Author Archives: Al Myers

Crucifix Primer

by Eric Todd

Eric Todd and his USAWA record performance in the Crucifix, with a lift of 140 pounds.

Eric Todd and his USAWA record performance in the Crucifix, with a lift of 140 pounds. (photo and caption courtesy of Al Myers)

I first found the USAWA around my second year of strongman competitions. I was gung ho to compete, and there was a hiatus between strongman meets within driving distance for me. So I stumbled upon the old USAWA website where I found the “Deanna Springs Memorial” meet held at Clark’s Gym in Columbia, MO. The meet featured the crucifix lift, which I knew was contested in some strongman meets. So I went and competed. I found out soon that there were some differences in the way the lift is contested in the USAWA from how it looks in strongman competitions. In strongman meets, you get implements of a certain weight to the crucifix position, and then you hold them there for time. Your time stops when a judge determines your position no longer meets the criteria for crucifix (i.e. Arms drop, elbows bend, etc.) In the USAWA, you pick the weight. The rules read as follows:

Two evenly loaded dumbbells or kettlebells are used for this lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The dumbbells are taken to arms’ length overhead with the palms of the hands facing each other and dumbbells touching. The lifter must bring the feet together so the heels are together and touching. The body must be upright at the start of the lift. Once in this position, an official will give the command to start the lift. The lifter will then lower the dumbbells to the side with arms’ straight and palms up. Elbows must be fully locked. The lifter may lean back to any extent when lowering the dumbbells. The wrists do not need to be held straight. The legs must remain straight and knees locked throughout the lift. The heels must remain together and the heels and toes must not rise during the lift. Once the arms are parallel to the platform, and the dumbbells motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. (Myers, A. (Ed.). (2014). USAWA Official Rulebook (8th ed., p. E8). Holland, Kansas: Al Myers)

Well, as it turns out, I wound up being decent at both versions. I hold several records in the discipline in the USAWA, and held the amateur national record in strongman. So, I thought I would write a brief primer on the finer details of completing the lift.

Clean the dumbbells to your shoulders. As I press them overhead, I like to turn them so that the palms are facing when they reach arm’s length.   At this point, I bring my heels together. Hook one slightly behind the other to ensure they do not come apart. When the official gives the command to begin the start of the lift, begin the decent of the dumbbells SLOWLY. As you lower the dumbbells, look up and lay back as far as you can. This will keep the dumbbells parallel with the floor. Squeeze your glutes in order to give you stability whilst laying back. Try to take the strain across your pecs as best as you can to give you the most strength possible.   It is up to you to: A) Know when you have reached parallel or B) Have someone tell you. This is not the job of the judge. When you near this point, slow down, and when you reach it, stop. You will only have to hold it still briefly, but it will feel like an eternity. Wait for the official’s down call. Once you hear that, you have the lift. Congrats!

As the crucifix has been both on the record book, and now as our official insignia (though I question whose likeness they used) it is a staple of all-round lifting, thus one to take pride in doing right.

Lifter of the month – Randy Smith

by Al Myers

Randy Smith (left) with Al Myers the day following the USAWA National Championships after Randy won Overall Best Lifter.

Randy Smith (left) with Al Myers the day following the USAWA National Championships after Randy won Overall Best Lifter.

Congrats goes to RANDY SMITH for being selected as the USAWA Lifter of the Month for the month of July.  Randy is a long time USAWA competitor and is always present at our National Championships.  I first competed with Randy at the 2003 Nationals in Youngstown, Ohio.  He seems to be lifting as well now as he did then!  Randy has had many TOP TEN finishes at Nationals but this past month he won the OVERALL BEST LIFTER AWARD.  This is the highest honor a lifter in the USAWA can achieve during the year, and Randy is more than deserving.  He is a technician and has perfected the lifting movements in the All Rounds.

2nd Quarter Postal Meet

by Al Myers

2015 USAWA 2nd Quarter Postal Meet

The results of the USAWA 2nd Quarter Postal Meet are IN!  It appeared to have very good participation considering this is usually are “down postal meet” because of the Nationals being at the same time. I noticed a couple of newcomers to our postal meets – Daryl Jackson and Aidan Habecker. That’s always great to see. Welcome to the USAWA Postal Series.

Congrats goes to Women’s Overall Champ Ruth Jackson and Men’s Overall Champ Barry Bryan.  I noticed Barry edged out fellow Habecker’s Gym training mate Denny Habecker. These two have quite the competition rivalry going as Denny edged Barry out by a very narrow point margin at Nationals.


2nd Quarter USAWA Postal Meet
June 1-30, 2015

Meet Director: Denny Habecker

Lifts: Clean and Seated Press – 2 Dumbbells, Bentover Row, Rectangular Fix

Lifters with one certified USAWA Official:
Barry Bryan – Official Denny Habecker
Denny Habecker – Official Barry Bryan
Dean Ross – Official Al Myers
Daryl Jackson – Official Ruth Jackson
Ruth Jackson – Official Jarrod Fobes
Aidan Habecker – Officials Denny Habecker & Barry Bryan
Crystal Diggs – Official Jackson

* The other participants used judges that were not USAWA Certified Officials


Ruth Jackson 53 106 60 105 40 205 324.2
Tressa Brooner 53 130 60 90 50 200 267.9
Mary McConnaughey 53 304 55 145 60 255 213.5
Crystal Diggs 28 154 40 90 50 180 188.1


Barry Bryan 57 196 120 220 88 428 456.5
Denny Habecker 72 187 90 198 72 360 444.7
Chad Ullom 43 258 60 315 105 480 389.9
Dean Ross 72 253 80 185 75 340 356.8
Daryl Jackson 25 143 100 127 75 302 332.4
Aidan Habecker 11 111 30 72 25 127 225.5
Christian Schimpf 16 150 90 60 150 175.2

 NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction.

Don’t Foul It Up!

By Eric Todd

Lance Foster bending skillets!

Lance Foster bending skillets!

Last month, myself and a few of my strongman confederates  (USAWA member Lance Foster among them) were blessed with being able to perform once again for the kids of Camp Quality. Camp Quality is a Camp for children who have cancer.  We have done this show several times before, and it is always a humbling experience.  This year was no exception.

We lifted axles with truck tires, bent nails, tore phone books and decks of cards, bent steel bars, and broke padlocks and concrete blocks.  I even did a teeth lift with a 180ish# atlas stone using my Al Myers constructed teeth bit.  The show went off without a hitch.

Upon completion of the show, one of the directors got on the mic to give us accolades for all we had done for the camp throughout the years from these shows, to raising money for them with “The Gus Lohman Memorial Strongman Challenge”, to my being a companion for a camper there 20 years ago.

It was my experience as a companion that committed me to helping out the cause there at Camp Quality.  I went into the experience not really knowing what to expect.  My camper was a little guy about 14 years old.  He was just out of chemo, so he was bald and weak, and had to report to the nurse’s station intermittently throughout the day.  However, because of his condition we were given a golf cart to navigate the campgrounds on for the week.

The week came and went.  There were many activities offered for the campers.  It had the capacity to be a tremendous experience.  However, my camper was unable to do some, and did not have the strength or energy for others.  When I said goodbye to him at the end of the week as he boarded the big yellow schoolbus, I felt as if he had not really gotten much out of his week with me at camp. I wished I could  have done more.

That following spring the phone rang.  It was a representative of Camp Quality with the sad news that my camper had succumb to his cancer.  His visitation/funeral was that week.  They wondered if I   would attend one, or if they should send another representative from Camp Quality.  I felt it was my job, so I went.  When I got to the visitation, the line was immense, winding out of the church, down a sidewalk, and out into the parking lot.  This gave me a long time to ponder what I would say to his parents.  I had never met them.  I had only spent a week with their son in what seemed to be an experience that could not have been that enjoyable for him.

Finally I got to the front of the line.  I had to tell the parents who I was.  When I said I had been their son’s companion at Camp that year, the mother’s eyes lit up.  She said, “Wait here!”  So I waited.  When she returned, she handed me the handbill for his funeral.  As I turned it over, I saw the picture of him and I that was taken at Camp Quality.  She told me, “When he got back from camp, all he could talk about was the big, strong guy who was his companion this year.”  I walked away from this day very humbled.  I guess the moral of this story is that you maybe never really know when you are making a difference, whether it be for the good or the bad.  You never know who is looking to you to see how you handle yourself or to you as a role model.  So, don’t foul it up!

Eric Todd Lifetime Certification

by Al Myers

Eric Todd becomes a Level 2 USAWA Official at York Barbell.

Eric Todd becomes a Level 2 USAWA Official at York Barbell.

Eric Todd has just earned his Lifetime Certification as an USAWA Official by completing his 25th officiating duty at the 2015 USAWA National Championships.  This now makes Eric a Level 2 Official (highest officiating rank) in the USAWA.  Eric now joins 13 other Level 2 officials in our organization!  Congrats to Eric for this great accomplishment in the USAWA!

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