Da Rules

by Thom Van Vleck

Let’s start off the new year right with some controversy!  I don’t think it’s controversial but I imagine some will.

When my kids were younger they liked to watch a kids’ show called the “Fairly Odd Parents” which was a play off of “Fairy God Parents”.  In the show a boy had two fairy god parents that would help him out in various situations.  The show often centered around him getting himself into trouble then wishing his way out of it.  However, if he could simply wish his way out, then that wouldn’t be much of a show.  There were rules he had to follow.  In the show there was a book called “Da Rules” and it would inevitable appear whenever he would try and make a wish that would easily end the whole show in the first couple of minutes, but then having to follow the rules would lead to a full half hour of hilarity.  The rules were enforced by the leader of the god parents.  Namely, Jorgen von Strangle who was built like Arnold Swarzenegger and suspiciously had an Austrian accent.  Jorgen enforced the rules like a German SS storm trooper and because of this was often the primary protagonist in most every episode due to his inability to bend the rules to any given situation.

Let me set up my “street cred” (what qualifies me as an “expert”….I know…BIG DEAL.  But I do what people to understand my history and that this is based on decades of experience and observations.  My family has lifted in Bill Clark run “odd lift meets” since the 50’s and I lifted in my first odd lift meet in 1979.  I am also a Level 2 Lifetime certified official in the USAWA.  I passed my test on the first try (and that’s a HARD test!).  I have judged in the required 25 competitions to achieve the Level 2 status.  I got Clark’s newsletter for decades and even had a bunch for the 60’s that I gave to Al to complete his collection.  I have followed this for a LONG TIME.

So, get to the point, you may ask!  Well, here’s my thoughts.  There have been times where I have sat around with guys and discussed the membership of the USAWA.  You would think it would be a big deal!  It seems perfect for many lifters that don’t have the leverages to be a great Olympic lifter or pure strength to be a great Powerlifter.  I know over the years it has amazed me how you can take a guy that is mediocre in lifting but he (or she) will have this one lift (or two) that they are flat out AMAZING at.  So why don’t we have people flocking to the sport.  I think I know why.

Da Rules.

I know we need rules.  There needs to be structure.  But when does the structure become a road block?  We try and create a system that is objective, but because humans are involved it’s doomed to always be subjective no matter what we do.

Some years ago I took my brother to watch his first Olympic lifting meet.  Art Tarwater was the head judge.  He’s been Olympic lifting and judging meets for over 50 years.   A great friend of lifting and a great lifter.  He’s also a stickler for  the rules.  If you get a lift when he’s judging, you did it according to the rules and that’s no joke.  He KNOWS every infraction.  So, my brother is watching this meet and about 50% of the lifts that were completed were turned down.  Press outs, catching the clean below the clavicals, elbow touch to the knee….on and on.  My brother kept asking what was wrong with this lift or that.  At one point Tarwater told the lifter to put the weight down as he has made an infraction on the clean and not to bother on the jerk.  My brother (who is almost a dozen years younger than me and this is important as I think he represents the mind set of a younger generation) finally made the comment “THIS IS STUPID…..THOSE ARE GOOD LIFTS”.

Now, let’s get into the meat of my point.  There are times when rules are enforced properly and then times when they are NOT.  There are many reasons for this but here is one I’ve seen repeatedly in the USAWA (and might get me in trouble with some guys).  First, let me say I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket in over 20 years (more than I can say for Al Myers).  Is it because I don’t speed?  Heck no!  I speed all the time.  I get pulled over, too.  But I get warnings.  My daughter, who is 16, got pulled over the other day….she got a ticket.  I bet you dollars to doughnuts (pun intended) that cops give younger people less warnings and more tickets than older guys.  Why?  Because they want them to learn a lesson.  I see that same thing with judges in our sport….in all lifting sports and event he Highland Games.  Heck, even in the Pro sports the old veteran gets the calls against the rookie every time!

I think we, as judges, have good intentions when we red light certain infractions.  But what I think has happened is younger guys come in and do a meet or two and leave with a bad taste in their mouth and that stop coming.  Then we are left with this core group that never grows and we are slowly aging ourselves out of existence.  I would also say there has been a time or two I have wondered if the intentions WEREN’T good and the judge WANTED to run off the lifter.  Yes, I said it and I stand by that statement.  We are all human.

So let me end with this.  I would challenge the members of the USAWA to encourage some young lifters to get into the sport and I would ask you to challenge yourself as a judge to look at these guys and know that they are learning and if an infraction did not help them in completing the lift then warn them before red lighting them (and I understand that’s not “Da Rules”….but a judge by definition forms an opinion or conclusion about “if” something fits the law…..otherwise we would be called “Police” who ENFORCE the law).  An example would be dropping the weight after the conclusion of the lift.  For many lifters this is part of lifting.  They just don’t know and need to learn.  Police officers give a ticket for the infraction, a judge forms an opinion and comes to a conclusion as to what the intent of the law was and if the event fit that intent or if the event intended to subvert the law.

Otherwise, we appear rigid and controlling and who wants to be a part of that.  I can tell you the younger generation does not.  They see Jorgen von Strangle as the enemy.

Shoulder Drop Rules

by Thom Van Vleck

Time for me to stir some controversy!  Okay, so many years ago my grandfather Dalton Jackson taught me the shoulder drop.  He told me it was how the “old timers” did it.  First, let’s review the USAWA rules for the Shoulder Drop.

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 bar must not be rolled down the back or arms. 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.

The way my grandfather taught me was exactly the same as above except of one key thing.  My grandfather would bend his knees as he caught the bar and “shock absorb” the weight.  Obviously, much more can be handled in this way.  You can “feel” the weight hit the hands and then this allows time to “grab” while you sink with the weight.  The locked knees method becomes a guessing game and using much weight at all easily results on spinal strain, busted knuckles, and in some cases (like Chad Ullom) getting what amounts to a “horse collar” tackle by the weight!

First of all, I would like to know the history on this rule.  I’m not saying it’s wrong, I would just like to know where it comes from. My grandfather got all of his information through magazines or 2nd hand so he could have easily gotten this wrong.  But I have tried to research this to no avail.  So if anyone out there knows more about this let me know.

Second of all, unless there is some historic reason for the knees to be kept locked, I would like to see the rule changed to allow for bent knees.  I would argue a lot less injuries would result with greater poundages used and the lift would become more skill based.

Third…if there is a historical reason for the locked knees then I would like to submit a new lift at the next meeting.  The Jackson Shoulder Drop, which would allow for the bent knees.

I know, what’s the big deal!  The shoulder drop is an obscure lift and rarely done.  But I can tell you that my Grandfather did it often.  He did a lift where he would clean the weight, press it overhead, lower it behind the neck, shoulder drop it, and set it on the platform.  He eventually did 135lbs this way which was pretty good for a guy that could barely press much more than that at the time!  So, if you know anything about this lift other than what’s in the rule book please get on the forum and let me know.  Also, let me know if you have a beef with me submitting a new lift that would allow a knee bend and why.

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.

Fulton Bar Debate Continued

by Al Myers

Kevin Fulton performing a Deadlift - Fulton Bar of 555 pounds at the 2001 Old Settlers Classic.

I said I had more to say on this subject – so here it is. As most know, the USAWA has different  names than the IAWA(UK) for several of the same All Round Lifts.  There are also MANY rule differences between the USAWA Rulebook and the IAWA(UK) Rulebook.  The Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip is just one of many, with the main difference being the IAWA(UK) allows the Fulton Bar to be hooked gripped whereas the USAWA does not.  This does not apply to most lifters, but for those few that have big hands and long fingers it makes a HUGE difference. 

Before the 2009 USAWA Rulebook, some USAWA lifts had different names as well (which most still didn’t match the IAWA-UK names).  However, several lifts were renamed to give a more clear naming that properly described the lift being done.   I think this was a good thing.  It was at this time the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip become an official USAWA lift for the first time even though it had been contested several times in competition before this. 

I’m sure there are those that ask, “Why was this rule written this way, requiring a Ciavattone Grip?”.  Especially in the light that the IAWA(UK) already had a lift in their Rulebook with a comparable lift.  I am going to explain that, as I was a big part of this “updated USAWA Rulebook”.  The most important thing in establishing rules for any lift is this question – WHAT WAS THE INTENT OF THE LIFT?  The Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip (which the IAWA-UK calls the Two Hands Ciavattone Deadlift) was originally called the Two Hands Ciavattone Lift in the USAWA Rulebook.   This lift was introduced to the All Rounds by Frank Ciavattone, and it’s intent was to test the lifter in a overhand grip deadlift, without the use of a hook.  For most lifters, the limitation is the grip since a hook grip can not be used.  I know for myself that it amounts to close to 200 pounds difference in comparison to a overhand deadlift which I’m allowed to hook.   The lift Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip is an extension of that lift, with the difference being a Fulton Bar is substituted for a regular bar.  This change makes it even more of a grip lift, which is the INTENT of the lift. It’s meant to be a grip lift.  I would argue that by allowing a hook grip this intent is taken away.  Most grip competitions that use a 2″ bar for overhand deadlifting DO NOT allow a hook grip to be used for that EXACT REASON (like the recent Visegrip Viking Grip Competition at the LA Fit Expo where Mike Burke lifted an unbelievable 235 kilograms!). 

It is obvious to me that there was no clear communication between the USAWA and the IAWA(UK) on this lift when the rules were written.   I say this because the ORIGINAL RULE for the USAWA Two Hand Fulton Deadlift was for a lift that allowed an alternate grip on a Fulton Bar under the rules of a deadlift (so hooking is allowed). The IAWA(UK)’s original rule for the exact same name, Two Hands Fulton Deadlift, was an entirely different lift requiring an overhand grip!  That’s a major difference, and one in which I think the IAWA(UK) got wrong.  Back to intent, the original Fulton Deadlift was intended to be done with an alternate grip on a Fulton Bar.  This is supported by the original rule in the USAWA Rulebook (along with the picture of Kevin Fulton originally performing it this way!).

Back to lift names, I will say the USAWA Rulebook definitely has clearer and more descriptive names than the IAWA(UK) Rulebook.  Anyone who reads the name Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip knows EXACTLY what is expected out of the lift by the name alone.  You really don’t even need to read the rules for it.  However, the IAWA(UK) name of Two Hands Fulton Deadlift can be misleading.   You MUST read the rule to fully understand what is expected out of the lift, and even then, it DOES NOT state whether a hook grip is allowed or not.  You just have to “assume” a hook is allowed, because it doesn’t say you can’t.  Assumptions have no place in a rulebook.  Rules should be clear and precise, and after reading a rule one should know EXACTLY what is allowed.  This also applies to the naming of the deadlift with a Fulton Bar allowing an alternate grip.  The USAWA has this lift named Deadlift – Fulton Bar.  That name is very clear – rules of the deadlift using a Fulton Bar.  The IAWA(UK) calls this lift Two Hands Deadlift – 2 Inch Bar, which is clear in name description, but leads to confusion as to why it is different than the other lift, the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift?  I remember this happening several years ago in the IAWA World Postal Meet hosted by the Australians.  One of the lifts contested was listed this way – Fulton Dead Lift with Smooth Bar. Well, when the results were turned in a couple of Americans performed the lift using an alternate grip instead of an overhand grip as intended.  Innocent mistake if you ask me considering the ambiguous naming of the lift.  These kind of things would NOT happen if all lifts had more descriptive names given to them.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that all this is just nonsense – and we should “just lift” and not worry about things.  But I want to see things improve to a point where we don’t have the problems associated with this kind of confusion between the USAWA and the IAWA(UK).   Which brings me to my next task of the day – of contacting World Record Registrar Chris Bass and telling him that the my listed IAWA  WORLD RECORD in the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift of 215.5 kilograms was actually done with an alternate grip!!!   Point made.

The Fulton Bar Debate

by Al Myers

This is a picture of Matt Graham pulling a 2" Bar Overhand Deadlift of 540 pounds at the 2001 SuperGrip Challenge hosted by Kevin Fulton. (photo courtesy of Dan Wagman, who was there and competed in the meet as well).

I always enjoy a good discussion/debate on anything All-Round in nature.  Well, these past couple of weeks there has been a very interesting discussion in the USAWA Discussion Forum regarding the Fulton Bar.  If you have missed it – before you read today’s story it might be worthwhile to check it out so you will be “up to speed” on the subject.  I usually try to stay neutral in my writings, and give out just the facts and stuff.  But today I’m going to include a few of my opinions of the subject as well.  So be prepared!  I’m also going to “highlight” a few of the things that have been discussed in the forum, and then give an editorial on them. I plan to “go beyond” any comments I made in my forum replies.  I will also not “name any names” as the opinions expressed here are strictly mine.  Read the forum if you want that other information.

I also will keep this story as to what actually applies to the USAWA/IAWA.  A little history on the Fulton Bar is in order first.  Most know that the Fulton Bar is named after grip-sensation, All-Round Weightlifting Champion Kevin Fulton.  Most DON’T know that originally the name was given to a dumbbell lift with a 2″ diameter handle.  Over 3 years ago I wrote a blog covering this (http://www.usawa.com/the-fulton-dumbbell-deadlift/), but I’m going to repeat a piece of it here as well, as this story needs to be told more than once:

Back in the early 80’s at a odd lifting meet in Liberal, Kansas, meet director Bob Burtzloffincluded a thick-handled dumbbell deadlift in the contest. This dumbbell had a smooth 2 inch diameter handle. Wilbur Miller, the “Cimarron Kid” and Kansas lifting legend, was the hands on favorite to win this event. Wilbur has huge hands with long fingers and was very rarely beaten in any lifting event that involved grip strength. But this day was one of those rare days – when a young farm boy from Nebraska by the name of Kevin Fulton pulled off the upset! Upon Fulton’s winning – Bill Clark announced that this lift would be forever named the Fulton Lift. This eventually lead to the naming of the 2″ bar as the Fulton Bar along with the Fulton Dumbbell. As for Wilbur – upon the finish of the event he went back to the warm-up area and proceeded to pull more on this lift than he did in competition. He went home knowing that he may not have won the event on this day, but with the satisfaction of knowing he would next time!

The naming of the 2″ bar as the Fulton Bar in the USAWA became named that way later.  I have checked back in old meet results, and to the best of my research have determined that the first Fulton Bar lifts done in the USAWA were performed in 1995.  Bob Hirsh, USAWA Hall of Famer, performed lifts at a couple of record days (Arts Birthday Bash & the Buckeye Record Breakers) using the Fulton Bar. He was one of the first record-setters.  At this point these lifts were called numerous things, like Fulton Deadlift with knuckles front, Fulton Deadlift Reverse Grip, Fulton Deadlift with Overgrip,  or Fulton Deadlift with alternate grip. Nothing was consistent.  The Fulton Bar Lifts really never “took off” in the USAWA till 1999 when Kevin Fulton started using the Fulton Bar  in his annual SuperGrip Challenges in Litchfield, Nebraska.  Now the story gets real interesting.  In the beginning in the USAWA the deadlift with the Fulton Bar using an Alternate Grip was called the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift!  Exactly the same name that the IAWA(UK) uses today to refer to the lift where an overhand grip (with hook) is used on the 2 inch bar!!!  This is backed up in several reliable sources – ie old entry forms, meet results, and even in the initial USAWA Rulebook!!!!

This comes directly from the 2003 USAWA Rulebook Edition (which is considered the original USAWA rulebook):

F23. Two-Hand Fulton Deadlift- The rules of the deadlift apply with two exceptions. 1.  The bar must be at least 1-15/16 inches in diameter. 2.  Foot placing is optional.  The hook grip is allowed. 

Nothing is mentioned about a Ciavattone Grip being used, or having the knuckles forward.  So you see – confusion in the naming of these lifts went back to the very  beginning. The USAWA lift Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip was not placed in the USAWA rulebook till the 2009 Edition.  However, it was contested several times in USAWA competition before then and records were being kept in it, which makes no sense to me because if it was not official in the Rulebook with established approved written rules then it shouldn’t be present in the Official Record List.  But back then the  USAWA operated like the Wild West – no written law and the guy with the fastest draw was named Sheriff.  Policies seemed to change on a whim and the town folks weren’t asked.

Which brings us to the TOP ALL-TIME Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip in the USAWA Record List. This GREAT RECORD is held by Matt Graham with a 540 lb. lift performed at the 2001 SuperGrip Challenge held at Kevin Fulton’s place.  However, he did this lift by using a hook grip on the 2″ bar!!!!  I have knowledge of this from very several reliable sources (including from Matt!).  First of all, anyone who can hook grip a Fulton Bar is in a “class of their own” as most can’t even touch fingers on it.   I’m going to defend Matt here.  First of all, when he did it it WAS NOT against any USAWA Rule, and is not his fault at all that it is now in the USAWA Record List.  The lift was listed in the meet results as “2″ deadlift overhand”, and the meet results were typed by Kevin Fulton himself.   Kevin was too humble to even identify the lift correctly (ie Fulton Deadlift) that beared his name in the results !!!   The problem arises when these results were put into the record list without a proper rule in place first.  With no official rule – the lift is just an exhibition lift with the rules set at the moment by the meet director, which may change the next time the lift is contested.  Of course, there could have been others that “hooked” the Fulton Bar in this meet (I doubt it!) and set USAWA records as well, but because it was not 540 pounds no one notices.  This includes other meets as well during that time  period. Again, the first written USAWA rule for the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip came out in the 2009 Rulebook (3rd Edition) and these previous records just got “incorporated” into  the Record List under the new name. 

I know I have gotten extremely “long winded” with all this, and I’m sure most have quit reading by now. But I’ve just covered some of the history of the Fulton Bar and I haven’t even GOT to my opinions yet!!!  I still have MUCH MORE I could say on this subject, but I guess I better save it for another day….

Rules for the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip

by Al Myers

Scottish grip sensation Andy Tomlin performing the Deadlift - Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, or is he doing the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift? Andy's best in this lift is 165.5 kilograms.

This will be the third and final lift in the USAWA Grip Championships.  It is a lift that has been contested often in the USAWA, and has been part of past Grip Championships.  This lift was also a lift in the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Australia.  The USAWA Rules for the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip is:

F7.  Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip

The rules of the Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip apply except a Fulton Bar is used.

B3.  Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip

The rules of the Deadlift apply except a Ciavattone Grip must be used.  A Ciavattone Grip is an overhand grip in which the palms of both hands are facing the lifter. No hooking of the thumb and fingers is allowed.

I was having a facebook discussion the other day with a good friend from Scotland, Andy Tomlin. We were discussing this lift, and it was pretty clear that we were having a “language barrier” in our conversation.  The reason for this was the difference in nomenclature in how this lift is named in the USAWA vs. the IAWA(UK).  I have a difficult time understanding Andy when we are visiting “face to face”, but add in different names for things and corresponding through internet messaging, and things get really confusing.  I’ve been over this before in prior blogs on this lift, but I think some defining of terms are still in order. 

First of all, the USAWA defines the 2 inch bar as the Fulton Bar whereas the IAWA(UK) uses this term for two bar lifts only – the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift and the One Hand Fulton Barbell Deadlift.  The USAWA Rulebook, in Section VI. 23., gives  this definition of the Fulton Bar:

23.  The Fulton Bar (2” 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 a solid steel shaft.
  • There must be no rotation to the sleeves of the bar.
  •  The minimum distance between the inside collars is 51 inches.
  • The maximum distance between the inside collars is 58 inches. 
  • The minimum total length must not be less than 7 feet.
  • There must not be any knurling on the bar.
  • The weight of the bar must be clearly marked.
  • The bar must be straight 

This means in the USAWA any official lift in which the Fulton Bar is used, the Fulton Bar name is used in its naming.  This is not the case with the IAWA(UK) rules however.  An example would be a simple snatch using a bar that meets the above specs, the USAWA would have the lift named “Snatch – Fulton Bar” where the IAWA(UK) name would be “Two Hands Snatch – 2 Inch Bar”.  Now back to the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip and the Deadlift – Fulton Bar and the difference in names between the USAWA and the IAWA(UK).  This chart compares the difference in naming:

Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip Two Hands Fulton Deadlift
Deadlift – Fulton Bar Two Hands Deadlift – 2 Inch Bar

The USAWA lift Deadlift – Fulton Bar and the IAWA(UK) lift Two Hands Deadlift – 2 Inch Bar is the same lift, which allows the use of an alternate grip on the bar vs. The Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip and the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift require an overgrip on the bar, with knuckles facing away from the lifter.   But there’s more!!!!  There is ONE rule difference for this lift!  The USAWA defines that this lift be done with a Ciavattone Grip. The Ciavattone Grip is defined in the glossary of the USAWA Rulebook as:

Ciavattone Grip – This is a grip where the knuckles are facing away from the lifter, and the palms are facing the lifter.  The thumbs and fingers must not be hooked in any manner.

The IAWA(UK) does not recognize this definition in their rulebook for multiple different lifts.  The use of Ciavattone is limited to the naming of just two IAWA(UK) lifts – the Two Hands Ciavattone Deadlift and the One Hand Ciavattone Deadlift.  Both of these lifts require the same criteria as the USAWA – namely overhand grip and NO HOOK!  However, this does NOT apply to the IAWA(UK)  Two Hands Fulton Deadlift.  Under the IAWA(UK) rules this lift can be hooked,whereas under USAWA rules it CAN NOT.   Does this affect very many lifters?  Probably not – but for guys that got fingers long enough to hook a 2″ bar it can make a huge difference!

Rules for the Pinch Grip

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, lifting 252# in the Pinch Grip at the 2012 Dino Gym Record Day. This is the ALL TIME best Pinch Grip in the history of the USAWA.

The first lift conducted in the USAWA Grip Championships will be the Pinch Grip.  This lift is in the rulebook under “Special Equipment Lifts”.  The reason for this is that the “special equipment” is the plates themselves – as that is what is used to pinch to make the lift.  The USAWA rules for the Pinch Grip are as follows:

I15.  Pinch Grip

The setup for this lift requires two metal plates joined together with smooth surfaces facing outward. A bar may be placed between the plates to hold them together, and should be long enough to add plates to it. Front hang or back hang is allowed to the loading of the center bar.  Collars should be used on this bar. The lifter’s fingers must not touch any added plates. The width of the two plates joined together must be between 2 ¼ inches and 2 ½ inches. The lifter will straddle the weight, with the weight being placed in front 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.  The lifter will then grip the plates with both hands on the top of both plates. The palms of the hands must be facing the lifter. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight must be lifted to a point where the lifter’s legs are straight and the body upright. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to lower the weight.

At the Grip Champs, we will use two old york 45# plates as the “gripping plates” with a VB holding them together. You will like these plates for this lift because these are the old “milled” York Plates.  If you don’t know why these are better, you soon will when you get your mitts on them.   I do have some 35# plates if less weight is going to be lifted. I also want to emphasize that the only substance that may be used on the hands is chalk.  I will be watching this closely!!  The rules do not specify whether the arms can be bent or not - so that means they may be bent during the lift. 

Below are the Overall Mens USAWA records in the Pinch Grip.  I expect to see several of these get broken at the USAWA Grip Championships!!!

70 100 Howard, Colby 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
75 135 Jaeschke, Jon 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
80 150 Jaeschke, Chris 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
85 190 Wagman, Dan 12/1/2012 2012 Gracie Club RD
90 170 Goetsch, Troy 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
95 170 Fulton, Doug 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
100 162 Edwards, Ben  2/12/2011 2011 Grip Championships
105 204 Glass, Adam 3/3/2012 2012 Minnesota Meet
110 170 Capello, Mac 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
115 175 Carlton, Brian 9/16/2001 2001 Supergrip Challenge
120 200 Graham, Matt 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
125 200 Graham, Matt 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
125+ 252 Mitchell, Mark 2/12/2012 2012 Dino Gym Record Day


NOTES:  The record lift are recorded in pounds.

Rules for the VB DL – 1 bar, 2″, One Hand

by Al Myers

Andrew Durniat's 250 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 1 Bar, 2", One Hand at the 2010 USAWA Grip Championships. Andrew was the first lifter in the USAWA to exceed 250 pounds in this lift.

This is a lift that has been contested before in the USAWA Grip Championships.  It is a very popular grip lift, and I know the favorite of several.  For those of you that may have performed Vertical Bar Lifts in other organizations, pay attention to the USAWA rules for it.  They are quite different and may affect the amount of weight you can lift.  The USAWA rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, One Hand is as follows:

I23.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1”, One Hand

The setup for this lift requires a Vertical Bar, 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 bar.  No knurling is allowed on the bar. The lifter may straddle the weight or have it placed to the lifter’s side. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The bar may be gripped by any grip with only one hand near the top of the vertical bar.  The forearm is not allowed to touch the bar. The lifting hand must not touch the body during the lift, but the weight may accidentally touch the legs provided it does not aid in the lift. The non-lifting hand may be braced on the leg or body during the lift, but must be free from the body at the completion of the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bar from the platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked at the completion of the lift, but the shoulders and body do not need to be erect. The lifting hand must be above the level of mid-thighs at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bar must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

I24.  Vertical Bar Deadlift -1 Bar, 2”, One Hand

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1Bar, 1”, One Hand apply except a two inch diameter Vertical Bar is used.

I have covered this lift in several past  USAWA Daily News blogs.  I will help you out here with the search on these, as I think “refreshing” yourself on this lift may prove to be beneficial to your performance.  In several of these Vertical Bar  blogs, tips were given out.

1.  This blog was written on February 10th, 2010 by me and it outlines some of the historical significance of the VB, plus has a cool picture of Ben Edwards lifting the “then record” of 235 pounds.


2.  This blog was written on September 2nd, 2011 by Ben Edwards. Ben gives out some training tips en route to his new record of 251 pounds.


3.  This blog was written by me on November 5th, 2011 .  Most of it is about the 2 BAR VB DL, but some of it applies to the 1 BAR VB DL. However, most of it is myself complaining about the differences between the USAWA and IAWA rules on this lift!!!


Past History of the ALL-TIME USAWA RECORD in the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, One Hand:

168  Jim Welsh 11/2/2003 2003 Gold Cup
185  Bob Hirsh 11/23/2003 Jump Stretch RD
200  Frank Ciavattone 6/5/2004 2004 Nationals
224  Scott Schmidt 6/25/2005 2005 Nationals
231  Frank Ciavattone 10/10/2005 Franks Record Day
235  Ben Edwards 11/22/2009 Clarks Record Day
250 Andrew Durniat 2/13/2010 2010 Grip Champs
251 Ben Edwards 8/28/2011 Dino Days RD
253 Adam Glass 3/3/2012 Minnesota Meet
255 Troy Goetsch 5/20/2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD

NOTES:  All records recorded in pounds.

As far as I can find, Jim Welsh was the first lifter to do this lift in official competition.  The VB DL – 2 Bars was done in several competitions over a few years before the one hand version was contested.  Frank Ciavattone was the first lifter to break the 200# barrier, and held the record for the longest period (2005-2009).   The past two years have seen the most activity with big lifts and new ALL TIME records being established.  Andrew Durniat was the first lifter to exceed 250 pounds.  Troy Goetsch currently holds the best mark.  I have witnessed and/or judged the record lifts by Ben Edwards, Adam Glass, and Andrew Durniat.  My training partners Scott Tully and Darren Barnhart judged Troy’s lift, and they have assured me that it was officiated according to the same standards as the others.  These four grip masters are still at the top of their game – and I would just LOVE to see them together in the same USAWA competition to decide once and for all, who is the BEST in the USAWA at the One Hand 2″ VB DL!!!

The REAL Hack Lift

by Al Myers

Demonstration of the REAL Hack Lift!

Yesterdays story on the Hackenschmidt Floor Press opened up another topic for me (the Hack Lift) which I briefly discussed, but I think needs a little more discussion.  George “Hack” Hackenschmidt has been often tied to the naming of the Hack Lift.  As I stated yesterday, I feel this is slightly incorrect as the term “hack” comes from the German word “hacke” in abbreviated form.  I have read several sources supporting this feeling.  In the USAWA Discussion Forum yesterday Dan Wagman provided an excellent post on this argument, which I feel should be repeated here.  These are Dan’s words:

I’m excited about trying the Hack FP and really liked the fact that Al went beyond just sharing the proposed rules in his latest blog. To that point, I’d like to add some info regarding the origin of calling a lift the Hack-something-or-another. I grew up in Germany and am fluent in all respects in that language and two dialects, so I can speak with some authority regarding the potential root of the name of the Hack-lifts.

Al is somewhat correct in that the German word “Hacke” can be used to denote a heel. However, this is commonly only used in southern German dialect. The proper German word for heel is “Ferse.” A Hacke is indeed an axe, pickaxe, or mattock type tool.

Now, there’s another consideration to bear in mind. It is highly uncommon in Germany to shorten names as we do in America. Joseph would be Joseph, not Joe; Alfred would be Alfred, not Al; Schmidtbleicher would be just that, not Smitty; and most certainly nobody in Germany would’ve called Hackenschmidt Hack. He was Estonian, where many Estonians are of German descent, and based on his name, I’d surmise he was one of them, so I would therefore venture to guess that he wasn’t ever called Hack there, either.

So where does that leave us? Since he spent most of his life living in London, and since it is also fairly common in British English to shorten names, I would venture to guess that he was just called Hack over there and since he was so good at the deadlift from behind the body, that lift was just called the Hack deadlift, though some sources also called it the Hack squat.

Hope this didn’t end up boring y’all, I just think this stuff is interesting as all heck.

Daniel (my German name )

George Hackenschmidt was very well-known for doing the Hack Lift and he was very good at it. That alone gives “his name” some bearing into the naming of this lift as the Hack Lift.  I won’t deny him that.  But the way he did the Hack Lift is VERY MUCH different than the way we do it under the USAWA/IAWA rules.  I’m going to quote the famous strength historian David Willoughby here on the description of the REAL Hack Lift, so it won’t be construed by my own interpretation.  This is straight from his book The Super Athletes:

George Hackenschmidt of Russia, performed 50 consecutive “Hacke” (or “Hocke”) lifts with 50 kilos (110 3/4 pounds).  This feat was done in front of the famous German weight-trainer, Theodor Siebert, at Alsleben, Germany, Feb. 15, 1902.  “Hack” also performed a single lift in the same style with 85 kilos (187 1/4 pounds).  The latter was equal to a flat-footed squat with about 522 pounds on the shoulders.  The “Hacke” lift is performed by knee-bending on the toes while holding a barbell with the hands together behind the hips, thus leaving the back muscles out of the effort and doing all the work with the legs.

WOW – as if the Hack Lift isn’t hard enough to do the way we do it!  Hack was doing them on his toes with the hands together!  I have read other reports describing the original Hack Lift, and as well as the hands being together, the heels were together as well. That would make it near-impossible for most lifters to even grab the bar that way. I was intrigued by the German meaning of the word Hocke. Again, Dan came to my rescue in the USAWA Discussion Forum and gave this reply:

Yes, Hocke is also a German word. It refers to what we might consider crouching down or when you without weight go into a deep squat where your hamstrings touch your calves. You know, the sort of “move” you do when you **** in the woods.

Since you sort of hock down when you do a Hack sq/dl, it’s also feasible that this is where the name came from. But I would have to guess no on that one, too. The reason I say this is because Hackenschmidt didn’t seem to have spent a lot of time in Germany at all and because he lived primarily in London. With that in mind, and of course without knowing for sure, I would guess that people would just see him do stuff, whether he was the first to do it or not, and they’d probably go something like, “Hey, what’s Hack doing there? Let’s try that…” and then they just ended up calling the lift the Hack-whatever.

Regardless, personally, I like thinking of it as being a reference to Hackenschmidt. The dude was stout as all heck and had a body that people today, even when saucing, couldn’t get. And let’s not even talk about his strength and dominance in wrestling. He was from an era when men were men and it motivates me to do a Hack when thinking of him as opposed to my heel.

Dan summed things up very well in his last sentence when he said,  ”he was from an era when men were men and it motivates me to do a Hack when thinking of him as opposed to my heel.”   I feel the same way – and because of that I’ll always feel that the Hack Lift was partly named that way in memory of him.

Rule for the Hackenschmidt Floor Press

by Al Myers

Coming up in January on the USAWA Meet Schedule will be the Dino Gym Challenge – featuring a meet of Old Time Strongman Lifts. We are now into our third year of OTSM being offered by the USAWA, and I see that it is gaining momentum. This years meet at the Dino Challenge will include three OTSM lifts that closely mimic the three powerlifts. The lifts are two that have been contested within the past year (Anderson Squat & Peoples Deadlift), plus a new exhibition lift – the Hackenschmidt Floor Press. This new lift is viewed by the USAWA as an exhibition lift – meaning that it is an unofficial lift thus no USAWA records may be set or established in it. However, the USAWA rules DO ALLOW exhibition lifts to be counted in the meet scoring (Section VIII.11), thus it can legally be part of the competition. I have been working with the USAWA Old Time Strongman Chairman Thom Van Vleck on establishing an unofficial rule for the Hackenschmidt Floor Press that will be used at the Dino Challenge, and this is what we have worked up:

The setup position for the Hackenschmidt Floor Press.

Hackenschmidt Floor Press

A chest press (with a standard Olympic bar) will be performed while lying flat on the floor/platform.  The bar height, measured to the bottom of the bar from the platform, can be no greater than 15”.  The bar/plates may rest on blocks or supports to achieve this height.  The lift starts when the lifter, while lying under the bar with the bar above the chest, starts to press.  A time limit of 1 minute is given for each attempt, meaning the lifter may reset as many times as necessary within this time limit to complete a legal lift. The lift is complete when the bar is pressed completely with the lifter’s elbows locked out.  It is not an infraction to press unevenly, lock out at different times, raise the head, or allow the bar to lower during a part of the press.   It is an infraction if the hips/legs rise off the floor/platform during any part of the lift.  Once complete, an official will give a command to end the lift.

As you can see, this is a partial floor press since the bar height is set at 15 inches.  There has been an interesting discussion in the USAWA Discussion Forum regarding the development of this lift, and Thom and I have taken those comments into consideration in writing this rule.  A little over a year ago I wrote a blog outlining some of the “founding principles” of OTSM in the USAWA.   I don’t want to repeat all that here again, but here is the link for anyone who is interested – http://www.usawa.com/old-time-strongman/  Again, I want to emphasize that this is an unofficial lift and rule as of now.  I really think it is important that new lifts be tried in competition as exhibition lifts first before they are proposed for official lift status.  This allows a thorough competition evaluation of them, and if there are any “bugs in them” the rules can be fine-tuned before being presented to the Executive Board for an approval vote.  Think of it as a “trial-run”. 

George "The Russian Lion" Hackenschmidt

Now why is this floor press named the Hackenschmidt Floor Press?

I’m sure that question is being asked by some of  you reading this.  George “The Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt was a famous Russian strongman and wrestler who also had remarkable ability in weightlifting.  He also went by the nickname of “Hack”, which has been used in the name of another popular All Round Lift – the Hack Lift.  Most feel that the Hack Lift  was named after George Hackenschmidt, but from what I have read I don’t think that is the case. The name Hack comes from the German word “Hacke”, which means heels.  Thus I believe the Hack Lift originated by this name terminology, as the “lift done with the bar at the heels”, aka Hacke Lift.  However, Hackenschmidt was quite good at this movement and undoubtedly his name has some bearing on the legacy of this lift. But I’m getting off-topic here.  Another exercise that Hackenschmidt excelled at was the floor press.  At the time pressing a weight this way was not popular at all,  as a press was  meant for overhead lifting.  This was in the days long before a bench was used to press from the chest.  If you wanted to press from the chest,  you had to first bring the bar to the chest while lying on the platform, thus the origin of the Pullover and Press.  As most know, the pullover in this lift can sometimes be the hardest part, and definitely after that exertion the amount of weight that can be pressed is decreased.  Hackenschmidt was ahead of the times here.  According to David Willoughby in his famous book The Super Athletes Hackenschmidt performed the pullover and press using OVERSIZED plates, thus diminishing the effects of the pullover since the bar would come into position easier with these big plates.  I would say that qualifies him as the inventor of the Floor Press as we know it, and well-deserving to have this OTSM lift named after him.  His best lift was 361.5 pounds, which was claimed as a WORLD RECORD for over 18 years!!

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.


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.

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!!!

One Hand Hacklift (Hack Lift – One Arm)

by Al Myers

George Dick, of Scotland, performing the One Arm Hack Lift at the 2009 IAWA World Championships in Lebanon, PA. George will be in attendance this weekend at the 2012 Championships.

This lift is the “one arm” version of the Hack Lift.  It requires great gripping strength, much like the One Arm Deadlift.

The IAWA Rules for this lift are:


The rules of performance for the hacklift apply, except that the entire lift will be performed with one hand, the choice of hand is down to the lifter, but it can not be changed during the lift.

Causes for Failure:
1. Failure to use one hand to complete the lift (the same hand throughout).
2. All other causes for failure are the same as for the hacklift.


The rules of performance for the deadlift apply, except that the bar will be placed behind the lifter, and will remain behind throughout the lift. The bar may touch the calves and upper legs as it rises. The bar should be raised in one movement, but should the bar bind against the upper legs it is permissible for the bar to stop while a hip adjustment is made, so long as the bar does not lower during that adjustment.

Causes for Failure:
1. Any lowering of the bar during the lift, as the lifter adjusts, to free from binding on the back of the legs.
2. Raising the bar in a series of jerky, pull movements.
3. All other causes for failure are the same as for the deadlift.

This lift was contested at the past USAWA National Championship.  Some discussion was done after the meet regarding a rule violation that was being allowed in some instances, which involves the bar remaining “behind throughout the lift”.  It is a natural tendency for the bar to want to rotate forward to the side of the arm being used, which makes this a judgement call on the part of the official as to whether it remains behind the lifter .  Some leeway must be given, but this lift is a One Arm Hacklift, not a One Arm Side Bend.  My feeling on making “this call” is the front of a lifters body.  If it rotates forward just slightly, but the bar end is NOT IN FRONT of the lifter then it is a legal lift. Also, the bar must remain behind the lifter THROUGHOUT the lift, thus not allowed to rotate too far forward and then be rotated back into legal position.  This point will be emphasized on meet day.

Another rule infraction that often happens is not standing upright at the end of the lift  (which is different from the One Arm Deadlift).  Since the rules of the Hack Lift apply (which references the rules of the deadlift), a lifter must be standing upright at the completion of the lift.

Two Hands Snatch-2 Inch Bar (Snatch-Fulton Bar)

by Al Myers

Scott Campbell performing a Fulton Bar Snatch at a past Dino Gym Challenge. This is the picture of this lift in the USAWA Rulebook.

Day two of the 2012 IAWA World Championships will “kick off” with the Fulton Bar Snatch. There are some differences in how the IAWA names lifts using the 2 inch non-revolving bar.  IAWA usually uses the description as “2 Inch Bar”  for most 2″ axle lifts whereas the USAWA identifies these lifts as the “Fulton Bar” lifts.   IAWA has only four lifts where the Fulton name is used: One Hand Fulton Deadlift, Two Hands Fulton Deadlift, One Hand Fulton Deadlift,  and the Two Hands Fulton DBell Deadlift.  The Two Hands Fulton Deadlift is done with an overhand grip, ie the same lift as the USAWA’s Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip.

The IAWA Rules for the Two Hands Snatch – 2 Inch Bar is:


The rules of performance for the two hands snatch apply, except that the lift is performed using a 2 inch diameter bar. The bar does not have to be the same length as a standard barbell, either between the inside collars or the overall length.
Causes for Failure:    
1. The causes for failure are the same as for the snatch, except that a 2 inch bar is used.

At the Championships this weekend, an IronMind Apollon’s Axle will be used for this lift.  It weighs 15 kilograms. The rules are identical between IAWA and the USAWA for this lift.

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.

Pullover and Press on Floor (Pullover and Press)

by Al Myers

Pullover and Press

The Pullover and Press is the “original” chest press with a bar.  In the days before there were benches to lie on, if you wanted to chest press a weight you had to lay on the floor to do it.  Thus, the exercise FLOOR PRESS got its name.   The funny thing is that now Floor Presses are making a comeback in the weight game, and more lifters are including them in their training programs.  I’m sure the oldtimers who remember getting that first bench in their gym to lay on while chest  pressing are shaking their heads in disbelief!  I’m sure they felt at the time like a big advancement had been made when getting that bench. No more getting down on the dirty floor to lift. Nice supports to hold the bar in place.   Now with the comeback of the Floor Press it seems like a ”step backwards!”  Sorta like me wanting to go back to a flip-phone. But I digress.  The topic of today is the Pullover and Press.  That’s a Floor Press with the pullover added to get the bar to the chest.  This lift even predates the Floor Press.  This was done before lifters even had boxes to rest the plates on so they could crawl under the bar to press it.  With the Pullover and Press, the bar & plates start on the platform and the lift ends when the bar and plates are back on the platform.  A true original All Round Lift!!!

The IAWA Rules for this lift are:


The rules for the pullover are the same as for the pullover and push (B43), except that the legs must stay flat, and must not be moved during the pullover so as to gain assistance. The lifter can choose the width of the legs position, but once elected they must remain in that position. With the bar at fore arms  length and the elbows on the floor, the lifter must await the referees signal to press. The bar is pressed to arms length as per the bench press, and on completion the official will signal for the bar to be returned to the lifting surface. Note: when the lifter has pulled the bar over, movement of the upper arms is allowed whilst the lifter finds a better / stronger position, prior to the press.

Causes for Failure:

1. Failure to keep the legs flat and motionless during the lift.
2.  All other causes for failure are the same as for the pullover and push

Now I know you are probably wondering why the IAWA name for this lift is different in the blog title than the rule description?  Well, if you didn’t –  I did.   That’s just the way it is in the IAWA Rulebook.  The name of this lift in the outline in the front on the IAWA Rulebook calls this lift the PULLOVER AND PRESS ON FLOOR, while deeper in the IAWA Rulebook where the rule is written, this lift is called the PULLOVER AND FLOOR PRESS.  Not a big deal – but with as many all-round lifts that there are  this just adds to the confusion.  You would think the name of a lift would be consistent in the same Rulebook!  The USAWA Rulebook calls this lift just the PULLOVER AND PRESS, but the good news here is that the content of the USAWA Rules and IAWA Rules are the same!!

One Hand Clean and Jerk (Clean and Jerk – One Arm)

by Al Myers

Tony Terlazzo performing a One Arm Clean and Jerk.

The second lifting event on DAY ONE of the IAWA World Championships is the one arm Clean and Jerk.  This is one of  “the original” all-round lifts, and once was even contested as part of the Olympics Weightlifting.  The athlete can choose either arm for this lift, but once the arm “is chosen” it must be used for all the attempts.   The IAWA rules are very similar to the USAWA rules for this lift:


The rules for the two hands clean and jerk apply except that the lift is done with either the left or right hand only. An optional grip is used, and the bar is raised to the commensurate shoulder as the lifting arm, in a single movement. The bar must not touch any part of the legs or trunk below the line of the nipples. In receiving the bar at the shoulder it should not make contact with or rest, on the opposite shoulder or chest. The centre of the sternum is used as the line of indication. The free hand may be supported on the thigh or knee of either leg, but must not touch the lifting surface, lifting arm or bar during the lift. With a single distinct effort the lifter will jerk the bar to arms length above the head. The signal to replace the bar will be given on completion of the lift, when the lifter is erect and motionless with the feet on a parallel plane to the torso.

Causes for Failure:

1.  Touching the lifting surface, bar or lifting arm with the free arm.
2.  Touching the bar with the legs or trunk below the line of the nipples.
3.  Touching the chest or shoulder with the bar, on the opposite side to the lifting arm.
4.  Allowing the bar to rise above the lower level of the ear, when adjusting the grip prior to the jerk.
5.  Failure to control the bar and fix it motionless, at completion.
6.  All other causes for failure are the same as for the two hands clean and jerk.

The USAWA Rules for this lift are practically the same. However, there is one additional rule stipulation in the USAWA Rules which states, “the nonlifting hand must be clear of the body upon completion of the lift.”  This is not stated in these IAWA Rules, so it appears to be technically allowed under the IAWA Rules??  However, I wouldn’t take that chance – so remove the supportive hand upon completion!

Reverse Curl (Curl – Reverse Grip)

by Al Myers

The strict Reverse Curl has a long tradition of being an All-Round Lift. This picture was published in a 1946 issue of Strength and Health.

Over this next week I’m going to highlight each lift that will be contested at the 2012 IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas on October 6th and 7th.  The total lifts contested is 7 – 4 on day 1 and 3 on day 2.  It is a good mix of lifts to test the all round strength of any lifter. The order in which the following list is listed is the order these lifts will be contested on meet day. 

Lifts on Day 1:

Reverse Curl (Curl – Reverse Grip)
One Hand Clean and Jerk (Clean and Jerk – One Arm)
Pullover and Press on Floor (Pullover and Press)
Steinborn (Steinborn Lift)

Lifts on Day 2:

Two Hands Snatch – 2 Inch Bar (Snatch – Fulton Bar)
One Hand Hacklift (Hack Lift – One Arm)
Straddle Deadlift (Jefferson Lift)

You may notice that each lift has 2 names.  The reason for this is that the IAWA rulebook has different names for several of the lifts than the USAWA rulebook.  The first name listed is the IAWA name while the second name (the one in parenthesis) is the USAWA name.    It is important to know that for this meet the IAWA rules for the individual lifts will be followed instead of the USAWA rules since this is an IAWA event.  The following is the IAWA rule for the 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.

Causes for Failure:

1. Starting to lift before the referees signal.
2.  The causes for failure are the same as for the rectangular fix, except that once curled the bar continues upwards to a finished position at the sternum / neck configuration.
3.  Any stopping or lowering of the bar on its upward journey.
4.  Lowering / replacing the bar before the referees signal.


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.

The USAWA Rule for this lift (Curl – Reverse Grip) is the same, but just worded differently.  However, it is important to know that the USAWA does have a similar lift (Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip) that follows the rule of the Cheat Curl instead of the Rectangular Fix.  That lift is NOT the one being contested!!! I’m reinforcing this point because the Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip was contested at this past USAWA National Championships, and by that, could cause confusion!

NEW LIFT – Bench Press with the Fulton Bar

by Al Myers

It is always exciting to get new lifts in the USAWA.  At the Annual National Meeting in Las Vegas, this new lift was passed by the membership: Bench Press – Fulton Bar.  It was presented to the Executive Board for review last spring by Dino Gym member Scott Tully.  A year ago it was passed by the membership that ALL new Fulton Bar lifts MUST be approved to become official lifts of the USAWA, just like any other new proposed lift.   Scott just wondered why the common Bench Press was not represented, as several of the other common lifts (ie Snatch, Clean and Jerk, Deadlift, Clean and Push Press Continental to Chest, Maxey Press, etc)  were represented in our official lifts listing.  He made a great point – so now welcome the Bench Press to the list of Fulton Bar Lifts.

The official Fulton Bar lifts now stand at 13 lifts and include a good representation of all round lifts.  For those not familiar with the fulton bar terminology, the fulton bar is defined in the USAWA Rulebook as a 2″ bar with these specifications:

  • The diameter of the bar must be a minimum of 1 15/16 inches.
  • The bar may be a pipe or a solid steel shaft.
  • There must be no rotation to the sleeves of the bar.
  •  The minimum distance between the inside collars is 51 inches.
  • The maximum distance between the inside collars is 58 inches. 
  • The minimum total length must not be less than 7 feet.
  • There must not be any knurling on the bar.
  • The weight of the bar must be clearly marked.
  • The bar must be straight.

Now for the Official USAWA rule on the Bench Press – Fulton Bar:

Bench Press – Fulton Bar: The rules of the Bench Press apply except a Fulton Bar is used.

That’s it!!!  Pretty simple rule.   The only confusion may arise concerning whether the feet should “be in the air” (following the rule of the Bench Press – Feet in Air), which they do not.  If fact, that would be technically illegal to perform this new lift that way, as the rules of the Bench Press require the feet to be flat on the floor without movement.  Now let’s add some records to the Record List in the Fulton Bar Bench Press!!!!

New Official OTSM Lifts

by Al Myers

Paul Anderson training the squat with his iron wheels in Toccoa, Georgia. Paul's name has been "tied" to two new USAWA OTSM lifts.

I’ve already covered one of the new lifts approved at the USAWA Annual Meeting (The Curl – Reverse Grip).  However, the big news in “lift approval” is the addition of several new Old Time Strongman lifts.  The following OTSM lifts are NOW official lifts in the USAWA:   People’s Deadlift, Anderson Press, Anderson Squat, and the Dumbbell to Shoulder.  These 4 OTSM lifts have all been performed in USAWA competition over this past year as exhibition lifts, but now they are official lifts.  Included in the motion at the meeting to accept these as new lifts was retroactively making any lift “record eligible” in these lifts that have been done over this past year.  The Peoples Deadlift was part of the “Battle of the Barn” OTSM competition held be Eric Todd this past March, with the Anderson Squat, Anderson Press, and the Dumbbell to Shoulder being part of the 2011 USAWA OTSM Championships held by Thom Van Vleck last fall in Kirksville.  In each circumstance, the lift was done according to the new accepted rules, so it seems only right to me that these past efforts  be recognized by potential records.

One thing that I like to see with new lifts is that they have been done a few times as exhibition lifts in USAWA competitions before they become official.  This way any “wrinkles” can be worked out in the rules, and only lifts will be presented for new lift status that have been “tried and tested”.  The days are long gone where a lifter can just present a new lift at the National Meeting to be accepted without any prior written rules in hand or Executive Board approval.  Now there is a SET POLICY in place (check the rulebook) so only lifts are presented that have been well reviewed.  Most of our rule problems, as well as stupid lifts (and I’ll name them if you want me to),  in the past have been caused by the hap-hazard way lifts used to be approved.  

The Rules for these 4 new OTSM lifts are below.  Soon they will be added to the Rulebook.

Peoples DeadliftThis is a partial deadlift, where the bar height must not be over 18″ from the platform (measured from the top of the bar). The plates or bar may be supported on stands, rack supports, or blocks to obtain this height. The lifter must have the bar in front of the legs, as in a normal deadlift. The hands must be on the outside of the legs (NO SUMO STANCE) during the entire lift. Lifting straps or any other gripping aid is not allowed. It is NOT an infraction to drag the bar up the legs, bounce the bar up the legs, or support the bar on the legs during the lift (hitching). A one minute time limit is allowed for the lifter to make a legal lift, during which time a lifter may make multiple tries. Once the lifter is totally upright and the bar motionless, an official will give the command to end the lift.

Anderson PressPress (with a standard Olympic bar) will be done from a dead stop position in the power rack from a height no greater than the height of the lifter when standing erect. Lifter may “bow” back to press the weight but must keep knees locked. The lift ends when the lifter is upright, arms locked, and demonstrates control of the weight. The lifter may press in an uneven manner and unlock unevenly. It is not a disqualification if the bar is lowered during the press, and afterwards the press resumes. The feet are not allowed to move. However, the lifter may raise the heels or toes during the press. Time limit of 1 minute is given for each attempt meaning the lifter may reset as many times as necessary to complete the lift. An official will give a command to end the lift.

Anderson SquatA squat (with a standard Olympic bar) done from a dead stop from a height not over two thirds the height of the lifter. Squat is completed when the knees are locked and the lifter is standing erect. Time limit of 1 minute is given for each attempt meaning the lifter may reset as many times as necessary to complete the lift. Knee wraps or knee sleeves will be allowed. An official will give a command to end the lift.

Dumbbell to ShoulderA Dumbbell will be taken from the floor to the shoulder using any method the lifter wants to employ. The dumbbell may be lifted with two hands, continental style, may be rested on the belt during the lift, by any part of the dumbbell. Hands may grip the plates, bar, collars or any part of the dumbbell. Any size plate may be loaded onto the dumbbell.The lift is completed when the lifter is standing upright, with the dumbbell resting on the shoulder, and the lifter demonstrating control. Both hands may remain on the dumbbell to complete the lift, or with one hand or both hands off the dumbbell. Time limit of 1 minute is given to complete the lift. An official will give a command to end the lift.

Repetition Records

by Al Myers

Another new rule that was passed at the USAWA National Meeting was a policy outlining repetition records.  Up till now, nothing was in place for this as a way of keeping track of these type of records.   Our USAWA rules have always stated that any official lift may be done for repetition, but a method for keeping track of these records was not defined.  The IAWA President Steve Gardner and I discussed this in length at the Worlds in Australia, and after several nights of “brainstorming” we can up with a good plan.  Included in this discussion was USAWA Prez Denny Habecker, Mark Haydock, Chad Ullom, and Art Montini.  So I feel that some of the greatest minds in the all-round lifting World was at work in coming up with this plan to deal with repetition  records (I just took notes by the way…). 

First, I want to outline some basic rules that have been in place in the Rule Book  for repetition records to give you a baseline:

K.  Repetition Lifts

Any approved lift may be done for repetitions, provided it is done according to the rules of the individual lift. Repetition lifts are allowed to be a part of any USAWA competition.

That’s it!!!  I’ve always seen how a “big problem” could arise if lifters actually got serious about establishing repetition records with this minimal rule.  Let me give this example: 

Lifter A: Weighs 190# and is 25
Performs a lift of 200 pounds for 9 repetitions

Lifter B:  Weighs 194# and is 33
Performs the same lift with 210 pounds for 8 repetitions

Which one should be the repetition record holder in the 90 Kilogram class???  Lifter A did more total reps, but lifter B used more weight on his lifts. Obviously some formula should be used to determine who gets “the spot” in the record list, because if you didn’t, you might as well list ANY repetition lift for record that is done, because of the infinite number of possibilities of choosing rep schemes with different poundages. 

Next I want to make a few comments (ok, my opinions) on how the IAWA deals with repetition records. In the IAWA rulebook there are only 8 lifts that can be officially done for IAWA repetition records.  These are: Repetition Cleans with Bodyweight, Repetition Presses with Bodyweight, Repetition Snatches with Bodyweight, Repetition Clean and Jerks with Bodyweight, Repetition Jerks with Bodyweight, Repetition Deadlifts with Bodyweight, Abdominal Raise for reps, Roman Chair Sit Up for repetitions. That’s the list – so you can see that the IAWA does NOT allow other official lifts to done for World Records. The first 6 lifts tell the amount of weight that must be used (bodyweight), but the last two do not specify anything (so it’s open-ended, with endless possibilities like the USAWA).  I can understand bodyweight deadlifts for repetition, but bodyweight snatches??? REALLY???  That’s most lifters goal for 1 rep in the USAWA/IAWA.  Obviously, there was not much thought put into the IAWA system for repetition records (my opinion), and is only a slightly better system than what the USAWA has (which is NOTHING, another opinion).

Now for the answer to “all this mess”.  This was the rule passed at the 2012 USAWA National Meeting to handle repetition records from now on:

Rule V. Records:  Records for repetition records will be kept for each official lift within the same weight classes and age groupings as individual records.  The method for keeping these records will be based on the bodyweight-corrected Lynch Points of the total weight lifted (reps times weight lifted), with the Lynch Points being used as the repetition record. This will allow the lifter to choose whatever weight and repetition scheme they desire in order to establish or set a repetition record.  The same weight must be used for each repetition.   There must not be any long pauses between repetition lifts, with this being based on the judgement of the official. The rules of the individual lifts apply, including the officials commands on each repetition.

It’s amazing all this can be resolved with one simple paragraph in the Rule Book.  This rule will be proposed at the IAWA World Meeting in October, so hopefully, the IAWA and the USAWA can be “on the same page” with this issue.  Now for the answer of who has the repetition record in the prior example:

Lifter A:  (200#) x (9 reps) x (.9199 Lynch Factor) = 1655.82 Lynch Points

Lifter B: (210#) x (8 reps) x (.9091 Lynch Factor) = 1527.29 Lynch Points

Lifter A gets the repetition record in the 90 KG weight class!!!!!  This method allows a lifter to make “the choice” of what weight and rep scheme they want to use – thus require a little strategy.  Each lift is different in the number of reps that can “comfortably” be done with more weight, and this decision is now left up to the lifter doing the repetitions.   

I listed the lifters age just to confuse you.  Age should not matter as all age groups should be represented in the repetition record list just like the individual record list, and the team record list. Records have never been age-adjusted, and they shouldn’t be.  I believe that the record list for repetition records should be a separate listing due to the uniqueness of it (just like with the team record list).  However, it will look EXACTLY like the individual record list in age categories and bodyweight divisions.  You may also notice that the rule calls for the lift to be done with the EXACT same rules as listed for the individual lift, including officials commands like the down command.  That’s the way it should be done – the right way!

The NEW Reverse Grip Curl Lift

by Al Myers

One of the new official lifts of the USAWA that was passed at the National Meeting  is the “Curl – Reverse Grip”.  This has caused some confusion (I’ve received a couple of emails on it already) as we already HAVE that lift as one of our official USAWA lifts!  The reason for this is a simple one – our rules for the Reverse Grip Curl has been drastically different than the IAWA rules for the Reverse Grip Curl!   A while back I wrote a blog stating the differences on this:  http://www.usawa.com/curl-reverse-grip/ .   The new Curl – Reverse Grip will go by this rule, which conforms to the IAWA rule for it:

Curl – Reverse Grip:   The rules of the Rectangular Fix apply, except that once the bar reaches the midway point it does not stop fixed, but continues to the finish position in one motion.

Need to reference this rule:

D24.  Rectangular Fix

This lift starts with the lifter standing holding the bar on the thighs at arms’ length, with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. Maximum hand spacing is shoulder width. Feet placement is optional. On a command by an official to start the lift, the lifter raises the bar by bending the elbows. The bar is raised to a position in which the lower arms are at a 90 degree angle to the body and parallel to the platform. The upper arms and elbows must maintain contact with the torso throughout the lift. The wrists must stay straight. Movement of the feet, raising the heels or toes, or swaying the body is not allowed. Once the bar is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Also in this proposal included a change of name for the “previous” Reverse Grip Curl that we have been doing in the USAWA.   It will now go by this name officially: Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip.   All records will be preserved that have been set previously and this new name will be changed in the rulebook and record list.  However, the new Reverse Grip Curl is “now open” for any new records!  Interestingly, at Worlds this year we will be performing this lift according to the IAWA rules, thus the same rule as this new lift.  That is REASON NUMBER ONE we needed to approve this new lift.  You see, there are lifts that are official in the IAWA that are not official in the USAWA (even though the USAWA has several more that are not IAWA approved). It would seem odd to perform a lift at the Worlds on our own “home turf” that is not an official lift in the USAWA.   I know it seems confusing, but hopefully with time all of these differences will be reconciled.  Progress has been made on this over the past couple of years.

In summary, the Curl – Reverse Grip follows the rule of the Rectangular Fix and the Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip follows the rule of the Cheat Curl.  The Executive Board briefly discussed calling this new lift the Curl – Strict, Reverse Grip  but decided against it.  Who knows – with time we might need that name if we ever decide to propose a Reverse Grip Curl following the rules of the Strict Curl???  Now THAT would make things confusing!!

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!!!


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.



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.


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!

Back Extensions

by Al Myers

The top picture is the starting position for a Back Extension, while the lower picture is the finishing position.

This is an excellent “finishing movement” to a heavy night of deadlifting and squatting. On top of that, it is an Official USAWA Lift!  It is in our Rulebook and but TOTALLY ABSENT in our Record List.  NO ONE has ever done it in a record day and it has never been contested in a USAWA competition.   This surprises me as it is a great exercise that works the lower back.  I like doing them after my heavy training and train them in a higher rep fashion, but this lift is well-suited for a maximum attempt.  I’ll refresh everyone on the USAWA Rule for Back Extensions as I’m sure most lifters are not familiar with this lift:

D11.  Extension – Back

A Roman Chair or similar apparatus is used for this lift. A bar is placed in front of the Roman Chair on the platform. The lifter will take a position on the Roman Chair facing the platform that allows the lifter’s body to bend fully downward at the waist. The seat must not touch the lifter’s torso. The legs must be straight and may be secured. The seat must be parallel to the floor and must not be raised at any angle. At the lifter’s discretion, the lifter will bend at the waist to a 90 degree angle, and fix the bar into the crooks of the elbows, with the arms bent. Once in this position, an official will give a command to rise. The lifter will raise the body to a position where the line of the back is parallel to the platform. The bar must remain fixed in the crooks of the elbows or it will be a disqualification. There must not be any downward movement of the body once the body has started to rise. Once the lifter is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The biggest difficulty with this lift is having the proper apparatus to do it on.  The seat must be the perfect height to allow the lifter to bend at the waist and place the bar in the crooks of the elbows at a full bend of 90 degrees.  Also, the feet must be secured  staight back for support.  An apparatus like this is usually not available in most gyms, and thus probably why this lift has not been done.  I like using my Glute-Ham device for this as the seat and feet supports are adjustable and allows me to get into perfect position. 

I have never done a max attempt on Back Extensions, but just might do one at my next record day.  After all, it looks like setting a record in it would be very easy as there are not any!!! However, don’t expect to get an IAWA World Record in the Back Extension as this lift IS NOT an IAWA official lift.

French Press

by Al Myers

Chuck Cookson performing an ALL TIME best USAWA record of 207 pounds in the French Press at the 2012 Dino Gym Record Day. Take notice that Chuck has the perfect arm length to do this lift, and that his elbows are not even above his head when extended straight up!

This is an official lift of both the USAWA and the IAWA.  Amazingly, the rules are the SAME as well as the lift is named the SAME.  That is a rarity between USAWA and IAWA lifts!! However, that is about the ONLY THING I like about the French Press!  I wish I knew more about how this lift came about and who was responsible for writing the original rules on it. They must have been written by a cruel person who likes to see lifters FAIL at performing a lift! The rules for this lift are written in a way that MOST lifters can’t even perform a French Press according to them.  For a lift so simple in concept – these rules seem to me to be “over the top” for the French Press. I do know it has been around for quite a while as an all-round lift as it is represented in the old Missouri Valley Record List.  The oldest record in the Mo-Valley list is held by Homer Lewellen of Columbia, Missouri who did a French Press of 185 pounds in 1962 in the 198 class.  Other good marks in this record list were by Jim Charlton and Wayne Jackson.  I just assume they were done with the same rules as we have today, as this lift was one of the original 110.

The USAWA Rules for the French Press

A25.   French Press

The bar is brought from the platform to an overhead position by any method to assume the starting position of this lift. The lifter’s arms must be straight, the lifter standing, and the body upright before the start of the lift. Width of feet placement is optional.  Once the bar is overhead and motionless, with the lifter’s arms straight, the lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The hand spacing on the bar must not exceed 6 inches. The palms of the hands must be facing away from the lifter. The lifter will bend the arms and lower the bar until the bar touches the base of the neck at the junction of the shoulders without lowering the upper arms. The elbows must remain above the top of the head. Once the bar is on the base of the neck, an official will give the command to press.  The elbows must not be lowered during any part of the press or it will be a disqualification. The legs must remain straight during the lift. There must not be any backbend, any bending of the knees, or movement of the feet during the lift. The heels and toes must not rise.  Once the bar has been pressed, the arms straight and the bar motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. The bar may be lowered by any method.

READ THE ABOVE RULE CAREFULLY as I know most USAWA lifters are not familiar with the legal nuances of this lift.  As I’ve said – I don’t like the rules for the French Press.  I have done French Presses in training in the past and the exercise I do (as well as most of my training partners) is NOTHING like the French Press described above!   These rules are so restrictive that it prevents most lifters from even being capable of performing a legal French Press.  Also, it is a terrible lift to judge – invaribly a lifters elbows drop to some degree and it makes for very subjective judging.  If it is in a meet at least half of the lifters can’t even do a legal lift correctly, so the judging gets lax (and not in accordance with the written rules) just so lifters won’t “bomb out” on the lift.  The French Press has been in one National Championship (2005), and if I have any say in it, that will be the last and only one that the French Press will be in.  

However, like I said, the French Press is a great training lift for the shoulders and triceps if done differently. A wider grip, descending to only the back of the head, with a slight elbow drop allows for natural movement and normal shoulder rotation.  The 6 inch grip width creates most of the problems, especially on a straight bar.  Also, requiring the bar to touch the BASE of the neck creates issues if a lifters arm length is not of the correct proportions.  I guess I just don’t understand why the rules for the French Press are written this way when the practicality of performing it in training is so much different?  

However, at the Dino Gym Record Day I was proved wrong on many accounts when Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson performed a legal French Press of 207 pounds while maintaining PERFECT legal form.   This record of Chuck’s is the top ALL TIME in the USAWA, besting Ernie Beaths mark of 200 pounds.  I judged Chuck’s French Press and made sure it was done strictly in accordance with the rules.  He has perfect body mechanics and limb lengths to do this lift with perfection.   So – I guess I now feel the the French Press is a good lift because I know SOMEONE who can do it right! A Lot of the other USAWA lifts are also in the category of the French Press, ie Van Dam Lift, Mansfield, Zeigler, etc.   I guess I feel if someone can do them correctly and excel in them, these lifts should be available to allow these few lifters to show their abilities in these difficult lifts at record days (But NOT in meets!!).

Divisions, Awards & Records

by Al Myers

The other day I wrote a blog about the USAWA scoring system, and how using it is an “unwritten policy” of the USAWA because it is not detailed in the Rulebook but is the common way the USAWA has ALWAYS scored meets.  Today I’m going to cover another topic that has several  ”unwritten policies” that applies to divisions, awards, and records.  I know there has been some confusion on this because lately I have received a few emails asking questions on it. I will make references to the USAWA Rulebook whenever possible, but “lots of stuff” is not outlined in the Rulebook with specific details.  Instead, it is just “common knowledge” amongst experienced USAWA members.  I will also “throw in” a few opinions of my own in this story as it relates to these matters.

First, the USAWA recognizes four main age groups with subdivisions.  This comes straight from the Rulebook:

II. 3.  The USAWA will recognize four main age groups:

  • Junior – This includes lifters who have not reached their 20th birthday.   Junior age groups may be further split into smaller age groups. These include 13 and under, 14-15, 16-17, and 18-19.
  • Senior – This includes lifters who have reached their 20th birthday, but have not reached their 40th birthday.
  • Open – This includes lifters who are 20 years of age or older.
  • Master – This includes lifters who are 40 years of age or older. Master age groups may be further split into smaller age groups.  These include 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, and will continue each 5 years to infinity.

These are the age groups which MAY be offered in any USAWA competitions.  No where in the Rulebook does it say a meet director MUST offer each of these age group (and subdivisions).  In fact, most USAWA competitions do not offer ANY of these age group categories in meets.  Small meets competitors just typically compete against everyone, with the ranking determined by the Scoring System which I outlined the other day. However at big competitions (like the USAWA National Championship) these age groups may be offered because awards are given for BEST LIFTERS within these different groupings. That is really the only reason age groupings are included at meets – for the awards.  It is silly to advertise age groupings if it doesn’t mean anything, ie offering age group categories but NOT giving out awards in them.  By now, some have noticed that the 2012 National Championships is offering these age groupings: Junior, Senior, and Master for both Men and Women. Our Rulebook clearly spells out that Men and Women have seperate divisions:

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

You will notice that the OPEN age group is not included at Nationals this year.  This age grouping has been included at times in the past at Nationals.  Now is the time for me to “get on my soapbox” during this story and explain my views on why I’m NOT OFFERING the open division. First of all, of ALL these four age groupings, there is only one that is redundant (already represented in other age groupings) and THAT is the open age group. The “open” age group is solely the combination of the Senior age group and the Master age group.  This is where the problem arises.  By having the open age group for awards (in place of the Senior Age Group), it allows lifters in the Masters age group to win their Master Awards as well  as the open awards, thus “taking awards away” from those lifters in the Senior 20-39 age group.  I call this DOUBLE DIPPING.  Of course, the Master lifters lose their age percent adjustment to do this, but STILL CAN win these awards.  Offering the Senior Age Group (instead of an open age group) for awards eliminates the possibility of this happening.  Now – I know what several of you are saying right now! And that is” if a Master is good enough without their age point bonus they SHOULD win these awards!” After all – being an “old guy” shouldn’t be an advantage – Right???? Well, I can tell you that this is making the assumption that age is NOT an advantage.  I know I am better in several of the all round lifts now at the age of 45 than I was at the age of 35, because I have had the many years experience of learning the correct way of performing the lifts. Am I stronger now? No – but I’m just “better” at some of the difficult all round lifts because I have had more years of practice time.  So I would argue that lifters of Master Age MIGHT at times have an advantage over novice Senior lifters – thus why the Senior Age Group should be recognized by itself.  Every other age group is recognized by itself – why should lifters in the 20-39 age group be discriminated against???

The USAWA is not like most other lifting organizations. We are not a “for profit” business and NO ONE makes a profit from putting on a meet. Our meet promoters are NOT professional meet promoters.  I know a few PL meet promoters who make their living “running meets”, and like any business, need to make money to continue.  I sure don’t fault them for this. But in the USAWA if a meet director “breaks even” on meets that is the norm.  I have been to powerlifting meets in the past where one could enter multiple divisions if they wanted to.  I never did this because I thought it was foolish.  It is just a “marketing ploy” on the meet directors part to “up sale the entries” for more profit.  After all, it makes perfect business sense to allow one lifter to pay several entry fees so they could win lots of awards.    Add in American Records for each of these divisions and then you really “sweeten the pot” to sucker more lifters in with this sales pitch.  I’ve seen lifters walk out of these meets carrying more weight in awards than their max squat and “bragging” on the 12 American Records they just set over the course of the 6 divisions they entered!!!  Who do they think they are kidding here?  But the lifters are happy with their boughten fame and the meet directors smiling with his fat pockets.

I’m glad the USAWA doesn’t operate like that. A meet director should charge what is needed to finance a meet with one entry fee per lifter and not rely on “tricking” the lifters into more fees.  Also, no one is “buying” a record in a special division in the USAWA.  If you enter a meet and set a record – YOU SET A RECORD!  No where in the Rulebook does it say you must be “entered” in that division or age group (and have paid an entry fee for it) to set a record in that division.  Lifters have set overall (or open) records in the past without ever being officially entered in these divisions. That’s the precident which has been set long before now. This comes AGAIN straight from the Rulebook:

V. 8.  Records will be kept for men and women in all weight classes within subgroups of the Junior and Master age groups. Overall records will be kept for men and women in all weight classes, and will include all age groups.  

Now I’m not saying that is how the records are being kept now -but this line in the Rulebook CLEARLY outlines how the records SHOULD be kept.  It does not say “open records” are kept, but that OVERALL records are kept.  This means the OVERALL best record within all age groupings – Junior, Senior and Master.  Think of it as the ULTIMATE weight class record, because it is the BEST ever done in the weight class, of all ages.  And I’ll say it again – you DO NOT have to pay a special fee at a meet to get this record!

As you can tell I am not in favor of the open age group.   From now on any meet I’m promoting WILL NOT include this age grouping. Of course, if other meet promoters want to have it in their meet that is their right.  The USAWA will not tell you what awards to give out – that’s your job as the meet promoter.  But don’t count on me entering your open age group (in addition to the Masters) to give you a few extra dollars! I’ll always think that’s a scam as well as unfair to the Senior Age Class lifters.

I welcome any rebuttals to to my opinions on this subject.

USAWA Scoring

by Al Myers

One of the unique aspects of the USAWA is our scoring system for meets.  I know there are several  USAWA lifters who are not fully familiar (and completely understand) this scoring system so I’m going to take today’s story and go over it.  Now – I’m not going to get into any discussion (or my opinion) on whether it is fair or not.  That’s been hashed over many times and no one will ever be considered the victor.  There will always be some who don’t think it is fair – young lifters, old lifters, light lifters or heavy lifters.  I’ve heard it from all.

The USAWA scoring system is not outlined anywhere in the Rule Book.  It has been one of those “unwritten policies” of the USAWA that has been in place since the beginning.  Bill Clark is the one who came up with the way our scoring is done.  By the way, the IAWA uses the same scoring system (with some minor differences).  It is just the way it has always been done.  Simply put, a lifters total weight lifted during the day (on their max lift in each event)  is adjusted for the lifters bodyweight (by using the Lynch Formula) and corrected for age allowance (1% per year starting at the age of 40).  This gives each lifter an adjusted Lynch Points that can be used to determine the ranking of the meet.  By using this system, lifters of all ages and bodyweights can be compared.  Now it’s time for questions.

May a Meet Director use a different scoring system if they want? 

The answer is YES, but the recommendation  from the USAWA is to use the system we have in place so we have meet consistency.  Championships are different in that they definitely are REQUIRED to use this scoring system. But if a meet director wants to have divisions for awards, that is acceptable.  The USAWA has always allowed meet directors to give out any awards they want to and to whom they want to.  That is another “unwritten policy” of the USAWA.

How do I get these factors for the Lynch Formula and formulas to do these calculations?

The Lynch Formula is available on the website under “Scoring Information” on the Home Page.  It is a MUST READ to fully understand all the details of the USAWA Scoring System.   Everything is available on that page to successfully score a USAWA competition.

Is there a spreadsheet available to do this scoring system?

GOOD NEWS on that question!  For the last 6 months we have been using an Excel Spreadsheet developed by Mike Murdock.  All of the “bugs” have now been worked out of it and it will be “released” in the near future.  It makes scoring a USAWA meet very easy! The Lynch Factors and age adjustments are built into it.  It even has the capabilities of printing off certificates for each lifter which summarizes their lifts.

The Weaver Stick Controversy

by Al Myers

John Gallagher demonstrating the Weaver Stick, the lift made popular by George Weaver. This photo was in an article written by Weaver, in which he said "demonstrates the proper method of lifting the Weaver Stick". Take notice of the bent arm and non-upright body position. This makes me wonder - was this the way he INTENDED the Weaver Stick to be done?

Yesterdays Daily News Story by the famous strength historian David Willoughby was just a “set up” for today’s story.  In it, he described the origins of the Weaver Stick and the foundation for the Weaver Stick rules.   I feel the Weaver Stick is a misunderstood  (most don’t know how to even MAKE a Weaver Stick) lift of the All-Rounds, and after what I reveal today it will now not just be misunderstood, but will be a controversial lift as well.  I have written blogs on the Weaver Stick before and have went over its historical significance in the USAWA.  I have even covered the best lifts ever done in the USAWA using the Weaver Stick.  That is not what today’s story is about.  This lift was part of my grip meet a few years ago as well. So I know there are several lifters who are familiar with it.  I was introduced to the Weaver Stick for the first time when I went to Clarks Gym years ago for a record day.  After putting up “BIG LIFTS” all day for records in several full body type lifts, Bill brought out his Weaver Stick to ”humble us”. It did the trick.  I could barely lift 5 pounds!  I then went home and made my own Weaver Stick, which still resides in the corner of the Dino Gym for anytime I feel like “humbling someone”.  Ole Clark did it to me – and now I’m returning the favor!

But what’s the controversy you ask? Well, lets go over both the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules and you’ll soon find out!

USAWA RULE I26. Weaver Stick

A Weaver Stick is used for this lift. The Weaver Stick utilizes a wooden broomstick with these dimensions. The handle is 5 ½ inches in length. The junction of the handle and the rest of the Weaver Stick may be marked with tape, or with any material that is raised to provide a distinct separation between the handle and the rest of the stick. This marking is ½ inch in length. At a point exactly 36 inches from the end of the marking, or 42 inches from the end of the handle, a notch is made in the stick to allow a cord to be attached to it. This cord may be of any length.  Weight is tied onto the end of the cord. The Weaver Stick must rest on a flat lifting surface with the weight hanging free. The lift will begin at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter will take a position alongside the Weaver Stick, and grip the handle of the Weaver Stick by one hand, facing the length of the stick. The lifting hand and arm must remain straight with elbow fully locked, and must not be in contact with the body during the lift. The lifting arm must remain at the lifter’s side throughout the lift. The heel of the hand must remain on top of the Weaver Stick. If the hand twists under the stick during the lift, it is a disqualification. The non-lifting hand must not touch the lifting arm, lifting hand, or Weaver Stick during the lift. The lifter’s body must be upright with legs straight at the completion of the lift, but the legs may bend when picking up the stick. The Weaver Stick must be lifted entirely clear from the lifting surface while maintaining the stick parallel to the floor. If the end of the stick containing the weight dips to any degree, it is a disqualification. If the lifting hand moves to a position in front of the handle marking during the lift, it is a disqualification. Once the Weaver Stick is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. Records are also kept for the Weaver Stick with the lifter facing backwards, away from the length of the stick.


This lift can be performed with either hand, and to the front or the rear. The lifter will use a 36 inch long stick, it will have a notch half an inch from one end where the weight will be suspended or attached. The stick will be gripped a full 36 inches away from the weight, with one hand. The stick will be set down on a chair or table, the lifter must lift the stick off the surface parallel to the floor and not with the weighted end tilting down. There is no minimum height that it has to be lifted, just clear of the table. It must be lifted straight up, no rocking motions are allowed. The lifting hand and arm must remain free of the body, and the heel of the hand must remain on top of the stick, the hand is not allowed to twist around the stick. When the stick is held clear of the table and motionless the referee will signal to replace the bar. A hand grip guard can be made using two metal right angles, screwed to the stick in such a manner as to prevent the hand from being closer than 36 inches. The handle can be taped around to suit the lifters hand and afford a good grip.

Causes for Failure: 

1.  Failure to keep the stick held parallel (approx.) to the floor at all times during the lift.  
2.  Touching the body with the lifting hand or arm and failing to keep the heel of the hand on top. 
3.  Failure to lift the stick clear of the chair or surface, under control. 
4.   Lowering / replacing the bar before the referees signal.

Do you notice the BIG DIFFERENCE between the USAWA rule and the IAWA rule???????

It’s a BIG ONE – the IAWA rule for the Weaver Stick DOES NOT require the arm to be straight!!! It can be bent to any degree.  Let me “tell ya” – that’s a big difference!  Much more weight can be lifted with the Weaver Stick if the arm does not have to remain straight.  Bending the arm allows other arm muscles to come into play and helps with the wrist stabilization.  I am sure most USAWA lifters are not aware of this IAWA rule for the Weaver Stick.  I know I wasn’t until IAWA President Steve Gardner and I got into this discussion during one of our “beer drinking sessions” a few days after the IAWA Worlds in Australia.  He was not aware that the USAWA required a straight arm either (just as I was not aware that the IAWA allowed a bent arm) - as we have since the beginning.  Maybe this all arose because of the misinterpretation of Weaver’s account by Willoughby.  Re-read yesterdays story and you will now notice that he didn’t mention at ANY TIME the arm must be straight.  But at the same time he referenced that drawing of Grimek as the “correct position” using the Weaver Stick, and in it John Grimek’s arm is as “straight as an arrow”.  Now I can only imagine at this point in this story Weaver Stick extraordinaire Tom Ryan is getting out of his chair and  ready to give someone “a thrashing” with HIS Weaver Stick for insulting the Weaver Stick Rule this way.  After all, I witnessed Tom set his big Weaver Stick  ALL-TIME USAWA RECORD of 7 pounds at a record day in Clarks Gym in 2002.  I also remember very clearly that Tom’s arm was very straight when he did it, as Bill Clark was officiating him and wouldn’t let “nothing bend” on the issue of requiring a straight arm. That’s how it has always been in the USAWA.  I contested the Weaver Stick at my 2010 Grip Challenge at my gym, and close to a dozen good “grip guys” tested on it. I was the judge, and judged it as hard as Bill would have.  Grip sensation Andy Durniat lifted 6 pounds, along with my father LaVerne (everyone was surprised with that one!).  But ole Dad has spent a lifetime of building his grip doing farm work, and it paid off with  building the right muscles for the Weaver Stick.  These were the top Weaver Stick lifts of the day, and both very solid and reputable lifts with the Weaver Stick using a straight arm. This meet sure reiterated the great Weaver Stick Record of 7 pounds done by Tom Ryan.

We (the USAWA) have made great strides in the past couple of years to get our USAWA rules into compliance with the IAWA rules.  We have been changing ours to met theirs. But this is one I would argue that we have RIGHT – as any rule should represent THE INTENT of the original development of the lift.  I truly feel Weaver intended for the Weaver Stick be done with a straight arm and NOT a bent arm.  Or did he INTEND it to be done with a bent arm????  That’s the controversy. 

One thing is for certain - officiating the Weaver Stick with a bent arm allowed would be a whole lot easier.  Making the decision of “red lighting” a lift on arm bend is very subjective.  Bill Clark once told me this, “officiating the bend of the arm in the Weaver Stick is as subjective as judging the depth of a squat!”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Please let your opinion on this be known in the USAWA Discussion Forum (and Tom you can lead the way with this discussion!).

The Power Row

by Al Myers

John McKean, of the Ambridge BBC, performing the lift he introduced to the USAWA, the Bent Over Row.

At the 2011 IAWA World Meeting in Australia, the Power Row got approved as a new IAWA Official Lift.  This was the only lift presented by the IAWA Technical Committee to the membership for approval, and it was accepted.  This lift was accepted as an Official USAWA lift in 2010, but under a different name!  John McKean, of Ambridge BBC, was the one to present it to the USAWA for lift acceptance under the name BENT OVER ROW.  So now like the many, many other lifts that have different names in IAWA than the USAWA, this lift will join that long list as well.   The interesting thing with this lift was that it was presented first to the IAWA membership at the 2010 meeting in Glasgow, but was rejected by the vote.  I felt at the time (at the Glasgow meeting) that the lift wasn’t fully understood by the members in attendance.  This time copies of the presented rules were distributed to those present at the meeting which I think helped describe what this new lift is about, and helped “gather support” in getting it passed and accepted as a new IAWA lift.  The Bent Over Row has been done in several USAWA events to date (including last year’s Club Challenge) and it has been well received.  Let’s review BOTH the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules:


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.


The bar is placed on the platform in front of the lifter, who will grip the bar overhand with the palms facing the lifter, the width of the grip and feet placing is of the lifters choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The lifters body should be bent forward at the waist, and the upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift. The legs may be bent during and upon completion of the lift. The bar will be lifted up 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. The belt must never support the bar. When the bar is held motionless and in contact with the abdomen or chest, the official will give the command to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:

1 . The lifters upper body straightening past 45 degrees parallel to the platform.                                                                     
2.  The Bar touching the belt, or anywhere on the body lower than the navel  
3.  Failing to hold the bar motionless, and in the finished position, to await the official’s command

One thing you will notice about the USAWA and IAWA rules are that even though they are written slightly different,  they are THE SAME (which is a GOOD THING!) in technical content. The only difference is the name of the lift.  Let me explain why this occurred.  The lift was presented with the name Bent Over Row, but after the group discussion, it was felt that the name POWER ROW better described the lift.  Peter Phillips made a good point that an old style Bentover Row is a STRICT style lift, in which the legs stay straight and the bar is brought to the upper chest instead of the abdomen.  The membership agreed with this point, thus the name was changed before it was presented and accepted.  Also, the point was made that by doing this it would “save the name”  Bent Over Row for the strict version of this lift, if it was ever presented as an IAWA  lift in the future. I definitely agree with this decision. The importance of this is that NOW the Power Row (or Bent Over Row) can be done in USAWA competitions for IAWA World Records.

Proper Process for Membership Application

by Al Myers

After my story the other day where I made it clear about the proper USAWA sanctioning process, I think the “time is right” to have a followup story about the proper process of applying for membership in the USAWA.  I try to keep things positive, so stories like this one are not my favorite to write because I feel like I’m “whining and complaining” about things, but then again, if I don’t make these points known the problems just continue.  Lately, I have received membership applications that have been improperly filled out (lack of information, no signatures, etc) or lifters just sending me the membership fees without evening filling out a form!!  This is unacceptable.  Also, I am getting tired of lifters sending in “old membership” applications from the Strength Journal.  I have been accepting them, but from this time forward I WILL NOT!  The new and updated membership applications are readily accessible on the website (under Forms and Applications on the left hand side of the Home Page). 

Since I’m on a “belly-aching” soapbox right now, I’m going to complain about another gripe of mine.  Please DO NOT send me checks for memberships (or anything else for that matter) that are going to bounce when I deposit them!  I’m “sick and tired” of this.  If you do NOT have the money to join – then don’t!  Every time I get a bounced check, it causes me problems and more work.  The USAWA only charges $25 for yearly membership in the USAWA (for the calendar year), and I consider this a token fee for all the benefits the organization has to offer you in return.  I have to deal with “bounced checks” in my business enough and I don’t want to deal with it in the USAWA.  I keep a list of people who bounce checks on me in my business – and at the top of the list is the name DEADBEATS.  Don’t join if you don’t have the money to.  Also, if  only $25 is causing you a financial burden, you shouldn’t be  even spending money going to meets. You should be getting a job (or second job) to pay your bills and feed your family.  My opinion is that our yearly membership fees should be at least $50.  The $25 fee is so “out of date” in terms of charging for membership fees it’s ridiculous. I leave bigger tips than that at restaurants!

Thom has told me that “with time” I will get as cranky as Bill (by having to deal with these USAWA problems).  I sure understand now why Bill also wrote stories like this one in the Strength Journal from time to time.   I’m not at the point of calling the entire USAWA membership “DEAD AND/OR COMATOSE” yet (give me a few more years on that one!).   I do want to thank the over 90% of USAWA members who “do  things right” – this story is not directed towards you at all!  It’s the others that should be taking notes.

Sanction Requests

by Al Myers

I have been getting some sanction requests as of recent where the proper protocol of sanctioning meets has not been followed.  Nothing that has been a major problem – but I want to take time today to OUTLINE the proper procedures in applying for a meet sanction.  I am bound by the USAWA Rules and Bylaws to grant USAWA meet sanctions according to certain guidelines, which must be followed. The following are the most important stipulations from the USAWA Rulebook and the USAWA Bylaws:

VIII. The Competition

3.  To be an official sanctioned USAWA event, an application for meet sanction must be completed and returned with the sanction fee to the USAWA Secretary for approval by the executive board.
4.  All sanction requests must be sent in for approval at least 6 weeks prior to the scheduled event. 
5. All sanctioned competitions must have a Meet Director.   A single person or multiple people may be assigned the Meet Director. This position is stated on the sanction application. The Meet Director will be the contact for the USAWA Secretary. 
8.  The Meet Director is responsible for verifying that all competitors are current USAWA members, and must submit new member applications along with the membership dues to the USAWA secretary.
11.  The Meet Director will select the lifts for the meet as outlined in the sanction application.  The lifts may be official lifts of the USAWA or exhibition lifts.  Exhibition lifts are not eligible for records, but may be used in scoring for the competition.


A.   All USAWA Competitions and/or events must be sanctioned.
B.  The sanction fee is $30 and must be sent to the Secretary/Treasurer for approval. 
C.  The sanction request form must be completely filled out and signed by the contact individual for the competition/event.
D.  Sanctioned USAWA competitions and/or events must not be sanctioned with any other organization (with the exception of the IAWA).  Violation of this will result in loss of USAWA sanction.

It is very important that when a sanction form is sent to me for approval, that ALL the necessary information be present.  This is the checklist:

  • Sanction Form filled out, signed, and dated 
  • Entry Form or list of events, date of competition, time schedule, and location
  • Announcement for the website
  • Include the Sanction Fee of $30

It is also not a wise thing to announce a meet in other avenues before your sanction request has been approved. That is getting the “cart in front of the horse”.   There are several reasons why a sanction request might be denied – and all for good reasons.  An example would be if you picked a meet date that fell on the same day as one of our USAWA Championships, or our National Championships.  It has been the policy of the USAWA not to have local meets interfere with these big meets.  Another reason a sanction request might be denied is that you want to have the meet before “the 6 week window” of time (See rule VIII.4 above).  This time period was put in the Rulebook for this reason – to give adequate time for ANYONE to make arrangements to attend the meet.   We are trying to run an upstanding organization, and having meets “pop up” on short notice looks bad, and doesn’t give our meet schedule any credibility.  I will stick to this rule, and will deny sanctions for meets under 6 weeks notice.  Like the old saying goes, “your lack of planning DOES NOT constitute an emergency on my part!” (OK – maybe that’s MY ole saying).

A sanction is official once the meet/event has been put on the USAWA website’s schedule of events.  If you want to put on a meet, don’t hesitate to contact me prior to sending in the sanction request.  I will do my best to help you with this process.  If these Sanction Rules are followed, I won’t have to be the “bad guy” by turning down sanction requests;  but it’s my job to follow and enforce the rules and bylaws set forth by the USAWA.

Jefferson Lift Technique

by Al Myers

Bob Hirsh has the ALL TIME best Jefferson Lift in the USAWA, with a lift of 702 pounds in the 80KG class set at the 1996 Buckeye Record Breakers.

I received an email the other day asking a few questions regarding technique for the Jefferson Lift.  I thought this was a very appropriate question since the Jefferson Lift will be a big part of our USAWA competitions this year.  This lift will be contested in both Nationals and Worlds.   The IAWA official name for the Jefferson Lift is the Straddle Deadlift – so these two names are interchangeable. I have heard in the past this lift also called the Kennedy Lift, but that is not entirely correct.  The Kennedy Lift is a straddle lift where the bar starts at a higher position than floor level.  First, lets go over the USAWA rules for the Jefferson Lift:

18.  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.

I have seen two techniques for the Jefferson Lift used in competition.  I will go over both of these techniques.

1.  Shoulders Perpendicular to the Bar

In this technique, the lifter straddles the bar with a foot on each side of the bar with feet in line with the bar. As the bar is lifted, the bar will rotate to some degree at the finish position.

2. Shoulders Parallel to the Bar

In this technique, the lifter sets up for the pull with the shoulders in line with the bar. The feet are slightly off-set as they straddle the bar.  The bar comes straight up with very little rotation.

There are advantages to both styles, but I prefer technique number two for several reasons.  I feel because it takes the rotation out of the bar it allows a more direct line of pull, and an easier lockout.  Technique number one will help with the initial pull from the floor because both legs can be more involved at the start.  A problem with tech #2 is that the lead leg will be overloaded at the start, and more strain will be felt in the hamstring of the lead leg. I have pulled a hamstring in this leg before doing the Jefferson.  Another important thing is the proper feet placement with tech #2. The toe of the lead leg should be turned slightly in.  The back foot should be almost parallel to the bar.  Doing this “blocks” any bar rotation as the weight comes up. The width of stance should be of comfortable width – not too wide or too narrow.  This is important in order not to hit the inner thighs with the bar as the lift is completed.  The back hand (the one behind the lead leg) should have the knuckles facing forward, while the front hand should have knuckles facing away, using an alternate grip.  Try to keep the grip as close as comfortable as this will shorten the height the bar has to be lifted.  If done correctly with technique #2, there should be very little twisting of the body as the lift is completed.  At the end of the pull drive the shoulders up like with a deadlift.

Body mechanics play a big part in the Jefferson Lift.  Obviously, having long arms help. I have seen lifters with short arms have serious problems at lockout (OUCH!).   You are a natural at the Jefferson Lift if you can match or exceed your best deadlift.  I have seen lifters where this is the case.  The line of pull is more centered under the body with the Jefferson than a conventional deadlift.  Also, the Jefferson is a great training lift. I add it into my “pulling rotation” at least once every 6 weeks.

One or Three Officials?

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom officiating the 2011 IAWA World Championships sitting in the Head Judges chair. Would you trust this guy to make the only call in the 1-Official System?? He looks half asleep to me.

A very good question was brought up recently on our USAWA Facebook Page regarding the use of officials (BTW – if you have not joined our USAWA Facebook Page by now, make sure to join as it is a constant source of current information, along with numerous meet pictures).  The question involved how many officials are required to be used in competition.  The confusion on this matter arises because the USAWA allows the 1-Official System to be used, whereas the IAWA sanctioned competitions requires that all meets be officiated using three officials.  The upcoming World Postal Meet is an IAWA sanctioned event, so THREE OFFICIALS (or two as I’ll explain later) MUST be used to enter lifts in this postal meet.  This meet is different than our USAWA Postal Meets where they may be officiated using  just one official. 

First, let me review the USAWA Rules regarding the Official’s Systems that are in place:


4.  Two systems are approved for officiating USAWA competitions or events.

  • One Official System – The competition or event will be officiated by only one certified official.  This system is recommended for small competitions or events, such as record days or postal competitions.
  • Three Official System – The competition or event will be officiated by three certified officials.  Approval of the lift requires a minimum of 2 officials deeming the lift good.  This system is recommended for large competitions or events, such as the National Championship.

Second, these are the IAWA Rules regarding the use of three officials:


  • All officials must be approved by their National Governing Body, or IAWA where there is no NGB
  • Three officials should be used for all competitions, and for exhibitions also where possible (though World Records can be established with only two officials present, so long as both pass the lift).

The USAWA membership voted and passed, allowing the 1-Official System to be in place, at the 2006 Annual Meeting.  This issue was brought forth to the membership by Bill Clark.  If I remember right, it seemed at the meeting that pretty much everyone in attendance was in agreement with the vote.  I do know now that not all of the members of the USAWA believe in the 1-Official System and don’t use it at all in their gym meets.   Art Montini has told me that himself and the Ambridge “Gang” will not use the 1-Official System in their meets EVER!  This issue was presented at the IAWA meeting as well that year in Scotland.  After the discussion in which it appeared to me that most everyone was against the 1-Official System, a motion was never made to introduce the 1-Official System.  Thus the IAWA still requires 3 officials, while in the USAWA the 1-Official System and the 3-Official System is allowed.   But even if the 3-Official System is used, a meet could be done with ONLY 2 officials and fall within the realms of the IAWA rules.  However, both officials must agree that it is a good lift (read IAWA above – the second line).   If just one official feels that it is a bad lift, then it is a no lift.  So in a sense, since you only need two “white lights” for a good lift in the 3-Official System, you are assuming the nonexistent third official has given you a red  in the imaginary chair!    How does this impact records?  First of all, any USAWA record can be established using either system.  For IAWA World Records, the 3-Official System must be used, including any USAWA meet.

Now for my opinion on this subject, which hasn’t changed from the day it was proposed and passed in the USAWA.  No one can argue that 3 officials are always better than 1 official.  Using 3 officials, and one official makes a bad call it doesn’t fail the lift if it should be good (or pass the lift when it should be failed).   Three officials spreads the decision over more individuals, and hopefully with that, a better result could be obtained.  That is why I will always support using the 3 official System in big competitions where there are qualified officials present to allow for it.  The problem arises in small gym meets (like postals and record days) where the entry numbers are so small that lifters outnumber officials!  For these meets to even happen, the 1-Official System HAS TO BE IN PLACE to allow for officiating.  Otherwise, it becomes impossible to even conduct small meets, or enter postal meets.  I am also familiar with events having one official (like strongman competitions and the Highland Games) so I know that one good official can do a good job and make the right call.  Why is there not three officials in those events?  The answer – they are not needed!  I feel the problem why the IAWA membership never accepted the 1-Official was tradition – weightlifters are very use to having three officials in the chairs and the thought of having  just one make the BIG DECISION was not something they wanted to accept.  I can’t imagine that the IAWA(UK) meets don’t have the same problem as us with properly trying to find 3 judges to judge small meets, like this World Postal Meet.  Maybe with time, IAWA will come “on board” with the 1-Official System and be the same as the USAWA on this.  Without a doubt,  requiring 3 officials in this World Postal Meet will hurt participation.

Inspiration for the Inman?

By Thom Van Vleck

In Indonesia, men walk down into Mount Ijen, an active volcano, to haul out sulfur. They will carry an average of 100kg out for several kilometers as a way to make a living.

One of the most diabolical lifts in the USAWA is the Inman Mile.  It’s so different you have to wonder where Jerry Inman came up with the idea for this! Let’s review the rules:

D17.  Inman Mile
The lifter will take a bar onto the shoulders with a weight equal to 150 per cent of the lifter’s bodyweight. The lifter will then carry this weight a distance of one mile. Gait is optional.  Stopping to rest is allowed, but neither the lifter nor the weight may be supported in any manner.  The bar must not be touched by any assistants once the mile has begun or it will be a disqualification. The bar must stay on the back the entire mile. The lifter may be handed refreshments during the mile. Records will be kept for time.

It’s different to say the least.  I often wonder where someone could have come up with such a test of strength and I have even questioned if this is more endurance than strength.

The other day I was watching a travel show.  I enjoy seeing different parts of the world.  In this one they were talking about men in Indonesia who go down into and active volcano called Mount Ijen.  They load up baskets with sulfur and haul them up and out of the volcano.  They make it a point to spend as little time as possible in the volcano because of poisonous gas so usually once they are loaded they beat a hasty path out!  They claimed they would not rest until they got out of the volcano and this was “well over a kilometer”.  Their loads average around 100kg or 220lbs.  I would estimate these men weigh in the neighborhood of 150lbs on average.  The should some of them with their shirts off and they had unbelievable trap development, I assume from letting the weight ride on the shoulders.

It got me to thinking…..was this the inspiration for the Inman mile?  Maybe someone can tell me what it is and while this likely is not…you can certainly see where it could be!   If it is, I’m glad they didn’t include dodging poisonous gas and it being all uphill in the rules….this seems hard enough!  I think this lift is safe from any records from me but I’d like to see it done.


One Arm Clean & Jerk

by Thom Van Vleck

Bob Burtzloff, one of the greatest of all time on the one arm Clean & Jerk. You can tell that Bob is lifting this from a racked position, one of the two ways to complete the lift.

The USAWA National Championships have been set for Las Vegas, Nevada next June.  One of the lifts that will be contest is the One Arm Clean & Jerk.  This lift is a difficult lift so you can’t start working on this one too early!  This lift takes a lot of balance, strength, and flexibility that not all lifters may have without some practice.  Let’s take a look at the rules:

The rules of the Clean and Jerk apply with these exceptions. Only one arm is used to perform the lift. The bar is gripped in the center by one handand may be cleaned in front or cleaned to the side. Any grip may be used by the lifter. The bar must be cleaned to the same shoulder as the lifting arm in a single movement. During the clean, the bar must not touch any part of the legs or torso.  In receiving the bar at the shoulder, the bar must not make contact or rest on the shoulder or chest opposite to the lifting arm. The center of the sternum is the line of lineation.  The non-liftinghand may be supported on the thigh or knee of either leg but must not contact the bar, platform, or lifting arm during the lift or it will be a disqualification. With a single distinct effort the lifter will jerk the bar to arms length above the head. The non-lifting hand must be clear of the body upon completion of the lift.  The bar may be in any degree of rotation when overhead. Once the bar is overhead motionless, the lifter’s body in an upright position, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, an official will give a command to lower the bar. Both hands may be used to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control.

So, assuming you know the basic rules of the Clean & Jerk, you are ready to do a One Arm Clean & Jerk.  Now, there are two ways that I know of to complete this lift.  One involves pulling the bar into a rack position and jerking it out of that rack position just like a regular two hand Clean & Jerk.  Another is to lift the bar and catch it to the side with the bar at a 90 degree angle to the body, this method may work best for those who lack flexibility.  Below is a great photo of Bob Burtzloff showing that method.

Bob Burtzloff setting the Best One Arm Clean and Jerk Record in the USAWA. This was done at the 2004 Dino Gym Challenge with a lift of 175 pounds.

Now, one final word of advice.  I know when I was a kid, I did some one arm cleans.  I was taught, to pull high and then use the free arm to help rack the bar.  In other words, you ended up in a position at the finish where it looked like you had done a two hand Clean, but the bar had popped free of one hand.  This is NOT ALLOWED in the rules.  The first time I thought of attempting this lift I did not read the rules carefully and this impacted my lifting considerably.  Not only did I not lift what I had planned, but I was not prepared to lift in any other way.  So learn it, practice it and we’ll see you in VEGAS!!!!!

RULE CHANGE – Feet in Air Bench Press

by Al Myers

These are the two ways the Feet in the Air Bench Press must be performed - legs straight off the bench (left) or with legs crossed (right). No longer is a support bench allowed to rest the lower legs on. These pictures were taken at the 2006 USAWA National Championships. Dennis Mitchell is lifting in the picture to the left, with head official Bob Burtzloff seated behind him. Al Myers is lifting in the picture on the right, with head official Thom Van Vleck looking on (and intently I might add!)

One of the IAWA rule changes that happened at the 2011 IAWA World Meeting involved the rule for the Bench Press – Feet in Air.   This proposed change was presented by the IAWA Technical Committee at the meeting, chaired by IAWA Technical Committee Chairman Dennis Mitchell.  The “issue” involved disallowing a support bench during the lift, which has been allowed under previous IAWA rules.  The USAWA rules have NEVER allowed the legs to rest on another (a totally separate) support bench.  This issue was discussed at this past years USAWA meeting as well.  These past couple of years rule changes have been presented to the USAWA   membership to bring our rules (the USAWA rules) into compliance with IAWA rules.  You would be surprised how many differences there are.  All of the other changes were passed at this meeting, but the USAWA membership voted NOT to allow a support bench to rest the legs on.  This decision led to this being presented to the IAWA Tech Committee to see how the IAWA membership felt on it.  There was some opposition, but the majority in attendance felt that a support bench was not within “the intent” of the feet in the air bench press.  Thus the IAWA rule is now changed, and the USAWA rule and the IAWA rule is the same on this now. The bottom line – NO SUPPORT BENCH!

As I’ve said before, there are many subtle (and some not so subtle!) rules differences between the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules. These rules differences can make some lifts harder or easier, depending on which rules you follow.  I would say DEFINITELY having a support bench to rest the lower legs on is an advantage as it would provide more balance to the lifter resting on the bench during the press.  That is one of the biggest difficulties in the feet in the air bench press, maintaining proper body position as you press the weight up.  The interesting thing is that this difference between the IAWA rules and the USAWA rules came about because of how the original rule was interpreted.  The original rule stated that the “ankles and heels” must not be supported or resting on the floor.  This was interpreted by IAWA as meaning the lower legs WERE allowed to be supported by a support bench, whereas the USAWA made the assumption that NO PARTS of the legs could be supported.  Again, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, THERE SHOULD BE NO INTERPRETATIONS WHEN IT COMES TO THE RULES, everything should be “spelled out” and very clear in what is allowed and not allowed! 

But this leads to an even bigger issue.  What about all the IAWA World Records that were set by lifters resting their feet/lower legs on a support bench?  Should these records still count?  And how would you go about identifying these cases? It will definitely take a much better effort to break one of these records in the IAWA World Record List from now on.  Also, what about all of the other differences between the IAWA rules and the USAWA rules where rule differences might give an “added advantage” to set World records?   These are issues that need to be worked out in my opinion.

Proper Dress Code Continued

by Al Myers

I'm not perfect either when it comes to violating USAWA dress code. Last summer at the Ledaig Record Day I wore a cap when lifting, which is a violation of proper dress. But then again, I was lifting outside in the blinding sun and 110 degree scorching temperatures!! It was a matter of survival!!

Before I left for Australia, I ran a blog on the proper dress code in the USAWA.  I also issued a “quiz” to everyone on how many violations of dress code that are in the pictures in the USAWA Rulebook.  Well, I almost forgot all about that quiz!  But before I get to who the big winners are, let me say a few more things on this issue.  I appreciate the comments on this subject in the discussion forum.  Most of those that posted felt that our policy of allowing lifters to wear shorts and t-shirts is acceptable, and requiring singlets for competition would be too much to ask.  I do feel that this is the way the majority of USAWA lifters feel on this, even though personally  I think the requirement of a more formal attire of wearing singlets is the way to go.  But I will always try to represent the feelings of the MAJORITY and thus why the feedback on the discussion forum is so important.

Next, I would have to say I was slightly disappointed in the number of responses to this quiz.  I only got THREE RESPONSES!!  No one was “dead on” with correctly identifying the number of violations in the pictures, but our USAWA Official’s Director Joe Garcia was the closest with identifying 24 violations of dress code.  The actual number of violations is 28!  That is out of 102 pictures total in the USAWA Rulebook, which comes out to over 25% of the pictures containing some type of dress code violation!  As I said earlier, most of these pictures are from competitions, so you can tell this is something that has not been addressed in the past.  How can we expect to impose tighter dress code standards when our Rulebook pictures portray the complete opposite?!?!  The next closest answer came from Eric Todd, who gave an answer of 23.  Eric also pointed out that he himself was in violation in BOTH PICTURES of himself  in the Rulebook, and he felt  that alone should gather him a  prize.   Let me tell ya  ET – prizes like that are called a BOOBY PRIZE in my book, but since you showed the modesty of pointing that out to me (and now everyone else in the World!) I’m going to send you a water bottle as a prize for being a repeat violator!  Third in line was the latest of USAWA Officials Lance Foster – who correctly identified 20 dress code violations. I’m going to send you a water bottle as well Lance because I appreciate you taking the time to participate in this little quiz.  Now see what the rest of you missed out on – everyone who entered was a winner!   I didn’t even count the few pictures of lifters wearing shorts that appeared below the base of the quadriceps, which is a violation, because I felt this would be a judgement call on my part.  I ONLY counted pictures that contained OBVIOUS INFRACTIONS. 

I don’t want to appear to be going “overboard” on this issue, but I do think it is something that should be mentioned at meets to lifters when they are in violation of proper USAWA dress code during this upcoming year, because I truly believe the reason lifters are in violation is because they just don’t know better.  I know there are much bigger (and important!) issues regarding our Rulebook, rules, and policies than this!

One last note on this – I want to point out the lifters in the Rulebook who have 100% compliance with dress code.  This list only contains lifers who have the  three maximum pictures of them in the Rulebook.  These lifters are: Joe Garcia, Scott Campbell, Denny Habecker, Frank Ciavattone, Chad Ullom, John McKean, Al Myers, and Kevin Fulton.  However,  I WON’T point out the lifters who have the most violations!!!

Trap Bar Training: Part II

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck performing Trap Bar Deadlifts with the addition of 60 pounds of chains attached to the bar. Thom joined us at the Dino Gym for one of our "Tuesday Night Workouts" and discovered the FUN OF TRAP BAR DEADLIFTS. (photo and caption courtesy of Al Myers)

Now, to continue with the Trap bar, I learned a couple of things as I began to work this lift.  First, I needed to start with the bar where the center of gravity was where it normally would be with a regular deadlift.  Then, as I pulled up, I would shift that center towards the center of my thigh.  The began to engage the hips more.  Your “groove” might be different but it’s critical you play around with it and find it…it’s different than a straight bar for sure!!!!

My plan is to work this lift hard over the winter with a goal of 700lbs!  I will let you guys know what I end up with, but the truth of the matter is that I’m as motivated about pulling again as I was 10 years ago when I got the 640 deadlift!  When I got that lift I was on a quest for 700 but had worked for so long and so hard on doing deadlift after deadlift after deadlift I got burned out on heavy lifting from the floor.  So it’s more more important to me the trap bar has captured my imagination and made me believe I can hit big numbers again. That’s the real gift of it.  Maybe I’ll finally pull that 700!  Even if it’s on a trap bar!  So, try some trap bar pulls to spice up your training….and don’t forget, it’s a USAWA official lift so you can set records on it, too!!!!!

Rules for the Trap Bar Deadlift are pretty basic.

I9.  Deadlift – Trap Bar
The rules of the Deadlift apply except a Trap Bar must be used. The Trap Bar must not be of the type that contains elevated handles.


Al Myers even has a two man trap bar!  So you can go to the Dino Gym with your training partner and hit some big “two man” lifts.

So go “Trap” and see if your pulling power doesn’t come up!

USAWA Official Dress

by Al Myers

Dennis Mitchell competes in every meet wearing a singlet. This picture is from the 2011 USAWA National Championships.

One of the issues that has presented itself recently in the USAWA is the issue of the “official dress” in USAWA competitions or events.  The USAWA has always been very lenient in what lifters wear in competitions.  We allow lifters to wear tshirts and shorts, unlike most other lifting organizations. Most other lifting organizations I have competed in don’t allow a lifter to wear shorts and tshirt, but require the lifter to wear a singlet for competition.  The only thing we insist on is that the lifters don’t wear supportive gear, like knee wraps or super suits.  The thoughts of this go back to the ideas of our founder Bill Clark, who felt that lifting in shorts and tshirts is acceptable.  I don’t have a problem with this either, but this “relaxed dress code” has lead to even more relaxed dress, and lifters have been wearing long sleeve tshirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and even jeans in competitions!  I think part of this is the “change of times” in everyday life.  It used to be that businessmen dressed in suits and ties for work everyday.  Then along came casual Friday, and before we knew it EVERYDAY is casual Friday, and now I go into businesses and see people wearing shorts and tshirts to work!  What has happened?  It has been a gradual trend of decline in the acceptable code of dress.  Now that is happening in the USAWA!  I guess this is showing my age, because I still want to LOOK like a weightlifter in a competition, thus the reason I always wear a singlet.  Most of the lifters my age or older do the same.  I look at guys like Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Dennis Mitchell – and these guys always look the part of weightlifters at meets by wearing weightlifting singlets, instead of some ratty old tshirt and sweatpants.

I’m going to go over some of the rules on official dress, which comes straight from our USAWA Rulebook.


2.  The lifting uniform may be a one piece suit or it may consist of shorts and a shirt.  The lifting uniform must not provide any support that would aid in lifting.
3.  Upper body must be covered by a one piece suit, shirt or both. No tank tops are allowed. If a one piece suit is worn, the straps must be over the shoulders.
4.  Lower body must be covered by a one piece suit or shorts.  No sweat pants are allowed. The suit or shorts must not extend lower than the base of the quadriceps muscle. An undergarment is allowed to be worn under the suit or shorts, but must not provide any support that would aid in lifting.
5.  Headgear of any kind is not allowed except for religious purposes.  This would include stocking caps, ball caps, headbands, or any other covering of the head.
6.  Lifting gloves are not allowed.
7.  Lifting straps are not allowed.
8.  Braces or supports on any part of the body are not allowed. This would include neoprene elbow and knee sleeves.  An exception to this rule may be made by the officials if the lifter has proof that it is medically necessary.
9.   Socks must extend no higher than the bottom of the kneecaps and must not be an aid in lifting.
10.   Suitable shoes or slippers must be worn. They must not provide an unfair aid in lifting.
11.    A belt may be worn and must not exceed 12 centimeters or 4-3/4 inches in width.
12.  The lifter may be required to have his/her gear, which may include shoes, lifting belt, wrist wraps, and lifting attire inspected at weigh-ins. Approval of proper dress code will be determined by the Meet Director.  Lifting attire which contains inappropriate language or images, is too revealing, sloppy in appearance, or deemed otherwise inappropriate by the weigh-in official or Meet Director is a violation of the USAWA dress code.

These rules pretty much “lay it out” what is expected.  I truly believe that most of the violations are due to  lifters  just not being aware of what is required to meet the USAWA dress code.  Very rarely do I feel there is any malicious intent by a lifter to “cheat” by violating these requirements. There is reasons behind all this and let me explain a few.  Wearing long sleeve shirts is not allowed because some lifts require the elbows be locked.  A long sleeve shirt could hide this infraction.  The same thing applies to wearing sweat pants – if the knees are covered it makes it difficult for the official to tell if the legs are straight in lifts that require this.  Headgear, like loose stocking caps or ball-caps, might impair the ability of an official to determine if a lifters head is flat on the bench, or against a wall in lifts like the strict curl.  Obviously knee sleeves can be “lift enhancing”, but even if they were loose and non-supportive, they could undermine an officials view of the legs just like sweatpants would. 

Read over article 12.  Our rules allow a meet director to approve the proper dress, and if wanted, a meet director could disallow inappropriate dress. I had to do this at the National Championships where a young lifter was wearing tight fitting spandex shorts (like biker shorts) under his singlet.  This undergarment was in violation of rule number 4, because it extended below the base of the quadricep.  No harm was done, and he just took it off when I asked him. He was not aware that this was a violation.  But in this meet the Zercher was contested, and wearing a tight fitting undergarment this low on the quadriceps would allow a lifter to rest the bar on the shorts instead of on the legs alone, which I feel would give an unfair advantage. 

My feeling is that all lifters should be required to wear singlets in competition, and not just shorts and tshirts.  When I was throwing in the Highland Games kilts were required by all athletes in competition (outside of novice classes).  All throwers “looked the part” of being a Scottish Athlete this way. By requiring singlets in the USAWA, all lifters would also “look the part’ of being a weightlifter.   I welcome input and discussion on this topic in the USAWA Discussion Forum.  I would like to know everyone’s opinion on this. 

Speaking of improper dress code – it is time for another quiz.  There are a number of pictures in our Rulebook demonstrating the USAWA lifts. Among these pictures there is a NUMBER of improper dress code violations (which obviously were overlooked in competitions because most of these pictures came from competitions).  I have counted them up and was surprised at the number.  For anyone who emails me the correct number of violations regarding the USAWA Dress Code among the pictures in the Rulebook I will send you a free  USAWA Water Bottle.  The deadline for this quiz  is when I get back from the World Championships in Australia.

Updated Rules Test

by Al Myers

USAWA President Denny Habecker (left) and the late Wilf Chapman (right) of Australia officiating at the 2007 IAWA World Championships in New Zealand.

I just want to announce that the USAWA Rules Test has been updated. The USAWA Official’s Director Joe Garcia and myself have made a few changes to the Open Book Rules Test that must be passed in order to become an USAWA Certified Official. Joe had identified some “bad questions” on the old exam and these questions  have been changed or modified.  Now I’m not saying we made the test easier – because a few new “hard” questions were added as well.  From this point on, this new test must be the one taken.  Don’t fill out and send in the old test!  If you do, you will be asked to take this new one instead. So this is YOUR WARNING!!!!!  Also, due to some rule changes in the past couple of years, the answers to some questions have changed. This new test is much improved, with very few “open ended” questions. 

There are actually rules for the Rules Test.  Since there are no questions covering these rules of the Rules Test in the Rules Test (wow, say that three times quick!), I’m going to go over them.  This is taken from Section VII of the USAWA Rule Book as it applies to the Rules Test:

10.   There will be two levels of classification for Certified USAWA officials.

  • Level 1 Test Qualified – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test.
  • Level 1 Experience Qualified – The official has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.
  • Level 2 – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.  

11.   The USAWA Secretary will maintain a list of certified officials, their level of classification, and their active/inactive status. This list will be available to the membership.

12.   The USAWA Rules Test will consist of 100 open book questions regarding rules within this rulebook.  The test must be completed and returned to the Officials Director to be judged.  There is no time limit in taking the test. To pass the test, an applicant must score over 90 percent.  The Officials Director will inform you only of a pass or fail.  You will not be told the questions you missed. If you fail, you may retake the test as many times as you like.  Once an applicant has passed the test, the Officials Director will inform the USAWA Secretary to include you on the list of Certified USAWA Officials.

13.  Once an official has passed the Rules Test, the Officials Director will issue an Officials card that will be valid for 3 years from the date the official passed the test.  Level 1 Test Qualified Officials will be required to retake the Rules Test after 3 years to maintain Certified Official Status. Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials will receive an Officials card that is valid for 3 years and will be automatically renewed unless the official has been inactive as an official during the previous three year period, in which a new Officials Card will not be issued unless the individual makes a written request to the Officials Director. Level 2 Officials are exempt from recertification, and are issued a lifetime officials card.

14.   An individual must make a written request to the Officials Director in order to apply for Level 1 Experience Qualified Certified Status and provide proof that the individual has the 25 competition experience requirement. This also applies to an official who wants to change their level of certification from Level 1 Test Qualified to Level 2.  

 In a couple of years  (2013) we will begin to have a few officials that will need to renew their certification.  Joe and I have discussed this, and we have decided that we will work up a new test in a year from now.  This way those re-certifying will have a new and different test to take.  I’m sure some questions will remain the same or just be changed slightly.  I KNOW  myself  (and Joe) will hear some complaining and bellyaching when this happens, but THAT IS JUST THE WAY IT IS in order to have a good officials program.  Our officials program already lets the “experienced” officials “off the hook” when it comes to taking the Rules Test.  That is why there is that “25 event” loophole in the rules now.   My opinion is that EVERYONE should be taking the test and this is why – we have over 200 official lifts in the USAWA, and the rules are being changed and amended every year now, plus new lifts are being added.  Even the experienced officials have to “stay on top of things” in order to be a good official.   The main reason of the Rules Test is to insure that the officials are familiar with the current USAWA Rulebook.   All the questions on the test can be “looked up” and answered, since it is an open book exam.  This process FORCES someone to at least know where to look for the answers to judging questions or where the individual lifts rules are located in the Rulebook.  Since I’m on a “soapbox” right now, let me tell you about another gripe I have with officiating (besides the USAWA and IAWA(UK)  rules differences).  First of all, wrong calls on lifts will always be made by officials.  I even see it watching NFL games with instant replay, and these guys are paid “big bucks” to be professional officials.  Making a bad call doesn’t bother me – and I believe the officiating is as good in the USAWA as it ever has been.  Judgement calls are judgement calls – and everyone sees things differently. What bothers me is when “experienced officials” really don’t even KNOW THE RULES.  That is inexcusable.  All you have to do is have a rulebook and READ THE RULE of the upcoming lift before sitting in the chair.  I watch outstanding seasoned officials like Denny Habecker and this never happens to him, and this is why.  He is always carrying his Rulebook with him when officiating  and reads over the rules for the upcoming lift (which he probably knows like the knurling on his favorite bar) just TO BE SURE he hasn’t forgot something.  That’s what it takes to be an outstanding official!!!

This new Rules Test is located on the website under “USAWA Information – Officials & Rules Test” .