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Tag Archives: Olympic weightlifting

  • Urine Swap Leads to 4 Year Ban

    BUDAPEST, Hungary -- It’s the oldest trick in the book. If your drug test isn’t going to be clean, use someone else’s urine. Some have gone so far as to use a reservoir and a hidden tube, if the test is watched, but it’s still someone else’s urine and science can catch the con.

    We don’t know how the switch was made, but a good old DNA test caught former European weightlifting championship silver medalist Stanislav Chadovich of Belarus. The 62-kilogram lifter was withdrawn from competition without an explanation, just before the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. He was considered a medal contender, but is now banned for four years for trying to use a substitute urine sample in his pre-Olympic doping test.

    The out-of-competition test took place July 29, 2016, making the suspension backdated. The IWF has already banned the Belarusian weightlifting team from competition for failed doping samples from the 2008 and 2012 retests. This team ban follows the 2016 ban of nearly all Russian team sports from Rio games.

  • USA Weightlifting Statement on Recent Government Action

    This Press Release comes from the International Weightlifting Federation web site, posted Feb. 2, 2017: IWF.net

    Some questions have arisen about the recent executive order regarding immigration that was issued by President Donald Trump on Friday. USA Weightlifting will host the 2017 IWF Weightlifting World Championships later this year in Anaheim, Calif. Press inquiries can be directed to anna.resman@usaweightlifting.org or kevin.farley@usaweightlifting.org.

    The following statement is from Phil Andrews, CEO of USA Weightlifting:

    “Our view is that politics and sport should be separate. Weightlifting provides an excellent opportunity to interact with our fellow nations from all parts of the planet in a peaceful and cooperative fashion.

    At this time, we are still working out what impacts beyond the initial 90 day period that this issue may have, both on Iran’s participation in the World Championships in Anaheim, CA, and on our own team’s participation in the Fajr Cup in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    We sincerely hope to peacefully welcome these 7 nations to Anaheim this November. It is unimaginable to be able to host a true World event without their participation.”

    The U.S. Olympic Committee provided its own update about the situation Monday.

    Attributable to United States Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst and USOC CEO Scott Blackmun:

    “We have received a number of inquiries about the executive order regarding immigration that was issued by President Trump on Friday. Like the United States, the Olympic Movement was founded based upon principles of diversity and inclusion, of opportunity and overcoming adversity. As the steward of the Olympic Movement in the United States, we embrace those values. We also acknowledge the difficult task of providing for the safety and security of a nation. It is our sincere hope that the executive order as implemented will appropriately recognize the values on which our nation, as well as the Olympic Movement, were founded.

    “We have been specifically asked about the impact that the executive order could have on athletes and officials coming to the United States to compete. Recognizing the extraordinary power of international sport to bring people together in a peaceful celebration of friendship, excellence and respect, the U.S. government has today advised us that it will work with us to ensure that athletes and officials from all countries will have expedited access to the United States in order to participate in international athletic competitions.

    “We appreciate your support and patience.”

    The IWF is closely monitoring the situation and will proceed to a Technical Visit in Anaheim later this month.

    In close cooparation with USA Weightlifting, the aim is to clarify the situation, inform the Membership and working on the smooth organization of the 2017 IWF World Championships that would not affect the participation.

  • Weightlifting Hit by Immigration Ban

    Weightlifting doesn't get much media attention. Of course, as soon as it goes away, then it makes the news!

    The CEO of Weightlifting USA, the branch of the US Olympic Committee that covers weightlifting, was the bearer of bad news on NPR.

    Norbert Schemansky 1964 Weightlifting Nationals Poster AAU USA
    Norbert Schemansky 1964 Weightlifting Nationals Poster AAU y.

    It turns out that the executive order with the immigration and refugee ban, signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, January 27, 2016, will have an impact on the sport of weightlifting and every other Olympic sport. The ban prohibits travel from Iran to the U.S. for the next 90 days from the date of signing.

    As if that weren't bad enough, six other countries are also included, the Iranian government is taking reciprocal actions that have not been spelled out yet, but they would be "proportionate legal, consular and political action and ... will take reciprocal measures in order to safeguard the rights of its citizens until the time of the removal of the insulting restrictions of the government of the United States against Iranian nationals."

    If you would like to read more about the ban, check out this and related articles from the Sentinel-Tribune newspaper.

  • Polaroid of the Thick Bar with Weights Hanging by Shoelaces

    The Polaroid photo had a big thumb print in one corner. It had the weird rainbow-like oil slickbomb halo, but the dried blood really set it off. I finally had an image of the, “Chicken Killer.” This article is his short story, but also a great workout.

    I was going to title this article, “Making the Most of Your Thick Bar Training.” Like much of my writing, after starting with one idea another took hold, throttled me by the neck, did a Suplex, and after trying to fight it back, I relented and did a complete re-write. In this case, the offending concept was an old photo I remembered.

    Once in a great while, I’m given a story by a garage gym lifter that most people would write off as crazy. I know my neighbors put me in the “off-kilter” category and many of my customers get that moniker as well, but now I’m talking about a whole different level of nut case.

     

    Cleaning the Beast

    The photo showed “The Chicken Killer” doing a static hold with a thick piece of pipe, weights actually hanging by shoelaces. I’m guessing this was his sandy Texas backyard, with an old Trans Am parked behind him. He held the bar at his waist with a clean grip. I’m guessing it was 2” plumbing pipe, so the diameter would be 2 1/3 inches. I have no idea how much weight was hanging there, as it looked to have a mix of plates and a big gear. The pipe also had a dirty chunk of concrete cast around one end. I took equipment orders from “The Chicken Killer” about once a month. With each shipping quote I got a story. He got the thick bar grip work concept from me, as I had told him that Smitty trained Bill March with a 2” bar. The unbalanced details were his unique execution.

     

    The Bomb Tattoo

    As nutty as it sounds, he claimed to do cleans with that mess. Of course, that wasn’t without incident. One time he broke a shoelace, as he did a clean, the remaining items swinging wide. Catching the clean forward and wildly unbalanced, he partially tore his right biceps. He never went to the hospital. The accident was commemorated with a Wile E. Coyote-esqe bomb tattoo, lit fuse pointing to the lumped up muscle near the crook of his arm.

     

    Lessons & Good Workout

    I know, you’re wondering how this fine individual got to be called “The Chicken Killer”. He always paid in cash, sent through the US Mail and wrapped tightly in brown grocery bag paper. The random bills were very dirty and would have bloody finger prints and a stray feather, or two, stuck to the mass. The guy never straight out admitted to betting on cock fights, as he was clearly paranoid. He certainly hinted at it and the physical evidence was such that York’s Bookkeeper made me count his money, never touching it herself.

    Thick bar cleans are great for grip strength and help in your regular bar cleans and snatches. Aside from the obvious grip strength gained, there’s an interesting forearm benefit. Olympic style weightlifters talk about keeping the bar close in the pull position, which is obvious in bar end tracking videos and sequence photos, the tighter the resulting pull loop, the less need for a jump backwards. I talk about this in the Power Clean Clinic video. Unless you have exceptionally large hands, you will automatically flex the forearms when doing any thick bar clean. You’re doing this to get the hand under the bar during the explosive pull, because you can’t hook your thumb. This also necessitates the use of rotating bars, either barbell or dumbbell, because the resulting rotation changes from a clean “flip” to a reverse curl. It’s that reverse curl which sometimes turns into the torn biceps that are seen in Strongman Contests.*

     

    THICK BAR WORKOUT

    Warm-up: Stretching mixed with light Indian Club Swinging

    Hang Clean & Power Jerk: 5 x 5 (Light & Fast)

    Rotating Thick Barbell (or 2 Rotating Thick Dumbbells)

    Power Clean: 5 x 3 Barbell Back Squat: 5 x 5

    (Use a Safety Squat Bar if you have ANY recurring Shoulder Issues)

    Trap Bar Dead Lift: 5 x 2 (Heavy)

    Hanging Knee Raises 2 x 20 (Use Iron Boots if you still have any remaining grip strength.)

     

    Masters Age Lifters Take Special Note

    Many lifters have a slight forward lean with thick bar work. Your center of gravity will be slightly forward, until you get used to it. If your shoulders can handle it, do Presses with your Thick Bar Power Cleans. Many Masters age lifters won’t want to do this. The Back Squats and Trap Bar Deadlifts will counteract some of the forward leaning compensation, while the Safety Squat Bar will be additional help the shoulders. The Hanging Knee Raises will decompress the spine and shoulders while providing some abdominal work.

     

    All the best, Roger LaPointe

    *There was more going on with the incident that resulted in The Chicken Killer’s torn biceps. Unfortunately, I no longer have the photo. For all I know it could still be in my old desk at York Barbell.

  • “I’m Crushing Your Head”

    Training a Chinese friend in Olympic lifting, who is a very competent jiu jitsu artist, an admission of fear was revealed to me. He said, “How do you put the barbell over your head like that?”

    The split snatch was the dominant form of the snatch Olympic lift, until the 1960s.
    Illustration of a classic "Split Snatch".

    “Well, that is what we’ve been working,” I responded with a tinge of a question mark.

    “No, it’s my English. When you snatch, the barbell could fall from above and crush your head. I fear it.”

    I had no immediate answer, but the old Kid’s In The Hall skit came to mind. I quickly squashed that inappropriate response and admitted that I had never thought of it that way. I wasn’t bragging. I have fears of other lifts, but in the snatch, that result is not one of them.

    Mulling the unsaid phrase around my brain for several years, I realized that it was not just a clever reply, gladly un-blurted.

    There is a ring of truth behind immediate responses, like the glimpse of one’s psyche in a Rorschach Ink Blot Test. It was one of the “secrets” Smitty had tried to ram into my skull. Because of his education, I automatically break down the lifts into component parts, easily accomplished, often with significantly more weight than the related full competitive lift. As I train those parts, I’m doing something far more significant than making muscles stronger and teaching neurons to fire efficiently, I’m training my mind. By adding perspective, the very rational fears will not crush my head.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Come to Schemansky's 91st Birthday Celebration

    This is your chance to meet the legendary Norbert Schemansky!

    Norbert Schemansky 91st Birthday Commemorative Poster
    Norbert Schemansky 91st Birthday Commemorative Poster

    Join Shemansky’s Celebration

    We are celebrating Norbert Schemansky's 91st Birthday on May 30, 2015. If you are a lifter, then you should be there. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t picked up the weights in 50 years or if you are only 15 years old. Norb wants to get together with his friends and fellow lifters. You should come, regardless how long it’s been since you last hung out with Norb, or if you’ve never met. All are welcome and encouraged to come.

    For those of you who want a few of Norb’s stats, here you go. For the strongman fans, he is the last guy to have lifted the real Apollon Bar. Replicas are almost a standard thing to lift in strongman contests today. He also has 4 Olympic Medals, in non-consecutive Olympics. Then there are the 70 plus records, including World Records, Olympic Records and National Records. In my opinion, his last World Record is the most impressive, because he was a 38 year old heavyweight when he did that snatch!
    Really, make sure to be there. Norb wants this to be an event where new friendships are made, great old stories are told and weightlifters make some new connections. Be a part of the celebration.

    Here are the details.

    Date: 5 PM, Saturday, May 30, 2015

    Location:

    Doc's Sports Retreat

    19265 Victor Parkway

    Livonia, MI 48152

    (734)542-8162

    RSVP by May 23, 2015

    PRICE: $50 - Includes Choice of Entree: Prime Rib, Grilled Salmon or Chicken Cordon Bleu with House Salad, Mashed potatoes, Veg du Jour, Desserts & Coffee, Open Bar

    Hotel Special: Embassy Suites Hotel $89

    19525 Victor Parkway

    1/2 Block from Doc's Sports Retreat

    Mention "Doc's" for Special Rate

    (734)462-6000

  • Hitler’s Idea of the Perfect Body

    John Grimek "Strength & Health" Magazine Cover Poster
    John Grimek "Strength & Health" Magazine Cover Poster

    John Grimek, Olympic weightlifting and Hitler all became strangely linked in 1936 and 1938. Thanks to my “York Barbell Picnic’s & Classic Strength Events” book project, I’ve really been getting into studying weightlifting in the time just before WWII. It was a fascinating time for the sport. Rules were being formalized at the same time two political super powers were emerging and attempting to dominate that sport.

    Today, the two political super powers associated in American minds would be the United States and Russia. Reality is that neither country has come close to dominating the sport since before the fall of the Soviet Union. In fact, in the 1930’s Nazi Germany and the United States were the two countries fighting for dominance.

    At this point, I urge you to get a little background for this setting. Start with this fantastic article, done by Alastair Sooke, on the BBC web site:
    http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150324-hitlers-idea-of-the-perfect-body
    Of particular interest should be the propaganda film “Olympia” (1938), by Leni Riefenstahl, which has a link in the article.
    Sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Darth Vader and York Barbell

    “Roger LaPointe to the store front desk, please.”

    Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader, at York Barbell
    Dave Prowse choking Roger LaPointe in the York Barbell Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

    I loved to hear that request echo from the tinny, feedback filled York Barbell intercom.  It was ALWAYS going to lead to something interesting.

    That day was no exception.  Twenty years after I first encountered him on the big screen, I met Darth Vader, I mean Dave Prowse.  Yes, I instantly became that shocked six year old in a movie theater seeing a light saber for the first time. It was 1997 and Dave Prowse wanted to meet “the lifter” at York Barbell.  Fortunately for me, Dave had dealt with plenty of star struck fans.  It didn't take long before we were talking about weightlifting, gyms and the fun of a real Highland games.  We genuinely had interests in common.

    Dave has a really outstanding sense of humor and loves the strength sports.  He also has a great voice to top off his commanding presence.  The photo above shows Dave choking me in the York Barbell Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

    Years before, Dr. Bob Suchyta had told me that if I take my lifting seriously, it will take me to amazing places. The beauty of weightlifting is that it is just you and a barbell.  The barbell is an inanimate object.  If you don't do anything, then it will also do nothing.  The same can be said of stone lifting, or throwing a caber.  The lessons of the iron are great.

    Dave Prowse told me the same thing as Dr. Bob.  In their humility, just meeting each of them was already something great.  Look up Dave's biography.  It reads like Charles Atlas.  He really was the sickly kid who went on to lift the unliftable stones.  Little did I know, my lifting would take me to the stars, to battle with the most notorious villain of all time, or at least the actor who played him.

    All the best, 

    Roger LaPointe

    Today is a good day to lift.”

    P.S. My, now seven year old, son tells me that it's obviously not Darth Vader choking me in the photo, after all, “where is his cape and helmet?”  (Raspy breathing sound effect: “Jackson, I am your father.”)

  • Grandpa Jackson

    Have you ever been given a tremendous gift by a dead person? I was 5 or 6 years old when my Great Grandpa C. O. Jackson died. I don't really remember ever meeting him, but I feel like I know him. I know him through the 1919 Milo Triplex Barbell Set that sits in my dad's basement.

    Milo Barbell Tri-Plex Kettlebells
    Milo Tri-Plex Kettlebells circa 1909

    THE MILO Barbell Tri-Plex
    The Milo Triplex is a very unusual set, that included a long dumbbell handle, wooden shovel handle style kettlebell handles, a barbell bar and the weights. As a kid, I first thought of them as Dad's weights. As I grew older they became “The strongman barbell”, because of the cool circus strongman style globe heads. Then they became my secret weapon.

    I used that secret weapon to become a good high school athlete, even though I was usually the shortest kid on the field. I wanted to do curls, but the first exercise my Dad taught me was the first one Grandpa Jackson taught him, squats. He also taught me the deadlift, upright row, press (and the power clean for getting it to the shoulder), and most importantly, the Jefferson Lift. I later learned some exercises with kettlebells: the crucifix hold and the kettlebell snatch. Eventually, he taught me swings with the kettlebells and a variety of dumbbell lifts.

    Along the way I also learned about Grandpa Jackson. I learned about how he got his middle name, which is the same as mine. The details of his life were revealed to me like the fine carpentry that made up his profession. He became a colorful individual, instead of just a name listed on some genealogical chart.

    Grandpa Jackson's barbell still works today, thirty years after I started lifting it. It was a top of the line piece of equipment and meant to last.I am sure Grandpa Jackson used some disposable things, but that is not the way I think of him. He was never wealthy, just a working class guy. Yet, exercise was important enough to him that he bought a quality barbell set. Here are some examples of quality pieces that should last for generations.

    Some other classic pieces of equipment Grandpa Jackson might have used:

    Plate Loading Kettlebell Handles
    Plate Loading Kettlebell Handles
    Atomic Athletic Iron Boots: Loaded & Unloaded
    Atomic Athletic Iron Boots: Loaded & Unloaded

    While the Kettlebell Handles that Alan Calvert designed for the Milo Triplex were really just for that specific MILO set, the handles had that spark of ingenuity which Bob Hoffman and Joe Weider would later seize.  I have no idea who originally came up with the "current" design of plate loading kettlebell handles we sell, but I have seen ads for them going back into the 1940s.  I suspect that it was the Good Barbell Company.

    As for Iron Boots, the first instance of "iron boot type" training, that I have found, comes from an old photo of Sig Klein where he is holding a dumbbell with his feet.  However, I know that Bob Hoffman owned the original patent in the 1930s.  They were an immediate hit and every barbell company had their own design, as soon as the patent expired.

    I could end this blog in a cheesy fashion by saying that we are remembered by the possessions we leave behind, but it is really much more than that. The import stuff is intangible.

    Today, that circus strongman barbell and secret weapon is inspiration. If that 1919 Milo Triplex Barbell Set had not been sitting in our basement, you wouldn't be reading this blog right now.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Real Barbell Juggling

    Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic DVD Set Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic DVD Set: With Barbell & Kettlebell Juggling, Sideshow Performances & Olympic Weightlifting

    Yes. You read that correctly.

    Just like super car companies that push the limits, there are some Atomic Athletic customers who push the limits. Merely lifting weights is not enough for these guys. They have to do it with style and flair. This is performance weightlifting at its best.

    Barbell juggling can be seen, filmed live at the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic from 2009. Our headline performer was Andrew Durniat. You might have seen him in the Mighty Mitts contests at the Arnold Classic. Heck, when you juggle barbells and kettlebells, you WILL develop a strong grip.

    Here is the link: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/olde-time-strongman-picnic-2009-dvd-set.html

    Of course, that is not the only thing you will see. It is a Double DVD Set. There are Strongman Contest Event Demos, the best Olympic Weightlifting Mini-Clinic you will ever watch and much, much more.

    Atomic Athletic DVDs will become REFERENCE Tools that you will watch, re-watch and refer to again and again. Sure, the Picnics are extreme...

    I'm not going to make excuses for showing off the extreme of strength sports. That's what they are. A lot of people throw around the word extreme and these Atomic Athletic events are extreme.

    BTW, we have FREE Shipping on this DVD right now.

    Learn from them and enjoy.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

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