Category Archives: Training

The Beauty of Injuries

Your body is going to hurt. I tell myself this everyday, as no matter what we do, or don’t do our bodies are going to hurt. As we train (and age) bodies break down, and if we don’t train, we still age and the body will still break down. My philosophy is, if my body is going to hurt then I should make it hurt by doing things. Another saying that helps me make sense of injuries is, “I want to come to end of each day tired, beaten, and victorious.” I have no clue who said this yet I love the thought.


MLK Day and Snow.


Last Monday was MLK day and as you all know it snowed. When I woke up Tenzing said, “Dad it’s MLK day we should do something for the world.” I responded with sure what do you got? “Let’s shovel our neighborhood.” So we grabbed shovels, remote control trucks (they ran recon), set my GPS and began shoveling. Tenzing did more remote control driving than shoveling, we made it 2.58 miles of sidewalks throughout our neighborhood. When I returned home I was soaked in sweat yet felt good. The rest of the day was spent sled-riding and the basic snow playing stuff.


Tuesday Squats and Deadlifts. 


Tuesday was normal morning and I felt no soreness from the shoveling. I began my deadlift sessions with a basic warm (about ten min). As always I started front squatting prior to deadlifts. Before I deadlift I have been front squatting 6×2 at 225 with 45 seconds rest. I treat this as both a warm up and a light pre-fatique prior to deadlifting. On set 5 I allowed the bar to control me (always control the weight, don’t let the weight control you), I shifted forward and felt the weight move onto my toes. I finished the set, racked the bar and went back to timing for my next set. Hit set 6 and felt a little off, but nothing too bad. I began deadlifting and something felt “off.” I didn’t know what is was, but my back didn’t feel right. I did some light traction, stretching, and had Toria walk on my back. Went back to deads and did my warm ups sets at 135,225,315, at this point I was two warm ups from my work sets for the day. I normally wouldn’t wear a belt for 365 but figured better safe than sorry. Threw my belt on and pulled 365 as the slowest rep I have ever experienced (ok that’s a lie but it was slow and painful). At this point I knew something was wrong.


I made it home to fall onto my couch and not move all night. I am a Boy Scout leader and I had a meeting that night. I attempted to put my socks on yet I couldn’t even sit up. Erica (my wife) began arguing that I was not able to go to the meeting. I argued I could make it and she won when I couldn’t get off the couch. I figured something was bad.


Wednesday, Recovery Begins.


Wednesday I saw Magic Hands Malik. If you do not know Malik he is one of our massage therapists. Malik spent and hour working my back and hips and it did wonders. Then my guy Jared took a look at me and said what Malik said, you are a mess.




I began my rehab. Lots of McGill type rehab/prehab work. If you are not familiar with Dr Stuart McGill than a good start would be google McGill big 3. Dr McGill is the back expert.  The pain has reduced and I was even able to put my own socks on Saturday. Monday is a new day and I feel much improved. The theory is I didn’t do any damage to the disks, yet I did make my muscles angry. So from here I am going to begin training today.


Moving forward.


Next will I will lay out my rehab and training plan for the next 12 weeks. I am very lucky to be surrounded by so many helpful, smart, and kind people. I will tell you that I am seeing Malik weekly for the next 4 weeks.


Until next week, stay healthy.





Five Priorities to Becoming a Complete Lifter

Over the past few months, I have taken the time to study what I believe to be a few of the most valuable aspects of training and becoming a complete individual inside of the gym. Here are 5 priorities I believe everyone should have every time they step foot through the doors.


  1. Treat the light weights like they’re heavy and the heavy weights like they’re light: I see many people getting under an empty bar and just moving it meaninglessly. There’s no focus on technique or intent until the amount of weight gets heavy enough where it forces you to focus. Now you’ve missed out on many repetitions that you could have used to perfect the movement. Just like a basketball player shooting a free-throw. Shooting a free throw isn’t hard for a professional, but if they only waited until they were under pressure to treat it with purpose, then they would never master the trade. So, when the weight is light, treat it as you would with a max lift, and when the weight is heavy, be just as confident as you would be when it’s light.
  2. Have purpose with all exercises: This one goes along with #1. After the heavy work is finished, it becomes easy to go through the motions with the rest of the session. Remember that the main exercise is roughly only 25% of the entire session. The exercises that follow are just as important, and need to be treated as such. Regardless of whether it is dumbbells, cables, machines, or bodyweight movements, make sure you’re focusing on full range of motion, full muscle activation, and intent with each rep and set. Those who consistently achieve their goals always make this a priority.
  3. Train hard & time your rest periods: Training has become very social. This is good in the sense that it has gotten more people involved and has built relationships within the training environment. However, if you aren’t careful, this can cause your training session to get away from you very quickly. The cure is to time your rest periods. If you train alone, use a stop watch or the timer on your phone to stay consistent and focused between sets. If you are training with others, make sure that you have the discussion before your session that you are going to keep the pace high with a quick transition between sets. This will absolutely improve your overall progress.
  4. Be involved with those training around you: I’ve been to many gyms over the years. One thing I often find are people who are completely oblivious to others around them. What makes Union Fitness special is the culture and community that has been built. When you walk through the doors, there is always someone that is looking to help with anything. At the same time, there is always someone who could use a hand, even when nothing is said. My suggestion is to acknowledge those training around you. By no means do you need to be best friends. However, when you see someone accomplish a good set or a PR, congratulate them. If you see someone struggling, help them. This will ultimately build a culture that everyone wants to be a part of and can benefit from.
  5. Be the standard: One of the best lessons that my father taught me was that if I choose to do something, do it right. This means that everything you choose to do should be with full effort and maximum dedication. From your career, to your relationship, to your workouts, to how you carry yourself as a human being. When you are in the gym training, be everything that you believe everyone should be. Even if you don’t think others are holding up their end of the bargain, continue to be the standard that you believe there should be, and carry yourself with it every day. This means helping others and being kind, picking up after yourself when you’re finished with your session, and training hard and being dedicated every time you walk through the doors, just to name a few. 


Apply these 5 priorities to your training and I guarantee you will find yourself becoming a more complete and well rounded individual.

-Curtis Miller

Terms You Should Know

There are many terms in the fitness world and here are 12 exercise terms you should know.



A set refers to how many times you repeat a given number of reps. For example, one set might be 12 reps of push-ups—repeating for three sets means you’ll do that three times through.


Repetitions (Reps)

Repetition is the amount of times you will perform the exercise (push-ups) in a set.


Super Set

Super setting means pairing two exercises and doing them back-to-back with minimal rest. There are many superset pairings to do.



A circuit consists of a series of exercises performed in sequence, with a short rest in between each exercise. A circuit can be timed, where you do as many completions as you can in a given time frame.


1RM (One-Rep Max)

This is the maximum weight that you can lift for one repetition of an exercise.



This acronym stands for “as many reps as possible.”


HIIT (High-intensity interval training)

A HIIT workout consists of several work-rest intervals. During the work interval you exercise as hard as you can. During the rest interval you either rest completely or continue moving at a low intensity, allowing your heart rate to decrease.



This stands for rate of perceived exertion, and refers to intensity. It’s a point of reference used to communicate how hard you should be working since what feels easy or challenging is different for everyone. On the RPE scale a 1 is little effort while a 10 means you couldn’t possibly do another repetition.



DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness, which is the soreness you feel the day or two after a hard workout.


Single, Double, Triple 

This is for my class people and now they know the answer to this one. A single is 1 rep, a double is two reps and a triple is 3 reps. If I were to say “let’s work up to a heavy triple”, what would that mean?



This is what you should be doing before exercise to raise your heart rate and body temperature in preparation for the workout. This helps increase mobility, range of motion and preparation.



This is what you do at the end of your workout. The goal is to gradually bring your body back to a resting state by lowering your heart rate and calming your nervous system.


There are many more terms and more to come. The more you know.




Happy Thanksgiving

It is the most wonderful time of the year. It is the time to have the extra piece of pie and a glass of wine. It is OK to go out, have a little fun, live your life, and enjoy the time with family and friends.


What’s happening at UF this week?


  1. Check our hours. We are closing early on Wednesday (6 PM). Thursday we are only open for our SUPERCLASS, come burn your Turkey with us.
  2. Speaking of the Superclass, we will have the gym open Thur 10-11 AM for the Turkey Burn Class. If you have not been to a Superclass we will use the entire gym, and mix lifting as well as cardio.
  3. We are raising money for a special secret fundraiser. I know that this is not very helpful, but it’s a surprise for a family in need. Please feel free to bring a few bucks to help a needy family. We are also having a canned good drive for our local community.


This is a short list of happenings here at UF this week. Happy Thanksgiving and we are thankful for you trusting us with your health, fitness, and strength journey.



CeJ’s Training

Unioners, take a peek at my training that I’m having fun with for the next few weeks. The goals of my current training are to push strength in different movements, feel good, improve work capacity, and as always to #GetBumpy. Drop down below to check out what I’m tossing around. Oh, you’re always welcome to join my hoist sessions.


Monday- Upper Body; Bench Press

1a. Football Bar Bench 5×5

2a. Football Bar Spoto Bench 4×6-8

3a. Meadows Row 5x10each

4a. High Alternating DB Incline Bench 3×10-12e

4b. Cybex Lat PullDown 3×10-12

5a. 3 Way Shoulder Fly & DB Skull Crushers 3×10-Burn


Tuesday- Lower Body; Deadlift

1a. Sumo Deadlift 5×5

2a. Barbell RDL 4×10

3a. GHR 4×10

3b. Ab Wheel Roll Out 4×10-15

4a. Machine Ham Curl 3xBurn

4a. Single Leg Glute Bridge 3×10-12e


Wednesday- Cardiyoo

1a. Incline Treadmill x15-20mins

2a. Air Bike Sprint 8-10x:20 sec

2b. Trap Bar Carry 8-10x Down & Back

2c. MB Wall Rotations 8-10x10e

3a. Stretch/ Rollout


Thursday- Upper Body; Bumps

1a. Push Press 5×5

2a. Dips vs Chains 5×10

2b. Chin-Ups 5×10

3a. DB Bench 3×10

3b. DB Single Arm Row 3×10

4a. Cable Fly 2xBurn

4b. Incline Shrug to Raise 2xBurn

5b. Push-Up/Machine Chest Press 75-100 reps


Friday-Lower Body; Cleans & Squats

1a. Hang Clean 5×3

2a. Squat 5×5

3a. Barbell Good A.M. 3-4×6-8

4a. Leg Press 3-4×10-12

5a. Bulgarian Split Squat 3-4×10

5b. Single Leg RDL 3-4×10

5c. HLR 3-4×10+



Saturday- Strongman or Cardiyoo

Sunday- Walk the Doggos


There it is my fine feathered friends, my week of training fun. If you want to jump on this train, there is plenty of room to roll. Let the questions roll in and let’s get bumpy.



Falling in Love with Training

This past week I had a good conversation with a very close friend of mine regarding some struggles that he had been facing with his training. More specifically, we discussed how some of life’s challenges have had a direct impact on the overall success of his training sessions, as well as his mindset towards training itself. After a few minutes of discussion and throwing around some ideas to help him going forward, he said “ I think one of my biggest issues is that I need to fall in love with training again”. 


This took me back for a second, as I was recently in the same exact situation as he. Before my injury, I found myself going through the motions, with training feeling more like a job than anything else. I was so caught up in the end result that I lost sight of filling each box of daily gratitude and appreciating the fact that I had the opportunity to do something that I love dearly. After my surgery, I took the time to reflect on everything in my life up to that point. I found myself thinking about my life with training in it, as well as my life before I found my love of training. Before I was able to return to training, I often found myself looking through old pictures, videos, and thinking about how and why I first got into lifting. Throughout that process, I was able to come back into training with a clear mind; focusing on making the most of each day and opportunity to train, instead of just looking towards the end goal.


Now don’t get me wrong, when you have very specific goals that involve being the absolute best version of yourself possible, you are going to have very tough days. Not every time you walk into the gym is going to be pure joy, sunshine, and rainbows. The higher the goal that you set, the more challenge and responsibility comes along with it. Everything from your nutrition, sleep, stress management, and even relationships have to be managed precisely in order to fit your goals. Over time, if we do not approach these things with a complete understanding, focus, and care, it can become very easy to lose sight of what attracted us to this journey in the first place, and why we are doing what we are. When we lose sight of this, we may find ourselves doing it for the wrong reasons.


My advice for anyone reading this, from my own personal experience, is to remember to be grateful for each and every opportunity that is placed in front of you. Be grateful for the struggle and every challenge. Be appreciative of the less-than-stelar days, and even more so of the good days. Sit down from time to time and reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why you began in the first place. Think of how your life would be different without that thing in it. Remember that at the end of the day, you are healthy and strong enough to have the opportunity to do something that many people are unable to do. That is a gift in itself. Finally, please don’t ever let the thought of the end goal distort the joy that comes with the ride.


– Curtis Miller

CeJ and His Strongman Ways



About 12 weeks ago, I decided to train for something that I have never done but always thought looked cool. Fast forward a few weeks and wham bam, first Strongman competition is in the books.


Most of us at Union know how powerlifting meets go and the general rules and procedures of them, if not go back and check out Todd and Curts’ blogs about what to expect at a powerlifting meet. Strongman is a little different in regards to the events. Where powerlifting always has the squat, bench and deadlift, Strongman has various events that never seem to be the same from competition to completion. This competition had 5 total events; Log Clean & Press for 60 seconds, Deadlift for 60 seconds, Heavy Sandbag and Frame Carry Medley, Sandbag/Keg Toss over Bar and Hand over Hand Rope Pull. As in powerlifting there are weight classes so you are competing against people of similar weight. The events are scored by points, whoever finishes first gets the most points and by the end of the day, the competitor with the most points wins the day.


Skylyn and I both competed in the Novice class since it was our first meet. She competed at lightweight and I did the  heavyweight class.


Here were are results.

  • Log Press: Sky 6 reps at 95lbs.
  • Me 4 reps at 220 10 reps at 180.
  • Deadlift: Sky CRUSHED 22 reps at 225.
  • Me 12 reps at 475.
  • Sandbag & Frame Medley: Sky 100lbs Sandbags and 300 Frame in 42seconds.
  • Me 200 & 220lbs Sandbag and 450 Frame in 33 seconds.
  • Sandbag/Keg Toss: Sky 3 20lbs sandbags over 10ft in 12 seconds.
  • Me 25lbs 35lbs 40lbs 45lbs Kegs in 8 seconds.
  • Hand over Hand Pull: Sky pulled 145lbs plus the Incline Frame in 15 seconds.
  • Me 200lbs plus the Incline Frame in 12 seconds.


After all the chalk dust settled we both had come in 1st place in our respective and competitive weight classes. The day was very long from 8:45am to 6:30pm, so we were both the walking dead by the end. That day we learned a lot about the Strongman world and most importantly we had a total blast competing together. I would like to thank Vaughn for organizing and running the event, his staff was top notch and provided a great first experience. 


Will there be more strongman events in my future….only time will tell. Reminder, if you’ve wanted to try something and you’re not sure, just look it up and go give it hell. Only one way to find out.



Exercise When Life Knocks You Down

This Saturday we are hosting the Kabuki Open and Union Fitness has a strong group of both men and women participating.  Cody and I also planned to compete in this meet together.  This would be my first powerlifting meet in two years and the first time competing in a lighter weight class.  Meet prep was going very well and I was very excited to see how my total compared to previous competitions.  


Once in the hospital, though, the thought of competing became so irrelevant.  Truthfully the thought of doing any kind of exercise scared me.  Now that I am home and recovering a little bit more each day Cody and I have started discussing a plan, but it still scares me.  The core controls everything, and right now, I have little to no strength in that area. I am also not allowed to lift more than 10lbs which knocks me down to one of our littlest fatbells.  


During this time, I am trying to remind myself that I am going back to the basics.  The VERY basics.  I don’t have a timeline and will more than likely progress as I feel it is time, but I do have a general plan.  Deep breathing causes me to cramp and hurts right now so first and foremost I will be starting with belly breathing.  This is going back to the very beginning and something I have not done in quite a while.  Isometrics like planks and band work will follow.  Walking is still very encouraged so I will continue to make that my main source of daily movement.  I may even start to play around with yoga (Cassie 😊).  This will be a time to regain strength and stability in my core but also a time to explore some avenues of fitness that I never have before.  The fear is turning to excitement and I look forward to what I may learn throughout the process.  


You may not find yourself knocked down to the very basics, but situations like this happen to all of us.  Whether a different life event takes over for you, vacation or holidays become the focus, or you simply fall out of routine, there will always be a bump within your training.  It may feel disheartening if you are doing what you love or confusing if you don’t know any other forms of exercise, but either way it will be a lesson that makes you better than before.  There are so many ways to move so I encourage you to play around with different methods when you find yourself in this type of situation.  First and foremost I believe exercise should be enjoyable because all of it will benefit in some way, so next time you find yourself here, make it fun and enjoy the process.     

Simplifying the Warm Up

Earlier this morning, I found myself sitting in the office with Todd and Dave having a discussion on what we believe to be the “best” warm-up routine for lifting. Before I dig deeper into our consensus, let’s touch on the most common types of warm-up routines that we see performed in the gym. 


1) Static stretching: I’d venture to say that this might be the most common warm-up routine that you will see. With static stretching, a position is held for a specific length of time in order to lengthen the muscle while simultaneously promoting blood flow into the muscle being stretched. Examples of this include hamstring and quad stretches, Pigeon stretch, doorway stretch, etc. 


2) Dynamic stretching: This consists of performing repetitive movements within a particular range of motion that are closely related to the main movement of that particular training session. As with static stretching, the goal is to promote blood flow throughout the body and specifically in the area of intended use for that training session. An example of this could be PVC around the world, walking knee hugs, Spiderman hip stretch, etc. 


3) Cardiovascular based warm-up: This includes 5-10 minutes of movement on machines such as treadmills, bikes, rowers, ellipticals, etc. The goal here is to increase heart rate in order to circulate blood flow throughout the entire body while raising the internal temperature of the muscles in preparation for performing movement. 


4) Getting under the bar and getting straight to work: I see this quite often, regardless of age or experience level. An individual will walk in, place the bar in the rack, throw some weight on, and start performing their main movement.


So which one did we decide on? Well, all of them can be beneficial in their own way, and when incorporated properly. However, too much of anything can be a bad thing, and too much emphasis on any of these can directly impact the overall success of your session. What we often see is too much time spent on stretching and warming up, and not enough time and focus being placed on the specificity of the main movements. At the same time, by walking into the gym and instantly jumping under a bar, you may be missing out on getting the body best prepared to perform to the best of it’s ability once your muscles are loaded with heavy weights. At the end of the day, the warm-up best suited for you is whatever is needed for you to be able to get into the positions needed to best perform your lifts. For example, performing shoulder movements that will allow you to get under a barbell in the best position to perform your squat, or hip drills that allow you to open up your hips & properly use your glutes in order to get into the bottom portion of the squat. Unless you are performing specific rehab movements, or are working around a very specific injury, the more time that is spent on performing a warm-up, the more time that you are taking away from the most important part of the training session.


So, keep your warm-ups limited to only the things that you feel are necessary. Get your heart rate up, get a sweat going, get your muscles loose and firing, and get to work. Spend as much of the time that you have available focused on getting better at your lifts, and you’ll end up right where you want to be.

Forgotten Training Ideas

A few weeks ago I was speaking with one of our new rockstar employees (I won’t use Vickey’s name so she doesn’t get a big head). During this conversation I was reminded how long I have been in the iron game. When I began lifting few people had a “coach,” most people had a crew or training partners. I can’t tell you that one way of training is better than another. I also know that information for anyone training is much more readily available and instagram is great for lifting and lifters, even if at times it can bring out too much ego. Let me step back and return to the point of this blog.


Here is a short list of things that I do not see lifters using anymore and should revisit in their training.

  1. Escalating Density Training (EDT)- EDT is as simple as doing more work in less time. A simple explanation is pull ups. Let’s say you can do 6 strict pull ups. So maybe you can 3×4 for a total volume of 12 reps and this takes you 6 minutes to complete all the sets. Try this Do 12 sets of 1 with 10 seconds rest and you will have completed 12 reps in about 2 1/2 minutes. Now reduced the time until your rest period is 5 seconds. Once you can achieve this move to 6×2 with 10-12 seconds rest and again reduce rest period over time.
  2. Floor Press- Larsen press has seemed to replace floor press for most lifters. I tried the Larsen press and it is a fine lift. Yet, don’t forget about the floor press as an alternative to helping build a big bench.
  3. Timed Sets- Instead of doing 3×10 of an exercise do 3x30seconds and worry about your Time Under Tension (TUT) instead of just the reps.
  4. Generalist Training- When you do not have an upcoming competition just train to be a stronger human. Use some strongman, bodybuilding, and maybe even ideas from our olympic friends. Just become stronger and more resilient.
  5. Overhead Press- Stealing from my last point. Just be stronger.
  6. Going Off the Script- As I said at the beginning everyone used to have a training “crew.” Back then trash talking was the norm. With this trash talking often times we went off script and competed just to compete. There is a certain beauty in having fun with a group of people and trying to crush each other.


Well these are the rants of an old man lifter. As John Meadows would say, “old man cranking.” Keep evolving as a lifter and as a human and we will see what is old is new again… eventually.