Curl – Wrist

by Al Myers

LaVerne Myers trains the wrist curl in preparation for the USAWA Grip Championships.

LaVerne Myers trains the wrist curl in preparation for the USAWA Grip Championships.

At the USAWA Grip Championships, only official USAWA lifts are contested.  We have a wide range of grip lifts in our Rule Book – some very common performed lifts and some that are obscure. I would include the wrist curl as one of the obscure!  It has very rarely been contested – and only at record days.  There are just a handful of USAWA records in this lift.

The official USAWA Rule for the Wrist Curl:

D11. Curl – Wrist

This lift starts with the lifter placing the forearms and the back of the hands flat on a hard table with the palms of the hands facing upwards, holding a bar. The lifter must be standing. The feet must not be braced against the table. Once in this position, an official will give a command to curl. The lifter will curl the hands off the table using wrist flexion only, while keeping the forearms on the table at all times. Both hands must be held entirely off the table for two seconds. The knuckles and back of hands must be completely off the table before the official will begin the count. The lifter may use any grip, including a hook grip or a grip with no thumbs. If the bar rolls out of the hands with the fingers no longer touching the bar, it is a disqualification. The bar must rise evenly, with both hands leaving the table at the same time, or it will be a disqualification. If the forearms move or are lifted, it is a disqualification. The lift ends on command.

At the Grip Champs we will use a solid table with a rubber top to prevent arm slippage.  I will have plywood available to stand on so everyone can get a comfortable height. Spotters will assist the bar into the hands to start the lift.  This is one of the lifts that is “old school” and uses a 2 second hold at the finish before a down command is given. I will be looking at the part of the hand closest to the wrist to determine if the entire hand is off the table. Both hands must be entirely off the table to be a legal lift.

The top record in our Record List for the Wrist Curl belongs to Dan Wagman with a 300 pound lift.

The One Rep Pump

by John McKean

Serge Reding

Serge Reding

Leaping very high into the air, toes pointed perfectly, crisp coordinated form, with pinpoint precision and speed, I’d have awarded a perfect score of “10” to the would-be ballerina!! Well, at least, to this 309 pound “ballerina” who possessed over 20” bulging, ballistic-powered calves!! You see, I’d just witnessed the phenomenal, densely muscled Serge Reding perform a textbook squat snatch with an extremely heavy barbell (he eventually snatched 402 pounds!) at the 1970 World Championships in Columbus, Ohio. He was obviously a pleased and happy man during this victory jump, and almost outdid the legendary Alexeev for the overall title!

My excitement was on a different level. Never had I seen such pure pulling power as developed by this 5’7” human tank. Nor anyone, anywhere so thickly muscled, as the obvious outcome of longtime pulling dedication! Heck, later, after that day’s lifting, a Mr. World, or some such physique event, was scheduled with featured competitors Olivia, Schwartzenegger, Columbu, etc. However, after being absolutely blown away by Serge Reding, I told my wife we were heading back home immediately (I had highly motivated TRAINING to do!) because NOBODY, no matter what titles held, could look as physically and functionally impressive as the Belgian Blockbuster!!

Upon further reading, it seems ole Serge also once deadlifted 771 pounds – with no training whatsoever on that lift! Hmmm, maybe I should have done more olympic lifting in my teens, rather than jumping right into powerlifting. Still, it proved then that it’s never too late to add a few pulling movements. But it was much later, as a master’s age lifter, that the wonderful world of all-round weightlifting competition (I.A.W.A.) provided a huge variety of on ground and off ground pulls. Events such as straddle lifts, hacks, continental cleans, hang snatches, single arm swings and various positioned one handed heaves, etc., etc., went a long way toward making up for a misspent youth!!

Yet it wasn’t until former U.S.A.W.A. President, Cleveland’s late, great Howard Prechtel, showed me a unique, relatively obscure lift favored by old timer Herman Goerner, that my old bod started to “feel” much how Serge Reding “looked”! That is, upon performing this platform-up pull, every muscle fiber and tendon went into serious tension mode; a rich feeling during the delightful strain suggesting my body was being turned inside out!

The pull in question is the two barbell deadlift. Yep, an olympic barbell at right and left, hook gripped and grabbed from the exact centers, then a slow, torturous stand up. Certainly, SLOW motion is a key due to balance issues, but the nature of the lift also supplies a sustained TOTAL BODY ISOMETRIC contraction of everything from toes to nose for support! I’ve long maintained that ALL max weight lifting works the musculature entirely, through the iso effect of holding heavy barbells, and that ONE heavy lift is superior to any long term scheme of sets & reps!! You’ll have to actually try a near limit two barbell deadlift to understand, but literally ONE rep yields a very efficient, entire body “flush”! (Please forgive the bodybuilding terms!! Yet just as Reding displayed, the ultimate form of “posing” is under the duress of crimson-faced struggling with something extremely heavy! His 21” arms certainly looked sufficiently “flexed” with the the eye-popping overhead pressing performance of an official 502 pounds! Check Youtube).

Why not go to an easier loading trap bar or 2 dumbbell deadlifts? Well, one can position himself far better with 2 moveable barbells to the sides; while a trap bar offers a fixed hold and seems so far more restricting. Personally, I can always achieve higher poundage with two barbells than a trap bar, or with clumsier dumbbells. Plus the grip work is intense, and it’s a genuine thrill to pull & hold TWO heavily loaded 7 foot bars!

These days, in early middle age (70!), I often think I could just live with the TBD alone as a complete exercise program, just working up to a top single. Yeah, a few other favorite contest exercises are still retained because there’s always all-round meets approaching, but none of those secondary movements provide that one rep “pump” instilled by the iso effect of hefting 2 big bars. I swear that the lift actually “irons out,” for the duration of supporting it, all the “old man body wrinkles” life has somehow given me!

Garage trainees, try some! You are certainly in a better place to load and pick up 2 parallel bars than in a commercial gym or even within the friendlier confines of a competition oriented “pit.” Trust me, you don’t want the unnecessary attention when devoting time to train this rather strange movement! Nor do you deserve the fearful stares as super effort 2 bar deadlifts threaten to explode your face and neck when all the hidden veins and tendons come springing forth!

Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, One Arm

by Al Myers

The Inch Dumbbell Replica that will be used at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships.

The Inch Dumbbell Replica that will be used at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships.

The USAWA Grip Championships will be here soon. The meet date is Saturday, February 13th, at the Dino Gym. I’m going to take this week to highlight the lifts in the meet.  A couple of the meet lift are ones that are not contested often so a little refresher on the lift rules might be beneficial as you train the lifts.

The first lift contested in the Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, One Arm. The USAWA has tried to name lifts so the are self-descriptive in their name.  This is one that could be confusing if you were not familiar with the famous old time strongman Thomas Inch.  This lift is named after him because it simulates a lift based on his challenge dumbbell that he used in his old time strength shows. The handle of the dumbbell is 2.5″ in diameter, not 1″!


 I8. Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, One Arm

The rules of the Deadlift – One Arm apply except the dumbbell used must have a handle of 2 1/2” in diameter. No knurling is allowed on the handle. The plates must be firmly attached by collars so no rotation of the plates will occur during the lift. The maximum diameter of the plates used is 11 inches.

As you can see the rules of the One Arm Deadlift apply.  This means the legs must be straight upon completion, dumbbell motionless, and non-lifting hand removed from body contact before a down command is given.  Upon finish the dumbbell can not be supported by the body.  This is very much a grip lift! An increase of 5 pounds is the difference between an “easy lift” and a miss.


by Steve Gardner

Eugen Sandow

Eugen Sandow

Eugen Sandow (April 2, 1867 – October 14, 1925), born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, was a German Strongman and pioneering bodybuilder known as the “father of modern bodybuilding”.

Sandow was born in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) on April 2, 1867, to a German father and a Russian mother. His family were Lutherans and wanted him to become a Lutheran minister. He left Prussia in 1885 to avoid military service and traveled throughout Europe, becoming a circus athlete and adopting Eugen Sandow as his stage name.

In Brussels he visited the gym of a fellow strongman, Ludwig Durlacher, better known under his stage name “Professor Attila”. Durlacher recognized Sandow’s potential, mentored and in 1889 encouraged him to travel to London and take part in a strongmen competition. Sandow handily beat the reigning champion and won instant fame and recognition for his strength. This impetus launched him on his career as an athletic superstar. Soon he was receiving requests from all over Britain for performances. For the next four years, Sandow refined his technique and crafted it into popular entertainment with posing and incredible feats of strength.

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