Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

by Al Myers

Longtime USAWA member and IAWA supporter John McKean performs a 283 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 2 Bars, 2" at the 2010 USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge, PA.

One of the lifts that will be contested at this year’s World Championships in Perth, Australia will be the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″.  This a very difficult grip lift that requires grip strength in BOTH HANDS.  If one of your hands is weaker than the other, this lift will show it!   I have done this lift in several USAWA competitions to date, but never in an IAWA competition.  This event was contested at the 2003 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. 

A while back  I received a question regarding this lift which I thought was an EXCELLENT QUESTION, so I would like share this question and my response since I’m sure other lifters might be wondering the same thing.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could help me out with some lifting technique!?  It is with reference to the 2 x 2″ vertical bar lift for Australia – I had a go at this lift on friday night, I attempted it with one bar at either side of my legs and found the weight plates were catching my legs all the way up!!! Is the straddle stance, i.e. one pin in front and one pin behind a legal position? Also is it mechanically better?  Thanks for the help.

First, lets do a review of the rules for this lift.  By now most of you know my frustrations with the nuances of rule differences between the USAWA rules and the IAWA rules for lifts.  Well, this lift is no exception to that as you will see. (By the way, both of these rule descriptions are actually for the same lift!  It doesn’t appear that way when you read them. )  Even the names are drastically different - the USAWA calls it a deadlift while the IAWA rules just call it a lift.

USAWA Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

I25.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2”

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1” apply except two 2” inch diameter Vertical Bars are used.

Need to reference this rule -

I24.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1”

The setup for this lift requires two Vertical Bars, 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 bars. Both vertical bars must be loaded to the same weight.   No knurling is allowed on the bars. The lifter must start with the bars on each side 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. Each bar may be gripped by any grip near the top of the Vertical Bars. The forearms are not allowed to touch the bars. The lifting hands or weight may accidentally touch the lifter’s body or legs during the lift, provided that it does not aid in the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bars from the platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked and the body upright at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bars must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

IAWA Rules for the Two Vertical Bars (one in each hand) – 2 inch rods

F26.  TWO VERTICAL BARS (ONE IN EACH HAND) – 2 INCH RODS

The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with  two x 2 inch diameter bars / rods, one in each hand.

Causes for Failure: 

1. Causes for failure are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that 2 x 2 inch rods are used.

Need to reference this rule -

F19. VERTICAL BAR LIFT – TWO INCH ROD 

The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with a two inch diameter bar / rod.

Causes for Failure: 

1.  Causes for failure are the same as for the one hand vertical  lift, except that a 2 inch rod is used.

Need to reference this rule as well -

F2.   ONE HAND VERTICAL BAR LIFT

The lifter will grip a vertical bar with one hand, and lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface, holding it motionless and under control for two seconds. On completion the legs should be erect and straight with the free hand clear of any contact with the body. The bar will be of 1 inch diameter, and can be up to 30 inches long. A collar or base plate should be tightened or welded  on the bottom to hold the vertical weight stack. The bar should not be knurled. The lifter can use an optional grip, and the lifting hand should not be in contact with or in close proximity to the weight stack, so as to avoid any tipping  or gripping of the bar  with the weight stack at an angle. The lifter should also be careful to ensure that the bar does not touch the forearm or leg, and the lifting hand is not locked against the thigh.

Causes for Failure:

1.   Any contact of the bar with the forearm or legs, or locking of the lifting hand or bar against the thigh.
2.  Any contact between the lifting hand and the weight stack, or any attempt to tip or grip the bar at an angle.
3.  Failure to achieve and maintain the finished position (weight held clear of the lifting surface, motionless and under control for two seconds, with the legs erect and straight and the free hand clear of any contact with the body.
4.  Replacing / lowering the bar before the referees signal.

Wow!  That is confusing – isn’t it???  Now add in the factor that the World Entry form, in it’s attached list of guidelines for the rules of the lifts to be contested,  has this lift misnamed as the 2 HANDS FULTON DUMBELLS DEADLIFT (I’m sure this is was just listed this way on accident),  but you can see why someone would have questions regarding this lift!  Add in the differences in rules between the USAWA and the IAWA and  it makes it nearly impossible for me to answer some parts of the question as well.

Is the straddle stance legal? 

The USAWA rules state that it IS NOT (the bars must be on each side of the lifter).  The IAWA rules don’t state that is an infraction (nothing is mentioned regarding the lifter’s stance) , so I  can assume that a straddle stance is allowed.  Now to the part about it being a mechanically advantage to use the straddle stance – I have tried it both ways and I prefer the side by side approach. It seems to me that my grip is dramatically reduced when holding one of  the VBs to the back, and since this event is limited by my grip and not my back strength, this reduces the amount I can lift. 

What are some other rules differences between the USAWA and the IAWA?

The big one that “jumps out” to me is the legal length  allowed.  The USAWA rules clearly state the VBs can not be over 18 inches in length while the IAWA rules allow a length of up to 30 inches long!  This is a HUGE difference!  Having  a VB  that long turns this lift into a partial lift.  For some short lifters, the VB may barely even clear the floor at lockout!   The USAWA rules require the lifter to stand totally upright with shoulders back (that is why it is called a deadlift in the USAWA rules) while the IAWA rules only require, as stated in the rules “to lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface”, thus I would say is why it is just called a lift. Nothing is stated in the IAWA rules about being required to stand upright (but I won’t be surprised that this will be required come meet day, and be justified with the explanation that standing upright was implied).   Here’s another question – my left hand strength on a VB is slightly less than my right hand, so can I load the VBs to different weights?   The USAWA rules clearly state NO on this - but this is not stated as an infraction in the IAWA rules so I’m going to assume I can do this (but then again I bet come meet day this will also not be allowed, with the explanation that this is ANOTHER  implied IAWA rule on this lift).  With these rule differences it appears to me that the USAWA rules are much more difficult than the IAWA rules for this SAME LIFT.  There is one rule issue that might make the IAWA rules a little more difficult than the USAWA rules as they state the weight must be  ”motionless and under control for two seconds” whereas the USAWA rules only require the VBs to be held till “the weight is motionless”.  Two seconds is a long time to hold at lockout after becoming motionless, and will definitely decrease the amount of weight that can be lifted versus getting the down command immediately when the VBs are motionless. 

Neither set of rules state limitations on the size of plates that can be loaded onto the Vertical Bars. When lifting the VBs at your side, large plates (45#s or 20Ks) will hit the side of your legs and cause drag, and in turn less weight can be lifted. I prefer loading the VBs with smaller plates(25#s or 10Ks) when performing this lift.  Hopefully this will be the way the Vertical Bars will be loaded in Australia.

I have stated my opinion on rules many times before but I’m going to repeat it.  I don’t really care WHAT the rules are for a lift as long as the rules are well written and are specific in what is allowed and disallowed.  NOTHING SHOULD BE IMPLIED WHEN IT COMES TO THE RULE BOOK.  

It also would be nice if the USAWA and the IAWA had consistent rules in all of the lifts.  We are far from that now. But if at Worlds, the Vertical Bars are 30 inches long and only need to clear the floor a 1/2″ to be a legal lift, I will adapt to that and do it that way!

Bars, Bars, and MORE Bars!

by Thom Van Vleck

Al doing front squats, his favorite lift! But try to ignore him, what I really want you to notice is the wide variety of bars on the Dino Gym wall!

Ok, if you lift weights regularly I’m sure you have noticed there are a lot of bars out there!   Yesterday, Al pointed out what’s “legal” in the USAWA and how that rule has changed to allow some wiggle room.  He wrote that article in response to my use of the over sized “John Ware” bar used at the OTSM Championships.  I think I inadvertently opened a can of worms for Al using that bar.  I, for one, appreciate the wiggle room. Here’s why:

Back in the day, all bars were assumed to be made for competition so they were all made to exact specifications.  I remember sitting down with my Uncle Wayne Jackson as he ordered a new York 400lb Olympic set in 1977 (I still have it!).  Back then, you had few suppliers to order from……then came the fitness craze and people started making bars for training, not competition.  What’s the one thing that can end the life of a bar?  Getting bent!  How do you make a cheap bar last longer?  Make it thicker and out of harder steel, so you end up with these bars that are thicker and of hardened steel that won’t “whip” like a high quality Oly bar.  When you walk into my gym you will see the “gun rack” of bars and at first glance, they all look alike.  But look closely and you’ll see all kinds of subtle variations.  I’ll blame China, too.  Even Eleiko, the “Cadillac” of barbells, now has their bars forged in China, then assembled in Sweden.  I had a York bar that had “York, U.S.A” on it….made in China…but assembled in the USA so I guess they get around the loophole of not mentioning “China” on the bar.  I’ll blame China because I don’t think they worry too much about “exactness”.  They don’t care if it’s “legal”, they just crank out a product and if it’s close, then it’s all good to them.

I have about 15 or so bars (I don’t know exactly how many because I have so much of my stuff out on “loan” I’ve lost count.  But let’s just say I have a wide variety of bars (but not as many as the Dino Gym) and when you look closely at these bars there are all kinds of subtle…and not so subtle differences.  There are also many variations in the type of steel used.  The best kind of steel for a bar will bend and good steel will bend and then snap back into it’s original shape.  Hardened Steel will not bend and will tend to snap if you force it to bend or it will bend and stay that way.  You can even have good and bad batches of steel that are intended to be the same.  So, two bars that are “Exactly” the same upon visual inspection, maybe even made by the same company, may have very different characteristics.  Companies today will “contract” out jobs to factories in China.  That contract may be bid out after each order and a different company will supply the bar each time resulting in all kinds of variations.

Ok, just ignore he ugly guy doing the Continental to the Shoulders and focus on the bars on the wall! More bars in Al's gym!

Finally, it’s my contention the original size of an Olympic bar was developed for the average sized man.  I am 6′3″ and my wing span is 6′9″.  It is very difficult for me to get under a “regulation” bar and not bind up.  John Ware was the same way so he had that bar we used in the 2011 OTSM Championships custom made for him.  I know there are some issues with having the weights further away from the center of gravity and that can create more “whip” and help with certain lifts…but it’s easier for the shorter guy to adapt to a longer bar than the taller guy to adapt to a shorter bar.

Again....try not to focus on the ugly guys...and notice the bars leaning against the wall in the background! The JWC has it's fair share of bars! (btw...that's Dean Ross hitting a Anderson Squat at the OTSM in the JWC Training Hall!)

So, the moral of my story?  There are a lot of variations out there on the “standard” Olympic bar.   Some will bend, some will have good whip. I have 4 made by York and there are differences in width INSIDE the collars and there should NOT BE as these are regulation bars.  We need a little play so that we can allow for more bars to be used.  Weightlifting for fitness is a growing craze, but lifting as a sport is DYING!  Today’s generation is not the sticklers for details like Baby boomers who were raised by the WWII generation where almost everyone had served in the military and picked up on that “attention to detail”.  Today’s younger guys just want to lift more weight and they don’t like rules that make no sense to them.  Rules are made to make things more fair, not the other way around.  So, thanks to the USAWA for loosening up the rules on the dimensions of the bars but keeping the spirit of fairness by having rules that keeps the lifting true and comparable from contest to contest!  I think it will be good for our sport!

Legal Bars in the USAWA

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Matt Cookson squatting using the Dino Squat Bar in a recent workout. The Dino Squat Bar is a custom made bar that is longer than most commercial bars. But - is it legal for use in USAWA competition?

I really enjoyed Thom’s Daily News Story last week on his “15 Year Journey”.  In his story he mentioned how he recently acquired a bar that was once owned by the Late Powerlifting GREAT John Ware.  Thom was able to get this bar by a “stroke of luck”, and when he first got this bar it was rusted up so bad the collars wouldn’t even spin.  It was about thrown away and turned into scrape iron!  Thom saved the life of this barbell.  Thom completely refurbished this great find to “working order” and it now a big part of the JWC Training Hall.  We used it for the Anderson Squat in the USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships. It gave us all a good feeling knowing that this was the bar that John Ware used when he was training for his 1000# squats.   This bar has all the good qualities you want in a squat bar – good knurling, very stiff, thick diameter, and EXTRA LONG!  When Thom mentioned the bar being extra long in his story, I was FOR SURE thinking I would be getting an inquiry from some all-round lifter wondering if this was LEGAL for use in the USAWA.  Surprisingly, I didn’t get this email from anyone. 

This brings us to the question, “What is a legal bar in the USAWA?”.  Several lifting organizations have VERY SPECIFIC criteria for the design specifications of the bar being used in the competition (like the USWA).  This was one issue that was TOTALLY REVISED with the updated USAWA Rulebook that took effect in 2009.   I was the one who made these changes and here’s why. This was the rule in the Rulebook PRIOR to the 2009 edition regarding a legal bar in the USAWA:

The barbell must meet the following specifications:

  • 20 kilogram (45 lbs) in weight
  • Length of the bar shall be 2200 millimeters (86.6 inches)
  • Diameter of the bar is 28 millimeters (1.1 inch)
  • Diameter of the sleeve is 50 millimeters (1.96 inch)
  • Distance between the inside collars is 1310 millimeters (51.6 inch)
  • Width of the inside collars including the collar of the sleeve must be 30 millimeters (1.2 inch)
  • There shall be knurling on the bar 245 millimeters (9.6 inch) from the inside collars towards the center.
  • There shall be a center knurling of 120 millimeters (4.7 inch) located in the exact center of the bar.

Those are PRETTY SPECIFIC criteria is determining what a legal bar is.  Also notice that the rules state “barbell must meet”.  This means there is no “wiggle room” on this.  The bar is either legal or not legal according to what is listed above.  I remember reading this in the rulebook the first time many years ago and upon reading it, went to the gym and measured all my bars and found I had NO BARS meeting those specs.  And I have over 30 different type of bars in the Dino Gym!!  That means I couldn’t even conduct a meet within the USAWA if I was going to be “technical about things”.  I have no idea where these very specific specifications came from.  My guess is that they were copied from some other organizations rules – and probably from the 1950’s!  When I asked about this, I was told that this rule wasn’t enforced so “that was that”.   I’m one who like things “spelled out”, and especially when it applies to rules.  I have voiced “my gripes” about things like this in the past, but I feel a rule should be followed if there is one, and if it’s not followed then it should be changed to something that can be adhered to.  That is the reason I made major changes to the rules concerning a legal bar in the USAWA.  The rule for bars now is this (much looser in guidelines):

SECTION VI. ARTICLE 16.  The bar must meet the following specifications.

  • The bar must have a minimum diameter of 28 millimeters or 1.1 inches.
  • The sleeves of the bar must have a minimum diameter of 50 millimeters or 1.96 inches.
  • The minimum distance between the inside collars is 51 inches. 
  • The maximum distance between the inside collars is 58 inches.
  •  The minimum total length of the bar must not be less than 7 feet. An exception to this is when lifts are done where the combined weight of the bar and the plates does not exceed 20 kilograms or 45 pounds, whereas a lighter and shorter bar may be used. Another exception is allowing a lighter and shorter bar to be used for women and junior lifters. 
  • The maximum total length of the bar must not exceed 8 ½ feet.
  • All bars must be marked with a clear indication of the bar’s weight if the bar’s weight is not 45 pounds or 20 kilograms.
  • The bar may contain knurling on any parts of it. 
  • For one hand lifts, the bar must contain knurling in the center of the bar.
  • The bar must be straight.
  • The sleeves of the bar are allowed to revolve.

I feel our new guidelines are much more appropriate than what we had previous.  We allow alot of leniency in the type of bar used in our competitions. Now meet directors can conduct meets without worrying about being in violation of the rules concerning a legal bar. You would be “hard pressed” to find a commercial bar that does not fit the new rule criteria. These new bar rules hit all the main points that should be addressed, i.e. not allowing the use of a bent bar for the one handed deadlift. (hmm..now THAT’S NEVER HAPPENED! )   I want to also mention that the IAWA(UK) Rulebook (which we follow for IAWA competitions) still lists our OLD SPECS as defining a legal bar for competition.  I haven’t asked, but I bet the response would be the same one I’ve heard before that this rule isn’t enforced!  Of which my response would be THEN CHANGE THE RULE!!  But THAT is another story for another day.

By the way, the Ware Bar and the Dino Squat Bar are LEGAL BARS  in the USAWA!

Rules for the Dumbbell Shoulder

by Thom Van Vleck

Two big Dumbbells.....could either one be shouldered in the "Dumbbell Shoulder" event at the Old Time Strongman Nationals?

When Al and I discussed me hosting the Old Time Strongman Nationals one of the things that I wanted to do was come up with some new lifts.  The “OTS” concept is to have lifts that aren’t current USAWA lifts, that have more relaxed rules, be able to raise or lower the weight, be done for a max attempt, and be something the old timers did.  What followed was me sending Al numerous lifts and him pointing out how they were already USAWA lifts or did not fit the criteria in some way!  In my research I came across the weightlifting for the 1904 Olympics.  It was very different than from today.  There were actually two separate events, a barbell competition and a Dumbbell competition.  There were several Dumbbell lifts and one of them involved cleaning a heavy dumbbell.  I stumped Al on this one.  There are no current USAWA lifts that involved cleaning a dumbbell and Al thought there ought to be so he shot down my idea based on the fact that we need to add that lift to the regular USAWA lifts….as a result it COULDN’T be an OTS event!  So, I came back with this event, as inspired by that 1904 Olympic event and thus the name!

USAWA Rule for the 1904 Dumbbell Shoulder

A 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.

So, we will give this one a try.  It may be a “one and done” event in that we will have to see how this one plays in competition.  If it does, then great!  At the least, it is a unique event and it will be interesting to see how much we can do!

Rules for the Anderson Squat

by Thom Van Vleck

The Anderson Squat: Old Time Strongman lift

Let’s take a look at one of the new lifts for the Old Time Strongman Nationals to be held Oct. 16 at the JWC Training Hall in Kirksville, Missouri.  First, let’s review what the “Old Time Strongman” is before we talk about this brand new lift.  Old Time Strongman in the USAWA will included lifts popularized or used by strongmen of years past.  The lifts must be loadable (So the bar can be loaded to any weight so any skill level can make the lift and not just have a heavy apparatus with a set weight).    The idea is that you will have a strongman contest that can be contested by a wide variety of skill levels and ages.

Today’s focus is on the “Anderson Squat”.  Paul Anderson, one of the greatest strongmen of all time, was famous for his leg strength.  Ol’ Paul had a lot of unorthodox training techniques often born out of necessity (in other words, “he didn’t have the proper equipment so he just rigged something up and lifted it!”).  One of the more famous lifts he employed was squatting barrels filled with junk from a hole in the ground.  The story goes Paul loaded it and dug a hole deep enough he could get under it and do a partial squat.  He would then throw some dirt in the hole, slowly filling it up, so that he would have to get a little lower each time to complete the lift.  I found a great photo of Paul doing the lift and evidently that day he was short on iron so a couple of pretty girls volunteered!  Don’t worry, if we run low on weights at the meet, I’ll be happy to climb on top for extra weight!

USAWA Rules for the Anderson Squat

 A 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.

The uniqueness of this event is doing a squat from a dead stop.  It is also the challenge of it!  It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers we can put up in this event….and I don’t think Paul will have anything to worry about in regards to anyone coming close to breaking his records in this style of lifting.

Rules for the Anderson Press

by Thom Van Vleck

Paul Anderson with a 450lb Continental Clean & Press. This photo approximates the starting point of the "Anderson Press" event at the Old Time Strongman Nationals.

The first ever USAWA Old Time Strongman National Championship will be held at the JWC Training Hall on October 16, 2011.  One of the new lifts to be contested will be the “Anderson Press”.  Big Paul Anderson, arguably the strongest man that ever lived, used to do some pretty unique training lifts and often rigged things up to work on what he felt were his weaknesses. One lift he came up with was to hang a barbell from a tree with a chain and do partial lockout presses.  This lift was the inspiration for the lift to be contested in October!

USAWA Rules for the Anderson Press

Press (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.

You will notice the rules are a lot more relaxed compared to other USAWA lifts.  The idea is that the lifter will be able to handle big weights and it will be pretty evident to any spectators if they get the lift or not.  I know that when I’ve attended meets I have spent a lot of time explaining to spectators that are not familiar with lifting why a completed lift did not count.  While this could still happen, it’s a lot less likely and I think that’s part of the appeal of the the “Old Time Strongman” concept.  It’s more spectator friendly and forgiving to the lifter!   As a result, this type of meet may attract a whole new type of strength athlete to the USAWA that will then try the traditional meets as well.  At least that’s my opinion.  Hope you can make it in October!

5th Edition Rulebook Changes

by Al Myers

At the Annual National Meeting of the USAWA last month, a few minor rule changes were approved by the membership that I want to let everyone know about.  Most of the changes in the individual lift rules were made to bring the USAWA rules into compliance with the IAWA rules.  As I’ve said before, I feel this is a very important step in accomplishing uniform rules between the USAWA and IAWA.  However, this will be an ongoing process that will need to be addressed every year for a few more years until this problem is resolved completely.

A few “big changes” were made to the General Rules.  The first was requiring Officials to be USAWA members in order to serve in an active capacity. Our official’s program has really taken off the past couple of years,  and I feel this is just another “small step” in developing a solid program for officials (I still feel we are not there yet, and more improvements need to be made).   I want to stress that there will be NO LOSS of certification status if an officials membership lapses.  All that is required is rejoining the USAWA in order to be an active official again.  These inactive officials will be identified on the Officials Roster with an asterisk.  Another change is from now on all new Fulton Bar lifts will need to be approved as new lifts by the membership.  Once approved, any new Fulton Bar Lift  will be added to the rulebook.   The next big change is that sanction requests must be turned into the USAWA at least 6 weeks prior to the meet date.  This is necessary in order to allow ample time to adequately announce the event on the website. 

These new changes will become effective August 1st, at which time the new 5th Edition USAWA Rulebook will be available.     

USAWA Rulebook Changes/Additions/Subtractions

Individual Rules of the Lifts:

  1. D7. Curl – Cheat:  Remove “Heels and toes must not rise during the lift.”  Add “The heels may rise during the lift” and “the bar may be lowered below the knees during the lift”.   These changes will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  2. A15. Clean and Press – On Knees:  Remove “However, touching the buttocks to the feet or lower legs during the press is a disqualification.”  Add “The lifter may press with the buttocks touching the feet or lower legs or press in an upright position, but if the buttocks are touching the feet or lower legs at the beginning of the press the lifter is not allowed to become upright during the press.”  This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  3. A44. Snatch – On Knees:  Add “The knees are allowed to move on the platform during the lift.”   This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  4. H24. Vertical Bar Deadlift: Add “Both vertical bars must be loaded to the same weight.”     
  5.  E9. Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat:  Remove “The dumbbells must be turned so the rods of the dumbbells are in line with each other prior to the curl and during the curl.” Add “The dumbbells may be in any degree of rotation during the curl, but must finish with the rods of the dumbbells in line and parallel to the shoulders.”  This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.
  6. H15. Pinch Grip:  Add “front hang or backhang is allowed to the loading of the center bar”.  
  7. H21. Turkish Get Up:  Add “A dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell is used for this lift, but only one record will be kept regardless of the implement used.”  This change will bring the USAWA rule into compliance with the IAWA rule.

 

General Rules:

  1. VII. Officials:  Add “USAWA Officials must have current USAWA membership to be active officials.  Officials who do not have current USAWA membership will be identified on the list of certified officials as inactive.  The lack of current membership will not result in the loss of certification status.”
  2. Fulton Bar (2” Bar) Lifts:  Remove “Fulton Bar Lifts are approved for all bar lifts using a Fulton Bar and the rules of the individual lifts. Listed below are the rules for the Fulton Bar Lifts in which records have been set”.   This would require that all new Fulton Bar Lifts would need to be proposed and passed as new lifts.   
  3. VII.3 The Competition:  Add “Sanction requests must be sent in for approval at least 6 weeks prior to the scheduled event.”

 

Editing:

  1.  B7.  Deadlift – Fingers, Middle:  The photo caption changed from “Deadlift – Fingers, Little by Dale Friesz” to “Deadlift – Fingers, Ring by Dale Friesz”.

 

All changes will be made to the 5th Edition USAWA Rulebook, which will become effective August 1st, 2011.

Bent Press

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Smith, JWC member and All Round legend, performing a Bent Press while still in the Navy in Hawaii at Tommy Kono's Gym

The Bent Press is a very unusual lift.  It is difficult for just anyone to perform even with an empty bar, but with practice fantastic poundage’s can be lifted as evidenced by men such as Arthur Saxon (370lbs officially and 385 unofficially).  In the USAWA I believe that Bob Burtzloff was the finest bent presser our organization has seen.  Bob had the top Bent Press in the Missouri Valley All-Round Record List with an official competition lift of 209 pounds in 1985.  In 1984 I saw Bob do a 225lb Bent Press at Sailor’s Gym in Wichita after an old odd lift meet and was told at that time he had done 253lbs.  Al Myers has told me that Bob’s best training Bent Press was 275 pounds!   Just recently at the Heavy Lift Championships in York, PA I witnessed the heaviest Bent Press that has been done officially in the USAWA.  David Whitley joined the USAWA following the meet with the sole intent of doing a record Bent Press.  He performed a 137 pound Bent Press with the bar using both arms. To me, it looked like he could have done much more but just settled for setting the All Time record on this day. Dennis Mitchell has been the most proficient Bent Presser in the history of the USAWA. At the age of over 60, Dennis performed a Bent Press of 88 pounds weighing only around 175 pounds.  Dennis has the most USAWA Records in the Bent Press, totalling over 25 in number.  He has told me that his best Bent Press when he was younger was 175 pounds, which was bodyweight.  That is quite impressive and should be the goal of anyone wanting to achieve excellence in the Bent Press.    The Bent Press has been criticized as a dangerous lift by some,  and lauded as a great lift by others.  If done properly, I feel it is not dangerous at all.

Newcomer to the USAWA, David Whitley does 137 pounds in the Bent Press for the All Time best mark in the USAWA.

Here are the USAWA rules on the lift:

The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The bar may be taken from the platform to the shoulder in any manner. This may be done with a one arm clean, or with two hands, or stood on end and taken onto the shoulder using one or two hands. The bar will then be gripped in the center by one hand with the bar parallel to the platform. Once the lifter is in a standing position, with the bar held at the shoulder, the body is bent forward and sideways while the bar remains in a stationary position.  This bending away is continued until the lifting arm becomes straight.  The body will be in a bent over position at this point of the lift. The bar is allowed to rotate in any direction during the lift. The non-lifting arm may rest on the body or legs during the lift.  Width of feet placement is optional.  The lifting elbow may be brought into contact with the hip during the lift. Once the bar is locked out and the lifting arm straight, the lifter may stand when ready. The lifter may use the non-lifting arm as support on the knee or thigh. The lifting arm must remain straight once locked out. The lift will end on command from an official when the lifter is upright, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, the non-lifting hand free from the body, and the bar overhead and motionless.

Al reprinted a great story by Arthur Saxon in the USAWA news titled “What it feels like to lift 350 pounds with one hand” and I recommend going back and reading that one if you missed it or re-reading it if you have an interest in this lift.  Personally, I believe the Bent Press is an exercise that if done properly (and getting flexible enough to do it properly) is very beneficial.  But trying to just go to the gym and “do it” could lead you to real injury trouble.  So, read the rules, watch some videos, try to find someone like Dennis, Bob, or David who are proficient at it to coach you and then “GET AFTER IT”!

Zercher Lift: A Missouri Original

 by Thom Van Vleck

Denny Habecker completing the Zercher Lift. Denny will be at the 2011 USAWA Nationals where this lift will be contested

When I was selecting lifts for the 2011 USAWA Nationals to be held June 25 in Kirksville, Missouri I very carefully selected my lifts.  I was trying to get a good mix from each of the major categories.  I wanted a thick bar lift (Continental to Chest), a dumbbell lift/one arm lift (DB Snatch), a power type lift (Deadlift 12″ base), a miscellaneous lift (Cheat Curl), a pressing movement (Pull over and Press), and a squat movement.  For the squat movement I picked the Zercher!  I also wanted all the lift to come off the floor so that the meet could move along quickly and I was not sure how many spotters I would have.

While the list was then passed on the USAWA board to approve and they did approve it the only one that was questioned was the Zercher.  Not because it’s a “bad’ lift, but because it’s been used several times before and there was just some thought that maybe we should “mix it up” a little.  The problem for me was this was the ONE lift I felt I HAD to have in my meet.  The reason:  The Zercher was named after Ed Zercher and he’s a true MISSOURI born strongman!

The man himself: ED ZERCHER, one of Missouri's greatest strength athletes!

One of the things I like about the USAWA is it’s respect for history and the desire to make sure many of these lifts from bygone years are remembered and practiced.  Many of them have real merit and are often “rediscovered” in modern times.  Look at Kettlebell lifting!  My grandfather used to do Kettlebell training when I first stared lifting in the 1970’s and I remember thinking how “old fashioned” that was and he needed to get “modern” if he wanted to get strong!  How naive I was!   The Zercher has made a bit of a comeback for that same reason……in a way!

Many modern lifters have begun to do what they call “Zerk’s” or Zercher Squats.  They take a weight out of low squat rack or power rack, squat with the bar in the crooks of the arms, and then reload it on the rack.  This has become a variation that some lifters use in a mix with front and back squats but it is also one that guys have added that have trouble holding the bar in the front squat position or some other injury the precludes regular type squats.  But of course, as “Ol’ Clark” himself would tell you…..THIS IS NOT A ZERCHER!  Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing “Zerks” and they are a fine exercise to anyone’s repertoire of lifts.

There were some guys recently discussing “Zerks” on a message board and I got on there and pointed out the difference in what I thought was a polite, informative way.  One of them blew up!  He thought I was being petty bringing up the difference.  But to me, Ed Zercher developed that lift and we need to honor the man by keeping things straight!  With that said, here’s the rules for the Zercher lift:

C8.  Zercher Lift
The bar starts on the platform and at the lifter’s discretion the bar is deadlifted to a position where it may be supported on the knees or thighs.
Feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. The lifter will then bend down, with the bar resting on the legs, to a position in which the lifter is able to secure the bar in the crooks of the elbows. The lifter will then stand erect with the arms bent and the bar fixed at the articulation of the upper and lower arms.  The lifter’s arms may be inside or outside of the legs. The hands may be locked together. Once the bar is
motionless, the legs straight, the body erect with shoulders upright, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The bar must be returned to the platform under control for the lift to be complete. It is acceptable to drop the bar once it is below the level of the knees provided that the hands follow the bar to the platform.

So, come to Nationals and help me honor one of Missouri’s greatest Strongmen!  Let’s Zercher!

Deadlift – 12″ Base

 by Thom Van Vleck

Wilbur Miller doing a partial deadlift, but still demonstrating the proper foot placement for the 12" base dead lift

Let’s talk about the 12″ Base Deadlift.   This lift will be contested in the upcoming USAWA 2011 Nationals held by the Jackson Weightlifting Club in Kirksville, Missouri on June 28th.  Make sure you know the rules!

The USAWA Rule Book says:

B1.  Deadlift – 12 inch Base
The rules of the Deadlift apply except that the maximum width of foot placing must not exceed 12 inches between the inside of the lifter’s heels. It is recommended that a 12 inch space be marked on the platform by a drawn line or tape.
Now, just to cover all the bases, let’s cover the rules for the Deadlift just to be sure we all understand it:
A.   Deadlift
The bar will be placed on the platform at the lifter’s feet, directly in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with both hands with any grip and any hand spacing. The lifter may use an alternate grip in which the palms of the hands are opposed. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion.  The bar may be uneven during the ascent, but it must finish evenly.  The bar may touch the legs during the ascent, but must not be rested on the legs, bounced, hitched, or lowered. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Heels and toes may rise during the lift, but foot placing must not change.  No substance of any kind may be applied to the legs. When the legs are straight, the arms are straight, the shoulders erect, the bar motionless, the lifter will receive a command from an official to lower the bar.  The bar must be returned to the platform under control for the lift to be complete.

Pretty straight forward!  At the Nationals this year we WILL have tape on the floor to help the lifters and judges make the call.

Continental to Chest: It’s not a Clean!

 by Thom Van Vleck

The mid point of the Continental to Chest.

The Continental to Chest (Fulton bar) will be contested at the 2011 USAWA Nationals hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  Let’s get familiar with the rules:

A23.  Continental to Chest

The lifter starts with the bar on the platform in front of the lifter and raises it by any method of the lifter’s choosing onto the lifter’s chest above the pectoral muscle. The bar may be raised in one or a series of movements and may come to rest, be lowered, or make contact with any part of the legs and body during the lift. However, the bar must not be upended into any position on the body. Hand spacing and grip are of the lifter’s choosing and may be altered on the bar during the lift. The hands may be removed from the bar during the lift. The bar may come to rest on the lifter’s belt. A towel may be placed in the belt for the bar to rest on.  Touching the platform with a knee or the buttocks is permissible.  It is a disqualification for the bar or plates to touch the platform before the finish of the lift.   Once the lifter’s legs are straightened, the lifter’s body erect, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, the bar motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is placed on the platform under
control by the lifter.

F.  Fulton Bar (2” Bar) Lifts
Fulton Bar Lifts are approved for all bar lifts using a Fulton Bar and the rules of the individual lifts. 

 

We wanted to have one Fulton bar (or thick bar) lift and the Continental to Chest happens to be it.

In the past, this lift has often been referred to as the “Continental Clean”.  This was a pet peeve of  former USAWA secretary Bill Clark.  He would point out that the “Clean” refers to lifting the bar “cleanly” from the floor to the chest.  So, saying “Continental Clean” is an oxymoron……kind of like “near miss” or “alone together”.   Everyone knows what you mean but it really doesn’t make sense!

There’s a deeper story on how the Continental got it’s name.  In the early days of lifting, the British were often in competition with the French and German lifters (or Continental Europe, which did not include the British Isles).  The British took pride in how strictly they would lift the bar “cleanly” to the chest and would make fun of how the French and German would bounce the bar up anyway they could and the would refer to that method as the “Continental Style” in a negative fashion.  Later, the British were instrumental in the early lifting rules and the continental style was phased out and the clean style was accepted for major lifting competitions.  But the USAWA keeps the style alive and well!

So study the rules and get ready for some Continental action!

Pullover and Push: Old School “Bench Pressing”

Pullover and Push as demonstrated by the great Arthur Saxon. He was a favorite of JWC "founding father" Dalton Jackson

by Thom Van Vleck

Those of you who know me know that I can’t make things simple.  I put a lot of thought into things and when I was thinking about lifts for the 2011 USAWA Nationals to be held June 25th in Kirksville, Missouri this process was in overdrive.  I wanted a pressing movement and I also wanted a lift that would honor my grandfather in some way.  Well, he was a big fan of Arthur Saxon and when I saw this photo in the USAWA photo archive it just sealed the deal for me that the Pullover and Push would be that “pressing” movement in the list of lifts for Nationals.

Let’s review the rules to make sure we know how to do the lifts!

A35.  Pullover and Push

The lifter will lie on his/her back on the platform with the bar placed on the platform above the lifter’s head.  Padding, such as a towel or mat, may be placed under the lifter’s body and elbows. The bar is gripped with the palms of the hands facing up and with the bar at arms’ length prior to the start of the lift.  Width of hand spacing and feet placement is optional. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed multiple rolls with the bar on the platform to gain momentum to the bar. Hands must remain on the bar throughout the lift. The lifter will then pull the bar over and onto the chest or upper abdomen resulting in the upper arms resting on the platform. The bar must not be rolled once on the chest. The bar or plates must not make contact with the platform once the bar leavesthe platform or it will result in disqualification. The lifter is allowed to move or lift the feet and hips during the pullover. Once the bar is on the chest or abdomen, the lifter may move the feet close to the hips, and raise the hipsto create a bridging or belly toss to propel the bar to arms’ length. This is done at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed feet and hip movement during the push. The lifter may press the bar instead of pushing the bar if desired.  Once the push has begun, the bar must not be lowered in any manner. Only one attempt at the push is allowed. The bar must lock out with even extension. Once the arms are straight, the lifter must lower the hips to the platform and straighten the legs to a flat position on the platform. The arms must remain straight during this time.   When the lifter and bar are motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control. It is acceptable to drop the bar behind the head in the return to the platform as long as the lifter maintains hand contact with the bar.

Now, you have to make sure you distinguish this lift from the Pullover and Press and the Pullover and Press with Wrestler’s Bridge.  They are often confused.  The last thing I will say is that if you have a big nose or a big head…..you may want to turn your head when you pull the weight over to the push position!  If you’ve ever done this lift, you know what I mean!  Now, come to the Nationals and try it first hand!

Can you Cheat on the Cheat Curl?

 by Thom Van Vleck

I love me some Cheat Curl! There may be some rule changes that bring the USAWA in line with IAWA rules that will open this up for lots of new records!

The Cheat Curl will be contested at the 2011 USAWA Nationals held June 25 and hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club in Kirksville, Missouri.  An interesting paradox will take place with this lift.  As always, the USAWA annual meeting will take place.  This is the one time when rule changes can be discussed, voted on, and passed.  Interestingly enough, one of the lifts being contested is the Cheat Curl.  The USAWA rules currently are different from the IAWA rules and there is a proposal to change the USAWA rules to bring them in line with the IAWA rules.  One of the major differences is the USAWA requires the feet to stay flat on the floor while the IAWA rules allow for the heels to raise.  So, according to the USAWA rules if you did a Cheat Curl following the IAWA rules…you’d be CHEATING?  So I guess it is possible to cheat on the Cheat Curl! Now, here’s where the paradox comes in.

Traditionally, the rules meeting has taken place after the meet.  Since the meeting can be lengthy and since there’s usually a banquet of some sorts afterwards Al Myers and myself decided to have the meeting the night before the meet.  That way, we get the “business” out of the way and the day of the meet only focuses on the lifting and the fun afterwards!  This has created an interesting situation.  One of the lifts being contested on Saturday may have the rules changed on Friday!  If so, then which rules apply!

Currently, the USAWA rules state:

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.  Heels and toes must not 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. 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.

So, be ready for both sets of rules and we will see how this plays out!

Dumbbell Snatch

by Thom Van Vleck

USAWA Secretary Al Myers has the top Dumbbell Snatch in the Record List with this 146# lift at the 2010 Club Challenge.

Let’s take a look at the Dumbbell Snatch which is one of the lifts contested at the 2011 USAWA Nationals being held by the Jackson Weightilifting Club in Kirksville, Missouri on June 25th.  I have listed three rules because one references the other.  If you want the “quick” version, scroll down!

E18.  Snatch – Dumbbell, One Arm
The rules of the Bar Snatch – One Arm apply except one evenly loaded dumbbell is used. The dumbbell may start at any position on the platform. The dumbbell is allowed to rotate during the lift and may finish in any degree of rotation.

A45. Snatch – One Arm

The rules of the Snatch apply with these exceptions. Only one arm is used to perform the lift. The bar is gripped in the center with one hand using any grip, but the palm of the hand must be facing the lifter at the beginning of the lift. The non-lifting hand may be braced or 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. The non-lifting hand must be clear of the body upon completion of the lift. The bar may be in any degree of rotation during the lift and upon the finish of the lift.  Once the bar is overhead motionless, the lifter’s body in an upright position, the lifting arm straight with a locked elbow, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control. It is acceptable to use two hands in lowering the bar.

D.  Snatch

The bar will be placed on the platform, in front of the lifter’s feet.  The lifter will grip the bar with the palms of the hands facing the lifter, and then in one single and continuous movement lift the bar overhead to arm’s length. The lifter may choose any width of hand spacing.   The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter may drop under the bar as it goes overhead, using a squat-style catch in which the legs are bent, or a split-style catch in which the legs are split. The lifter may also choose to drop only slightly, using a power-style catch. The bar may touch the lifter’s thighs and body during the lift. The feet may move during the lift.  No other part of the body other than the feet may touch the platform during the lift.  The turning over of the wrists must not take place until the bar has passed the top of the lifter’s head.  The bar must not touch the head, stop, or be pressed as it goes to an overhead position. The lifter will recover and stand when ready, from the squat or split position, to an upright standing position.  The bar must be maintained in a final motionless position overhead, with arms and legs fully extended, and the feet parallel and in line with the torso.  At this time, a command from an official is given to return the bar to the platform. The lift ends when the bar is brought back to the platform under control by the lifter.

WOW!  Did you get all that!  Here’s the short version:

Grip the dumbbell and take it overhead in one movement and catch it at arms length with the elbow locked, no press out.  You can drop under it anyway you want as long as nothing touches the floor but your feet.  The free hand may brace against the thigh or torso but may not touch the other hand and once you recover, this is important, the free hand must be away from the body.  Finally, you can go left or right handed, your choice at Nationals!

When is a Jerk not a Jerk?

by Thom Van Vleck

Phil Jackson doing Jerks on the back yard platform of the old JWC Club (circa 1964)

Al’s recent article on the Continental Clean & Jerk got me thinking and there was a discussion about this on the forum. Al brought up the history of the Continental. Al talked about how the German lifters were typically well fed with potato pancakes, German beer, and strudel and they took to using their beer bellies to assist in lifting the weight! The English lifters referred to this technique as the “Continental” method (likely in a derogatory way) and referred to their own style as the “clean” method. The English, French, and Germans had a big rivalry back then…..led to a couple of World Wars….though I’m not sure how they lifted weights had anything to do with it but you never know! I do know that however one side would do things, the other would do the opposite, like the metric system, which side of the road to drive on, etc.

There was also a debate about touching the thighs. This was actually not allowed in Olympic lifting until the 60’s which is part of why you saw a leap in records around that time. For those that don’t know what I mean, back before the rule change you had to pull the weight from the floor to the rack position WITHOUT brushing the thighs. You could not touch the thighs at all in the “true” clean. Then, in the 60’s, this rule was changed and my Uncle Wayne is still mad about it! So, what many of us call a “clean” is really not a clean at all technically! Maybe I’ll submit that as a new USAWA lift, the “TRUE Clean & Jerk”. Maybe I’ll even name it after myself!

Other debated aspects included hang cleaning the weight and using the thighs to get a good push. I know I can hang clean more than I can power clean. Also, there was a debate about not catching the weight cleanly on the chest and using the the arms to push the weight into the proper “rack” position.

I know, so when am I going to get around to the topic in the title of this article! Much like the fictitious “Continental Clean” (you either Continental it in some manner or you cleaned it…post 1960 style!) The Jerk with a press out is really not a Jerk at all, but a Push Press with foot movement (which, I guess, really disqualifies it as a push press by USAWA rules). Maybe it’s a “push jerk”…..geez, now even I am confused.

When the sport of “strongman” came out they contested the log lift pretty heavily and there were no rules on how to execute this lift. Guys got pretty creative in how they lifted the weights. Eric Todd, a top strongman and USAWA lifter, would push press the log and then set in on his head! He would then push press the log off his head to a lock out position! This actually became pretty common…..until they made a rule against it. I heard different reasons for this, including that it was dangerous and also that it just looked stupid. I do recall reading of a guy way back that would catch a standard Olympic bar on his head and finish it in this same method…..now that’s what I call a Continental Jerk!

Now, on a side note. If you watch the old 8mm films of the guys in the 50’s and 60’s…..you saw a LOT of press outs. You look at some of Paul Anderson’s “jerks” and he would literally push press the weight. It often really becomes a judgement call on whether it’s a press out or a jerk. Rules are rules and are intended to clarify what’s allowed and not allowed. Sometimes they just confuse us more! Different people have different leverages and thus different styles offer them advantages. One thing I like about the USAWA is there’s something for everyone. But even the USAWA has rules, but I would like to make sure those rules don’t take those advantages away (or are simply used by some to capitalize on their own advantages). So, if there’s enough lifters in the USAWA to create a Continental Jerk, then someone needs to put pen to paper, make the rules, then present it at the Nationals in June where new lifts are approved. I know I would if press outs helped me! I also have no interest in setting a bar on my head to finish a jerk! One final note, could we change the name of it? I get tired of my friends laughing and making jokes about me being a Big Jerk.

Wrist Wraps & Knee Wraps

by Al Myers

I just want to take today and clarify the USAWA’s stance on wrist wraps and knee wraps.   I know last week (in the Dear Dino Man column) I made reference to our organization not allowing any kind of wraps, and I have received a few questions regarding that.  The Dino Man’s response was a little extreme, because in truth our organization does allow wrist wraps and knee wraps in certain lifts.  That response was more aimed at the ridiculous use of lifting suits and supportive bench shirts, which allow a lifter to lift WAY more weight than they could without them on.  But today’s story is not about my opinion on supportive lifting equipment – so that’s all I’m going to say about that.  This story is about what the USAWA allows in regards to wrist wraps and knee wraps.

With the March Postal Meet approaching (the Eastern Open Postal), this discussion becomes very relevant.  This postal meet contains the 12 inch base squat as one of the lifts.  Last June at the Annual National Meeting of the USAWA the topic of knee wraps came up.  Where they allowed or not?  The membership was divided on this – meaning half thought they were and the other half thought they WEREN’T allowed!  Apparently in 1997 the use of knee wraps was approved by the membership  for the front squat and 12 inch base squat.  This issue was never brought forth in the Rule Book and thus a lot of lifters assumed from that point on that knee wraps were not allowed for these two lifts.  The only lifters who knew they were allowed were those in attendance at this 1997  meeting.  The problem this has created is that some lifters were wearing knee wraps for the front squat and 12 inch base squat in postal meets since then while others were not.  Several  USAWA records were established from that point on with  knee wraps.  It is nearly impossible to go back now and identify these occurrences  so the membership at the 2010 meeting voted again in favor to allow knee wraps for these two lifts ONLY  (front squat and 12 inch base squat) and make this point known in the current Rule Book.  This rule is now part of the updated 4th Edition USAWA Rule Book.   This knee wrap rule for these two lifts comes into accordance with the IAWA rule which also allows them.  The regular stance squat is an IAWA lift (not a USAWA lift) and knee wraps may also be worn with it.   Also,  dimension specifications of legal knee wraps were added.  They are not to exceed 2 meters in length, with maximum width of 10 cm and maximum thickness of 1 mm.

Wrist wraps have been allowed in the USAWA since 1997 for all lifts.  Before this wrist wraps were only allowed for lifts that allowed back hang and front hang (mainly the dumbbell swings).   The specifications of legal wrist wraps are not to exceed 1 meter in length, with maximum width of 10 cm and maximum thickness of 1 mm.  The rules also state if the wrist wraps contain thumb loops, they must be removed from the thumbs prior to lifting.  Now don’t confuse wrist wraps with wrist straps.   Wrist straps or lifting straps that attach the hands to the bar are NOT allowed!

Section VI. 12 states that all equipment (including wrist wraps and knee wraps) may be required to be inspected by the meet official at weigh-ins.  If the equipment does not meet the rules criteria, this equipment will not be allowed to be used in the competition.  I hope this clears up some of the confusion regarding  wrist wraps and knee wraps usage in the USAWA.

World Wide Row

John McKean

Recent work on the bent over row shows good effects on the 65-year-old upper back of that chubby little rascal in front who we know as John McKean!

John Grimek, our FIRST USAWA Hall-of-Famer (I was there when Howard Prechtel nominated him!) once wrote that the bent over row is a lift where huge poundages are possible, because the movement employs the arms, shoulders, lats, lower back, hips, and thighs. Big John also stated that the row is the absolute best heavy exercise for building the biceps, as well as the upper back. I once met a young super-heavyweight at a power meet who took Grimek’s advice seriously – the lad ONLY trained the heaving row for biceps, and a few bench presses for the triceps. Without exaggeration, his well formed upper arms had to have measured 23 inches!!

Famed writer/lifter Terry Todd did a photo filled article of his deadlift training for winning one of the first National powerlifting contests – yep, the huge poundage-heaving ROW was given prominent mention as his major assistance exercise. Terry was rowing with over 450, as I recall; those pictures left a lasting impression on my young mind! Even today the row is king in building other ALL-ROUND lifts!

We in the USAWA have instituted the bent over row as an official lift during the past season. First to “test” it was Al Myers’ crew, who raved about the dynamic feeling to pull big weight and the genuine enthusiasm for officially performing this grand old exercise! As Al mentioned, it is a natural, basic exercise that we ALL started our weight training with, and requires a unique direction of pull that no other lift fulfills! Later, big Ernie Beath (who really was the one instrumental in pushing for the inception of this barbell keystone as official) and I rowed for records at Art’s Birthday Bash (I think one END of Ernie’s bar was more than I managed!!). At this point in time, world-wide, the IAWA has adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude, but I think our more carefully conceived, clearer version of the rules should tell how simple and direct the bent over row is as a lift.

USAWA Rule for the Bent Over Row

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

Not only can our All-rounders benefit by direct effort applied to rows, but many who would come to us for weight training programs will make huge strides in OVERALL strength by utilizing the row as a LIFT.  As such, of course, we can draw these athletes into our fold to display prideful gains on a weightlifting platform!!  But these big bent over pulls can certainly serve wrestlers, martial artists, track and field athletes, football players, etc. I, for one, would love to see some of these new guys at our record day meets! Of course, it won’t hurt our image, either, to start associating IAWA lifters with that huge, old time “V” taper derived from concentrated, high-powered rows!

Make it “Official”

by Thom Van Vleck

Phil Jackson judging in the 1960's

I guess I’m officially “OLD”.  I went to a funeral the other day and was upset with the clothes people wore.  They were in jeans, sweat pants, jeans with holes in them, etc.  I was in a suit and tie.  I was there to show respect.

I guess I’m old school and I like to show respect. I respect my elders, my betters, ladies….errr…women.  Because that is how I was raised.  I open doors for older folks (seems to be fewer of those every year…don’t understand why!?).  I stop when I see someone needs help.  I greet folks with a handshake and acknowledge them in some appropriate way when I can.  In general, I’m nice…..Ok, MOST of the time I’m nice.

I was going through some old pictures recently and came across one of Phil Jackson judging a meet in the 1960’s.  He was wearing a suit and tie.  I asked him about it and he acted like that was a stupid question!  He said all the judges wore respectable clothes back then.  He said it made the meet look better, like there was something going on, but most of all it was showing respect to the honorable position of being a judge.  I would also point out that Phil had lifted in that meet and changed to judge the later classes.

Now,  I’ve judged meets in jeans and a t-shirt so I’m not casting stones here (but I will in regards to that funeral….that just made me mad!).  I would be curious what other members of the USAWA think about this.  I’ll guess that if you are over 40, you think that a judge should look the part and at least look half way decent and if you are under 30 you could care less as long as the job gets done.  Ages 30-40 are probably in the middle!!

Log onto the USAWA Discussion Forum and let me know and I’ll follow this article up with the results.

The “Vert Bar” Deadlift

by Thom Van Vleck

Rudy Bletscher performing the 2 Bar Vertical Bar Deadlift at the Club Challenge last March.

Recently, I was talking to my Uncle Phil Jackson, the second generation leader of the Jackson Weightlifting Club and I told him about the “Straight Weight Challenge”.  Phil has been my coach and training guru since day one.  He once told me that it was no use to think I could ever know more than him about training because he had learned it all and he had “forgotten more than I would ever  know”.  I said there were 5 lifts involved and named them off.  When I got to the Vertical Bar Deadlift he paused and in his usual “old school coach” fashion said, “Well! I guess I’m gonna have to ask….what the he!! is a Vertical BAR!”.

Here’s the USAWA Rule book on the Vertical Bar Deadlift, more specifically, the 2 bar lift which is what we’ll be doing in the Straight Weight Challenge:

H24. Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1”

The setup for this lift requires two Vertical Bars, 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 bars. No knurling is allowed on the bars. The lifter must start with the bars on each side 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. Each bar may be gripped by any grip near the top of the Vertical Bars. The forearms are not allowed to touch the bars. The lifting hands or weight may accidentally touch the lifter’s body or legs during the lift, provided that it does not aid in the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bars from the platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked and the body upright at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bars must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Phil then asked me why I added the Vert Bar Deadlift to the contest.  I’m pretty sure he was asking because he has always been pretty critical of my grip strength (and my use of straps from time to time) and thinking, “If he isn’t good at it, why is he adding it”.  Well, to me, a good USAWA meet has to have at least one lift that tests grip in some way and, to be honest, the vert bar is one of my better gripping events.  It helps that my other two team members that have phenomenal grip!

I know that the Dino Gym has answered the challenge for the Straight Weight Challenge, I hope another club will step up!  After seeing the picture of Tully hitting that very impressive 330 Push Press….this will be a close contest!

Definition of a Clean

by Al Myers

Longtime USAWA veteran Jim Malloy properly demonstrates how to "catch" a Clean.

The Clean is a lift that is not contested by itself in the USAWA as an Official Lift, but is a big part of several other lifts.  Lifts like the Clean and Press, Clean and Seated Press, Clean and Push Press, and the Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells are very common lifts contested in the USAWA.  We (the USAWA) define a Clean differently than what is commonly referred to as a  “Clean” in gyms all over the country.   The USAWA Rulebook clearly outlines the Rules for the Clean:

The bar will be placed on the platform, in front of the lifter’s feet. The lifter will grip the bar with the palms of the hands facing the lifter, and then in one single and continuous movement lift the bar to the chest. The lifter may choose any width of hand spacing. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter may drop under the bar as it goes to the chest, using a squat-style catch in which the legs are bent, or a split-style catch in which the legs split. The lifter may also choose to drop only slightly, using a power-style catch. The bar may touch the lifter’s thighs and body during the lift. The bar must come to rest on the clavicles or on the chest above the pectoral muscle in a smooth continuous movement with arms bent. The feet may move during the lift. The elbows and the upper arms must not touch the knees or legs during the lift or it will be a disqualification. No other part of the body other than the feet may touch the platform during the lift. The lifter will recover and stand when ready, from the squat or split position, to an upright standing position. The legs must be straight with the feet parallel and in line with the torso. Once in this position with the bar motionless and under control, the clean portion of the lift is finished.

As you can see from this Rule Description  the bar must go from “the floor to the chest” in one motion.  Also,  you can not support the bar on the body during a Clean as that is a violation, as outlined in the General Rules of the Lifts in the USAWA Rulebook. Section IX.3 states, “Neither the body nor the equipment may support a weight in any manner during a lift.” Of course if the Individual Rules of a Lift state exceptions then they over-ride General Rules.  This is the case with this lift, The Continental to Chest, which in some ways is similar to a Clean.  The beginning and end of the Clean and the  Continental to Chest is the same – it is just what happens in between that is different!   This is where the confusion arises.  Continental is even defined in the USAWA Rulebook in the Glossary.  It states, “Continental – This means that the lift may be done in any manner, with minimal restrictions.  The bar may stop, be lowered, be supported by the body, or be lifted unevenly. The hands do not need to stay on the bar and any grip may be used.” In other words – ANYTHING GOES!!

So, a lift from the platform can be called either a Clean or a Continental.  It can not be called BOTH!  And please don’t use the terminology “Continental Clean” to describe a lift  – that is a misnomer due to  being a conflict of description between  both words. The USAWA has adopted the “modern day” rules of the Clean.  Look back in history and you will see the Rules of the Clean were more difficult than what we use now.  The word Clean, was first used because it applied to the bar being taken to the shoulders clean, or clear, of the body.  In other words – no touching of the legs on the way up!!  How many proficient Olympic Lifters do you see keeping the bar “away” from the body?  NONE!! Our Rules of the Clean allow the bar to touch the legs or body without it being a rules infraction.

When the USAWA Rulebook was updated last year, several of the lift names changed to better reflect how the lifts were performed.  In example, the “Two Hands Standing Press” was changed to the “Clean and Press”.  The new updated Rulebook (the 4th Edition which will be released  the first of August) will have some added rule descriptions as it applies to a Dumbbell Clean.  This will be added, “Both dumbbells must be cleaned at the same time and in one motion from the platform to the shoulders. It is an infraction to clean the dumbbells from the hang position”.  THAT is the way it has always SUPPOSED to have been but I wonder how many times, because it wasn’t laid out clearly in the Rulebook, this rule of the clean has been  violated.  I’m willing to bet that several records have been recorded in the USAWA Record List where the dumbbell/or dumbbells were taken to the shoulders using a Hang Clean.  Here is an example that I am sure even some “seasoned officials” have been confused on.  Both are one arm dumbbell lifts in which the dumbbell needs to be taken to the shoulder first in order to perform the lift.  What is the difference in taking the dumbbell to the shoulder between the “Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, One Arm” and the “Press – Dumbbell, One Arm”?  You should now know this if you have been reading and following what I have described above.  In the first lift the dumbbell needs to be Cleaned correctly, while in the second lift the dumbbell can be taken to the shoulder in any manner, even using BOTH HANDS. Our previous Rulebooks called these two lifts the “One Hand Clean and Jerk with Dumbbell” and the “One Hand Dumbbell Press”.  It would be easy to see how the name “One Hand Dumbbell Press” could imply that ONLY ONE  HAND must be used throughout, which is not the case.

Our Rulebook is far from being perfect.  However, it is far better written now than before.  If we continue to update and correct it every year with issues like this  brought up during the year, it will only get better.

A New Lift – The Foot Press

by Al Myers

Dave Glasgow, Newcomer of the Year for the USAWA, performing a Foot Press with 1050 pounds at the 2010 Dino Gym Challenge.

Last January at the 2010 Dino Gym Challenge, I presented a meet in Arthur Saxon’s memory which I called the Arthur Saxon Pentathlon.  The meet contained five of Arthur’s favorite lifts.  Only one of the lifts in this meet was not an official lift of the USAWA – the Foot Press. This lift was popular with other Old Time Strongmen such as Hermann Goerner, Warren Lincoln Travis, and Milo Steinborn.  It was often performed in their Strongman Shows, usually with people from the crowd sitting on a plank resting on their feet to provide the weight needed to complete the stage act.  The USAWA does not have a lift similar to it.  I would consider  the Foot Press as the “Heavy Lift” version of the Leg Press.  This lift can be done in pretty much any gym that has a Vertical Leg Press or Back Lift Apparatus.  It was a “big hit” at the Dino Challenge as an Exhibition Lift, and because of that I presented it to the USAWA to be approved as a new official  lift. I was glad the membership approved it at the National Meeting.

Our mission statement states, “The USAWA was formed to continue the long standing tradition of old-time weightlifters like Eugen Sandow, Louis Cyr, Arthur Saxon, Hermann Goerner, Warren Lincoln Travis, and many others. We strive to preserve the history of the original forms of weightlifting, which in the past has been referred to as “odd lifting”. Many of the lifts we perform are based on stage acts or challenge lifts of old-time strongmen.”  The Foot Press is an excellent example of a lift that fits our mission statement!!

Rules for the Foot Press

An apparatus is used in which weight is loaded onto the feet only while the lifter is laying on his/her back on the floor/platform with the legs vertical and perpendicular to the floor. The apparatus used must allow the weight to rise without providing any leverage to the lift, but may be guided in a tract. It is also acceptable to use a plank resting on support platforms. The lift starts at the lifter’s discretion. Hands may be placed on the legs or any part of the apparatus, but must not be used to push directly against the weight being lifted. The hands may remain on the legs throughout the lift, and upon the finish of it. The weight lifted must clear the supports and be held motionless, at which time an official will give a command to end the lift.

The Foot Press will be included in the 4th Edition of the USAWA Rulebook that will become effective August 1st, 2010.

Trivia on the Foot Press: Arthur Saxon best reported Foot Press was 3200 pounds.

The Cheat Curl: Part 1

by Thom Van Vleck

The first part of this article will deal with the Rules of the Cheat Curl and some technique advice. Later, I will do a “part 2″ on how to use this exercise effectively for training. I am profiling this lift as it is part of the JWC Straight Weight Challenge.

The USAWA Rule book says:

D6. 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. Heels and toes must not 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. 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.

Thom hitting a 195# Cheat Curl in a meet at Clark's Championship Gym.

I have seen this lift done in a couple of different ways. The first way, which is the way I prefer, is to lift the bar to the start of the curl position. I then bend forward at the waist KEEPING the bar at the SAME spot on my thighs and then drive my hips forward while lifting the shoulders and pulling back. An example can be seen on the video list on this website. I have always been a “hip” puller and this technique favors me. However, Al Myers does a different style that may better suit others. Al will bend at the waist and drop the bar BELOW THE KNEES and then attempt to pull straight up. He keeps the bar tight to the body, much like he was doing a reverse grip clean from the floor. Al told me that one of the reasons he favors this style is the fact that he’s torn both biceps and wants to minimize the stress on them as much as possible.

Experiment around with both styles and try to find which one suits you best. I have never been satisfied doing something the same way, I’m always trying to tinker with my technique for greater gains and lifts. Next time I’ll talk about using the Cheat Curl to help your overhand pulling.

Best Crucifix Lifts of All-Time

by Al Myers

Eric Todd and his USAWA record performance in the Crucifix, with a lift of 140 pounds at the 2005 Deanna Springs Memorial Meet.

I think it is only appropriate to HIGHLIGHT the best lifts ever in the Crucifix since it is our signature lift, as demonstrated by the USAWA logo.  The rules of the Crucifix are often misunderstood.  People will  assume it is the same as other similar lifts like the Iron Cross, Muscle Out or Side Lateral, but the Crucifix Lift is much different. The USAWA Rules of the Crucifix Lift is as follows:

Two evenly loaded dumbbells or kettlebells are used for this lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The dumbbells are taken to arms’ length overhead with the palms of the hands facing each other and dumbbells touching. The lifter must bring the feet together so the heels are together and touching. The body must be upright at the start of the lift. Once in this position, an official will give the command to start the lift. The lifter will then lower the dumbbells to the side with arms’ straight and palms up. Elbows must be fully locked. The lifter may lean back to any extent when lowering the dumbbells. The wrists do not need to be held straight. The legs must remain straight and knees locked throughout the lift. The heels must remain together and the heels and toes must not rise during the lift. Once the arms are parallel to the platform, and the dumbbells motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The best All-Time USAWA lift in the Crucifix is held by Eric Todd, with a lift of 140 pounds performed at the 2005 Deanna Springs Memorial Meet in the 110K Class.  This lift was judged under the strict judging of Bill Clark.  Eric holds a couple of other weight group records with lifts of 130 pounds and 120 pounds, so he is the REAL DEAL when it comes to the Crucifix Lift.  I have competed several times in meets with Eric when the Crucifix was being contested, and I am always amazed at what he does. Only four other USAWA lifters have ever done over 100 pounds – these being Sam Huff, Mike McBride, Bill Spayd, and Ed Schock (who has the top Master Lift in the Crucifix at 100  pounds). The top teenager in the Crucifix is Abe Smith, who did 70 pounds. Amokor Ollennuking has the top female lift in the USAWA with a lift of 60 pounds.

The famous picture of Joe Southard, performing a Crucifix Lift of 130 pounds in 1963.

What is the best Crucifix in history?  I did some research and their are several “claims” but most seem to have not been verified.  I consider Louis Cyr to be the best in history.  Cyr did a Crucifix with 94 pounds in the right hand, and 88 pounds in the left, for a total weight of 182 pounds. Marvin Eder and Doug Hepburn both were credited with a “Crucifix- like lift” of 100 pounds per hand, but were judged “less than strict”.  Among Old-Time Strongmen, George Hackenschmidt did a Crucifix 0f 180 pounds in 1902.  But even Hackenschmidt said in his own words that it was performed “in a less strictly correct style”.

One thing is certain – the description and rules of the Crucifix has been different throughout history, and not always conforming with today’s set USAWA rules. Actually, the USAWA rules make the Crucifix as difficult as possible with these criteria: heels being together throughout, elbows fully locked at finish, and the lift being completed upon official’s command, thus requiring the weight to be momentarily paused. Joe Southard, the great Illinois All-Rounder, did 130# in the Crucifix at 165# bodyweight in 1963.  This was considered the World Record for quite some time for a competitive Crucifix Lift. The picture of Joe Southard doing this record became well known to USAWA lifters, as it graced the cover of our Rule Book for several years.  But look at the picture closely – and you will notice the dumbbells Southard was using were not loaded evenly on both ends, which would not comply with  today’s USAWA Rules. How much that would help I have no idea. Another couple of lifters who excelled at the Crucifix in the Mo-Valley All-Rounds (before the USAWA was formed) was Steve Schmidt (110# Crucifix at 220# BW in 1985) and Bob Burtzloff (100# Crucifix at HWT in 1982).  Both of these lifts were officiated under the same rules as we use today.

The Crucifix has only been performed in one meet in the USAWA these past few years, and that is the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet, hosted by Bill Clark.  It is in the Deanna Meet EVERY year, as the events in that meet don’t change. The Crucifix Lift is the perfect example of a true “odd lift”, and for this reason makes a great “poster lift” for the USAWA .

The Deadlift – Fingers, Little

by Al Myers

I pulled 155# in the Little Fingers Deadlift at the last Goerner Meet. Notice I have my eyes shut as I'm focusing on "pleasant things".

You can’t have a USAWA grip competition without at least one finger lift in it!   The USAWA has two types of finger lifting events. One type is using individual fingers of one hand, and by use of a ring attached to a loader, lift the weight from the platform utilizing just ONE FINGER.  The second type, which is type being contested in this competition, is using the same finger of each hand and deadlifting a bar from the platform. TWO FINGERS are used in this lift.  Ben picked the most sensitive fingers of the hand, the little fingers, to be contested in the Dino Grip Challenge.  The rules for this lift are very straightforward.

Rule for the Deadlift – Fingers, Little

“The rules of the Deadlift apply except only the little fingers of both hands may be used. The little fingers of both hands may grip the bar in an alternate manner.”
I wish I had some compelling advice on this lift – but I don’t.  It will hurt and you will probably tear flesh or injure a flexor tendon.  This lift requires MIND over BODY – and it is best to just “block out” the excruciating pain of the lift by focusing on “pleasant things”.  The Little Fingers Deadlift  hurts more than ALL of the other finger lifts.  I have theorized it is because all of the weight is focused on such a small area. It hurts like hitting your finger with a hammer, but the pain lasts longer.   Last year on the Discussion Forum it was voted as one of the most painful lifts in the USAWA.  But All-Round Weightlifting is NOT for sissies – so come to the Dino Grip Challenge and take on the Little Fingers Deadlift!!

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, 1 hand

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards doing a 235 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 1 Bar, 2", One Hand. This is the top All-Time record in the USAWA.

This lift was introduced to the USAWA several years ago by John McKean of the Ambridge Barbell Club.  Initially it was performed with a 2″ Vertical Bar in each hand, with the lifter completing the lift by standing up with the weight like a normal deadlift.  The first recorded meet this lift was done in was 1998, at Art’s Birthday Bash.  John McKean first introduced it as a One Hand Lift in 2003 at the Jump Stretch Record Day. Since then the popularity of the 2″ One Handed VB Lift has grown. The first big meet it was held in was the 2004 National Championships, in Youngstown, Ohio.  The Vertical Bar has a length limit of 18 inches.  The reason this became the USAWA standard length was because the original VB was the sleeve off of an Olympic Bar, measuring just under 18 inches.  The USAWA rules on Vertical Bar lifting are quite different than other grip competitions. The big thing to remember is the bar must become completely motionless at the completion of the lift, including any rotation.  Another USAWA rule I want to clarify is that in any One Handed lift the same hand must be used throughout all of your attempts. You can’t save “thy strong hand” for “thy hard lift”.

Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift

H18.  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.

H19.  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.

The Unsupported Leg Press

by Thom Van Vleck

Ed Zercher performing an Unsupported Leg Press. In 1952, Ed Zercher did 200 reps with 250 pounds in 7 minutes, 30 seconds. In 1962, Ed Zercher did 10 reps with 605 pounds.

Recently I did a story on the “Zercher Lift” and “Zercher Squat” for Milo Magazine. I had been looking for a good picture of Ed Zercher doing a Zercher lift when I came across this photo (supplied to me by Al Myers). It is really quite a picture and you will find it in the rule book illustrating how to do the “Leg Press-Unsupported”. If you go into the average gym today and ask about the leg press, you will likely be pointed towards the “leg sled” or some variation of it which involves using the legs to press a sled loaded with weights at what is typically a 45 degree angle. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a leg press that is vertical where you lay under it and press the weight straight up in the air. But by USAWA standards, these lifts are not a true LEG PRESS!!!!

The rule book lists the rules as such:

D19. Leg Press – Unsupported

The lifter will lay on the platform, with the back, shoulders, and buttocks flat on the lifting surface. Padding, such as a towel or mat, may be placed under the lifter’s body, but must not exceed one-half inch in thickness. The bar will then be placed on the lifter’s feet by spotters, with the legs straight and the legs positioned at a 90 degree angle to the platform. Boots with heels are allowed to be worn. The spotters must not touch the lifter’s legs, the bar, or plates during the lift. Once the bar is motionless and under control, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter will bend the knees to lower the bar until the top of the thighs touch the torso, and will then recover and straighten the legs. The hands must not be braced or touching the legs during the lift. The lift ends on command. The bar may be removed from the lifter’s feet by spotters.

I recall doing these as part of my early training program in the late 70’s when I was a teen. I did these in a power rack, lying in the rack and taking the weight out like you would for a standing press out of the rack…..just with my feet! I did them with the pins in so I wouldn’t drop the weight on my self and close enough to the rack itself that if I lost my balance I’d drive the bar into the rack and press it up against the uprights for leverage (not really good on the bar and it’s always a must the power rack is secured to the floor if you are going to attempt this!). I didn’t do them because I was “old school”, I did them because I had no leg press to use in the first place. I learned them from my Uncle Wayne who learned them from Wilbur Miller.

I fell the unsupported Leg Press can have a lot of added benefits. First, you have the “feel” of a free weight. I’ve always felt the balance involved in a free weight lift makes one more athletic than any machine type lift. Second, you won’t likely use more weight than you can handle. Third, it will hit your legs more than your hips….at least it did mine. And finally, fourth, you will be familiar with the lift should you go to a USAWA meet that contests it some time.

There is also a variation on the Leg Press in the USAWA rule book called the Leg Press – Self Loaded. The rules of the Leg Press – Unsupported apply except the bar must be loaded onto the feet from the platform by the lifter only. The lifter may do so in any manner, but must not be assisted. I’ve never tried this one, but it sounds interesting and difficult….which could explain why I can’t find a single record on it! Like everything in the USAWA….it’s not the easy way!

The Reeves Deadlift

by Al Myers

Steve Reeves demonstrating the lift named after him. Notice the wide-flange plates turned outwards, to help with the grip. Steve used York Deep Dish 45# plates as his gripping plates.

The USAWA Discussion Forum always stimulates new topics for me to include in the Daily News. Recently, the Reeves Deadlift has been among one of the hottest discussed threads, resulting in several forum members issuing challenges to one another. For those that are not familiar with this unusual All-Round Lift, it is named after the late great bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves is a former Mr. World, Mr. America, and Mr. Universe Champion. During the 50’s and 60’s he starred in several movies, and became a movie star with his movie rolls playing Hercules. Steve Reeves used this exercise as an upper back exercise, and maybe it helped him in developing his stunning lat spread. It has been reported that he was capable of 400# in this lift! I have found the limiting factor in this lift is the ability to hold the grip on the plates – so it is also a great grip exercise. It helps if you have long arms. The Reeves Deadlift is also known as the Rim Lift, and goes by that name in the IAWA(UK). The rules for the Reeves Deadlift are pretty straight forward:

USAWA Rule for the Reeves Deadlift:

“The rules of the Deadlift apply with these exceptions. The lift starts by the lifter gripping one plate on each side of the bar. The flanges of the plates may be turned outwards to provide a better gripping surface. A regulation bar of legal length must be used. There are no width specifications of the flanges of the lifting plates. Weight is added to the bar with smaller diameter plates so the lifter always has just one plate per side to grip.”

Coming tomorrow – the list of the USAWA Record Class Holders in the Reeves Deadlift.

Rules for the Gardner Lifts

by Al Myers

(The following are the USAWA Rules for the Full and Half Gardner Lifts, taken from the USAWA Rulebook)

D11. Gardner – Full

The first part of this lift is to perform a Half Gardner according to the rules of the Gardner – Half. Once in the finished position on the platform of the Half Gardner, an official will give the command to rise. The lifter must not rise before the command or it will be a disqualification. The rules of the Gardner –Half apply to the rise as well. Once the lifter is standing upright, with the bar motionless at arm’s length overhead, the feet parallel and in line with the torso, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The bar may be in any degree of rotation when overhead. The bar must be returned to the platform under control by the lifter to complete the lift. It is acceptable to use both hands to lower the bar.

D12. Gardner – Half

The lifter may put the bar overhead into the starting position by any method, except upending the bar. This may be done using a One-Arm Clean and Jerk, One-Arm Snatch, pushing the bar overhead in one hand using both hands, putting the bar overhead with two hands and then moving it to one hand, etc. The bar is gripped in the center. The start position is when the bar is held motionless overhead with a straight arm, the lifter’s body upright with legs straight, and the feet parallel and in line with the torso. The non-lifting hand must be free from the body. Once in this position, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter will then lower the body to a lying position on the lifters back on the platform by any method, ending with the bar held at arm’s length overhead. The lifting arm must remain straight throughout the entire lift. When the lifter is in the lying position on the platform, the shoulders, legs, hips, head and non-lifting arm must all be in contact with the platform. The bar or plates must not make contact with the platform during the lift. The bar must be under control at all times. The non-lifting hand may be placed on the platform for support during the lift. The bar is allowed to have a slight tilt to it during the lift, as long as the lifter has the bar under control. The bar is allowed to rotate during the lift and may be in any degree of rotation when the lift is complete. Once the lifter is in the proper position lying on the platform, with the lifting arm straight and the bar motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. The lifter may use both hands to lower the bar or spotters may assist in removing the bar.