Monthly Archives: January 2012

Chasing Squirrels and Bench Pressing

by Larry Traub

Larry Traub training the squat in his wet suit, getting ready to take the weights for a deep dive! (photo caption courtesy of the webmaster)

I ran into a childhood friend of mine a while back. We were standing outside a business, waiting for some things to be done and catching up on each other’s lives.  He had a small dog with him who kept wandering off, but returned when called.  He proceeded to tell me that the dog was old and in pretty bad shape. He told me the dog had some kind of degenerative condition with his hips, but then added, “He couldn’t be hurting too much because he chases squirrels around the yard like he was a young pup.” Now I don’t claim to be a ‘dog whisperer’ but I would bet the farm that his hips hurt like the devil when he was chasing those squirrels.  I just think that his addiction to chasing squirrels outweighed the pain that it caused him.

Lifting weights for a lot of us old timers can be a lot like that. Forty years of lifting and I have never had any serious injury of any type which I would like to attribute to good form and training hard without overtraining.  The glitch for me has been joint pain. The big one for me has been arthritis in my shoulders, but at different times my elbows, wrists and knees can get fired up also.

A few years ago I was adding on to the back of my garage to house my new weightroom and create more room for my toys. The process of building, which involved constantly climbing ladders and going through about 50 lbs. of 6”pole barn nails, proceeded to create pain in my elbows, knees, and wrists. During this process I discovered the power of neoprene. Neoprene sleeves seemed to keep the area warm as well as provide support, and that gave me some relief from the pain. I started considering how I could provide that relief for my shoulder and the only thing I could come up with was a wet suit.  I found out you could buy a “shorty” wet suit which was short sleeved and went to mid thigh. I figured I could get the desired effect for my shoulder, hips, and lower back and wear it under workout clothes without looking totally ridiculous.

So I walked into a local dive shop. (I have been to a couple of dives over the years, but this was my first trip to a dive shop.) I explained what I wanted and then I made the mistake of telling him why I wanted it.  When I explained how I wanted to minimize all the pain that I was having his response was, “Shouldn’t you just quit.”

Hell of a salesman!  I bought one off the internet.  As a matter of fact, I wore that one out and I’m on my second one.

Should I “just quit”?  It’s not going to happen. I’ve made some adjustments over the years but right now quitting is not an option. Since my strengths as a powerlifter have always been in my squat and deadlift, I have been able to minimize the actual bench pressing I do in my workout without a disastrous affect on my total, so it seems reasonable, to me, to keep competing.

I was bench pressing at my first annual Monster Garage meet last spring and there was a loud pop from my shoulder which has become quite normal when I bench press. One of the other lifters heard it from the back of the garage. He was a former high school lifter for me and after I completed the lift he asked, “Coach, does that hurt?”  Yeah, it hurt like the devil but right now my addiction to powerlifting outweighs the pain.

Zercher Meet

by Joe Garcia

Group picture from the 2012 Zercher Meet. (left to right): Eric Todd, Dean Ross, Mike Murdock, Chris Anderson, Lance Foster, and Joe Garcia.

Saturday was a great day at Clarks Gym.  The Zercher meet, the longest running event through USAWA’s history, was contested once again.  This year we had a total of six lifters, Bill Clark as the head official, Tom Powell and James Foster for loading and even two spectators.  Eric Todd showed up with Lance Foster and Chris Anderson.  Dean Ross and Mike Murdock were there and I rounded out the crew.  Richard Coder and his wife, members of the gym, were the spectators.  I mention Richard because he at one time worked out with some of the old time greats like John Grimek, etc out at York.  They both stayed for the entire contest and even joined us at Golden Corral. 

Once everyone was weighed in, we got started.  As usual, the leg press was first.  This particular model is the version where the weights go straight up and down, none of the angled stuff.  Chris had the top lift as Eric tried a little too big of a jump for his last attempt.  Mike Murdock started putting the pressure on Dean with a 500 to 450 lift.  In the Military Press, Eric came out on top even though he was nursing a bad right elbow.  Same thing happened in the Clean and Jerk, with Eric topping Chris by twenty pounds.  We had a three way tie in the one hand deadlift with Eric, Chris and me all getting 275 though I have to admit that my lift was a lot slower than theirs.  In the Heels Together Deadlift it was no contest with Eric out lifting everyone by 100 lbs.  We got a little rest for our backs and went to the other side of the gym to do the Bench – Feet in the Air.  Again Eric had the top lift with 350 lbs. 

After the bench, it was time to troop to the back of the gym for the rest of the meet, starting with the Hack lift.  Eric topped Chris 365 to 355 to earn top lift in this event also.  Next up was the lift the meet is named after, the Zercher lift.  Eric had the top lift with 385, but probably would have done more if he hadn’t missed 385 on his second attempt.  The problem wasn’t that the weight was too heavy, it was that he pulled it up too fast.  It looked about like he was cleaning the weight and when it hit his thighs he lost his balance and fell backwards on the floor.  So for the third attempt he just stayed at the same weight.   In everyone’s favorite, the Steinborn, Eric again came out first with 375. 

Bill Clark directing another Zercher Meet - the longest running meet in the USAWA.

After finishing with the regular bar lifts, it was time for the big bar to make an appearance.  To make things easy on our loaders, we decide to contest the lifts together, simply increasing the weight and the lifters would perform their lifts.  So what you would have seen is the Hand and Thigh, Hip and Harness being attempted one after another, just by different lifters.  In the Neck lift, Eric again had the top lift of 525 with both Chris and I getting 425.  Even though I did better this year in the Hand and Thigh than last year, I couldn’t duplicate my efforts at the Heavy Lift Nationals and Eric had the top lift with a 1305.  Chris did very well with a 1055 and in fact was great in all the big bar lifts despite never having done them before.  I’m not sure that he had even seen some of them.  In the Hip lift, we finally got someone else with the top lift where I was able get 1875 to Eric’s 1675.  Each year I also try to beat my old record of 2049 but once again was unsuccessful.  The final lift of the day was the Harness and I was again able to top Eric with 2445 to his 2225.  The end result of the day was Eric having the most poundage lifted, but with the magic of age, weight and a calculator, I won the event with Eric second and Chris third.  Full results are shown below.

During the morning, Dave Beversdorf also came in and set a couple bench records in the One Hand Bench.  Dave loves the bench and all variations of it and holds a number of USAWA records.

It was wonderful day at the gym, and tremendous to see everyone that showed up.  Eric and company needed to get on the road, but the rest of us ended up at Golden Corral for our normal post competition fest.  The only thing that was forgotten by both Bill and me were the Vanilla Wafers, a Zercher meet fixture for many years.


Zercher Strength Classic
Clarks Gym, Columbia, MO
January 28th, 2012

Meet Director: Bill Clark

Official: Bill Clark

Lifts: Leg Press, Deadlift – one arm, Hack Lift, Continental to Chest and Jerk, Clean and Press – Heels Together, Zercher Lift, Steinborn Lift, Neck Lift, Hip Lift, Harness Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Bench Press – Feet in Air

LIFT Joe Garcia Eric Todd Chris Anderson Mike Murdock Dean Ross Lance Foster
AGE 58 37  23  71  69  46
BWT 95.2 115.2  136.1  107.1  125.2  142.9
Leg P 400 750  800  500  450  400
DL-1 275R 275R  275R  185R  185L  185R
DL-HT 315 550  450  245  275  375
Hack 265 365  355  165  165  185
C&J 175 285  265  95  0  135
C&P 155 245  225  120  120  145
Zerch 225 385  365  205  205  135
Stein 195 375  325  145  145  0
Neck 425 525  425  125  125  305
Hip 1875 1675  1205  655  755  805
Harn 2445 2225  1505  955  1005  1005
H&T     1205 1305  1055  505  550  655
BP-FIA 225 350  315  175  175  175
Total 8180 9310  7565  4075  4155  4505
Points 8463.9 7326.0  5491.4  4395.2  4080.8  3426.8
Place 1st 2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th

NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in kilograms.  All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are adjusted points for the lynch correction and age adjustment.


Dave Beversdorf (46 years old, 299# BWT)
Bench Press – Right Arm: 170 pounds
Bench Press – Left Arm: 165 pounds

The Power Row

by Al Myers

John McKean, of the Ambridge BBC, performing the lift he introduced to the USAWA, the Bent Over Row.

At the 2011 IAWA World Meeting in Australia, the Power Row got approved as a new IAWA Official Lift.  This was the only lift presented by the IAWA Technical Committee to the membership for approval, and it was accepted.  This lift was accepted as an Official USAWA lift in 2010, but under a different name!  John McKean, of Ambridge BBC, was the one to present it to the USAWA for lift acceptance under the name BENT OVER ROW.  So now like the many, many other lifts that have different names in IAWA than the USAWA, this lift will join that long list as well.   The interesting thing with this lift was that it was presented first to the IAWA membership at the 2010 meeting in Glasgow, but was rejected by the vote.  I felt at the time (at the Glasgow meeting) that the lift wasn’t fully understood by the members in attendance.  This time copies of the presented rules were distributed to those present at the meeting which I think helped describe what this new lift is about, and helped “gather support” in getting it passed and accepted as a new IAWA lift.  The Bent Over Row has been done in several USAWA events to date (including last year’s Club Challenge) and it has been well received.  Let’s review BOTH the USAWA Rules and the IAWA Rules:


The lift will start at the lifter’s discretion with the bar placed on the platform in front of the lifter. The lifter will grip the bar with an overhand grip with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. The width of grip spacing and feet placement is of the lifter’s choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar.  The body must be in a bent over position at the waist.  The upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift or it is a disqualification.  The legs may be bent during the lift and upon the completion of the lift.  The bar is lifted to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms.  The bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel if a belt is not worn.  It is a disqualification if the belt supports the bar at the abdomen upon the finish of the lift. The lift ends by an official’s command when the bar is held motionless at the abdomen or chest.


The bar is placed on the platform in front of the lifter, who will grip the bar overhand with the palms facing the lifter, the width of the grip and feet placing is of the lifters choosing, but the feet must be in line with the bar. The lifters body should be bent forward at the waist, and the upper body must not straighten past 45 degrees parallel to the platform at any time during the lift. The legs may be bent during and upon completion of the lift. The bar will be lifted up to touch the abdomen or torso by bending the arms, the bar must touch the abdomen higher than the belt, or the navel, if a belt is not worn. The belt must never support the bar. When the bar is held motionless and in contact with the abdomen or chest, the official will give the command to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:

1 . The lifters upper body straightening past 45 degrees parallel to the platform.                                                                     
2.  The Bar touching the belt, or anywhere on the body lower than the navel  
3.  Failing to hold the bar motionless, and in the finished position, to await the official’s command

One thing you will notice about the USAWA and IAWA rules are that even though they are written slightly different,  they are THE SAME (which is a GOOD THING!) in technical content. The only difference is the name of the lift.  Let me explain why this occurred.  The lift was presented with the name Bent Over Row, but after the group discussion, it was felt that the name POWER ROW better described the lift.  Peter Phillips made a good point that an old style Bentover Row is a STRICT style lift, in which the legs stay straight and the bar is brought to the upper chest instead of the abdomen.  The membership agreed with this point, thus the name was changed before it was presented and accepted.  Also, the point was made that by doing this it would “save the name”  Bent Over Row for the strict version of this lift, if it was ever presented as an IAWA  lift in the future. I definitely agree with this decision. The importance of this is that NOW the Power Row (or Bent Over Row) can be done in USAWA competitions for IAWA World Records.

Proper Process for Membership Application

by Al Myers

After my story the other day where I made it clear about the proper USAWA sanctioning process, I think the “time is right” to have a followup story about the proper process of applying for membership in the USAWA.  I try to keep things positive, so stories like this one are not my favorite to write because I feel like I’m “whining and complaining” about things, but then again, if I don’t make these points known the problems just continue.  Lately, I have received membership applications that have been improperly filled out (lack of information, no signatures, etc) or lifters just sending me the membership fees without evening filling out a form!!  This is unacceptable.  Also, I am getting tired of lifters sending in “old membership” applications from the Strength Journal.  I have been accepting them, but from this time forward I WILL NOT!  The new and updated membership applications are readily accessible on the website (under Forms and Applications on the left hand side of the Home Page). 

Since I’m on a “belly-aching” soapbox right now, I’m going to complain about another gripe of mine.  Please DO NOT send me checks for memberships (or anything else for that matter) that are going to bounce when I deposit them!  I’m “sick and tired” of this.  If you do NOT have the money to join – then don’t!  Every time I get a bounced check, it causes me problems and more work.  The USAWA only charges $25 for yearly membership in the USAWA (for the calendar year), and I consider this a token fee for all the benefits the organization has to offer you in return.  I have to deal with “bounced checks” in my business enough and I don’t want to deal with it in the USAWA.  I keep a list of people who bounce checks on me in my business – and at the top of the list is the name DEADBEATS.  Don’t join if you don’t have the money to.  Also, if  only $25 is causing you a financial burden, you shouldn’t be  even spending money going to meets. You should be getting a job (or second job) to pay your bills and feed your family.  My opinion is that our yearly membership fees should be at least $50.  The $25 fee is so “out of date” in terms of charging for membership fees it’s ridiculous. I leave bigger tips than that at restaurants!

Thom has told me that “with time” I will get as cranky as Bill (by having to deal with these USAWA problems).  I sure understand now why Bill also wrote stories like this one in the Strength Journal from time to time.   I’m not at the point of calling the entire USAWA membership “DEAD AND/OR COMATOSE” yet (give me a few more years on that one!).   I do want to thank the over 90% of USAWA members who “do  things right” – this story is not directed towards you at all!  It’s the others that should be taking notes.

World Championships

by Al Myers


Chad Ullom (left) and Al Myers (right) will be the co-promoters of the 2012 IAWA World Championships. As you can tell by this photo, these two "jokers" know how to have a fun time so put this meet in your plans as it's FOR SURE going to be a GREAT TIME!

It seems just  like the “other day” when Chad and I put in a bid for these World Championships at the 2010 Worlds in Pennsylvania, and now the meet is being OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED. I am very excited about this opportunity to bring the IAWA World Championships to my hometown.  Initially, Chad and I thought we might have this big meet in Kansas City, but after more thought, we decided it would be more fun to have this meet in the place where we do our training – the DINO GYM & TRAINING CENTER.  It’s no fancy Hilton ballroom, but I know it is a place where most all-round lifters would “feel right at home” lifting weights.  After the great show the Australians put on in Perth this past year, we have a “tough act to follow”!  I promise to everyone that we will do our best to make this an enjoyable Championships, and make your trip to Kansas worthwhile.  We don’t have the  pristine beaches to show off like Peter and Robin showed us in Perth, or any castles to show off like the English and Scots have, so please don’t get your expectations too high for any exotic vacation in Kansas!  At least this meet is in October so we will avoid the hot, dry 100 Degree F days of the summer.

Chad and I tried to pick a broad selection of all-round lifts for this meet. I know it is hard to pick lifts that please everyone, and after hearing all the “moans and groans” when I read this list of lifts at this past years meeting, I hope at least SOMEONE likes them.  The meet will be a 2-day meet.  The lifts are:

Day 1: Saturday, October 6th

Reverse Curl (Curl -Reverse Grip)
One Hand Clean and Jerk (Clean and Jerk – One Arm)
Pullover and Press on Floor (Pullover and Press)
Steinborn (Steinborn Lift)

Day 2: Sunday, October 7th

Two Hands Snatch – 2 Inch Bar (Snatch – Fulton Bar)
One Hand Hacklift (Hack Lift – One Arm)
Straddle Deadlift (Jefferson Lift)

I included both the IAWA official name (the first one) and the USAWA official name (the name in parenthesis) of the lifts to minimize confusion.  I plan for this meet to be a 2-platform, 2 session meet each day. I also want to mention that this World Championships will be a BIG ONE because it is the anniversary of the 25th IAWA World Championships. Several “special awards” will be given to recognize lifters that have made significant contributions to the  IAWA throughout our history. So for that reason alone, this is a meet you DO NOT want to miss.  More details will follow, but for now I just want to get the meet announced so everyone can make plans to join us at the Dino Gym the FIRST WEEKEND OF OCTOBER.

2012 IAWA Worlds Entry Form (pdf) –  2012 World Championship Entry Form

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