Tag Archives: workouts

Big Dawg or Little Dawg; We All Just Dawgs

Can you believe we are already almost through the whole month of January?! Time doesn’t feel like a real thing anymore if you ask me. Well anyways, speaking of time, I would like you to take some time to think about where you are currently at in this point of your life. Whether it be where you’re at with your fitness goals, work goals, family goals, anything. Now that you’ve taken a few moments to reflect and think, I want to bring something to your attention. This blog right here is your sign to get out there and do something that takes you out of your comfort zone and maybe even scares you a little bit. We all seem to have a set routine and become comfortable with it, whether it’s with training, work, or just daily life in general. It’s important to spice things up and to not be afraid to be scared. 

 

When I think of getting out of my comfort zone, I personally think of my experience as a new lifter here at UF. Coming in to UF, I had experience with Olympic weightlifting through CrossFit and also with training the general population, but I had never really taken the time on my own to learn how to improve my lifts overall. I was so used to my coaches always telling me what to do when it came to training. Since I’ve joined the team here, I have entered a whole new world. I was a little intimidated by the Strength Lab at first, as it is usually filled with big, strong, and knowledgeable powerlifters and people who warmup with weights that are my maxes or maybe even twice that. I would honestly kind of avoid it and only go during the slower times the first few weeks that I was here. I just didn’t feel like me and my noodle arms would fit in with the crowd there. I started to hop in and train with some of the other staff members (thanks CeJ and Hamer) and started to talk with some of the people that always train back there and with the new members that would be there as well. I faced my fear of intimidation and learned that training in the Strength Lab and talking with the staff and members who’s training experiences vary largely are things that will actually help me grow as a lifter in the long run. I learned to step out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to ask questions or for any help/advice while training and being surrounded by others who enjoy picking things up and putting them down. 

 

So, as I mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to be scared. It’s a new year, get out there and conquer 2021 by stepping out of your comfort zone. 

 

Stay healthy my friends,

 

Toria

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.

 

How’s My Squat?

We all know that Instagram has become most people’s go to for training information and videos. We could debate all day long whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. In my eyes the sum of it all is a good thing. I do see the down side, which is mainly ego. Yet I will take this, if it means that we can learn from some of the smartest people in the world.

 

This week I received a few messages about different pro athletes training. I find it concerning anytime that one comments on training that they were not present at the session, and know the background of the training. So when these questions are posed to me I tend to be honest yet give a non-answer.

 

Let’s break down a few of the different squats we see online.

 

  1. The Ed Coan squat- This is the squat that is well below parallel and looks perfect. We rarely see these.
  2. The Westsider- Super wide and no deeper then we need to be. Often times a bit on the high side.
  3. The ATGer- Low as can be with a side of knee cave.
  4. Front Squat- This gets two different groups, the Oly lifter who looks perfect and the the powerlifter who can’t get in the right position and looks miserable doing the lift.
  5. The NO Eccentric Box Squat- Race to the box, slam as hard as possible, and try to snap your spine (please don’t do this).
  6. The Rock and Roller- This is another variation of the box. Hit the box rock back and try to slingshot yourself back up.

 

Ok with me now judging everyone the truth is this. People have become strong doing each and everyone of these. So instead of telling someone what they should do you should probably just sit back and learn. People have become strong doing all of the above and while you can argue what is “right” it doesn’t matter as it is not your training.

 

Be Strong!

 

Old Man Uncle Hamer

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Make Your Pulls Ups Spicier than Rick Sebak’s Eggnog

Happy Holidays my friends!

 

During December the members and staff of UF had a Challenge to see how many Chin/Pull-ups you can total for the month. The sheer word pull-up runs chills down the spine to many as they flash back to middle school P.E. as a gym teacher in questionable length shorts blows a whistle and shouts at you. Well have no fear, CeJ is here with 5 variations to help build you up to overcome your fears and frustrations of Chins/Pull-ups.

 

5 Variations

 

1) Band Assisted on Rack: Set any band on the J Hooks of the rack (make sure the Js are set tight and won’t fold in). Carefully step on the Band and grab the bar. The band will assist you a lot at the bottom and just a tad at the top. Always work great technique and full range of motion to engrain movement patterns.

 

2)Band Assisted on Bar: Similar to the movement above but now the band is attached to the bar and you can either put your knee or foot in the band. Foot will give you more assistance, knee will give you less.

 

3) Eccentric (Down Slow): Get up by jumping, climbing or just start at the top of your pull, with this movement, we just focus on the descent. Once at the top take 3-5 seconds down, control yourself to the bottom of your pull.

 

4) Isometric (Hold at Top): Similar to the movement above, now we are just holding ourself at the top position for as long and strong as we can.

 

5) Chain, Weighted, Band Resisted: Take your standard issue pull and now toss some resistance on. Still keep great form and give it hell.

 

Remember, any of these exercises can be modified and adapted to fit where you are in your wellness journey.

 

Video Demos are posted on our Instagram page, give em a peep!

 

Take your time with these and progress slow. You can do this with a positive attitude and a solid mindset. If you want a little push here and there, just let us know and we can get you there! If you have any questions, please let us know.

 

Cheers,

CeJ

New Year, New Strength, New Friends

UF and LEG1ON Training are excited to host our first ever combined bootcamp. On January 1st, 2021 UF and LEG1ON will come together on the UF outdoor turf to host a bootcamp that is free to all.

 

We have been trying to reach out and work with other local training facilities to offer Pittsburgh a better fitness and strength community. LEG1ON opened in 2020, and immediately gave us a gym that was open to working with us. Due to this relationship, we will be having more joint offerings in the future. The details of the bootcamp are below.

 

Time and Date: Jan 1st, 2020. 11 AM-Noon.

Location: Union Fitness, 100 South Commons, Pittsburgh PA, 15212

How do I sign up? Sign up on MindBody.

Is there a cost? This class is free to everyone.

What can I expect? You can expect two of the best gyms in Pittsburgh coming together with their best instructors, to give you a great workout to start the new year.

Will it be safe? Our outdoors space at UF is big, and we require masks at all times when on the premises.

 

We hope to see you here on Jan 1st to meet some new friends and have some fun.

 

Todd Hamer

 

Weekly Wrap Up

We must begin this wrap up with a HUGE THANK YOU to all of our members. We understand that 2020 hasn’t been an easy year. We have also been doing the best we can to keep everyone training and safe.

 

This week we have moved all training to our outdoor space. We will continue to follow all of the governors orders, while still giving you a safe place to train. In addition we are also offering 2 in person classes per day Monday-Friday as well as 2-3 virtual classes per day. These classes are a little different, we will offer three different types of classes. The first class is a traditional bodyweight class, the second will be with weights and the final will be an educational class.

 

In addition to all of these measures we are still loaning out equipment. Please come by and grab some equipment to keep your body moving during this holiday season.

 

Finally I personally want to wish you the happiest of holiday seasons. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanza and Happy New Year! This is the last week prior to Christmas and if you eat too many cookies, drink too much egg nog or don’t exercise as much as you should over the next few weeks, it’s ok. Enjoy the season and unless you are preparing for a show then you can stop counting your macros this week and just be in the moment.

 

Hours of operation for the next two weeks.

Dec 20th-Dec 23rd normal hours.

Dec 24th 9AM-4PM.

Dec 25th Closed.

Dec 26-Dec 30th normal hours.

Dec 31st & Jan 1st 9AM-4PM.

 

 

 

 

Breathing and Bracing for Strong Lifts

Properly breathing and bracing is one of the most misunderstood aspects of a strong lift, but one that can play a major role. We’ve all either done it ourselves or have seen it at one time or another. Someone unracks their squat or sets up for their deadlift, they go to take a big breath to build tension and their chest gets full of air and the bar shrugs up on their shoulders. While this may seem like a great way to get tight, it is actually doing the complete opposite. What we actually want is too pull air deep into our diaphragm while expanding that pressure downward and outward into our abdominal muscles, obliques, and our lower back.

 

To understand this a little better, let’s break it down with a little bit of anatomy. When we take a breath before a lift we want to fill our diaphragm, not our lungs. Our diaphragm is located underneath of our lungs in the bottom portion of our rib cage. When done correctly, filling the diaphragm and keeping it locked in throughout the entirety of the lift can keep you in a strong and proper position and can allow you to lift more weight safely. When the diaphragm is filled and pressurized correctly, it can help connect the major muscle groups of our upper body to our lower half. This will help to build a tremendous amount of tightness and rigidity from head to toe.

 

When it comes to explaining and better understanding this method, I like to use the soda can analogy. Take an empty soda can and place a small dent in the side of it. Now place that soda can on a table and push down on it with your hand. There’s a 100% chance that it collapses with little effort. This is equivalent of breathing high into your chest. Now take another soda can without a dent in it. Place it on the counter and again try to push down on it with your hand. There’s a chance you wont even be able to collapse it this time. You have now successfully filled your diaphragm and braced completely. Which one do you think is better for a big lift?

 

As mentioned in the video, a simple and effective way to practice this technique is with a small micro mini band around your mid section. Be sure to place the band above your belly button as that is where you will get the most expansion from your diaphragm. This is also where you should place the center of your lifting belt if you wear one. Focus on taking a breath and pushing it downward and outward. While practicing this, be sure to look at yourself in a mirror. If your shoulders rise when you take your breath, then you are taking your air up into your lungs and your chest. Revert back to the soda can analogy. Continue to take your time and focus on your breathing and bracing every session and you will notice an immediate and sustained carryover to the quality and performance of your lifts for years to come.

 

Stay strong, friends.