Teeth Lifting

by Al Myers

Art Montini Teeth Lifting at the 2013 USAWA Presidential Cup in Lebanon, PA.

Since the announcement of the Teeth Lift in the Dino Challenge in January it has received some discussion in the USAWA discussion  forum.  Probably the “most talk” the Teeth Lift has ever received in the USAWA!   The inclusion of the Teeth Lift in the WLT Dino Challenge will be the first time the Teeth Lift has been  contested in a USAWA competition.  To date it has only been contested by a few lifters in Record Days.   Here’s a little “refresher” on the USAWA rules of the Teeth Lift:

USAWA Rule I19. Teeth Lift

The setup for this lift requires a mouthpiece fitted to the lifter’s bite, a connecting chain, and a Vertical Bar to load plates to. The hands may not touch the mouthpiece, chain, or Vertical Bar during the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight may accidentally touch the legs during the lift, but the connecting chain must not touch any part of the body. The hands may brace on the legs and body during the lift, but must be free from the body upon completion of the lift. The width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter must lift the weight by the jaws clenched on the mouthpiece only, by extending upward. The legs must be straight upon completion of the lift, but the body does not need to be erect. Once the weight is clear of the platform and motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The rules are pretty straight-forward, and are similar to many other official USAWA rules for other lifts.  The critical things are – hands off legs at completion, legs straight, and weight clear of the platform.  The thing that makes Teeth Lifting a challenge is finding a Teeth Bit that one can use.  It’s not like this is a piece of lifting equipment that is readily available to buy nowadays!!  However, in the “lifting days of the past” it was easy to buy a Teeth Bit.  Virtually every issue of old “Muscular Development” had ads in the back with them for sale.  I would say the popularity of Teeth Lifting really went downhill by the mid 70’s.  Now if you want a Teeth Bit you have to have it custom made for you, or make one yourself.  It’s important that it fits “your bite” – not only for teeth protection but to give you the tightest fit for lifting more weight.

This is an ad for a Teeth Bit in an old issue of Muscular Development.

I’ve been lucky to see “the best” in the USAWA teeth lifting in action.  Years ago I was at the meet in Clark’s Gym when Steve Schmidt did his “record smashing” Teeth Lift of 390 pounds, which is the highest Teeth Lift record in the USAWA record list. I witnessed Steve exceed 300 pounds SEVERAL TIMES in the Teeth Lift.   The ole ironmaster Art Montini has the most Teeth Lift records “on the books”, and has been teeth lifting for years.  In August Art used the Teeth Lift to win the USAWA Presidential Cup with a fine lift of 107 pounds at over 85 years old!!!  Art is one of the few teeth lifters that have WORN OUT teeth bits thru years of use!  Just this year Art made himself a new teeth bit.

The legendary strongman Warren Lincoln Travis was quite the Teeth Lifter, and the best of his day.  Willoughby in his book “Super Athletes” reported him lifting 311 pounds in the Teeth Lift in Brooklyn, NY in 1918.  This was considered the unofficial WORLD RECORD for over 80 years!!!! That is until Steve Schmidt exceeded it several times in the mid-2000’s!!!  I consider Steve’s Teeth Lift record of 390 lbs. (which was done with the hands behind back, as was Travis’s) as the unofficial overall World Record in the Teeth Lift now. Maybe this Dino Challenge in January will bring Steve Schmidt out of competition retirement.  Especially since it contains ALL of his best lifts!!!!! I would love to see him in action teeth lifting again.

Heavy Lifting Objects

by Al Myers

Frank's "1 TON" Train wheels, that he uses for hip and harness lifting.

The other day I covered a story about Frank’s big “1-TON” train wheels in his backyard, and how he uses them in his training for heavy hip and harness lifting.  These big train wheels are more than just “yard art”  to Frank – they are an important apparatus used in his all round training.  Several other all rounders have similar things they use for training the heavy chain lifts.   I have been in many all round club gyms and have seen other heavy things used.  It goes to show that there are things to train on besides bars and plates. 

Al Springs uses these "giant tires" to train the hip and harness lifts.

Al Springs has his “giant tires” that he uses for Hip and Harness lifting.  Very impressive setup!

This is All-Round lifing legend Steve Schmidt's setup for training the Heavy Lifts, complete with his walker.

Steve Schmidt has his “big frame” that he uses.  He did many of his 3000 pound plus Harness Lifts using this setup.

The Dino Gym's Train Wheels, which reside by the front door of the gym.

At the Dino Gym, I have a couple of Train Wheels on a Heavy Lift bar that I use to train the hip and harness lifts.  Altogether, they weigh in at 1425 pounds including the bar.   I have done a set of 20 reps in the Harness Lift with these, and sets of 5-10 for hip lifting.  As of yet, I have not done a Hand and Thigh with them.   I’m gonna make that a goal of mine this summer – 1 rep in the Hand and Thigh with these train wheels!!! That’s a perfect summer challenge for me!!

Rules for the Total Poundage

by Al Myers

This was the day that Steve Schmidt set the ALL TIME RECORD in TOTAL POUNDAGE.

Steve Gardner wrote a really nice piece last week about the origins of the unique lift – the Total Poundage.  This lift is unlike all other all-round lifts.  It is NOT a lift done for maximum weight.  It is about TOTAL POUNDAGE established over a time frame.  It is more than just a “repetition lift”, as the lifter can stop & go on repetitions (which is not allowed on lifts for repetition).  Let me get to the rules here:

USAWA Rule for Total Poundage

The accepted time limit is three hours, nine minutes.  The lifter may choose any lift and perform the lift for repetitions in any number of sets and poundages. The reps in the sets, and the poundage used in the sets may be changed or varied throughout the time period.  Each repetition must be properly completed, with the exception of the down commands in which the repetition does not need to be held motionless at completion.  The lifter is permitted to take rest periods.  The repetitions are multiplied with the pounds lifted to determine the total poundage lifted in the allotted time period.

Of course to establish a high total for poundage, the lift selected becomes very important, as some lifts more weight can be lifted in than others.  The usual choices for TOTAL POUNDAGE have been lifts like the Back Lift, Harness Lift, Travis Lift, and Hip Lift.  Another important destinction is that the repetitions done DO NOT need to be held for a down command (which is different than lifts done for reps, as each rep needs to be judged as it was a single, which includes an officials down command).    The IAWA rule for this lift is written with the same intentions, but doesn’t point out this rule stipulation.

IAWA RULE F4 –  TOTAL POUNDAGE

The lifter has a time limit of three hours and nine minutes to lift as much weight as possible to create a time limit total. The lifter can choose any manner of lifts to perform, with any combination of sets or reps, but each repetition must be completed properly for the weight to count towards the time limit total. The total poundage creates the record.

Causes for Failure:
1. Failure to complete any lift or repetition in the correct fashion will exclude that particular lift / repetition from the overall total set in the time limit of three hours and nine minutes.

I was fortunate to be present the day the best record ever was established in TOTAL POUNDAGE.  On December 14th, 2002 Steve Schmidt Back Lifted 8,087,095 TOTAL POUNDS at Clarks Gym.  This broke the overall TOTAL POUNDAGE record held by Howard Prechtel  at 6,066,060 pounds set in 1982.   Back in 2009 I wrote a blog outlining the details of Steve’s performance – http://www.usawa.com/quiz-of-the-week-4/   To date, I believe these are the only two lifters that have exceeded Warren Lincoln Travis mark (5.5 million pounds), which should be considered the mark to beat.  WLT set the bar on this lift, so to speak.

USAWA: The First Year

by Al Myers

Steve Schmidt, of Clark's Gym, was the first member of the USAWA.

This is a big year for the USAWA. It is our 25th ANNIVERSARY of being an organization. I got wondering the other day, “just when was the official beginning day of the USAWA?”. I had a general idea of when this was, but not for sure on an actual date (if there even was one). So I did some research and now I’m going to share what I found out with everyone. The “FIRSTS” are always noteworthy. Here it goes, and I’m going to try to stay on a timeline.

November 29th, 1986

Bill Clark met with several lifters from England in Grimsby, England to “draw up the final plans” of the IAWA. There had been previous meetings, but this was the date the final, BIG DECISIONS were made. The USAWA origins correlates directly with the creation of the IAWA (which will be the topic someday of ANOTHER STORY. I will try to keep on track here.). The constitution and bylaws of the IAWA were approved, which were the basis of the original USAWA bylaws. On this day it was decided that each individual country involved with the IAWA would form their own governing body. Also, the Rules of the original 110 lifts were decided upon.

January 1st, 1987

The first USAWA officers took office. These officers were appointed (by Bill I assume) at the November 29th meeting. This included Jon Carr of Missouri as President and Joe McCoy of Texas as Registrar and Record Keeper.

July 1st, 1987

The USAWA began collecting memberships. Dues were $12, of which $6 went to the USAWA bank account and the remaining $6 went into an IAWA bank account. Club dues were set at $10 and sanction fees set at $10 (which are the SAME FEES we charge today!!!). Steve Schmidt was the first person to buy a membership card in the USAWA.

September 20th, 1987

The first sanctioned USAWA event was held in Clarks Gym. Steve Schmidt put on a solo exhibition of lifts. He did a 2450# Hip Lift, 405# Neck Lift, 3205# Harness Lift, 1125# Hand and Thigh, and a 270# Wrestlers Bridge Pullover and Press. Steve’s Bridged Pullover and Press is still in the Record List, and is the oldest record in the current Record List. This sanctioned event would also make Steve the first USAWA member to officially do a lift in the USAWA.

July 9-10th, 1988

The FIRST EVER USAWA National Championships were held in Plymouth Meeting, PA. John Vernacchio was the meet director. The meet’s best lifter was Steve Schmidt, followed by Phil Anderson, Joe Garcia, John Vernacchio, and John McKean. The Team Champion was John’s club, the Valley Forge Club.

Bill Clark began publishing THE STRENGTH JOURNAL in the fall of 1989, which covered all the news of the USAWA. Bill continued this until 2009, and throughout the years “turned out” over 150 issues. This publication was the “backbone” of the organization for years. All of this research came from old Strength Journals. As I said earlier, this year will MARK the 25th USAWA National Championships held. That is why we are going “big time” and having our National Meet in Las Vegas this year. I plan to have several awards to present to recognize those that have been involved with the USAWA since the beginning.

But back to my original question – Just when did the USAWA officially start? I’m going to say July 1st, 1987 as that was the day the USAWA was officially “open for business” and collecting memberships. Also I like that day because it is the same time most of us will be in Vegas, so that we can celebrate this special day the way it should be celebrated.

The Heavy Lift Bar

by Al Myers

Steve Schmidt, arguable the BEST OVERALL Heavy Lift lifter in the history of the USAWA, maxes a Heavy Lift Bar out with plates in the Hip Lift under the watchful eye of Bill Clark.

A very unique bar that we use in the USAWA (and is ONLY used by our organization) is the Heavy Lift Bar.  Often a lot of mystery surrounds this bar.  You will see ads on various websites advertising the sale of  heavy lift bars, but in most cases these bars DO NOT meet our rules specifications.  The Heavy Lift Bar is used for the Heavy Lifts – which include lifts like the Harness Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift, and Neck Lift.  Our new updated Rule Book contains the specifications for the Heavy Lift Bar, which were not included in the previous Rule Book.  Section V.I. 22 of the USAWA Rule Book states this regarding the Heavy Lift Bar:

The Heavy Lift Bar must meet the following specifications.

• The diameter of the bar must be a minimum of 1 15/16 inches.

• The bar may be a pipe or solid steel shaft.

• The maximum length of the inside sleeve is 16 inches.

• The maximum length of the bar is 8 ½ feet and the minimum length of the bar is 7 feet.

• Only one hook is allowed on the bar, located in the center.

• The bar must be straight.

• The weight of the bar must be clearly marked.

• The bar must contain no revolving sleeves.

A brand new Heavy Lift Bar that I made specifically to be used at the 2011 USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals, to be held in York, PA on May 21st.

The most common problem with “other” Heavy Lift Bars is they often contain TWO HOOKS.  Our Official Heavy Lift Bar can have only one – located in the center – which obviously makes the balance of the lifts much more difficult!  The Heavy Lift Bar requires several accessories.  Proper hooks for attachments are needed, along with bar lifters to make  loading easier.  Special harnesses and belts are needed, depending on which lift is being performed.  The shaft of the Heavy Lift Bar is a solid cold roll bar, of diameter 1 15/16 inches.  A hollow pipe would never hold up – it would bend (or break) immediately!  I am always surprised how much the solid Heavy Lift Bar will bend under loads of over 2000 pounds!  All of the Heavy Lift Bars that we use in the USAWA are home-made or custom-made.  Only a handful of gyms have one – the Dino Gym, Clark’s Gym, Habecker’s Gym, Ambridge BBC, Frank’s Barbell Club, M & D Gym, Schmidt’s Barbell Club,  and the JWC.  OK – so most ALL of the Member Clubs of the USAWA have one!!  The Heavy Lift Bar will be featured exclusively at this year’s Heavy Lift Nationals in York, PA on May 21st with the Neck Lift, Hip Lift and Hand and Thigh Lift being contested.  If you want to give the Heavy Lifts a try, and in the process get introduced to the Heavy Lift Bar, just sign up for this competition!

The One and Only Steve Schmidt

There is only one SUPER HEAVY LIFT LIFTER:

THE ONE and ONLY STEVE SCHMIDT

by Dale E. Friesz

Steve Schmidt set many Back Lift records using his custom-built Back Lift Apparatus.

What follows is a history of the male and female winners of what has progressed, in name only, from the STRONGMAN PENTATHLON, to the SCHMIDT’S PENTATHLON, to the SCHMIDT’S BACKBREAKER PENTATHLON, to the USAWA NATIONAL HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS, to the STEVE SCHMIDT’S BACKBREAKER, and to the USAWA HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS.  The data source is our former organization’s newsletter written by Bill Clark, the STRENGTH JOURNAL.  I believe it is safe to assume that Bill Clark was involved in the meet name changes.  The same five lifts have been contested since the first meet on 11/25-1986 – the lifts are the NECK LIFT, the HAND & THIGH, the HIP LIFT, the HARNESS LIFT, and the BACKLIFT.  It seems that Steve Schmidt, together with Bill Clark, conceived of the meet as it contains the four chain lifts and the biggest lift of all the USAWA – the BACKLIFT.  Steve has competed in 14 of these meets since the first in 1986 in his yard and barn in Sullivan, Missouri. He is UNDEFEATED!  The small table that follows shows how Steve has managed to cheat father time:

TOTAL YEAR LOCATION BWT AGE
10377 1991 Sullivan 220 36
10231 1988 Sullivan 223 33
10219 1992 Sullivan 209 37
10200 1987 Sullivan 218 32
10037 1989 Sullivan 220 34
9647 1990 Sullivan 219 35
9645 2004 Columbia 220 49
9415 2008 Columbia 224 53
9345 2007 Columbia 224 52
9330 1986 Sullivan 224 31
9315 2005 Columbia 218 50
9305 2003 Columbia 208 48
9160 2006 Columbia 223 51
9055 2002 Columbia 209 47

I have enjoyed the recent forum discussions that Steve’s apparatus and large diameter heavy bar made it possible for him to lift such “unreal” poundages. Also, as he aged he was not able to lift as much weight.  I point out that no one has been able to beat him regardless of the equipment used.  Also, that after nearly a quarter century of training he cracked the 3000 pound backlift ceiling twice in one meet, maxing at 3050 pounds.  Big Al was very much present when it was done as it took place in his gym, using his state of the art backlift equipment.

Guinness Record Set by Steve Schmidt


by Al Myers

Last weekend at the Zercher Meet in Columbia, Missouri, Teeth Lifting Superstar Steve Schmidt found ANOTHER Teeth Lifting record to break.  This one was a Guinness World Record for repetition Teeth Lifting.  Steve did 50 reps with 100 kilograms (220 pounds) in one minute. His record performance was judged by Bill Clark.  The previous record was 24 reps, set on August 22nd, 2005 by Georges Christen of Benodet, France. Every repetition was lifted a minimum of six inches, which was confirmed by the weight touching a rope positioned at this height.

Steve holds all the best Teeth Lifting records in the USAWA – both with his hands supported on his legs and with his hands behind his back.  He uses a leather bit attached to a chain that attaches to the weights.  Steve also has pulled heavy trucks and trains with his teeth.  Bill Clark wrote a column about Steve’s amazing record yesterday in the Columbia Tribune.  Bill summarized this event way better than I can – so Click Here to read it.

Below are links to a couple of other newspaper articles covering this momentous occasion. And by the way Steve, the USAWA is very proud of you!

KOMU Article Columbia Tribune

Hall of Fame Biography – Steve Schmidt class of 1993

Steve Schmidt holds the All-Time record in the USAWA in the Back Lift, with a lift of 3050 pounds.

Steve Schmidt was born on August 22nd, 1955 in Franklin County Missouri. He still lives there and is self-employed in the fertilizer business and as a farmer. Steve is married with two grown sons and 3 grandchildren. He started lifting in 1977 as a powerlifter. He got involved with the USAWA from the very beginning. In fact, he held the very first membership card issued. Steve has spent most of his time training at home in an old building with no heat, electricity or doors, but at times trains at Clark’s Gym in Columbia Missouri and represents Clark’s Gym when he competes. Steve was the Overall Best Lifter at the first two National Meets in 1988 and 1989. He was the Open Best Lifter in 1991. He was the Overall IAWA Best Lifter at the 1989 World Championships in Plymouth Meeting Pennsylvania. He has promoted the Backbreaker Meet 7 times, which consists of the Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift, in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was held at his farm. Today, Bill Clark hosts this meet at his gym every year and it is now named the Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon, after Steve. He has won the Backbreaker 14 times and the Zercher Meet 8 times. Steve’s favorite lifts are the Harness Lift, Back Lift and Teeth Lift. He holds the overall USAWA record in the Harness Lift at 3515 pounds and the overall USAWA record in the Back Lift at 3050 pounds. Steve holds nearly every repetition record in the Hip Lift, Harness Lift and the Back Lift. He holds the Total Poundage record using the Back Lift, doing 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours and 50 minutes!! He also holds the Teeth Lift record with a lift of 390 pounds, with his hands held behind his back! Steve has also done numerous strength shows in which he pulls heavy loads with just his teeth!! He is also a World Class Bender and has performed at the AOBS Banquet where he did 10 repetitions in the Hip Lift with 1800 pounds! Steve has very calm demeanor when he lifts and often makes impossible lifts look remarkably easy. When asked why he likes all-round lifting, Steve replied, “It’s the best!!” Steve has always been a man of few words and just lets his outstanding lifting accomplishments speak for themselves.

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

In the USAWA, lifts done for repetitions may be contested in competition and for records. The ultimate record for repetitions is the TOTAL POUNDAGE, where the lifter may choose any lift and rep/set scheme, to lift the most weight within a given time frame.  The standard for this record was initially set by the great Warren Lincoln Travis in 1927 when he Back Lifted 5.5 million pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. This was done by doing 5500 reps with 1000 pounds.

Name the TWO USAWA LIFTERS who have exceeded this, along with their TOTAL POUNDAGE.

Steve Schmidt setting the all-time record for TOTAL POUNDAGE on December 14th, 2002

Congratulations to the Winner of this week’s quiz -  Tom Ryan of Acworth, Georgia – who correctly identified the two USAWA lifters as Steve Schmidt and Howard Prechtel. Tom had an advantage in this quiz, as he was a witness and assisted in the counting of repetitions during Steve Schmidt’s record. Howard Prechtel initially broke Travis’s record in 1982 by Back Lifting 6,066,060 pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. It was accomplished by doing 5460 reps with 1111 pounds. This was then upped by Steve Schmidt, on December 14th, 2002 at Clark’s Gym, in which he lifted 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours 50 minutes. Steve was 48 years old at the time and weighed only 209 pounds. He accomplished this by lifting 1,115 pounds a total of 7253 times, using the Back Lift. Bill Clark was the official judge and counter of this Herculean effort. I was fortunate to also have witnessed this event and can attest to the stamina Steve exhibited in accomplishing this feat.  He was performing 45 reps per minute, which gave him only about 30 seconds rest per minute.  He maintained this pace for two hours!!!!  Steve broke Howard’s record in 1 hour, 57 minutes.   The conditioning required for something like this must be much the same as that of a marathon runner. I was amazed how quickly Steve recovered following this endurance record, as he did not seem out of breath at all afterwards and even joined in with us on some other record lifts.  Will this TOTAL POUNDAGE record be broken in the next 100 years?   Only time will tell…..

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers

Steve Schmidt sets USAWA Back Lift Record!

Steve Schmidt with a 3050# Back Lift.

Steve Schmidt became the first man to Backlift over 3000 pounds in the an official USAWA meet. His 3050# Backlift record was set at the Dino Challenge in Holland, Kansas on January 17th. He lifted in a record session prior to the meet which was judged by Bill Clark, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom. He broke the previous record of 2920# three times with lifts of 2930#, 3000# and finally his new record of 3050#. Steve has been training the back lift over 20 years to achieve this hard earned record. Steve owns nearly ever rep record with the back lift, including his famous 8 million pound rep record in 3 hours set in 2002.

The Dino Challenge drew 4 lifters to compete in a meet that tested not only strength, but flexibility and agility. Chad Ullom, of Topeka Kansas, came out on top winning 3 of the 5 events. He surprised everyone with his 200# Zeigler Clean, which is a clean done balancing a 2.5# plate on your head!!! Chad also won the Dino Challenge last year. Rudy Bletscher, at 73 years old, showed everyone that he still has the athleticism to complete this selection of difficult lifts.

FULL MEET RESULTS:

2009 Dino Challenge
January 17th, 2009
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas

Lifts: Kelly Snatch, Zeigler Clean, Judd Clean & Jerk, James Lift, and the Allen Lift.

Meet Director: Al Myers

Official (1 official system used): Bill Clark
Loaders: Mike Murdoch and Mark Mitchell


Lifter BW
AGE Kelly Ziegler Judd James Allen Total
Chad Ullom 231 37 70 150 150 125 35 530
Al Myers 251 42 50 100 100 85 45 380
Scott Campbell 303 34 25 65 120 125 25 360
Rudy Bletscher 222 73 25 85 50 55 2 217

All Lift Results in Pounds.
Extra lifts for record
Chad Ullom, Zeigler Clean:  200#

Record Session:
Steve Schmidt, Age: 53, BW:230;  Backlift: 3050#