Monthly Archives: September 2013

York Adjustable Krusher

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker and his York Adjustable Krusher.

When I was at Denny’s last month for the USAWA Presidential Cup I got to spend some more time in the Habecker’s Gym.  I really enjoy private club gyms as they have character (unlike commercial gyms), and often have interesting pieces of equipment in them that are “part of the collection” of the owner.  As I was nosing around in Denny’s stuff, I found just one of these neat collectable  pieces!  He had a York Adjustable Krusher. Most lifters would have no idea what that even is.

The York Krusher was a novelty piece of equipment that was intended to train the pectorals and the upper back.  Unlike the York Hercules Cable Sets which worked by pulling against steel strands (springs), the Krusher worked by pushing the handles together against spring tension. The Krusher was made out of cast aluminum and had the capacity to add up to 5 springs for added tension. The handles were straight which allowed a lifter to push them together from several different angles – in front, to the side, or overhead. 

Advertisement for the Krusher from an issue of Muscular Development.

I find it interesting that they named this device the Krusher (with a K) instead of Crusher.  Adds a like uniqueness to it from a marketing standpoint.  I gather it was first marketed in the early 60’s and  thru the 70’s from the advertisements in York’s muscle magazines at the time.  It was not advertised in their magazines prior to this.   Also interesting is that the Krusher was never really “pushed” in any of their magazine stories (that I recall, I may be wrong here).  It’s sole inclusion was the small ad in the back of  the magazines with a short advertising pitch.  I’ve heard a rumor (might be true) that John Grimek once suffered a bad eye injury when one of the springs in his Krusher came loose while he was using it and it snapped back into his eye ball!!   That’s the kind of thing Bob Hoffman would want to keep quiet when the lead spokesman for his company had that happen to him with one of their  products!!

The Krusher was never a big sell item for York, and this is the first one I had ever seen first hand.  They can still be found selling on ebay – I seen one selling for close to $300 recently.   I also don’t remember seeing the Krusher displayed in the York Museum.  Most of their other past historical training items are, so this must never had been a popular item for them.   

Next time I see Denny I’m going to ask him if he’ll consider putting his Krusher in his will to be willed to me!  And to remind him to wear safety glasses when he trains on it!

News Update for 2013 IAWA Worlds

by Steve Gardner

Information for those attending the IAWA Worlds in Accrington.

Friday

5.30pm to 7.30pm the IAWA World Council Meeting will take place at the Lifting Venue (Hollins Tech College).

Scales should be available for practice weigh ins.

At 7.30pm the group will move along to the Main Bar at the nearby Dunkenhalgh Hotel as a meeting point for any that want to meet up and socialise:

The Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Blackburn Road, Clayton-Le-Moors, BB5 5JP, Tel : 01254 426800

Saturday

8am to 9.30am Weigh In (You will need your starting attempts)
9.45am Officials and Lifters Briefing
10am Sharp – Lifting will Start
NOTE: Lifters should not leave the building unless they have checked if they are required for Drug Testing!

Sunday

9 – 9.45am Weigh In (only those hoping to claim World Records on day two need to weigh in – otherwise the Saturday weigh in is good for the two days)
i.e. if you want to claim a record you need to weigh!
10am Lifting will start Prompt!

Because of the large entry field, the lifting will be divided into 2 groups and each group into 2 Flights

Some lifts will be performed on just one platform, but most will be done on two platforms, this is for time purposes, not wishing to see people still lifting late in the evening and on Sunday we have to finish on time ready for the presentation and then the Banquet- and also for Equipment Logistics!

Mark has some volunteer loaders who will be helping out over the weekend, but any other help will be appreciated too by any lifters who are not lifting or refereeing.

The officials schedule will be put together on Friday and all will be informed in time of their refereeing times – Don’t forget your official’s shirt!

Where do we go?

by Eric Todd

The USAWA has been around for 26 years.  To my knowledge, there is no other governing body for all-round lifting in the USA, and only a small splinter group in the UK outside of our world organization, the IAWA.  Anybody who is anybody in all-round in America is a member of the USAWA.  So why is it, that after 26 years we still have fewer than 100 members?  I believe there are several reasons behind this, which I will address in this essay.  So, we need to decide if we like the status quo.  If not, do we want to grow, and if so, how?

People do not like to get out of their comfort zone.  In most of the other strength disciplines, there are a handful of movements that you must become proficient at.  So, an individual may find one area that he excels in, and stick with that.  I would say the vast majority of competitors find one discipline they are comfortable in and then do not deviate from it  The USAWA has over 200 lifts to tackle, some of them quite unorthodox.  So, most lifters choose to stick to their bench press meets, or Oly lifting, or even strongman in order not to risk failure in competing at something they are not familiar with.  I would argue that the USAWA has something for everyone, so most anyone can find success in all-round.  In addition to that, I would argue that in order to be a true strength athlete, you need to get outside your comfort zone.  My forte was always strongman, but I would compete in powerlifting, all-round, highland, and even an oly meet just to challenge myself, to broaden my horizons, to grow, and to be a true strength athlete.  All-round pretty much affords you that opportunity all blanketed in one organization.

There is not a lot of glamour in all-round.  Our meets, including our championships and national meets are held in small gyms or  at people’s private facilities, and the crowd of spectators is a handful of family members.  There are no magazine covers, no opportunity to “go pro”, no money, no live streams, and often not even a cheap plastic trophy to lug with you when you go home.  Definitely not the place for trophy hunters. 

People in the US have not been exposed to all-round.  People recognize the benchpress, squat and deadlift of powerlifting.  They are familiar with the men in kilts “flipping telephone poles” in highland games.  They have seen the mighty men during the Olympics snatch and clean and jerk.  They have come across world’s strongest man on ESPN whilst flipping through channels.  So, if I compete in one of those disciplines, they have a frame of reference to what I am doing. The VAST majority of people have never heard of all-round.  Nor have they ever heard of a Steinborn or a harness lift.  Unfortunately, if they were to read the requirements of a few of our lifts, they would probably have no desire to try them.

Furthermore, we are a raw, drug tested organization.  There is no possible way to artificially inflate your numbers in the USAWA.  There are  people whose egos cannot handle lifting less than what they were able to do when artificially aided.

One last reason I will mention that I feel we struggle to draw competitors is “the formula”.  I know I have walked away from my share of meets irritated by it.  I have out-lifted people by 1000 and more pounds in a meet, only to be beaten by “the formula”.  If you are  a 300+ pound behemoth,  you will struggle to find great success in all-round.  Though I understand the need for a formula to compare across divisions, I feel that we lose a lot of the bigger lifters because  of ours. 

So, the question remains-do we want to grow?  I spoke with Al about this on an occasion or two.  My opinion is this, take it for what it is worth.  We do not want to grow at all costs.  Growth is good, but we don’t just need more lifters.  We need more of the “right” lifters.  When I started competing in strongman, it was a small organization.  The competitors knew and respected each other.  We competed hard against each other, but would root for the other guy because we respected him and wanted to beat him at his best.   We would travel to train with each other, eat dinner with each other, email or call each other about training, competitions, etc.  This is kind of how I feel all-round is in its current state.    You go to a meet, and it is like a family reunion.  The guys you are competing with have probably been tested, and even if it has been a while, you know their character well enough at this point to know they are clean.  You are treated with respect amongst the lifters as well as within the organization.  When strongman started growing, it eventually drew some individuals I did not like being around.  Not collectively, but there was a lot more than before.  There was a lot more narcicism, more ego-centrism.  It became much less a brotherhood, and more just a sport. 

So, growth can be a double edged sword.  I know I hate to see meets that get only 2 or 3 lifters or have to be cancelled for lack of competitors.  And with so few competitors in our pool, this is going to happen. I would like for every meet to have 15+ competitors, competition within the divisions, and awards for the competitors.  I would love to see increased membership numbers helping us increase our organization financially.  But do we want to sacrifice the integrity of our sport as well the great camaraderie within to accomplish this? 

I, for one, do not have any answers.  However, I am interested to see what you all say.  I am just hoping to create some dialogue that could potentially  serve to help guide our direction into the future.

Training arms with Bill Pearl

by Al Myers

Bill Pearl performing a standing Barbell Curl.

Thom’s story the other day about Bill Pearl and his leg training got me thinking about the great Bill Pearl and his training.  I always greatly admired Bill Pearl’s physique, and consider it the IDEAL muscular build.  I know nowadays the trend in bodybuilding is to build muscular mass to the extreme, but in doing so it portrays a body image that is unrealistic for any normal individual. It is hard for me to look at today’s top bodybuilders and feel a sense of inspiration, as their body’s muscularity is “way over the top”.  It’s more a freak show to me than anything else.  Totally unattainable for anyone who wants to lift weights naturally, be healthy,  and still have a life of going to work everyday and raising a family.  When you look at the old pictures of Bill Pearl – you see a man who built his outstanding physique through hard work and proper diet, utilizing the same things that are available to the vast majority of weight trainees.  At least you feel that you might be able to accomplish the same thing he did (but that’s probably unlikely as well as not everyone is blessed with the muscle building genetics and symmetry that Bill Pearl has!!!)

I always thought Bill Pearl’s strong areas were his arms.  He had deep muscular triceps and very big balanced biceps. His arms had “the look” that they were very strong as well as being impressive in sight.  I like to read old lifting magazines for my training knowledge instead of the new muscle “rags”.  I feel the information in the old magazines to be  more truthful.  Last night I ran across an article in the January, 1968 issue of Dan Lurie’s Muscle Training written by Bill Pearl, titled How to Build Big Arms.  It was a great article, and one in which I’m going to share part of here as to Bill’s favorite arm exercises outlined in his article.  You will notice that these exercises are not anything new and secret.  Instead they are basic movements that are often overlooked by lifters who are on the constant search for the latest and newest training program.  Most of the time the BEST training programs are the ones that have been tried and used successfully by the many – not the latest fab program used by the few.  Now onto Bill Pearl’s arm program!

A couple more of Bill Pearl's favorite arm exercises.

EXERCISE NO. 1 – TRICEPS PUSH DOWN ON LAT MACHINE

He recommended 4 sets of 10 reps, and emphasized  keeping good technique – arms’ to the sides of the body keeping the elbows in a “fixed” position, and performing complete extension on each repetition.

EXERCISE NO. 2 – SEATED DUMBBELL CURLS

Again he recommended 4 sets of 8-10 reps, and using good form.  Keep the back straight, and perform full curl movements. Keep the curls strict and do not swing the weights.

Still more of Pearl's arm favorites!

EXERCISE NO. 3 – TRICEPS EXTENSIONS WITH BARBELL

He liked doing this exercise standing with a regular barbell with 4 sets of 8 reps. After reading his description it seemed practically identically to our USAWA rules for the FRENCH PRESS.  He keep the elbows high, and even stated that he used an 8 inch hand spacing (the USAWA rules for the French Press call for a 6 inch spacing).  He performed it very strictly.

EXERCISE NO. 4 – TRICEP DIPS ON STOOLS

Here he recommended 3 sets of 10-12 reps. He braced himself across two stools with his feet supported on a bench (see picture). One interesting thing Bill mentioned was to have your feet HIGHER than your hands, as it forces the triceps to work harder. Take the dip as low as you can go. He preferred the stool dip over the parallel bar dip.

EXERCISE NO. 5 – STANDING BARBELL CURLS

Again 4 sets of 8-10 reps. He liked doing them strict. These are his words, “Do NOT press your elbows into your sides. Do NOT swing the barbell. Do NOT bend over backwards.”

There you go – a very simple 5 exercise arm program that will make functionally arm strength and size improvements. Anything that is “good enough” for Bill Pearl is good enough for me!!!

Roman Chair Squat

by Thom Van Vleck

The Roman Chair Squat

Some time back Al Myers wrote a great article on the Roman Chair and it’s place in the USAWA as a contested lift.  It can be found here: http://www.usawa.com/roman-chair/.  It even inspired me to make a Roman chair and add some Roman Chair sit ups to my workout.

Recently, I have been doing some bodybuilding.  My workouts have traditionally been basic movements for low reps and heavy weights.  Not much assistance work.  My transition was not an easy one as I didn’t want to be too much of as sissy bodybuilder.  So I decided to pull out some of my Bill Pearl Training Manuals (purchased by my Uncle Phil Jackson and autographed to Phil by Pearl himself no less) and follow Bill’s advice.  Why?  Because Bill was BIG and STRONG.  My Uncle saw Bill give a seminar in 1967 after his third Mr. Universe.  He said Bill loaded 300lbs on an Olympic bar and easily power cleaned it, pressed it overhead, then pressed it behind the neck twice!

At any rate, right or wrong, I figured if Bill Pearl did it then it must be good!  I also believe most any program will help you if you believe in it and I was raised to believe that Bill Pearl was almost mythological….the Babe Ruth of Bodybuilding.  So as I looked at how Bill trained his legs I found that one of Bill’s favorite exercises was the Roman Chair Squat.  It is very similar to the Sissy Squat.  My legs have always been a weakness for me so I’ve started doing them.  I like them, but you can’t handle much weight (as a matter of fact, this is a body weight exercise for me).

I also learned a little bit of history as I went about my research on this exercise.  In Al’s article he mentioned that a lifter from Rome did work on the Roman Chair at Professor Attila’s gym and it became quite popular.  This was shared with Sig Klein who did a type of plank movement (and I suspect this led to the Roman Chair Bench Press lift in the USAWA).  But I believe I’ve found the original purpose the Roman Chair was invented for!  In ancient times latrines were basically ditches.  You would have to squat over them and since you didn’t want to fall in you would hook your feet under something and leverage out to “do you business”.  I think this is much better explanation than Al’s medieval torture device chair in his article!

What ever the case, the Roman Chair can be used for much more than sit ups!  But regardless of what you do on a Roman Chair…..it all is painful!  And I, for one, am thankful to have a modern toilet!

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