Tag Archives: workouts

Ten Reason to Join us for Squatober

  1. Squatting everyday will make you stronger and cooler.
  2. Completing any challenge is a good thing.
  3. A cool T Shirt.
  4. A free massage.
  5. If you are a fitness center member you get a free upgrade to strength lab for one month.
  6. It is for a good cause (outfits an underprivileged school with a weight room).
  7. Meet some new friends who also like to squat.
  8. Everyone can pick on CeJ.
  9. PR Party at the end of the month.
  10. For every person who does this I will personally donate 5 dollars to a charity of your choice (when in doubt bribe them).

 

These are my reasons why you should join us for our first Squatober here at UF.

 

Todd Hamer

Control Your Deadlifts for Better Progress.

Out of all of the major compound lifts, the deadlift is the only one that does not require an eccentric (lowering) phase to initiate the movement. Because of this, the concentric (lifting) portion is hands down the most important aspect to be trained. But, what if I told you that focusing on how you return the bar to the floor could greatly help you increase the quality and strength of your pull?

 

We’ve all seen it, someone sets up for a set of deadlifts, lifts it with great form and control, only to be followed by an uncontrolled limp-body descent. If you watch closely, there’s a good chance that you’ll notice each of the following reps become less sound and less technical than the one before. Whether you’re a powerlifter training for a competition, or someone simply looking to improve strength, the goal should always be to make every repetition an exact representation of the one before.

 

Now, I completely understand that holding a bar in your hands loaded with heavy weight for any period of time can be uncomfortable. The last thing that anyone wants is to feel the knurling of a bar trying to pull the skin off of their hands. But if you’re going to take the time to perform a lift every single week for months and years on end, why not take the time to get the most out of it possible, right?

 

So, if the deadlift is a concentric only lift, then what’s the point of worrying about how we lower it? Well, let’s look at the squat and the bench press. As you lower the bar, you’re gaining feedback from your body on what muscles are firing and how to keep them tense and engaged. This then allows you to be in a stronger position for the concentric portion. So even if the squat and bench press started from the bottom up, by practicing this technique we would sill get stronger. The more practice we have doing this and the better that we get, the more efficient we can be. Over time, this adds up into many technically sound lifts, which allows us to also get stronger.

 

So how do we apply this to the deadlift? The easiest way is to try to make your pull and your return look like a mirror image. If you were to watch the entire lift on film, it should look the exact same when played forward or backwards. While you’re doing this, be sure to start light and take your time. Understand that at first this may affect how much you can lift overall, but it will drastically improve your strength over time. Start with around 60-70% of your max and try to take around 3 seconds to return the bar to the floor. During that time, focus on recognizing which muscles are working, and what needs to be done in order to keep them engaged. Do not lose that tension once the bar returns to the floor. Even in between reps, keep tension, stay engaged, and in the exact position that you want to perform the next rep. This will then help you know exactly what to do when you begin your first pull, even without being able to perform the eccentric phase. Over time, as you learn how to build and keep tension throughout your body, you can start applying this to heavier weights, and you will begin to see your strength and technique improve tremendously.

 

If you see me in the gym, don’t hesitate to grab me and ask for help. If you follow me on Instagram, don’t hesitate to send me your videos. I’m glad to help any way I can. Stay strong, my friends!

 

Curtis

Let’s Ride and Make the World a Better Place

The week for our bike ride is upon us!

 

As you have probably seen we are hosting a bike ride fundraiser. We are excited as this is something new to Union Fitness. The ride is called “Bike Ride for Black Lives.” All funds raised will be donated to the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

 

FAQ

 

What are the ride options?

 

We are hosting a 10, 30 and 50 mile ride.

 

What are the routes?

 

We will have maps available the day of the ride.

 

The ten mile ride will leave Nova Place, ride to the Northside trail and follow the trail beside the Allegheny River and back to Nova Place.

 

The thirty mile ride will cross into town, then catch the Great Allegheny Passage and ride up past the waterfront and back (it will end at about Kennywood).

 

The fifty miler will follow a similar route to the thirty except follow the GAP past Mckeesport.

 

How do I register?

 

Click here and scroll down to Saturday. The ride is listed as one of our “classes.” This “class” is free to anyone (member or non-member of UF).

 

How do I donate?

 

All donations are taking place through our go fund me page, click here for that site. 

 

What time does the ride start?

10 mile family fun ride. This ride will leave UF at 10:30 AM with registration at 10 AM.

30 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 9:30 with registration at 9 AM.

50 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 8:30 with registration at 8 AM.

 

Will there be rest stops?

 

For the 30 and 50 mile rides we will have a support crew at the waterfront. They will have water, gatorade and snacks.

 

Let’s Roll.

Team UF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State of the Union

Summer is quickly coming to a close and we are preparing to spend more time indoors. With the change of season we feel it is important to discuss a few different things. First we want to be sure everyone feels comfortable training in a safe environment.  We also want to show all of you other projects we are working on to make us not just a stronger community but also a better community.

 

In August we began an assessment of the gym and of our services. We have had a questionnaire at the desk for over a month now. Over 50 members responded and most comments were positive. What we did learn is that keeping a clean and safe environment is very important to all of our members. We take this very serious, and have been running through cleaning products quite fast. We are doing our best to not only make sure the facility is clean, but to also make sure everyone feels comfortable. Please tell us when you see any issue that makes you feel unsafe.

 

As you have probably seen we have done our best leaving doors open and moving outside for as many activities as possible. We will continue to do this as the weather permits. Let’s hope it stays warm so we can continue to be outside. Once the weather changes and we can no longer move outside we will review how many people are permitted in the gym (this has not been an issue yet). We are hoping that everyone can continue to work together to make us the best gym in Pittsburgh and the safest.

 

Return of the podcast.

 

We now have our own recording studio. With the help of one of our awesome members and local podcast host Josh Elsass we set up a recording studio and we are going to return to recording weekly podcasts. These podcasts can be found on all your podcast apps and is called the Union Fitness Podcast. While you are at it check out the numerous podcasts that Josh hosts.

 

Bike ride time.

 

We are hosting a bike ride on Sept 26th (special thanks to Jessie Theisen). The ride will benefit Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. We are asking for donations through our go fund me site and you can sign up on using MindBody app or through our website. The details are below and here is the link for donations.

 

 

Date: Saturday, Sept 26th

 

Location: Union Fitness

 

Ride Options: 10 mile family fun ride. This ride will leave UF at 10:30 AM with registration at 10 AM.

30 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 9:30 with registration at 9 AM.

50 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 8:30 with registration at 8 AM.

 

Other updates.

 

After our review we also discussed our classes and how we can improve the experience for you the member. We will be adding some free classes for all members until the end of the year (watch for an announcement), we are also going adjust our schedule slightly. As always if you see something that does not work for you please communicate that to us.

 

We are also beginning an instagram meet the staff series. Every Thursday you will see a short video highlighting one of our staff members. Hopefully this will introduce some of you to our amazing team here at UF.

 

As always feedback is welcome. If you every have any issues in the gym please contact Todd Hamer todd@unionfitness.com and feel free to give us the good, the bad and the ugly. We are here to serve you.

 

Todd Hamer

 

 

 

 

Meet Dave

Hello Union Fitness Family,

 

My name is Dave and I’d like to introduce myself as the newest member of the Union Fitness Family!  I just finished my first month and will be coaching group and personal training sessions as well as holding down the front desk at times.  My first month has been great so far and I look forward to many more.  What I love about being at Union Fitness is the people.  I personally believe you’re not going to find a more well rounded group of coaches and trainers in the area who truly care about wanting to make other people better.  The whole reason I got into strength and conditioning and more specifically coaching is to help others and it is great to be around others who share that same mission.

 

My strength and conditioning journey started 6 years ago as an assistant high school football and strength coach in Lexington, KY.  Since then I primarily spent time in Division I college football, twice at the University of Akron, once as an intern and as an assistant, and at the University of Maryland between being an intern and an assistant.  Last year I spent time working with Grossetti Performance out of New Castle, PA assisting with NFL Draft Prep.  I also spent time at another sports performance facility here in Pittsburgh before coming to Union Fitness where I worked with not only local athletes, youth and professional, but also coached group and personal training sessions.  I am currently finishing my Masters in Strength and Conditioning from LaGrange College and will be finished January of 2021.  

 

I could definitely share more but maybe I will hold off for another post if Hamer let’s me write another one.  If you see me at the gym don’t hesitate to come up and say hello and I look forward to doing what I can to help make Union Fitness the best place to train in Pittsburgh.  

 

All the best,

Dave

 

Iron City Open 2020, Wrap Up

Well folks we hosted our first meet during a pandemic. We had to follow many new procedures and guidelines, yet I am confident that we pulled it off in a safe and strong manner. We want to thank everyone who was involved. Meet organizers, volunteers, competitors, judges, friend and family. Thank you all for coming out and supporting the lifters.

 

As most people know we had to have a meet with limitations on how many people were permitted to be here and while requiring masks. We are proud and happy about how so many people came together and supported one another while respecting all safety guidelines.

 

The meet itself had a very different feel as it was moved from a 2 day meet to a 1 day meet. There was no large crowd of cheering fans and anyone who wanted to watch had to bring their own chair and sit outside. At times it felt more like a picnic than a meet.

 

As for the lifting… let us have an ego here. UF did great! All the lifters who train here did great! Our own Cody Miller won best lifter. The best female lifter was Kelly Piccione. Josh, Bobby, Monica, Stew, Simone  (adopted UF lifter),  all had amazing days! I also want to thanks all of these people for helping make the day successful, Dave, Matt, Josh, Kerry, Liz, Cayt, Vicky, Bryce, Frank, Keenan, Curtis, CJ, Cody, Faruk, Jared, Nate, Derek, John,  Toria, Zain and all others hopefully I didn’t miss anyone.  Thanks to all vendors as well.

 

At the end it was a successful meet and we hope that we met everyone’s expectations. We also must thank you for being members and supporting us through these strange days we are living in.

 

Todd Hamer

 

 

We Need YOU!

It has been an interesting year for me personally and professionally. In the last 12 months I left an industry that I was in for two decades, moved, became the GM at UF and we then had a pandemic. During this time we as a team here at UF have been able to review and reflect on our why. Why do we work here? Why do we do what we do?

 

What I have learned over the last 12 months is that there are many parallels from my previous industry to my current industry. As with most jobs our jobs here are people first. We must help all members of UF as well as Team UF (this includes all employees). A piece of advice I was once given about this, always be employee first not customer first. If as co-workers we don’t treat each other well then we won’t treat the customer well. Our goal is to treat you well and give you the opportunity to succeed.

 

UF members join for a multitude of reasons. Some members just come to run on a treadmill and get a little sweat, some do yoga and others join to be a high level athlete. No matter the reason anyone comes to UF it is our job to empower you to be a better version of yourself. With this in mind we are now asking you for some feedback about how we can better service you!

 

Next time you visit UF please stop at the front desk and fill out a short questionnaire about how we are performing. We debated doing this online, the reason we are doing this in the gym is we want you, the people who actually attend the gym to give feedback. Please be honest and give us your opinions. We are going to leave these questionaries up until the end of next week. After we receive all of them we will review and I will write another blog post about what we are doing to address any issues that we see.

 

Yours in strength,

 

Todd Hamer

Bike Ride for Black Lives

One of the goals here at UF is to reach out to the community and do our part to make this world of ours a better place. Keeping this in mind we will be hosting our first ever fundraising bicycle ride. The title of the ride is “Bike Ride for Black Lives. I have added the details of the bike ride. I would be remiss if I did not add that one of our members is the real reason this is happening.

 

Jessie Theisen is one of our awesome members and she approached me with this idea a few weeks ago. We immediately got to work to make this happen. I want to publicly thank Jessie and her husband Will for getting this started.

 

Details:

 

The ride will occur the weekend of Sept 26th. We are still deciding on whether we will ride on Saturday or Sunday. We are working with a few others groups to make this the best day possible so this decision will happen by the end of the week.

 

We are setting up a go fund me account to donate. All the money raised will go to, the Urban League of Pgh.

 

We are going to have 3 ride options ranging from 10-50 miles. We will have three different start times as well so that the riders doing the long rides will have more time to finish the ride.

 

Sign ups will be live at the beginning of September and will be handled through UF. If you want to involved as either a rider, volunteer or sponsor please reach out to me anytime.

 

Ride Strong!

Todd Hamer

Signal and Noise

I am not sure who at UF is a musician yet I have been playing and performing for my entire life. If anyone has every recorded music you should have heard the terms signal and noise. Each of these matter and I am going to explain why each is important to you in your life, art and lifting.

 

Signal

 

The signal is what you trying to get across to the listener and is generally the main point of the music. To the untrained ear they will often only hear the signal and not catch any of the noise.

 

The signal in lifting and in our lives is simply what we are trying to focus on. It could be the lift itself or quite often a cue from one of our training partners. We send signals to each other all the time while training. Without the signal the noise will do no good for anyone. I look at the signal as following the rules. We must learn the rules before we can consider breaking them. As a beginner make sure you focus on and make your signal very clear.

 

Noise

 

The noise is any of the background sounds in the recording. At times this can be very intentional while at others it can be what the mics happened to pick up or even the echos of the room.

 

The noise to me is where the true magic and beauty happen. One of the biggest mistakes I see in music today is the overproduction of recorded music. For reference point on noise listen to anything recorded using analog not digital recording techniques. Often you can hear the singer breathe or ones finger slide across the guitar. It is  these small serendipitous moments that make the music great. It is also when we learn the most about the music and the artist.

 

In our training and lives noise are the things that we were not prepared for, and how we overcome these issue is how we learn. If your goal for the day is 10 reps and at 10 you decide to keep going and you roll through 20 reps that is noise. It just happened and you went with it. The beauty in this noise is that nothing else matters at this point, the noise is the purpose now.

 

I hope by now you see my point as better stated by Pablo Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Make fun mistakes, makes some noise and cause some good trouble.

 

Keep rockin and rollin!

Hamer

 

 

Now That’s NEAT!

“Low energy flux, but not energy surplus, predicted future increases in body fat. Furthermore, high energy flux appeared to prevent fat gain in part because it was associated with a higher resting metabolic rate.”
-Hume et. al 2016

 

I often share this advice as one of the most actionable items for a fat loss client. Daily movement can be the secret weapon in achieving your fat loss goals. We are designed to move as humans, and we should be moving often. However, today’s society tries to make us move less and make life even more convenient than how it was for our ancestors. What’s worse, when we are in a caloric deficit and trying to lose fat, our brains may try to fight against us and down-regulate movement since we are consuming less calories. We need to be conscious of our movement and make it a daily habit like brushing your teeth and bathing. You do those things, right? Right?

 

I’ve had this conversation quite frequently over the past months: “I’ve gained weight during COVID-19 despite continuing to train or keeping my diet the same. What should I do?” While there are many factors why this could be, a big culprit in many might be the loss of NEAT.

 

NEAT is roughly attributed to 15-20% of your total daily energy expenditure. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or purposeful exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, household chores, and even fidgeting. If you had a job that required you to be on your feet prior to COVID-19 and now you are exiled to your couch, this can be why those pounds seem to be racking up.

 

Research by Shook et. al showed that a threshold for achieving energy balance occurred at an activity level corresponding to 7116 steps per day, an amount achievable by most adults. This research also showed that “the theory of the zone of regulation is important because it relates the accumulation of adipose tissue as not only occurring as a result of low amounts of energy expended but also that physical activity plays a regulatory role in the amount of energy consumed via appetite signals.” So what this means if that NEAT is low, you likely won’t be able to regulate your appetite and there’s a greater likelihood of storing fat. I hope this gives you closure knowing that there was always a deeper reason why you were diving headfirst into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on a Sunday night. Blame it on your lack of NEAT, anyone?

 

As part of a daily checklist for my fat loss clients, I require them to perform 10,000 steps. Put on a podcast/audio book, call an old friend while walking, or simply enjoy your time to yourself while exploring a new route and become one with nature. If you are a busy professional, consider taking walking meetings or perform 10 -minute walks. A 10 minute walk every 60-90 minutes can do wonders for NEAT and will probably provide better mental focus as well. No matter how you choose to do it, my advice is the same: get up and get moving! 

 

References 

 

Hume, D. J., Yokum, S., & Stice, E. (2016). Low energy intake plus low energy expenditure (low energy flux), not energy surfeit, predicts future body fat gain. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 103(6), 1389-1396. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.127753

 

Shook, R. P., Hand, G. A., Drenowatz, C., Hebert, J. R., Paluch, A. E., Blundell, J. E., . . . Blair, S. N. (2015). Low levels of physical activity are associated with dysregulation of energy intake and fat mass gain over 1 year. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(6), 1332-1338. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.115360