exercise

The Inside Scoop on Ellipse Workout Programming

A lot goes into our programming at Ellipse Fitness. This week we’ve brought you a sneak peek into the what some of the components are, and the how’s and why’s of what we do at Ellipse to get RESULTS from our members. Each paragraph corresponds to the respective workout of the day, in order throughout this week!

(Monday)
One important component we look at is Training Volume. # of sets X # of reps. More Volume = More Results/Muscle Growth. No matter the reps, the key here is to work up to – or close to – fatigue to continue to achieve results. However, ONLY doing high volume work can lead to burnout or injury which is why we do not perform high volume workouts exclusively.

(Tuesday)
Power is another factor we take into account when designing workouts. Remember our partner-resisted runs and broad jumps earlier this week? Power is a combination of strength and speed that reflects how quickly you can exert force to produce a desired movement. As we age, power diminishes even quicker than strength, so it’s important to make it a part of your fitness program. Power training increases reaction time (think catching yourself during a trip or fall). You can’t be powerful without speed, so if you are strong, work on your speed; if you are fast/reactive, work on the strength piece. It is important to train both aspects for overall health and quality of life.

(Wednesday)
How can you get better at a specific movement or activity? In short, work on the movement pattern! If you struggle stepping up on the boxes, to a specific height or with weight? Work on your split squat, increasing your range of motion first and then adding weight to the movement. If you can’t perform a solid chest press, a push-up will be a real challenge. Both movements require core stability in addition to chest, triceps, shoulders, and back strength, however a push-up forces the core stabilization and works on relative body-weight strength – making it a more difficult move. You may have heard us reference ways to practice push-ups without dropping down to the knees because this common regression takes most of the core work out of the movement, making it difficult to ever progress to a push-up from the full plank position. This principle is called Specificity.

(Thursday)
Much like power, Mobility declines drastically as we age if we don’t continue to work through a full range of motion. Mobility training also promotes healthy joints and helps to prevent injury! Flexibility is only one component of mobility. Mobility is flexibility under tension – think flexibility that you can actually put into practice in your day-to-day life. Passive stretching to improve flexibility can last as little as a few minutes sometimes, while mobility exercises actually change the way your body is able to move. Walking like a monkey is a lot more than just a fun move to practice

(Friday)
Rest Based Training (RBT) is another really effective way to achieve strength gains and fitness results. The motto: Push until you can’t; rest until you can again. This training format prevents overexertion, allowing even high intensity workouts to be executed safely. Studies have shown that when individuals are given the opportunity to control their own work to rest ratios, people exercise at a higher intensity than predicted by the researchers. The rest is shown to make exercise psychologically easier, often providing a more enjoyable workout in addition to being safe and effective.

(Saturday)
If you’re one of our members you’ve probably been waiting to hear us talk about this next one: Kickboxing! In addition to being a really great cathartic experience that allows you to melt stress right out of your body, kickboxing complements our strength training perfectly by addressing some other key factors related to health and well-being. It sharpens the mind by improving neuromuscular connections, coordination and proprioception, it has been shown to slow the effects of degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and it increases you aerobic capacity, abdominal and upper body strength!

Tune in next week for more!

At Home BBQ

Last week, the type of “BBQ” that Ellipse was up to was brought to your attention…and it was not your average BBQ! If you missed it, here’s your refresher…

BICEPS. BOOTY. QUADS.

This week, we want to share with you some at home moves that you can perform over the long weekend or on your Labor Day weekend travels. These moves don’t require equipment and will give you that bit of sweat you need until you return to us next week! (Don’t forget, most of our locations have particular hours for this weekend. Check with your studio to make sure you’re aware of the workout times.)

BICEPS

We usually think we need to be doing bicep curls to focus on these particular muscles, which isn’t wrong, but what is often forgotten is that zoning in on the other areas of the arm can also give the biceps a burn. Our muscles should always be working together! Owner and trainer Ann Morrow, of Ellipse St. Louis says, “A great way to make the biceps look better is to challenge the triceps! Try to use the triceps more during a pushup by keeping the elbows below the shoulder and moving back towards the ribs at a 45 degree
angle. That is sure to make both muscles work together and look great!”

Ann gives a perfect example here of what you can do on your own and without equipment. Use pushups to challenge different muscles around the arms and shoulders. Use hand placement variations and leg variations (i.e. lift one leg) to challenge you and you can get a great sweat out of this!

 

BOOTY

All you need is a mat and you can perform your own booty burner at home or on the road! Using a movement like the glute bridge will have you feeling the burn in no time.

An option is to do about 4 to 8 sets, and anywhere from 6 to 20 reps. If you have weight options, rest them on your hips. We recommend to start with lighter, more manageable weight, then add to it and decrease reps as needed.

 

QUADS

Combining squats, lunges, wall sits and proper form will surely give you the workout your looking for, no equipment necessary. Take on something like this for 3 rounds and consider yourself golden!

  • 25 squats*
  • 30 sec wall sit
  • 25 (each side) alternating lunges*
  • 30 sec wall sit
  • 25 wide leg squats*
  • 1 minute wall sit (stay low!)

*To add extra challenge add 10 seconds of pulsing to finish the move

Good luck this weekend and happy BBQing!

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5 Strategies to Reduce Muscle Soreness

Exercise induces free radicals, boosts serotonin, and energizes. It aids us in burning fat and building muscle. If all goes as planned, we leave the gym feeling awake and accomplished! Exercise also causes our muscles to contract and our bodies to sweat, increasing our chances of muscle cramps, fatigue and dehydration. This is why it is equally important to not only exercise, but to take care of yourself before and after a workout. A large part of getting fit is dealing with muscle fatigue and soreness. Here are 5 Ellipse tips to help reduce muscle soreness and keep you heading back to us for more!

Foam Rolling

What an inexpensive deep tissue massage, am I right? At Ellipse Fitness we encourage members to foam roll for 5 – 15 minutes before and after each workout session. Foam rolling can inhibit overactive muscles by breaking up adhesions and loosening up muscle knots. Before a workout, foam rolling hydrates the tissue and gets blood flowing. After a workout, rolling over tight spots and trigger points can relax the muscle. By rolling them out, you help to clean up some of the lactic acid that builds up when you exercise.

Foam Rollers do not break the bank, but even so, a tennis ball will also do the trick. Heather Trevarthen, Owner and Trainer of the Allouez location, says they keep tennis balls at the studio and hand them out to members to use at home.  Heather says, “Tennis Balls help to grind into those hard to reach areas of the body, like the Piriformis.”

Stretching

Like foam rolling, stretching is a must do when it comes to combatting soreness. Intense training contracts muscles and shortens the fibers. By lengthening them before and after a workout, you’re increasing your mobility and recovery. A post-workout stretch series is excellent for bringing your heart rate back down. Use your breathe to guide you and stretch into each move.

Recovery Fuel(s)

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery. BCAAs preserve the bulk of muscle fibers through increased protein synthesis and reduction of muscle breakage. BCAAs can be added to your diet easily by adding a scoop into your water bottle before you workout. Sip during your workout and finish afterwards. Ask your Ellipse trainer to hook you up with some from the pro shop!

Eating Right

Getting those BCAAs is a big part of proper nutrition intake for a healthy post-workout recovery. However, you also need to actually eat. Though you might be trying to consume less during your fitness journey, it is what you eat and how you prepare it that matters. Make sure to be getting enough protein, carbs, and healthy fats in order to repair muscles.

Ultimately when we experience soreness, it is because of inflammation. After your post workout protein, add foods such as salmon, avocado, or flaxseed. These foods are rich in Omega-3s and have anti-inflammatory compounds; Properties that will help to dial back inflammation and soreness.

Movement

When your trainer tells you to cool down, we usually don’t listen because we have to run and pick up our kids or get to work. The cool down instructions are to encourage you to keep moving, even when you have finished your sweat session. The importance behind this is that circulation promotes healing.

Active recovery is something we talk about at Ellipse often. A low-intensity exercise that gets your blood flowing without taxing your muscles is what we consider active recovery, such as yoga or walking. Though you may be tempted to hit the couch after an evening workout, try to keep the movement going for a bit to avoid muscle cramps and enhanced soreness.

Fitness Tip: Warrior Crunch

Strengthen the core and engage the obliques while working the lower body in the Warrior Crunch.

 

Begin by standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, and toes turned outward. Place the finger tips behind the ears, keeping the back upright and the arms and chest open. Then lower down into a squat until the thighs are parallel to the ground.  Once in this position, crunch side to side, bringing the elbows to the tops of the thighs, engaging the obliques.

Fitness Tip: Preacher Curl with Isometric Wall Sit

Super charge your workout by combining an upper body preacher curl with a lower body isometric wall sit.

Begin by sitting against a wall with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your torso tilted forward at the hips. Then holding a dumbbell in each, extend the arms so that the elbows are touching the thighs just before the knees.
Now super charge your workout by alternating between a supine curl, a hammer curl and a pronated grip curl to cross train the heads of the bicep while working the low body simultaneously.

Fitness Tip: Dumbbell 2 Arm Skull Crusher

The triceps brachii is Latin for “three-headed arm muscle”. It’s an extensor muscle that joins together at the elbow and is an antagonist of the biceps and brachialis muscles. The triceps cover about 2/3rd of our arm and are primarily used for pushing.

One of our favorite strength exercises to isolate the triceps is the 2 arm Skull Crusher.

1. Lie prone (on your back) holding 2 dumbbells in a neutral grip with palms facing each other, above your chest.
2. Keeping the arms parallel, hinge at the elbows, as you lower the forearms and bring the dumbbells even with your ears. Then return to your starting position and repeat.

Fitness Tip: Triceps Kickback

The tricep kickback strengthens the triceps brachii, which is a three-headed arm muscle that joins together at the elbow. The triceps brachii is both an extensor and an antagonist of the biceps.

To strengthen the L. tricep, step forward with the R. foot and hinge forward slightly at the hips. Keep your back straight and weight supported either with forearm to thigh, or hand to thigh.

Begin with the dumbbell at the L. hip with the L. upper arm parallel to the floor. There should be a triangle of space created by the angle of the left elbow.

Next, extend the arm parallel to the floor, contracting the triceps, then return to your starting position.

To ensure you’re getting the most out of this move, avoid dropping your elbow or gaining momentum by swinging the dumbbell.

Fitness Tip: TRX Hip Dip and Oblique Twist

Planks are an awesome exercise for core, hip and shoulder strength and stability and a plank on the TRX will be even more challenging and effective for the core as it works to stabilize the body.

Begin by adjusting your TRX to mid calf length.

Then put your toes in the straps and roll sideways onto one forearm. Be sure to keep the elbow directly under the shoulder to protect the shoulder and the top foot should be in the forward position.

Begin the hip dip by dropping the hip to the floor and back up. Then thread the top arm under the body to twist the body and work the obliques. Alternate between the hip dip and the oblique twist for maximum core stability and strength.

Be sure to repeat an equal number of reps on the opposite side to keep the body balanced in both strength and stability.

 

Fitness Tip: Kettlebell Bottoms Up Reverse Lunge

Many sports such require overhead action such as throwing a ball, however many athletes struggle with the overhead postural stability that’s required to excel in their sport.

One of the most effective ways to train overhead postural stability is with an unstable overhead load such as the Kettlebell in the Bottoms Up Reverse Lunge.

1. Begin standing with feet hip width apart, holding the kettlebell by the horns in the bottoms up position.
2. Next straighten the elbows extending the arms overhead.
3. Once your arms and trunk are stabilized, alternate stepping back into a reverse lunge, pausing at the bottom before returning to your upright position.

To modify this move:
1. move to a stationary lunge
2. decrease the load

To intensify this move:
1. increase the pause time at the bottom of the lunge
2. simultaneously lunge while you overhead press the kettlebell
3. increase the load
4. move to a single arm position with the kettlebell

Fitness Tip: Plank Variations

Planks are a wonderful exercise for trunk, hip and shoulder stability and moving planks are far more effective and burn more calories than isometric planks. So once you’ve mastered the plank it’s time to start moving in that plank, to start challenging the core and to start burning more calories.

Plank with Walk In:

From the full plank position with hands under shoulders and back straight, walk into a tuck by taking small steps forward and keeping the knees close to the floor and hips down. Then take small steps backwards and return to starting position.

Plank with Walk Around:

From the full plank position, take small steps with both feet to one side then rotate hand and finish in a side plank. Next, walk feet back and around to the other side and rotate into a side plank.

If your wrists bother you in a full plank then drop down onto the forearm and walk forward and back or side to side on your forearms and toes. To modify the plank, drop to your knees but continue to shift your body weight from side to side.