Category Archives: Training

Trigger Points

Have you ever encountered a situation that made you feel emotionally triggered? Well, the muscles in your body can feel triggered, too. In fact, your body has trigger points at any given moment. You may or may not have heard your Massage Therapist mention trigger points, but today I am going to delve into the what’s, why’s, and hows of these little (maybe big) buggers.


“I have a knot in my *fill in the blank,” said by all of us at some point. Technically your muscles don’t have little people inside tying the fibers together into knots, but what you are feeling does seem knotty and rope-like. Those are the trigger points. Muscle fiber(s) can become triggered typically by something like injury or overuse. These lesions that are now within the sarcoplasmic reticulum cause a release of excess calcium ions which create the sustained muscle contraction. These sustained contractions lead to a poor supply of oxygen which in turn decreases the ability of the small tears from healing.


By the muscle remaining contracted, it is shortened which decreases the range of motion as a defense mechanism to prevent injury. You may begin to notice this happening as pain in the relative area and/or weakness. While the muscle is doing what it is programmed to do to prevent injury, it is not effectively doing the action it is meant to do which is a problem. Think about it: you want to do a bicep curl but your bicep (“problem muscle”) says, “naw I don’t feel great, the other guys can help”. The bicep is the prime mover and not doing the work, so in order to complete the curl, our body has to recruit other muscles around the area to do something that is not their job, or at least not their primary role. Can you see how although the body will perform the movement, it isn’t optimal? The longer we decide to work through the pain and allow compensations to occur, the trigger point will worsen causing the muscle to become weaker and more dysfunctional. It will continue to prevent the affected muscles from fully lengthening and relaxing as well as tire quickly, recover slowly, and contract excessively. If we want to continue to become stronger and function well, we need to move optimally.


Although we are capable of working through the pain during the early stages, that is also when we are most able to combat the problem before it develops into something more serious. There are a few different ways to take care of your muscles if you are already feeling the symptoms. You can try on your own through the use of foam rollers, body tempering items, percussion guns, or other items that can release the surrounding fascia. If you would like to plan a professional treatment once or twice a month and let someone else do the work, I would recommend finding a Massage Therapist you can trust. Having someone who is trained to palpate muscle, identify trigger points, and also understands the surrounding area is a beneficial option for your recovery.


At the end of the day, despite how careful we are and how great we are with taking care of our body, there will always be trigger points floating around the body. It is not a reason to live in constant fear, avoid movement, or overthink how you move. However, if you are aware of your body mechanics and devote yourself to proper nutrition, sleep, and forms of therapy, you can certainly help prevent and mitigate further problems from occurring.

Salutations Sultans and Sultanas of Swing.

Today we are going to play a game to help us understand and know the difference between Sprains, Strains & Tears on this episode of Know…Your..Lingo! (Audience participation and applause)


Let me lay down the terms and facts about them first. You will be tested on this so bust out your writing utensils, be it quil, dip pens, ballpoint or #2, and paper, parchment, or clay tablets and toss that thinking cap on, even you back there Billy!


Sprains go down when a joint (ankle, knee, wrist, shoulder, ect) is forced into an awkward or unnatural position. Sprains are the overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Think of a ligament as a fibrous connective tissue in the body that connects bone to bone to help stabilize them together. A scenario this could happen is when you are walking on an uneven surface and then your ankle turns/twists one way. People often say twist when they refer to sprains.


Strains materialize from repetitive movements over a long period of time or from a single incident, where overstretching or tearing of the muscle or tendon occurs. Muscles and tendons are fibers that connect muscles to bones. A chronic strain would be from repetitive movements overtime whereas an acute strain is a single instantaneous stretch or tear. A scenario this could happen is when you are picking up a heavier box from the floor and feel a “pull” in your lower back. People often say pull when they refer to strains.


Tears stumble into existence from the ripping of ligaments, muscles or tendons from related actions that would cause those fibers to overstretch and is far  more serious and could take months to heal. Tears could mean surgery or rehabilitation depending on the severity. You may see a tear happen in sports, one of the most know tears would be at the knee more commonly thought of as an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear.


Fill in the blank Test.

(Sprain Strain Tear)

Select the correct term above to fill in the blank. 


1. Todd was frolicking down Penn ave listening to Hatebreed when he awkwardly stepped in a pothole and _______ his ankle.


2. Big Curt has been throwing fast balls all season for UF’s baseball team, but after throwing the game winning pitch in extra innings he felt a pulling sensation in his shoulder muscles. Big Curt believes he _______ his shoulder.


3. During the Wizard’s Powerful class one of the members crushes a lift and hits a new PR. Upon celebration the Wizard performs his special PR dance and then magically goes down gripping his knee. Upon further review is appears the Wizard has suffered a ________ at the Knee


4. When Sky’s favorite gym reopened (UF) she was thrilled to go train. So elated, that she jumped on the deadlift platform, loaded the bar to 500lbs and gave it the old fashioned college try. About halfway up on the lift she feels her low back get tight and drops the bar. The crowd grumbles and rumbles, saying she must have ______ her low back.


5. Mr. Rogers was leaving his television station WQED on a cold Pittsburgh winter day. As he was walking down the stair he slipped on some slippy ice and caught his fall by extending his arms and landing on his writs. He felt like his wrist was jammed or twisted and said “Awe shucks I ______ my wrist.” He immediately healed because he is Mr. Rogers.


Thank you for learning and playing on today’s episode of “Know Your Lingo”. Tune in soon for more fun and as always Stay Bumpy my friends.



Answers: 1) Sprain 2) Strain 3) Tear 4) Strain 5) Sprain

Union Fitness Equipment Loaning Program

To all UF Members,


We here at Union Fitness hope you are all doing well and doing all you can to stay strong and healthy during our time away from the gym.


Allegheny County is moving into the yellow phase of re-opening. Gyms are not a part of this phase, yet it is a step in the right direction. We want to be available to help as many people as we can until we are able to re-open. The county enters the yellow phase on Friday, May 15th.


We at UF will begin loaning our equipment to you, our members, so you can continue to stay active while at home. Starting Monday, May 18th, we will be open from 8 am-Noon to loan the following items: a bar and up to 4 bumper plates, or 2 kettlebells, or 2 dumbbells. Any other requests will be handled as they come in with management approval. We just want to do our part to try to help out. *This is for active UF members only.*


We do ask that anyone who comes to borrow equipment follow a few guidelines to respect everyone:

  1. Wear a mask the entire time you are in UF.
  2. We will limit the total number of people in the facility at one time (please be patient).
  3. Enter through our front doors and leave through the strength lab.
  4. Check-in with a UF team member so we can record what you are borrowing.
  5. Be respectful of all those in and around the facility and socially distance.
  6. Wait for your turn.
  7. Depending on demand we may put time limits on certain items (if barbells are popular we may ask you to return them after a week or two)


In addition to the equipment, we are working with FitFresh to resume food delivery. If you have your food delivered through FitFresh you can pick it up at UF during these hours. Please work directly with Jodie on this. We will also have some FitFresh meals for sale. If you want multiple meals we recommend contacting Jodie directly.


Thank you and we are excited to be moving in the right direction. Please continue to do your part to help us and we will be re-opened as soon as it is safe.


Stay Healthy,


Todd Hamer

General Manager, Union Fitness

Know Your Deadlift

Hello House Union, Strongest Crue of Land Pittsburgh,


Do you want to be; strong, athletic, ripped, toned, flip cars, pickup household objects with ease or just have a fabulous backside? If you said yes to any of these then it’s time to deadlift. “But I’ve heard it’s bad for my back and I’ll hurt myself, Mr. Bumpy Sir!?” Nay nay my good chum, with well taught form and various progressions, the deadlift can be very safe and beneficial to your daily life and provide exercise longevity. There are so many ways to exercise and multiple variations of the deadlift that can suit your training age and wellness goals. Also you don’t need a barbell to deadlift, you can use; kettlebells, bands, dumbbells, sandbags or even sacs of potatoes if you’re still in quarantine mode. This blog will be less about deadlift technique but the different pull variations out there for you to party with. Today, I will tell you some of my favorite variations on everyone’s favorite Day Time Game Show…Know Your Deadlifts!


Conventional: This is your standard great old fashioned pull. Your hips are in a higher position than a Sumo or Trap-bar dead and you are pulling back and up to move the dead weight. This applies a great amount of work for posterior chain development (Calves, Hamstrings, Glutes & Back muscles).


Sumo: Picture Sumo wrestlers, this deadlift takes a wider stance, your hips are lower and you have a more upright torso compared to its conventional counterpart. This variation can take stress of the low back and put the emphasis of work on the hips,quads and glutes.


Trap-Bar: A hybrid between deadlift and squat, this is a great exercise to learn and progress from for everyone. You won’t have to bend down as low so this can help you get into position if you are less mobile. This variation still works the posterior chain while also  puts a great emphasis on the quads. Most Trap-Bars will produce a shorter range of motion.


Romanian Deadlift (RDL): This is a partial movement variation of the conventional deadlift. The RDL starts at the top (unless you are picking the weight from the floor) and with a slight bend in your knees you hinge back til the weight is around mid-shin or below the  knee (hamstring flexibility may limit you), then squeeze those glutes and return the bar back to your hips. This exercise targets the muscles of the posterior chain and can take stress off the knees and quads.


Snatch Grip: This variation uses a barbell and the setup is very similar to the conventional deadlift, the main difference is that your hands hold that bar with a wide grip (around where the ring of the bar is). The Snatch Grip will challenge your upper back and grip a lot more than the conventional pull and have an increased range of motion.


Flash Round


Block Pull: The weight is raised up on blocks/mats to decrease the range of motion and can be beneficial to target specific muscle development or lockout strength.


Deficit Deadlift: The lifter will be elevated by blocks/mats and the weight will be at a deficit, this increases the range of motion and helps the lifter possibly improve leg drive and starting strength.


Single Leg RDL: One leg is rooted in the ground while the other moves freely in this exercise. A great option to work on muscle imbalances and challenge your balance. This exercise really firers up the calf, hamstring and glute of the rooted leg.


Staggered Stance RDL: Similar to the Single Leg exercise above except both feet are grounded. The lead leg in the staggered stance takes the work, with both feet on the ground it is easier to balance and increase the weight.


Dimmel Deadlift: Think RDL but much more dynamic with a slightly shorter range of motion.


Thank you for tuning in to Know Your Deadlifts and I hope you enjoyed this episode and took something fun away. What are some of your favorite deadlift variations that I didn’t list or some you just want to show more love to. Please share and comment.


Remember we pick things up & put them down….for fun.




Home Built Fitness

If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you have been getting creative with your at-home workouts recently. It makes me happy to see everyone continuing to stick to their goals, regardless of the circumstances placed in front of us. Although this pandemic is a very rare occurrence, there is a good chance that something like this may happen again (or at least something that may keep us out of our favorite gym). Because of this, it might be beneficial to work on putting together a home gym. This way, we can pick up right where we left off without any worries or hesitation when this happens again.


I do understand that by being the director of a gym that relies on members, it kind of goes against the grain telling you to start putting together your own gym so you can train at home. But I also understand that what makes a gym great is it’s community. There’s nothing better than training with or around a group of like minded individuals who are all pushing each another to be better. It’s also important to be realistic, and understand that there will always be times where it just may not be possible to make it into the gym, and that occasionally a workout may need to be done at home (if possible). 


Now, the term “home gym” can mean many different things. It can be a collaboration of simply the absolute necessities and nothing more, or an array of equipment for a full body weight training workout. Either way, having your own at-home equipment at your disposal will allow you to get a quality workout in during a time of need, and will easily pay for itself down the line. Listed below are two separate lists of at home equipment. One for the individual on a limited budget or with limited space, and one for the individual who has access to a larger area, looking to invest a little more into equipment.


Budget built:


1.Yoga mat: If you have hardwood floors or are down in your garage, this is definitely a necessity for all floor exercises.


2.Resistance bands: You can replicate almost any exercise with a quality set of resistance bands. Companies such as Elitefts sell bands individually, or in a variety pack, ranging 


3.Adjustable dumbbells: Yes, these can be a bit pricey compared to a set of resistance band and a yoga mat, but their versatility speaks for itself. The list of exercises you can perform with a pair of dumbbells are endless, and will easily pay for itself over your time training at home.


Bang for your buck:


1.Power rack: If you have the space and the funds, a power rack is an absolute necessity for strength training. Squats, bench press, overhead press, rows, and pull-ups can all be performed using a power rack, just to name a few.


2.Adjustable bench: Having an adjustable bench over a flat bench with increase the number of exercises that you can perform.


3.Power bar: It’s hard to get strong without being able to perform compound lifts. A good quality power bar will last a lifetime, and is one of the best investments you can make.


4.Plate loaded dumbbells: Since you will have an array of 45, 25, 10, and 5 pound plates, you won’t need to purchase a pair of adjustable dumbbells (unless you prefer). Plate loaded dumbbells are simple, durable, effective, and can be used for almost any exercise.


Whichever you choose, there is no doubt that you will be able to have a quality training session during those times of need. We only get one body, invest in taking care of it so it will take care of us for many years to come.

CeJ’s Turn on Music

Hello to all my headbangers & dance dance revolutionaries out there.


Some of you may not know this but growing up, I was in a rock band called “Sunday Brunch”.  Some say we were the greatest band of all time, some say nay we were just a tribute and others, well, they weren’t in our band. We would practice in my best friend’s mom’s garage or basement so we were an OG underground garage band. I was on the bass slapping down some chunky lines and belting out the occasional backup vocals. I grew up listening to motown, funk and some oldies from my parents, mainly on car rides with my Dad. The first CD i bought was Iron Maiden’s Killers because I thought the cover and song names seemed cool and the second was Tenacious D’s first studio album. Ever since then my taste in music has been vibrantly eclectic.


I love live music and if you know me you know I sacrifice quality zzzs to travel to shows and get in some mosh pits. So I’m gonna piggy back off Curtis and his training playlist and give you my top 5  training genres with 5 bands and my go to song that accompanies that band. If you don’t know a band or song well then you better go check it out, you might get jiggy with it…see what I did there?



Mastodon- Blood & Thunder
System of a Down- Sugar
Children of Bodom- Are You Dead Yet
Rammstein- Te Quiero
Atreyu- Bleeding Mascara
Iron Maiden- The Number of the Beast
Motorhead- Ace of Spades
Foo Fighters- White Limo
Coheed & Cambria- The Dark Sentencer
Ozzy- Paranoid
Flogging Molly- Drunken Lullabies
AFI- White Offerings
Anti- Flag-The Press Corpse
Andrew WK- Party Hard
Transplants- Tall Cans in the Air
Run The Jewels- RTJ
DMX- X Gon Give it to Ya
Missy Elliott- Pass that Dutch
Limp Bizkit- Rollin (Yeah I know what you’re thinking…but it’s Nu Metal and my blog, so keep rollin!)
Waka Flocka- Karma
Fun Stuff:
Talking Heads- Burning Down the House
Die Antwoord- Banana Brain
Gogol Bordello- Start Wearing Purple
Ghost- Dance Macabre

Gypsy Kings- Bamboleo


I hope you found some new bands or a couple that you already enjoy and want to listen to now. I’d love to know your go to training bands/songs, so let your Dood know! If you hated any or all of my selections let me hear it too,nothing better than a solid music debate. For example I am team Megadeth over Metallica, change my mind.

“Good night now ladies and gents.
That’s the end of the show, now it’s time to go.”  -Cheap Trick

Challenge your perspective.

These are very uncertain times that we are living in. With things changing day to day in the world, it’s hard to tell what tomorrow will bring. Unfortunately, there are many things that are out of our control right now. That’s just the reality of it. However, it’s important to stay focused on the things that we can control. Especially those things that are most important, but which we often easily overlook. During these times of change, it’s easy to force ourselves to keep moving just to stay busy, even if that means adding more stress. My advice, slow down and challenge your perspective.



A little over a week ago, I was admitted into the hospital for a few tests and precautionary measures. I ended up having a case of the flu, as well and pneumonia. It’s safe to say that this put me on my ass for a while. During that period of forced downtime, I began reflecting on different things. Things that I had never really thought about before, or at least for a very long time. Over the past week, I have reached out to friends and family to see how they were doing. One of the common responses I received was that they were worried about their training, or bummed that the gym was closed. Believe me, I completely understand. Especially when you’ve done something a certain way for so long and have established progress and a routine. Then all of a sudden it feels like it was taken from you. But guess what, it’s going to be okay! Maybe even a blessing in disguise.



I’ve been training in one capacity or another for 12 years straight. During that time, I have never gone a week without training, until now. While I was sick, I went 13 days without any sort of exercise. Yesterday was my first day back, and it felt like I had never exercised a day in my entire life. My routine was simple. I walked 2 miles, then did 2 sets of 10 tempo goblet squats with a 25lb bag of jasmine rice, 2 sets of 10 pull-ups from an I-beam in my basement, and 2 sets of 15 push-ups. I was absolutely gassed. The flu and pneumonia definitely took a toll on me. After I was finished, I sat down and reflected. I was not one bit depressed or upset with how much I had declined while not being able to train, or the fact that I did not train 2 weeks, for I understood that 2 weeks of not exercising is not going to erase what I have built in 12 years (remember that). In fact, it gave me time to focus on other things in my life. Things that maybe I’ve been over looking and taking for granted. That’s very easy to do if we let it happen.



The same holds true for all of you reading this. It makes me happy to see everyone continuing to find ways to workout and train during these times, but remember not to let it consume you. Don’t train because you feel like you HAVE to, or because you want people to know that you still are. If you chose to train, do it because you love it, and because it gives you joy. If you chose to take a break, that’s fine. Honestly, there’s no better time then now. If you’ve been exercising for any extended amount of time, there’s even a good chance that your body actually needs a break, and it will help your progress in the long run. Your strength wasn’t built in two weeks, and it certainly won’t leave you that quickly.



During this time of quarantine, the lack of worrying about my workouts has given me time to focus on my perspective. What is really important in my life, and what can I learn today? I challenge you to do the same. Slow down, and take some time out of your day to reflect on what is truly important in your life. I’ve talked to my parents every day since the start of this Pandemic. That’s something that I’ve now realized I don’t do enough of. I’ve gotten in touch with friends and family who I haven’t spoken to in quite some time. Yesterday I watched my Fiancé sew masks together to be donated to Hospitals in need. That inspired me more than I can explain, and even inspired me to learn how to sew. I saw a picture of a friend of mine on Instagram with his Guitar. Something that maybe he hasn’t taken the time to do in a while.



During these times of uncertainty, slow down, and take some time to challenge your perspective. Reach out to those who you care about, put your phone away and go for a walk, read a book, write something, and learn something new that you’ve always been curious about. Believe it or not, this will all be over before we know it. When that time comes, I hope we are all able to look ourselves in the mirror and know that we have become a better person because of it. 

Win Member of the Month

Hear Ye Hear Ye,


Good people of Union Fitness I bring you news that the work you put in this month could lead to great honor, in this dojo of wellness.


“But how Sir Bumps-a-lot, please tell us more?!” The people proclaimed!


This month you, the great people of Union Fitness have the opportunity to compete to win The Member of the Month, an accolade held in the highest of regards. Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition?!


We have assembled a 5 point list with how you can achieve your glory.

* Dominate 3 classes or 4 sign-ins a week.
* Bring a friend (Bonus points if they join).
* Hit a new personal record and show your favorite coach (aka The Bumpiest).
* Tag your Union Fitness training in your social media posts.
* Do something great for your community and share what you did with us through social media or in real life (community service, volunteer work, charitable donation, etc.).


Unlock all 5 accomplishments, score your points and make your own luck to win. The Member of the Month….Glory awaits.


Thank you all and let’s have some fun, this beat is sick!


Cheers, CeJ

HIIT Training or Cody’s Wild Ride?

If you didn’t catch my last blog post, Stew and I have been having some fun with safety squats on Saturday mornings. It feels like we’ve been running these sets of 10 for 3 months or so, but in actuality, it’s only been 5 weeks. I guess that’s what happens when you are in pain. Time moves slowly.


Two weeks ago (the week after my abysmal performance), Stew said he was going to deload that week and invited me to join him, to which I replied, “Cody doesn’t deload.” I have a strong aversion to deloads. It’s not that they don’t have merit, it’s more that I’m too stubborn and foolish to voluntarily take them. I usually just keep training hard until I’m so destroyed that I can’t move or I get injured. That’s when I take a deload. You know…like a smart person.


That Saturday, Stew did some easy sets of 10 with 335, and I chose to push the weight if it was there. I was fortunate enough to hit a top set of 395 for 10. I felt as though I had redeemed myself. I did some more sets of 10 with 345 and called it a day.


That set the stage nicely for last week. Stew was coming off his deload, and I was still under the childish delusion that I can keep getting stronger every week without end. Stew had a great performance with 405 for 10. I also had a good performance with 425 for 8 (I missed the 9th rep). After my top set, I dropped down and hit 365 for 3 sets of 10. All 30 reps felt like max effort, and like every Saturday, I walked out of the gym feeling broken.


After Stew’s top set, something interesting happened. He was feeling nauseous (Stew routinely dry heaves after hard sets of 10), and he wasn’t able to drop down and do work with the safety squat. After the frustration of not being able to perform wore off, Stew declared, “I’m going to do sets of 20 on the belt squat.” I replied, “Good. Go punish yourself.” He did.


On his last set of belt squat, he decided that 20 reps wasn’t enough for redemption. A set of 40 reps, however, might do the trick. I imagine they had similar thought processes in the Soviet gulags. As the amazing training partner that I am, I would hobble over in between my sets of squats to shower Stew with support, encouragement, and affirmation. This was communicated with loving phrases such as “make friends with the pain”, “it’s not that hard, just stand up”, and “no one at the gym will like you if you don’t get 40 reps.”


10 minutes later, when Stew was coherent and could form intelligible words again, we joked and laughed about how deranged we both were, and about how excited we were for next week.


This is how Stew and I have fun.

Cody’s Training with Stew

Three Fridays ago, as Stew (a member at Union) was leaving the gym, he nonchalantly asked, “Wanna squat with me tomorrow? I’ve got sets of 10 on safety squat bar.” If you don’t know me very well, wanderlust and impulsiveness describe my approach to training for most of the calendar year. So when Stew offered me an opportunity for masochistic spontaneity, of course I accepted. Now my entire week revolves around my quality time with Stew on Saturdays. My current weekly split looks something like this.



Monday– Competition Squat
Tuesday– Competition Bench
Wednesday/Thursday– Competition Deadlift (On one of those days depending on how I feel)
Friday– Secondary Bench
Saturday– Secondary Squat (AKA fun with Stew)
Sunday– Supplemental/Accessories/Conditioning
In the first squat session, Stew and I both hit 335 for our top set of 10. We both felt good about it. It was an honorable starting point. Afterward, we talked about possible strategies for jumps in the coming weeks that made sense and wouldn’t put us in the hospital.
In the second session, we threw strategy out of the window and made a huge jump to 375 for our top set of 10. We were a rocket ship. Nothing could stop us. We felt like we were going to continue getting stronger forever.
In the third session, we were rudely awakened from our pleasant fantasy, and we reluctantly acknowledged that we live in the real world. What a bummer. Stew had worked a ridiculous amount of hours that week, but did he let that stop him? No. He forced improvement when none seemed up for grabs by wrapping his knees and hitting 385 for his top set of 10. I also did 385…for only 4 reps.
After my disappointing performance, I relegated myself to the corner of the gym and let the strong people squat on the monolifts. Since I couldn’t reach anything heavy, I decided to drop down and hit 335 for 6 sets of 10. If I can’t push the weight, I usually just put in work.
After safety squats, we usually do some tempo high bar squats, but I opted out since I was doing more with the safety. After the tempo squats, Stew did a ton of belt squats, lunges, and probably some other stuff while I was lying on the ground, delirious and sweaty, wondering what year it was. This has been a common theme while training with Stew.
After three weeks of this block of training, this is my professional analysis…it’s been a lot of fun. Can’t wait for next week.