Category Archives: Training

Lindsey’s Training Log – Fixing My Squat

One of the biggest benefits of working at a strength-focused gym is the input your coworkers can give on your training. Casey caught me squatting a week ago and told me something I never thought I’d hear: my quads were the weak link in my squat and I need to focus on bringing them up. 


I’ve been “quad-dominant” my whole life, meaning I have a hard time using my glutes and posterior chain in most movements – instead, my quads “take over” the movement and do the majority of the work. I’ve spent most of the last two years working on activating and using my posterior chain in my lifting, so now I guess it’s time to change things up!


Because of running so much, I need to be careful about (re)incorporating quad-focused work. I squat and then do a hard interval run on Tuesdays. I need my legs to be as close to recovered as possible for my long run on Saturday. 


I started this a few days ago, and I’ll be honest, I’m still a little sore. I think I’ll be fine for a good run tomorrow though.


1Front SquatWork up to a heavy triple195×3, 175x3x3
2SSB Pause Squat, light3×53×5 @ 155
3aSSB Bulg. Split Squat, light3×83×8 @ just the bar
3cBand Monster Walk3 trips3 (long) trips
4aSingle Leg Squat to Box3×8 per3×8 per, med. box
4bSingle Leg RDL3×8 per3×8 per @ 35
4cStability Ball Hamstring Complex3×10 each3×10 each
5aHanging Leg Raises3×153×15
5bSide Plank Dips3×10 per3×10 per
6Interval Run1 mile warm-up easy

3 x 1200m @ 7:13 pace

Alison’s Squat Experiment

Training Log: July 


It’s the good kind of wrecked but wrecked nonetheless. I just finished up a 4 week cycle of a mix of heavy/volume training weeks on the main lifts and some high volume super sets of bodybuilding, with some light or band work circuits.  It got the job done, considering the job currently is to feel good and hopefully (slowly) build some muscle and change body composition. Considering how beat up I’m feeling, I am going to finish this cycle off with a deload/recovery/cardio week.  


I did a little something different with my back squats this cycle, which was kinda fun/terrible.  It’s a good mix up to a traditional volume rep scheme, so try it out if you’re ever feeling bored or stuck in your training:


Week 1Week2Week 3Week4
SqwwaatFind 12 rep max 5×2@ heavy2 reps at 12 rep max, rest :10, do 3 reps rest :10, do 5 reps rest :10, do 10 reps, repeat 1x in reverse order 5×1@ heavy


First, find your 12 rep max back squat.  This ended up being roughly around 70% of my 1 rep max.  I did 3-4 sets before I called it but realistically I probably had around 5 maaaaybe 10lbs left in the tank.  Week 3 ends up being 40 reps at your 12 rep max weight, broken up into two sets.  Warm up to your 12 rep max weight and perform 2 reps/rest :10, 3 reps/rest :10, 5 reps/rest :10, and finish the set with 10 reps.  Rest as long as needed (I think I rested around 5 minutes to feel fully recovered) then repeat in the opposite order.  Perform 10 reps/rest :10, 5 reps/rest :10, 3 reps/rest :10 and finish the set with 2 reps.  Volume at moderate weight is my wheelhouse so this felt not-so-terrible, but my posterior chain the following days would not agree with that statement. 


It was also nice mixing in some heavy days as I haven’t spent much time lately squatting anything heavy.  My heavy days, as opposed to my volume days, felt terrible. I was, to put it simply, scared. The bar felt so SO heavy and I was worried I would just crumble under the weight of it or worse, get injured.  It was a humbling reminder that lifting is not just about strength but also confidence and experience. 

July Training Log- Ryan Addresses Some Weak Points


Building is the goal. Some weak points need to be built and others would be fun to push. My training approach for my upper and lower days are a little different. I will break down my log into Upper and Lower to better describe what I plan on doing. Most if not all the training that I program for myself is experimental. This helps be a better coach and is really fun. 


Upper goals:


Big traps, shoulders and biceps. Biceps that more resemble mountains than arms. This is purely for fun. No real bench or strength goals for my upper body as of right now. Luckily right now there are no upper body injuries or any pain to speak of. I will treasure this moment for as long as I can. So I am just going to do what I want. I want to not be able to fit in doorways because my shoulders are so large, so how do I plan to accomplish this? With these exercises…


  1. Captain Kirk Upright Rows 
  2. Farmer carries
  3. Seated cleans 
    1. I have never used these in training but I stole them from a Jim Wendler article. (Look up an old picture of Jim and you’ll see that his traps barely stayed in his shirt.)


Now for the shoulders. I have never done a lot of direct shoulder work. My overhead press is rather unimpressive. Which is great since I have something to work on and only get better. But I want to throw more bodybuilding stuff in.


Shoulder exercises:

  1. Lateral raises (Relatively heavy)
  2. LOTS of rear delt’s 
    1. Banded rear delts  are my favorite right now 
  3. Incline Barbell Front raises 


Lower Goals:


Hamstrings all day. I plan to throw some bodybuilding tactics in like supersets, drop sets, and some more machines than I usually do. My hamstrings are weak so it’s time to make sure they catch up to the rest of me.  I have always hit two lower body days with one being more squat focused and the other being more deadlift focused. My deadlift day would involve some direct hamstring work, but not so much on my squat day. 


NOW I plan for both days to be hamstring driven. For example on squats I plan to widen my stance to fully hit the hamstrings while super setting with Fatbell or Dumbbell stiff leg DL’s. This combination allows me to feel the hamstring throughout the squat movement. So exercise choices will include:


  1. Slow eccentric stiff leg DL
  2. Machine hamstring curls 
    1. Single leg
    2. Slow eccentric 
    3. 20 reps 
  3. GHR (Glute Hamstring Raise)
    1. Slow eccentric
  4. Wide stance leg press 


I’m looking forward to this change of pace and excited to have some fun with new challenges in terms of my own training. 

June Training Log- Lindsey’s Crazy 48 hour goal

Lindsey’s Training Log


We recently had the “goal-setting conversation” as a staff – something we hadn’t done for a long time. Coming up with work-related goals was easy (there are a lot of things I’m excited to get under way in order to make UF a more efficient place) and I already knew I had the general goal of prioritizing getting my health back in order, but I didn’t have anything specific down for training. 


I haven’t done a meet since early 2018, but I’ve been starting to get the itch. I’ve also been really enjoying running again. So naturally, I found a goal that would let me do both! 


End of 2019 Training Goal:  compete in both a powerlifting meet AND run a half marathon… in 48 hours.


Is this a ridiculous goal? Hell yes. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that isn’t a little crazy. But it’s what I have my heart set on. It’s also secretly something I’ve been thinking about for the past 5 or so years, and I think now is the time to make it happen.


I do have some specific numbers in mind for both events, but I’m not getting attached to them. Just getting through both events is the primary aim on my first go at this. 


I do have a race on my calendar for September, but I’m looking at that as a tune-up and something I’m doing mostly for fun. My hope is to do this in November – I have two options for meets, but will have fewer options for real races. I may need to do the run solo, just using the official Pittsburgh Half course.


Training adjustments


My training structure hasn’t changed all that much, just targeting my runs a little bit more. I do all of my strength training during the week, focusing on my heaviest work early in the week, so I can save energy for weekend runs. 


Monday – Heavy Bench variation, heavy on the upper body assistance work, maybe some elliptical work

Tuesday – Heavy Squat variation, focus on single leg squat variants for assistance, hard interval run in the evening

Wednesday – REST, mobility, but nothing hard

Thursday – Upper Body Hypertrophy day, with a focus on DB Bench variations and some vanity lifting, followed by a tempo run in the evening

Friday – Deadlift, low volume but high intensity pulls, followed by explosive lower body work

Saturday – Long Run!

Sunday – Recovery run or complete rest

June Training Log- Alexa’s New Training Cycle

It is June 21st and I am ending my second week of a new training cycle.  Two weeks is enough time to give feedback into how I am liking this new training style. My main lifts are heavy and light and I am alternating heavy (1-5 reps) one week and light (6-12 reps) the following. The idea is to keep the exercises the same for 4 weeks however, the load changes. This might be more difficult to adapt to and overload on, but I might be able to maintain this cycle for a longer period of time.


I enjoy the light weeks because it teaches you to reinforce mechanics, flushes blood through, and provides not only a physical, but also a mental break from heavier loads. And honestly, it feels great training for hypertrophy. The modulation of stress from week to week makes recovery and training days feel more feasible and less taxing. Another spin on this cycle is the addition of cleans and overhead squatting. Both are not in my typical cycles throughout the year however, it’s something I need and want to get better at and not to mention they are both frustrating and a baaalasssta (how the kid’s say ‘blast’ nowadays). Below is probably one of my more favored days.


Here is what I did on Thursday:

Sumo DL 3×6 

Hang Power Clean + Front Squat 10x 1 + 2

A1. Cossack Squat 3×8

A2. Belt Squat RDL 3×10

B1. BB Good Mornings 3×15

B2. Landmine Bent Over Row w. Towel 3×8-10

C1. Leg Curl 3x (10 single, 10 together)

C2. AB Roller 3×10

June Training Log- Ryan’s Bench

Training log 6/14:

Ryan McUmber


After a lot of anticipation to finish my bench cycle with a huge Personal record, I ended it on sort of a dud. The goal was to max out the week after the meet but if anyone saw me at the meet I looked as though I got hit by a bus. A common thing I heard that day was “you look awful.” Thanks. But you were right. 


Unfortunately from being sick I lost some weight almost instantly. Which always makes me worried about it effecting my lifts. Usually after losing weight everything feels exponentially heavier. So, being sick forced me into a deload week, where I only benched 135 for 5×3. This is far lighter than I usually do for my deload week. Most of the deloads that I like program usually decrease the volume but not the weight too much. This was sort of drastic since I still felt rough. 


The goal for that week was to try to gain some of the weight back and shoot for the stars the next week. But of course none of the weight came back on and I tried to bench heavy anyway but soon realizing that this was a mistake. While warming up I felt every pound of 225 coming down on me while warming up. Which made me come to the conclusion that it wasn’t there that day as bad as I wanted it. 


I am partly beating myself thinking about it. Maybe for not pushing it that day or thinking that I should have tried harder to put the weight on. Either way I am here right now and clearly  know that I won’t be able to hit more than 315.


So what now?


Time to start a brand new journey of 3 months of hypertrophy work, then 1-2 months of strength work, and a tiny little peaking block for my bench to see what I can pull off. 


Back to the football bar for reps on reps for the next 3 months. This week was:


Football Bar bench: 3×8 with 195 and a chain on each side 2 min rest 

Cluster set: 3x(3x3x3) 125 with a chain on each side. 

The way I do cluster sets is 3 total sets with 1 min in between the larger sets but 30 sec rest between the triples. So do a triple then rack it. Wait for 30 seconds and perform another 3 reps. Repeat a total of three times. 

Inverted Rows: 4×15 with 1 min rest 

Upright rows paused at the top: 4×12

Slow eccentric Tricep Ext.: 4×15 


Even though I didn’t hit my ultimate goal. I did 300 for 2 sets of 3 reps. A year ago 300 was my one rep max. I’ll take that. As for my squat and deadlift…absolute disaster’s… both of them, which maybe I’ll touch on in the next training log. 

Alison’s June Training Log

Training Log: June 

I just finished up a 4-week cycle of circuit training.   Since I am not training for anything specifically, I have the ability to play around with my programming.  Toying around with programming is fun for me because A: it keeps my need for constant variety satisfied and B: it fuels ideas for UF classes. Here are my advantages (and one disadvantage) for this style of training. 



  • Timed rest

This worked so well for me.  I previously found myself falling off towards the end of my sessions so the timed intervals helped me stay focused for the duration of my training session.  It also helped me from getting distracted in between sets, as I tend to talk too much, break out in dance sessions and do silly/ridiculous/probably unsafe things with my training partner. 

  • More bang for my buck 

I could jam pack tons of movements and exercises into a short amount of time. Most days I can only fit in an hour workout into my day so this style is great for getting that feel good pump and accomplished feeling.

  • Two birds, one stone

Since the rest is short, there is a cardio aspect to this style of training.  Since my metabolic training these days basically consists of what I call “treadmill desk”, I’ll take the cardio anywhere I can get it. 

  • Improved body composition

Part of this is due to my nutrition, as I’m currently in a (purposeful) caloric deficit but I am down almost 5lbs since starting this cycle. I feel leaner, with minimal strength loss. 


  • Less ability to progressively overload

By sets 3 and 4, I am feeling pretty fatigued and instead of being able to increase weight, I find myself stalling out.  Less progressive overload means less strength gains, so I am planning my next cycle around fixing this issue. 

Here is the 4-week program I followed.  AM #powerful classes got a little taste of the circuits during their deload week last cycle.  If you try this out yourself, find a weight that is challenging but manageable for 8+ reps during the circuit.  Set up the clock to count the intervals & rest periods (don’t know how to set the clock? Ask me, I’ll show ya!) If it is a single sided exercise, make sure to perform the work intervals per side. Have fun! 


Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
Incline Bench4×8-104×8-104×8-104×8-10
A1. Floor Press:30/:30 x 3 sets:35/:25 x 3 sets:30/:30 x 4 sets:35/:25 x 4 sets
A2. Tricep ext
A3. Seated FB shoulder press
A4. FB Lat Pullover
B1. Cable Facepulls
B2. Cable Biceps Curls
B3. Inverted Rows
B4. Bench Dips
AB Finisher
A1. Bulgarian SS:30/:30 x 3 sets:35/:25 x 3 sets:30/:30 x 4 sets:35/:25 x 4 sets
A2. Step up
A3. Standing windmills
B1. Heel elevated close stance goblet sq.:30/:30 x 3 sets:35/:25 x 3 sets:30/:30 x 4 sets:35/:25 x 4 sets
B2. Back ext. glute focus
B3. Cable Pull Throughs
Leg Finisher: Park loop lunge
Standing OHP4×104×104×84×8
A1. Lean away cable lateral raise:30/:30 x 3 sets:35/:25 x 3 sets:30/:30 x 4 sets:35/:25 x 4 sets
A2. Seated KB Curls
A3. Cable Rope OH Tri Ext.
A4. Banded Pulls Ups
B1. EZ Bar Upright Row:30/:30 x 3 sets:35/:25 x 3 sets:30/:30 x 4 sets:35/:25 x 4 sets
B2. Reverse pec deck
B3. Chest Supported High Incline FB Rows
B4. Incline Lateral Raise Hold
AB Finisher
A1. Staggered Stance RDL’s:30/:30 x 3 sets:35/:25 x 3 sets:30/:30 x 4 sets:35/:25 x 4 sets
A2. Stallion Squats
A3. GHR’s
A4. Calves on Leg Press
B1. Leg Press:30/:30 x 3 sets:35/:25 x 3 sets:30/:30 x 4 sets:35/:25 x 4 sets
B2. Wide Grip Cable Row
B3. Cable Standing Leg Curl
B4. FB SA Rows
AB Finisher

Iron City Open Recap

This past weekend, June 1st and 2nd, was the third installment of the Iron City Open. It was a successful, rain free weekend that brought about 100 lifters together from all over the northeast (and further) along with the USPA Ohio/Michigan based crew, the Union Fitness family, and the Pitt Powerlifting Team.


I don’t have all of the results or details in front of me, so I’m shooting from the hip here. But some highlights from the Union Fitness lifters-


Mariah Sanchez– first meet and hit some flawless looking deadlifts!


Steph Stahovic– first meet and squatted and deadlifted over 300lbs!


Robyn Greer– finally hit her 264lb deadlift!


Catlyn Brooke– hit a huge PR deadlift at 248lbs!


Leah Jakaitis– came back to the platform with no training and still had a great day!


Luke Koval– injury free day!


Ian Hunter- first meet and took second in his weight class!


Doug Upton– did not have the day that he wanted but was all smiles and looking forward to the next one.


Justin Zak– hit a couple PR’s and keeps building his total meet after meet!


Bill Henderson– learned that squats and deads are as much fun as benching! Huge squat PR for Bill!


Eddy Jones– 500lb deadlift!!


Coach CJ– first meet, Ceej took a cross country road trip the week before the meet and I think he was still feeling it on Sunday. Great first meet dude!


Richard Lewis– hit some heavy paused squats and had a great meet 😉


Cody Nyegard– big bench and deadlift PR!


Larry O’Donnell– Larry and I had a heart to heart. We’re going to spend a lot more time together in the coming months. Great effort and great passion. Keep working big man.


Marco Rigazio– old man Marco had a tough training cycle leading up to the meet but he held it together like a veteran and finished strong!


Alex Johnson– he had a strong meet and left it all on the platform, literally.


We’ll have a full recap soon. Great work guys!

Cayt’s (First) Training Log – May 2019

Hi all! I am excited to share my first training log, even though it’s nothing special right now.  In Casey’s last training log, he began by stating that we all work hard but we all also struggle from time to time.  With that said, here I am as another example of honesty. 


The past few weeks my weight training has been pretty half-assed.  I get the work done but my mindset has not been as present, my sleep has been subpar, my appetite has been low, and the time and days that I train have been more scattered than set like usual.  This is the first time in quite a while that I don’t feel as energized to train, but it does happen and I am working to make these controllable factors change. 


I write my own programming for a few reasons, but mainly to help me learn my body and “practice” on myself.  I still love doing it, but because life has been much busier recently, I have neglected to spend much thought on writing my program.  Preparation is usually the key to my motivation and I have not been doing my part to feel prepared.  Without a meet in sight I also tend to feel like I am training aimlessly, even though I know this isn’t true. 


Over Memorial Day weekend, a few of my friends convinced me to bench in a meet with them. A powerlifting meet is something I have never done spontaneously but it was so much fun and a nice spark.  I have also decided on the Live Large Fall Brawl III meet on November 9th (with some of the UF crew wooo!), giving me another spark of motivation to work on my programming with more intent. 


The next few weeks I will be continuing more of an “offseason” style of training with higher volume, shorter rest time, focus on weak points, and more overall movement.  Here is one of my favorite recent training days:


Camber Bar Box SquatSmall Jumps, all x5
Camber Bar Box Squat5RM
Belt Squat4×8
5 pad elevated Rev. Lunge3×20
Heavy Pull-through3×12
Face Pulls100 total
Pullaparts100 total

UF 101: D-Balls

How to D-balls: The Carry 


Sometimes there is nothing better than just picking up something heavy and carrying it. I love the barbell lifts but sometimes I just want to feel like a barbarian that picks some heavy shit up. The D-ball’s that we have perfectly satisfy this feeling for me. If you have never seen the D-ball’s before they look similar to the medicine balls but are covered in a near bullet proof thick rubber. They’re also much heavier than the medicine balls at 50lbs, 80lbs and 100lbs- I like to call this one the “Big Kahuna.” The regulars that come to my Monday Powerful Bootcamp class are quite familiar with my love for these awkward tools. The possibilities to use these in your programs are endless but I will stick with the main one that everyone loves to do: The Carry. There are a variety of exercises you can perform but this one is a staple. 


Did I say it’s my favorite? Just pure will of strength. This one is special for me, however; before “The Carry” begins it is crucial you are in the correct position so there are some technique cues I want to stress. 


The Start Position: Placement of the D-Ball

Make sure that the D-ball is placed directly in the middle of your feet. Visually if someone drew a line in the middle of you everything would be cut perfectly in half. 


The ball also needs to be close to you before picking it up, limiting chance of injury. If someone is looking from the side of you, the ball should be placed ideally in the middle of your shoe- the arch of your foot.



The Deadlift 

Just like every deadlift you want to bring your hips back, maintain a neutral spine as much as possible, and squeeze your glutes to pull the ball up. 


More often than not, people have an urge to start curling the ball – Try to avoid this, because you want the force to come from your hips. This doesn’t mean that your arms need to be straight but ideally staying the same degree of bent during the whole movement. 



The Hug

Do not rush this beautiful moment with you and the D-ball. 

After deadlifting the D-ball, take a second to place it in your lap. Possibly the best way I can describe it is to perform a wall sit without the wall. Meaning squat down with your chest up trying to place the D-Ball into your lap as much as possible. This position shouldn’t be strenuous if done correctly.


Once the ball is in your lap make sure to get it as close to your stomach and chest as possible. You want to fold your upper body over the D-Ball. Now wrap your arms around it to make this moment as special as possible. 



Once there is no space between you and the D-ball try to think about rowing the ball through your chest. The ball should not move but this will create more tightness and safety for your back. 


The Lift 

Once you are one with the ball squeeze your glutes as if you life depends on it. 



The power from your hips and glutes should be your ‘movers,’- how we get the D-Ball up. Everything else, specifically your back, should be stabilizing more than moving. 


Where do I put this thing? 

Once you have the D-ball up you might be asking “where the hell is this thing supposed to be?” Fantastic question. 

I believe with great posture, or as like to call it “big proud chest”, in the middle of your sternum with a tight upper back is the best place. But with female anatomy this can be difficult. So for the all the females out there, having the D-ball on a shoulder is perfectly safe as long the posture does not suffer.