The Priority for the Master Lifter

by Thom Van Vleck

Recently I got to visit with a college friend.  We went to college in the 80’s and he had dated my wife’s roommate and they married.  While his wife and mine had kept in touch, I had not seen him in a couple decades.  He had played football in college and then become a Physical Education teacher as well as a high school football and wrestling coach.

As our wives caught up we talked about our lifting and training as he obviously was still in great shape.  He made a comment that really caught my attention.

He said, “Ya know what?  I still lift pretty close to what I could 20 years ago but I don’t go heavy any more.  Seems like I can hurt myself just by trying to lift my hardest.  I was benching the other day and thought it felt easy so I threw some more weight on and the next thing I know I pull my pec! I probably won’t be able to bench for months!”


Then there was this comment from Olympic Gold medalist Adam Nelson.

“The same groin pull that would put me out for 5 days at age 25 will now put me out 5 weeks at 40″.

So what’s the point?  When we are young we are mentally WEAKER than our bodies.  We strive to push our bodies and really we can’t often hurt ourselves doing that when we are young.  As we get older we become mentally STRONGER than our bodies and we can literally hurt ourselves in the simple act of working out.

Couple that with the fact that when we do get hurt we take exponentially longer to heal as we age then the priority for the master lifter isn’t getting stronger.  It’s avoiding injury.  Sure, you want to get stronger but the things we did when we were young now take a back seat to staying healthy.

Think about it, if you trained really hard for a couple weeks then injured yourself and was out 6 weeks would you have been better off to train a little easier for a solid 8 weeks.  So for the master lifter the focus should first be avoiding injury and when you get injured healing up.  You will find yourself much better off in the long run.  This doesn’t mean take it easy, it just means to be smart!

The Chisholm Trail and the USAWA

By Al Myers

A Chisholm Trail limestone marker is located a half mile from the Dino Gym.  At one time cattle drives where going over the same ground as the Dino Gym Training Field!

A Chisholm Trail limestone marker is located a half mile from the Dino Gym. At one time cattle drives where going over the same ground as the Dino Gym Training Field!

I’ve had the great fortune of living in Abilene, Kansas my entire life. Most think living in Kansas means that you live in a “fly over State”, but my community is deep in history like all other places.  One thing of historical significance includes being part of cowboy history and the Chisholm Trail.  Next year marks a big year for the Chisolm Trail in Abilene – the 150th year kickoff celebration marking the trail beginnings. The actual anniversary of the trail is in 2017, but we are going to start the celebration a year early!   The Chisolm Trail was named for a venture trader by the name of Jesse Chisholm.  Jesse was not a cattle driver, but used this pathway for other trade purposes before any hooves had even hit the famous Chisolm Trail.  The unique thing about these long cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail was that originally it ended in Abilene, Kansas. The years of the cattle drives were not that long (1867-1885) but this time frame shaped the beginning of Abilene.  Abilene at that time was a “rough and tough” time as cowboys were often tired and exhausted from the many months on the trail, and wanted to have a little fun once they got their paycheck.  They spent this money on various forms of entertainment in Abilene, and things often got out of hand.  It took a Sheriff that knew how to rule with an upper hand to keep things under control.  And we had that in Sheriffs Wild Bill Hickok and Tom Smith which made them famous law enforcing icons in the Old Wild West.

This marker is located in Old Abilene Town, right beside the old stockyards.

This marker is located in Old Abilene Town, right beside the old stockyards.

Now it’s that time of the story that I make the tie between the Chisholm Trail and the USAWA.   Once the cattle drives of Texas Longhorns arrived in the Abilene Stockyards, they were loaded on railcar for the long train ride back east where top dollar was being paid for beef.  This only happened because of a man named Joseph McCoy, who convinced the community of Abilene to support his Stockyards for the Kansas Pacific Railway to run rail from Abilene for cattle transport and convincing legislatures to allow movement of Longhorns in Kansas.   Joseph McCoy indeed was the “real McCoy” to make all this happen to support his business interests, a phrase he often referred to himself as.  He built a hotel, saloon, bank, and many other buildings to support his enterprise.  His first shipment of Longhorns left Abilene September 5th, 1867 headed to Chicago. All in all, over 3 million head of cattle flowed through Abilene driven up on the Chisholm Trail.  This put Abilene on the map as a true cowboy town.

Now for some of you, you may have recognized the name Joe McCoy as being the name of a past all round weightlifter. That’s where these stories interweave, as the Joe McCoy that we know in the USAWA was a great-great grandson of Joseph McCoy. I knew Joe pretty well, and competed with him on several occasions.  Before his death in 2014 we visited at least once on the phone every month.  Joe always wanted to make it to Abilene to research his family history, but never did as in his later years physical limitations prevented him from traveling.   Joe McCoy was appointed as the first IAWA Registrar in 1987, the year of the beginning for the International All Round Weightlifting Association.  Joe competed in the second USAWA Nationals in 1989 held by John Vernacchio in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.  In that meet he lifted 170 kilograms in the Zercher Lift at 46 years of age, one of his favorite lifts.  He was one of the members of the “inaugural class” of USAWA members in 1988.  Joe had a great passion for taking pictures and later producing videos of meets which he shared with all.  I have several of his videos. He was a very likable guy, and would visit for hours with anyone.  In our visits I would always be amazed at the things he remembered – names of lifters, specifics that happened at various meets, and obscure weightlifting trivia.  He was immensely involved in the Missouri Valley Weightlifting Association, which I consider to be the precursor of the now USAWA.   At that time only in the Missouri Valley Region the all round lifts were contested in competition, promoted mostly by Bill Clark.  Joe supplied many of the pictures that were in the original USAWA Rulebook.  He was a very good lifter himself, and always gave everything he had on the platform.  He was involved in USAWA meet promotions, with his most famous being the Texas Deadlift Classic.   Joe was always full of enthusiasm at meets, and in his deep booming Texas voice would encourage fellow lifters nonstop above the sounds of the other meet noises.

This picture of Joe McCoy performing a two dumbbell deadlift is in the USAWA Rulebook.

This picture of Joe McCoy performing a two dumbbell deadlift is in the USAWA Rulebook.

Joe McCoy spent most of his life in Glen Rose Texas, on the family ranch. Interestingly, Glen Rose offers up much Chisholm Trail history as well as Abilene. Glen Rose was right on the path of the Chisholm Trail, and features the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum which is one of the largest collections of Chisholm Trail history.  I’m betting the first group of 2400 Longhorns that hit the Chisholm Trail came from the grasslands very close to Glen Rose.

Just as Grandpappy Joseph McCoy had a big part of the history of the Chisholm Trail, so does his lineage Joe McCoy has had in the USAWA.

(This story is dedicated to the memory of Joe McCoy for his contributions to the USAWA and the IAWA.)

IAWA(UK) Hall of Fame

by Steve Gardner

The recent inductees into the IAWA(UK) Hall of Fame - John Gardner, Andy Tomlin, Chris Bass, and Mark Haydock

The recent inductees into the IAWA(UK) Hall of Fame – John Gardner, Andy Tomlin, Chris Bass, and Mark Haydock

The 8th Bi Annual IAWA(UK) Hall of Fame Induction Dinner:
On Saturday 7th November a group of 50 converged on Branston Golf Club at Burton to witness the event and to support the 4 new Inductees: Mark Haydock, Andrew Tomlin, John Gardner and Chris Bass. There were 30 active IAWA(UK) members present including 8 current inductees and the 4 new impending members. To say it was a very special evening for all involved is an understatement, and shows how the family light of IAWA continues to shine brightly….before dinner the audience were treated to some weightlifting entertainment as 6 lifters set about 5 World Records. Victoria Eaglefield was successful with a new ladies Deadlift record of 130 kilos in the Open 90 kilo class. Rory Hoad was a record breaker too taking the 80 kilo mens open record to 65 kilos in the seated Dumbells Press, Webster Reid pulled off an amazing Bench Press hitting first 200 kilos and then 205 kilos in the Open 125+ Division. Josh Davidson smashed the Open Deadlift Bodyweight Reps record with 55 repetitions with 105 kilos and Matt Jones and Chloe Brennan finished with a super record in the 2 man mixed Deadlift, pulling 300 kilos for another super new record….Well done to all, you were a credit to yourselves and IAWA(UK), and thank you to Pete Tryner Chris Findon and Steve Moss who did the loading and catching for them. The Entertainment section was completed by Frank Allen. performing a short dance routine with his partner (who was a life size doll)…Britains got talent has nothing on IAWA Lol!…After Dinner the presentations took place to our 4 new inductees. Graham Saxton made the speech and made the presentation to John Gardner, James Gardner made the speech and presentation to Mark Haydock, Frank Allen made the speech and presentation to Chris Bass and William Wright made the speech and presentation to Andy Tomlin. It was all very moving and well put over, greeted with warm appreciation by the inductees and the audience. A moment was also taken to remember those inducted members who are no longer with us. I will put photos up and report further on the evening in due course, but for now well done everyone on a super special evening!

Iron Warrior RD

by Ruth Jackson

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT:  2015 USAWA Iron Warrior Gym Record Day (RD)

Denver, Colorado

The Iron Warrior Gym RD is a record day to provide an opportunity for those living in the Mountain States to contest USAWA lifts.   It also allows those doing Postal Nationals to get their lifts officiated. You are welcome to try anything if there is equipment to support it. No awards. 

 For more information (PDF) – Announcement

Lifter of the month – Denny Habecker

by Al Myers


Denny Habecker pulling on a People's Deadlift at the 2015 USAWA OTSM Championships.

Denny Habecker pulling on a People’s Deadlift at the 2015 USAWA OTSM Championships.

The lifter of the month for September is none other than our USAWA President Denny Habecker!  Denny won BEST OVERALL LIFTER at the USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships hosted by Eric Todd.  The OTSM Championships is one of our premier promotions held every year in the USAWA.  Winning Best Lifter at any of our Championships is a “big deal” in the USAWA!  Congratulations Denny!

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