SoCal Weightlifting


3845 Birch Street
Newport Beach, CA 92660


Chris Amenta


Like many coaches, Chris’ life has revolved around sport and fitness. Growing up, he participated in a wide variety of sports including motocross racing, surfing, baseball, basketball, & wrestling, but his main sports were soccer, which he played all through high school. It was during his teenage years where he first was introduced to weight training.  Like so many athletes, Chris’ career as an athlete came to an early that desired end from injuries & burnout. He decided to not pursue opportunities to play sports in college. Chris found himself immersed in CrossFit to maintain fitness and where he first stepped into a role as a coach. He continued coaching & training in CrossFit for 5 years until a bad bout of rhabdomyolysis hospitalized him for a week. The side effects of such a serious case of rhabdomyolysis, combined with a long list of injuries & dysfunctional training, Chris started to realize the importance of proper training & coaching.  His journey to rebuild his strength led him to Olympic Weightlifting and USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame Coach, Bob Takano. Chris drove 2 hours each direction every day to train with Coach Takano obsessed with becoming a better weightlifter and where the seeds of coaching really started to take hold. It was under Coach Takano’s tutelage that Chris decided to pursue a life as a coach. He wanted to give athletes the opportunity to excel in sport through proper training & development, an opportunity he felt he was never got.  


Chris started Southern California in 2014 and founded SoCal Weightlifting Club growing it from his garage into a 7,000sq ft gym and one of the largest clubs in Southern California. At SoCal Weightlifting, Chris has developed culture of Weightlifting that has grown into a staff of 3  professional weightlifting coaches, multiple youth national champions, put athlete’s onto international teams, and had innumerable athletes compete at national level events. Additionally to running his club, Chris has become the president of the Southern Pacific LWC, with a vision to grow the sport at the local level by bringing more awareness & engagement to Weightlifting His passion for Weightlifting has continued to spread outward which now includes a secondary Weightlifting company, Onyx Straps, a weightlifting company built around the idea of supporting Weightlifters pursuing their Olympic dreams. Whether he is developing his athletes, training his coaches, building relationships in his community, or making weightlifting products, Chris’ drive always returns to the same thing, sharing his passion of Weightlifting with the world & helping the sport grow.

Outreach programs:

Middle School PE Class Demos

SoCal Weightlifting sets up days with middle schools where we take 2-3 athletes, a couple staff members, and spend a day running the PE classes for the PE teachers. It’s structured like an assembly where the kids sit on the bleachers, and we show them the athletes lifting on the platform below. We discuss the Olympic lifts, show them the technique, and then put the kids through an obstacle course which is designed to showcase explosive athletes who may be good at weightlifting. Our goal is to expose as many impressionable kids to the sport of weightlifting as possible and it’s a great way to identify competitive, athletic kids who may take to weightlifting and realize there are opportunities to develop as an athlete in the weight room, not just on the field or court. 

It’s effective for a couple reasons. High school kids might not be interested because they think they’re too cool or already deep into their sport. High school kids also have a ton of pressure to succeed in both academics and out of school activities, so asking them to add an additional activity to their schedule is not likely to be particularly successful. Middle school kids still have flexibility to either change sports or learn an additional sport to complement their current sport. They’re old enough to go home and say they want to try out this weightlifting thing and have the time to do so. 


We don’t have any social media links or handles because we aren’t allowed to take any pictures/videos of kids in schools. We do have a video of the teachers going through the obstacle course though, which the kids found very entertaining. 

High School Strength Training

For the last 4 years, SoCal Weightlifting has worked with the local high school lacrosse team on off-season strength & conditioning. The program is centered on teaching young athletes how to properly train & mitigate injury. The 75-100 athletes that are in the program go through a series of athletic assessments and are then categorized into groups based off of skill & experience. For nearly all of the athletes, this program is the first time in their lives that have done any type of strength training. Therefore, we are really intentional about starting their training properly. We spend the first few months focusing on the foundational aspects of training such as squatting, pulling, pressing, breathing & bracing. During this period, the program is focused on teaching and developing movement mechanics, increasing strength & awareness and forming good training habits. As the program progresses towards the season, the athletes follow a periodized plan to improve their strength, reduce the risk of injury & increase their conditioning. Athletes that have displayed proficient movement and have expressed interest, are introduced to the Olympic Lifts as well as invited to train at our facility for a more comprehensive training regiment. Our goal with this program is to continue to build & strengthen our relationship with the high school & eventually be involved with every sport’s strength training. This program is beneficial for our club as it identifies strong athletes who love to weigh train and are quality prospects. Often some of these athletes are more interested in the weight training than lacrosse and would prefer to come train at our facility over playing a sport they feel they are forced into.