Tag Archives: USAWA Rules

Rules for the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip

by Al Myers

Scottish grip sensation Andy Tomlin performing the Deadlift - Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, or is he doing the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift? Andy's best in this lift is 165.5 kilograms.

This will be the third and final lift in the USAWA Grip Championships.  It is a lift that has been contested often in the USAWA, and has been part of past Grip Championships.  This lift was also a lift in the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Australia.  The USAWA Rules for the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip is:

F7.  Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip

The rules of the Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip apply except a Fulton Bar is used.

B3.  Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip

The rules of the Deadlift apply except a Ciavattone Grip must be used.  A Ciavattone Grip is an overhand grip in which the palms of both hands are facing the lifter. No hooking of the thumb and fingers is allowed.

I was having a facebook discussion the other day with a good friend from Scotland, Andy Tomlin. We were discussing this lift, and it was pretty clear that we were having a “language barrier” in our conversation.  The reason for this was the difference in nomenclature in how this lift is named in the USAWA vs. the IAWA(UK).  I have a difficult time understanding Andy when we are visiting “face to face”, but add in different names for things and corresponding through internet messaging, and things get really confusing.  I’ve been over this before in prior blogs on this lift, but I think some defining of terms are still in order. 

First of all, the USAWA defines the 2 inch bar as the Fulton Bar whereas the IAWA(UK) uses this term for two bar lifts only – the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift and the One Hand Fulton Barbell Deadlift.  The USAWA Rulebook, in Section VI. 23., gives  this definition of the Fulton Bar:

23.  The Fulton Bar (2” 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 a solid steel shaft.
  • There must be no rotation to the sleeves of the bar.
  •  The minimum distance between the inside collars is 51 inches.
  • The maximum distance between the inside collars is 58 inches. 
  • The minimum total length must not be less than 7 feet.
  • There must not be any knurling on the bar.
  • The weight of the bar must be clearly marked.
  • The bar must be straight 

This means in the USAWA any official lift in which the Fulton Bar is used, the Fulton Bar name is used in its naming.  This is not the case with the IAWA(UK) rules however.  An example would be a simple snatch using a bar that meets the above specs, the USAWA would have the lift named “Snatch – Fulton Bar” where the IAWA(UK) name would be “Two Hands Snatch – 2 Inch Bar”.  Now back to the Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip and the Deadlift – Fulton Bar and the difference in names between the USAWA and the IAWA(UK).  This chart compares the difference in naming:

USAWA NAME IAWA(UK) NAME
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip Two Hands Fulton Deadlift
Deadlift – Fulton Bar Two Hands Deadlift – 2 Inch Bar

The USAWA lift Deadlift – Fulton Bar and the IAWA(UK) lift Two Hands Deadlift – 2 Inch Bar is the same lift, which allows the use of an alternate grip on the bar vs. The Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip and the Two Hands Fulton Deadlift require an overgrip on the bar, with knuckles facing away from the lifter.   But there’s more!!!!  There is ONE rule difference for this lift!  The USAWA defines that this lift be done with a Ciavattone Grip. The Ciavattone Grip is defined in the glossary of the USAWA Rulebook as:

Ciavattone Grip – This is a grip where the knuckles are facing away from the lifter, and the palms are facing the lifter.  The thumbs and fingers must not be hooked in any manner.

The IAWA(UK) does not recognize this definition in their rulebook for multiple different lifts.  The use of Ciavattone is limited to the naming of just two IAWA(UK) lifts – the Two Hands Ciavattone Deadlift and the One Hand Ciavattone Deadlift.  Both of these lifts require the same criteria as the USAWA – namely overhand grip and NO HOOK!  However, this does NOT apply to the IAWA(UK)  Two Hands Fulton Deadlift.  Under the IAWA(UK) rules this lift can be hooked,whereas under USAWA rules it CAN NOT.   Does this affect very many lifters?  Probably not – but for guys that got fingers long enough to hook a 2″ bar it can make a huge difference!

Rules for the Pinch Grip

by Al Myers

Mark Mitchell, of the Dino Gym, lifting 252# in the Pinch Grip at the 2012 Dino Gym Record Day. This is the ALL TIME best Pinch Grip in the history of the USAWA.

The first lift conducted in the USAWA Grip Championships will be the Pinch Grip.  This lift is in the rulebook under “Special Equipment Lifts”.  The reason for this is that the “special equipment” is the plates themselves – as that is what is used to pinch to make the lift.  The USAWA rules for the Pinch Grip are as follows:

I15.  Pinch Grip

The setup for this lift requires two metal plates joined together with smooth surfaces facing outward. A bar may be placed between the plates to hold them together, and should be long enough to add plates to it. Front hang or back hang is allowed to the loading of the center bar.  Collars should be used on this bar. The lifter’s fingers must not touch any added plates. The width of the two plates joined together must be between 2 ¼ inches and 2 ½ inches. The lifter will straddle the weight, with the weight being placed in front of the lifter. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise.  The lifter will then grip the plates with both hands on the top of both plates. The palms of the hands must be facing the lifter. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight must be lifted to a point where the lifter’s legs are straight and the body upright. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to lower the weight.

At the Grip Champs, we will use two old york 45# plates as the “gripping plates” with a VB holding them together. You will like these plates for this lift because these are the old “milled” York Plates.  If you don’t know why these are better, you soon will when you get your mitts on them.   I do have some 35# plates if less weight is going to be lifted. I also want to emphasize that the only substance that may be used on the hands is chalk.  I will be watching this closely!!  The rules do not specify whether the arms can be bent or not – so that means they may be bent during the lift. 

Below are the Overall Mens USAWA records in the Pinch Grip.  I expect to see several of these get broken at the USAWA Grip Championships!!!

WT CLASS LIFT LIFTER DATE MEET
70 100 Howard, Colby 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
75 135 Jaeschke, Jon 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
80 150 Jaeschke, Chris 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
85 190 Wagman, Dan 12/1/2012 2012 Gracie Club RD
90 170 Goetsch, Troy 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
95 170 Fulton, Doug 5/23/1999 99 Super Grip Challenge
100 162 Edwards, Ben  2/12/2011 2011 Grip Championships
105 204 Glass, Adam 3/3/2012 2012 Minnesota Meet
110 170 Capello, Mac 5/20/2012 2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD
115 175 Carlton, Brian 9/16/2001 2001 Supergrip Challenge
120 200 Graham, Matt 10/19/2002 2002 SuperGrip
125 200 Graham, Matt 10/18/2003 2003 Super Grip Challenge
125+ 252 Mitchell, Mark 2/12/2012 2012 Dino Gym Record Day

 

NOTES:  The record lift are recorded in pounds.

Rules for the VB DL – 1 bar, 2″, One Hand

by Al Myers

Andrew Durniat's 250 pound Vertical Bar Deadlift - 1 Bar, 2", One Hand at the 2010 USAWA Grip Championships. Andrew was the first lifter in the USAWA to exceed 250 pounds in this lift.

This is a lift that has been contested before in the USAWA Grip Championships.  It is a very popular grip lift, and I know the favorite of several.  For those of you that may have performed Vertical Bar Lifts in other organizations, pay attention to the USAWA rules for it.  They are quite different and may affect the amount of weight you can lift.  The USAWA rules for the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, One Hand is as follows:

I23.  Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1”, One Hand

The setup for this lift requires a Vertical Bar, which is a bar of one inch diameter with a maximum length of 18 inches. A collar or plate must be tightly fastened or welded to the bottom so plates may be added to the bar.  No knurling is allowed on the bar. The lifter may straddle the weight or have it placed to the lifter’s side. Width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. Feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The bar may be gripped by any grip with only one hand near the top of the vertical bar.  The forearm is not allowed to touch the bar. The lifting hand must not touch the body during the lift, but the weight may accidentally touch the legs provided it does not aid in the lift. The non-lifting hand may be braced on the leg or body during the lift, but must be free from the body at the completion of the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The body must then straighten, lifting the Vertical Bar from the platform. The legs must be straight and knees locked at the completion of the lift, but the shoulders and body do not need to be erect. The lifting hand must be above the level of mid-thighs at the completion of the lift. Any rotation of the bar must be completely stopped. Once the weight is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

I24.  Vertical Bar Deadlift -1 Bar, 2”, One Hand

The rules of the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1Bar, 1”, One Hand apply except a two inch diameter Vertical Bar is used.

I have covered this lift in several past  USAWA Daily News blogs.  I will help you out here with the search on these, as I think “refreshing” yourself on this lift may prove to be beneficial to your performance.  In several of these Vertical Bar  blogs, tips were given out.

1.  This blog was written on February 10th, 2010 by me and it outlines some of the historical significance of the VB, plus has a cool picture of Ben Edwards lifting the “then record” of 235 pounds.

http://www.usawa.com/tag/vertical-bar/

2.  This blog was written on September 2nd, 2011 by Ben Edwards. Ben gives out some training tips en route to his new record of 251 pounds.

http://www.usawa.com/2-vertical-bar-training-tips/

3.  This blog was written by me on November 5th, 2011 .  Most of it is about the 2 BAR VB DL, but some of it applies to the 1 BAR VB DL. However, most of it is myself complaining about the differences between the USAWA and IAWA rules on this lift!!!

http://www.usawa.com/vertical-bar-deadlift-2-bars-2/

Past History of the ALL-TIME USAWA RECORD in the Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 bar, 2″, One Hand:

RECORD LIFTER DATE LOCATION
168  Jim Welsh 11/2/2003 2003 Gold Cup
185  Bob Hirsh 11/23/2003 Jump Stretch RD
200  Frank Ciavattone 6/5/2004 2004 Nationals
224  Scott Schmidt 6/25/2005 2005 Nationals
231  Frank Ciavattone 10/10/2005 Franks Record Day
235  Ben Edwards 11/22/2009 Clarks Record Day
250 Andrew Durniat 2/13/2010 2010 Grip Champs
251 Ben Edwards 8/28/2011 Dino Days RD
253 Adam Glass 3/3/2012 Minnesota Meet
255 Troy Goetsch 5/20/2012 Jobes Steel Jungle RD

NOTES:  All records recorded in pounds.

As far as I can find, Jim Welsh was the first lifter to do this lift in official competition.  The VB DL – 2 Bars was done in several competitions over a few years before the one hand version was contested.  Frank Ciavattone was the first lifter to break the 200# barrier, and held the record for the longest period (2005-2009).   The past two years have seen the most activity with big lifts and new ALL TIME records being established.  Andrew Durniat was the first lifter to exceed 250 pounds.  Troy Goetsch currently holds the best mark.  I have witnessed and/or judged the record lifts by Ben Edwards, Adam Glass, and Andrew Durniat.  My training partners Scott Tully and Darren Barnhart judged Troy’s lift, and they have assured me that it was officiated according to the same standards as the others.  These four grip masters are still at the top of their game – and I would just LOVE to see them together in the same USAWA competition to decide once and for all, who is the BEST in the USAWA at the One Hand 2″ VB DL!!!

The REAL Hack Lift

by Al Myers

Demonstration of the REAL Hack Lift!

Yesterdays story on the Hackenschmidt Floor Press opened up another topic for me (the Hack Lift) which I briefly discussed, but I think needs a little more discussion.  George “Hack” Hackenschmidt has been often tied to the naming of the Hack Lift.  As I stated yesterday, I feel this is slightly incorrect as the term “hack” comes from the German word “hacke” in abbreviated form.  I have read several sources supporting this feeling.  In the USAWA Discussion Forum yesterday Dan Wagman provided an excellent post on this argument, which I feel should be repeated here.  These are Dan’s words:

I’m excited about trying the Hack FP and really liked the fact that Al went beyond just sharing the proposed rules in his latest blog. To that point, I’d like to add some info regarding the origin of calling a lift the Hack-something-or-another. I grew up in Germany and am fluent in all respects in that language and two dialects, so I can speak with some authority regarding the potential root of the name of the Hack-lifts.

Al is somewhat correct in that the German word “Hacke” can be used to denote a heel. However, this is commonly only used in southern German dialect. The proper German word for heel is “Ferse.” A Hacke is indeed an axe, pickaxe, or mattock type tool.

Now, there’s another consideration to bear in mind. It is highly uncommon in Germany to shorten names as we do in America. Joseph would be Joseph, not Joe; Alfred would be Alfred, not Al; Schmidtbleicher would be just that, not Smitty; and most certainly nobody in Germany would’ve called Hackenschmidt Hack. He was Estonian, where many Estonians are of German descent, and based on his name, I’d surmise he was one of them, so I would therefore venture to guess that he wasn’t ever called Hack there, either.

So where does that leave us? Since he spent most of his life living in London, and since it is also fairly common in British English to shorten names, I would venture to guess that he was just called Hack over there and since he was so good at the deadlift from behind the body, that lift was just called the Hack deadlift, though some sources also called it the Hack squat.

Hope this didn’t end up boring y’all, I just think this stuff is interesting as all heck.

Daniel (my German name )

George Hackenschmidt was very well-known for doing the Hack Lift and he was very good at it. That alone gives “his name” some bearing into the naming of this lift as the Hack Lift.  I won’t deny him that.  But the way he did the Hack Lift is VERY MUCH different than the way we do it under the USAWA/IAWA rules.  I’m going to quote the famous strength historian David Willoughby here on the description of the REAL Hack Lift, so it won’t be construed by my own interpretation.  This is straight from his book The Super Athletes:

George Hackenschmidt of Russia, performed 50 consecutive “Hacke” (or “Hocke”) lifts with 50 kilos (110 3/4 pounds).  This feat was done in front of the famous German weight-trainer, Theodor Siebert, at Alsleben, Germany, Feb. 15, 1902.  “Hack” also performed a single lift in the same style with 85 kilos (187 1/4 pounds).  The latter was equal to a flat-footed squat with about 522 pounds on the shoulders.  The “Hacke” lift is performed by knee-bending on the toes while holding a barbell with the hands together behind the hips, thus leaving the back muscles out of the effort and doing all the work with the legs.

WOW – as if the Hack Lift isn’t hard enough to do the way we do it!  Hack was doing them on his toes with the hands together!  I have read other reports describing the original Hack Lift, and as well as the hands being together, the heels were together as well. That would make it near-impossible for most lifters to even grab the bar that way. I was intrigued by the German meaning of the word Hocke. Again, Dan came to my rescue in the USAWA Discussion Forum and gave this reply:

Yes, Hocke is also a German word. It refers to what we might consider crouching down or when you without weight go into a deep squat where your hamstrings touch your calves. You know, the sort of “move” you do when you **** in the woods.

Since you sort of hock down when you do a Hack sq/dl, it’s also feasible that this is where the name came from. But I would have to guess no on that one, too. The reason I say this is because Hackenschmidt didn’t seem to have spent a lot of time in Germany at all and because he lived primarily in London. With that in mind, and of course without knowing for sure, I would guess that people would just see him do stuff, whether he was the first to do it or not, and they’d probably go something like, “Hey, what’s Hack doing there? Let’s try that…” and then they just ended up calling the lift the Hack-whatever.

Regardless, personally, I like thinking of it as being a reference to Hackenschmidt. The dude was stout as all heck and had a body that people today, even when saucing, couldn’t get. And let’s not even talk about his strength and dominance in wrestling. He was from an era when men were men and it motivates me to do a Hack when thinking of him as opposed to my heel.

Dan summed things up very well in his last sentence when he said,  “he was from an era when men were men and it motivates me to do a Hack when thinking of him as opposed to my heel.”   I feel the same way – and because of that I’ll always feel that the Hack Lift was partly named that way in memory of him.

Rule for the Hackenschmidt Floor Press

by Al Myers

Coming up in January on the USAWA Meet Schedule will be the Dino Gym Challenge – featuring a meet of Old Time Strongman Lifts. We are now into our third year of OTSM being offered by the USAWA, and I see that it is gaining momentum. This years meet at the Dino Challenge will include three OTSM lifts that closely mimic the three powerlifts. The lifts are two that have been contested within the past year (Anderson Squat & Peoples Deadlift), plus a new exhibition lift – the Hackenschmidt Floor Press. This new lift is viewed by the USAWA as an exhibition lift – meaning that it is an unofficial lift thus no USAWA records may be set or established in it. However, the USAWA rules DO ALLOW exhibition lifts to be counted in the meet scoring (Section VIII.11), thus it can legally be part of the competition. I have been working with the USAWA Old Time Strongman Chairman Thom Van Vleck on establishing an unofficial rule for the Hackenschmidt Floor Press that will be used at the Dino Challenge, and this is what we have worked up:

The setup position for the Hackenschmidt Floor Press.

Hackenschmidt Floor Press

A chest press (with a standard Olympic bar) will be performed while lying flat on the floor/platform.  The bar height, measured to the bottom of the bar from the platform, can be no greater than 15”.  The bar/plates may rest on blocks or supports to achieve this height.  The lift starts when the lifter, while lying under the bar with the bar above the chest, starts to press.  A time limit of 1 minute is given for each attempt, meaning the lifter may reset as many times as necessary within this time limit to complete a legal lift. The lift is complete when the bar is pressed completely with the lifter’s elbows locked out.  It is not an infraction to press unevenly, lock out at different times, raise the head, or allow the bar to lower during a part of the press.   It is an infraction if the hips/legs rise off the floor/platform during any part of the lift.  Once complete, an official will give a command to end the lift.

As you can see, this is a partial floor press since the bar height is set at 15 inches.  There has been an interesting discussion in the USAWA Discussion Forum regarding the development of this lift, and Thom and I have taken those comments into consideration in writing this rule.  A little over a year ago I wrote a blog outlining some of the “founding principles” of OTSM in the USAWA.   I don’t want to repeat all that here again, but here is the link for anyone who is interested – http://www.usawa.com/old-time-strongman/  Again, I want to emphasize that this is an unofficial lift and rule as of now.  I really think it is important that new lifts be tried in competition as exhibition lifts first before they are proposed for official lift status.  This allows a thorough competition evaluation of them, and if there are any “bugs in them” the rules can be fine-tuned before being presented to the Executive Board for an approval vote.  Think of it as a “trial-run”. 

George "The Russian Lion" Hackenschmidt

Now why is this floor press named the Hackenschmidt Floor Press?

I’m sure that question is being asked by some of  you reading this.  George “The Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt was a famous Russian strongman and wrestler who also had remarkable ability in weightlifting.  He also went by the nickname of “Hack”, which has been used in the name of another popular All Round Lift – the Hack Lift.  Most feel that the Hack Lift  was named after George Hackenschmidt, but from what I have read I don’t think that is the case. The name Hack comes from the German word “Hacke”, which means heels.  Thus I believe the Hack Lift originated by this name terminology, as the “lift done with the bar at the heels”, aka Hacke Lift.  However, Hackenschmidt was quite good at this movement and undoubtedly his name has some bearing on the legacy of this lift. But I’m getting off-topic here.  Another exercise that Hackenschmidt excelled at was the floor press.  At the time pressing a weight this way was not popular at all,  as a press was  meant for overhead lifting.  This was in the days long before a bench was used to press from the chest.  If you wanted to press from the chest,  you had to first bring the bar to the chest while lying on the platform, thus the origin of the Pullover and Press.  As most know, the pullover in this lift can sometimes be the hardest part, and definitely after that exertion the amount of weight that can be pressed is decreased.  Hackenschmidt was ahead of the times here.  According to David Willoughby in his famous book The Super Athletes Hackenschmidt performed the pullover and press using OVERSIZED plates, thus diminishing the effects of the pullover since the bar would come into position easier with these big plates.  I would say that qualifies him as the inventor of the Floor Press as we know it, and well-deserving to have this OTSM lift named after him.  His best lift was 361.5 pounds, which was claimed as a WORLD RECORD for over 18 years!!

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