She knows how to sleep!

Better Sleep Naturally with These 5 Steps

by: Paul Park M.S. CSCS

The most fit and healthy people in the world realize that it’s not the extraordinary actions done every so often, it’s the ordinary actions done consistently.

Water, movement, nutritiously dense foods, and….sleep!

If I had one cookie cutter remedy to instantly improve your fitness and health, for most people it would be just that, to spend more time in dreamland. 

The benefits of consistent restful nights of sleep are far reaching leading to endless downstream effects. From overall energy, mood, strength, endurance, skin health, and cognitive sharpness; there’s a reason why we spend a big bulk of our lives in the land of Z’s. Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep is a great reference for those who want to dive into the research, and learn all about the benefits of a great night’s sleep.

She knows how to sleep!

“Yeah I know Paul, you’re preaching to the choir! I know I should get a good night’s sleep, I just can’t seem to do it. It takes me forever to fall asleep and when I do it’s always spotty.”

It’s a hard deal! The modern world hasn’t exactly made it easier either.

From artificial lighting that let’s us rarely experience natural darkness (1), the constant access and demand of our work and bosses (2), to electronics that emit light and notifications that beg for our attention (3), it’s no wonder we are more sleep deprived than ever before. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 35.3% of US adults getting less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep in 2009. In addition, those people were more likely to unintentionally fall asleep during the day than those who got 7 plus hours of sleep (46.2% vs 33.2%).

Some of us even have the best intentions going to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s actually falling asleep without tossing and turning that can be the problem for many. I know I’ve had those nights, a big day ahead of me knowing I need to be my charming, energetic self. 2 hours later into a counting sheep session, I’m wondering how I could “fake it till I make it” during tomorrow’s three back to back group training sessions.

After some research, trial and error, and realizing how much more patience, energy, physical strength, and cognitive wit I had after consistent restful nights of sleep, I was able to whittle it down to 5 simple things. If I consistently made them a part of my routine, it would almost always lead to me falling asleep and staying asleep effortlessly. 

Keep a consistent sleep wake schedule

Our body’s feeling of sleepiness and wakefulness is determined by something called a circadian rhythm. The natural rise and fall of certain hormones underlie when we wake up and when we feel like we need to hit the hay. When our circadian rhythm falls into a predictable and consistent routine, the more likely we are to fall asleep faster and easier (4). So try going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday, even on the weekends, and you’ll find your body starting to feel sleepy at a predictable time almost everyday. To take it to the next level, try to train your body to wake up without an alarm clock

Get sunlight during the day

Our circadian rhythm is impacted largely by lightness and darkness. The light feedback that our eyes get through our retina tells our brain that it is daytime, and that we need to be awake and alert (3). While most us might think we get enough light throughout the day, a majority of that light can come from artificial lighting. Artificial lights, while seeming bright, fall at lower intensities than natural sunlight, and do not induce the same feedback in our brains as the sun does (3).

See if you can spend at least 30 minutes a day getting sunlight, or at least sit by the windows in your office. Even on a cloudy day it can make a difference! (5)

Limit electronics in the evening (or at least right before your bedtime)

Netflix, Instagram, Facebook, E-mail. All enthralling sources of entertainment, work, and seemingly an everyday part of our modern lives. While there is debate over whether or not our smartphones and these platforms are negatively impacting our mental health, the blue light that emits from our devices has been shown to suppress our melatonin levels (6). Melatonin is the hormone responsible for giving our body the sense of sleepiness. However, this effect on our melatonin seems to be temporary, as studies show a recovery to normal levels within 15 min from cessation of exposure (6). Takeaway: try to stay away from electronics close to your bedtime, but if you must check your email, do so away from your bedroom and your bed.

Limit caffeine past noon

As a fitness business owner, and one who regularly coaches 6am training sessions, coffee is and certainly will always be my best friend in the mornings. The cognitive and athletic performance enhancing effect is undeniable, as coffee is one of most commonly consumed drinks throughout the world. However past 12pm, while tempting, a second cup of coffee  risks me having trouble sleeping that same evening. Try to avoid coffee and caffeine products in the afternoon, as it’s been shown to have disruptive effects on our sleep (7).


I am certainly biased, but exercise is a catch all intervention for poor sleep as it handles its many intrinsic facets. The act of intentionally improving one’s health waterfalls into other habits such as avoiding alcohol and poor foods which negatively impact our sleep. That daytime run you’ve been meaning to try out? It will expose you to that sunlight needed (as mentioned above) to keep our circadian rhythm consistent and happy. There is also a bidirectional effect of exercise on sleep, as you are more likely to sleep when you exercise, and also more likely to exercise when you sleep (8, 9). The relationship between these two can not be understated! The biggest effects seem to come from exercise lasting more than an hour anytime during the day, but no closer than 2 hours before your bedtime (10).

There you have it, 5 natural ways of improving your chances of falling and staying asleep. While supplement and drug companies promote bandage solutions of prescribing pills and medicines, most of us will benefit from first making these 5 strategies a part of our daily routines. If you’ve had the awareness to compare your performance, mood, energy, and general grade as a human being from a good vs. bad night of sleep, and you know it is something that you want to improve, try out these 5 strategies. Your body, health, and fitness will certainly benefit, as you will be better prepared to handle the stresses of your life, and give your brain the power to tackle the new challenges of 2021!


  1. Wright, K. P., McHill, A. W., Birks, B. R., Griffin, B. R., Rusterholz, T., & Chinoy, E. D. (2013). Entrainment of the Human Circadian Clock to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle. Current Biology, 23(16), 1554–1558. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.CUB.2013.06.039
  2. Foster, R. G., & Wulff, K. (2005). The rhythm of rest and excess. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6(5), 407–414. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn1670
  3. Blume, C., Garbazza, C., & Spitschan, M. (2019). Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie, 23(3), 147–156. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x
  4. Goel, N., Basner, M., Rao, H., & Dinges, D. F. (2013). Circadian rhythms, sleep deprivation, and human performance. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science, 119, 155–190. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-396971-2.00007-5
  5. Figueiro, M. G., Steverson, B., Heerwagen, J., Kampschroer, K., Hunter, C. M., Gonzales, K., Plitnick, B., & Rea, M. S. (2017). The impact of daytime light exposures on sleep and mood in office workers. Sleep Health, 3(3), 204–215. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2017.03.005
  6. Tähkämö, L., Partonen, T., & Pesonen, A. K. (2019). Systematic review of light exposure impact on human circadian rhythm. Chronobiology International, 36(2), 151–170. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2018.1527773
  7. Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(11), 1195–1200. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3170
  8. https://www.npr.org/transcripts/705224359
  9. Kline C. E. (2014). The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. American journal of lifestyle medicine8(6), 375–379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614544437
  10. Driver, H. S., & Taylor, S. R. (2000). Exercise and sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 4(4), 387–402. https://doi.org/10.1053/smrv.2000.0110

A great way to build balanced lower body strength!

A great way to build balanced lower body strength!

A great way to build balanced lower body strength!

Knee Dominant Unilateral Progression

UpFit Training Academy

Jacob O’Connor, Brian Santanelli

Personal training and group fitness programs often take advantage of unilateral movements. Unilateral is just our way of saying using one side of the body at a time. These movements require a degree of balance and insure each side is working independent of the other. This prevents strength discrepancies which can lead to discomfort, pain, and injury! A priority of any personal training or small group program is to keep you healthy, which is why you might see a lot of these movements. These exercises a great for keeping your legs, hips, and back feeling strong and pain free!

Some of our favorite knee dominant unilateral movements can be found below. Enjoy!


Split Squat

Lateral Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

Forward Lunge

Sliding Lateral Lunge

These are some of the best knee dominant unilateral movements out there. Utilizing these exercises is a sure fire way to strengthen those legs, improve balance, and improve joint health! If you’ve been dealing with discomfort and can’t seem to find relief these just might be the key for you. We hope these help you to get out of discomfort and into balanced movement!

It's Time to Strengthen Your Strongest Joint

It’s Time to Strengthen Your Strongest Joint

It’s Time to Strengthen Your Strongest Joint

The Importance of Hip Strength and Stability

UpFit Training Academy

Jacob O’Connor, Brian Santanelli

The importance of strong and stable hips cannot be overemphasized. Whether it be for performance, aesthetics, or general health the hips should be a focus for the majority of personal training programs. The hips produce more force than any other joint in your body, this is where your greatest strength is stored!

The hips are integral for almost every lower body movement such as walking, jumping, squatting, and running. They are also essential for balance keeping us on our feet and assisting in movements such as twisting and throwing. Weakness or instability in the hips can negatively impact one’s low back, core, and lower body. Unfortunately, many of us do not have optimal hip movement many times due to a sedentary lifestyle. Unilateral movements do a great job of preventing uneven strength and development because they strengthen one side at a time. Here are some of our favorite unilateral hip exercises, we hope you enjoy!

DB Reverse Lunge

This movement is loaded with dumbbells held at one’s side. While maintaining a slight lean forward at the torso participants will step backward into a lunge creating a 90 degree angle at both knees. It’s important to keep the hips underneath the body throughout the lunge. Reps can be alternated or done on each side individually. 

DB Step Up

Dumbbell step ups are also loaded with dumbbells held at the side. Participants will step onto a bench or step driving through the front leg until fully extended. It’s important to make sure the entire foot is mounted onto the implement before stepping. The same leg used to step up will be used to lower the body back to the starting position. 

KB Front Rack Reverse Lunge

This movement is very similar to the dumbbell reverse lunge, the difference being how the exercise is loaded. The KB front rack reverse lunge is loaded with two kettlebells held in a front rack position. Because of the difference in loading, it’s important to emphasize tension in the upper body and a tall chest throughout each rep. 

Kickstand RDL

The kickstand RDL is loaded using dumbbells or kettlebells at each side. One foot will be against the wall, the heel of this foot will remain on the wall throughout the exercise. While maintaining tension in the upper back and lats participants will hinge forward towards the front leg. The kickstand RDL should be felt in the front hamstrings. Common mistakes include setting up too far away from the wall, letting the back heel come off of the wall, and losing tension in the upper body. 

Walking Lunge

A staple in many personal training regimens, the walking lunge is loaded with dumbbells or kettlebells held at one’s side. Participants will lunge forward creating a 90 degree angle at each knee and keeping the hips stacked underneath the body. You can choose to reset between each rep or reps can be linked together in a fluent walk. 

These exercises are great examples of movements you can do to strengthen your strongest joint! Prioritizing the hips can take your personal training or small group program to the next level. Taking advantage of unilateral variations is great for the hips as it’s not uncommon to see asymmetries in this area. Unilateral variations also have the added demand of balance which is important for all of us. These are simple movements that can be done with minimal equipment at home, we hope you try them out and enjoy! 

Sick of Slouching? It’s Time to Build Your Back

Sick of Slouching? It’s Time to Build Your Back

Sick of Slouching? It’s Time to Build Your Back

Perfect Your Posture with These Movements 

UpFit Training Academy

Jacob O’Connor, Brian Santanelli


Personal training and small group programs are often designed with the goal of improving muscular strength. As important as muscular strength is, maintaining a balance is perhaps just as essential. One of the most common strength imbalances we see is within the chest, shoulders, and upper back. It’s likely you or somebody you know suffers from this imbalance, associated with a rounding of the upper back and a slouching posture. This is likely caused by a tight chest and shoulders accompanied by a weak upper back comparatively speaking. This imbalance can lead to poor posture, decreases in sleep quality, and joint pain. Achieving proper muscular balance and posture can help us to feel more confident and comfortable, both on the inside and out. The best way to combat this imbalance is to stretch the muscles in the chest and front of the shoulders and to build a STRONG upper back!

You can find some of our favorite upper back strengthening exercises in our bilateral pull progression. We’ve incorporated some common technical errors along with the proper mechanics of the movements, we hope you enjoy and find this helpful!


The TRX row is a great movement used to increase upper back strength, hence why it’s used in so many personal training programs. This movement is easily progressed as the closer your feet are to the anchor the harder the movement becomes. It’s important to take the slack out of the straps before getting set into your first rep. Participants will lower the body away from the straps, before pulling the handles back towards the upper abs. A fist widths distance should be maintained between the body and the elbows. One of the most common errors seen with TRX movements is slouching of the hips, it’s important to keep the core engaged in order to maintain a rock solid posture throughout the movement!


The TRX face pull is a staple movement for improving posture in the upper back. Similar to the TRX row, the slack should be taken out of the straps before initiating the first rep. The elbows and shoulders should both be at a 90 degree angle at the top of the movement. Although the primary movers are in the upper back, it’s important to emphasize core activation to prevent those hips from slouching! There should be a command and control of the pace throughout the face pull. 


The seated row can be done with bands or cables. The bands should be pulled towards the upper abs maintaining a fist width distance between the elbows and the body. The band should have tension throughout the entire movement, if you feel slack in the band you need to back it up! 


The chest supported row is a simple movement that is easy to do wrong. The chest should be kept tall off the bench emphasizing extension of the upper back. Squeeze the mid back and bring dumbbells to the hip during the row. Like our other rows, elbows should be maintained at a fist widths distance from the body.  


The bent over row is the most complex movement in our bilateral pull progression. This movement should only be done once proficiency of the hinge is obtained. The hinge position should be maintained throughout the movement while bracing the core and engaging the upper back. The bar should be pulled to the upper abs before lowering back to the starting position. Use the lats in order to control the bar and keep it from drifting away from the body. The bar should be going where you command it to, not the other way around!

Implementation of simple upper back strengthening exercises can go a long way to improving one’s muscular balance, posture, and standard of living. Whether your goal is to improve your health or achieve a kickass aesthetic, prioritizing the upper back is essential. Some may benefit from incorporating a few of these into a warm up period in order to prime the upper back. Others may be better off designating sessions that priorities upper back strength. We hope our progression improves your personal training and helps you live your best life! 

The Importance of Upper Body Strength

The Importance of Upper Body Strength

The Importance of Upper Body Strength

UpFit Training Academy

Jacob O’Connor, Brian Santanelli

 For many people upper body strength is not among their top priorities or goals in regards to their personal training. While this aspect of fitness may not be as focused on as others such as weight loss, it’s importance should not be overlooked. Upper body strength plays an intricate role in everyday activities, the ability to perform exercises, and posture. Improving posture can go a long way in increasing our comfort and standard of living. This specifically applies for many of us in NYC who are stuck sitting and typing for long blocks of the day. Improving upper body strength can even improve one’s self confidence and reduce chances of injury. Our horizontal push progression can be found below.

High and Low Incline Pushup

The incline pushup is a great introduction to upper body strength training. The movement can be made harder by elevating the bar or bringing the feet closer together. The incline pushup should be performed on the balls of the feet and hands should be placed just outside shoulder width. The lower part of the chest should be lowered to the barbell or bench before pushing back up to the starting position. Common mistakes include slouching or arching at the hips and flaring at the elbows. The movement should be performed with shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in line and with the elbows about 45 degrees from the body. 

Negative Pushup

The negative push up consists only of the lowering portion of the movement. Hands should be placed just outside shoulder width while keeping elbows at 45 degrees or a fists width away from the body. The shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be kept in a nice straight line. Participants should slowly lower to the bottom of the pushup for an allotted amount of time. Upon reaching the bottom of the pushup reset and return to the top of the movement to continue the set. Negatives are a great way to build strength while working towards doing the full movement.  


The pushup is a staple in many personal training and small group fitness programs. This movement is also performed with the hands just outside of shoulder width and elbows should be maintained at 45 degrees from the body. The hips and shoulders should move together while keeping the core engaged. Unlike the negative pushup, the participant pushes up back to the starting position. 

Incline Bench and Flat Bench

The dumbbell bench (incline/flat) should be performed with the feet creating a stable foundation on the ground. The hips can be used in order to move the dumbbells into the starting position. Once in the starting position the wrist should be stacked over elbows with conscious effort to keep elbows 45 degrees from the body. Dumbbells should be pressed over the chest to form a “V” like shape before controlling them down to the starting position. The incline variation will target the upper chest more while the flat bench will demand more from the middle of the chest. 

When developing upper body strength it’s important that your personal training or group fitness program has a sense of balance. Too much work in any one area can create imbalances leading to poor posture and discomfort. It’s also an important reminder that throughout these exercises it’s essential to maintain awareness of core activation. Though the chest and triceps are the primary movers in these movements, there is also a key demand of core stability to achieve proper execution. We hope that you find our progression to be useful and helpful in becoming a better stronger you! 


Stop Eating LESS

Stop Eating LESS

There’s a reason most people regain the weight lost after a successful dieting period. Diets are not sustainable. Our body is smart enough to revert back to our previous heavier selves.
There’s got to be a better way; a long term, lifestyle approach that can keep weight “yo-yo” ing at bay.
In comes the idea of Energy Flux.
A higher Energy Flux, or eating more to fuel a higher energy expenditure, could be a healthier more sustainable lifestyle approach than the cliche and outdated “eat less and move more” one. (1)
It can lead to more fat loss, muscle gain, better recovery, more energy, and keep weight from regaining after a dieting period. (2)
Your body was designed to move, a lot, and to use plenty of high quality food as energy to fuel it.
We use the Thriving Factory analogy to explain this concept to our clients. Think of a thriving factory, tons of raw materials (calories) coming in, with busy workers (our metabolism) hustling to use up materials and produce lots of quality goods (movement). There are tons of jobs, the factory is lively, bustling, and making plenty of high quality products delivered with quality and efficiency.
The Eat Less and Move More model is telling us to have less raw materials, and still produce a ton of goods. After a while, our workers burn out, some quit on us, and the remaining start to demand more materials, causing us to take in more goods (calories) eventually.
No, we want a Thriving Factory that produces a ton of jobs, uses up a boat load of raw materials, and sends out many shipments of awesome goodies. Everyone’s happy, the workers, the bosses, the customers, and the wholesalers; it’s an everyday party in a Thriving Factory.
The key is to live a physically active lifestyle by upping your overall physical activity, and not depriving your body of nourishing, healthy, and nutrient dense foods . Those already moving around a bunch can push the intensity of your workouts a bit higher than you are used to.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you still need to be at a slight deficit, but having that overall deficit come from your increased and/or more intense activity levels can allow for more of the weight coming off as body fat rather than muscle.
A higher energy flux is also effective coming off a successful dieting period; practice living a higher energy flux lifestyle to make your weight loss gains more permanent and keep weight “yo-yo” ing at bay. Make your body into that Thriving Factory, your waistline, sanity, muscles, and overall health will thank you!
(1) David John Hume, Sonja Yokum, Eric Stice, Low energy intake plus low energy expenditure (low energy flux), not energy surfeit, predicts future body fat gain, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 6, June 2016, Pages 1389–1396, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.127753
(2) Melby, C. L., Paris, H. L., Drew Sayer, R., Bell, C., & Hill, J. O. (2019). Increasing energy flux to maintain diet-induced weight loss. Nutrients, 11(10). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102533

The Importance of Proper Hip Hinge Mechanics

The Importance of Proper Hip Hinge Mechanics

The Importance of Proper Hip Hinge Mechanics

Combating Back Pain with Strength

Upfit Training Academy

-Jacob O’Connor, Brian Santanelli-

The vast majority of us have experienced back pain at some point in our lives. The individuals who haven’t yet experienced back pain are lucky outliers among a sea of people who at some degree share this experience. There are a great deal of reasons as to why one may be experiencing back pain. For some of us we may have suffered an acute injury, others may have chronic pain caused by prolonged sitting and/or poor movement patterns. My guess is that the majority of back pain is caused by the latter. This is why it is essential for personal training and small group fitness programs to prioritize proper technique. Think about how much of each day you spend seated… Most of us are at a desk the majority of the day, at stressful jobs (especially in NYC), moving poorly if at all.

     All of this time sitting takes a toll on your hips, back, neck, and shoulders, leading to stiffness and discomfort. Back pain can be incredibly debilitating for some, bleeding into aspects of life such as sleep, recreation, and simple household tasks. Do you or someone you know commonly experience back pain? What are you doing to combat your pain? Improving the strength, stability, and mobility of your hips and back is a strategy on the forefront of treating and preventing back issues.

     The hip hinge is a fundamental movement for the vast majority of personal training and small group training programs. It is necessary to master the hip hinge in order to perform many hip/back strengthening exercises. The hinge looks simple, but it can be a deceivingly difficult movement to conquer. You can find our progressions of the hip hinge below. 

Medicine Ball Goodmorning

     A great introduction to the hip hinge, a heavy emphasis is placed on technique execution to properly develop this movement pattern. The front loaded weight gives a trainee an idea how to use the front muscles of the core. The feet will be hip width apart while engaging the core and lats. From there, drive the hips back with a slight bend in the knees. Once you’re at the bottom of a rep (you will feel a stretch in the hamstrings) bring the hips forward and shoulders upright while squeezing the glutes through the move.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

     This is a progression from the medicine ball good morning. The set-up is very similar here, but now the weights should be held at the side of the hips. The weight placement forces the trainee to use and strengthen the lats, as well as the upper back. Movement execution will be just like the med ball good morning. 

Kettlebell Deadlift

     Now that we’re pulling from the floor, our set-up will change. Standing over the kettlebell, hip hinge backward then bend the knees more than you typically would for a good morning. Grab the kettlebell by the horns and make sure the lats are engaged with a “squeeze the armpit” cue, creating pre-tension. Then drive your feet into the ground with your hips and shoulders moving at the same speed.

Trap Bar Deadlift

     Set up with the feet hip width apart inside of the trap bar. Hinge back, bend the knees and grab the bar. Center your hands and the weight, create pre-tension by squeezing the lats like the kettlebell deadlift, and fire up the core (take the slack out of the bar). Drive the feet into the ground and stand up.

Conventional Deadlift

    Set-up with the barbell over your midfoot and feet hip width apart. Hinge back and bend the knees, grab the bar with your hands just outside your legs. Create pre-tension to take the slack out of the bar and drive feet into the ground. Make sure to stand up tall and straight, not hyperextending at the low back.

     In a world full of back pain it’s important to identify exercises to strengthen these areas. As someone who has been through a few stints of back pain myself, I have a great appreciation for practical movements that go a long way. It can’t be understated how important it is to perform these movements correctly. Poor execution will not yield the same results and can be counterproductive, causing more discomfort. We hope that this progression can be of use to you and help you continue living a healthier, happier, and more physically active lifestyle. 


We’re all the same, except that we’re all different. 

We’re all the same, except that we’re all different. 

Different backgrounds, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, and stories.

Leg lengths, hand sizes, past injuries, fears, motivations, and dreams. 


Fitting square pieces into round holes will rub squares the wrong way. Can we mold our plan of fitness and health to collaborate and work with our multi shaped clients? This doesn’t mean straying away from the core principles of training, exercise science, and fitness, but instead catering the delivery, the ingredients, and communication. 


A single leg squat instead of a double leg squat for those who have back discomfort, or giving a celebratory high five (pre-covid) to the apprehensive beginner vs a simple positive nod and smile of acknowledgement to the veteran trainee. 

A remarkable, human approach. A people focused program. We like our stories being heard, and with consistency being the predominant determining factor for success in health and fitness, more stories need to be listened to.

“If you think the solution is more rules, and less humanity, I fear you will be disappointed by the results. Those that can bring humanity and flexibility to their interactions with other human beings will thrive.” – Seth Godin, Linchpin.

UpFit Training Academy - Squat Progression

UpFit Training Academy – Squat Progression

Building a Strong Foundation for Fundamental Movement

UpFit Training Academy – Squat Progression

Jacob O’Connor

      Unfortunately, the word basic is commonly interpreted as easy or unchallenging. Too often we are influenced by snippets of physical feats performed for social media. Impressive as they are, most of this content is made for views rather than results and is not a model for how we reach our fitness goals. Any structure built upon a poor foundation is doomed to break down, our bodies are no exception to this. Building a strong foundation is the key to success, safety, and results when it comes to any movement. This is a concept that should always be taken into account in personal training and small group fitness programs. 

       At UpFit Training Academy we emphasize the importance of mastering the basics before progressing to more complex movement. Keep in mind, although some movements may be less complex, by no means does this put a limit on the results and progress one can yield. By manipulating variables such as frequency, intensity, and volume impressive gains can be seen before moving to more complex variations. One example of perfecting your foundation can be seen in our progression of the squat. Our progression of the squat from least to most complex can be seen below. Note that each variation is nuanced, for example, using a box is a great way to establish depth and can be used in most squat variations. 

Medicine Ball Squat Press Out

     The med ball squat press out is a great introduction to the fundamental movement of the squat, fantastic for people who may be new to personal training or small group training. This variation utilizes a medicine ball as a counterweight, encouraging an upright posture and improving squatting mechanics. This movement is done by extending the ball forward as you descend into your squat. Returning the ball to its original position as you return to the starting position. 

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

     The goblet squat is a common variation suitable for most people. The movement is performed with a kettlebell or dumbbell held near the chest. The goblet squat puts an increased demand on your upper body and the core as it is more difficult to maintain an upright posture. 

Double Kettlebell Front Rack Squat

     The double kettlebell front squat is a progression of the goblet squat. As you can tell by the name this variation includes squatting with two kettlebells, thus requiring the load to be carried in the front rack supported by the trunk This variation allows for more weight to be used and adds significant demands on core stability. 

Barbell Front Squat

     The front squat is performed with a barbell in the front rack which displaces the load further from the body. This variation  has a high demand of mobility, specifically thoracic extension and external rotation of the shoulders. There are a number of front rack variations that can be used for those that find it difficult to achieve the classic front rack position. Using the barbell allows for essentially unlimited load to be used during the squat. It’s very important to develop a stable front rack to facilitate sound squatting mechanics. 

     At UpFit Training Academy we believe in mastering the basics in our personal training and small group fitness programs. Building a strong foundation in movements such as the squat is essential to achieving longevity and health in your pursuit of fitness. Simple movements, proper execution, increase in demands, further adaptation … RESULTS. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, although more complex movements can be aesthetically pleasing to the social media viewee,  it’s a mistake to rush into them by sacrificing the most important step; the basics. 

Do you need protein to lose weight?

Do you need protein to lose weight?

What does protein have to do with it?

At first apprehensive about showing her picture, Jill decided that her story was worth sharing!


Jill and Wes

This is Jill with Wes, and this is what she said to me when I asked her how she dropped 40 lbs since training with us…

“Well coming here to workout, but

a Sh%T load of chicken,
and not eating junk 70% of the time.”

Words from one of our most successful female clients down 40 lbs since training with us from 205 lbs.

As simple as it can get from someone who had about 150 questions before starting her fitness journey.

“You think lifting weights is better or cardio?”
“What about HIIT? I heard that works great.”
“What about going vegan, I just saw the game changers movie.”
“Won’t lifting weights get me bigger?”

And all questions you can expect from a beginning, inquisitive fitness hopeful overwhelmed with the black hole of internet information. And then realizing as she went on that consistency with the basics would carry her forward.

Protein, less crap, move more.

Might be important for weight loss

“Higher-protein energy-restriction diets lead to greater weight loss, fat mass loss, and preservation of lean mass along with greater improvements in select cardiometabolic health outcomes, over the shorter term, compared with lower-protein diets” (Leidy et al. 2015).

Simple but not easy.

“Although greater satiety, weight loss, fat mass loss, and/or the preservation of lean mass are often observed with increased protein consumption in controlled feeding studies, the lack of dietary compliance with prescribed diets in free-living adults makes it challenging to confirm a sustained protein effect over the long term” (Leidy et al 2015).

Not easy, but probably better than the Vegan and ab blaster program from your favorite Instagram fitness influencer.