Rules for the Pinch Grip

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, lifting 252# in the Pinch Grip at the 2012 Dino Gym Record Day. This is the ALL TIME best Pinch Grip in the history of the USAWA.

The first lift conducted in the USAWA Grip Championships will be the Pinch Grip.  This lift is in the rulebook under “Special Equipment Lifts”.  The reason for this is that the “special equipment” is the plates themselves – as that is what is used to pinch to make the lift.  The USAWA rules for the Pinch Grip are as follows:

I15.  Pinch Grip

The setup for this lift requires two metal plates joined together with smooth surfaces facing outward. A bar may be placed between the plates to hold them together, and should be long enough to add plates to it. Front hang or back hang is allowed to the loading of the center bar.  Collars should be used on this bar. The lifter’s fingers must not touch any added plates. The width of the two plates joined together must be between 2 ¼ inches and 2 ½ inches. The lifter will straddle the weight, with the weight being placed in front 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.  The lifter will then grip the plates with both hands on the top of both plates. The palms of the hands must be facing the lifter. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight must be lifted to a point where the lifter’s legs are straight and the body upright. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to lower the weight.

At the Grip Champs, we will use two old york 45# plates as the “gripping plates” with a VB holding them together. You will like these plates for this lift because these are the old “milled” York Plates.  If you don’t know why these are better, you soon will when you get your mitts on them.   I do have some 35# plates if less weight is going to be lifted. I also want to emphasize that the only substance that may be used on the hands is chalk.  I will be watching this closely!!  The rules do not specify whether the arms can be bent or not - so that means they may be bent during the lift. 

Below are the Overall Mens USAWA records in the Pinch Grip.  I expect to see several of these get broken at the USAWA Grip Championships!!!

70 100 Howard, Colby 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
75 135 Jaeschke, Jon 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
80 150 Jaeschke, Chris 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
85 190 Wagman, Dan 12/1/2012 2012 Gracie Club RD
90 170 Goetsch, Troy 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
95 170 Fulton, Doug 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
100 162 Edwards, Ben  2/12/2011 2011 Grip Championships
105 204 Glass, Adam 3/3/2012 2012 Minnesota Meet
110 170 Capello, Mac 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
115 175 Carlton, Brian 9/16/2001 2001 Supergrip Challenge
120 200 Graham, Matt 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
125 200 Graham, Matt 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
125+ 252 Mitchell, Mark 2/12/2012 2012 Dino Gym Record Day


NOTES:  The record lift are recorded in pounds.

Pullover Tips

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell performing a Pullover and Push at the 2004 Dino Gym Challenge. Mark doing a pullover onto his 60 inch plus chest is the All-Round Weightlifting version of climbing Mt. Everest!

Recently I was asked about if there were any “secrets” to performing the pullover in the Pullover and Press. This lift (the Pullover and Press) will be a big part of this next years competitions, since it will be contested in both Nationals and Worlds.  And don’t forget the Pullover and Push either, as it will be contested in the World Postal Meet coming up.  So you can see the importance of understanding how to do a pullover, since it IS the first part of BOTH  of these lifts.  First let me say this about the pullover – IT IS NOT A PULLOVER!  Too many lifters think it is, and try to lift the bar with their arms and shoulders onto their chest.  They soon find out that this motion severely hinders their ability to get much weight to their chest, plus puts terrible unnatural stresses on the shoulder joints.  You have to remember the OBJECT of the Pullover and Press is to lift as much as possible, and since it is a two part lift, one of the parts WILL be the limiting movement.  Your goal should be to have the press or push be your limit, not what you can do in the pullover.   However, I have seen the pullover be the limiting factor to many lifters in competition. 

Now on to some advice from the Dino Man.  I am going to make a disclaimer first: “If you weigh under 200 pounds- NONE of this advice applies to you!”.  Light lifters with puny chests have no problem getting the bar in position on the chest for a press or push. They just roll it into place without encountering any difficulties.    It’s the BIG GUYS I’m trying to help here.  Guys over 250# BWT who have spent entirely too much training time on the bench press and have pecs that “mound up” like implants on the chest of a Vegas showgirl  (haha, I can’t believe I SAID THAT because I don’t attend those sort of deviant activities  But just LOOK at the chest of  a bench press specialist,  someone like Dave Beversdorf of Clarks Gym. Its freaky, but spectacular at the same time.  Not that I’m saying Dave looks like a Vegas showgirl….Ok, I’m getting off course here. ).   For these guys the pullover can be quite an embarrassment the first time they try it.  As the bar approaches the chest as its rolled forward  it “runs into a brick wall” as it encounters the pecs.  I had one lifter ask me how its possible to get it onto his chest – because his chest is 6 inches higher than the bar!  Well, that’s what I’m going to try to answer here.

Tip #1  Think FAST ROLL – not pullover

The main secret to getting the bar to the chest is a fast roll.  More speed equals more momentum.  And let me remind you of another thing – it’s going to hurt a little before it makes the climb to the chest.  I like to have the bar at arms’ length on the platform and make a couple of slow “warmup” rolls to the top of the head before my final ALL OUT pull. This builds my confidence and prepares me mentally for the inevitable SLAM. I try to pull the bar as fast as I can with no regard to how much it might hurt when it impacts the chest.  I think of it as just “taking a punch” before the lift starts. Also, be sure you turn your head slightly before it crosses over the head or the bar might impact the nose which could cause a broken nose.

Tip  #2 Lift head at impact

This helps tremendously in getting the bar on the chest.  Just as the bar is about ready to impact the chest, raise your head.  This action causes the chest to drop slightly and the throwing of  the head up helps with bar momentum at the last second.

Tip #3 Minimize resistance

Do everything possible to decrease resistance.  This includes wearing a slick-fronted tshirt.  DO NOT wear a tshirt with a sticky vinyl logo on the front as the bar will “stick” to this.  I like wearing a tight fitting white tshirt. This is one lift where I don’t like to wear my singlet, as the straps will “catch” on the bar and add sliding resistance. Also, use a bar that does not have center knurling.  I have found my deadlift bar to be the best bar to use for the pullover.  Try to not use big thick rubber bumpers on the bar as this causes more friction resistance on the roll as well.  Having the plates roll on wood is faster than on rubber mats. All of these things add up.

Tip #4 Use padding under the body

This is very important for a couple of reasons.  The obvious first reason is to give some protection to the elbows when the forearms “turn over” as the bar goes onto the chest.  It is critical that you use padding that is not to thick as this will raise the body up and make the pullover harder.  I like using a towel or a thin rubber backed floor mat.  However, the most important aspect of padding is to “stick” your body to the platform.  I pull on the pullover so hard that my body will slide on a wooden platform without padding (towards the bar which slows things down). 

Tip #5  Wide Grip

You can get a stronger pull with a wide grip than a narrow grip. When I do the pullover and push, I like a wide grip for my push so that is the grip I take for the pullover on that lift.  However you can press more with a bench press grip, but you can still use a wide grip for the pullover part.  Changing your hand spacing on the bar when it is on the chest is NOT a rule violation (as was clarified at this past years annual meeting when the rules changes where discussed).  So if you NEED to do this for the pullover and press to help your pullover – do it.   

These are my top five tips for the pullover.  Incorporate these ideas and your pullover WILL NOT be the limiting factor in these two lifts (pullover and press and the pullover and push).   Other little things help as well – wear wrist wraps to protect and support the wrists, wear elbow sleeves in training to protect the elbows from abrasions and hematomas (but elbow sleeves are not allowed in competition), and  shaving your chest to minimize hair resistance (haha, maybe this is a stretch for most, but for guys like Scott Campbell it would take an inch off his chest height).

Make sure you practice the pullover for several training sessions before a competiton with the Pullover and Press/Push.  Don’t be discouraged the first time you do it (or the first time back after a layoff of these lifts).   Each subsequent training session you will find improvement if you follow these training tips.

Grip Championships

by Al Myers


Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, put up the best Pinch Grip of the 2011 USAWA Grip Championships with a fine lift of 174 pounds.

The USAWA Grip Championships will be hosted again this year for the second time by the Dino Gym on the second weekend of February.  As per requirement of the USAWA, all events in this USAWA Grip Championships will be official lifts of the USAWA.  A complete “different set” of lifts have been selected this year which should provide a challenge to all entrants.  This Championship is the premier grip competition within the USAWA during the year.  I want to remind everyone that traditional USAWA scoring is used in this competition, which may be different than other organizations scoring.  The “total pounds” of all the lifts are tallied together, and then amended using the Lynch Formula for bodyweight and age corrected for the lifter’s age.



Dumbbell Walk
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm
Deadlift – Fingers, Index
Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2″


For entry form – 2012 Grip Championships Entry Form

Team Nationals

by Al Myers

At last year's Team Nationals, Dino Gym members Mark Mitchell and Scott Tully performed a 450 pound Maxey Press, a lift named in the memory of longtime Dino Gym member Bob Maxey. Chad Ullom and myself attempted to spot this big lift, but as you tell by the look on Chad's face that our spot probably would have been useless if needed!! 450 pounds at arms length overhead is not something you would want to try to catch!

The date has been set for the Dino Gym’s Annual Dino Days.  It is the weekend of the 27th and 28th of August.  I had to move it up a few weeks this year (from the middle of September) due to other conflicting competitions in the area in September.  This year Dino Days will be solely committed to the USAWA – with the USAWA Team Nationals being contested on Saturday and a USAWA Record Day on Sunday.  This will be the 5th year the Team National Championships has been contested (the first in 2007).   Last year we had the biggest turnout of lifters for it than ever before, and I’m hoping this year will be even better!

Team Nationals 2011

Meet Director: Al Myers and the Dino Gym  785-479-2264

Meet Date: Saturday, August 27th, 2011   10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Location: Dino Gym, 1126 Eden Road, Abilene, KS 67410

Sanction: U.S.A.W.A Memberships may be purchased on meet day

Weigh-ins: 9:00 – 10:00 AM the day of the meet

Divisions: 2-Man, 2-Person, and 2-Woman

Each division will be formula adjusted for weight and age

Entry Fee: None


Press – Dumbbell, One Arm

Snatch – Fulton Bar

Continental to Chest and Jerk

Deadlift – 2 Bars

(After meet there will be a record day for Team Lifts only)

Registration: Send entry to Al Myers, 1126 Eden Road, Abilene, Kansas 67410

For a pdf document of the Entry Form – TeamNationals2011

Successful Fundraiser

by Al Myers

The silent auction at the Dino Challenge raised $800 for the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter.

After an unbelievable day of lifting at the Dino Old-Time Strongman Challenge,  a silent auction was conducted as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter.   My training partner Mark Mitchell and his wife are actively involved with this compassionate organization.  Their concerns are genuine, and this group has helped HUNDREDS of pets find new homes and bring love and happiness to many, many families.  This group does not receive financial help outside of private donations and fundraisers like this.  ALL money raised will go directly where it should go – to help in finding homes for dogs and cats.  It was a fantastic feeling to be able to help them in this mission.   All together,  $800 was raised!!!!  It was my honor to present this check to Mark Mitchell and the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter on behalf of the Dino Gym and all USAWA participants who donated to this auction.  THANK YOU to everyone who was part of this!!

National Postal

by Al Myers



Dino Gym member Mark Mitchell had the highest Heels Together Clean and Press of the meet with a lift of 260 pounds.

I just received the results for the 2010 National Postal Meet from the meet director John Wilmot.  I was quite surprised to see 16  lifters compete in the Grand Finale of the USAWA Postal Meet Series.  The lifting was fantastic – and it goes to show what quality lifters are members of the USAWA.  I have been very pleased with the participation in the postal meets this year.  Much better than the year before!  John picks only three lifts for each quarterly postal meet, and usually always picks lifts that anyone can do.  Most of the time the meet can be completely done in under one hour in the gym – so there is really not a reason as to not compete.  I just add the lifts to one of my weekly workouts every quarter.


National Postal Meet

December 31, 2010

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts:  Clean and Press – Heels Together, Curl – Cheat, Deadlift – 12″ Base


Rudy Bletscher – Certified Official Al Myers
Chad Ullom – Certified Official Al Myers
Mike Murdock – Certified Official Al Myers
Mark Mitchell – Certified Officials Al Myers and Scott Tully
Chuck Cookson – Certified Officials Al Myers, Scott Tully, and Mark Mitchell
Scott Tully – Certified Officials Al Myers and Mark Mitchell
Al Myers – Certified Officials Scott Tully and Mark Mitchell
Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Certified Official Mike O’Brien
Jonathon Ciavattone – Certified Officials Mike O’Brien and Joe Ciavattone Sr.
Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Certified Officials Mike O’Brien and Joe Ciavattone Sr.
Mike O’Brien – Certified Officials Joe Ciavattone Sr.
Helen Kahn – Certified Official Randy Smith
Randy Smith – Witnessed by Helen Kahn
John Wilmot – Witnessed by Kay Wilmot
Orie Barnett – Witnessed by Samual Rogers
Denny Habecker – Witnessed by Andrew Hess and Kohl Hess

Womens Division

Lifter Age BWT Press Curl Dead Total Points
Helen Kahn 58 161 65 55 125 245 296.3

Men’s Division

Lifter Age BWT Press Curl Dead Total Points
Al Myers 44 246 220 200 617 1037 871.1
Chuck Cookson 40 275 255 220 656 1131 864.4
Mark Mitchell 50 357 260 220 573 1053 830.9
Joe Ciavattone Jr. 17 208 185 205 450 840 770.9
Chad Ullom 39 242 203 213 501 917 739.7
Randy Smith 56 198 140 195 345 680 715.0
Scott Tully 35 344 220 179 601 1000 710.9
Orie Barnett 49 228 174 163 433 770 703.9
Denny Habecker 68 193 132 110 309 551 647.8
Joe Ciavattone Sr. 42 241 200 205 365 770 641.3
Jonathon Ciavattone 16 220 150 160 350 660 615.7
Mike O’Brien 28 140 105 135 300 540 602.7
John Wilmot 63 213 105 105 340 550 588.6
Mike Murdock 70 234 135 120 265 520 559.1
Rudy Bletscher 75 220 100 100 265 465 536.3

NOTES: BWT (bodyweight)  and all lifts are recorded in pounds.  Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.

Womens Best Lifter – Helen Kahn

Mens Best Lifter – Al Myers

Best Junior Lifter – Joe Ciavattone Jr.

Dino Challenge Fundraiser

(Webmaster’s Note:  A silent auction will be conducted at the Dino Challenge Oldtime Strongman Contest in January, with all proceeds going to the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter.  This groups efforts are very noble, and by having this auction we may be able to help them just a little.  Lots of GREAT THINGS will be in the auction – from some of the Dino Gym’s unique pieces of equipment to donated items from the Dino Strength product line.  There is no entry fee for the Challenge, but plan on bringing some money for the auction.  Fellow Dino Gym member and training partner Mark Mitchell has shared information with us regarding the compassionate vision of the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter. – by Al Myers)

by Mark Mitchell

The Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter was formed in February 2007 by Molly Reusser. Her initial intent was to spearhead a group of animal lovers who wanted to pet some dogs but was she in for a big surprise-she had not met Laura Mitchell,Julie Coble,Shannon Kingsley and Trish Hayden yet!! Laura and I have been going to an animal rescue ranch in Kanab Utah called Best Friends for several years to volunteer taking care of some 5000 plus rescued dogs,cats,horses,donkeys etc… combined and we knew how a first rate shelter should be operated. Now,we had a chance to do some of the same things with animals in our own back yard!  Of course,my wife and friends never do anything with half effort and we immediately jumped in to socialize the dogs and cats in the Salina Shelter and pushed hard to get them adopted locally.

Then, we started looking at the figures regarding euthanized former pets and we were astounded. What could we do to change those numbers?  Group member Julie Coble went out on a mission to help solve this. What she found has become a big lifesaver for some 500 dogs just this past year. It is called the Rescue Waggin and it is operated through Petsmart charities. Now,one would have thought our local animal shelter staff would have fallen all over themselves, thanking Julie for this wonderful idea and jumped right on our band wagon(our volunteer group,though working hand in hand with the animal shelter staff,is a separate entity). Alas,no. We were met with big resistance. Did this deter us? No,it did not. A few of us decided to pool our own money together,adopt several dogs we selected,drive a rented cargo van to Denver or Boulder Colorado to Dumb Friends and the Boulder Humane Society and pay transfer fees there because we had heard dogs get adopted in huge numbers from these facilities(Rescue Waggin now takes our dogs to Boulder). We spent thousands of dollars each for quite some time.

Finally,the powers that be saw that we were not a threat and that our intentions were good. It also did not hurt that we,as volunteers,agreed to do all of the work regarding bringing the Rescue Waggin to Salina(we are the only shelter in the nation that uses volunteers to coordinate the Rescue Waggin operation). And what a work load it has been!!  From getting volunteers trained and certified to be behavior specialsts,contracting with local vets to do the health checks to coordinating all of these efforts with the Rescue Waggin personnel(that would be my dear wife Laura’s role!!)  But it has been worth all of the hassles!!  Think of it.  Five hundred great lives and wonderful pets spared and matched with loving families in Colorado just this past year!

Our volunteers put in long hours. We are not just about the Rescue Waggin. We still provide love and care to the dogs and cats who do not qualify for transport. We are involved in fund raisers,special adoption months,hay bale giveaways for all of our outdoor furry friends. The list goes on and on. Our group is amazed and gracious that the Dino Gym has selected us for charitable contributions at the Dino Gym Old Time Barbell Challenge in January !

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.

USAWA Record Holders in the Reeves Deadlift

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, has the ALL-TIME USAWA Record in the Reeves Deadlift with a record lift of 400#. His record matches the best performance of the legendary Steve Reeves. In this picture, Mark is setting a Dino Gym record in the Reeves Deadlift with a lift of 455#! Mark is planning on entering a record day soon to increase his USAWA record in the Reeves Deadlift.

The following are the overall USAWA records for the Reeves Deadlift per weight class.  Records are listed for women and men.

Lift                                  Sex  Wt.Cls     Record    Lifter                                 Date               Location

DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 70 65 McConnaughey, Amber 12/10/2005 2005 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 75 155 Paul, Andrea 12/14/2003 2003 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 80 135 Fritz, Misty 12/10/2005 2005 Goerner Deadlift Doz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL F 125+ 215 McConnaughey, Mary 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 90 275 Holcomb, Seth 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 95 275 Hart, James 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 100 225 Bletscher, Rudy 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 105 325 Burks, Joe 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 110 225 Clark, Bill 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 115 300 Myers, Al 12/6/2008 2008 Goerner Dino Gym
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 120 335 Myers, Al 12/6/2009 2009 Goerner Deadlift
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 125 335 Fulton, Kevin 12/9/2001 2001 Goerner Deadlift Dz
DEADLIFT, REEVES ALL M 125+ 400 Mitchell, Mark 12/15/2002 2002 Hermann Goerner

Do you want to see a BIG Reeves Deadlift in action?

Then check out this YouTube Video of Ben Edwards successfully lifting 352# in Reeves Deadlift!

Mark Mitchell – New USAWA Official

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell performing a 505 pound 12" Base Squat at a Record Day at Clark's Gym in 2002. This is the best 12" Base Squat of All-Time in the USAWA. Mark also has the USAWA All-Time Best lift in the Reeves Deadlift, with a record lift of 400 pounds.

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, just recently passed the USAWA Official’s Test. Mark has been lifting weights for over 25 years. He competed as a 3-lift Powerlifter for many years, but now competes mainly in Powersport Competitions. Powersports is an off-shoot of powerlifting that includes the Curl, the Bench Press and the Deadlift. These events are done without the use of supporting equipment (with the exception of a belt) and are Drug-Free competitions. Mark has been involved in officiating USAWA events in the gym for several years, and has even judged at the National Championships in 2006 and 2009. Mark has competed in several USAWA events throughout the years – mostly postal meets and record days. Mark started weight training many years ago in Columbia under the coaching of Bill Clark – so he has been exposed to All-Round lifting for a long time!! Mark has always been a tremendous squatter and holds the Dino Gym Squat Record with a lift of 810 pounds.

Welcome Mark to the recently growing crew of USAWA Officials!