WHERE’S THE BEEF? At Future USAWA meets!

by John McKean

John McKean and Ernie "Beef" Beath

His online handle is “Beef” and at 6’2″ and 390 pounds, big Ernie Beath sure fits the billing! The polite and pleasant 28-year-old strongman from Cambridge, Maryland, and I started e-mailing sometime back, and I was simply astounded over his reported training poundages. It was only natural that the pressing variations he favors be verified for the world by doing them in sanctioned USAWA events, and he was most anxious to acquire official verification. So Ernie traveled over to Ambridge for Art’s annual Birthday Bash Record Day, and wasted no time doing a perfect world record rack push press with 381 pounds. It was so easy that we talked him into a 401 pound attempt, which was almost locked out, perhaps simply a victim of first meet jitters! But he’ll try over 400 at our December 6 meet (We’d like a big turnout guys!!! Come on over!) and will take a shot at a huge JERK from the rack, where’s his gym best is over 450!!

Ernie is a home trainee, and has developed his training concepts almost entirely on his own. He found out early on that he could make best strength gains with heavy singles, so goes almost to top limits on a variety of lifts (2 or 3 per session, 4 times per week on average) every workout. He really enjoys pushing big weights overhead, doing things like the above mentioned presses & jerks from the rack, clean & press behind the neck, and even strict presses while seated flat on the floor. However, he’s not too keen on flat benches or lying down to lift, ever since a training accident with 700 pounds in the partial close grip bench press cost him an eye (after the hospitalization, he bounced right back to the heavy lifting that means so much to him!).

Ernie Beath and a 381 pound Push Press from Rack

A true all-rounder, Ernie has always done “variations” from standard lifts, even without knowing about us in the USAWA, such as Zerchers, squats with the bar held overhead in snatch position, various close stance deadlift forms, and high pulls/continental types. An unusual move that both Ernie and I are trying to get established as an official IAWA lift is the bent over row in both strict and “power” forms. The Beefster hauls in over 500 pounds in this back strengthening, total body movement. Again he relegates this typical bodybuilding exercise away from its normal roots by pulling exclusively with heavy singles!

Another unique aspect of Ernie’s training is his use of heavy chains over the barbell. Quite often, for jerks, presses, and front squats he’ll place a 60 pound chain over each end of the bar. And on “good” days he has a pair of 100# chains! Of course the lifts start with lesser weight, with much of the chain linkage on the ground, but by lift’s end, ALL that unwieldy weight comes together! Ernie claims a regular 400# jerk with a barbell, for example, seems so easy and balanced in comparison to one with his heavy, awkward chains!!

We are fortunate to be witnessing just the beginning from this youthful behemoth ! A most welcome newcomer to our USAWA fraternity, I’m sure Ernie’s name will soon be all over the record book!

My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 3

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone has done a Neck Lift with 808 pounds!!

Al: What have been your favorite All-Round lifts? What records have you set that you are most proud of?

Frank: My favorite lifts were the three Ciavattone lifts, One hand deadlift and the Necklift. They all seemed natural for me. As for records, my favorite’s are one arm Hacklift right hand 402 1/5 lb’s, one arm Deadlift right hand 562 1/5 lbs, one arm Ciavattone lift right hand 331 lbs, Neck lift 808 lbs, Hand and thigh 1610 lbs, and a Hip lift of 2515 lbs.

Al: What advice do you have for new All-Round lifters?

Frank: Stay away from any artificial way of getting ahead. Hard, hard, hard work is what got me to do the best I could without jeopardizing my number one thing in my life, FAMILY. Keep your priorities in the right order. This formula keeps everyone happy and supportive.

Frank Ciavattone's favorite lift - the one arm deadlift.

Al: What is needed in the USAWA for the organization to grow?

Frank: Get involved in your particular region or state. Do the best of your ability and either promote, coach, run a meet or like I do every year, go to schools and promote our drug free sport with a talk of how you can be a World Champ without drugs. Then show them some feat of strength they may never see again. If everyone did this instead of complaining the USAWA would be that much stronger!!!!!!

Al: Do you have any other thoughts about All-Round weightlifting that you would like to mention?

Frank: The sun does not shine for everyone in most sports, as it does not shine for the same in Olympic lifting, Powerlifting, or Strongman events. But I’m sure if you tried the USAWA you will find that the sun does shine on one of our 100+ lifts. So give our sport a try. I have also met some of the most caring athletes, friends and families out of any other sport I have participated. Thank You for this opportunity.

Al: Frank, thanks so much for participating in this interview. It is always a pleasure getting to visit with you.

My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 2

by Al Myers

Frank Ciavattone was the first American to ever lift the Dinnie stones unassisted. He performed this amazing feat in 1995.

Al: I know you have promoted several All-Round meets throughout the years. Could you tell me about some of the most memorable meets you have promoted?

Frank: I have run National and World competitions in both Allrounds and Heavy Lifts. The most memorable Allround meet was definitely the 1st one in 1993, in my home towns of Norwood/Walpole, Mass. All in one meet I had my family, friends, the towns people, and all the lifters from other countries. They were also like friends and family. With that combination it was a week of comradeship, competitiveness, and support. The rest was a true celebration of what this sport is by bringing a half dozen countries together as human beings. This is a time I will always cherish in my heart. As the Heavy Lifts go, I would have to say Winning the Outstanding Lifter Title at the 2005 World Heavy Lift Championships in front of my home towns Norwood/Walpole, Mass. I was in the 275lb. class. I gave the award to my daughter Domenique. That was a Hallmark moment for me.

Al: How many times have you competed overseas at World Meets? I know when you where in Scotland you became the first American to ever lift the Dinnie Stones without straps. Could you tell me the story about your success in lifting the Dinnie Stones?

Frank: I have lifted overseas in 6 World Championships and 1 Millennium Gold Cup for a total of 7 trips. The Dinnie Stones story got started by Willie Wright and his team wanting me to go north and give them a try! They offered to take time off from work and take me. For this I said yes and would give it my best shot. Well after lifting in 2 day competition with 10 lifts at the 1996 World Championships, and the 9th lift being a 507lb. right hand- 1 arm deadlift, I was beat. After the meet we all got ready for the banquet, which anyone who’s ever lifted in Scotland know their banquets are right up there with the best of them. Well around midnight Willie informed me that the mini-bus was leaving at 5 a.m. sharp, tomorrow morning with about a 4 or 5 hour drive. The next day everything goes on schedule and we arrive there with a full mini-bus. I never saw the stones in person before but have to say I was overwhelmed at them. They were both chained to the wall, and it was drizzling out. Everything had a film of water over it, and the marble size piece of chalk I brought was disintegrated. So I found an area not so wet and dug my hands through the dirt to dry them up and it helped. At this point I picked up the little stone right and left, then I did the same to the big stone. Well now I thought I did it. They all yelled NO – do the 2 stones together. Since they were chained to the wall I decided to keep my 2 feet together since the stones were close to the wall. It was hard for me to straddle them and definitely too tight to have one on each side. So finally on my 1st. attempt I reached down and slowly stood up, and stood there while Willie Wright gave his down signal. I was in another world as I felt like I could not put them down. I got an IAWA World record certificate and the honors of being the 1st. US citizen to lift up the stones without straps or other assistance. Also to be one of few to lift them feet together. I am not sure who the others are. The truth to all this is I lifted them fatigued, never seen them before, and never trained to lift them. No excuses – just got of the bus and within 5 minutes lifted both of the ground. I did it my way!!!!!!

My Interview with Frank Ciavattone – Part 1

by Al Myers

Recently at the World Championships I got the great honor of getting the opportunity to compete with Frank Ciavattone again. It has been several years since Frank has been able to compete because of various injuries, with the last one being a hip replacement. Frank is a true Pioneer in the Sport of All-Round Weightlifting and contains a wealth of information. He is also the ultimate sportsman by demonstrating that a big man can be very strong without the use of drugs, showing that strength comes from within, and displays the unselfish attitude of always helping out his fellow competitors.

Frank Ciavattone performing a One Arm Hack Lift at the 2005 USAWA National Championships. I'm standing behind him watching and learning. Frank has the top USAWA lift of All-Time in this lift at 402 pounds.

Al: Where do you current live and what do you do for a living?

Frank: I live at 204 East St. E. Walpole, MA 02032. I am a self-employed Excavator Contractor two-thirds of the season and a Heavy Snow Remover the remaining time.

Al: When did you first start weightlifting and how did you get started?

Frank: I started to lift after I received a 75lb. weight set for Christmas in 1966. My uncle Ralph (my godfather) was a bodybuilder in the early 1950’s. He actually placed 5th in the 1951 Mr. Boston Contest. Plus my dad was a Marine during the Korean War and was a Power Shovel operator (steam shovel). Running this type of equipment makes you strong. I remember how big, calloused and strong his hands were. No doubt they were my inspiration.

Al: What got you started in All-Round Weightlifting?

Frank: I trained for many years (1971 to 1988) with my coach Joe Mills of The Central Falls Weightlifting Club in Central Falls, R.I. Joe trained some of the best Olympic lifters in the country and the world, such as Mark Cameron and Bob Bednarski. Joe did this with respect and honesty. I was always very close to Joe and he knew I would never make it as a World champ in Olympic lifting. He suggested to me to work the lifts that I could out lift all the other lifters from the club in and go for the best there ever was. His only suggestion was stay around 275lbs. or less. I never ever got the drug speech from him as he knew my family and how we were raised and the rest is history. I also had some tremendous help from Bill Clark, John Vernacchio, and Howard Prechtel. I met Bill at the 1984 American Championships in Conn. He told me how they do Allround lifting in Missouri and sent me newsletters to see the records and THEN another sparkplug lit. I’ve got all his newsletters ever since. I basically was a charter member in 1988 but due to a personal problem could not go to England. John & Howard gave me endless phone time on educating me how to do a lot of the lifts before upcoming contests. I can not leave without mentioning Frank Gancarz and Ed Jubinville (both deceased) who played a big part in making me feel Allround lifting was just as important as life itself! To these MEN I truly admire and respect and I thank them from the bottom of my HEART!

Legacy of Iron – a Novel by Brooks Kubik

Book Review by Al Myers

Legacy of Iron

I just finished reading what I consider one of the most informative, entertaining books regarding weightlifting that I have ever read!! It has been over ten years since Brooks Kubik wrote the classic training book Dinosaur Training. I read Dinosaur Training at least once per year and find new information in it each time. In fact, the book Dinosaur Training inspired me to name my gym the Dino Gym. Dinosaur Training outlined my training approach exactly – and when I was reading it for the first time I would constantly nod my head and say, “Yes – I agree – That’s how I train!!” Brooks Kubik did me a big favor – now there is no need for me to ever write a book describing my training – Brooks Kubik already did it!!!

Back to Review of the Legacy of Iron..

Brooks Kubik does a great job of combining a fictional novel and factual information regarding training and famous weightlifters from the 1930’s. The story centers around the life of a young lifter, by the name of Jim Miller, who was beaten up as a young kid by the local bully, and in response, started weightlifting. The time frame the novel occurs in, as Kubik refers to, as the Golden Era of Weightlifting. This was the time Bob Hoffman and the York Barbell Club was producing weightlifting Champions like John Grimek, Steve Stanko, Gord Venables and many others. The Legacy of Iron mixes weightlifting history and a suspenseful story line that keeps your attention throughout the entire book.

I HIGHLY recommend that you order a copy of the Legacy of Iron – I promise you will not be disappointed!! I admit that I was slightly let down when I finished the book and on the last page it said, To Be Continued. I wanted to read more!! But then I found out that Brooks Kubik already had the sequel out, Legacy of Iron – Clouds of War!! I immediately ordered his second book (yesterday) and can’t hardly wait until I get it. My advice for you is to order both of them at the same time so you can immediately start reading the second book after the first book and not have to deal with the frustration of waiting for it like me!!

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