Iron Warrior Record Day

By Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

THE 2017 IRON WARRIOR RECORD DAY

Dan Wagman pulling 726 pounds in the Kennedy Lift!

Dan Wagman pulling 726 pounds in the Kennedy Lift!

On August 27, Denver’s Iron Warrior Gym hosted another USAWA Record Day. This gym’s perfect for all-round as it’s spacious, has several platforms, and tons of weights. Still, it’s obvious that the people training and coaching there aren’t familiar with the diversity of strength tests all-round offers. This time three lifters attempted to rewrite the record book while RJ Jackson and Jarrod Fobes judged.

Daryl Jackson, a University of Colorado student, has a varied martial arts background and is relatively new to all-round, though he was named Lifter of the Month in April, 2017. Considering how demanding his studies are, he thought it best to only contest two of his favorite lifts, the pull-up and chin-up. He started with the pull-up where he was successful with a new record of 95 pounds and missed 105. He wasn’t happy with that because he was hoping for 110 but I suspect that the super strict nature of pulling required by USAWA impacted how much he could lift; he missed his first two tries at 95 pounds on technicalities. But he kept his spirits high, supinated his grip, and gave the chin-up all he had. He missed his first attempt with 90 pounds, got it on his second, and had just enough energy left to declare, “I’m smoked. I’m done.”

RJ tasked her co-meet director Jarrod with judging her lifts. Of the five lifts she chose, the one she was most psyched about was the deadlift—index-finger. An aspect of concern to her were the types of injuries seen in this lift, “I was worried about the potential of snapping a tendon or ligament in my finger,” she explained. A few years back she set the USAWA record in that lift to establish a high standard. Then she dug deep in to training science, finger anatomy and physiology, and developed a training approach that allowed her to increase her record by 25 pounds; “I’m just amazed at how much strength I was able to gain with just those two fingers,” she told Jarrod.

Another lift RJ was excited about was the dumbbell-to-shoulder. Al Myers wrote a recent blog entry about it, unfortunately only one female—and a 13-year old at that—has met this challenge. So RJ thought it time to test herself and she smoked 75 pounds on her first attempt. To my dismay she decided to leave it at that. I really would’ve enjoyed seeing her throw around 100+ pounds. Next time, right?!

As to me, I was fortunate in being able to rotate between RJ and Jarrod for judging. Since I rely exclusively on the latest scientific developments in training and competition, I enjoy a decided advantage over those who prefer myth and conjecture. And so I seek out challenges beyond other competitors or the record book. For this Record Day I decided to see if I could devise a science-based training regimen that would allow me to break the Open deadlift—index-finger and middle-finger records in the same meet and in so doing also exceed the Open IAWA records, all while remaining injury free. I was successful on both counts with my index-finger but failed within inches of lockout to unofficially break the world record with my middle-fingers.

But that Al Myers and his darn blogs….Well into my training for the finger-deadlift-challenge I read Al’s blog entry on the Kennedy Lift. This lift I had never done and so I reasoned that it would constitute a great personal challenge to crank out some big weight with only three weeks of training left. To meet the challenge of putting resistance training research to the test I had to figure out how to most effectively manipulate all training variables so that in a short period of time I could lift a maximal amountof weight while, again, remaining injury free—this latter point has become most important to me over the 30+ years I’ve been competing in various strength sports. Principles of physiology dictate that I needed to focus primarily on having my nervous system learn the new movement; strength development had to be secondary. To do so with maximum effect I trained the Kennedy eight times in three weeks and manipulated all remaining training variables in very specific ways. Very quickly, however, I realized that I just might have challenged myself beyond what’s reasonable…

Dan almost made 331 pounds with his middle fingers! He had it close to lockout when his fingers gave way!

Dan almost made 331 pounds with his middle fingers! He had it close to lockout when his fingers gave way!

Due to the high frequency of training the Kennedy it invariably fell a few times on the same day as my finger deadlift work. Since I trained the finger deadlifts first, the result was drastically reduced grip strength for the Kennedy. But based on the many biomechanics studies focused on grip strength and training studies about maximizing gains in the type of muscle contraction unique to the vast majority of grip-strength tests, I wasn’t deterred; I knew the approach would generate supercompensation. In addition, to aid in grip strength recovery between finger deadlifts and the Kennedy I decided to throw in the press-dumbbell as an “intermission” for my main challenges.

Upon warming up for the Kennedy it became apparent that I had made tremendous gains in strength; my opener and second attempt were smoke. So I decided to give 766 a ride to break Al’s (yes, THAT Al) all-time record. But what good are strong legs, a strong back, and perfect technique if you can’t hold on to the bar? Despite the awesome gains made, grip strength remained the weak link in the Kennedy chain. Nevertheless—Hail Science!

Meet Results:

Iron Warrior Record Day
Iron Warrior Gym
Denver, Colorado
Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Meet Directors: RJ Jackson & Jarrod Fobes

Lifts: Record Day

Officials:
RJ Jackson – 1 Official Jarrod Fobes
Daryl Jackson – 1 Official RJ Jackson
Dan Wagman – 2 Officials Jarrod Fobes & RJ Jackson

RJ Jackson – F, 55 years old, 105.8 lbs. BWT
Dumbbell to Shoulder: 75 lbs.
Seated Press, from Rack: 70 lbs.
Side Press – Dumbbell, Right: 40 lbs.
Deadlift – Index Fingers: 105 lbs.
Side Press – Dumbbell, Left: 35 lbs.

Daryl Jackson – M, 27 years old, 152 lbs. BWT
Pull Up: 95 lbs.
Chin Up: 90 lbs.

Dan Wagman – M, Open Class, 182.6 lbs. BWT
Deadlift – Index Fingers: 216 lbs.
Deadlift – Middle Fingers: 316 lbs.
Press – Dumbbell, Left: 101 lbs.
Press – Dumbbell, Right: 101 lbs.
Kennedy Lift: 726 lbs.

Lifter of the Month – Eric Todd

By Al Myers

LIFTER OF THE MONTH – ERIC TODD, JULY 2017

Eric Todd performed a World Record Lying Lateral Raise at the 2016 IAWA Gold Cup.

Eric Todd performed a World Record Lying Lateral Raise at the 2016 IAWA Gold Cup.

A big congrats goes to ERIC TODD, the USAWA Lifter of the Month for July.  Eric earned this from his outstanding performance in the 2nd Quarter USAWA Postal Meet.  Eric “bested” the field and was the Overall Best Lifter in this Postal Meet.  Along with scoring the most adjusted points, he posted the overall best total.  He continued to showcase one of his favorite lifts, the Pullover and Press, with a fantastic 365 pound effort.

This marks the FOURTH TIME that Eric has been selected as the lifter of the Month (others were May 2012, December 2013, and May 2014).

HOF BIO – JOHN VERNACCHIO

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

JOHN VERNACCHIO – CLASS OF 1996

VernachioHOF1

John Vernacchio was born in 1936 and grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He attended Holy Savior Catholic Elementary School and graduated from Bishop High School in 1956. He attended Shippinsburg State University where he played football while attaining his degree. After graduation in 1961, he finished his education at Temple University where he earned his Masters degree in Exercise Physiology. John taught High School for several years and coached football. He has also coached football at the College and minor pro league level. John has also worked as a rehabilitation therapist for a Chiropractor. John has two grown sons – John born in 1962 and Jeffrey born in 1965. John lives in Texas and has two daughters. Jeff lives in Pennsylvania with one son. Both received B.S. degrees from Westchester State University. John started training when he was 13 years old at the local YMCA and began competing in weightlifting in 1957 with friends Richard Durante and Domenic DeSanto. John Vernacchio won his first National title in 1961 at the National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships. He continued to train under the direction of James Messer at the Holy Savior Weightlifting Club. John got his start in Olympic lifting, but eventually competed in powerlifting for many years for the Valley Forge Weightlifting/Powerlifting Club. John was one of the charter members of the USAWA, being involved since the beginning in 1987. He was introduced to the USAWA by Bill Clark. John has served two terms as President of the USAWA, and one term as Vice President of IAWA. He has promoted several National and International competitions throughout the years. He has promoted three National Meets – in 1988, 1989, and 2004. John has the distinction of being the Meet Director of the very first USAWA National Championships (1988). He has promoted three IAWA World Championships – in 1989, 1991, and 1997. He also promoted the 2003 IAWA Gold Cup. His favorite lifts were the military press and the squat. Even though John has won numerous weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round meets through the years, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he replied, “My biggest accomplishment was to see both my sons graduate from College.” John Vernacchio displays every quality a Hall of Famer should possess – excellence with the iron and excellence in life. John died on December 27th, 2012.

VernachioHOF2

 

Team Championships

By Al Myers

2017 USAWA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2017 USAWA Team Championships.

Group picture from the 2017 USAWA Team Championships.

The USAWA has new TEAM CHAMPIONS!  The Overall Best Team Lifters in the USAWA for the past 8 years have been myself and my buddy Chad (and Overall winners in 9/10 Team Championships). But that streak is over…. and the dynamic duo of the USAWA is now LaVerne Myers and Dean Ross! These two have been at Team Lifting for many years now and with all that practice, are in tune to each other’s dance steps. The were in perfect synch and picked their attempts with precision. They were the only team to not miss an attempt all day, and finished close to their max on each of their final attempts.

LaVerne Myers (left) and Dean Ross (right)  - the OVERALL Best Team at the 2017 USAWA Team Championships.

LaVerne Myers (left) and Dean Ross (right) – the OVERALL Best Team at the 2017 USAWA Team Championships.

I was very excited to have 4 teams participate.  The young team of Cale Dunlap and Brandon Rein showed great promise.  These two will continually improve. They have no idea of what they are capable of yet in the USAWA.

It was great to see John Douglas of the Ledaig Club here for his first Team Championships.  He paired with Dino Gym lifter Zach Lucas (since Dave let him down by not making it)  and these two put up big lifts, and ended up with the highest TOTAL of the day.  They lifted 600 in the Fulton Bar Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, and took a shot at the gym record of 672# held by Chad and myself.  It was ah, so close!

I have to thank fellow Dino Gym member Dan Mather for joining me at the last minute (since Chad let me down).  This was our first time lifting together in the Team format. We had a great time, and again, I greatly appreciate Dan stepping in so I could lift and not end MY streak of competing in all of the Team Championships.

Meet Results:

2017 USAWA Team Championships
Dino Gym
Abilene, KS
August 26th, 2017

Meet Director: Al Myers

Meet Officials (1-official system): Al Myers and LaVerne Myers

Lifts: Team Bent Arm Pullover, Team Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, Team Deadlift – No Thumbs, Overhand Grip

Teams:

Al Myers (51 years, 229#) and Dan Mather (35 years, 183#) – 105K Class & Open Age Group

Cale Dunlap (22 years, 168#) and Brandon Rein (22 years, 154 pounds) – 80K Class and Open Age Group

John Douglas (53 years, 311#) and Zach Lucas (31 years, 260#) – 125+K Class and Open Age Group

LaVerne Myers (73 years, 240#) and Dean Ross (74 years, 219#) – 110K Class and 70+ Age Group

2-MAN DIVISION

LIFTERS PULL DLCBFB DLNT TOT PTS
Myers/Ross 190 500 500 1190 1291.9
Douglas/Lucas 275 600 650 1525 1088.4
Myers/Mather 230 500 550 1280 1062.6
Dunlap/Rein 170 360 400 930 921.6

Notes: All lifts recorded in pounds. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are overall points adjusted for age and bodyweight corrections.

RECORD DAY LIFTS

LaVerne Myers
Bent Arm Pullover 90#
Clean and Press – Middle Fingers 50#
Deadlift – Stiff Leg 210#
Pinch Grip Deadlift 325#
Deadlift – Dumbbell, Right Arm 195#

Al Myers
Bent Arm Pullover 120#
Clean and Press – Middle Fingers 95#
Deadlift – Stiff Leg 400#
Pinch Grip Deadlift 450#
Lateral Raise – Lying 90#

Training for the Older Lifter

By Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck and his brother Tedd who is over 11 years younger.  Over the years we have talked a lot about training but our age difference has meant we follow different programs.  Age makes a difference in how you train!

Thom Van Vleck and his brother Tedd who is over 11 years younger. Over the years we have talked a lot about training but our age difference has meant we follow different programs. Age makes a difference in how you train!

Shot Put Gold medalist Adam Nelson told me, “Most training programs are designed for a younger athlete and older athletes need to train differently”.

I would say training programs need to be adjusted over the life span.   When I turned 40 I told my Uncle it seemed like when I was a teen I could work out hard every day.  Then at 30 I needed a day to recuperate from soreness.  Then at 40 it seemed to take a week to get past a heavy duty squat workout soreness.  My Uncle, who was pushing 60 and still training very hard said, Thom, I’ve been sore for the last 15 years!”.  I laughed but he was serious!  He said, “If I waited until I felt 100% I’d never workout again”.

So the body doesn’t recuperate as well.

Then there is injury which is different than recuperation.  I remember being young and pulling a muscle or straining a tendon and it recovering very quickly.  Now things stay hurt longer and some things just continue to hurt even after they have healed.  I tore my hamstring many years ago and I will still “feel it” from time to time.

So injuries add up and then don’t heal a quickly (or ever!).  The reality is injury is what ends most lifters competitive careers.  Not age.

Finally, there’s the responsibility that comes with age.  I remember spending a lot of time as a teen lifting, reading about lifting, thinking about lifting, watching other lifters lifting….you get the idea.  I just don’t have that kind of time anymore.

So you don’t have the time as an older lifter.

So the older lifter has to think differently.  They have to be smarter with the lifts they train, manage their time, and stay injury free.  If they get injured they need to address the injury and be less likely to “train through the injury”.

So for me it’s the “Three Keys” for the older lifter.

1.  Facilitating Recuperation

2.  Avoiding Injury

3.  Managing time

So how do you facilitate recuperation, avoid injury, and manage time to achieve the goal of being strong?

Let’s think about adaptation.  Lifting is really adapting to heavier loads.  Younger lifters can adapt faster than older lifters.  Thus it is often beneficial to change up lifts for a younger lifter.  Simply put, they adapt faster.  So that means the older the lifter, the slower they adapt.

The thought is as a younger lifter you need to change up lifts and avoid getting “stale” which is the body resisting adaptation.  So the older lifter needs to work the same lift for a longer period of time.  By doing the same lifts longer they would avoid injury.  Sure there’s a trade off but an older lifter will lose more time injured than the younger lifter so he need to avoid injury more than just gain strength.

Another thing the older lifter can do is find a happy medium for the poundage being lifted in training.  It is ingrained in every strength athlete to lift more and more weight.  They don’t refer to weightlifting as progressive resistance for nothing.  But for the older lifter there needs to be a limit.  I believe that should be around 75% of one’s max and keep the reps explosive and low at 3 sets of 3.  This will allow you to walk that line between getting stronger (or just keeping strength) and injury.  You will also stay in a good groove avoiding squeezing out reps that lead to poor form and injury.

The next concept sounds counter to what I’ve just said but think about it first.  The older lifter needs to lift 3 to 5 days a week.  Essentially, more often than a younger lifter.  But it’s the way the lifter trains (doing 75% instead of higher percentages, the same lifts more often, and walking away rather than crawling away) that makes this lifting scheme work.  To be clear, I’m talking about doing the SAME lifts every workout, not a split routine. So you end up lifting less volume but doing it more often.  This scheme also helps you manage time by keeping you in the training hall more often but for less time.  I also believe by training lifts more often you need less time to stretch, warm up, and all that.  Because you are essentially staying in a lifting groove.  Your body is ready every day to train.

I think a final benefit of following this program is I am enjoying my training more than I have in years.  I don’t crawl out of the gym and don’t avoid stairs for three days.  The hard part is that I often hit a very good set and in the past that’s when it was “go time” to load up the bar and do something REALLY heavy.  Now I simply walk away or move to the next lift.  But that means I’m ready to go again in the next day or two.

So here’s some basic points:

  • Lift for 3 days a week 45 minutes max duration
  • 3 sets of 3 reps on average with a 6 rep max
  • 5-10 minutes foam rolling and dynamic stretching
  • Same workout everyday as the philosophy is master’s throwers don’t adapt as quickly
  • 75% of max and if a consistent tempo can’t be maintained then drop the weight. Lose the ego!

The type of lifts that give you the biggest bang for your buck (lift smarter, remember!)

  1. Hip Hinge Pattern Movements (i.e. Power Snatches, Cleans, Deadlifts).
  2. Unilateral/Bilateral Squat Movement (i.e. Squats, lunges) followed by Post Activation Potentiation (PAP) such as broad jumps, vertical jumps, sprints.
  3. Pushes (i.e. explosive type pressing movements) followed by shoulder prehab work.
  4. Core work (2 or 3 weighted core exercised for 6-10 reps which may include decline crunches, standing bar twists, handing leg raises).
  5. Competition lifts:  Work them in but focus on the technique and stay at 75% until competition day.  Going heavy too much in training just means more injury.
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