Tag Archives: Rudy Bletscher

Masters Benching Secrets

by Roger LaPointe

Rudy Bletscher, at 70 years of age, performing a Feet in the Air Bench Press at the 2006 USAWA National Championships.

How much do you bench?

How many times have you been asked that question?

To me, the bench press is an exercise. To other people, I know it can be a way of life. For the Masters Age lifter, it can be an enigma..

I have recently been doing more bench pressing, because of my focus on the Crucifix Hold records. Thanks to a torn rotator cuff twelve years ago, I quit doing regular bench pressing. Now, thanks to the Indian Clubs, I am not so hesitant to bench. It used to put that shoulder out of commission for a week, or two, if I pushed it at all.

5 Training Lifts for the Master Bencher

  1. Crucifix Hold – I deal with a lot of Masters Age lifters and we all seem to have our particular collection of injuries, big or small. The Crucifix Hold is a funny lift. I have definitely found the classic flat bench press to be a helpful training lift to help with the crucifix 1RM, and vise versa.
  2. Olympic Power Clean and Press – Don’t use a super arched lay back, like the Russians of the early 1970s, instead press like Schemansky. Jim Bradford told me that Norb (Schemansky) told him he needed to “massage the bar”. My buddy Dave Pohlzin has been teaching me to do it. It’s pretty cool. One day I hope to Clean & Press more than I can bench.
  3. Incline Dumbbell Bench Pressing – Man, you need to crush it like Casey. I have an old Meet poster from Dr. Ken’s Iron Island Gym with a photo of Pat Casey doing incline dumbbell benches with some dumbbells that look to weigh around 220 pounds. Awesome. Most guys over do it with the flat benching and develop tendonitis and other problems at the point where the pecs, front delts and biceps meet at the front of the arm pit. This helps to avoid that problem.
  4. Side Lateral Raises – I know you have heard it a million times before but you really do need to avoid muscle imbalance in the delts. On some of these things, the bodybuilders have it right. If you hate this classic bodybuilder movement, try a one arm barbell snatch high pull. I won’t beat a dead horse on this concept. Just try it.
  5. Dumbbell Bent Over Rows – This will solidify the shoulder girdle like nothing else you can do.

Round out these movements with Indian Club work. Masters lifters all seem to have rotator cuff and biceps problems. In many cases, the Indian Clubs seem to solve that problem. They will help you bench more weight. Follow up the Indian Club work with the 5 exercises listed above and you might be benching more than when you were in your 20’s.

Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Team Championships

by Al Myers


Rudy Bletscher (left) and Mike Murdock (right) perform a very difficult team lift in last years Team Championship, the Team One Arm Dumbbell Press.

Due to some other local strength event conflicts, the date for the 2012 USAWA Team Championships has been moved up a couple of weekends this year.  As usual, this meet will be part of the Dino Days Weekend held at the Dino Gym.  For several years now the Dino Gym has had one weekend a year where we celebrate our Dino Days.  It is a full weekend of fun, both lifting and socializing.  Saturday night is an open invite to anyone who wants to come share in our evening BBQ, sponsored by the Dino Gym. You do not need to be a “gym member” to take part in this fun.   I’m planning on making this years Saturday evening party a “trial run”  for the big party I’m planning after the World Championships in October at my place.  So plan on staying after the meet for this!!!  One thing those of us in central Kansas are known for – it is our BBQ.  I’m thinking of a menu now of burgers, brats, grilled chicken, brisket, and possibly even ribs.  Add in some hot baked beans and potato salad for sides, and brownies and homemade ice cream for dessert and we got a meal that ought to fill everyone up.  All washed down with beer of course!  (I shouldn’t be writing this story right before lunch!!!)

But onto the meet details (the real reason we are getting together haha).   This year I picked 4 lifts that I think anyone could team up to do.  The lifts will be: Clean and Jerk – One Arm, Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, Bent Over Row, and the 12″ base Deadlift.   I am sure that the Dino Gym will field at least 3 teams for this meet.  I have been somewhat disappointed in the attendance in the past Team Championships.  So this year I’m going to be CALLING OUT some other clubs to REPRESENT.  To start with there is NO REASON clubs like the JWC, Jobes Steel Jungle, Clarks Gym, the Ledaig AC, and KCStrongman are not in attendance.  These clubs are all within easy driving distances of this major USAWA competition.  It has been my dream since I started hosting  the Team Championships several years ago that the this meet would be one of those fun meets that lifters would not want to miss.  This meet doesn’t really put any pressure on you as a lifter.  After all if you don’t do well you can always blame it on your partner!!!!


Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

by Al Myers

Bill Clark (left) and Rudy Bletscher (right). This picture was taken a couple of years ago, at the Deanna Springs Meet. Notice that Bill is tallying the scores using a hand calculator and pen and pad. No fancy computer, or even a printed scoresheet is needed for Bill to figure the day's results!

The Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule is now available.  USAWA events hosted in Clark’s Gym, Columbia, Missouri have been some of the longest running meets in the history of the USAWA.  Meets like the Zercher Strength Classic and the Backbreaker Pentathlon have been signature meets in the USAWA, and have the historic significance of defining the All Rounds in the United States.  As per custom in meets hosted by Bill Clark, there are no entry fees or entry forms to send in.  There are no awards given.  I have asked Bill in the past why he doesn’t give out awards, and his reply to me was “if you want one buy your own!”.   That sounded like a good reason to me!  After all, there are not very many events you can go to now a days that are free like Clark’s Gym Meets.  You get to enjoy a great day of lifting, along with all the free wisdom you want  from the Father of  All-Round Weightlifting himself Bill Clark, and it won’t cost you a dime! 

It is important that you contact Bill at least 3 days in advance that you plan on attending.  If not, you might show up on meet day and the meet has been cancelled (if no one has pre-entered).  

Clark’s Gym Meet Schedule

November 6th, 2011 – Schmidt’s Backbreaker Pentathlon

November 26th, 2011 – Goerner Deadlift Dozen plus One

January 28th, 2012 – Zercher Strength Classic

March 24th, 2012 – Deanna Springs Memorial Meet

Team Nationals

by Al Myers


Group picture from the 2011 USAWA Team Nationals. (front row left to right): Al Myers, Chad Ullom (back row left to right): Russ Morton, Rudy Bletscher, Mike Murdock, Dean Ross

The 2011 USAWA Team Nationals was again an outstanding success this year.  It contained a couple of  regular teams (Myers/Ullom & Murdock/Bletscher) and one new team that made their debut (Morton/Ross) in team lifting.  Team lifting is MUCH different than just individual lifting. Teamwork is essential in being successful – things like timing and coordination between partners can either help you or hurt you in a big way.  The teams this year seemed very balanced in regards to the lifters size and height.  

Dean and Russ put up the top Team One Arm Dumbbell Press with a lift of 180 pounds.

The Dino Gym brought another new lifter to the USAWA arena in this meet and he did a phenomenal job considering this was his first exposure to the crazy things we do in the USAWA, and I consider this meet an extreme meet in our yearly meet lineup. This man is Russ Morton. He is a VERY seasoned powerlifter who has MANY powerlifting meets under his belt, and it was obvious he was not intimidated in the least by the lifts that faced him.  He teamed with Dean “the Boss” Ross who in my opinion, has made his presence known in the USAWA this year.  Dean is one of the STRONGEST GUYS his age I have ever met.  He powers through any lift whether it requires technique or not, and through brute determination makes big lifts.  These two guys put up the TOP Team One Arm Dumbbell Press of the meet with a fine lift of 180 pounds. I’m sure you are wondering – how do you do a Team one arm dumbbell press??  At first it sounds next to impossible, but after “scratching our heads” awhile we came up with a way.  First of all, there is barely enough room to get two hands on a 6 inch dumbbell handle so the grip on the dumbbell is not the best.  All of us pressed the dumbbell standing to the side of each other facing opposite directions.  So it can be done.

We were entertained during a break in the lifting action when Rudy and Dave sang a harmonized duet.

The second lift was the Team Continental Snatch using the 2″ Fulton Bar.  I was concerned grip might be an issue for the lifters but it wasn’t for anyone.  The difficulty with the lift was the minimal hand spacing on the bar.  You had to use a snatch grip much narrower than the normal snatch width, which made the lift slightly more difficult.  Chad and I had the top lift here with a lift of 320 pounds.  Mike and Rudy made a solid lift of 117 pounds, and Dean and Russ finished with 177 pounds.   Chad and I used a power snatch technique while the other two teams used the hang snatch technique.

Mike and Rudy teamed up for a 175 pound Team Continental to Chest and Jerk. Not too bad for a couple of lifters over 70 years of age!

The third lift was the Team Continental to Chest and Jerk.  Chad and I had the top lift of 452 pounds, which is now the top lift done in this lift in both the USAWA and IAWA record books.  I was hoping that we could also break the mark from the old Missouri Valley Record List which record is an outstanding lift of 463 pounds set in 1983 by two legendary mid-west lifters, Bob Burtzloff and Kevin Fulton.   We simply ran out of attempts and didn’t start high enough.  Maybe next time!!! 

Chad and I had to use some tight teamwork to lift 1000 pounds in the Team 2-bar deadlift.

The last lift done was the Team 2-bar deadlift.  Each lifter gripped each bar just like in the individual 2-bar deadlift.  I actually thought this would be an easy lift for a team to do since the balance issue would be removed that presents when doing this by yourself.  I thought for sure that the lifters could lift more as a team than the sum of their individual lifts.  I was wrong!  This lift turned out to give the lifters the most failed attempts of all the lifts, because if both bars didn’t rise in unison, the weight would “shift” to the lifter on the lower end and force the lifters feet to move.   We tried it all ways – facing away from each other, facing each other, and even standing facing the same direction. I don’t think we ever decided which “lineup” was most favorable.  Mike Murdock took a nasty fall on one attempt after the weight “shifted”.  Luckily, Mike was not hurt (at least he was not bleeding!).   Chad and I had the top lift on this one with a lift of 1000 pounds.  I think we could have done a little more, but at this time we were ready to call it a day and head to town for supper!  Thanks to everyone who showed up to lift, and special thanks goes to Dave Glasgow for serving as the official the entire day.


USAWA Team Nationals
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 27th, 2011

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Dave Glasgow

Lifts:   Team Press – Dumbbell, One Arm, Team Continental Snatch – Fulton Bar, Team Continental to Chest and Jerk, Team Deadlift – 2 bars


Al Myers – 45 years, 253# BWT
Chad Ullom – 39 years,  244# BWT

Dean Ross – 68 years, 281# BWT
Russ Morton – 50 years, 275# BWT

Mike Murdock – 71 years, 231# BWT
Rudy Bletscher – 75 years, 217# BWT


Lifters DB Press Snatch C&J DL Total Points
Myers/Ullom 175-R 320 452 1000 1947 1535.4
Ross/Morton 180-R 177 253 617 1227 1019.9
Murdock/Bletscher 90-R 117 175 440 822 896.7

Notes:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age correction.


Murdock/Bletscher: MASTERS 70-74 AGE GROUP & 105 KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Ross/Murdock: MASTERS 65-69 AGE GROUP & 125+ KG WEIGHT CLASS
Team Curl – Reverse Grip: 205#

Swing – Dumbbell, Right Arm: 70#
Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm: 70#
Swing – 2 Dumbbells: 100#

Welcome to the Century Club Chad and Rudy!

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom "in action" at the Ledaig Record Breakers last weekend. Chad is the only lifter in the Century Club that has done ALL of his USAWA records in the Senior Division.

I predicted this would happen this summer as Chad Ullom and Rudy Bletscher have been “knocking on the door” of joining the Century Club.  The Century Club is a club that recognizes the elite group of USAWA  lifters that CURRENTLY hold over 100 USAWA Records.  However, it didn’t happen exactly as I thought it would.  I predicted it would take place last weekend at Dave’s Ledaig Record Breaker.  This was the case for Chad but not for Rudy.  Rudy was not able to attend.   At the time, I thought it would take another day for him to make this milestone accomplishment (and a little more effort after watching Rudy’s nemesis Mike Murdock take down a couple of Rudy’s records at the Ledaig Record Breaker), but I forgot at the time that at the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the USAWA in June it was voted and passed by the membership to retroactively implement the records set at the 2011 Dino Gym Old-Time Strongman Challenge since the lifts in that competition were approved as new USAWA lifts at the meeting.  So Rudy is IN on his prior performances!  Chad knocked down several new records at the Ledaig Record Breakers putting him in as well.  We celebrated this accomplishment after he broke the USAWA Record in the Snatch on the Knees with a lift of 135 pounds. Coincidentally, both these lifters now stand at 107  USAWA records, which put them at a tie at the number 19 spot out of 21 lifters in the club.  Chad is the only lifter on the list that has done ALL of his records competing in the Senior Division (which makes him only eligible for OVERALL RECORDS).  This makes his accomplishment all that more impressive.  If you are in the Junior Division or Masters Division you have the opportunity to “double dip” on records, which means you may set or break an age group record and an overall record with the same lift.  This helps tremendously with “padding” your record count number.  I counted back through the USAWA Record list and Chad’s sits NUMBER TWO in OVERALL RECORDS (not age group records)  with his 107 (and all I will say about the guy at number 1 is that he has 141 overall records, and Chad knows him quite well as he is his training partner! ). 

There are several other lifters close to joining the Century Club that I’m keeping an eye on.  But just because you get in the club doesn’t mean that you can “sit back” and revel in your accomplishment, and spend too much time “patting yourself on the back”, because if others break enough of your records you can fall out of it.  This has happened (and it bothers me to see it) to a couple of legendary lifters in the USAWA recently, so you must keep up your involvement in the USAWA to “maintain your spot” in the Century Club.  Congratulations to Rudy and Chad – I’m very proud of both of you two, and you deserve this recognition.

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