When Smitty from Diesel Strength and Conditioning invited me to tag along with him and his crew to the AMPED seminar I was psyched out of my mind. Not only was I going to get the opportunity to hang out with Smitty (James Smith), pick his brain and talk training, but the seminar was held at DeFranco’s Gym! So, Joe DeFranco, who co-authored the AMPED system, would also be speaking. I get to hangout with Smitty and Joe DeFranco, train at DeFranco’s gym and meet a bunch of cool dudes while talking training? Yes, I’ll take two please!
First off, I’ll start by saying that the AMPED system is the most comprehensive warm-up system that I have ever seen. Smitty and Joe D. cover everything from different soft tissue self-release techniques to sport and test specific movement preparation in the AMPED manual. If you don’t already have it in your training library definitely buy it today.
Smitty and Joe D. did what good coaches do best during a seminar; they coached! They didn’t stand at a microphone and give a classroom lecture; they got on the floor and mixed it up with the attendees, showing them all the techniques. If Smitty was demonstrating a technique, DeFranco was working the crowd correcting form and coaching everyone up. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone in attendance got their money’s worth.
My guess is at this point you are wondering what they day looked like. Here is a quick outline of what the A.M. and P.M. sessions looked like; with my commentary, of course!
The A.M. Session:
Much of the A.M. session, which was a a full three hours, was devoted to different soft-tissue release techniques and general mobility work. While a lot of the morning time was devoted to soft tissue work and general joint mobility, the day started off with an assessment and coaching on proper breathing technique.
Each attendee was asked to stand tall and take a deep breath with one hand placed on their belly and the other on their chest. Then Smitty asked everyone if they felt their chest or belly rose more with the breath. Only a few brave souls admitted that their chests elevated with the breath more than their belly (even though the majority were chest breathers). Smitty gave everyone a quick run-down on the ramifications of chest breathing and how to properly “lock” the rib cage and breath with the diaphragm. Throughout the rest of the day you could hear Smitty echoing the cues to lock the rib cage and stay in the neutral position to reinforce breathing properly.
Soft-tissue mobilization was done on the foam roller and lacrosse ball, two staples that most educated trainers, athletes and gym goers use regularly. However, they added in a technique that was new to me and a lot of people in attendance at the seminar. This technique is the “tack and stretch.”
Tack and stretch consists of pinning a muscle with the foam roller or PVC to shorten it and then taking the muscle through its given function to increase extensability. In the words of Smitty, this makes soft-tissue work much more specific rather than then general massage of regular foam rolling technique. After experiencing the tack and stretch technique I can definitely say there is something to it and it will be included in my programming as well as the programming of my clients.
Mobilize and activate was another phrase that echoed off of the walls of DeFranco’s gym during the morning. Smitty explained that while all muscles need proper extensability they also need to be activated to ensure that joints move with the right balance. The hip flexors are a prime example. While 90% of people present with tight hip-flexors many times they are also weak; meaning that after their extensability is improved they must be properly activated to work in concert with the glutes and the rest of the hip musculature. While each joint needs varying degrees of mobility, they all also require stability. Having muscles in proper length with proper patterns of activation ensures mobility and stability at a given joint.
Some of the various mobilization and activation techniques that Joe D. and Smitty displayed included band tractioning, tumbling series, bridging variations, thoracic extension and rotation movements and compound mobility exercises such as the squat to stand with rotation.
The day’s lunch came from Muscle Maker Grill and it was a taste symphony directed by delicious wraps, pasta and salad. We dined elegantly on the turf at DeFranco’s gym.
The P.M. Session:
With all the tissue quality and general mobility techniques demonstrated it was time for a movement specific warm-up and workout lead by Smitty and Joe D.
Joe D. took the group through a movement based warm-up that aimed to increase blood flow and wake up the Central Nervous System. His movement prep consisted of different lunge patterns, skipping and CNS activation techniques such as wide-outs (video below) and and pogo jumps.
Smitty followed DeFranco’s movement prep up by hitting a full-body mobility and activation program, starting from the top with cervical range of motion and finishing with hip and ankle mobility. Intermingled were a push-up plus progression, plank variations and tumbling into movement skills (such as push-ups).
Then it was finally time to train! Attendees got coaching on explosive medball throws, prowler rows, box squats, tire flips and box jump variations. To my surprise, Smitty asked if I could help out by coaching the tire flip. As shocked as I was, I said absolutely yes and coached my ass off. I’ve never been so excited and humbled at the same time, but when you get the opportunity to coach along side two of the best coaches in strength and conditioning what else do you do but jump at the chance?
There were some definite BEASTS in attendance. Everyone there worked their asses off and had a great time. I got the chance to talk with a lot of the guys and gal (there was only one) during and after the seminar and they were all blown away by what Smitty and Joe D. had put together for them. They had received more than they expected.
This blog article does not do the AMPED seminar justice, but luckily for you Smitty and DeFranco have decided to turn the AMPED program into a seminar series rather than a single event. So, after you buy the AMPED program today contact Smitty and findout when he is planning the next seminar.
I’ll have pictures up from the seminar at the end of the week so you can get a better feel for what it looked like.