Category Archives: Fitness

5/3/1 Program 101

Hello everyone Hanson here,


Today’s blog is about one of the classic powerlifting programs developed by Jim Wendler. The core principle of the 5/3/1 program is starting light, progress slowly but steadily, and break personal records (that’s not your 1RM).


Starting Light:
While this might be counterintuitive for someone who wants to lift as much weight as possible, starting lighter provides more room for improvement and more practice volume without the crushing feeling of fatigue. It might be a tough pill to swallow for some, it is far better than pain from injuries and stalled progression.


Progress Slowly:
This goes hand in hand with starting light, it will help those who want to get bigger and stronger from self-sabotaging their own progress. Instead of aiming at an arbitrary number based on what people advertise on social media, every set’s weight is calculated based on your PERSONAL training max.


Break Personal Records:
5/3/1 is set up so you can break your personal records on your 5 rep and 3 rep sets on a weekly basis. To live or die by your 1RM pr every week is one quick way to discourage yourself from making progress. Instead, focus on hitting pr’s with reps with the same weight, if your squat goes from 225 x 3 to 225 x 5, you have definitely gotten stronger.


How to set up 5/3/1


You are expected to weight train 4 days a week for this program. Each day is centered around a core lift: bench, shoulder press, squat, and deadlift. Start your workout with 5 to 10 minutes of mobility and warmup, focusing on slowly moving through the warmup movement with full range of motion. After warmup, you will proceed to the main training block. Each training cycle lasts 4 weeks, with the following set-rep goals for each major lift.


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Set 1 65% x 5 70% x 3 75% x 5 40% x 5
Set 2 75% x 5 80% x 3 85% x 3 50% x 5
Set 3 85% x 5+ 90% x 3+ 95% x 1+ 60% x 5


For the weight calculations, we are basing it off your training max, which is 90% of your competition/max effort 1RM. For example, if your absolute 1RM for bench press is 315lbs your training max will be 315 x 0.9 = 285 lbs. So, for week one, your first set of bench press will be at 285 x 0.65 = 185 lbs. for 5 reps, and then 285 x 0.75 = 215 lbs. for 5 reps, and the last set 285 x 0.85 = 245 lbs. for 5 or more reps with all-out effort. The magic happens on that last set where you really push yourself to set that multi-rep PR! But don’t ignore the nice foundation you’re building with the first two set and assistance work you’ll do after.


Assistance Work:

Along with the bench press, squat, shoulder press, and deadlift, 5/3/1 includes assistance exercises to build muscle, prevent injury, and create a balanced physique. My favorites are strength-training staples like chin-ups, dips, lunges, rows, and back extensions. I like to do 4 to 5 sets of 15 reps for those assistance exercises. The goal is NOT to go as heavy as you can for those assistance exercises. The goal is to keep the tension in the muscle while maintaining good form as you go through sets of 15. For exercises such as chin-ups and dips, I just use my body weight, and for exercises like the lunge and rows, I have 30lb dumbbells in each hand.


5 Tips to a successful 5/3/1 program from Jim Wendler himself:
1. Start with a realistic idea of your one-rep max, and follow my instructions to base all training weights on 90% of that max. You can make it easy on yourself by spending a couple of workouts working up to a four-rep-max set of each of the four core lifts.

2. Your 3RM should be about 90% of your 1RM. Once you have that 3RM, you can skip a step in your calculations and just use it for all your subsequent percentages.

3. The final set of your core lift in each workout is the one that produces mass and strength, so give it everything you have, and get as many reps as you can with that weight.

4. The exceptions are the deloading workouts in Week 4. You’re giving your muscles a break, not trying to establish new PRs.

5. When you start a new four-week cycle, add 5 pounds to your 1RMs for bench and shoulder presses and 10 pounds for squats and deadlifts, and recalculate training weights using the new numbers.


I will be adding more content relating to 5/3/1 in the future as I am currently 1 cycle into this training myself! Feel free to ask me any questions about this training if you see me around the gym!


Keep on lifting!

Get Down With Turkish Getups

Greetings Unionits,
On this wild journey we call life, have you ever got down on the floor, stood up from the floor and then perhaps later got back down on the floor? If your answer was a striking, “why, yes I do believe so” then you gotta get down with the Turkish get up.
If you’ve been taking our Thursday #powerful class, you may already be a champion Turkish Get Up-er. If you’ve been coming to #powerful class and have never heard of a Turkish Get Up, then you’ve just been caught red handed, skipping out on a fun class. Have no fear, there is still time to learn and perform the TGU (Turkish Get Up).
Let’s talk about this magical big bang for your buck exercise. The TGU takes your body through all 3 planes of motion, transverse (rotational), sagittal (forward & backward) and frontal (up & down). We’re talking abdominal strength with rotation and bracing, shoulder stability with an overhead press, lower body strength with bridges and lunging. This is a most excellent full body exercise and one not to scough at. Not only can the TGU provide overall full body strength , this exercise contributes to injury prevention by improving our coordination, balance, mobility and stability. Wowzer, how neat! Also, you’ll impress all your friends and bring your enemies to their knees with your new found feats of strength.
Now that we’ve hyped the TGU up, let’s talk about how to perform the unbelievable act.
1) You’ll start flat on your back with your left arm pressed to the sky like you are  preforming a single arm floor press. Your right leg will be straight on the floor with your left leg bent as if you were about to attempt a single leg glut bridge.
2) Now, let’s move. From position 1 you’ll begin to reach that left arm straight up to the sky while you simultaneously roll your hips to the right and start to brace on your right elbow and forearm.
3) From position 2, keep reaching that left hand to the sky while you now press through your right hand to kick stand your upper body off the floor.
4) Once your upper body and back are off the floor you’ll continue to reach that arm to the sky and now push through that left foot to drive into a glute bridge. Now take your right leg, which should be straight and thread it back underneath your hips to be in a 1/2 kneeling position with your right kickstand hand on the floor.
5) Now push your kickstand hand off the floor and drive that left hand tall so we are now in a 1/2 kneeling single arm overhead press position. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, really just 1 more step to get up.
6) From your 1/2 kneeling overhead position you’ll use the strength from your left leg to lunge yourself tall into a standing position. Still keeping that left arm straight and tall to the sky.
Yahooo, you’ve done it and got up to the standing position of a TGU. You may now be thinking, “well am I done or do I have to come back down to the floor?” Just like the brainiacs you are, that is absolutely correct. You do have to come back down to the starting position to complete a TGU. Just take the steps I provided you with and do them in reverse to climb back down to the floor safe and sound.
Let it be known that when you are learning this exercise or any new movement that technique quality is far more important than overall weight. Step away from your ego, my doods. If you want I’d be more than happy to show you your next favorite exercise in person, whenever you’re ready.
Party hard,

The Best Exercise You Don’t Want to Miss

It is no secret that fitness coaches and trainers will debate over what kind of exercise is best for people. Whether it is weight training, aerobic activity, yoga, certain programs, speed work, plyometrics, sprinting, or HIIT, every fitness professional is biased to what they learned or how they currently train. All forms of exercise have their benefits in slightly different ways. But in general, they all promote a healthier and happier life. For example, HIIT training or high intensity interval training is extremely beneficial for your heart and brain. It decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease and/or can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia through the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Another example, is weight training. Weight training has many benefits including building stronger and healthier muscles as well as boosting your metabolism. To build on this even further, yoga can help with mental health as well as increasing your flexibility. This increase in flexibility will aid in preventing injuries in the future.


In saying all of this, you might be asking what is the best exercise routine? Well, that’s where I am here to tell you that the best exercise routine is the one that you can stick to. In short, all exercise is extremely beneficial for you. So do the exercise that keeps you coming back to the gym or pushing yourself. If you love powerlifting then keep powerlifting, if you love running then keep on running, and if you love doing plyometrics then keep on doing your plyometrics. Sometimes we over complicate our exercise routines and forget why we exercise in the first place. We exercise to feel better mentally and physically. Movement is life! As soon as you stop moving then that’s when your body starts to fall apart. So, everyone who is reading this please do me a favor, never stop moving your body and always strive forward!



The Great 8 Movement Patterns

Gobble Gobble to all my November readers and a most crispy Fall to you all.


Have you ever carried all the groceries from your car to the house in one mighty attempt? Have you ever knelt down to tie your shoes? Have you ever lifted your pet in the air as Rafiki did to young Simba? If you said yay to any of these actions, then you’ve completed what the scientific meat-heads call functional movement patterns. Functional movements are real life biomechanical situations that we put our bodies through. Functional movement involves multiple joint movements across various planes of motion. During these complex planes of motion, we the people are utilising many muscles at once to complete these tasks. Many of these functional movements are daily tasks of living that we don’t even consider taxing, strenuous or exercising. Building in these movement patterns or portions of the movement into your exercise routine will help improve your quality of life and resilience.


Before we get to the movements, here are 4 big reasons to add the great 8 movement patterns into your exercise routine. First, we can improve movement efficiency by completing a wide range of motions that we perform every day. The more we train these movements and progress them, we can continue to perform these movements more easily. The second reason leads to increased coordination and balance. By performing these movements in the gym, you will improve overall; strength, balance, coordination and control over time. Thirdly, who wouldn’t want to be more flexible with better overall mobility? Putting our muscles through their full range of motion will help increase flexibility and mobility. This is something we could all use after those long days in the office or binging the holiday Lord of The Rings franchise marathon. Last but not least the addition of these movement patterns can help with the reduction and prevention of injuries. Training your body through movements that you complete every day can help us adapt to the applied stress and become stronger and more resilient. This will also give us more energy to do the same task with less energy or to do more overall work with the energy you have.


Now, brace for impact as I give you the Great 8 Movement Patterns and some exercises that can go along with them.


1) Squat: Front Squat, Fat Bar Zercher Squat, Belted PitShark Squat, Goblet Squat, Barbell Overhead Squat.


2) Hinge: Trap Bar Deadlift, Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift, Single Leg Glute Bridge, Stability Ball Hamstring Curl, Banded Good Morning.


3) Lunge: Dumbbell Lateral Lunge, Kettlebell Step-Ups, Safety Bar Reverse Lunges, Plate Walking Lunge, Body Weight Curtsy Lunge


4) Push: Push-Ups, Dumbbell Bench Press, Barbell Overhead Press, Kettlebell Z-Press, Medicine Ball Press.


5) Pull: Lat Pulldowns, Band Assisted Chin-Ups, T-Bar Rows, Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows, Banded Face Pulls.


6) Rotation: Medicine Ball Chops, Palloff Rotations, Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up, Cable Low to High Rotations, Plank Reach and Pull Through.


7) Carry & Brace: Farmer’s Handle Weighted Carry, Plate Overhead Marches, Kettlebell Off-set Carry, Weighted Plank, Hollow Hold, Banded Dead Bug.


8) Locomotion (Run, Jump, Throw): Stair Sprints, Box Jumps, Medicine Ball Toss, Prowler Push, Skips, Medicine Ball Slam.


Do your body a favor and add these movement patterns into your exercise routine, your future self will thank you. If you’d like to learn more about these movements or how to add them into your routine, I am always here to help.


Don’t forget to sign up for our Thanksgiving day Turkey burn #Powerful & Ryde Dynamic Bootcamp class.


As Always, get bumpy my friends.


What Is Your Favorite Meal?

We all have a favorite food dish out there. Whether it is a “cheat day” meal, a “healthy” meal, a “fun” meal, etc. I am curious to know what is your favorite meal? What food gets you hyped up to eat? I asked some of our trainers here at UF to answer this question so that you all can see what they enjoy eating and maybe this will even give you some new ideas for your own meals:


Dylan Kopp – Thai red curry with chicken and rice


Ethan Raese – He has 3 favorite meals he would like to share with all of you – pizza, sushi, and Oakland’s street tacos


Zain Skalos – Greasy cheeseburger with extra salty fries


Dylan Heisey – Chicken parmesan hoagie


Dahveed Jorge – Chopped cheese or a philly cheesesteak sandwich


Miranda Gard – Chicken parmesan (did she copy Dylan’s answer??)


CJ Jasper –  Homemade pierogi with sauerkraut and kielbasa. Also currently on a big Thai kick, so fresh spring roll and Keemao spice level burn.


Toria Crispin – Steak hoagie with everything added on it (throw on some peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, etc.)


And there you have it! There’s a quick fun fact about some of our trainers and possibly some food ideas to add to your weekly eating list if you’re up for it. 🙂



Halloween Hodgepodge

Hello my spooky scary skeletons!


Time for some classic Halloween Hodgepodge of bone chilling songs, spine tingling training tips, hair standing tales and a horrific announcement.


The pumpkin patch 8-track of seasonal serenades.

– Murder in the Graveyard by Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages

– The Boogie Monster by Gnarls Barkley

– Were Wolf by Carl Bonafede

– Vampire Money by My Chemical Romance

– Pretty in a Casket by Blitzkid

– Wake the Dead by Comeback Kid

– We Drink Your Blood by Powerwolf

– I Still Believe by Timmy Cappello


Hellacious training tips.

1) Never skip leg days or your pumpkin patch will never be full

2) Keeping your used gym socks near you in the dark will ward off all encroaching vamps, warlocks and most other creatures.

3) Candy is fuel and you need fuel to eat candy

4) Keep your gym bags off the floor to avoid tripping and having the slowest monster eat you.

5) If Jack Skellington would have resistance trained, his bone density would have been greater and he wouldn’t have crumbled when he was blown to smithereens. Lift weights for greater bone density.

6) Jesse Eisenberg reminds us in Zombieland that cardio is important. If you want to out run and outlast the zombies, ghouls and goblins you must have quality cardio in your life. A little a day keeps the monsters at bay.


Howl at the Moon or one of the UF staff members because if you attend #Powerful Monday Oct 30, Tuesday Oct 31 and/or Wednesday Nov 1, we’ll be crushing a Halloween Circa Max Out. Get in the spirit and wear a costume and let’s have some fun. P.S bring a friend who is a non-#powerful member and get bonus spooky surprises.


All the best from your Badass Duke of Darkness.



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!