Tag Archives: Arthur Saxon

Top Lifts of 2013

by Al Myers

Art proudly displaying his homemade Teeth Bit!

Today welcomes in a New Year, and  with it comes the excitement of another very promising year in the USAWA.   2013 had to be one of the best EVER in the history of the USAWA.  There were many great competitions and great individual performances.  Of the 22 official competitions that occurred in 2013 in the USAWA, I was a participant or attended 18 of them!

As I’m sitting here sipping a cup of coffee in the early morning hours of 2014 (my internal clock would not allow me to sleep in!), I’m reflecting on some of the fantastic lifts I was able to witness “first hand” in the USAWA in 2013.  It didn’t take me long to come up with a list of over 20, but I’m gonna narrow the list today to the TOP TEN lifts that impressed me the most. I want to reiterate  that this is MY LIST of the lifts that I was able to watch, and only reflects my viewpoints.  Many, many others were extremely impressive that did not make the list. A few individual lifters had multiple lifts that impressed me, but I’m only including THE ONE that impressed me the most by an individual lifter.  It took me three times as long to come up with my list as it did to write this blog!  Here it goes – counting down from number ten:

10. Lance Foster and his 575# Dinnie Lift at the OTSM Championships

This had to be one of the most tenacious lifts of the year.  Lance struggled at the Battle of the Barn with the Dinnie Lift, but came back a month or so later to up his performance by 75 pounds! If the USAWA offered a TRUE GRIT AWARD Lance would win it.

9.  Jera Kressly and Logan Kressly 600# heels together deadlift at the Team Championships.

Jera and Logan did this mixed pair (man/woman) lift quite easily at the Team Champs.  I should mention that Logan was only 15 at the time!  That’s a big deadlift for any mixed pair with a normal stance – let alone having the heels together!

8.  James Fuller and his 60 KG Bent Press at the Gold Cup.

James has been on a mission to mastering the Bent Press this year.  The Bent Press is one of the MOST old and obscure lifts of all round lifting.  Very few even know how to go about doing one.  I first saw James bent pressing Frank’s axle at the Heavies, with was extremely cumbersome to handle.  I was going to include that effort instead of this one for James, but his Gold Cup lift really deserves it more as it was done in a big competition.  It won’t be long before James puts up the highest Bent Press record of All Time in the USAWA.

7.  Joe Ciavattone Sr. and his 805# Neck Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

This HAD to make my list.  Joe is one of the best neck lifters in USAWA history, and held the overall record for many years.  To come back and hit a personal record now several years later shows true ability.  I was glad to be able to witness his lift (as I had not seen his previous record lift).

6.  Troy Goetsch and his 260# one handed Vertical Bar Lift at the Grip Championships.

I’ve seen many great VB lifts in the past, but Troy’s is one of the best.  Troy won the overall lifter at the Grip Champs, and his VB was the lift that I will remember from him on that day.

5.  Frank Ciavattone and his 202.5 KG Ciavattone Grip Deadlift at Nationals.

Frank still has some great lifting in him, as shown with this big lift at our National Championships which is named after him.  I never get tired of watching Frank do Ciavattone Grip Deadlifts – and this is one I’ll never forget.

4.  Dan Wagman and his 120# Pullup at the Dino Gym Record Day.

YES – that’s 120 pounds strapped to the waist and then performing a pullup with the chin OVER the bar with no kipping!!! And hold for a down command!  Not too many around could even come close to this performance of Dan’s.  I’ve seen a lot of great lifting out of Dan and often what he does does not surprise me – but this pullup did!

3.  Joe Ciavattone Jr. and the 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

Junior doesn’t realize yet that he will be a future superstar of the USAWA, but I see it.  His untapped strength is unreal, and this big H&T proves it.  He just finished with a 1200 at the meet,  I gave him a couple of tips between lifts, and then he adds 200 pounds and gets it easily!  Impressive to say the least…

2.  Eric Todd and this 1000# Neck Lift at the Battle of the Barn II.

ET has put up 1000 pound Neck Lifts before several times – but this one was done with rules beyond those of the USAWA.   He cleared the floor substantially, and then HELD the lift for over 2 full seconds recorded on a stop watch.  I’m still shaking my head after seeing that effort!

1.  Art Montini and his 107# Teeth Lift at the Presidential Cup.

All I can say is that I still don’t know how he did this!  Art is 85 years old and has FALSE TEETH.  This lift won him the Presidential Cup of the USAWA for the year, and I would say deserving of the lift that impressed me the most!  Art has been one of the most active lifters in the USAWA this year – attending most of the championship events, attending the “Big Three” (Nationals, Worlds, and the Gold Cup), and still involved with promoting his annual Birthday Bash.  He has a deeper resume than anyone in the history of the USAWA, and I’m glad to name Art’s lift as the most impressive lift of 2013.  Congrats Art!!

Pullover and Push: Old School “Bench Pressing”

Pullover and Push as demonstrated by the great Arthur Saxon. He was a favorite of JWC "founding father" Dalton Jackson

by Thom Van Vleck

Those of you who know me know that I can’t make things simple.  I put a lot of thought into things and when I was thinking about lifts for the 2011 USAWA Nationals to be held June 25th in Kirksville, Missouri this process was in overdrive.  I wanted a pressing movement and I also wanted a lift that would honor my grandfather in some way.  Well, he was a big fan of Arthur Saxon and when I saw this photo in the USAWA photo archive it just sealed the deal for me that the Pullover and Push would be that “pressing” movement in the list of lifts for Nationals.

Let’s review the rules to make sure we know how to do the lifts!

A35.  Pullover and Push

The lifter will lie on his/her back on the platform with the bar placed on the platform above the lifter’s head.  Padding, such as a towel or mat, may be placed under the lifter’s body and elbows. The bar is gripped with the palms of the hands facing up and with the bar at arms’ length prior to the start of the lift.  Width of hand spacing and feet placement is optional. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed multiple rolls with the bar on the platform to gain momentum to the bar. Hands must remain on the bar throughout the lift. The lifter will then pull the bar over and onto the chest or upper abdomen resulting in the upper arms resting on the platform. The bar must not be rolled once on the chest. The bar or plates must not make contact with the platform once the bar leavesthe platform or it will result in disqualification. The lifter is allowed to move or lift the feet and hips during the pullover. Once the bar is on the chest or abdomen, the lifter may move the feet close to the hips, and raise the hipsto create a bridging or belly toss to propel the bar to arms’ length. This is done at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed feet and hip movement during the push. The lifter may press the bar instead of pushing the bar if desired.  Once the push has begun, the bar must not be lowered in any manner. Only one attempt at the push is allowed. The bar must lock out with even extension. Once the arms are straight, the lifter must lower the hips to the platform and straighten the legs to a flat position on the platform. The arms must remain straight during this time.   When the lifter and bar are motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control. It is acceptable to drop the bar behind the head in the return to the platform as long as the lifter maintains hand contact with the bar.

Now, you have to make sure you distinguish this lift from the Pullover and Press and the Pullover and Press with Wrestler’s Bridge.  They are often confused.  The last thing I will say is that if you have a big nose or a big head…..you may want to turn your head when you pull the weight over to the push position!  If you’ve ever done this lift, you know what I mean!  Now, come to the Nationals and try it first hand!

The One Arm Snatch: My Five Favorite Pictures

by Al Myers

One of my favorite all-round lifts is the One Arm Snatch.   From the first time I tried it I knew I was going to like it.  I have never been a good Olympic lifter (I started my lifting career as a Powerlifter), and everyone knows that it is much harder to master the proper technique of Olympic Lifting as you get older.  It is something you should learn to become proficient in early on at a young age – and definitely not after several years of heavy bench press training and the tight shoulders that follow.  But the One Arm Snatch – now here was my chance to do an Olympic-type lift that really requires NO advance training in Olympic Lifting as it is so different from the 2-handed Snatch.   I think I also like this lift because my One Armed Snatch is not too far behind my Two Handed Snatch.  I can do slightly over 75% in the One Arm Snatch compared to the two handed version, which either means I excel at the One Arm Snatch or I am just really, really bad at the Two Handed Snatch!

I want to share my five favorite pictures of the One Arm Snatch.  Actually it took me  longer to narrow down my list to five than write this blog!  Several I went back and forth on – and then the REALLY hard part was ranking them!  The One Arm Snatch is also often referred to as the One Hand Snatch, which is the older term that describes this lift.  Now on to the pictures!!!

Picture #5

Arthur Saxon and the One Arm Snatch.

I have always been an Arthur Saxon fan.  Arthur is usually noted for his outstanding Bent Press and 2-Hands Anyhow, but he was also quite good at the One Arm Snatch.  Unlike alot of other Oldtime Strongmen, I truly believe the lift poundages reported by Arthur Saxon.  He was a true weightlifter more than a  strongman performer.  His best official Right Hand Snatch was 195 pounds, and his best unofficial Right Hand Snatch was 210 pounds.  This was done at around 200-210 pounds bodyweight – AMAZING!

Picture #4

Milo Steinborn and the One Arm Snatch.

Henry “Milo” Steinborn has left his legacy in the USAWA with his signature lift, the Steinborn Lift.  What most people don’t realize is that Steinborn was more than just a squatter, as he excelled at the quick lifts as well. I like this picture because it signifies a truly “Oldtime Strongman” approach to weightlifting.  Notice the thick handled barbell with no knurling and the globe ends.   This bar weighed 173 pounds.   This picture was taken in 1921 in an exhibition done by Steinborn in Philadelphia.  It has been said he snatched this bar with one hand SIX TIMES that day!

Picture #3

Vasily Alexeev and the One Arm Snatch.

In 1980, the great Super Heavyweight Russian Olympic Lifter and winner of many Olympic Gold Medals, Vasily Alexeev performed a One Arm Snatch of 231 pounds.  I am sure he didn’t train this lift much at all, but still put up one of the best performances of all time.  Notice how he is catching the One Arm Snatch like a regular squat snatch.  This lift was done in an exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Bob Burtzloff and the One Arm Snatch.

My brother-in-law Bob Burtzloff introduced me to the USAWA over 20 years ago.  Bob is a legend in all-round lifting in the Midwest prior to the USAWA being formed.  He was a great all-round lifter, and excelled at one arm lifts.  His 171 pound One Arm Snatch performed in 1987 still ranks as the BEST ALL-TIME One Arm Snatch in the USAWA Record Book.  This picture was from the old USAWA Rulebook, and was early inspiration for me to train the One Arm Snatch.

Picture #1

Charles Rigoulot and the One Arm Snatch.

This is my favorite picture for one reason – because Charles Rigoulet was the best of ALL-TIME!  In 1929, he made a Right Hand Snatch of 115 kilograms (253.5 pounds).  This was done at a muscular bodyweight of 215 pounds.  A lot of people considered Rigoulot an One Arm Snatch specialist, but I disagree.  He also was very good at several other lifts, including the Olympic Lifts.   One thing about this picture that impresses me is his strict technique – notice his heels together at completion and upright finish.  Rigoulot loved to lift with his shot-loaded barbells, and it is also appropriate that this picture shows him doing just that.

Well, there you have it.  Now tomorrow I may have another list of 5 different favorites, but why can’t a man change his mind?  I hope these pictures give someone the inspiration to go to the gym and train the One Arm Snatch today!!

One Hand Snatch

by Arthur Saxon

Position 1 - One Hand Snatch

Place yourself in position 1 (see illustration), and as you pull strongly with the right hand and shoulder, press as hard as you can with the left hand on the left knee.  Then when the weight has reached a fair height, dip beneath same, the eyes to be all the time on the weight.  The secret of this lift is to use as many muscles as possible at the same time, that is, you press with your legs, pull with your arm, and push with the disengaged one, also pull with the shoulder and jerk with the back, suddenly, when the weight is over your head, dipping beneath same, and throwing it a little to the back.  There are two positions possible in snatching the weight, either of which are good, and both of which I will describe.

Position 2 - One Hand Snatch

One is to keep the body perpendicular and dip cleanly beneath the weight, the other is to suddenly fall to one side as in the bent press, when the bar is about the height of your head, and so place a straight arm beneath the weight, after which you recover to an erect position.  The benefit and advantage in this latter position being, given a a man who is enormously strong and a good side presser, if his arm should not go in the first attempt quite straight, then he may finish up the last inch or two by the body press, that is if no objection be made by referee or opponents in competition.  A variation of this is to snatch the bell overhead with two hands instead on one, the hands being held the same distance apart as in the double-handed barbell lift.  Those anxious to practice the single-handed lift all the way, as in the English Amateur Championship Competition, will find my instructions as to the snatch are, in reversed, directly applicable to the initial pull-in to the shoulder.  All that you have to do is place your hand on the bar with the palm to the front instead of to the back, then pull the bell up to the chest, stepping back with the left leg if pulling in with the right hand, and exerting as many muscles as possible as described.

NOTE:  – In all these positions where the weight is lifted to the shoulder from off the ground, the arm must NOT be bent at the first portion of the pull.

CREDIT:  The Development of Physical Power by Arthur Saxon

Saxon Snatch

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Tyler Cookson performs a Saxon Snatch.

Another lift contested at the Dino Gym Challenge will be the Saxon Snatch.  This was a popular strength feat done by the Old-Time German Strongman Arthur Saxon.  Even though Saxon was best known for his Bent Pressing and Two Hands Anyhow, he was quite a grip specialist.  Often in his strength shows he would demonstrate his grip strength by snatching a wooden plank, with both hands or just with one.  It is reported that he could one-hand Snatch a 90 pound 3 inch thick wooden plank!  Saxon had abnormally long fingers and hands for his size, and did several other grip feats to back up this claim.

We are going to honor this great grip feat of Arthur Saxon’s by including it as our “grip lift” in the Dino Gym Challenge.

The Rules of the Saxon Snatch:

A wooden plank, of 3 inch thickness, will be used as the apparatus.  The plank will be able to be loaded with plates to any weight desired.  The rules of the Snatch apply.  The plank must be gripped with an overhand (knuckles facing away) pinch grip. The lifter will have a time limit of 1 minute to accomplish a legal lift.  If  the plank is dropped or not deemed a legal snatch, the lifter may repeat as many times as desired within the time limit.

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