Leadership Awards

by Al Myers

Tim Piper (left) presenting the Leadership Award to Denny Habecker.

Tim Piper (left) presenting the Runner Up Leadership Award to Thom Van Vleck.

The Leadership Award in the USAWA goes to an individual “that has shown exceptional leadership qualities within the USAWA during the past year.  Things that should be looked at are going above the level expected of an Officer position, promoting sanctioned events with emphasis being on promoting National or World Competitions, promoting the USAWA by developing a strong club, writing articles for publications about the USAWA, or through other means.”

The two winner of this award, and very deserving of it, were:



Both Denny and Thom were on hand to receive their awards at our National Meet Ceremony.  But then you would expect that out of them as they are leaders in the organization.  Their inputs at our National Championships was vital.  Thom served as the Head Official of the entire meet and did not compete because he would rather “give” than “take”.  Thom’s contributions of writing for the USAWA Website on a frequent basis has helped ensure it’s success.

Denny has been our USAWA President for many years now.  He is the ultimate leader of the USAWA.  He attends practically every big event promoted within the USAWA and the IAWA.  If a lifter does not know Denny it is because they are not very involved!  Denny attends meets all across the country and interacts with the entire USAWA membership.  At Nationals he sat in the officials chair WHILE he was lifting just because that duty needed attended to.   I think Denny is the best President the USAWA has ever had.

I’m glad to see the USAWA membership recognize these two for their contributions to the organization. They have earned it!

National Championships

by Al Myers


Tim Piper (left), meet promoter of the 2014 USAWA National Championships, and Al Myers (right) at last years meet at the Salvation Army Gym.

The date has been set – June 21st – so mark this day off your calendar and make plans to attend the USAWA Nationals in Macomb, Illinois. Tim Piper, of the Salvation Army Gym, will be this years host and meet director.  Macomb is the perfect location for our National Championships since it is located in the center of USAWA activity.  It’s within driving range for practically everyone.

Tim has planned a one day meet with 6 lifts. The lifts chosen are very traditional all round lifts, and lifts most everyone should like.  Tim is a very seasoned meet promoter and I know he will have everything planned and organized well for a great day of lifting for everyone.


Snatch – One Arm (Barbell)
Clean and Push Press
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar
Curl – Cheat
Zercher Lift

ENTRY FORM – USAWA 2014 Nationals-Macomb IL

Club Award to the Salvation Army Gym

by Al Myers

The Salvation Army Gym - Runner Up CLUB OF THE YEAR in the USAWA.

I was glad to be able to personally award the Salvation Army Gym their Runner Club Award from the USAWA at their USAWA meet last weekend.  These awards, presented on behalf of the USAWA, were given out at the National Championships.  However, since no representatives from the Salvation Army Gym were able to be present at Nationals, this meet of theirs was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to give them the recognition they deserve.

Tim Piper (left) receiving the Club Award from USAWA Awards Director Al Myers (right).

The Club Awards are the only special USAWA awards that are not selected by membership nomination/vote.  Points are accrued throughout the year for various things like USAWA memberships that represent the club, club promotions, and participation of club members in USAWA competitions.  The points are simply “added up”, and the clubs that earn the most points are the winners.  So you can see that this award is actually EARNED! 

Congratulations to the Salvation Army Gym for an outstanding past year in the USAWA!  The next year will be a BIG ONE for them as well as they will be the host of the 2014 USAWA National Championships.

Joe the Turk Meet POSTPONED!

by Thom Van Vleck

The Joe the Turk meet set for the Macomb Salvation Army Gym for this weekend has been postponed due to a terrible flood in the gym.  They are still cleaning up and the decision was made to postpone the meet.   Updates will be given regarding a “make up date” at a later time.

Here is a story on the devastation and how you can help our brothers and sisters out!

Last fall I went over to help judge a meet in Macomb, Illinios.  It was the “Macomb Fall Record Breakers” meet and was being put on my Tim Piper.  Tim needed some help and I was glad to help out.  He was also donating some weights to the weightlifting club I am the staff adviser for at the University I work at (the Osteoblasters Weightlifting Club).  I had never been to the Salvation Army Gym in Macomb and was quite pleased when I got there!  It was “Old School” with tons of old equipment, platforms to do “REAL” lifting off of, and tons of trophies and pictures from some 40 years of operation.  It was a gym that any USAWA member would have loved to train in and every “Planet Fitness” members nightmare!  The “Salvation Army Gym” is also a USAWA official club and are currently in good standing.  That’s why it was such sad news to hear that the recent heavy rains had flooded the gym which is located in the basement of the local Salvation Army.

At least 2 feet of water filled the gym!

There were plenty of pictures on facebook but sometimes when you have been somewhere you can appreciate just how bad something is.  This particular club had a huge number of photos that went from floor to ceiling in some areas and a lot of equipment that ended up under water.   Here are some photos to give you a “before” and “after” perspective.

Here is a "before photo" with Tim Piper spotting Whitney.

The same corner of the gym underwater!

The clean up has begun and the water has been pumped out.  I understand they are taking photos that were water damaged and trying to scan them to make new ones.  There will no doubt be a lot of work left to do and I’m unsure if there was any insurance.  Most insurance won’t pay for flooding anyway unless you have a special flood policy and most don’t as it’s expensive and I’m sure a Salvation Army couldn’t afford it.

The water has been pumped out, leaving a huge mess!

Keep these guys in your thoughts and prayers.  This isn’t some fancy, high dollar gym….it’s a Salvation Army!  If you can help them out by either providing labor or sending a donation I’m sure it would be appreciated!  This gym needs to go on as it provides a workout area for many who couldn’t afford it otherwise.  It’s the type of place I got started in when I couldn’t afford the fancy gym membership!  I’m sure many of you can relate.  Plus, Tim and Dawn are such great people who work so hard to bring meets and weight training to others.  Let’s help’em out!  You can send a donation to Tim Piper at: Tim Piper, 15401 E. 1750th Street, Macomb, IL 61455 or you can call him at 309 221 0276.

Macomb Fall RB

by Tim Piper


Tim Piper "in action" at the 2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas. Tim did outstanding - placing 6th overall!!!

November 10th, 2012 the Macomb Salvation Army will host its second USAWA record breaker meet of the year.  This meet will actually follow directly after another meet, the American Drug Free Powerlifting Federation Macomb Push/Pull meet set for the morning.  We thought it might be nice for both federation lifters to mix together a bit and share in this day of strength.  Both organizations are aligned on their stance against drug use so we thought it could be a win-win.  Come out in the morning to watch, or compete, in the bench press and deadlift and stick around for some record attempts in the all-rounds.  We already have some lifters who are planning on both events that day!

Hope to see some out-of-towners at the meet but even if you can’t make it we will do our best to set as many records as we can and make the USAWA proud.

ENTRY FORM (PDF) – Macomb Fall Record Breaker

Shoulder Flexibility Testing – Part 1

by Al Myers

Tim Piper performing a Kelly Snatch. This is an All Round Lift that requires great shoulder flexibility.

FLEXIBILITY – now that’s a word not often used in a weightlifters vocabulary.  All of my life I have had this believe when it came to flexibility – “a little is good, but alot is a bad thing in regards to strength”.  Now I know there are personal trainers out there who would wholeheartly disagree with me on this statement, but let me explain myself first.  A big part of being strong (for max efforts lifts that is) is to “be tight” in the bottom position, or starting position,  of a lift.  Take the deadlift for example.  As you descend to the bar, you want to feel like a spring where maximum compression occurs at the bottom starting position, and takes maximum flexibility to reach this point.  Any flexibility beyond this does you no good, and probably is limiting your ability to “explode” from the bottom position.  I have done training programs in the past where I trained standing on platforms to increase the range of motion on my deadlifts.  I got stronger in those motions, and probably increase my deadlift flexibility,  but guess what, my max deadlift off the floor did not increase!  In fact, I felt “too loose” (and uncomfortable) in the bottom of a floor deadlift afterwards.

But I’m getting off topic here. Todays story is about shoulder flexibility. As I’ve got older I have noticed that the normal flexibility that I have taken for granted in the past is leaving me.  My main problem area is with my shoulders.  Too many years of bench pressing and front shoulder work is probably the culprit.  I have the problem which I’m going to call the “tight shoulder syndrome”.   I know many weightlifters have this same problem, especially as they become master lifters. Now the “tide has shifted”, and instead of decreased flexibility being your ally in increased strength, it has become your nemesis by limiting your range of motion in lifts that require more flexibility to complete them pain free.

Last weekend at the meet in Minneapolis I was asking David Dellanave about why his club was named The Movement. David explained to me that the reason for this was that they emphasize movements (or exercises) that increase functionality.  Every exercise should have a beneficial component to increase the bodies ability to MOVE.  He demonstrated this by doing a straight legged toe touch, and then after doing some stiff legged deadlifts, was able to show an increase in stretch in the toe touch AFTER the stiff legged deadlifts. That makes sense to me!  I have been choosing exercises all my life that do the complete opposite!! The time has come that I need to start doing some exercises that will “shift the tide” back in my favor in regards to flexibility.  I have decided to start this “experiment” with my shoulders as that is my biggest problem area.

One of my problems is that when I’m in the gym I have to have a specific goal in mind to motivate my training.  Whether that be a meet coming up or a specific “challenge implement” in mind, I need that for my motivation.  I have always done some stretching in the past, but often don’t focus on it like I should as there is no way of measuring my progress (or so I thought).   I have done some internet research on shoulder flexibility and have come up with three Shoulder Flexibility Tests (2 very standard ones, and one original that I think is an important one for all rounders) that I would like to share with you. I am going to test myself on these, and then after some “training time” on shoulder flexibility retest myself and see what improvements I’ve made. If I don’t make progress, I’ll switch up my program until I find what works in regards to improving on these tests.  That ought to be motivation!  Tomorrow I’m going to reveal these tests so if you want to join me in this program you can.