Masters Benching Secrets

by Roger LaPointe

Rudy Bletscher, at 70 years of age, performing a Feet in the Air Bench Press at the 2006 USAWA National Championships.

How much do you bench?

How many times have you been asked that question?

To me, the bench press is an exercise. To other people, I know it can be a way of life. For the Masters Age lifter, it can be an enigma..

I have recently been doing more bench pressing, because of my focus on the Crucifix Hold records. Thanks to a torn rotator cuff twelve years ago, I quit doing regular bench pressing. Now, thanks to the Indian Clubs, I am not so hesitant to bench. It used to put that shoulder out of commission for a week, or two, if I pushed it at all.

5 Training Lifts for the Master Bencher

  1. Crucifix Hold – I deal with a lot of Masters Age lifters and we all seem to have our particular collection of injuries, big or small. The Crucifix Hold is a funny lift. I have definitely found the classic flat bench press to be a helpful training lift to help with the crucifix 1RM, and vise versa.
  2. Olympic Power Clean and Press – Don’t use a super arched lay back, like the Russians of the early 1970s, instead press like Schemansky. Jim Bradford told me that Norb (Schemansky) told him he needed to “massage the bar”. My buddy Dave Pohlzin has been teaching me to do it. It’s pretty cool. One day I hope to Clean & Press more than I can bench.
  3. Incline Dumbbell Bench Pressing – Man, you need to crush it like Casey. I have an old Meet poster from Dr. Ken’s Iron Island Gym with a photo of Pat Casey doing incline dumbbell benches with some dumbbells that look to weigh around 220 pounds. Awesome. Most guys over do it with the flat benching and develop tendonitis and other problems at the point where the pecs, front delts and biceps meet at the front of the arm pit. This helps to avoid that problem.
  4. Side Lateral Raises – I know you have heard it a million times before but you really do need to avoid muscle imbalance in the delts. On some of these things, the bodybuilders have it right. If you hate this classic bodybuilder movement, try a one arm barbell snatch high pull. I won’t beat a dead horse on this concept. Just try it.
  5. Dumbbell Bent Over Rows – This will solidify the shoulder girdle like nothing else you can do.

Round out these movements with Indian Club work. Masters lifters all seem to have rotator cuff and biceps problems. In many cases, the Indian Clubs seem to solve that problem. They will help you bench more weight. Follow up the Indian Club work with the 5 exercises listed above and you might be benching more than when you were in your 20’s.

Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Team Championships

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – THE 2012 USAWA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

Rudy Bletscher (left) and Mike Murdock (right) perform a very difficult team lift in last years Team Championship, the Team One Arm Dumbbell Press.

Due to some other local strength event conflicts, the date for the 2012 USAWA Team Championships has been moved up a couple of weekends this year.  As usual, this meet will be part of the Dino Days Weekend held at the Dino Gym.  For several years now the Dino Gym has had one weekend a year where we celebrate our Dino Days.  It is a full weekend of fun, both lifting and socializing.  Saturday night is an open invite to anyone who wants to come share in our evening BBQ, sponsored by the Dino Gym. You do not need to be a “gym member” to take part in this fun.   I’m planning on making this years Saturday evening party a “trial run”  for the big party I’m planning after the World Championships in October at my place.  So plan on staying after the meet for this!!!  One thing those of us in central Kansas are known for – it is our BBQ.  I’m thinking of a menu now of burgers, brats, grilled chicken, brisket, and possibly even ribs.  Add in some hot baked beans and potato salad for sides, and brownies and homemade ice cream for dessert and we got a meal that ought to fill everyone up.  All washed down with beer of course!  (I shouldn’t be writing this story right before lunch!!!)

But onto the meet details (the real reason we are getting together haha).   This year I picked 4 lifts that I think anyone could team up to do.  The lifts will be: Clean and Jerk – One Arm, Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, Bent Over Row, and the 12″ base Deadlift.   I am sure that the Dino Gym will field at least 3 teams for this meet.  I have been somewhat disappointed in the attendance in the past Team Championships.  So this year I’m going to be CALLING OUT some other clubs to REPRESENT.  To start with there is NO REASON clubs like the JWC, Jobes Steel Jungle, Clarks Gym, the Ledaig AC, and KCStrongman are not in attendance.  These clubs are all within easy driving distances of this major USAWA competition.  It has been my dream since I started hosting  the Team Championships several years ago that the this meet would be one of those fun meets that lifters would not want to miss.  This meet doesn’t really put any pressure on you as a lifter.  After all if you don’t do well you can always blame it on your partner!!!!

ENTRY FORM FOR THE TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS (PDF) - TeamChampionships2012

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

by Al Myers

Bill Clark (left) and Rudy Bletscher (right). This picture was taken a couple of years ago, at the Deanna Springs Meet. Notice that Bill is tallying the scores using a hand calculator and pen and pad. No fancy computer, or even a printed scoresheet is needed for Bill to figure the day's results!

The Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule is now available.  USAWA events hosted in Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri have been some of the longest running meets in the history of the USAWA.  Meets like the Zercher Strength Classic and the Backbreaker Pentathlon have been signature meets in the USAWA, and have the historic significance of defining the All Rounds in the United States.  As per custom in meets hosted by Bill Clark, there are no entry fees or entry forms to send in.  There are no awards given.  I have asked Bill in the past why he doesn’t give out awards, and his reply to me was “if you want one buy your own!”.   That sounded like a good reason to me!  After all, there are not very many events you can go to now a days that are free like Clark’s Gym Meets.  You get to enjoy a great day of lifting, along with all the free wisdom you want  from the Father of  All-Round Weightlifting himself Bill Clark, and it won’t cost you a dime! 

It is important that you contact Bill at least 3 days in advance that you plan on attending.  If not, you might show up on meet day and the meet has been cancelled (if no one has pre-entered).  

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

November 6th, 2011 – Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon

November 26th, 2011 – Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One

January 28th, 2012 – Zercher Strength Classic

March 24th, 2012 – Deanna Springs Memorial Meet

Team Nationals

by Al Myers

MEET REPORT

Group picture from the 2011 USAWA Team Nationals. (front row left to right): Al Myers, Chad Ullom (back row left to right): Russ Morton, Rudy Bletscher, Mike Murdock, Dean Ross

The 2011 USAWA Team Nationals was again an outstanding success this year.  It contained a couple of  regular teams (Myers/Ullom & Murdock/Bletscher) and one new team that made their debut (Morton/Ross) in team lifting.  Team lifting is MUCH different than just individual lifting. Teamwork is essential in being successful – things like timing and coordination between partners can either help you or hurt you in a big way.  The teams this year seemed very balanced in regards to the lifters size and height.  

Dean and Russ put up the top Team One Arm Dumbbell Press with a lift of 180 pounds.

The Dino Gym brought another new lifter to the USAWA arena in this meet and he did a phenomenal job considering this was his first exposure to the crazy things we do in the USAWA, and I consider this meet an extreme meet in our yearly meet lineup. This man is Russ Morton. He is a VERY seasoned powerlifter who has MANY powerlifting meets under his belt, and it was obvious he was not intimidated in the least by the lifts that faced him.  He teamed with Dean “the Boss” Ross who in my opinion, has made his presence known in the USAWA this year.  Dean is one of the STRONGEST GUYS his age I have ever met.  He powers through any lift whether it requires technique or not, and through brute determination makes big lifts.  These two guys put up the TOP Team One Arm Dumbbell Press of the meet with a fine lift of 180 pounds. I’m sure you are wondering – how do you do a Team one arm dumbbell press??  At first it sounds next to impossible, but after “scratching our heads” awhile we came up with a way.  First of all, there is barely enough room to get two hands on a 6 inch dumbbell handle so the grip on the dumbbell is not the best.  All of us pressed the dumbbell standing to the side of each other facing opposite directions.  So it can be done.

We were entertained during a break in the lifting action when Rudy and Dave sang a harmonized duet.

The second lift was the Team Continental Snatch using the 2″ Fulton Bar.  I was concerned grip might be an issue for the lifters but it wasn’t for anyone.  The difficulty with the lift was the minimal hand spacing on the bar.  You had to use a snatch grip much narrower than the normal snatch width, which made the lift slightly more difficult.  Chad and I had the top lift here with a lift of 320 pounds.  Mike and Rudy made a solid lift of 117 pounds, and Dean and Russ finished with 177 pounds.   Chad and I used a power snatch technique while the other two teams used the hang snatch technique.

Mike and Rudy teamed up for a 175 pound Team Continental to Chest and Jerk. Not too bad for a couple of lifters over 70 years of age!

The third lift was the Team Continental to Chest and Jerk.  Chad and I had the top lift of 452 pounds, which is now the top lift done in this lift in both the USAWA and IAWA record books.  I was hoping that we could also break the mark from the old Missouri Valley Record List which record is an outstanding lift of 463 pounds set in 1983 by two legendary mid-west lifters, Bob Burtzloff and Kevin Fulton.   We simply ran out of attempts and didn’t start high enough.  Maybe next time!!! 

Chad and I had to use some tight teamwork to lift 1000 pounds in the Team 2-bar deadlift.

The last lift done was the Team 2-bar deadlift.  Each lifter gripped each bar just like in the individual 2-bar deadlift.  I actually thought this would be an easy lift for a team to do since the balance issue would be removed that presents when doing this by yourself.  I thought for sure that the lifters could lift more as a team than the sum of their individual lifts.  I was wrong!  This lift turned out to give the lifters the most failed attempts of all the lifts, because if both bars didn’t rise in unison, the weight would “shift” to the lifter on the lower end and force the lifters feet to move.   We tried it all ways – facing away from each other, facing each other, and even standing facing the same direction. I don’t think we ever decided which “lineup” was most favorable.  Mike Murdock took a nasty fall on one attempt after the weight “shifted”.  Luckily, Mike was not hurt (at least he was not bleeding!).   Chad and I had the top lift on this one with a lift of 1000 pounds.  I think we could have done a little more, but at this time we were ready to call it a day and head to town for supper!  Thanks to everyone who showed up to lift, and special thanks goes to Dave Glasgow for serving as the official the entire day.

MEET RESULTS

USAWA Team Nationals
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 27th, 2011

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Dave Glasgow

Lifts:   Team Press – Dumbbell, One Arm, Team Continental Snatch – Fulton Bar, Team Continental to Chest and Jerk, Team Deadlift – 2 bars

Lifters:

OPEN AGE GROUP & 115 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Al Myers – 45 years, 253# BWT
Chad Ullom – 39 years,  244# BWT

MASTERS 50-54 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Dean Ross – 68 years, 281# BWT
Russ Morton – 50 years, 275# BWT

MASTERS 70-74 AGE GROUP & 105 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Mike Murdock – 71 years, 231# BWT
Rudy Bletscher – 75 years, 217# BWT

RESULTS

Lifters DB Press Snatch C&J DL Total Points
Myers/Ullom 175-R 320 452 1000 1947 1535.4
Ross/Morton 180-R 177 253 617 1227 1019.9
Murdock/Bletscher 90-R 117 175 440 822 896.7

Notes:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age correction.

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Murdock/Bletscher: MASTERS 70-74 AGE GROUP & 105 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Ross/Murdock: MASTERS 65-69 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Dean Ross:  MASTERS 65-69 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 70#
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 70#
Swing – 2 Dumbbells: 100#

Welcome to the Century Club Chad and Rudy!

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom "in action" at the Ledaig Record Breakers last weekend. Chad is the only lifter in the Century Club that has done ALL of his USAWA records in the Senior Division.

I predicted this would happen this summer as Chad Ullom and Rudy Bletscher have been “knocking on the door” of joining the Century Club.  The Century Club is a club that recognizes the elite group of USAWA  lifters that CURRENTLY hold over 100 USAWA Records.  However, it didn’t happen exactly as I thought it would.  I predicted it would take place last weekend at Dave’s Ledaig Record Breaker.  This was the case for Chad but not for Rudy.  Rudy was not able to attend.   At the time, I thought it would take another day for him to make this milestone accomplishment (and a little more effort after watching Rudy’s nemesis Mike Murdock take down a couple of Rudy’s records at the Ledaig Record Breaker), but I forgot at the time that at the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the USAWA in June it was voted and passed by the membership to retroactively implement the records set at the 2011 Dino Gym Old-Time Strongman Challenge since the lifts in that competition were approved as new USAWA lifts at the meeting.  So Rudy is IN on his prior performances!  Chad knocked down several new records at the Ledaig Record Breakers putting him in as well.  We celebrated this accomplishment after he broke the USAWA Record in the Snatch on the Knees with a lift of 135 pounds. Coincidentally, both these lifters now stand at 107  USAWA records, which put them at a tie at the number 19 spot out of 21 lifters in the club.  Chad is the only lifter on the list that has done ALL of his records competing in the Senior Division (which makes him only eligible for OVERALL RECORDS).  This makes his accomplishment all that more impressive.  If you are in the Junior Division or Masters Division you have the opportunity to “double dip” on records, which means you may set or break an age group record and an overall record with the same lift.  This helps tremendously with “padding” your record count number.  I counted back through the USAWA Record list and Chad’s sits NUMBER TWO in OVERALL RECORDS (not age group records)  with his 107 (and all I will say about the guy at number 1 is that he has 141 overall records, and Chad knows him quite well as he is his training partner! ). 

There are several other lifters close to joining the Century Club that I’m keeping an eye on.  But just because you get in the club doesn’t mean that you can “sit back” and revel in your accomplishment, and spend too much time “patting yourself on the back”, because if others break enough of your records you can fall out of it.  This has happened (and it bothers me to see it) to a couple of legendary lifters in the USAWA recently, so you must keep up your involvement in the USAWA to “maintain your spot” in the Century Club.  Congratulations to Rudy and Chad – I’m very proud of both of you two, and you deserve this recognition.

Rudy Bletscher & Mike Murdock: Sportsmanship Award

by Al Myers

Rudy Bletscher receiving the Co-Award for sportsmanship. (left to right): Rudy Bletscher, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck. Missing from this picture is the other Sportsmanship Award Winner Mike Murdock.

For this first time ever we had a tie in a vote for an USAWA Special Award, so this year a Co-Award was given on behalf of the USAWA in regards to the Sportsmanship Award.  The two award winners were a great selection, because both of these guys have “gone at it”  in competition with each other this past  year and have done so in a most fitting style, showing utmost sportsmanship towards each other.  The Sportsmanship Award goes to Rudy Bletscher and Mike Murdock.  Mike had to leave early following the banquet before the Awards Ceremony, so I wasn’t able to get his picture taken receiving his Award as I had hoped, but I did get one of Rudy and the surprise look on his face when he received it.  

I have enjoyed watching Mike and Rudy compete against each other throughout this past year.  They are both pretty close in age, bodyweight, and strength so it always makes an interesting competition.  They seem to go “back and forth” in beating each other from one competition to the next, but the both of them always enjoy each others “competitive company” as they do so and don’t seem to mind when they come out on “the short end of the stick”.  These guys understand what its all about, and always seem to really enjoy themselves at meets.  Both of them are tremendously supportive of the other lifters, and it is a pleasure being around them at meets.  One of the things I remember about them from this past year was when they teamed up together to form a duo for Team Nationals.   They were a formidable team!  As they did the team lifts neither one of them wanted to let the other one down so they pushed themselves as hard as I have seen!  I’m hoping they will form a team again this year at Team Nationals.  In fact, I’m going to hold onto Mike’s award till then so maybe I can finally get my picture of them together as Co-Sportsmanship Award Winners of the year!

MIKE MURDOCK – “HAM AND EGGER”

BY DAVE GLASGOW

MIKE MURDOCK, OF THE LEDAIG HEAVY ATHLETICS, PUT UP SOME BIG LIFTS LAST WEEKEND AT THE DEANNA SPRINGS MEMORIAL.

CHANCES ARE, YOU HAVE SEEN HIM BUT NEVER, REALLY, NOTICED HIM.  HE’S NOT FLASHY, HE NEVER MAKES A SCENE.  HE CAN USUALLY BE FOUND SITTING QUIETLY IN A GROUP OF PEOPLE; OBSERVING.  EVEN IF YOU DON’T NOTICE HIM WHEN HE IS THERE, YOU WILL NOTICE IF HE’S NOT THERE.

MIKE MURDOCK WANDERED (WONDERED?) ONTO A HIGHLAND GAMES FIELD ONE DAY, NOT FULLY KNOWING WHERE IT WOULD LEAD.  WHERE IT LED WAS AN INTRODUCTION TO, NOT ONLY THE GAMES, BUT AN ORGANIZATION KNOWN AS THE USAWA.  THAT, ULTIMATELY LED TO WHAT HAS NOW BECOME A STAPLE AT THE GAMES AND THE USAWA EVENTS HELD AT AL’S DINO GYM IN HOLLAND, KS., NAMELY, MIKE!  HE IS, MOST GENERALLY, ONE OF THE FIRST TO SHOW UP AND ONE OF THE LAST TO EXIT.  HE IS NOT AFRAID TO PITCH IN TO HELP AND CAN BE COUNTED ON TO A HAVE FEW GOOD IDEAS ALONG THE WAY.

RUDY BLETSCHER (LEFT) AND MIKE MURDOCK (RIGHT) LIFTED 585 POUNDS IN THE 2-MAN TRAP BAR DEADLIFT AT THE 2010 USAWA TEAM NATIONALS. THIS IS AN AMAZING LIFT FOR TWO LIFTERS OVER THE AGE OF 70!

AS ONE OF THE ‘ELDER STATESMAN’ GRACING THE USAWA IN THIS AREA, MIKE HAS SEEN A LOT IN HIS TIME AND HIS STORY IS WORTHY OF SOME CONSIDERATION.  MIKE WAS BORN AND EDUCATED IN NEBRASKA.   MOVING TO KANSAS WAS, AS HAS BECOME HIS FASHION, NOT IN THE CONVENTIONAL MEANS.  HE TRAVERSED THE 330 MILES ON A ONE SPEED BIKE IN A JOURNEY THAT TOOK HIM 3 DAYS!!  A STINT IN THE AIR FORCE FOLLOWED BY A LONGER STRETCH IN THE NAVY GAVE WAY TO HIS USE OF THE GI BILL TO GET A COLLEGE DIPLOMA TO DECORATE HIS WALL.  “I TAUGHT FOR A YEAR, BUT, I KNEW I WASN’T ANY GOOD AND I DID’NT WANT TO MESS THE KIDS UP. SO, I GOT OUT”.  IN A LOT OF WAYS, THAT STATEMENT SHOWS US WHAT MAKES MIKE, MIKE.  HE IS UNSELFISH, THINKS OF OTHERS AND HAS THE WHEREWITHAL TO UNDERSTAND HIS OWN LIMITATIONS.  THAT GOES FOR HIS LIFTING, AS WELL.  A SELF TAUGHT LIFTER, HE WAS WISE ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THAT SQUATS, PRESSES, AND PULLS WERE WHAT SHOULD MAKE UP THE MEAT OF HIS WORKOUTS.  INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, HE STARTED ON AN ‘OTASCO’(THIS WAS A REGIONAL HARDWARE CHAIN BACK IN THE DAY), BASIC 110# SET IN THE EARLY SIXTIES.  HIS LIFTING, BY HIS OWN ADMISSION IS ‘ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN’.  OVER THE YEARS, HIS TRAINING HAS CHANGED LITTLE AND, THOUGH HE IS SEVENTY ONE YEARS OLD, HE ENJOYS THE WORK INVOLVED AND THE RESULTS IT BRINGS.   BY HIS OWN ADMISSION, HE IS “NOT THAT STRONG” (THIS STATEMENT, I LEAVE OPEN FOR DEBATE).   HE IS WHAT I THINK WOULD BE KNOWN IN THE VERNACULAR AS A ‘HAM AND EGGER’.  THIS IS THAT CLASS OF GUY/GAL THAT LIFTS BECAUSE HE ENJOYS IT, KNOWS HE WILL NEVER WIN ANYTHING, WORKS HARD ANYWAY AND HAS A HELL OF A GOOD TIME WHENEVER HE IS IN THE COMPANY OF LIKE MINDED FOLKS.  THIS IS THE CLASS OF LIFTER THAT I, ALSO, PROUDLY, NUMBER MYSELF AMONG!  ASKED THE LIFTS HE WAS MOST PROUD OF (HE IS THE OWNER OF A NUMBER OF USAWA RECORDS), HE QUICKLY REPLIED THAT IT WOULD HAVE TO BE ALL THE TWO MAN RECORDS HE HAS MADE WITH HIS FRIEND AND FELLOW SEPTUAGENARIAN, RUDY BLETSCHER. THEN HE SAID, WITH AN IMPISH GRIN ON HIS FACE, “THE CRUCIFIX LIFT OF 80 LBS. THAT ONE MAY STAY AROUND FOR A WHILE!”

ONE FINAL THING.   THIS WAS NOT TO BE PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE.   HOWEVER, I DON’T THINK I WILL GET IN TOO MUCH DUTCH IF I LET IT OUT.  AT AL’S GRIP NATIONALS THIS YEAR, THERE WAS A SILENT AUCTION, WITH PROCEEDS TO GO TO THE ANIMAL SHELTER IN SALINA.  MIKE GAVE A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF CASH TO THE ORGANIZATION, AFTER BIDDING ON, WELL, NOTHING!  HE JUST, SIMPLY, DID IT!!   THIS IS WHY I LIKE CALLING HIM FRIEND!  LOOK MIKE UP AT THE NEXT GET TOGETHER AND, IF YOU AREN’T ALREADY A FRIEND, MAKE HIS ACQUAINTANCE. YOU WILL BE BETTER OFF FOR IT.  HE’S NOT THAT HARD TO FIND.  HE’S THE GUY SITTING IN THE BACKGROUND. QUIETLY LISTENING, WATCHING, LEARNING……..

The “Vert Bar” Deadlift

by Thom Van Vleck

Rudy Bletscher performing the 2 Bar Vertical Bar Deadlift at the Club Challenge last March.

Recently, I was talking to my Uncle Phil Jackson, the second generation leader of the Jackson Weightlifting Club and I told him about the “Straight Weight Challenge”.  Phil has been my coach and training guru since day one.  He once told me that it was no use to think I could ever know more than him about training because he had learned it all and he had “forgotten more than I would ever  know”.  I said there were 5 lifts involved and named them off.  When I got to the Vertical Bar Deadlift he paused and in his usual “old school coach” fashion said, “Well! I guess I’m gonna have to ask….what the he!! is a Vertical BAR!”.

Here’s the USAWA Rule book on the Vertical Bar Deadlift, more specifically, the 2 bar lift which is what we’ll be doing in the Straight Weight Challenge:

H24. Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1”

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

Phil then asked me why I added the Vert Bar Deadlift to the contest.  I’m pretty sure he was asking because he has always been pretty critical of my grip strength (and my use of straps from time to time) and thinking, “If he isn’t good at it, why is he adding it”.  Well, to me, a good USAWA meet has to have at least one lift that tests grip in some way and, to be honest, the vert bar is one of my better gripping events.  It helps that my other two team members that have phenomenal grip!

I know that the Dino Gym has answered the challenge for the Straight Weight Challenge, I hope another club will step up!  After seeing the picture of Tully hitting that very impressive 330 Push Press….this will be a close contest!