Plyometrics! A Boost to Your Backside!

Plyometrics! A Boost to Your Backside!

Your lower body is the easiest and quickest place to build calorie torching lean muscle. You’ve got over 200 muscles below the belt, not the mention the largest muscle in your body – your gluteus maximus. So, get off your glutes and get your lower body going in everything you do! Stand on one leg for shoulder presses, squat during biceps curls, etc – the more you work your lower half, the better.

For an even bigger BOOST to your BACKSIDE and lower body consider adding plyometrics to your training toolbox.  Plyometrics are powerful, explosive movements that train the body to produce power quickly as well as build strength, size, stamina and promote muscle definition.

Begin plyometric training by using body weight only; additional resistance in not necessary until you perfect the form of each plyometric movement as well as build up initial muscular strength and endurance in the explosive movement pattern.  Learn the start and end position of each plyometric and practice those first, then add the explosive portion of the movement.  This helps ensure proper biomechanics for joint safety.  Try these 3 exercises, adding the first 2 exercises to your lower body workouts and the third to your upper body workout:

Squat Jump: Start with feet hip width apart, toes and knees straight ahead, elbows bent and arms by your side.  Bend at the knees and hips until in a squat position with hips slightly higher than your knees – this is where you will start and end.  Inhale as you drop the hips down slightly lower (drop 3-4 inches); exhale while using as much power as you can and quickly push off the ground jumping as high as you can.  When your feet touch back down immediately soften the knees and return to start/end position.  Try 15 jumps, rest 30 seconds and perform 15 more.

sqaut jumps

A squat jump...

Split Lunge Jump:  Start with feet split into a lunge position, knees, feet and hips pointed straight ahead, elbows bent with arms by the side and both knees bent slightly with front knee not quite to 90 degrees of flexion.  Inhale and drop hips until front knee is at 90 degrees of flexion; exhale and push quickly and forcefully off the ground into a jump.  While in the air switch the legs and feet so when you land the foot previously in front is in back (and vice-versa).  When feet hit the ground immediately soften the knees and land in the start/end position.  Try 10-16 jumps, rest 30 seconds and perform a second set.

split lunge jump

Split lunge jump...

For a great finisher, consider a “Frog Jump Burpee”: Start with feet hip width apart, toes and knees straight ahead, elbows bent and arms by your side.  Bend at the knees and hips until in a squat position with hips at or below knee level (remember leap frog??) arms down front – this is where you will start and end.  Inhale as you drop the hips down exhale while using as much power as you can and quickly push off the ground jumping as far forward as you can.  When your feet touch back down immediately soften the knees and perform a squat thrust, or “burpee” as we used to call them in gym class!  Hands should be out in front of the body slightly wider than the shoulders, jump feet back to a ‘push-up position’.  And quickly return feet to start and stand up for another frog jump!

The human body is amazing in its capacity to adapt.  When you perform resistance training on a regular basis, the body will adapt fairly quickly to the loads (amount of weight), repetitions, exercises, and style of lifting that you are using.  This is why so many exercisers plateau and stop seeing results – they continue to exercise the same way, day after day and month after month.  Not only does boredom set in, but some of the lost pounds settle back on and some of the muscle mass gained decreases.  If you want to continue to see improvements and changes in muscle mass, shape and tone you must find ways to challenge the body by introducing different types of stimuli at least every 2-3 months.

So what are you waiting for?  JUMP!

Lisa Welko is an ACE certified and AFAA certified group fitness coach and owner of Ellipse Fitness, a classes only fitness franchise that is planning a nationwide expansion.  She can be reached at or on her website

Under Arm Dingle Dangle

U.D.D.—at Ellipse we’ve coined this acronym for “Under Arm Dingle Dangle!” People from all walks of life struggle to avoid the dreaded flabby, jiggly arms— Time can be an issue when you want to fucos in on a certain goal, but not let your BIG VISION of total body fat loss fall to the wayside!  You want results—and fast! With that in mind, the American Council on Exercise, the nation’s Workout Watchdog, sponsored comprehensive research to determine which exercises are most effective—and efficient—for targeting the triceps. Armed with this new research, we’re able to better guide our members and the public in their efforts to tone and strengthen their triceps!

See this video, showing you a few quick basics on the best moves for toning and tightening up the dreaded jiggles under the arm!

THE TOP THREE—shared with us from the American Council on Exercise


Triangle Push Up

Triangle Push Up

The triangle push-up derives its name from the placement of the hands during the exercise. Unlike a traditional push-up, with hands positioned beneath the shoulders, the triangle push-up involves placing the thumbs and forefingers together to form a triangle position.

Stiffen your torso by contracting your core/abdominal, gluteal and quadriceps muscles and align your head with your spine. Place your feet together with your ankles dorsiflexed (toes pointed toward your shins). Due to the challenging nature of this position, however, you may want to start with a modified version of the exercise by placing your knees on the floor.

For the downward phase, slowly lower your body toward the floor while maintaining a rigid torso and keeping your head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upward during this downward phase. Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touches the mat/floor.

For the upward phase, press up through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and keeping your head aligned with your spine. For extra strength, think about pushing the floor away from you. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upward. Continue pressing until the arms are fully extended at the elbows.




For the study, dips were performed using a low bench, but just about any sturdy chair or ledge can be used. Begin by placing your hands on either side of your hips so your palms are resting on the bench and your fingers are hanging over the edge. With your feet together, extend your legs out in front of you.

Carefully move your buttocks off the bench, while leaving your hands in place. Lower your hips toward the floor until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push back up using your hands rather than your legs, and repeat.

Proper form in performing the triceps kickback exercise is important not only for targeting

Triceps Kickbacks

Triceps Kickbacks

triceps activity, but also for safety reasons to prevent additional loading on your spine.

Begin by holding a dumbbell in your left hand and assume a split-stance position. Place your right leg forward, but keep your weight evenly distributed through the heels of both feet. Stiffen your torso by contracting your abdominal and core muscles. Place your right hand on your right thigh or knee and slowly lean forward, transferring most of your upper-extremity body weight onto that right side. Depress and retract your left scapula—pull your shoulder down and back—and maintain this position throughout the exercise. Your head should be aligned with your spine.

Position your left upper arm parallel to, and close to, your torso. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees or at least to a point where your forearm hangs vertical to the floor.

For the upward phase, exhale and slowly extend (straighten) your elbow by contracting your triceps muscles until your elbow is fully extended. Your upper arm should remain stationary next to your torso and not raised during the movement. Avoid any arching or sagging in your low back or any rotation in your torso.

For the downward phase, inhale and slowly return your arm to your starting position, without changing your torso position. Keep your upper arm parallel and close to your torso.

This study was funded solely by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).


The Demand for Cheap Food May Cost You

      Corn is used for many purposes in the United States. You will find it in almost every product on a grocery store shelf, lip balm, and your gas tank. According to the movie King Corn, each of us is comprised of mostly corn. By having a small strand of hair tested in a lab, it turns out that we are made up of mostly corn ourselves. This sweet product is taking a toll on our animals, agriculture, diet, and economy.
     Viewing this movie inspires deep thought of all products Americans have come to take for granted. Corn tortillas, chips, popcorn, and starch are a few items that immediately follow ‘corn on the cob’ on the train of thought. Hamburgers, french fries, canned fruit, syrup, oils, vanilla extract, and xanthan gum are not usually top of mind when listing corn products. After viewing this film, this writer has an entirely new outlook on, perhaps our oldest American food. It is hard to keep from wondering “Am I mostly corn?”
     Could this explain why sometimes today’s exercise and nutrition enthusiast, if only for a day, feel like their metabolism is like a 40 year old furnace? Sometimes it works great after you throw a log on the embers. Other times it needs tweaking. More often, some of us would love to toss it out and buy a newer model. Human beings are in grave danger of becoming a corn byproduct.
     This film discusses the viability cattle possess to simply survive after years of eating too much corn. Today’s cattle consume 70% of our nation’s antibiotics because of how sick the corn makes them. Without the antibiotics, they would die early and diseased. According to Jamie Oliver, a noted chef, our children are destined to live a shorter life span due to diet and poor nutrition. The inner workings of human beings are getting “gummed up” with too much high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, caramel, confectioner’s sugar, and sucralose which are all derived from corn.

Quotes from this film:

“Hamburgers are fat disguised as beef.”
“There is no nutritional value to today’s corn.”
“There is great demand for cheap food.”

Americans who wanted cheap food? There is more than enough. It will cost you $2.98 plus tax for a dollar menu taco, bacon cheeseburger, and a soft drink. It will cost our children about ten years of their life.

King Corn

A Tale of One Half Marathon

Having previously participated in the “Go! St. Louis Marathon and Half,” a weekend featuring foot races of many distances, I found it difficult in 2009 to leave the event off of my calendar entirely. I recently purchased my own fitness business, sent my youngest of three children off to kindergarten, and increased my volunteer activities in the community. My schedule was brimming with activities that my calendar simply couldn’t handle. I would be unable to train for the event and resigned myself to the fact that I would not be participating in the 13.1 mile race for the first time in four years. However, I decided forty-eight hours prior to the event that this would be my greatest half-marathon to date, and, as any experienced distance runner knows, it is hardly about the race but the preparation.
It was while watching a prime time weather forecast late Friday evening that predicted rain for the event that I recall wondering if I would be able to complete the race without a typical fourteen week training program. “Expect cold, wet pavement for the ‘Go! St. Louis’ events this Sunday…” Running in the rain has been something I, gratefully, managed to avoid in all the previous foot races. Running in wet shoes, I imagine, is not a pleasant experience. Imagine cement blocks tied to your feet. I suppose running 13.1 miles didn’t seem like enough of a challenge for me anymore. Add a literal April shower with zero mileage on my feet, I’d consider it.
I went to bed early Friday under a full moon wondering. Could I? Would I? Should I? As my eyelids became heavier, I was still unsure. My rooster would crow at 3am the morning of the event. Crossing the finish line remained in my dreams and the thought consumed me.
As the sun sank low Saturday night, I recall gathering my thoughts which were racing in my head already. Where are my shoes? What should I wear? My thoughts were scattered like the spring storms approaching the area. I needed them to come together like a cold air mass meeting a warm air mass to create the perfect storm.
As if on the saddle of a winged horse, I flew through the house collecting necessary accessories. I put on everything I would wear less than 12 hours from that present time. I charged up my iPod and created a musical playlist to stay entertained on the course. I knew I could do it, but I also knew it would not be easy
I thought a warm bath would hopefully begin the process of relaxation. The steaming bathwater made me sweat more than the run would. I started to map out the course in my head. Anticipating water stops, hill climbs, and iconic scenery of St. Louis, relaxation began to slip away. Anxiety and excitement replaced it.
Finally, I tied up all the loose ends and headed off to bed. After 60 restless minutes, I decided it didn’t matter anymore. I had too many doubts, questions, and valid concerns about my ability to complete this endeavor safely. As the owner of an increasingly popular fitness facility, I wondered how my demise would read as a headline in the newspaper. After all I didn’t even train. I am certainly not coming in first place. No one expects me to run. Therefore if I overslept, I simply wouldn’t go. I could easily forget this childlike motivation I felt for the past twenty-four hours. Everyone knows that it is the training that matters. It is not the race.
At the start of the next morning, which was at three o’clock, I stretched from head to toe before getting out of bed. The excitement did not go away. I was more motivated than ever. Good thing the clothes were lined up and waiting for me. I was anxiously awaiting my coffee cup. It needed to be filled, caressed, and emptied at least twice. I was waiting for the nerves to kick in entirely, but it felt like I was headed out for a recreational run in downtown St. Louis.
“The Star Spangled Banner” began the festivities followed by a gunshot that droves about 40,000 feet over the starting line. Running through landmarks such as the brewery, alongside the Mississippi River, and in front of the Gateway Arch represented the charm of a great city camouflaged in rain, thunder, prodding feet, and athletes of all abilities. My feet began to feel very heavy as the steady rain soaked them to the sole. The rolling hills of St. Louis City didn’t help matters. My thighs felt heavy as buckets of rocks.
I was determined to find a cadence. The perfect song, “American Idiot,” played through my iPod. How appropriate was that? Gliding through the course with an ease I did not expect at mile 10, a confidence allowed my feet to travel effortlessly as the miles flowed under my feet like water under a bridge. As the rain grew in intensity, the wind began to whip through the tall city buildings adorning Market Street. The Old Courthouse was at the top of the hill right in front of the highly anticipated finish line. Sprinting to the end came naturally. I crossed the finish line in two hours and four minutes.
It was a personal record and a mental victory that I will never forget. As a volunteer placed a medal around my neck, I realized that I had indeed trained for this event. It seems hindsight showed me that my life is much more difficult that running 13.1 miles in one outing.
Life is good training. Just make sure you are in good physical condition to run with it.