Dan Wagman is back in action, performing a USAWA record lift in the Wrist Curl! (photo courtesy Dan Wagman)
By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS
MEET REPORT: 2014 Colorado Record Breaker
On December 27, 2014 four lifters got together at Denver Martial Arts (DMA) for record-breaking attempts in varied types of all-round lifts. Jarrod Fobes, our meet director, trains and teaches martial arts at DMA and they have a weight room in the basement that’s equipped with the essentials, so I had to bring some of my all-round toys. Prior to commencing the Record Breaker, Ruth Jackson and I “warmed up” via maximal efforts in the Postal National lifts. Although the results of all lifters across the country competing in this Postal event will be posted soon, I’m happy to report that Ruth’s pullover and push broke the USAWA record by a large margin, as did my deadlift-dumbbell-one arm-left.
I suppose I was the one to start the Record Breaker festivities because immediately after pulling the deadlift-dumbbell-one arm-left for the Postal I pulled the same weight with my right arm, thus registering the first Record Breaker lift of the day. After Ruth completed her Postal lifts she transitioned smoothly into her Record Breaker attempts while meet director Jarrod Fobes and new USAWA member Marcus Lucero were going through the record book in an effort to determine which lifts to choose for record attempts.
Ruth seems to have never-ending passion for lifting weights and putting scientific training to the test on the platform. Besides the three Postal lifts, she broke records in 17 additional lifts. Although women-specific research into an athlete’s muscles does account for why a woman could do so many maximal attempts more easily than a man, I’m amazed that she has the psychological wherewithal to do so. After the meet Ruth explained that she was most proud of her finger and grip lifts. She recalled that it was exactly two years ago that she first met Jarrod when he put on a Record Breaker. At the current event she was able to increase her strength in the little finger lift by nearly 20 pounds, in the ring finger lift by 12 pounds, and in the middle finger lift by 34 pounds. She was also stoked about taking her dealift-no thumbs-overhand from 155 pounds to 175 pounds.
Ruth is a perfect example of how shedding old training fiction from one’s programming and replacing it with new science-based information can result in unparalleled and continuous gains, but there can also be a dark side to doing so. You see, I had employed one of the latest science-based training methods referred to as Intra-Set Rest or simply ISR.* In addition, since there was no need to travel the day prior to the meet I was able to train most of my competitive lifts heavily the day prior. As a result I ended up severely underestimating my strength in most of my lifts. To illustrate, my deadlift-dumbbell-one arm ended up being 35 pounds over what I had thought I could do. In the deadlift-middle finger I had projected a training gain of about 10 to 15 pounds over the record I set a year ago but ended up turning an almost 40-pound increase into repping weight and running out of attempts. The situation was similar with almost all other lifts. Bear in mind that in general terms, these training approaches take the knowledge exercise scientists have acquired about neuromuscular physiology to provide you with something akin to a rubber band effect in which your gains slingshot ahead (in science lingo referred to as supercompensation, a term often misapplied and misunderstood when training for it). The dark side of this, however, is that it’s difficult to know exactly by how many pounds your performance will slingshot ahead on competition day. That, however, is a downside I can live with. Heil science!
Jarrod’s passion for martial arts is undeniable and it has resulted in a world championship win. But he’s one of those guys who understands to what extent lifting weights can enhance his performance on the mat. And when he approaches the weights, he does so as if all Norse warrior gods are behind him. Sadly, a back injury has prevented him from training to the extent that he’s used to and thus he tried to keep his record attempts to only four lifts. Despite his lack of training, his Turkish get up with a barbell was smooth and solid and it seemed as though he derived the most pleasure out of quickly getting a feel for Thor’s hammer, a lift he’s never done before. His 40.5-pound attempt shows that with more practice he’s going to turn that lift into “Jarrod’s Mjölnir.”**
Showing up out of the blue was Marcus Lucero. Initially, as Ruth and I started with our Postal lifts, I got the impression that he was one of the martial arts guys who just got done training upstairs and wanted to see what all the yelling, grunting, and groaning—mainly by Ruth—was all about. Turns out, however, that he’s been an avid reader of old-time strongmen and one book/article made reference to USAWA, he learned about the Colorado Record Breaker, and decided to head down to Denver from northern Colorado to see what all-round is all about. Jarrod was very welcoming and gave Marcus a quick primer on the basics, then they both started to sift through the record and rule books. Marcus was, in my estimation, a bit overwhelmed by all of the possibilities in all-round. As he seemed to contemplate his approach he was helpful in loading the bars for us and decided that the dumbbell side press would be his first lift. Unfortunately he got out of the grove in his first attempt at 84 pounds. Yet after some rest he came back and smoked it. His dumbbell Turkish get up was so smooth, you’d think that’s the way he gets out of bed every morning. He revealed to us that he’s had some practice through wrestling in a similar movement. He then decided to join Jarrod in tossing Thor’s hammer, but although he was able to register a USAWA record, the requisite coordination and balancing strength in his wrist proved a real challenge. Although he’s a much quieter and reserved lifter than Jarrod and I, he seemed to have enjoyed the challenge and I hope to see him in many more USAWA meets.
I’d like to thank the owners of DMA for allowing us to lift in clouds of chalk and Jarrod for putting on another Record Breaker. And the fact that Ruth and Jarrod also judged is much appreciated. Till next time…
*Disclaimer: Implementing ISR is a complicated process in which you need to manipulate all training variables based on physiological adaptation patterns specific to your goals. Without doing so you’ll end up like the guy who wants a faster truck, throws in a 600 hp engine, and wonders why he keeps snapping axles and his driveline, and why his stock tranni ends up on the asphalt behind him. Thus, simply “doing ISR” will prove ineffective on one end of the spectrum and injurious on the other.
** Mjölnir is the name Thor gave his hammer.
Colorado Record Breaker
December 27th, 2014
Meet Director: Jarrod Fobes
Officials (1 official system used); Jarrod Fobes, Ruth Jackson
Lifts: Record Day Session
Ruth Jackson – 53 years old, 106 KG BWT
Bench Press – Reverse Grip: 100#
Deadlift – No Thumbs, Overhand Grip: 175#
Curl – Wrist: 115#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Left Hand: 170#
Press – Dumbbell, Left Hand: 40#
Clean and Press – Fulton Bar: 73#
Clean and Push Press – Fulton Bar: 83#
Thor’s Hammer: 20.5#
Finger Lift – Little, Left: 28.8#
Finger Lift – Little, Right: 33.8#
Finger Lift – Ring, Left: 48.8#
Finger Lift – Ring, Right: 48.8#
Finger Lift – Middle, Left: 68.8#
Finger Lift – Middle, Right: 78.8#
Pinch Grip – Left Hand: 50.4#
Pinch Grip – Right Hand: 55.4#
Teeth Lift: 52.8#
Jarrod Fobes – 37 years old, 197# BWT
Bench Press – Left Arm: 95#
Turkish Get Up: 96#
Abdominal Raise: 45#
Thor’s Hammer: 40.5#
Dan Wagman – Open Age Class, 185# BWT
Deadlift – Middle Fingers: 275#
Deadlift – No Thumbs, Overhand Grip: 345#
Bentover Row: 320#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 350#
Curl – Wrist: 275#
Markus Lucero – 23 years old, 170# BWT
Side Press – Right: 84#
Thor’s Hammer: 35.5#
Turkish Get Up: 119#