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.