Tag Archives: Hand and Thigh Lift

Heavy Lift Championships

by Al Myers


Heavy Lift Championship's meet promoter Frank Ciavattone performing a 1515 pound Hand and Thigh Lift at a meet a few years ago.

I am very glad to announce that the Heavy Lift Championships will be returning to Walpole, Massachusetts for this year.  Frank Ciavattone will be hosting this years Championships.  As most of you know, Frank has been one of the most active MAJOR meet promoters throughout the years in the USAWA.  Frank has promoted numerous other Heavy Lift Championships so seeing this meet “return home” is a good feeling.  I have NO DOUBT that Frank will make this years event a glorious occasion and a fun experience for everyone who attends.

The events contested in this year’s Heavy Lift Champs will be: Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, and the Hip Lift.  It will be held in Frank’s gym, but he has told me that if the weather is nice it might be held outside.  The entry fee is $55, payable to Frank.  All rules of USAWA Championship events will be in place, i.e. USAWA scoring,  individual class and age awards,  as well as Best Lifter Age Group Awards. 

I have been to Frank’s promotions (which is what they are – as the day extends far more than the meet itself), and I can personally guarantee that Frank will put on a TOP NOTCH EVENT.  Frank plans to have a back-yard cook out after the Championships, which I hope includes a little of that fabulous Italian food the Ciavattone Family has been known for!!!  I’m planning on going just for the food!!!


DATE: Saturday, May 4th, 2013

LOCATION:  Frank’s Barbell Club

LIFTS CONTESTED: Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift

WEIGH INS: 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM  Lifting at 10:00 AM

ENTRY FEE:  $55, deadline is April 19th, 2013

DIVISIONS:  Juniors, Women, Masters, Seniors, and Open

AWARDS:  For all weight and age classes

MEET INFORMATION SHEET (PDF):  2013 Heavy Lift Championships Information

MEET ENTRY FORM (PDF):  2013 Heavy Lift Championships Entry Form

Hand & Thigh Club

by Al Myers

Only three USAWA members have lifted over 1500 pounds in the Hand and Thigh in official competition. (left to right): Joe Garcia, Frank Ciavattone, and Al Myers

After posting that picture last week of Joe Garcia and his 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the 2011 Heavy Lift Nationals, I got to thinking.  Just how many USAWA lifters have  lifted over 1400 pounds in the Hand and Thigh in official competition?  I have seen Joe lift over 1400 several times myself, so to me that is not an unusual or rare thing to see that much weight lifted in the Hand and Thigh.  But then again, Joe is the MASTER of the Hand and Thigh (WR and All-Time Record holder with a lift of 1910 pounds) and without a doubt more times over 1400 than any other lifter ever.  This “mark” of 1400 pounds seems like the “goal of excellence” in the H&T, and I “guessed” beforehand that probably not over a dozen USAWA lifters had ever achieved it. However, after I did my research I found the list much shorter than this, with only three lifters over 1500 pounds, and another 5 lifters over 1400 pounds.  Only one IAWA(UK) lifter has exceeded the 1400# mark, and that was Steve Angell with his H&T lift of 1500 pounds at the 1995 World Championships. 

USAWA Lifters in the 1400 H&T Club

Rank Lifter Age BWT Pounds Event
1 Joe Garcia 43 240 1910 1997 Zercher
2 Frank Ciavattone  40  260 1610 1995 NE Strongest Man
3 Al Myers 43 251 1505 2010 Deanna
4 Eric Todd 27 261 1475 2002 Deanna
5 Jim Malloy 53 244 1400 1995  Worlds
6 John Carter 38 225 1400 1996 Zercher
7 Steve Schmidt 49 220 1400 2004 Backbreaker
8 Sam Huff 23 266 1400 2005 Deanna

Hand & Thigh, Neck Training Tips

by Joe Garcia

Joe Garcia, the World Record Holder in the Hand and Thigh, shares his secrets of training this lift.

With the Heavy Lift Championships coming up out at York, and seeing Al’s story on the Hanging Dumbbells, I thought I would share information on how I train and perform two of the lifts, the Neck lift and the Hand and Thigh lift. The reason I have put these two lifts together is that the basic movement mechanics are very similar. For two old time lifts there is alot of useful technique available for increasing your poundages.

When training either of these lifts, you will probably find that once a week is frequent enough. I usually do 2 – 3 sets, anywhere from 5 – 10 reps in the HT and 5 – 15 reps in the Neck, but your mileage may vary. When I trained for the record in the Hand and Thigh, I worked up to 1 or 2 warmup sets of about 5 reps at half the weight for my final set, then usually 10 reps for the second set. For the hand and thigh lift, no matter what you do, if you are using heavy weights, your fingers will suffer damage and need time to recover, so in order to protect my fingers so that I can keep training, I usually place a pad between them and my thighs. I also believe it is very important to hold each rep and not just lift and drop. This both lets you feel the weight better and is required for the actual lift. This concept applies to both lifts.

The biggest mistake I see during either lift is the direction of the push. Most people go much too vertical when they should be thinking about driving backwards. Visualize that you are 2 – 3 feet from a wall and the object is to touch the wall with the top/back of your head, and looking at the ceiling at the same time. You body position should resemble a bow. The only muscles that move are your legs, so you should get them really bent at the start of the lift. For the Hand and Thigh, place your hands just at the top of Quad muscles, using it as a shelf.  Biomechanically, it usually helps to get your feet as high up and close to the big bar as possible, so 4×4’s to stand on are very useful. You also want to make sure your fingers contact the skin of the thighs with nothing in between. In the Neck lift, I try to bend backwards even more at the start of the lift. Angling the strap that goes over my head to as far forward as it will go, seems to keep the drive straighter with less resultant ‘snap’ to the front.

Again, when you start either lift, don’t think up, think back. Neither lift is a deadlift. For comfort sakes, you may want to have a spotter standing by. Good luck!

Joe Garcia and the Hand & Thigh

by Al Myers

A Hall of Fame Biography is now available for Joe Garcia.  Joe is famous for his Hand and Thigh Lifting – and holds the all-time record in this lift by lifting 1910 pounds! Not only has he lifted more than anyone in the history of the USAWA, but also of All Time, even exceeding the Hand and Thigh Lifts of the old time strongmen.

Joe Garcia with the Hand and Thigh Lift

Quiz Question: Name the lifter whose all-time record was broken by Joe Garcia, and the weight of the previous record.

Rules of contest: 1 answer per day, first correct answer to webmaster wins

Winner receives a USAWA Patch!!!!

Mike McBride, of Columbia Missouri, correctly answered the quiz. The

previous Hand and Thigh Lift record holder was the New Jersey Strongman,  Jack Walsh.  He did a Hand and Thigh Lift of 1900 pounds in 1950 at Trenton, New Jersey.  This beat the previous record held by Louis Cyr of Canada, who had a Hand and Thigh Lift of 1897 pounds, set in 1896.  Will it be another 50 years before Joe Garcia’s Hand and Thigh Lift record is broken?