Author Archives: Al Myers

Deadlift – Middle Fingers

By Al Myers

Our USAWA President Denny Habecker getting getting a good stretch on his middle fingers doing the Middle Fingers Deadlift at the 2011 Grip Championships.

Our USAWA President Denny Habecker getting getting a good stretch on his middle fingers doing the Middle Fingers Deadlift at the 2011 Grip Championships.

The THIRD lift contested at the USAWA Grip Championships is the Deadlift – Middle Fingers.  This is a “love or hate” lift for most lifters. It’s one that has been contested before at the Grip Championships. A USAWA Grip Championship wouldn’t be complete without at least one finger lift in it. A lot of other grip competitions ignore the finger lifts as grip lifts, but not the USAWA!  Out of our over 200 officials lifts, 17 are done with an individual finger/fingers (I’ll give a prize to anyone that knows them all).

The USAWA Rule for the Deadlift – Middle Fingers is:

B7. Deadlift – Fingers, Middle

The rules of the Deadlift apply except only the middle fingers of both hands may be used. The middle fingers of both hands may grip the bar in an alternate manner. The thumb must not be in contact with the lifting fingers.

Pretty simple – just hook your middle fingers around the bar and pull!  The key is to block out the pain and the rest is easy.  I’ve written several past blogs on the Middle Finger Deadlift (you can search and read them on this website if you want to), and in a few of them I’ve mentioned what I like to call the USAWA Goerner Club. The great German Strongman Hermann Goerner claimed to have lifted 308.5 pounds in the MF Deadlift around 1925. I consider this mark the ultimate goal for the Middle Finger Deadlift. Only a few USAWA Lifters have accomplished this. This is the short list for the USAWA Goerner’s Club.

1. Kevin Fulton 400 pounds – 1999 SuperGrip Challenge
2. Ben Edwards 315 pounds – 2016 USAWA Grip Championships
3. Bill DiCiccio 309 pounds – 1994 IAWA Gold Cup

That’s IT – only three lifters.  Several others have been very close to making it in official USAWA competition (Joe Garcia 305#, Myself 305#, James Fuller 303#, and Chad Ullom 300#). But being close doesn’t get you in the club!  It doesn’t even get you a pat on the back. As much as I hate the Middle Fingers Deadlift, it really intriques me as I admire any lifter who wants to punish themselves for the fun of it.  I’ve looked through most all past USAWA meet results (but still may have missed something), so I’m pretty confident that the USAWA Goerner Club stands at three.

But yesterday I got to thinking about how much the pre-USAWA All Rounders loved the MF deadlift.  They also did the MF DL in official competitions so their results are not just some “gym story” of someone doing a big MF deadlift in training somewhere.  The precusor and inspiration for the All Rounds came from the early Missouri Valley Weightlifting Association, whereas Bill Clark promoted Odd Lift competitions for many years. Lets see how the modern age USAWA lifters match up against these old timers! The following is a list I developed from old record lists and meet results from the early days.  I only listed marks that have exceeded Goerners famous 308.5# lift.

1.  Ken McClain, Missouri 350 pounds – 1984
2.  Bill Broadnax, MSP 350 pounds – 1981
3.  Joe Nanney, USP 345 pounds – 1961
4.  Daryl Johnson, Arkansas 335 pounds – 1980
5.  Wilbur Miller, Kansas 320 pounds – 1983

That’s FIVE LIFTERS that I found! There were probably more.  It looks like the USAWA has some catching up to do.  Let’s make that happen at this weekend’s Grip Championships.

Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm

By Al Myers

Scott Tully performing the top Fulton Dumbbell Deadlift in the USAWA Record Books at the 2012 Grip Championships.

Scott Tully performing the top Fulton Dumbbell Deadlift in the USAWA Record Books at the 2012 Grip Championships.

The second lift contested this coming weekend at the USAWA Grip Championships will be the Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm. This is a great lift in the USAWA and has been contested before at the Grip Championships. It is one of my favorite grip lifts in the USAWA. Several years ago I wrote a blog over the origin of this lift. The following is an exerpt from that blog that I would like to share with you again.

Back in the early 80’s at a odd lifting meet in Liberal, Kansas, meet director Bob Burtzloff included a thick-handled dumbbell deadlift in the contest.  This dumbbell had a smooth 2 inch diameter handle.  Wilbur Miller, the “Cimarron Kid” and Kansas lifting legend,  was the hands on favorite to win this event.  Wilbur has huge hands with long fingers and was very rarely beaten in any lifting event that involved grip strength.  But this day was one of those rare days – when a young farm boy from Nebraska by the name of Kevin Fulton pulled off the upset! Upon Fulton’s winning – Bill Clark announced that this lift would be forever named the Fulton Lift.  This eventually lead to the naming of the 2″ bar as the Fulton Bar along with the Fulton Dumbbell.  As for Wilbur – upon the finish of the event he went back to the warm-up area and proceeded to pull more on this lift than he did in competition.  He went home knowing that he may not have won the event on this day,  but with the satisfaction of knowing he would next time!

This is the USAWA Rule for the Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm:

I7. Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm

The rules of the Deadlift – One Arm apply except the dumbbell used must have a handle of 2” in diameter. No knurling is allowed on the handle. The maximum diameter of the plates used is 18 inches.

I have some really nice Fulton Dumbbells that we will use in the Grip Championships.  I expect to see some really great lifts this weekend.  Since this is a One Arm event you must choose which hand you want to lift with on all your attempts. Below is the USAWA ALL TIME OVERALL RECORDS in the Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm for the Mens Division.

75 KG Stephen Santangelo 130 Stephen Santangelo 130
80 KG Art Montini 60 Art Montini 60
85 KG None Denny Habecker 125
90 KG Denny Habecker 100 Denny Habecker 100
95 KG None None
100 KG Ben Edwards 175 Ben Edwards 185
105 KG None None
110 KG Jeff Ciavattone 190 Jeff Ciavattone 190
115 KG LaVerne Myers 165 LaVerne Myers 187
120 KG Al Myers 170 Al Myers 170
125 KG None Dean Ross 125
125+ KG Darren Barnhart 185 Scott Tully 192

The Best overall All Time USAWA Record is held by Scott Tully with 192 pounds, set at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. But I’m sure you are wondering how much did Kevin Fulton lift on that memorial odd lift day in Liberal, Kansas?  It took me “some digging” but I found that Kevin lifted 195 pounds on that day in 1983!  So let’s see if anyone this coming weekend can beat this record mark set by Kevin in the pre-USAWA days!

New IAWA(UK) Website

By Al Myers

Paul Barette has developed a new IAWA(UK) website.  Paul will be the new webmaster for the IAWA(UK), replacing Steve Gardner who has been the webmaster for many years.  The new IAWA(UK) website is blog-based, very similiar to this website.  I applaud Paul in this new endeavor and knowing Paul, know he will do an excellent job with it. He is in the process of updating the new website right now with old posts, pictures, and archives of the IAWA(UK).

The new IAWA(UK) website is

I will keep a link available to the IAWA(UK) website on this site, under ABOUT US “About the IAWA”.


Lifter of the Month – Dan Wagman

By Al Myers

Dan Wagman pulling 227 pounds on the middle finger lift in training.

Dan Wagman pulling 227 pounds on the middle finger lift in training.

The USAWA Lifter of the Month for December is Dan Wagman.  Dan has totally dominated the USAWA Postal Meets this year, winning BEST LIFTER in all of them! He finished off the quarterly postal meets by winning the USAWA Postal Championships in December.  His Postal Meet success this year earned him the overall winner in the yearly Postal Series.

Congrats Dan on being the Lifter of the Month!

My Start With Weightlifting

By Tom Ryan

(Webmasters note: The following is a post the late Tom Ryan made to the USAWA Discussion Forum a couple of years ago detailing an interesting story about his early days of lifting. I found this story very intriguing  and humorous, as we all have stories of training mishaps when we started our pursuit of weight training. Enjoy!)

Undoubtedly many weightlifters have some strange tales about their early training, including me.

Although I started training when I was 13, it wasn’t possible to train regularly when I was participating in other sports, especially when I was running my legs off on a basketball court. After the basketball season ended during my junior year in high school, Bill Shaw, Bob Dial, Don Hallman, and I started training in the basement of Bill’s house, with me supplying most of the weights. Bill, a senior, had been my basketball teammate and the other two were a year younger than me.

Even though I was very skinny at the end of the season (maybe a shade over 6-2 and 165 pounds), I had enough strength to shoulder 470 from squat stands, back out with it and do a set of quarter squats. One day Mike Boling, a 10th grader who supposedly had benched 250 weighing 150 (not too shabby in 1962!) came by to watch us train. My training partners had said my depth on the quarter squats had been less than before, and since we had somewhat of a celebrity bencher in attendance, I went down further than I had previously on my first quarter squat rep.

Well, I went down too far and kept going down. Real fast, like falling down an elevator shaft since the weight far exceeded what I could have handled in a full squat. It took only a few seconds so there wasn’t time for my life to flash before my eyes, but when Bob saw me going down, he said he thought that was going to be the end of me! The bar went flying over my head and crashed to the floor, with the force catapulting me a few feet backward and I landed on my butt.

Then Bill’s life almost flashed before his eyes when he saw the chip that had been knocked out of the floor and he thought about his father’s reaction when he came home from work. So a quick repair job was necessary!

That was performed and then we started thinking about building a power rack so as to prevent any more accidents. I would bet that power racks were few and far between in 1962. I’m not sure when York started selling theirs, but I would guess around 1959.

We made ours out of wood and it was easily transportable. I ended up with it when our training gang broke up. Over time I had to replace parts of the rack, but I believe I still had the original base in 1993. Then I moved to Australia in January, 1994, where I spent the next 2.5 years. Untreated wood cannot be taken into Australia, so I had to say goodbye to my rack, which was a bit shaky by then anyway. Upon arriving in Australia, I had a carpenter build me a rack, and that is the one that I still use today.

I haven’t seen Shaw, Dial, or Hallman in 47 years, but if I ran into one of them today, I wouldn’t be surprised if he said “Hello TR 470″ because that was the nickname they gave me after my “near death” experience.

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