Workout

What’s The BIG Deal With “Macros”?

If you’ve been around a bodybuilder, you’ve likely heard them talking about getting their “macros” in. Balancing your macronutrients is honestly just another way to look at food consumption, just like any other approach such as Whole 30, Precision Nutrition’s hand/palm/fist/thumb approach, or any other.

If you haven’t found an approach that works well for you yet, maybe macro dieting is the method right for you! Macro dieting/Flexible Dieting can help with portion control as well as more balanced nutrient intake and paying more attention to processed food intake. As with most approaches, finding the right balance will help with energy levels, cravings, and even quality of sleep and workouts.

What ARE Macros?

The three MACROnutrient categories are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Speaking in terms of calories, carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram. Is a macro the same as a vitamin or mineral? No, vitamins and minerals are MICROnutrients which are also very important! Your body needs less of them (hence the word micro) but they are vitamins and minerals needed for immune function, blood clotting, bone health, growth, and so much more!

How Much Should I Eat?

Macros are based on your height, weight, age, activity level, and goals. For example, a 150-pound, 5’ 5” female who is moderately active and wants to have a steady weight loss would be around 1700 calories per day broken down to a pretty typical 40/30/30 ratio: 40% carbs at 170g, 30% protein at 124g, and 30% fat at 56g.

You can find your own macro calculator here:
https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator

NOTE: Calculators are not perfect or right for everyone. A more accurate calculation would calculate based only on LEAN tissue since body fat % plays a roll in the energy needs of the body.

Carbohydrates

*Gasp* Carbohydrates ARE needed for energy. Carbohydrates also tend to be where we consume the micronutrients we need in our diet. Whole foods are the best source for carbohydrates because they will pack more fiber. Fiber is the part of carbohydrates that reduce our risk for disease, improve digestion, etc. Optimally, women should obtain at least 35g of fiber per day and men, 48g.

Fat and Protein

Fats give us energy, support cell growth, and aid in the absorption of vitamins and nutrients (our BRAINS are fat-based! So the next time someone calls you “Fathead” perhaps a “Thank You!” is in order).

Mix up the types of fat you eat to get a balance of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats.

Proteins are the building blocks of our muscle (and most the rest of our body for that matter). A very lean protein is a protein with 1g of fat or less per ounce. Lean protein is 1g-3g per ounce. When looking at your labels, first determine how many ounces you are looking at like a 3-ounce fillet of beef/chicken/pork/fish. If your 3-ounce fillet has 9g or less of fat, you have a lean cut of protein.

Keep in mind that any strict form of eating may not be suitable with a history of disordered eating. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any major changes in the way you eat and be aware of any interactions with medications. Like most healthy ways of eating, eating your macros will come in the form of eating every 3-4 hours, choosing whole foods, and eating your vegetables! In the end, eat mostly plant-based foods and find the system that works best for your lifestyle and goals, and you will likely see success!

Interested in more reading? Check this out:
https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/macro-diet-counting-macros-weight-loss-better-nutrition

You NEED This Head-to-Toe Healthy Overhaul!

We’ve got some simple tips, revelations and suggestions to share with you this week so take a quick read, and give yourself the tools to live your healthiest life!

Let’s Start At The Beginning!

With your feet! The first things to hit the floor every morning (if all goes according to plan…) There are 26 bones, 30 joints, and 100 muscles in your feet. We should probably take care of our feet as much as possible with that much going on in there.

Take your shoes off and try squatting while pretending you have a ladybug under the arch of your foot. Don’t squish it! Your range of motion is limited. That is exactly what happens when wear shoes with arch support! Even .5mm off in an arch support, from what you may need, can throw off your whole skeleton.

Try massaging your feet each day to increase circulation and mobility. Tip: Sit cross legged and put one leg on top. If you are mobile enough, use your elbow to massage the arch of your foot. If not mobile enough, use your knuckle. You might be surprised and find that your knee, hip, or neck may even start to feel better! It’s all connected!

Healthy Feet: Part II

Because they are that important! When you go to the gym, you wear loose clothing to be able to move and bend, right?

So why do we cram our feet into rigid shoes? When we break an arm, you put your arm in a cast and the muscles atrophy because the joint is stiff. The same thing happens with your feet when they are bound and unable to move naturally. Your ankle is meant to be mobile. When we hold it in place with a shoe, it will take mobility from the next joint, the knee – which is not built for lateral mobility especially. Certain shoes can be appropriate of course but maybe not for all day long.

Healthy Muscles

Muscles make up close to 40% of our body, give or take. We stop growing NEW muscle cells as a baby, so our only option to get stronger is to increase the SIZE of the muscle cells we have. When we strength train, we create tiny tears in our muscles and when we recover those tears are rebuilt stronger and/or longer (depending on the type of training that was utilized).

Sometimes we shy away from strength training because of soreness, BUT the best way to reduce soreness is active stretching and more exercise – light exercise – which allows the body to move out lactic acid, smooth out knots and bumps, get blood flowing, etc.

Our bodies can become stressed from the food we eat, work, family…even exercise! You heard that correct, exercise. Exercise is great, but we also need to recover properly! Listen to your body. Maybe after 4 days in a row it is saying it needs a day off, or recovery exercise like a leisurely walk, yoga, or shooting some hoops with the kids. If your muscles are screaming or you’re excessively tired, listen up and recover so you can get back to the grind sooner than later.

Healthy Heart

Our heart is a MUSCLE that we need to strengthen just like our other muscles. We often hear “I hate cardio” or a certain exercise is the ONE that works best for me. Sometimes we forget about the benefits we don’t directly see.

Cardiovascular exercise (aka relating to the HEART) like brisk walking, kickboxing, cycling, jump rope, and more are the heart-pumping/aerobic exercises needed to strengthen our hearts. Cardiovascular exercise reduces the risk of plaque build up which can reduce blood flow to the heart and cause damage. Ultimately this can cause a heart attack. A balance of strength and cardio is important for overall health!

Healthy Mindset

Exercise has a natural benefit on mindset by reducing stress. Still stressed afterward? Try reducing your sugar consumption and increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit. Sounds simple? That’s because sometimes, it is!

Other outlets for a healthy mindset include meeting up with a close friend and/or finding friends that have similar challenges that you can talk with. Finally, find your happy place to recharge: read a book, take a walk, hang out with your dog/cat, meditate, head to the lake…what is YOUR happy place?

Healthy Environment

Finally, your environment plays a big role in your health. This could be from looking at the chemicals you use in your home and trying to give them a makeover (swap out that bleach based cleaner for vinegar and baking soda!), to opening the windows and allowing the outdoors in, to organizing, to having some plants inside that naturally filter the air. What is one way YOU create a healthier environment in your home?

Nutritional Yeast: What It Does For You and How to Cook With It

Nutritional Yeast 101

Nutritional yeast, “NOOCH” for short, is a deactivated yeast that. It is derived from a species of yeast know as Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is the same species that Brewer’s yeast and Baker’s yeast are derived from. They differ, HOWEVER, in that brewer’s yeast is grown only on hops and bakers yeast is active, whereas nutritional yeast can be grown on a variety of sources and it is put through a heating and drying process that renders it inactive.

Primarily, nutritional yeast is used as a supplement for those with dietary restrictions to add not only additional flavor to your meal, but also several health benefits along with it.

What’s In It?

It is dairy free, usually gluten free, low in fat and contains no sugar or soy. Nutritional yeast is an EXCELLENT source of vitamins, minerals and high-quality protein. Specifically (per 1/4 cup serving), there are only:

• 60 calories

• 8 grams of protein

• 3 grams of fiber

• Vitamin & minerals (including numerous B Vitamins, Potassium, Calcium and Iron)

Benefits

Nutritional yeast serves as a versatile source of supplementation for those in need of a little something extra in their food due to dietary restrictions.

• It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food. One tablespoon contains 2 grams of protein, which makes for an easy solution for vegans needing to add protein to their meals.

• It contains many B vitamins. One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 30–180% of the RDI for B vitamins and when fortified, it is especially rich in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

• It contains up to 30% of the RDI for trace minerals, such as zinc, selenium, manganese and molybdenum. Trace minerals are involved in gene regulation, metabolism, growth and immunity.

Potential Side Effects

While nutritional yeast is highly beneficial for most, there are some individuals for whom nutritional yeast is NOT suitable for.

Those with IBD, glaucoma, hypertension or a higher risk of gout should avoid using nutritional yeast as it may worsen their symptoms. In large doses, it can cause digestive discomfort or facial flushing due to its high fiber and niacin content, and it may also contain tyramine and MSG, which can trigger headaches in some individuals (note that MSG is only present in nutritional yeast if it has been added during processing or manufacturing). In order to avoid these side effects, you should try adding nutritional yeast into your diet by introducing it slowly and sticking to lower doses to minimize unwanted side effects.

Where Can I Find It?

You can find nutritional yeast in most grocery stores, health food shops as well as online. It comes in the form of flakes or in the form of powder and there are two types of yeast:

• Unfortified: does not contain any added vitamins or minerals. It only contains the vitamins and minerals that are naturally produced by the yeast cells as they grow.
• Fortified: contains synthetic vitamins added during the manufacturing process to boost nutrient content. If vitamins have been added to the yeast, they will be included in the ingredients list.

How To Use It

Nutritional yeast’s flavor can be described as savory, umami or cheesy. It is often used as an ingredient in creamy, dairy-free cheese substitutes and as a topper for foods such as popcorn, pasta, and French fries!

Here are a few quick examples on how to incorporate/substitute it into meals:

• On popcorn as alternative to butter/salt
• In risotto instead of parmesan cheese
• Added to creamy soups
• Added to scrambled eggs or tofu scramble
• Mixed into nut roast or stuffing
• Vegan cheese sauce (recipe here) which can be used in Vegan Mac-N-Cheese!

Taste The Rainbow: A Visual Nutrition Guide

Eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for chronic disease, by ensuring you are providing your body with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrition it needs.

The different colors are made possible different phytochemicals and can be an easy way to visually see what vitamins and minerals fruits and veggies provide. If you tend to eat the same colors all the time, you are likely missing out on certain green, red, white, purple/blue, and/or yellow/orange phytonutrients.

Still Not Convinced?

Generally, when we think of eating protein it’s not a vegetable. Did you know 1 cup of broccoli has almost 6 grams of protein?!!? In addition to being a protein source, broccoli and it’s green friends offer calcium, iron, folate, and B vitamins. Folate, a B vitamin, is important to make DNA and genetic material, especially for pregnant women’s developing babies, and warding off heart disease and depression. So let’s start there shall we?

GREEN

Start by adding a serving of a nutritionally dense vegetable like kale and spinach to check that GREEN phytonutrient box. Leafy greens are generally contain omega-3 fatty acids which are important and sometimes difficult to work your diet. Vitamin K is another great reason to seek out greens.

Make it even simpler by tossing a handful of spinach in your smoothie…you won’t even taste it! I know that sounds like BS – go try it!

ORANGE/YELLOW

ORANGE/YELLOW fruits and vegetables improve your immune system and promote eye health (reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration) with their vitamin A and C. Try adding your “orange” colors like orange bell peppers, carrots, yellow summer squash, roasted winter squash and/or fruits like mandarin orange slices to your salads.

RED

Foods with RED phytochemicals have a very protective antioxidant effect. They can can ward off or inhibit tumors in our bodies. Try some red peppers, tomatoes, beets, cherries, apples, watermelon, and more!

BLUE/PURPLE

Like red fruit and vegetables, BLUE/PURPLE foods are plump with antioxidants especially anthocyanin. Berries are a powerhouse when it comes to antioxidants, helping to protect the skin, aid in cardiovascular health, and improve our memory!

Pro Tips

• When shopping, look at your cart. If you find most of your choices are the same one or two colors, swap out a few to increase the colors — and phytonutrients — in your cart.

• 1/2 cup of chopped raw vegetables or fruit makes one serving. Less dense foods, like leafy greens, take up more space, so 1 cup chopped counts as a serving.

• Think in twos when it comes to vegetable/fruit servings. Try to eat two servings in the morning, two in the afternoon, and two at night.

• We have a tremendous amount of access to fresh vegetables this time of year, but keep in mind that frozen vegetables are picked and frozen quickly, thus retaining virtually the same nutrient density as fresh – even though the flavor may be slightly affected.

6 Foods for a Higher Metabolism!

Ready to start a fire?? These foods (and drinks) will not only jumpstart your metabolism, but also offer you other great health and weight management benefits!

1. Cinnamon

Loved by most, but many don’t really know where it comes from other than maybe that it comes from a tree. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. The inner bark is extracted and the woody parts removed. When it dries, you get that curled wood that you see sold as cinnamon sticks. Cinnamaldehyde is the active ingredient responsible for cinnamon’s ability to boost the metabolism.

In regards to body protective antioxidants, cinnamon wins by a landslide even over foods like garlic and oregano! Cinnamon helps fight insulin resistance (we need insulin to move sugar from our bloodstream to our cells…when resisted, we have too much sugar floating around) and it interferes, in a good way, with how much sugar enters our blood stream in the first place after a meal. Both HUGE factors for weight maintenance and metabolic health.

2. Green Tea

In addition to cancer fighting and anti-inflammatory properties, Green Tea can help boost your metabolism and increase your fat burning rate! It is unclear whether these benefits are attributed to caffeine alone or to Tea specifically. Studies have also shown that drinking Green Tea may improve insulin sensitivity.

Fun Fact: Oolong and Black Tea come from the same plant as Green Tea, the difference simply being how long the leaves are allowed to oxidize which turns them black (Oolong being in the middle of Green and Black Tea). While the antioxidant profile differs, generally the health benefits remain constant from Green to Black Tea.

3. Spicy Peppers

Spicy food heats you up – no doubt about that! But eating spicy peppers (or cayenne pepper) at a meal, for example, burns only about 10 extra calories. However, consuming capsaicin has been shown to reduce overall hunger throughout the day which certainly can help you adhere to your diet! It may also aid in digestive health, and in animal studies it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

4. Coffee

Coffee can boost your metabolism up to 11% boost with its caffeine, like green tea. It seems to affect/benefit lean people most though AND if you are a regular coffee (vs occasional) drinker you may not see the same affect.

It’s not all “meh” news though…you can still have your coffee and get your protein in! Try an Iced-Mocha Coffee for the hot summer days: mix 1.5 scoops of Ellipse Chocolate Protein Powder with ½ c unsweetened almond milk. Add 1.5 cups iced coffee.

5. Spices

Kind of lumping a few things in here, but spices like ginger and turmeric can help raise your metabolism with their thermogenic effects.

Ginger can increase calorie burn by increasing blood flow and thus body temperature. Granted this increase is relatively small, it can’t hurt to add into your meal rotation. (Quick side note: Ginger can interact with certain medications like Warfarin, an anticoagulant – so refer to your doctor’s recommendation).

Grab some broccoli and sweet peppers and fresh basil at the farmer’s market for this super quick dish; Ginger Basil Chicken And Rice.

6. Coconut Oil

We’ve probably all heard that coconut oil is a good choice when it comes to oils. But why? Coconut oil offers a different effect than other oils by raising the GOOD/HDL cholesterol levels in your blood with its medium chain triglycerides and increase calories burned.

2 TBSP seems to be about the recommended amount per day to help reduce belly fat.

Muscle Prep and Recovery Basics

First off, this article is a follow-up to our Ellipse Movement Basics 101 blog post last month. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, please do! It is one of the most informative and important articles for those of you who are working out or looking to get started.

We’ve spent a good amount of time talking about various movement patterns. To move better we also need to prepare our bodies and help them recover.

Just as important as the movement itself is getting the muscles healthy enough to progress. Foam rolling increases blood flow, increases the temperature of the muscle, and works out adhesions. After foam rolling, do your body a favor and run through some stretches/movements of areas that cause you problems or anything that a Physical Therapist or Orthopedic Doctor has told you to do.

Use the time in the gym before your workout vs just standing or sitting around waiting to begin! What are the odds that you’ll do specific stretches or movements at home or at any other time? Make it a routine and your body will thank you!

Not sure what stretches/movements will help you the most? Ask your trainer. They can not only answer your questions but likely know areas that could use some TLC based on your form throughout your sessions.

Recovery

Your recovery will also impact your movements and the ability to perform at your highest level. Make sure to get enough shut eye (7-9 hours/night), drink enough water (4-6 cups PLUS, but this varies a lot by body, temperature, and activities), and eat a balanced diet (more vegetables, more vegetables, more vegetables).

Other Tools

In addition to a foam roller, try using a tennis ball for those spots a roller just can’t hit. Need a new approach? Stand near a wall and use the tennis ball and/or foam roller in a standing position to put pressure on the right spot. Use a Theracane for more focused areas or hard to reach areas on the back. On a really sore day, ice your sore muscles for 20 minutes to speed up recovery.

Move better, recover better, and perform better!

Start the Harvest Season Off Right!

The Early Summer Harvest!

Ah summer! Mid-June is when several vegetables are starting to be harvested. Nothing tastes quite as great as freshly harvested veggies! Although many factors are at play, the nutrients and vitamin content of fruits and vegetables start decreasing after they are harvested. In some cases that can be as short as 24 hours and others within a week.

If your produce makes a long trip from a field, to a processing area, to a supermarket, you have already narrowed that window significantly! If you can’t grow your own produce, consider a local farmer’s market or CSA to get your produce from the field to your table in a shorter amount of time to retain the most nutrients. (Check out this past blog post about CSA’s and local markets!)

Depending on the spring weather, typically just coming into season mid-June are: beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, scallions, and kohlrabi. You’ll also find lettuce greens, arugula, kale, peas, radishes, and rhubarb are already in (and perhaps almost past) season!

Beets!

Did you know? Swiss chard is a bottomless beet! Standard small beets are best for roasting or steaming. Try grating beets and sautéing in a pan with some butter or olive oil. Use the leaves too like you would kale. Beets can be bagged and stored in your crisper drawer for 7-10 days.

Salad Greens!

Salad greens are high in nutrients and low in calories which make them great if you are watching your diet. There are many varieties of greens so mix and match for a variety of tastes, textures, and nutrients.

PRO TIP: If you are not using your salad greens immediately, after the greens have been washed and dried, line a container with paper towels and loosely place the greens on and cover with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Click here for a ranking of the most nutritious greens. HINT: number one is NOT spinach or kale…and certainly not iceberg lettuce!

Want more? Learn how to construct the Perfect Salad!

Broccoli!

Broccoli heads are the unopened flowers of the broccoli. When stored too long the green head of “buds” start to turn yellow and lose their nutritional value. Do NOT store broccoli in a sealed container or plastic bag. If in a plastic bag, make sure the bag is open or has holes poked in it; it needs to have air flow. It should be misted lightly or unwashed and then wrapped loosely in damp paper towels and refrigerated. Consume within a couple days or 1-week max.

Try this recipe to get more broccoli in your days! Combining zucchini “noodles”, traditional spaghetti, broccoli, peas, and pesto sauce. Toss in some chicken/protein and you’ve got a meal ready to serve! Love zucchini? Double the amount of zucchini and reduce the amount of traditional spaghetti…or fully replace it!

Bok Choy!

Bok Choy is a great source of fiber as a cruciferous vegetable. It also contains healthy amounts of vitamins C, K, and A (beta-carotene). Store bok choy in a zip bag and remove any extra air. Toss it in the crisper and serve within about a week.

Pick up some bok choy and serve it up with this classic Ellipse Ginger Chicken Recipe! This tasty meal combines chicken breast, bok choy, ginger, leeks, orange, lentils and curry!

Kohlrabi

Stock up now! The bulbs do great in the refrigerator for quite some time, but you’ll want to use/process the stems and stalks right away as they will get limp otherwise. Kohlrabi is in the “brassica” family which is the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts. Kohlrabi stems can be used raw in salads like kale, but more commonly the kohlrabi bulb can be peeled and eaten raw (tastes great with hummus or ranch too!) or shredded into a coleslaw.

Try roasting kohlrabi! It’s fantastic! A simple recipe can be found here.

What are you waiting for?? Go shopping and get to eating!!

100 Workout Challenge 2019!

100 WORKOUT CHALLENGE STARTS JULY 1!

Get 100 workouts in before 2020 and win big!

Not only do we offer a little incentive, but you will win big results, heaps of confidence, and a newfound drive to be your best self!

So many of our veterans started out with a 100 Workout Challenge and they are STILL going strong years later! Sound Unattainable?

*At just 4 workouts per week you will hit your 100 by New Years – with a couple of slush days to spare!*

*Are you a “first or last” competitor?? At 6 days a week you can crank out 100 workouts before HALLOWEEN! Think you’re up to the challenge?

Green Bay area:  SIGN ME UP NOW!

St. Louis area:  SIGN ME UP NOW!

 

Members need only pick up a card at the front desk.

See yourself in the mirror the way you dream to see yourself in your head!

Shake the Afternoon Slump!

During our onboarding process, we have found that many people indicate the termed “afternoon slump”.

You know, that tired feeling like you would just love a quick nap to be able to finish out the day. There is good news! For the most part, this is normal, but there are things to consider and ways to help combat it. This week we’ll chat about afternoon slumps!

Get Some Sunshine!

You might be able to cure this simply by listening to some upbeat music and/or getting out in the sunshine for a few minutes for a quick boost!

Was it my lunch?

Maybe, maybe not. Research has shown that the slump can even happen without having eaten lunch. However, keeping a level glycemic load in the body can help offset a natural afternoon slump. You need a proper balance of carbs, protein, and fats. A high carb lunch can set you up for a quick drive in energy, but you will quickly find the drop that follows it. Also, make sure you stay hydrated! Even a 1.5% drop in hydration can cause drowsiness.

Was it a poor night’s sleep?

Could be! CHRONIC afternoon slumps or general sleepiness could indicate a medical condition (like a metabolic disorder, PCOS, or sleep apnea) or medication side effects. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have chronic fatigue.

Medical conditions aside, a poor night’s sleep can come back to bite you in the afternoon. Adult bodies need 7-9 hours of QUALITY and UNINTERRUPTED sleep to allow it to run through its full recovery process (mentally and physically!). A quick 10-minute power nap can help with that afternoon slump, though. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into a longer nap which can interrupt a normal night’s sleep.

I had a healthy lunch – what’s wrong with me?

You’re human! The human body runs in a circadian rhythm. By nature, the body naturally dips in energy between midnight and daybreak, then again, a smaller dip between 2p and 4p. Just like near bedtime, your core body temperature drops signaling to your brain that it’s time to sleep – a smaller version of that happens midafternoon. This will typically result in a quick drop in energy, alertness, and focus. As you age, the mid-afternoon slump will likely be more noticeable than in younger years.

TIP: Your body associate’s stillness with sleep. Been sitting a long time? Get up and move around!

It’s the afternoon and it hit me! Now what?

Well maybe we should start with what won’t work? A quick sugar high like a Mountain Dew, candy bar, or a triple shot of mocha in your coffee. These will simply exaggerate your energy very briefly before causing an even bigger dip/low point.

Caffeine can certainly offer some aid, remember to try and keep a full day’s caffeine load to 400mg or less.

What else CAN help? A short bout of exercise like going for a walk or jog. Exercise can produce endorphins and release tension which can offset fatigue.

In the end, get a good night’s sleep, eat well, exercise, and listen to your body! Or, go work for the Huffington Post where they offer “The Oasis”…sleep pods for their employees!

I work shift work. What about me?

Night shifts and swing shifts are tough on the body in regard to circadian rhythm (mentioned above). “Afternoon slump” aside, non-traditional job hours still require a good 7-9 hours of sleep each day otherwise you will fall into a sleep-debt mode that needs to be fulfilled as soon as possible to prevent the increased likeliness of disease.

With night shifts, do not delay going to bed when you are tired! The longer you delay, the more alert you will become. Still try to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, putting your phone on “do not disturb”.

Some other tricks are to eat a small snack before bed and making sure your sleep environment is quiet, dark, and cool.

Ellipse Basic Movements 101

There are several foundational movements that our training program is centered around here at Ellipse Fitness, and we want to take a moment to break these things down for you. It is ALWAYS most important that we clean up our movement patterns and move functionally BEFORE we consider adding heavy loads.

STRENGTH TRAINING

Packing The Shoulders

Kickboxing, presses, pushes (whether it’s push ups or even while lying down for a chest press) are all better, more stable, and safer when the shoulders are packed.

Try this when standing: push your shoulders as far down and away from your ears as you can, tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Packing our shoulders is easiest to feel and perfect with a farmer’s carry. Roll them back and down as far as you can.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are a dynamic and explosive hip hinge. There are no arm-lifts or squats in a kettlebell swing. Keep the kb swinging through upper thighs; somewhere above the knees. As it drops toward the knees the back becomes at risk and there is more squatting involved. For single arm? We are not looking for rotation, but maintaining alignment with an offset load.

Shoulder Press

A Shoulder Press and Push Press are DIFFERENT! A push press is started by a “push” from the legs; creating momentum. The point of a push press is to push past a “sticking point”.

When a shoulder press is called for, do a shoulder press…maybe just that last rep that you can’t quite complete can be assisted with a push. Shoulder press, also called an overhead press, should be completed with core engagement.

Squats

Squats are best performed when thinking about the feet first and work up. Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Grip the floor, putting pressure on the outside of the foot, but also driving through your big toe. Drop your torso between your hips. Come out of the squat by pushing through the outer heel, driving the knees out and tucking the tail (think pointing your belt buckle toward your chin) and breathing into your lower back.

Split Squat

Although there are similarities to a squat, a split squat requires more balance, stability, coordination, and single leg strength. Try this! Start is a kneeling position. Your legs will have two 90 degree angles. From there, stand! Come back down to just a hover or feather touch to the ground. Too intense? Stack a pad or two under your kneeling stance to reduce how deep you have to go.

Pushups

Love them or hate them, Push Ups strengthen our chest, shoulders, triceps, and core (when properly engaged). Not sure you are engaging your core during a pushup? Try a Hand-Release Push Up. Start your body on top of a stacked airex pad or two (or 3!). Hands on either side of the pad, elbows at 45 degrees.

Step ONE: LIFT the hips/engage the core. Then and only then, push through the hands to your full pushup position. Reset each time to perfect your form.

Hollow Body Hold

The hollow body hold is a foundation movement patterns from kickboxing, to squatting, to slamming balls on the floor. Knowing how to properly hold the hollow body position will stabilize your core and not only improve your performance, but also keep you much safer (especially your back) along the way! TIP: When fully contracted, your upper torso will lift upward slightly, but it’s only from the flattening of your lower back. You do not crunch. Imagine a strong, engaged position hanging from the pull up bar.

Bicycles

Start with the contraction of a hollow body and THEN begin your bicycle movement. The shoulder blade will peel off the floor. The upper body movement comes from that “peeling”, NOT the reaching of an elbow. Keep the elbows wide and drawn back. Your bicycle legs should move more like stairs than a bike.

KICKBOXING

Boxing/Guarded Stance

Start your boxing strong with a proper guarded stance. You can test your strong stance by having someone giving you a little shove from each direction…you shouldn’t tip! Try it on your friends – with a warning! Your shoulders are packed in guarded position, and hands fisted by the cheek bones.

Pivots

Pivoting in boxing is crucial from a safety standpoint! Pivot your foot so your hips are squared to the bag. Your ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder will all be in alignment and you’ll be fully facing the bag. In the end, this not only keeps you safe, but you’ll also get the full power of your hip into your punch and engage more core muscles. Make sure to come back to the guarded stance after each punch and kick!

Round Kick

A round kick starts with the upper leg elevated and the lower leg parallel to the floor; the chambered position. The foot on the floor is turned out slightly. Aim with your shin, not your toe. It’s the snap the gives the most power to the kick. A repeating roundhouse kick will demonstrate the amount of balance and control needed for a well-developed kick. Chamber your leg and fire!

Boxing Punches

You hear the cues in almost every boxing class, but have your punches improved over time? Do they feel more stable, powerful, controlled? Go for an ALMOST full extension. Tighten your fist (pretend you are actually punching someone), turn the palm of your hand down toward the floor, and strive to connect with the pointer finger and index finger.

Visualization in boxing works wonders. If there was someone in front of you and you were punching, would it be with a loose hand? You can get as much or as little as you want out of a boxing workout based on what you put into it, and we don’t mean faster speed!