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UF 101: Med Balls

Now that we’ve covered all of the major pieces of equipment we use in the Cardio Lab, it’s time to move on to one of the most versatile tools we have access to: medicine balls!

You can find them in both the Cardio Lab and in the Strength Lab and we encourage you to use them creatively! Our Medballs range from 8 – 20lbs, and are a really simple way to start adding weight to the bodyweight exercises you already do. Make your air squats, lunges, Russian twists, and toe touches that little bit harder by adding some weight. Just pick it up and go!

In this article, I really want to focus on the top two fundamental movements we use in our Cardio Lab classes: the Medball Slam and the Wall Ball. Both of these movements utilize your full body, helping you gain strength and, if the reps are high enough, work on your cardio simultaneously.

Let’s start with my favorite, the Medball Slam. The slam is simple, is great for building explosive strength and core stability, and most importantly, can be done even when you’re dead tired from everything else you’ve been doing in class! To get the most out of it, follow these steps:

1. Start with the ball in your hands and chest level, feet around hip’s width distance apart or maybe a bit wider. This is your athletic stance, knees slightly bent, core engaged.
2. Then, get as big as possible! The ball goes up overhead, with your arms fully extended and biceps by the ears. You’re also going to extend your hips, knees, and ankles, so you’re almost up on your toes. GET BIG.
3. Next comes the actual slam portion of the movement, and I want you to keep that word SLAM in mind. Don’t just drop the ball, throw it as hard you possibly can at the ground. Imagine that ball did something terrible to you and you want to destroy it. That’s how hard you’re going to throw that ball down.
4. Aim for just in front of and between your feet. Our Medballs are (relatively) light and have a good bounce, so try to catch it on the way back up, get big again, and keep going.

These basic steps will apply to every Medball Slam variation we throw at you, so you’ll be ready for anything from Side Slams to Jumping Lunge Slams.

Now let’s move on to the second-most programmed Medball movement we use, and the one I hate doing the most: the Wall Ball. This exercise requires strength and explosiveness from both your upper and lower body, as well as some coordination. Here’s how to do it:

1. Find your athletic stance, Medball in hand at chest height, about 2 feet away from a tall wall.
2. While keeping the ball at chest height, perform an air squat.
3. As you come to the top of your squat, think about GETTING BIG again. You’re going to rise all the way, extending your hips, knees, and ankles (letting your heels come off the floor) and use that momentum to launch the ball up against the wall.
4. Keep your arms raised and catch the ball as it drops, trying to drop right into your next squat as you catch it.
5. It helps to pick a spot on the wall as your target, and hit it each and every time.
6. Common cues: keep your eye on the ball and keep the ball high! If you let your arms and the ball drop every time you squat, you’ll need to use a lot more energy tossing it up again.

Just these two movements can be used to make a brutal, full body workout. Throw some Medball burpees in (do a burpee while holding a Medball) and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be laying in a pool of your own sweat by the end.

Share your favorite Medball movements with us! We could always use some new inspiration for torture Cardio Lab classes!

February Training Log: Alison

Last week a member came up to me with the “exciting” news that he’s only a couple days away from celebrating his 100th consecutive day in the gym.  In so many words, I told him he was foolish and just asking for burnout, stalled progress or worse, injury. I know we often sound like broken records with our insistent preaching of the importance of rest and recovery but it’s a concept that most of us still can’t grasp. I think I had an epiphany, though, when I realized it’s not that our members are willfully ignoring our advice but more so unable to tune into their bodies enough to acknowledge when it needs rest. Driven by the “do more” societal pressures, it’s only natural to think this philosophy needs to be adopted in the gym as well.  And hey, I get it.  I suffer from the “do more”-ness all the freaking time. So, inspired once again to try to always practice what I preach, Alexa and I decided upon an impromptu deload week in our training block.  But deload weeks don’t have to be boring! We spiced up the rest week with some cardio classics: static intervals and a sprinkle of abs.   Here’s what we did:

Day 1:  30 minutes elliptical/15 minutes treadmill

Day 2:  30 minutes treadmill on incline

Day 3:  10 sets:

100 m row sprints</span

1 minute abs (Russian Twists, Leg Slides, Plank, MB Transfers & Erg Pikes)

Day 4:  20 sec treadmill sprint/ :40 rest  x 10 sets

So how can you begin to tune into your body to acknowledge when it needs rest? Here’s a handy dandy checklist that can help you decide if you might need some additional rest days:

  • Are you sleeping more/less than what’s typical? Are you having a hard time falling/staying asleep?
  • Do you get a feeling of dread before/at the gym?
  • Are you “extra” sore compared to your norm?
  • Are you just going through the motions without finding any joy in what you’re doing?
  • Do you have nagging injuries?
  • Do you have a sense of overall lethargy?
  • Are your workouts or weights feeling heavier or slower than normal?

To be honest, the only one I could check off this list was that I was dreading my workouts.  (Well, and sleep—never enough sleep!)  But that was enough for me to know that I needed to scale back for a bit.  After all, I have my whole life to train and just one body so I’d like to take care of it. We have a fun week of concentric training with chains planned and now I have a freshly rested body with which to attack them! Rest now, gains later.

Tackling Lifestyle Changes

Read Time: 5 minutes, 15 seconds

“The process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.”
-James Clear

As I’m editing this, we are entering the fourth week of UF’s 2019 Strength Project. All of our participants were encouraged to take us up on some one-on-one coaching sessions, and I think the vast majority did!

In these sessions, we of course talk about gym goals, like getting from one pull-up to ten, squatting X amount of weight, achieving a respectable handstand hold, etc. But I’d argue that the more important thing we discuss are our goals for OUTSIDE the gym.

Often, people who start fitness challenges are already pretty fond of being in the gym. For our Strength Project members, completing 28 classes in 8 weeks is only a little bit of a stretch. The bigger challenge comes outside the gym: what’s happening in the other 23 hours of the day. That means sleep, hydration, nutrition, stress management, time management. This is where we get tripped up, so for that reason I asked every Strength Project participant that did their coaching session with me to come up with one small lifestyle change to focus on for the first half of this challenge.

We came up with some challenges that spanned all of the above categories.

The most common: shutting all technology (mostly cell phones) down at least 30 minutes before bed. So many of us struggle with getting enough sleep and can’t figure out why. Working on nighttime routines that support healthy sleep is the first step!

The most entertaining: Diane hates vegetables, but she wants to eat better. So her challenge – try (or re-try) one new vegetable each week. So far, we’ve done tomatoes (she tolerated these), snap peas (not so bad!), green beans (this was a hard no, “I felt like I ate a handful of grass. Like I was grazing in a pasture…”), and bell peppers (raw was ok, cooked was out). She’s been a trooper though this whole thing. I’m now crowd-sourcing ideas for her final vegetable tastings, so if you have any ideas please send them my way!

The most widely relevant: a few members are struggling to break nutrition-related habits that they know are holding them back- like a few too many tortilla chips or letting that one glass of wine turning into two or three after a long day.

We all have habits like these that we’d love to break, but often it feels like despite wanting to let that habit go, we just don’t have the willpower to override those cravings. Full disclosure: I’m a total nerd when it comes to building and breaking habits. If you ever see me on the elliptical with a book, it’s probably a book about habits. Last week, it was James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Like in Charles Duhigg’s quintessential book The Power of Habit, he breaks down the habit cycle into distinct parts: Cue -> Craving -> Response -> Reward. Understanding and controlling each part of this process is the key to building new, positive habits, and the key to breaking old, negative ones.

Let’s look at the habit of drinking some wine each night. I tasked a member with examining the cues that led her to pour that first glass of wine when she got home (her ultimate goal is to cease all weeknight drinking). The biggest one was fairly straightforward – her wine was always displayed in a way that could be seen from the spaces in her home where she liked to relax. So she’d sit down to watch TV after a stressful workday and there, right in front of her, sat the trusty bottle of wine. The wine-drinking habit has already been built, so denying that craving (drink wine and relax) that comes right after the cue (seeing the bottle of wine) would take a monumental amount of willpower that is probably already pretty low at the end of the day.

So what’s a girl to do?

The backbone of the book are the Four Laws of Behavior Change, each law corresponding to a part of the habit cycle:

In this particular case, we’re trying to break an unwanted habit, and we’re starting with the cue right from the get go. So we’re going to follow the steps above and try to make that cue invisible by moving the bottle of wine to a less convenient and less accessible spot. Creating a little extra friction between sitting down to relax and pouring that glass of wine may not seem like enough, but you might be surprised by the effectiveness.

I’ve of course tested this on myself. In January I chose to give up all caffeine in an effort to fix some health problems. If you know me at all, you know I love coffee. More than love. I depend on coffee to keep me going, and I also happen to think it’s the most delicious beverage known to man. In short, my coffee consumption was incredibly high.

I wanted to completely quit caffeine and replace those drinks with herbal teas, so the first thing I did after my last coffee on New Years Eve was hide the coffee maker and all the coffee (make it invisible/make it difficult). I turned my little coffee prep station into a tea and smoothie prep station instead (make it visible). I bought a nice tea kettle to make the whole process a little easier (make it easy). I bought a bunch of delicious, healthy sounding teas that I was actually excited to drink each day (make it attractive/make it satisfying). And with all that, I actually stuck to it! I went the entire 3 weeks without a sip of coffee. Am I back to it now? Hell yes, the doctor said it was fine! But I’m confident that I could give it up again if I need to because I know how to adjust that habit.
We’re now getting ready to do our midway check-ins for the Strength Project, so we’ll see how everyone fared with habit change. I’m excited to have some more tools to share with them and all of you reading this. Hopefully the simple breakdown above gives you a path to make some of the changes you’ve been thinking about this year.

By Lindsey Pogson

February Training Log: Ryan

Training log:


This week I chose to bench with my feet up. This variation gives my back a little relief as well as works on my pecs more than regular bench. I always choose to go with the football bar when benching with my feet up because it allows me to use more of my lats to stabilize the bar.

My upper body training days have had two main goals: to increase my endurance and to put on some muscle mass. Unfortunately, I have been slacking on my eating which has hindered the latter. I just need to make eating more a priority. Eating enough food allows your body to recover fully which in return allows you to push harder the next time you are in the gym.

If you are looking to put on some muscle mass while increasing your endurance, I highly recommend doing some sort of superset. A personal favorite of mine is bench super setted with inverted rows. Here is an example of something I have used the past month:

Main movement
Week 1: 6 sets
Bench x8
Inverted rows x12
Week 2: 6 sets
Bench x6
Inverted x10
Week 3: 6 sets
Bench x4
Inverted x6 paused at the top

This week I chose to test my endurance. After 1-2 months of endurance style weight training I go back to making strength a priority- meaning no more super sets. This is what I did Tuesday:


  • Banded triceps extension 3×10
  • Lat stretch 2x :30 sec
  • Push-ups 3×8
  • FB push-press 3×8
  • Football bar bench
  • The bar x10
  • 105 x6
  • 145 x8
  • 195 x8
  • 215 x8
  • 225 x8
  • 235 x8 this is technically a PR. Hell yeah!
  • Dips – 3 min of as many as I can
  • Chest supported row – 5×12
  • Dips – 3 min of as many as I can
  • Chest supported row – 5×12
  • Football bar JM press – 4×15

Not only did I recover much faster than I usually do, I hit a PR!

Hip Flexor Strain, Back Pain, and Meet Gains!

This is my first blog entry for Union Fitness! Shout out and thanks to all of you who are reading it. Feel free to share love, laughs, and advice.

If you know me even a little bit, you probably know that I have high functioning anxiety. To me that means: I’m always on the move, I have to do everything 100% start to finish (usually as fast as possible), and when I am not moving or doing, I feel guilty. The guilt leads to depression, which makes me anxious that I’m not doing anything, and around and around it goes. If I don’t do all the things, all the time, at 100%, then it’s not good enough. I’m not good enough.
Picture this:
I had a great first lifting meet in June and I’m feeling like a “real” powerlifter. I started an intense new program which focused on high volume. I was crushing my workouts. I was hitting rep PRs. I was topping what I lifted at the meet in June. Being the “go-getter” that I am, I rushed through an ascending set of squats too quickly, without enough rest between, resulting in a gnarly hip flexor strain. From August to November, my hip flexor hurt when walking up and down stairs, getting in and out of the car, raising my leg to a marching position, crouching down to tie my shoes, putting pants on, even repositioning in my sleep. I endured this pain for two months before finally seeing a doctor. I was prescribed two months of PT and all the fitspo booty exercises you can think of.

As those months crept by, the pain slowly subsided, and I worked with Ryan to overhaul my squat form. You can probably guess that the mandatory rest and rehab did not help my mental health. In an attempt to mitigate my anxiety and depression, I started a new (light) program to get back into the groove AND signed up for a meet in January. My perspective for this meet was to gain platform experience and have fun. I bounced back from the hip flexor strain, felt less pressure to perform at “my best,” and even PR’d my squat and deadlift two weeks before the meet. Low stress training was working!

But yet again, I was impatient. I didn’t listen to my body. I slipped back into old patterns. I blew through light squats five days out from the meet because they were “easy.” I was in pain again, but not my hip flexor – this time, it was my lower back. I took two rest days, used a heating pad, and took pain meds in an effort to take the “total rest approach” I should have used with the hip flexor. No luck there. After an attempt to stretch my back on the GHD left me in a ball on the floor, I called in the expert: renowned Pittsburgh miracle worker, Dr. Lisa. She squeezed me into her schedule and released nearly all of the pain. I decided to go ahead compete in the meet with light attempts, mostly because my brain doesn’t let me quit.

On meet morning, adrenaline was flowing. My back was holding up, so I decided to go heavier on my squat opener. (Bad idea? I’ll let you decide.) The first two squats were great, white lights all around. It was the third I was worried about. I thought, “how much weight did Sara [my wife and meet handler] tell them to load on the bar?” She told me I was going to have to grind it out and not to give up. Because I use jokes to detract from the pressure, I told her I was going to do it for Ruthie (my cat). She told me to get serious and into the competing mindset.

To do that, I had to get angry. It’s a little uncomfortable to admit this, but it gives you some background on me, so here we go. First, I thought about people who kill puppies. That half worked, but it wasn’t quite the right rage. Then, stepping up to the platform, I thought about my sexual assault. I got MAD. I was either going to cry or lift the weight. Three white lights – PR! I felt a big weight off my back (yes, I went there) and no hip flexor pain! There was a twinge in my back, but I just thought it was tired, no biggie.

I felt confident, so I upped my bench attempts and went 3/3 with a PR!

Time for my final lifts. Should I deadlift or should I not? My back was tired. I rolled around on the floor. My warm ups felt heavy. My light opener felt heavy. Should I take a second attempt? My light second attempt felt heavy. As I walked off the platform, I made an uncharacteristic decision: I was not going to take my third deadlift attempt.

Even though I PR’d two of my lifts, I was most proud of myself for FINALLY listening to my body. Letting go of “perfection” and finishing everything is a struggle for my “must finish everything” personality fueled by anxiety. I’m trying to apply this to my workouts as well. If I am feeling worn down, I actually allow myself to back off.

Moral of the story, I’m learning that I don’t have to be the hero. It is okay to slow it down, listen to what my body is saying to me, and leave my “must finish everything” mentality at the door.

Time to put my lessons into practice. See you on the platform at the Iron City Open in June!

By Catyln Brooke

The USPA Burgh Bash – January 19, 2019

The weekend of the monumental snowstorm that never came to be, five of our members competed at the USPA Burgh Bash in the South Hills. And about 20 of our other members were there to support them.

Everyone had some highlights, with four of the five having PR (Personal Record) totals. Sorry Zach!

The breakdown:

Lindsey has coached Robyn since the inception of her powerlifting endeavor. Unfortunately, that weekend, Lindsey was sick. So Robyn was on her own- but not completely. Our whole crew was there to help her! And she hit a PR total despite being completely out of her comfort zone “sans coach.” And this is just part of the process in powerlifitng- learning to be on your own and make your own decisions. Robyn took a light deadlift on her third attempt and I know she was kicking herself a bit for not going heavier- but it will be there and more next time.

Catlyn wrote her own blog entry about her experience, so keep your eyes out for that one. To sum it up, she hit a PR total despite some injuries leading up to this meet. Perseverance!

Nate aka Marshall’s dad
Nate was a father-to-be going into this meet, but on February 1, it became official – Congrats Nate and Casey!! Nate hit a PR total despite going 1/3 on his deadlift. I know he’d like to have that one back, but if he even replicates his last performance and increases his work capacity, he’s going to add another 30lbs or so to his PR total.

Zach aka Big Z
Out of everyone that competed, Zach had the best meet prep…followed by the worst performance. And sometimes it just happens that way, despite doing everything correctly. He struggled with depth on his squats which set the table for an uphill battle the rest of the day. The good – he hit his first 400lb bench. Big Z has a bright future ahead of him and a meet like this only fuels the fire for the next one.

Stew aka Sundaystew
If you don’t know Stew, he’s the jacked bald guy that is always training outside with his shirt off in subzero weather. Stew is by far one of the nuttiest guys I’ve ever met in the sport, but also one of the sweetest. Stew hit a PR total and got out of his comfort zone with some bigger weight jumps between attempts than he’s used to. Stew is new to the sport as well, and despite being ‘the old guy,’ he’s got a lot of potential in him. A 1500lb+ total is only the beginning!!

Squat Bench Deadlift Total
Robyn Greer 154.3 93.7 253.5 501.5
Catlyn Brooke 209.4 159.8 231.5 600.8
Nate Lester 622.8 407.9 694.4 1725.1
Zach Zidian 644.8 402.3 711 1758.2
Stew Snyder 551.2 341.7 611.8 1504.6

By Casey Williams

February- Casey’s Training Log

I’m in a bit of an undesirable situation in terms of training, but sometimes that’s just how it goes. You play the hand you’re dealt, so to speak.

I saw the doctor for an update on my rotator cuff. He scheduled an ultrasound just to be sure that the tear isn’t worse than we thought. As it stands, my infraspinatus is partially torn. Rehab with Mike Allen from Precision PT has helped- my strength and stability have increased. Typically that means that I’ll be able to bounce back in time.

Also this week I got a liver biopsy. That was far from the coolest experience of my life. I wrote about it on my EliteFTS log if you’re interested in needles and vital organs.

The short of it- I’ve been on Humira for two years and it’s affecting my liver. I need to switch medication, but in order to make a sound decision, it was best (although not necessary) to have a liver biopsy. I opted for them to take a piece of my liver. I’m a giving individual.

The other piece of that is I fall into the lucky category of those that produce antibodies to medication. What this means, in a nutshell, is my immune system is a drunk puncher, swinging at anything in it’s vicinity. Namely my colon and medications designed to stop it from attacking my colon. So I need to be treated with dual therapy- a medication to prevent my immune system from attacking my colon, and another medication to lower my immune system’s overall response (an immunosuppressant). So if you have a cold, kindly stay away from me.

As a result, my training is non existent. But LOOK, A SHOULDER WARM UP!


Training Frustrations

As perfect as our gym might be, there are some gym frustrations that I believe any gym goer can understand. Here are some that have bothered me and also some solutions to make it less frustrating.

A crowded gym:
It’s Monday, you’re at the gym and it’s time to get the biggest chest pump of your life but when you arrive all the benches are taken. Suddenly, the anger starts to set in– you spent an hour constructing the perfect playlist and the pre workout is peaking. Rather than wasting energy standing there waiting, take advantage of this time to warm up properly. I don’t mean just laying on a bench for sets of 135 for a warm up– I mean take light dumbbells and press them overhead, warm up your triceps with some light cable ext., all while super setting with some face pulls. Now that you are warmed up there might be a bench just magically waiting for you.

If the benches are still preoccupied don’t stomp out of them gym quite yet. It’s time to make some friends. Step one: Introduce yourself. Step 2: Ask politely if you may work in with them. Step 3: Bench until your chest muscles feel like they are going to tear your shirt apart.

You forgot your headphones:
I know, now you have to listen to whatever awful playlist Alison or Alexa put on (just kidding they are wonderful). But seriously maybe you rely on your headphones to keep the laser like focus during those grueling sets.

To avoid this rookie mistake I would always recommend to keep a backup pair in your car or gym bag. These don’t have to be like your fancy wireless beat headphones but that cheap gas station pair are better than nothing.

If you don’t have headphones you just might just learn a new favorite song listening to the music we have playing over the speakers or maybe our music is so bad that it will actually make you push harder to get the workout over. Either way there is a silver lining

No training partner:
There are times when I am training all by my lonesome to only look over at Alexa and Alison’s deep love while they train. It hurts. I get it guys and gals, I’ve seen some of the beautiful bromances in the fitness center and that stings a little too.

Or what if there is a day your partner doesn’t show. Before the agony of betrayal sets in, realize that maybe your workout won’t be the best but you better believe you can still put the work in. Put your head down and see how fast you can pump it out without the chatter between sets. When you finish your set, start the clock to see how long it takes you to recover. Once the second set is finished, try to beat your rest time from the previous set. You will find that your muscles are burning so bad they are about to fall off.

Or referring back to the first frustration solution- it’s that time again to make some friends. See if you can work in and ask for a few tips. You are guaranteed to make some friends if you ask someone for a little advice. 99% of the time if you ask me for advice I will talk to you for about an hour (fair warning).

Lack of motivation:
There are some of those days where you got nothing in the tank. Your motivation is at an all-time low and you have already had three cups of coffee (or whatever blue concoction you bought at your local supplement store)… you just don’t want to be at the gym. You would rather be at home crushing a bag of chips while watching something on TV. I get it.

If you are already at the gym– pat yourself on the back! Push the barbell around or try out a new machine that you have never used before. Maybe the new machine will challenge you in the perfect way. Before you know it you are dripping in sweat and muscles that you have never felt before burn so bad you end up using the handle rail to walk back to your car.

If that machine does spark any motivation, take it slow and learn the form. But I challenge you to step in the gym next time, walk straight up to that machine and give it everything you got.

by Ryan McUmber

Alexa’s Training Log

I recently changed my training from a hypertrophy based to a Triphasic/hypertrophy program. Alison wrote the program, and I said let me go through this madness with you. My prevailing goal thus far in 2019 has been muscle growth while keeping my main lifts strength based.

Anticipating this one because I have not been through a Triphasic and I get jazzed up about new approaches and working towards muscle growth. So, the philosophy behind the Triphasic program coupled with my personal spin on the areas I want to focus on in the hypertrophic assistance work makes for a happy Alexa.

We just ended our third week. The first 2 weeks were eccentrics. The third and fourth are isometric/pause. The last two are concentric/explosive.

Here is what we did for our last day of eccentrics:

5 count eccentric deadlift @ 70% – 4×5
Eccentric rear foot elevated split squat – 4x6per.
Eccentric hip thrusts – 4×5
1a. GHR back raises w. 25# plate 4×8
1b. Glute bridges – 4×20
2a. Banded kick backs – 3×20
2b. Fire hydrants – 3×20
2c. Table top glute kick ups – 3×20
Conditioning – Tabata KB swings

Below is a video of the 5-count eccentric deadlift:

Benefits of a Training Partner

I am going to start off by saying that I typically, and I mean 92% of the time, train alone. I have for most of my 10 years of training. Even before weight training, snowboarding was a big passion of mine and that is not a sport or leisure pursuit that you need teammates or someone to be present.


When I worked at a CrossFit gym, I of course trained with the class, this was both new and challenging for me. However, it pushed me to new levels, levels that I was not aware of. Eventually, I went back to bodybuilding/strength training because this is where the heart beats.
Finding a training partner is like finding a pair of jeans. It is rather difficult to come by. Maybe I was stubborn or I have had bad experiences with partners that just were not fully committed.
AND it is rare to find someone who has similar or complimentary goals and one you click with. Honestly, the desire for that interpersonal support is primal to our nature.


Recently, I started working mornings. A 5am type of morning. This was a complete lifestyle change. I am a super morning nerd, but 5am is a special kind of beast. Now that I am working a new shift I had to change some of my routine and training times around. So, Alison and I started training together. She just recently wrote a triphasic/hypertrophy program. I told her I would train with her because I just ended my program and I was searching for something new…cue Alison walking down the hall with a glimmering light shining above her head.


We are wrapping up the second week and let me tell you about the benefits of having her and the benefits you can experience from a training partner.


1) Accountability
Of course, making excuses is easier than doing the work. Of course, bad habits can creep up. But, having a partner to hold you accountable and remind you of your why can be the perfect solution. Don’t let them down! However, if you are having an off day, body is feeling run down, or you are simply near a perpetual state of over-reaching, then rest. Be honest with your partner and communicate, this situation is not an “excuse” it is being mindful of your body. It is better than putting in half the effort and who knows, maybe your partner needs it too.


2) Outside Perspective
THIS is probably one of, if not THE most important benefits of them all. We all come from different training backgrounds and have read, studied, and been schooled in different areas. One thing I always lacked was the second set of eyes. Alison, the coach that she is, is the perfect piece to this puzzle. She has called me out for not executing my squats for a steady 5-count eccentric. I have called her out for rushing through EVERYTHING, to her defense her background is CrossFit and Olympic lifting, so think fast and explosive. But, she has me there to remind her that her goals have changed and we need to slow down and concentrate on the isolated area. I have her to remind me of what phase we are in (i.e. eccentric), as well as her plethora of experience to help me through my days.


3) Healthy Challenge
I am by no means an extremely competitive person (only with myself). Having a partner to challenge you can be a healthy dose of competition. Alison and I have been keeping tabs on our water throughout the day. She mentions that she has 80oz in by 1:00pm, so I am chugging and filling. Getting water in above 75-80oz has always been a challenge for me, so this should be perfect. Grab your partner and check in, keep the challenges going.


4) Collaboration
You and your training partner will have different strengths, weaknesses, and ideas. Listen to each other, share ideas, cues, and make a masterpiece program that is a balance of both partners. This could be helpful if you are the type who tends to choose the same old stale exercises each cycle. I know I have a set few that are my “go to” exercises, but I also want new ideas that brighten up my training and could potentially be an effective piece. For example, at UF we recently got a landmine. So, Alison and I put our thinking caps on and collaborated on some fun and ridiculous ways to use it. Try new things, listen, and be humble.


5) Support during the lows
Not every day is going to be peaches and cream. Having a training partner can help push you, motivate, and inspire. A good training partner is there to listen, push you through it, and remind of why you started.


Share your successes. Yes, you can get excited over a new PR or reaching a goal, however it feels good when someone is there with you to celebrate with and share the experience.


Remember, let go of your self-deceptive thoughts, insecurities, or even your ego, and train with someone you like being around, someone you trust, and will push you to be better. You never know, your partner could be an important element to your success.