Tag Archives: Eric Todd


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!

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.

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