Tag Archives: Goals

Training Update and the Benefit of Just Showing Up

Earlier this week, our General Manager Todd Hamer wrote a blog about his good friend who recently passed away and the importance of showing up, even at times when you may not feel like it. This can help those close to you in more ways than you might know. If you haven’t read it, be sure to slide over and give it a quick read. It may be just what you need to hear right now. Today, going along with what Todd touched on, I am going to discuss the importance of showing up for yourself. More specifically, the importance of just showing up to train, even when you don’t feel motivated.

 

If you’ve been training for any decent amount of time, then you have certainly experienced your share of a lack of motivation. When you were new to training, motivation was something that was much easier to come by. You had this vision in your head of what you wanted to accomplish, and woke up every day just waiting to be able to walk into the gym. Over time you realized that this is a very challenging journey filled with many ups, downs, and crossroads along the way. 

 

In today’s world, it can be easy to believe that if you aren’t moving forward then you aren’t making progress. Well I’m here to tell you that just showing up can lead to much progress and success. As humans, we cannot be full throttle at all times. Imagine driving your car as fast as it will go at all times. It won’t last very long. We are no different. If we are constantly pushing forward without pulling back on occasion, bad things will happen, and we may inhibit our ability to see through the road ahead. This is where it can be necessary to simply “just show up”. 

 

Being in cruise control at times is not a bad thing. It can help you reset, refocus, gain a new perspective, and analyze your current situation. This can all provide an opportunity for growth and progression in the future. Recently, I’ve just been showing up. Part of this is to help my training partners, members, and friends at the gym, and some of it is for me and my mental health. Although my routine is a bit different from what it typically would be, it is what I need for the time being in order to reset and rebuild for future opportunities and progress. Not just with lifting, but life as well.

 

Sample training week:

 

Day 1:

Pit shark goblet squat: 5×8 w/ 2 second pause

Leg press: 7x 20, 15, 12, 10, 12, 15, 20

Bulgarian split squat: 4×10 each leg w/3 second eccentric

GHR back extension: 4×15 w/2 second pause

Hanging leg raises: 4×15 (strict)

 

Day 2:

Bench press: 5×5 w/2 chains per side

Incline DB press: 3×20

Barbell tricep extension: 5×10 

Single arm rows: 5×10 each arm

TRX face pulls: 4×15 (slow and controlled)

 

Day 3:

SSB good mornings: 5×5

Banded RDL: 4×10 w/band around hips (3 second eccentric)

Bent over barbell rows: 5×10

Hammer curls: 5×12

Ab rollouts: 4×12

 

Day 4: Optional

Fatbell bench press: 10×10 w/60 seconds rest

Weighted dips: 5x 20, 15, 12, 10, 8

DB OH press: 4×10

Lat pulldowns: 5×12

Lying fatbell tricep extensions: 5×10

Push/Pull and Summer Strength Project

With the new year here and spring coming right around the corner, we have been hard at work planning our events for the upcoming months. If you have been with us for a period of time, then you are aware of our annual Strength Project event that we host each year. Last year, our Strength Project kicked off in January with the addition of a fund raiser and charity push/pull powerlifting competition. Unfortunately, our plans were sidelined with the onset of the pandemic, and although we did complete our goal for the fund raiser, we were unable to host our push/pull event for our members.

 

Well, that was last year, and this is a new year. With our sights set on providing you with new ideas and events, we are picking back up right where we left off. On Sunday March 21st we will be coming back to finish our Push/pull event as well as another fund raiser to support the Pittsburgh community (more details to come). The event will be free for any member who would like to sign up, along with anyone who had previously signed up for last years event but was unable to compete.

 

Following the conclusion of the push/pull event, we will be kicking off our Summer Strength Project beginning in early April with the goal of getting everyone ready for sunshine and adventures. Our Powerful and Cardio Lab coaches will be working together on the class programming to help you reach all of your goals. At the end of the Summer Strength Project in early June, we will be holding a cookout with food, drinks, and a hands on seminar. 

 

Be sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled for more details to come regarding these events.

 

2021 is going to be FUN!

 

Hold on to your butts, we have more cool things coming your way and here are a few of the new things you’ll see at UF in 2021.

 

On Site at Union:

Charity/Fundraiser Super Group & Marathon Classes

Comedy, Coffee & Competition

Athlete & Agility

Metal/Rock N Roll Yoga

Movement & Mobility

Strongwoman/Strongman Conditioning

Battle of The Gyms

Health, Wellness & Training Education

Hands on Training Seminars

Monthly Challenges

Blood Drives

Toy/School Supply Drives

And More…

 

Union Fitness Adventure Series:

Mobile Pop-Up Bootcamps

Pittsburgh Stair Climb Tour

Bike Pittsburgh to D.C.

Hike Pittsburgh

Run Pittsburgh

Brewery & Bootcamps

And More…

 

Union, let us hear your voices! Tell us your ideas you may have and any interest in the above-mentioned events. For any event we would love to partner with local North Side or Pittsburgh area small business to support local and highlight those businesses. Send in those ideas and let’s rock n roll all over 2021.

 

Cheers,

 

CeJ

Happy New Year, We Need the Old You

I have very eclectic taste in music so when I think I tend to go to what song fits the moment. I have realized this habit has rubbed off on my son. We will often be driving and jamming some tunes then Tenzing says, ‘”Dad this is the perfect song for this moment.” With that in mind I can’t write this blog without thinking about a song from the Old 97’s. In the song “The Magican” Rhett Miller sings these words, “Oh, but I wanna be with the real you.” This song has always haunted me as it reminds me that we need to be the real version of us. With this I welcome you to 2021.

 

If you made it this far you may be asking why you are still reading me ramble about a song and band you probably never head of? Because I want to make 2021 the year of the real you. Bring you to the gym, work, and life everyday. Often the date changes and people say it’s time for a new you. It isn’t! Today is a great day to evolve, and with that we must understand that the real you should be you, who is trying to improve daily.

 

Think of this in terms of lifting or training. When you began you never thought you could do what you currently do, until you put the work in. Then afterwards you were still you, just a stronger and more wise version of you. Let us not throw out the past, let us not throw out our mistakes. Bring them with you and let’s all grow, evolve, and make 2021 just another step in the right direction.

 

Now I am asking for you to help me. How can I, and UF help you in 2021. We have never seen a year like 2020, so we are open to new ideas. Share with me your thoughts and if we can, we will do what we can to help you improve the real you.

 

Happy New YEAR!

End of 2020 Update

Here we are at the end of 2020. Nothing new can be said about this year so I won’t try. Yet I can give everyone an update as to where we are and where we are heading as a gym.

 

2021 Bootcamp with LEG1ON! 

We are starting 2021 off by doing a bootcamp with our friends from LEG1ON. This will happen Jan. 1, 2021 from 11-12 (maybe 12:30). This class will be free to everyone, so bring a friend and let’s have some outdoor fun! Sign up on MindBody.

 

Equipment Loan Program

For those of you who borrowed equipment over the last few weeks, please return the equipment by Saturday, Jan 2, 2021. When you return the equipment, please check in so we can check you off the list.

 

Return to Normal Schedule

UF will return to its normal schedule on Jan 4, 2021. This includes classes as well as all other gym operations. We will be requiring masks at all times. Please be respectful of those around you and continue to follow the mask protocol.For the rest of this week, our schedule is Dec. 31, 9AM-4PM, Jan 1, 9AM-4PM (we will be closed due to bootcamp from 10:30-12:30). Jan. 2 and 3 are regular weekend hours 9-4.

 

Plans for 2021.

One of our most popular programs in the past has been The Strength Project. We decided this year it was not appropriate to run this program. We are hoping to bring it back in late spring as a kick off to summer. We will continue doing smaller challenges until then. Our December challenge is wrapping up and we will post winners in our Newsletter.

 

This will be the final blog of 2020 and I want to thank everyone who is reading this. We all know it has been a strange year and we are proud of what we have done to try to help everyone get through this time. We will continue to try to do what we can to make the world a stronger, healthier, and smarter place as we move into 2021. Below is a list of organizations that we worked with this year. We will continue to look for partners in the region that make the world a better place.

 

Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh

Allegheny General Hospital

NorthSide Food Pantry

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Wounded Warrior

Urban Impact

 

We have some big plans in 2021 and have some big partners ready to join us, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Training, Online Classes, and Trying to Do What We Can

Now that we have had a weekend to fully grasp the new orders from our state government I would like to give everyone an update as to what we are doing. Our goal is to follow all rules and regulations,  while doing the best we can to serve each and everyone of you. I have listed here how we are trying to do this in these unique times.

 

  1. We are offering outdoor activities to the best of our abilities for all of our members. Our turf area is mostly covered and we are going to do our best to keep it warm and snow free.
  2. We are offering online classes for free via instagram. We decided against using zoom as we don’t want to charge anyone for this service. So please log on and do some training with us. We have broken the classes into four categories. 1. Bodyweight class. 2. Class with weights. 3. Educational class (this will be more lecture based).      4. Yoga. Please feel free to sign up for any of these.
  3. We are loaning equipment up until the week that we will be permitted to re-open.
  4. We are spending this time reviewing our classes and schedules to best serve our members.
  5. We are also moving and cleaning under, over, and around all equipment. When we re-open we hope to be the cleanest gym on earth.
  6. While operating our normal hours we will be closing the outdoor training area from 6-7 AM&PM for powerful class. Anyone who is interested in taking this class we will upgrade you for the next 3 weeks free of charge.
  7. We are offering a 25 dollar 3 week membership to anyone who belongs to another gym. The one condition is that you keep your gyms membership. We do not want to take members. We understand that we are very fortunate to have our outdoor space, and want to offer people a place to train if they currently don’t have one.

 

This is our list as of now. As with everything we do we are always open to hear what you have to say. If there is anyway that we can serve you during this shut down please reach out. As stated early we will follow all the state rules and regulations, and will still do what we can to offer you a great place to train.

Let’s get scientific today at UF. We can discuss the force-velocity curve all day long and debate the minor details involved in lifting, and I’d love it. Yet, today I would like to give you a quick overview on the force-velocity curve and why it is important to you.

 

The Coach's Guide to Programming and Periodization: Surfing The Force-Velocity  Curve and Changing Seasons / Elite FTS

 

This image came from elitefts.com, if you are not aware of elitefts I would recommend checking them out. I have been fortunate enough to be involved with them for over a decade.

 

Notice on this curve that the top left is maximal strength. This is training when the bar is under .3 meters per second squared. For our purposes the speed at the bottom right of this graph end is at around 2.0 meters per second squared. The reason I said for our purposes is that we are looking at this graph always under load, notice the percents on this chart. What this means in practical terms is that I am not considering high level plyometrics or sprints. These do have their place yet I just want you to begin considering how this matters when dealing with weights.

 

Why is this important to you?

 

If your goal is to get stronger the single most effective thing you can do is train heavy and hard. Remember Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID principle). If you want to move more weight you must train under heavy load. Yet as you can see this curve has a lot of space under it, and we must move the entire curve up and to the right if we wish to perform our best.

 

If you have never considered what I am writing about I would recommend that you begin performing some low levels strength explosive movements. You do not need to change your overall programming in order to do this. Just add this into your warm up. Here are some examples of things you could do.

 

  1. Med Ball Chest Pass 3×10 prior or benching.
  2. Box Jumps 3×5 prior to squat or deadlift.
  3. Med Ball Scoop Throws 3×5-10 prior to squat or deadlift.
  4. Broad Jumps 3×3 prior to squat or deadlift.
  5. KB work, swings push presses, or snatches. I’d do these any day.
  6. Explosive push ups 3×5-10 prior to benching.
  7. Weighted Jumps 3×3 prior to squat or deadlift.
  8. McGill Pull Ups prior to any lift.

 

These are just a few examples,  yet there are many ways to sneak in this extra work without hurting your main lifts (and hopefully helping the main lift). As with any new idea implement this in for a few cycles, test it and see what your results are. Don’t ignore how this makes you feel as well. Maybe your numbers don’t go up but you feel better, there is something to be said for this as well.

 

 

 

 

Meet Recap and Reflecting Back

I recently competed in my 15th full powerlifting meet. My goal for this meet was to step on the platform healthy and achieve a 2000lb total. This is a goal that I have been working towards for a very long time, and with the help of a great support system, I was able to do just that. It didn’t go exactly as planned (although it never really does), but I was able to stay focused and under control, and managed to walk away with a 804lb squat, a 430lb bench press, and a 766lb deadlift. As I sit and reflect, I can’t help but think about the journey and how I got to this point.

 

April of 2013 was my first powerlifting meet. I totaled 1310lbs at 190lbs bodyweight. To some, that isn’t a lot. To others it is. To me, it was neither. It was simply a starting point for my journey going forward. Even though the sport of powerlifting is judged off of how much weight you can lift, for me, it has never been just about that. Each time I walked into the gym, my only goal was to be better. Yes, sometimes this meant lifting more weight. Sometimes it meant learning something new about my technique. Other times it meant failing. But even when we fail, we have the ability to grow and become better if we have the right perspective. In my eyes, even a setback or a failure was a victory, because I learned something. I knew that if I kept this mindset and continued to accumulate the small wins, then I was progressing towards my goals and continuing to grow as an individual. Small wins over the period of weeks, months, and years add up into very big victories. 

 

This doesn’t just hold true for me, but for anyone. With the same mindset, any goal is attainable. The important thing to remember is that progress is never linear, whether it’s lifting weights or in life. There will always be setbacks, let downs, failures and achievements, road blocks and detours, but the most important thing is that you never give up. Could we do things more efficiently and be smarter with some of our decisions? Of course. But every single decision we make and experience we have leads us to this point where we are at this very moment. That’s living, and that’s how we grow. 

 

It’s hard to put into words exactly what this meet and this achievement means to me. All I can say is that every time I grab a barbell or walk into a gym, I am extremely grateful to be healthy and to have the opportunity to do something that I love. Having my wife there to experience it with me along with some of my closest friends was legitimately a dream come true and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Powerlifting has given me more than I could ever give back. It has taught me lessons, helped me grow and mature, and has introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever known. For that, I am forever grateful. 

Monthly Challenge

For the month of December we are offering all of our members a chance to challenge yourself, as well as us here at UF. There will be 4 different options and scoring sheets are hanging outside of our cardio lab. With these challenges you can complete them in the gym or tag us on instagram and we will put your score up for you. The winner of each challenge will receive a free massage. For those of you who are not ready to come back to the gym we can save your massage for a later date. Here are the challenges.

 

Challenge 1, Erg 2k Challenge.

 

For this challenge the goal is to do as many 2K’s on the Erg (rower) as you can during the month. The rules are simple. Row 2000 meters and that is 1 point. Row 4000 that is 2 points  etc. If you row 3000 today and 3000 tomorrow that is still only 2, 2 k’s. So please be honest as we are on the honor system.

 

Challenge 2, Bike 3 mile Challenge. 

 

For this challenge you just have to ride 3 miles on an airdyne bike. Similar to the first challenge you will just be asked to do the ride, then record it. Also, similar to the first challenge this must be done in 3 mile increments.

 

Challenge 3, Ski Erg 2k Challenge.

 

Read challenge one and do the same thing on a ski erg.

 

Challenge 4 Pull Up Challenge.

 

This is the simplest challenge. The goal is to hit as many pull ups as you can in the month of Dec. These can be done anytime and anywhere. Just record how many you have done.

 

As I stated earlier the scoring sheets are posted in front of the cardio lab. Some of our staff will participate in these challenges as well. If you do any of these challenges at home just tag Union Fitness and we will add your score in for you. If you do anything here just record it on our score sheets.

 

Now let’s get back to training!

 

 

 

 

 

Setting Goals and Measuring Progress

Regardless of the time of year or what is going on in our daily lives, it is important to have set goals. These goals can be associated with life, fitness, your health, or a combination of the three. If we lack goals, it becomes hard to make progress and continue to grow as humans. Although setting goals can be a simple task, there is a process to doing it, and many things you want to keep in mind along the way in order to achieve them. Below is a system that I use with myself, along with anyone that I work with in order to reach our goals and continue on the road of progression and growth.

 

Establish a big goal: This is where you want to establish your big long term goal. What is it that you want to accomplish in six months, a year, two years, etc. There doesn’t need to be a time limit placed on this. Just write it down and keep it in the back of your mind. It’s important to make sure that this one is realistic. However, it should be challenging and should force you to grow as an individual. 

 

Establish your small goals: These are the small victories that will ultimately lead you to your big goal. If you only focus on your big goal without a plan of attack, then you will have trouble progressing and staying motivated. These small goals should be very obtainable, but again, they should push you and challenge you into staying motivated and on track. Small victories add up into big wins over time.

 

Make sure your priorities match your goals: Your daily lifestyle must match your goals if you want to achieve them. If you bust your butt in the gym, but stay up all night eating chips and watching Netflix shows, then you certainly will not be checking off those small or big goals. Everything you do outside of the physical work should be setting you up for success. This includes who you spend time with, what you eat and drink, your quality of sleep, managing your stress, etc. If you make these areas your priority, then it will be much easier to achieve your goals.

 

Ways to measure progress: Progress isn’t always measured by weight on the bar or on the scale. As a matter of fact, it should rarely be measured that way. Measuring the small factors is a great way to stay motivated, focused, and on track. With exercise, progress can be measured in many areas including but not limited to:

 

How many times per week you’re able to exercise.

The duration of your workout.

Your rest periods between sets and exercises.

Adding sets and/ or reps.

Increase in flexibility and range of motion.

Form and technique improvements.

Body measurements.

 

Daily checklist: I stole this one from Jared. Every day make a checklist of 3 things that you need to do in order to reach your goals. Just like we listed above, this can be getting 8 hours of sleep, drink a gallon of water, stretch or meditate before bed, etc. If you can check your 3 things off every day, then you will certainly put yourself in a great place to achieve those goals.

 

At the end of the day, have fun and stay positive. Approach this process as a learning opportunity as well as an opportunity to grow as an individual, and good stuff will happen. Stay strong, friends.