Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This week the groups learned their second free weight routine. If you recall, free weights have several advantages over machines:

1. Since they aren’t guided, you have to use more stabilizer muscles when lifting free weights.
2. Since there are no pads to press against for support, you have to use your core more to keep your body in the right position.
3. Finally, there is no leverage advantage with dumbbells (DB) or barbells—you have to lift the entire weight yourself.

At first glance, these may seem like a negative, giving machines the edge. In reality, these are all good things. Using more muscles, using your core, and doing all the work mean it’s a more effective workout. That means you’ll burn more calories in the same amount of time, and also get a stronger, healthier body.

During the first four weeks, both groups used the machines to get things started. It let them build some base strength, and got them used to working out. For the last two weeks, they’ve been doing the first free weight routine.

But even with free weights, your body quickly adapts to a routine, with diminishing results. That’s why it’s important to change things up. It’s a simple matter to swap out the exercises they’ve been doing with others that still hit the same body parts, but are a little different.

Free Weight Routine #2

DB Pec Flys
Walking Lunges
DB Pullovers on Ball
DB Dead-Lifts
DB Arnold Press
DB Double Bicep Curl
DB Kick-Backs
Ab Routine #1-5:

Side Twists with Ball Obliques Crunches (bent knees)
Crunches (legs up in air)
Side Crunches (L knee bent)
Side Crunches (R knee bent)
Leg Lifts

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your routine:

1. Use proper form. If you don’t know how to do the exercise, find someone who does.
2. Do the movements slowly. This can help protect you from injury, and also makes it a more intense workout. I like to teach what I call the 1-2 rule: 1 second raising the weight, and 2 seconds lowering it.
3. Remember to keep breathing. Don’t hold your breath.
4. Shoot for a total of three sets of each exercise and 10-12 repetitions each set.
5. Try to keep moving. While traditional bodybuilders will rest 30 seconds, a minute, or even up to two minutes between sets, that isn’t as productive if your goal is toning, or losing weight.

Here’s how I teach them to do routine #2. Do the Pec Flys and then go right to the Walking Lunges. Once you’ve done them both, do them both again back to back, and then again for a third time.

Now, do the Pullovers and Dead-Lifts back to back without a break, and then repeat the combo twice. After that, do the Arnold Press, Double Biceps Curl, and Tricep Kick-Backs all back to back without a break, then repeat each of those twice more times.

Finally, do Ab Routine #1-5. You can do each ab exercise say 10, 15 or 20 times, and then move on to the next one. Then, you can go back and repeat them all two more times. Or, an alternative method would be to just do as many as you could of the first one, or say 50 reps, before moving on to the next one. Good luck.

Last week the two groups also got a new goal: to walk/run a 5 K in Charleston, IL on Saturday, March 27th. I like to have each group do a 5 K sometime before the end of the twelve weeks. They’ve had six weeks of workouts already, and now just a month left to prepare. Come out and join us.

One person that impressed me this week was Karen Brown. She’s lost 50 lbs, but hasn’t been able to run lately. Finally, she took matters into her own hands (or feet), walking 7 miles on Sat and Sun and then 6 miles on Mon through Friday. That was 44 miles total and enough to put her in the top five.

This week’s Friday night Biggest Loser was Shawn Bowers who lost 2.8% of his body weight and an amazing 7.9 lbs. He attributed it to his running schedule and racquetball. Second place went to Tina Cooper who lost 2.0% and 3.6 lbs.

Karen placed third by losing 1.9% and that 4.4 lbs. Sheri Tyler took fourth with a loss of 1.5% and 2.0 lbs, and Jessica Trover was fifth with a loss of 1.3% and 2.0 lbs. Halfway through the 12 weeks, we’ve only lost one person from the Friday night group!

We’ve not fared so well in the Saturday morning group. Only half of the 24 made this week’s weigh-in. While I’m pretty sure a few have quit, I know some of the others are still active—it’s just been a matter of convenience for them. Saturdays are tough sometimes.

The Biggest Loser from that group was Shelly Harper, who lost 2.0% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. Melissa White placed second, losing 1.2% and 1.6 lbs. Dale Rasmussen and Danielle Keys tied for third, losing 1.1% and 2.8 lbs, and Brad Adams finished fifth, losing around 1.0% and 2.1 lbs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


This Saturday our Karate Kids had a Taekwondo tournament over in Bloomington, IN so we had combined the Saturday morning BL group with the Friday night group for a kickboxing workout. It’s a fun class, very practical, and it burns a lot of calories.

Once someone takes the regular kickboxing class, they usually pick up some 12 or 16 oz boxing gloves so their hands will be more protected. Then they can hit the heavy bags, and that’s an absolute blast!

For this introductory class to our Biggest Losers, we did mostly partner drills, where the partner held the pads, while they practiced the 1-2 combination (Jab-Cross). Then we added ducking (1, 2, duck, duck), where the partner then swings the pad at their head after they punch. Finally, we added movement toward the targets to hit it, and back away, after the combination.

Then we worked on the back leg round kick to a low target in the same fashion. Finally, we put the kick together with the punches (1, 2 to the head, angle kick to the leg). This is probably the most realistic and effect combination you can do, from a self-defense perspective.

It’s always fun watching groups have fun with the timing and coordination. At first it’s awkward, moving in ways they’re not used to. Once they’ve had a chance to practice the timing, things smooth out a lot. By the end of the class, they were bobbing and weaving, and putting some pretty effective hands on target!

From a calorie standpoint, vigorous exercise burns about 10 calories a minute. So if the kickboxing class was 45 minutes, that’s about 450 calories. If it’s an hour, that’s about 600 calories.

I told you we had to reschedule the Saturday group because I was at the Taekwondo tournament with our Karate Kids. Now that’s some exercise. They all competed in forms, which are a predetermined series of movements—almost like a dance, except for the martial arts techniques. Some have said it’s a “dance of death.”

The kids (and a few adults) also competed in sparring, which is a match between two people where they’re both trying to hit or kick each other in specified target areas. They all wear a bunch of protective gear, plus they’re trying to “pull” their techniques, or just touch the other person, instead of just pounding on the other person.

The kids especially are encouraged to just lightly tap their opponent on the head with their feet, and they’re wearing foam headgear with a plastic face plate that covers the front of the face. They also wear a thick chest protector, and foam hands and feet.

The primary benefit of competition is learning. In forms, it’s all about making yourself do exactly what you want to do, without being distracted or losing focus. That’s tough to do. For kids, it’s a priceless lesson, because if they can learn to concentrate on that, other things become easier.

During sparring, the goal is to hit your opponent (who’s trying to hit you), without getting hit. It takes a good sense of distance and timing, and the ability to react instinctively—all important self defense skills. For kids especially, it’s a fun, safe environment where they can learn these skills without much risk of getting hurt.

Sometimes you do well, sometimes you don’t. The main thing is to learn something. I love it when the kids do well, but it’s when things don’t go as well, that the real lessons are learned. Things like perseverance and self-control.

At times like that, I try to get them to focus on something they did well that they’d been working on. Then, we try to pick one thing to work on that might help them do better next time.

If they can learn to overcome the disappointments, that to is training for life, because there will always be disappointments—it’s how you handle it that makes the difference. If a kid (or adult) can come back and try to improve, and then go back and take another shot at it, that’s priceless.

Finally, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about how I roll when I travel. Just because you’re on the road and away from your usual gym doesn’t mean you have to leave all the things you’ve learned behind.

After the tournament (which meant a night in the hotel Fri), I turned around and left for Nashville to work on some new songs. That meant another couple of nights in the hotel. I was lucky on the way down there because there’s a gym I like to stop and get a workout at, just about halfway.

Once I was there, though, it didn’t work out to find a local gym (the one I’d always used had closed down), and the other ones weren’t open on Sunday. It was too cold to go out for a run. So, I did the next best thing—I made up a hotel routine:

• Handstand pushups on the wall (you could do regular pushups)
• Body Squats
• Arm curls—with a hotel chair
• Sit-ups (variety)
• (5 rounds)

The workout was fast and furious, and over in about 15 minutes—I don’t have much patience with people that tell me they don’t have time to work out. Each exercise hit a different area of the body, and they all worked the core very well.

As far as eating, I followed the normal routine (except for the Oreo Blizzard on the way back home): a nice salad, some kind of chicken, some veggies, and I just ate some of the starch (potatoes, pasta, etc…). I even took some yogurt, cheese, and grapes with me so I’d have some healthy snacks.

The main thing is to just be mindful of the portions—especially with restaurants, because they give you way too much food. If you combine good sense and moderation with some workouts, it’s easy to maintain your weight, even when you’re traveling.

This week’s Biggest Loser from the Friday group was Donnie Bartos, who lost 2.4% of his body weight and 4.6 lbs. Second place went to Danielle Foley, who lost 2.1% and 3.2 lbs. Jackie Tyler placed third, losing 2.0% and 3.2 lbs. Lorie Marietta was fourth, losing 1.8% and 5.2.Casie High was fifth, losing 2.0% and 2.7.

The winner from the Saturday group was Jennifer Bowers, who lost 2.0% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. Cheri Dosch was second, losing 1.5% and 2.2 lbs. Vicki Riggen was third, losing around 1.0% and 1.2 lbs. Brad Adams placed fourth losing 1.9 lbs, and Jamie Wheeler was fifth, losing 1.2 lbs.

Monday, February 01, 2010


This week we showed them how to “have a ball” in their training by using an exercise stability ball for their entire workout. Stability balls can be used for a wide variety of exercises, and are always a great addition to any exercise program.

They did three exercises, while their partner did jogged three laps around the outside of the room. Then they rotated. After everyone finished round one, they learned another three exercises while their partner jogged, and so on. Before they knew it, they’d completed four rounds, and learned 12 new exercises. I’ve included the routine here in case you’d like to try it.

Here’s what you do. To perform a crunch on the ball, you start by lying down backwards with the center of the ball around the small of your back. Be careful not to get to far back beyond the ball because you could flip backward over the ball. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen—and it happens quite quickly!

But you also have to be far enough back on the ball to use your core. If your upper back is on the ball, you won’t be working your core enough, so you have to find that perfect balance point. Since the ball will want to roll, you have to use more abdominal muscles along with your other stabilizer muscles to try and keep the ball from moving while you rise up to a sitting position. That’s why they call it a stability ball.

Once you get comfortable with regular crunches, I like to start on the pushups. This time, get on the ball face down, and roll out until your hands are on the floor in front of the ball, and your shins or feet are on the ball. Just doing that can be a challenge.

Once you’re comfortable with that, it’s time to hold that plank-like position while doing pushups. The ball will want to roll to the side, so you’ll have to tighten your core, especially your oblique muscles (sides). It takes concentration to hold that ball steady, especially when you’re doing pushups!

The next exercise is a squat while holding the ball out in front of you. It provides a good counter-balance during the squatting motion, and also requires you to keep your upper body nice and straight. This also works a lot of core and stabilizer muscles.

Once you’ve done the crunch, the pushup, and the squat with the ball, you can learn some other exercises to get you through another 2 or 3 rounds. This time, instead of just a crunch, lean backwards and try to touch the floor with your hands. Then, sit-up all the way forward, and cross over your hands to touch the opposite foot. Repeat on the other side.

This time, instead of a pushup, you’ll maintain the pushup position but try to bring your knees into your chest. You’ll basically be rolling the ball in toward you. These are pretty tough, but doable.

For the squat, this time, hold the ball directly overhead and then squat. It’s much tougher than the other way. Remember to try to always keep your upper body upright, with good posture.

For the third round, lay on the ball again, but at the same time, try lifting one foot off the ground. Then do the other foot. Once you can maintain your balance, try doing the crunch like that.

In the pushup position, instead of doing the knee-in, you’ll be trying for a pike on the ball. While keeping your legs straight, lift your hips up in the air as high as possible. These are called pikes.

For the squat movement, do sumo squats this time. While holding the ball to your chest, lift one leg up in the air and then put it down in a wide stance. Then lift the other leg up high and put it down in a wide stance, and so on.

For the fourth and final round, you perform the exercise on your back on the floor, holding the ball with your feet, between your legs. Bring the ball up by lifting your legs, and grab the ball with both hands. Touch the ball to the floor behind your head with your arms outstretched while putting your feet back down on the floor. Then bring the ball back so you can grab it with your feet again, and so on.

In the pushup position on the ball, this time you’ll combine all three movements by doing a pushup, then bringing your knees in, and finishing with a pike. Repeat. This is pretty tasking.

The last lower body exercise is to do walking lunges while holding the ball overhead. Step far enough in front of you where your knee is bent but you can still see your toes. Make sure you bend your back leg, and come off your heel so that only the ball of your back foot is touching. Then step forward again with a walking lunge with the other leg.

These 12 exercises will definitely help you develop a strong core, and you’ll be working your whole body at the same time. The goal is to start working some of these exercises into your regular routine. Give them a try.

The Biggest Loser in the Friday night group was Chris Chapman, who lost 1.9% of his body weight and 3.8 lbs. Second place went to Shawn Bowers, who lost 1.8% and 5.2 lbs. Heather Gill took 3rd place, losing 1.6% and 2.4 lbs. Jim Huxford was 4th, losing 1.5% and 3.2 lbs, and Sheri Tyler and Scott Block tied for 5th, losing 1.4% and 3.0 and 3.2 lbs respectively.

In the Saturday morning group, the Biggest Loser was Jennifer Bowers, who lost 1.7% and 3.4 lbs. Cheri Dosch scored 2nd, by losing 1.6% and 2.4 lbs. Third place was a tie between Dale Rasmussen and Joan Brown, who both lost 1.2% and 3.2 lbs and 2.0 lbs respectively. Melissa White finished 5th, losing 1.0% of her body weight and 1.4 lbs.