Tag Archives: Eric Todd

Where did they go?

By Eric Todd

I began training at a rather young age. Running at around 3, bodyweight exercises a little later,  and weight training/competitive wrestling at nine.  While not always the most gifted athlete, I always felt I could overcome anything through effort.  It is something that became a passion of mine.  So when I began strongman/weight lifting competitions at about twenty six, I was instantly hooked.  It was the same kind of feeling.  Work harder than the other guy and you will prevail.  Well, sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.  But it became a way of life, and one that would be difficult to completely walk away from.

That is why it often confused me when others would walk away. Many had talent much greater than mine, and a huge upside had they reached their potential, or somewhere in that neighborhood.  After some studying and discussing it with peers, here is a few categories that I feel some of these fellas fit into.

The first guy is intimidated. He is the one that emails you about coming out to train.  Since the door is always open, you welcome him with open arms.  Often, this guy does not show up.  Sometimes with an emailed  excuse, sometimes not.  Sometimes he shows up and lays it all out there.  You have been around the block a time or two and recognize the potential.  You remember what it was like your first day training with the group.  You hope he comes back, because you recognize that someday, he may be able to push you to greater heights.  But all he sees is how he struggled so with weights that we experienced folk used easily.  So, he does not return.  (Sometimes this occurs after he belly aches about getting his motorbike dusty on country roads, and borrows your Super Squats book.  Ah, but I digress). Believe me, when I first got started, there were times I would eye the competition early and wonder to myself if anyone would notice if I just disappeared like a fart in the wind.  But my pride would not allow it.

The next guy is emotionally weak (for lack of a better term). They cannot stand to compete if they do not win every time.  I have met a few in my time, often much stronger than me.  Once, I was competing at a strongman meet.  I was in the lightweight pro division, but there was also a heavyweight amateur class.  There was a character in the heavyweights who trained with 2 very high profile, world class strength athletes.  And this guy was STOUT!  He easily won his division, and put all the lightweight professionals to shame.  At that time, I had competed against the best of the best in the Heavyweight class as well, and recognized what this guy had.  I told him he should compete in a pro/am to win his professional card.  I had no doubt he could do it.  He told me he would not compete if he was 100% sure he could win.  Glory!  If I had thought that way, I would not have competed very often. Never saw or heard of that guy again.

The last guy is the fella that it just plain comes too easy for. I have seen guys come out and win right out of the blocks.  Some even go so far as to win a nationals or win a pro card.  You have scarcely heard their name before, and there they are beating seasoned veterans.  Sometimes, I am not sure they even know who they are beating.  Then they disappear into the night, not unlike Melvin at my first strongman meet.  I could never understand that.  However, in talking to some of my confederates, it just came too easy for them.  Winning for me   was a blast, and it drove me on.  It was that rewarding due to what it cost.  The hours training.  The injuries.  The broken skin and blood.  The aching muscles, and the crawling up the stairs. The bitter, painful losses after all these dues were paid. The cost was high, but it made the reward even more sweet when it came.  So, I guess if it came that easy for me, maybe I would, too, have said “so what” and walked away.

Anyway, since in all-round since the median age is 426, I know the vast majority of you have had your ups and downs in sport. And you still keep coming back.  I cannot see myself walking away from competitive lifting either.  And though I have to be more selective with what I go all out on there are still plenty of exercised that I am setting all time bests in these days.  I always thought that if I had the skill level or genetics of some of these guys, I would have won everything and never walked away.  But I guess I was given something else that took me a ways too.  So, in conclusion, I guess not everyone is wired the same, and that is OK.  I reckon it is those few blessed souls who are given the genetics along with tenacity and a work ethic who rise to the top.  For the rest of us, I am glad I have been along for the ride.

Lateral Raise Lying

By Eric Todd

Eric Todd performed an All Time World Record of 60 kilograms at the 2016 IAWA Gold Cup.(photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

Eric Todd performed an All Time World Record of 60 kilograms at the 2016 IAWA Gold Cup.(photo and caption courtesy of webmaster)

This October past, I competed in the IAWA Gold Cup for the first time.  This is kind of like the world championships of record breakers.  When I decided to sign up for this meet, I wanted to choose a lift that I could go after not only just an age/weight class record, but an all-time record as well.  I chose the lateral raise lying. The all-time record in this event was 55KG which equaled 121 in American pounds or 60.5 per hand dumbbells.  It was held by Nick McKinless, who was an all-round world champ in 1996, Britain’s strongest man (under 105k) in 2006, as well as a Hollywood stunt man and an action director.  I had heard of him plenty over the years, and figured beating a record of his would be something to sing about.  Anyhow, I spent some time training for this lift.  It took some playing about with it, but ultimately I hit 70 pounds per hand in training, and 66 per hand for 132 pounds or 60 kilo in the Gold Cup meet for the record.

The rules of this lift are as such:
Two evenly loaded dumbbells are used for this lift. The lifter lies on the platform, face up. The dumbbells are placed on the platform on both sides of the lifter, who grips the dumbbells with the palms of the hands facing up at arms’ length, with the arms at a 90 degree angle to the body. Legs are to be straight and flat to the platform, and must remain that way throughout the lift. Width of legs spacing is optional, but must remain in that position throughout the lift. Maximum diameter of the dumbbell plates is 11 inches. The arms must remain straight and elbows locked during the lift. The arms must maintain a 90 degree angle to the body during the lift. Once the lifter is in the correct starting position on the platform, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter then raises the dumbbells to a position over the lifter’s body until the dumbbells touch. The dumbbells must be lifted simultaneously. Once the dumbbells are motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Anyhow, I thought I would give some pointers here on things I found technique wise to help out on this lift.  The first thing I did was spread my feet apart to give myself a wide base for stability.  As long as they stayed there, it was within the confines for the rules.  Then I pulled my lats in tight, pulling my shoulder blades together.  This shortened the length of my levers giving me much better leverage. I tightened my core, and squeezed my glutes.  I then lifted my head and began the lift.  On the way up, I really focused on keeping my elbows straight.  Did not matter if I completed the lift, if my elbows bent it would have been a no lift.  I also focused on just keeping the weight moving.  It did not matter how slow the lift, if it ended up together at the end. If I had it to do over again, I would train strictly with standard dumbbells.  I used standard dumbbells up to 50s in training, but then loaded up Olympic dumbbells. After that with 25s. They fell within the 11” diameter, but the 10 kilo plates at the meet were a bit bigger, so we had to go with 5s, which were smaller than what I was used to.  If I had accustomed myself to the longer pull, that would not have been an issue.

I know it is not the most contested lift in the USAWA/IAWA, but it was a fun lift to train.  Maybe you can use some of these pointers to put up your own records in this lift.

Heavy Lift Championships

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT

2016 USAWA HEAVY LIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS

Eric Todd performing a Hand and Thigh Lift at the 2014 Heavy Lift Championships.

Eric Todd performing a Hand and Thigh Lift at the 2014 Heavy Lift Championships.

The Heavy Lift Championships is the longest running championship event in the USAWA behind the National Championships.  The USAWA has been trying to rotate this championship between different areas of the country every year to give all lifters the opportunity to compete in it. Last year it was hosted in the midwest by Eric Todd.  This year it will be held in Pennsylvania – at Denny Habecker’s Gym.  Denny has promoted the Heavy Lift Championships before, and has more than enough 100 pound plates to make it happen!

Three heavy lifts have been the mainstay of this event – the Neck Lift, the Hand and Thigh Lift, and the Hip Lift.  Harness’s and belts for the lifting will be available, but most lifter’s bring their own heavy lift equipment.

It’s important that you get your entry in by the deadline. The deadline date is April 9th, 2016.

ENTRY FORM (PDF) – 2016 Heavy Lift Championships Entry Form

OTSM Championships

by Eric Todd

2015 USAWA OLD TIME STRONGMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2015 USAWA Old Time Strongman Championship (left to right): Denny Habecker, Eric Todd, Art Montini, Lance Foster

Group picture from the 2015 USAWA Old Time Strongman Championship (left to right): Denny Habecker, Eric Todd, Art Montini, Lance Foster

September 26, ET’s House of Iron and Stone played host to the fifth annual USAWA Old Time strongman Championship. Though turnout was rather small (mostly due to poor scheduling by the promoter), the lifting was fantastic and the camaraderie was even better. President Denny Habecker and his trusty sidekick Art Montini made the trip from Pennsylvania to lift. Lance Foster came all the way from from Platte City, MO, and I came all the way across the lawn from inside my house. We started off with Thor’s Hammer, which would have the smallest amount lifted of all the disciplines. Lance and I tied for top honors here, both lifting 35.5 pounds. Denny was not far behind with at record breaking lift of 25.5. In the Saxon snatch, Lance and I tied again with lifts of 80 pounds apiece. In the Apollon’s Axle, it was all Lance. At first, it appeared that he had shot himself in the foot, as he missed his first and second attempts. However, he came back on his third and nailed 165 pounds. Denny struggled with the continental, or he would have given Lance a run for his money. The final lift of the day was the People’s Deadlift. It was a battle. Art set the bar with a lift of 300, a record lift of 320, and he was still grumbling afterwards that we had let him start too light. Denny topped him with a 365, then ground out a record 375. At this point, Lance started lifting and topped out at an impressive 460. This lift ultimately allowed Lance to sneak by Art by one point for second place. Top honors, however, went to his majesty, the President, Denny Habecker. It was a beautiful day to catch up with friends and throw around some iron.

MEET RESULTS:

2015 USAWA OTSM Championships
ET’s House of Iron and Stone
Turney, MO
September 26th, 2015

Meet Director: Eric Todd

Scorekeeper: Eric Todd

Officials (3 official system used): Eric Todd, Lance Foster, Denny Habecker, Art Montini

Lifts: Thor’s Hammer, Saxon Snatch, Apollon’s Lift, People’s Deadlift

MEN’S DIVISION

 LIFTER AGE BWT Thor Sax Apoll People Total Points
Denny Habecker 72 87.3 25.5 50 120 365 560.5 680.8
Lance Foster 49 149.1 35.5 80 165 460 740.5 566.7
Art Montini 87 79.1 10 25 60 300 395 565.8
Eric Todd 40 117.3 35.5 80 110 135 360.5 284.1

EXTRA ATTEMPTS FOR RECORD:

Denny Habecker: Saxon Snatch 60#
Denny Habecker: People’s Deadlift 375#
Art Montini: People’s Deadlift 320#

NOTES: Age in years. BWT is bodyweight in kilograms. All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points are adjusted points for age and bodyweight corrections.

Crucifix Primer

by Eric Todd

Eric Todd and his USAWA record performance in the Crucifix, with a lift of 140 pounds.

Eric Todd and his USAWA record performance in the Crucifix, with a lift of 140 pounds. (photo and caption courtesy of Al Myers)

I first found the USAWA around my second year of strongman competitions. I was gung ho to compete, and there was a hiatus between strongman meets within driving distance for me. So I stumbled upon the old USAWA website where I found the “Deanna Springs Memorial” meet held at Clark’s Gym in Columbia, MO. The meet featured the crucifix lift, which I knew was contested in some strongman meets. So I went and competed. I found out soon that there were some differences in the way the lift is contested in the USAWA from how it looks in strongman competitions. In strongman meets, you get implements of a certain weight to the crucifix position, and then you hold them there for time. Your time stops when a judge determines your position no longer meets the criteria for crucifix (i.e. Arms drop, elbows bend, etc.) In the USAWA, you pick the weight. The rules read as follows:

Two evenly loaded dumbbells or kettlebells are used for this lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The dumbbells are taken to arms’ length overhead with the palms of the hands facing each other and dumbbells touching. The lifter must bring the feet together so the heels are together and touching. The body must be upright at the start of the lift. Once in this position, an official will give the command to start the lift. The lifter will then lower the dumbbells to the side with arms’ straight and palms up. Elbows must be fully locked. The lifter may lean back to any extent when lowering the dumbbells. The wrists do not need to be held straight. The legs must remain straight and knees locked throughout the lift. The heels must remain together and the heels and toes must not rise during the lift. Once the arms are parallel to the platform, and the dumbbells motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. (Myers, A. (Ed.). (2014). USAWA Official Rulebook (8th ed., p. E8). Holland, Kansas: Al Myers)

Well, as it turns out, I wound up being decent at both versions. I hold several records in the discipline in the USAWA, and held the amateur national record in strongman. So, I thought I would write a brief primer on the finer details of completing the lift.

Clean the dumbbells to your shoulders. As I press them overhead, I like to turn them so that the palms are facing when they reach arm’s length.   At this point, I bring my heels together. Hook one slightly behind the other to ensure they do not come apart. When the official gives the command to begin the start of the lift, begin the decent of the dumbbells SLOWLY. As you lower the dumbbells, look up and lay back as far as you can. This will keep the dumbbells parallel with the floor. Squeeze your glutes in order to give you stability whilst laying back. Try to take the strain across your pecs as best as you can to give you the most strength possible.   It is up to you to: A) Know when you have reached parallel or B) Have someone tell you. This is not the job of the judge. When you near this point, slow down, and when you reach it, stop. You will only have to hold it still briefly, but it will feel like an eternity. Wait for the official’s down call. Once you hear that, you have the lift. Congrats!

As the crucifix has been both on the record book, and now as our official insignia (though I question whose likeness they used) it is a staple of all-round lifting, thus one to take pride in doing right.

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