Tag Archives: Goals

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.

KISS in the Age of HIT

KISS is it. No not the band. I know CeJ looks like he could be a member of the band circa 1977, yet let’s be honest here, they only have one good song. Now that I have alienated most of the Yinzers who love KISS, let’s talk about training. KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. This is one of the best things I did as a strength coach to improve my coaching and my athletes.

 

How many periodization models can you name? Conjugate, concurrent, western, tri-phasic, block or even 531. The confusion in training can be too much for many people. I know I often made this mistake. I was speaking to our own Cody Miller the other day about how often I have over-complicated my programming (for myself and my athletes). While I have never been a huge fan of HIT training as a year-round training style, I do believe we can learn a lot from these people. Look at Marty Gallagher, Dr. Ken Leistner, Mike Mentzer or even Arthur Jones.

 

HIT

 

For those of you unfamiliar with this style of training, it is simple, short, and hard. Even the great Dorian Yates used many of HIT’s methods to build his impressive physique. Dorian was known for having one of the best backs in the history of bodybuilding. Yet his secret to training was simplicity. HIT stands for High Intensity Training (in their case intensity is used as a mindset not % of 1 rep max). HIT training sessions are generally short with low total sets and most sets being taken to concentric failure or beyond. Training can be done as often as 5 times a week but generally, it is done 2-4 times per week.

 

I am not advocating to change your regimen to entirely HIT training, but I am claiming that too many overthink their training and do more thinking than working. I even look at Dr. Micheal Yessis’s 1×20 program as a continuation of HIT training. The difference is Yessis doesn’t train the athlete to fail. Yet it’s still one hard set of work and then moves on to the next exercise. This style of training does have its place in the gym and should not be ignored.

 

Moral of the story

 

When in doubt, train harder. Over my two decades in the iron game, I have seen too many people searching for the answer when the answer is more hard work. Build some sweat equity and push yourself to somewhere you have never been. I know I don’t have the answer yet I know hard work is never wrong.

 

– Todd Hamer

Movemember & Men’s Health

The votes have been counted, and we have declared Movember the winner for this month’s education and charity event.  What do you think of my stache? Pretty cool, huh?!? Below is a little reminder of what Movmeber is all about.

 

Movember is an annual event where all partaking grow mustaches during the month of November. This is done to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and men’s suicide. The Movember Foundation runs the Movember charity event, housed at Movember.com. The goal of Movember is to “change the face of men’s health.”

 

By encouraging men (whom the charity refers to as “Mo Bros”) to get involved, Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis, and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of their family history of cancer and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Using the mustache as the driving symbol of the movement, Movember focuses on the three key areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health/suicide prevention.

 

Now gents, I’m asking you to let the hairy caterpillar blossom and promote awareness for men’s health. Remember that we men are stubborn about mental health and think we are too tough to get sick. It’s time to change the narrative here and educate men on how to indicate early and prevent these issues. We have people who love us and want to see us live long and strong lives. Ladies, you’re in this one, too! You have fathers, brothers, sons, and friends who need your support and a kick in the ass at times to take care of their health. This month I will do a few more blogs on this topic. This one is just for you to help me bring attention to this issue, so tell me about some topics you’d like to hear about.

 

Click here you can go and donate to promote Men’s health awareness. 

 

CeJ

How You Move Through Struggle Matters

If you read my training log last week you would know that I’ve been working on mindset,  in regards to how I am talking to myself during training. I’m a big believer in self-love and I practice this every day with my morning routine, listening to my body and prioritizing my mental health above all things.

 

I’ve been having a rough go at it recently, and honestly this last week felt like it would never end, I didn’t even want to go to training on Sunday because I hadn’t been eating. I was beyond exhausted and felt like I had absolutely no energy to give to a training session. But, I ended up going and for that, I am thankful because 2/3 of my training pieces were mentally stimulating and I pushed myself past the point at which I thought I would’ve failed.

 

My main training piece looked like this:

 

2 Rope Climbs

10 Clean + Jerks @ 125#

2 Rope Climbs

8 Clean + Jerks @ 135#

2 Rope Climbs

6 Clean + Jerks @ 145#

2 Rope Climbs

4 Clean + Jerks @ 155#

2 Rope Climbs

2 Clean + Jerks @ 165#

 

Let’s break this down a little bit, the rope climbs were just there and a minor formality to get to the barbell. The clean and jerks themselves were what I was struggling with mentally, after not fueling myself for at least a week I was feeling weak and just not prepared to lift heavy weight under fatigue. I was thinking all these things in my head during my warm-up sets and I only touched the 135# bar once before the workout.

 

Going into the workout I wasn’t confident but I lead with confidence, that’s where the difference lies. I would jog from the bar to the rope and walk to the bar from the rope, this was a strategic plan to keep my heart rate consistent and from skyrocketing. I knew I didn’t need to worry about the rope climbs but that I wanted to keep myself from failing any clean and jerks because having to hit that lift again after failing is soul-crushing (especially at a high percentage).

 

As the workout went on I still didn’t feel confident but I kept leading with an attacking mindset and staying calm. One of my training partners even mentioned after the workout that I looked like I was going to have a panic attack before the workout but he was proud that I kept myself collected throughout. As I move through workouts like this I’m starting to learn myself a little bit more and it’s crazy even after six years of CrossFit there is still so much I am realizing about my capabilities.

 

I was never once negative during this workout, I didn’t feel great but I also didn’t allow myself the space to dwell on the way my body felt. I trusted my training and what I had prepared for up until this point and I was not disappointed. I’d say this workout was a struggle for me, even if you visually couldn’t see it, it’s the mentality that takes the wheel regardless if you’re not feeling 100%.

 

I’m proud of how I performed in this workout and it was truly a test of what I have been working on endlessly in my training. Next time you’re having an off day in regards to your training (or simply life in general because I feel anything in the gym can be related to real-life in one-way shape or form) remember, how you move matters. Even if you don’t feel your best, be confident in yourself that you’ve done all the right things to help you push through.

Curtis’s Training Log

I am currently 2 weeks out from my next powerlifting meet. It has been one year since I stepped on the platform. As far as my training goes, one of the best things that happened over this past year was forced downtime. For 10 weeks, I was unable to train with any sort of actual equipment. During that time, I was confined to my garage with only a few resistance bands, some cinderblocks, and 2 bags of rice, that’s it. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, my body was hurting and in need of a break from lifting. This was the first time in the 12 years that I have been training and took more than a week off of any barbell training, that’s 12 years of putting a bar on my back and in my hands almost every single week. We never realize it at the time, but it adds up and can accumulate a great deal of fatigue when not addressed.

 

When those 10 weeks of quarantine ended, I was mentally and physically refreshed and ready to get back into training. My body felt great, my mind was clear, and I was more motivated than I have been in a very long time. After a couple of months of getting back into the grove, I picked a meet, put a plan together, set my goals, and got to work. With the help of my training partners, I am currently feeling the strongest and healthiest that I ever have.

 

Listed below is a layout of my last 3 training sessions. One for squat, one for bench, and one for deadlift.

 

Day 1: Heavy squat:

 

Competition squat: Worked up to a top single at 755lbs.

Belt squat machine: 5 plates per side: 4×10

Leg extensions: 50lbs: 4×15

Leg curls: 50lbs: 4×15

Ab rollouts: 3×15

 

Day 2: Heavy bench:

 

Competition bench: Worked up to a top single at 425.

Competition bench: Backdowns: 345lbs: 3×2

Flat bench fatbell press: 120lbs: 4×10

Chest supported row: 90lbs: 4×10

Dead stop skull crushers: 125lbs: 4×10

Band pull aparts: Red band: 5×20

 

Day 3: Last heavy deadlift:

 

Competition deadlift; Worked up to a top single at 765lbs.

Bent over barbell rows: 185lbs: 4×10

Cable lat pulldowns: 200lbs: 3×12

Leg extensions: 50lbs: 3×15

Leg curls: 50lbs: 3×15

 

My goal this meet is to break a 2000lb total. This is something that I have been working towards for a long time. Anything can happen on the day of the meet, the only thing that I can do is prepare to the best of my abilities and trust in myself and everything that I have done up to this point. The rest has already been decided.

You’re Out of Your Element

Hello my mighty morphing Power Rangers,

 

A few weeks ago, Union held the Bike Ride for Black Lives and since you know I am the cardiovascular love child of Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps, I had to hop on my Nimbus 2021 Bike and lead the pack for our 50-mile bike ride.

 

NAY NAY my friends! I am more like my good pal Gimli, ” I’m wasted on cross-country. We dwarves are natural sprinters! Very dangerous over short distances.” In my short career of riding bikes, I’ve crashed more times than rode over 20 miles and usually when my bike ride ends, the cold brews are cracked. Needless to say, I was out of my element for this bike ride.

 

My current bike is a classic 1987 hand-me-down from the OG Gray Beard himself. One of the first rides on this bike the lever arm fell off, so that was neat.  Bribed by doughnuts, beer, a free shirt and a great cause I accepted the challenge of doing something I’m not very good at, (never have done) and riding towards the sunset….well towards Kennywood. We left Union in a pack of 25 and very quickly I was in the back of the pack, you know, being the caboose. They say slow and steady wins the race, well at least I was still in the race. On our journey we had great weather and saw some great sights as we crossed over the Hot Metal Bridge, along the river, past Kennywood and even past our Lieutenant Governor Big John Fetterman (who we hope joins us next time).  Once I got cruising, I felt so good I rode a little past the 30-mile half way point to meet up with the 50-mile group that would be heading back. With them I had to haul to keep up while they were biking with ease.

 

I was out of my element on this bike adventure but with the challenge of my friends, fuel of a good cause and spirit of adventure it all got done and next time I’ll consider jumping in on the 50-mile ride…if I get my hands on some of those cushioned pants. Oh, and there indeed was beer at the end of this adventure.

 

Get out of your element more often my friends,

 

Cheers,

 

CEJ

Enjoy the Ride Part II

For those of you who read the UF blog often you may remember I wrote a blog about biking and getting outdoors a few months ago. Here we are again, I am getting outside and getting my mind working. So let’s take a ride together.

 

Once a year I ride my bike (with some friends) from Pittsburgh to DC. This has been a yearly event that I began doing with my father and has grown to over 25 people. If you are unfamiliar with the GAP trail or the C&O, they run from Pgh to Washington DC uninterrupted. This year I was unable to do the entire ride due to a global pandemic. Trying to make lemonade out of lemons I decided to ride two days to OhioPyle and back. So without further ado here is the story of my ride.

 

We left Nova Place at 6:15 Friday, October 9th and began our trek. The ride takes you from the Northside, into the city, along the jail trail before you cross the hot metal street bridge, and from that point on there are no turns for about 70 miles. The day started brisk, it was 41 degrees and about 3 miles in I realized that I should have worn thicker socks. It took me 34 miles to finally warm up. Lessons are always learned during this ride.

 

After grabbing some friends in West Newton, we continued to ride until arriving at OhioPyle around 4 PM. Little know fact, Curtis Miller has family near OhioPyle yet he has never actually gone into the town.

 

One of the beauties of this ride is spending time with friends and the people you meet. The first person I met was the gentlemen that, “didn’t like humans.” When I said good morning in the middle of the woods, he told me I was an expletive for interrupting nature. For the next two minutes he berated me for ruining his peace. I ended our conversation with good afternoon (he didn’t like that either). When I arrived at OhioPyle (after a rinse off), I  went to the local pub where I met some local friends, and we all swapped stories and sat by the fire. Both of these encounters kept the ride fun.

 

Saturday morning we woke up and began our trek back to Pgh. Riding back is much easier as it is a slow down hill the entire day. We made great time, and I made it back to Nova Place two hours faster than it took to get to OhioPyle the previous day.

 

As I touched on, one of the best parts of the rides is the people. This got me thinking about training and the gym. Much like with any sport we are all part of a team and it is the people that make the real difference.  With this in mind, I want to thank all of you for being part of our team and trusting us with helping you reach your goals.

 

Yours in strength,

 

Todd Hamer

Nutrition Debunking Series

TODAY’S TOPIC: BEING CONSISTENT AT HIGHER CALORIES.

 

Well guys, looks like I’m making a thing out of this for however long I can find things that need debunking in regards to nutrition (which could be for a while with the number of things that bother me endlessly about society). I’ve mentioned this before but there is an immense amount of misinformation out there, companies will profit off of this misinformation leaving consumers feeling underfed and eventually unhappy in their skin.

 

In my first “Nutrition Debunking (Part One)” I spoke about a caloric intake in which only a child should be eating, 1200 calories is not a sustainable intake for anyone above the age of 8, so why are companies profiting off of a diet that such a caloric intake is being advertised? I’ll tell you why, because everyone loves a quick fix until they realize this is a quick approach to a long-term issue.

 

When potential clients come to me underfed its truly no surprise, this problem is so common that I have come to almost expect it before the first conversation. Society has ingrained in us that we need to cut calories to lose weight, while that may be true, just jumping into a caloric deficit is not the correct path (especially if the individual is already underfed). The truth is that we need to be more consistent in our eating at a higher caloric intake, such as eating at maintenance. 

 

Maintenance is the baseline amount of calories our body needs per day to function properly.

 

Working towards eating at maintenance is a perfect starting point for people who are ready to take their nutrition to the next level. Now the process in which to get to your baseline can be a month-long process, especially if the client is underfed. Consistency takes time and it can certainly be challenging for most people but our bodies love consistency, it wants to be fed properly and be fed with nutrient-dense foods. 

 

To put it into perspective for you, the average American is probably eating well Monday – Thursday but when the weekend rolls around our nutrition takes a backseat and we find ourselves ordering takeout Friday – Saturday, enjoying a few drinks then spending Sunday recovering and probably consuming less than 1,000 calories or well above what we need to curb that hangover. We could also find that some people are under-eating one week, and the next week they hit their caloric intake perfect, then overeat the following week. Our body absolutely cannot figure out what we are doing and this is when we see process full-on stop.

 

So, before you decide to “slim-down” or hop on a brand new diet, why not see what happens if you become more consistent at eating more food. Make it a 2-week goal, if the 2 weeks felt good then make it to a whole month. A lot of body composition progress can be seen with eating a higher amount of calories for 6 months or more if the individual was well underfed previously and was able to be consistent in their eating habits. Consistency also doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, in my experience following the 80% rule is a great starting point. The 80% rule means hitting your daily intake 80% of the time while also letting yourself be flexible and not feeling stressed out because nutrition should never cause you stress.

 

The mentality of going from being underfed to eating more food can we hard, it can be a huge change for some. We attach a lot of our feelings to food and with that being said, sometimes these feelings can damage the relationship we have with ourselves. Once we start to understand that food is fuel not only will you have a better relationship with yourself but you will find that your mentality is shifting, building that trust between food and the relationship you have with yourself.