Neck Lift

By Eric Todd

With the Heavy Lift Championship on the Calendar for May 5, I was under the assumption that people were going to be wanting to start training.  So, I thought I would do a series on how to execute each of the heavy lifts.  They are like no other lifts out there, where the lifter is capable of lifting monstrous poundages.

This particular article will focus on the first lift to be contested that day, the neck lift.  When I first heard of the neck lift, I envisioned the lift I did in high school with a neck harness I bought at Champs Sports with a 45# weight looped through the chain.  I was concerned, as I knew there was no way I could lift hundreds of pounds like this, even though that is where the records stood.  As luck would have it, it was not that lift at all, and I was capable of more than I thought.

The rules of the neck lift are as follows:

A Heavy Lift Bar is used in this lift. A neck harness is also used, which fits over the head. Any style of neck harness is acceptable, provided that it is held in place entirely by the head during the lift. The neck harness must not contact the neck or trapezius muscles. A pad, such as a towel, may be placed between the head and the neck harness. An adjustable chain and hook is attached to the neck harness so it may be attached to the Heavy Lift Bar. The lifter assumes a position with the Heavy Lift Bar in front of the lifter or the lifter may straddle it. The feet must parallel and in line with the torso. Width of feet placement is optional. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter may adjust the chain length to his/her preference prior to the lift. The lifter must not touch the chain or straps of the neck harness with the hands during the lift, but the chain or straps may touch the lifter’s body. Hands may touch the body during the lift, but must be free of contact upon completion of the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed one test lift to check the balance of the weight and to make adjustments to the chain length. The lifter will stand and lift the weights from the platform. The shoulders and torso do not have to be upright upon the finish of the lift. The legs must straighten, but the knees do not need to be locked. Once the weight is motionless, the hands free from the body, and the plates on both ends of the bar are off the platform at the same time, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Some people neck lift with a narrow stance, but I prefer a very wide one.  I point my toes outward right next to the plates.  With the harness on my head, and the hook in the loop on the bar,   I take the straps  and spread them out wide so they are more to the outside of my body rather than hanging down in front.  I also like to lift my arms up while executing this lift..  At this point, look up, lean back, and drive off your heels.  When both sides of the bar come off the ground at the same time, the official will give the down command for a good lift.  In the image below, you can see Chad Ullum and myself using very similar styles:


As far as training for the neck lift, I imagine any kind of neck training could be beneficial, such as the neck harness I referenced above or a neck machine.  However, I am not sure there is any real substitute for actually neck lifting.  The technique takes some getting used to, and it is ideal to condition your neck for the feel of these poundages.  Check out the video of Chad’s record setting 900# attempt which was set at the Heavy Lift Championship that was held at York Barbell:

Spec Equipment: Dinnie Lift Loading Pin

By Al Myers

Dinnie VBThe Dinnie Lift Loading Pin has been added to the Online Store, under Spec Equipment. This is a MUST if you want to train the Dinnie Lift, which is an USAWA Old Time Strongman Official Lift. This loading pin is built to withstand any amount of weight you want to lift and is the perfect height for the Dinnie Lift.

Dino Gym Challenge

By Al Myers


“The Tom Ryan Memorial Meet”

Eric Todd (left) recieved his award from Thom Van Vleck (right) for being the Athlete of the Year Runner Up for last year at the Dino Gym Challenge. Eric went on to win the Overall Best Lifter at the 2018 Dino Gym Challenge.

Eric Todd (left) received his award from Thom Van Vleck (right) for being the USAWA Athlete of the Year Runner Up for last year at the Dino Gym Challenge. Eric went on to win the Overall Best Lifter at the 2018 Dino Gym Challenge.

It was another great year for the Dino Gym Challenge! Eight brave lifters made their way to the platform for an exciting day of lifting, honoring the late Tom Ryan. Many stories were told about Tom throughout the day, along with many great lifts made to honor him.  I hope he was looking down on us throughout the day with a smile on his face.

We had a celebrity official present, Thom Van Vleck.  Thom made the long drive to the Dino Gym from Kirksville, MO  just to officiate the Dino Gym Challenge.  I can’t express my thanks to him for doing this as it allowed my dad and I to participate. Usually one of us has to sit it out to judge. I picked lifts for this meet which were Tom Ryan’s favorites, and it was quite the variety! We started the meet off with the Weaver Stick. LaVerne showed us AGAIN his mighty grip by having the top lift in the Weaver Stick at 6 pounds.  I think he could have got 7 pounds, but when asked if he wanted a fourth attempt at record he said he would pass, as Tom Ryan has the top Weaver Stick record in the USAWA at 7 pounds and he wanted to let Tom keep that All Time record to himself (at least on this day!).

The next lift was the Rectangular Fix.  The youngest member in attendance, Calvin, did a fantastic lift of 80 pounds. Chad did 105 in competition and then did 120 as a fourth attempt which was easier than his 105! That was the top Rectangular Fix of the meet.

We then moved onto the One handed thumbless grip deadlift. Tom Ryan excelled at this lift, having done 254 pounds.  No one came close to that!  Dad must have still felt the sting from the loss to me in this lift at the Gold Cup last fall as he called for (and did) 201 pounds right after I did 200 pounds on my second attempt. Well, if I was a good son I probably should have just let him have his revenge victory and passed my last attempt but NOPE, I called for 202 pounds for a successfull third lift just to let everyone know that it wasn’t a fluke I beat him in this lift at the Gold Cup!

Next up was the Reeves Deadlift. Big John Douglas and Chad both hit 300 pounds for the top Reeves Deadlift of the day. It was at this point of the meet that I got a call for a work emergency, and I had to leave to take care of it and missed the rest of the meet.  I checked over the scorekeepers report and noticed that LaVerne was leading after 4 events and ET was standing in 7th place. I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be the case after the final event, the Hip Lift. Well, when I got back and NOT TO MY SURPRISE Eric put up a HUGE hip lift of 2010 pounds to seal the victory in the Dino Gym Challenge. Chad came in second, and Calvin finished third for an outstanding finish in this tough field of all rounders.

I want to really thank everyone who attended, as it means alot to me when lifters show up to support my promotions. It was a great day of fun, and a fitting tribute to Tom Ryan.

Meet Results:

2018 Dino Gym Challenge
Dino Gym, Holland, Kansas
Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Meet Director: Al Myers

Meet Scorekeeper: Al Myers and Chad Ullom

Official (1-official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Lifts: Weaver Stick, Rectangular Fix, Deadlift – No Thumb One Hand, Reeves Deadlift, Hip Lift


Eric Todd 43 260 3R 90 185R 265 2010 2553 2065.2
Chad Ullom 46 245 5R 105 195R 300 1540 2145 1839.6
Calvin Heit 15 150 3R 80 150R 180 940 1353 1657.4
John Douglas 54 315 5R 95 175R 300 1220 1795 1467.5
LaVerne Myers 73 234 6L 76 201L 230 520 1033 1136.0
Dean Ross 75 236 3R 70 135L 200 520 928 1031.3
Al Myers 51 230 5R 90 202R 280 —– 577 535.2
Lance Foster 52 330 4R 85 135R 200 —– 424 332.7


Chad Ullom Rectangular Fix 120 lbs.

Notes: BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. R and L designate right and left arms. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are overall adjusted points corrected for age and bodyweight.


Al Myers – Age 51, Bodyweight 230 pounds
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand: 210 pounds
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand: 185 pounds
Saxon Snatch: 76 pounds
Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, Right Hand: 130 pounds
Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, Left Hand: 130 pounds

LaVerne Myers – Age 73, Bodyweight 236 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumbs, Overhand Grip: 250 pounds
Scott Lift: 70 pounds
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 255 pounds
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar: 255 pounds

Thom Van Vleck – Age 53, Bodyweight 280 pounds
Reeves Deadlift: 235 pounds
Deadlift – Ring Fingers: 165 pounds
Thors Hammer: 51 pounds
Snatch – Dumbbell, Right: 105 pounds
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left: 95 pounds

Reeves Lift vs. the Rim Lift

By Al Myers

Tom Ryan, with his long arms, loved the Reeves Lift!

The late Tom Ryan, with his long arms, loved the Reeves Lift!

One of the lifts contested this weekend at the Dino Gym Challenge is the Reeves Lift, modeled after a favorite lift of the famous bodybuilder and actor Steve Reeves. He loved this lift as he felt it enhanced his famous lat spread.  I recently received an email asking about the required bar length for the Reeves Lift, and asking if a shorter bar could be used.  This got me to thinking about the Rules of the Reeves Lift, and how it compares to the IAWA(UK) Lift the Rim Lift. Interestingly, the Reeves Lift is ONLY a USAWA lift while the Rim Lift is ONLY an IAWA(UK) lift with the big difference being the length of bar required.  Let’s rehash the rules of each:

RULE FOR USAWA LIFT:  Deadlift – Reeves

The rules of the Deadlift apply with these exceptions. The lift starts by the lifter gripping one plate on each side of the bar.  The flanges of the plates may be turned outwards to provide a better gripping surface. A regulation bar of legal length must be used.  There are no width specifications of the flanges of the lifting plates. Weight is added to the bar with smaller diameter plates so the lifter always has just one plate per side to grip.


The lifter will deadlift, hacklift or straddle a loaded barbell whilst holding only the rims of the discs. The maximum sized discs for the is lift are 18 inches. On the inside the discs must be flat and smooth, and on the outside the rim cannot be deeper than 1inch. The lifter must not grasp any handles, holes or specially prepared areas, only the thumbs on the smooth inside and the fingers on the outside rim. Any bar can be used as the distance between the collars is optional. Whatever style of lift the lifter chooses the lift will always be finished in the correct fashion, with an erect posture. On completion the referee will signal to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:
The causes for failure for the deadlift, hacklift or straddle will apply, depending on the style elected.
Failure to achieve the correct fully erect finishing posture.
Lowering/replacing the bar before the referees signal.

As you can see these are two completely different lifts, with the Reeves Lift being a much more difficult lift. Now you do have some choices in picking a “good bar” for the Reeves Lift. The USAWA  has definite rules for USAWA regulation bars (that hasn’t always been the case however in the earlier days of the USAWA). Looking in the USAWA Rulebook you find these rules as it applies to USAWA regulation bars:

VI. Equipment 16. The bar must meet the following specifications.

  • The bar must have a minimum diameter of 25 millimeters or 1 inch.
  • The bar must have a maximum diameter of 1.25”.
  • The sleeves of the bar must have a minimum diameter of 50 millimeters or 1.96 inches.
  • The minimum distance between the inside collars is 51 inches.
  • The maximum distance between the inside collars is 58 inches.
  • The minimum total length of the bar must not be less than 7 feet. An exception to this is when lifts are done where the combined weight of the bar and the plates does not exceed 20 kilograms or 45 pounds, whereas a lighter and shorter bar may be used. Another exception is allowing a lighter and shorter bar to be used for women, older lifters and junior lifters.
  • The maximum total length of the bar must not exceed 8 ½ feet.
  • All bars must be marked with a clear indication of the bar’s weight if the bar’s weight is not 45 pounds or 20 kilograms.
  • The bar may contain knurling on any parts of it.
  • For one hand lifts, the bar must contain knurling in the center of the bar.
  • The bar must be straight.
  • The sleeves of the bar are allowed to revolve.

So obviously having a bar closer in length to the inside collars of 51 inches is preferred over the maximum distance of inside collars at 58 inches. The GOOD NEWS for the lifters this weekend at the Dino Gym Challenge is that I have made a speciality regulation bar for the Reeves Lift which has a short “collar to collar” length. However, you still need the finger strength to hold onto the plates and this only helps with reaching the plates.  Not everyone has the long “wing span” of Tom Ryan!!

2017 Year in Review

By Al Myers

I have just finished the 2017 USAWA Year in Review.  Every year since I have been secretary of the USAWA I have done this Review Book.  I take all the information that has been put on the website (blogs, meet results, past history archives, etc) and copy it into a book, which is printed off.  I also include this book as a digital file on the website if someone wants to look at it that way or print it off themselves.

I do this for one reason primarily – and that is to preserve the history of the USAWA in paper form.  It always surprises me by the amount of information that this website accumulates every year. This year the Year in Review is 372 pages long and contains 93,500 words!  It would take a few evenings to get all that read.

If anyone wants a printed copy of the Year in Review please let me know.  I plan to take it to the printer’s next week.  The cost is $50, made out to the USAWA.

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