Author Archives: Al Myers

Grip Championships

by Al Myers

2016 USAWA GRIP CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships.

Group picture from the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships.

If you would have asked me a week before the Grip Champs my prediction for the turnout – I’ll be honest here – I was worried that it might be the smallest attended Grip Champs yet.  But as it turns out this was one of the best Grip Champs the USAWA has seen yet!

Both the women’s and the men’s divisions were hotly contested.  Newcomer Emily Burchett won best lifter in her second meet in less than a month in the USAWA, over veteran lifter Mary McConnaughey. Mary still amazes me with her finger lifts. She pulled on a record attempt 200 pounds in the Middle Finger Deadlift. I remember in my first meet with Mary (close to 15 years ago!) she beat me in the Middle Finger Deadlift in total pounds – something that gave Ole Clark a good reason to kid me about.  But after watching that 200 pounds of hers go up I’m not sure if I could beat her now!  Third place went to Tressa Brooner who showed great effort after just recently having surgery on her wrists.

The Men’s division was full of great lifting all day long.  Last year’s overall USAWA Grip Champion LaVerne Myers had to lift exceptional to defend his title – which he did. He picked his lifts well and maximized his total.  Veteran USAWA grip master Ben Edwards took a solid second place overall. Ben showed us all he still has the strength in those middle fingers of his with an outstanding Middle Finger Deadlift of 315 pounds. Third place overall went to the father of the Ledaig HA club Dave Glasgow. Dave continued his streak of being the ONLY lifter that has competed in all of the USAWA Grip Championships. Dave was solid in all the lifts and put up the top Reeves Deadlift of the day at 290 pounds.

I was so glad to see all the young strong studs show up; Zach Lucas, Adam Kirchman, Vernon Cathey, and Alan English. These guys are all newcomers to the USAWA. They are loaded with lifting talent and each one left weight on the platform as they are just learning these lifts.  Each one of these guys had great attitudes and I could tell really enjoyed themselves throughout the day. Give these young bucks a little more time in the all rounds and they will be the future champions.

I was really amazed to see my ole training buddy Scott Tully show up and compete.  Scott is just coming off major surgery on his knee, that included a tendon reattachment.   I could tell Scott was lifting conservative but he still put up big marks.  He had the second best total of the day at 1130 pounds (just behind Ben’s 1160 pounds) and had the top Inch DB deadlift at 140 pounds. He tied Alan English with the top dumbbell deadlift with a lift of 325 pounds.

Lance Foster and Dean Ross added several new age group USAWA records with their lifting.  Lance took two attempts in the Wrist Curl to set a new record with a lift of 151 pounds.  He missed it the first time and then tried it again with success! Those kind of efforts are what I remember when the day is over.

I want to thank everyone who supported this competition.  I’m already excited about the Grip Championships next year!

Meet Results:

2016 Grip Championships
February 13th, 2016
Dino Gym
Abilene, Kansas

Meet Director: Al Myers

Meet Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Al Myers

Lifts: Deadlift-Inch Dumbbell, One Arm, Curl-Wrist, Deadlift-Dumbbell, One Arm, Deadlift-Fingers, Middle, Deadlift, Reeves

WOMENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT INCH CURL DBDL MLDL RDL TOT PTS
Emily Burchett 24 153 75R 155 (170) 190R (205) 140 (155) 170 730 767.9
Mary McConnaughey 56 308 80R 150 165R 175 (200) 175 745 625.1
Tressa Brooner 54 129 55R 80 115R (120) 85 75 410 558.4

Successful extra attempts for records in parenthesis.

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT INCH CURL DBDL MFDL RDL TOT PTS
LaVerne Myers 71 238 135R 210 240L 195 255 1035 1111.5
Ben Edwards 40 218 130R 205 (225) 255R 315 255 1160 998.4
Dave Glasgow 62 258 115R 180 280R 170 290 1035 994.0
Zach Lucas 30 241 130R 220 250R 200 280 1080 872.9
Vernon Cathey 31 207 125R 165 (195) 275R (300) 195 225 985 863.5
Alan English 32 240 120R 115 325R 205 280 1045 846.6
Adam Kirchman 31 210 115R 165 (185) 275R 185 185 925 804.3
Dean Ross 73 258 80R 120 170R (190) 155 (165) 225 750 784.7
Scott Tully 40 340 140R 175 300R (325) 230 285 1130 781.7
Lance Foster 50 337 80R 140 (151) 170R (190) 225 225 840 641.3

Successful extra attempts for records in parenthesis.

BWT is bodyweight in pounds. R & L designate right and left arms. All lifts recorded in pounds. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are overall adjusted points corrected for age and bodyweight.

RECORD DAY SESSION

Al Myers – 49 years old, BWT 230#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Arm 320#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm 365#
Deadlift – Reeves 330#
Pinch Grip 205#
Curl – Wrist 275#

LaVerne Myers – 71 years old, BWT 240#
Pinch Grip 172#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip 242#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Left Arm 154#
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm 176#
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm 176#

Dean Ross – 73 years old, BWT 260#
Back Lift 1300#
Bench Press – Feet in Air 185#
Bench Press – Hands Together 155#
Bench Press – Reverse Grip 155#
Bench Press – Fulton Bar 175#

The “OW!” Factor

by John McKean

My son Rob, when in elementary school, setting an 802# Hand and Thigh record at Howard's first Gold Cup. This record has stood for 24 years now!

My son Rob, when in elementary school, setting an 802# Hand and Thigh record at Howard’s first Gold Cup. This record has stood for 24 years now!

“C’mon, little fella, do you really expect to warmup with US?!” The superheavies at an early 60s powerlifting meet had dominated one of the few olympic bars, and were not too keen to share their already heavily loaded squat rack with a barely 165#, dweeby out-of-towner. After all, they reasoned, it wasn’t their fault that the meet director had somehow assigned middleweights to the evening session; they sure didn’t want to waste energy breaking down the 455 they’d carefully built up. Since my opener out on the main platform was imminent, I had to use my charming personality and a bit of surprise to convince these rack hogs into giving me a break. Promising to take only one set, I requested they ADD a pair of 45s to the bar, and spot closely! Shocked into silence, the beefy group complied and stared blankly as I banged out 4 quick reps! Rushing to the contest stage soon after, I treated very strict judges to an easy district record, despite a hefty drop in poundage from the warmup room

However, in those pure power days of no super suits, no ultra compressing wraps, nor thick magnum belts, my “crazy” fast and heavy prep set was hardly superhuman – those reps were merely 4” QUARTER squats. Yet, as experience had taught, any sufficiently loaded partial lift not only races the ole adrenaline around, but also makes a regular, full movement exercise FEEL quite light! Perhaps as much MENTAL as physical, a monstrous overload still contracts and readies every portion of one’s body (even the brain awakens!), warming the entire musculature. Why, then, endure an energy-robbing process of excess light do-nothing sets?

Through ongoing experiments with the severe overload concept during my building years, I sought out a well known proponent with whom I had spoken to and corresponded – mighty Paul Anderson himself! It seems the World’s Strongest Man developed much of his phenomenal squatting poundage (1200+) by inserting magnum weight quarter squats in between sets of more normal full movement deep knee bends (if, indeed, 3 sets of 10 with a below parallel 800 # – no suit, wraps, nor drugs, can be considered “normal”!). Paul maintained that near limit partials only worked if one used them in direct conjunction with the actual lift that was intended to be strengthened. At that time, my competition squat had been absolutely stuck at 455, and knowing my gym mates would not appreciate two olympic bars being tied up, it was back to my home garage for four months! Of course, there was the obnoxious safety chains clanging around my 6′ exercise bar that had to be endured. I gutted out these supersets and constant loading/deloading without incident (you always have to be VERY aware with 5X+ bwt on quarter squats!). But rewards were great – during the next meet, a 500 pound state record was an easy opener!

These days my “Overload Warmup” (or “OW!”- a fitting name!) consists of our USAWA three official chain lifts – the hip lift, hand and thigh, and neck lift. Each can be seen and described on this website, in the rule book section. Easy to deploy in a garage gym, let’s just consider for now the “hand and thigh” lift. Most don’t own an official short handle and chain to do this lift, so simply rest a barbell in a power rack or on a quite high set of concrete blocks, such that it touches the upper thighs. Using an overhand grip, bury the fingers between the bar and your thighs (to LOCK them in) then just lean back slightly and stand up. Range of movement will only be ½ inch to 2 inches, and 4 to 6 reps will do the job, but will remind you why I’ve so named them (your fingers, traps, forearms, thighs, and everything else will scream “OW! OW! OW!”)!! START your workout with this movement, and any follow-up deadlift type will seem like a walk in the park! How heavy? Well, at 12 years old, my then 165 pound son Rob hefted an official pre teen world record 802 pounds that’s stood for 24 years now; more mature specialists often train with over 1100 pound hand and thighs.

Steve Schmidt just after doing a 2300# Hip Lift at the Ambridge Nationals in 1991, in taking the open Best Lifter Award.

Steve Schmidt just after doing a 2300# Hip Lift at the Ambridge Nationals in 1991, in taking the open Best Lifter Award.

Longtime friend Steve Schmidt, a hard working 5th generation farmer from Missouri, has specialized mostly on herculean chain lifts for many years now, as evidenced by massive, odd-angled scrap iron chunks and extremely thick harnesses which adorn his famous open air “chicken coop gym.” A soft spoken 215 pound USAWA competitor, Steve tops official all-round record charts with his 3515 pound harness lift, 3050# back lift, and 2520# hip lift, among others! Yet from this “OW!” training, he has always been able to enter meets which feature full movement lifts, and easily acquired “outstanding lifter” awards, even at the WORLD level (IAWA)! These days, over 60 years of age and very healthy, Steve has enjoyed exhibiting his chain and mouthpiece TEETH lifting; sometimes at fairs he’s pulled a full size 29 TON railroad car in this manner – the Guinness people love him! Even with all this heavy lifting success, Steve’s disciplined, dedicated farm work leaves little time to train; he recently told me that he merely does 5 relatively easy sets of 10 on a few chain lifts once per week (easy for HIM – his “light” warmup bar for hip lifts is a 1500 pound railroad train axle, and the harness platform STARTS at over 2500 !). A really cool book on his life and lifting is “Heart of Steel” on his website – www.steveschmidtmo.com

Got a spare corner in your garage? Set up a station or two for hip lifts, hand and thighs, neck lifts, or, heaven help ya, the teeth lift! Feel the power of “OW!” and watch poundage on all your other lifts skyrocket!And for exciting old time, super heavy, home gym training inspiration get a copy or subscription to USAWA meet promoter, Roger LaPointe’s exciting new monthly “Garage Gym Journal” (www.atomicathletic.com)

Presidential Cup

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
THE 2016  USAWA PRESIDENTIAL CUP

For the fifth year in a row, the now “Annual” USAWA Presidential Cup is being hosted again by our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  This is one of the CHAMPIONSHIP events hosted in the USAWA, and is the Championships of Record Days.  It follows along “the lines” of the IAWA Gold Cup – a lifter picks their best lift and contests it for a USAWA record in this prestigious record day.  After all lifters have performed their record lifts, Denny will pick the effort that impresses him the most and award that lifter the PRESIDENTIAL CUP.  Only one lifter will receive this very important award.   If time allows, lifters will have the opportunity to perform other record day lifts.  So it is a good idea to come with the BIG LIFT in mind, but also be prepared to do other lifts for record if the time allows.

Now a little “rehash” on the Presidential Cup.  These are the guidelines:

The Presidential Cup will follow along some of the same guidelines as the Gold Cup, which is the IAWA meet which recognizes outstanding performances by lifters in the lift/lifts of their choosing.  The Gold Cup started in 1991 under the direction of then-IAWA President Howard Prechtel.  However there will be some differences in the guidelines of the USAWA Presidential Cup:

  • The Presidential Cup is hosted annually by the USAWA President only.
  • Must be a USAWA member to participate.
  • A lifter may choose any official USAWA  lift/lifts (number set by the President) to set a USAWA record/records  in.
  • The lifter must open at a USAWA Record Poundage on first attempt.
  • The top performance record lift of the entire record day,  which will be chosen by the President, will be awarded the PRESIDENTIAL CUP.

MEET DETAILS:

USAWA Presidential Cup

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

Meet Director:  Denny Habecker

Location: Habecker’s Gym, Lebanon, PA

Lifts:  Bring your best lift for record!

Start time:  10 AM,  with weigh-ins before this

Entry Form:  None, but advance notice is required.

Denny may be reached by email – dhabecker@usawa.com

History of Grip Championships

by Al Myers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dave Glasgow has been the only lifter who has competed in every year of the USAWA Grip Championships.

This year will be the 6th year for the USAWA Grip Championships.  It officially started in 2011.  The Grip Championships purpose is to recognize the best lifters in the USAWA for grip strength based on the official USAWA lifts. I have hosted this event every year at the Dino Gym.  It has been a continual event since it began with no missed years!  Each year it is contested on the second Saturday in February.

The USAWA has several lifts that emphasize grip strength.  One of the stipulations of any Championship event in the USAWA is that it MUST contain only official USAWA lifts. Also – the scoring for a Championship event must follow the USAWA scoring guidelines.

The focus of grip strength amongst USAWA lifters started years ago when Kevin Fulton hosted several SuperGrip Challenges at his gym. They always had good turnouts.  In 2010 I hosted my first grip competition at the Dino Gym, and it was attended so well that the Grip Championships was introduced the next year. Andrew Durniat won the Dino Gym Grip Challenge in 2010, setting several very good records in the process.

History of the Overall Best Lifters at the USAWA Grip Championships

 YEAR  MENS CHAMPION  WOMENS CHAMPION
 2015  LaVerne Myers  Mary McConnaughey
 2014  Dan Wagman  Ruth Jackson
 2013  Troy Goetsch  Ruth Jackson
 2012  Al Myers  None
 2011  Al Myers  Felecia Simms

Now for a little USAWA Grip Championships trivia:

Only 2 lifters have won Best Lifter twice in the Grip Champs – Ruth Jackson and myself.

The Grip Champs is consistently one of the better attended USAWA competitions each year.  The top year in attendance was 2013 with 16 competitors.  It has averaged 11.4 since it started.

Only one lifter has competed in every Grip Champs.  That is Dave Glasgow!  Dave has placed very high each year – 2011-3rd, 2012-4th, 2013-5th, 2014-3rd, and 2015-5th.

Six lifts have been contested twice – Vertical Bar Deadlift, 1 bar, 2″, Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″, Dumbbell Walk, Deadlift-Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, Deadlift-Middle Finger, and the Pinch Grip.

The biggest margin of victory for best lifter was 2011 where I scored 127.1 points over Ben Edwards.

The closest margin of victory for best lifter was 2014 where Dan Wagman scored 6.2 points over LaVerne Myers.

The youngest lifter to win Best Lifter was Troy Goetsch at 27 years of age.  The oldest lifter to win Best Lifter was LaVerne Myers at 70 years of age.

There are several great lifts at the Grip Champs that I’ll always remember.  Among these include: Ben Edwards 310# Middle Finger Deadlift in 2011, Scott Tully’s 394# 2 Bar 2″ Vertical Bar Deadlift in 2012, Troy Goetsch 260# 2″ Vertical Bar Deadlift in 2013, Darren Barnhart and a 250# Pinch Grip in 2013, LaVerne Myers Dumbbell Walk of 123# in 2014, and Kyle Jones 305# Bear Hug in 2015.

John Patterson – The Sequel

by Al Myers

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

At the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Western Australia I was reunited with the legendary Australian weightlifter John Patterson.  I had met John previously at the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Perth were we immediately struck up a friendship. After that Worlds, I wrote a short piece in the USAWA Daily News about John, his weightlifting career, and his life.  Now today I would like to expand on that story with this sequel! I did a better job taking notes this time. I’ll start at the beginning.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John was born in 1944 in Auckland, New Zealand. He worked various jobs as a young man – on the wharf, as a farmer, and in the flour mill.  In 1970 he emigrated to Australia and took a job as a wardsman in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.  The next year he took a job at the Royal Perth Hospital as a nursing technician. It was in Perth that he enrolled in Murdock University and got exposed to his future passion that would change his life and career. John assisted on a historical survey of the Dampier Archipelago in 1978.  This included studying maritime archaeology which was a great interest to him.  During this study, John was intrigued by the Aboriginal rock carvings and artwork. He sent a list of his findings to the Aboriginal Sites Development  and this lead  him to a future job as a Museum Ranger at Woodstock and Abydos in the Northern Pilbara region.  He was in charge of the protection of Aboriginal Heritage. His work included finding new Aboriginal historical sites. He had a talent for finding new Aboriginal rock carvings.   He would document and photograph these historical areas.  Photography is John’s other passion as well as weightlifting.  He shared with me many fantastic photographs that he has taken over the years.  I was quite impressed! His territory included over 1000 square miles.  He lived in this primitive and isolated area for close to 10 years.

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack.   Here John is pulling a 750 pound People's Deadlift!

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack. Here John is pulling a 750 pound People’s Deadlift!

During this time John continued to lift weights and compete. He competed in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting and won several championships. During our conversations I enjoyed most the discussions of his training during this time.  He was faced with the hardest environment for training – yet he kept with a program that he made significant gains on. Most would not even bother training in his circumstance!  This was all done with the simplest of equipment – bar and some plates (some homemade out of concrete) – and the focal point of John’s training, his power rack.  John believes in training in the power rack to overcome sticking points. As he put it, he would work “down the rack”. I will simplify his program for this article, but John had many little nuances in training philosophy that he developed over time with trial and error. He found a program that worked for him! This is how his program went.  Say for example your top deadlift is 500 pounds. Your first set would be 500 pounds from mid-thigh for six reps.  You would then lower the pins in the rack to around 2-3″ below the knees and then pull 500 for 3 reps.  Then take the bar to the floor and pull a single at 500 pounds.  The next workout you would increase the weight.  He did this program for his squat and bench press as well. John felt this program allowed you to use your top poundages for repetitions, thus overcoming any mental boundaries you may have with your max.  It worked for John as he maintained a max squat and deadlift over 600 pounds for many years.  I should also mention that John trained outside at night under the stars, as it was too hot to train during the day in the Australian Outback. John kept his focus on primary lifting movements like the squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, high pulls, and push press.  He kept his training abbreviated to the important movements. I should also mention that John did all of his training by himself without the help or assistance of training partners!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press.  John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press. John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John has just recently had a physical setback with having heart surgery.  But that hasn’t slowed him down much – as he told me he just pulled over 300 pounds!  He seems very excited to get back to heavy training!  I have no doubt that he will. He was not cleared by the doctor to compete in the Gold Cup so he spent the entire weekend helping out, officiating, and encouraging the lifters.  His enthusiam for all round weightlifting was evident.

I love success stories like John’s.  Many people think they don’t have the time to train, or the proper place to train so they don’t. They make excuses.  John Patterson had all the reasons in the world to make an excuse – but he didn’t!  He overcame his obstacles and had a successful weightlifting career. That’s inspiration for everyone!

I want to conclude this story with some simple wisdom that John shared with me on training.  John said, “Keep it short. Keep it heavy. Train as though every rep will be your last.”

Those are words to live by.

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