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Monday, November 28, 2016

Are Cleans good or bad for baseball players?

Ok, I have to admit, I was randomly poking around the internet and came across some conflicting views on whether baseball players should do cleans.

I was actually surprised to see the level of controversy surrounding it.

Back in the day, when I was a college Student at Georgia Tech, I was granted the great privilege by the Athletic Director to use the athletic teams' weight room. This was when bars and bumper plates in a weight room were unheard of.  It was also because I was weightlifting even back then and was on various National Junior Teams for weightlifting.

Anyhow, I always saw the baseball players doing Olympic lifts (very early 2000's, GT's team was very good). The only lifts which the athletic coaches shied away from were snatches, because they were worried about the pitcher's hurting their elbows.  I remember seeing them doing cleans ( I think one of the athletic  coaches  of the GT baseball actually wrote a book on how he trained his athletes).

Now, many years later, having another great privilege of working alongside some of the best weightlifting coaches in the world, I think the question should be approached differently.

Athletic sports performance coaches should ask : what is the goal of doing the olympic lifts, and which lifts should my athletes do?

So, a weightlifters goal is to snatch and clean and jerk as much as possible.

A baseball players goal of lifting would be to become more powerful and explosive, and a small secondary effect of balanced use of both sides of the body.

Thus, baseball players do not need to train like olympic weightlifters.  The best exercise would be hang power cleans- yes, not even full clean and jerks.  There is a benefit to doing overhead work like the jerk, which is the most explosive part of the olympic lifts, in terms of acceleration.  They might not need to snatch.

It seemed most of the controversy was over whether the clean put too much stress on the elbow and UCL.  I have torn my UCL -- the answer is for a healthy elbow, NO.

Most lifters tear their UCL for two reasons - 1. bad technique in the snatch, 2. saving a lift that is going backward in the snatch at a near maximal weight (what I did ;).

To get the most bang for your buck in the olympic lifts is simple:
1.  Teach the baseball players relatively good technique.  If they can hit a tiny ball traveling over 70mph, I am sure they can learn how to do a decent clean.
1a. For example, The system I use, I can get someone to do a decent clean in 1 training session--especially, if they are already an athlete.
1b. Any exercise the athlete is doing requires technique. I have seen people mess-up something as simple as an incline bench. We should avoid the excuse that olympic lifts "are too hard to teach". Again, your players are highly athletic individuals, they can learn a good clean.
2. Reward consistently good technique. Technique should actually get better the more tired the athlete is - because it forces them to be more efficient. If their technique is starting to breakdown, then have them go down in weight-- you can even have them work with the bar for 30min.
3. Avoid singles and doubles, work in lower intensity zones-. If the goal is to get more explosive and not to be the best weightlifter, then doing lower intensity for sets of no less than triples is fine. There is no reason to do singles and doubles.

So, to answer the question, most elbow injuries do not happen in the clean. The clean is a very safe exercise when done with reasonably good technique. If anything, the clean will improve hypertrophy of the front delts, biceps, and forearms. The elbow is one of the few joints which can actually be better stabilized by increasing muscle mass around it. Doing cleans on a healthy elbow with good technique at reasonable intensity and reasonable repetition range/set may actually get the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the elbow thicker, and , hence, better prepared for sport.

That's my humble opinion.


PS: And, I clean on my fully recovered UCL all the time ;).

*I think I saw the original topic, headline of this article, on a sports performance forum I randomly came across. Sorry for missing the citation. Content in this post is my own.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weightlifting shoe heel height- Trend or Utility - the best heel height for you.

All the time I am asked about heel heights for weightlifting shoes and what the best heel height is.  Based on how the question is asked, I can even tell what sport the lifter is coming from and what lifting trend they are following.

So, in this post, I'll give you a brief history of weightlifting shoe heel trends, including which gave the biggest results.

First, let's talk a little sociology.

Heel height of weightlifting and what is a considered a "big heel" or a "small heel" has become incredibly perception based. Depending on what path the lifter has taken, their view on what a heel should be can be incredibly skewed.  Someone coming from Starting Strength views anything over a 1/2 inch heel height as gigantic. Someone coming from CrossFit is looking for between a ".75 inch and 1 inch effective heel"( To this day, I'm convinced the term "effective heel" was spawned on a crossfit forum somewhere as many shoe manufacturers don't use the term). Someone coming from a strict Olympic weightlifting background is looking for over an inch heel, many want between 1/18 inch to 1 1/2 inches.   Then you have what I call general purpose lifting - strength athletes that squat and do some cleans,bodybuilders looking to up their leg game-- they just want something with a heel.

You may be wondering - "so who is right?" . From my experience, for the 99% of the population, there's really two groupings for two purposes - ultra low heel for starting strength followers/low bar squat and an actual weightlifting heel for everybody else.

Starting strength and low-bar back squatters for their own special goals and purposes- which differ from crossfitters, weightlifters, bodybuilders, and other strength athletes- advocates a 1/2 inch heel. For this reason, many years ago Risto Sports made a highly successful shoe for a distributor geared towards starting strength (that distributor replaced it with an inferior vinyl EVA heel shoe made in China).  Now, Risto Sports carries a 1/2 inch heel just for lifters that fall into this segment, because they have their special reasons for wanting a 1/2inch heel, and they deserve a shoe made from the best materials!

Now, there is everybody else- weightlifters, crossfitters, powerlifters, strongmen, bodybuilders, athletes training for strength sports - all squat and many do at least power cleans. For this group, a heel height of between 1 1/8inch and 1 1/2inch has traditionally yielded the best results in snatch, clean and jerk, and squat. This is why Risto Sports makes shoes in this heel height range. Famous "high bar" squatters in powerlifting have used olympic weightlifting shoes. And, some of the best bodybuilders in the world, with the best quads-- ie TOM PLATZ--have squatted in the standard olympic weightlifting shoe heel height as a long hidden trade secret. You can even find photos of Arnold squatting on plates to get more heel height (not recommended as this can cause ankle injuries).

There are shoes on the market targeted at crossfitters that have a heel somewhere between the low heel and a normal weightlifting heel-- this is often a miserable compromise in the shoe design, in an attempt to make an all around shoe. Plus, the CF Games title sponsor's crossfit footwear is, currently, the only footwear allowed to be worn at the games. Still, outside the CF Games and the pre-reebok crossfit years, you will notice many high level crossfitters do their heavy snatches, clean and jerks, and squats in weightlifting shoes.

The short answer on what the best heel height is:

The heaviest lifts ever, pound for pound, were done in the 1980's. These incredible world records were erased due to weight class changes*.  Many of these lifters had shoes with around between a 1/4inch 1/2inch forefoot with and around a  1 1/2inch heel height.  So, yes, you want an "effective heel" or delta heel height was an inch or more!  likely, not much less than an inch delta for small sizes! Certainly, a quarter inch higher than plastic and EVA heel shoes!!!!!

Want proof, take a look at these incredible photos:

This one is of Dravco Stoichjov lifting 215kg clean and jerk as a 75kg in the early 80's- 1984ish. I took this photo in Slavia, Bulgaria.  He's wearing wood heel shoes with the traditional heel height which some people view as "big" . The current 77kg record is 214kg!
Dravco Stoichkov doing an insane 215kg clean and jerk at around 75kg bodyweight circa 1984 -ish. Higher than the world record today in 77's, weighing less! He's wearing wood heel shoes with a heel height similar to Risto Sports. Much higher than plastic heel or EVA heel shoes
Here's one of Vardanyan who is famous for totaling 400kg at 82.5kg and outlifting even the competitors of the 2 heavier weight classes above him. Note the shoes. Look at the shoes his competitors are wearing-- do you see any ultra low heels? Nope.

Photo credit from wikipedia, 1980 Olympics article. Yuri Vardanyan winning Gold at the 1980 Olympics

The Long answer on why heels got lower:

My engineering guess on why shoes with plastic heels and EVA heels have smaller heel heights

1a.Simple, the plastic is more likely to crack.  There is a lot of flexion going on midfoot during the final extension of the pull and in the jerk. Plastic is known to soften as it is worked (think of bending a plastic fork back and forth), so having a bigger delta between the back of the heel and the forefoot is asking more of the material.

1b. EVA is a soft material. It is made for cushioning. Sure, the type of EVA used in lifting shoes are a bit stiffer than what you find in neck supports. YET, they still compress more than a wood heel, they still suck more energy out of your lift than a wood heel. Now, imagine if you doubled the height of the EVA, the squishy-ness would be even more noticeable. It would act as an even bigger damper.

2. Cost Reductions -- I have worked in companies , where because of volume, we would work projects aimed at reducing just a 1/4 inch of material off of a part.  Smaller heels are cheaper to make because they use less material.

3. Lack of expertise-- Let's face it, two of the biggest weightlifting shoe companies in the world are not weightlifting companies. One is a soccer shoe company. The other is a running shoe company.   The market dynamics are something like this.....One company sold a little more shoes one year as a novelty, so the other followed their trend and lowered their heel heights.

So, are you really going to wear a shoe because a company wanted to cheap out on the design? Do you really trust a company that was born for the purpose of making running shoes to tell you what to lift in?

Negative effects of wearing too low a heel:

The lower the heel gets, the wider a lifter's stance must get to attain the same torso postions.

Nowadays, there are any videos of lifters barely breaking parallel in their squats.  If you look at lifters from the 80's and 90's that lifted more than today's lifters, they are squatting "ass to grass".

So, a lower heel height will make it more difficult for a lifter to attain for squat depth.  The lifter may be able to attain full depth with discomfort.

Why do we even care about full squat depth?  Well, you can predict an athlete's total based on their back squat if and only if they are squatting full depth. In other words, giving me the PR back squat of someone who does half squats is like a useless statistic for me. It tells me nothing.

Also, fully squatting has big benefits. Some studies shows it is less wear on the knees as the motion is completed smoothly. A full squat utilizes more of the posterior chain --- more muscles to generate power.  I can get into this for hours.  This is my abridged answer.


Check out Khaki Khakisavillis doing full squats in Russian boots (Russian style weightlifting boots) in this training hall video.


Here is a video from my personal stash training in Bulgaria, circa early 2008, before those plastic ultra-low heels appeared on the market.  Note, lifter's full squatting.




Now, here's a video from the 2016 Junior World Championships from our friends at All Things Gym, note around the 4:24 minute mark the squatting segment.  Most of the squats barely break parallel if even, and look how wide her stance is in comparison to the Risto Sports and Iron Mind videos.  There are several other training hall videos showing this trend; the lifters have one thing, for the most part, in common- plastic lower heel shoes.



This is simply meant to be an observation and not a criticism.  

My advice - wear a shoe that's going to help you fully squat comfortably.


* weight classes changed due to substances that were once legal to take became prohibited and dopign was seen to be wide spread in the late 80's. However, recent doping retests of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games shows that many top lifters were doping, anyhow, and still had lower results than lifters in the 80's.

**Note, the heel height is relative to the "lift" in the ball of the foot(I'll get to that later), which subtracted from the heel height gives, what crossfitters call, an "effective heel".

*** Ok, now time for me to shamelessly plug Risto Sports. You can get real weightlifting heels heights at a great price and fair trade at www.ristosports.com  .

Leave weightlifting shoes to an actual weightlifting company. ;)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Protesters- go to the gym and squat

To all the people that somehow found time to protest the election of Donald Turmp the last few days:
(particularly college students)

I think you really need to start lifting. You would see that excessive walking is counter to your goal of gains. You would value every spare minute you were not in the gym to practice the art of active rest.  Plus, the rest of us trying to get to and from the gym, would not have to worry so much about which streets you are blocking.

Ok, for those of you that feel protesting transcends the basic human need to lift heavy things, here is an analogy coupled with some facts for you to mull over:

The election is a lot like a weightlifting competition. The results and the winner are based on numbers. Sometimes, you go to a competition with the number one total on the startlist, far ahead of anyone else, its pretty much assured that there is no way you can't win.  Then, shit happens. Hey, you blow out your elbow, or maybe you didn't cut weight properly.  Or, maybe, there was just someone who, gasp, actually lifted better than you on that day.

 The point is, we hold weightlifting competitions to see who will actually win, because the startlist isn't always a 100% indicator of who will place how.

So, think of it this way, the polls almost all showed Hillary Clinton ahead. Some said it would be 90+% assured that she would beat Donald Trump.  Well,  just like the startlist, the polls are not a perfect indicator of an election. That's why we actually go out and vote to see who will win. Just like how we go out and lift on the platform versus scoring people on their best entry total.  And, all those celebrity endorsements and SNL skits showing Clinton as the sure win-- those are a lot like youtube videos.  How many youtube weightlifting champions have you seen that never quite compete or put the same lifts together on the competition platform?

Now, the facts show that Trump won the electoral votes by a wide margin, and no one has showed evidence of voter fraud. Actually, some articles show that Clinton won less votes than Barack Obama's past election.

In  a weightlifting competition, sometimes athletes lose competitions because a lift was turned down by a referee.  Its ok to protest a bad call by a referee if you have cause. And, if you really did press-out or elbow touch, or whatever illeagal move in weightlifting, then it only makes you lose credibility to protest a fair call by a referee.  Protesting a fair call is just going to alienate you from the refereees and make it even harder to deal with them in the future.

In other words, protesting a "fairly" won election by Donald Trump is silly.  It comes off as a tantrum. And, calling all his supporters sexist-homophobe-racists is only going to alienate yourself in the long run.

Think about it-more than half of the people who voted , voted for either a 3rd party or Donald Trump.  The total votes for Clinton and Trump differed by 0.4%-- that's practically a statistical tie.  You know how we have tiebreakers in weightlifting- like lot number and bodyweight- well, think of the electoral college as the tie breaker.

Again, for easy numbers purposes, if half the country voted for Trump and half voted for Clinton, then that means roughly half the people you know voted for Trump. Are you telling me half the people you know are sexist-homophobe-racists? Really?  You know by voicing such opinions of half the voters in the country, you may inadvertently cost yourself friends (maybe even job promotions). 

Secondly, do you really think that there are no sexist-homophobe-racists who voted for Clinton?  Extremism- far left or far right- always results in some group to be hated. Maybe some far left people hate a different religion than some far right people.  Finally, if you're 100% sure that all your friends only voted for one candidate, then you need to get out more and meet people with different opinions, races, religions, gender, etc...

You know a really good place to meet a diverse group of people -- the gym. Weightlifting has the most diverse medalists of just about any Olympic sport.

So, next time your college offers a cry-in, or playdoh therapy session to "cope" with the election results, please try squatting double bodyweight for a few reps instead. Or, do what I used to do - workout till my legs were too sore to walk, then study till my eyes were bloodshot.  [ None of the colleges I went to could give two f's about whether I was happy or sad  when George Bush or Barack Obama won their terms (I don't remember anyone protesting either of them). Nope, my tests and projects were going to be due the day after election day regardless. Then again, engineering school has been likened to masochism by some.]

Finally, there is a huge mental side to lifting. Often, lifters have to block out negative external influences. They have to believe they can lift the weight, and block out the naysayers and lifters trying to psyche them out.  Well, I just got an email from an environmental conservationist group saying something ridculous like, " we know you woke-up feeling alone and afraid [the day after the election]". That type of negative garbage prevents forward movement. Maybe, instead of assuming the sexist-gay-racist apocalypse has come,  try actually reading all of Trump's 100 day plan for yourself.  Try looking-up who Trump has assigned to his transition team -- HINT: it includes a woman, a gay man, and a black man.

Save your end of the world protests for when an actual foul has been committed--you know, protest referee calls when the call is actually bad.  You are wasting so much time that could be dedicated to lifting and studying, and you are also making it hard for the rest of us to get to the gym.

Peace and love,

Gwen

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Gwenternational Dimplomacy- A Story on Weightlifting abroad

I was coaching last weekend at the World Master's Championships. I needed to get in a work out.  So, early in the morning, Ivan and I arrived at the training hall. It was in an open air basement in the bottom of a the training hall.  It was literally a biergarten (beer garden?) with some curtains put up to divide the training platforms from the beer drinking. It was Oktoberfest.
Giant Weightlifting hay monster, greeting you to the World Master's Training Hall

There were a total of 3 platforms and 1 squat rack. Two women's bars and 3 men's bars. This, again, was for a world championship. It seemed the beer drinking during Oktoberfest had taken priority over getting some training in.
Beautiful Ruins near Heinsheim, Germany Bad Rappenau , taken from the Competition Hall parking lot

I was training alongside lifters from Japan, Australia, and France. Turns out the French guys, who I spoke to in French, knew the coach at the gym I often frequented while in France.

Then a lifter from Norway came over, and she proceeded to do about an hour of mobility WOD work with the bar at the edge of the warm-up area. Maybe not the best use of space given the crammed quarters, and, well, I probably would not recommend any of the exercises she was doing for a lifter about to max out the next day.  But, hey, she's not my lifter...and, you know the code, do not coach others who do not lift for you, unless their coach/they asks for your help.

About halfway through my workout, a team of Iranians and 2 IWF Iranian Referees came over to train. The Referees were more there to hang out and watch training. The Iranian team is all male as weightlifting is generally not seen as a sport for women to do. They seemed to move as a team.

Because I try to be a decent human being --really, people, I try-- I offered for them to work in with me. There were no open platforms; it was now just me on the platform, and there was a free men's bar.  I felt obligated to help another weightlifter get their training in; this urge to accommodate other weightlifters transcended any realization that I was a Western women in tight work out clothes offering them help.

So, we started working a rotation.  My work out called for me to go up to 90kg power clean and push jerks.  At this point, one of the older men in the background said to me, "Mashallah".
The training hall really was an open air basement with fancy tarp segregating it from the beer garten

To which I replied, " Inshallah."  I had learned from my Muslim friends the relationship between Mashallah and Inshallah, and I automatically equated them to one another. With inshallah meaning, "God Willing" (in some ways, when you're asking God to help you make something happen) and Mashallah meaning to thank God or express gratefulness, particularly, after something you had once had expressed "inshallah" about. Maybe like "praise be to God, Alleluia", sort of?

Anyhow, he seemed happy that I clearly knew these two words - mashallah and inshallah- then he promptly corrected me.  Then said, "No.  Mashallah- Thank God" ,and sort of gestured to the bar I just lifted.

"Yes, mashallah. I understand".

I then asked my coach,"Should I go up to 95kg?", to which my coach in almost unison with the  Iranian lifter and referees answered , "No. no, stop there". I was starting to lift more than some of their male lifters, which perhaps was the root of this request.

I went back over an conversed a bit more with the elder Iranian.  He seemed to be in his 60's.  He wanted to make it clear that I should be grateful to God for my good lifting.  The Iranian referee chimed-in and gestured "gold medal" to me.

The elder Iranian commented, " You not woman, you boy... Are you boy or girl?"

"Umm, I'm a female."

Seeing the dismay on my face, he corrected, "This is joke. 'Are you boy or girl' "  .

Somehow, I was to understand that this was a compliment. In his culture and even American culture, we are taught that women are not supposed to be as strong as men or strong at all. So, he was saying, "you are very strong".

At this point, many people would have been mortally insulted and walked away.  Now, I have been called worse things, and this man was clearly trying to somehow compliment me. So, why walk away? Even in our current world of "micro-aggression", where back-handed compliments like this should send me off to a safe-space, I opt to seek to understand before being understood.

We talk for a few more minutes, and it rapidly descends to who will I vote for in the coming presidential election (he called Trump crazy, with the classic crazy hand gesture to the head, where one swirls their index finger around their temple. He was not much more enthusiastic about Clinton.).  It always amazes me to see how much people from other countries follow the US election. I make it known that I must depart for my lifter competes later that day.
Tug of war statue in downtown Nackersulm, Germany, near the meet hotel. Metaphor, anyone?

Once again, being respectful of fellow lifters, I hand out business cards. One of the younger lifters (40ish) seems eager to receive one.  The elder gentleman I spoke with indicates that it is not good for him to receive one.  Yet, I gestured that the card was of no value to feel embarrassed by, that it was only valuable in what it symbolized- respect through acknowledgement of my fellow human being's existence.

In my culture, when I make a new acquaintance and had a good conversation with, particularly in a formal manner, then I will give out a business card (if I remember to bring them with me).

Treading the line of cultural acceptance is always tricky. I 'm not sure if I insulted or caused embarrassment over a behavior. There were also a couple times when I thought I was supposed to shake hands, and sensed fairly quickly that touching was out of the question.

Earlier that week, I had been in France where acknowledging ones existence is paramount to showing respect. At work, you must shake a person's hand upon greeting them the first time that day. If you see them a second time, you must remember to shake their hand, again, or it is seen as disrespectful-- that they were so unimportant that you forgot that you already shook hands. What is more bizarre is that this is for every person you run into at work -everyday.  It is not just for someone who is visiting for a business meeting, it is literally everyone in the plant.

I was just talking to French people before my interactions with the Iranians.  So, not only did I had to switch languages, I had to also switch behaviors.

Navigating this cultural sea has its rewards. By making an effort to meet people half way in what seems like odd behaviors to you, you actually build bridges of understanding. and, when you are out to learn as much as you can about weightlifting around the world, it comes in handy.

I'm not saying this is something everyone should do, All I'm saying is, if you are feeling enlightened, then, yes, make an effort, and what you learn from these transactions are reward enough, And, maybe you will build a network a little bit in the process.

Finally, we must not overlook Context.  In this circumstance, a key factor to building these cultural bridges was Sport.  Weightlifting, like all other sports, has a common language and sets of behaviors. All weightlifters around the world speak the same language- weightlifting . We don't even realize that we have this new mystical, intuitive way of communicating until we are forced to use it in a training hall with non-English speakers. This is also why weightlifters get so touchy when people from other sports flood-in and try to rapidly add new behaviors-- the weightlifting culture is universal, world-wide, established over a century and enables our ability to communicate cross-cultures because of a common set of behaviors.

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In Beijing, junior lifter

Ivan and Eric, the speedskater

Ivan and Eric, the speedskater
After a hard work out, Ivan and Eric go summertime cycling in Maine. Eric is a competitive Speedskater and a proud owner of weightlifting shoes. Ahhh ...nothing like summers in Maine!!

Stefan Georgiev

Stefan Georgiev
World and European Champion, 62kg. Rooting for him to medal in the 2008 Olympic Games!

Hanging out with Weighlifting heroes

Hanging out with Weighlifting heroes
Peschalov, Stoichov, self, and husband

Old Stuff - early Risto Weight lifting Shoes

Old Stuff - early Risto Weight lifting Shoes

Peschalov and Coach

Peschalov and Coach
Peschalov trained with Stoichkov leading up to his Gold medal win in 2000 Olympic Games

Training in Kennedy, Bogota

Training in Kennedy, Bogota

Euvgeni Popov, Stoichov, and Gwen

Euvgeni Popov, Stoichov, and Gwen
Popov - 1980's Bulgarian weightlifting team, also accomplished power lifter and strongman competitor.

Beijing - Gongti Area

Beijing - Gongti Area
Gwen lifting at second training location in Beijing near Workers Stadium, Gongti

Sylvia, Bulgarian Junior lifter, wearing Botev shoes

Sylvia, Bulgarian Junior lifter, wearing Botev shoes
Schoolage Champ, one of Stoichov's newer lifters. Sylvia also trains in Botev shoes. Her pair is also several years old and has lasted over 18K reps per year!

Romania - Training Center in Bucharest

Romania - Training Center in Bucharest
Me trining with Romanian lifters in Bucharest. Former USAW National Coach, Dragomir Ciroslan, had once lifted in this gym.

Wrestling World Champion (Greco) Nikolay Gergov working out in Slavia (BG), me in background

Wrestling World Champion (Greco) Nikolay Gergov working out in Slavia (BG), me in background
Nikolay Gergov is a Bulgarian Wrestling World Champion - Greco Roman 66kg category. Nikolai is already naemd to the 2008 Bulgarian Olympic Team. He is also competing at a meet at the Colorado Springs US OTC later this month (FEB 08). Anyhow, Nikolai just stops by for a workout in Slavia. He saw Ivan and I working out and asked Ivan for some technique coaching.

Gwen with Chinese coach of junior team at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang (Beijing)

Gwen with Chinese coach of junior team at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang (Beijing)
The coach pictured with me had won a gold medal in the snatch lifting against Karolina Lundhal (world champion) at the 1998 Worlds in Finland in 75Kg class.

Lifters in Bucharest

Lifters in Bucharest

Ivan with Coach Chiu, gongti area Beijing

Ivan with Coach Chiu, gongti area Beijing
After discussion of Chinese pull technique. Chiu is a former Junior World Champion.

Good Leather Smells good

Good Leather Smells good
Really, this was a Candid photo..."wow, this smells good", says Little Gwen

Ivan Lifting in China - 2006

Ivan Lifting in China - 2006
Chinese training center, Chao Yang Ti Yu Chang in Beijing, a JR team pictured in background

Choayang Ti Yu Chang - Ivan with chinese junior lifters

Choayang Ti Yu Chang - Ivan with chinese junior lifters

Abigail Guererro, Almerimar, Spain 2004

Abigail Guererro, Almerimar, Spain 2004
In forefront, Abigail , who has been on the Spanish National Team, with teammates in background.

Me with Blessed Udoh, in Spain (DEC 2004)

Me with Blessed Udoh, in Spain (DEC 2004)
Blessed won the silver medal in 48kg at the 2001 World Championships representing Nigeria. She also trained in Bulgaria for the 2004 Olympics. Sadly to report that she died in Nigeria, last year.

Gwen lifting at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang - Beijing,

Gwen lifting at  Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang - Beijing,
In Beijing, Chinese Juniors in background. Great kids, good sense of humor, listened to their formal coaches

Spain- Ivan and Miguel Borrazas

Spain- Ivan and Miguel Borrazas
Our good friend Miguel has coached Spain's national team.

Training Bogota

Training Bogota

Ivan with Coach Ediberto Barbosa, fmr Col natl team

Ivan with Coach Ediberto Barbosa, fmr  Col natl team

Mock Competition in Bogota

Mock Competition in Bogota
Gwen out snatches the challenger

Rick Bucinell, breaking master world record in Risto's!

Rick Bucinell, breaking master world record in Risto's!

Ivan arm wrestling Peschalov

Ivan arm wrestling Peschalov
My husband "attempting" to arm wrestle Peschalov with his good arm. Ivan remarked "Wow, he's strong..he was really trying to arm wrestle me" ..no kidding ....ha ha ha

Belts, singlets, knee and wrist wraps. Custom styles available

Little Gwen doing workout with new lifters

Little Gwen doing workout with new lifters

Team USA with Risto donated gear at 2010 University World Championships

Team USA with Risto donated gear at 2010 University World Championships
Me lifting for Team USA. We won 15 medals, Ivan was Assistant Coach to Team USA. Risto Sports donated gear such as USA polos and t-shirts. Got to represent our country well!

Risto Sports,Order at:

http://www.ristosports.com/
info@ristosports.com

(207) 319-7607

Training, shoes, singlets, knee wraps, belts, straps
Eliot, ME

Tanya Morillas - 2004 in Spain

Tanya Morillas - 2004 in Spain
Training session at Almerimar. Subsequently, Tanya has been on Spanish national teams.

Dare Alabi , 77kg lifter (Nigeria)

Dare Alabi , 77kg lifter (Nigeria)
Nigerian lifter, Dare, lifting in Spain

warming up power cleans

warming up power cleans