Monthly Archives: May 2009

Quiz of the Week

by Al Myers

In the USAWA, lifts done for repetitions may be contested in competition and for records. The ultimate record for repetitions is the TOTAL POUNDAGE, where the lifter may choose any lift and rep/set scheme, to lift the most weight within a given time frame.  The standard for this record was initially set by the great Warren Lincoln Travis in 1927 when he Back Lifted 5.5 million pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. This was done by doing 5500 reps with 1000 pounds.

Name the TWO USAWA LIFTERS who have exceeded this, along with their TOTAL POUNDAGE.

Steve Schmidt setting the all-time record for TOTAL POUNDAGE on December 14th, 2002

Congratulations to the Winner of this week’s quiz –  Tom Ryan of Acworth, Georgia – who correctly identified the two USAWA lifters as Steve Schmidt and Howard Prechtel. Tom had an advantage in this quiz, as he was a witness and assisted in the counting of repetitions during Steve Schmidt’s record. Howard Prechtel initially broke Travis’s record in 1982 by Back Lifting 6,066,060 pounds in 3 hours, 9 minutes. It was accomplished by doing 5460 reps with 1111 pounds. This was then upped by Steve Schmidt, on December 14th, 2002 at Clark’s Gym, in which he lifted 8,087,095 pounds in 2 hours 50 minutes. Steve was 48 years old at the time and weighed only 209 pounds. He accomplished this by lifting 1,115 pounds a total of 7253 times, using the Back Lift. Bill Clark was the official judge and counter of this Herculean effort. I was fortunate to also have witnessed this event and can attest to the stamina Steve exhibited in accomplishing this feat.  He was performing 45 reps per minute, which gave him only about 30 seconds rest per minute.  He maintained this pace for two hours!!!!  Steve broke Howard’s record in 1 hour, 57 minutes.   The conditioning required for something like this must be much the same as that of a marathon runner. I was amazed how quickly Steve recovered following this endurance record, as he did not seem out of breath at all afterwards and even joined in with us on some other record lifts.  Will this TOTAL POUNDAGE record be broken in the next 100 years?   Only time will tell…..

Habecker Is Awarded the Kelly Cup

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker is awarded the Kelly Cup.

USAWA President Denny Habecker of Lebanon Pennsylvania recently was awarded the very prestigious Kelly Cup. The Kelly Cup is the highest award given to an amateur athlete for participation in the Keystone State Summer Games in Pennsylvania. Denny was honored this past month by a special ceremony at the State Capital in Harrisburg. The late Jack Kelly was from Philidelphia and was an Olympic medalist in rowing, along with serving as President of the US Olympic Committee. This award is given to an athlete who excels in their sport in the Keystone State Games and provides a positive role model in their community. This definitely describes Denny Habecker. Denny has been involved in weightlifting for over 40 years and has participated in 23 Keystone State Games. Overall he has won 16 gold medals in weightlifting throughout his years of competing in the games. In 2008, Denny competed in the games less than 6 months following hip replacement surgery!!! Denny has been part of the leadership team for the weightlifting event, and often provides equipment for the competition. In 2008, he was also named Outstanding Athlete in Weightlifting at the games. Denny’s attitude, leadership and sportsmanship sets the standard that all athletes should aspire for.

Heavy Lift Championships

by Al Myers

Group Picture - front row left to right Al Myers, Denny Habecker, Chad Ullom back row left to right Scott Schmidt, Dale Friesz, Art Montini

Denny Habecker hosted the 2009 Heavy Lift Championships on May 16th, 2009. Only six lifters participated, but the field was full of experienced lifters. The meet was decided by my last Hip Lift, which I had to make to edge out my good friend and training partner Chad Ullom. With his encouragement, I was able to make the lift!!! However, the win was offset with a loss. I have always struggled with the Neck Lift, and I would just watch in amazement as the “Miracle Man” Dale Friesz and the “Man of Steel” Art Montini Neck Lift. They lift weights in the Neck Lift that a normal person would think impossible considering their ages and bodyweights. Once finished with the Neck Lift, and with a pain in my neck, I made the statement, “If anyone could show me how to lift 500 pounds in this lift, I will buy everyone steak dinners afterwards!!!” Well, the two of them started giving me tips and “the secret” and before I knew it I Neck Lifted 500 pounds easily, and I now feel 600 is a real possibility. I try to be a man of my word, so supper afterwards was on me!! But it was a loss I didn’t mind!!!Scott Schmidt showed everyone how much determination he has. He missed his opener in the Hip Lift – everytime with balance issues. However, even when he was out of attempts, he took an extra attempt and got it to set a new age group Hip Lift Record!!!! The Heavy Lifts are fickle, and the slightest change in body position can make several hundred pounds difference. I know Scott wasn’t totally satisfied, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the next time he Hip Lifts he goes over 2000#!!! We even had a surprise guest. Toward the end of the meet, in walks “The Living Legend” John Vernacchio. John was a fierce competitor in the earlier USAWA days, and was responsible for promoting some of the biggest meets ever in the USAWA. I really enjoyed getting to visit with him. After the meet, Judy Habecker prepared the best post-meet meal I have ever had. Denny and Judy are very gracious hosts and they did everything possible to make this day a special event for everyone.


2009 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships

May 16th, 2009
Habecker’s Garage

Meet Director:  Denny Habecker

Scorekeeper: Judy Habecker
Loader:  Alan Schmidt and all lifters

Officials:  Three Officials used on all lifts – Denny Habecker, Art Montini, Dale Friesz, Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt

Lifts:  Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh, Hip Lift

Al Myers
Chad Ullom
Dale Friesz
Art Montini
Denny Habecker
Scott Schmidt

BW (Bodyweight) in pounds.  All lifts in pounds. Points are weight and age adjusted.

Record attempts:  Scott Schmidt 1581# in Hip Lift

Quiz of the Week – Who is this Strongman from the past?

by Al Myers

Congratulations to this weeks winner – Thom Van Vleck of Kirksville, Missouri.

Warren Lincoln Travis

He correctly identified this strongman from the early 1900’s as Warren Lincoln Travis. Travis was born in Brooklyn and turned professional at the age of 21. He was of modest size for a strongman of that era, weighing only around 200 pounds at his prime. In 1906, he was awarded the “World’s Greatest Weightlifter” by a popular strength publication at the time, and received a jewel-studded belt which he is wearing in this picture. Travis was also an all-round weightlifter and has had much influence on the lifts done today in the USAWA. He favorite lifts were the Heavy Lifts, such as the Harness Lift and the Back Lift, and the Finger Lifts. In front of witness’s, he has lifted 3985 pounds in the Harness Lift and 4140 pounds in the Back Lift. In 1907, he lifted with one finger 667 pounds!!!! Travis was a fantastic performer and would present himself as “The Strongest Man in the World” at his performances. Travis was very successful as a businessman, and as a result was very wealthy. When other strongmen would challenge him, he would often put up very large amounts of money as a side bet, which resulted in very few takers. Warren Lincoln Travis continued to lift heavy weights until his death. At the age of 65, Travis died during one of his performances of a heart attack at Luna Park on Coney Island. Several skeptics at the time blamed his death on his heavy lifting in his older age. I do not believe this, as I know several lifters today maintain great heath and continue to lift and compete past the age of 80!!! His lifetime of lifting and training probably added many years to his life. Warren Lincoln Travis left a Challenge to the World in his will, which was an open challenge to anyone who could duplicate or exceed his lifting accomplishments. The first person to do this would receive his prized jewel-studded belt!! Listed below is the challenge Travis claimed he could do.

Warren Lincoln Travis – Challenge to the World

1. Take a 100 pound barbell from the floor with both hands, and press it overhead 10 times while seated (must be done in 30 seconds)

2. Take a pair of 90 pound dumbbells from the side of the body to the shoulders, and press it to arms length overhead.

3. Teeth lift from the floor, hands behind neck, 350 pounds.

4. Finger Lift from the floor 350 pounds with one finger, eight times in five seconds.

5. Finger lift from the floor 560 pounds with one finger once.

6. Two hand grip lift, straddling the weight, 700 pounds twenty times in ten seconds.

7. Hand and Thigh Lift 1600 pounds once.

8. Back Lift 3660 pounds once.

9. Harness Lift 3580 pounds once.

10. Back Lift 2000 pounds, 250 times in seven minutes.

Also, his rules stated that these lifts must all be done in 30 MINUTES!! And must be done for TEN STRAIGHT YEARS!!!! Needless to say, his jewel-studded belt still resides in the York Barbell Hall of Fame.