Category Archives: Training

Celebrating Women in Sports

Hi Union Fitness Community, Coach AD here!


I wanted to take time today to write this blog and talk about a few cool things going on within Women’s Sports and here at Union Fitness!


So everyone knows that it was March and in the college Basketball world it means it is time for madness… Both Men and Women’s Basketball teams qualified for the March Madness Tournament. This year is special though, especially for the Women’s Basketball World and World of Sports.


As many have came to realize many Women’s Sports are getting much more recognition and FaceTime across the board but most definitely for the Women who play division 1 basketball. Icons such as Kaitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Buckers, Juju Watkins and many more have started to pave an iconic path for this sport. As these women are known from their High School tapes/social media and for the elite skill level on the court, they have helped do something this year that has never been done before for their sport. The Women’s officially had been given the logo of “March Madness” on the center court! Before this year only the men’s tournament was officially called March Madness, but that has changed with the hype that has surrounded these women and the sport of Women’s College Basketball!


To see great things happening in the World of Women’s Sports proves and shows that Women’s Sports has been nothing but on the uprise of respect and recognition around the world.


With that being said, I would like to also celebrate and welcome our Point Park Women’s Basketball Team back to Union Fitness for Off-Season Strength and Conditioning! We are excited to have these Women back and to help them achieve all their goals with the help of their hard working mindsets!


Oh and how can I forget…… Let’s Also Congratulate Zain and Jamie on their new Puppy Comet, seen here with the Point Park Women’s BasketBall Team



The Power of Music

As you prepare to go to the gym there are a couple of essentials that you always bring with you. Phone, wallet, keys, water bottle, airpods (or headphones), and other lifting equipment. While you are beginning your lift, you put on your headphones and choose the music you want to listen to as you begin your lift. It seems so routine and a natural part of getting ready to lift that it is often overlooked. Think about the days that you forget to bring your headphones. The lift doesn’t feel as exciting and it is hard to really lock in and focus. You may also feel like your lifts are not as strong as they usually are.


Whenever I get to the gym before I do anything else, I put on my headphones and choose a song depending on the mood I am in and what I will be hitting. If I am in a sad mood, I will often turn to my sad playlist. If I am ready to attack my workout and have an intense workout, I will usually turn to rap first to warm up and then to hardstyle/remixes. Whether I am in a sad mood or in an intense mood, the music amplifies those feelings immensely. I have seen research done saying that music actually does increase your power output by a certain percentage. Now, I don’t really know the validity to that particular study, however, when working out it almost certainly feels that way.


Music has a way of tapping into your mood and being able to explain it through a song that words can’t really explain. It allows you to really feel the emotion that you are feeling to the max which in turn allows you to have a better workout. I feel like many gym members can attest to this because a nice jazz song is not going to really tap into your emotions and allow you to feel that while lifting (for most people). There are definitely song genres out there that do not allow those emotions to be tapped into.


Let’s try to think about it another way. Imagine you are going for a PR on a squat, bench, or deadlift. You are in a gym with a couple people around doing their own workout/exercise. You have no one around to hype you up or any music playing. This makes the PR much harder for some reason that cannot be explained. Now, imagine going for a PR on a squat, bench, or deadlift. You are surrounded by many people yelling, encouraging, and hyping you up. You have that PR song in your headphones or playing from the speakers. While going for the PR, the extra sound and motivation from others allow you to push a tad bit more to hit the PR. It is unexplainable, but there is that motivational factor that music and surrounding yourself with others that pushes you that extra mile to hit the PR.


Music is such an important contributor to the lifting community. Having something to listen to while you lift really allows you to push that much further for another rep or another set.


Ricky Cho

Reminder to Celebrate the Small W’s

As we set grand and lofty goals, we often lose sight of our reasons for pursuing them.


Many of us are inherently ambitious, setting our sights on challenging goals that give us purpose. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fitness community. Individuals strive to achieve milestones like adding 200 pounds to their squat, shedding 50 pounds to slim down, or breaking the barrier of a sub 5-minute-mile. While these objectives provide motivation even on the days we lack enthusiasm for working out, they can also lead to tunnel vision, where nothing matters but reaching these benchmarks. Activities that once brought joy and excitement can start to feel burdensome, akin to a job. This tunnel vision can be detrimental, causing individuals to overlook the progress they’ve already made and ultimately diminish their enjoyment of fitness pursuits.


It is essential to reflect on where you began and acknowledge how far you have come. Gratitude for your health and celebrating small victories are crucial. Above all, cherish and relish your fitness pursuits while you still have the ability to engage in them.



2024 Push/Pull

Hello Union Fitness!


Happy Thursday!


We are super excited to host another in house push/pull competition this year. I’ll give you a quick overview of what a push/pull is in case you’re unfamiliar:


What is a push/pull?


A push/pull is a modified version of a powerlifting meet. It is a bench press and deadlift competition. The meet will be run in flights, a flight is a group of lifters, normally 10-15 lifters. Lifters are arranged by first attempted weight. Bench will always be first, and each lifter will lift their opening attempt. After this attempt the lifter will tell the scorers table what their next attempt will be. Each lifter will get three attempts. Once all bench press flights are done we will move on to the deadlift. The deadlift is run the same way as the bench. At the end, the winners are announced based on a Wilkes or Dots score. This takes into account bodyweight and total weight lifted.


Who can do the UF push pull?


Anyone! This meet is open to all gym members and friends of members here at UF. We have had people use this meet as an opportunity to train for a bigger meet, get themselves an introduction into powerlifting, or just to set some goals and go for them.


When is the push/pull?


This year the meet will be held on April 6th. Lifting will start at 10 AM. Weigh ins will be 8:45-9:30AM.


What is the cost?


We will be charging $25 for this meet. We will donate the money in full to a local charity (working on which charity now and are open to suggestions).


What are we doing to help our members prepare for the push/pull?


In our #powerful classes, you all have been doing heavy singles in the deadlift and bench press this past week. You will continue to work on your heavy singles throughout next week (3/18-3/22) as well. During the week of the 25th – 29th, it will be more of a “transition week” preparing you for the commands used with both the deadlift and bench press during the push/pull. The week of the push/pull (4/1-4/5), will be a deload week, meaning you will be running through all of the movements, but at a very light weight.



If you have done our push/pull in the past we hope to see you back again this year.


Sign ups are now live on MindBody!


Looking forward to seeing you all there,


Team UF

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!



Training With A Concussion

A few weeks ago, I was playing ice hockey and fell backwards during one of our practice game drills. For those of you familiar with the game of hockey, you know that there is minimal padding on the backside of your body as you are supposed to fall forward or to the side when you play. Unfortunately, I lost control and caught my backwards fall with my head. I knew that I was doomed immediately because I did not remember what we were just doing or how I exactly fell. Luckily this happened with about five minutes left of practice, so I just left the ice and drove home. I was experiencing tension headaches, light and sound sensitivity, extreme fatigue, brain fog, and trouble with focusing while in busy environments.


I was able to get in with the UPMC Concussion Clinic doctors two days after it happened, so treatment began quickly. Since then, I have also started Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy once/week on top of my typical training here at UF. During my computer and physical assessments, the doctors found that my eyes are having trouble focusing and working together, and my short-term memory capacity is terrible.


Part of my concussion treatment program is to take part in exertional therapy, which is intended to induce my symptoms but will speed up my recovery process and have me feeling better soon. If any of you have ever had a concussion, you know how difficult it can be to get back into your normal everyday routine without feeling fatigued and defeated. No matter how tired and weak I am feeling, I make it a point to do my exercises and train my brain and the rest of my body daily.


Here’s a quick overview of what my exercise program looks like for someone with the specific type of concussion and symptoms that I have:


  1. Brock String – hold a string with colored beads at eye level starting at the tip of your nose – shift focus between the beads until you begin to see two beads of every color while focusing on one at a time. Continue working through each colored bead, focusing individually on each one at a time. Repeat 10 times.


  1. Pencil “pushups” – hold the pencil at arms length away and focus on the tip of the pencil – bring the pencil in towards your nose and when it becomes double try to make it clear – then bring the pencil back outwards and repeat. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.


  1. Vertical & Horizontal Saccades – moving the eyes up and down and then on a diagonal from each target (a piece of paper with an X drawn on it) as quick as you can for 30 seconds in each direction. Repeat 3 times.


  1. Walk in a straight line while moving your head up and down then walking in a straight line while moving your head side to side. Repeat each movement down and back 3 times.


  1. Backwards ball tosses with a partner – stand with your back facing your partner behind you – toss the ball to one side and when your partner catches it, have them toss to the opposite side (shown in video on Instagram). Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps/side.


  1. Vertical ball movement – hold the ball in front of you – extend the ball up overhead and then follow it with your eyes/head down to the ground. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.


  1. Visit a busy environment as often as I can (grocery store, gym, etc.) – since I work in a gym that hasn’t been an issue. This will help me out with my sensitivity to movement, sounds, lights, etc.


  1. I have added in 20 minutes of cardio/day. I’ve been riding the Ryde bikes or a recumbent bike if the Ryde bikes aren’t available for 10 minutes at a moderate intensity, and then hopping on the treadmill for a 10-minute incline walk or 10-12 minute run/walk intervals. If I am at home and the weather stinks, I will ride the Peloton bike for 20-25 minutes that day.


I don’t think I’m forgetting anything here, but this is my very basic treatment program that I just started following this past week. I am hoping to add in some more heavy weights and a higher intensity of cardio in this upcoming week.


If you have any past concussion experience and would like to talk about how you dealt with it whether that be training or just existing, I would love to chat!


Hope you all have a great rest of your week,


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.


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.