Category Archives: Training

NSCA All-Americans at UF

For the first time in Union Fitness history, we have athletes in house who have earned the highest accolade from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The designation of Strength and Conditioning All-American is awarded to those individuals who embody the values of each training organization and live out those values daily. The three individuals listed below showed exceptional dedication and effort for the entire both semesters and over winter break. I’d like to take this opportunity to honor three softball players from Point Park University. 

 

Jodi Frontino- Jodi was not only one of the first to show up in the fall, but she also stayed and trained over the winter. For three weeks over winter break, we were forced to train exclusively outside. It was very cold. That didn’t matter. Jodi was there. Her consistency and effort were top notch this entire year. What’s more, Jodi has a beautiful personality and our sessions are filled with laughter and playful banter. Everything is better when Jodi is around. She gives her group life. I’m very proud to know and coach Jodi. 

 

Hailey Leitner- Hailey was hip to hip with Jodi on day one. They were like that for the whole year. When Hailey is in the weight room, you know what you’re going to get. High effort, high energy, and a lot of personality. Hailey was also among those who braved the cold at Union in order to get her training in. Hailey was invested in the training process all the time, and she had great awareness concerning what she needed to work on. Hailey has the amazing ability of making me belly-laugh every day. I’m very proud to know and coach Hailey. 

 

Tyra Bell- After the first session ever training Point Park University athletes, someone asked me if anyone stood out. I thought about it and said, “There was one.” It was Tyra Bell. The level of effort she gave in the very first session was uncommon among uncommon efforts. It was impressive. I never stopped being impressed by her effort on every exercise, every day. Besides her work ethic, Tyra is sweet and personable. She’s easy to be around and a joy to instruct. I’m proud to know and coach Tyra. 

 

It’s worth noting that Point Park University Softball was the only team to have nominations for this award. This is a special program that is obviously doing something right. Hats off to Coach Coultas and her staff. We look forward to future training!

 

Once again, congratulations to Jodi Frontino, Hailey Leitner, and Tyra Bell on being named 2021 NSCA Strength and Conditioning All-Americans!

New Class, What is Old is New Again

We are excited to bring back an old class with a new twist, and one of our throwback trainers. Racheal (from cardiolab and bootcamp fame) is back! Powerful Bootcamp is also back!

 

The new and improved Powerful Bootcamp will be a little different. We will have this bootcamp on Monday and Wednesday night from 6:30PM-7:30PM. On Monday evenings the class will be held in the cardio lab and we will be using the weights that we now have in the cardio lab, be prepared for a mix of weights, cardio, and a great playlist from Racheal. Wednesdays will be an outdoor bootcamp with two instructors, and we will use a different location each week. The locations will be within a half of a mile of UF and will use the natural topography of our region to train. If weather does not permit us to go outside we have some special plans using our buildings here at NoVA Place.

 

The class is being designed a good compliment to our Powerful class. It will involved some aspects of strength training, yet will be more focused on conditioning and getting outside to enjoy the natural environment.

 

This class will begin May 3rd and will continue with the outdoor work as long as the weather permits.

 

 

20 Years and 20 Lessons

I have competed in one form or another in powerlifting for over two decades now. It may be a bit longer but I ain’t counting. No matter how long it has been here are a few things I learned along the way.

 

  1. Consistency is the only thing that works in any program.
  2. Stop looking for a coach and start looking for training partners.
  3. Know that you don’t know and learn from everyone.
  4. Somedays it is best to throw the program out and train with the group.
  5. If your gym doesn’t allow chalk, find a new gym.
  6. Find those stronger than you and follow them.
  7. Respect the IRON.
  8. Respect others training around you.
  9. Be patient, results take time and return to lesson one, consistency.
  10. Ride the wave. Somedays you are not in control and that’s OK.
  11. Don’t throw out the program because of one failure.
  12. What works today may not work tomorrow.
  13. What may not have worked in the past may work tomorrow.
  14. Over time how you approach each lift may change (this could be mental or physical).
  15. There is only three reasons you aren’t getting stronger (fear of pain, fear of weight, fear of injury).
  16. The pendulum will always swing too far. Whatever you think is right today will be assumed to be wrong tomorrow.
  17. You have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak.
  18. Most deadlifts aren’t missed they are given up on.
  19. Quitting is OK. If you don’t love it don’t do it. If you love it then keep fighting.
  20. Make this a team sport. Enrich your life through the sport.

 

This is my short list with an assist from Curtis Miller.

 

Hamer

Ham’s Training Log

Coming out of 2020 I was training with the Wizard himself, Charles E Jasper (we share the same middle name). I love training with CeJ as he brings a ton of intensity and dedication to each and every lift. Yet, I needed a change and it is hard to train with fellow employees at UF as both of us need the exact same time off to train. I decided to reach out to a good friend for programming. Ryan Nosak has been a good friend for a decade now and trains a ton of very successful athletes and non-athletes. Also, he trains at Quads gym with automatically gives him street cred.

 

Ryan knows me well enough to know my weaknesses and his philosophy (similar to mine), is attack your weaknesses. So without further ado here is what I am doing on week two with Ryno at the steering wheel and Ham pushing the car.

 

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

SATURDAY

  1. Safety Bar Squat AMRAP @80%, 3 x 6-8 @70% 1. BB Bench AMRAP @80%, 3 x 6-8 @70% 1. Deadlift AMRAP @80%, 2 x 6-8 @70% 1. Hamstring Curl 3 x 12-15 1A. Close Grip Bench 3 x 8-10 @65%
2. RDL 3-4 x 6-10 2. Seated BB OHP 3-4 x 6-8 2. Pull Ups 3-4 x 6-8 2. Leg Press 3 x 10-12 1B. Deadstop DB Row 3 x 10-12
3. DB RFE Split Squat 3-4 x 8-10/leg 3. Dips 2-3 x 8-10 3. Meadows Row 3-4 x 8-10 3. Hack Squat Machine 3 x 10-15 2A. Machine or DB Fly 3 x 10-15
4. Seated Calf Raise 3 x 15-20 4. Side Lateral 3-4 x 8-12 4. BB Curl 3-4 x 8-10 4A. Leg Extension 2 x 15-20 2B. Cable or Machine Rear Delt Fly 3 x 15-20
5. Abs 3-4 x 10-20 5. Skull Crusher 3-4 x 8-10 5. Abs 3 x 10-20 4B. DB Walking Lunge 2 x 10-15/leg 3A. DB Shrug 3 x 15-20
5. Standing Calf Raise 3 x 15-20 3B. DB, Machine or Cable Pullover 3 x 12-15
4A.  Preacher Curl 3 x 12-15
4A.  Cable Pressdown 3 x 12-15

 

This program is starting off much like a bodybuilding style program. Again, Ryan knows me and is attacking my weaknesses. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that in talking to Ryan about this what impressed me was the questions he asked. Here is a small sample of questions and info I gave him.

 

  1. How many days a week do I want to train? (4-5).
  2. How much time can I dedicate to training? (1-1.5 hours).
  3. What do I enjoy doing? (Long answer).
  4. Can I train on the weekends? (yes but prefer shorter days).
  5. I also added that on Friday mornings I ride my bike and my heart rate tends to be at or above 90% for 20-30 minutes so this is not an ideal day to train hard.

I was happy with Ryan’s questions because as an experienced coach myself I know the most simple questions often give the best information. I have found too many coaches who major in the minor and forget that how much time one has can profoundly affect an outcome. Also, what do you enjoy doing is an underrated query.

 

Please feel free to follow along with me and Ryan with this new journey and let’s see if I get better or just stay not too bad :-).

 

Have fun, train hard, and don’t take it too seriously.

 

Hamer

 

 

 

SMART Goals and UF?

When planning a training session or a group of training sessions one must ask what is the end game? Always start from the goal and work back. At UF we have many people training for meets, races, as well as different sporting events. With this in mind I ask you to take a moment and ask yourself honestly what are your goals.

 

Goals 

 

Start with the basics with goal setting. Make your goals SMART goals. If you are not familiar with SMART goals, SMART is an acronym for;

 

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Realistic
  5. Timely

 

Take a little time to write your goals down. Maybe you want to increase your bench press by 20 lbs in 12 weeks or maybe run a 5k before May. No matter what goal you have in mind make it SMART.

 

Where does your goal fit in the gym?

 

At UF we are very lucky to have Curtis Miller as our Director of Customer Engagement. In short Curtis’s job is to make sure you are in the right place within our gym. Some people have very specific goals and for that need personal training or classes. Others may just need a treadmill to run on their training days. Regardless of what you need Curtis will help find you the place to be in the gym.

 

Different goals, Different Equipement.

 

If your goal is to be a high level lifter you may need some programming or training. At least I would assume you need a membership in the strength lab.

 

If your goals are to drops a few lbs and move a little better then a cardio membership may fit you better.

 

If you want to push yourself and be apart of a fun community then UF Unlimited may be for you.

 

If your goals are to sweat and move your body then the fitness center membership could be your option. This membership may be the most underrated option we have at UF. It is a great way to get into the gym (at a very affordable option) and train using some great equipment.

 

I listed each of these out because I have seen many people who have goals that do not align to their actions. Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most amount of time with.” I am not sure if this is necessarily true, yet after twenty years of coaching I can say that from my experience, who you spend time with clearly influences you and your habits. Your habits will lead to your outcome.

 

Even as I self reflect on my training I see many mistakes. I asked myself yesterday am I a mountain biker who lifts or a powerlifter who mountain bikes? Also, I am aging in both activities quickly so maybe I’ll never set a SMART goal or maybe I need to see Curtis and find out my goals?

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up; It’s Meet Week

It is upon us, a chance for you to show us how strong you are! The UF Push Pull is this Sunday outdoors (yes it will be warm) on our turf. If you did not sign up and still want to lift we do have a few spots open (and we will accept same day registration). If you do not want to lift then please feel free to stop on by and watch some lifting and support our gym.

 

Lifting starts Sunday at 10 AM and we will probably have 2 flights of lifters.  Weigh Ins are from 8-9 followed by the rules clinic at 9:15. The entire meet should only be a few hours long, and then we are going to host a small get together for everyone to celebrate the lifting.

 

Other updates.

 

We are very excited for the return of Haley to teach our yoga. We do appreciate everyone patience as we have used subs and we thanks the subs for helping out.

 

Update on state COVID rules. We are now permitted to operate at 75% of capacity. While we have not had any issues with being at 50% it is exciting to have the ability to host more members. Please remember masks are still required.

 

Strength Project. For those of you participating, don’t forget to sign in every time you come to the gym to earn your free massage.

 

Thanks to each and everyone of you and be STRONG.

 

Todd Hamer

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Hybrid Training.

In today’s world of training and exercise, there are so many programs, training styles, and philosophies floating somewhere around the internet claiming to be the best. Many of which go against the beliefs of some other programs. Two training styles in particular that have typically been believed to contradict one another are bodybuilding and powerlifting.

 

Typically, when we think of bodybuilding, we think of building muscle. Slow controlled repetitions using moderate weight with an emphasis on muscular contraction in order to build lean muscle. On the flip side, when we think of building strength and power, our mind typically goes to powerlifting. Explosive and forceful repetitions using heavier weights and higher intensities with the goal of building maximal strength. Both of these concepts have their place and can play an important role within a training program, regardless of the intended goal. The problem comes with the belief that these concepts must be used separately. In reality, there are many benefits to using them simultaneously. 

 

I am currently working with a member who is preparing for her second powerlifting meet. Prior to powerlifting, Caroline competed in bodybuilding with very good success. During her time training for bodybuilding, she developed quality lean muscle and balance among all of her muscle groups. Over the past year, she decided to give powerlifting a shot and found out that she loved it. Due to her background in bodybuilding, she already moved with great control, but her repetitions somewhat lacked the force production needed to move maximal weights which she needed for powerlifting. Keep in mind, this is very typical for someone just starting out. Over the last few weeks, she has progressed greatly with her mindset and approach to each repetition, and her overall strength has been increasing significantly due to her ability to move the bar with greater intent.

 

We have realized that the combination of her bodybuilding mindset and background was helping her with her strength training. Her ability to control the weight and feel her muscles engaging, combined with her explosiveness from her athletic background was unlocking some hidden potential. This is the same mindset that I have carried during my time as a competitive powerlifter, and something that I believe will help anyone even if they are not competing. In doing so, this has the ability to build lean muscle, increase coordination and motor control, decrease the chance of injury, and develop greater strength and power, just to name a few. All of which are things that we all will benefit from throughout our lifetime.

 

So the next time you’re training, don’t just focus on moving the weight slow and controlled, or solely think about being explosive and fast. Take the time to learn what it feels like to use both, and how they can both benefit your overall goals and outlook on training. 

Curtis Tips for Push/Pull Event

We are coming up on one week out from our member push/pull event on Sunday March 21st. As many of you are aware, we had initially planned to hold the event this time last year, but obvious events kept us from doing so. Now that our Performance Lab is open with access to a great outdoor turf addition, we felt as though it was a great time to bring it back and give our members a fun event and a thank you for sticking with us over the past year.

 

There’s a good chance that a large majority of our members who will sign up for the push/pull have actually never taken part in this sort of event, and that is completely fine. Our only goal with this is to do something fun for our members who have been working hard and have stayed consistent with their training and goals throughout the past year. With the addition of food and drinks, there’s no doubt it will be a great time. Along with this, we will be raising money for the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, and a couple of their staff members will be joining us to hang out and get to know our members.

 

As far as the specifics of a push/pull event, there are a few things that you will want to know and take into consideration before you begin.

 

First, it’s very important to understand the rules. This is something that we will be discussing throughout the week during Powerful class, but we will also hold a rules meeting at 7:30am on the morning of the event. In a push/pull event, you will be performing the bench press and the deadlift. For each lift, you will have 3 attempts to successfully lift as much weight as possible within the given rules. Before the event starts, you will give your opening attempt to the scorer. A good rule of thumb is to open with a weight that you could easily perform for 3 repetitions. After your opening attempt, you will go back to the scorer and let them know what weight you would like to lift for you 2nd attempt. During that time it will cycle through the rest of the individuals, and then come back to you for your 2nd attempt. Keep in mind, if you miss an attempt you cannot lower your weight. You can only attempt the same weight or choose to go up in weight, so choose wisely.

 

Next, there are certain commands that you will need to obey in order to have a successful lift. For the bench press, you will unrack the bar and wait for the judge to give you the “start” command. Once they do, you will lower the bar and touch your chest, pause it until it becomes motionless, and then the judge will give you the “press” command. Once you lock out the weight, you will hold it under control until the judge gives you the “rack” command. During that time, you must keep your glutes on the bench. If these are successfully done, then the result will be a “good lift”.

 

For the deadlift, there is only one command. You will walk up to the bar, and when you’re ready you will lift the weight and stand with it locked out. This means legs straight, hips into the bar, and chest tall. Once you are completely locked out, the judge will give you the “down” command. During that time you will lower the bar to the floor under control, and if all steps are done correctly, you will receive a “good lift”.

 

Last but not least, remember to have fun. This event is a way for you to challenge yourself, try something and learn something new, and to support and cheer along your fellow members and classmates who you have been working alongside of throughout your time here at Union Fitness. As always, do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions at all. We look forward to seeing you all enjoy yourselves. 

Cody’s Upcoming Meet

As some of you may know, Union Fitness’ very own Cody Miller has been preparing for his upcoming Powerlifting meet that will take place this weekend. Many of you are fortunate to know the Cody who waddles through the fitness center in his classic gray sweats, jokes with the members, and loves training his clients. But most people don’t get to see the other side of Cody. The version of Cody who loves to train hard and is extremely dedicated to his craft. Although he stays very reserved and calm on the outside, on the inside he is focused, locked in, and intense. This is the sign of a true leader, and something that makes him so great at what he does. Cody is someone who has never asked for a handout or a favor, but is always humble and willing to continuously learn and evolve as an athlete and a professional. 

 

I remember the day I was getting ready to leave work to head to my last competition. As I was walking out the door he stops me, hugs me, and says “There is no past, there is no future, there is only the present”. As I was sitting in my hotel room getting ready to compete, I thought about his exact words. Those words meant so much, and are something we should all strive to live by. This weekend, I hope that he too can live by those words, and perform to the best of his ability on the platform.

 

You see, the platform is one of the few places where you can be 100% free. When you’re standing up there, staring at that weight in front of hundreds of people, for those few seconds in time, nothing else matters. Not your job, your bills, your past, or your future can hold you back. Weeks, months, and years of training, dedication, and sacrifice are all wrapped up into one lift. Every time Cody get’s under that bar this weekend, he is facing every ounce of challenge and adversity that he has ever faced. But regardless of the outcome, from the sheer fact that he will stand up on that platform and give everything that he has to give, he will be victorious.

 

I am blessed to know Cody and to have the opportunity to work with and learn from him each day. Now, please help me to wish him a safe and successful competition tomorrow. May the iron be in your favor this weekend, brother, and remember, there is no past, there is no future, there is only the present. Live it the present, sir.

Powerlifting Adventures With Sky CeJ…(more importantly Sky)

To my most excellent Dudettes & Dudes,

 

Skylyn & I are beginning our powerlifting meet prep for the 2021 Iron City, Open and we want to share our adventures with you! On this 12 week journey we will show our training, go to meals, technique and cues we’re working on, recovery, the excitement of wrapping our knees and all of our nonviolent fist fights  & verbal screeches in between.

 

Just a quick brush up, a powerlifting meet. Meets usually start in the morning and go to late afternoon, so bring your snacks and maybe some caffeine. Women and men are broken down into weight classes and compete in their flights. The lifter will get three attempts to lift their maximal weight in the Squat, Bench & Deadlift (in that order). There are some commands and rules you have to follow, such as proper depth on the squat, a press command and not lifting your tush off the bench on the bench press and to lockout and hold your deadlift until the down command, to list a few. You add up to total weight of your top 3 successfully completed lifts and that is your total for the day. Remember at the end of the day, it’s a competition against yourself and really just to have fun tossing some weight around.

 

This week, we will be building our blueprint plan of attack for the next 12 weeks with some main goals being, build strength, movement efficiency and increase confident in the Squat, Bench & Deadlift. Our plans will be similar yet a bit different to address our specific needs and improve our weaknesses. For example, Sky may be able to handle more volume and frequency (reps/sets & amount of days/times performing a exercise during the week) than I would. So she may have an extra squat & bench session or a few more sets and reps in her program. Also most days we won’t be able to train together and will have to utilize different equipment and that is ok and we will make it work! So hold on to your butts, ask us some questions as we go and lets see where this ride takes us!

 

Be most excellent to one another!

 

CeJ