Monthly Archives: November 2011

Trap Bar Training: Part II

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck performing Trap Bar Deadlifts with the addition of 60 pounds of chains attached to the bar. Thom joined us at the Dino Gym for one of our "Tuesday Night Workouts" and discovered the FUN OF TRAP BAR DEADLIFTS. (photo and caption courtesy of Al Myers)

Now, to continue with the Trap bar, I learned a couple of things as I began to work this lift.  First, I needed to start with the bar where the center of gravity was where it normally would be with a regular deadlift.  Then, as I pulled up, I would shift that center towards the center of my thigh.  The began to engage the hips more.  Your “groove” might be different but it’s critical you play around with it and find it…it’s different than a straight bar for sure!!!!

My plan is to work this lift hard over the winter with a goal of 700lbs!  I will let you guys know what I end up with, but the truth of the matter is that I’m as motivated about pulling again as I was 10 years ago when I got the 640 deadlift!  When I got that lift I was on a quest for 700 but had worked for so long and so hard on doing deadlift after deadlift after deadlift I got burned out on heavy lifting from the floor.  So it’s more more important to me the trap bar has captured my imagination and made me believe I can hit big numbers again. That’s the real gift of it.  Maybe I’ll finally pull that 700!  Even if it’s on a trap bar!  So, try some trap bar pulls to spice up your training….and don’t forget, it’s a USAWA official lift so you can set records on it, too!!!!!

Rules for the Trap Bar Deadlift are pretty basic.

I9.  Deadlift – Trap Bar
The rules of the Deadlift apply except a Trap Bar must be used. The Trap Bar must not be of the type that contains elevated handles.

 

Al Myers even has a two man trap bar!  So you can go to the Dino Gym with your training partner and hit some big “two man” lifts.

So go “Trap” and see if your pulling power doesn’t come up!

Trap Bar Training: Part I

by Thom Van Vleck

Al Myers doing a 650 pound Trap Bar Deadlift at the 2010 USAWA National Championships.

I have been training for over 30 years.  I realized the other day that I have competed in 5 different decades.  My first meet was in 1979, so I have competed in the 70’s, the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s.  Not sure if that makes me proud or makes me feel old!   When you do the same thing for many years you need to do things to “change it up” and stay fresh.  Not only by putting new physical demands on your body but more importantly, in my book, staying fresh mentally.  I do two things to try and stay motivated and avoid a rut.  I will travel to other gyms to train to get ideas and I will buy new equipment.

About a year ago, I bought a trap bar.  I had never really used one in my training even though it was available at a gym I used to work out at.  I had just considered it kind of a gimmick. I mean, aren’t you just deadlifting?  When I first got it, I had used it to do some shrugs, some jump shrugs, and some “frame carry’s” (think “farmers walk”).  But funny enough….I didn’t deadlift with it.  My offseason training switched over to my throwing season as a Highland Games athlete and for man years that meant lots of throwing and no lifting.  What I’m setting up here is that I had a trap bar, but had not used it in the way it was intended….deadlifting!

Then, in July, I traveled to the Ledaig Highland Games held by Dave Glasgow.  Dave also held a USAWA record day that same weekend.  On Monday I traveled to visit Wilbur Miller and then Tuesday I headed to Al’s Dino Gym for the “Big Tuesday” workout.  My plan was to work out with Al and “steal” some secrets! HAHA.

Workout day arrived and I planned on doing whatever Al did.  Now, I have to say, this throwing season I have been following Al’s training advice (after all, he WAS a world record holding PROFESSIONAL Highland Games thrower before his USAWA days!) and lifting heavy while “in season”.  Something I had not done for some time.  I mean, really, why would I go to Al’s and do my regular lifts when I’m there to learn.

One of the lifts we did was the trap bar deadlift.  At first, I did not do well with it.  I’m a decent deadlifter with a 640lb lift to my credit and I had recently pulled 555 with just a little work.  It was an ego buster, and I ended up with a 551lb lift while Al shot up to 700!  But then we did sets and reps and I began to get a feel for it.  I realized a couple of things so when I got home I did a 4 week cycle on the trap bar deadlift and pulled a nice 645lb lift.  I was ecstatic!  I know that it doesn’t compare with the 640 I pulled about 10 years ago, but I was still thrilled.

Next up: Part II  Trap bar training and the “rules”.

USAWA Official Dress

by Al Myers

Dennis Mitchell competes in every meet wearing a singlet. This picture is from the 2011 USAWA National Championships.

One of the issues that has presented itself recently in the USAWA is the issue of the “official dress” in USAWA competitions or events.  The USAWA has always been very lenient in what lifters wear in competitions.  We allow lifters to wear tshirts and shorts, unlike most other lifting organizations. Most other lifting organizations I have competed in don’t allow a lifter to wear shorts and tshirt, but require the lifter to wear a singlet for competition.  The only thing we insist on is that the lifters don’t wear supportive gear, like knee wraps or super suits.  The thoughts of this go back to the ideas of our founder Bill Clark, who felt that lifting in shorts and tshirts is acceptable.  I don’t have a problem with this either, but this “relaxed dress code” has lead to even more relaxed dress, and lifters have been wearing long sleeve tshirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and even jeans in competitions!  I think part of this is the “change of times” in everyday life.  It used to be that businessmen dressed in suits and ties for work everyday.  Then along came casual Friday, and before we knew it EVERYDAY is casual Friday, and now I go into businesses and see people wearing shorts and tshirts to work!  What has happened?  It has been a gradual trend of decline in the acceptable code of dress.  Now that is happening in the USAWA!  I guess this is showing my age, because I still want to LOOK like a weightlifter in a competition, thus the reason I always wear a singlet.  Most of the lifters my age or older do the same.  I look at guys like Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Dennis Mitchell – and these guys always look the part of weightlifters at meets by wearing weightlifting singlets, instead of some ratty old tshirt and sweatpants.

I’m going to go over some of the rules on official dress, which comes straight from our USAWA Rulebook.

SECTION VI. EQUIPMENT

2.  The lifting uniform may be a one piece suit or it may consist of shorts and a shirt.  The lifting uniform must not provide any support that would aid in lifting.
3.  Upper body must be covered by a one piece suit, shirt or both. No tank tops are allowed. If a one piece suit is worn, the straps must be over the shoulders.
4.  Lower body must be covered by a one piece suit or shorts.  No sweat pants are allowed. The suit or shorts must not extend lower than the base of the quadriceps muscle. An undergarment is allowed to be worn under the suit or shorts, but must not provide any support that would aid in lifting.
5.  Headgear of any kind is not allowed except for religious purposes.  This would include stocking caps, ball caps, headbands, or any other covering of the head.
6.  Lifting gloves are not allowed.
7.  Lifting straps are not allowed.
8.  Braces or supports on any part of the body are not allowed. This would include neoprene elbow and knee sleeves.  An exception to this rule may be made by the officials if the lifter has proof that it is medically necessary.
9.   Socks must extend no higher than the bottom of the kneecaps and must not be an aid in lifting.
10.   Suitable shoes or slippers must be worn. They must not provide an unfair aid in lifting.
11.    A belt may be worn and must not exceed 12 centimeters or 4-3/4 inches in width.
12.  The lifter may be required to have his/her gear, which may include shoes, lifting belt, wrist wraps, and lifting attire inspected at weigh-ins. Approval of proper dress code will be determined by the Meet Director.  Lifting attire which contains inappropriate language or images, is too revealing, sloppy in appearance, or deemed otherwise inappropriate by the weigh-in official or Meet Director is a violation of the USAWA dress code.

These rules pretty much “lay it out” what is expected.  I truly believe that most of the violations are due to  lifters  just not being aware of what is required to meet the USAWA dress code.  Very rarely do I feel there is any malicious intent by a lifter to “cheat” by violating these requirements. There is reasons behind all this and let me explain a few.  Wearing long sleeve shirts is not allowed because some lifts require the elbows be locked.  A long sleeve shirt could hide this infraction.  The same thing applies to wearing sweat pants – if the knees are covered it makes it difficult for the official to tell if the legs are straight in lifts that require this.  Headgear, like loose stocking caps or ball-caps, might impair the ability of an official to determine if a lifters head is flat on the bench, or against a wall in lifts like the strict curl.  Obviously knee sleeves can be “lift enhancing”, but even if they were loose and non-supportive, they could undermine an officials view of the legs just like sweatpants would. 

Read over article 12.  Our rules allow a meet director to approve the proper dress, and if wanted, a meet director could disallow inappropriate dress. I had to do this at the National Championships where a young lifter was wearing tight fitting spandex shorts (like biker shorts) under his singlet.  This undergarment was in violation of rule number 4, because it extended below the base of the quadricep.  No harm was done, and he just took it off when I asked him. He was not aware that this was a violation.  But in this meet the Zercher was contested, and wearing a tight fitting undergarment this low on the quadriceps would allow a lifter to rest the bar on the shorts instead of on the legs alone, which I feel would give an unfair advantage. 

My feeling is that all lifters should be required to wear singlets in competition, and not just shorts and tshirts.  When I was throwing in the Highland Games kilts were required by all athletes in competition (outside of novice classes).  All throwers “looked the part” of being a Scottish Athlete this way. By requiring singlets in the USAWA, all lifters would also “look the part’ of being a weightlifter.   I welcome input and discussion on this topic in the USAWA Discussion Forum.  I would like to know everyone’s opinion on this. 

Speaking of improper dress code – it is time for another quiz.  There are a number of pictures in our Rulebook demonstrating the USAWA lifts. Among these pictures there is a NUMBER of improper dress code violations (which obviously were overlooked in competitions because most of these pictures came from competitions).  I have counted them up and was surprised at the number.  For anyone who emails me the correct number of violations regarding the USAWA Dress Code among the pictures in the Rulebook I will send you a free  USAWA Water Bottle.  The deadline for this quiz  is when I get back from the World Championships in Australia.

Welcome Mat Meet

by Jarrod Fobes

MEET REPORT: 1st Annual Welcome Mat Meet Report

Mike Murdock and Grace Jividen at the 1st Annual Welcome Mat Meet in Colorado.

The first of what I hope to be many meets at Colorado Welcome Mat is in the books.  The meet was an overall success, thanks in no small part to Mike Murdock whose experience as an official and a competitor was an enormous help.  Besides Mike, every competitor was completely new not only to all-around weightlifting, but to weightlifting competitions in general.  But don’t think there weren’t some talented athletes competing: Olympian and world SAMBO champion Grace Jividen made a last minute entry despite a persistent elbow injury.  Grace set at least two records, and I think it’s safe to say that we will see a lot more of her in the USAWA.  In her own words, “I’m hooked!”   

The lifts contested were the Turkish Get-up, the Crucifix, and the Dumbbell walk.  The TGU and Dumbbell Walk were especially popular with competitors and spectators alike.  My friend and training partner Brandon Gurr even hopped in for some unofficial attempts at the Dumbbell Walk, ultimately beating my PR!  The real star of the day for this lift though was Mike Cadwallader, who ran 100lbs at a bodyweight of 74kg, which put him in first place at the last minute by a two point spread.  As disappointed as I was to see the best lifter award slip away from me, I have to say I was highly impressed.  Incidentally, “Dr. Mike” is my chiropractor, and is the main reason that I’m able to even consider competitive weightlifting. 

Every lifter who participated in the TGU did well and showed promise to do even better.  Dr. Mike put up an impressive TGU at 80lbs, beating the previous best in the USAWA by 10lbs.  I was able to set a new PR for myself and for the USAWA at 115lbs.  (Don’t tell James Gardner, but I’ve got my eye on his record!)  Grace pushed 55lbs, and this was only the second time she had done this lift!  Young Frank Policky matched his PR at 45lbs and will only get stronger.  Karena fell short of her PR by 5lbs, putting up 45lbs.  But I happen to know she is addicted to this lift and I think we can expect more from her in days to come. 

The Crucifix was all Mike Murdock, who set a new record at 76lbs.  This was the noisiest lift of the day, with pops coming from the elbows, shoulders, and sternums of almost every competitor.  This is tough lift that uses a lot of muscles that aren’t used to working together, and I think all of us novice lifters enjoyed trying to figure this one out.

This being a smaller meet, all the lifters helped each other with loading and spotting when necessary.  So far as I know this is the first all-around meet held in Colorado, and I was very happy to have six lifters.  Several spectators and friends have promised to enter future meets now that the ground as been broken and they have an idea of what USAWA is all about.  I really hope we can see this sport grow in Colorado.   

MEET RESULTS

Welcome Mat Meet
November 5th, 2011
The Welcome Mat/Gracie Judo Club
Littleton, Colorado

Meet Director: Jarrod Fobes

Certified USAWA Officials (1 official system used):  Mike Murdock, Jarrod Fobes

Lifts:  Turkish Get Up, Crucifix, Dumbbell Walk

WOMENS DIVISION

Lifter Age BWT TGU Cruc DBW Total Points
Grace Jividen 47 65.4 55 36 48 139 164.2
Karena Fobes 36 76.7 45 36 58 139 137.1

MENS DIVISION

Lifter Age BWT TGU Cruc DBW Total Points
Mike Cadwallader 34 74.3 80 66 100 246 247.2
Jarrod Fobes 34 84.7 115 70 78 263 244.4
Frank Policky 14 56.9 45 22 38 105 152.3
Mike Murdock 71 105.0 —— 76 63 139 151.5

NOTES:   BWT is bodyweight in kilograms.  All lifts reported in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted for bodyweight and age.

EXTRA ATTEMPTS FOR RECORDS:

Mike Murdock: Rectangular Fix 80#

Weight Over Bar

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck tossing the 42lb weight at the 2011 Kirksville Games

Some of you may know that several of our USAWA members are currently, or have been, participants in the Scottish Highland Games.  These are strength events, but mostly involve throwing or tossing weights.  One of the events, and my personal favorite, is the “Weight Over Bar”.  I thought I might give a little background on this event, discuss the rules, and explain why I think throwing this type of movement into your training occasionally might be a good way to mix things up and avoid a training rut.

This event involves throwing a weight with a handle over a cross bar for height using one hand only.  Women use a 28lb weight, masters men and under 190lb throwers use a 42lb weight, and all other men use a 56lb weight.  It is thought the weights were originally balance beam scale weights.  In the old system in Scotland a “hundredweight” equaled 112lbs.  Half that was 56lbs and half that was 28lbs.  A “stone” was 14lbs and the 42lb weight was half way between the 28 and 56.  So, basically the 28 was 2 stones, the 42 was 3 stones, and the 56 was 4 stones!  It should be noted old English Anvils also used this measuring system and that is why if you find an English anvil and it says 112 on the side, it’s NOT 112lbs, but 1 hundred weight (112lbs), 1 Quarter Hundred weight (28lbs) and then 2 odd pounds.  So it would be 112 + 28 + 2 = 142lbs!  I know, pretty complicate, just know in the Highland games we throw a 28lb, a 42lb, and a 56lb weight!

There are two ways to get the weight over the bar.  You can “stand” and basically do what would be a “super one hand snatch” and pull the weight up and over your head and over the bar.  Or you can do the “spin” and basically do a “turn” (much like the rotation on the shot put).  That technique is not widely accepted (such as by our USAWA secretary!) plus it’s very difficult to master so unless you are going to take this up as a sport let’s focus on the standing style.  Typically, in competition, you would have “standards” that look much like a high jump bar or pole vault set up.  The bar goes up until only one competitor is left.  Out of the 9 events in the Highland Games, this is the most basic.   It requires the least technique and is often dominated by the strongest athletes.

That is why I think it would make a good training tool to add to the rotation of your training routine.  It would be a good event to use to train for the one arm snatch, the DB Swing, DB Snatch….any movement where you have to move the bar quickly from the floor to overhead!  You could use a kettlebell to practice this event, or a solid dumbbell.  Since the idea is to throw it as high as possible I would only do this outside where the weight can fall safely on the ground.  Use a weight you can get up in the air 12 to 15ft.  You don’t need a cross bar, just get out there and get some rips in and see what happens.  Pulling a weight hard enough to toss it several feet over your head should develop explosive power and speed.  Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!  If you do it in your back yard you can give your neighbors something to talk about!

Sometimes this event is called the Weight for Height.  I have no problem with this, but just so you know it is thought the Weight for Height actually refers to how the Irish  would perform this event.  Instead of tossing the weight over a bar (the term “toss” is used whenever you speak of height events and “throw” whenever it is a distance event) you have a target, often made of wood, hanging in the air and you try and hit the target.  If you hit it, it is raised and you go again.  Some of the other rules for the Weight Over Bar include you have three tries at each height.  If you make it, the bar goes up and you get three fresh attempts.  So, in competition it’s not unusual to take 5, event 10 or more attempts.

So, mix up your training a little, the kilt is optional!   Try some Weight Over Bar!

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