The JWC Perspective on Team Nationals

by Thom Van Vleck

John O'Brien (of the JWC) loading the last stone at the NAHA Nationals to secure his first place finish!!

John O’Brien and I have trained together for about 6 years now. John is one of my partners on our Strongman Evangelism team and since we are similar height and strength, we figured this would be a good event for us.

Believe it or not, I last competed in an “odd lift” meet nearly 30 years ago. I have helped with USAWA meets and even helped coach John in his USAWA efforts over the years, but I was so focused on my Highland Games career I just hadn’t had the right time to do a meet. Well, having just finished the NAHA Highlander meet the previous day, I had no excuses so John and I joined in. I soon realized what I was missing out on!

Team lifting puts a premium on team work. You have to match your partner’s efforts while applying your own maximum effort into the lift. Timing is everything. A lesson learned on the first lift of the day, the Two man one arm Snatch. John and I can both power snatch around 225lbs…..but it ’s a whole new ball game when you have to do it together. We managed 215lbs. On the other lifts, the Straddle or Jefferson Lift, the thick bar Ciavattone grip deadlift, and the Bench Press Feet in Air did not require split second timing, but still you had to lock out together.

I don’t think at any point John and I felt we were a threat to Chad and Al…..they had been training for this event while John and I had not. We just might have to put some more effort into it for next year and see if we can catch Al and Chad napping. We did manage to beat them on one lift, the BP with Feet in Air with our age handicap, but to be honest, their last attempt looked easier than ours.

It is a lot of fun to walk up to a bar loaded to 850lbs and think that you are going to lift it. Even if it’s a two man lift, seeing all those plates rise up is a real adrenaline rush. I know we were too tentative on this lift and next year I see 1000lb as a real possibility.

I think the best part of All around lifting is the fun of trying new things and having so many ways you can set a record. You get sore in ways that regular training will never make you sore. You also learn how to “lift on the fly”. What I mean by that is that many guys train a limited number of lifts and their strength gets very specific. In other words, a powerlifter will get very strong on the Bench, Dead, and Squat, but they ever find themselves in need of tapping into that strength outside their usual training range of motion, they’ll find themselves coming up short. All around does just that, it trains you to be all around strong.

At any rate, it was a blast. I look forward to the Dino Gym/JWC rematch next year. I plan on bringing more than one team of lifters to take out the Dino Gym crew once and for all! Anybody going to stop us! It was great fun, how lifting should be.

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