Tag Archives: Eric Todd

Neck Lift

By Eric Todd

With the Heavy Lift Championship on the Calendar for May 5, I was under the assumption that people were going to be wanting to start training.  So, I thought I would do a series on how to execute each of the heavy lifts.  They are like no other lifts out there, where the lifter is capable of lifting monstrous poundages.

This particular article will focus on the first lift to be contested that day, the neck lift.  When I first heard of the neck lift, I envisioned the lift I did in high school with a neck harness I bought at Champs Sports with a 45# weight looped through the chain.  I was concerned, as I knew there was no way I could lift hundreds of pounds like this, even though that is where the records stood.  As luck would have it, it was not that lift at all, and I was capable of more than I thought.

The rules of the neck lift are as follows:

A Heavy Lift Bar is used in this lift. A neck harness is also used, which fits over the head. Any style of neck harness is acceptable, provided that it is held in place entirely by the head during the lift. The neck harness must not contact the neck or trapezius muscles. A pad, such as a towel, may be placed between the head and the neck harness. An adjustable chain and hook is attached to the neck harness so it may be attached to the Heavy Lift Bar. The lifter assumes a position with the Heavy Lift Bar in front of the lifter or the lifter may straddle it. The feet must parallel and in line with the torso. Width of feet placement is optional. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter may adjust the chain length to his/her preference prior to the lift. The lifter must not touch the chain or straps of the neck harness with the hands during the lift, but the chain or straps may touch the lifter’s body. Hands may touch the body during the lift, but must be free of contact upon completion of the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed one test lift to check the balance of the weight and to make adjustments to the chain length. The lifter will stand and lift the weights from the platform. The shoulders and torso do not have to be upright upon the finish of the lift. The legs must straighten, but the knees do not need to be locked. Once the weight is motionless, the hands free from the body, and the plates on both ends of the bar are off the platform at the same time, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Some people neck lift with a narrow stance, but I prefer a very wide one.  I point my toes outward right next to the plates.  With the harness on my head, and the hook in the loop on the bar,   I take the straps  and spread them out wide so they are more to the outside of my body rather than hanging down in front.  I also like to lift my arms up while executing this lift..  At this point, look up, lean back, and drive off your heels.  When both sides of the bar come off the ground at the same time, the official will give the down command for a good lift.  In the image below, you can see Chad Ullum and myself using very similar styles:


As far as training for the neck lift, I imagine any kind of neck training could be beneficial, such as the neck harness I referenced above or a neck machine.  However, I am not sure there is any real substitute for actually neck lifting.  The technique takes some getting used to, and it is ideal to condition your neck for the feel of these poundages.  Check out the video of Chad’s record setting 900# attempt which was set at the Heavy Lift Championship that was held at York Barbell:


Dino Gym Challenge

By Al Myers


“The Tom Ryan Memorial Meet”

Eric Todd (left) recieved his award from Thom Van Vleck (right) for being the Athlete of the Year Runner Up for last year at the Dino Gym Challenge. Eric went on to win the Overall Best Lifter at the 2018 Dino Gym Challenge.

Eric Todd (left) received his award from Thom Van Vleck (right) for being the USAWA Athlete of the Year Runner Up for last year at the Dino Gym Challenge. Eric went on to win the Overall Best Lifter at the 2018 Dino Gym Challenge.

It was another great year for the Dino Gym Challenge! Eight brave lifters made their way to the platform for an exciting day of lifting, honoring the late Tom Ryan. Many stories were told about Tom throughout the day, along with many great lifts made to honor him.  I hope he was looking down on us throughout the day with a smile on his face.

We had a celebrity official present, Thom Van Vleck.  Thom made the long drive to the Dino Gym from Kirksville, MO  just to officiate the Dino Gym Challenge.  I can’t express my thanks to him for doing this as it allowed my dad and I to participate. Usually one of us has to sit it out to judge. I picked lifts for this meet which were Tom Ryan’s favorites, and it was quite the variety! We started the meet off with the Weaver Stick. LaVerne showed us AGAIN his mighty grip by having the top lift in the Weaver Stick at 6 pounds.  I think he could have got 7 pounds, but when asked if he wanted a fourth attempt at record he said he would pass, as Tom Ryan has the top Weaver Stick record in the USAWA at 7 pounds and he wanted to let Tom keep that All Time record to himself (at least on this day!).

The next lift was the Rectangular Fix.  The youngest member in attendance, Calvin, did a fantastic lift of 80 pounds. Chad did 105 in competition and then did 120 as a fourth attempt which was easier than his 105! That was the top Rectangular Fix of the meet.

We then moved onto the One handed thumbless grip deadlift. Tom Ryan excelled at this lift, having done 254 pounds.  No one came close to that!  Dad must have still felt the sting from the loss to me in this lift at the Gold Cup last fall as he called for (and did) 201 pounds right after I did 200 pounds on my second attempt. Well, if I was a good son I probably should have just let him have his revenge victory and passed my last attempt but NOPE, I called for 202 pounds for a successfull third lift just to let everyone know that it wasn’t a fluke I beat him in this lift at the Gold Cup!

Next up was the Reeves Deadlift. Big John Douglas and Chad both hit 300 pounds for the top Reeves Deadlift of the day. It was at this point of the meet that I got a call for a work emergency, and I had to leave to take care of it and missed the rest of the meet.  I checked over the scorekeepers report and noticed that LaVerne was leading after 4 events and ET was standing in 7th place. I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be the case after the final event, the Hip Lift. Well, when I got back and NOT TO MY SURPRISE Eric put up a HUGE hip lift of 2010 pounds to seal the victory in the Dino Gym Challenge. Chad came in second, and Calvin finished third for an outstanding finish in this tough field of all rounders.

I want to really thank everyone who attended, as it means alot to me when lifters show up to support my promotions. It was a great day of fun, and a fitting tribute to Tom Ryan.

Meet Results:

2018 Dino Gym Challenge
Dino Gym, Holland, Kansas
Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Meet Director: Al Myers

Meet Scorekeeper: Al Myers and Chad Ullom

Official (1-official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Lifts: Weaver Stick, Rectangular Fix, Deadlift – No Thumb One Hand, Reeves Deadlift, Hip Lift


Eric Todd 43 260 3R 90 185R 265 2010 2553 2065.2
Chad Ullom 46 245 5R 105 195R 300 1540 2145 1839.6
Calvin Heit 15 150 3R 80 150R 180 940 1353 1657.4
John Douglas 54 315 5R 95 175R 300 1220 1795 1467.5
LaVerne Myers 73 234 6L 76 201L 230 520 1033 1136.0
Dean Ross 75 236 3R 70 135L 200 520 928 1031.3
Al Myers 51 230 5R 90 202R 280 —– 577 535.2
Lance Foster 52 330 4R 85 135R 200 —– 424 332.7


Chad Ullom Rectangular Fix 120 lbs.

Notes: BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. R and L designate right and left arms. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are overall adjusted points corrected for age and bodyweight.


Al Myers – Age 51, Bodyweight 230 pounds
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand: 210 pounds
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand: 185 pounds
Saxon Snatch: 76 pounds
Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, Right Hand: 130 pounds
Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, Left Hand: 130 pounds

LaVerne Myers – Age 73, Bodyweight 236 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumbs, Overhand Grip: 250 pounds
Scott Lift: 70 pounds
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 255 pounds
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar: 255 pounds

Thom Van Vleck – Age 53, Bodyweight 280 pounds
Reeves Deadlift: 235 pounds
Deadlift – Ring Fingers: 165 pounds
Thors Hammer: 51 pounds
Snatch – Dumbbell, Right: 105 pounds
Snatch – Dumbbell, Left: 95 pounds


By Ben Edwards

It was great once again to drive up to Eric Todd’s gym and get some Old Time Strongman work in. I met a few “new” people this time.  Eric mentioned in his write-up that the turnout was great, and it was.  There was not a single person there who wasn’t excited to see a fellow competitor set a record or succeed on a lift that they fought several times during a minute to get.

This is my 2nd OTSM comp.  I did the 2016 OTSM – also at Eric’s gym – and had a great time then too.

The first thing that always strikes me when I walk into the gym is the sheer size of the place. What makes that even more impressive is how much equipment is packed into the cavernous space.  I never get tired of just wandering around the area and checking out the plethora of training tools that populate the area.

When the competitors started filing in, someone greeted “Leroy” and I almost said “Nice to meet you, Leroy.” But then I caught on that the inside joke is that Eric’s brother Chris answers to “Leroy.”  Chris was very congenial and I enjoyed talking to him between events.

It was great getting to see Thom Van Vleck again. We were all glad to have him judging, but I think he should’ve been competing.  On a side note, I was floored when he told me he had done 300 pounds on the Dumbbell to Shoulder.  I BARELY got 150 pounds.  And it took me two attempts.  I am bruised and sore and really can’t imagine how Eric must feel after his 313 pound success.

Like Eric mentioned in his write-up, it was interesting to see during Thor’s Hammer attempts the styles of performance used. There was the swing style, which I prefer.  And the snatch style, which Eric uses exclusively.  The snatch style is quite a bit harder for me on the wrist.  I came into the comp at 40 pounds and that was easy.  Then 50 pounds.  Got it on the first try, but it felt pretty hard.  Then 55 pounds was very hard and I kind of pulled it out of nowhere, because it did not feel good.  It was pretty cool watching Eric smash 60 pounds up for the win.  I usually feel pretty efficient on the Thor’s Hammer, but I felt just a bit “off” at the contest.  Heather had possibly the smoothest form of anyone there in her Thor’s Hammer lifts.

Scott Tully performing a Hackenschmidt Floor Press while head official Thom Van Vleck looks on.

Scott Tully performing a Hackenschmidt Floor Press while head official Thom Van Vleck looks on.

Second event was the Hackenschmidt Floor Press. I enjoyed watching the big lifters go well north of 300 pounds on this.  I was content that my shoulder held up under 225 pounds and my 2nd attempt with 250 pounds, so I skipped my 3rd attempt.  Abe was very impressive on this event when you consider bodyweight vs. weight lifted!  I got a kick out of watching Scott do this event because his torso is so thick that the bar is pretty much just resting on his chest when he starts the lift.

I was not looking forward to the Kennedy Lift, because the three times I tried to train it my back did not agree with it. But it turns out my fears were not warranted.  I still had to baby my back, but went 120 pounds over what I was able to do in my garage during training.  There was a funny incident during my 405 pound opener.  I lifted the bar, without making sure Thom was ready to judge, and after holding it at lockout for a few seconds I realized that I hadn’t told Thom I was ready to take my attempt, so I asked if I should redo the lift and scolded myself for a beginner blunder.  2nd attempt was 500 pounds and that went right up.  Took 525 pounds for a 3rd attempt and definitely had more in me.  Didn’t ask for a 4th attempt because Al Myers has the record in the 110kg weight class with 750 pounds!  I was very impressed with Heather Tully because her final lift looked fast and like she had a lot more in her.  Chad and Greg pulling 755 pounds was a sight to see.  Super impressive!

Greg Cook performing a 755 pound Kennedy Lift.

Greg Cook performing a 755 pound Kennedy Lift.

I had not even attempted to try the Dumbbell to Shoulder event. No plans to do that in this lifetime after barely succeeding with 150 pounds.  I warmed up with a super easy 120 pounds and almost bombed out when I called for 150 pounds as my opener.  I missed it on the first attempt and then barely made it on my 2nd attempt.  Watching Eric do 313 pounds on this was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.  Partly because the lift just saps the breath and life out of you the longer it goes on.  John Douglas had a nice fight with 200 pounds.  I liked Dean’s method of grabbing the dumbbell by both ends and kind of power curling it to his shoulder instead of dry humping it up his body like I ended up doing.  Denny seemed to be pretty efficient too on the Dumbbell to Shoulder.  The following photo sequence is not Eric’s heaviest lift, but it is the only sequence I got on camera.

Meet promoter Eric Todd showing his technique in performing a 313# Dumbbell to Shoulder.

Meet promoter Eric Todd showing his technique in performing a 313# Dumbbell to Shoulder.

I didn’t realize it until after we finished the Dumbbell to Shoulder that we were actually going to be pulling attempts on the Lurich Lift – the exhibition lift. I did much better than I thought I would and ended up pulling 405 pounds and bailing on 455 pounds because my back felt like it was going to give me issues.  Chad schooled everyone by pulling 605 pounds!  Lance pulled 315 pounds, which is impressive considering the lift doesn’t suit him anatomically.

One other note is that I asked Eric if I could buy one of his highland games stones for my Braemar practice. He told me to pick out the one I wanted and let me have it.  So thanks again, Eric!  I put the stone in my daughter’s car seat and strapped it in like a baby for the ride home.  I threw it a few times when I got home and my one good remaining shoulder unfriended me later that night.

Lifter of the Month – Eric Todd

By Al Myers


Eric Todd performed a World Record Lying Lateral Raise at the 2016 IAWA Gold Cup.

Eric Todd performed a World Record Lying Lateral Raise at the 2016 IAWA Gold Cup.

A big congrats goes to ERIC TODD, the USAWA Lifter of the Month for July.  Eric earned this from his outstanding performance in the 2nd Quarter USAWA Postal Meet.  Eric “bested” the field and was the Overall Best Lifter in this Postal Meet.  Along with scoring the most adjusted points, he posted the overall best total.  He continued to showcase one of his favorite lifts, the Pullover and Press, with a fantastic 365 pound effort.

This marks the FOURTH TIME that Eric has been selected as the lifter of the Month (others were May 2012, December 2013, and May 2014).

Let’s Review: The Kennedy Lift

by Thom Van Vleck

Al Myers doing a Kennedy Lift.

Al Myers doing a Kennedy Lift.

With the Old Time Strongman Championships coming up September 9th at ET’s House of Iron and Stone I thought it might be a good time to review the lifts.  Eric Todd picked 4 lifts from the OTSM list.  Today let’s revisit one of those, the Kennedy Lift. First of all Al Myers did a great article on it’s history.  Here’s a link to it: Kennedy Lift

So the rules are as follows:

H9. Kennedy Lift

This is a partial lift using a straddle stance on the bar, where the bar height must not be over 18” from the platform (measured to the bottom of the bar). The plates or bar may be supported on stands, rack supports, or blocks to obtain this height. The lifter must have the bar between the legs, as defined by the rules of the Jefferson Lift. Lifting straps or any other gripping aid is not allowed. It is NOT an infraction to drag the bar up the legs, bounce the bar up the legs, or support the bar on the legs during the lift (hitching). A one minute time limit is allowed for the lifter to make a legal lift, during which time a lifter may make multiple tries. Once the lifter is totally upright and the bar motionless, an official will give the command to end the lift.

Al sums this lift up nicely when he said, “I envision the technique to be very similar to how most lift the Dinnie Stones, using a straddle style.”  The lift is very much a “Continental” version of a partial Jefferson (or Straddle) deadlift.  In that it can be bounced, drug, up or “hitched”

If you want to see the current records here is a list:

14 M 80 500 Kressly, Logan
45 M 110 750 Myers, Al
45 M 125+ 500 Foster, Lance
50 M 125+ 365 Foster, Lance
55 M 70 405 Freides, Steve
60 M 80 325 Santangelo, Stephen
60 M 95 675 Traub, Larry
60 M 100 315 Garcia, Joe
60 M 129 525 Glasgow, Dave
65 M 80 405 McKean, John
70 M 90 225 Habecker, Denny
70 M 125 400 Ross, Dean
80 M 80 225 Durante, Richard
80 M 105 315 Clark, Bill
ALL M 70 405 Freides, Steve
ALL M 80 500 Kressly, Logan
ALL M 90 225 Habecker, Denny
ALL M 95 675 Traub, Larry
ALL M 100 315 Garcia, Joe
ALL M 105 315 Clark, Bill
ALL M 110 750 Myers, Al
ALL M 120 525 Glasgow, Dave
ALL M 125 400 Ross, Dean
ALL M 125+ 550 Kressly, Doug

As you can see this is a great opportunity to be added to the record list.  I hope to see you there!

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