Tag Archives: USAWA Rules


by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell lifting 455 pounds in the Reeves Deadlift for a Dino Gym Record in December of 2009.

Mark Mitchell lifting 455 pounds in the Reeves Deadlift for a Dino Gym Record in December of 2009.

The Reeves Deadlift is the final lift in the USAWA Grip Championships.  This is a lift popularized by famous bodybuilder and actor Steve Reeves.  It takes long arms and a strong finger grip to be good at this lift.  The USAWA Rules for the Reeves Deadlift is as follows:

B15. Deadlift – Reeves

The rules of the Deadlift apply with these exceptions. The lift starts by the lifter gripping one plate on each side of the bar.  The flanges of the plates may be turned outwards to provide a better gripping surface. A regulation bar of legal length must be used.  There are no width specifications of the flanges of the lifting plates. Weight is added to the bar with smaller diameter plates so the lifter always has just one plate per side to grip.

The IAWA(UK) have a similiar lift to the Reeves Deadlift called the Rim Lift.  The Rim Lift is NOT an USAWA official lift, but rather just an IAWA(UK) official lift. As you can see these are two completely different lifts! The IAWA(UK) even has a lift called the Reverse Rim Lift.  The difference being that the gripping plates are reversed with plate flanges facing inwards!!


The lifter will deadlift, hacklift or straddle a loaded barbell whilst holding only the rims of the discs. The maximum sized discs for the is lift are 18 inches. On the inside the discs must be flat and smooth, and on the outside the rim cannot be deeper than 1inch. The lifter must not grasp any handles, holes or specially prepared areas, only the thumbs on the smooth inside and the fingers on the outside rim. Any bar can be used as the distance between the collars is optional. Whatever style of lift the lifter chooses the lift will always be finished in the correct fashion, with an erect posture. On completion the referee will signal to replace the bar.

Causes for Failure:
The causes for failure for the deadlift, hacklift or straddle will apply, depending on the style elected.
Failure to achieve the correct fully erect finishing posture.
Lowering/replacing the bar before the referees signal.

Obviously the Rim Lift is a much easier lift than the Reeves Deadlift.  The use of a narrow bar and being able to straddle lift it would enhance the amount of weight that could be lifted.

The pictures I’ve seen of Steve Reeves performing this lift he always used a regulation bar (which really show-cased his awesome lat spread!).  It has been reported that he did over 400# in this lift.  There have been some excellent Reeves Deadlifts performed in the USAWA in official competition. The “best to date” are as follows:

1.  Mark Mitchell 400 pounds – 2002 Goerner Deadlift
2.  Phil Rosenstern 355 pounds – 2012 Club Challenge
3.  Kevin Fulton 335 pounds – 2001 Goerner Deadlift
4.  Al Myers 335 pounds – 2009 Goerner Deadlift
5.  Joe Burks 325 pounds – 2001 Goerner Deadlift

Deadlift-Fingers, Middle

by Al Myers

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark's Gym.  You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner's.

The Middle Finger Deadlift has always been part of the Goerner Deadlift Dozen at Clark’s Gym. You can see the pain in my face performing this lift at the 2009 Goerner’s.

This lift probably has been in the USAWA Grip Championships more than any other and each time it’s in the meet I’m asked by lifter’s — WHY?  Well, maybe because I just love to watch the pain in your face as you are pulling with all your might using only your middle fingers!  And because the USAWA Grip Champs HAS to have at least one painful lift in it.

The rules for the Middle Fingers Deadlift is as follows:

B7. Deadlift – Fingers, Middle

The rules of the Deadlift apply except only the middle fingers of both hands may be used. The middle fingers of both hands may grip the bar in an alternate manner. The thumb must not be in contact with the lifting fingers.

I have written blogs in the past about the Middle Fingers Deadlift and the famous old time German Strongman Hermann Goerner. I want to share again part of a story I’ve written before.

David Willoughby in his book The Super Athletes listed Goerner as having done a MF deadlift of 140 kilograms (308.5 pounds) around 1925.  I have always considered this the mark to beat to be outstanding in the middle fingers deadlift.  Now, compared to what Hermann has reported in his other finger lifts, this lift of his seems to be a sub-maximal effort.  None the less, it is a very good lift (and is actually believable compared to some of his other claims).   However, this 308.5# middle finger deadlift is not listed in Hermann’s autobiography by Edgar Mueller’s Goerner the Mighty.  I have read this book several times, and I don’t ever remember seeing this lift listed.  Mueller does talk in one chapter about the wide deviations of grips that Hermann uses for his deadlifts, and mentions a middle finger overhand grip  deadlift (of which he lists Goerner as having worked up to 220 pounds), but nothing about using an alternate grip as we allow in the USAWA for the Finger Deadlifts.

I’ve always considered  Goerner’s Middle Finger Deadlift of 308.5 pounds as the mark to be considered outstanding at this lift. Only a handful of USAWA lifter’s have achieved it in USAWA competition and are part of the USAWA “Goerner’s Club”.  This is the short list:

1. Kevin Fulton 400 pounds – 1999 SuperGrip Challenge
2. Ben Edwards  310 pounds – 2011 USAWA Grip Championships
3.  Bill DiCiccio 309 pounds – 1994 IAWA Gold Cup

I’m hoping someone else will join this list at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships!

Deadlift-Dumbbell, One Arm

by Al Myers

John McKean performing a One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift at the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup in Boston.

John McKean performing a One Arm Dumbbell Deadlift at the 2010 IAWA Gold Cup in Boston.

The third lift contested at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships will be the Deadlift – Dumbbell, One Arm.  The name of this lift is pretty explanatory – it’s a deadlift using a dumbbell with the use of only one arm.  The choice of arm to use is up to you so pick the one you’re strongest with.  And remember you must stay with the arm you start with throughout all attempts.  I was once at at meet where a lifter tried to switch arms on his last attempt, and when told he couldn’t do that replied, “I was saving me strong arm for the hard lift!”.

The rules of the Deadlift – One Arm with barbell are followed by this lift.

E12. Deadlift – Dumbbell, One Arm

The rules of the Bar Deadlift – One arm apply except one dumbbell is used. The dumbbell may be placed to the side of the lifter or the lifter may straddle the dumbbell. The dumbbell may touch the lifter’s legs during and at the completion of the lift as long as the dumbbell is not supported by the body. If the dumbbell is loadable, the plates used may have a maximum diameter of 18 inches.

At the Grip Champs we will use a loadable dumbbell so we can add larger diameter plates.  The dumbbell handle will be a USAWA regulation handle.  For those unfamiliar with the rules of the One Arm Deadlift with bar, the main things to remember is to finish with straight legs, non-lifting hand removed from the body at finish, and center line of bar higher than the knees.  You do not need to be standing upright upon completion.  Once the lifter and implement is motionless, a down command will be given by the head official.

Curl – Wrist

by Al Myers

LaVerne Myers trains the wrist curl in preparation for the USAWA Grip Championships.

LaVerne Myers trains the wrist curl in preparation for the USAWA Grip Championships.

At the USAWA Grip Championships, only official USAWA lifts are contested.  We have a wide range of grip lifts in our Rule Book – some very common performed lifts and some that are obscure. I would include the wrist curl as one of the obscure!  It has very rarely been contested – and only at record days.  There are just a handful of USAWA records in this lift.

The official USAWA Rule for the Wrist Curl:

D11. Curl – Wrist

This lift starts with the lifter placing the forearms and the back of the hands flat on a hard table with the palms of the hands facing upwards, holding a bar. The lifter must be standing. The feet must not be braced against the table. Once in this position, an official will give a command to curl. The lifter will curl the hands off the table using wrist flexion only, while keeping the forearms on the table at all times. Both hands must be held entirely off the table for two seconds. The knuckles and back of hands must be completely off the table before the official will begin the count. The lifter may use any grip, including a hook grip or a grip with no thumbs. If the bar rolls out of the hands with the fingers no longer touching the bar, it is a disqualification. The bar must rise evenly, with both hands leaving the table at the same time, or it will be a disqualification. If the forearms move or are lifted, it is a disqualification. The lift ends on command.

At the Grip Champs we will use a solid table with a rubber top to prevent arm slippage.  I will have plywood available to stand on so everyone can get a comfortable height. Spotters will assist the bar into the hands to start the lift.  This is one of the lifts that is “old school” and uses a 2 second hold at the finish before a down command is given. I will be looking at the part of the hand closest to the wrist to determine if the entire hand is off the table. Both hands must be entirely off the table to be a legal lift.

The top record in our Record List for the Wrist Curl belongs to Dan Wagman with a 300 pound lift.

Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, One Arm

by Al Myers

The Inch Dumbbell Replica that will be used at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships.

The Inch Dumbbell Replica that will be used at the 2016 USAWA Grip Championships.

The USAWA Grip Championships will be here soon. The meet date is Saturday, February 13th, at the Dino Gym. I’m going to take this week to highlight the lifts in the meet.  A couple of the meet lift are ones that are not contested often so a little refresher on the lift rules might be beneficial as you train the lifts.

The first lift contested in the Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, One Arm. The USAWA has tried to name lifts so the are self-descriptive in their name.  This is one that could be confusing if you were not familiar with the famous old time strongman Thomas Inch.  This lift is named after him because it simulates a lift based on his challenge dumbbell that he used in his old time strength shows. The handle of the dumbbell is 2.5″ in diameter, not 1″!


 I8. Deadlift – Inch Dumbbell, One Arm

The rules of the Deadlift – One Arm apply except the dumbbell used must have a handle of 2 1/2” in diameter. No knurling is allowed on the handle. The plates must be firmly attached by collars so no rotation of the plates will occur during the lift. The maximum diameter of the plates used is 11 inches.

As you can see the rules of the One Arm Deadlift apply.  This means the legs must be straight upon completion, dumbbell motionless, and non-lifting hand removed from body contact before a down command is given.  Upon finish the dumbbell can not be supported by the body.  This is very much a grip lift! An increase of 5 pounds is the difference between an “easy lift” and a miss.

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