Tag Archives: Steve Schmidt

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 1425 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.


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.

The Heavy Lift Bar

by Al Myers

Steve Schmidt, arguable the BEST OVERALL Heavy Lift lifter in the history of the USAWA, maxes a Heavy Lift Bar out with plates in the Hip Lift under the watchful eye of Bill Clark.

A very unique bar that we use in the USAWA (and is ONLY used by our organization) is the Heavy Lift Bar.  Often a lot of mystery surrounds this bar.  You will see ads on various websites advertising the sale of  heavy lift bars, but in most cases these bars DO NOT meet our rules specifications.  The Heavy Lift Bar is used for the Heavy Lifts – which include lifts like the Harness Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift, and Neck Lift.  Our new updated Rule Book contains the specifications for the Heavy Lift Bar, which were not included in the previous Rule Book.  Section V.I. 22 of the USAWA Rule Book states this regarding the Heavy Lift Bar:

The Heavy Lift Bar must meet the following specifications.

• The diameter of the bar must be a minimum of 1 15/16 inches.

• The bar may be a pipe or solid steel shaft.

• The maximum length of the inside sleeve is 16 inches.

• The maximum length of the bar is 8 ½ feet and the minimum length of the bar is 7 feet.

• Only one hook is allowed on the bar, located in the center.

• The bar must be straight.

• The weight of the bar must be clearly marked.

• The bar must contain no revolving sleeves.

A brand new Heavy Lift Bar that I made specifically to be used at the 2011 USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals, to be held in York, PA on May 21st.

The most common problem with “other” Heavy Lift Bars is they often contain TWO HOOKS.  Our Official Heavy Lift Bar can have only one – located in the center – which obviously makes the balance of the lifts much more difficult!  The Heavy Lift Bar requires several accessories.  Proper hooks for attachments are needed, along with bar lifters to make  loading easier.  Special harnesses and belts are needed, depending on which lift is being performed.  The shaft of the Heavy Lift Bar is a solid cold roll bar, of diameter 1 15/16 inches.  A hollow pipe would never hold up – it would bend (or break) immediately!  I am always surprised how much the solid Heavy Lift Bar will bend under loads of over 2000 pounds!  All of the Heavy Lift Bars that we use in the USAWA are home-made or custom-made.  Only a handful of gyms have one – the Dino Gym, Clark’s Gym, Habecker’s Gym, Ambridge BBC, Frank’s Barbell Club, M & D Gym, Schmidt’s Barbell Club,  and the JWC.  OK – so most ALL of the Member Clubs of the USAWA have one!!  The Heavy Lift Bar will be featured exclusively at this year’s Heavy Lift Nationals in York, PA on May 21st with the Neck Lift, Hip Lift and Hand and Thigh Lift being contested.  If you want to give the Heavy Lifts a try, and in the process get introduced to the Heavy Lift Bar, just sign up for this competition!

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