Tag Archives: workouts

Does the Weather Control You?

If you are reading this then odds are you live in Pittsburgh and know much about clouds and grey skies. We all know that Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and affects many of us in this region with long dark winters. No matter how much you try to not allow the weather to affect you, it does. This is basic science, long dark days are not great for your health.

 

Now we are in spring time and the sun is back above our heads, the clouds are clearing and we are beginning to see the pandemic coming to a close. This is the time for consistency from you. Today will be sunny, warm, and the perfect day to train. Get outside, get into the gym, sweat, bike, run, walk, hike, just do something. These are the easy days to use the weather to motivate us. I commend you for doing this. I also now ask you to not rely on daily motivation, rely on your discipline to create consistency.

 

As I type this I can see one of our hardest working members jogging slowly on the treadmill. Jessie Theisen committed to doing a show over a year ago. The pandemic hit and she saw a huge hurdle before her. She did not allow that hurdle to slow her down. She decided to jump over it and keep on running. This is consistency at it’s best.

 

Now back to the weather. A strange thing happens anytime it rains, less people attend our classes on these poor weather days. I now ask you, if you want to reach your goals are you going to allow the weather to control your decisions? Too often we look outside and see the rain, and this is just the excuse we need for not coming to the gym. Let’s all help each other and support one another so that we can overcome this and help hold one another to a new standard of consistency.

 

Now with today’s perfect weather go do your conditioning outside. Skip the gym today, get your vitamin D.

 

Trying to be your sunshine on rainy days.

 

Hamer with support by Matt Grayson.

 

Ham’s Training Log

Coming out of 2020 I was training with the Wizard himself, Charles E Jasper (we share the same middle name). I love training with CeJ as he brings a ton of intensity and dedication to each and every lift. Yet, I needed a change and it is hard to train with fellow employees at UF as both of us need the exact same time off to train. I decided to reach out to a good friend for programming. Ryan Nosak has been a good friend for a decade now and trains a ton of very successful athletes and non-athletes. Also, he trains at Quads gym with automatically gives him street cred.

 

Ryan knows me well enough to know my weaknesses and his philosophy (similar to mine), is attack your weaknesses. So without further ado here is what I am doing on week two with Ryno at the steering wheel and Ham pushing the car.

 

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

SATURDAY

  1. Safety Bar Squat AMRAP @80%, 3 x 6-8 @70% 1. BB Bench AMRAP @80%, 3 x 6-8 @70% 1. Deadlift AMRAP @80%, 2 x 6-8 @70% 1. Hamstring Curl 3 x 12-15 1A. Close Grip Bench 3 x 8-10 @65%
2. RDL 3-4 x 6-10 2. Seated BB OHP 3-4 x 6-8 2. Pull Ups 3-4 x 6-8 2. Leg Press 3 x 10-12 1B. Deadstop DB Row 3 x 10-12
3. DB RFE Split Squat 3-4 x 8-10/leg 3. Dips 2-3 x 8-10 3. Meadows Row 3-4 x 8-10 3. Hack Squat Machine 3 x 10-15 2A. Machine or DB Fly 3 x 10-15
4. Seated Calf Raise 3 x 15-20 4. Side Lateral 3-4 x 8-12 4. BB Curl 3-4 x 8-10 4A. Leg Extension 2 x 15-20 2B. Cable or Machine Rear Delt Fly 3 x 15-20
5. Abs 3-4 x 10-20 5. Skull Crusher 3-4 x 8-10 5. Abs 3 x 10-20 4B. DB Walking Lunge 2 x 10-15/leg 3A. DB Shrug 3 x 15-20
5. Standing Calf Raise 3 x 15-20 3B. DB, Machine or Cable Pullover 3 x 12-15
4A.  Preacher Curl 3 x 12-15
4A.  Cable Pressdown 3 x 12-15

 

This program is starting off much like a bodybuilding style program. Again, Ryan knows me and is attacking my weaknesses. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that in talking to Ryan about this what impressed me was the questions he asked. Here is a small sample of questions and info I gave him.

 

  1. How many days a week do I want to train? (4-5).
  2. How much time can I dedicate to training? (1-1.5 hours).
  3. What do I enjoy doing? (Long answer).
  4. Can I train on the weekends? (yes but prefer shorter days).
  5. I also added that on Friday mornings I ride my bike and my heart rate tends to be at or above 90% for 20-30 minutes so this is not an ideal day to train hard.

I was happy with Ryan’s questions because as an experienced coach myself I know the most simple questions often give the best information. I have found too many coaches who major in the minor and forget that how much time one has can profoundly affect an outcome. Also, what do you enjoy doing is an underrated query.

 

Please feel free to follow along with me and Ryan with this new journey and let’s see if I get better or just stay not too bad :-).

 

Have fun, train hard, and don’t take it too seriously.

 

Hamer

 

 

 

Curtis Tips for Push/Pull Event

We are coming up on one week out from our member push/pull event on Sunday March 21st. As many of you are aware, we had initially planned to hold the event this time last year, but obvious events kept us from doing so. Now that our Performance Lab is open with access to a great outdoor turf addition, we felt as though it was a great time to bring it back and give our members a fun event and a thank you for sticking with us over the past year.

 

There’s a good chance that a large majority of our members who will sign up for the push/pull have actually never taken part in this sort of event, and that is completely fine. Our only goal with this is to do something fun for our members who have been working hard and have stayed consistent with their training and goals throughout the past year. With the addition of food and drinks, there’s no doubt it will be a great time. Along with this, we will be raising money for the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, and a couple of their staff members will be joining us to hang out and get to know our members.

 

As far as the specifics of a push/pull event, there are a few things that you will want to know and take into consideration before you begin.

 

First, it’s very important to understand the rules. This is something that we will be discussing throughout the week during Powerful class, but we will also hold a rules meeting at 7:30am on the morning of the event. In a push/pull event, you will be performing the bench press and the deadlift. For each lift, you will have 3 attempts to successfully lift as much weight as possible within the given rules. Before the event starts, you will give your opening attempt to the scorer. A good rule of thumb is to open with a weight that you could easily perform for 3 repetitions. After your opening attempt, you will go back to the scorer and let them know what weight you would like to lift for you 2nd attempt. During that time it will cycle through the rest of the individuals, and then come back to you for your 2nd attempt. Keep in mind, if you miss an attempt you cannot lower your weight. You can only attempt the same weight or choose to go up in weight, so choose wisely.

 

Next, there are certain commands that you will need to obey in order to have a successful lift. For the bench press, you will unrack the bar and wait for the judge to give you the “start” command. Once they do, you will lower the bar and touch your chest, pause it until it becomes motionless, and then the judge will give you the “press” command. Once you lock out the weight, you will hold it under control until the judge gives you the “rack” command. During that time, you must keep your glutes on the bench. If these are successfully done, then the result will be a “good lift”.

 

For the deadlift, there is only one command. You will walk up to the bar, and when you’re ready you will lift the weight and stand with it locked out. This means legs straight, hips into the bar, and chest tall. Once you are completely locked out, the judge will give you the “down” command. During that time you will lower the bar to the floor under control, and if all steps are done correctly, you will receive a “good lift”.

 

Last but not least, remember to have fun. This event is a way for you to challenge yourself, try something and learn something new, and to support and cheer along your fellow members and classmates who you have been working alongside of throughout your time here at Union Fitness. As always, do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions at all. We look forward to seeing you all enjoy yourselves. 

Powerlifting Adventures With Sky CeJ…(more importantly Sky)

To my most excellent Dudettes & Dudes,

 

Skylyn & I are beginning our powerlifting meet prep for the 2021 Iron City, Open and we want to share our adventures with you! On this 12 week journey we will show our training, go to meals, technique and cues we’re working on, recovery, the excitement of wrapping our knees and all of our nonviolent fist fights  & verbal screeches in between.

 

Just a quick brush up, a powerlifting meet. Meets usually start in the morning and go to late afternoon, so bring your snacks and maybe some caffeine. Women and men are broken down into weight classes and compete in their flights. The lifter will get three attempts to lift their maximal weight in the Squat, Bench & Deadlift (in that order). There are some commands and rules you have to follow, such as proper depth on the squat, a press command and not lifting your tush off the bench on the bench press and to lockout and hold your deadlift until the down command, to list a few. You add up to total weight of your top 3 successfully completed lifts and that is your total for the day. Remember at the end of the day, it’s a competition against yourself and really just to have fun tossing some weight around.

 

This week, we will be building our blueprint plan of attack for the next 12 weeks with some main goals being, build strength, movement efficiency and increase confident in the Squat, Bench & Deadlift. Our plans will be similar yet a bit different to address our specific needs and improve our weaknesses. For example, Sky may be able to handle more volume and frequency (reps/sets & amount of days/times performing a exercise during the week) than I would. So she may have an extra squat & bench session or a few more sets and reps in her program. Also most days we won’t be able to train together and will have to utilize different equipment and that is ok and we will make it work! So hold on to your butts, ask us some questions as we go and lets see where this ride takes us!

 

Be most excellent to one another!

 

CeJ

Training Update and the Benefit of Just Showing Up

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sample training week:

 

Day 1:

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

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

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

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

Hanging leg raises: 4×15 (strict)

 

Day 2:

Bench press: 5×5 w/2 chains per side

Incline DB press: 3×20

Barbell tricep extension: 5×10 

Single arm rows: 5×10 each arm

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

 

Day 3:

SSB good mornings: 5×5

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

Bent over barbell rows: 5×10

Hammer curls: 5×12

Ab rollouts: 4×12

 

Day 4: Optional

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

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

DB OH press: 4×10

Lat pulldowns: 5×12

Lying fatbell tricep extensions: 5×10

Curt’s Corner

As many of you are aware, we recently brought two interns on board to work with us here at Union Fitness for their final semester of College. As much as I enjoy giving them a hard time and testing their knowledge, they are both great and are willing to learn anything and everything they can.

 

Last week, I decided to quiz them and asked if they knew why the steel plates were flat on one side and grooved on the other. Naturally, they weren’t sure. Although the answer is very simple and something that everyone should know, it’s understandable why someone might not.

 

This got me thinking about some potential other areas regarding the weight room that may be overlooked, misunderstood, or even under appreciated.

 

  1. Putting plates on the correct way: The answer to this is simply so you can grab and load/unload the weights easier. This isn’t just for your own safety, but also those other members who need to use the weights after you. So be sure to put the weights on the bar facing inward, and put them back on the rack the same way.
  2. Proper warm-up: Your warm ups should always be done with purpose and intent. Do not take them for granted. The way you perform your warm-up will directly dictate how well you are able to perform your training session, along with the overall success of your session. If you are just putting a band around your knees and walking around for 1-2 minutes, I can assure you that you are not doing enough to prepare yourself for your training session. Select exercises that are directly related to the goal of your session and perform them with intent.
  3. Performing the full range of motion with your exercises: In the words of Thee Dave Jackson, “if the weight is dictating your ROM, then it’s too much weight”. Unless you are performing an exercise designed to be used with a shorter range of motion such as a floor press, or have a specific injury that you are working around, you should always be moving the weight throughout the entire range. Doing so will keep you safe, healthy, and strong.   
  4. Being aware of those around you: Little known fact, you are actually not the only person who is attempting to perform a workout in the gym. Be aware of how long you are on a piece of equipment in case someone else needs to use it as well. When you are walking around or carrying equipment, respect the space of those around you, especially if they are in the middle of performing a movement. The gym is one of the only places where we can all go to escape the challenges of everyday life. So respect everyone and share like your momma taught you.
  5. Ask for a spot: Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make you less cool if you ask another member or employee to spot you during your lift. In doing this, you may actually get some helpful tips or pointers that you were not aware of previously. On top of that, it will keep you safe and accident free so you can lift for years to come.

Curtis Challenges YOU!

Back by popular demand are our monthly challenges for all members and staff here at Union Fitness. For the month of February, there will be 3 different challenges to choose from. You can pick one of them, or you can do all of them and see how well you progress throughout the month. Just as we did in the month of December, we will place the scoring sheets on the glass outside of the cardio lab. These challenges can be done either here at Union Fitness or in the privacy of your own home if you aren’t able to make it in. Just be sure to tag us on instagram so we can record your score 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: Sand bag/Dball bear hug for time.

 

For this challenge, the goal is to bear hug a 200 pound sand bag or an 80 pound Dball for as long as possible without putting it down. You can stand in one place, walk around with it, or jump up and down if you want (although we don’t advise that). Just as long as you don’t put it down. Record your time and try to beat it throughout the month.

 

Challenge 2: Push-Ups.

 

Similar to our pull-up challenge from December, the goal here is to accumulate as many push-ups as possible over the course of the month. These can be done anytime and anywhere. Just record how many you have done. The only rule is that your arms have to reach a 90 degree angle on each rep. 

 

Challenge 3: Total calories burned.

 

This can be done on either the rower, ski erg, the assault bike, or a combination of all three. Record your total calories for each workout and add them up at the end of the month to see how you did.

 

As with each of these, we will select the male and female winners for each challenge. You’ve already started the year off strong. Now let’s keep it rolling and crush some new goals and personal records. Stay strong, friends!

Member Spotlight; Wardy

Union, we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, and shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!

 

This week we’d like to shout out Ward Stanford.

 

Ladies & Gents, here is the what is about, Wardy in his own words.

 

“I grew up in northeastern PA near Binghamton, NY. I’m not a native Yinzer but I moved here after living in a few different cities in PA, NY, and NJ to settle. I’m a Talent Manager for a Water Engineering company so I’m basically in charge of hiring people and keeping them happy. I’ve been doing Human Resources for my whole career. I’ve been training pretty seriously for about 6 years, I started doing some resistance training as part of a weightloss journey. I was obese from childhood through my later 20’s and decided after being over 400 pounds that I needed to change my life. I fell in love with the strength training side of exercise because it was truly a way to build myself and add something to my life that made me feel more confident. I still train that way to this day, focusing on just being muscular, strong and healthy for myself, I don’t compete in anything, I just train for me. I chose Union Fitness because it seemed like the best environment for me to do that. The variety of equipment and implements and supportive atmosphere made it easy for me to feel like I had a safe place to train anyway I wanted to and explore areas of fitness that you can’t really do in a gym with more specialization.  I love deadlifting and doing weighted carries for examples and finding a gym where I can do both of those things, inside or outside, and also use a treadmill and a preacher curl machine is extremely rare.”

 

A little more about Ward:

 

  1.  If Ward could lift with any President it would be Teddy Roosevelt. Our lift would be bully.
  2. Favorite PR song is Slaves and Bulldozers by Soundgarden. If you time the lift during the high note an angel lifts the bar for you.
  3. I have an entire Wall in my home dedicated to David Bowie.
  4. Shorts can never be short enough for me.
  5. Ward loves spicy food and will always try the ridiculous hot thing on a menu that will inevitably make him cry.
  6. Ward is a believer in the importance of a bigger picture of health so he advocates for therapy, meditation, stress management, philosophy, and mindfulness to support all of the physical and nutritional things we do for ourselves.
  7. If Ward was a character on a tv show he would be some combination of Patrick from Schitt’s Creek and Terry from Brooklyn 99.
  8. Ward is a much nicer in person than he looks, He is much friendlier than his face would seem
  9. Thank you Ward for being a great member of our gym community!

 

Cheers,

CeJ

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