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POWERLIFTING THE TOTAL PACKAGE
By PAUL SUTPHIN
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2014 Paul Sutphin
All rights reserved.
Olympic Weightlifting – The Beginning
Before the Odd Lifts (Powerlifting), there was Olympic Weightlifting. The first lifting competitions in West Virginia were Olympic Weightlifting meets consisting of the Clean & Press, the Two Hands Snatch, and the Clean & Jerk. As early as 1958, the Weightlifters at the Charleston YMCA in Charleston, West Virginia hosted official AAU Weightlifting competitions.
Due to the active participation of the Charleston YMCA Weightlifters, official AAU Weightlifting Records were established and recorded for the state of West Virginia and the AAU West Virginia Association. Beginning in 1958, Kanawha Valley Open Weightlifting Records were established and recorded from 1958 thru 1961.
Conducting Olympic Weightlifting competitions at the Charleston, West Virginia YMCA became a regular practice by the Charleston Barbell Club. On February 24th, 1962 Bill March (Olympic Weightlifting Champion and member of the York Barbell Club of York, Pennsylvania) conducted a Weightlifting clinic at the 5t Annual Kanawha Valley Weightlifting Championships. Charleston Gazette / Mail
Language and Performance
A complete review of the basic language defining the rules of the three (3) lifts before 1973 in AAU Weight Lifting is forthcoming. The source of the basic language of Olympic Weightlifting is referenced from the book, Guide to Weight Lifting Competition written by Bob Hoffman. For the purpose of information, education, and introduction to the achievements of the first Weightlifters of West Virginia, a description of the performance of the lifts in AAU Weight Lifting is outlined. The text describes the three (3) lifts performed in official AAU Weightlifting competition before 1973.
Before 1973, the official lifts performed in sanctioned AAU Weight Lifting competitions included the Clean & Press (a.k.a. "Overhead Press with Two Hands), Snatch (Two Hands), and the Clean & Jerk (Two Hands). All lifters were required to perform all three (3) lifts while competing in AAU Weightlifting competitions. Each lifter was granted three (3) attempts in the Clean & Press, three (3) attempts in the Snatch, and three (3) attempts in the Clean & Jerk. The lifter's best Press, best Snatch, and best Clean & Jerk were added together to get the Total which determined the winner for each weight class. The official weight classes recognized in official AAU Weight Lifting competion prior to 1967 were: 123lb., 132lb., 148lb., 165lb., 181lb., 198lb., and Heavyweight. In 1967, the 242lb. class was added.
The Two Hands Clean and Press consisted of two parts. The first part of the Two Hands Clean & Press is the Clean. The language of the rules read, "The bar is placed horizontally in front of the lifter's legs. The bar is gripped with both hands with palms downward and brought to the shoulders in a single distinct movement while either bending or splitting the legs. The bar must be "cleaned " to the level of the shoulders or the clavicular bone." Guide to Weight Lifting Competition (pp 2-4)
The second part of the Two Hands Clean & Press is the "Press." Old Weight Lifting instruction manuals often identified the second part of the "Two Hands Clean & Press" as "The Press Proper." The language of the rules read, "After the weight is "cleaned," the referee will give the lifter the signal to "press." After the referee has given the lifter the signal to "press", the bar shall be lifted until the arms are completely extended, without any jerk or sudden pause, bending of the legs, excessive backward bending of the body or displacement or movement of the feet. The final position will be held remaining motionless until the Referee gives the signal to return the bar to the ground" (a.k.a. platform). Guide to Weight Lifting Competition (pp 2-4)
Prior to 1973, the second lift conducted in Official AAU Weightlifting competition was the Two Hands Snatch. The language of the rules read, "When performing the Two Hands Snatch (a.k.a. "The Snatch"), the bar is placed horizontally in front of the lifter's legs. The bar is gripped with palms downward and pulled in one movement from the ground to the full extension of the arms, vertically above the head, while either splitting or bending the legs. The bar shall pass with a continuous movement along the body, of which no part other than the feet shall touch the ground during the execution of the movement. The weight which has been lifted must be held in the final position of immobility, the arms and legs extended, the feet on the same line, until the referee gives the signal to return the bar to the ground" (a.k.a. platform). Guide to Weight Lifting Competition (pp 2-4)
Prior to 1973, the third lift conducted in Official AAU Weightlifting competition was the Two Hands Clean & Jerk. When performing the Two Hands Clean and Jerk (a.k.a. "Clean & Jerk"), the bar is "cleaned" to the level of the shoulders or the clavicular bone [Refer to first part of the "Two Hands Clean & Press"]. The language of the rules read, "After the bar is "cleaned" to the level of the shoulders or the clavicular bone, the feet shall be returned to the same line, legs straight, before the jerk is begun." Guide to Weight Lifting Competition (pp 2-4)
During the second part of the Two Hands Clean & Jerk, the language of the rules read, "The lifter bends the legs and extends them, as well as the arms, so as to bring the bar to the full stretch of the arms, vertically extended. Return the feet to the same line, arms and legs extended and await the Referee's signal to return the bar to the ground. After the Clean and before the Jerk, the lifter is allowed to make sure of the position of the bar." Guide to Weight Lifting Competition (pp 2-4) by Bob Hoffman Copyright 1959 by STRENGTH AND HEALTH PUBLISHING COMPANY York, Pennsylvania
Frank White: American Record Holder!
Frank White was one of the first athletes in West Virginia to begin serious weight-training with a goal to compete and win at competitive Weightlifting. According to Frank, he has specific dates which confirm that he began working out at the Charleston, West Virginia YMCA in 1954. Several years later, Frank placed 3rd at the 1961 Teenage National Weightlifting Championships held on June 17th, 1961 in York, Pennsylvania. While competing in the 148lb. class, Frank White broke the Teenage American Record in the Clean & Press with a lift of 230lbs!
Also competing at the 1961 Teenage National Weightlifting Championships in York, Pennsylvania was Mickey Deitz. Deitz, a member of the Charleston Barbell Club and the Charleston YMCA, finished five (5) pounds behind Frank White with a Total of 665 which included a Clean & Jerk of 260lbs. Mickey Deitz officially placed 4th in the 148lb. class at the 1961 Teenage National Weightlifting Championships.
The 1961 Mr. Teenage U.S.A. was held in conjunction with the Teenage National Weightlifting Championships. Frank White and Vince White competed in the 1961 Mr. Teenage U.S.A. Frank White placed ¼ point behind the legendary Frank Zane. Vince White (brother to Frank White), also placed in the 1961 Mr. Teenage U.S.A. physique competition.
Immediately after the 1961 Teenage National Weightlifting Championships in York, Frank White, Vince White, and Mickey Deitz drove across the state of Pennsylvania to Aliquippa and competed at the Steelworkers Open Weightlifting Meet on Sunday June 18th, 1961. By competing in two (2) consecutive Weightlifting competitions less than one day apart, members of the Charleston Barbell Club clarified the definition of "back-to-back" for Weightlifting events.
When Powerlifting began, many of the West Virginia Weightlifters participated in Powerlifting meets (a.k.a. "Odd Lift" events). Within the same time period, a few members of the Charleston Barbell Club also earned recognition in Bodybuilding. A photo of Vince White appeared in the "Success Stories" section of Strength & Health magazine (January, 1963). Exerpt from the section on page 21, "Featherweight Vincent Joe White of Charleston, West Virginia, Totals 500 on the Olympic lifts, Bench Presses 240, Squats with 305, and Deadlifts 325." Strength & Health magazine / January, 1963CHAPTER 2
An Introduction to Powerlifting
As a prerequisite to the history of Powerlifting and its origin in West Virginia, a brief description must be given regarding the difference between Weightlifting and Powerlifting. First, "What makes Powerlifting and Weightlifting different?" In Powerlifting, the weights are not lifted overhead. For the two (2) Olympic lifts, the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk, the weights are lifted over the head requiring not only absolute strength, but speed and agility. Unlike the Olympic lifts, Powerlifting requires more absolute strength in contrast to rapid, coordinated movements necessary for Olympic Weightlifting.
The three (3) lifts known as the Powerlifts are the Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift. In a Powerlifting competition, each lifter is given a chance to perform three (3) Squats, three (3) Bench Presses, and three (3) Deadlifts. The lifter will attempt maximum lifts or lift as much weight as he (or she) can on each attempt of the Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift.
Before January, 1973 the lifters in official Weightlifting competition were required to Total in three (3) Olympic lifts: The Clean & Press, the Snatch, and the Clean & Jerk. Following the 1972 Olympic Games, the elimination of the Clean & Press (a.k.a. "The Two-Hands (Standing) Barbell Press") likely contributed to the overwhelming growth of Powerlifting in the 1970's.
Prior to 1973, the sequence of the three (3) Powerlifts were different than today. The Bench Press was performed first, then the Squat, and each contest commenced with the Deadlift. Perhaps Powerlifting can best be described from the writing of an essay written in February, 1972 for a high school English class titled, "Powerlifting." "Powerlifting is a sport that is gaining greater recognition day after day. It is a sport that specifically appeals to the real potential strong man as well as other athletes who seek greater strength for their athletic games. The three lifts involved in Powerlifting are the Bench Press, Squat or Deep Knee Bend, and the Deadlift. When lifting in an official Powerlifting competition, three (3) judges determine if the lift is legal. A white light indicates a good lift (the judge approves) and a red light indicates that the judges have declared "No lift." A lifter who fails in all three (3) attempts in either the Bench Press, the Squat, or the Deadlift is disqualified from the meet and not allowed to continue in the competition."
The preceding text was copied from an essay written by a high school senior in 1972, Paul Sutphin. Although the sport has evolved over the past fifty (50) years, the basic lifts have not changed ; only the order of which they are performed and the authorization of personal equipment used by the athlete (Bench Press shirts, Squat suits, etc.) dependent upon the organization sanctioning the competition.
The rules which govern the sport of Powerlifting can be reviewed from the website domains of USAPL (USA Powerlifting), (International Powerlifting Association) IPA, (Southern Powerlifting Federation) SPF, (International Powerlifting Federation) IPF, (Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate) RPS, USPF(United States Powerlifting Federation), and a number of other Powerlifting website internet addresses.
As late as 1960, the Powerlifts were called "Odd Lifts." At that time, the lifts were three (3) in number: Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. The first National Powerlifting Championship was held in York, Pennsylvania in 1964. http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca/PLR.htm
Until 1967, the 242 1/2 lb. class (110 kilos) did not exist and the 123lb. class was the lightest official weight division. The title of the 123lb. weight class was the bantamweight class. With the inclusion of the 242lb. class, the 198lb. class became known as the MHW (Middle-Heavyweights) and the 242lb. class became the HW (Heavyweight class). For lifters with a bodyweight greater than 2421/2, the SHW (Super-Heavyweight) class was created.
General Rules of Performance
The following narrative of the general rules of Powerlifting, synonymous in most organizations, defines the performance of Powerlifting and the "TOTAL package." The lifts recognized in official Powerlifting competition are three (3) in number. In an official Powerlifting competition, each lifter is awarded three (3) Squats, three (3) Bench Presses, and three (3) Deadlifts. The lifter attempts to lift the most weight he (or she) possibly can in each one of the three (3) recognized lifts: The Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift.
In the Squat, the lifter shall face the front of the platform. The bar is positioned horizontally and in front of the lifter, supported by Squat Racks or a Monolift (dependent on the organization conducting the meet). The bar shall be held horizontally across the shoulders, hands and fingers gripping the bar. The hands may be positioned anywhere on the bar inside and / or in contact with the inner collars. After removing the bar from the racks, the lifter must assume a starting position. After assuming the starting position with knees locked, the lifter will bend the knees and lower the body until the top surface of the legs at the hip joint is lower than the top of the knees. The lifter must recover at will to an upright position with knees locked. After the lifter has recovered at will and is in the apparent final position, the Chief Referee will give the signal to rack the bar. The lifter must stay under the bar during the process of "racking" the weight.
In the Bench Press, the bench shall be placed on the platform with the head facing the front. The lifter must lie on his (or her) back with head, shoulders, and buttocks in contact with the bench surface. The feet must be reasonably flat on the floor / platform. The hands and fingers of the lifter must grip the bar postioned in the rack stands of the bench. This position must be maintained throughout the lift. Foot movement is permissible but both feet must remain on the platform. The lifter may have assistance from the spotter / loaders when removing the bar from the racks of the bench. Refer to the familiar language of "taking a hand out" or "lift off."
In the Bench Press, the "hand out" or "lift off" given by the spotter / loaders must be taken at arms length by the lifter. The spacing of the hands shall not exceed a width of eighty-one (81) centimeters (cm) between the forefingers. After removing the bar from the racks with or without the help of the spotter / loaders, the lifter shall lock his (or her) elbows into the starting position. The lifter must lower the bar to the chest. After which the bar is motionless at the chest, the Chief Referee will signal the audible command, "Press." The lifter must then return the bar to arms length with elbows locked into the finished position. When held motionless in this position the audible command "Rack" shall be given.
In the Deadlift, the lifter shall face the front of the platform with the bar laid horizontally in front of the lifter's feet, gripped with an optional grip with both hands and lifted until the lifter is standing erect. On completion of the lift, the knees shall be locked in a straight position and the shoulders back. The Chief Referee's signal shall consist of a downward movement of the arm and the audible command, "Down." The signal will not be given until the bar is held motionless and the lifter is in the apparent finished position. Allowing the bar to return to the platform without maintaining control with both hands (i.e., releasing the bar from the palms of the hand) will result in the lift being disqualified.
Powerlifting "Clearly Defined"
An official Powerlifting competition requires each lifter to perform the Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift. The Total of all three (3) lifts by the lifter determines the winner of each weight class in every category. Bench Press competitions, Bench Press / Deadlift (a.k.a. "Push and Pull"), are not complete Powerlifting competitions.
A Powerlifting event is an official Powerlifting competition if and only if all three (3) of the Powerlifts are performed by the lifters in the competition and the winners of each weight class are determined by a Total. The Total in an official Powerlifting competition is defined as a numerical sum by adding the weight lifted of the best singular attempt (pounds or kilos) in the Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift. The Total weight lifted in the Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift determines the winner in an official Powerlifting competition.
Excerpted from POWERLIFTING THE TOTAL PACKAGE by PAUL SUTPHIN. Copyright © 2014 Paul Sutphin. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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