All About Warm Up Gainz

All About Warm Up Gainz

Whether you're a fitness beginner, weekend warrior or beast in the gym, how you start your training session matters.

For the average gym-goer, warming up involves touching your toes a few times, swinging your arms like a helicopter and jogging on a treadmill.  Well, that's if it's done at all.

And while we believe something is better than nothing, we we've figured some things out over the years that we'd like to share. 

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3 Things Russians Do That Will Help Beginners Instantly Lift More, Without Getting Hurt.

3 Things Russians Do That Will Help Beginners Instantly Lift More, Without Getting Hurt.

There are many smart training principles that will help you become strong AND minimize injury.  Some of those include practicing the fundamentals, staying focused while you train, developing strength, getting a little better ever day, and learning how to control your body's tension.  

Today we cover tension, comrades!

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Understanding Pain: An Essential Part of Life - Part 2

Welcome back!  We’ll cover the last 3 influences of pain today and give you the tools to turn what most people think as a negative feeling to a positive change!  If you haven't yet, don't forget to check out Part 1!

3. Your Nerves (Peripheral Sensitivity)

This is very similar to what happens in the brain, but instead of the central computer being the culprit, the nerves are the culprit.  Just like how the brain can become too sensitive to stimulus, so can the nerves.  This is why shaking your hand after jamming your finger can help with pain by changing the input.  However, as you know, the relief in pain you get from this is often temporary.  And that is is okay.  

The main intent of getting some manual therapy or doing a self-mobilization is to generate a temporary relief in order to provide a window of opportunity to instill real change.  

How does this real change occur?  

Movement! (See Part 1.)  

Starting to get the hang of this?  If we can decrease the perception of pain through a healthy stimulus, like foam rolling, to decrease the sensitivity of the nerves, then we can capitalize on this with specific exercise and education to make this effect more permanent.  

4. Your Feelings (Emotion & Memory)

Both body and mind can have a really hard time forgetting pain.  We tend to make more permanent memories to events that invoke a strong emotion.  This is why it’s hard to remember what you ate breakfast yesterday, unless your yogurt and granola really moved you, but you can still remember your first break up, even if you are not personally invested in that event anymore.  Furthermore, negative emotions and memories tend to stick around longer (we learn better from our failures, as long we can let go of them at some point).  

So what does this have to do with pain?

Let’s say at some point, you reached below your sink and threw your back out, and were in terrible pain for 2 weeks.  You took some Advil, rested in bed and it went away (or did it?).  Now every time you bend down to reach low, you slowly get down on one knee and place your hand on your back to make sure it doesn’t move, effectively changing your movement patterns.  Anytime you lose this “perfect” position, you a get a little twinge in your low back as a friendly reminder, keeping you stuck in your pain cycle.  The initial event of reaching below your sink was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, exposing a possible dysfunction in your movement.  

Without addressing the cause of the dysfunction and simply avoiding the related movements of bending (due to the strong emotional tie you have to the memory) you end up feeding the issue even more.  

Again, this is why it’s so important to be properly educated on healthy movement and how to gradually reintegrate it through exercise and manual therapy.  Are you starting to see how all of these things tie together?

5. Your Stress (Mental & Physical)

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite... STRESS.

We need stress to change us for the better, but in controlled, healthy amounts.  When stress exceeds your limits, it can have a significant influence on many aspects of your life.  Stress does not cause pain but boy can it increase it.  Good inputs will always equal good outputs.  

So if you’re overtired, overworked, dehydrated, eating poorly, and under emotional distress, will you be able to:

Move well?

Stay focused on a goal?

Understand good from bad sensations in your body?

Use your past memories to inform your current experiences?

Limit inflammation in your body?

Recover after workouts?

Probably not.  

Stress can be one of the most difficult aspects of life to manage and control, and it’s individual from person to person.  What is important is to recognize when you need help controlling stress and whom to seek for assistance.  

If you train with us here at AMP Fitness, a good place to start is with one of the coaches.  We’re dedicated to you living your best life and even if we can’t specifically help with your issue, we can usually point you in the right direction.

Bottom Line

As you can see, pain is not that straight forward.  This is why the “pain industry” can range from mattress stores to pharmaceutical companies to sensory deprivation tanks to physical therapy.

I’m biased, of course, but I would say that the best place to start is physical therapy.  A skilled physical therapist can address all the issues above and all at the same time.  And not only will you have a good chance of feeling better, you will have the tools to continue progressing well after you are done with your PT visits.   

That said, I don’t see myself in the “pain industry” but rather in the “human movement and performance industry” based on its far reaching effects into improving people’s lives, function, and well being.  It just so happens that optimizing human movement, performance and mindset.... you will also do a good number on pain.

Know Pain, Get Gainz: Deadlifts and The Low Back

Welcome to the 2nd installment of Know Pain, Get Gainz!  In this series, I'll be covering different topics that will help you bulletproof your body and keep you injury free.  First up is the low back since it is a frequent topic for those who spend their day doing epic things...from a desk. Since this can be a broad topic, I want to start by answering a question I get frequently as a therapist:

“My low back feels stiff and sore after deadlifts, is that okay?”

Like depends.Deadlifts

Stiffness or soreness in your lower back muscles may occur from training hip hinge patterns (think deadlifts, kettlebell swings, Romanian Deadlifts, etc.).  This can seem like a normal response to exercise, as the muscles are responding to overload and adapting to get grow stronger.  If the same thing happens to my biceps after curls, than this should be good, right?  Not quite; when it comes to the low back, this is generally not a desired sensation from training.

If we apply one of the concepts I outlined in Part 1, we can answer this question logically:

Location of Pain + Exercise Selection

When we select exercises at AMP Fitness, we are typically targeting a specific movement.  This movement is produced by a muscle or muscle group called the “prime movers”, and supported by other muscles called “stabilizers”.  We can expect the “prime movers” to get sore after exercise because they are doing most of the work.  The “stabilizers” will typically feel fine because they were just simply not as taxed.  In most cases, the low back muscles are stabilizing during strength movements and should not experience soreness after exercise.  We will use the deadlift as an example:

To deadlift a kettlebell or barbell, you must stabilize your trunk and use your hips to produce an opposing force through the ground to lift the weight up.  The gluteus maximus (aka your butt), the strongest hip extensor in the body, is producing most of the force and acquiring most of the stimulus during this exercise to extend your hips (eg stand straight up).   Therefore, the glutes in this case are the “prime mover”.

Because deadlifts are typically trained in low repetitions, and there are many stabilizing muscles assisting during the movement, your glutes may never feel sore after deadlifts.*  This does not mean your low back should get sore though.  During the movement, your spinal extensor muscles are working hard to prevent your low back from rounding, providing a stabilization force through the spine.  This is great, because a rounded spine during deadlifting can get us into trouble over time.

*Trainer Note: Soreness in a muscle group is not always a reliable indicator that you had an effective training session.  Muscle adaptation can occur at many levels, and change over time depending on your training experience.

Using the Wrong Prime Mover....

However, when we change the role of the spinal extensors from a “stabilizer” to a “prime mover”, we can start experiencing stiffness or soreness in the low back.  The spinal extensors will never be as efficient as the glutes at producing an extension force, purely based on muscle shape/size and joint mechanics.screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-3-43-32-pm

This role reversal can occur during deadlifting due to decreased abdominal contraction that is needed to offset the extension forces occurring at the low back (why we use the cue: “ribs down”, “squeeze your abs”) and/or pulling from the back and not pushing with your legs (why we use the cue: “squeeze your butt”, “push through the floor with your feet”).  When these imbalances are corrected, you’ll be working your butt off instead of your back.  Pun intended.



There are some scenarios where low back soreness can be unavoidable from deadlifting, but it’s typically short term.


Beginners may experience a stiff low back the first time after performing a deadlift session, based on the fact that the stabilization force produced by the spinal extensors was enough to cause an overload effect on the muscle.  However, as the glutes gets stronger, and the low back adapts, this should go away after a few sessions.

Occasional #BeastMode

Typical training occurs at sub-max effort, allowing for good technique, skill acquisition and healthy adaptation, a.k.a. getting strong.  However, every once in a while we might push ourselves beyond our limits, either on purpose to test our maxes, or from feeling a little to adventurous with weight and reps.

When we’re working towards a true heavy maximum, technique can get a little shaky and the shear amount of load can provide a brand new stimulus.  The same holds true if you start to push the amount of weight and/or reps of an exercise without proper progression, causing fatigue and poor technique to set in.  The good news is that we can control most of this through good programming, but every once in a while (read: about 1-2x/year) it’s okay to test our maxes and allow some rest to recover.

Bottom Line

The role of your low back muscles are to stabilize your low back from rounding during a hip hinge movement.  Stabilizers typically do not get sore, unless they are relatively new to training, have been pushed beyond their limit, or are being used as movers.  Don’t fret though, we’re here to help you with this!  Movement can be optimized through hard work, consistency, and a little coaching.

Knowledge is power, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions!  Keep getting after it, and keeping living your best life!

How to Foam Roll to Move Like a Ninja

I'm fairly certain that spending 5 minutes foam rolling before you train and/or on a regular basis is quite possibly the best return on investment you can spend at the gym.  Most of our clients are coming to us straight from sitting at a desk or right from commuting in the early morning so we use foam rolling as part of the warm up to bridge the gap between being sedentary and moving like a ninja and training like a beast! In our video series, Foam Rolling 101, we're going explain how and why we foam roll and then show you some of the basic techniques we take all of our clients through at AMP Fitness.  Get ready to be edutained!  That's educated and entertained...because we like to make up words!

Part 1: Why Foam Roll?

Part 2: Basic Foam Rolling Techniques

A Few Tips on How to Get the Spring Back in Your Step

Hey Superheroes!   Along with helping you get stronger and sexier we also work hard to help you move and feel better, too.  As strength and fitness analysts (our new self-proclaimed job title), we deal with a lot of people who have issues with their feet and ankles. There will be times in your life when you experience aches, pains, and soreness in this specific area and we want you to know how to work around it.  Since the feet are our two points of stability that keep us upright, they do a lot of work throughout the course of a day.  One thing to understand is this is NOT just an issue for people who are on their feet all day and can also be problematic for all you desk ninjaz who may UNDERUSE your feet.  The video below will give you a better understanding about different modalities that you can use to take care of the underlying issues while keeping your feet healthy.


Here are some key points to take away from the video

  1. Move more. DUHHH!!
  2. Move more efficiently (Focus on technique and form, especially when running)
  3. Do more myofascial techniques on the foot to make the tissues more malleable
  4. Hydrate your body
  5. Get the spring back in your step by doing some jump rope and/or single leg/bilateral line hops (remember to be quite like a ninja). This will improve the elasticity of the tissues of your feet

And when all else fails, a good foot rub from your significant other can be magical!  Strength and fitness analyst prescribed!

Stay Strong!!


Goblet Squat Better

"If it's important, do it every day" - Dan John

Coincidentally, this exercise we call the goblet squat was popularized by Coach Dan John as well.  Smart fellow.

Squatting is an essential movement pattern that all humans possess as it helps us get down to the ground...and back up again, as well as plays an important role in everything from running to jumping to climbing.  And like everything else in life if you don't use it, you lose it.

As we age we begin to lose movement quality (this happens almost tenfold if you sit at a desk all day) since we stopIt is therefor an easy case to make that everyone should not only be doing it but should be doing it almost daily.  The weight you use is less important than just doing it!

In the gym we load up the squat with weight to improve core strength in the movement as well as strengthening leg/hip drive.  There are hundreds of different ways to squat either with a barbell, dumbbells, body weight, sandbags, you name it but for most people the goblet squat will not only be among the safest but also tends to be the easiest to learn.  Not only that but it may be the only variation that you will ever really need.

If you can easily squat now then keep it up!  Unfortunately many people avoid squatting because they feel it may hurt their knees but when performed properly it is not only safe but will also protect your knees better than almost any other exercise out there.

Goblet Squats will:

  • Improve your squat mechanics (repetitive, I know but this is VERY important for longevity!)
  • Strengthen your glutes (a.k.a. give you a nice butt)
  • Aid in injury prevention
  • Improve your overall core stability and movement.

How to Perform the Goblet Squat Correctly Technique Tips:

  • Feet/heels around shoulder width
  • Toes either straight ahead or toed out up to roughly 30-45°
  • Dumbbell/kettlebell right against your body
  • Lead with your hips and keep your feet flat
  • Bring your elbows between your knees (use them to push your knees out)
  • Keep your chest up and push through your heels

If you spend long hours sitting and are generally sedentary throughout the day a daily dose of goblet squats will do magical things for your posture and strength.  Do light squats as part of your daily warm-up (1 set of 10-15), do some heavier squats to gain strength throughout the week (3-5 sets of 5-10).  Again, if it's important, do it every day!