Missouri Celt – Thom Van Vleck

by Dave Glasgow

Thom Van Vleck shortly after his childhood accident.

It was hard for me to imagine, when I first met him, the behemoth of a man standing in front of me, was once a skinny, frightened, wheel chair bound youth of 11. However, there he stood!! His story, although far from being finished, is an inspiration to us all and hopefully, a model for the youth of today.

Thom van Vleck started in the iron game, literally, by accident. A speeding car traveling in excess of 70 mph struck the bike riding youth; throwing him at least 150 feet, leaving him with multiple fractures, internal bleeding, head trauma and a prayer away from dying. The hospital he was transported to was certain there was nothing they could do for him. Fortunately, Thom’s mother “wanted a second opinion.” The second hospital was able to stabilize him and, eventually, turn him around. (Ironically, that hospital, the A.T. Still School of Medicine, in Kirksville, Mo., is the where Thom plies his trade as a clinical psychologist for the students that attend the school.)

Although he was alive, the outlook was bleak. There was talk of brain injury, impairment with ambulation…..the list went on. Little did those who prognosticated doom and gloom know that inside that broken and battered little body was the heart of a fighter. After nearly 4 months in traction and a year in a wheelchair, he was able to walk, with help. This was only the beginning.

Thom Van Vleck (left) and Dave Glasgow (right) at the 2003 Galloway Highland Games in Kirksville, Missouri, which was promoted by Thom.

Luckily for Thom, he had a tremendous support system. A mother, who worked tirelessly; a grandfather, with an undying love and faith; two uncles, that were known for their strength and perseverance and the “big man” above. It would be the two uncles, Wayne and Phil Jackson, who introduced Thom to the wonderful world of weight training. They shared their love and passion for the iron and Thom was quick to grasp the idea that the weights could make him whole again.

Fast forward a few years, the trim, athletic boy became a man, courtesy of the United States Marine Corps. College and graduate school followed and he became the first in his family to gain an advanced degree. But, always, there were the weights. Everything from Olympic lifting, power lifting, to what he called his granddads “fruitcake” workouts, if there were weights involved, he was there. And, as before, his uncles were there to encourage, instruct and badger him to larger totals and loftier goals; be that in the iron game or life.

For those of us who know Thom, we know a man who is honest, trustworthy and, to use an overused phrase, genuine. What you see is what you get. No pretense. No agendas. He is thankful for his loving (dare I say, longsuffering!) wife and family. He is a student of the iron game and is constantly rubbing elbows with the elite of the weights and interesting folks that make up that vast world both past and present. His stories are interesting and engaging; his recollections spot on.

Thom has been active in just about every level of strength and weight training/lifting you can imagine. He has also transformed himself into a force to be dealt with on the Highland Games circuit. He has, also, organized outstanding competitions so that others could enjoy his passion with him.

It was at the McPherson highland games of ‘99 that I first saw Thom. I did not meet him as he was in the “youngster class” of A’s. It was not until the next ‘season’ that Thom and I were ‘introduced’! What an introduction!!

We were at Steve Scott’s north Kansas City recreation park doing one of the many games that Steve put on at that facility. Thom was judging the ‘geezer’ class of which I was a proud member. Although Steve had hammer cages, an errant #22 hammer of mine broke through the fencing and clocked Thom on the ankle. It went so far as to ‘tattoo’ his sock pattern into his ankle. It was not broken but, he was done for the day. I can safely say we have been friends since that day.

Thom is a rather complex guy. He ran, unsuccessfully, for state representative. He is an elder in his church. His work involves counseling students at the medical college in Kirksville. He is the former world record holder (age group) in the weight over the bar. And, as stated prior, he organizes strength contests and highland games throughout the year.

But, of all these things, he is proudest of the strength evangelism shows he puts on with the brothers Kerby and John O’Brian, all of Kirksville. Together, they have spread the gospel behind bone cracking demonstrations of skill and strength that never fail to make spectators ohh and ahh. Following one of Thom’s ‘mini’ shows at the McPherson Scottish Festival, a good friend of mine, who has traveled the world, looked at me, ‘pop-eyed’, and stated, “I have never seen anything like that before in my life!!” I might add, he is very hard to impress!!

Thom Van Vleck set many USAWA records at the JWC Record Day, which he promoted last year at the JWC Training Hall on November 21st , 2009

Over the years, we have exchanged countless emails/phone calls and dined with each other every chance we got. It never ceases to amaze me his knowledge of people and events in the strength world. In these conversations there are three subjects that are ALWAYS mentioned. The weight game, his family and his faith! Not necessarily in that order.

Thom has no greater joy than that of his family. His wife, Kelly, supports his efforts and willing helps out at his competitions. She is a very special, understanding individual. He is thankful for her and has told me on more that one occasion how lucky he is to have someone such as her to allow him to pursue his interests. Rounding out this team is a daughter and two sons of whom he, rightfully, boasts on at any opportunity. And, from what I understand, the apples are not falling far from the giant tree!! The legacy of the Jackson/Van Vleck name will continue. I have NO doubt!

Oh, and one last thing. Thom is an author. He has written many, many articles for MILO. His forte is writing about the “old school” guys; John Ware, Al Feuerbach, Al Oerter,… the list goes on. He has the ability to bring these icons of throwing and strength down to a ‘human’ level and make them more like ‘everyday guys’ to us common folk.

He also writes, quite extensively, about the history of his family in the weight world and the proud tradition that has been passed down since 1928. These stories are a wonderful testament to a family legacy that continues today and, from all outward appearances, there is no indication that it will end anytime soon.

So, if you are ever in northern Missouri, have some time, you may want to make the trek to that big, two story house on the hill near Greentop. You may not know him at all, but that doesn’t matter. Just knock on the door, introduce yourself and you will leave with a new friend and a whole list of stories from the man with a truck load of them. Thom van Vleck, the multi-dimensional weight guy!

Thom Van Vleck to host 2011 Nationals

by Al Myers

Thom Van Vleck giving the Rules Meeting prior to a Highlander Games he was promoting last spring.

Thom Van Vleck, of the Jackson Weightlifting Club, was awarded the bid at the Annual National Meeting to host the 2011 USAWA National Championships.  The meet will be an one day affair on Saturday of  the 4th weekend of June, 2011.  The meet will be in Kirksville, Missouri. Thom is also planning on having a National Record Day the next day (Sunday)  for those who want to attend.  The Awards Banquet and the Annual National Meeting will be held Saturday evening, following the competition.

Thom and the JWC have been a great addition to the USAWA this past year. Thom hosted his first official USAWA competition last November – the JWC Record Day. Thom and the JWC competed in several USAWA competitions throughout the year.  Thom is a “seasoned” meet promoter with vast experience.   He has hosted an annual Highland Games in his hometown of Kirksville for many years that routinely draws over 50 athletes.  Thom always puts on a “top level” competition and knows how to treat the athletes to a “fun time”.  However, Thom is not really a newcomer to All-Round Weightlifting.  One of his first weightlifting competitions he competed in was an “Odd Lift” meet held by Bill Clark over 30 years ago.

I think it is important to “rotate” locations that the National Championships are held each year  to encourage local participation in Nationals for those athletes that are limited in traveling. The last time Nationals was held in Missouri was 2001, in which Bill Clark and Joe Garcia hosted it in Columbia. This location is the perfect “center point” of our membership.  I fully expect next year’s Nationals to be very well attended, and exceed participation over what we have had in the previous several years of Championships. Take the time right now to put this weekend on your calendar and plan on attending!

USAWA Award Winners for 2009

by Al Myers

Courage Award Winners Frank Ciavattone (left) and Dale Friesz (right).

One of the exciting things that has been developed in the USAWA this past year is the development of the USAWA Awards Program.  Included in the new USAWA bylaws is the creation of an Award Director for the USAWA, which is important to insure that the Awards Program will continue in the future. I was nominated for this position and upon receiving the membership’s blessing by an unanimous vote, I was appointed the Awards Director.  I feel giving “special awards” on behalf of the USAWA is VERY IMPORTANT and I will do my best to make sure this continues as long as I am in this position.  When someone shows that they are “going beyond what is expected” in the organization – it is only right that the USAWA gives them the credit they deserve.  I also want to make sure that these “special awards”  will continue to be selected by the membership, instead of by me or the Executive Board.  This makes them mean even more to the deserving award recipients – knowing that they were selected for these honorable awards by their peers.  These awards will be given out at the Annual National Meeting, which is always in conjunction with the National Championships. The 2009 Award winners are as follows:

Athlete of the Year Award Winners Chad Ullom (left) and Al Myers (right).

Athlete of the Year – Al Myers

Athlete of the Year Runner Up – Chad Ullom

Leadership Award – Bill Clark

Leadership Award Runner Up – Al Myers

Sportsmanship Award – Denny Habecker

Sportsmanship Award Runner Up – Art Montini

Courage Award – Dale Friesz

Courage Award Runner Up – Frank Ciavattone

Newcomer Award – David Glasgow

Newcomer Award Runner Up – Kohl Hess

Club of the Year – Dino Gym

Club of the Year Runner Up – Ambridge VFW BBC

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2009 SPECIAL AWARD WINNERS!! The USAWA is very proud of you and your accomplishments.

Time to Revisit the Records Race

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker added another USAWA record to the record list with a Clean and Press of 154 pounds at the 2010 USAWA National Championships

It was exactly 1 year ago that I instigated the USAWA Records Race.  Last year at this time it was a “nip and tuck” battle between our “Prez” Denny Habecker and the “Man of Steel” Art Montini.  Denny had the slight lead of 341 records to Art’s 337 records.  While not much has changed one year later, except the two of them have widened their margin from the rest of the pack. As of now (National records included) Denny still has the slightest of leads over Art  365 to 358.  Last December Denny had “stretched” his lead over Art by 11, but the Man of Steel at an age of 82 is relentless as he is still taking the records down at a rapid pace, as demonstrated by his 4 USAWA records he set last weekend at the National Championships.  But Denny is a born leader and not only leads our organization but the record list as well, and has added over 20 USAWA records himself this past year.

The are still 20 members in the “Century Club” – a designation I gave to those lifters that hold over 100 USAWA records. I last ran this listing last December, and no one new has been added to this list.  However, there has been some changes in how the list “sorts out”. I want to point out that this is CURRENT RECORDS held. If you haven’t been competing there is only one direction you will go, and that is down.  This past weekend’s lifting put more numbers in the Record List (which before long will top 10, 000 records).  It is interesting to note that the 20 lifters in the list below hold 40% of the records in the USAWA Records List.  At the 2010 National Championships 52 new USAWA records were set. For a complete listing of the records set at Nationals click on this – 2010NationalMeetRecords.

Current Records Ranking in the USAWA

1.   365  Denny Habecker

2.   358  Art Montini

3.   227  Al Myers

4.   226   John McKean

5.   214   Bill Clark

5.  214   Noi Phumchona

7.   213   Dennis Mitchell

8.    212   Frank Ciavattone

9.    204   Joe Garcia

10. 201   Bob Hirsh

11.  171  Howard Prechtel

12.  142  Dale Friesz

13.  137  Jim Malloy

14.  134  Ed Schock

15.  123  John Monk

16.  118  Mary McConnaughey

17.  115  Scott Schmidt

18.  114  Chris Waterman

19.  110  Joshua Monk

20.  105  John Vernacchio

Dale and Dalton

by Thom Van Vleck

Dale Friesz deadlifting 220 pounds with the Trap Bar at the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

Dale Friesz getting the courage award made me think of my grandfather and patriarch of the Jackson Weightlifting Club.  I think Dale and Dalton would have gotten along just fine.

First, let me say that I have a lot of respect for Dale and I hope that as I get older that I don’t give up on my training.  Dale commented one time that his training is what kept him going and I believe that.  Dalton Jackson was that way, too.

With all the champions to come out of the JWC, from state to national to world champs, people new to the club are often shocked that my grandfather never won anything.  He never competed in a single lifting meet.  But let me explain.  He grew up in the depression and quickly found himself the father to a pack of kids that needed taken care of and he worked long, hard hours to do this.  If he hurt himself, the family was in trouble, so he never maxed out or competed.  It was BECAUSE he sacrificed that later the rest of us could enjoy success.  To the members of the JWC, this made him the greatest champion of them all.

When I was a boy I recall him working at the local shoe factory (a brick hell hole that reeked of chemicals and had no air in the summers….I knew guys who worked there one day and quit….but my grandfather worked there 38 years) full time.  He would work 10 hours a day and half a day on Saturday, or 55 hours a week when they were busy.  He then worked as a janitor of an evening (I often went with him to this job and hung out as he told me stories while he worked) AND he drove a mail truck on Saturday nights.  I often rode with him as he would pick up mail and we would end up around midnight at the airport in Jefferson City.  This meant he’d get home about about 2:00am and he’d still get up and go to Church the next day.  I also recall him sleeping Sunday afternoons!

During these grueling hours, my grandfather would work out.  He worked out all the time.  He would go to the garage gym and get in some lifting, but he also took every chance to get in a few jumping jacks, or push ups, or a bar would be a chance to do some chins.  He incorporated his training in his work, if he were shoveling dirt, he’d do 5 reps over the left shoulder then 5 over the right for 5 sets, then rest a minute, and then back at it.  He would do isometric curls and grip work on the steering wheel of his car while he drove!  I also recall, when he was in his 50’s, he’d go into a handstand and walk on his hands across the yard as he would come into the house.  I’m sure the neighbors thought he was nuts!  Just like I’m sure that those who don’t know Dale the way we do might think he’s a little nuts.  But my grandfather was in fantastic shape and could work all day and I never recall him being sick and if he was, he was in such good shape it didn’t keep him down long.

Then, when he was in his late 70’s, he was hit by a car.  It was a devastating accident and the doctors told us things looked bleak.  He had a severe head injury and they did brain surgery on him.  They put him in one of those rotating beds to drain the fluid off his brain and told us the prognosis was grim and that he’d never fully recover.  But one day, we were in visiting him and my Uncle Wayne noticed he was doing something with his hands.  He was squeezing them…..and he was doing it in 5 sets of 5 reps (his favorite set/rep scheme for exercises) as he switched back and forth.  Soon, this began to spread and the docs thought he was fighting the restraints on his bed.  But we knew, “Pop” (as I called him) was exercising.  He was already planning his comeback!

He made a long, grueling comeback to the amazement of his doctors.  The wreck took it’s toll but Dalton got back to being better than most men his age.  He continued to exercise all the time and lift weights.  I think that if Dalton were around today, he’d be right there with Dale on the platform and I’m sure they’d have a lot to talk about.  Tough times don’t last, tough people do.

Minutes of the 2010 Annual National Meeting

by Al Myers, USAWA Secretary

The 2010 Annual National Meeting of the USAWA was called to order by President Denny Habecker following the first day of competition on Saturday afternoon. Roll call was done by Secretary Al Myers with these members in attendance: Denny Habecker, Al Myers, Judy Habecker, Randy Smith, Kohl Hess, Art Montini, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt, Dale Friesz, Barry Bryan, Frank Ciavattone Jr., Frank Ciavattone III, and Dennis Mitchell.  The reading of the previous meetings minutes was done by Secretary Al Myers.  The financial report was next given by Treasurer Al Myers. The report from the Official’s Chairman Joe Garcia and Records Chairman Joe Garcia was not available to be provided to the membership, so no report was given. The Website Director Al Myers gave a report on the development of the new website and how it will be beneficial to the USAWA in the future.  Next agenda item was the discussion and vote on the new proposed bylaws developed  by the ad hoc committee of Al Myers, Joe Garcia, and Tim Piper. The committee had previously provided these bylaws to the membership for review, so the membership was aware of the contents before the meeting.  After a brief discussion, Chad Ullom moved to accept them, Dale Friesz provide the second, and the acceptance of the new bylaws  passed by an unanimous vote. Next item brought to the meeting floor was a discussion of the minimum age of officials.  No minimum age is specified in the USAWA Rule Book.  After much discussion, the membership agreed that the age of 16 should be this minimum age.  Denny Habecker moved, Dale provided a second, and the motion passed unanimously.  Dale Friesz brought up the discussion of the USAWA providing a Handicap Division, to provide a division for those to compete in that have a disability.  Most everyone in attendance agreed this was a good idea, but disagreements arose in how we as an organization would assess disabilities.  Denny moved that this be looked into by the Executive Board, and a Handicap Division be implemented by the Executive Board when the board is in unanimous agreement on the specifics. Frank Ciavattone III gave a second, and the motion passed by unanimous vote. The Hall of Fame committee that was formed at last year’s meeting  of Denny Habecker, Dale Friesz, and Dennis Mitchell gave their report next.  The committee proposed that induction occur when an athlete achieves 10 National Championships.  Also, in this was the development of a “contributor” Hall of Fame.  Discussion against this proposal included the argument that it doesn’t reward individuals that contribute to the USAWA in other ways besides just competing.  Those in favor stressed that this proposal would be very simple to keep track of lifter’s progress toward the Hall of Fame, without having to keep track of points. Al Myers moved that the Executive re-evaluate the point system, make some modifications with it, and when every member of the Executive Board is in agreement, it be implemented immediately. Chad Ullom put forth the second, and the motion passed unanimously.  At this point, Dale Friesz nominated Scott Schmidt for the Hall of Fame as he had already met the previous criteria to be in the Hall of Fame. Chad Ullom seconded the motion, and it passed by unanimous decision.  It was agreed that the ceremonial  induction of Scott Schmidt into the USAWA Hall of Fame will occur in November at the Gold Cup.  The next agenda item was the approval of 5 new lifts that have been proposed which were: the chin up, the pull up, the foot press, the turkish get-up, and the bent-over row.  After a short discussion, a vote was taken and these lifts were passed by unanimous vote. Next up was the approval of the Rulebook changes. Al Myers presented a list of proposed changes, most of which were small technical issues involving rules of the lifts that were omitted in the current Rulebook.  Everyone was in agreement on these.  The only significant issue included in this was placing an expiration on Level 1 test approved officials in which a 3 year limit will be placed on officials before being required to pass the Rules Test again. Level 2 officials and Level 1 experience approved officials are exempt from this.  Chad Ullom moved to accept these Rulebook changes, Randy Smith seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. At this point, discussion arose about allowing knee wraps for the front squat and the 12″ base squat.  The argument for this was that knee wraps have already been approved by the membership for these two lifts at the 1997 meeting, but never implemented in the Rulebook.  Scott Schmidt moved that we allow knee wraps for these two lifts and this be put in the Rulebook.  Randy Smith seconded it, and the motion failed by a vote of 7 to 4.  Discussion resumed and it was brought to the membership’s attention that several records in the Record List for these two lifts were done with knee wraps since it was previously approved and it would be impossible now to determine which ones were set with them.  Scott Schmidt again moved that knee wraps be allowed in these two lifts, Chad Ullom provided a second, and the motion passed by a vote of 10 to 2.  The next agenda item was presenting the Special Awards.  Al Myers and Denny Habecker presented the awards. The Award recipients are as follows:  Athlete of the Year – Al Myers, Athlete of the Year Runner Up – Chad Ullom, Leadership Award – Bill Clark, Leadership Award Runner Up – Al Myers, Sportsmanship Award – Denny Habecker, Sportsmanship Award Runner Up – Art Montini, Courage Award – Dale Friesz, Courage Award Runner Up – Frank Ciavattone, Newcomer Award – David Glasgow, Newcomer Award Runner Up – Kohl Hess, Club of the Year – Dino Gym, Club of the Year Runner Up – Ambridge VFW BBC. The next agenda item was the election of two Executive Board members to a one year position.  Al Myers nominated Dennis Mitchell and Chad Ullom nominated Scott Schmidt.  Randy Smith moved that nominations be ceased and the nominees accepted by unanimous ballot.  Randy’s motion created confusion amongst the membership in his use of proper parliamentary procedure and after an uncomfortable period of silence, a second was made by Al Myers.   A vote was then taken and it passed unanimously.  Next up was the appointment of a Drug Enforcement Director for the USAWA.  Al Myers nominated Chad Ullom.  There were no other nominations, and it passed unanimously.  The appointment of an Awards Director for the USAWA was the next agenda item. Chad Ullom nominated Al Myers, and again there were no other nominations. A vote was taken and it passed unanimously.  The last agenda item was accepting bids for next year’s National Championships.  Only one bid was presented, and that bid was from Thom Van Vleck of the JWC.  Al Myers presented the bid on Thom’s behalf  and gave a persuasive speech to the membership on how “great a guy Thom is”.  A vote was taken and the bid was accepted by majority vote, with only one vote against. At this point and 2 1/2 hours later, the membership was beginning to become restless and  more interested in the huge sandwiches that Judy had prepared for us.  Scott Schmidt moved to adjourn the meeting, with Chad Ullom providing a second, and the vote passed unanimously.

Frank’s First Time with the One Arm Deadlift

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone, at age 23, lifting 402 pounds in the One Arm Deadlift the first time he ever tried it.

You KNOW you are going to be good in the One Arm Deadlift when you lift over 400 pounds the first time you try it!  Well, that’s exactly what Frank Ciavattone did the first time he tried the One Arm Deadlift when he was 23 years old on December 15th, 1978.  This lift was part of the New England’s Strongest Man, which Frank went on to win (and again several times in subsequent years). Without a doubt, Frank has lifted over 400 pounds more times in USAWA competition than any other lifter and is the ONLY lifter to lift over 500 pounds in USAWA competition.  Frank’s personal record in competition is 562 pounds in the One Arm Deadlift set in 2005, which is the All-Time best in the USAWA.

Best Crucifix Lifts of All-Time

by Al Myers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Clark and the Zercher Lift

by Al Myers

The founding father of the USAWA, Bill Clark, making a 405 pound Zercher Lift.

I recently found this picture of our USAWA  founder, Bill Clark, performing one of his favorite lifts, the Zercher Lift.  The Zercher Lift was named after the famous old time Missouri strongman Ed Zercher. This picture was taken in the early 1960’s at a meet at the Leavenworth Prison, which Bill was promoting.  Bill’s best lifetime Zercher Lift was 455 pounds – which would still be the best at most USAWA meets today. In a true Zercher Lift, the bar is taken from the platform, and not from a rack or stands. Notice that Bill is not even wearing a belt!

JWC Straight Weight Team Challenge

by Thom Van Vleck

I have just received word from USAWA Secretary Al Myers that my application to hold a team challenge postal meet has been accepted.  This will be a postal meet that will consist of 5 lifts and 3 men per team.  Total weight lifted by all three men will be the deciding factor of victory.  The time frame will be from the first of July to the end of August.  No age or bodyweight adjustments…just “Straight Weight” lifted, hence the meet name.

The lifts will be:

1. Continental to the Chest

2. Push Press from the Rack,

3. Shoulder Drop

4. Cheat Curl

5. 1” Vertical Bar Deadlift w/2 bars.

The JWC team members will be Thom Van Vleck, John O’Brien, and Josh Hettinger.

I know that the Dino Gym has already answered the challenge and I hope that other USAWA members will put together a team and join us.  I have already highlighted the Shoulder Drop and I will be doing stories on the other lifts soon!

First All-Round Meet Memories

by Thom Van Vleck

My first All-Round meet was when I traveled with my Uncle Wayne Jackson to the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. It was called “The Wall” because a very imposing stone wall surrounded the facility almost looking like that was all that was there. It was, I thought 1979, but my Uncle said he thought it was ‘80.

I was 15 or 16 at the time and we arrived in time to meet up with Bill Clark. After some greetings we headed inside. I considered myself a pretty tough kid, but I’ll be honest, being inside that place was like being “scared straight”. We went through a double cell door system and we had the backs for our hands marked with ultraviolent ink. The mark had to be there or you didn’t get back out later! A funny note, after the meet, some of the guys that were showering held their hand out of the shower for fear they would wash it off even though it was “permenant ink”. I was afraid to shower at all!

As we filtered into the yard we were escorted by a guard. I noted that he didn’t have a gun or weapon of any kind and when I asked why he said, “The prisoners would just jump me and take it away”. It was then I realized this was the real deal! This was the days before signing waivers….you were just warned and there you go!

A group of the lifting prisoners greeted us. I recall Lou Greenlaw being one of them. He noticed me being a little nervous and he said to stick close to him, anyone that went after me would have to go through him first. Lou was a big guy and I recall him doing a very strict 315lb Good Morning that meet for a record. He was pretty nice to me all day and encouraged me. I wondered later what he was in there for!

After awhile, I came to realize that all the prisoners were pretty nice. Most of them were men that had made bad choices, but weren’t necessarily evil men. At one point I recall the prison cross dressers coming in to watch the lifting. They got kinda rowdy at one point making cat calls at the guys lifting….and they were kicked out as I recall. I thought it was pretty funny, and being a farm kid….I’d never seen anything like those guys before!

We ate lunch in the cafeteria. It was a loud and busy place. The food was like school food, not bad, but not that great. There were a lot of the general population in there and they were pretty rough looking. I sat with Lou!

My Uncle Wayne had a great day. I recall him breaking about a dozen records. The one that stuck out in my mind the most was a 300lb Reverse Grip Clean and press. He did 250 with ease and went to 300. He got it but Bill turned it down. I can’t recall why, but it looked good to me! Wayne had been recovering from a devastating back injury so his lifts were all the more impressive to me. He did an easy 280lbs seated press. Wayne had done 300lbs for 8 sets of 2 at one point in training, but he braced his feet behind him while the rules of the lift required him to have his feet flat which really threw him off. I also recall him power cleaning and pressing 300lbs with power to spare. Wayne was always an explosive presser and it always made him look like he had plenty more in the tank.

I recall doing a 120lb seated press weighing about 165lbs and then deadlifting something like 365lbs. I don’t think they counted it with the other lifts, but at least I got on the platform for the first time in my life.

That prison was legendary, some pretty bad people (like Lee Harvey Oswald) were sentenced there and many of them died there, either by natural causes or otherwise! But all in all, the men I met that day were pretty good guys. Bill used to do a lot for the prisoners with his lifting events and I’m sure it helped put more than one of the straight and narrow. Prison lifting is a thing of the past as many of states have limited this for lots of reasons which are debateable. But that day stands out to me. A kid learned more than just how to lift in a meet that day. He learned a lot about life.

Business Agenda for Meeting

by Al Myers

The following is the business agenda for the 2010 National Meeting, to be held June 26th immediately following the lifting on Saturday at the 2010 National Championships.

1.  Meeting called to order by USAWA President Denny Habecker.

2.  Reading of previous meetings minutes by USAWA Secretary Al Myers.

3.  Report of financial status by USAWA Treasurer Al Myers.

4.  Report from the Official’s Chairman Joe Garcia.

5.  Report from the Record’s Chairman Joe Garcia.

6.  Report from the Website Director Al Myers.

7.  Discussion and vote on proposed bylaws that were developed by the bylaws  ad hoc committee of Al Myers, Joe Garcia and Tim Piper.

8.  Discussion and vote on the new Hall of Fame Program developed by the HOF ad hoc committee of Denny Habecker, Dale Friesz and Dennis Mitchell.

9.  Discussion and vote on 5 new proposed lifts.

10.  Discussion and vote on Rulebook changes.

11.  Election of two executive board members to a one year term.

12.  Appointment of the Drug Enforcement Director and the Awards Director.

13.  Discussion of other business brought forth by the membership.

14.  Award the special USAWA awards.

15.  Accept bids and vote on venue for next year’s National Championship.

16.  Meeting adjourned.

Hall of Fame Biography – John C. Grimek class of 1993

by Dennis Mitchell

John Grimek - This photo is from the cover of the February, 1969 issue of Muscular Development.

John Grimek was born June 17, 1910 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He got his interest in weightlifting and body building from his older brother George. John stated that his brother was bigger and stronger than he was, but just didn’t have the interest in the Iron Game that he had. John’s first competition in weightlifting was in 1934 where he took a first place as a heavy weight in New Jersey with a total of 710 pounds. Later that same year he entered his first National meet in Brooklyn. His press of 242.5 pounds was the highest of the meet. However he failed to total due to his lack of training in the snatch and clean and jerk. The following year he placed second to Bill Good in a five lift meet with a total of 1,072 pounds. The five lifts were the one hand snatch, the clean and jerk which had to be done with the opposite hand used in the snatch, the two hands press, snatch and the clean and jerk.

John then moved to York PA. to improve his training. In the 1936 National meet in Philadelphia he pressed 285.5 pounds, snatched 220 pounds, and clean and jerked 308 pounds. He placed first in the heavy weight class while weighing just two pounds over the light heavy limit. His press was a National record. Later the same year he competed in the Olympics in Germany. Though he did not place he lifted more than any other American lifter. In 1937 he reduced to the light heavy weight class for the Sr. National meet in Detroit. In this meet he was to light and was not at his best. But in 1938 he won the Jr. National meet with an 810 pound total in the light heavy weight class. At this time, before physique contest were added to the lifting meets, John continued to compete in lifting. In 1938 still lifting as a light heavy weight he made a total of 830 pounds. (261 press, 245 snatch, and a 325 clean and jerk). John’s best meet was in the 1940 Sr. National meet held in Madison Square Garden, where he did a 285 pound press, snatched 250 pounds and a clean and jerk of 325 pounds. He placed third behind Steve Stanko and Louis Abele. However he did win the Mr. America physique contest, and at this point decided to put his efforts into body building.

In 1941 he once again won the Mr. America contest. The AAU then made a rule that once you won the Mr. America contest you could not enter it again. The first Mr. Universe contest was held in 1947. John could not enter because the AAU said that he was a professional because of his work with the York Barbell Co. However the 1948 contest was open to both amateurs and professionals and he became Mr. Universe. In 1949 he won the Mr. USA contest in a highly publicized meet as it had become a battle between the IFBB organization and the York Barbell organization.

John died November 24 1998, having never been defeated in a body building contest.

USAWA Awards Program

by Al Myers

It is exciting to be able to announce the start of the USAWA Awards Program. Discussion on the development of this Awards Program happened on the USAWA Discussion Forum, with everyone showing overwhelming support. These awards will be given out the USAWA National Meeting which occurs at the same time as the National Championships over the weekend of June 26th and 27th. Nominations must be sent to me by April 30th. The two individuals receiving the most nominations will be listed as the candidates for the awards, with voting done by May 15th by the membership. You must be a USAWA member to make a nomination or cast a vote. Only one individual may be nominated per person per award. The awards are for the year 2009. An individual may be nominated for more than one award. The award categories are as follows:

Athlete of the Year – This award is for the individual who has accomplished the most athletically within the last year in the USAWA. Top placings at the Nationals and World Championships should figure in high. Also, participation in other National Competitions such as the Heavy Event Nationals or Team Nationals could factor in, along with the Gold Cup.

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

Sportsmanship Award - This goes to an individual who possesses and shows great sportsmanship within the USAWA. The act of sportsmanship may be by conduct at all events, or by an specific example of exceptional sportsmanship.

Courage Award – This goes to an individual who shows the courage to overcome an obstacle in order to return to competition. This may be a comeback from an injury, or just having to deal with difficult personal issues but still shows the courage to compete in the USAWA.

Newcomer Award – This award goes to an individual who in new to the USAWA or has become involved again. It doesn’t have to go to someone in their first year of being involved in the USAWA.

All nominations are to be sent to me at amyers@usawa.com by the 30th of April. I will keep the nominations confidential. The voting will end by May 15th to give me time to have the awards made. The USAWA Discussion Forum will be the place to discuss reasons why a certain candidate should be voted on, or for individuals to make the pitch why their candidate nominated should receive the award.

Five Decades

by Thom Van Vleck

Wayne Jackson & Bill Clark in front of "Clark's Championship Gym" in Columbia, Missouri.

Recently, Al and I went to Clark’s Gym to compete in the Deanna Meet with Joe Garcia. My Uncle Wayne Jackson came along. It has been some time since he had seen Bill and along the way we talked about him and Bill’s relationship.

It was in 1962 Wayne told me they first met, it was hard for him to believe that it had been nearly 50 years! It was a 3 hour round trip for us and during that time Wayne shared many stories of taking trips with Bill back in the day. Some were pretty long and believe me, I’m going to write these down. But a couple of short one’s:

One time Bill gave Wayne, Phil Jackson, and Bill Fellows a ride to a meet in Kansas. Bill had an old hearse that he used as his personal vehicle. On the way back, the lights went out and they stopped at a truck stop but could not get them to work again. So Bill talked a trucker in to letting them tailgate him all the way from Kansas City to Columbia. As they left and the next 100 miles revolved around Bill staying glued to the back bumper of this truck…..Wayne said him and Phil got to laughing as they contemplated the irony of being killed in a HEARSE.

Another time, Wayne shared a the story of a write up that Clark did on him in the forerunner of the USAWA newsletter, the MO Valley Lifting News. Wayne had broke the state record in the clean and press and the age of 18 and Bill wrote, “Look out Russians, here comes Wayne Jackson”. Wayne’s brother Phil was excited about the headline, Wayne has always been a modest person and said he was actually embarrassed by it!

Wayne and Bill go way back, and Wayne got Bill’s newsletter from 1962 until the last one and read it religiously. In a way, it almost seemed like a chance to say goodbye for Wayne as his health has not been the best and if that is the case, I’m glad he came…..but I don’t think guys as tough as Bill and Wayne ever give up the ghost quite so easily!!!!!

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 4

by Al Myers

Scott's best official lift in the Hip Lift is 2000 pounds.

Al: I was glad to see you recently register your club with the USAWA and help with the growth of the USAWA Club Program.  Could you tell me the history of your club?

Scott: My club, The Schmidt Bar Bell Club, was founded in March, 1967. I was 14 years old at the time, lifting with my friends in my parents garage. We registered with the AAU later to be eligible to compete with the other clubs in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Our goal was to win team trophies, and that’s what we got good at! Our toughest competitor during our early years was the famous Olympic Health Club. Old Scotty Boy had to get some good talent to beat those guys! Ultimately, our winning strategy was boiled down to prepping our guys to be in the right weight class at the right time to have the best shot at winning. With weight control knowledge learned from High School Wrestling, our young guys in the light classes often scored more team points then their big guys. And if we were good enough to win the head to head battles, we often walked away with the title. As we got older and gained weight, by now we could still put up a good fight, because we had gained experience. One of our greatest accomplishments was winning the Ohio State Teen Age Weightlifting Championships. Believe it or not, when we won in 1971, it was the last year they held that specific tournament in our State. So, 39 years later, we are still the defending Champs!!

We stayed active as a club until the early 80’s. Since The Schmidt Bar Bell Club was not competing actively as a team, I personally have represented The Westpark YMCA for Olympic Weightlifting and The Prechtel AC  for All Round events since then.

But after a conversation with Al Myers, who is doing everything he can to grow our organization, I decided to resurrect the old club name for competing again in team competition. I love to train other folks to help them reach their potential. I have coached my family members and friends to World Titles and Records over the years, and my new goal is to repeat that process under the Schmidt Bar Bell Club banner!

Scott is doing a Zercher Lift at the 2009 IAWA World Championships. At this meet Scott was the Open 120 kg Champion and the Best Master 55+.

Al: What do you think the future of the USAWA will be?  What does the organization need to do in order to grow?

Scott: The future for the USAWA looks promising. I think it’s all about telling others of our activity, and engaging them to have fun with us.

I think we are on an outstanding track of communication methods to have the best shot at growth. As in most endeavors, the best way to grow is by word of mouth. If we can all encourage others face to face in addition to our event postings, I feel we have a great chance to attract more members.

I thought of this idea the other day: As you know, the fitness industry is booming with participants. Moving weights is no longer looked down at, like when weight training was in it’s infancy. So to appeal to that audience, with the intent of drawing them into a few of our “exercises” , here’s my thought. What if we touted the prestige of becoming a “World Record Holder” to those folks who haven’t jumped on board yet?

In other words, stress the honor a new comer could achieve by setting a record in one of our over 200 events.  I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who are good at some of the events we have. And to encourage them to try to obtain a “World Record” may just be the spark to get them to try our All Round Lifting.  The details of how, when and where we post this type of “advertising” would need to be figured out.  But it might spur some interest, in someone who trains hard at a fitness place and finally wants to test themselves against the record books.

Al: I agree!!  We have a great sport and all it takes is getting the word out. Thanks Scott for doing this interview.

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 3

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt performing a 100 kg Continental Snatch at the Ambridge BBC. Notice Art Montini as the head judge and Howard Prechtel watching on the left.

Al: How do you mix your training for Olympic lifting and All-Round Lifting?

Scott: I prioritize my schedule based on what competition lies ahead. I have clearly determined training for the sometimes awkward All-Round lifts actually improves overall performance for Olympic style events. How? First I work on the basics of getting used to moving heavy weights to increase power. Then as I focus in on speed and technique as the Olympic competition approaches, the movements have an easier feel. This encourages me to push up bigger Olympic lifts, and better results are obtained. One important fact to remember.

Do not over train! I find I get my best results when I am not nursing an injury. If I can’t move the warm up weights I need on the way to my goal, I just back away and do a fitness type workout.

Al: How do you train?  Where do you train?

Scott: I usually train 3 days a week, about an hour and a half per session. As a meet approaches, I add 1 extra day per week two months ahead of the competition. My objective for my style of training is to work programs in a cycle method. A blend of fitness exercise and moving heavy weights works best for me. When an All-Round meet is announced, I target my weakness on any given lift, and work to improve that area. Quick example: For Olympic Style training, I just work on clean style deadlifts. To maintain good form, the weight I use is much lighter than a regular reverse grip deadlift. However, when an Al-Round meet has a form of deadlifting, I try and pick up as much as I possibly can. And you know what? In the end, it improves my overall power, which enables me to pick up more in the Olympic movements! This is one of the many benefits of blending my training, so I can improve at both sports, instead of being too stubborn to try new movements.

For training locations, I have 3 primary locations. On Sunday’s I train at Jim Malloy’s Gym. On Friday’s, I train at the Westpark YMCA in Cleveland, Ohio. The rest of the week, I train at my own custom built facility attached to my house. In order to show support for the USAWA, I recently resurrected my original club name, The Schmidt Bar Bell Club, founded in1967, and submitted my club membership.

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 2

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt performing a 157.5 KG Clean and Jerk at the Ohio State Championships.

Al: When did you get started in All-Round Weightlifting?  Was there anyone responsible for introducing you to All-Round Weightlifting?

Scott: My first competition was the USAWA Winter Fest 2-15-92. Later that year, on 10-17-92, I was in the US Inlands meet. These were both held in the historic Ambridge Barbell Club.

I was first introduced to the sport in 1990 by Bob Karhan, past USAWA Champion and record holder, from Cleveland, Ohio. We both trained at the Westpark YMCA at t

he time. Since I was already in shape to move heavy iron, Bob encouraged me to try my strength on some new events. The Nationals wereheld in Akron, Ohio that year, but due to my Olympic style training schedule, I did not compete.

I did attend the meet, however and was able to coach Hall of Famer Jim Malloy with his lifts at his first All-Round competition.

Al: I know you have competed several times at the USAWA Nationals.  What have been some of your favorite meets?

Scott: I have fond memories of every one of them. They have all provided me with the opportunity to “bring out the beast in me”. I love to prepare for an event, then gain the satisfaction of putting up a goal breaking performance. Here’s a quick funny story. Good news? At the 2008 Nationals, I was mentally and physically ready to try my first 2000 pound hip lift. Bad news? They didn’t bring enough iron to accommodate me! They were able to locate 1800 pounds, and it did go up, at least!

Al: What are your favorite All-Round lifts and why?

Scott: My favorite All-Round lifts are: Overhead pressing and jerking events, gripping lifts, and hip and hand and thigh lifts. I haven’t posted a number yet, but I would love to try a back lift on the famous Al machine! The reason I consider these my favorites, is due to years of Olympic style training, I was able to make fast progress with these events. I strive to set the class record at what I am good at. Back in 1996, I was the first man in the USAWA to clean and push press 300 pounds. Made me happy!

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Interview with Scott Schmidt – Part 1

by Al Myers

Scott Schmidt performing a 107.5 KG Snatch at 228 pounds bodyweight at the National Masters Championships.

Al: Scott, please tell me a little about yourself.

Scott: Baby Boomer Scott Alan Schmidt was born 11-15-1952 in Cleveland, Ohio. I have lived in the Greater Cleveland Ohio area all my life. I was raised in a very competitive athletic environment, with 2 older and 1 younger brothers. Through out my Career in business, I have been employed as a Salesman. Most of my time has been in telecommunications sales. In addition to putting my efforts into providing for my wife, son, daughter, and now helping when I can with my  grandson, I also serve my church as council president.

Al: When did you start lifting weights?  Was there anyone who got you started? Who was an inspiration to you?

Scott: I was hooked on training with weights when I was 14 years old. A new neighbor moved in next door, and he had a York Olympic Set. He offered advice and old magazines for instruction, and I just loved working out to record my improvements! My neighbor, Al Steele, worked at a  Cleveland Steel Mill with Chuck Vinci,  2 time Olympic weightlifting Gold Medalist.They were good friends. Occasionally, Chuck would visit Al’s gym when I was there, and he would encourage this skinny 148 pounder to do good. 40 plus years later, Chuck happens to do his banking where my wife Kathy works. So we still stay in touch.Small world, huh?

Al: I know your lifting background is with Olympic Lifting. What are some of the awards you have won in Olympic Lifting?

Scott: I have been in many competitions since my first one in 1967. In my home State, Ohio, I have won the Open State Championship 10 times.  I have won the Masters State Championship 16 times. I have won 2 National Master’s Championships, 4 American Open Masters Championships, and 3 Pan American Masters Championships.  During the course of these events, I set Meet and National records at the competitions also.  I have also competed 4 times in the World Masters Weightlifting Championships.  My best result was a Third place finish in 1993.

Interview will be continued tomorrow.

Bill Cookson – A Lifting Hero

by Al Myers

Bill Cookson and his 185 kilogram (407.7#) Zercher Lift at the 2003 IAWA International Postal Meet. Bill placed first in the Open 110 kg class and 3rd Best Lifter Overall in the Open Division.

Tomorrow in the USAWA Daily News there will be a story by a lifter who exemplifies courage, commitment and honor. That lifter is Bill Cookson.  I felt an introduction was in order before tomorrow’s story – because Bill is one of the most modest people I have ever met and he would not “brag” about his lifting accomplishments (so I’ll do it for him!).  I also want everyone to know his importance to the Dino Gym and to the USAWA.

Bill is currently in Egypt, as part of the Army National Guard, on a World peace keeping mission.  I asked Bill to share how his training was going in this challenging environment – which will be covered in tomorrow’s story.  Bill is one of the founding members of the Dino Gym. Bill and I have trained together off and on for over 20 years, and competed in many powerlifting and All-Round meets together. Bill is a fierce competitor, and always is looking for new challenges in life.  When he told me about his plans to re-enlist in the Army National Guard (after a 13 year break in service) a couple of years ago, I was not really surprised. It takes a special kind of man to make this change in life when already settled down with a family, and Bill is that kind of man.

Bill has competed several times in my Annual Dino Gym Challenge, the IAWA World Postal Meets and record days at the gym.  He currently holds over 20 USAWA records with lifts such as these:  380# Steinborn Lift, 355# Pullover and Push, 227# Index Fingers Deadlift, 540# Heels Together Deadlift, 352# 12″ Base Squat, and 340# Alternate Grip Bench Press.  I should mention that Bill is very much against lifting gear – and often even does big lifts like these WITHOUT a lifting belt.  His best powerlifting marks are 534# Squat, 380# Bench Press, and 606# Deadlift.   Again these were done without lifting equipment.

The Dino Gym is very proud of Bill Cookson – and looks forward to his return to the gym so we can train together once again.  I am sure you will enjoy his story  – it shows that you can still be an All-Round Weightlifter no matter what training obstacles or life circumstances stand in your way.

Thom Van Vleck’s Top Ten Lessons Learned

by Thom Van Vleck

  • 1. Wash your hands thoroughly after using liniment before going to the bathroom (especially before putting on a squat suit).
  • 2. Make sure your spotter is paying attention (and not “spotting” the hot girl stretching across the gym) as you can’t talk much when you are pinned in a full squat position with 500lbs on your back.
  • 3. Not only do you want to make sure you unload the bar evenly, you want to make sure anyone else around you is unloading evenly….especially your brother.
  • 4. Tall guys with long legs can’t sumo deadlift….your feet will be directly under the weight when you drop it.
  • 5. If you are tall and you are going to do overhead presses or jerks, make sure there is enough room for you, the bar, and the plates.  Also, if you push press a bar into a rafter, it will come directly back down and hit you in the head.
  • 6. If you are deadlifting on the second floor, make sure there is not a suspended ceiling underneath….it will fall and the person sitting under it will be upset.
  • 7. Make sure you have plenty of room to run up under a jerk…..or it will go out the window…..seriously….and you will have a lot of explaining to do to the owner of the garage.
  • 8. Don’t try and use old, tight jeans in lieu of a squat suit…..you will be left with the worst blood blisters of your life.
  • 9. If you don’t work a body part often or for awhile, work into it slowly.  Don’t do 20 sets the first workout or you may be really, really sore….and your mother may want to take you to the ER.  Especially Calves and Abs.
  • 10. Finally, If you training partner asks you to “hit me” to pump him up for a workout and you hit him too hard, he will hit back.

Bonus:  Don’t take supplements on an empty stomach….especially a lot of supplements, you will waste your money.

Top Ten Lessons I Have Learned “The Hard Way” During My 25 Years of Lifting Weights

(and NONE of these lessons were funny to me when they happened!)

by Al Myers

1.  It is best to use collars in lifts where the bar may tilt. (as demonstrated by the tears in the carpet by my squat cage)

2.  Always check for small plates on the bar when pulling off a 45# plate. (It only takes a 2.5# plate to break a toe)

3.  Stay away from open grips when pressing.  (caused me a fractured cervical vertebra when I was in my early 20s)

4.  Low blood sugar and 20 rep squats don’t mix.

5.  Always keep your calluses trimmed off or a big deadlift will rip them off.

6.  Keep a puke bucket within reach of the squat cage.

7.  Don’t rehydrate after weigh-ins with apple juice.

8.  Don’t wipe the sweat off your face when you still have rubbing liniment on your hands.

9.  Always unload the bar EVENLY!

10.  It is best to skip a squat workout if you have been battling intestinal flu!

Get Out and Compete in the USAWA

by Al Myers

Dr. Charlie Scott, at age 74, competed in his first USAWA National Championships last year. Dr. Scott was previously an Olympic Lifter and Gymnast, and now a great addition to the USAWA!

I have often heard this answer in the gym when I have asked guys if they compete or not, “I’m not strong enough yet to enter a competition”.  It’s amazing how this time never comes for them.  It seems the expectations of what they want to lift in order to enter a competition is not EVER enough – and in the mean time they lose out on having enjoyable experiences challenging themselves in a competitive meet environment.  That is one of the great things about weightlifting – your competition is the bar and weights laying in front of you on the platform. You have full control on whether you are successful or not.  It’s not like boxing or the UFC, where you may be at the top of your game, and the “other guy” is just better than you, and you end up with your face smashed in!   I would understand it, if in those sports, someone says they are not ready for competition!  But competitive All-Round Weightlifting – give me a break!  The challenges are always there to get stronger, or maybe just get better at a lift no matter what your age is.  I have come to the conclusion and accepted that I have probably reached (or passed) my physical peak.  At age 43, I know my best years are behind me.  But I still enjoy training and “giving it all I have” in competition.  All-Round Weightlifting has been a blessing for me – the multitude of different lifts provide unique opportunities to get better at lifts for a long time.  I am constantly learning new techniques in particular lifts that make me better.  Just at this past World Championships, Frank Ciavattone gave me a tip that put 20 pounds on my Ciavattone Deadlift immediately!  Last year at the Heavy Events National Championship, Dale Friesz and Art Montini told me “the secret” on the Neck Lift which has translated into over a 100# increase in my Neck Lift.  Bill Clark has given me numerous training advice through the years that has helped me tremendously – which I only got because I went to the meets that he hosts. Joe Garcia has helped me in the Hand and Thigh Lift  – I was doing it totally wrong until Joe showed me the correct technique.  Now if I was staying home training by myself waiting for the day to enter a competition, would I have learned these things?  Not much of a chance.

For those of you that have never tried a weightlifting competition, or just want to try something different – give the USAWA a try!  You will find out that the competition is fun. The lifters involved in the USAWA are a special breed – everyone involved is down to earth and just enjoys challenging themselves with weights. Everyone is very helpful and supportive to each other at meets. They are no EGOS in this organization – mainly because everyone involves knows that even though there may be lifts that you can excel in, there are also ones that humble you.  But even with those lifts  – if you work at them you will improve. Don’t be one of those gym lifters that really would like to compete – but just doesn’t.

Give All-Round Weightlifting a try – and Get Out and Compete in the USAWA.

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

Name these two lifters from the “Golden Era of Weightlifting”.  The first correct answer emailed to me wins. You may only give one answer per day.  The winner will receive a USAWA patch.

Scott Schmidt, of Westlake Ohio, provided the correct answer. Scott gave the “fastest answer” yet to the Quiz of the Week, with me receiving the answer ONLY 1.5 hours after putting the Quiz up!!! Way to go Scott!!

A pair of the best lifters of all time. On the left is STEVE STANKO who officially snatched 310 1/2 pounds and officially clean and jerked 385 pounds. STEVE STANKO was the first man to total over 1000 pounds. On the right is JOHN GRIMEK, who weighing only 180 pounds officially pressed 285 pounds in National Competition. Credit: Strength and Health, March 1947

The Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

by John McKean

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club

Earlier this year the Ambridge VFW Barbell Club celebrated its 50th anniversary ! It was jointly founded by the USAWA’s own Art Montini and his long time friend, Harry McCoy, who went on to serve many terms as Western Pennsylvania’s Chairman of Olympic weightlifting. It was neat to see both men in attendance at the recent USAWA 3 man challenge meet!

Since the early 1960s the Ambridge club has been a hotbed of weightlifting competition. At one time or another, most of the top dogs in the Eastern US in olympic and power lifting, and physique competitors attended these exciting contests. Remember Phil Grippaldi, Tony Fratto, Hugh Cassidy, Frank Remschell, Mr America past 40 Jim Karas, Bob Weaver, George Crawford, Cal Shake, Roger Estep,etc,etc? -all attended VFW meets! Later, with Art, Bill DiCioccio, and me getting into the initial USAWA meets, it was just a natural to host annual all-round contests along with several nationals. Heck, Art’s birthday meet alone has gone on longer than most clubs last these days!

Part of the charm of the Ambridge gym is its old style “hardcore” decor -mostly older olympic sets and pegs chock full of plates, solid iron dumbbells, sturdy racks & benches, and multiple lifting platforms. Yes, there are a few heavy duty machines in the lower part of the gym, but even these “bodybuilding devises” only got in by heated screaming matches during rather wild club meetings!! Training here has always been geared to huge strength and lifting competition, so the well used barbells show more wear and tear than do lat machines seen in most health spas!

A key feature of many of the racks, supports, and odd gear seen in the gym is that they were mostly homemade, and one-of-a-kind. That is, during the 60s the local steel mills were thriving and most of the members were steelworkers – these guys were terrific at welding together all manner of heavy duty structures that would withstand an A-bomb! No one ever asked about the limits of a stairladder squat rack, for instance, because one look at it would quickly convince any user that its support limits would outdo even Paul Anderson’s top weights! If a member feels a piece of steel looks damaged or somehow unsturdy, or just needs modification, almost as his concern is expressed, ole Art Montini has his welding mask on and torch aflame! Believe me, it can make for a unique training session when sparks and superheated metal are flying around -even the rats run for cover (just kiddin’ , never saw a rat during my 43 year membership ,tho Art early in the morning and unshaven is close!).

All members dues,always quite reasonable, have been continually invested in new equipment. It may have been rather Spartan in 1960 when Art and Harry first pooled their own barbells and plates, but quickly evolved into a barbell club that would easily satisfy a healthy roomful of dedicated iron men. Regular clean-up and maintenance crews keep things tidy yet rugged looking. I well remember attending my first power meet at the VFW -it was the most impressive, well equipped “dungeon” I’d ever been in ; even the extensive solid dumbbells on the long rack had been freshly painted a neat shade of dark blue just for that contest! I immediately promised myself that right after graduating from college I was gonna join this group who took such pride in their facility!

I have to fondly recall the many big olympic, power, all-round, and physique meets held upstairs from the gym. This was in the large “dance hall” and stage behind the VFW’s bar on the main floor. Meets would begin at 9 am in the good old days, and last well past midnight! The place was packed with spectators, and even was often stacked 3 deep in the surrounding overhead balcony, and had all the noisy atmosphere that a big sporting event SHOULD have! Great food was sold (and sold OUT!) by the ladies auxillary upstairs, and the “occasional” lifter or official would sometimes sneak out to the front bar for a quick beer! The only problem was dressing downstairs in the locker room just below the lifting platform -when the olympic lifters dropped a big one the lights& rafters always threatened to bury those down below (never actually happened,though!)!

Nowadays, some of the old time trainees have departed, but current competitors, new barbell buffs, and student athletes still frequent this friendly old pit ! If you haven’t visited already, be sure to attend one of the upcoming USAWA meets that we’re planning!

Trap Bar Training

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson set a new Dino Gym Record in the High Trap Bar Deadlift this week, with a lift of 800 pounds.

The Trap Bar Deadlift has been contested in the USAWA since 1996. I think this is one piece of equipment that every gym should have. The original Trap Bar was the Gerard Trap Bar developed by Al Gerard, a powerlifter from North Carolina, over 20 years ago. Since then several other companies have developed Trap Bars that are very similar, but with minor design changes, getting around the original patent held by Al Gerard. For those not familiar with a Trap Bar, it is an apparatus that contains a frame around the lifter, and has parallel handles located at the lifter’s side for gripping.

Trap Bar training is beneficial and supplemental to deadlift training for several reasons. First of all, it gives a “different line of pull” than deadlifting with a straight bar. By having your arms to your sides, the hips and legs are engaged much more than a bar deadlift, with less demands being placed on the lower back. It is easier to maintain good lifting technique in keeping the shoulders up and the back curved (instead of rounded). More weight can be lifted with the Trap Bar than a straight bar, unless you are a very experienced deadlifter. The grip is easier to maintain. Also, unlike a traditional deadlift where bad technique can lead to “hitching”, it is impossible to “hitch” a Trap Bar Deadlift. I have in the past trained young kids in weight training during the summer, and I always include the Trap Bar Deadlift as one of their key exercises. It is very safe for young kids to do as long as you limit the maximum you allow them to lift. I have a rule that I only allow them to lift up to 150% of their maximum squat set with the Trap Bar. So if they want to improve their Trap Bar Deadlift – they better be improving their squat! I once started training a young girl on the Trap Bar Deadlift, and immediately she complained about the “rough knurling” on the handles. Well, at the end of the week when I was reviewing the kid’s training logs, I noticed she had written the name of this lift as “the Death Grip”. Apparently she misheard me call it “the Dead Lift”, and innocently named it what she thought it should be called!

The "Hex" Trap Bar

The "Hex" High Trap Bar

The Baier Trap Bar

I am not going into set and rep schemes done with the Trap Bar. There are several good programs that can be done -and in the gym we have tried them all. Describing all of these programs would take more space than I have for this story. We also have a couple of other types of Trap Bars in the gym – one with 3″ elevated handles (only regular handles are allowed in USAWA competition) and one very unique Trap Bar given to the Dino Gym by Shawn Baier, which we call the Baier Trap Bar. It has three adjustable handles with diameters of 1″, 1.5″ and 2″. The height of the pick is 12 inches from the floor (a normal Trap Bar pick is 9″). The use of these High Trap Bars is great for giving variety to Trap Bar Training. We will often add chains to the Trap Bar in order to increase the difficulties at the top of the lift. Chains really help in developing a quicker pull, as less weight is on the bar at the bottom position. I even like to do Trap Bar training in the same workout as straight bar pulls. I find I can do them after regular deadlifting and still able to workout heavy on them.

The Trap Bar Deadlift is going to be a big part of All-Round competition this year. It is in the USAWA National Championships and in the IAWA World Championships. This seems like reason enough to get one for yourself – if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it – and the progress you will make with it will pay off in overall strength gains.

Summary of the Zercher Strength Classic

America’s Oldest All-Round Weightlifting Contest
by Dale Friesz

The concept of the ZERCHER STRENGTH CLASSIC originated with the founder of the United States All-Round Weightlifting Association, Bill Clark. The first ZERCHER STRENGTH CLASSIC was held in 1982, six years before the first USAWA National Championships became a reality. The meet was created to honor Ed Zercher Sr., the famous St. Louis Missouri Strongman who performed at an extremely high level for over sixty-five years in all areas of the strength games.


2010 – 1/30
28/180 13 8105 7698.90
2009 – 1/31
27/180 13 8370 7950.66
2008 – 1/26
54/226 13 8020 7635.38
2007 – 2/03
53/233 13 8135 7635.20
2006 – 1/21
24/172 13 7897.5 7708.75
2005 – 1/29
51/242 13 8085 7304.83
2004 – 1/31
50/240 13 8190 7364.64
2003 – 2/01
70/238 13 5180 5523.64
2002 – 2/02
20/169 13 7790 7684.84
2001 – 2/03
47/241 13 8050 7029.97
2000 – 2/05-06
46/239 13 8792.5 7654.33
1999 – 1/30
38/185 13 6765 6321.90
1998 – 1/31-2/01
40/224.5 13 10080 8542.71
1997 – 2/01-02
39/227.5 13 9895 8243.50
1996 – 2/02-04
38/225 13 10645 8918.30
1995 – 2/04-05
37/218.5 13 9790 8334.23
1994 – 2/05-06
36/211.5 13 9345 8097.44
1993 – 2/06-07
37/215.5 13 10470 8975.93
1992 – 1/18-19
36/223 13 10250 8628.45
1991 – 1/19-20
35/227 13 10380 8656.92
1990 – 1/20-21
34/225 10 6430 5387.06
1989 – 1/21-22
33/212 14 8285 7189.72
1988 – 1/23-24
32/215 18 12260 10568.12
1987 – 1/24-25
31/215 16 10955 6139.18
1986 – 1/25-26
30/161 16 9345 6672.33
1985 – N/A
29/165 20 8320 5969.29
1984 – 1/21-22
28/- 17 N/A N/A
1983 – 1/22-23
27/- 18 N/A N/A
1982 – 1/23-24
26/- 16 N/A N/A


2003 – 2/01
40/165 13 6165 6226.65
2001 – 2/03
38/158 13 6355 6538.66
1999 – 1/30
19/136 13 3740 4235.37
1998 – 1/31-2/01
19/124 13 3470 4235.83
1997 – 2/01-02
34/171 13 6070 5897.00
1996 – 2/03-04
33/176 13 5920 5699.30
1995 – 2/04-05
30/171 13 4565 4473.24
1994 – 2/05-06
29/165 13 4695 4702.98
1993 – 2/06-07
28/163 13 4660 4794.67
1989 – 1/21-22
29/147 14 3420 3687.79
1988 – 1/23-24
28/142 18 4395 4880.65


STEVE SCHMIDT – (8) – 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
JOE GARCIA – (6) – 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008
JOHN CARTER – (5) – 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
SID LITTLETON – (4) – 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986
ABE SMITH – (4) – 2002, 2006, 2009, 2010
DAVE DEFOREST – (1) – 1999
BILL CLARK – (1) – 2003


AMORKOR OLLENNUKING – (4) – 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003
KERRY CLARK – (3) – 1993, 1994, 1995
DORIS De La ROSA – (2) – 1988, 1989
AMY BURKS – (1) – 1998
ANGELA McBRIDE – (1) – 1999


MISSOURI STATE PENITENTIARY (Jefferson City, MO) – 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986
CLARK’S CHAMPIONSHIP GYM (Columbia, MO) – 1988 to 2010

USAWA News Updates

USAWA News Updates
by Al Myers

Meets this Month

This is a big month for meets in the USAWA.  This coming weekend (March 13th) will be the Club Challenge, hosted by the John McKean and the Ambridge Barbell Club.  Entries must consist of three lifter teams – since scoring will be done by adding up individual adjusted points for a team score.  March 28 is the day for the Deanna Springs Meet, hosted by Bill Clark in Columbia, Missouri.  Bill has hosted this meet for many years in memory of Deanna Springs. Also, don’t forget the Postal Meet hosted by John Wilmot. Lifts must be done and turned in by the end of this month.

History of Gold Cup

Thanks to Dale Friesz, the history of dates, locations and meet directors of past Gold Cups has finally been completed.  Dale has worked hard doing the research for this going back to the FIRST Gold Cup. This coming year will be the 20th year for the Gold Cup, which was started in 1991 by Howard Prechtel.   All of Dale’s research on this can be found in the Past Champions Section.    Thanks again Dale for finishing this project I started several months ago. It might never have got finished without you.

Drug Testing

The USAWA is making some changes in drug testing this year.  Our new USAWA Vice President Chad Ullom has assumed the role of the USAWA Drug Enforcement Director.  We have had a very good drug testing program in the past, but Chad has some ideas to even make it better. This year we will test at more meets, but with less tests done per meet.  Hopefully, this will save the USAWA some money and make our drug testing program even better.

Club Memberships

This so far has been a great year for club memberships.  Registered USAWA Clubs for 2010 stand at 7.  This has only been  topped by 8 registered clubs in 2002 and 2003.  The longest standing Club Membership belongs to Clark’s Championship Gym, which has been a registered club since 1989.  That was the first year club memberships were issued.

Individual Memberships

Individual memberships in the USAWA are $25, and must now be sent to me instead of Bill Clark.  Don’t forget to sign and date the drug waiver when sending in your membership application.  Memberships are for the current year, from the first day of January to the last day of December.  They are required in order to compete in any USAWA meet or event.  Once I receive your membership money with the completed application, I will immediately put your name on the membership roster. Membership cards will NO LONGER be issued.

USAWA Discussion Forum

The website contains a discussion forum, but is only available to those who have registered for the website.  This can be done in the Website Registration Section.  There is no fee for this and has nothing to do with membership in the USAWA.  You must be logged in to the website in order to see the Members Section which contains the discussion forum.  I do have to approve your website registration so it may take a while, but I check it daily so it won’t be longer than that.  This discussion forum is a great place to discuss current lifting events or just interact with others interested in All-Round Weightlifting.

History of USAWA Records

by Al Myers

I was thinking the other day about the history of the number of records set in the USAWA throughout the years.  Joe Garcia has been the Official Records Chairman since the beginning of the USAWA, and has entered THOUSANDS of records into our Record List. Joe’s efforts on this has been impressive and the USAWA owes him  a lot of thanks for all the work he has done in giving us a 20 plus year Record List.  The list is now approaching 10,000 line items in length.  But, what years have the most records been set in?  This can’t possible be answered because records are continually broken and the list updated, so an absolute count is about impossible for any year except the most current year. However, we can count the records that are STILL on the books from previous years.  Well, I did this and found the results interesting so I am going to share my research with you!

Year Records Year Records
1987 38 1999 453
1988 114 2000 586
1989 154 2001 422
1990 250 2002 682
1991 307 2003 538
1992 294 2004 474
1993 291 2005 702
1994 346 2006 566
1995 468 2007 367
1996 425 2008 360
1997 427 2009 475
1998 433 2010 103

As you can see, 2005 was the year that resulted in the MOST records.  The last three years there has been a drop-off. But it appears 2010 is off to a good start – maybe THIS YEAR will be the year the most records are set??

Congratulations to Dave Glasgow for passing the Official’s Test and becoming an USAWA Official!

What happened 10 years ago in the USAWA?

by Al Myers

Garcia wins Zercher

On February 5-6, 2000, Joe Garcia wins his first Zercher Strength Classic at Clark’s Gym.  Fellow gym members Mike McBride  took second place while James Foster came in third.  Seven lifters participated in this 13 lift meet which occurred over two days. Garcia dominated the Chain Lifts – with lifts of 1600# in the Hand and Thigh, 2300# in the Harness Lift, and 1805# in the Hip Lift.  This meet also included the comeback of John Carter, who had been sidelined for two years with two knee surgeries.

Postal League

Four registered clubs (Clark’s Gym, Prechtel Athletic Club, Ambridge VFW Barbell Club and Frystown Power Zone) have entered the Postal League.  The first leg of this year long competition was completed.

Nebraskaland Strength Classic

Meet director Kevin Fulton won the Nebraskaland Strength Classic, barely edging out Elijah Kucera.  Fulton put up big lifts in the Jerk-Behind Neck (305 pounds) and the Deadlift – Fulton Bar (505 pounds) to secure the win over 17 year old Kucera.

Deanna Springs Memorial

Josh Pemberton won the Deanna Springs Meet, beating Abe Smith and Al Springs.  The meet was very close, with Josh slipping past Abe by only 13 points!  A highlight of the meet was having two old JWC lifters in attendance – Wayne Smith and Wayne Jackson.  Smith had developed a reputation by being a one arm pullup champion, and on this day he performed a record in the Pinch Grip with a lift of 90 pounds.

Buckeye Record Breaker

This record day was promoted by USAWA President Howard Prechtel on March 4th. An amazing 16 lifters took part!  The list of those competing: Noi Phumchaona, Anna Holter, Jim Loewer, Dennis Stahnke, Chris Waterman, Bob McKenzie, Lee Gesbeck, Dennis Mitchell, Bob Cox, John McKean, Art Montini, Bob Hirsh, Walter Moss, Bill Crozier, Bob Geib, and Scott Schmidt.

Courtesy of The Strength Journal published by Bill Clark.

Rounded Back Platform Deadlifts

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Ryan Batchman demonstrating the proper way to do a Rounded Back Platform Deadlift.

We have our “Big Workout Night” at the Dino Gym on Tuesday night, and usually have a large turnout of lifters.  Everyone has their own workout, but it is the night to go heavy so most exercises trained involve the back and legs.  Lots of squats and deadlifts!  We start at 6:00 and sometimes don’t finish until 10:00 or 11:00.  The last part of the workout usually involves doing exercises that help with recovery or flexibility, or more commonly referred to as “accessory exercises”.  I am a firm believer in training heavy to get stronger, but at the same time don’t overlook lighter exercises as a way to supplement your heavy work. We constantly change these exercises from workout to workout as this is our way of “winding down” a hard workout. We have several back accessory exercises we do but I want to explain one that is not well known, which we call the Rounded Back Platform Deadlift.  This exercise could be a great addition to your back training program.

The Rounded Back Platform Deadlift is done is this manner. First, you place a foot on two different raised platforms, and place the weight on a loader in front of you between your feet. It is best to have a loader that a handle can be attached to so weight can be added. The height of the handle should be just above the level of the feet, but not as high up on the lower leg as a loaded bar on a lifting platform.  Use an overhand grip when picking up the weight, and with a bend of the knees allow the lower back to round over.  When rising, stand and come to a complete lockout. Lower the weight as low as possible without allowing the weights to touch or rest on the floor.  Keep constant tension on the body at all times. Perform the repetitions at a controlled pace, paying attention to keeping the proper form of rounding the back when rising up with the weight.  We perform sets of 10 reps, adding weight to each subsequent set. Usually we will do between 4 and 6 sets.  We rotate quickly between us and try to keep the rest minimal.  This exercise is not about maximum exertion – but rather about stimulating blood flow to the lower back and legs. You will feel “the burn” in your hamstrings after performing this exercise.

The Rounded Back Platform Deadlift improves flexibility because the weight has a deep pickup that requires a good stretch.  The cross-over benefits to an All-Rounder is that it will help with rounded back type lifts, such as the Zercher Lift or Hack Lift.  It is also a very good exercise for Strongmen to help build strength for Stone Lifting, which is also a rounded back type of lifting.

Ledaig Heavy Athletics

by Dave Glasgow

Dave Glasgow and Larry Traub represented their new USAWA Club, the Ledaig Heavy Athletics, at the Grip Challenge last weekend.

Al wanted me to write a history of my club. I told him that the history of my club would be more like a readers digest version as I have just put the ‘club’ aspect of it together. I will try not to bore you all too much.

I started on the iron hi-way when I was in high school. While in college, I really got interested in weight training with my buddy and roommate, Larry Traub. We both got married and moved on, but both continued with the weights.

In 1976, I bought a set of York Olympic weights. (as a side note, this was the largest purchase my wife and i had made up until that time) Now friends, how many wives would have sit still for that kind of deal?? What a girl I have. She has always been supportive of my lifting and throwing endeavors. (thanks, Gunner!!) I set up shop in my great uncles basement and that was the start of the “club”. I have had NUMEROUS training partners over the years, none that stuck to it very long. The location for the weights have moved SEVERAL times and now resides at our farm, which, following a trip to Scotland, I named LEDAIG, which is Scottish Gaelic for “safe haven/harbor”. At the urging of my great friend and confidant, Thom Van Vleck, I just recently named my training facility the LEDAIG HEAVY ATHLETICS. The ‘heavy athletics’ being due to the fact that I am HEAVILY involved in the highland games. (I lift to throw, not lift to lift.)

However, the one constant over these past 35 years has been the relationship with my ‘bestest friend’, Larry Traub. We would see each other about once a year and do our ‘obligatory’ yearly workout together. But, from the outset, it was clear that he was a much more accomplished lifter than I. Regardless, any time we got together, the majority of the conversation was about lifting. So, when I told him about the USAWA, he was immediately interested!

So, there it is!! We are a two man club! We live eleven hours away from each other, but because of the “brotherhood of the iron”, and the wonders of modern communication, we will compete together as we did as college kids decades before.


USAWA Club Challenge

by Al Myers

Multi-talented John McKean loves to fish when he's not lifting. He even wears weightlifting T-Shirts for good luck!

John McKean, of the Ambridge VFW BBC, has announced a new, exciting meet for this year – the USAWA Club Challenge. It will be held on March 13th, at the Ambridge Barbell Club. It seems very appropriate that one of the oldest USAWA Clubs (the Ambridge BBC have been a registered USAWA Club since 1993) is hosting this Club Challenge. In the recent years club membership in the USAWA has declined, but at one time club membership was the backbone of the USAWA. The early USAWA bylaws even had stipulations in them that changes in the USAWA would only happen by votes of the clubs, with each club having a voting representative at the National Meeting.

John McKean has always been a “major player” in the USAWA. His resume of involvement goes on and on. He has been a National Meet promoter, a USAWA Hall of Famer, multiple National and World Champion, distinguished writer of numerous articles promoting All-Round Weightlifting, and a foremost leader in the USAWA. Now, he is taking on the challenge of rejuvenating the Club Membership program in the USAWA. I feel club membership is the “secret” to stimulating growth in membership in the USAWA. One of the problems we face in attracting new members to our organization is the understanding of the multiple lifts. Potential new lifters look at all of our lifts with confusion. We have over 200 lifts to learn while Olympic Lifting has only two and Powerlifting has three. But by being part of a club, new lifters have the opportunity to learn from the experienced All-Rounders. A club environment gives new lifters confidence to give All-Round Lifting a try. This only starts by those “who have been around” being leaders, and inviting new potential lifters to be part of their group. I would like to see the day return where lifters are proud of their club, and when they compete they wear their club’s T-shirt with pride.

This meet will be a club challenge – with each club having three members compete together side by side with their total points being added up for a Team Score. This meet is not about individual scores, and individual rankings will not be recorded. Clubs that enter need to be registered with the USAWA, but at only $10 per year to register as a club, it is truly just a token membership fee. Clubs may register the day of the meet. There is no entry form or entry fee, but each club must contact John ahead of time to enter. The details of this can be found on the event calendar.

This is one of the most exciting new events that has happened in the USAWA in recent years. Let’s all join together and make this Club Challenge a great success so that it will continue for years to come – and THANKS to John McKean for making it happen!!!

2010 Grip Challenge

by Ben Edwards

The 2010 Dino Grip Challenge started on time, as Al mentioned already, and it ended 3 hours later – which is an unofficial record as far as I know for grip contests. Most that I have competed in have been anywhere from 5 hours to nearly 8! A shorter contest is much more competitor-friendly and allows more time to do after-contest feats and record attempts. And more time to drive back to wherever the competitors call home.

Before listing who the competitors were, I want to mention the competitors who had planned on competing, but couldn’t make it for various reasons. Kevin Fulton, Mary McConnaughey, Nick Zinna, and Josh Dale. You were all sorely missed!

I’m going to list some thoughts and observations on each competitor, starting with 1st place and working my way to 8th place. The placings were age-adjusted and also used the Lynch formula, as is standard in USAWA competitions. I like the age adjustment and use of the Lynch formula in competitions because it lets many different ages and weights compete against each other on what I believe is fair footing.

1st Place: Andrew Durniat is fast becoming a legend in the grip strength world. His accomplishments are too numerous for this meet report. Simply put, he is the 2009 Grip Champion and the US Kettlebell Champion.

He stayed the night before the contest with me and my wife, Carrie. I really enjoyed getting to chat with him and pick his brain on everything that I had planned on asking him – and a few other things that popped into my head as we spoke. He’s very friendly, has a quiet demeanor, is extremely humble and generous with his time and help, and he pays close attention to the relevant details of anything relating to strength.

I expected a mindblowing performance from Andrew and was definitely not disappointed! He won every event except for the Deadlift – Fingers, Little. He went on to pull 25lbs over my event-winning performance on an extra record attempt! His loss in that event was only due to inexperience with choosing his attempts on a lift that he had never even attempted before the contest.

With all due respect to my fellow competitors, it quickly became apparent to me that this contest was really a case of who was going to be 2nd after Andrew! He won $100 cash for his 1st place finish!

Andrew did so many record-breaking lifts that it’s hard to pick the one that most impressed me. One that really strikes me as unbelievably strong is his 308lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm! That lift was 33lbs over the previous all-time record that Al Myers and I co-owned. Andrew also pulled it to full lockout – in front of his body, which I always found to be harder than straddle style – and then paused it with plenty of strength to spare. Phenomenal lift!

Andrew is an incredible addition to the USAWA membership pool. He brings a passion for strength sports and a vast in-the-trenches knowledge of many training methodologies from his personal training experience. He also generously gave out some of his great personalized shirts after the meet. I love collecting shirts from contests and from strength friends, so thanks Andrew!

2nd Place: Larry Traub was an unknown to me. He turned out to be a “sleeper” in this competition. Someone who most competitors probably wouldn’t have predicted would get 2nd place since it was his first grip contest. It definitely wasn’t Larry’s first strength competition though! He is an elite powerlifter with terrific deadlifting strength. Larry put that hard-earned horsepower to work and plowed through some heavy lifts. Along the way he set many age-group and weight class records. Larry is in very good shape and Al can attest to the fact that I had no idea Larry was 56 years old. I was very surprised since I thought he was somewhere around 48-50 years old.

He was a joy to talk to and a quick learner on the grip lifts! His homemade wine that he generously set out as an after-contest refreshment was well received. I liked the picture of Larry and his wife on the label too. Larry won $50 cash for his 2nd place finish!

Larry’s 203lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm was really an exceptional lift! His bodyweight was only 2lbs more than that. And it was his first time doing the lift! He has an incredible future in USAWA competitions.

3rd Place: I won 3rd place after age and bodyweight adjustments were calculated. My performances consistently netted me 2nd place in each event, sometimes tied with others, and one 1st place. My Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm performance really let me down, but I was very pleased to pull 175lbs on the Deadlift – Fingers, Little. An attempt at 200lbs on that lift left me with a sore tendon for my effort. I forfeited the $50 cash prize to the 4th place finisher.

I enjoyed showing a few competitors with no experience with the Deadlift – Fingers, Little how to efficiently set their fingers on the bar and what to do with their other fingers and wrist position to maximize their poundage. I think I was the only one there that had consistently trained that lift. I needed all the experience I could get because Andrew and Chad pushed me all the way to the 3rd attempt.

4th Place: Chad Ullom is a great all-round lifter and Highland Games competitor who I’ve competed with before this contest. His hand strength on the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2,” was much higher than he anticipated. And that’s an understatement! I heard him say that he might open with 120lbs. I told him that I estimated he would pull around the 200lb mark. He surprised himself by lifting an outstanding 212lbs on an extra record attempt! Someone coined the nickname, “Chad – I Don’t Train Grip – Ullom,” since Chad remarked during the first part of the contest that he doesn’t train grip. I think it rolls off the tongue nicely!

Chad is always very entertaining and quick to share tips or knowledge on any lift that he’s familiar with.

5th Place: LaVerne Myers is Al Myers’s dad. LaVerne (and Rudy!) has a great sense of humor and endured my wife’s comical remarks and catcalls throughout the 3 hours of competition. He has big, strong “farm hands.” I used to work for some farmers and they all had the same type of powerful hands that LaVerne has.

He had some really solid lifts but I was most impressed by his fantastic 6lb Weaver Stick – Forward! That performance (although LaVerne’s was an extra record attempt) tied Andrew’s event-winning performance!

6th Place: Dave Glasow performed very well and seemed to enjoy the grip lifts even though he had little experience with them. His 209lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm was the 3rd highest (tied with Chad) of the contest! I wish I had more time to talk to Dave and Larry about lifting in general. They are both very knowledgeable and have a knack for picking up very quickly on any new lifts.

7th Place: Rudy Bletscher is incredibly nice and my wife had a great time teasing and harassing him throughout the contest. We both enjoy talking to Rudy and have seen him at several contests since 2005.

He always seems to perform better than he thinks he will. I enjoyed seeing him do some lifts that he didn’t think he was going to get initially. In particular, the Deadlift – Fingers, Little was one that he really had to grit through the discomfort to pull the solid 70lbs that he worked up to! He originally thought that the 44lb bar would be his max on this lift. He added quite a bit to that original estimate. During everyone’s attempts he good-naturedly teased me and asked why I picked this lift to be in the contest. I jokingly replied that it was because I hated everyone! I think some of the guys probably thought that was true, but of course it wasn’t. I just thought it would be a good test of pain tolerance and grip at the same time.

8th Place: Jason Payne is a friend of mine who is a very strong armwrestler. He hasn’t trained grip specifically for a long time and has lost a lot of weight, but gained a lot of fitness in the process. He’s always bull-strong regardless of how much he weighs. He was inexperienced with a few of the lifts, but quickly figured them out and dialed his form in for the next attempts.

His 176lb Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm was very impressive since it was a lift he had never done before. It takes great balance and a strong grip to get that bar to come up evenly and then hold it at the top before the bar peels the fingers back and races back to the platform.

Jason really shined in the after-contest feats demonstration and record breaking session. He really excels at kettlebell feats and it was entertaining to watch him do flips and other exercises that required great control, strength, timing, and dexterity.

Dino Gym Record Day

Records Fall at Dino Record Day

by Al Myers

Dino Gym Record Day Participants Front left to right: Chad Ullom, Molly Myers, Al Myers Back left to right: Dave Glasgow, Darren Barnhart

This past weekend was the weekend for the Dino Gym’s double header – the Grip Challenge on Saturday and the Record Day on Sunday. Five lifters made it to the Record Day yesterday – two of which competed the day before, Dave Glasgow and Chad Ullom. The youngest lifter to compete was my youngest daughter Molly. She picked a diverse group of lifts to set records in – from dumbbell lifts to squats and deadlifts. Her highlight was pulling a 185# Trap Bar Deadlift. Chad Ullom came with his eyes set on upping his One Arm Deadlift Records. He accomplished his goals – 413 pounds with the left and 419 pounds with the right. Darren Barnhart did some great One Arm Dumbbell Deadlifts and also put up the highest mark of ALL-TIME in the Rectangular Fix at 132 pounds. He had more in him! Darren and I went head to head in the Dumbbell Walk – with him edging me out 100 pounds to 95 pounds. Both of our marks exceeded the previous Dino Gym Record. My highlight was finally getting an official Roman Chair Benchpress of 200 pounds. Dave Glasgow made it to his first record day – and did he go to work! He first demonstrated his great flexibility by doing a DEEP Overhead Squat of 160 pounds. He mixed in some overhead lifting with One Arm Clean and Jerks and One Arm Snatches. Dave is willing to try any lift in the USAWA. He picks up on the lifts very quickly. His years of throwing in the Highland Games obviously help him tremendously – as Dave is very athletic for a 50 year old. As Dave often says, “I lift to throw, not throw to lift.”

Overall, this has been a great weekend of competitions. I want to thank everyone who took the time out of their busy schedules to lift this weekend at the Dino Gym.


Dino Gym Record Day

Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas

February 14th, 2010

Meet Director: Al Myers

Officials (3 officials used): Al Myers, Chad Ullom, and Darren Barnhart


Molly Myers (Female, 11 years old, 130 pounds bodyweight)

Snatch – Dumbbell, Right Arm 30#

Snatch – Dumbbell, Left Arm 30#

Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm 30#

Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm 30#

Squat – 12″ Base 100#

Deadlift – Trap Bar 185#

Chad Ullom (38 years old, 240 pounds bodyweight)

Deadlift – Left Arm 413#

Deadlift – Right Arm 419#

Miller Clean and Jerk 121#

Scott Lift 254#

Rectangular Fix 100#

Good Morning 230#

Gardner – Full 100#

Darren Barnhart (42 years old, 295 pounds bodyweight)

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm 305#

Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm 305#

Dumbbell Walk 100#

Rectangular Fix 132#

Al Myers (43 years old, 253 pounds bodyweight)

Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Right Arm 175#

Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Left Arm 165#

Dumbbell Walk 95#

Scott Lift 254#

Rectangular Fix 100#

Bench Press – Roman Chair 200#

Dave Glasgow (56 years old, 251 pounds bodyweight

Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm 198#

Squat – Overhead 160#

Squat – Front 265#

Steinborn Squat 242#

Clean and Push Press 176#

Clean and Push Press – Fulton Bar 198#

Scott Lift 154#

Maxey Press 170#

Push Press – From Rack 210#

Good Morning 135#

Clean and Jerk – Left Arm 100#

Snatch – Left Arm 100#

Dino Gym Grip Challenge

by Al Myers

Group Picture of the athletes at the Grip Challenge Front Left to Right: Chad Ullom, Larry Traub, Ben Edwards, Jason Payne Back Left to Right: LaVerne Myers, Dave Glasgow, Andrew Durniat, Rudy Bletscher

I knew this meet had the potential of being a major “grip showdown” – but the record lifts that were done even exceeded my predictions. Andrew Durniat, of Wooster, Ohio made his comeback to the USAWA and lived up to the hype by not only winning every event but setting ALL-TIME USAWA records in 4 of the 5 events. Andrew has competed once before in the USAWA, at the 2008 USAWA National Championships in Columbus, Ohio. It was at that meet that his great gripping ability became known. In the One Arm Deadlift, he did 440 pounds with his left and 429 pounds with his right to set overall weight class records! Andrew is the 2009 US Grip Champion and by his performance today, he left no doubters as to why he is the best! A quick run-down of his highlights today – first he did 250 pounds in the one handed 2″ Vertical Bar Deadlift, followed by 308 pounds in the One Armed No Thumbs Deadlift. If this wasn’t enough he broke the UNTOUCHABLE record in the Inch Dumbbell Deadlift of 344 pounds held by Matt Graham, by lifting TWO Inch Dumbbells weighing 180 pounds apiece, for a total weight of 360 pounds. Next up was taking out Kevin Fulton’s ALL-TIME record in the Little Fingers Deadlift by becoming the first USAWA lifter to lift 200 pounds. Andy has been invited to lift in a major grip competition next month held at the Arnold Classic. In this competition he will be going up against TEN of the best grip men in the World.

Meet Director Ben Edwards Awards Andrew Durniat his Cash Prize

Pulling in a surprising second place was USAWA newcomer Larry Traub of Georgetown, Indiana. Larry is a member of the newest club in the USAWA, the Ledaig Heavy Athletics. Larry has had a story book career as a drug free powerlifter, and has won several National Championships. Larry is 56 years old, but doesn’t look much over 40. I’m hoping that he has caught the “All-Round Bug” and we will see more of him again in the future. Larry is a fabulous deadlifter, and I can only imagine how great he would do in a more traditional All-Round meet.

Third place was held down by the Meet Director Ben Edwards. Ben put in solid lifts in every event. On top of this, he ran one of the most organized All-Round meets that I have seen. From start to finish the meet was done in three hours, and it started ON TIME. Ben gave back all of the entry fee money and then some in prize money. First place received $100, second place $50, and third place $50. Being the great guy Ben is – he forfeited his winnings and passed them along to the fourth place finisher Chad Ullom. Chad had a great meet. He left two BIG extra attempt records off the scorecard – 212 lbs. in the VB and 165 lbs. in the Little Finger Deadlift. These two lifts would have given him 60 more pounds on his total. Fifth place overall went to my father, LaVerne Myers, in his very first weightlifting meet. In the last event, he tied Andy for the best lift of the day in Weaver Stick with a lift of 6 pounds. Dave Glasgow made it to his second All-Round Meet in less than 30 days, and was very consistent in all the lifts. Rudy Bletscher was the oldest competitor in the meet, but pushed hard on all the events. I was glad to see Jason Payne make it to another All-Round meet. Jason saved his BEST performances for after the meet. He did some HUGE hub lifting and block pinching after the meet was over. He even demonstrated his kettlebell routine that involves “tossing” a 70 pound kettlebell and catching it over and over.

This was a great competition. It is exciting to see new faces in the All-Rounds. I want to thank Mark Mitchell and Scott Tully who helped me judge. By the success of today’s meet, I’m sure Ben will want to host this meet again next year.


Dino Gym Grip Challenge
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
February 13th, 2010

Meet Director:  Ben Edwards

Officials (3 official system used): Al Myers, Mark Mitchell, Scott Tully

Loaders:  Scott Tully and Mark Mitchell

Lifts:  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar,  2,” 1 hand; Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm; Deadlift – 2 “Inch” Dumbbells; Deadlift – Fingers, Little; Weaver Stick – Forward


Lifter BWT Age 2″VB DL-NT Inch DL
DL-LF Weaver Total Points Adj Pts
Andrew Durniat
225 31 250 R
308 L
360 165 6 R
1089 912.36 912.36
Larry Traub
205 56 187 R
203 R
230 110 4 R
734 646.87 756.84
Ben Edwards
220 34 230 L
220 R
240 175 5 R
870 737.85 737.85
Chad Ullom
235 38 182 R
209 R
240 135 4 R
770 630.71 630.71
LaVerne Myers
244 65 177 L
176 R
180 80 5 R
618 496.43 625.51
Dave Glasgow
252 56 157 R
209 R
200 70 5 R
641 506.65 592.78
Rudy Bletscher
222 74 112 R
154 R
140 70 2 R
478 403.43 544.63
Jason Payne
252 44 182 R
176 R
200 60 3 R
621 490.84 515.38

BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are bodyweight adjusted Lynch Points.  Adj Pts are adjusted points for age correction.

Extra Attempts for records:

Chad Ullom  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, one hand:  212 lbs. R
Chad Ullom  Deadlift – Fingers, Little: 165 lbs.
Andrew Durniat  Deadlift – Fingers, Little: 200 lbs.
LaVerne Myers   Weaver Stick – Forward: 6 lbs. L

The Weaver Stick

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards training the Weaver Stick.

I saved the most interesting lift for this last story covering the lifts that are in this weekend’s upcoming Dino Gym Grip Challenge.  The Weaver Stick is one of the most perplexing and misunderstood lifts in the USAWA lineup of lifts.   Bill Clark once told me that “judging the Weaver Stick is more subjective than judging depth in a squat.”  I definitely agree!  I will be the Official Judge in this competition, and I will make sure that everything is done right and all competitors will be judged equally and fair.  The most subjective part of judging the Weaver Stick is making sure that the lifting arm remains straight at the side with elbow locked.  With just a little bend at the elbow, other muscles can be pulled in to play, and much more weight can be lifted. The Weaver Stick is a leverage lift that tests the ligament and tendon strength of the wrist, primarily above the thumb.  It is surprising how little weight can be supported this way.  John Grimek many years ago set the World Record in the Weaver Stick at 11 3/4 pounds.

The Weaver Stick is named after George Weaver of Brooklyn, who popularized it in the early 1940’s. However he didn’t really invent it.  Many years before this Paul Von Boeckmann of New York City found that he had a “special knack” for this type of lifting and had a early version of the Weaver Stick made out of a broom handle.  He won several bets with his ability to lift it with weight attached by a rope on the end of it.  George Weaver based the measurements of the Weaver Stick from Von Boeckmann’s broom handle, and the regulation Weaver Stick length of 36 inches was born. By the way, Paul Von Boeckmann was VERY GOOD with the Weaver Stick and is credited with a forward lift of 11 1/2 pounds. When he was over 60 years of age he could still do 9 1/2 pounds!!  The Weaver Stick has also been contested backwards – meaning you face away from the Weaver Stick.  Slightly more weight can be lifted this way.  However, at this meet you must perform the Weaver Stick in the forward manner.  I would say a great lift is anything over 6 pounds, with most lifters capable of between 4 and 6 pounds if done correctly.  Occasionally in the gym we have pulled out the Weaver Stick to “play around” at the end of workouts.  I am always surprised by what guys lift. You can never predict.  I don’t think there is any correlation between overall body strength and ability with the Weaver Stick.  It is a humbling feeling to fail with 5 pounds when you can deadlift over 500 pounds.  The great Warren Lincoln Travis is said to have been only able to do 4 1/4 pounds with the Weaver Stick.  The top lift ever done with the Weaver Stick in the USAWA is 7 pounds.  This was accomplished by two lifters – Tom Ryan and Mark Mitchell.

The Rules for the Weaver Stick

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

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

by Al Myers

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

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

Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift

H18.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1”, One Hand

The setup for this lift requires a Vertical Bar, which is a bar of one inch diameter with a maximum length of 18 inches. A collar or plate must be tightly fastened or welded to the bottom so plates may be added to the bar.  No knurling is allowed on the bar. The lifter may straddle the weight or have it placed to the lifter’s side. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The bar may be gripped by any grip with only one hand near the top of the vertical bar.  The forearm is not allowed to touch the bar. The lifting hand must not touch the body during the lift, but the weight may accidentally touch the legs provided it does not aid in the lift. The non-lifting hand may be braced on the leg or body during the lift, but must be free from the body at the completion of the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bar from the

platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked at the completion of the lift, but the shoulders and body do not need to be erect. The lifting hand must be above the level of mid-thighs at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bar must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

H19.  Vertical Bar Deadlift -1 Bar, 2”, One Hand

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

The Deadlift – 2 Inch Dumbbells

by Al Myers

Matt Graham performing a deadlift with an Inch Dumbbell Replica in EACH HAND at the 2005 Dino Gym Challenge. Will this be matched at the Grip Challenge this coming weekend?

The name of this lift is slightly misleading.  At first glance, one might think that “2 Inch” refers  to one dumbbell with a 2″ diameter handle.  But what it really refers to is TWO dumbbells that have handle diameters the same as the famous Thomas Inch Dumbbell. This lift was introduced to the USAWA at the 2005 Dino Gym Challenge.  Several years ago IronMind Enterprises sold an Inch Dumbbell Replica. This replica dumbbell had a handle diameter of 2.47″ and weighed 172 pounds, with spherical iron heads.  The handle is smooth (no knurling).   Anyone who can pick up the Inch Dumbbell with only one hand has WORLD CLASS grip.  The Dino Gym has one of these replicas, so come prepared to “Give it a Try”.  I will have the camera ready if anyone actually gets it picked up.

The Rules for the Deadlift – 2 Inch Dumbbells

“The rules of the Deadlift – 2 Dumbbells apply except the dumbbells used must have handles of 2 1/2” in diameter. No knurling is allowed on the handles.  The plates must be firmly attached by collars so no rotation of the plates will occur during the lift. The maximum diameter of the plates used is 11 inches.”

The Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm

by Al Myers

Ben Edwards, the Dino Grip Challenge Meet Director, set the All-Time Record in the Deadlift - No Thumb, One Arm with a lift of 275 pounds at Clark's Gym Record Day last November.

This week I’m going to run stories describing the lifts that will be in this coming weekend’s Dino Grip Challenge.  Like I said earlier, the USAWA has several lifts that are grip oriented, but not necessary traditional grip events that are held in other grip competitions. All of the events in the Dino Grip Challenge are official USAWA events.  Ben Edwards has picked a good variety of lifts.  The competition will be scored according to USAWA format.  This means that the weight lifted in each event will be added up for total weight lifted, and then adjusted for bodyweight using the Lynch Formula followed by age adjustment.  Age adjustment starts at the age of 40, with 1% being added per year.  There are two divisions in this competition in which awards will be given – under 200 pounds bodyweight and over 200 pounds bodyweight.

Rules for the Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm

“The rules of the Deadlift – One Arm apply except that the thumb of the lifting hand must not be covering the bar. The thumb may lie alongside and touch the index finger and bar under the bar or be held in the air not touching the bar.  The thumb must not be touching the top of the bar.”

The bar must be raised to a point where both ends of the bar are above knee level, and then held motionless until the lifter receives the down command.  This lift tests the strength of the fingers’ flexor tendons and the ability to hold the fingers in a “locked” position on the bar.  My advice on this lift is to pick your attempts wisely, because this lift goes from being easy to missing the lift by sometimes as little as a 5 pound jump.