Women vs. Men

by Al Myers

Jera Kressly performed a 90 KG Steinborn Lift at Worlds. Her lift exceeded that of several of the men - WITHOUT being percentage amended!

IAWA is the World organization that combines the organizations of the USAWA (United States All Round Weightlifting Association), IAWA-UK (International All Round Weightlifting Association of the United Kingdom), and the ARWLWA (All Round Weightlifting Western Australia).  IAWA is the “umbrella organization” that allows these organizations to “come together” for international competitions, ie the World Championships, the Gold Cup, and the World Postal Meet.  It is a great concept that has allowed for many great competitions and lots of fun times.  However, there are differences in how each country interprets the rules.  This is on top of there being rules differences between each organization .  At each World Meet that I have been at I have found several of these differences.

One of the interesting things that came to my notice at this past World Championships is the combination of men and women, through adjusted points, which allowed men and women to be competing with each other for the “overall title”.  I knew beforehand that IAWA scoring allowed for an additional 33% to be added to women’s scores. But I didn’t think this was to allow men and women to be directly competing against each other!!  In recent years this has not been an issue, but this year with the outstanding efforts of Ruth Jackson it became noticeable.  Ruth (when all adjustments were figured) placed THIRD OVERALL (with 736.0 points), behind Dan Wagman (845.7 points), and Chad Ullom (768.4 points).  

The USAWA does this quite differently.  Men and women are in different divisions and do not compete directly against each other for titles.  At least that is the way it has been done over the past 10 years.  I can not attest if that is how it was in the very beginning of the USAWA.  This puzzled me why there is this difference in the way this has been done.  I know the IAWA(UK) allows for this to happen, and men and women compete with each other for the “overall” in their competitions.

I feel the reason for this difference is the rule interpretation from the Rule Book.  Both the USAWA and the IAWA(UK) rulebooks has only this line, which is the same, in them:

1.  Competitions are to be organized for both men and women.

There is no other rule stipulation in either rulebook pertaining to this issue. So it obviously becomes a matter of interpretation??  When it says “for both” – I take that as implying a separation of men and women into two different divisions.  Otherwise it should say, “which includes”, or something like “together as one group”.  Am I wrong in thinking this way?   By the way, this is an original rule in both rulebooks that has not been changed or amended through the years.  Apparently the USAWA “took it one way”, while the IAWA(UK) “took it the other way”. 

Please express your viewpoints on this issue on the USAWA Discussion Forum.  I think this is a topic worthy of discussion.  Also – you may have noticed that I was careful not to give my opinion on whether I think it is right or wrong  for men to be competing against women through a formula. That’s another issue altogether!!  I’ll save that for the discussion forum!!!

Steinborn (Steinborn Lift)

by Al Myers


The “finale lift” on DAY ONE  of the IAWA World Championships is the Steinborn Lift.  The Steinborn Lift has a long standing history as a competitive lift with the IAWA.  It has been often contested at World Championships.  It is the TRUE ALL ROUND version of the squat.  But instead of taking the bar from squat stands, you load the bar onto the shoulders from the platform!  Once in that position, the rules of the squat apply until it is time to replace the bar to the floor – and that must be done in exactly the reverse order of the way you loaded it to the shoulders in the first place! It is a very challenging event.  Often for most lifters the “test” of it depends on what can be loaded onto the shoulders – NOT the squat portion.  I know that is the way it has always been for myself.  I have always been able to squat easily with whatever weight I could get from the platform to my shoulders.

The IAWA Rules for the Steinborn Lift is:


The rules of performance for the squat apply, except that the lifter has to take the bar from the floor to the shoulders, using a series of movements to get the bar in position, and be ready to receive the signal to squat. Following the completion of the squat and receiving the referees signal to replace the bar, the lifter must again use a series of movements to take the bar back to the lifting surface, under control. To get the bar to the shoulders the lifter will stand the bar on end  and move into a position against the bar so that the bar can fall or be rocked onto the shoulders. The bar can be brought onto one shoulder if desired, but must then be pivoted around and into position across the shoulders at the back of the neck. An aide can assist the lifter by placing a foot against the bottom of the up – ended bar to stop it sliding, both before and after the squat lift.

Causes for Failure:
1. The causes for failure are the same as for the squat once the bar has been received at the shoulders.
2. Failure to replace the bar to the platform in the same manner it was lifted, and under control.

A question on the USAWA Discussion Forum  arose whether spotters could be allowed on the platform while the Steinborn is being executed.  Apparently sometime in the past history of the IAWA this was not allowed.  However, now that is not a violation.  The Steinborn is like any other lift – and the use of spotters is allowed.  But just like any lift, if the spotters assist in any way the lift is not a good lift (except for the assistant which provides the foot to prevent the bar from sliding).   It is a debatable point if using spotters help with safety.  I actually prefer not to have spotters when I’m doing a Steinborn.  Timing and technique has to be perfect  to perform a Steinborn, and it is very easy for the “bar to get away from you”.  If this happens, I would prefer to be able to “dump it” without risking injury to any spotters trying to assist me.  I have seen injuries happen to spotters before with the Steinborn.

OHHH! My Toe!

by Roger LaPointe

Al Myers doing a Steinborn Lift at the 2010 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The Steinborn Lift is a lift that requires very tight quality collars that won't slip off!

Clang! Ding! Bang! Ohhh! My TOE!

Imagine the sound of plate after plate hitting the floor and then the other plates bouncing off those plates and rolling on the floor, with the ringing sound of milled cast iron followed by intense cursing and swearing…

Yes, the catastrophic failure of a crappy spring collar is what I have just described. Of course, it is followed by intense pain, maybe a little blood and a quick trip to the emergency room. None of this is anything I want to be a part of. I really don’t want to be the guy being taken to the emergency room.

Before you do a lift, make sure someone reliable has checked your collars, particularly if you are doing a dumbbell lift. Equipment failures happen. If there is a bolt, it can come loose. If there is a collar, someone can forget to tighten it down. If there is a weld, it can break. As unbelievable as it sounds, I have even seen dumbbell heads that have sheared off the steal handles. The long and short of it is that people abuse gym equipment and there is NO way a manufacturer or gym owner can anticipate every stupid thing that can happen in a gym… Believe me, I can tell you stories.

Quality Spin-Lock Collars are available from Atomic Athletic.

You have to be responsible for your own actions. Check your equipment.

I never use crappy collars for dumbbell lifts and ALL Spring Collars are crappy.

If I am the one who might be injured, I check the equipment before lifting with it.

See Rule #1 and Rule #2. If I violate them, then I only have myself to blame.

I can get a little OCD and excessive about certain things and will simply go overboard sometimes. For example, I have a collection of collars, both standard size and Olympic sized. I use different ones for their ideal applications. If you are just realizing that your collars are an important part of your equipment arsenal, then here is a good place to start looking. I love spin-lock collars. I highly recommend that everyone own at least one pair.

Happy lifting. Make sure to tighten down your collars.

Live strong, Roger
“Today is a good day to lift.”