Author Archives: Al Myers

Joint Health Silliness

New Information on Glucosamine and Chondroitin

By Dan Wagman, Ph.D., CSCS

Back in October 2013 my publication’s Journal of Pure Power e-Newsletter provided a review of the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin (G&C) in athletes. This, because these two supplements are said to not only heal joint pain and osteoarthritis, but to even save your joints from the supposed damage coming from training and competition (that training and competition is unhealthy for your joints is an utterly absurd proposition). Our e-Newsletter used cold, hard science to debunk these beliefs but I recently had occasion to see what the latest research on the topic reveals.


Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds that your body produces naturally. Both substances are the principal substrates in the biosynthesis of cartilage, the connective tissue between your joints (though it’s found elsewhere in the body, too). The thinking is that if you supplement with G&C, then you end up with more of it, thus being able to rebuild damaged cartilage more effectively. Alternatively, supplementation in healthy people is presumed to act as a prophylactic so that the stresses from training and competition won’t even get to the point of being able to damage your joints.

Fact Check

Since we published our G&C review nearly five years ago, a lot of additional research has been conducted. What this has allowed scientists to do is conduct review studies. Look at that as studies on the studies in order to come up with a coherent bottom line. One of the things I learned is that the supplement companies have done a fantastic job of reaching out; G&C annual sales have hit $8.33 billion. As one study stated, “It appears that careless, uninformed, and scientifically inaccurate analysis of the evidence base may still occur…” A different study clarified by stating that “the safety and efficacy of supplements remain unclear and are often clouded by misinformation in mainstream media.”

One of the most recent reviews conducted a detailed mathematical analysis of the actual effects of G&C compared to the placebo effect. Here’s what they found:

In terms of improving pain, in the short-term G&C’s effects fell right between favoring the supplement and favoring placebo; in the medium-term G favored placebo and C fell right between favoring the supplement and placebo; in the long-term both G&C’s effects fell right between favoring the supplement and placebo. When it came to improving physical function, in the short-term G&C effects favored the supplement; in medium-term G favored placebo and C fell between favoring placebo and the supplement; same for long-term. With findings like that, how could anyone have any confidence in these supplements?

But there’s another issue at play, that of G&C formulations. You see, there are a lot of different formulations out there and thus it becomes very difficult to ascertain what’s what. Therefore, a different review looked at the type of G&C and their effects. This study found that only patented crystalline glucosamine sulfate was able to deliver consistently high G bioavailability. Similarly, only pharmaceutical-grade C showed any effects worth noting. These findings, however, were only related to osteoarthritis. If you don’t have that condition, supplementation with G&C remains suspect if not outright foolish.

A study coming out of the field of veterinary medicine drew some interesting conclusions that I feel apply to human consumption of G&C, too. Here, the researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota gave 60 dogs with osteoarthritis G&C or a placebo for 97 days. The scientists learned that G&C held no benefits for the dogs. However, despite these irrefutable findings, the dogs’ owners felt that their animals improved throughout the study period, and this for the dogs that received the supplements and those that received the placebo. To the research team this meant that there was a placebo effect even in the dog owners.

Save Your Joints…er…Wallet

The proverbial bottom line is that you can’t expect G&C to be of much benefit to your joints. And if you’ve been supplementing with it and you think it’s helping, consider the very true and measurable effect called placebo. Be smart about the fact that human nature is such that it sometimes sees an effect that’s nonexistent. The supplement industry knows this and exploits it to the tune of $8.33 billion for G&C alone. Don’t allow yourself to be duped and defrauded.


  1. Bruyère, O., et al. Inappropriate claims from non-equivalent medications in osteoarthritis: A position paper endorsed by the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO). Aging Clin Exp Res. 2018;30:111–117.
  2. Liu, X., et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52:167–175.
  3. Scott, R., et al. Efficacy of an oral nutraceutical for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol. 2017;5:318-323.

Passing of Jim Malloy

By Al Myers

These are the hardest blogs to write – when I have to report the death of a beloved USAWA member.  I just heard that long time USAWA member and supporter Jim Malloy has died. Jim passed away on February 27th at the age of 76.

His funeral will be on Monday, March 5th at the Blessed Trinity Church in Cleveland.  Details of this can be found at the following link:

Please share memories or stories of Jim on the USAWA Discussion Forum.  Or if you prefer just send them to me at  I plan to take all of these memories/stories and put them into a future tribute blog about Jim, so please share.

Lifter of the month – Mark Raymond

By Al Myers

Mark Raymond lifting at the 2016 IAWA World Championships, in Lebanon, PA.

Mark Raymond lifting at the 2016 IAWA World Championships, in Lebanon, PA.

The USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH for January, 2018 goes to Mark Raymond, of Frank’s Barbell Club!

Mark has been very involved over the past few years in the USAWA, and is an active participant in meets hosted by Frank’s Barbell Club.  Mark helped Frank host the Fall Classic RD in January in Massachusetts, at Kim Lydon’s Gym.  Mark “took charge” of the sanctioning process and in submitting all the results for the meet. I was so impressed with the way Mark handled this, and how he properly wrote up the meet report with results on the website.  In addition to doing all this, he also put up some great lifts for USAWA record at the meet!

Great job Mark – you are well deserving of the Lifter of the Month award!

Grip Championships

By Al Myers


Group picture from the 2018 USAWA Grip Championships.

Group picture from the 2018 USAWA Grip Championships.

It was another great year for the USAWA Grip Championships!  The Dino Gym had a full room with 14 lifters in attendance – 12 men and 2 women. Thom Van Vleck of the JWC made the trip from Missouri to Kansas to officiate the event. I plan to keep this meet report short as I need to get the results on the website today.  I apologize for the long delay in this, but it’s been a busy week for me.

First of all, I want to mention Mary Mac and her return to the USAWA.  Mary has been fighting hard against some medical issues this past year, so it was a very special seeing her back in action in the Dino Gym.  And WOW, she still has super strength in those fingers as she did a 155 Ring Fingers Deadlift!

I want to give a big congrats to Tressa for winning Overall Best Womens Lifter of the 2018 USAWA Grip Championships.  She has competed at several Grip Championships, but this was her first time being the Womens Overall.  She now joins a very select group of past Grip Champions (which includes RJ Jackson, Emily Burchett, Mary McConnaughey, and Felecia Simms).

The Mens Division was loaded with grippsters! I won’t go into detail with all the specific GREAT LIFTS, as there were many.  For the first time ever, the Mens Junior Class was extremely competitive. Calvin, Cole, and Jared lifted like seasoned veterans and put up great numbers. All three totaled over 750 pounds, with Calvin just edging out Cole (873 to 860 pts) for Best Junior Lifter. That’s as close as it gets.

Another tight battle was in the 75-79 age group between Dean and Denny.  In the end, Dean just pulled out Best Lifter in the 75-79 by only 11 points!

I was so glad to see Jason again, along with John. I could tell the two of them were having a blast lifting alongside with their sons, and if it wasn’t for that dreaded Ring Finger DL which gave them the fits, they both would have placed much higher overall.

Someone who always gets overlooked in meets within the USAWA (and shouldn’t!!) is the person who puts up the top total of the day. There really should be an award to recognize this accomplishment. At this Grip Championships, this person was Scott Tully who put up the top total at 1197 pounds. Scott also had the top lift in 3 of the 5 events (strict pinch grip 162 lbs., 1 arm VB 200 lbs., and the pinch grip DL of 500 pounds).  Scott becomes the first person to perform a 500 pinch grip deadlift.

Ben has been a consistent player at the Grip Championships through the years. I’m not sure if he has even missed any.   Ben’s a true gentleman lifter, and always super supportive of the other lifters. He is a veteran of the grip, and freely shares training advice.  He finished strong with an overall 4th place finish this year, just slightly behind last years Overall Grip Champ Chad Ullom (988 to 975) who finished 3rd overall.

And finally, for those of you that had to wonder if my dad was going to speak to me the next day after how everything went down between the two of us at the meet.  The answer is YES, he forgave me for edging him out by only 1 point!!


2018 USAWA Grip Championships
Dino Gym
Holland, Kansas
February 10th, 2018

Meet Director: Al Myers

Meet Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Meet Official (1 official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Lifts: Pinch Grip – Strict, Deadlift – Fulton Bar One Arm, Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar 2″ One Hand, Deadlift – Fingers Ring, Pinch Grip Deadlift


Tressa Brooner 56 134 52 75R 80R 65 150 422 569.1
Mary McConnaughey 58 125+ 62 90R 80R 155 190 577 495.3

4th Attempts for Record:
Tressa Brooner: VB DL 2″ Right 85 lbs.
Tressa Brooner: Pinch Grip DL 175 lbs.
Mary McConnaughey: Pinch Grip DL 200 lbs.


Al Myers 51 229 132 175R 195L 170 475 1147 1066.4
LaVerne Myers 73 236 112 175L 180R 171 335 973 1065.4
Chad Ullom 46 241 122 176R 180R 215 450 1143 988.4
Ben Edwards 42 228 142 160R 185R 135 400 1022 875.6
Calvin Heit 16 152 102 100R 135L 135 280 752 873.5
Cole Janzen 16 169 122 151R  140R 80 300 793 860.3
Scott Tully 42 350 162 180R 200R 155 500 1197 833.6
Dean Ross 75 237 67 105R 125L 125 230 652 722.8
Denny Habecker 75 186 67 110R 120R 65 200 562 711.7
Jason Payne 52 325 152 130L  160R 0 400 842 665.3
Jared Payne 16 279 112 130R 150R 95 280 767 633.9
John Janzen 52 297 132 130R  130L 0 330 722 594.9

4th Attempts for Record:
Calvin Heit: VB DL 2″ 1 Bar Left Hand 155 lbs.
Jared Payne: VB DL 2″ 1 Bar Right Hand 160 lbs.
Calvin Heit: DL Ring Fingers 156 lbs.
Dean Ross: DL Ring Fingers 140 lbs.
Calvin Heit: Pinch Grip DL 300 lbs.
Cole Janzen: Pinch Grip DL 330 lbs.
Jason Payne: Pinch Grip DL 420 lbs.
Denny Habecker: Pinch Grip DL 220 lbs.


Womens Best Master – Tressa Brooner
Womens Best Overall Lifter – Tressa Brooner
Mens Best Junior – Calvin Heit
Mens Best 40-44 Age Group – Ben Edwards
Mens Best 45-49 Age Group – Chad Ullom
Mens Best 50-54 Age Group – Al Myers
Mens Best 70-74 Age Group – LaVerne Myers
Mens Best 75-79 Age Group – Dean Ross
Mens Best Overall Lifter – Al Myers


Calvin Heit – 16 Years Old, 151 lbs. BWT
Clean and Push Press: 155 lbs.
Bench Press Reverse Grip: 155 lbs.
Jerk From Rack: 155 lbs.
Vertical Bar DL 1 Bar 1″ Left: 114 lbs.
Bench Press Hands Together: 165 lbs.

Chad Ullom – 46 Years Old, 247 lbs. BWT
Bench Press Feet in Air: 260 lbs.
Roman Chair Sit Up: 90 lbs.
Shoulder Drop: 50 lbs.
Deadlift One Leg: 232 lbs.

Stephen Santangelo – 65 Years Old, 161 lbs. BWT
Finger Lift Right Thumb: 42 lbs.
Finger Lift Left Thumb: 42 lbs.
Finger Lift Right Middle: 130 lbs.
Finger Lift Left Middle: 119 lbs.
Allen Lift: 17 lbs.

LaVerne Myers – 73 Years Old, 238 lbs. BWT
Deadlift Little Fingers: 95 lbs.
Shoulder Drop: 35 lbs.
Deadlift Ciavattone Grip Right Arm: 220 lbs.

Dean Ross – 75 Years Old, 236 lbs. BWT
Deadlift No Thumb Right Arm: 135 lbs.
Clean and Press 2 Dumbbells: 60 lbs.
Bench Press Feet in Air: 185 lbs.
Deadlift 2 Bars: 270 lbs.
Deadlift Little Fingers: 95 lbs.

Denny Habecker – 75 Years Old, 191 lbs. BWT
Clean and Press 2 Dumbbells Heels Together: 90 pounds
Deadlift No Thumb Right Hand: 115 lbs.
Zeigler Clean: 55 lbs.
Clean and Press Behind Neck: 100 lbs.
Holdout Lowered: 45 lbs.

Yellow Light Lifting

By John McKean

” Did you just hear an EXPLOSION??!!” spat out the angry, grumpy old neighbor. “Whatever that awful noise was, woke me from my nice nap!” screeched ole Mr. Raphaele  from his back door.

The waggish, freckle faced little lad, standing in his own driveway, couldn’t help but answer “Nope, didn’t hear a thing! Maybe you should check the rear of your undershorts!”

With the subsequent loud slamming of his neighbor’s porch door, the boy returned to easily cleaning his lightly loaded barbell, and once again shot up a press with such velocity and momentum that the barbell rocketed ,when released, about 4′ above his extended arms. Then the young lifter got the hell out of the way as the bar crashed yet another time into his gravel driveway.

This wild, ballistic training eventually set up the youth for more structured training with ever heavier weights in local weightlifting clubs around his vicinity. You may have heard of him; he was Olympian Russ Knipp, a middleweight who established 9 press world records (usually with double bodyweight), and gave the Russians fits due to his pure strength strict presses (by then the Soviets and others had devolved into doing modified push jerks).

So what does the Knipper’s early training have to do with the “yellow light” title of this article? Well, I equate it to my wife’s driving around our crowded suburban area – as she approaches a stop light and it turns yellow, she instantly accelerates and speeds up, though most often having to hit the brakes as the light goes red! Young Russ Knipp attempted to develop what we used to call “fast twitch muscle fibers” (Lord knows what the “experts” call it these days!), Marilyn just enjoys driving fast and gliding through intersections !

Paul Anderson was so adept at "speed lifting" that the author once witnessed Anderson one arm press a 275 pound dumbbell for 3 fast reps within a blink of the eye!

Paul Anderson was so adept at “speed lifting” that the author once witnessed Anderson one arm press a 275 pound dumbbell for 3 fast reps within a blink of the eye!

Years ago I wrote a story on “speed singles” using lighter weights as a backdown set from heavier near limit singles, to be done in a fast ballistic manner. Since the idea came from material that legendary Paul Anderson had given me, concerning using bodyweight high jumping squats following my squatting program, I immediately acquired a great deal of confidence in this “speed” supplement. Also,  fast repped sets as “backdown” work following heavier lifting was much of the training basis  of old pal Bob Weaver (first powerlifter to officially squat over 800# in a National Championship), and  great results in my early powerlifting career came with their application.

Recently, with revitalized interest in power rack holds for all-round lifts, it occurred to me that I should experiment with speed work (or” yellow light lifting”,in deference to my wife!) BEFORE hitting limit weights in the rack. Sort of like a tune up,to have all muscle fibers firing when following with a rack overload for a hold. Of course I needed some resistance, though not much, and wished to use something that would NOT simply accelerate and allow momentum to throw it through its range with little muscle involvement. The good ole rubber cables came to the forefront once again! I now grab a few moderate strength bands that are easy ,yet a slight bit challenging, and WARMUP, prior to rack holds, with 3 very quick sets of an explosive 4 reps. Usually I do these with three main exercises(similar in nature to the LIFTS I’ll be soon doing within a power rack), and believe me, the entire body gets totally warm, actually HOT ! The mind is on fire ,too, and I’m ready to tackle anything!

Author John McKean demonstrating one of his "yellow light" band warmups before proceeding to heavy rack overloads

Author John McKean demonstrating one of his “yellow light” band warmups before proceeding to heavy rack overloads

After the “yellow light” band work, I immediately go with just ONE all out power rack middle range hold for 3  top-strength all-round movements. These holds are done much in the manner of what world record holder Bill March did in his pioneering rack routines – starting with a very heavy weight that just allows a push off lower pins ,up to a set of rack pins 4″ higher,then a  severe isometric push (really a hold -those steel pins ain’t going anywhere!). I’ve found over the years that working the midsection of a lift only, rather than multiple positions is best for strengthening almost any lift, and to allow most progression in poundage (which should continually be increased!). I need no build up poundages within the rack as the speed band sets has me so primed and ready! Just one all-out slight movement & iso ! Even as I approach “early middle age”(ok, ok, I’m 72), I’m seeing some startling increases in rack poundages, and my usual training partner & grandson,at 12 years old, already has gained so quickly that he outweighs me by 30 very solid pounds and is a monster-in-the-making ! By the way,pick your favorite lifts for this program to really get into it ;currently young Andraes and I use the belt squat, bentover row, and close grip floor press. Our band “yellow lighters” consists of a standing band pressout at chest level (like a bench press without lying down), one arm band rows, and a sort of close grip straddle lift with bands & a kettlebell (mainly for its handle, not for much extra weight).

OK, there ya have it, a short intense system that’ll quickly boost your power to unimagined heights. And the only thing that could possibly get your excitement levels and heart pumping faster would be a drive through Pittsburgh with Marilyn at the wheel !

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