Jack Lano and the Lano Lift

By Al Myers

Jack Lano lifting at the 1997 USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri.

Jack Lano lifting at the 1997 USAWA National Championships in Columbia, Missouri.

All this talk recently of the Lano Lift and Jack Lano got me thinking about him.  It’s been years since I’ve visited with him, but he was one of those type of guys that left you with a “lasting impression”. The first time I met him was at the 2003 USAWA National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio.  Immediately he struck up a conversation with my dad and me and it wasn’t long before he handed me his business card.  I still have it as it’s the most unusual business card I’ve ever recieved.  I had to do some looking but here it is:


After I got to know him it became obvious that he accurately summed up his entire life on one business card! Jack was a very interesting and eccentric individual, and lived life to the fullest.  Today I’m gonna focus on his contributions to the USAWA, because if I was going to cover his entire life it would be a long biography. He was that interesting of man and accomplished many things.  Sadly, Jack passed away on January 10th, 2015. Just in the past few months was I aware of this, because if I had known earlier, I would have written a tribute blog about him shortly after his death.

Jack’s main lifting love was Olympic Weightlifting. He won over 30 Masters Weightlifting Championship titles, and many Pan Am and World titles.  He competed all over the World in Olympic Weightlifting including Australia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Hungary, Poland, Austria and many more. He was very involved in Olympic Weightlifting and served on the US Olympic Team Board of Directors. His best Olympic Lifts were a 265 Clean and Jerk and a 200 pound Snatch as a Masters Lifter. He is member of the Olympic Weightlifting Masters Hall of Fame. These are just the highlights of a very lengthly weightlifting resume.

Jack was introduced to the USAWA by Bill Clark.  Jack was one of the original competitors of the Masters Olympic Weightlifting program. When Bill promoted the very first National Masters Olympic Championships in 1974 only 4 lifters showed up that first year, of which Jack was one of them. Jack only competed in a handfull of USAWA competitions, but each one he competed in was a big one (either it be the Nationals, IAWA Gold Cup, or the IAWA Worlds).  Jack was a member of the initial class of USAWA members in 1988.  Here’s a short list of his major USAWA competitions: 1997 Nationals, 2003 Nationals, 1999 Worlds in Australia, and the 1995 Worlds in Ohio. Overall Jack still holds over 25 USAWA Records. He won Best Lifter in the 80-84 Age Group at the 2003 Nationals and Best Lifter in the 75-79 Age Group at the 1997 Nationals.

Of course, what Jack is now known for in the USAWA is the Lano Lift. It combined several of his favorite lifts – the Arthur Lift, the Shoulder Drop, and the Jerk behind the Neck. Jack, even when he was over 70, was extremely flexible for a man his size.  At the age of over 75 Jack has records in the books in the Arthur Lift of 110 pounds, the Shoulder Drop at 110 pounds, and a Continental Clean and Jerk of 165 pounds.  I remember him doing a Hack Lift at the 2003 Nationals of 100 pounds at the age of over 80! Jack proposed the Lano Lift in 1997 to the USAWA and the IAWA.  The USAWA passed it as an official lift, while it was turned down by IAWA.  The rules for the Lano Lift are as follows:

D19. Lano Lift

The bar is first cleaned from the platform. On a command from an official, the bar is pressed or jerked overhead. Once the bar is motionless and at the lifter’s discretion, the bar is lowered to the base of the neck. The lifter will then bend at the waist forward to a position of about 45 degrees and release the hands’ grip on the bar, thus balancing the bar on the shoulders. The bar is then allowed to roll down the lifters back until the bar rolls off the hips. The lifter must then catch the bar in the hands at arms’ length behind the back. The lifter will stand upright and shrug the bar into a resting position higher than the top of the buttocks. The lifter will bend the knees and lean forward until the head and shoulders are lower than the hips. The grip on bar is released and the bar is allowed to roll to the base of the neck. The hands may assist in this roll. The lifter will re-grip the bar and stand erect. The bar is then pressed or jerked overhead to arm’s length. Once the bar is motionless, and the lifter’s feet are in line with the torso, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control by the lifter.

That’s alot of lift to process! I always wished I asked Jack why he proposed such a complex lift to be his namesake. In the past  I often thought that he did it out of his sense of humor – just to see if the organization would fall for it and actually approve such a bizarre lift (he loved to joke around!).  Afterall, he never actually did the Lano Lift in any USAWA competition so that leaves you to wonder if he really liked this lift.  Maybe it was truly proposed just to represent some of his favorite USAWA lifts, since it combines several. Jack was a very intelligent person and liked to voice his opinions.  I remember him being very outspoken against the use of formulas to determine lifter’s rankings and/or placings.  Years ago he wrote a story for Milo titled, “You can’t put a man on a graph”.  He often wrote in opinions to the USAWA STRENGTH JOURNAL published by Bill Clark.

Jack Lano has definitely left his mark on the USAWA.  I just wanted to let everyone know that there was alot more to Jack Lano than just the Lano Lift. I’m going to end this story with a favorite quote from Jack himself, “You gotta wanna. Someday, when I don’t wanna, I’ll quit.”  I say those are words to live by, and with Jack, he wanna till the very end.

(for more on Jack Lano’s life, here’s a link to his obituary)

Lifter of the Month – Barry Pensyl

By Al Myers

Barry Pensyl performed a very difficult lift, the Abdominal Raise, at the 2017 Presidential Cup.

Barry Pensyl performed a very difficult lift, the Abdominal Raise, at the 2017 Presidential Cup.

A big congrats goes to the USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH for December – BARRY PENSYL. There was only one sanctioned USAWA event during the month of December, the John Vernacchio Memorial Record Day hosted by Denny Habecker at Habecker’s Gym. Barry is a member of Habecker’s Gym and has been a very active participant in events at Habecker’s Gym over the past few years. At the Vernacchio Memorial Barry set 5 new USAWA Records.  Barry is getting very close to joining the prestigious USAWA Century Club for lifters that hold 100 records or more.  I’ve been watching his count closely (mid 90’s on last count) and it’s quite possible with his efforts from this past record day he may now be in the CLUB with the next Record List update.  Barry has been around the USAWA since the beginning, competing in his first USAWA competition at the 1990 USAWA National Championships in Akron, Ohio.

Spec Equipment – 3″ Bar

By Al Myers

3" Bar

3″ Bar

Now here’s a very special piece of Spec Equipment for the USAWA  – the 3″ Bar.  Only ONE OFFICIAL USAWA lift utilizes the 3″ Bar, and that is the Deadlift with the 3″ Bar.  A 2″ bar is very common now in gyms, but I doubt if many training facilities have the 3″ Bar.  The USAWA rules for the 3″ bar are pretty simple: contain no knurling, have no revolving sleeves, and be 3″ in diameter.

The 3″ Bar Deadlift has been done only a few times in the USAWA. The first USAWA competition it was held in was the 2001 SuperGrip Challenge, hosted by Kevin Fulton.  At that meet Matt Graham hoisted up 600 pounds, which still stands as the ALL TIME USAWA record.  A picture of Kevin Fulton performing the 3″ Bar Deadlift graces our Rulebook in the rule for this lift which was done at that competition. It’s also been done at the 2011 and 2017 USAWA Grip Championships at the Dino Gym, plus a couple of record days at Clark’s Gym.  So that leaves 3 gyms that I know of that have a 3″ bar.  If any other USAWA gyms have one please let me know on the USAWA Discussion Forum.

The 3″ Bar has been added to the USAWA Online Store, under “USAWA Spec Equipment”.  I would say this would be an excellent addition to any USAWA Club!

Scott Lift

By Al Myers

Chad Ullom performing the top Scott Lift of All Time in the USAWA, at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.

Chad Ullom performing the top Scott Lift of All Time in the USAWA, at the 2010 Dino Gym Record Day.

I have tried at one time every lift in the USAWA Rulebook.  Now – I’m not saying I’ve been capable of actually performing every USAWA lift, but I’ve tried them.  Many I’ve done USAWA records in at meets or record days thus the reason I have USAWA Records in over 150 different USAWA Official Lifts, more than any other USAWA lifter. Early on a goal of mine was to learn and try all of the USAWA Official Lifts.

One lift I wanted to do at this past years Presidential Cup was the Scott Lift.  However, my back at the time was not cooperating thus I had to pick another lift.  I have written many blogs on this website covering different lifts, but the Scott Lift is one that has NEVER been written about.  Let’s review the rules for it:

D26. Scott Lift

The rules of the Zercher Lift apply with these exceptions. The lifter starts the lift on the knees with the bar placed in the crooks of the elbows. The lifter may roll the bar on the platform in order to gain momentum to start the lift.  With the bar fixed at the elbows, the lifter will then stand fully erect while keeping the bar in place. During the rise from the knees, the feet are allowed to move and the bar may be lowered, but the bar or plates must not touch the knees or the platform. Once on the feet, feet placement is optional, but the feet must not move. However, the heels and toes may rise.

All of our USAWA lifts have some sort of history associatied with them, and I’m sure people got to wonder about the history of the Scott Lift.  How and why did it get presented?  I know very few USAWA members have been around long enough to remember the origins of the Scott Lift.  And why was it named the Scott Lift?  Well, it has nothing to do with USAWA Hall of Famer Scott Schmidt, past USAWA lifter Charlie Scott, or even the great bodybuilding legend Larry Scott.  Strangely, it has nothing to do with anyone who ever lifted a barbell.

I’ll try to tell the story the best I can remember it.  In 1996 our past president Howard Prechtel witnessed a young nurse in a care facility pick up a patient from a lying position on the floor and placed the patient onto a bed.  She got down on her knees, placed her arms under the patient much like we do when holding a Zercher Lift, proceeded to stand up onto her knees with the patient in her arms, at which point she got one foot under her and then the over and stood up placing the patient on the bed.  Howard was inspired by this act of  lifting as she lifted from the floor more weight than her own bodyweight to a standing postion! It just so happens that this young female nurse had the last name of Scott.

Howard presented the Scott Lift to the USAWA in 1997 and it was passed as a USAWA Lift.  It was also presented at the IAWA meeting that same year but failed, and never was submitted to IAWA again.

The Scott Lift has been rarely contested in the USAWA. Only once has it been in a competition (the 1998 Louis Cyr Challenge at Clark’s Gym), plus done a few times at Record Days. Only 3 lifters have ever exceeded their bodyweight in the Scott Lift – Abe Smith (250 lbs), Chad Ullom (254 lbs), and myself (254 lbs).

I find myself doing this movement at work several times a week picking up anesthetized dogs to carry and place onto the surgery table. It is by far the safest way to pick up a recumbent patient. So that young nurse knew what she was doing!  The next time you want to try a different USAWA Lift – give a go at the Scott Lift and see if you can lift more than your own bodyweight so you can match the efforts of that young nurse who never lifted weights.

New Proposed Lifts

By Al Myers

Recently in the USAWA Discussion Forum there’s been talk of new lifts.  That’s what inspired me to write the blog the other day on the rules involving new lift approval. We have rules into place that make sure any new lift in the USAWA is considered a “good lift”, with proper written rules in place BEFORE it is proposed.  Which has not been the policy in the old days – thus why there are so many strange official rules and lifts in our Rulebook.

I’m in the mood to do a little rambling today about my opinion on all this. Of course, these are just my opinions and may not represent the viewpoints of others on the Executive Board.  The USAWA has MANY more official lifts than the IAWA(UK). What’s considered official IAWA lifts is generally what is in the IAWA(UK) Rulebook. I tend to agree with this, because unlike the USAWA, the IAWA(UK) only considers “new lifts” as those passed at the AGM of the IAWA while the USAWA proposes and accepts new lifts at our USAWA meeting which only represents the USAWA.  The IAWA(UK) does not accept new lifts at their IAWA(UK) annual meeting.  The ARWLWA primarly uses the IAWA(UK) Rulebook as their official rulebook, but does use the USAWA Rulebook for the OTSM lifts.  So to sum it up, the USAWA has official lifts that the IAWA(UK) does not.

What do I consider in voting on a new proposed lift?  Simply put I look at THREE THINGS before casting my vote.

1. Is it a new, novel lift?

What’s the point of passing a new lift that is just a knockoff of a lift we already have.  Here’s an example of a lift I wouldn’t be in favor of – say – the heels together Ciavattone Grip Deadlift.  We already have the Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, and we already have the heels together deadlift.  I just don’t see the point of combining these. After all, anytime a Ciavattone Grip is used it comes down to grip strength anyways. I don’t have a problem with a “one deviation” difference from a traditional lift, but after that it just becomes confusing and redundant.  I won’t even get started venting about the Lano Lift.  That’s a story in itself how that lift got passed!

2. Does it represent an old time All Round Weightlifting movement or lift?

Our mission statement has always stated that the USAWA “strives to preserve the history of the original forms of weightlifting”.  I hope we never forget this, as I feel that is the purpose of our organization.  If you’re interested in the “new age” strength lifts, go compete in cross fit. That’s not what we are about.

3. Is it a lift that can be performed properly by the majority of our members?

We already have enough “trick lifts” and “pet lifts” in our Rulebook. We don’t need more.  I understand that the USAWA gives opportunity to express hidden strengths in obscure lifts, but enough is enough.  I understand why the Van Dam Lift got approved (it was for a personal publicity stunt which we agreed to participate in, hoping it would give us some exposure), but come on, that’s a ridiculous lift to have in our Rulebook.  I can think of over  50 new lifts that we could have that would be better than that one! I feel any new USAWA official lift should be one that at least over 50 percent of lifters can perform.

On the IAWA front the USAWA has always been very open to new lifts, more so than the rest of the IAWA crowd.  I could state my reasons why I think that is so – but won’t publically as I know I would offend some people.  I do know some think we have enough All Round lifts in “the books” now, but if a new lift is proposed that is good I am all for it.  Maybe we should get rid of some official USAWA lifts? Again that is a story for another day!


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