Author Archives: Al Myers

Roger Davis Lifts the Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

Roger Davis lifting both Dinnie Stones at the same time!!

Congratulations to Roger Davis for finally reaching his longtime goal of lifting the Dinnie Stones. Roger is an all-round weight lifter from England who has competed in several IAWA World Championships, and has won many Championships. He is 39 years old and weighs only around 80 kilograms – which makes this feat all the more impressive!!

The Dinnie Stones are located just outside of Aberdeen, Scotland at the Bridge of Potarch. They were originally used as anchors for the bridge during the construction of the bridge. While helping his father repair the bridge in 1860, Donald Dinnie lifted both of these stones and carried them across the bridge, a distance of over 15 feet.

Roger commented, “It was a great feeling when I finally lifted the stones, especially as clan Chieftain David Webster as well as a large crowd of spectators witnessed it.” He added, “The lifting of the Dinnie Stones really has filled me with a positive attitude.”

I’m looking forward to seeing Roger this coming October in Lebanon at this year’s IAWA World Championships so I can hear first-hand his story about his amazing accomplishment of lifting the Dinnie Stones – a claim not many can make.

Congratulations to David Beversdorf!!!!

by Al Myers

David Beversdorf, of Clark’s Championship Gym, just recently bench pressed 630 pounds at a powerlifting meet that was part of the Missouri State Fair. This was done on August 16th, in Sedalia, Missouri. The meet was sanctioned by SLP. David is a 43 year old neurologist on the staff at the University of Missouri Hospital and Medical Center. David has been training at Clark’s Gym for about a year.

David Beversdorf, of Clark's Gym, benching 630 pounds. Notice Clark's Gym members James Foster (to left) and Joe Garcia (to right) spotting.

I met David at Clark’s Gym this past spring at the Deanna Springs Memorial. A few months earlier David had broken Steve Schmidt’s ALL TIME USAWA record in the Roman Chair Bench Press with a lift of 215 pounds at a Clark’s Gym Record Day.

More about George Jowett

George Jowett lifting his legendary 168 anvil by the horn.

by Al Myers

I mentioned George Jowett yesterday in my training article about anvils. George Jowett was more that just an anvil lifter – it’s just that his most famous lifting feat involved using his legendary 168 pound anvil. It is reported that in the late 1920’s at a strength show in Philadelphia, he grabbed his 168 pound anvil by the horn, and in one motion did a swing with it and caught it at his shoulder and proceeded to press it over head with one arm!!! It is one thing to be able to pick up a heavy anvil one handed – but to clean it one handed is almost beyond belief!! George Jowett possessed huge forearms – measured at times over 16 inches.

George Jowett was born in England, and as a child was critically injured when he fell against a fireplace. This accident left him crippled. When he was 8 years old his parents were told by the doctors that it was unlikely that he would live to be 15, and if he did, would probably never walk again. He proved them wrong – not only did he walk again but went on to become one of the premier strength athletes of the early 1900’s.

Jowett started out in gymnastics and achieved many awards in his teens. He then became a boxer and won world titles as a lightweight boxer. At the age of 19, he moved to Canada and started weightlifting. Weighing just 176 pounds, George did a clean and jerk with 340 pounds!! He was also very good at the one arm swing – his best being 210 pounds. He then became a competitive bodybuilder and is considered by many to be the Father of American Bodybuilding.

By the early 1920’s, George moved to Philadelphia and founded the Jowett Institute for Physical Culture. He started a mail order business selling muscle courses that lifters would subscribe to. Each course was laid out for the entire month and each month George would send out the next month’s course! This was very profitable for him and it grew into a big business. He was very successful as a writer and has written many weightlifting courses and books. His book in 1925, “The World’s Weight Lifting Rules and Records”, was the foundation for the rules used for the all-round lifts in the USAWA today.

Training with Thom “THE ANVIL” Van Vleck

by Al Myers

Anvil Collection - 110# unknown, 152# Peter Wright, 190# Peter Wright

Last week I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon training at my gym with Thom “THE ANVIL” Van Vleck. We spent the entire workout training with anvils only!! I have a collection of three anvils, weighing 110, 152, and 190 pounds. You would be surprised how difficult you can make an anvil workout. Thom knows many ways how to use anvils for training. Training with anvils was very popular with old time strongmen. George Jowett, famous strongman and writer, lifted a 168 pound anvil by the horn with only one hand!!

Thom pressing my 110# anvil with one hand only!!!!

Thom is a very popular writer for MILO, and has written many articles over the past several years. One of his earliest articles was about how it was a right of passage into the JWC (Jackson Weightlifting Club) to be able to lift Grandpa Jackson’s anvil overhead!! This anvil has been passed down through the generations of the JWC, and Thom has it as a center piece in his gym today. It weighs somewhere between 150 and 200 pounds. When you enter the JWC (Thom’s gym) – be prepared to be challenged by Grandpa Jackson’s anvil!!!

The workout started out with doing some snatches, swings and French Presses with my 110# anvil. Lifting anvils is not the same as lifting barbells – an anvil is just a huge chunk of iron that is hard to grab and hold on to!!! But then, it is an exhilarating feeling to be able to master lifting such an awkward object. We are fortunate today that we have bars with roller sleeves that contain fine ball bearings, and plates that are milled perfectly, to provide upmost balance and control when lifting weights. The old time strongmen did not have this type of equipment, but made the most of what they had and still made amazing strength gains.

I managed lifting the 110# anvil, but then Thom showed me up by lifting the 110# anvil and the 152# anvil at the same time!! Now you see why he is known as Thom the Anvil??

We then progressed to doing clean and presses with the 152 pound anvil. We started out doing strict presses and finished by doing push presses with it. It is difficult to keep an anvil from “getting out in front of you” when pressing it overhead and to maintain the lockout. But the more reps we did with it the better both of us got. I then took on the 190# anvil and cleaned and pressed it several times. After this we did some one handed lifting with the anvils by gripping them by the horn – “Jowett style”. You really feel this in the forearm muscles. I have done alot of Vertical Bar lifting with a 2″ bar – but the horn of an anvil has a taper to it that makes it way more difficult!!

The next exercise we did was loading and deloading the three anvils onto platforms. This is a full body exercise. We did several “runs” of these until our backs starting cramping!! At this point I thought we would call it a workout but Thom had more in mind! We finished this 3 hour workout by carrying the 190# anvil down and back my 100 foot course (200 feet total) several times with the anvil cradled in our arms. This tested my cardiovascular endurance and left me in a heap of sweat and breathing like a race horse. Now – THAT is what you can call an ALL-ROUND workout and we didn’t even touch a barbell or dumbbell!!!

The Turkish Get Up

"It is a splendid exercise and showy feat to lie down and regain upright position holding a dumbbell overhead" - Thomas Inch

I recently received an email from Brian Brown, of Dubuque, Iowa asking the question – Why is the Turkish Get Up not an USAWA lift? Well – my answer was IT SHOULD BE!!!! This was a very popular lift among old-time strongmen. It was a favorite of such greats as Arthur Saxon, George Hackenschmidt, and Sig Klein. Thanks to Brian for providing this writeup about the Turkish Get Up.

The Turkish Get Up by Brian Brown

The Turkish Get Up is a great old-time strongman exercise in addition to being a great shoulder rehab, core building, and flexibility enhancing exercise. It also works all the muscles of the body, so it’s a great exercise to have in your arsenal in case you’re short of time for a workout.

In truth I don’t know what’s Turkish about the Get Up. I do know that you can do a Get Up with two hands or one hand. Typically the Turkish Get Up refers to the one-hand version of the Get Up. And you can use any kind of resistance you like, whether it be a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, sandbag, or your kid. I’ve tried it with my kids — it’s a great circus trick and they like it too!

To perform the Turkish Get Up, lie on your back with the weight overhead in one hand. While keeping your elbow locked and the weight overhead you ‘get up’ to a standing position. For competition purposes, this would be the end of the movement. But for training purposes, it’s more challenging if you then reverse the movement until you are lying back on the floor. Then you repeat for the other arm.

The basic sequence of the Turkish Get Up is as follows, to begin the movement, crunch your abs and obliques while moving the dumbbell slowly forward, then push off the floor with your free arm. If you can make it to the sitting position, you are pretty much home free! Then bring your leg opposite the weight underneath your body so that you are in a lunge position, then stand up with the weight.

There is another method whereby after you are in the sitting position, you get in the deep (seriously deep!) overhead squat position and stand up from there. But this is much more difficult than the ‘lunging’ method and requires quite a bit more flexibility and as such, less weight can be used.

Jeff Martone commented that the Turkish Get Up helped to rehab his bad shoulder. I’ve found this to be the case also. I had a delicate right shoulder from too much bench pressing and shot putting when I was in high school. When I discovered the Turkish Get Up a few years ago my shoulder problems disappeared. Also I have a friend with chronic back problems and he said that his back problems diminished remarkably after including the Turkish Get Up in his program. There is something unique to this movement in that the shoulders and hips seem to rotate around the axis underneath the weight, providing beneficial full range of motion.

I recommend sticking with low repetitions with this movement, unless you’re using it for a warm-up. Even with low reps, the Turkish Get Up can provide quite a metabolism boost. In the following video sequence I’m breaking my PR in the Turkish Get Up using 86.25 pounds (not bad for 6’2″, 188 lbs, and 36 years, if I don’t say so myself). Notice that I’m under the load for roughly 55 seconds. How many of these ‘singles’ do you think I could handle in a workout? I can almost get around a 400m track in that amount of time!

A nice, challenging, simple workout is to do the Turkish Get Up as described above, but to insert an overhead squat once you are in the standing position, then continue with the Turkish Get Up by reversing the movement to the floor, and repeating with the other arm. You could also insert a press once you are in the standing position. I also like to superset Turkish Get Ups with a heavy lower body movement like squats since I use dumbbells for the Turkish Get Up and my bar is free for another movement.

What type of resistance you prefer is up to you. Based upon my experience, a barbell is easier than a dumbbell due to the additional balance provided by the length of the bar. And a kettlebell is easier than a dumbbell because the kettlebell rides a bit lower on the arm. For me, it’s easier to get the dumbbell into position compared to a barbell or a kettlebell.

It is said that back in the day, weightlifters had to Turkish Get Up 100 pounds before they were allowed to learn the Olympic lifts. This exercise is also supposed to be a staple of cage-fighters. 100 pounds is my goal, but I’ll leave the cage fighting to the pros!

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