John Patterson – The Sequel

by Al Myers

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

At the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Western Australia I was reunited with the legendary Australian weightlifter John Patterson.  I had met John previously at the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Perth were we immediately struck up a friendship. After that Worlds, I wrote a short piece in the USAWA Daily News about John, his weightlifting career, and his life.  Now today I would like to expand on that story with this sequel! I did a better job taking notes this time. I’ll start at the beginning.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John was born in 1944 in Auckland, New Zealand. He worked various jobs as a young man – on the wharf, as a farmer, and in the flour mill.  In 1970 he emigrated to Australia and took a job as a wardsman in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.  The next year he took a job at the Royal Perth Hospital as a nursing technician. It was in Perth that he enrolled in Murdock University and got exposed to his future passion that would change his life and career. John assisted on a historical survey of the Dampier Archipelago in 1978.  This included studying maritime archaeology which was a great interest to him.  During this study, John was intrigued by the Aboriginal rock carvings and artwork. He sent a list of his findings to the Aboriginal Sites Development  and this lead  him to a future job as a Museum Ranger at Woodstock and Abydos in the Northern Pilbara region.  He was in charge of the protection of Aboriginal Heritage. His work included finding new Aboriginal historical sites. He had a talent for finding new Aboriginal rock carvings.   He would document and photograph these historical areas.  Photography is John’s other passion as well as weightlifting.  He shared with me many fantastic photographs that he has taken over the years.  I was quite impressed! His territory included over 1000 square miles.  He lived in this primitive and isolated area for close to 10 years.

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack.   Here John is pulling a 750 pound People's Deadlift!

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack. Here John is pulling a 750 pound People’s Deadlift!

During this time John continued to lift weights and compete. He competed in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting and won several championships. During our conversations I enjoyed most the discussions of his training during this time.  He was faced with the hardest environment for training – yet he kept with a program that he made significant gains on. Most would not even bother training in his circumstance!  This was all done with the simplest of equipment – bar and some plates (some homemade out of concrete) – and the focal point of John’s training, his power rack.  John believes in training in the power rack to overcome sticking points. As he put it, he would work “down the rack”. I will simplify his program for this article, but John had many little nuances in training philosophy that he developed over time with trial and error. He found a program that worked for him! This is how his program went.  Say for example your top deadlift is 500 pounds. Your first set would be 500 pounds from mid-thigh for six reps.  You would then lower the pins in the rack to around 2-3″ below the knees and then pull 500 for 3 reps.  Then take the bar to the floor and pull a single at 500 pounds.  The next workout you would increase the weight.  He did this program for his squat and bench press as well. John felt this program allowed you to use your top poundages for repetitions, thus overcoming any mental boundaries you may have with your max.  It worked for John as he maintained a max squat and deadlift over 600 pounds for many years.  I should also mention that John trained outside at night under the stars, as it was too hot to train during the day in the Australian Outback. John kept his focus on primary lifting movements like the squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, high pulls, and push press.  He kept his training abbreviated to the important movements. I should also mention that John did all of his training by himself without the help or assistance of training partners!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press.  John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press. John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John has just recently had a physical setback with having heart surgery.  But that hasn’t slowed him down much – as he told me he just pulled over 300 pounds!  He seems very excited to get back to heavy training!  I have no doubt that he will. He was not cleared by the doctor to compete in the Gold Cup so he spent the entire weekend helping out, officiating, and encouraging the lifters.  His enthusiam for all round weightlifting was evident.

I love success stories like John’s.  Many people think they don’t have the time to train, or the proper place to train so they don’t. They make excuses.  John Patterson had all the reasons in the world to make an excuse – but he didn’t!  He overcame his obstacles and had a successful weightlifting career. That’s inspiration for everyone!

I want to conclude this story with some simple wisdom that John shared with me on training.  John said, “Keep it short. Keep it heavy. Train as though every rep will be your last.”

Those are words to live by.

Online Store back online

by Al Myers

Ever since the website overhaul the online store has not been available.  It needed a change of format to be compatible with the new website.  Well —- I’ve finally got that done! Just tab on the top menu titled “Online Store” and you can view this new addition.

We are not set up to take credit cards so to make an order you must send in the completed order form with proper payment by check or money order. Make payment to the USAWA.  All proceeds and profits from the sale of USAWA merchandise goes into the USAWA bank account to help fund the organization, which in turn is spent on supporting the USAWA and the membership.

Lifter of the Month: Emily Burchett

by Al Myers

Emily Burchett performing a perfect 50 pound Crucifix at the 2016 Dino Gym Challenge.

Emily Burchett performing a perfect 50 pound Crucifix at the 2016 Dino Gym Challenge.

The USAWA Lifter of the Month for January is Emily Burchett.  The only USAWA event in January was the Dino Gym Challenge, in which Emily took first place honors over two VERY GOOD & SEASONED lifters – Tressa Brooner and Mary McConnaughey.  This was Emily’s first USAWA meet, and is the FIRST TIME any lifter has ever been lifter of the month after their first competition!  Emily is extremely talented and with a little more USAWA experience could be become a future Overall National Champion.

Congrats Emily!!!

Deadlift-Reeves

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell lifting 455 pounds in the Reeves Deadlift for a Dino Gym Record in December of 2009.

Mark Mitchell lifting 455 pounds in the Reeves Deadlift for a Dino Gym Record in December of 2009.

The Reeves Deadlift is the final lift in the USAWA Grip Championships.  This is a lift popularized by famous bodybuilder and actor Steve Reeves.  It takes long arms and a strong finger grip to be good at this lift.  The USAWA Rules for the Reeves Deadlift is as follows:

B15. Deadlift – Reeves

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

The IAWA(UK) have a similiar lift to the Reeves Deadlift called the Rim Lift.  The Rim Lift is NOT an USAWA official lift, but rather just an IAWA(UK) official lift. As you can see these are two completely different lifts! The IAWA(UK) even has a lift called the Reverse Rim Lift.  The difference being that the gripping plates are reversed with plate flanges facing inwards!!

RULE FOR IAWA(UK) RIM LIFT:
E33 RIM LIFT

The lifter will deadlift, hacklift or straddle a loaded barbell whilst holding only the rims of the discs. The maximum sized discs for the is lift are 18 inches. On the inside the discs must be flat and smooth, and on the outside the rim cannot be deeper than 1inch. The lifter must not grasp any handles, holes or specially prepared areas, only the thumbs on the smooth inside and the fingers on the outside rim. Any bar can be used as the distance between the collars is optional. Whatever style of lift the lifter chooses the lift will always be finished in the correct fashion, with an erect posture. On completion the referee will signal to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:
The causes for failure for the deadlift, hacklift or straddle will apply, depending on the style elected.
Failure to achieve the correct fully erect finishing posture.
Lowering/replacing the bar before the referees signal.

Obviously the Rim Lift is a much easier lift than the Reeves Deadlift.  The use of a narrow bar and being able to straddle lift it would enhance the amount of weight that could be lifted.

The pictures I’ve seen of Steve Reeves performing this lift he always used a regulation bar (which really show-cased his awesome lat spread!).  It has been reported that he did over 400# in this lift.  There have been some excellent Reeves Deadlifts performed in the USAWA in official competition. The “best to date” are as follows:

1.  Mark Mitchell 400 pounds – 2002 Goerner Deadlift
2.  Phil Rosenstern 355 pounds – 2012 Club Challenge
3.  Kevin Fulton 335 pounds – 2001 Goerner Deadlift
4.  Al Myers 335 pounds – 2009 Goerner Deadlift
5.  Joe Burks 325 pounds – 2001 Goerner Deadlift

Deadlift-Fingers, Middle

by Al Myers

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark's Gym.  You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner's.

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark’s Gym. You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner’s.

This lift probably has been in the USAWA Grip Championships more than any other and each time it’s in the meet I’m asked by lifter’s — WHY?  Well, maybe because I just love to watch the pain in your face as you are pulling with all your might using only your middle fingers!  And because the USAWA Grip Champs HAS to have at least one painful lift in it.

The rules for the Middle Fingers Deadlift is as follows:

B7. Deadlift – Fingers, Middle

The rules of the Deadlift apply except only the middle fingers of both hands may be used. The middle fingers of both hands may grip the bar in an alternate manner. The thumb must not be in contact with the lifting fingers.

I have written blogs in the past about the Middle Fingers Deadlift and the famous old time German Strongman Hermann Goerner. I want to share again part of a story I’ve written before.

David Willoughby in his book The Super Athletes listed Goerner as having done a MF deadlift of 140 kilograms (308.5 pounds) around 1925.  I have always considered this the mark to beat to be outstanding in the middle fingers deadlift.  Now, compared to what Hermann has reported in his other finger lifts, this lift of his seems to be a sub-maximal effort.  None the less, it is a very good lift (and is actually believable compared to some of his other claims).   However, this 308.5# middle finger deadlift is not listed in Hermann’s autobiography by Edgar Mueller’s Goerner the Mighty.  I have read this book several times, and I don’t ever remember seeing this lift listed.  Mueller does talk in one chapter about the wide deviations of grips that Hermann uses for his deadlifts, and mentions a middle finger overhand grip  deadlift (of which he lists Goerner as having worked up to 220 pounds), but nothing about using an alternate grip as we allow in the USAWA for the Finger Deadlifts.

I’ve always considered  Goerner’s Middle Finger Deadlift of 308.5 pounds as the mark to be considered outstanding at this lift. Only a handful of USAWA lifter’s have achieved it in USAWA competition and are part of the USAWA “Goerner’s Club”.  This is the short list:

1. Kevin Fulton 400 pounds – 1999 SuperGrip Challenge
2. Ben Edwards  310 pounds – 2011 USAWA Grip Championships
3.  Bill DiCiccio 309 pounds – 1994 IAWA Gold Cup

I’m hoping someone else will join this list at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships!

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