Tag Archives: Progress

SMART Goals and UF?

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

 

Goals 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Where does your goal fit in the gym?

 

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

 

Different goals, Different Equipement.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

How to Get the Most from Your Gym and Your Community

One of the best parts about my job is the people I get to deal with everyday. At times it is the UF employees, and at times it is the members, yet everyday someone brings me a thought I must sit on for a few minutes.

 

Curtis Miller and I had a great talk recently and we began sounding like Grumpy Old Men. Back in my day we didn’t have fancy things like these kids do. OK maybe we didn’t sound that bad yet we were discussing our early years of lifting and how things have changed. From this thought we came up with some things that we felt could help every person who enters our gym.

 

Here is a short list of ways to get better and make a better community.

 

  1. Lose the headphones. We all know that you need the newest Drake single in order to do your set,  yet you can save that song for when you really need it. The rest of the time be a part of the gym, communicate with others, listen to other cues, ask questions and just be present.
  2. Spot someone. Often I see lifters in their own worlds and not noticing others lifting. Ask someone if they need a spot, this is how we used to find training partners.
  3. Work in or share equipment with someone new. I all too often see everyone at thier own station not taking advantage of someone else’s knowledge and experience also share your knowledge and experience.
  4. Ask questions. We are all here to help and serve you. So ask away. Did you know we have coaches at UF with decades of experience? Our coaches have worked with pro athletes from all major sports, competed at the highest level of lifting and spoken at multiple national and international conferences.
  5. Try something new. Everyone these days seems to have an internet coach. Some of this can be good and I’ve learned from some of these coaches. Sometimes this can a huge asset, other times this can prevent you from trying new things. See what someone else is doing, ask about the movement and give it a rip.
  6. When in doubt do something that is very challenging. Enough said.

 

This is our short list and I did not arrive at this on my own. Cody Miller, CeJ and Curtis all had a say in this list. Remember we are stronger than the sum of our parts.

 

Hamer

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Fill Those Sleeves. Holiday Edition.

As 2020 comes to an end let’s remember why we train. We all know we train to fill our sleeves. As my good friend Dr Jacked (Scott Caulfield) has often reminded me, a good deadlift is important yet big arms are important(er). With big arms in mind let’s review some old pump up exercises from yesteryear.

 

Curl the ladder– In order to curl the ladder all one needs is an empty barbell. Take the bar and hold it at 90 degrees for a ten count then do 10 curls, repeat this for reps 9-1. Be sure to get a good 10 count hold between each set of curls. Do not set the barbell down until all reps are done.

 

100 rep curl– Simplest pump ever, just grab a bar and curl it for 100 reps as quickly as possible.

 

Dip & push down superset– Slow controlled set of 10-20 bodyweight dips as soon as you complete these begin with 25 band pushdowns. Make this a drop set by decreasing dip reps each set while increasing pushdown reps.

 

Roney push up challenge– This is named after a good friend Jim Roney. We used to use this as a finisher after bench day. Set down a pair of dumbbells. Do 1 push then 2 push ups with hands on the dumbbells. Then make it 2&4, then 3&6… keep going until 10&20.

 

Surf the rack– This can be done with any exercise (curls, extensions, lateral raises etc.). Start at a weight you can do ten reps with (let’s say 45 lbs.). Do ten reps, set the weight down and go to the next set of dumbbells down the line, do ten with that weight and continue until you have touched every lighter dumbell.

 

I hope this has given you some good ideas on how to get a pump this holiday season. We all need a little different way to make sure we are still having fun with training.

 

 

 

 

 

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!