Tag Archives: Mark Mitchell

Rules for the Pinch Grip

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, lifting 252# in the Pinch Grip at the 2012 Dino Gym Record Day. This is the ALL TIME best Pinch Grip in the history of the USAWA.

The first lift conducted in the USAWA Grip Championships will be the Pinch Grip.  This lift is in the rulebook under “Special Equipment Lifts”.  The reason for this is that the “special equipment” is the plates themselves – as that is what is used to pinch to make the lift.  The USAWA rules for the Pinch Grip are as follows:

I15.  Pinch Grip

The setup for this lift requires two metal plates joined together with smooth surfaces facing outward. A bar may be placed between the plates to hold them together, and should be long enough to add plates to it. Front hang or back hang is allowed to the loading of the center bar.  Collars should be used on this bar. The lifter’s fingers must not touch any added plates. The width of the two plates joined together must be between 2 ¼ inches and 2 ½ inches. The lifter will straddle the weight, with the weight being placed in front of the lifter. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise.  The lifter will then grip the plates with both hands on the top of both plates. The palms of the hands must be facing the lifter. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight must be lifted to a point where the lifter’s legs are straight and the body upright. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to lower the weight.

At the Grip Champs, we will use two old york 45# plates as the “gripping plates” with a VB holding them together. You will like these plates for this lift because these are the old “milled” York Plates.  If you don’t know why these are better, you soon will when you get your mitts on them.   I do have some 35# plates if less weight is going to be lifted. I also want to emphasize that the only substance that may be used on the hands is chalk.  I will be watching this closely!!  The rules do not specify whether the arms can be bent or not – so that means they may be bent during the lift. 

Below are the Overall Mens USAWA records in the Pinch Grip.  I expect to see several of these get broken at the USAWA Grip Championships!!!

70 100 Howard, Colby 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
75 135 Jaeschke, Jon 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
80 150 Jaeschke, Chris 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
85 190 Wagman, Dan 12/1/2012 2012 Gracie Club RD
90 170 Goetsch, Troy 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
95 170 Fulton, Doug 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
100 162 Edwards, Ben  2/12/2011 2011 Grip Championships
105 204 Glass, Adam 3/3/2012 2012 Minnesota Meet
110 170 Capello, Mac 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
115 175 Carlton, Brian 9/16/2001 2001 Supergrip Challenge
120 200 Graham, Matt 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
125 200 Graham, Matt 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
125+ 252 Mitchell, Mark 2/12/2012 2012 Dino Gym Record Day


NOTES:  The record lift are recorded in pounds.

Pullover Tips

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell performing a Pullover and Push at the 2004 Dino Gym Challenge. Mark doing a pullover onto his 60 inch plus chest is the All-Round Weightlifting version of climbing Mt. Everest!

Recently I was asked about if there were any “secrets” to performing the pullover in the Pullover and Press. This lift (the Pullover and Press) will be a big part of this next years competitions, since it will be contested in both Nationals and Worlds.  And don’t forget the Pullover and Push either, as it will be contested in the World Postal Meet coming up.  So you can see the importance of understanding how to do a pullover, since it IS the first part of BOTH  of these lifts.  First let me say this about the pullover – IT IS NOT A PULLOVER!  Too many lifters think it is, and try to lift the bar with their arms and shoulders onto their chest.  They soon find out that this motion severely hinders their ability to get much weight to their chest, plus puts terrible unnatural stresses on the shoulder joints.  You have to remember the OBJECT of the Pullover and Press is to lift as much as possible, and since it is a two part lift, one of the parts WILL be the limiting movement.  Your goal should be to have the press or push be your limit, not what you can do in the pullover.   However, I have seen the pullover be the limiting factor to many lifters in competition. 

Now on to some advice from the Dino Man.  I am going to make a disclaimer first: “If you weigh under 200 pounds- NONE of this advice applies to you!”.  Light lifters with puny chests have no problem getting the bar in position on the chest for a press or push. They just roll it into place without encountering any difficulties.    It’s the BIG GUYS I’m trying to help here.  Guys over 250# BWT who have spent entirely too much training time on the bench press and have pecs that “mound up” like implants on the chest of a Vegas showgirl  (haha, I can’t believe I SAID THAT because I don’t attend those sort of deviant activities  But just LOOK at the chest of  a bench press specialist,  someone like Dave Beversdorf of Clarks Gym. Its freaky, but spectacular at the same time.  Not that I’m saying Dave looks like a Vegas showgirl….Ok, I’m getting off course here. ).   For these guys the pullover can be quite an embarrassment the first time they try it.  As the bar approaches the chest as its rolled forward  it “runs into a brick wall” as it encounters the pecs.  I had one lifter ask me how its possible to get it onto his chest – because his chest is 6 inches higher than the bar!  Well, that’s what I’m going to try to answer here.

Tip #1  Think FAST ROLL – not pullover

The main secret to getting the bar to the chest is a fast roll.  More speed equals more momentum.  And let me remind you of another thing – it’s going to hurt a little before it makes the climb to the chest.  I like to have the bar at arms’ length on the platform and make a couple of slow “warmup” rolls to the top of the head before my final ALL OUT pull. This builds my confidence and prepares me mentally for the inevitable SLAM. I try to pull the bar as fast as I can with no regard to how much it might hurt when it impacts the chest.  I think of it as just “taking a punch” before the lift starts. Also, be sure you turn your head slightly before it crosses over the head or the bar might impact the nose which could cause a broken nose.

Tip  #2 Lift head at impact

This helps tremendously in getting the bar on the chest.  Just as the bar is about ready to impact the chest, raise your head.  This action causes the chest to drop slightly and the throwing of  the head up helps with bar momentum at the last second.

Tip #3 Minimize resistance

Do everything possible to decrease resistance.  This includes wearing a slick-fronted tshirt.  DO NOT wear a tshirt with a sticky vinyl logo on the front as the bar will “stick” to this.  I like wearing a tight fitting white tshirt. This is one lift where I don’t like to wear my singlet, as the straps will “catch” on the bar and add sliding resistance. Also, use a bar that does not have center knurling.  I have found my deadlift bar to be the best bar to use for the pullover.  Try to not use big thick rubber bumpers on the bar as this causes more friction resistance on the roll as well.  Having the plates roll on wood is faster than on rubber mats. All of these things add up.

Tip #4 Use padding under the body

This is very important for a couple of reasons.  The obvious first reason is to give some protection to the elbows when the forearms “turn over” as the bar goes onto the chest.  It is critical that you use padding that is not to thick as this will raise the body up and make the pullover harder.  I like using a towel or a thin rubber backed floor mat.  However, the most important aspect of padding is to “stick” your body to the platform.  I pull on the pullover so hard that my body will slide on a wooden platform without padding (towards the bar which slows things down). 

Tip #5  Wide Grip

You can get a stronger pull with a wide grip than a narrow grip. When I do the pullover and push, I like a wide grip for my push so that is the grip I take for the pullover on that lift.  However you can press more with a bench press grip, but you can still use a wide grip for the pullover part.  Changing your hand spacing on the bar when it is on the chest is NOT a rule violation (as was clarified at this past years annual meeting when the rules changes where discussed).  So if you NEED to do this for the pullover and press to help your pullover – do it.   

These are my top five tips for the pullover.  Incorporate these ideas and your pullover WILL NOT be the limiting factor in these two lifts (pullover and press and the pullover and push).   Other little things help as well – wear wrist wraps to protect and support the wrists, wear elbow sleeves in training to protect the elbows from abrasions and hematomas (but elbow sleeves are not allowed in competition), and  shaving your chest to minimize hair resistance (haha, maybe this is a stretch for most, but for guys like Scott Campbell it would take an inch off his chest height).

Make sure you practice the pullover for several training sessions before a competiton with the Pullover and Press/Push.  Don’t be discouraged the first time you do it (or the first time back after a layoff of these lifts).   Each subsequent training session you will find improvement if you follow these training tips.

Grip Championships

by Al Myers


Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, put up the best Pinch Grip of the 2011 USAWA Grip Championships with a fine lift of 174 pounds.

The USAWA Grip Championships will be hosted again this year for the second time by the Dino Gym on the second weekend of February.  As per requirement of the USAWA, all events in this USAWA Grip Championships will be official lifts of the USAWA.  A complete “different set” of lifts have been selected this year which should provide a challenge to all entrants.  This Championship is the premier grip competition within the USAWA during the year.  I want to remind everyone that traditional USAWA scoring is used in this competition, which may be different than other organizations scoring.  The “total pounds” of all the lifts are tallied together, and then amended using the Lynch Formula for bodyweight and age corrected for the lifter’s age.



Dumbbell Walk
Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm
Deadlift – Fingers, Index
Deadlift – No Thumb, One Arm
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 2 Bars, 2″


For entry form – 2012 Grip Championships Entry Form

Team Nationals

by Al Myers

At last year's Team Nationals, Dino Gym members Mark Mitchell and Scott Tully performed a 450 pound Maxey Press, a lift named in the memory of longtime Dino Gym member Bob Maxey. Chad Ullom and myself attempted to spot this big lift, but as you tell by the look on Chad's face that our spot probably would have been useless if needed!! 450 pounds at arms length overhead is not something you would want to try to catch!

The date has been set for the Dino Gym’s Annual Dino Days.  It is the weekend of the 27th and 28th of August.  I had to move it up a few weeks this year (from the middle of September) due to other conflicting competitions in the area in September.  This year Dino Days will be solely committed to the USAWA – with the USAWA Team Nationals being contested on Saturday and a USAWA Record Day on Sunday.  This will be the 5th year the Team National Championships has been contested (the first in 2007).   Last year we had the biggest turnout of lifters for it than ever before, and I’m hoping this year will be even better!

Team Nationals 2011

Meet Director: Al Myers and the Dino Gym  785-479-2264

Meet Date: Saturday, August 27th, 2011   10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Location: Dino Gym, 1126 Eden Road, Abilene, KS 67410

Sanction: U.S.A.W.A Memberships may be purchased on meet day

Weigh-ins: 9:00 – 10:00 AM the day of the meet

Divisions: 2-Man, 2-Person, and 2-Woman

Each division will be formula adjusted for weight and age

Entry Fee: None


Press – Dumbbell, One Arm

Snatch – Fulton Bar

Continental to Chest and Jerk

Deadlift – 2 Bars

(After meet there will be a record day for Team Lifts only)

Registration: Send entry to Al Myers, 1126 Eden Road, Abilene, Kansas 67410

For a pdf document of the Entry Form – TeamNationals2011

Successful Fundraiser

by Al Myers

The silent auction at the Dino Challenge raised $800 for the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter.

After an unbelievable day of lifting at the Dino Old-Time Strongman Challenge,  a silent auction was conducted as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter.   My training partner Mark Mitchell and his wife are actively involved with this compassionate organization.  Their concerns are genuine, and this group has helped HUNDREDS of pets find new homes and bring love and happiness to many, many families.  This group does not receive financial help outside of private donations and fundraisers like this.  ALL money raised will go directly where it should go – to help in finding homes for dogs and cats.  It was a fantastic feeling to be able to help them in this mission.   All together,  $800 was raised!!!!  It was my honor to present this check to Mark Mitchell and the Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter on behalf of the Dino Gym and all USAWA participants who donated to this auction.  THANK YOU to everyone who was part of this!!

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