The GARDNER LIFTS

by Al Myers

James Gardner doing a Half Gardner at the 2008 IAWA World Championships. James is the master of this lift which carries his name - and successfully lifted 176 pounds at a bodyweight of only 87.5 kilograms in front of IAWA Officials.

After the article regarding the Turkish Get Up (TGU) last month, I received a couple of emails from All-Round lifters reminding me of the similarities between the the Turkish Get Up and the Official IAWA and USAWA All-Round Lifts – the Gardner Lifts. Steve Gardner presented this lift to the IAWA World Council Meeting in Cleveland in 1995 for new lift approval, and the council not only approved the lift but named it after him!!!! In fact, there are two Gardner lifts – the Half Gardner and the Full Gardner.

However, there are some differences between the Turkish Get Up and the Gardner Lifts. In the Gardner Lifts, the lift starts at the top, while the TGU starts lying on the floor. The Gardner lifts allow only the use of a barbell, while the TGU allows the use of any implement – bar, dumbbell, or kettlebell. The Half Gardner Lift ends when the lifter is lying on the platform on his/her back, with the bar held in a single, straight arm overhead under control. In a sense – the starting position for the Turkish Get Up. In the Full Gardner Lift, once a Half Gardner is completed, the lifter receives a command to “Get Up” and return to the standing position with the bar overhead. So – part of the Full Gardner involves doing a Turkish Get Up. This sequence of lifts is easily summed up with this formula:

Full Gardner = Half Gardner + Turkish Get Up

These lifts are more difficult than just standing and lying down with weights. There is technique involved with steps taken in lying down and standing that helps in making these lifts easier to perform. It is important to first learn the “steps” and then follow the same step pattern each time. These lifts also involve flexibility – especially with the shoulder. It is a good lift for any age. I was amazed by Art Montini at last year’s World Championship when he did a Half Gardner of 39 pounds – and Art is over 80 years of age!! Most guys his age have difficulty getting out of bed and tying their own shoes. Art is living proof that weight training is indeed the “fountain of youth”!!!

Sad News from the Strength Journal

(I just received the Strength Journal, published by Bill Clark, and learned of the death of two all-round weightlifters. The following is from the Strength Journal).

by Bill Clark

Word comes to us well after the fact that Cleveland’s Bob Cox has died. I have no obituary to pass along to the membership. If anyone has such, please get it to me. Bob was an active lifter until knee replacement put him on the sidelines. He was 84 years old and a major contributor to the Journal. He was a training partner with Fred Kwast, Howard Prechtel, and many other Cleveland lifters dating back to World War II.

Kevin Heavner, who still holds the Mansfield Lift record, died recently at age 52. He lived in Columbia, trained in his garage, and dropped out of Olympic competition years ago. He was an excellent Olympic lifter with a chance to be a national class competitor, but chose to lift for fun. He lived no more than five minutes from Clark’s Gym and occasionally dropped by to check if anyone had broken his Mansfield record, but chose to train at home. Death was sudden. He seemed to be in excellent health. Some of his weights have been donated to our gym. Kevin was one of those folks about whom Ring Lardner once wrote – “The World of Men Who Might Have Been” – but he was happy with his place in life and in lifting.

TEAM LIFTING

by Al Myers

The date for the USAWA Team Nationals is approaching fast (Next Weekend -Sunday, September 20th, 2009). Team lifting is when two individuals (the Team) perform a lift together. The USAWA provides divisions for 2-Man, 2-Person, and 2-Woman Teams. A 2-person team is a team made up of a male and a female. All of these divisions are contested at the National Team Championships.

My training partner Chad Ullom (to left) and myself training the 2-Man Zercher Lift in preparation for the 2007 Team Nationals. We ended up lifting 705 pounds at Nationals.

Rules for Team Lifts (taken from the USAWA Rulebook)

“Any approved lift may be done as a Team Lift, provided it is done according to the rules of the individual lift. Team Lifts consist of two lifters performing a lift together. This may consist of male-male, female-female, or female-male teams. The combination of lifters may be of any age or weight. The weight class the Team will be in will be that of the heaviest lifter and the age class that of the youngest lifter. An exception is if a Junior lifter is teamed with an Open or Master lifter, in which the age class will be the class of the older lifter. “

Team lifting is very challenging because factors come into play that when lifting on a bar by yourself you don’t experience. The timing of the lift with your partner has to be the same or imbalances occur. It helps if both lifters are of the same height and body type so the bar is at the same height during and at the finish of the lift. Flexibility becomes more of a factor because of the limited space a bar provides when two lifters have a hold of it!! Lifting styles also come into play. For example – when doing a clean, one lifter can’t squat clean the bar while the other power cleans it!! Another factor you don’t think of until you actually do Team Lifting is trust. A missed lift can be catastrophic in team lifting because one person may be successfully completing the lift when this happens and unaware that one side of the bar is dropping fast!!! You have to know each others capabilities and be able to TRUST that your lifting partner won’t let you down.

But at the same time, Team Lifting provides a great challenge. In some lifts you can actually lift more together than the sum of each of your individual lifts. Chad and I found this out a couple of years ago when the Team One Arm Deadlift was contested at Team Nationals. We had an idea of what we thought we could do together based on each of our individual One Arm Deadlifts – but forgot a big difference that was going to occur when we were both gripping the bar. That difference was we were able to create an “alternate grip” on the bar by facing away from each other, thus helping in blocking the “bar roll” that occurs in any one arm deadlift. We ended up lifting more together than the sum of our “Bests” at the time.

There is still time to enter the USAWA Team Nationals.

John Grimek and the One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

John Grimek performing an One Arm Dumbbell Swing.

I can’t finish the story on the One Arm Dumbbell Swing without mentioning John Grimek.  As most All-Rounders know, John Grimek has had a tremendous influence on the USAWA.  He is one of the very few USAWA Hall of Fame members who didn’t earn his way into the USAWA Hall of Fame by competing in USAWA competitions.  He got nominated and inducted with the first USAWA Hall of Fame Class in 1993 because of the way he trained, how he promoted odd lifting (or all-round lifting as it is known today), and the great respect all-round lifters have for him.

Most lifters know John Grimek the bodybuilder.  After all, he is the only man to ever win two AAU Mr. America titles (1940 and 1941).  He had the “perfect physique” and was way ahead of his time in bodybuilding. He also won the Mr. Universe title in 1948 and the Mr. USA title in 1949.

Most lifters know John Grimek the weightlifter. After all, he was a National Weightlifting Champion and member of the famous Olympic Weightlifting Team that competed in Berlin in 1936.

But I argue he was foremost an All-Round Weightlifter!!!  His training program consisted, as he put it, of using “1001 exercises” to not only increase muscle size and strength, but flexibility and athleticism as well. He excelled at one arm lifts like the bent press, one arm snatch, side press, and the one arm dumbbell swing.  He even did support lifts like the Harness Lift and Hip Lift. He was also a great gymnast – and often did handstand pushups with ease.  But this is not intended to be an autobiography of John Grimek – I don’t have enough space for that –  instead just an article showing his great ability in the One Arm Dumbbell Swing. I was hoping that I could find proof that John Grimek had done a Swing that would have put him into the Top Ten of All-Time.  I have read that he did swings with over 200 pounds in training – but I couldn’t substantiate them.   An article by one of his training partners, Gord Venables in 1943,  stated that he and Grimek had both done 175 pounds in the One Arm Dumbbell Swing in training.

I ran across this old YouTube Video showing John Grimek doing some lifting and posing at a weightlifting picnic at York around the year 1940.  The quality of the video is not the best – but it clearly shows what a great lifter and performer John Grimek was!!

John Grimek died on November 20th, 1998.

Top Ten ALL-TIME One Arm Dumbbell Swing

by Al Myers

It is a difficult task to try to come up with an All-Time Top Ten list for any lift, and the One Arm Dumbbell Swing is even more difficult than others. I used many resources in formulating this list and want to state that I have tried my best to make this list as accurate as possible but I know that the list is not perfect.  Several factors made this research difficult.  Were the lifts official or unofficial?  Was a dumbbell used or a Kettlebell used?  Was the lift actually an One Arm Swing or was it an One Arm Dumbbell Snatch?  I want to thank everyone on the Iron History Forum for helping me with this project –  their knowledge on lifting history far exceeds mine!!!

TOP TEN PERFORMANCES ALL-TIME
THE ONE ARM DUMBBELL SWING

Rank Pounds         Lifter                                                           Date
1. 220
Hermann Goerner  (Germany)
1920
2. 219
Charles Rigoulot  (France)
1932
3. 202
Maurice Deriaz  (Switzerland)
1912
4. 199
Jean Francois LeBreton  (France)
1907
5. 198
Ernest Cadine  (France)
1925
6. 194
Emile Deriaz  (Switzerland)
1904
7. 190
Ron Walker  (England)
1937
8. 187
Arthur Saxon (Germany)
1905
9. 178
Stan Kratkowski  (United States)
1934
10. 176
Gabriel Lassortesse (France)
1907

As you can see from this list – all the top ten lifts of ALL-TIME in the One Arm Dumbbell Swing happened before the year 1937.  The swing is definitely a “forgotten lift”.  As I said the other day, one arm lifts were often contested in lifting competitions in the early 1900’s.  Today, the only opportunity to do an One Arm lift is in an All-Round weightlifting competition.  And given the large number of All-Round lifts – the chance to do an One Arm Swing in competition does not come around that often.  It takes extra time to load a swing dumbbell during competition which leads Meet Directors in not selecting the One Arm Dumbbell swing for a competition lift.

Steve Angell, in an IAWA competition, did an One Arm Swing with 165 pounds.  Rick Meldon, weighing only 160 pounds, did an One Arm Swing with 172 pounds in an IAWA event – the highest over bodyweight One Arm Swing ever in competition!!!

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