Monthly Archives: November 2013

Dino Gym Record Day

by Al Myers


Meet Director: Al Myers and the Dino Gym

Meet Date: Sunday, February 9th, 2014 10:00 AM-4:00PM

Location: Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas

Sanction: USAWA

Entry Form: None – just show up

Entry Fee: None

Lifts: Record Day – Pick any lifts you can set a USAWA record in!

Contact me at if you have any questions

Thanksgiving Day Workout

by Thom Van Vleck

Not sure if this is exactly how my house will look on Thanksgiving...but close!

Some families have a tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving.  I have a personal tradition of lifting on Thanksgiving!  I started this several years ago when Thanksgiving for my extended family kind of fell to me and my wife.  My grandmother passed away in 1990 and up until then we would spend ever Thanksgiving and Christmas with my grandparents.  All my cousins, aunts and uncles would come and often it was a very full house.  After her passing that “mantle” was passed on.  My parents took Christmas and my wife and I took Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is notorious…..and yet beloved….for the massive meal of Turkey and all the trimmings.  After a meal like that….about all you can do is lay around while your body directs all it’s resources to digesting a very heavy meal.  If you are like me, there seems to be something about eating  a lot that makes me get hungry again sooner than normal.  Not sure why, but it just simply adds to the calorie intake for the day.

So to counteract this I started a personal tradition of working out on Thanksgiving.  After all, aren’t we supposed to be thankful on that day and what am I most thankful about personally?  Being blessed with an  able body AND blessed by God to live in a country and a time where I can enjoy that luxury!  Of course, nothing like a tough workout to make you good and hungry for the feast.  I know that one of the added benefits for me in my training is that food seems to be so much more enjoyable after a workout!

I try and involve may family when I can and I know my son Ethan is planning to workout with me.  Maybe others as well!  So here is my workout for Thanksgiving 2013!

5:30am  A 3 mile walk!  Ethan is going and my dog, Sunny always enjoys it as well.  I live in the country and depending on who’s house I go by there might be 3 or 4 dogs walking with us by the end.  I think they look for me!  Our cat will sometimes follow in the shadows as well, creeping along the overgrown fence lines.

7:00am Active recovery routine.  This is a dozen or so stretching exercises that seem to keep my old bones limber.  I will also fire up the smoker at this point as well.

8:00am  Got a back workout planned this time.  I will warm up and hit a good ol’ 5×5 on the Power Clean.  This will be followed by several Lat and Trap exercises….I always mix them up but I will likely get in 3 sets of 20 on each.  Then it will be Bicep work followed by grip work.  I have been doing standard DB curls, hammer curls, and then finish with Concentration Curls.  The Grip work will be straight out of Bill Pearls training manuals.

10:00am will be Brunch.  My wife has traditionally made Scotch Eggs.  This is boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, breaded and deep fried.  Some pancakes, coffee, and fresh fruit.

The rest of the day will be preparing the big meal!  Lots of good food and good friends over.  Looks like we will have an even dozen this year!

So, how about a Thanksgiving Workout!  Start a tradition!

My Plate Collection

by Al Myers

The plate collection in the Dino Gym.

I’ve never been much of a collector – I’ve always thought why get something to just look at and not use?  However, I do have a plate collection in the Dino Gym from several different weightlifting plate manufacturers.  This collection started several years ago when my buddy Thom gave me a few different types of plates in one of our “topper gift” exchanges.  It contained mostly 1-1/4 and 2 1/2 pound plates.  Since then I’ve added to this collection.   Most of these plates were made by “iron casters” that are no longer in business – which makes them so unique and special to me.

This is a Milo Bar Bell plate that is over 100 years old!

This is the list of plates that I currently have:

Kung Cheng
Milo Barbell
Champs Barbell
Healthways Hollywood
All American Ways to Health
Dan Lurie Brooklyn NY
Pro Gym Barbell
Fit for Life
Weider Barbell
Jack LaLanne
Billard Barbell
Prosport Fitness
York Barbell
Golds Gym
Paramount Las Angeles
Sunsport Champion

A few of these brand name plates were obviously cast by the same mold.  Champs Barbell, Healthways, and the All American Ways to Health look very identical in shape and size.  Altogether, I have 21 different plates out of well over 100 plate manufacturers that has been in existence.  My favorite is the Milo Barbell plate, that was cast by Alan Calvert and his Milo Barbell company that was the precursor of York Barbell.  It is the exact casting of the “first generation” York plates.   The one very unique plate in the above collection, which has NOTHING to do with being used to place on a bar to lift, is the Beerbell.  It is a 1 1/4 lb. plate that is shaped to sit a cold can of beer on!!  Other favorites of mine are the Jack LaLanne plate, the Dan Lurie plate, and the obscure Kung Cheng and Hercules plates.

I decided today would be a good day to run this story about my plate collection since Christmas is coming up.   I know I’m a hard guy to find a gift for – so I’m just throwing out some ideas here!!! LOL  I could always take a few additions to my plate collection.

Shoulder Drop Rules

by Thom Van Vleck

Time for me to stir some controversy!  Okay, so many years ago my grandfather Dalton Jackson taught me the shoulder drop.  He told me it was how the “old timers” did it.  First, let’s review the USAWA rules for the Shoulder Drop.

Shoulder Drop: The bar is first cleaned and placed at the base of the neck to start this lift. Feet placement is optional. Once the lifter is upright, and the bar motionless, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter will then release the grip on the bar, allowing the bar to drop from the shoulders behind the back. The bar must not be rolled down the back or arms. The lifter must catch the bar in the hands at arms’ length behind the back. The legs must remain straight throughout the lift. The lift ends on command by an official when the bar is controlled in the hands by the lifter.

The way my grandfather taught me was exactly the same as above except of one key thing.  My grandfather would bend his knees as he caught the bar and “shock absorb” the weight.  Obviously, much more can be handled in this way.  You can “feel” the weight hit the hands and then this allows time to “grab” while you sink with the weight.  The locked knees method becomes a guessing game and using much weight at all easily results on spinal strain, busted knuckles, and in some cases (like Chad Ullom) getting what amounts to a “horse collar” tackle by the weight!

First of all, I would like to know the history on this rule.  I’m not saying it’s wrong, I would just like to know where it comes from. My grandfather got all of his information through magazines or 2nd hand so he could have easily gotten this wrong.  But I have tried to research this to no avail.  So if anyone out there knows more about this let me know.

Second of all, unless there is some historic reason for the knees to be kept locked, I would like to see the rule changed to allow for bent knees.  I would argue a lot less injuries would result with greater poundages used and the lift would become more skill based.

Third…if there is a historical reason for the locked knees then I would like to submit a new lift at the next meeting.  The Jackson Shoulder Drop, which would allow for the bent knees.

I know, what’s the big deal!  The shoulder drop is an obscure lift and rarely done.  But I can tell you that my Grandfather did it often.  He did a lift where he would clean the weight, press it overhead, lower it behind the neck, shoulder drop it, and set it on the platform.  He eventually did 135lbs this way which was pretty good for a guy that could barely press much more than that at the time!  So, if you know anything about this lift other than what’s in the rule book please get on the forum and let me know.  Also, let me know if you have a beef with me submitting a new lift that would allow a knee bend and why.

KENNEDY – a modern HEALTH lift?

by John McKean

This is a drawing of David Butlers wooden machine used for the Health Lift.

Summoning all of his concentration and most of his strength, the sinewy young man tugged mightily at the bar across his thighs. 1100 pounds left the ground rather easily. Unfortunately, his much larger opponent soon placed a heavy leather harness around his hips for the next event in this contest and elevated a staggering 2100 pounds! Sound like another description of the mighty Steve Schmidt destroying his competition in winning yet another of his Zercher Classic titles? Surprisingly the contest mentioned occurred about 120 years before big Steve was amazing crowds with his awesome chain lifts!

To be fair, the loser of the above mentioned “challenge” meet weighed less than 150 pounds, and had  never even tried a hip lift before. His name was Dr. George Barker Windship, a famous Boston physician, lecturer, and self taught heavy lifting fanatic. Lifting around the 1860s (yep, the nineteenth century!) he eventually acquired a custom made hip belt and went on to perform a 2600 pound hip lift, plus other equally mind blowing harness events ; you can see the good doc was ahead of his time -heck, he was ahead of OUR time!!

To Dr. Windship’s credit, he promoted heavy lifting to large, appreciative audiences throughout the Northeast, even to the point of directing his patients to the gym attached to his doctor’s office. He did not enjoy, nor promote lightweight lifting schemes! Now, his speciality, suggested to all clients, was mostly a short range deadlift that was performed from a high platform,attached to massive weights below. It was almost a hand and thigh type of set up, except it had a bit of range to it, unlike some modern hand and thigh records whose only movement was mostly restricted to the imagination of a straining, isometric style lifter and a cooperative official.Windship achieved over 1200 pounds this apparatus deadlift, then limited from further gains as grip strength wouldn’t permit.

As impressive as Dr. Windship’s strength, fitness, and teaching were, it took an equally fascinating figure of this same time frame, David P.Butler, to really popularize heavy harness lifting to the general public. Building himself up from a complete physical wreck, so bad that doctors told him just to go away, lay down , and die (what, no Obamacare??!!), David totally redefined his body and strength with his amazing HEALTH LIFT. Then he showed genius in getting the word out to the public,eventually selling his wooden “machine” and establishing a chain of successful gyms throughout Boston and New York. Mr. Butler even wrote a rather amazing course on his one lift method, surprisingly similar in content to our “modern” training wisdom!

OK, you’re asking, where am I going with all this history,even though it is so rich in All-Round  lifting tradition? Simple -the lift that David Butler claimed was all anyone needed for unmatched internal and external fitness was essentially the KENNEDY lift that our own Al Myers is currently trying to establish onto the USAWA list! Butler believed the hand holding grip was vital to total body strength, as was an exact centering of the lift below one’s torso. He stood on his heavy duty wooden platform, straddled the long steel rod attached to weights below through a centered hole in the floor, hands fore& aft as in the Jefferson, and stood up several inches. By the way, I would have loved training in one of Butler’s gyms -he recommended only 4 progressively heavy singles on his HEALTH LIFT, done 3 times weekly, along with some light extra dumbbell & pulley work.

Much later in weightlifting history, all the way into the 1920s , the great Alan Calvert, in his classic “SUPER STRENGTH” text was also a huge believer in the Kennedy lift. Photos in his book display a “high Jefferson” performed with chains attached to a heavy barbell. Calvert indicated that this partial maneuver was superior to either the hand and thigh or the hip lift for developing sheer leg power, and safer for the lifter. In fact, some of the harness lift specialists of his day,he explained, relied heavily on the Kennedy lift to build power on the more limited movement chain events.

Well, we sure seem to have one heckuva case for setting wheels in motion to establish the Kennedy as an official lift. And history seems to support the fact that we could add significally to our own HEALTH by training it! As David  Butler put it  “A PERFECT lift develops a PERFECT  body!”

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