Curl – Reverse Grip

by Al Myers

One of the lifts that will be contested at Nationals this month, as well as at the IAWA World Championships in October, will be the Reverse Grip Curl.  However, I want to point out that at each of these meets this lift will be done in a completely different fashion!!  The reason for this is that the USAWA rules for the Reverse Grip Curl are completely different than the IAWA rules!  This makes this lift  “one of many” all round lifts in which for some reason the rules have been written differently for the USAWA than the IAWA – thus causing problems when one of these lifts is selected for an IAWA competition because USAWA lifters have been doing it differently.  Add in the issue that it completely makes World record keeping for these lifts impossible!!!

USAWA RULE

D8. Curl – Reverse Grip

The rules of the Curl – Cheat apply with this exception. The grip on the bar must be a reverse grip, with the palms of the hands facing down or towards the lifter.

D7.  Curl – Cheat

The bar begins on the platform, and at the lifter’s discretion, is picked up with a grip that has the palms of the hands facing up or away from the lifter. Feet placement and hand spacing is optional, but must remain the same throughout the lift.  The heels may rise during the lift. Once the lifter is upright in a standing position with the arms and legs straight, the bar on the thighs hanging at arms’ length, an official will give a command to curl. The knees must remain locked and the legs straight during the lift. The lifter is permitted to bend at the waist, sway the body, or drop the shoulders to gain momentum of the bar. The bar may be lowered prior to the beginning of the curl, including lowering the bar below the knees. The bar must be curled from arms’ length to touching the upper chest or neck in one motion. Any downward movement of the bar during the curl is a disqualification. Once the bar is motionless, and the lifter is upright, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar returns to the platform under control by the lifter.

IAWA(UK) RULE

E32     REVERSE CURL

The rules of performance for the rectangular fix apply, except that once the curled bar reaches the midway point, it does not stop fixed, but continues in one movement, until the bar is at the top of the sternum / neck configuration.

E3       RECTANGULAR FIX

The barbell should be held at arms length, resting across the lifters thighs with the legs and body upright and erect. With a hand grip spacing of no more than shoulder width, and with the knuckles facing the front, the referee will signal to start the lift. With the upper arms remaining held in contact with the torso, the lower forearms will raise, holding the bar firm (not sagging at the wrist) until they are at right angles to the body and parallel to the floor. No raising of the heels and toes, or swaying of the body is allowed. When the bar is held fixed and motionless in the finished position, the referee will signal to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:
1. Starting the lift prior to the referees signal.
2. Failure to hold the bar in the fixed, finished position, forearms at right angles to the body and parallel to the floor, until the referees completion signal.
3. Any movement of the feet or swaying of the body during the lift.
4. Failing to keep the legs and torso braced, upright and erect during the lift.
5. Failure to keep the upper arms in contact with the torso throughout, or allowing wrists to sag.

As you can see from reading these two rule descriptions for the Reverse Grip Curl (or Curl – Reverse Grip if you are using USAWA lingo, or Reverse Curl if you are using the IAWA-UK name), this is obviously two completely different lifts!  The USAWA version follows the rules of the Cheat Curl while the IAWA(UK) version follows the rules of the Rectangular Fix.  The ONLY THING that is in common is that a reverse grip must be used.  Other than that, the USAWA version is as different as “night and day” from the IAWA(UK) version.   I wouldn’t even consider this the same lift. 

I’m writing this blog today so hopefully any lifter planning on competing at Nationals will know that the USAWA Rule will be followed there, as well as any lifter planning on competing at Worlds will know that the IAWA rule will be followed at that meet.  I have been to enough IAWA meets in the past where I was “surprised” by rule differences that I was not aware of previously, and I don’t want anyone else to be in this situation with the Reverse Grip Curl at either of these meets!

The Dumbbell Walk

by Al Myers

Darren Barnhart, of the Dino Gym, performing the Dumbbell Walk last Saturday at the Dino Gym.

Often in the Dino Gym when the workouts are over, different odd training toys get pulled out for impromptu challenges.  This happened the other day in the gym with an official USAWA lift, the Dumbbell Walk.  The Dumbbell Walk is one of the most unique and strange lifts in the USAWA Rulebook.  Years ago when I first read the rules on it, I thought “now there’s an odd one”.  This lift is surrounded with mystery.  How did it come about?  I took a little time and looked through all my collection of back Strength Journals, books, and other mostly irrelevant strength information.  I could not find one single bit of research on it!  Who came up with it?   It was one of the original lifts in the USAWA, meaning it was part of the group of lifts that got “adopted” with the first rules were adopted.  It is an official IAWA lift as well as is included in the IAWA(UK) Rulebook.

The rules for the Dumbbell Walk are as follows from the USAWA Rulebook:

A distance of 10 feet will be marked out on a surface before the walk. The dumbbell and lifter must be behind the line at the start. The handle of the dumbbell must be 3 ½ inches in diameter. The lifter must hold the dumbbell with one hand only. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. It is recommended to straddle the dumbbell during the walk, however, the lifter may carry it to the side. Once the lifter lifts the dumbbell and begins the walk, the dumbbell must not touch the walking surface before the finish line or it will be a disqualification. The dumbbell may be lifted to any height during the walk, but it must always be hanging at arm’s length downwards. The lifter must put the dumbbell down under control completely past the finish line for the walk to be complete. The non-lifting hand must not touch the dumbbell or lifting hand and arm during the walk. The non-lifting hand may be placed on other parts of the body. It is acceptable for the dumbbell to accidentally touch the legs or body during the walk, provided it does not aid in the walk.

This is the 3.5" dumbbell handle that must be used for the Dumbbell Walk.

This is one of only two USAWA lifts where a distance must be covered in the execution of the lift (can you name the other?).   It has been contested only once in USAWA competition – at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.  Only myself and training partner Darren Barnhart have a USAWA Record in the Dumbbell Walk.  At this record day a Challenge ensued between us and Darren edged me out, 100 pounds to 95 pounds.  I’m pretty sure the reason the Dumbbell Walk has not been contested more often in competition is due to the special dumbbell required, with the 3.5″ diameter.

This is an outstanding grip exercise.  I think I might even put it in next year’s Grip Challenge at the Dino Gym.  It is also one of those grip exercises where when you add just a little bit more, say only 5 pounds, and the exercise goes from easy to impossible!

This is a YouTube Video of Darren performing the Dumbbell Walk with 100 pounds at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.

New Lift – Bent Over Row

by Al Myers

Al Myers training the Bent Over Row.

Another new lift that was approved at the 2010 National Meeting by the membership was the Bent Over Row.  This lift was proposed by John McKean of the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club.  The Bent Over Row  is an ole’ fashioned training exercise that has been part of training programs for years – but NOW is an official USAWA lift so it can now be done in competition and contested for records.  I was glad to see John propose rules for it that are consistent with how the lift is usually done in training.  The Bent Over Row is a tremendous upper back exercise.  John had this to say about the Bent Over Row when he proposed it as a lift to the USAWA, “This lift uses a combination of legs, hips and back.  It is a true all-round movement! This is an absolutely GREAT exercise certainly deserving its due as a very heavy weight, total body, competition lift.”

We do not have a lift even similar to the Bent Over Row in our extensive list of Official Lifts. I like to see lifts like this get approved – lifts which are basic movements and not just some “trick lift”, “gimmick lift”,  or a lift with a slight deviation of another official  lift (which isn’t really anything new).

The Rules for the Bent Over Row

The lift will start at the lifter’s discretion with the bar placed on the platform in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with an overhand grip with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. The width of grip spacing and feet placement is of the lifter’s choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The body must be in a bent over position at the waist. The upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift or it is a disqualification. The legs may be bent during the lift and upon the completion of the lift. The bar is lifted to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms. The bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel if a belt is not worn. It is a disqualification if the belt supports the bar at the abdomen upon the finish of the lift. The lift ends by an official’s command when the bar is held motionless at the abdomen or chest.

I will definitely be doing the Bent Over Row at the Ledaig Record Day this weekend, and hope to be the FIRST one to set an official USAWA Record with it.  The Bent Over Row will be included in the updated USAWA Rulebook which will be available the first of August.

Shoulder Drop

I am planning a team postal meet with details coming soon and one of the lifts we will be doing is the Shoulder Drop.  Here is a good video of JWC member Josh Hettinger setting a record in the Shoulder Drop:


and here is what the USAWA Rule Book says on this lift:

D25. Shoulder Drop

The bar is first cleaned and placed at the base of the neck to start this lift. Feet placement is optional. Once the lifter is upright, and the bar motionless, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter will then release the grip on the bar, allowing the bar to drop from the shoulders behind the back. The lifter must catch the bar in the hands at arms’ length behind the back. The legs must remain straight throughout the lift. The lift ends on command by an official when the bar is controlled in the hands by the lifter.

There is actually a reason that I picked this lift as one I wanted to do (and it has nothing to do with Chad Ullom’s Shoulder Drop performance, even if it was pretty funny)

When I was a kid, my grandpa Dalton Jackson (Granddaddy of all the JWC!) used to do all kinds of lifts.  Some I’m pretty sure he made up himself, but many he said he read about or saw in old magazines.  The thing is that my grandpa often saw still photos or read descriptions and I’m not sure he always got them right.  One he did was a lift he claimed Arthur Saxon did.  It was a multipart lift where you would Clean and press the weight, then lower the weight behind the neck, do a Shoulder Drop with it, then set it down.  But the way he did it was he would catch the weight with bent legs whereas the USAWA rules state you must use straight legs.  Since the Shoulder drop was the most difficult of the lift….I decided to use it in honor of “Pop” (what I always called my Grandpa).

Lift Profile – the Jefferson Lift

by Al Myers

Bob Hirsh has the top All-Time USAWA Jefferson Lift with a lift of 702 pounds.

The Jefferson Lift goes by many names – it is also called the Straddle Deadlift, while others refer to it as the Kennady Lift (which is not technically correct).  The Jefferson Lift is basically just a deadlift done with one leg on each side of the bar. It is one of the more popular All-Round lifts, and often is done at major competitions. It was included this year as part of the World Team Postal Championships.

Rules for the Jefferson Lift:

This lift is also known as the Straddle Deadlift. The rules of the Deadlift apply except that the bar will be lifted between the legs, with a leg on each side of the bar. The lifter may face any direction and feet placement is optional. One hand will grip the bar in front of the lifter while the other hand will grip the bar behind the lifter. The bar may touch the insides of either leg during the lift. The heels are allowed to rise as the bar is lifted, but the feet must not change position. The bar is allowed to change directions or rotate during the lift.

Videos of the Jefferson Lift from the 2000 IAWA World Championships

YouTube Video – Rex Monahan

YouTube Video – Kevin Fulton

Is the Van Dam Lift impossible?

by Al Myers

So you think the Van Dam Lift is impossible???  Rob Van Dam, of wrestling fame, is responsible for this lift being in the USAWA Rule Book and to this date he has been the only one to perform the Van Dam Lift.  For those who are unfamiliar with the Van Dam Lift – it involves lifting a heavy dumbbell from the floor to the waist while maintaining the full splits with each foot/leg supported on a bench . Rob Van Dam demonstrated this lift with a dumbbell of 166 pounds. For those who still don’t believe it – it can be viewed on this YouTube Video and was officiated by USAWA officials.

Steve Freides, at 149 pounds, one arm pressing a Kettlebell of 53 pounds while maintaining the full splits.

Now along comes Steve Freides, of Ridgewood New Jersey, who just may be the second person to accomplish the Van Dam Lift. Steve started out childhood suffering from severe asthma and allergies, to enduring a severe back injury as an adult that left him bedridden for several months and unable to walk without limping for over a year.  At this point in his life,  Steve decided to forget about his physical setbacks and took up an aggressive exercise program involving daily stretching and training with Kettlebells. He also runs, swims and bicycles.  He has even entered several powerlifting meets, setting some deadlifting records in the process.  Steve is a certified Personal Trainer by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and was certified as a Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor by Pavel Tsatsouline.  He received his RKC Level 2 certification in 2007.

Now the question remains – will Steve enter an All-Round Weightlifting Record Day and be the only person to do the impossible Van Dam Lift besides the man himself, Rob Van Dam?  Lets hope it happens!!!!!!