2011 Nationals Venue Set

by Thom Van Vleck

Historic Rieger Armory, location for the 2011 USAWA Nationals

I have reserved the Rieger Armory for the 2011 USAWA Nationals and I couldn’t be more pleased with the location.  It is a classic building built in 1938 that has a lot of character and history (I know what you are thinking….that means it’s OLD, but it has been very well kept up and has been the location of hundreds of major functions here in Kirksville over the years).

It is named for Col. James Rieger who is a local war hero.  He served in WWI and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, and the Purple Heart as well as numerous other medals for leading  the 138th Regiment in a brutal attack that caused the German defenses to fall back all across the front lines.  He was nicknamed the “Hero of the Argonne” and one of his men famously said in an interview that went national, “…there wasn’t one of us that wouldn’t go to Hell for him”.   The War Department donated a German Howitzer captured in WWI to Kirksville that is in Rotary Park and Col. Rieger was later tapped to return to France at one point to locate and document American soldiers buried  there.  He was given pieces of a stained glass window from a bombed out French Church that was incorporated in the First Baptist Church here in Kirksville as a token of appreciation.

Just as importantly, it is a great place to have a weightlifting meet.  Centrally located in town, you can see Truman State’s campus and the town square from Rieger.  It has a large indoor area that used to house the National Guard artillery unit in town (now a Combat Engineer unit).  It also has a large kitchen with plenty of tables and chairs for our banquet and a stage for a first class awards ceremony!  I hope everyone will try and make this.  More info to come so stay tuned! It is located at 500 S. Elson St. in Kirksville.

National Postal Meet Reminder

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson lifts 656 pounds in the 12 inch base Deadlift in the 2010 USAWA National Postal Meet.

I just want to remind everyone that the deadline for the 2010 USAWA National Postal Meet is the last day of December.  If you only do one postal meet – do this one.  The USAWA Postal Meet Director John Wilmot picked three lifts for this meet that ANYONE can do – 12″ base deadlift, heels together clean and press, and the cheat curl.   Make sure you include the signatures of the officials that judge your lifts.  For postal meets, you may use someone who is not a certified USAWA official and your lifts will still count for placings.  However, lifts MUST have a certified official in order to set a USAWA Record (and THREE certified officials for a IAWA record).  This information is recorded on the result sheet.

The USAWA Postal Meet Series has been a big success these past few years.  John Wilmot deserves the credit for this.  He really believes in Postal Meets as a way of encouraging participation.  And I agree with him!!  All you have to do is do the lifts in your own gym – and it doesn’t even require any expense!!!  It doesn’t get any easier than that.

This year I am going to recognize an OVERALL Postal Meet Champion.  The scoring for this will be very straight-forward.  You will receive points for EACH Postal Meet (of the four) you compete in throughout the year.  If there are 10 competitors, first will receive 10 points and last will receive 1 point.  If there are only 5 competitors, first will receive 5 points and last 1 point, etc.  The National Postal Meet will be worth double points.

There also will be awards for the winners in the National Postal Meet – and you get ALL THIS FOR FREE!!!

Goerner Deadlift

by Al Myers


2010 Goerner Deadlift Participants: (left to right) Mike Murdock, Al Myers, and Rudy Bletscher

The tradition of the Goerner Deadlift continues!  After a postponement and a change of locations, the Goerner Deadlift has added another year to it’s rich history.  Bill Clark graciously let me reschedule it at the Dino Gym after he cancelled it because of low entries, and only one entry was added as the result of the postponement.  That one addition was Mike Murdock.  So, overall the Goerner this year only attracted 3 lifters, which is still a pretty low turnout for a meet of this caliber. Rudy Bletscher and myself were the other two lifters.

Rudy Bletscher pulled a 265# Heels Together Deadlift.

Because of lack of available weekends left in December, the meet occurred this past Tuesday night.  We started at 6 PM – which is a pretty late start for a meet that has 13 lifts!!  We kept after it at a fast pace, and by the time we finished at 10 PM all of us were starting to feel the effects of the aches and pains in our backs from the multiple deadlift attempts!   The real heated battle was between Rudy and Mike.  Both of these guys are over 70 years old and are two tough characters!  Together they teamed up at the 2010 USAWA Team Nationals last September  to become the National Champs in Two-Man lifting in the 70 year age division. Who can forget their 2-Man Trap Bar Deadlift of 585 pounds at that meet???  Both these guys are great pullers – so I knew this was going to be a close battle between them.  It was “nip & tuck” till the finger lifts, then Rudy’s experience with the Finger Deadlifts showed and he pulled out a tight win over Mike, and gathered second place overall.

My highlight of the meet was FINALLY officially registering a 400 pound plus One Arm Deadlift!  I have worked for this for very long time, and this NIGHT was the NIGHT!  My 405# One Arm Deadlift broke the record of 402# held by Kevin Fulton in the 40 year age group/115 kg class.

I want to thank Bill for allowing me to host the Goerner Deadlift this year, and to Rudy and Mike for showing up to make it a competitive event.


Goerner Deadlift Dozen Plus One
Dino Gym, Holland, Kansas
December 14th, 2010

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Officials (one official system used):  Al Myers & Mike Murdock

Lifts:  Deadlift – Heels Together, Jefferson Lift, Hack Lift, Deadlift – 2 Bars, Deadlift – Right Arm, Deadlift – Left Arm, Deadlift – Right Arm, No Thumb, Deadlift – Left Arm, No Thumb, Deadlift – Reeves, Deadlift – Middle Fingers, Deadlift – Ring Fingers, Deadlift – Index Fingers, Deadlift – Little Fingers


Rudy Bletscher – 75 years old & 220# bodyweight

Mike Murdock – 70 years old & 234# bodyweight

Al Myers – 44 years old & 244# bodyweight

Lift Rudy Bletscher Mike Murdock Al Myers
Deadlift – HT 265 265 551
Jefferson Lift 198 198 551
Hack Lift 198 154 551
DL – 2 Bars 220 265 551
DL – Rt Arm 154 154 405
DL – Lt Arm 154 154 353
DL – Rt, NT 132 132 220
DL – Lt, NT 132 132 200
Reeves 185 185 280
DL – MF 135 115 234
DL – RF 95 45 140
DL – IF 140 95 140
DL – LF 45 45 95
Total 2053 1939 4271
Adj. Points 2367.96 2084.65 3602.44

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in pounds. Adj Points are adjusted points corrected for bodyweight and age.

Joe Ciavattone – Level 2 Official

by Al Myers

Joe Ciavattone is now a Level 2 USAWA Official.

Joe Ciavattone Sr., the owner of Joe’s Gym,  has just passed the USAWA Official’s Exam which upgrades him from a Level 1 USAWA Official to a Level 2 USAWA Official.  Level 2 is the highest level of official certification attainable in the USAWA .  This gives Joe LIFETIME CERTIFICATION as an official.  To be eligible as a Level 2 official, an official must have knowledge of the rules (by passing the Rules Exam) and experience officiating (by serving as an official in over 25 USAWA competitions).  There are currently only 11 Level 2 Officials in the USAWA, which makes Joe part of an elite group!

Congratulations Joe!!!

Apollons Lift

by Al Myers

Thom Van Vleck, of the JWC, training on his 245# Apollon Wheel Replica.

It’s about time I start highlighting the rules of the events that I plan on having in the Dino Gym Challenge on January 15th, the VERY FIRST strongman competition sanctioned by the USAWA.   Again – this strongman comp will be quite different than modern traditional strongman comps as this one will be based on feats of strength performed by OLD TIME STRONGMEN.  The first event that I am going to profile is the APOLLON’S LIFT.  This event is based on the old-time strongman Louis Uni, aka Apollon.  He made famous the Apollon’s Wheels – a 2″ axle connecting two railway car wheels.  The entire apparatus weighed in at 366 pounds!  David Willoughby made this feat well-known when in his book, The Super Athletes,  he listed it as one of  the “Five famous weights and the men who lifted them.”   Well, I don’t expect anyone to lift a replica of the original 366# Apollon’s Wheels so we will use a lighter set-up.  I do expect this event to be held to the basic dimensions of the original Apollon Wheels so a 2″ axle will be used and a higher bar height will be allowed (since the diameter of the original AW was 26 inches).  The rules for this lift will be very liberal since the object of this strongman feat is to “get it overhead in any fashion”.

The Rules for the Apollon’s Lift:

A 2 inch diameter axle (or Fulton Bar)  will be used as the bar for this lift.  The maximum starting bar height is 12 inches measured from the platform to the bottom of the bar.  Any method may be used to take the bar to the shoulders or overhead.  The bar or plates are allowed to retouch the platform during the lift.  If the bar is placed down or dropped, the lifter may try again as many times as he/she wants within the time limit.  A time limit of 1 minute is allowed.  Once the weight is overhead, with arms’ locked, legs straight,  and the feet in line with the torso,  an official will give the command to end the lift.

All other general rules of the USAWA will apply.  Each competitor will get three attempts of their choosing with the best one counting towards their total.

Membership Drive

by Al Myers

It’s now December and the  time to start sending me USAWA membership dues for the 2011 year.   I already have a couple – from Jim Malloy and John Wilmot.  I will start the 2011 Membership Roster soon – so if you want your “join date” to say January 1st beside your name – you have a month to get it done!   Membership dues are still the same at $25 per year, with USAWA  membership running from the first of January till the end of December.  No longer will there be any “rollover” memberships like there has been in the past.  I will be very firm with this.  Dues are our only means of financial income for our organization and I take that very serious.  Also – $25 per year is a bargain!

A couple of important things to consider when filling out your membership application:  make sure you list the club you are affiliated with because this is important in the calculation for club of the year, and make sure you include the
SIGNED drug waiver.  If not – you will be tested at EVERY EVENT you attend (just kiddin’).  The drug waiver is part of the application and your membership will not be active until I receive it.  If you forget, I will remind you and it will cost you another stamp.

For 2010, the Dino Gym had the most registered USAWA members with 13, followed by the JWC and Clark’s Gym with 6.  Habecker’s Gym was next in line with 5 members.  Overall to date, we have 61 members.  Next year I would like to see us over 100 members.

The Membership Application is located on the upper left column of the website under “USAWA Information – Forms and Applications”.   You might as well send it in now as it doesn’t get any cheaper if you wait!!

Run up the Flag

by Thom Van Vleck

The United States Flag flies with pride above the Dino Gym on top of a 40 foot Flag Pole.

I remember the first Highland Games/strongman contest I promoted. I remember putting a huge amount of work into it and wondering if anyone was going to show up and thinking, “Well, if nobody shows, then I won’t do it again”. The meet started at 9:00 and at 8:30 NOBODY was there! Then by 9:00 there were 27 throwers and about 50 spectators! I remember feeling relieved!

My point, many of us promote meets of different levels. I have never met a meet director that has not gotten fed up at some point. It’s a damn thankless job and everybody has a criticism and a gripe…..usually behind your back. You can charge an entry fee and give a shirt, award, maybe lunch, and let them destroy your equipment and they will act like they are doing you a favor showing up and they feel like you are going to retire on the immense wealth brought in by their entry fee.

However, the reality is that MOST guys appreciate the effort. MOST guys understand and get it. What some of us need to remember is that holding a meet year after year is like raising the flag every morning. Just because there’s nobody there to salute it doesn’t mean that nobody cares about whether it came up or not. Believe me, when I was in the Marine Corps, Marines always had flag duty and I was on it often. It was the one duty I volunteered for. Get up before dawn, put on your dress blues, get shined up, do the silent march down to the flag pole, go through all the rituals of doing it…..and most often there was not a soul around to see it. But it was a must that everyone know its up and there and waving in the wind to greet the day because if it’s not, then it becomes more and more likely it won’t be there the next day and then the day will come when it’s gone forever!

Recently, Bill Clark, who has “run the flag up the flagpole” more than anyone in the USAWA cancelled the Goerner meet. Quite frankly, the guy has done his share. Just like there’s a Marine running that flag up at the bases in Pensacola, Florida, Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, and San Diego, CA. I took my turn, now it’s somebody else’s. That flag gets run up because it has a deeper meaning, and it means a lot to those who believe in it. The USAWA is NOT the USA, but it means a lot to those involved in it and somebody ought to run that flag up, otherwise accept defeat.

I know someday I won’t be running the meets I run for lots of reasons (my demise being the most likely at this point)…..but maybe somebody will grab that flag and run with it. Like I grabbed the JWC flag from my Uncle’s and ran with it.

Superior Strength for Athletes through All-Rounds

John McKean

John McKean, at 64 years of age and in the 80 kg class, performed a 120.9 kilogram One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift at the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup last month. This is the best One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift in the USAWA Record List, regardless of weight class, for lifters over 60 years of age.

Fierce looking, amazingly muscular, and sullen , the 181 pound powerlifter sat alone in a corner of the Ambridge VFW gym during one of our 1960s powerlifting meets. Nobody was crazy enough to disturb the thick thighed monster as he death-stared the warmup platform. Except me, of course; the resident nut! Surprisingly gracious and talkative, the young (but already bald & fu-manchu mustashed), record setting squatter explained his very basic leg routine -simply work up in singles from a power rack’s parallel pin position, starting dead stop at the bottom (eliminating rebound or “stretch-reflex”), going to an absolute limit, once per week. I’m sure this eventual all time great altered his approach over the years, yet not long ago I heard he became the only master lifter over 50 to set an official squat of over 900 pounds!

A similar power rack approach was taken by legendary Paul Anderson. In a story by Terry Todd, who witnessed the training, mighty Paul had 1050 pounds situated on a below parallel pin position (so low, recalled Todd, that he himself couldn’t even squeeze himself under it).  Anderson easily got himself up from this dead stop bottom position, many singles during training, figuring such easy work (for HIM!!) would allow a “regular” squat with 1150-1400 pounds!!

Olympian Russ Knipp, who the astounded Russians called one of the strongest pure pressers and squatters they had ever seen, described to me his “2/3 squats”.  Again, these were performed from dead stop in a position just a hair above parallel.  Just over the middleweight bodyweight limit, Russ used to do these for 5 sets of 10 with 515 pounds -and not even pushing it, as they were supplementary exercise for his olympic lifting! Russ told me after this “overload” work, any regular squat always felt easy & he never had trouble getting up from low 400+ pound cleans!

Of course, based on progress by these true giants of lifting, I, at my powerlifting best – an awkward, small boned, unmuscular little 165 pound geek- discovered that rack bottom-start squats took my stalled contest lift of around 450 up to a state record 555 in amazingly rapid time. And this was before super suits, big belts, wraps, and all the other “aids” were around.

OK, enter All-Round lifting -we have LOTS of quality lifts that build the same core strength in dead start fashion, as did the rack pin squats, without the need of a bulky, space consuming power rack station. Think about it – our Jefferson, trap bar deadlift, dumbbell deadlifts, Zercher, and others start with no momentum -on the floor- and work the same important core muscles. If modern athletes would simply adopt a few of our sheer strength movements, they would be WAY ahead on FUNCTIONAL power, as opposed to trying to mimic modern powerlifting’s super-duper suited/wrapped, enhanced quarter squats and steel spring shirted, assisted bench presses.

As a long time secondary teacher, I always cringed at the ridiculous weight training that high school and college football, wrestling, and track coaches offered to their athletes. Many times coaches that I knew would simply go to the internet and select bodybuilding style programs, as they themselves had no real experience (and their coaching egos would NEVER have them ask an actual weightlifter!!). I heard of one school’s “strength- coach” who had senior football players do nothing but curls(!!!!), and another who trained female soccer players, but not allow anything heavier, ever, than 3 pound dumbbells!  Equally upsetting were the athletic departments that would tell the youngsters to just do the powerlifts on their own -yep, more quarter squats, bounced bench presses, deadlift injuries, and the ever present assistance gear that easily conned kids bought on their own!

It seems to me that we in the USAWA could maybe initiate all-round contests or, at least, seminars, on high school & college campuses to demonstrate the superiority of our “old time” training methods.  Certainly we could really help athletic programs that could use REAL strength training for their students, and, who knows, our base of competition oriented lifters could expand tremendously!

The Amazing Howard Prechtel

by Al Myers

One of Howard Prechtel's favorite lifts was the Hip Lift. This picture will forever grace the page for the rule of the Hip Lift in the USAWA Rule Book.

This week is a sad week amongst the USAWA – with the news of the death of Howard Prechtel.   I have invited the membership (especially those who knew Howard personally) to share some stories about Howard.  I think this is the best way to deal with the loss of one of the true pioneers of the USAWA – by sharing stories that reflect how Howard influenced our organization and us as individuals.

I will go first (and I’m expecting MANY MORE to follow). I have only been involved in the USAWA for 10 years, and have met Howard only a few times, but each visit was memorable.  When I became involved, Howard was winding down his days of active competition.  I will say this – Howard has made a big of impact in our organization!!  Besides being a great lifter (who often would do things other lifters would not even think of attempting), he was our leader.  Howard served as President of the USAWA from 1993 to 2007. That’s 14 years out of our 24 year history!!  Howard also served as President of the IAWA.  He promoted countless meets – including big meets like the 1994 USAWA National Championships and the 1995 World Championships in East Lake, Ohio.  Howard was the originator of the Gold Cup, and had the vision of developing this competition into a WORLD CLASS event that would allow lifters to “showcase” their best lifts in the spotlight of a prestigious World competition.   Howard was a “lifter’s lifter” as I’ve heard the many stories about him utilizing his ability and understanding  of anatomy and the human body  by “providing adjustments” on meet days to lots of lifters, which undoubtedly helped many lifters achieve the lifts they wanted that day.  Everyone liked Howard.  I have corresponded with Howard though letters and he ALWAYS answered the questions I had.  One of Howard’s favorite lifts was the Travis Lift.  He not only established the the maximum record in it at the time (1815# at a record day in Ambridge in 1990), but he established many repetition records in it.  His letter advice helped me my design setup for the Travis Lift.  Now, in his honor, I plan to make the Travis Lift a big part of my training this coming year.

Howard STILL has many records in our USAWA Record List.  I just did a quick count and he still holds 171 USAWA Records.  Some of his BEST USAWA RECORDS are:

Lift Record Age BWT Location
Clean & Jerk, Right Arm 99 60 105 88 IAWA – Lecester
Clean & Press, DBs, HT 150 70 100 95 Art’s Birthday Bash
Clean & Press, Heels Together 182 65 110 90 Nationals – Akron
Continental to Belt 314 70 95 97 IAWA – Collegeville
Curl, Cheat 154 65 105 91 IAWA – Collegeville
Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells 344 70 105 96 Buckeye RB
Hand & Thigh 1050 65 105 91 U.S. Inlands
Harness Lift 2218 65 105 93 Gold Cup
Hip Lift 1550 65 110 Ambridge, PA
Neck Lift 408 70 100 98 Nationals – Mansfield
Pullover & Push 243 65 105 91 Nationals – Ambridge
Roman Chair Situp 738 65 110 Valley Forge, PA
Snatch, Right Arm 99 65 105 91 IAWA – Collegeville
Steinborn 259 65 105 92 Nationals – Walpole
Travis Lift 1815 65 105 Record Day – Ambridge
Zercher 331 65 105 91 Nationals – Ambridge
Zercher, Left Arm 220 70 100 96 Gold Cup

All of these records were established when Howard was OVER 60 years of age!  Can you imagine what his lifts would have been in these lifts if he had done them in his 20’s and 30’s??  Truly remarkable records – many of which will NEVER be broken!  The USAWA is a much better organization because of Howard Prechtel! He will not be forgotten.

Max Sick (Maxick)

by Dennis Mitchell

Maxick demonstrating his "muscle control".

Max Sick was born on June 28, 1882 in Bergenz Austria.  As a youngster he suffered with lung trouble, rickets,and dropsy.  At the age of ten he made his own weights and started working out.  His parents were against weightlifting and destroyed his weights.  In order to keep working out Max started doing muscle control exercises.  He was very successful and to this day is remembered mostly for his muscle control ability.  Although Max, who later changed his name to Maxick, claimed to have developed his very fine physique and strength using only muscle control, he did some very excellent lifting, leading us to believe that he trained quite a lot with the weights.  He was capable of a continental and jerk with double body weight.  Maxick stood 5′3.75″ and weighed between 145 and 147 pounds. Some of his other lifts were:

Right hand military press – 112 pounds

Right hand snatch – 165 pounds

Right hand swing with dumbbell – 150 pounds

Right hand jerk (two hands to shoulder) – 240 pounds

Two hands military press – 230 pounds

Two hands clean and jerk – 272 pounds

Two hands continental and jerk – 340 pounds

He was also a very good gymnast and hand balancer, and was unbeatable in “Finger pulling” beating men who weighed over two hundred pounds.  Maxick was also a very good business man.  He wrote many books on muscle control and was business partners with both Monti Saldo and William Bankier (Apollo).  His muscle control courses were still being sold into the 1970’s under the name of Maxalding.  Maxick died in Buenos Aires in 1961, where he ran a gym and health studio.  He was active even on the day that he died.  That morning he had been wrist wrestling with a friend and then rode his bicycle home.  He was later found lying on his back with a note under his heal, that stated,  “My heart is beating rather slow, I feel extremely cold, I think it will be over soon. Remember the infinite is our freedom manifested through our consciousness”.  Dated, May 10, 1961 22 hours.

Scott Schmidt’s Hall of Fame Induction

by Al Myers

One of the historic events that occurred at the 2010 Gold Cup in regards to the USAWA was the Official Ceremony in which Scott Schmidt was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame.  The USAWA Hall of Fame Award is the highest honor in the USAWA.   It recognizes outstanding achievement as a lifter, and leadership qualities that are exhibited within the USAWA.  Scott is the PERFECT EXAMPLE of a Hall of Famer – and it was my honor to be able to give his induction speech at the banquet.  I am going to include it here so those who were not in attendance will know WHY Scott was the latest member of the USAWA Hall of Fame.

Scott Schmidt (left) receiving the USAWA Hall of Fame Award from USAWA Awards Director Al Myers (right).

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Scott Schmidt – by Al Myers

It is my honor to be able to give this speech in recognizing Scott Schmidt as the most recent member of the USAWA Hall of Fame. I first met Scott at the 2005 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio, and I could tell right away that he was someone who took his weightlifting serious. I have to admit – I was somewhat intimidated by him at first. He was all decked out in his official warm-ups, and carried himself like someone who came to the meet to do business. This was just the start of our friendship. Since then, I have had the opportunity to compete with Scott at several meets. I have developed great respect for Scott and his enthusiasm he has for All-Round Weightlifting. He always has his “game face” on during competition but at the same time he is always giving encouragement and support to the other lifters.

Truthfully, I have to say it is about time Scott is inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame. Our Hall of Fame program has been dormant for the past several years. We should have honored Scott with this award before now. He now becomes the 22nd member of this very prestigious fraternity in the USAWA which represents the highest award the USAWA has to offer.

It’s time I tell you a little about Scott and why he is so deserving of this award. Scott was born on November 15th, 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio. He has lived in the Greater Cleveland area his entire life. He has been married to his wife Kathy for almost 33 years, and they have two children, Alan and Heather, and one grandson Joel. He has spent his entire working career in business, and currently he is selling Natural Gas and Electric service to commercial accounts. Scott also does a lot of volunteer work for his church, Unity Lutheran of Cleveland. He has been President of the Church Council for 12 years. His other athletic pursuit is golf, which he does at least once per week. Believe it or not, Scott is a pretty good golfer as well as weightlifter, and often scores in the low 80’s. Last year he received a plaque for his first Hole in One!

Scott started lifting when he was 14 years old. His first competition was in 1967. Scott started his competitive lifting career as an Olympic Lifter and has compiled a very impressive resume of achievements. He has won the Ohio Open State Championships 10 times, the Ohio Master’s State Championships 18 times, American Open four times, 2 National Master’s Championships, and 4 American Open Masters Championships, along with 4 Pan American Masters Championships. He has placed in the top 5 in all four of the World Championships he has been in. In 1993, he missed winning first place in the World Championships due to one missed snatch! Scott has set over 50 Open and Masters Ohio State Records through his Olympic lifting career. On top of ALL THIS, his club, the Schmidt’s Barbell Club, has won 25 team titles!

Scott was first introduced to the USAWA by Bob Karhan, a past USAWA Champion. Scott’s first USAWA competition was in 1992 at the USAWA Winter Fest, a winter all-round meet which was held at the Ambridge Barbell Club. Since then, Scott has been a regular at USAWA meets and always a top competitor at our National Championships. His specialties are overhead pressing and jerks, gripping events, and the heavy lifts – notably the Hand and Thigh and the Hip Lift. Back in 1996, he was the first man in the USAWA to Clean and Push Press over 300 pounds. He is member of the “century club” – a designation I have given to USAWA lifters who hold over 100 USAWA records. There are ONLY 20 lifters in this club, which is another accomplishment that warrants Scott’s outstanding involvement with the USAWA. In All-Round Lifting, Scott has won 10 National Championships and 8 World Championships. He has participated in the Gold Cup 6 times. He has placed in the top TEN among all competitors 4 times at the USAWA National Championships, with his best finish being 2nd overall at the 2008 Championships.

Scott – you are the perfect example of the type of person and lifter all others should strive to be like. You have been a leader in the USAWA. You support your fellow competitors. You demonstrate outstanding sportsmanship. You have supported local competitions as well as being involved in the major competitions. It is my honor at this time to officially present you the award that you have spent 20 years working towards. You have more than earned it.

Appreciation Response – by Scott Schmidt

First of all, let me say it is an honor to be here at the Gold Cup Banquet with the privilege of being inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame. After many years of effort, it was truly a warm feeling of accomplishment when I was chosen this summer to be recognized by our members to join the Hall of Fame. When I consider what the folks who are in the Hall have done, I am indeed humbled by this award. In addition to all the feats of strength they have preformed, one incredible common bond is the camaraderie they all share. I believe all our top performers enjoy helping assist others succeed as much as they enjoy winning themselves. That quality is what makes me extremely grateful to join the Hall.

I also feel this is a great aura to have in our organization to in-cent new members to join the USAWA as well.

In summary, I wish to sincerely thank all of you responsible for allowing this ceremony to take place. All of our voting members. All of our USAWA executives. All of our Hall of Famers. My entire family for their years of support. And most of all, I thank God for enabling me to share all these wonderful strength experiences with such an outstanding group of competitive athletes, and good hearted human beings. Especially Al Myers, who organized the Hall of Fame election process, and Frank Ciavattone and his family, who volunteered to put a ton of effort into holding this fantastic Gold Cup event and banquet.

Hall of Fame Biography – Scott Schmidt, class of 2010

Scott Schmidt performing a Snatch in an Olympic Lifting Competition.

Scott Schmidt was born on November 15th, 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio. He has lived in the Greater Cleveland area his entire life. He has been married to his wife Kathy for almost 33 years, and they have two children, Alan and Heather, and one grandson Joel. He has spent his entire working career in business, and currently he is selling Natural Gas and Electric service to commercial accounts. Scott also does a lot of volunteer work for his church, Unity Lutheran of Cleveland. He has been President of the Church Council for 12 years. His other athletic pursuit is golf, which he does at least once per week. Believe it or not, Scott is a pretty good golfer as well as weightlifter, and often scores in the low 80’s. Last year he received a plaque for his first Hole in One!

One of Scott's favorite All-Round Lifts is the Hip Lift.

Scott started lifting when he was 14 years old. His first competition was in 1967. Scott started his competitive lifting career as an Olympic Lifter and has compiled a very impressive resume of achievements. He has won the Ohio Open State Championships 10 times, the Ohio Master’s State Championships 18 times, American Open four times, 2 National Master’s Championships, and 4 American Open Masters Championships, along with 4 Pan American Masters Championships. He has placed in the top 5 in all four of the World Championships he has been in. In 1993, he missed winning first place in the World Championships due to one missed snatch! Scott has set over 50 Open and Masters Ohio State Records through his Olympic lifting career. On top of ALL THIS, his club, the Schmidt’s Barbell Club, has won 25 team titles!

Scott was first introduced to the USAWA by Bob Karhan, a past USAWA Champion. Scott’s first USAWA competition was in 1992 at the USAWA Winter Fest, a winter all-round meet which was held at the Ambridge Barbell Club. Since then, Scott has been a regular at USAWA meets and always a top competitor at our National Championships. His specialties are overhead pressing and jerks, gripping events, and the heavy lifts – notably the Hand and Thigh and the Hip Lift. Back in 1996, he was the first man in the USAWA to Clean and Push Press over 300 pounds. He is member of the “century club” – a designation given to USAWA lifters who hold over 100 USAWA records. There are ONLY 20 lifters in this club, which is another accomplishment that warrants Scott’s outstanding involvement with the USAWA. In All-Round Lifting, Scott has won 10 National Championships and 8 World Championships. He has participated in the Gold Cup 6 times. He has placed in the top TEN among all competitors 4 times at the USAWA National Championships, with his best finish being 2nd overall at the 2008 Championships.

Scott Schmidt is the perfect example of the type of person and lifter all others should strive to be like.  He has been a leader in the USAWA. He supports his fellow competitors. He demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship. He has supported local competitions as well as being involved in the major competitions.  Scott has more than earned this USAWA Hall of Fame Award.

My Thoughts on the Gold Cup

by Al Myers

Gold Cup Meet Director Frank Ciavattone (left) and IAWA President Steve Gardner (right) directed the Awards Banquet after the meet.

I am a little embarrassed to admit this – but the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup in Walpole, Massachusetts was the FIRST Gold Cup that I have attended.  Truthfully, in the past I just couldn’t understand why someone would go to a meet where ONLY one (or two if time permitted) lifts for records were allowed.  It just didn’t seem to make sense to me – especially since I could go to a local record day or a meet and set SEVERAL RECORDS.  So I always passed on attending “the cup”.  But now since I have been to one, I now understand the significance of this meet and have a completely different feeling about it.  The Gold Cup is one of only two IAWA Events (the World Championships being the other) that is contested each year.  It signifies the excellence of our lifts and recognizes those that are representative of our organization on an International level.  By attending, it shows that you are one of the elite lifters of the organization.  The Gold Cup was initially organized by Howard Prechtel several years ago with the concept that this meet would allow lifters who were World Champions to come to perform their BEST lifts for records, and in the process have a RECORD DAY that was the BEST of the BEST, and thus give our organization more exposure by demonstrating the tremendous abilities of the lifters within our organization.

Joe Ciavattone Jr., at 17 years of age, deadlifting 227.5 kilograms for a World IAWA Record.

What all can I say about the efforts of Frank Ciavattone for organizing this great event???  Frank has been a National and World Meet promoter for many years, and his experience of putting on a TOP QUALITY EVENT was evident.  Frank had an excellent venue for us to compete in.  It was held at the Italian American Club in Walpole (which is just outside of Boston).   Lots of room for lifting and viewing, a great platform to lift on, and plenty of weights.  Our IAWA President Steve Gardner handled the scoretable and announcing and kept things flowing very well. Judy Habecker assisted with the scoring and does more “behind the scenes” than anyone else in the USAWA.  Thank you Judy from all of us!!!  Eighteen lifters competed and set many new IAWA World Records.  I really enjoyed seeing the variety in lifts performed – from deadlifts to presses, to unique lifts like the Clean and Press on Knees.  Some of the lifters were “seasoned” competitors like Art Montini and Denny Habecker, while others were still teenagers, like Joe Ciavattone Jr, Jonathon Ciavattone,  Frankie Ciavattone, and Kohl Hess.  The age of the lifters varied between 16 and 83 years of age.

Dennis Mitchell, at age 78, performed 600 repetitions on the Roman Chair Situp!!

What were the highlights of the meet?  That is a hard question to answer because it seemed every Gold Cup Record was a highlight.   Things that really impressed me where:  seeing Frank do 160 kg in his signature lift – the one armed deadlift, watching the wily Dennis Mitchell performing 600 reps in the Roman Chair Situp at the age of 78, and seeing Art perform a stiff-legged deadlift of 100 kg with ease. Most guys his age couldn’t bend over to pick up 50 pounds and he does over 200 pounds with straight legs!!  Of course, I really enjoyed watching Joe Ciavattone Jr. deadlifting over 500 pounds for the first time!  I very clearly remember when I did that for the first time as a teenager.  That had to be one of the best lifts of the day.  My father LaVerne attended the meet with me and I talked him into lifting.  He did a 187# one handed Ciavattone Deadlift.  At the awards banquet when he was presented his trophy he remarked to the group that it was the first trophy he had won in a weightlifting meet!  And speaking of trophies, Frank went way beyond expectations with the trophies he gave out.   He awarded EVERYONE a large Gold Cup in appreciation of their performances.  Just another little thing that SHOWS why the Gold Cup means just a little bit more than another ordinary record day!  Chad and I were the only ones to do a two man lift for IAWA record.  We decided to do a 2-man deadlift, after first wanting to do a 2-man one arm deadlift (but it is not an IAWA lift).  After doing 1000# in the 2-man deadlift, we were allowed to do our 2-man one arm deadlift for exhibition and USAWA Record.  I wanted to do this lift for Frank – and thankfully (because I didn’t want to let Frank down) – we got our 800 pounds.  Another great performance of the day was John McKean’s one arm dumbbell deadlift of 266# (I know his inspiration was that DINO GYM SWEATSHIRT he was wearing!).  This broke a record he set over 10 ago – which shows he is getting better with age.  I really enjoyed getting to FINALLY meet Joe Ciavattone.   We always seem to “just miss” each other by attending different meets, and he is the great lifter and person I expected him to be.  His passion for lifting shows when he is busy coaching his boys.

Al Myers and Chad Ullom performed a 2-Man Deadlift of 1000 pounds, and a 2-Man One-Armed Deadlift of 800 pounds.

Afterwards, Frank hosted the banquet at his house.  That is the type of generous person Frank is – opening up his house to his lifting friends.  The food was fabulous!!  Frank’s Mom and his sister Cara prepared an Italian Feast that had everyone “licking their chops”!  I know I ate my share.  After the awards were given out, I conducted the ceremony in which Scott Schmidt was officially inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame.  Scott gave a very thankful response in appreciation.  I will have more on that in a future USAWA Daily News story. Another special moment for me was when Frank presented me with a special award thanking me for my work and efforts in the USAWA.  It meant more to me than the big Gold Cup I received for lifting.

NOW I know what the IAWA Gold Cup is all about, and it is more than just going to a meet to set a record.  It is about being part of an elite competition promoted by the  International All-Round Weightlifting Association.


JWC Record Breaker



by Thom Van Vleck

On October 29, 2010 the 2nd Annual JWC Record Breaker meet was held in conjunction with Faith Lutheran School’s annual fundraiser.  The format was that for every USAWA record broken, there would be a donation pledged.  As a result, over $2000 was raised by the lifters alone and the overall event raised over $12,000!  This was over $4000 more than the previous year and the event was deemed a huge success. Over 500 attended and were able to watch the lifting!

All of the lifts attempted were record attempts.  A total of 125 Open, Youth, and Master USAWA records were set or broken.  Thom Van Vleck, Mike Murdock, Joe Garcia, and Chad Ullom were the Certified Judges for the meet and also lifted.  The other lifters were Morgan and Dalton Van Vleck, Mitch Ridout, John O’Brien, and Josh Hettinger.

The event started at 5:00pm with the “Youth Division”.  Morgan and Dalton Van Vleck took the lifting platform to attempt some records.  By the time they were done they had broken or set 20 age group and open records.


Morgan Van Vleck – Age 13 (12 – 13 Age group) Weight 46.4kg (50kg Class)

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Left Hand – 80 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Right Hand – 80 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – 12” base - 165 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip – 165 lbs. (Age and Open Record – broke record of 155 lbs.)
Deadlift – Trap Bar – 175 lbs. (Age and Open Record – broke record of 100 lbs.)


Dalton Van Vleck – Age 11 (10 – 11 Age Group) Weight 44.8kg (45kg Class)

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1”,  Left Hand – 55 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 1″, Right Hand – 55 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – 12” Base -  145 lbs. (Age and Open Record – broke record of 130 lbs.)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip145 lbs. (Age and Open Record)
Deadlift – Trap Bar – 150 lbs. (Age and Open Record)

Then at 5:30pm the Open Class began. We ran until 7:30pm at which time it was estimated we were at 77 records.  After the Jackson Weightlifting Club did a strongman show to end the night for the fundraiser, the lifters returned to the platform to finish the night.  At the end we weren’t sure how many records had been broken (since some were open and age group) but we were certain we had achieve our goal of 100!  A special thanks to those that traveled up and took part!  Your participation was greatly appreciated and when I presented the money to our principal she got a tear in her eye….and so did I.  Thanks!!!!!!


John O’Brien – Age 42 (40-44 Age Group), Weight 126.5 kg (125kg+Class)

Crucifix – 70 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Jerk – 2 Dumbbells – 150 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Jerk – Behind Neck – 245 lbs.  (Open and Master Records)
Clean & Push Press -  245 lbs. (Master Record)
Squat – Overhead – 140 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Press- from Rack – 210 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Jerk – Fulton Bar – 170 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Zeigler Clean – 75 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Clean & Seated Press – 180 lbs. (Open and Master Records)


Mitch Ridout – Age 42 (40-44 Age Group), Weight 116.1 kg (120kg Class)

Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 110 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat -110 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm -55 lbs. (Master Record)
Swing – Dumbbell, Left  Arm – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm – 75 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Curl  – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right  Arm – 85 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Clean and Jerk – Behind Neck – 135 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar – 190 lbs. (Master Record)
Press – from Rack – 135 lbs.  (Master Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell,  Right Arm – 90 lbs. (Open & Master Records)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar,  2”, Left  Hand – 128 lbs.  (Open & Master Records)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar,  2”,  Right Hand – 128 lbs. (Open & Master Records)


Joe Garcia -  Age 57  (55-59 Age Group), Weight 93.8 kg (95kg Class)

Snatch – Dumbbell, Right Arm -75 lbs.  (Master Record)
Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 110 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Fingers, Middle -250 lbs. (Open and Master Records)
Continental Snatch – 140 lbs. (Master Record)
Push Press – from Rack – 135 lbs. (Master Record)
Continental to Chest – 210 lbs.  (Master Record)


Mike Murdock – Age 70  (70-74 Age Group), Weight 106,4 kg (110kg Class)

Crucifix – 70 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 130 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 150 lbs. (Master Record)
Rectangular Fix – 75 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Seated Press – 90 lbs. (Master Record)
Curl – Reverse Grip – 125 lbs. (Master Record)
Zeigler Clean – 95 lbs. (Master Record)
Push Press from Rack – 135 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Press – Reverse Grip – 95 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Press – Alternate Grip – 95 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Press -Heels Together, Fulton Bar – 105 lbs. (Master Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2”, Left Hand -  88 lbs. (Master Record)
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2”, Right Hand – 88 lbs. (Master Record)


Thom Van Vleck – Age 46 (45-49 Age Group), Weight 135kg (125+kg Class)

Crucifix – 90 lbs.  (Master Record)
Clean and Jerk – 2 Dumbbells – 120 lbs. (Master Record)
Curl – 2 Dumbbells, Cheat – 120 lbs.  (Master and Open Records)
Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 120 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Curl – Dumbbell, Cheat, Right Arm – 85 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Right Arm -85 lbs. (Master Record)
Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 85 lbs.  (Master Record)
Snatch – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 105 lbs.  (Master Record)
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 85 lbs. (Master and Open Records)
Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 85 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – 140 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – 12” Base – 140 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – Alternate Grip -  140 lbs. (Master Record)
Clean & Press – on knees – 145 lbs. (Master Record)
Deadlift – Fingers, Index – 145 lbs.  (Master Record)
Jefferson Lift – 315 lbs. (Master Record)


Josh Hettinger – Age 29 (Open Age Group), Weight 141.5 kg (125+kg Class)

Swing – 2 Dumbbells -120 lbs. (Open Record)
Press – from Rack – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Deadlift -  No Thumb, Left Arm – 180 lbs. (Open Record)
Deadlift – No Thumb,  Right Arm – 205 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean & Jerk – Behind Neck – 135 lbs. (Open Record)


Chad Ullom – Age 38 (Open Age Group), Weight 108.0 kg (110kg Class)

Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Left Arm -120 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean and Jerk – Dumbbell, Right Arm -120 lbs. (Open Record)
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 110 lbs. (Open Record)
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 110 lbs. (Open Record)
Bench Press – Hands Together – 225 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean & Press -  12” Base – 190 lbs. (Open Record)
Side Press – Right Arm – 95 lbs. (Open Record)
Clean & Press – Fulton Bar – 190 lbs. (Open Record)
Swing – 2 Dumbbells – 150 lbs. (Open Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Left Arm – 90 lbs. (Open Record)
Side Press – Dumbbell, Right Arm – 90 lbs. (Open Record)
Snatch – On Knees – 115 lbs. (Open Record)
Miller Clean and Jerk – 125 lbs. (Open Record)
Zeigler Clean – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Press – From Rack – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Press – From Rack, Behind Neck – 135 lbs. (Open Record)
Reflex Clean & Jerk – 250 lbs. (Open Record)
Continental to Chest – Fulton Bar – 225 lbs. (Open Record)

* Three Certified Officials used on ALL LIFTS – Thom Van Vleck, Joe Garcia, Mike Murdock, and Chad Ullom

Calling All Officials!

by Joe Garcia

I now have officials cards available for distribution.  What I don’t have are addresses.  If you wish to have a card sent to you, please email me your address information to: jgarcia@usawa.com

Dino Gym Challenge



by Al Myers

I am excited to announce this year’s Dino Gym Challenge.  Every year I change “the theme” of the Dino Challenge to keep it refreshing and interesting.  This year is no exception.  For the FIRST TIME, the USAWA will sanction a Strongman Competition.  All lifts done will be exhibition lifts – meaning they are NOT USAWA official lifts, and they will not be “record eligible”.   That is one neat thing about the USAWA, our rules allow competitions to be sanctioned with exhibition lifts.  There is not a better way to “try out” a new lift than having it in a competition for everyone to contest.  To me, this seems like the BEST WAY to form an opinion of a new lift (before it is presented for lift approval).  But I’m getting off track, this ANNOUNCEMENT is for a different type of Strongman Competition than what most people are used to.  This competition will be based on OLD-TIME STRONGMEN and the feats they did in their performances or shows.  There won’t be any aluminum kegs, steel logs, concrete stones, or adjustable steel yokes in this one.  I consider those implements as MODERN strongman stuff!!  Guys like Arthur Saxon and Hermann Goerner didn’t have access to those kind of things!

I picked 5 events for this competition based on 5 famous strength feats of 5 well-known Old Time Strongmen. The events will be:

1. Goerner Stroll – Carry two barbells one rod (16.5 feet)

2. Louie Cyr Press – One dumbbell overhead with one hand, anyway. May use both hands to get it to chest.

3. Apollon’s Lift – Overhead lift with 2″ bar, anyway. We will use my replica.

4. Dinnie Lift – Two loaded VBs with ring handles. One must be loaded 75% or less than the other.

5. Saxon Snatch – Snatch with a loaded plank, 3″ thick

I also want to point out that this competition will be DRUG  TESTED, so all competitors will be drug-free just like these Old-Time Strongmen were!  The rules of the USAWA will apply, which will make this Strongman Competition slightly different than the format of other Strongman Comps.  The lifter will get three attempts on each event, and the lifter will PICK the weight they want to try.   This way ANYONE can compete and perform within their capabilities and not be limited by “set equipment weight”.  Each lifter’s maximum weight per lift will be added, forming a TOTAL POUNDAGE, which will be adjusted to points using the USAWA’s adjustment guidelines for age and bodyweight.

Put this EVENT on your schedule and be part of something new!!  All lifts will be further highlighted in future USAWA Daily News stories on the website.

ENTRY FORM – DinoEntry2011

Dave Hahn

by Al Myers

Al Myers (left) and Dave Hahn (right) at the 2010 USAWA Team Nationals.

Last month at the USAWA Team Nationals at the Dino Gym we had a surprise attendee – Dave Hahn.  I had previously exchanged a few emails with Dave, but it was a great honor to have him make it to the gym and get to actually meet him in person.   I know several of the “oldtimers” in the USAWA probably know Dave and competed in meets with him 20 plus years ago.  I am always looking back at old meet results and records, and his name is in ALL OF THEM.  Dave knew and mentioned a couple of current USAWA members that he has fond memories of – Wilbur Miller and Charlie Scott.  I enjoyed listening to his stories about these two. Dave was primarily an Olympic Lifter, but did compete in the early days of the USAWA.  His last USAWA competition was in the early 90’s at Bill Clark’s annual Zercher Classic.  Before this, he competed in many All-Round Weightlifting Meets directed by Bill Clark, then under the Region IV Missouri Valley organization.  Dave had been a subscriber to Bill Clark’s newsletters since the early 1960’s.   He commented to me that most of his early All-Round lifting was done at Bill Clark’s annual weightlifter’s picnics, which were held at a park in Columbia, Missouri.

I would like to mention a few of the records Dave established in the old Region IV Record List:  Cheat Curl of 255# at 181# bodyweight in 1962, Strict Curl of 175# at 181# bodyweight in 1962, Right Hand and Left Hand Dumbbell Press of 115# at 181# bodyweight in 1962, Seated Press of 210# at 181# bodyweight in 1962, and a Standing Press Behind Neck of 190# at 198# bodyweight in 1961.  These are just a few.  Dave told me that he could press almost as much as he could Clean and Jerk, and thus he retired from Olympic Lifting when the Press was eliminated from competition.

Dave now lives in Overland Park, Kansas but works in Milwaukee.  He commutes back home every weekend. He still trains with weights and looks in great shape.

Dave, thanks for taking the time to come to an All-Round Meet.  We really enjoyed meeting you and having you at the Dino Gym. But next time I’m going to talk you into competing!

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

Who is this lifter and which USAWA lift is he performing?

It’s time for another Quiz of the Week!!  This one is going to be a little harder than previous ones, and it requires TWO ANSWERS.

Who is this lifter and which USAWA lift is he performing?

You must provide the answers to BOTH questions!  The rules are the same as before – only 1 answer per day, and the person with the first correct answer wins. Answer must be sent to my amyers@usawa.com email address.

Winner will receive a USAWA Patch

We have a WINNER!

Thom Van Vleck correctly identified this lifter as USAWA Hall of Famer, and the man of 1000 lifts -  John Grimek.  He is performing the Kelly Snatch (also known as the Reverse Swing)

Delaware Valley Postal

by Al Myers




Bill Cookson, of the Dino Gym, won the Delaware Valley Postal Meet following his return to the gym from being overseas fulfilling his military obligations.

I just received the results of the Delaware Valley Postal Meet  from John Wilmot,  which is one of the four quarterly postal meets that are part of the USAWA Postal Series.  The number of competitors was slightly down, probably due to the other All-Round competitions that were occurring at the end of September, but the quality of lifting was high.  Bill Cookson made his comeback to the USAWA after being gone overseas on military duty by edging out Randy Smith.   It came down to ONE POINT!!  That is as close as it gets.  Helen Kahn competed in her first USAWA event, and was the top woman lifter.


Delaware Valley Open Postal Meet
September 1-30, 2010

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts:  Bench Press – Reverse Grip, Squat – Front, and Continental to Chest

Lifters using a certified USAWA Official:
Helen Kahn – official Randy Smith
Bill Cookson – official Mark Mitchell
Kohl Hess – offiicial Denny Habecker
Andrew Hess – official Denny Habecker

Lifters using a non-certified official:
Randy Smith – official Helen Kahn
Denny Habecker – official Kohl Hess
John Wilmot – official Kay Wilmot

Women’s Division

Lifter Age BWT CLS Bench Squat Cont Total Points
Helen Kahn 58 156 75 65 75 80 220 271.6

Men’s Division

Lifter Age BWT CLS Bench Squat Cont Total Points
Bill Cookson 45 212 100 280 286 220 786 720.8
Randy Smith 55 195.5 90 195 255 235 685 719.1
John Wilmot 63 215 100 150 180 155 485 516.2
Denny Habecker 67 185 85 165 110 132 407 486.8
Kohl Hess 16 300 125+ 165 242 198 606 484.1
Andrew Hess 46 310 125+ 176 176 176 529 405.1

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  CLS is bodyweight class in kilograms.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction.

The 10 Worst Lifts in the USAWA

by Al Myers

Ok, I’m getting tired of Thom getting all the recognition for his  “human interest” stories involving his weightlifting life experiences, while the deep  thought-provoking technical stories I write (which require actual research)  get ignored (I actually wonder if anyone EVEN read my last one on the fairness of the Lynch Formula).   It’s time I step up my game – and put a little controversy in what I write!!   The truth is that I really don’t like to OFFEND anyone, and thus my avoidance of any story that may seem offensive.  On the other hand, Thom doesn’t care if he gets hate mail!  He even reads it with a smile on his face. That is what makes him a much better columnist than myself – but TIMES ARE A CHANGING and I’m going to try to “stir the pot” a little with this story.  Here it goes – and I hope AT LEAST one person gets offended and makes a derogatory comment about this story on the USAWA Discussion Forum (and that’s NOT counting YOU Thom).

The Ziegler Clean even makes "The Champ" Chad Ullom look like a clown, despite the fact that he has lifted the most weight ever in this lift. But who really cares about that? All you see is that silly little plate balancing on the top of his head.

1.  French Press – Definitely the WORST  lift in our list of lifts.  That is why I’m listing it first.  Whoever wrote the original rule for this lift must have been a cynic.  Why else would the rules of this lift be written in such a way that it is impossible to perform and COMPLETELY different than how it is performed in the gym by EVERYONE else that trains it?  Judging this lift is even worse.  Did the bar touch the neck? Did the elbows drop?  The answers are always NO and YES. I have YET to see this lift performed the way our rules call for it to be done.  Any lift that has rules so subjective  that it would require instant replay in slow motion  to make an official  judgement needs to be RE-WRITTEN.

2. Press – Dumbbell, One Arm – This lift was just in the World Championships and after what I saw there  it now makes my list of Ten Worse.  The IAWA rules require the center of the rod of the dumbbell be no higher than the clavicle.  Obvious the person who decided on this rule knew NOTHING about human anatomy.  Do most lifters know where the clavicle is?  From watching the judging,  it was obvious the judges don’t.  I have a copy of Gray’s Anatomy, I’ll send you a picture. It is MUCH lower than the top of the shoulder. Practically no one  started the dumbbell this low (myself included!). Also, what’s up with all  the side pressing when doing a dumbbell press?  That’s not supposed to be allowed – we got ANOTHER LIFT for that one!  The bottom line – this lift is performed and officiated differently than how the rules are written so SOMETHING should change to “keep it real”!

3.  Deadlift – Stiff-legged - Another impossible lift to judge.   Judging is ALWAYS very subjective and lifters will bend their legs and get the lift passed.  And I can’t figure out WHY sumo deadlifting is allowed in the rules – it seems to defeat the purpose of a stiff legged deadlift.

4.  Ziegler Clean – Come on, this lift is just ridiculous.  Balancing a plate on your head while you do a clean?  When I first heard of this lift I thought the person telling me about it must be joking.  No one would really want to train for THAT!?!  Lifts like this make a mockery of All-Round Weightlifting, and you got to know people probably LAUGH at us when we report on the Zeigler Clean.

5.  Van Dam Lift – This lift got approved for one reason – us “selling out” for publicity that we never got. Did we really think Rob Van Dam and his professional  wrasslin’ buddies were going to start lifting in our All-Round Meets?   We should be ashamed of ourselves for approving this lift.

6.   Inman Mile – Carry 150% of your bodyweight in the form of a bar across your shoulders for 1 mile??  Give me a break – even the person it was named after couldn’t do THAT!!   This is just another “official lift” that makes us look like a goofy weightlifting organization.

7.  Lano Lift – I respect the fact that lifts are named after someone deserving.  I have met Jack, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he proposed this lift as a joke  just to see if the membership was gullible enough to approve it.  How many different movements are in the Lano Lift?    I can’t keep track of them!  Who would REALLY want to do this?  It is the lift with the longest written rule in the USAWA Rulebook.  Even Jack has never  set a record in this lift that carries his name.  That should tell you something.

8.   Phumchaona Lift – Another screwball lift named after a famous USAWA lifter.  This lift requires you to clean and press a pair of dumbbells WHILE doing a Hip Lift!!  Like THAT is going to be better than your max Hip Lift.  If I was going to do this lift, I would use a pair of 1/2 pound dumbbells and after doing my MAX Hip Lift just raise up my arms.  This “official lift” is so stupid NO ONE  has EVER done it.  That’s right – NO ONE!!

9.  Carter Lift – The only thing more ridiculous than clean and pressing a pair of dumbbells while doing a Hip Lift is SQUATTING a bar while Hip Lifting.  But I’ll give John credit – the picture of himself  performing this lift in our Rulebook  does look IMPRESSIVE, and at LEAST he had the courage to perform his lift in public.

10.  Weaver Stick – Absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to judge fairly.  The arm is NEVER straight, and it only takes a tiny little bend to add a few pounds to this lift.  The records in this lift really are meaningless.   Now STRAP your arm to a fixed pole and THEN see what you can do in the Weaver Stick.  That’s the way it should be done.

**** The above controversial comments are mine alone,  and may not reflect the opinions of the USAWA membership.  Please direct your hate mail to me and not to Thom Van Vleck****

Is the USAWA a “Retirement” Sport?

Wilbur Miller is a guy that had a LONG career in lifting, thanks in part to the USAWA!

by Thom Van Vleck

A USAWA member once told me that the USAWA is a good “retirement” sport.  You have to admit….there are a lot of guys that are pretty old in the USAWA!  I pondered why that was and what it meant (especially since I’m one of them!).

I was at a USAWA meet at Al’s one time and the great Wilbur Miller was there.  We were visiting and he was talking about all the options the USAWA offered to demonstrate strength.  We were also talking about Highland Games and Strongman as well.  He told me that back in his day you either Olympic lifted or powerlifted (he did both and was very GOOD at both, probably one of the best all time at both sports at the same time).  As we watched the lifters doing the lifts Wilbur said, “I wish we would have had this kind of stuff around when I was young…..I think I would have been pretty good at it”.  I don’t think…I KNOW he would have been!  Wilbur must have been inspired, because he came back after that and did some pretty amazing lifting at the same USAWA meet the next year and he’s a CURRENT USAWA member now!

Now, I know some of the old timers will point out that Wilbur and the rest were doing “odd lifts” back in the day, but today’s USAWA has many, many more contested lifts.

Most of us started in more mainstream strength sports.  I started as an Olympic lifter (and was an abysmal failure but I did learn how to power clean and squat….two lifts that have served me well!).   I then became a powerlifter (and was moderately successful).  Then came strongman & Highland Games (which I found I was even better at, with Highland Games being my greatest success relative to world class competition).   And with those, also came injuries.  Some of those have kept me from doing certain movements and if those were the only lifts on the table….then you are OUT!  But with the USAWA comes  hundreds of lifts.  If you can’t do one, pull out the rule book and search until you can find one you CAN do!  How great is that!

Of course, having all the age brackets and age adjustment formulas attract masters lifters, but that is, in my opinion, NOT why there’s so many masters in the sport.  Most athletes don’t retire because they are done, they retire because they are injured.  The desire is usually still there, the body just unable to perform.  That is why there are so many masters involved in the USAWA because it allows them to find lifts they can still do and compete at!   That’s a great thing in my opinion!  It also attracts guys like it attracted Wilbur Miller….the challenge of doing so many things and doing them well and finally finding a place to do it!

….and one last thing…..I ain’t RETIRED!  I’m just getting started!

Meet Reminder – GOLD CUP

by Al Myers

2010 IAWA Gold Cup Meet Director Frank Ciavattone

The entry deadline is approaching FAST for this years Gold Cup on November 6th.  Meet Director  Frank Ciavattone was very generous in setting the deadline as late as possible, with the closing date being October 23rd.   That is only TWO WEEKS prior to the meet, and should give everyone enough time to get their entry in on time.

The Gold Cup is an IAWA sanctioned event, and rotates between the countries affiliated with the International All-Round Weightlifting Association.  It is quite an honor and opportunity to compete in it when it is held in the States.  It may be several more years before it is again.  Lets take this opportunity and show the Gold Cup the support it deserves and in doing so, demonstrate the strength of the USAWA.

Entry forms are available under “IAWA Gold Cup” in the USAWA Future Event listing on the right column of the website.

USAWA in Print: Book Review

by Thom Van Vleck

Steve Scott and John Saylor's latest book promotes USAWA members and USAWA lifts.

I recently got an issue of Steve Scott’s latest book.  He wrote it with John Saylor, a well respected martial arts instructor and Champion.  Steve sent me an autographed copy because of what was inside.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  First, let me tell you about Steve.

Steve is one of my best friends and someone I admire greatly.  When I first met Steve he was a top master’s thrower in Scottish Highland Games and was running Highland Games in KC.  Because of Steve, I became friends with Al Myers and Chad Ullom and was introduced to the sport that I’ve enjoyed my greatest athletic success.  For that, I’m very grateful.  Steve’s wife, Becky, also was a top thrower and always at his side in any project he took on.  I then found out that Highland Games were just the tip of the iceberg as far as Steve & Becky were concerned.

Steve was, and still is, a top Judo coach.  He has a widely respected club in Kansas City called the Welcome Mat that has been in operation since 1969.  It has produced National, Pan American,  and World Champs as well as some of the elite men and women in our fighting forces and a Secret Service Agent that was on George W. Bush’s personal detail.  Becky was a National, Pan Am, and World Champ and Steve once told me that Becky could have been an Olympic Champion but back then women did not compete in Judo in the Olympics!

Over the years, Steve has written over a dozen books on martial arts, training, coaching and this one is his best to date in my opinion.  It has a very broad appeal.  My Uncle, Phil Jackson, who is, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable person I ever met in regards to weight training, once told me that the hardest sport all the way around was boxing.  It was mentally, physically, and emotionally draining.  I would say the same applies to all combat sports.  You have to be tough and that comes from how you train.  Steve, with John Saylor, has (in my opinion) created the ultimate resource on Combat training.

This book is HUGE and full of all types of training.   There are over 300 pages of illustrated exercises.  There are detailed explanations of not only how to do the lift, but how to properly train and utilized the lift to fix a weakness. There are workout routines and tons of advice.   I would say that if you wanted to do some off season conditioning for USAWA lifting or Highland Games, this book would be a valuable resource.

Now, I’ll tell you why mine was autographed.  Inside were pictures of me, Al Myers, and Chad Ullom demonstrating some lifts.  Appropriately, it was in the “OLD SCHOOL” training section.  Steve  talks about training wisdom that came from Bill Clark,  and his book even contains an exercise that is a variation of the “Inman Mile”!  I knew Steve had requested the photos, but I had no idea what a first class product he was producing.

Defining “Drug Free”

by Thom Van Vleck

The most recent issue of MILO came out and in it is an article that I did that I’m particularly happy about.  I got to interview John Godina (top discus thrower and world champ in the shot put).  He was a lot of fun to visit with and he had a lot of comments about training, drugs, the politics of throwing, and other related topics and he pulled no punches.

My favorite comment was related to being a drug free thrower.  John has always advocated being drug free in his throwing and training and he has never tested positive for anything which, as much as one can, backs up his claims of being drug free.  When I asked him about drug use in sports he said, “People who use [drugs] are cowards because they are afraid to find out if they are the best without it.”  That’s a pretty strong statement.

I have never used performance drugs (that’s probably pretty obvious based on my lifts!) and have no plans to do it in the future.  I can’t say I haven’t been tempted, but that’s another story.  Many people involved in the USAWA are in it for the drug free aspect.  However, exactly where we all fall often leads to debate.  One of the most heated debates on steroid use I ever had was on the USAWA forum!  It’s just not that simple!

I often talk training with my Uncle Phil Jackson, the JWC guru.  One day we were talking about drugs and he posed this question to me:  “If they came out with a 100% safe steroid would you use it”.  I stated, “No, because as soon as I stopped using it I would lose much of what was gained”.  Then, in typical Phil Jackson style, he took it a step further.  Phil has always made me think….and think hard about things.  He asked, “What if you got to keep the gains?”  Well, now this DID make me think.

My two main arguments regarding being drug free has always been that, first, there are health risks, and second, the gains you make would be lost when you stopped taking the drugs.  Since those two conditions had been met, I said I would.  Then, my Uncle added another layer to the discussion by asking:  Would that be cheating?  Regardless of whether it is allowed or not, in my heart, would I feel like I was cheating using a drug to get stronger.  At the time, I said I would not feel like I was cheating because I had removed my two main concerns regarding performance drug use.  My Uncle told me like he saw it:  “I think you’d be a cheater”.  That made me mad….but it has made me rethink my stand and that’s exactly what the old coach was challenging me to do!

At the time, I countered that I would not feel like I was cheating if everyone had access and the choice to drug use.  I thought I had him with that one!  But Phil said to me, “So you lift to beat others and win?”  Back to square one.  I have always wanted to believe that I lift for me.  I lift to make myself stronger, not just in body, but mind and spirit in the painful journey to build the body God gave me into the best I could possibly be……and would using a drug to circumvent my own genetic limits be cheating?  Would removing the pain, suffering, and the defeat that drugs would take away, lessen the experience and all the benefits?   When I thought about it, my heart told me that it would.

Finally, Phil asked me, “What if they came out with a drug that would make you strong without ever lifting a weight…would you use it?”  Wow!  I had never thought of that, but with gene therapy, splicing, you just never know what is on the horizon.  That added yet another dimension to my moral dilemma. To me, the joy of lifting a big weight has come at the cost of hard training and that “cause and effect” has had intrinsic value that has led to lasting satisfaction  In other words, as Phil always told me, “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.” That was easy, “No way would I use a drug that made me strong without paying the price.

Again, this is an ongoing process for me, but a question every lifter should consider as part of their journey to fulfilling their own potential.    You challenge yourself in the gym, you should be challenging the reasons you are there and strengthening your desire to work hard and reach your goals.  To me, that’s every bit as important as the lifting.

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

by Al Myers

Bill Clark has promoted over 100 USAWA competitions. This is a record no other USAWA Meet Director is even remotely close to approaching. (photo credit: National Masters Weightlifting Newsletter, 1989)

Bill Clark has just revealed the dates for the five sanctioned USAWA Events during the upcoming lifting season in Clark’s Gym.  All of this will begin with a gym record day on October 24th, and ending with the annual Deanna Springs Memorial Meet on March 27th.  In between these two events will be the long standing Zercher Strength Classic (January 29th) and the prestigious Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One ( December 4th).  Bill Clark has received the 2010 sanction from the USAWA Executive Board to host this year’s Heavy Lift National Championships, which will be held in conjunction with the Steve Schmidt’s Backbreaker on November 6th.

As per tradition of events directed by Bill Clark, no entry fee is charged to enter, and all competitions will be held in Clark’s Gym in Columbia, Missouri.  What a deal!  There is not many things you get for free in today’s World,  so plan on making at least one of the competitions on the Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule.  You will get your money’s worth!!  Bill has put on more events than any other meet director in the history of the USAWA, and Clark’s Gym has been a USAWA Club Member since the inception of the USAWA.

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

October 24th, 2010 – Record Day.

November 6th, 2010 – USAWA Heavy Lift National Championships and Schmidt’s Backbreaker.

December 4th, 2010 – Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One.

January 29th, 2011 – Zercher Strength Classic.

March 27th, 2011 – Deanna Springs Memorial Meet.

No entry forms are available for these competitions, but YOU MUST send a confirmation to Bill Clark prior to attendance. The deadline is the Tuesday before the event.  Bill may be reached by telephone: 573-474-4510, Fax: 573-474-1449, or mail: Bill Clark, 3906 Grace Ellen Drive, Columbia, Missouri, 65202.  It is very important to contact  Bill prior to attending so he can adequately plan for the competition day-  and it is the LEAST you can do for a meet director that is promoting a meet without charge.

All of these events are listed in the USAWA Future  Events Calendar on the website, where more detailed information about each meet can be found.

USAWA Discussion Forum

by Al Myers

We now have over 100 registered members for the USAWA Website that have access to the USAWA Discussion Forum.  If you are not a  website member yet (which has NOTHING to do with USAWA membership) take the time to join.  All you got to do is follow the instructions given on the website to register, and after I “approve” your registration you are issued a password to “login”.  And this is FREE!!!  By being a registered member of the website, you will have access to the USAWA Discussion Forum, which is the ONLY forum on the internet dedicated to ONLY All-Round Weightlifting.

A few words of advice for the less computer savvy lifters out there.  The password that is issued to you is computer generated by the software of the website.  I do not know what it is – so please don’t lose it.  Once you login with it, you can change it to something that you can remember easier.  Also, if you register and don’t think you received your password, check your spam filter.  This “computer email” will often get lost by the spam filter.  The password has to be used EXACTLY as it is sent to you – so use capitals where indicated and don’t mess up 1’s for i”s.  If you do, it will not let you in.  The easiest thing to do is “copy and paste” it into your login.  And of course if you have any questions, just email me and I’ll help you through it.  I have had to do that for others so don’t worry about it being an imposition on me!

But – all of this “hassle” will be worth it.  The USAWA Discussion Forum contains information about the USAWA and All-Round Weightlifting that is BEYOND what is found in the USAWA Daily News.  You can ask questions if you want, or just read the information available.  Your level of involvement is left up to you.  Often, discussions involve the latest Daily News story,  more detailed information about upcoming meets, or just general talk about training.   I have “loosened” the requirements for the forum compared to what I had previous – now you do not need to post with your real name if you want to remain anonymous,  registration is more visible, and I do not require full disclosure in identity when registering like I did previous.  I am hoping this will encourage new interest.  Of course,  bad behavior will not be tolerated on this forum!

Register now  and join the USAWA Discussion Forum, so you will be “in the know” on the latest news involving All-Round Weightlifting!

JWC Straight Weight Postal

Heavyweights Battle it out in Postal Challenge

By Thom Van Vleck

Team Dino Gym wins the Straight Weight Postal Challenge. Pictured from left to right: Scott Tully, Al Myers, and John Conner

Two teams participated in the challenge and the Dino Gym pulled out the victory.  This meet was a new concept for a USAWA meet and we will see if it catches on.  The idea being there would be no formulas used, the winners decided on who lifted the most weight…period.  I proposed the idea of the “straight weight” meet to get some of the bigger guys to come out and participate and as a result, some big boys showed up.  The Dino Gym had a combined weight that was a “Big Al Bacon n’Eggs style breakfast” short of a half ton at 991lbs.  The JWC was a relatively svelte 915lbs.  The average weight of the lifters involved was 318lbs!  I can only guess what that weight would have been had Al not had to replace his original team member, Mark Mitchell, who had to withdraw with a back injury!  Al’s paltry 255lbs brought the average way down!!!

I hope this meet was taken as intended:  Just another alternative and one that the Big Boy’s could embrace as their own.  I know my guys had fun doing it and hopefully it will motivate them to do some more USAWA lifting!  Oh, and one more thing, I calculated the age and weight factors just to see the outcome….and the Dino Gym doesn’t want to know those results!

Full Meet Results:

Officials for Dino Gym Team:  Al Myers and Scott Tully

Official for JWC:  Thom Van Vleck

Dino Gym Team: Al Myers (44 yrs, 255lbs), Scott Tully (34 yrs, 344lbs) John Conner (25 yrs, 392lbs)

Jackson Weightlifting Club: Thom Van Vleck (46yrs, 295lbs), John O’Brien (42 years, 285lbs), Josh Hettinger (29yrs, 335lbs)

Push Press – From Rack

  1. John Conner 380lbs
  2. Josh Hettinger 335lbs
  3. John O’Brien 300lbs, Scott Tully 300lbs, Al Myers 300lbs
  4. Thom Van Vleck 255lbs

DG: 980lbs & JWC: 890lbs

Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 bars, 1″

  1. John Conner 500lbs
  2. Scott Tully 420lbs
  3. Josh Hettinger 400lbs, Al Myers 400lbs
  4. John O’Brien 380lbs
  5. Thom Van Vleck 280lbs

DG: 1320lbs & JWC: 1060lbs

Continental to Chest

  1. John Conner 385lbs
  2. John O’Brien 335lbs
  3. Al Myers 325lbs, Scott Tully 325lbs
  4. Thom Van Vleck 315lbs
  5. Josh Hettinger 275lbs

DG: 1085lbs & JWC: 925lbs

Cheat Curl

  1. John Conner 250lbs
  2. John O’Brien 235lbs
  3. Thom Van Vleck 215lbs, Josh Hettinger 215lbs
  4. Al Myers 201lbs
  5. Scott Tully 181lbs

JWC: 665lbs & DG: 632lbs

Shoulder Drop

  1. John O’Brien 95lbs, Josh Hettinger 95lb
  2. Thom Van Vleck 85lbs
  3. John Conner 45lbs, Al Myers 45lbs
  4. Scott Tully 30lbs

JWC:  275lbs & DG:   120lbs

Totals: 1st Place: Dino Gym 4087lbs, 2nd Place: JWC 3835lbs

Zercher Strength Classic

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – Zercher Strength Classic

Meet Director:  Bill Clark

Date:  Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Venue:  Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri

Weigh-ins:  8-9 AM

Entry Fee: None

Entry Form: None

Awards:  None

Membership:  Must be a current USAWA Member

Lifts:  Leg Press, Deadlift – One Arm, Deadlift – Heels Together, Hack Lift, Continental Clean and Jerk, Clean and Press – Heels Together, Zercher Lift, Steinborn Lift, Neck Lift, Hip Lift, Harness Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, and Bench Press – Feet in Air

To enter, a confirmation must be sent to Bill Clark by the Tuesday preceding the meet.  Bill can be reached by phone: 573-474-4510, Fax: 573-474-1449, or mail:  Bill Clark, 3906 Grace Ellen Drive, Columbia, Missouri, 65202.

To Be Young and Strong!

by Al Myers

Colby Duranleau, of the Dino Gym, shown training the log last weekend in the gym. Colby is 19 years old, and at 6'6", 320 pounds bodyweight has a bright strength future ahead of him. His current training personal best with the log is 315 pounds.

It is always exciting to me when some new, young lifter joins the gym that shows great promise.  A few months ago Colby Duranleau started training at the Dino Gym and has made unbelievable progress in his training since then.   Those of us that have been around the iron game for quite a while (I hate to admit it – but that includes ME!) have the responsibility to help guide the “next generation” into the sport.  I think of those that helped me get started many years ago.  If it wasn’t for their guidance and encouragement, I might not have stayed after training and competing.

This is so true with our organization, the USAWA.  The other “veterans”, like myself, need to take the time to teach new, younger lifters how to do the All-Round Lifts.  We aren’t going to be around forever, and the younger lifters are the future of our sport.  Just look at our USAWA President Denny Habecker and his protege Kohl Hess as an example.  Kohl is “only 16″ and already has great proficiency in the technique of many of the all-round lifts, due to the instruction given by Denny.  I was so impressed with Frank Ciavattone at the USAWA Nationals, where he and his son Frankie both participated.  It is obvious that Frank is doing his part in “passing down the tradition” to his son, who someday I predict will be one of the best lifters in the USAWA, the same as Frank has been for many years.   The USAWA will grow if each one of us takes the time to teach and mentor just one new lifter in the sport of all-round weightlifting.

Taking Care of Your Back – Part 4

Part 4 – Reverse Hyperextensions

by Al Myers

Al Myers demostrating the "bottom position" of a Reverse Hyperextension.

Al Myers demonstrating the "bottom position" of a Reverse Hyperextension.

The routine of using a Reverse Hyperextension Machine in your training is nothing new.  This exercising device has been around for close to 20 years now, thanks to its inventor Louie Simmons.  I remember reading years ago Louie came to develop this machine when he was recovering from a serious back injury, and the only exercise he could do was  leg raises while laying on his stomach in his bed after surgery.  As he improved,  he started letting his legs hang off the bed, and then eventually starting hanging small amounts of weights on his ankles as he did this exercise.  He made a full recovery, and returned to high levels of competitive powerlifting, after sustaining an injury that would have left most people as lifelong cripples.  He is the ONE who should receive full credit for the invention of the Reverse Hyperextension.

I have used the Reverse Hyperextension in many ways, but I have found that the BEST use of it is for back recovery.  It has always been part of my “active recovery” back workouts on Thursday.  I don’t go very heavy on it, usually just 100 pounds for sets of 10.  I only do 4 or 5 sets.  This exercise is a non-compressive exercise, meaning that it does not apply any compressive force to the vertebrae.  It is the ONLY back exercise that I have found that will  “work out the back” at the same time it stretches the back muscles in tension.  You will especially feel it in the muscles at the lower lumbar – pelvis tie-ins.  You will feel a slight “pump” in these muscles after doing this exercise. This increase in blood flow to these muscles will greatly enhance the back’s recovery from your  previous hard deadlifting sessions.  Truly an essential exercise that should be part of everyone’s training program!  All together you can accomplish this with only 15 minutes per week.   I add a unique “twist” to the Reverse Hyperextension by adding a light band to it.  This band adds slightly more tension at the “top” of the lift, when your legs are fully extended behind you.

Al Myers demonstrating the "top position" of a Reverse Hyperextension. Notice how the band is attached.

Another exercise I like to do with the  Reverse Hyperextension Machine is Leg Curls, to work the hamstrings muscles.  I have never read about anyone else doing this particular exercise with this machine, even though I am sure others have.  To perform this Leg Curl, my initial movement is to curl the legs, after which I extend the legs behind me (while keeping the legs bent)  like a normal Reverse Hyperextension.  You will feel the ENTIRE hamstring being involved in this movement, from the knee to the pelvis tie-ins.  I used to do recumbent lying leg curls to work my hamstrings, but abandoned that movement in favor of this one. I felt lying leg curls only focused on the lower hamstrings, and didn’t work the upper hamstrings adequately. Again, I’ll do 4-5 sets of 10 of this exercise following my normal Reverse Hyperextensions in another 15 minutes.  So there you have it- 30 minutes a week on the Reverse Hyperextension, but with benefits that far exceed that time commitment.

This sums up my Thursday workout.  I feel it really helps my back recovery so I can train my back hard twice per week on a regular schedule.  Other things – make friends with a good chiropractor and make frequent appointments.  A slight shift in vertebral alignments or pelvis alignment needs to be adjusted as soon as it happens to avoid training setbacks.  Don’t wait a week and see if things get better – make an appointment immediately!!   I don’t have access to massages, but I know some lifters who feel that really helps in back recovery.  I use a jacuzzi a few times per week – and I know that helps relax the back which aids in recovery.  Occasionally I combine it with a cold shower, or a “cold douche” as my English friends would call it.  This was a favorite recovery method used by the great Old-Time Strongman Arthur Saxon.

If anyone has more specific questions on this workout on mine, please contact me and I’ll be happy to explain it further.

Taking Care of Your Back – Part 3

Part 3 – Have Strong Abs

by Al Myers

Training the abdominal muscles is often overlooked by weightlifters.  Bodybuilders usually go overboard with ab training because they are in search of the perfect 6-pack.  Us weightlifters are just as happy having a perfect keg instead. I learned in college during a physiology course that opposing muscle groups should be of comparable strength in order  to prevent injury due to muscle imbalances.  That hit home for me in my training.  It is easy to overlook less important muscle groups because they don’t seem to be “the  major players” needed in a certain lift.  Think about this, and I’m going to use Powerlifters as my example. Are most Powerlifters upper back as strong as their pec and front shoulder muscles?  Are their hamstrings as strong as their front quad muscles? And are their abs as strong as their back?  I would say usually not because the first muscle groups is not directly involved in the strength of the three powerlifts as the second muscle groups,  with the result over time leading to muscles strength imbalances,  setting up the possibility of injuries.

I’m a real believer in ab training in order to keep your back healthy.  I also believe the abdominal muscles should be trained like any other muscle group.  Too many lifters make the mistake of thinking the ab muscles are different somehow. These lifters  will do sit-ups or crunches EVERYDAY, and wonder why they are not getting stronger or building more abdominal muscles.  They will train with repetitions in the 100’s on these movements and wonder why it isn’t working.  Would these same lifters even THINK training the squat or deadlift like that would improve their strength??  I train my abs once per week – and train them hard and with low to moderate reps, just like any other exercise.  I do sets and rest between the sets like any other muscle group.  I like variety in training the abs, and have over 25 exercise that I will train (not in the SAME workout) in a random fashion.  I also pick ab exercises that don’t put undo stress on my lower back on my Thursday workout, as that would defeat the purpose of this “active recovery” day for my back.  When I was training for the 1000 pound Roman Chair Sit-up that I did a couple of years ago it was not on this day!  It was on one of my back days. This would also apply to other All-Round ab lifts  like the Roman Chair Bench Press.  I have my ab exercises grouped into three categories – light, moderate, and heavy.  I do one exercise from each group, starting with the light ab exercise first, then the moderate ab exercise,  and finally the heavy ab exercise.  I try to spend 20 minutes per exercise, so my entire ab workout can be accomplished in 1 hour per week.  My abs are always sore the next day after this workout.  I don’t do more than 10 reps per set on any exercise.

Al Myers performing a Front Ab Raise with a dumbbell on a Stability Ball.

One of my favorite ab exercises is an exercise I have called the Front Ab Raise on the Stability Ball.  OK – I admit I have one of those silly stability balls in my gym that have been popularized by Health Clubs across the country!  At first, I thought those balls seemed like they wouldn’t be of any value to a Hard-Core lifter like myself, but I always like to “test things out” before I form an opinion.  I found that using a Stability Ball with this exercise will put a heavy strain on the abdominal muscles and at the SAME time put no stress on my lower back.  I have a couple of other ab exercises I train using the Stability Ball – the Allen Lift (bar extended at arms’ length)  and the Abdominal Raise (bar behind my neck), but the Front Ab Raise is my favorite.   My advice for the heavy lifter is to buy the strongest Stab Ball you can find, and plan to replace it every 6 months.  The plastic will degrade with time and weaken the ball.  The forces I put on a Stability Ball is probably more than someone using it for general fitness  (often supporting myself at 250# and dumbbells over 100#s).   I have not had one “pop” on me yet, as I’m sure this amount of weight exceeds the ball’s rating,  but I always replace the Stab Ball if it is worn in any way.

Coming tomorrow – Part 4, Reverse Hyperextensions

Taking Care of Your Back – Part 1

by Al Myers

Mike McBride, the Best Lifter at the 2005 USAWA National Championships, performing a Deadlift with Heels Together with over 600 pounds. This All-Round variation of the deadlift increases the stress placed upon the back compared to a traditional deadlift.

Recently, I was contacted by an all-round lifter who asked my advice in dealing with persistent back pain caused from his training.  I’m not going to give his name out here, but he is one of the strongest current All-Rounders in the World and is capable of deadlifting over 700 pounds.  This says quite a bit about his overall back strength, as we all know All-Rounders have many exercises to train and can’t be deadlift specialists, like powerlifters.  He obviously knows how to train very hard to reach this level of performance.  This is just the way it is with All-Round Weightlifting – it is about being all a round strong, not just in specific lifts.  After reading his description of his training, it was obvious to me that he was over-training his back, which can be very easy to do. We have close to 200 lifts to prepare for at any given time, with about 75% of them requiring back strength to accomplish.  I once found myself in this same “over-training trap” as he is when I switched my competition focus to the All-Rounds from Powerlifting.  I still wanted to train like a powerlifter, but just decided to add in extra training for the All-Round lifts.  Combining this extra training volume on my back, in addition to being older, I quickly reached a state of over-training.  I don’t mind my back being a little sore after a hard back workout, but when it is constantly sore the entire week, and affecting my other training, I knew it was time to re-evaluate my training routine and make some changes.

Lots is written about HOW to train your back to make you stronger, but very little is written about how to TAKE CARE OF YOUR BACK  so you don’t sustain a back injury from your heavy training.  I consider this very important.  I have a history of back problems in my family.  My dad and grandfather both had back surgeries for herniated discs.  One of my brothers has issues with chronic back pain.   I know most health issues are linked genetically – and with this family history I am probably more at risk than others to have a “bad back”.   You can find all kind of information about how physical therapists rehab a person after back surgery, or exercises for the non-weightlifter to strengthen their back in suffering from back pain.  However, these things don’t really apply to a weightlifter who wants to be able to at least have one VERY HEAVY back training session per week, and recover fully so it can be repeated the next week. I am going to revel some of my “secrets” that I have learned through the years that have helped me keep my back strong, and preventing  injuries.  I not going to discuss ways of making your back stronger. The things I am going to discuss are all about recovery, things that help you be back to full strength for your next heavy back workout.  I am willing to bet that most lifters do NOTHING in this regard, outside of maybe just some “light stretching”.  That is not enough.  I have discussed these things with my friend Thom Van Vleck in the past, who also believes in this,  and he termed the expression calling these workouts “active recovery” workouts.  I plan to do a 4-Part story on my Thursday workout, which is geared completely to maintaining a healthy back.

The first change in my training philosophy  when I became an All-Rounder was realizing that I have to be careful not to train the back in every workout.  I ONLY train exercises that put ANY strain on my lower back TWICE per week to give adequate time for back recovery.  I am sure this training frequency is different for every lifter, but that is what works best for me.  Now you got to remember – exercises like doing Push Presses or Jerks constitute as a back exercises.  Doing 1 arm full body exercises, like the One Arm Snatch,  puts demands on the back, even though the demands are not like deadlifting.  These exercises need to be trained on one of these “back days”.  Training the upper back also puts demands on the lower back. Even common All-Round upper body lifts like the Pullover and Push or a Clean and Press put pressure on the back.  So you can see where I’m going with this, it doesn’t leave too many exercises available for the other training days during the week!   My back day workouts are Tuesday and Saturday.  I like this schedule because if I have a small meet coming up on the weekend, I can just substitute my Saturday workout for the meet and it doesn’t interrupt my training.  It also spaces my “back days” out evenly – 3 and 4 days.  I do my active recovery back workout on Thursday – two days after my heaviest back workout of the week.  The sole purpose of this workout is to get my back  ready to lift heavy again on Saturday. The details of this workout of mine is what I’m going to highlight over the next three USAWA Daily News segments.

Coming tomorrow – Taking Care of Your Back  Part 2 – Be Sure To Limber Up

Improvements to the USAWA Officials Program

by Al Myers

Level 2 USAWA Certified Official Frank Ciavattone officiating at the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

One of the big changes this past year in the USAWA was the development of an Officials Program.  This started at the 2009 Annual Meeting with the approval of the new improved Rulebook that outlined the new Officials Program, and by electing Joe Garcia as the Officials Director for the USAWA.  Improvements were made to the Officials Program at the 2010 Annual Meeting last month.  I am going to describe and explain the USAWA Officials Program so everyone will be more knowledgeable of it.  Everything I say here is outlined in the Rulebook or on the website.

The USAWA has two levels of Certified Officials – Level 1 and Level 2.  Level 1 has been split into two subdivisions – Level 1 Test Qualified and Level 1 Experience Qualified. The Rulebook (Section VII. 9) explains these two levels as follows:

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

• Level 1 Test Qualified – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test.

• Level 1 Experience Qualified – The official has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.

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

I want to emphasize that ALL OFFICIALS (Level 1 and Level 2) have the same authority as a Certified USAWA Official.  Nothing in the Rulebook says different.  It is simply a classification that details HOW one became certified.  These classifications are recorded for each official in the “Officials” section of the website and are kept up to date at all times.  To become a Certified Official (if you are not Experience Qualified) requires taking and passing an Open Book Exam of the USAWA Rulebook.  It must be sent to the Officials Director Joe Garcia for grading.  You must score over 90% correct answers to pass.  Once you pass, Joe informs me to list you on the website as a current official. All of this is detailed in the “Officials” section and the Rules Test is available in several different formats, so hopefully, one will work for you to  download.

One of the big changes to the Officials Programs is adding time limits to the Official Cards.  The membership agreed to a 3-year Officials Card before re-certification is required. The new Rulebook (available August 1st on the website) will have this information in it.  Section VII. 12 and Section VII.13 have been added to the Rulebook, as stated below:

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

13. An individual must make a written request to the Officials Director in order to apply for Level 1 Experience Qualified Certified Status or to show proof of officiating experience in order to change their level of certification.

Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials were developed originally as a “Grandfather Clause” to allow those VERY experienced qualified officials not to have to take a Rules Test.   These officials have always been the backbone of officiating in the USAWA and have proven their worth as a good official.  However, now, if they have not been active as an official for 3 years (and officiating ONLY ONE meet in this time keeps them active) they will be dropped from the list and must make a written request to Officials Director to regain Certified Officials Status.  I think this is very reasonable.  Why keep someone on our Officials List if they haven’t been contributing to the USAWA as an official?? Also, if someone IS Experience Qualified and hasn’t been officiating for several years, requiring a written request from them to become active as an official again in the USAWA doesn’t seem out of line to me. It’s not much to ask of them to drop Joe or me a short letter or email about their intentions of wanting to officiate in the USAWA again.    Joe and I  have no way of knowing who is “Experience Qualified” without someone telling us and giving us proof.  Most old meet results in the Strength Journal didn’t list the Officials.  Truthfully, I really don’t understand why Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials don’t want to take the Rules Test and become Level 2 Officials.  Lots has changed in the Rulebook and I’m sure they would learn something new as well as giving support to our new Officials Program.

Another new addition to the Rulebook involving officials is adding the minimum age of 16 years. Section VII.2 states The minimum age for a Certified Official is 16 years of age. Much debate arose at the meeting when this was discussed.  Some felt like it should be a higher age requirement.  Myself, I think 16 is a good minimum age to be an official.  Afterall, I’m meeting kids on the road that age when I’m driving!   I still think that at big meets (like Nationals and Worlds) more seasoned officials should be used.

I am pleased how the USAWA Officials Program is going.  We started it last year with a simple system,  and as time goes we are adding more requirements to make it better.  I feel the reason the USAWA Official Programs have failed in the past is because they were too complicated and required too much to start with.  They failed before they had the time to succeed.  We still have a long ways to go before we have a great Officials Program – but at least we have SOMETHING.   So as of now to become a Certified USAWA Official – all you have to do is take and pass a test!

Updated Rulebook and New Bylaws

by Al Myers

The USAWA Rulebook 4th Edition

The updated Rulebook (Edition 4) and new Bylaws are now available on the website.  Both can be found in the header line of the website.  This section also contains a document titled “2010 Rulebook Changes/New Approved Lifts”.  This is the new information added to the previous Rulebook (Edition 3).  I included this so if you already have a previous Rulebook and don’t want to buy or print off a new one you could simply just add these pages to your Rulebook.

I  added some new pictures to the Rulebook (the print-off doesn’t have these).  So if you want to see who made it you’ll have to open up the new Rulebook and have a look! The Rulebook is now 91 pages long, contains rules for all 164 Official lifts, and contains 94 pictures of 55 lifters.  The new USAWA Bylaws are also available now on the website.  These new bylaws were prepared this past year by the Bylaw committee of Joe Garcia, Tim Piper, and myself.  They were approved by the membership at the 2010 Annual Meeting. These new Bylaws replaced the non-functioning bylaws that were originally written in 1987, which were  never updated to reflect how the USAWA has evolved in the past 20 years.  The new USAWA Bylaws reflect how our organization has been functioning in recent years.  The only “new thing”  in them is the formation of a 5-person Executive Board that will govern the USAWA throughout the year.  Membership will still have final say on the majority of issues, and decisions made by membership vote at the Annual Meeting will continue to make the ultimate decisions on issues.  Please take the time to look over the bylaws on the website.

I will have “hard copies” of the Rulebook for sale again.  These copies will also contain the Bylaws.  The book will sell for $30 (including postage).  Let me know if you want one.  I am only going to print off copies for what I have orders for to prevent unnecessary carry-over.  I plan to have a printing by the end of August and again the first of the year.

The USAWA Hall of Fame Program

by Al Myers

Finally, the USAWA has revived the USAWA Hall of Fame Program.  This has been a long process that has taken over one year to accomplish.  This process started at the 2009 National Meeting when the ad hoc committee of Denny Habecker, Dale Friesz, and Dennis Mitchell was established to investigate and make recommendations on the Hall of Fame Program at the 2010 National Meeting.  Upon hearing the committee’s suggestions at the 2010 meeting, the membership voted to allow the newly elected Executive Board to “iron out the details” and once every Executive Board member was in agreement, the new Hall of Fame Program would be implemented immediately.  Well, I’m proud to say that the Executive Board has already accomplished this task and the USAWA once again has an active Hall of Fame Program. Thanks needs to be given to the committee that worked tirelessly in providing different choices of Hall of Fame Programs to the membership at the meeting, and to the Executive Board of Denny Habecker, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt, Dennis Mitchell and myself for working through the final details.    The Board looked at every aspect of this new program, and discussed each point extensively so the best program possible would be implemented.  The new Hall of Fame Program criteria is laid out very clearly, and is a very simple system.

This New Program is different in some ways than what was used before.  In the early days of the USAWA,  Hall of Fame nominees were selected and voted on by the membership at the National Meeting.  No specific criteria was required to be nominated, just a nomination from someone at the meeting.   In 1997, the USAWA decided to go to a points system for Hall of Fame induction.  The committee of Chris Waterman, Frank Ciavattone, Denny Habecker, and John Vernacchio were put in charge of developing this system.  Once it was developed and accepted by the membership, Chris Waterman was designated as the official person to oversee the program.  Part of his responsibility was keeping track of everyone’s points as they applied to the Hall of Fame criteria, and once 1000 points were reached, he would present that individual for Hall of Fame induction.  Chris Waterman did an outstanding job of keeping track of everyone’s points with this tedious system. It required him to accurately record and maintain a list of ALL members and their HOF  points at all times. The problem arose when he retired in 2003 and the USAWA did not delegate someone else to take over his duties of maintaining the Hall of Fame Program and thus the program “died” until now.

In the new Hall of Fame Program, an individual may be nominated in one of two ways – either on Merit or on Honor.  To be nominated on Merit, 1000 points must be reached.  Twelve categories are laid out in the Nomination Form in which an nominee may accrue points.  These categories include such things as participation in National and World Meets, placing in the top five at National and World Meets, participating in other meets such as local meets or postal meets, serving the USAWA as an officer, being a Meet Director, being a Club Founder, and even  points are awarded for current USAWA records held.  It pretty much covers everything!  One of the differences from the previous point system is that with the new system it  is harder to reach 1000 points.  Less points are awarded in the different categories than before. Another big difference is that the New Hall of Fame Program will rely on the membership to make nominations, instead of just one person “keeping track of everything”.  I think this is important in that it will allow the Hall of Fame Program to self-perpetuate, by being independent of one individual or a committee.  The second way of being nominated is on the basis of Honor. No point criteria is required to be nominated this way.  This allows the USAWA the ability to award Hall of Fame Membership to someone the organization feels  deserves it, who  may not have been involved directly with the USAWA.

I am very pleased with the development of this new USAWA Hall of Fame Program.  I like it’s  simplicity. I like how “clear cut”  and specific it is in regards to the point criteria. I like how it relies on the membership for presenting nominees.   It also allows  an individual to monitor their own points in pursuit of the highest award the USAWA has to offer, and by this, provides a “source of inspiration” to all USAWA members.

The new Hall of Fame Nomination Form is found under the section “Forms and Applications”, or you can view it here at HOF Nomination Form.

Meet Reminder – The World Team Postal

by Al Myers

IAWA President Steve Gardner taking a big squat down deep!!

This is the time to start thinking about “getting your team around” for the World Team Postal Meet promoted by the IAWA President Steve Gardner.  Last year this postal meet was a huge success for the IAWA.  For those of you that are new to the USAWA, the IAWA (International All-Round Weightlifting Association) is the international organization the USAWA belongs to.  The IAWA oversees the international competitions such as the World Championships and the Gold Cup.  This IAWA World Team Postal Meet gives us (the USAWA) the opportunity to compete in a World competition without ever leaving the confines of our own gym!  There really is no excuse not to enter this one.  The format is for teams of three to enter, but Steve has opened it up to individuals as well to enter.  The results will contain both  the placings of the 3-person teams and the individual rankings.  So, even if can’t find two other team members, compete and send in your results. I want to remind you of some “differences” between this meet and other USAWA meets:

1.  You MUST have two USAWA certified officials (who both pass your lift) judge your lifts instead of just one official.

2.  You are allowed FOUR attempts instead of the typical three attempts allowed.

3.  Scoring age adjustments will be done according to the IAWA age allowances, which is slightly different from the USAWA age allowances.

All of the lifts Steve picked for this postal competition are easy to perform without much specific training.  All you got to do is line up a training day where everyone in your group can be present, and DO the lifts!  The specific entry information is located in the section “USAWA Future Events “.  The deadline for submission is the last day of September.

Newcomer of the Year – Dave Glasgow

by Al Myers

Dave Glasgow (on left) receiving the USAWA Newcomer of the Year Award from Al Myers (on right) at the Ledaig Record Day.

I was very glad to see Dave Glasgow promote his first USAWA event, the Ledaig Record Day, this past weekend.  It also gave me the opportunity to “officially” award him the USAWA Newcomer of the Year Award, which was announced at the USAWA National Meeting last month.  I have known Dave a long time through the Highland Games.  He has attended several competitions (both Highland Games and All-Round Events) held at my place throughout  the past years.  And now, I FINALLY got the chance to make it to his place for a competition.  I now know where Rainbow Bend is located  (but don’t expect a GPS to get you there! ). Dave hosted a weekend affair, with a Highland Game competition on Saturday and the Record Day on Sunday.  Both days were a huge success. The Record Day had 7 competitors, which is the highest attendance at a record day since February of 2009.  Dave and the Ledaig Heavy Athletics Club are a great addition to the USAWA.

The Hoffman/Paul Formula

by Thom Van Vleck

Ok, so we’ve been overload on the formula’s lately, but I was perusing one of my old Ironman mags last night and came across a story.  This was the April-May 1974 issue and on Page 43 there’s a story on the “new” Hoffman/Paul Formula.  The original Hoffman formula was used for years in determining the best lifter at Olympic lifting meets.  As the weight classes expanded (the original gap was 198lbs to Heavyweight, then a 242 class was added, and a 220lbs class) there was evidently a need to alter the formula.  This article talks about the new “Hoffman/Paul formula” being accepted at a recent AAU convention.  Some professor named Joseph Paul had “improved” upon the Hoffman formula and evidently was given second billing to Hoffman with this second version.  Who knows, maybe he came up with the original!

No one is credited with writing the article so I have to assume Peary Rader wrote it.  In the article he makes a comment that the new formula was unchanged from the old thru the 198lb class, but changes were made above that.  I’ll assume to make it more “fair” as the old formula may have been found to be flawed relating to heavier lifters as the article says the new formula was the result of the new weight classes.  Interestingly, the author notes that no formula can be completely fair, but this one is an improvement.

I do know that Lyle Schwartz once commented that he developed his formula when it was determined that the Hoffman Formula, for whatever reason, did not work as well with the powerlifts and more specifically, the bench press.  I also recall Schwartz stating the Malone formula was a better indicator for women and that when comparing men to women, it was basically a factor of men being 30% stronger on average, but women generally carrying more bodyfat across all weight classes seemed to be an issue in coming up with a reliable formula and comparison.

It is also interesting that the “improved” Hoffman formula ends at 260lbs and that for ever pound after that you were to and 1 point to the coefficient.  Again, the conspiracy theorist in me feels like the little guys are always out to shaft the big guys because they can’t lift as much.  But you have to admit, adding a “point” per pound after that would have to cause some issues once you hit 350lbs or even more.

In highland games at the Masters World’s this year they are using the decathlon scoring system which is based on percentages of the world record.  This is the first time they are using this system and it will be interesting to see if it changes the results.  But I would almost bet that it would be like Al’s analysis recently, you might see one or two changes but the vast majority will remain in their same placings.  This has not stopped a heated debate that has already arisen regarding the pros and cons of the decathlon system.

My intent is not to point out flaws, but just offer another piece of the formula history here.  Sounds like even in the earliest days of the formula format, everyone knew it wasn’t perfect, but still could be a decent indicator of who the better lifter was.  I have been reading more on how Schwartz developed his formula, but have had to dust off the old stat class book from college…..and that will be for another day and might end up more boring than Al’s article on the formulas!!!

Close Enough to Get the Job Done

By Thom Van Vleck

As I read Al’s recent story on the history of formulas several things come to mind. First, it made me think of a “formula” I used to use to calculate my one rep max. (.0333 X weight lifted X reps) + weight lifted = one rep max. I swore by that, but the reality is that it just gave a “probable” one rep max and obviously has a lot of flaws (such as going high reps not being a strong an indicator). I can’t remember where I got it, or why I came to “believe” in it…..but I did and used this to calculate contest openers and goals. I believed it was right and somehow that made it a good formula. But how often did it work? Not work? How often did I stop at that max and validate my own belief and not try more?

The reality is that the FIRST lesson I learned in Physics 101 in my freshman year in college was that every measurement is flawed. The real question is: “Is it close enough to get the job done!” I recall doing an experiment where we measured a long metal rod, then heated it and cooled it and got different measurements. We then discussed the nature of matter and that it’s made up of atoms which are dynamic, etc. Finally, the instructor took the rod and bent it and said, “Now, how far apart are the ends and how do you measure it, point to point, or along the length”?! Formula’s are like measurements, NO formula would be perfect. But his real lesson was, is your measurement “close enough to get the job done”.

I was at a ball game last night and there were two umpires. At one point, one called a guy safe and the other over ruled him and called the baserunner out. I thought the base runner was safe from my vantage point. There was a groan from the crowd….but the game went on. There was a recent major league game where a picture had a perfect game into the last out and the ump blew the call and the pitcher lost his perfect game. Television revealed his error, but the flawed call was upheld….because that’s the rule! The umpire makes the call and “calls it as he sees it”. Just like judges at meets calling depth on squats, or knee kick on a strict press. If we want to compete, we accept those human failings. The real question becomes: Are they good enough to get the job done?

Then there is the equipment. Recently, Dave Glasgow got us started on the subject of how much barbells weigh. I had actually weighed ALL of my stuff and come to realize that a 45lb plate rarely weighs 45lbs. I have a set of Ironman 50lb plates that are unmilled and they weigh 57.5lbs!!!! I should point out that they were sold that way, back in the day you could get cheap weights if you would be willing to take them “unmilled” or milled to the exact weight. However, I have milled plates and they are off, too. But not nearly as much. However, they are “close enough to get the job done”.

So, we have a flawed formula, developed by flawed people, using flawed equipment, in a flawed world. We can’t have perfection so to me, the real question is: Is it accurate enough to get the job done. I think one thing Al’s article showed was that the formulas do seem to have some decent reliability. There is some variability. I doubt there’s been a lot of testing on the validity of these formulas, so where are we?

Here is where we are at in my opinion. The USAWA is an organization like no other. I think we should continue to use the formulas but I hope that we would be open to having contests that don’t use them. I would think ideally, we do both. If I competed in the Nationals and I lifted more than anyone in my age group and weight class….I’m the winner. I also get the added BONUS of being ranked in an overall. We need to look at the formulas as a way to add another layer of competition to the meet. We either accept they are “close enough to get the job done” or we don’t compete.

Dave Glasgow and I compete in Scottish Highland Games. This is a unique sport like the USAWA. There is no central governing body and often meets are open to having their own rules and standards. For example. the Braemar Stone event (like a shot put) will have stones that vary 10, 20, even 50lbs in weight from meet to meet. Or in some meets you can spin and throw the Weight Over Bar, and another meet may only allow to throw from a stand. Each style will fit different athletes better, giving advantages and disadvantages. This is often debated and Dave delivered the best quote on it I can recall (which he said he actually got from Mike Smith), “You know the rules, either go and throw or stay home, don’t complain about it”.

Maybe someday, we’ll have so many lifters, the formula’s will be more like the “best lifter” award stuff, but right now we need them to make the meets more competitive. Otherwise, just lift in your gym and go buy a trophy. I have a buddy that owns a trophy shop and he’ll help you out….as a matter of fact he told me he makes trophies for non existent contests all the time! Or lift in the USAWA and have a good time and don’t expect perfection from a formula, like you don’t expect perfection from a judge, weight, or weather man!

Who Holds the Oldest Record in the Record List?

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

Who holds the oldest record in the USAWA Record List?


This should be an easy quiz – all you have to do is look through the USAWA Record List and find the answer.  It shouldn’t take long – since there are  just slightly over 9000 records to look through! I only need the name of the lifter who has the record (not the lift or exact date the record was set).  So if you want to guess – go ahead!!

Winner receives a new USAWA Patch.

Rules:  Only one entry per day.  First correct answer sent to me at amyers@usawa.com wins.

We have a winner!

Dave Beversdorf, of Columbia Missouri, correctly gave the correct answer to the Quiz of the Week.  The answer is Steve Schmidt, who on September 20th, 1987 performed a 270 pound Pullover and Press with wrestler’s bridge at a record day in Clark’s Gym.  Steve was in the 100 kg weight class.  That is a record that will probably withstand the “Test of Time” – no one has came close to it since!  Dave also pointed out the OLDEST COMPETITION  to me that is in the Record List.  On October 11th, 1987 records where recorded from the Backbreaker Meet that contained such legendary names as Bill Clark, Ed Zercher I, Ed Zercher II, and Ed Zercher III.