Tag Archives: Progress

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Question: Do you incorporate a lot of protein bars and shakes into your diet?

The simple answer, yes. The long answer, you’ll find below.

 

Let’s define the term “a lot” because if you’re eating 3 protein bars a day and drinking 1-3 protein shakes, most if not all of your protein intake is coming from supplementation which ideally is not the route we want to take in regards to our nutrition. What we want to do is focus on whole and nutrient-dense foods then use supplementation to make up for the spaces in which we desire a protein bar or need that post-workout shake.

 

Breaking it down further, focusing on eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a good start and then from there add in your snacks and your post-workout shakes. If you follow a structure as similar to this you’re more than likely eating at around your body weight in protein without realizing it and without actually tracking your food (which is a tool that works for some but not all individuals).

When we under-eat in regards to our protein intake we lose lean muscle mass, can experience chronic fatigue, and experience other health-related issues. This is why getting in an adequate amount of protein is important to our overall health and wellness.

 

Everyone’s goals are different which is why my diet wouldn’t work for someone else, therefor my easiest piece of advice would be to eat your body weight in protein or around there (being mindful of not under-eating) and not overdoing it on the bars/protein shakes. Choose whole and nutrient-dense options first then fill in the spaces with mindful choices.

 

This is a perfect moment to plug my favorite protein bar and small-business, whom I wrote about back in quarantine, Nash Nutrition. These bars are made with clean and nutrient-dense ingredients, soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, as well as naturally sweetened with honey and dates. If you’re looking for a solid, trustworthy protein bar, Nash Nutrition is my recommendation.

 

Purchasing from them is also a purchase towards supporting a small business, something we are proud to do here at Union Fitness. As the holiday seasons are approaching I encourage you to shop locally and shop small.

 

If you have any nutrition questions please message us on Instagram, Facebook, or Jocelyn specifically on her Instagram to get your questions answered in a blog post.

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.

Jocelyn’s Training Log

For the last few weeks, I’ve been posting some of my training pieces and breaking down my mindset, something I’ve been working on heavily. Being positive and focused isn’t enough these days, you need to understand how to challenge yourself without teetering on the line of being overconfident because the bar loves to break an ego real quick.

 

Going into this session I was tired, not entirely sure how it was going to go but I started by focusing on getting my PT/mobility work done before my primer. This allowed me to prep my body for what was to come and focus on how I was feeling. Regardless if you’re an athlete or going to take a Powerful class, as humans we need to be hyper-aware and self-reflection keeps us in an understanding between body and mind (if you don’t journal, try it – I have a past blog post on this BUT stay tuned for another mindset journaling one soon).

 

After I had finished my PT/mobility and did the primer I had a better feeling of how to attack this session, below you’ll find a typical Strength/Conditioning session:

 

STRENGTH

Front Squats 5×2 (every 3 min)

Start at 70% of your 2RM and build each set

*worked up to 197# for a double then hit 200# for a single and failed my second rep

CONDITIONING 

6 Rounds

Every 5 minutes for MAX weight

3 Power Cleans starting weight 70% of your 1RM (building here)

2-6 Unbroken Ring Muscle-ups

400m Sprint 90%+

:90 REST IS A MUST

*125/135/145/150/152/155

*ALL sets of RMU: 3 UB

 

I’ve never front squatted 200# let alone 197# for two and I’m proud of that because clean & jerking 200# is one of my goals. I try not to compare my numbers to anyone else but myself because we’re in the business of building ourselves up, not knocking all the hard work we’ve done. I think a lot of people get caught up in comparison which in all honesty is very hard to do. I remember when I first started training competitively and how I felt, now as I’ve grown into my own as an athlete I find that comparison is few and far between. The only thing that stands between me and the bar is myself and in regards to mindset, if you want to do anything in life you have to believe in yourself.

 

After the front squat the boys and I moved into our main training piece, I was texting with my coach previously and mentioned that I was going to try and hit 3 unbroken reps for all sets of my ring muscle-ups. I remember clear as day in the middle of the workout regretting sending that text because now I had to hold myself accountable to my words (which I did, thankfully but not without struggle). This is what I mean when I talk about mindset because on my fourth set that last rep was very hard and all I was thinking was throwing my hips as hard as I could to get that last rep, giving up was no option and with that mindset, I succeeded.

 

I ended up power cleaning 155# for an unbroken touch and go set of three, my max power clean one rep is 165#, and being able to do three RMU unbroken for six sets left me feeling on top of the world. It’s been a very long time since I’ve PRed any lifts and made huge gains on my muscle up capacity, I attribute it to doing everything else outside of my life right.

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.

Have Some Fun and Improve with Us

Last week I wrote about knowing our Why. Why are we here working in a gym? We are here to empower, educate and entertain everyone who enters our gym. Through this, we are offering a few different mediums to accomplish these goals. Today I want to highlight some of what we are doing and hopefully, something here will pique your interest.

 

  1. USPA Drug Tested Kabuki Open (Sat Oct, 31st 9 AM). This is a powerlifting meet that will be held under the tent here at UF. The meet is sold out, yet if you want to experience competitive powerlifting for the first time, we encourage you to stop by. The entry fee is only 5 dollars, and the tent will be heated so no worries about the weather.
  2. Getting Lean for Halloween Bootcamp (Sat Oct, 31st 11 AM). Join CeJ and Matt Grayson as they run you through a bootcamp in the parking lot of one of the finest breweries in Pittsburgh, Allegheny City Brewing. This outdoor workout will be one hour long before sharing some libation at ACB’s outdoor beer garden. This class is free for everyone.
  3. Comedy Bootcamp (Fri Nov, 6th 6 PM). This is a first for us here at UF. We will be holding a bootcamp followed by a comedy show with three local comedians. We will also have The Yard bringing food and libations. This class is also free for everyone
  4. Kabuki Squat, Bench, Deadlift Workshop (Fri Oct, 30th 3-7 PM). UF is hosting the Kabuki Squat, Bench, Deadlift Workshop in our performance lab. If you are serious about improving these lifts, I suggest you look into this workshop. Kyle Young of Kabuki Strength will cover all things squat, bench and deadlift related in this workshop. This event is 150 dollars and registration is through the Kabuki Strength website.

 

As you can see it will be a busy few weeks here at UF, and we will have more to come. As with everything we do, we will be requiring masks with anything indoors. Safety and health are of the utmost importance to us. 

Time Your Rest for Greater Success

It’s no secret that all of us have the same general goal in mind each time we step foot into the gym, and that is to get better. Regardless of our specific goals, we all devote a great deal of hours each week over the course of years to better ourselves and to hopefully achieve the things that we set out to accomplish. One of the most overlooked and under rated aspects of training that can help us get there more quickly is how efficient our training sessions are. More importantly, how long we are taking to complete our workouts, and how much time we are taking in between sets and exercises. 

 

Now, I understand that for many of us, the gym is an outlet. A place where we can go to hang out with our friends, escape the stressors of daily life, and do something that we enjoy. This is absolutely a great thing in it’s own. Although if you have specific goals that you want to accomplish, you’re going to want to step it up a notch and stay focused during the entirety of your training session. 

 

There have been thousands of studies done over the years regarding the best training rest periods depending on what aspect you’re focusing on. Although many of them may have different findings, the consensus is still mostly the same.

 

Strength & Power training (1-6 reps) = 3-5 minutes of rest.

 

Hypertrophy & muscle building (6-12 reps) = 1-2 minutes of rest.

 

Endurance & Conditioning (12+ reps) = 45 seconds-2 minutes of rest.

 

Now that we understand this, we can better prioritize our rest periods to suit our goals. Although this is a very small aspect of our programming routine, it has the ability to play a huge role in the outcome of our success. If you are training solo, then grab a stop watch and see the results for yourself. If you are fortunate enough to have one or more training partners, then the best stopwatch is the pace that each of you set and your drive to keep up with each other. Remember, the main purpose behind training (either by yourself or with someone else) is to challenge and push yourself. If you are sitting around in between sets wasting time, you are doing the exact opposite. So, close your Instagram and Facebook accounts, leave your phones in the car, grab a watch, and time those rest periods. You will be surprised at how much progress you can make once you decide to push yourself a little harder.

 

Stay strong, friends!

Humble Beginnings

When I was young, my dad had a small weight bench and a pair of dumbbells in our spare bedroom upstairs. He first showed me how to use them when I was around 10 years old or so, but after the first time that I took too much weight off of one side of the bar and it came up and hit me square in the mouth, I was over it. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I actually found my way into the weight room.

 

Growing up, I was always extremely active and involved in sports. From growing up on my Grandfather’s farm, to helping my dad work on our 1970 Mustang, to racing dirt bikes and four wheelers, I was always doing something physical. From the age of 4, I played soccer and baseball up until the day that I graduated high school. I lived for all of it. These things were my way of hiding how shy and afraid I was on the inside. When I was standing on that pitcher’s mound or racing around a track, I felt unstoppable. Almost like a superhero. But when all of that went away and I had to go back into the real world, I was just a boy who was scared of what life was going to throw at him.

 

Eventually, I decided to put sports to the side and pursue a career for my love of cars. For a couple of years I worked in custom car shops as a metal fabricator and paint specialist. Although I absolutely loved it, there was now a hole in my life that I couldn’t fill. Without the strength and confidence that I gained from sports, I was still that scared kid from my childhood. One day, my best friend Trey asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with him after work. I hesitated as I flashed back to the time when the barbell hit me in the mouth at my parents house, but I still said yes. Scared and nervous, I walked into our old high school’s weight room as I was greeted by the football coaches. One of them, my History teacher Mr. Joseph, looked at me shocked and said “Miller! What are you doing here? Are you lost or something?”

 

Indeed I was lost. I was 145 pounds soaking wet, and had no idea what I was doing, but each day, I kept coming back. One month into working out 3 days per week, I received news that Trey was in a car accident, and was fighting for his life. I visited him in the hospital, and told myself that I would continue to train for him. As he progressed and got better, I began to realize what the gym had provided me during that time. It gave me the courage to keep pushing when I was sad and scared, and it gave me the strength to not give in even when I wanted to quit. 12 years later, and not a day goes by that I don’t try to repay and pass on everything that the gym has done for me. It has given me the strength to go back to school, to become an established professional, become an Elite powerlifter, build strong relationships, and face my fears every day in order to become a better human being. As long as I live, I will do my best to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the same things that I have.

 

To Mr. Joseph, I am in fact still lost, but I’m finding my way a little more each day. Thank you for the encouragement.