Author Archives: Al Myers

ADIOS to the Strength Journal

by Al Myers

“Adios” was the lead story headline for the latest Strength Journal, which I received yesterday. And with this – I mean the last Strength Journal. Bill Clark has published the Strength Journal for over 20 years covering news from the USAWA, but over 50 years including other strength news. I read this last Journal with great sadness, as I’m sure most others did as well. But as Bill said in this last Journal, “All things must have a finish. That’s this letter.” I owe Bill Clark a great deal of gratitude for getting me started in the All-Rounds. I clearly remember my first time meeting him several years ago. I was winding down my powerlifting career and just wanted to see “what this all-round lifting was all about”. So myself and several of my training partners headed to Clark’s Gym in Columbia on a cold December day to try out a record day on Saturday, followed by the Goerner Deadlift Dozen on Sunday. Bill knew we were coming and greeted us at the door (he also knew we were Powerlifters) and one of the first things he said was for us to look at the sign by the door. It had the Gym Rules which spelled out NO WRAPS and NO DRUGS ALLOWED. Bill is one to get right to the point. I knew right away that this was my type of gym and that I was welcome!! Immediately I found out what all-round weightlifting was all about – and I was very intrigued. Steve Schmidt was there that day and was going for a repetition Back Lift record. I had no idea at the time the importance of the record he was breaking. I do now – it was the greatest Back Lift repetition record of All-Time. I also met Tom Ryan that weekend. Tom helped us tremendously – and showed us the proper way to do these strange new lifts that we were trying for the first time.

Bill immediately put us to work breaking USAWA records. Of course we were just focusing on bench press type lifts at first, until Bill said, “I have never seen that much bench pressing in Clark’s Gym before.” I soon found out that All-Round Weightlifting was much more – when Bill brought out the ring and challenged us to Finger Lifting. I thought later that this must have been his way to test us – to see if we really had what it takes to become All-Round Weightlifters. We maxed on every finger of each hand and Bill made us go all out. After all – He WAS!!! I left that weekend with several sore fingers but knowing that this sport was for me – thanks to Bill Clark. I would like to know how many lifters Bill has introduced to All-Round Weightlifting – I’m sure it is more than I could count.

The Strength Journal has been the backbone of the USAWA since the start. It will not be the same not receiving any more of them in the future. In the past when I found a Strength Journal in the mail – I would open it up right away – even before looking at any of my other mail. I would like to think that I could maybe talk Bill into writing a few stories for the USAWA Daily News in the future. But I know Bill has said in the past that he would never put anything on the internet – and Bill is a man of conviction so I believe I probably won’t be successful in this endeavor. But I will keep trying to change his mind on this so hopefully we can read the words of Bill Clark again.

Bill, I know you probably will never see this, but THANK YOU for everything you have done for the USAWA. THANKS for the many years of publishing the Strength Journal. THANKS for the leadership you have given to our organization. And most importantly – THANKS for getting me started in this great sport of All-Round Weightlifting.

Challenge Barbells

by Al Myers

John Conner, of the Dino Gym, lifts the Dino Gym's Challenge Barbell. This Challenge Barbell weighs 585 pounds and has a 2.5" diameter handle. When John did this - he deadlifted it for three reps!!

Every gym or club should have a Challenge Barbell.  There is nothing as inviting as a heavy, already fix-loaded barbell that just sits in the corner of a gym just daring someone to lift it!  The lifting of a Challenge Barbell becomes an issue of pride among gym members – everyone wants to be part of “the list” of those who have succeeded. It gives great motivation to those who haven’t yet – and inspires their training to keep improving, until the day comes when they are successful in lifting the Challenge Barbell.  The overwhelming sense of accomplishment is felt when a Challenge Barbell is lifted – knowing that you have have overcome the challenge laid out in front of you.

Most Old Time Strongmen had some sort of Challenge Barbell or Challenge Dumbbell that they would use in their show acts. It usually was specifically made to emphasize their strength in a particular lift. They would flaunt this Challenge to other strongmen – and when others would fail with it give themselves a “pat on the back” and proclaim themselves as the strongest!!  Often these Challenge Barbells would be made in a way that made them difficult to lift without practice on them – thus giving the owner a tremendous advantage. Most Challenge Barbells were poorly balanced, or had hand spacings that weren’t optimal for other lifters.

I am going to be doing stories about several Challenge Barbells of famous Old Time Strongmen over the next few weeks. If anyone has a Challenge Barbell in their gym or club, please send me the details and I will run the story of it right here, in the USAWA Daily News.

IAWA Age Adjustment Changed

by Al Myers

The long standing debate on whether the age adjustment should be changed was resolved this month at the World Council Meeting held in conjunction with the IAWA World Championships. This discussion started last year at the World Meeting, which was held in England, by Wilf Chapman of Australia. Wilf felt that the older lifters were not being compensated adequately by the age adjustment. After discussion, the membership felt that this needed to be looked into further before any changes would be made.

Steve Gardner and Graham Saxton of England, and myself of the United States, conducted separate studies on the age adjustment. Both of our studies supported that the age correction formula that has been used is very inadequate for lifters over the age of 65. These studies were presented to the membership at the Meeting this year, and finally, this issue has been resolved! The USAWA and the IAWA(UK) have always used different age correction formulas, but the IAWA has previously used the USAWA formula, which gives 1 percent per year starting at the age of 40. The IAWA(UK) gives 1 percent per year starting at age 36 and then 2 percent per year starting at age 66.

What was agreed upon by the membership was a compromise of these two correction systems. Now for IAWA competitions, a lifter receives 1 percent per year starting at the age of 40, and at the age of 66 receives 2 percent.

Now my opinion..

I truly believe that for our organization to grow we must always tilt the formula to allow a strong young lifter to beat a strong older lifter. Best lifters should be decided by the weight lifted and not by a formula. However, the previous system didn’t even allow the older lifter (over the age of 65) to even be in consideration. Contrary to what those on the “other side” of this argument (not wanting to see any changes) might say – this small change will not let older lifters easily beat young lifters!! Just look at the studies and the numbers and you will see what I am saying. Giving a 70 year old lifter 36 percent adjustment is still not much compared to what they really should be getting if we want complete equality (the studies showed that 90 percent correction is needed for a 70 year old). By the way, these studies were done using data from the USAWA and IAWA Record Lists which provided over 20 years of data collection!! I base my opinion on numbers and statistics and not “gut feelings”.

I was also glad to see the age correction adjustment still starting at the age of 40. This seems logical to me – as it is the time a lifter enters the Masters division and becomes eligible for Masters age group records. Now I hope that the USAWA and the IAWA(UK) will come together on this and both adopt the IAWA system for age correction. Unification on this would be a good thing for the IAWA.

Delaware Valley Postal

Results of the Delaware Valley Open Postal Meet

by Al Myers

John Monk performing a One Arm Hack Lift at Worlds.

The Best Lifters of the latest Postal Competition are Men – John Monk, Jr. and Women – Kari Landis. Congratulations to Kari and John on their victories!!

This Postal Meet was directed by John Wilmot. Postal Meets provide great opportunities to compete without ever leaving your own gym. All you need to do is complete the lifts, under USAWA Rules, and send in your results. However, certain things need to be followed in order for your lifts to be official and eligible for records. For this Postal Meet, I didn’t receive any information whether the lifters had their lifts judged by Certified Official/Officials or not.

The following is from the Rule Book:

Section V.4. of the Rule Book states:

Records may be established in any USAWA sanctioned competition or event provided that one certified USAWA official is present to officiate and approve the lift. If three USAWA officials are used to judge the lift, the lifter must receive the approval of two.

Section V. 12. of the Rule Book states:

All results submitted for records must include the names of the certified officials that judged the record lifts.

The new Rule Book became effective August 1st, 2009. There are several things that are outlined in more detail than in the previous Rule Book. This is one of those things – that is why I am bringing attention to it now. The website is now the source of meet information for the Records Chairmen (Joe Garcia of the USAWA and Chris Bass of the IAWA). It is my responsibility to make sure the proper and correct information is available to them – so they will know if lifts are eligible for the Record List or not. Emphasis is now being put on having Certified Officials if you want a record. Regarding Postal Meets and Record Days, I will list in the results the name/names of the Certified Officials present for each lifter, and whether the One or Three Official System was used. Remember, only one Certified Official is needed for USAWA Records but three Officials are needed for IAWA Records (Or just two if both deem the lift good).

This is the time to take the Rules Test and become an USAWA Certified Official!

FULL MEET RESULTS:

2009 Delaware Valley Open Postal Meet
September 1st – 30th, 2009

Meet Director:   John Wilmot

Lifts:  Bench Press Feet in Air, Squat 12″ Base, Deadlift Heels Together

Lifter and Certified Official/Officials:
Kari Landis – John Monk
John Monk, Jr. – No Certified Official
Denny Habecker – No Certified Official
Dennis Vandermark – John Monk
John Wilmot – No Certified Official
Bill Crozier – No Certified Official
Nate Shelly – No Certified Official

Results:

Lifter Age BWT Class Bench Squat Deadlift Total Points
Kari Landis
27 175 80 95 100 225 420 405.85
John Monk, Jr.
43 175.5 80 280 390 425 1095 1098.83
Denny Habecker
66 190 90 176 222 281 679 793.77
Dennis Vandermark
56 205 95 210 250 290 750 773.78
John Wilmot
62 210 100 150 225 325 700 749.07
Bill Crozier
72 224 105 160 210 260 630 704.25
Nate Shelly -extra lifter
20
154
70
215 275 300 790 827.13


BWT – bodyweight in pounds
Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.

Best Lifters:    Women – Kari Landis   Men – John Monk, Jr.

My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 3

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone has done a Neck Lift with 808 pounds!!

Al: What have been your favorite All-Round lifts? What records have you set that you are most proud of?

Frank: My favorite lifts were the three Ciavattone lifts, One hand deadlift and the Necklift. They all seemed natural for me. As for records, my favorite’s are one arm Hacklift right hand 402 1/5 lb’s, one arm Deadlift right hand 562 1/5 lbs, one arm Ciavattone lift right hand 331 lbs, Neck lift 808 lbs, Hand and thigh 1610 lbs, and a Hip lift of 2515 lbs.

Al: What advice do you have for new All-Round lifters?

Frank: Stay away from any artificial way of getting ahead. Hard, hard, hard work is what got me to do the best I could without jeopardizing my number one thing in my life, FAMILY. Keep your priorities in the right order. This formula keeps everyone happy and supportive.

Frank Ciavattone's favorite lift - the one arm deadlift.

Al: What is needed in the USAWA for the organization to grow?

Frank: Get involved in your particular region or state. Do the best of your ability and either promote, coach, run a meet or like I do every year, go to schools and promote our drug free sport with a talk of how you can be a World Champ without drugs. Then show them some feat of strength they may never see again. If everyone did this instead of complaining the USAWA would be that much stronger!!!!!!

Al: Do you have any other thoughts about All-Round weightlifting that you would like to mention?

Frank: The sun does not shine for everyone in most sports, as it does not shine for the same in Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, or Strongman events. But I’m sure if you tried the USAWA you will find that the sun does shine on one of our 100+ lifts. So give our sport a try. I have also met some of the most caring athletes, friends and families out of any other sport I have participated. Thank You for this opportunity.

Al: Frank, thanks so much for participating in this interview. It is always a pleasure getting to visit with you.

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