Tag Archives: Steve Schmidt

The “OW!” Factor

by John McKean

My son Rob, when in elementary school, setting an 802# Hand and Thigh record at Howard's first Gold Cup. This record has stood for 24 years now!

My son Rob, when in elementary school, setting an 802# Hand and Thigh record at Howard’s first Gold Cup. This record has stood for 24 years now!

“C’mon, little fella, do you really expect to warmup with US?!” The superheavies at an early 60s powerlifting meet had dominated one of the few olympic bars, and were not too keen to share their already heavily loaded squat rack with a barely 165#, dweeby out-of-towner. After all, they reasoned, it wasn’t their fault that the meet director had somehow assigned middleweights to the evening session; they sure didn’t want to waste energy breaking down the 455 they’d carefully built up. Since my opener out on the main platform was imminent, I had to use my charming personality and a bit of surprise to convince these rack hogs into giving me a break. Promising to take only one set, I requested they ADD a pair of 45s to the bar, and spot closely! Shocked into silence, the beefy group complied and stared blankly as I banged out 4 quick reps! Rushing to the contest stage soon after, I treated very strict judges to an easy district record, despite a hefty drop in poundage from the warmup room

However, in those pure power days of no super suits, no ultra compressing wraps, nor thick magnum belts, my “crazy” fast and heavy prep set was hardly superhuman – those reps were merely 4” QUARTER squats. Yet, as experience had taught, any sufficiently loaded partial lift not only races the ole adrenaline around, but also makes a regular, full movement exercise FEEL quite light! Perhaps as much MENTAL as physical, a monstrous overload still contracts and readies every portion of one’s body (even the brain awakens!), warming the entire musculature. Why, then, endure an energy-robbing process of excess light do-nothing sets?

Through ongoing experiments with the severe overload concept during my building years, I sought out a well known proponent with whom I had spoken to and corresponded – mighty Paul Anderson himself! It seems the World’s Strongest Man developed much of his phenomenal squatting poundage (1200+) by inserting magnum weight quarter squats in between sets of more normal full movement deep knee bends (if, indeed, 3 sets of 10 with a below parallel 800 # – no suit, wraps, nor drugs, can be considered “normal”!). Paul maintained that near limit partials only worked if one used them in direct conjunction with the actual lift that was intended to be strengthened. At that time, my competition squat had been absolutely stuck at 455, and knowing my gym mates would not appreciate two olympic bars being tied up, it was back to my home garage for four months! Of course, there was the obnoxious safety chains clanging around my 6′ exercise bar that had to be endured. I gutted out these supersets and constant loading/deloading without incident (you always have to be VERY aware with 5X+ bwt on quarter squats!). But rewards were great – during the next meet, a 500 pound state record was an easy opener!

These days my “Overload Warmup” (or “OW!”- a fitting name!) consists of our USAWA three official chain lifts – the hip lift, hand and thigh, and neck lift. Each can be seen and described on this website, in the rule book section. Easy to deploy in a garage gym, let’s just consider for now the “hand and thigh” lift. Most don’t own an official short handle and chain to do this lift, so simply rest a barbell in a power rack or on a quite high set of concrete blocks, such that it touches the upper thighs. Using an overhand grip, bury the fingers between the bar and your thighs (to LOCK them in) then just lean back slightly and stand up. Range of movement will only be ½ inch to 2 inches, and 4 to 6 reps will do the job, but will remind you why I’ve so named them (your fingers, traps, forearms, thighs, and everything else will scream “OW! OW! OW!”)!! START your workout with this movement, and any follow-up deadlift type will seem like a walk in the park! How heavy? Well, at 12 years old, my then 165 pound son Rob hefted an official pre teen world record 802 pounds that’s stood for 24 years now; more mature specialists often train with over 1100 pound hand and thighs.

Steve Schmidt just after doing a 2300# Hip Lift at the Ambridge Nationals in 1991, in taking the open Best Lifter Award.

Steve Schmidt just after doing a 2300# Hip Lift at the Ambridge Nationals in 1991, in taking the open Best Lifter Award.

Longtime friend Steve Schmidt, a hard working 5th generation farmer from Missouri, has specialized mostly on herculean chain lifts for many years now, as evidenced by massive, odd-angled scrap iron chunks and extremely thick harnesses which adorn his famous open air “chicken coop gym.” A soft spoken 215 pound USAWA competitor, Steve tops official all-round record charts with his 3515 pound harness lift, 3050# back lift, and 2520# hip lift, among others! Yet from this “OW!” training, he has always been able to enter meets which feature full movement lifts, and easily acquired “outstanding lifter” awards, even at the WORLD level (IAWA)! These days, over 60 years of age and very healthy, Steve has enjoyed exhibiting his chain and mouthpiece TEETH lifting; sometimes at fairs he’s pulled a full size 29 TON railroad car in this manner – the Guinness people love him! Even with all this heavy lifting success, Steve’s disciplined, dedicated farm work leaves little time to train; he recently told me that he merely does 5 relatively easy sets of 10 on a few chain lifts once per week (easy for HIM – his “light” warmup bar for hip lifts is a 1500 pound railroad train axle, and the harness platform STARTS at over 2500 !). A really cool book on his life and lifting is “Heart of Steel” on his website – www.steveschmidtmo.com

Got a spare corner in your garage? Set up a station or two for hip lifts, hand and thighs, neck lifts, or, heaven help ya, the teeth lift! Feel the power of “OW!” and watch poundage on all your other lifts skyrocket!And for exciting old time, super heavy, home gym training inspiration get a copy or subscription to USAWA meet promoter, Roger LaPointe’s exciting new monthly “Garage Gym Journal” (www.atomicathletic.com)

Teeth Lifting

by Al Myers

Art Montini Teeth Lifting at the 2013 USAWA Presidential Cup in Lebanon, PA.

Since the announcement of the Teeth Lift in the Dino Challenge in January it has received some discussion in the USAWA discussion  forum.  Probably the “most talk” the Teeth Lift has ever received in the USAWA!   The inclusion of the Teeth Lift in the WLT Dino Challenge will be the first time the Teeth Lift has been  contested in a USAWA competition.  To date it has only been contested by a few lifters in Record Days.   Here’s a little “refresher” on the USAWA rules of the Teeth Lift:

USAWA Rule I19. Teeth Lift

The setup for this lift requires a mouthpiece fitted to the lifter’s bite, a connecting chain, and a Vertical Bar to load plates to. The hands may not touch the mouthpiece, chain, or Vertical Bar during the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight may accidentally touch the legs during the lift, but the connecting chain must not touch any part of the body. The hands may brace on the legs and body during the lift, but must be free from the body upon completion of the lift. The width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter must lift the weight by the jaws clenched on the mouthpiece only, by extending upward. The legs must be straight upon completion of the lift, but the body does not need to be erect. Once the weight is clear of the platform and motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The rules are pretty straight-forward, and are similar to many other official USAWA rules for other lifts.  The critical things are – hands off legs at completion, legs straight, and weight clear of the platform.  The thing that makes Teeth Lifting a challenge is finding a Teeth Bit that one can use.  It’s not like this is a piece of lifting equipment that is readily available to buy nowadays!!  However, in the “lifting days of the past” it was easy to buy a Teeth Bit.  Virtually every issue of old “Muscular Development” had ads in the back with them for sale.  I would say the popularity of Teeth Lifting really went downhill by the mid 70’s.  Now if you want a Teeth Bit you have to have it custom made for you, or make one yourself.  It’s important that it fits “your bite” – not only for teeth protection but to give you the tightest fit for lifting more weight.

This is an ad for a Teeth Bit in an old issue of Muscular Development.

I’ve been lucky to see “the best” in the USAWA teeth lifting in action.  Years ago I was at the meet in Clark’s Gym when Steve Schmidt did his “record smashing” Teeth Lift of 390 pounds, which is the highest Teeth Lift record in the USAWA record list. I witnessed Steve exceed 300 pounds SEVERAL TIMES in the Teeth Lift.   The ole ironmaster Art Montini has the most Teeth Lift records “on the books”, and has been teeth lifting for years.  In August Art used the Teeth Lift to win the USAWA Presidential Cup with a fine lift of 107 pounds at over 85 years old!!!  Art is one of the few teeth lifters that have WORN OUT teeth bits thru years of use!  Just this year Art made himself a new teeth bit.

The legendary strongman Warren Lincoln Travis was quite the Teeth Lifter, and the best of his day.  Willoughby in his book “Super Athletes” reported him lifting 311 pounds in the Teeth Lift in Brooklyn, NY in 1918.  This was considered the unofficial WORLD RECORD for over 80 years!!!! That is until Steve Schmidt exceeded it several times in the mid-2000’s!!!  I consider Steve’s Teeth Lift record of 390 lbs. (which was done with the hands behind back, as was Travis’s) as the unofficial overall World Record in the Teeth Lift now. Maybe this Dino Challenge in January will bring Steve Schmidt out of competition retirement.  Especially since it contains ALL of his best lifts!!!!! I would love to see him in action teeth lifting again.

Heavy Lifting Objects

by Al Myers

Frank’s “1 TON” Train wheels, that he uses for hip and harness lifting.

The other day I covered a story about Frank’s big “1-TON” train wheels in his backyard, and how he uses them in his training for heavy hip and harness lifting.  These big train wheels are more than just “yard art”  to Frank – they are an important apparatus used in his all round training.  Several other all rounders have similar things they use for training the heavy chain lifts.   I have been in many all round club gyms and have seen other heavy things used.  It goes to show that there are things to train on besides bars and plates.

Al Springs uses these “giant tires” to train the hip and harness lifts.

Al Springs has his “giant tires” that he uses for Hip and Harness lifting.  Very impressive setup!

This is All-Round lifing legend Steve Schmidt’s setup for training the Heavy Lifts, complete with his walker.

Steve Schmidt has his “big frame” that he uses.  He did many of his 3000 pound plus Harness Lifts using this setup.

The Dino Gym’s Train Wheels, which reside by the front door of the gym.

At the Dino Gym, I have a couple of Train Wheels on a Heavy Lift bar that I use to train the hip and harness lifts.  Altogether, they weigh in at 1500 pounds including the bar.   I have done a set of 20 reps in the Harness Lift with these, and sets of 5-10 for hip lifting.  As of yet, I have not done a Hand and Thigh with them.   I’m gonna make that a goal of mine this summer – 1 rep in the Hand and Thigh with these train wheels!!! That’s a perfect summer challenge for me!!

Rules for the Total Poundage

by Al Myers

This was the day that Steve Schmidt set the ALL TIME RECORD in TOTAL POUNDAGE.

Steve Gardner wrote a really nice piece last week about the origins of the unique lift – the Total Poundage.  This lift is unlike all other all-round lifts.  It is NOT a lift done for maximum weight.  It is about TOTAL POUNDAGE established over a time frame.  It is more than just a “repetition lift”, as the lifter can stop & go on repetitions (which is not allowed on lifts for repetition).  Let me get to the rules here:

USAWA Rule for Total Poundage

The accepted time limit is three hours, nine minutes.  The lifter may choose any lift and perform the lift for repetitions in any number of sets and poundages. The reps in the sets, and the poundage used in the sets may be changed or varied throughout the time period.  Each repetition must be properly completed, with the exception of the down commands in which the repetition does not need to be held motionless at completion.  The lifter is permitted to take rest periods.  The repetitions are multiplied with the pounds lifted to determine the total poundage lifted in the allotted time period.

Of course to establish a high total for poundage, the lift selected becomes very important, as some lifts more weight can be lifted in than others.  The usual choices for TOTAL POUNDAGE have been lifts like the Back Lift, Harness Lift, Travis Lift, and Hip Lift.  Another important destinction is that the repetitions done DO NOT need to be held for a down command (which is different than lifts done for reps, as each rep needs to be judged as it was a single, which includes an officials down command).    The IAWA rule for this lift is written with the same intentions, but doesn’t point out this rule stipulation.

IAWA RULE F4 –  TOTAL POUNDAGE

The lifter has a time limit of three hours and nine minutes to lift as much weight as possible to create a time limit total. The lifter can choose any manner of lifts to perform, with any combination of sets or reps, but each repetition must be completed properly for the weight to count towards the time limit total. The total poundage creates the record.

Causes for Failure:
1. Failure to complete any lift or repetition in the correct fashion will exclude that particular lift / repetition from the overall total set in the time limit of three hours and nine minutes.

I was fortunate to be present the day the best record ever was established in TOTAL POUNDAGE.  On December 14th, 2002 Steve Schmidt Back Lifted 8,087,095 TOTAL POUNDS at Clarks Gym.  This broke the overall TOTAL POUNDAGE record held by Howard Prechtel  at 6,066,060 pounds set in 1982.   Back in 2009 I wrote a blog outlining the details of Steve’s performance – http://www.usawa.com/quiz-of-the-week-4/   To date, I believe these are the only two lifters that have exceeded Warren Lincoln Travis mark (5.5 million pounds), which should be considered the mark to beat.  WLT set the bar on this lift, so to speak.

USAWA: The First Year

by Al Myers

Steve Schmidt, of Clark's Gym, was the first member of the USAWA.

This is a big year for the USAWA. It is our 25th ANNIVERSARY of being an organization. I got wondering the other day, “just when was the official beginning day of the USAWA?”. I had a general idea of when this was, but not for sure on an actual date (if there even was one). So I did some research and now I’m going to share what I found out with everyone. The “FIRSTS” are always noteworthy. Here it goes, and I’m going to try to stay on a timeline.

November 29th, 1986

Bill Clark met with several lifters from England in Grimsby, England to “draw up the final plans” of the IAWA. There had been previous meetings, but this was the date the final, BIG DECISIONS were made. The USAWA origins correlates directly with the creation of the IAWA (which will be the topic someday of ANOTHER STORY. I will try to keep on track here.). The constitution and bylaws of the IAWA were approved, which were the basis of the original USAWA bylaws. On this day it was decided that each individual country involved with the IAWA would form their own governing body. Also, the Rules of the original 110 lifts were decided upon.

January 1st, 1987

The first USAWA officers took office. These officers were appointed (by Bill I assume) at the November 29th meeting. This included Jon Carr of Missouri as President and Joe McCoy of Texas as Registrar and Record Keeper.

July 1st, 1987

The USAWA began collecting memberships. Dues were $12, of which $6 went to the USAWA bank account and the remaining $6 went into an IAWA bank account. Club dues were set at $10 and sanction fees set at $10 (which are the SAME FEES we charge today!!!). Steve Schmidt was the first person to buy a membership card in the USAWA.

September 20th, 1987

The first sanctioned USAWA event was held in Clarks Gym. Steve Schmidt put on a solo exhibition of lifts. He did a 2450# Hip Lift, 405# Neck Lift, 3205# Harness Lift, 1125# Hand and Thigh, and a 270# Wrestlers Bridge Pullover and Press. Steve’s Bridged Pullover and Press is still in the Record List, and is the oldest record in the current Record List. This sanctioned event would also make Steve the first USAWA member to officially do a lift in the USAWA.

July 9-10th, 1988

The FIRST EVER USAWA National Championships were held in Plymouth Meeting, PA. John Vernacchio was the meet director. The meet’s best lifter was Steve Schmidt, followed by Phil Anderson, Joe Garcia, John Vernacchio, and John McKean. The Team Champion was John’s club, the Valley Forge Club.

Bill Clark began publishing THE STRENGTH JOURNAL in the fall of 1989, which covered all the news of the USAWA. Bill continued this until 2009, and throughout the years “turned out” over 150 issues. This publication was the “backbone” of the organization for years. All of this research came from old Strength Journals. As I said earlier, this year will MARK the 25th USAWA National Championships held. That is why we are going “big time” and having our National Meet in Las Vegas this year. I plan to have several awards to present to recognize those that have been involved with the USAWA since the beginning.

But back to my original question – Just when did the USAWA officially start? I’m going to say July 1st, 1987 as that was the day the USAWA was officially “open for business” and collecting memberships. Also I like that day because it is the same time most of us will be in Vegas, so that we can celebrate this special day the way it should be celebrated.

1 2 3