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Correct bar path in the Snatch

In my previous post I talked about the Strsucture of the snatch (Actions, Periods, Phases) there isn’t such a thing as the first pull, second pull,pockets, double bender, triple extension (my favorite).

It’s of key importance to pay attention to the bar path. A corrcet and proper bar path will result in a successful lift. Using the worng muscle groups and the wrong time will result in failing an attempt. Remenber in a competition we only have 3 attempts for each lift and we need to take the advantage of each lift.

Correct bar path of the snatch

Snatch bar path II



The Height of the lifter for the right weight class is extremely important to achieve good competitive results. The height of the lifter needs to be appropiate for the right weight class. This well balanced ratio will result in better results.

Gaining body weight should be a well planned process keeping a good gain in muscle mass and controling the body fat compositon.

Our competitive athletes train in cycles of 12 weeks. The first thing we do is to measure the BFC and we expect the lifter to gain same weight by week 7 and lower the BFC a bit. Another control will be on week 10 and also week 12. Those controles of weight and BFC are done together with the tests of maximum lift we execute in that cycle.

We use this chart as reference (again there could be exceptions)

DIV 56 62 69 77 85 94 105 105
HEIGHT 4’9″ 5’2″ 5’4″ 5’5″ 5’6″ 5’7″ 5’8″ 6′
Diff +/- 1.18 Inch 1.18 Inch 1.18 Inch 1.18 Inch 1.18 Inch 1.18 Inch 1.18 Inch 1.96 Inch

Any questions please email us

Phone 207 844 0449

Lider 1 155


How to develop competitive lifters….

Team Risto was present at the 2015 USAW Open in Reno Nevada. Our lifters didn’t win any medals and only one lifter competed in the A session of her division. I couldn’t be more proud of our lifters and their individual path to this competition. Each of them started weightlifting late in life (not when when they were 12 or 13 as it would be ideal) and went to this meet with a year of training with us.

Christopher Kenney;

Lider 1 155




Chris started our Soviet system in November, 2014. His initial Olympic total was 205 Kg in the 85Kg class. At the American Open his total was 276 Kg in the same weight class. He showed an improvement of 71 kgs and 34.63%.

Jessica Weisman (MASTER LIFTER)

Jessica Finland

Jessica Started with us in September 2014 and her total was 149 kg in the 69kg class. Jessica is 38 years old and in June 2015 she took the Silver medal at the 2015 Pan American masters Championships in Savanah GA, later in September of 2015 she won the Gold medal at the World Masters Championships in Finland 69 Kg class, age group 35 to 39 years old.

At the American Open and in her very first national meet of any kind she Snatched 80kg and C&J 90 Kg. This is an improvement of 21 kg or 14%.





Dr Frankel joined our program in September 2014 with a total of 110kg in the 48 kg class. At the American Open her total was 129Kg in the same weight class (48Kg). She improved 19 Kgs or 17.27%.

We also had Ernie Prempeh who started training with us in October 2014. In July 2015 Ernie started training for Team Ghana so he switched coches and now he trains under Dr Kyle Pierce (Ghana’s National coach). Ernie also showed great improvement. He started with 214 Kg total in the 69kg class and at the American Open his total was 243 kg also in the 69 kg class. Improvement of 13.35%


The lifters that started and finished with us this year of preparation had an average of 22.11% of improvement. Any coach that has directed a natinal team or has trained elite lifters knows that an improvement in a year of 4.8% is huge!!!!

How were we able to get this 22.11% average improvement with part time lifters with an average age of 32 years old ???

we pay attention to the individuals needs of each athlete and emphazise in their weaknesses so they can become their strengths.(please read our article on Soviet System in this blog)

Female athletes need to be treated diferently as male athletes due to the difference of quantity of their tesoterone (lower in women) and strogen (lower in men).

Women can take high volume training better than men and the higher percentage of repetitions has to be in intensity zones 5-4 (50/60-60-70%) and in men intensity zone 3 (70-80%).

The weekly distribution of the load was:

day 1 80% day 2 85% day 3 89% day 4 70% day 5 85% day 6 85%-90%. *** max out only on days 6 of week 7, 10, 12.

The number of weekly reps between 370 to 630 reps per week.

We expect greatt things from our team in the future. Our junior lifters wil start competing in 2016 and we also have a goo number of MASTER LIFTERS that want to make an impact in Weightlifting. Our Masters will compete in Japan.

Interested in joining us ?

email us to or call us 207 844 0449






The Soviet System for Weightlifting….

The Soviet system for Weightlifting is based in the Hegelian dialectic principles:
Thesis Antithesis
And it was Philosophy students inspired by Marx and Engels ideas that started creating a training system for factory workers and farmers to get fit and ready to fight a revolution against the Tzar. The first equipment used was kettebells which is part of the national folklore and costume.
After the triumph of the revolution in 1917 and with the creation of the new Soviet Union this system was implemented very successfully in other sports.
The Main Specialists that founded the modern Russian Weightlifting System or Soviet Weightlifting System are:
Arkady Nikitich Vorobiev (1924- 2012) Alexey Medvedev Sidorovich (1927-2003)
Arkady Vorobiev. He won two Olympic golds (1956, 1960), was World champion four times (1954, 1955, 1957, 1958) ,and won silver in 1959 and bronze in 1961. Vorobiev was also three times European champion (1954, 1955, 1958), while taking silver in 1959 and bronze in 1961. He also set 21 middle-heavyweight world records – nine in snatch, three in clean and jerk, two in press, and seven in the total.
Vorobiev was not just a sportsman, but also a remarkable scientist. During his sports career, he graduated from the Medical Institute and defended a dissertation for the Candidate of Science degree afterwards, in 1962. In 1970, he defended a dissertation for the Doctor of Medical Science degree at the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine in Moscow. Since 1977, Vorobiev was the Rector of the Moscow Oblast Institute of Physical Culture and Sports. In 1995, was elected to the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.
His system was created by researching methods to prevent muscle loss on Cosmonauts. He promoted training with high intensity and low volume also research of recovery systems were conducted as well as medical methods.
Alexey Medvedev Sidorovich (1927-2003) was invited to many countries. He traveled to China many times, lecturing at Beijing University of physical culture, provided practical assistance to China’s weightlifting squad that received the title of Honorary Professor of Beijing University of physical education in 1957 and 1958, a. Medvedev wins the world title in the heavyweight category. The award he has received, for the first time in the history of the world of weightlifting. Alexander Medvedev, the first Soviet Weightlifters and third in the world reached a result 500 kg of Triathlon. 196, became the coach of the national team of the USSR on weightlifting. In 1964, for the preparation of 3 Olympic champions (A. Vahonina, R. Plufelderand , l. Jabotinsky) Alexander Medvedev worked as head of the weightlifting at the Russian State University of physical culture, sport and tourism. Under his leadership, the Department has done a lot to prepare for weightlifting specialists not only for Russia a from other countries: Cuba, China, Poland, Bulgaria, DPRK
Medvedev was a carpenter and he promoted High Volume and low intensity.
The famous Vasyli Alexeeved is the most outstanding example of the success of this system. From 1961 to 1967 his performance was poor and not Soviet team level. His training system was changed to high volume, training isolated muscles and lots of complexes with 40% to 70% of maximum result.
From 1967 to 1979 he came to dominate the Weightlifting world and become the lifter with the highest number of records broken in history.
One of the features of the Soviet regime was pragmatism..whatever worked was good so both Vorovieb and Medvediev were given carte blanche on training lifters provided they got results.
At Risto Sports we use the High volume system and we have been very successful. We have had lifters improving results greatly in matter of seconds.
Our lifter Chris Kenney(85 Kg class) started training with in November 2014 with a total of 205 kg by September his total was 275 kg. Ernie Premphe improved in a year 26 kg, 69 kg class(total was 219kg to 255kg). Jessica Weisman started with us in September 2014 and won the World masters Gold medal in Finland last month(her total was 135-140 and in Finland 166, since then she hs improved those numbers). Amylynn Frankel (48 kg class, 34 years old) went from 107 kg total to 128kg a couple of weeks ago.
We have many more examples and testimonials (please visit our facebook page for testimonial)that we can show and talk about.
We work with anybody willing to work with us either at the gym or remote training.

How to train Elite Female Lifters

Women’s weightlifting in the Olympic program is fairly new. In 1982 they had their first World Championships but it was in 1999 that they entered for the first time in a Continental Games Venue (Pan Am games Winnipeg 1999). A year later was their Olympic debut in Sydney 2000. It’s only 15 years of Olympic competition however every 4 years we marvel at how far they have reached.
This document is based in the work of Dr Alfredo Herrera (Cuba, URSS, USA)
Although there are studies that highlight the anatomical and hormonal differences between women and men, coaches regularly use the same training program for both men and women.
Both men and women have the same hormones but they vary in concentration. Women have a high rate of estrogen and androgen. In men testosterone level is 10mg regularly while in women is 0.1 mg, which is why it is very difficult in women the presence of masculine traits such as high strength, very high muscle tone and volume, body hair, deeper voice, etc. Consequently to develop the skills and abilities necessary for high competitive lifting level in women, the training methodology can’t be equal to men unless doping is used. Training for women should consider that their testosterone levels are low but their estrogen level high and we think this is the philosophy with which they must train.


Gwendolyn Sisto snatching 92kg at the 2015 Olympia Cup

Coaches must accept that women can also achieve high competitive results due to the many strategically and positive qualities of estrogen to increase athletic performance , for example , estriol ( estrogen is an umbrella term , because they are actually three Estriol ” the considered good,” Estradiol” the most powerful and highly carcinogenic and Estrone ” although very similar to the previous is biologically less active ) , comprises 80-90% of all human estrogen , it has a very efficient aerobic metabolism and functions like antioxidant, which influences the metabolism of fats and promotes bone resorption , preventing loss of calcium ( important in muscle contraction ) and maintains skeletal consistency , a very important element for sports of explosive force , it plays important role in the formation of collagen , a major component of connective tissue. Nor is negligible its neurotransmitter influence to muscle contraction.
While the theoretical analysis is attractive, in practice of physical activities with women we have seen and evaluated with other coaches , that the combined strength training and aerobic endurance cause very positive changes in health , motor activity and physique in women , far from appearing traits of masculinity they become more feminine and in Elite competitive athletes it shows that with the appearance of the peak of the training cycle there is increase of libido , we think that’s the result of increased estrogen levels . That is, a proper strength training process in their bodies causes emotional and structural changes similar to when they have the adequate estrogen levels.
Things to take into consideration while coaching female lifters:
First, special attention must be paid to the volume of the training load, since this indicator is what makes the biggest difference between weightlifters with greater competitive results and the those with less o lower results. Indicators of volume taken from the total amount of repetitions with weights from 50 to 100% of maximum weight, we recommend applying a lot of repetitions in the mesocycle (4 weeks) when the objective is aimed to create basis of the sport form, we recommend to plan for this type of mesocycle a total amount of not less than 2200 repetitions, of which between 50 and 55% of them are distributed with weights between 50 and 69% of maximum result. Keep in mind that regularly men consider recommendations for 2100 repetitions as maximum result, our observations show that volume among women is higher. In the theoretical order we consider this remarkable difference is due to the phylogenetic and ontogenetic potential of women to train with high volume for a long period of time.
Another important indicator related to the volume of the training refers to the distribution of repetitions per exercise. In women, it is advisable to increase the total number of repetitions, intended for the snatch and clean and jerk, we believe that should not be less than 50% of all the repetitions, in men this figure is somewhat lower and some recommend 40% . In the methodological aspect we advocate that for women it is of more benefit to support the technical preparation, since their potential for maximum strength is regularly lower than that of men.
In the exercise of squat and pull, basic for the development of muscle strength, maximum volumes of repetitions can be in the range of 850 to 1100 repetitions, but of which not less than 60 % must be directed toward the squat exercise , we emphasize the fact that the resistance force is basic among women and the squat is a great exercise to develop this capability
For the changes in volume of load between the preparatory and competitive mesocycles we recommend to lower the repetitions particularly in the less technical exercises , to give the body a chance to recover from the heavy workloads , but the conceptual order should increase the percentage of load in the snatch and clean exercises, thus the intensity increases and decreases the volume.
The indicator of the intensity of the load, based on the concept that it is the level of difficulty with which the exercise is performed, regularly emerges from the average amount of the kilograms lifted divided by the number of repetitions, this is known as “average weight or average,” the absolute values of this indicator do not allow comparisons between athletes with different body weight, which is why, for comparisons is the percentage that represents the average weight of the maximum result, which is called Coefficient of intensity, this is the result of multiplying the “average weight” by 100 and divided by the Olympic all, that is, the sum of snatch and clean. Specialists including Roman R. and A. Medvedev, considered that the optimal range of the intensity ratio is in the range 36 to 40%.
To illustrate the calculation of the intensity ratio. An athlete with the “average weight” throughout the month training of 115 kg and an Olympic total of 300 kg (135 snatch and 165 C&J), the intensity ratio is 38.3% (115 × 100 ÷ 300), the math to know to how much to increase the average weight for a total of 305 kg, whereas the intensity coefficient 38.3 is optimal for this athlete, is calculated from (38.3 × 305 ÷ 100), the average weight It should be increased to 116.8 kg. This is an alternative that provides this indicator for forecasting results in the short and medium term.
The values of the coefficient of general intensity, among Elite female weightlifters don’t show substantial differences and that’s why the same Intensity coefficient is used for the Snatch and C & J.
Another indicator of intensity are the intensity zones, ie the distribution of the interval of repetitions in percent of the maximum result. In the snatch and C&J the 100% is taken as maximum result.

The analysis shows that the common denominator for exercises for snatch and C&J, is that the area with weights of 70 to 79% are the most trained in men, but in women there is a significant concentration in the zone 50 to 69%
The application of these basic training principles of elite level lifters made possible the increase of results of our female lifters at Risto Sports. Our female lifters (USA and International lifters) have won a good number of competitions in the USA and overseas.
Some of our female lifters:
Gwen Sisto Team USA member (university games Taiwan 2010), has won several national medals since using this system in 2010
Gwen Rojas (USA) USA youth National champion in 2014 and 2015
Lesbia Cruz (Guatemala) has competed very actively on the International Stage
Maryam Usman (Nigeria) gold medal at the Commonwealth games in Scotland 2014
Vanessa Quinonez (Colombia) Bronze Pan American medal in 2014 2nd place at the Arnold in 2014
Neisi Dajomes (Ecuador) Youth World champion, Silver medal at Toronto Pan Am games 2015
Rocio Navarro(Panama) competed at the Toronto Pan Am Games
Jessica Weisman (USA) gold medal at the World Masters in Finland 2015
1-. The training of weightlifters should be developed under a program suited to their characteristics, which differs to what regularly applies to men. We consider the basic differences are in the volume of the load and technical preparation, not the relative intensity indicators.
2-. We recommend that the training programs for weightlifters training to achieve high sports performance, that in the basic mesocycles, the total number of repetitions must not be less than 2200 , of which approximately 50% should be dedicated to the snatch and clean and jerk. In mesocycles of maximum volume the total amount of repetitions can outperform 3000, remember that for men 2100 repetitions at most and the number of repetitions distributed in the clean and jerk exercises around 40%.
3-. The volume increase of the load is performed basically with weights of 50 to 69% of maximum result, this characterizes the training to be directed towards the development of resistance force, which for this capability women have better predisposition than men due amount oftheir body fat composition, in the phylogenetic order, women are better suited to perform motor activities with predominating resistance.
4-. The changes in the volume of load between the preparatory and competitive mesocycles show the reduction of number of repetitions as the athlete approaches the competition and particularly those made with lower weights at 70% maximum result.
5-.In their performance intensity indicators don’t show difference between weightlifters.
Alfredo Herrera Corzo . The preparation of world weightlifting champion and world record holder in clean and jerk in Istanbul 1994 , the Colombian Maria Isabel Urrutia . Physical education and sports , ISSN 1514-3465 , no . 59 , 2003.

Alfredo Herrera Corzo . Analysis training weightlifters high mastery of Russia , China , Bulgaria and , Digital Magazine . Buenos Aires , Year 16 , No. 160, September 2011.

The Bull or the Bullfighter

The Bull and the Bullfighter
At the 2015 Pan am games in Toronto I ran into an old friend, Gantcho Karouskov who is coaching team Peru now and I was the coach for team Panama. He had coached team Colombia for many years.
When we talk about Gantcho there are only very extreme opinions, some people venerate him to the point of idolizing him and other people plainly would love to murder him. Me I like the guy…
He’s been coaching for 61 years and has on with his lifters 20 Olympic medals ( 10 gold).
In one of the many days of competitions and while in the bus getting back to the Olympic Villa from the training hall Gantcho started complaining about how long the driver was taking and he was a little loud and I said to him in Spanish; Gantchito (little Gantcho) you know the driver doesn’t understand you, he said well since you are a gringo translate for me, I responded hell no…
He laughed and we started talking about everything, Russia, Bulgaria, Obamacare, etc, etc, etc.
Of course we had to talk about weightlifting and here I paid a lot of attention, he talked about his philosophy and one thing he told me really struck me and I’ve been passing it ever since.
Gantcho told me that in Bullfighting the Bull could weight 800 kg and its’ strong, furious and also could be fast on the other hand the Bullfighter weights 75 kg and isn’t as strong as the bull. Usually (99% of the time) the Bullfighter kills the bull, the bull gets pissed and just attacks with anger, the bullfighter is calm and relaxed and waits for the opportunity to kill with an elegant and smooth movement, almost like ballet.
Mostly and this is really when the bull gets screwed; the bull never looks up always down, attacks with anger to the bullfighter but always looking down, the Torero (bullfighter ) always looks up..
In weightlifting only the toreros will defeat the Bull (bar) looking up and with technique.
Elite lifters even if they have their heads down in the snatch or the jerk, they keep they eyes up..
So my fellow lifters do you want to be the Torero or the Bull….

How to measure the Improvement of beginning Weightlifters….

Well it’s been a year or two with your lifters and you want to know how well is he/she doing…The lifter has competed locally and you both are looking to go no Nationals. What would be the best way way to measure the improvement of the lifter? compare their results with national results of their corresponding age group and weight class? That would be a good way to see their potential ranking but has the lifter improved properly?

At Risto Sports we use this chart based on the Soviet System with adjustments for Cuban athletes. These charts are for lifters that only train Weightlifting as their Sport of choice, however it’s amazing to see that our beginners reach (and surpass) these yearly goals up to the second or third year. After that our lifters have more obligations than a full time lifter/resident of an Olympic training center (school, summer jobs, going to college, etc).

I have found helpful that I can use these charts a;so with lifters switching from the CrossFit world and a lot of them can or have improved in a similat way or ever have passed these yearly goals and that is due to the fact that  alot of CrossFitters come from other sports and they bring what’s called INVISIBLE LOAD and can adapt to the new sport easily…

AGE CLASS 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
(YEARS) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
14 56 124 67 193 216 234 248 257 264 269 272
14 62 138 187 216 241 261 277 287 295 301 304
14 69 149 200 232 258 280 297 308 316 322 326
14 77 159 215 249 277 301 319 330 340 346 350
14 85 169 235 264 294 319 338 350 360 367 371
14 94 179 242 279 311 338 358 371 381 389 393
14 105 182 246 284 317 344 364 378 388 396 400
14 105 194 261 302 337 365 387 401 412 420 425
AGE CLASS 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
(YEARS) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
14 48 84 113 131 146 158 168 174 179 182 184
14 53 93 125 145 162 175 186 193 198 202 204
14 58 100 135 156 174 189 200 208 213 218 220
14 63 108 145 168 187 203 215 223 229 233 236
14 69 111 149 173 193 209 221 229 236 240 243
14 75 116 157 181 202 219 232 244 247 252 255
14 75 125 168 195 217 235 250 259 266 271 274

Competition Warm Up

When to start warming up in a Weightlifting competition?? Every time I go to meet I see lifters doing their warm um too soon..way too soon..I even witnessed a lifter who competed in the afternoon starting warming up 2-3 hours before lifting time. When and how is the right time to start warming up? Let’s  first take a look  to the previous week ;

We use the Soviet system (high Volume) and train 6 times a week (twice a day if the lifter has the time). Our heaviest day is day 6 which is when our lifters are the most tired. We do this because we train under fatigue conditions.

On day 6 of the previous week we go up to 90% of best lift for a single(both snatch and C&J).

We try in the last weeks to schedule our lifting days so the day of the meet would be day 6 and also try to lift at the time we’ll compete always considering time zone changes.

That last week we call competition modelling and do everything we’ll do in the meet(use same singlet, shoes,etc)

Day 1 of Competition modelling lifts doubles and singes up to 85% (about 15 – 18 snatches and C&Js)

Day 2 of competition modelling week lifts up to 75% in snatch and c&J(15-18 reps)

Day 3 of competition modelling week lifts up to 70% in Both snatch and c&J (15-18 reps)

Day 4 of competition modelling week lifts up to 65% in Both snatch and c&J (15-18 reps)

Day 5 of competition modelling week lifts up to 55% in Both snatch and c&J (15 reps)

Every day of the week our lifters do 5 sets of 3 with empty bar both snatch  and C&J. We call it Technique Shadowing.


Never ever declare your actual opening attempts and never give out this info when asked..remember you are COMPETING…and will do your best to win…

The best time to start warming up is when we have 15 attempts left for the opener.

Counting attempts is key to have a successful day..don’t start warming up when you have 25-30 attempts to opener.

Exercises for warm up:

We use a Bulgarian style type of Warm up (ballistic);

10 back squats with bar 10 presses 10 good mornings 10 snatch grip dead lifts 10 jumps with bar. Power snatches, full stanches ,etc

If my lifters best in snatch is 100 Kg  then the weights would be 50×3 60×3 70×3 80×2 85×1 90×1

The first attempt (if the lifter trained properly) according the Soviet system should be 94% then 97% and look a new PR 102-103% for the Clean and jerk the same applies and less repetitions can be done in the warm up with lower weights(doubles no triples)If there’s wait due to missed lifts from other lifters, weight change etc some power liftsLG I with 65% or 70% would do fine.

Important to drink plenty of fluids……


Risto Lifter Jessica Weisman Silver Medal Masters Pan Ams 2015

This past weekend Jessica Weisman and myself attended the 2015 Pan Ams (masters) in Savannah, GA. Jessica has been training with me since last September and has improved greatly.

She came with 60 Kg in Snatch and 80 Kg in Kg. At the Pan Ams she lifted 75 Kg in Snatch and 86 Kg in Kg, missing the Jerk with 90 Kg. Her best lifts are 77 Kg in snatch and 88 Kg in C&J.

Jessica competed in the 69 Kg class Masters cat 35-39 years of age.

Her lifts are enough to qualify for Senior Nationals. It’s amazing how Jessica having competing only at local level went straight to the International platform (never nationals).

Congratulations Champ…

Jessica wears her Tiburon II shoes.Jessica Pan Ams

Coach Ivan head Coach of Team Panama for Toronto 2015

Coach Ivan is the Coach of team Panama for the 2015 Pan American games in Toronto. The lifters in the team are : Rocio Navarro Female 69Kg and Ariel Batista Male 69Kg. Both lifters have a lot of International experience.

Rocio has been training with us since February and Ariel arrived to Eliot, Maine last Saturday.

We expect great results from these lifters.rociothese amazing lifters.

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