Tag Archives: Al Myers

John Patterson – The Sequel

by Al Myers

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

John Patterson (left) and myself at the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Australia.

At the 2015 IAWA Gold Cup in Perth, Western Australia I was reunited with the legendary Australian weightlifter John Patterson.  I had met John previously at the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Perth were we immediately struck up a friendship. After that Worlds, I wrote a short piece in the USAWA Daily News about John, his weightlifting career, and his life.  Now today I would like to expand on that story with this sequel! I did a better job taking notes this time. I’ll start at the beginning.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John Patterson spent many years training by himself in the Australian Outback.

John was born in 1944 in Auckland, New Zealand. He worked various jobs as a young man – on the wharf, as a farmer, and in the flour mill.  In 1970 he emigrated to Australia and took a job as a wardsman in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.  The next year he took a job at the Royal Perth Hospital as a nursing technician. It was in Perth that he enrolled in Murdock University and got exposed to his future passion that would change his life and career. John assisted on a historical survey of the Dampier Archipelago in 1978.  This included studying maritime archaeology which was a great interest to him.  During this study, John was intrigued by the Aboriginal rock carvings and artwork. He sent a list of his findings to the Aboriginal Sites Development  and this lead  him to a future job as a Museum Ranger at Woodstock and Abydos in the Northern Pilbara region.  He was in charge of the protection of Aboriginal Heritage. His work included finding new Aboriginal historical sites. He had a talent for finding new Aboriginal rock carvings.   He would document and photograph these historical areas.  Photography is John’s other passion as well as weightlifting.  He shared with me many fantastic photographs that he has taken over the years.  I was quite impressed! His territory included over 1000 square miles.  He lived in this primitive and isolated area for close to 10 years.

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack.   Here John is pulling a 750 pound People's Deadlift!

John Patterson focused much of his training in the power rack. Here John is pulling a 750 pound People’s Deadlift!

During this time John continued to lift weights and compete. He competed in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting and won several championships. During our conversations I enjoyed most the discussions of his training during this time.  He was faced with the hardest environment for training – yet he kept with a program that he made significant gains on. Most would not even bother training in his circumstance!  This was all done with the simplest of equipment – bar and some plates (some homemade out of concrete) – and the focal point of John’s training, his power rack.  John believes in training in the power rack to overcome sticking points. As he put it, he would work “down the rack”. I will simplify his program for this article, but John had many little nuances in training philosophy that he developed over time with trial and error. He found a program that worked for him! This is how his program went.  Say for example your top deadlift is 500 pounds. Your first set would be 500 pounds from mid-thigh for six reps.  You would then lower the pins in the rack to around 2-3″ below the knees and then pull 500 for 3 reps.  Then take the bar to the floor and pull a single at 500 pounds.  The next workout you would increase the weight.  He did this program for his squat and bench press as well. John felt this program allowed you to use your top poundages for repetitions, thus overcoming any mental boundaries you may have with your max.  It worked for John as he maintained a max squat and deadlift over 600 pounds for many years.  I should also mention that John trained outside at night under the stars, as it was too hot to train during the day in the Australian Outback. John kept his focus on primary lifting movements like the squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, high pulls, and push press.  He kept his training abbreviated to the important movements. I should also mention that John did all of his training by himself without the help or assistance of training partners!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press.  John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John Patterson performing a 200 pound dumbbell Bent Press. John has always been an All Round Weightlifter!

John has just recently had a physical setback with having heart surgery.  But that hasn’t slowed him down much – as he told me he just pulled over 300 pounds!  He seems very excited to get back to heavy training!  I have no doubt that he will. He was not cleared by the doctor to compete in the Gold Cup so he spent the entire weekend helping out, officiating, and encouraging the lifters.  His enthusiam for all round weightlifting was evident.

I love success stories like John’s.  Many people think they don’t have the time to train, or the proper place to train so they don’t. They make excuses.  John Patterson had all the reasons in the world to make an excuse – but he didn’t!  He overcame his obstacles and had a successful weightlifting career. That’s inspiration for everyone!

I want to conclude this story with some simple wisdom that John shared with me on training.  John said, “Keep it short. Keep it heavy. Train as though every rep will be your last.”

Those are words to live by.

Deadlift-Fingers, Middle

by Al Myers

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark's Gym.  You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner's.

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark’s Gym. You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner’s.

This lift probably has been in the USAWA Grip Championships more than any other and each time it’s in the meet I’m asked by lifter’s — WHY?  Well, maybe because I just love to watch the pain in your face as you are pulling with all your might using only your middle fingers!  And because the USAWA Grip Champs HAS to have at least one painful lift in it.

The rules for the Middle Fingers Deadlift is as follows:

B7. Deadlift – Fingers, Middle

The rules of the Deadlift apply except only the middle fingers of both hands may be used. The middle fingers of both hands may grip the bar in an alternate manner. The thumb must not be in contact with the lifting fingers.

I have written blogs in the past about the Middle Fingers Deadlift and the famous old time German Strongman Hermann Goerner. I want to share again part of a story I’ve written before.

David Willoughby in his book The Super Athletes listed Goerner as having done a MF deadlift of 140 kilograms (308.5 pounds) around 1925.  I have always considered this the mark to beat to be outstanding in the middle fingers deadlift.  Now, compared to what Hermann has reported in his other finger lifts, this lift of his seems to be a sub-maximal effort.  None the less, it is a very good lift (and is actually believable compared to some of his other claims).   However, this 308.5# middle finger deadlift is not listed in Hermann’s autobiography by Edgar Mueller’s Goerner the Mighty.  I have read this book several times, and I don’t ever remember seeing this lift listed.  Mueller does talk in one chapter about the wide deviations of grips that Hermann uses for his deadlifts, and mentions a middle finger overhand grip  deadlift (of which he lists Goerner as having worked up to 220 pounds), but nothing about using an alternate grip as we allow in the USAWA for the Finger Deadlifts.

I’ve always considered  Goerner’s Middle Finger Deadlift of 308.5 pounds as the mark to be considered outstanding at this lift. Only a handful of USAWA lifter’s have achieved it in USAWA competition and are part of the USAWA “Goerner’s Club”.  This is the short list:

1. Kevin Fulton 400 pounds – 1999 SuperGrip Challenge
2. Ben Edwards  310 pounds – 2011 USAWA Grip Championships
3.  Bill DiCiccio 309 pounds – 1994 IAWA Gold Cup

I’m hoping someone else will join this list at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships!

Lifter on the Month – Al Myers

by Chad Ullom

Al and his award at the Gold Cup.

Al and his award at the Gold Cup.

The lifter of the month for November is our Secretary and Webmaster, Al Myers! Al competed in the Gold Cup and won the Howard Prectel trophy. Al represented the USAWA in the Belmont Heavy events in Perth and won the masters class! While in Australia, he also set a new record in the Power Row and on his second lift set a record in the Thumbless DL. Way to go Al!
Congratulations!

Belmont Heavy Events

by Al Myers

Al Myers throwing the 56# Weight over the bar in Perth, Australia.

Al Myers throwing the 56# Weight over the bar in Perth, Australia.

When I was in Australia for the IAWA Gold Cup, meet promoter John Mahon organized a couple of other competitions in the days following the Gold Cup.  This made a full weekend of competition activities for our enjoyment!  The day after the Gold Cup a Heavy Events competition was contested at the Belmont Athletics Club.  The Highland Games were a major passion of mine for 20 years.  Between the ages of 20 and 40 I competed in over 300 games all over the US and Scotland, but NEVER in Australia!  I have been “retired” from the Highland Games for the past 10 years, but when John presented me with this unique opportunity to throw the heavy weights and turn a caber in Australia I couldn’t pass it up!  I knew I would be a “little rusty” since I have barely touched a throwing weight for 10 years, but once I got started it was alot like riding a bike – the technique was ingrained into my nervous system and I felt just like the “old days”.  Now others things have left me (like my speed, power and explosion!), but  when I picked the caber I felt solid with it technique wise and was able to turn it!  I even got to compete in the Masters Class which I have never done before in the games.  I had a GREAT TIME!  I really enjoyed the friendly competition I had with the Perth Powerhouse Peter Phillips.  We spent much of the day bantering with each other, but both of us gave it all we had. Days like this one make me remember why I love the Highland Games so much! There were a couple of young throwers in the open class that have unreal ability. I hope that they “stick with it” because both of them could have a bright future as the next great Australian Highland Gamer.

Thanks John and “the crew” for hosting this event. Who knows? It might inspire me to come out of retirement and hit the Highland Games circuit next year!

Team Champs History

by Al Myers

8 time USAWA Team Champions Chad Ullom and Al Myers performing a 430 pound Heels Together Clean and Press in the first USAWA Team Championships in 2007.

8 time USAWA Team Champions Chad Ullom and Al Myers performing a 430 pound Heels Together Clean and Press in the first USAWA Team Championships in 2007.

It is my goal this year to create a historical summary of all our Championship Events, which will be always easily available to view in our historical archive page section on the website.   I plan to do this around the time of each Championships.  Since the Team Championships is already “done and gone” it is time I get this one summarized!  I have promoted and hosted all of the USAWA Team Championships at the Dino Gym, with the first year being in 2007.  Hard to believe – but next year will be our 10th year for this annual Championship event.

The USAWA Team Championships started out as a very small competition.  Only ONE TEAM showed up the first year, and that was only because I talked Chad into being my teammate. Well, the next year didn’t get much better when Chad told me he couldn’t make it so I talked Joe Garcia into being my teammate.  Again, it was just one team.  Joe commented to Bill (which was published in the Strength Journal) that “it was really cozy laying so close to Al” during the Team Pullover and Press.  I would think the enjoyment of that experience would have motivated Joe to return to the Team Championships – but I haven’t seen him at this meet since!  It was at that time that I think Bill probably thought I should have “put a fork” into this Team Championships idea and kill it off – and I was having my doubts as well – but I forged on for another year.

In 2009, the Team Championships started to pick up momentum! Participation DOUBLED with 2 teams in attendance. Thanks to the JWC Graybeards for showing up it finally made for a real competition – a ONE ON ONE DUEL. Thom and John vowed a rematch with Chad and me – but again they have not been seen at the Team Championships since.

2010 brought another increase in attendance!  For the first time there was a 70 age plus team competing (Rudy Bletscher and Mike Murdock).  This comp also marked the first time a Team Trap Bar Deadlift was done – which I made specifically for this event. 2012 was a memorable year because it was the first time a Mixed Pair (man and woman) team entered with Doug and Jera Kressly.  At this event the participation was up to 4 teams.  2013 was even better with all 3 divisions represented.  Ruth Jackson and Molly Myers entered the first ever 2-Women Team that year.  The BEST YEAR for attendance was THIS YEAR, 2015, with 6 teams entered.  There were 3 2-Man Teams and 3 Mixed Pair Teams.  This made for a great competitive event.

It has taken about 10 years – but finally I feel this is one of the best attended events in the USAWA.  I’m glad I didn’t “throw in the towel” back in 2008!

 

SUMMARY OF USAWA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

BEST OVERALL LIFTER TEAM AWARDS

 YEAR & DATE 2-MAN 2-WOMEN MIXED PAIR
2015-August 30th

Al Myers & Chad Ullom

>60: LaVerne Myers & Dean Ross

none Jera & Doug Kressly
2014-August 24th

Al Myers & Chad Ullom

>60: Laverne Myers & Dean Ross

none none
2013-August 17th

Al Myers & Chad Ullom

>60: Denny Habecker & Art Montini

Ruth Jackson & Molly Myers Jera Kressly & Logan Kressly
2012-August 11th

Al Myers & Chad Ullom

>60: LaVerne Myers & Dean Ross

none Jera & Doug Kressly
2011-August 27th

Al Myers & Chad Ullom

>60: Mike Murdock & Rudy Bletscher

none none
2010-August 10th

Al Myers & Chad Ullom

>60: Mike Murdock & Rudy Bletscher

none none
2009-September 20th Al Myers & Chad Ullom none none
2008-September 20th Al Myers & Joe Garcia none none
2007-September 8th Al Myers & Chad Ullom none none

*This table will be maintained and updated in the History Section page on the website.

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