Fitness & Wellness

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.
  2. Foster, R. G., & Wulff, K. (2005). The rhythm of rest and excess. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6(5), 407–414.
  3. Blume, C., Garbazza, C., & Spitschan, M. (2019). Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie, 23(3), 147–156.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  10. Driver, H. S., & Taylor, S. R. (2000). Exercise and sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 4(4), 387–402.

Good Workouts For Couples

Good Workouts For Couples

Young muscular couple doing strength exercise at the cross fit workout.

One of the things that help people stick to a workout is having a workout buddy. If you have someone else that holds you accountable, you’re more likely to go to the gym or workout. That’s also what makes working out with a spouse so beneficial. In fact, it can actually cause some beneficial competition to stick with a workout program and make progress. Here are workouts for couples for those people who want to add the gym to their list of date night destinations.

You must decide on the ground rules and goals before you start.

Do you want to keep peace? Before you start any program of exercise with a significant other, set ground rules and goals. When you come to the gym, we always find out what your goals are before we create a program for you. It’s even more important if you’re working out with a spouse. Remember when setting goals that men tend to lose weight faster than women do because they have more muscle tissue.

Do you need a partner to spot or hold your feet for a back extension?

You don’t need to find someone in the gym to help you with certain exercises that require a spotter or need extra help by holding your feet or watching your form. Your spouse automatically becomes the spotter, coach and cheerleader. You don’t need a glute-ham raise machine to do a glute ham raise when you do it as a couple. One person holds your legs as you kneel on the floor. You then start lowering your upper body toward the ground. Don’t touch the ground but slowly raise your body back up. It’s a tough exercise and can hard for the partner who is holding your legs.

Even squats can be more fun when you’re doing them as a couple.

Try a fun exercise, like a back-to-back squat with your arms interlinked. Just start in standing position, back-to-back and link your arms. Then squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground and your bodies straight. Then try a back-to-back squat with your arms crossed in front of you.

  • Exercising together can improve your love life. Many studies show that it makes couples feel more satisfied with their relationship. Sharing the time and the common goal can also strengthen the bond.
  • Planks are tough enough, but working as a couple, you can make them tougher. Do planks together facing each other and in the middle of the hold, extend one hand and do a high five, then bring it back to starting position.
  • If you’ve never done a wheelbarrow walk with your kids, it’s nothing more than your partner getting on all fours with you picking up his/her legs then walking with them, like they’re a wheelbarrow. It can be fun and something you can do with a spouse or even the kids.
  • Our group fitness classes are perfect for couples, but if you choose you can create a small group session for you and your special someone. The two of you can also learn healthier recipes you can make together.

For more information, contact us today at UpFit Academy!

Are Protein Supplements Dangerous?

Are Protein Supplements Dangerous?

Whether they’re trying to lose weight or build muscles, some clients of UpFit Training Academy in New York, NY, have wondered whether the protein supplements advertised can help. You see a lot of information on the internet, some of it promotes these supplements and other information says protein supplements are dangerous. For instance, protein supplements can be beneficial for elderly and sick people who have a hard time eating enough or digesting adequate protein.

You can get too much protein, even if it’s good for you.

One of the biggest problems with using protein supplements it that you can get too much protein and protein supplements may contain other substances that aren’t good for you taken in large quantities. Some protein supplements also have high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Consuming too much can cause damage to the body. Other protein supplements that come from soy can actually increase the body’s estrogen levels. If you’re lactose intolerant, avoid protein supplements with whey and dairy products. Too much protein can also cause kidney damage by putting an extra burden on the kidneys. It also can cause constipation. Protein supplements with whey protein may cause concerns about osteoporosis and potential liver damage.

The best way to add protein to your diet is by eating a food source of protein.

While not everyone can eat enough protein or process it properly to get the full benefit, most people can. Adding extra protein to your meals, particularly if you’re trying to build muscle tissue, is the best way to achieve that goal. Not only do you get the additional protein, but other nutrients found in whole food. You’ll feel full and satisfied consuming whole foods. Supplements can’t supply that feeling.

There may be good reason to supplement your diet with protein.

Vegetarians have more of a problem filling their protein need. They have to combine two sources of protein to get a complete source. A protein supplement can help make it easier. A good vegan protein supplement helps fill the gap. If you’re an athlete, you may need extra protein if you’re in training and building muscle mass. If you need to stabilize blood sugar when under stress to avoid hypoglycemia or to help repair tissue that breaks down under stress, protein supplements can help.

  • Extra protein from a supplement can help with weight loss. It makes you feel fuller for longer, so you aren’t tempted to eat other high calorie food.
  • If you’re just beginning a workout program, supplementing a little with protein can help. You’ll need it to build muscle tissue and use more than you normally would. We can help you with a healthy diet to increase your protein intake, so you don’t have to supplement.
  • Watch out for additives if you choose a protein supplement. In order to make the supplements more palatable, some have added sugar and flavoring. You’ll be far better off eating Greek yogurt and fruit than choosing that type.
  • Most people find that adding a bit of protein supplement to their smoothie is the best way to use it. Many types of protein supplements are hard to dissolve in water and can taste awful.

For more information, contact us today at UpFit Academy!

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,
(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).

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.