Author Archives: Al Myers

Holland Pulling Wheels

by Al Myers

Holland Pulling Wheels

Holland Pulling Wheels

I love deadlifting – and I mean all kinds of deadlifting movements. One way to really “mix up” your training is to do different pulling movements that directly transfer to deadlifting a bar off the floor.  I have over 20 deadlifting movements that I incorporate into my deadlifting training at various times.  Sometimes these are primary exercises of the day – other times they are done to supplement floor deadlifts.

Darren Barnhart getting ready to pull on the Holland Pulling Wheels as they are elevated on blocks.

Darren Barnhart getting ready to pull on the Holland Pulling Wheels as they are elevated on blocks.

I’ve always enjoyed high bar deadlifts.  These are excellent supplemental exercises to a deadlift training day as the range of movement is less and you can overload your pulls. I’ve often pulled deadlifts off blocks in the past, which I like much more than pulling in the rack off a pin.  Lately I’ve been using the Holland Pulling Wheels and like them better than blocks. These are over-sized 24″ in diameter steel wheels which place the bar at 12″. One thing you will notice right away is how easy it is to add plates as the added plates are off the floor!  No need for a deadlift jack here! Another feature I really like about them is that there are cut out sections which provide a perfect place to grab and move them which makes them very easy to load on a bar.

These Holland Pulling Wheels are very well made – consisting of 1/2″ steel plate. There is no rim on them to bend. The only issue with this is that they can damage the floor, so I throw a rubber mat under each wheel to protect the floor.  This works well as I can add more mats if I want to increase the height of the bar. These wheels have a center bushing which makes them very stable on a bar.

Holland Strength and Fitness has a very good price on these Holland Pulling Wheels (some bumpers cost more per pound!).

Check them out at: http://www.mcssl.com/store/hollandstrengthandfitness/holland-pulling-wheels

Deadlift-Dumbbell, One Arm

by Al Myers

John McKean performing a One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift at the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup in Boston.

John McKean performing a One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift at the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup in Boston.

The third lift contested at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships will be the Deadlift – Dumbbell, One Arm.  The name of this lift is pretty explanatory – it’s a deadlift using a dumbbell with the use of only one arm.  The choice of arm to use is up to you so pick the one you’re strongest with.  And remember you must stay with the arm you start with throughout all attempts.  I was once at at meet where a lifter tried to switch arms on his last attempt, and when told he couldn’t do that replied, “I was saving me strong arm for the hard lift!”.

The rules of the Deadlift – One Arm with barbell are followed by this lift.

E12. Deadlift – Dumbbell, One Arm

The rules of the Bar Deadlift – One arm apply except one dumbbell is used. The dumbbell may be placed to the side of the lifter or the lifter may straddle the dumbbell. The dumbbell may touch the lifter’s legs during and at the completion of the lift as long as the dumbbell is not supported by the body. If the dumbbell is loadable, the plates used may have a maximum diameter of 18 inches.

At the Grip Champs we will use a loadable dumbbell so we can add larger diameter plates.  The dumbbell handle will be a USAWA regulation handle.  For those unfamiliar with the rules of the One Arm Deadlift with bar, the main things to remember is to finish with straight legs, non-lifting hand removed from the body at finish, and center line of bar higher than the knees.  You do not need to be standing upright upon completion.  Once the lifter and implement is motionless, a down command will be given by the head official.

Curl – Wrist

by Al Myers

LaVerne Myers trains the wrist curl in preparation for the USAWA Grip Championships.

LaVerne Myers trains the wrist curl in preparation for the USAWA Grip Championships.

At the USAWA Grip Championships, only official USAWA lifts are contested.  We have a wide range of grip lifts in our Rule Book – some very common performed lifts and some that are obscure. I would include the wrist curl as one of the obscure!  It has very rarely been contested – and only at record days.  There are just a handful of USAWA records in this lift.

The official USAWA Rule for the Wrist Curl:

D11. Curl – Wrist

This lift starts with the lifter placing the forearms and the back of the hands flat on a hard table with the palms of the hands facing upwards, holding a bar. The lifter must be standing. The feet must not be braced against the table. Once in this position, an official will give a command to curl. The lifter will curl the hands off the table using wrist flexion only, while keeping the forearms on the table at all times. Both hands must be held entirely off the table for two seconds. The knuckles and back of hands must be completely off the table before the official will begin the count. The lifter may use any grip, including a hook grip or a grip with no thumbs. If the bar rolls out of the hands with the fingers no longer touching the bar, it is a disqualification. The bar must rise evenly, with both hands leaving the table at the same time, or it will be a disqualification. If the forearms move or are lifted, it is a disqualification. The lift ends on command.

At the Grip Champs we will use a solid table with a rubber top to prevent arm slippage.  I will have plywood available to stand on so everyone can get a comfortable height. Spotters will assist the bar into the hands to start the lift.  This is one of the lifts that is “old school” and uses a 2 second hold at the finish before a down command is given. I will be looking at the part of the hand closest to the wrist to determine if the entire hand is off the table. Both hands must be entirely off the table to be a legal lift.

The top record in our Record List for the Wrist Curl belongs to Dan Wagman with a 300 pound lift.

The One Rep Pump

by John McKean

Serge Reding

Serge Reding

Leaping very high into the air, toes pointed perfectly, crisp coordinated form, with pinpoint precision and speed, I’d have awarded a perfect score of “10” to the would-be ballerina!! Well, at least, to this 309 pound “ballerina” who possessed over 20” bulging, ballistic-powered calves!! You see, I’d just witnessed the phenomenal, densely muscled Serge Reding perform a textbook squat snatch with an extremely heavy barbell (he eventually snatched 402 pounds!) at the 1970 World Championships in Columbus, Ohio. He was obviously a pleased and happy man during this victory jump, and almost outdid the legendary Alexeev for the overall title!

My excitement was on a different level. Never had I seen such pure pulling power as developed by this 5’7” human tank. Nor anyone, anywhere so thickly muscled, as the obvious outcome of longtime pulling dedication! Heck, later, after that day’s lifting, a Mr. World, or some such physique event, was scheduled with featured competitors Olivia, Schwartzenegger, Columbu, etc. However, after being absolutely blown away by Serge Reding, I told my wife we were heading back home immediately (I had highly motivated TRAINING to do!) because NOBODY, no matter what titles held, could look as physically and functionally impressive as the Belgian Blockbuster!!

Upon further reading, it seems ole Serge also once deadlifted 771 pounds – with no training whatsoever on that lift! Hmmm, maybe I should have done more olympic lifting in my teens, rather than jumping right into powerlifting. Still, it proved then that it’s never too late to add a few pulling movements. But it was much later, as a master’s age lifter, that the wonderful world of all-round weightlifting competition (I.A.W.A.) provided a huge variety of on ground and off ground pulls. Events such as straddle lifts, hacks, continental cleans, hang snatches, single arm swings and various positioned one handed heaves, etc., etc., went a long way toward making up for a misspent youth!!

Yet it wasn’t until former U.S.A.W.A. President, Cleveland’s late, great Howard Prechtel, showed me a unique, relatively obscure lift favored by old timer Herman Goerner, that my old bod started to “feel” much how Serge Reding “looked”! That is, upon performing this platform-up pull, every muscle fiber and tendon went into serious tension mode; a rich feeling during the delightful strain suggesting my body was being turned inside out!

The pull in question is the two barbell deadlift. Yep, an olympic barbell at right and left, hook gripped and grabbed from the exact centers, then a slow, torturous stand up. Certainly, SLOW motion is a key due to balance issues, but the nature of the lift also supplies a sustained TOTAL BODY ISOMETRIC contraction of everything from toes to nose for support! I’ve long maintained that ALL max weight lifting works the musculature entirely, through the iso effect of holding heavy barbells, and that ONE heavy lift is superior to any long term scheme of sets & reps!! You’ll have to actually try a near limit two barbell deadlift to understand, but literally ONE rep yields a very efficient, entire body “flush”! (Please forgive the bodybuilding terms!! Yet just as Reding displayed, the ultimate form of “posing” is under the duress of crimson-faced struggling with something extremely heavy! His 21” arms certainly looked sufficiently “flexed” with the the eye-popping overhead pressing performance of an official 502 pounds! Check Youtube).

Why not go to an easier loading trap bar or 2 dumbbell deadlifts? Well, one can position himself far better with 2 moveable barbells to the sides; while a trap bar offers a fixed hold and seems so far more restricting. Personally, I can always achieve higher poundage with two barbells than a trap bar, or with clumsier dumbbells. Plus the grip work is intense, and it’s a genuine thrill to pull & hold TWO heavily loaded 7 foot bars!

These days, in early middle age (70!), I often think I could just live with the TBD alone as a complete exercise program, just working up to a top single. Yeah, a few other favorite contest exercises are still retained because there’s always all-round meets approaching, but none of those secondary movements provide that one rep “pump” instilled by the iso effect of hefting 2 big bars. I swear that the lift actually “irons out,” for the duration of supporting it, all the “old man body wrinkles” life has somehow given me!

Garage trainees, try some! You are certainly in a better place to load and pick up 2 parallel bars than in a commercial gym or even within the friendlier confines of a competition oriented “pit.” Trust me, you don’t want the unnecessary attention when devoting time to train this rather strange movement! Nor do you deserve the fearful stares as super effort 2 bar deadlifts threaten to explode your face and neck when all the hidden veins and tendons come springing forth!

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