Category Archives: Fitness

Force Velocity Curve 101

Hello My Max Effort Friends,


Have you heard of the force velocity curve? Would you like to be strong, fast and powerful? If that is a big 10/4 buddy in agreeance then take a walk with me up & down the force velocity curve to pack knowledge into that big brain. Learning about the force velocity curve can help us understand how to develop specific adaptations and make certain training decisions to elevate our training.


The force velocity curve is an inverse relationship between  Force (Force=mass x acceleration) and Velocity (Velocity= Distance/Time). So a relationship of moving something very heavy or very fast. For example if we look at the top of the curve at maximal strength that would be a powerlifting moving a 1 rep max, a very heavy load/intensity with a slower velocity/speed. That is unless you are Curt and move all maximal effort exercises fast. When we drop to the bottom of the curve and look at the speed section of the curve we can use the exercise of sprinting. Sprinting with no external load (added weight/sled) is a very low resistance exercise and you are moving as fast as possible, so low force and very high velocity.


The force velocity curve has 5 points on the graph ; maximal strength, strength- speed, power, speed-strength & speed. These points are along the Y & X axis of the graph, the force and velocity, respectively.


With maximal strength, this can be your 1RM or anything above your 90% of a lift, some may know this as a max effort training style. These are those very high force and lower velocity exercises.


As we move the lift a bit faster and drop below our 90% max effort phase, we enter the strength-speed territory of the curve. Strength-speed is in that 4-6 rep ranger and about 80% of your 1RM. With these loads you’ll still have a high force but the velocity will be faster than your maximal strength.


Smack dab in the middle of the curve we have our power portion. Power is a wide range of anything between around 30-80% of your 1RM. In this range you’ll see more olympic lifts and their variations around this point as well as loaded jump squats.


As we push more towards velocity we’ll creep into speed-strength and some Westsiders may know this as dynamic effort or athletes call this explosive strength. We could see sets of 8×3 at 50%, focusing on moving the bar as quickly as possible through the entire range of motion.


Finally we have speed, here we see maximum velocity with very low resistance. For example, throwing, jumping and sprinting would all be in this category.


So how can this benefit you? In training we want to program so you start with general training in the offseason to more specific training the closer you get to competition/ season. For example a powerlifter in the offseason should train in those power, speed-strength and speed points on the graph to drive new adaptations that could assist in the overall work capacity and general fitness of the lifter. Doing so could push that part of the curve up and to the right. As said lifter gets closer to the season/competition at that point we can get back to the strength-speed and maximal strength points to get more sport specific training, again pushing the curve up and to the right.


I hope you picked something up from this blog and give the force velocity curve a go.


Stay strong, stay speedy and stay powerful my friends.


The Road to Injury Recovery Part 2

After a few weeks of doctor appointments, x-rays, and an MRI scan, I finally have my shoulder injury diagnosis… It ended up being a grade two shoulder separation with a bruised collar bone, which I was excited about because that means no surgery and I will have a shorter recovery timeline!


As I mentioned in my previous blog, things such as injuries are all a part of the learning process in the sport of life. I’m currently learning how to get back to my normal everyday life while dealing with a nagging shoulder injury (along with the concussion as well).


I started physical therapy with my orthopedic doctor’s clinic this past week, and I am already learning a lot about how to build back my strength and how to ease back into powerlifting and biking. My doctor explained the shoulder muscles and possible recovery exercises thoroughly. He said that after about 4 weeks of physical therapy and working hard, I should be good to start lifting again, which is great news because I have missed it these past 6 weeks.


My initial assessment with him showed that my range of motion in my injured arm is very little and that I have a winged scapula that was most likely caused by my wreck and lack of muscle stabilization. After about an hour-long session, we established my initial exercise program to be as follows:


  • External rotation with band and a towel under the armpit to ensure I am squeezing my arm throughout the movement – 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Band resisted bent over rows – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Band resisted shoulder extension – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Band resisted shoulder retraction – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Shoulder posterior capsule stretch – 1 set of 10 reps (holding for 20seconds at a time)


I would still love to hear any injury recovery stories that you all may have. I appreciate those of you who have already shared, and who have been there to listen to my story as well.


Stay well my friends,


Member Spotlight – Jeremy Reynolds

Everyone say it together: 


F*** the lantern flies. 


They’re invasive. They’re irritating. They’re inconvenient.  


That said, I have to give them credit for one thing: they’re consistent. They show up every day to band together and put in the work. Their work might be driving us all insane, but that instinctive drive is pretty irrepressible. 


I do not have that drive when it comes to fitness. 


Lifting is a hobby. I enjoy it as a healthy form of stress relief and because it’s a nice contrast from my more cerebral day-to-day activities (my alter-ego is as professional nerd — I attend concerts and write about classical music as critic for the Post-Gazette and a few national publications), but I didn’t grow up working out or particularly athletic. Shocker, I’m sure. 


After a few years of intermittent lifting after college, I tweaked my back on a squat and scared myself into trying a class at Union to work with some coaches to get some advice on technique. I wound up finding an atmosphere with all the right ingredients: a regular group of lifters who are a bit competitive, quite community-minded, and above all, highly consistent. 


It’s been a pleasure getting to know classmates and coaches alike, and on the days I pop in to the main gym I’ve never interacted with a friendlier group of gymgoers. In the two-plus years I’ve been coming, I haven’t relapsed or hurt my back once, and thanks to a less scattershot program I’ve seen some real progress in my technique. But, most importantly, it’s become a more integral part of my daily routine than ever before, and slow, steady progress beats intense unsustainable change any day of the week. 


I may not have perfect technique, and I’m certainly not pushing the most weight, but I come back for the hit of satisfaction I receive from knowing that this gym has helped self-improvement become a larger feature of my life.  


So, my fellow UF attendees, take my word for it: regularity will trump intermittent effort in the long run.  


So be regular. Be consistent. Be (sorry) lantern flies. 


Just watch out for the vacuum cleaner. : ) 


Jeremy Reynolds

Building Bigger Gas Tanks with GPP

Electric cars are coming in hot and everyone has been looking into them. If I had you choose between two models of electric cars at the same price, one with a 300 mile range and the other with a 600 mile range, which one would you pick? Well of course we want to ride around with bigger mileage capacity. With GPP we can help improve your overall work capacity, essentially increasing your mileage capacity for work. I’m telling you with proper GPP training , you can train longer with more intensity and still have some juice left in the tank. Who wouldn’t want this adaptation?!


GPP stands for general physical preparedness. GPP is the general training that helps increase your specific training. GPP will improve your aerobic fitness (work capacity), your recovery between exercises and sessions, your quality of movement and enhancing your ability to handle larger workloads. GPP has a main goal of improving movement patterns and fixing the weak links with more practice with various movements. Some GPP movements include push, pull, hinge , squat and loaded carry/drags. So if you’ve been in Powerful and wondered why we’ve been doing all these different variations of squats, hinges, weighted carries, sled pushes, medicine ball throws and more… well it’s because we’ve been in a “GPP build a bigger gas tank” block. We’ve come a long way this block at improving your overall work capacity and that will pay great dividends to this upcoming strength block. GPP is the foundation building block to SPP aka specific physical preparedness. For most powerlifters this means your squat bench and deadlift, for Olympic lifters it’s your clean & jerk and your snatch, for athletes, your SPP would be your position in your sport.


When should you use GPP: the beginning of an offseason, after a long hiatus in training, post injury, deloading and active recovery. GPP is to set you up for the next block of training and level you up while you prepare for the more specific movements of your training and sport. This is a great opportunity to add overall training volume to workout sessions.


I hope this was a helpful intro into the importance of GPP and I can’t wait for you to give it a try if you haven’t yet. Let’s rock some GPP to build those bigger gas tanks!





Meet the Staff – Montrell

Hello Union Fitness! My name is Montrell Newton Jr, and I will be here as a personal trainer and cardio lab instructor! I am originally from Miami, Florida, born and raised #305. I have my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and am currently getting my master’s degree in clinical Exercise Physiology. I interned here at Union Fitness in the spring of 2022 and now I am back like I never left!


For my area of interest, I want to help people. I want to help educate the masses on health, and how to live a healthy life without making it difficult. I find it rewarding to help people achieve their goals or assist people in various aspects of their lives. While I am not training or working, I enjoy watching TV, playing video games, and listening to music (My playlists are AMAZING). I have Division 1 strength training coaching experience and a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). I cannot wait to see all your smiling faces throughout the facility. If you see me, please do not hesitate to say hello!



What is Your Favorite Form of Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for us. It is good for the soul, brain, heart, etc. It can help us lower our stress levels, sleep better, reduce heart disease and other risks, and feel better overall. In my opinion, the greatest thing about exercise is that there are so many ways to do it. It is almost impossible to become bored with it. You have options anywhere from running to climbing to weightlifting and all the things in between.


I asked some of our trainers here at UF about their favorite form of exercise, and I wanted to share those answers with you just for fun!


Ethan – “Weightlifting because with this you can accomplish a little bit of everything (mobility, cardio, etc.)”


Dahveed – “Swimming is my favorite. I wish that I could do it more.”


Jared – “Weightlifting because I enjoy getting stronger but also striving to push myself and hit new numbers.”


Dylan K. – “My favorite form of exercise is ever evolving. However, I always enjoy a good pump, so hypertrophy training is my favorite form of training.”


CJ – “Making the average exercise weirder. And walking with my dogs.”


Zain – “Weightlifting because I don’t like running.”


And finally, myself – My favorite has to be hiking. I love everything about it. Especially the views that come after a difficult climb, and how accomplished you feel afterwards.


Thank you to all our trainers who participated in this brief and very broad survey and thank you to those of you who tell us what your answers are!



New Class Alert, CardioLab Blitz

CardioLab Blitz


Hello everyone! We are am writing this blog to inform you all about our brand new class.


This class will be called Cardio Blitz and it will be held on Tuesdays and Thursday at 7am. The class will be for approximately 30 minutes and will be very similar to Cardio Lab. We started this class to allow our powerful class members to get a solid cardio workout in after their class, and to allow anyone else to come in for a quick 30-minute workout. The Cardio Blitz will consist of high intensity interval training, weightlifting, running, plyometrics and more. The aim of the class will be to get the participants heart rate up, and put everyone through an efficient and difficult workout. The first Cardio Blitz will be on July 18th. We hope to see you all there!


Team UF

Intuitive Movement

Earlier this month, I received a deep dive into intuitive movement during a weekend retreat with Bobbie Marchand, professional modern ballet dancer turned yoga instructor, and Nami Soga, master reiki healer and yoga instructor. The experience was both magical and inspiring. 


Coming from a bodybuilding background, my approach to movement has historically been goal-oriented, strategic, structured, and rigid. I spent years training my mind to override the messages of my body, messages of no thank you, I’m tired, not that exercise, not today. If it was on the plan, I did it, regardless of what my body said. The cumulative result of this training was a work ethic and physique I was proud of — along with exhaustion, chronic injury and a general inability to relax. 


As I’ve transitioned into yoga, I’ve found a more compassionate and healing way of interacting with my body. Still, my physical approach to classes has tended to follow an anatomical goal, whether increasing hip mobility, targeting the transversus abdominis or engaging the pelvic floor. My time with Bobbie and Nami invited me to shift my inquiry from What can I achieve? to What do I feel?  To move from a performance mindset to one of playfulness, non-judgment, and curiosity.


We spent time rolling on the ground, feeling the grass beneath our feet and the heat on our skin as we moved through sun salutations to the East, West, North, and South. Our spines waved like serpents in an organic flow, and I watched my body improvise according to music, which changed every minute to a different genre. I felt the natural impact of sound and rhythm on movement, and experimented with the energy-shifting practice of Qigong. I moved through familiar shapes in new ways. I bounced, flailed, shook and sang. And my habitual energy began to shift.


Bobbie believes that, since the pandemic, our bodies have been stuck, almost frozen in time in response to fear and extended sits on our sofas. Moving creatively, intuitively and without regard for what something looks like can help us move into new spaces, not only physically, but mentally as well. New movements mean new neural pathways, and new neural pathways mean new possibilities. Giving ourselves permission to shake the bones of our body like a dog after a swim not only can shed tension, it can shift our nervous systems.


Bobbie’s nervous-system approach to movement also manifests in stillness, in healing practices of self massage and meditation that carried her through cancer treatment. In transitioning from energetic jostling to quiet rubbing of the earlobes and neck, I felt my whole being stabilize within my skin. I felt light, open, authentic and free. 


This month, I am flowing with the theme of intuitive movement in my classes here at Union Fitness. Experience new ways of moving in vinyasa 6-7 AM Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or discover dynamic stillness in yin 10:30-11:30 AM on Saturdays. I am so grateful for the lessons I received from Bobbie and Nami, and can’t wait to share them with you!



Hiking For Health

Hello my lovely explorers,


As the great lyricist Mungo Jerry once said ” In the summertime when the weather is high. You can stretch right up and touch the sky. When the weather’s fine, you got hiking, you got hiking on your mind. Have a drink, have a drive. Go out and see what you can find.” Or something like that.


So today I will be teaching you about the benefits of hiking. Close your eyes and imagine the crisp warm sunshine lighting up your soul, the sounds of the gentle water trickling down the creek, wind flowing through the trees above and the cool soft earth below your boots. Dang does that sound peaceful or what?! This imagination can not only become a reality but also provide some wonderful physical, mental and emotional health benefits.


Hiking is a great way to exercise, no matter what type of trail or stage of your wellness life you are in, you’ll get a whole body workout. Some physical benefits of hiking are; building stronger muscles and bones, improving your sense of balance and proprioception, improving overall cardiovascular health and decreasing the risk of certain respiratory problems. Being outside has shown to increase life expectancy, improve sleep quality and decrease cancer risks. Natural outdoor spaces are more enticing for physical activity and are more likely to motivate people to exercise leading to advanced levels of overall physical fitness. Studies have even shown that being in nature is relaxing, something we all could benefit from is relaxing more. This helps reduce our stress, cortisol level, muscle tension, heart rate, calms anxiety, leads to lower risk of depression and improved stress recovery, how lovely. Being in nature can help open your senses to your surroundings and increase sensory perception, bringing you focus and attention. Also you do not have to trek alone, lace up your friend, family member, neighbor or dog’s boots and hike with a partner or group. This is a marvelous way to strengthen relationships, increase quality time and increase the distance and motivation of your hike.


Go get away, step outside and take in the sights, smells and feelings of nature.


Whether you’re climbing up the steepest peak in the Rocky Mountains or trotting down a winding dirt path, hiking is a superb opportunity to get a workout. For the hikers out there, what have been some of your most enjoyable hikes from your adventures? A few of my favorite places to hike have been Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Rocky Mountain/Estes National Park & El Dorado State Park in Colorado, Glacier National Park in Montana, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, The Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Hikes in Asheville North Carolina and probably a few more that I am missing. Send me your favorite hikes and let’s go explore.



Importance of Mobility

What is mobility and why is it important? When it comes to a definition, mobility can be defined as potential for movement or the ability to get from one place to another. In other words, the ability to move with purpose. However, in the fitness world, mobility is commonly thought of as a person’s range of motion or flexibility. Words like external rotation, internal rotation, sit and reach, abduction, adduction or other fitness related terms are commonly thrown around to describe a person’s mobility. But what is the obsession with mobility and how does it impact us as humans?


In short, without mobility, we cannot move our bodies the way they were intended to move. For example, if a powerlifter has poor ankle mobility, then they may be unable to squat to proper depth. This lack of mobility in the ankle can lead to a compensation in other parts of the body that can lead to larger problems. In a worst-case scenario, it can lead to a severe injury or possibly a major setback in a person’s training.


At the end of the day, if you do not use it then you lose it. Staying active, exercising, stretching, and moving our bodies the way they were intended to move leads to a more pain-free joyful life. So if you have spare time during the day, take the time to do some mobility exercises that will keep you moving through your older years. Down below are some of the stretches and exercises that I have begun to incorporate more into my daily life if you want to give them a shot!


  1. Deep Squat- Sitting into a deep body weight squat
  2. 90/90s with a reach
  3. Scapular Wall Slides (aka Wall Angels)
  4. Knee Dips from a Deep Squat Position
  5. Shoulder CAR’s
  6. Hip CAR’s
  7. Thread the Needle
  8. T-Spine Wall Rotation
  9. Childs Pose
  10. Cat Cow
  11. Prone Press-Up