud pop from my shoulder which has become quite normal when I bench press. One of the other lifters heard it from the back of the garage. He was a former high school lifter for me and after I completed the lift he asked, “Coach, does that hurt?”  Yeah, it hurt like the devil but right now my addiction to powerlifting outweighs the pain.

Rep Schemes

by Larry Traub

Dave Glasgow performing a Pullover and Push at the 2011 USAWA National Championships. Larry Traub is in the background to the left "looking on". (photo and caption by webmaster)

 The last two emails I received from Dave Glasgow who has been my lifting partner for the last 40 years, (even though we now live 800 miles apart) went like this.  The first one just encouraged me to start submitting some articles that could be used on the USAWA website.  The second one went exactly like this except for some expletives deleted.  (Only one, which is pretty good for Dave.)

“I was thinking last evening (yeah, laugh, ************). I am doing the 5/3/1 deal and it struck me. I know that you are a fan of the 7 rep system which got me wondering……

Take a weigh that you know you can’t get 7 reps with. Do however many sets it takes to get 7 reps. Example

Set 1… 2 reps, Set 2…2 reps, Set3 … 1rep, Set4…1 rep, Set5…1 rep.  OR

Set 1… 3 reps, Set 2…2 reps, Set3 … 2rep.   OR

Set 1… 4 reps, Set 2…3 reps.  OR

Set 1… 6 reps, Set 2…1 rep.  OR

You see where I am going. As you get stronger, the intensity increases but the volume ALWAYS remains the same. So I think you have a built in safety net of not actually doing the same workout twice.  When you can do one set of seven, that’s it for the day. You add weight the next workout and start over.


Well I did think about it and decided to use Dave’s idea as fodder for my article. First you need to realize how hard it is for Dave to take training advice from me.  So, even though he took a principal that I used and altered it beyond recognition before he considered using it, it is still a big step for him.  First, I’m not stuck on seven reps as being a magic number.  What I’m really doing is focusing on the development of the type 2B muscle fibers, which get maximum stimulation for growth when failure of an exercise is reached somewhere around the 7 to 10 rep range.  There are 3 types of fibers. First, the slow twitch type 1 muscle fibers which are stimulated by endurance activity and have no real ability for growth.  These have no real value for a weightlifter and too much endurance activity will result in the loss of our all important fast twitch fibers.   The second type is the type 2A fiber which is the fast twitch fiber that is geared  towards a little more endurance and is stimulated when failure of an exercise is reached somewhere in the 12 -20 rep range. This has some limited potential for growth.  It appears that it’s potential for growth is greatly increased with anabolic drugs so if you read articles about bodybuilders getting great results with high reps you need to consider the possibility of drugs being involved.  The last of course is the 2B muscle fibers which are the fibers that have maximum growth potential for the bodybuilders, and maximum potential for explosive movement which is probably a focus for most every athlete except the extreme endurance athlete.

I am first and foremost a powerlifter, so what I’ve done is taken the squat bench and deadlift and focused on 7 reps as my goal for a particular workout in those lifts. I am staying in the low end of the 7-10 rep range because these are the lifts I will compete in and I want to work with as heavy a weight as possible while stimulating the type 2B fibers.   For most of the other  “assistance” exercises in my workout I use a 10 rep goal because I am generally not concerned about my max on these.  This makes sense on another front also because it’s not really how many reps you do. It’s more about reaching failure in a certain amount of time.  I believe that doing a rep on squat, bench or deadlift will generally take longer than completing a rep on one of my assistance exercises.  For instance it seems reasonable that the time elapsed in doing a set of 7 in the squat might be the same or greater than doing a set of 10 on my hyperextension machine.

The late, great, West Virginia heavyweight , Luke Iams has often been quoted as saying, “Anything over 6 reps is bodybuilding.”  I might agree, but would have to ask, why is that a bad thing? Bodybuilding does not imply that you have to shave your body and get out the Speedos.  It just means that you are concerned with building muscle size which is directly proportional to strength.  My personal experiences with competitive bodybuilding some 30 years ago has made me conscious of training the whole body and maintaining a balanced physique while training at a bodyweight where I am fairly lean. I think this emphasis has aided me in my powerlifting.  It has also, absolutely, been a plus in my latest ventures in USAWA, where eventually every muscle in the body is tested and the bodyweight formula rewards a lean muscular body. 

Of course there is always the concern that the person who focuses on bodybuilding will become narcissistic and egotistical.  Was that a problem in my case?  I would have to say, no, I’m pretty sure those personality traits were probably firmly established before I ever oiled up and took the stage.  Actually, I can remember a time in college where several members of our lifting group were discussing bodybuilding.  I don’t remember details, but I’m guessing the conversation reflected a general disdain for the sport.  I was taken aback when a buddy spoke up and said, “You know, we’re all bodybuilders.”  This guy was on the football team and eventually became a pastor.  I’m sure he had no plans to ever compete as a bodybuilder.  He was just recognizing the fact that we were all enjoying how weightlifting changed the way we looked and the way we felt about ourselves. Maybe that’s OK.

So, what about the lower reps? What purpose does that serve?  Well, a powerlifter has to test his strength levels so he knows what attempts are feasible in a contest.  He also has to give his body, and maybe more importantly, his mind an opportunity to adapt to the heavyweights. But I really think that most of the benefit that lifters experience from doing lifts in the 1-5 rep range is neuromuscular. Training their brain and body to interact is a way that allows a strong signal can be sent to the muscles, so that every available muscle fiber can be recruited for one maximum explosion of power.  I usually switch to the lower reps 4 or 5 weeks away from a contest.  Would I get more benefit from spending more time with the lower reps in my lifting? Who knows, but I am convinced that some combination of the lower reps and the “bodybuilding” could benefit every lifter and probably most every athlete

What about Dave’s idea. Could it result in a nice mix of type 2B fiber development and neuromuscular activity?  Possibly so.  Lifting is definitely not an exact science, but there a lot of science involved.  A lot of different things have worked quite well for a lot of different people. I guess my feeling is this. If you have a better understanding of how all these different factors contribute to the big picture then you might have a little more success in designing the workout that gives you the results you are looking for.



Larry Traub performing a 325 pound Zercher Lift at the 2011 USAWA National Championships in route to winning the Overall Best Lifter Award in Larry's first USAWA National Meet appearance. Obviously, Larry has worked out very hard in his life to achieve this accomplishment! (photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)






Larry Traub: Newcomer Award

by Al Myers

Larry Traub won the voting for the USAWA Newcomer Award. (left to right): Larry Traub, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck.

The Newcomer Award is an award given on behalf of the USAWA to recognize someone who has just become involved in the USAWA.   This year’s Newcomer Award Winner made “a big splash” in the USAWA by not only winning this award, but also the OVERALL BEST LIFTER in his very first USAWA National Championships!  Larry Traub is the man I’m talking about – and remember his name because you will be hearing much more of it in the future!  It wouldn’t be fair of me to call Larry “a rookie” just because he won our Newcomer Award, because Larry’s one of the most experienced lifters I know.  He has been involved in coaching his entire life and has knowledge of the iron-game that few have.  He is a very technical lifter, and I know with a little more time, will become a master of all the All-Round lifts.   He lifts as part of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club, which without a doubt, will be in the running for next years USAWA Club of the Year.  Larry first competed in the USAWA at the USAWA Grip Championships in 2010, and this past spring promoted his first USAWA competition.  Congratulations Larry and welcome to the USAWA!

National Championships

by Thom Van Vleck AND Al Myers

USAWA Nationals: 2011 Official Meet Report

Group picture from the 2011 USAWA National Championships.

The 2011 USAWA Nationals held in Kirksville, Missouri and hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club on June 25th is now in the record books. The event was held in the old Willard School Gym. This building is around 75 years old and for many of the older lifters, it was the type of gym they grew up in! It had old, hardwood floors and a stage on one side with baskets at each end. There was a partitioned warm up area at one end with the main platform at center court. The platforms were well constructed with the main one being 12′x12′. We had a nice light system for the judges and a top notch PA system for the announcer (Al Myers). Wayne Smith, honored guest and original JWC member, made the comment that Al was the best announcer he had ever heard and since Wayne has attended many Olympic lifting Nationals, a World Championships (in Columbus, Ohio when Alexeev broke the 500lb C&J barrier) and even a Pan Am Games I thought that said a lot!!!!

The morning session included the Women and the older master lifters. Amber Glasgow won the women’s overall with Susan Sees getting second in her first ever trip to the USAWA Nationals! Helen Kahn was a close second to Susan.

Three guys that must be mentioned in this early morning group includes Mike Murdock, Dean Ross, and Rudy Bletscher.  These guys have had some epic battles going head to head in the past but what sets them apart is the great respect they have for one another and the wonderful encouragement they give each other. Denny Habecker and Dennis Mitchell both traveled a long way to compete and did some fantastic lifting. I know my mother guessed Denny was 20 years younger than his actual age (see….weight training keeps you young!) and Wayne Smith was so inspired by Dennis Mitchell (they are the same age) that he told me he felt like training and competing again.

Now, let’s take a look a the overall top ten men’s lifters as adjusted by age and weight coefficients.

10. Joe Garcia. Joe was handicapped in this meet by the fact that we did not have a “heavy lift”. Joe is one of the greatest “heavy” lifters of all time but that did not stop him from cracking the top ten.

9. Denny Habecker. Denny came a long way to compete and did not disappoint. He also pulled double duty judging and his wife Judy was the scorekeeper all day long.

8. Dave Glasgow. Dave is looking at elbow surgery soon but that did not stop him from having a great day. All while coaching Team Ledaig to the team championships.

7. John O’Brien. John came in at a heavy 290lbs and he had power to spare. He seemed to be strongest on his third attempts. John was the JWC’s top finisher. John made an easy 240lb Cheat Curl that showed his explosiveness.

6. Randy Smith. Randy has been a top finisher for years in the USAWA and did not disappoint. His Continental of 225lbs on the thick bar really impressed several of us.

5. Sammy Ibrahim was the top junior lifter and showed his potential with this top 5 finish in the men’s overall. Sammy broke several records in the process and his explosiveness in the Dumbbell Snatch was a sight to see.

4. Sam Cox, the winner of the first ever USAWA Old time Strongman contest was barely edged out by Chad Ullom who was 3rd. Sam is only 22 years old and will undoubtedly improve and be a force in the future.

3. Chad Ullom. To give you an idea of the caliber of the lifting in this contest, Chad is the CURRENT IAWA World Champion. No, he did not have an off day, it was just that great of a contest. Chad really impressed me with his  Zercher lift of 445 pounds.

2. Eric Todd. Eric usually competes in strongman competitions as a professional. He has been an All American Wrestler in College and is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. He dumped a Continental to the Chest attempt right across his leg and simply shrugged it off and on the the next lift.

Larry Traub of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club won the Overall Best Mens Lifter in his very first USAWA Nationals appearance.

1. Larry Traub. Larry is a 9 time Master’s National Champ in powerlifting as well has numerous other titles. He lived up to his pedigree by edging out the slimmest victory we’ve seen in some time. Eric missed his last Zercher attempt and had he made it he would have beaten Larry for the overall. Just 5lbs either way! Larry pulled a nice 560lbs Deadlift that in the end won the contest for him.

No meet report would be complete without those who work behind the scenes. I would especially like to thank my wife, Kelly, who helped me with lots of details on this meet. She was solely responsible for the Friday night meal, the lunch on meet day, the beautiful cake at the awards banquet, and making sure the banquet ran smoothly until I got there.

The loaders were JWC members Mitch Ridout and Tedd Van Vleck. I know they really wanted to compete, but took the bullet for the team and helped all day. Scorekeeping was done by Judy Habecker and the announcer was Al Myers. JWC Member Brett Kerby set up or spectacular sound system and made sure we were able to open our ceremony with the National Anthem.

Be sure and check back in the following days. We will have special reports on the USAWA Awards that took place at the awards banquet, the special display honoring past champions at the meet, and some of the “stories within the story” that really made this event special.



2011  USAWA National Championships
Kirksville, Missouri
June 25th, 2011

Meet Directer: Thom Van Vleck

Lifts:  Snatch – Dumbbell, One Arm, Curl – Cheat, Pullover and Push, Continental to Chest – Fulton Bar, Deadlift – 12″ Base, Zercher Lift

Officials (3 -0fficial system used on all lifts):  Session 1 – Steve Schmidt, Joe Garcia (head judge), Randy Smith; Session 2 – Steve Schmidt, Denny Habecker (head judge), Dennis Mitchell

Announcer:  Al Myers

Scorekeeper:  Judy Habecker

Loaders:  Mitch Ridout, Tedd Van Vleck

Photographer:  Flossy Mitchell

Sound System: Brett Kerby


Lifter Age BWT Snat Crl P&P Con DL Zer Total Points
Amber Glasgow 32 142 45-R 75 110 85 240 155 710.0 784.8
Susan Sees 48 197 40-R 90 90 80 210 100 610.0 599.4
Helen Kahn 59 163 25-R 60 55 60 170 95 465.0 562.2

Extra attempts for records:

Amber Glasgow: Deadlift 12″ Base – 255#
Helen Kahn: Continental to chest – 75#
Helen Kahn: Deadlift 12″ Base – 185#
Susan Sees: Continental to Chest – 90#


Lifter Age BWT Snat Crl P&P Con DL Zer Total Points
Larry Traub 57 203 90-R 190 235 195 560 325 1595 1668.7
Eric Todd 36 248 130-R 215 425 340 560 420 2090 1665.1
Chad Ullom 39 250 140-R 215 355 320 550 445 2025 1606.8
Sam Cox 22 215 130-R 185 325 315 505 405 1865 1601.7
Sammy Ibrahim 17 172 105-L 175 300 220 425 345 1570 1563.1
Randy Smith 56 196 90-R 170 225 225 405 300 1415 1495.5
John O’Brien 42 290 140-R 240 250 340 475 365 1810 1375.5
Dave Glasgow 57 248 90-R 175 245 195 440 300 1445 1356.7
Denny Habecker 68 194 70-R 120 235 150 325 231 1131 1327.2
Joe Garcia 57 209 90-R 150 225 200 315 225 1205 1239.9
Dean Ross 68 276 70-R 125 175 125 350 225 1070 1043.2
Mike Murdock 71 230 50-R 120 95 125 275 200 865 945.9
Rudy Bletscher 75 215 45-R 90 100 110 275 150 770 899.3
Dennis Mitchell 79 156 27.5-R 76 80 60 210 185 638.5 881.6
Bob Geib 68 268 50-R 115 115 85 300 225 890 880.2

Extra attempts for record:

Dennis Mitchell: Dumbbell Snatch -27.5# Left
Dennis Mitchell: Cheat Curl – 85#
Denny Habecker: Dumbbell Snatch – 75# Right
Denny Habecker: Pullover & Push – 245#
Bob Geib: Dumbbell Snatch – 60# Left
Bob Geib: Deadlift 12″ Base – 320#
Dean Ross: Zercher – 240#
Sammy Ibrahim: Dumbbell Snatch – 110# Left
Sammy Ibrahim: Deadlift 12″ Base – 440#
Chad Ullom: Dumbbell Snatch – 110# Left
John O’Brien: Dumbbell Snatch – 110# Left

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight recorded in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points amended for age and bodyweight.


BEST MEN 65-69 MASTERS LIFTER – Denny Habecker
BEST MEN 70-74 MASTERS LIFTER – Mike Murdock
BEST MEN 75-79 MASTERS LIFTER – Rudy Bletscher

TEAM AWARD – Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club

The things I hate about the sport I love – part 2

by Larry Traub

Part two – I’m OK, You’re OK, We’re all champions

Larry Traub performing a deadlift in a powerlifting competition.

At the time I started my teaching career in 1976, a book that had been on the best seller list a few years earlier seemed to be having a huge impact on our interaction with the students we taught. The book was called “I’m OK, You’re Ok.” Let me give you my perception of how things started to changed in the 70’s due to the concepts expressed in this book. The basic concept, as I see it, is that our students should constantly be praised for what they do. The effort involved, or the excellence of the accomplishment should not be a factor in whom we seek to reward. If everyone is praised and rewarded for everything they do then they will develop high self-esteem which is the key to them becoming wonderful, fully functional adults. This may be an exaggeration of the concepts expressed in this book but I feel that there is quite a bit of truth in my analysis.

The big example that clearly shows that this trend has survived and is thriving is in youth sports. My niece and nephew are in soccer leagues where no teams are recognized as being better than the other, but every kid who shows up for the last game is awarded a trophy for this amazing accomplishment. Hollywood has definitely taken notice of this development in kid’s sports. For all you “Every One Loves Raymond” fans there are several episodes that poke fun at this trend, but one of my favorite lines occurs when the basketball coach of Raymond’s two young twin boys helps Raymond understand this concept. He explains to Raymond that, “A ball that misses the basket is just as valid as one that goes through the basket.”

I think I can concede the need for sports at a very young age to be more recreational than competitive, but I have to question whether it is wrong to start teaching and rewarding excellence at an early age. And the bigger question in my mind is: At what point should you really have to achieve excellence before you are recognized as a champion?

This trend of making sure that everyone feels like a champion goes well beyond youth sports and I suspect that the motivation has more to do with money than self esteem. I did some research to make my point relevant to the sport of powerlifting. I started looking through issues of Powerlifting USA and I discovered that for the year 2007 I could find 11 of the 12 issues. So the following research is based on carefully combing through every 2007 issue of Powerlifting USA except February. I found that the following totals were good enough to make someone a “National Champion” in 2007. These all came from the open men’s competition, not the master’s or teenage. This was compiled from whatever organization that claimed to have a “National Championship”. These totals are all in pounds and they are all totals from a combined squat, bench and deadlift where the competitor had successfully completed at least one attempt in all three lifts. (No bomb outs.) Some of the meets were raw and some of them were drug tested, but I didn’t bother to distinguish between the different rules governing the meet.

Here are your 2007 National Championship Totals. The names have been withheld to protect the unworthy.

Weight Class Total Weight Class Total
123 688 220 959
132 881 242 1229
148 986 275 1550
165 1046 308 1197
181 804 Hwt 1758
198 837    

I found a national championship where only 2 weight classes had entries in the open division, which meant that anyone who showed up for this one could have won a national championship unopposed, provided they weren’t in the 181 or 220 lb division. I also found a National championship (and this is my favorite) where there were so many different divisions that 70 different national championship awards were given out. (Many lifters were multiple national champions.) In this same meet 5 people received second place awards. No thirds. No fourths. There were only 5 people on the whole meet who got beat by somebody. I am, of course, concerned about the deflated self esteem of these 5 individuals, and suspect they will require therapy to get over the humiliation of being a national runner-up.

Part of the reason that I have chosen the USAPowerlifting (USAPL) as my venue for competition is that they seem to attract the best competitors. (At least among those who would submit to drug testing.) I believe a big reason for this is their affiliation with the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) which gives lifters an opportunity to compete in true international competition. I really think that the IPF is doing the best job of holding the line on creating meaningful championships. Their championships include subjuniors, juniors, open, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+. Compare this to the usual laundry list of, youth, 14-15, 16-17, 18-19, juniors, collegiate, open, military, sub masters, masters, 40-44, 45-49, with continued 5 year increments through infinity. I understand every organization wants to succeed, and giving people what they want is paramount to the success of that organization, but surely we can see that this is killing the legitimacy of our sport.

Do I have the solution to the problem? I think I have some ideas that could minimize this trend that, in my mind, is killing our sport. As mentioned in a previous article I recently competed in the USAPL raw Nationals. I found the experience enjoyable but there were many unopposed national champions which is not typical of the USAPL. I hated to see the all the meaningless national championships in a contest that was overall very competitive. I understand that it is all part of the growing pains of starting something new, but I think there are creative alternatives that would allow you to recognize outstanding individuals in other divisions (masters, teenage, etc) without creating meaningless awards. The raw nationals had no qualifying total which means that it could attract lifters from 14 yrs old to 100. This is my recommendation for USAPL Raw Nationals. First, let everyone enter in their appropriate weight class and compete against whoever is there, no matter if they are open, teens, masters, etc. I think that a 17 year old who can finish in the top 6 or 7 of this type of contest would have more pride in his accomplishment that being an unopposed national champion. Second, Have an All American team consisting of the top ten lifters on formula including the use of age coefficients. The 17 year old, who finished 6th in his weight class could conceivably, using this formula, become one of the top 5 lifters in the whole contest and his All American status would be an appropriate recognition of his accomplishments.

This format would also make this contest more conducive to a true team championship. With this scenario, a gym or club would make an effort to get the best person they could into every weight class regardless of the age of the individual, and there would be far less choosing of team members simply because there is little or no competition.

This would be my recommendation for the raw nationals, but the same or a similar format would be applicable to a lot of other competitions. There could even be a female coefficient that could allow you to group males and females together for outstanding lifter awards or all state/American awards.

If athletes really want meaningless championships then I suppose there will always be promoters that will provide them, especially if there is a buck to be made doing so. I’m not so sure that this is always the case. I think that a lot of lifters and promoters are seeing problems with the sport of powerlifting and are starting their own organizations so they can create their own solutions to this problem. In my opinion, time would be better spent trying to bring reform to the organizations we have. For instance instead of starting a raw powerlifing organization, help the USAPL develop their raw nationals into a true championship for all lifters who want to lift unequipped and without performance enhancing drugs. This could lead to a true raw world championship, and who knows, with less fragmentation of the sport, maybe we could be taken seriously enough to someday become an Olympic sport.

One of the most enjoyable contests that I can remember competing in was at a local prison some 25 years ago. There were 15-20 lifters involved and for most of them it was a home meet, if you get my drift. The competition really wasn’t that good but there was another local lifter who, like myself, got to leave when it was over, and was considered to be quite good. He was a 148 lber and I was at 220 and the whole contest was based on formula which made it quite interesting. I did come out on top, which may be why I recall it fondly, but either way the use of the formula as opposed to weight classes made it a real competition. I would hope that we, as powerlifters, are seeking out real competition and not just looking to gain some meaningless status.

The things I hate about the sport I love – Part 1

by Larry Traub

Part one – Artificial Strength

Larry Traub performing a squat in a powerlifting competition.

Without a doubt, the thing that troubles me the most about the direction our sport has taken is the amazing lifts that are being posted that are not representative of the athlete’s natural ability or hard work. There are two separate issues here that result in what I would call artificial strength. The first one is the use of strength inducing drugs and the second is the use of equipment that spring loads the body.

The pharmaceutical end of this has been around for a long time and that’s a tough nut to crack. My association with The USAPL/IPF leads me to believe that they are being as diligent as possible in keeping drugs out of their organization. As a lifetime drug free lifter I fully appreciate the fact that they are creating a situation where I can minimize the possibility of having to compete against someone who is using drugs to enhance their lifting. There is always the old argument that since drug testing is imperfect that the only fair way to run a contest is to have no drug testing. There may be some truth to this, but if I choose not to use drugs, I would rather lift in an organization which encourages drug free lifting and discourages and penalizes the use of performance enhancing drugs. Ideally, I feel that there should be two organizations. There should be one that has no drug testing and one that employs the best testing methods available. The need for the other 10-15 organizations that we have is very questionable but that is a subject for another article.

The other aspect of artificial strength that has infected our sport is the use of suits, shirts and wraps to produce results that are not at all representative of the strength of the individual. In contrast to the drug problem this is not a tough nut to crack. Here’s my solution to the problem.

“This is ridiculous. Let’s not do it.”

In 1979 my wife and I drove to Dayton, Ohio to see the World Powerlifting Championships. I was a veteran of exactly one powerlifting contest, but I knew I was going to pursue the sport and I wanted to see the best lifters in the world at this point in time. And I did. Inaba, Gant, Bridges, Thomas, Anello, Pacifico, Kuc, Wrenn. All of these men are legends in my mind, but my most profound memory of the meet is the bench pressing of Bill Kazmaier. Kaz was the largest muscular and athletic looking individual that I had ever seen in my life. He was already the world record holder in the bench, but he bumped his 615 lb world record up into the 660 lb range. Kaz became a multiple world powerlifting champion and went on to win the World’s strongest man title three times.

The current world record, according to my research, is 1050 lbs posted by Ryan Kenelly. Kenelly out benched Kaz by almost 400 lbs. It turns out that the world record of Bill Kazmaier was really pretty unimpressive. Actually, most everyone associated with powerlifting already knows that we are comparing apples and oranges. Kaz didn’t know it at the time but he was performing a raw bench as opposed to an assisted bench. Is the difference significant? Apparently so.

I confess to having spent a lot of my money on this equipment and spending a lot of time and effort squeezing myself and others into this equipment. I plead guilty to telling people about my double body weight bench press when I was 49 years old without explaining that about 10-15% of that was accomplished by spring loading my body with a shirt that took 3 people to get on. And in retrospect I would have to say it was all ridiculous. I rationalize it by saying that everyone else was doing it so I had to do it in order to be competitive, and of course a little voice is asking me: “if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you jump too?” Since the last time I used one of these shirts (8 years ago) the technology has advanced to where people are claiming 25-30% gains out of the single plys and God knows how much out of the multi layer, off the shoulder, open back shirts that are legal in other organizations. In a PL USA interview of a prominent bench presser the lifter had recorded competition lifts of 600 lbs raw and 835 shirted. This works out to a 39% increase in his performance due to the mechanical advantage of wearing the shirt. I couldn’t find the article but I recall a 1000 lb plus bencher saying that his raw bench was around 700 lbs. This would make his increase in the 43% range. The use of suits and wraps to enhance the squat and deadlift may not be as dramatic but the concept is just as absurd. The real question is; does the first lifter claim to have a 600 lb bench or an 835 lb bench? I don’t like to brag but, I’m old enough to get the senior citizen’s discount at Shoney’s, and I was still able to lift up the entire side of my minivan the other day. Oh, did I mention I used a hydraulic jack?

History tells us that anything associated with technology will continue to improve and as this happens the lifts associated with this equipment will become less and less representative of the actual strength of the lifter. So we can absolutely expect the ridiculous situation described to get worse.

Besides the basic dishonesty involved with this situation, I think there is a serious safety issue to consider. It is widely known that steroid users are much more prone to injury than natural lifters. With drug free training, muscles get stronger and there is a corresponding strengthening of tendons, ligaments and tendons. I recently had minor shoulder surgery to clean up an arthritic condition that had developed. The surgeon was using the dermis from a cadaver to form artificial cartilage in the joint. His plan was to attach the dermis with screws by drilling into the bone and using expanding anchors similar to what you would use when attaching something to drywall. He told my wife the surgery would last about an hour but it went beyond two hours which prompted my wife to call the life insurance company to see how much she could cash in on, if I didn’t make it. The problem turned out not to be life threatening, but in order for the anchors to expand he had to drill through the hard part of the bone and into softer bone tissue. It took him forever to get through the hard part of the bone because my body had adapted from years of lifting and had made this hardened layer much thicker than normal. This is part of the natural adaptive process that the body has that allows it to withstand the stress that you are going to put on it when you utilize your additional strength.

When using anabolic drugs the muscles adapt quickly but the tendons, ligaments and bones lag behind and the risk of injury to the connective tissues increases dramatically. With a bench shirt, in a matter of minutes, your “strength” may be increased by 40%. The bench shirt may provide some protection for the supportive tissue around the pecs, delts and triceps, but the elbows and wrists are not provided that protection and the chance of injury seems to be multiplied.

Recently a college football player was seriously hurt when he dropped approximately 300 lbs on his neck while benching. I strongly suspect that some very bad form and some inadequate spotting was involved but what if you added 40% more weight to the bar, and then added the difficulty of controlling the bar while adapting to a shirt. The whole scenario is a disaster waiting to happen.

My work as a powerlifting coach for high school athletes At St Xavier High School in Louisville Kentucky has given me a unique perspective on the situation. I was fortunate enough to have a tremendous facility, the support of the school, and a large pool of athletes with a tremendous work ethic. These factors and what I hope was adequate coaching helped us win 5 successive USAPL National Teenage Championships from 2003 -2007. Several years we had close to 100 athletes involved in a program that cumulated with a raw meet in early May. From there we attempted to determine who was capable of meeting the qualifying totals for Teen Nationals and who had the desire to go. At the national meet most everyone would be using the latest supportive equipment, so in order to be competitive we felt we had to do the same. With our new group of athletes we started the process of getting them adjusted to equipment in a short period of time so that they would be ready for a qualifying meet in a matter of several weeks. As a coach this was the time that I considered sheer hell. There were bloody knuckles from pulling on the shirts. First time lifters would swear that they would never get in there equipment and when they did, they found the pain prevented them from getting the bar to their chest or getting parallel in the squat, but we kept working and eventually we would made it work.

The whole process was not fun but the next part was even worse. Eventually the kids started thinking that this equipment was the coolest thing ever. We had spent months emphasizing the importance of completing a workout designed to make them stronger and more athletic. Now a great deal of time was spent getting in and out of equipment and much of the workout was ignored. It didn’t bother the kids much because, in their eyes, the “benefit” they were getting from the equipment far outweighed the actual strength training they were involved in before. It was also not surprising that this is where coaches from other sports began to question the benefits of powerlifting for their athletes.

I had been selling my program as a way of motivating athletes to lift with intensity and good form and promised that they would benefit greatly as athletes. I feel very strongly that in general I delivered on my promise, but I do feel that the athletic benefits of the program were compromised in the 5-6 week period that we were in equipment.

Dealing with parents became a challenge also. I told them not to show their mother’s the marks that the equipment left on their bodies because I was afraid that they would forbid their sons from participating. The kids would create their own stories when explaining the benefits of the equipment to their families or friends. One boy told his mother that when we started going heavy in the squat that the knee wraps kept his knees from exploding.

I feel powerlifting has the potential to appeal not only to those who want to test the limits of strength, but also those who want to become more athletic and build a better physique. High intensity exercise in the low to mid rep range is the most efficient way to build type IIB fast twitch muscle fibers and these fibers have the greatest potential for growth.

If my first experience with powerlifting involved seeing men and women who could barely walk because of the knee wraps, or torsos that were disfigured because of the shirts that their three buddies stuffed them into, then I would have a hard time making the connection between powerlifting and its ability to produce muscular and athletic individuals.

As intelligent individuals capable of making good decisions I would encourage you to ignore the babblings of those who tell us that this equipment is here to stay so we might as well get used to it. Let common sense overrule our egos. I returned to competition last year after a 5 year sabbatical when I entered the USAPL Raw Nationals. I didn’t have the opportunity to compete against the best lifters of my age as I did in the USAPL Master’s Nationals and the IPF Master’s Worlds. I missed that aspect of the competition, but I’m hoping that time and common sense will lead to a change in our system that will bring the greatest lifters on board with true unassisted powerlifting at the national and world championship level. In the raw meet I posted some numbers that weren’t overly impressive for a number of reasons but I absolutely found the experience much more enjoyable than previous meets and I can also tell someone what I lifted without adding a lengthy explanation about supportive equipment or feeling guilty about being dishonest to them or to myself.

Introducing Larry Traub

(WEBMASTER’S NOTE:  Larry Traub will be hosting his first USAWA competition on April 30th in his hometown of Georgetown, Indiana .   This competition will introduce the USAWA to several new lifters.  The following story is an introduction to Larry and his past involvement in powerlifting and weightlifting.  Larry is a great addition to the USAWA!)

by Larry Traub

Larry Traub (on left), of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics, receiving his award from the 2010 Dino Gym Grip Challenge Meet Director Ben Edwards (on right).

The ReMoND Machine – Release Movement Neuromuscular Developer

My name is Larry Traub. I am 57 years old. I have just completed 24 years of teaching at St. Xavier High School in Louisville Kentucky and 28 years of teaching all together. I am a math teacher (Primarily Geometry) but I have also taught an elective P.E. class called Strength and Fitness during most of my tenure at St. Xavier. I have been involved in the weightroom almost all of my years at St. X and have served in various roles including, strength coach, powerlifting coach, and weight room coordinator. I retired as the powerlifting coach in 2007 after winning 5 successive National Championships at the USAPL (drug tested) teenage championships.

I was also a gym owner in the early 80’s and built most all my own equipment. I did a little competitive bodybuilding. My last contest was in1982 in which I won the Mr. Kentucky title. I have been an active powerlifter since the mid 70’s and have won 9 master’s National Titles in the USAPL and a gold and a silver in the IPF world championships. I have held American Records in the squat (635 @ 198 in the 40-44 group, deadlift (700 @ 198 in the 40-44 group) and 1630 total in the 50 plus age group which was also a world record total @ 198.

I have a son and daughter who both earned college athletic scholarships. My daughter in basketball and my son in track. They both were national teenage powerlifting champions and American record holders. My daughter did a 400 lb deadlift @ 165 as a teenager and my son was a world champion and a world record holder in the subjunior division (He did a 690 deadlift as an 18 year old in the 242 lb class). He presently holds the school record for shotput at Indiana State University.

I tell you this, not to blow my own horn (well maybe a little bit), but to give you an idea of the depth of my involvement in weightlifting and sports over the course of four decades and hopefully give myself enough credibility to allow you to carefully consider my invention.

I have always been fascinated with the correlation between strength and athletic ability. In my 35+ years of involvement in weightlifting I have seen a tremendous shift in attitudes regarding the benefits of lifting for almost every athlete. My personal experience with an increase in jumping ability shortly after I first started squatting convinced me of the athletic benefits of lifting. After a year or so of high intensity squatting for powerlifting I was delighted to find I could grab the rim on a basketball court. A year or so later after my max squat had improved considerably I was expecting a corresponding increase in jumping ability but discovered no significant difference. I later discovered that the reason for my plateau in vertical jump was my brains inability to send a strong enough signal to fully utilize the fast twitch muscles I had developed. My limitations were not muscular they were neuromuscular.

Over the years I have read about and tried all sorts of programs that were supposed to increase the bodies neuromuscular capabilities. I set up extensive plyometric programs but saw no real effect other than joint pain due to the stress that the exercises put on the body.

I used light weights with maximum speed, but received no noticeable benefit. I discovered that the use of high speed reps with lighter weights had huge limitations because your body knows that at the end of the motion it must stop or the weight will leave your body and come back and cause injury. The use of bands and chains was supposed to be the solution of slowing the movement at the top, but if that were to work effectively then the resulting slowing of the motion would be counterproductive to the goal of developing maximum speed. I have seen athletes perform jump squats with a barbell and I thought immediately that the fear of the bar coming down on them and causing pain would prohibit them from putting maximum effort into the exercise which in turn would minimize the results. My son, while in college, was instructed to jump with sand bags on his shoulders. This seemed a lot more reasonable but there was still no way to see a measurable progression. (Was he jumping higher than he did last week?) There was also the considerable stress on the body of landing with the combined weight of his bodyweight and the sandbags.

The latest trend I see is the use of the Olympic lifts and various exotic versions of them as being the “do all, end all” for athletes in the weightroom. They do require explosive movement but the actual number of muscles that are involved in the explosive part of the lift are very limited and once again there is a great deal of stress put on the joints of the body. I also feel that way too often the athletes are doing the Olympic lifts whose primary benefits are neuromuscular and ignoring the continued development of fast twitch muscle throughout all the major muscle groups.

Ideally, athletes should continue to develop fast twitch muscle fiber through conventional means but have a way to improve their neuromuscular efficiency so they can fully utilize those muscle fibers, and do it all with minimum stress on the joints of the body. The solution, as I see it, is a release movement machine that allows you to accelerate a bar using various exercises that stimulate all major muscle groups. You must be able to release the bar without fear of injury so the bar must stay at the peak of movement and be safely lowered to the athlete for the next repetition. The exercise must also be measurable. (A certain amount of weight is moved through a certain range of motion and progress occurs when you either move the same weight through a greater range of motion or move more weight through the same range of motion.)

This is what my machine is designed to do and I would appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate.


Larry Traub

Monster Garage Meet

by Larry Traub


1st Annual Traub Monster Garage

Powerlifting and USAWA Record Breaker

Larry Traub, of the Ledaig Heavy Athletics, competed last year in the USAWA Grip Challenge. This spring Larry will promote his first ever USAWA competition.

I’ve been promising St. X Alumni an annual powerlifting contest and picnic at my home since I retired from coaching a couple years ago. The initial interest wasn’t quite what I thought it would be and my life has been full with kids getting married and grandkids arriving. Well, this year I decided to proceed but to expand the concept to an open contest. I am targeting not only St X alums but anyone involved in the old River City Powerlifting club from when I was in the gym business in the early 80’s. I am also hoping for participation from others who I have met along the way. My best friend and college roommate, Dave Glasgow will be traveling from Kansas to compete. Dave was my first workout partner some 40 years ago and we still seem to get a workout or two together a year. I’m hoping Ray Ganong the strength coach at U of L who has been a friend and a mentor of mine and also a friend of St. X Powerlifting might be interested. Tom Chapella a local throws coach who had a huge influence on my son’s success in shot and discus has shown an interest. Tom has a son who is in all likelihood the strongest Down’s syndrome lifter in the world who will be an inspiration to everyone involved. Basically, I’m looking for lifters that I have some connection with in the lifting world. If you are interested and you have a workout partner or someone you are training, then they are welcome.

I sanctioned this through USAWA (United States All-round Weightlifting Association). I got involved with them through my friend Dave Glasgow and I knew right away that this group created the lifting atmosphere I was looking for. USAWA has over 150 competition lift in all types of age categories and weight classes, but the traditional power lift are not included. The actual power lifting contest will be “exhibition lifts” as far as their organization is concerned, but afterwards there will be a record breaker where anyone involved can attempt to break some of their records. We will also be using their formula to determine place winners in the power lifting contest. The whole contest is on formula with coefficients for age and bodyweight. I will be giving modest awards for outstanding squat, bench press, and deadlift as well as the top five finishes on total.

Check out the USAWA ( website for more information. It is very well organized and there are daily postings. I am planning on competing in their national contest in June.

As the information says, there is no advance registration necessary, but drop me a line at and let me know your intentions. If it doesn’t work out for you this year then start training for future years. I intend to make it an annual event on the last Saturday of April.


1st Annual Traub Monster Garage

Powerlifting and USAWA Record Breaker

Sat April 30th

1485 Oakes Road Georgetown Indiana

8:00 am weigh in – 10:00 start

No advance registration – entry forms completed at weigh in

All lifters must buy a USAWA card at a cost of $25

ENTRY FEE – contestants must bring food for pitch in meal that will follow the competition. Bring meat for you and your family, date, etc. Lifters weighing 160 and below should bring a salad dish to be shared, lifters 160 – 230 should bring a side dish and of course those above 230 should bring desserts.

Meet t-shirts will be available.

USAWA rules will be followed. This is a raw contest. (No supportive shirts, suits, or knee wraps)

Drug testing under USAWA guidelines

Ledaig Heavy Athletics

by Dave Glasgow

Dave Glasgow and Larry Traub represented their new USAWA Club, the Ledaig Heavy Athletics, at the Grip Challenge last weekend.

Al wanted me to write a history of my club. I told him that the history of my club would be more like a readers digest version as I have just put the ‘club’ aspect of it together. I will try not to bore you all too much.

I started on the iron hi-way when I was in high school. While in college, I really got interested in weight training with my buddy and roommate, Larry Traub. We both got married and moved on, but both continued with the weights.

In 1976, I bought a set of York Olympic weights. (as a side note, this was the largest purchase my wife and i had made up until that time) Now friends, how many wives would have sit still for that kind of deal?? What a girl I have. She has always been supportive of my lifting and throwing endeavors. (thanks, Gunner!!) I set up shop in my great uncles basement and that was the start of the “club”. I have had NUMEROUS training partners over the years, none that stuck to it very long. The location for the weights have moved SEVERAL times and now resides at our farm, which, following a trip to Scotland, I named LEDAIG, which is Scottish Gaelic for “safe haven/harbor”. At the urging of my great friend and confidant, Thom Van Vleck, I just recently named my training facility the LEDAIG HEAVY ATHLETICS. The ‘heavy athletics’ being due to the fact that I am HEAVILY involved in the highland games. (I lift to throw, not lift to lift.)

However, the one constant over these past 35 years has been the relationship with my ‘bestest friend’, Larry Traub. We would see each other about once a year and do our ‘obligatory’ yearly workout together. But, from the outset, it was clear that he was a much more accomplished lifter than I. Regardless, any time we got together, the majority of the conversation was about lifting. So, when I told him about the USAWA, he was immediately interested!

So, there it is!! We are a two man club! We live eleven hours away from each other, but because of the “brotherhood of the iron”, and the wonders of modern communication, we will compete together as we did as college kids decades before.