by Thom Van Vleck
Time for me to stir some controversy! Okay, so many years ago my grandfather Dalton Jackson taught me the shoulder drop. He told me it was how the “old timers” did it. First, let’s review the USAWA rules for the Shoulder Drop.
Shoulder Drop: The bar is first cleaned and placed at the base of the neck to start this lift. Feet placement is optional. Once the lifter is upright, and the bar motionless, an official will give a command to start the lift. The lifter will then release the grip on the bar, allowing the bar to drop from the shoulders behind the back. The bar must not be rolled down the back or arms. The lifter must catch the bar in the hands at arms’ length behind the back. The legs must remain straight throughout the lift. The lift ends on command by an official when the bar is controlled in the hands by the lifter.
The way my grandfather taught me was exactly the same as above except of one key thing. My grandfather would bend his knees as he caught the bar and “shock absorb” the weight. Obviously, much more can be handled in this way. You can “feel” the weight hit the hands and then this allows time to “grab” while you sink with the weight. The locked knees method becomes a guessing game and using much weight at all easily results on spinal strain, busted knuckles, and in some cases (like Chad Ullom) getting what amounts to a “horse collar” tackle by the weight!
First of all, I would like to know the history on this rule. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I would just like to know where it comes from. My grandfather got all of his information through magazines or 2nd hand so he could have easily gotten this wrong. But I have tried to research this to no avail. So if anyone out there knows more about this let me know.
Second of all, unless there is some historic reason for the knees to be kept locked, I would like to see the rule changed to allow for bent knees. I would argue a lot less injuries would result with greater poundages used and the lift would become more skill based.
Third…if there is a historical reason for the locked knees then I would like to submit a new lift at the next meeting. The Jackson Shoulder Drop, which would allow for the bent knees.
I know, what’s the big deal! The shoulder drop is an obscure lift and rarely done. But I can tell you that my Grandfather did it often. He did a lift where he would clean the weight, press it overhead, lower it behind the neck, shoulder drop it, and set it on the platform. He eventually did 135lbs this way which was pretty good for a guy that could barely press much more than that at the time! So, if you know anything about this lift other than what’s in the rule book please get on the forum and let me know. Also, let me know if you have a beef with me submitting a new lift that would allow a knee bend and why.
by Thom Van Vleck
Wilbur Miller doing a barbell leg press
Recently I got kind of sore at a guy for criticizing a leg press done by my friend Wilbur Miller. Wilbur and my Uncle Wayne had some epic battles back in the day and while Wilbur won the overall in every meet he was never able to beat my Uncle in the Clean and Press. Wayne took great pride in that as Wilbur was, in his mind, the greatest of his era. I have written an article for MILO magazine on Wilbur and he continues to be involved in the USAWA to this day.
So this picture came up and this guy took it for face value and called it “Stupid”. Well, I let him have it. I was probably too harsh but I knew the story behind this photo. The guy also said that if this was a good lift then you would see people doing it everywhere. First of all, Wilbur usually did his lifting in an old York Power Rack where he could leg press in a rack with a very tight gap. I did leg pressed that way early in my training as well. Second of all, this photo was take out of the rack to demonstrate the lift. Third, Wilbur did them because he didn’t have a proper leg press or leg sled. It might be stupid to do this lift if you had a good leg press or out of a power rack….but it was dang smart to do them when Wilbur had some back issues and wanted to work his legs hard and he had no other recourse.
This got me to thinking about all the name calling and commentary from know-it-all lifters on the internet. And to be honest, I’ve been one, too and I regret it. A quick glance and you might think a lot of lifts would be useless or even dangerous. But the reality is there are no stupid lift…only stupid lifters!
I would contend that ANY lift that can be done could have a useful purpose at some point of any lifters career. Maybe because of injury, or an unusual weakness, or a lack of proper equipment. Over the years I have made it a point to train with many of the best lifters in the country and I have found that almost ALL of the best have all kinds of unusual lifts they have developed that fits their needs. Those same lifts, in the wrong context, could be disastrous to others.
Many times I have had a lifter tell me of a lift they do and my initial reaction is to roll my eyes and shake my head. But in my 35 plus years of lifting there have been countless times I’ve ended up adopting that lift for my own needs. So, my point is don’t judge, keep your mind open, and be like a U. S. Marine: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”. In other words….don’t be stupid!
by Al Myers
Noi Phumchaona performing a Clean and Press at the 1999 IAWA World Championships in Australia.
The USAWA is full of odd and weird all round lifts. Some have been performed rarely – and some NEVER! Well, at my Dino Days Record Days one of these lifts was performed for USAWA Record for the first time. It took someone as odd as the lift itself to finally make this happen in the USAWA (and that is supposed to be a compliment!). Anyone with normal sense would have passed on attempting this lift for record.
Jesse Jobe, of the Jobe’s Steel Jungle, performed a Phumchaona Lift of 840 pounds. This is the FIRST and ONLY record lift established in the Phumchaona Lift. I appreciate lifters like Jesse bringing recognition to the “less popular” lifts in the USAWA by performing them in record days. If you look hard in the Rule Book and compare it to the Record List you will find there are a few other USAWA lifts that have never been performed for record. I know which ones they are – but I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the ones!
The Phumchaona Lift was named after Noi Phumchaona, the most celebrated female USAWA lifter in history. Noi was the OVERALL BEST LIFTER at the USAWA Nationals four times (2002, 1999, 1998, & 1997). She was married to the legendary Hall of Famer Howard Prechtel. Together they made a dynamic husband/wife duo, and their presence was at most every major competition during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Together they have more USAWA/IAWA Championships than any other husband/wife combo in the history of our organization. The Phumchaona Lift is an official lift of the USAWA only (not an IAWA lift).
The rules for the Phumchaona Lift are as follows:
I14. Phumchaona Lift
This lift combines a Hip Lift and a Clean and Press with two dumbbells. The rules of the Hip Lift and Clean and Press – 2 Dumbbells apply with these exceptions. The lifter gets in position for a Hip Lift holding two dumbbells at arms’ length by the sides. The dumbbells may be cleaned and pressed before, during, or after the Hip Lift. Any combination of movements is allowed. The only command from an official during this lift will be a command to end the lift when both the Hip Lift and the Clean and Press with two dumbbells are completed.
As you can see, this is a extremely difficult lift which combines a heavy lift and a dumbbell lift. It is definitely a “one of a kind” lift. The interesting thing is that there is not a documented case of Noi actually performing this lift. I have done some research on when this lift originated – and I am at a dead end. I even went to the effort of contacting several of the “long in the tooth” USAWA members to give me input for this story, and I’ve only received one email response back in which he didn’t have anything to add. So this makes the Phumchaona Lift an all-round mystery for now.
by Al Myers
It’s hard to believe – but this is the 1000th blog of the USAWA Daily News. That’s alot of All Round Weightlifting news over the past 3-4 years. The first blog was a meet report of the 2009 Dino Gym Challenge – whereas the big news was Steve Schmidt hitting over a 3000 pound Back Lift and Chad Ullom performing a 200# Zeigler Clean. The first few months were pretty slow on news, but since then the pace has been picked up. We have had months over 30 stories, and most months have been over 20 stories.
I have greatly appreciated the support that others have given me in this website endeavor. The format of this website allows for member participation, which includes articles for publishing as the front page news of the USAWA Daily News. Guys like Thom Van Vleck, Roger LaPointe, Dave Glasgow, Dennis Mitchell, John McKean, and Steve Gardner have submitted several stories apiece over the years which I appreciate. I don’t mind writing the majority, but the “voice of the organization” should be more than just me, especially since there’s WAY BETTER journalists than myself!!! When I set this website up, I envisioned there being several writers, preferably at least one from each club, that would submit club news so everyone could keep up with what was going on throughout the entire organization.
Let’s start the countdown to 2000!!!
by Al Myers
One of the new official lifts of the USAWA that was passed at the National Meeting is the “Curl – Reverse Grip”. This has caused some confusion (I’ve received a couple of emails on it already) as we already HAVE that lift as one of our official USAWA lifts! The reason for this is a simple one – our rules for the Reverse Grip Curl has been drastically different than the IAWA rules for the Reverse Grip Curl! A while back I wrote a blog stating the differences on this: http://www.usawa.com/curl-reverse-grip/ . The new Curl – Reverse Grip will go by this rule, which conforms to the IAWA rule for it:
Curl – Reverse Grip: The rules of the Rectangular Fix apply, except that once the bar reaches the midway point it does not stop fixed, but continues to the finish position in one motion.
Need to reference this rule:
D24. Rectangular Fix
This lift starts with the lifter standing holding the bar on the thighs at arms’ length, with the palms of the hands facing the lifter. Maximum hand spacing is shoulder width. Feet placement is optional. On a command by an official to start the lift, the lifter raises the bar by bending the elbows. The bar is raised to a position in which the lower arms are at a 90 degree angle to the body and parallel to the platform. The upper arms and elbows must maintain contact with the torso throughout the lift. The wrists must stay straight. Movement of the feet, raising the heels or toes, or swaying the body is not allowed. Once the bar is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.
Also in this proposal included a change of name for the “previous” Reverse Grip Curl that we have been doing in the USAWA. It will now go by this name officially: Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip. All records will be preserved that have been set previously and this new name will be changed in the rulebook and record list. However, the new Reverse Grip Curl is “now open” for any new records! Interestingly, at Worlds this year we will be performing this lift according to the IAWA rules, thus the same rule as this new lift. That is REASON NUMBER ONE we needed to approve this new lift. You see, there are lifts that are official in the IAWA that are not official in the USAWA (even though the USAWA has several more that are not IAWA approved). It would seem odd to perform a lift at the Worlds on our own “home turf” that is not an official lift in the USAWA. I know it seems confusing, but hopefully with time all of these differences will be reconciled. Progress has been made on this over the past couple of years.
In summary, the Curl – Reverse Grip follows the rule of the Rectangular Fix and the Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip follows the rule of the Cheat Curl. The Executive Board briefly discussed calling this new lift the Curl – Strict, Reverse Grip but decided against it. Who knows – with time we might need that name if we ever decide to propose a Reverse Grip Curl following the rules of the Strict Curl??? Now THAT would make things confusing!!