Category Archives: USAWA Lifts

Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

by Al Myers

Longtime USAWA member and IAWA supporter John McKean performs a 283 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 2 Bars, 2" at the 2010 USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge, PA.

One of the lifts that will be contested at this year’s World Championships in Perth, Australia will be the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″.  This a very difficult grip lift that requires grip strength in BOTH HANDS.  If one of your hands is weaker than the other, this lift will show it!   I have done this lift in several USAWA competitions to date, but never in an IAWA competition.  This event was contested at the 2003 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. 

A while back  I received a question regarding this lift which I thought was an EXCELLENT QUESTION, so I would like share this question and my response since I’m sure other lifters might be wondering the same thing.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could help me out with some lifting technique!?  It is with reference to the 2 x 2″ vertical bar lift for Australia – I had a go at this lift on friday night, I attempted it with one bar at either side of my legs and found the weight plates were catching my legs all the way up!!! Is the straddle stance, i.e. one pin in front and one pin behind a legal position? Also is it mechanically better?  Thanks for the help.

First, lets do a review of the rules for this lift.  By now most of you know my frustrations with the nuances of rule differences between the USAWA rules and the IAWA rules for lifts.  Well, this lift is no exception to that as you will see. (By the way, both of these rule descriptions are actually for the same lift!  It doesn’t appear that way when you read them. )  Even the names are drastically different – the USAWA calls it a deadlift while the IAWA rules just call it a lift.

USAWA Rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift, 2 Bars, 2″

I25.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2”

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1” apply except two 2” inch diameter Vertical Bars are used.

Need to reference this rule –

I24.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 1”

The setup for this lift requires two Vertical Bars, which is a bar of one inch diameter with a maximum length of 18 inches. A collar or plate must be tightly fastened or welded to the bottom so plates may be added to the bars. Both vertical bars must be loaded to the same weight.   No knurling is allowed on the bars. The lifter must start with the bars on each side of the lifter. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. Each bar may be gripped by any grip near the top of the Vertical Bars. The forearms are not allowed to touch the bars. The lifting hands or weight may accidentally touch the lifter’s body or legs during the lift, provided that it does not aid in the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bars from the platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked and the body upright at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bars must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

IAWA Rules for the Two Vertical Bars (one in each hand) – 2 inch rods

F26.  TWO VERTICAL BARS (ONE IN EACH HAND) – 2 INCH RODS

The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with  two x 2 inch diameter bars / rods, one in each hand.

Causes for Failure: 

1. Causes for failure are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that 2 x 2 inch rods are used.

Need to reference this rule –

F19. VERTICAL BAR LIFT – TWO INCH ROD 

The rules of performance are the same as for the vertical bar lift, except that the lift is performed with a two inch diameter bar / rod.

Causes for Failure: 

1.  Causes for failure are the same as for the one hand vertical  lift, except that a 2 inch rod is used.

Need to reference this rule as well –

F2.   ONE HAND VERTICAL BAR LIFT

The lifter will grip a vertical bar with one hand, and lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface, holding it motionless and under control for two seconds. On completion the legs should be erect and straight with the free hand clear of any contact with the body. The bar will be of 1 inch diameter, and can be up to 30 inches long. A collar or base plate should be tightened or welded  on the bottom to hold the vertical weight stack. The bar should not be knurled. The lifter can use an optional grip, and the lifting hand should not be in contact with or in close proximity to the weight stack, so as to avoid any tipping  or gripping of the bar  with the weight stack at an angle. The lifter should also be careful to ensure that the bar does not touch the forearm or leg, and the lifting hand is not locked against the thigh.

Causes for Failure:

1.   Any contact of the bar with the forearm or legs, or locking of the lifting hand or bar against the thigh.
2.  Any contact between the lifting hand and the weight stack, or any attempt to tip or grip the bar at an angle.
3.  Failure to achieve and maintain the finished position (weight held clear of the lifting surface, motionless and under control for two seconds, with the legs erect and straight and the free hand clear of any contact with the body.
4.  Replacing / lowering the bar before the referees signal.

Wow!  That is confusing – isn’t it???  Now add in the factor that the World Entry form, in it’s attached list of guidelines for the rules of the lifts to be contested,  has this lift misnamed as the 2 HANDS FULTON DUMBELLS DEADLIFT (I’m sure this is was just listed this way on accident),  but you can see why someone would have questions regarding this lift!  Add in the differences in rules between the USAWA and the IAWA and  it makes it nearly impossible for me to answer some parts of the question as well.

Is the straddle stance legal? 

The USAWA rules state that it IS NOT (the bars must be on each side of the lifter).  The IAWA rules don’t state that is an infraction (nothing is mentioned regarding the lifter’s stance) , so I  can assume that a straddle stance is allowed.  Now to the part about it being a mechanically advantage to use the straddle stance – I have tried it both ways and I prefer the side by side approach. It seems to me that my grip is dramatically reduced when holding one of  the VBs to the back, and since this event is limited by my grip and not my back strength, this reduces the amount I can lift. 

What are some other rules differences between the USAWA and the IAWA?

The big one that “jumps out” to me is the legal length  allowed.  The USAWA rules clearly state the VBs can not be over 18 inches in length while the IAWA rules allow a length of up to 30 inches long!  This is a HUGE difference!  Having  a VB  that long turns this lift into a partial lift.  For some short lifters, the VB may barely even clear the floor at lockout!   The USAWA rules require the lifter to stand totally upright with shoulders back (that is why it is called a deadlift in the USAWA rules) while the IAWA rules only require, as stated in the rules “to lift the bar and weight stack clear of the lifting surface”, thus I would say is why it is just called a lift. Nothing is stated in the IAWA rules about being required to stand upright (but I won’t be surprised that this will be required come meet day, and be justified with the explanation that standing upright was implied).   Here’s another question – my left hand strength on a VB is slightly less than my right hand, so can I load the VBs to different weights?   The USAWA rules clearly state NO on this – but this is not stated as an infraction in the IAWA rules so I’m going to assume I can do this (but then again I bet come meet day this will also not be allowed, with the explanation that this is ANOTHER  implied IAWA rule on this lift).  With these rule differences it appears to me that the USAWA rules are much more difficult than the IAWA rules for this SAME LIFT.  There is one rule issue that might make the IAWA rules a little more difficult than the USAWA rules as they state the weight must be  “motionless and under control for two seconds” whereas the USAWA rules only require the VBs to be held till “the weight is motionless”.  Two seconds is a long time to hold at lockout after becoming motionless, and will definitely decrease the amount of weight that can be lifted versus getting the down command immediately when the VBs are motionless. 

Neither set of rules state limitations on the size of plates that can be loaded onto the Vertical Bars. When lifting the VBs at your side, large plates (45#s or 20Ks) will hit the side of your legs and cause drag, and in turn less weight can be lifted. I prefer loading the VBs with smaller plates(25#s or 10Ks) when performing this lift.  Hopefully this will be the way the Vertical Bars will be loaded in Australia.

I have stated my opinion on rules many times before but I’m going to repeat it.  I don’t really care WHAT the rules are for a lift as long as the rules are well written and are specific in what is allowed and disallowed.  NOTHING SHOULD BE IMPLIED WHEN IT COMES TO THE RULE BOOK.  

It also would be nice if the USAWA and the IAWA had consistent rules in all of the lifts.  We are far from that now. But if at Worlds, the Vertical Bars are 30 inches long and only need to clear the floor a 1/2″ to be a legal lift, I will adapt to that and do it that way!

Inman Mile

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Adam Kirchman training the Yoke Walk with 650 pounds over a 100 foot course in a recent workout. Adam would be my choice among gym members who would have the best chance of achieving the Inman Mile.

Recently I have had some email correspondance with a lifter interested in the Inman Mile.  Of course the first question EVER asked regarding this event is – “HAS IT EVER BEEN DONE?”  The Inman Mile is definitely unlike all of the other official lifts of the USAWA.  First of all, it can hardly be called a lift. It is the only official lift in the USAWA Rule Book where poundage is not listed in the record list.  Instead, this event is for TIME.  Let’s start with a review of the rules:

USAWA Rules for the Inman Mile

The lifter will take a bar onto the shoulders with a weight equal to 150 per cent of the lifter’s bodyweight. The lifter will then carry this weight a distance of one mile. Gait is optional.  Stopping to rest is allowed, but neither the lifter nor the weight may be supported in any manner.  The bar must not be touched by any assistants once the mile has begun or it will be a disqualification. The bar must stay on the back the entire mile. The lifter may be handed refreshments during the mile. Records will be kept for time. 

Now to the answer whether it has ever been done.  IT HAS NOT (at least not officially in the USAWA).  Since it has not been completed EVER no records are recorded for it in both the USAWA and IAWA Record Lists.  The rules specifically state that “records will be kept for time”.  A good attempt at this doesn’t get you a record for distance.  You must finish the Mile.  I have received several emails in the past asking about this novelty event in the USAWA.   I have always responded that if the person in question could succeed with the Inman Mile  (maybe a little video proof would need to be provided to me), I would do whatever was needed in order to help them get this listed as an “official record” in our organization.  Even if this included me getting on a plane and flying to the coast for the weekend,  or enlisting someone I know in the area who is an active reputable official for the USAWA to go there and witness and officiate it.  I also have said that accomplishing the Inman Mile would have to be considered as one of the BEST STRENGTH FEATS ever done in the USAWA.  I really hope someday someone does accomplish it.  I have enough sense to know that this is something I could NEVER DO, so “that person” will not be me.  I know lifters who have tried, and some who I thought might have a chance, but in all instances they failed miserably.   The limit is always maintaining the bar on the shoulders.  As you tire, the bar slips down the back, and once this happens the hope for the mile is lost. 

As I already said, I consider this a novelty lift in the USAWA.  We have a few others in our list of official lifts that would fit this category as well.  There has been talk of eliminating some of these obscure lifts that no one can do from the USAWA list of official lifts in the past, but truthfully, I don’t think that is a good idea.  I say this because eventually someone WILL do them, and when they do, it will become something to talk about!  I receive as many inquistive emails regarding these lifts as the others.   I guess you could call it curiosity appeal – and it turn gives exposure to the USAWA.

If you do an internet search on the Inman Mile you will see it “pop up” several times.   Often it appears in forums, where this “challenge” is mentioned by someone.  I even found talk of it in some backpacking forums. I KNOW the USAWA is the root behind all this, as we are the ones who in a sense, created the Inman Mile.  However, no one knows “the story” behind the Inman Mile besides maybe only a few of us.  I wouldn’t know it if it wasn’t for person responsible for naming it telling me!  And that person is NONE OTHER than the FATHER of the USAWA Bill Clark.  So I plan to tell it here for the first time on the internet.  Bill named this lift after Jerry Inman, a powerlifter who was originally from Billings, Missouri  (and a leader in a well known powerlifting club at the time – the Billings Barbell Club).  The time frame of this was the  late 1970s and early 1980s.  Jerry was a marine (and it would take a hard-headed marine to come up with something this grueling).  For a while, he lived in Olathe, Kansas.  When he found Bill Clark’s gym in Columbia, Missouri he was introduced to all-round weightlifting by Bill.   When Jerry Inman told Bill he thought he could walk a mile with a bar loaded to 150%  of his bodyweight on his back, it inspired Bill to name this event after him.  Jerry was never successful with this quest, but his mindset of THINKING he could do it and the effort of taking on the impossible, lead to this mysterious event to be forever named after him!   His best effort of 246 yards in 1979 is recorded in an old Missouri Valley Newsletter .  Jerry was a fit 148# powerlifting  marine, in the prime of his life when he tried also.  It would take someone like that to even have a remote chance of being successful with the Inman Mile. But when it does happen – I want to be there firsthand to watch it!

Rules for the Dumbbell Shoulder

by Thom Van Vleck

Two big Dumbbells.....could either one be shouldered in the "Dumbbell Shoulder" event at the Old Time Strongman Nationals?

When Al and I discussed me hosting the Old Time Strongman Nationals one of the things that I wanted to do was come up with some new lifts.  The “OTS” concept is to have lifts that aren’t current USAWA lifts, that have more relaxed rules, be able to raise or lower the weight, be done for a max attempt, and be something the old timers did.  What followed was me sending Al numerous lifts and him pointing out how they were already USAWA lifts or did not fit the criteria in some way!  In my research I came across the weightlifting for the 1904 Olympics.  It was very different than from today.  There were actually two separate events, a barbell competition and a Dumbbell competition.  There were several Dumbbell lifts and one of them involved cleaning a heavy dumbbell.  I stumped Al on this one.  There are no current USAWA lifts that involved cleaning a dumbbell and Al thought there ought to be so he shot down my idea based on the fact that we need to add that lift to the regular USAWA lifts….as a result it COULDN’T be an OTS event!  So, I came back with this event, as inspired by that 1904 Olympic event and thus the name!

USAWA Rule for the 1904 Dumbbell Shoulder

A Dumbbell will be taken from the floor to the shoulder using any method the lifter wants to employ.  The dumbbell may be lifted with two hands, continental style, may be rested on the belt during the lift, by any part of the dumbbell.  Hands may grip the plates, bar, collars or any part of the dumbbell. Any size plate may be loaded onto the dumbbell.The lift is completed when the lifter is standing upright, with the dumbbell resting on the shoulder, and the lifter demonstrating control.  Both hands may remain on the dumbbell to complete the lift, or with one hand or both hands off the dumbbell.  Time limit of 1 minute is given to complete the lift.  An official will give a command to end the lift.

So, we will give this one a try.  It may be a “one and done” event in that we will have to see how this one plays in competition.  If it does, then great!  At the least, it is a unique event and it will be interesting to see how much we can do!

Rules for the Anderson Squat

by Thom Van Vleck

The Anderson Squat: Old Time Strongman lift

Let’s take a look at one of the new lifts for the Old Time Strongman Nationals to be held Oct. 16 at the JWC Training Hall in Kirksville, Missouri.  First, let’s review what the “Old Time Strongman” is before we talk about this brand new lift.  Old Time Strongman in the USAWA will included lifts popularized or used by strongmen of years past.  The lifts must be loadable (So the bar can be loaded to any weight so any skill level can make the lift and not just have a heavy apparatus with a set weight).    The idea is that you will have a strongman contest that can be contested by a wide variety of skill levels and ages.

Today’s focus is on the “Anderson Squat”.  Paul Anderson, one of the greatest strongmen of all time, was famous for his leg strength.  Ol’ Paul had a lot of unorthodox training techniques often born out of necessity (in other words, “he didn’t have the proper equipment so he just rigged something up and lifted it!”).  One of the more famous lifts he employed was squatting barrels filled with junk from a hole in the ground.  The story goes Paul loaded it and dug a hole deep enough he could get under it and do a partial squat.  He would then throw some dirt in the hole, slowly filling it up, so that he would have to get a little lower each time to complete the lift.  I found a great photo of Paul doing the lift and evidently that day he was short on iron so a couple of pretty girls volunteered!  Don’t worry, if we run low on weights at the meet, I’ll be happy to climb on top for extra weight!

USAWA Rules for the Anderson Squat

 A squat (with a standard Olympic bar) done from a dead stop from a height not over two thirds the height of the lifter.  Squat is completed when the knees are locked and the lifter is standing erect.  Time limit of 1 minute is given for each attempt meaning the lifter may reset as many times as necessary to complete the lift.  Knee wraps or knee sleeves will be allowed.  An official will give a command to end the lift.

The uniqueness of this event is doing a squat from a dead stop.  It is also the challenge of it!  It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers we can put up in this event….and I don’t think Paul will have anything to worry about in regards to anyone coming close to breaking his records in this style of lifting.

Rules for the Anderson Press

by Thom Van Vleck

Paul Anderson with a 450lb Continental Clean & Press. This photo approximates the starting point of the "Anderson Press" event at the Old Time Strongman Nationals.

The first ever USAWA Old Time Strongman National Championship will be held at the JWC Training Hall on October 16, 2011.  One of the new lifts to be contested will be the “Anderson Press”.  Big Paul Anderson, arguably the strongest man that ever lived, used to do some pretty unique training lifts and often rigged things up to work on what he felt were his weaknesses. One lift he came up with was to hang a barbell from a tree with a chain and do partial lockout presses.  This lift was the inspiration for the lift to be contested in October!

USAWA Rules for the Anderson Press

Press (with a standard Olympic bar) will be done from a dead stop position in the power rack from a height no greater than the height of the lifter when standing erect.  Lifter may “bow” back to press the weight but must keep knees locked.  The lift ends when the lifter is upright, arms locked, and demonstrates control of the weight. The lifter may press in an uneven manner and unlock unevenly. It is not a disqualification if the bar is lowered during the press, and afterwards the press resumes. The feet are not allowed to move. However, the lifter may raise the heels or toes during the press.  Time limit of 1 minute is given for each attempt meaning the lifter may reset as many times as necessary to complete the lift.  An official will give a command to end the lift.

You will notice the rules are a lot more relaxed compared to other USAWA lifts.  The idea is that the lifter will be able to handle big weights and it will be pretty evident to any spectators if they get the lift or not.  I know that when I’ve attended meets I have spent a lot of time explaining to spectators that are not familiar with lifting why a completed lift did not count.  While this could still happen, it’s a lot less likely and I think that’s part of the appeal of the the “Old Time Strongman” concept.  It’s more spectator friendly and forgiving to the lifter!   As a result, this type of meet may attract a whole new type of strength athlete to the USAWA that will then try the traditional meets as well.  At least that’s my opinion.  Hope you can make it in October!

1 2 3 9