Monday, March 08, 2010


This week marked the end of their second month, and it was time for something different. They spent the first month working on the machines (Level I), and the second month getting comfortable using free weights, primarily dumbbells (Level II).

Now that they know their way around the weight room, it’s time to take it up a notch and find something to bring them to the next level. Typically, if someone keeps doing the same thing, their results will start to slow, sometimes even grinding to a halt—that dreaded plateau in weight loss.

At that time, the thing to do is to change it up and find things that the body isn’t used to. Remember, if you can already do it, your body has no reason to change. That’s why you can walk several miles a day and not lose weight. Your body is already used to it.

That was the reason for the Level III workout this week. Where before each exercise consisted of performing one movement and using one muscle group, Level III workouts are made up of compound exercises. These are exercises that have two or more movements at a time, and use more than one muscle group to get the job done.

I split the group up into four stations that rotated between four exercises. Each group stayed with one exercise for a minute, and then moved on to the next exercise as the group rotated. When each group got through all four exercises they’d completed one round. The total workout consisted of five rounds of the circuit, for a total of twenty minutes.

It sounds pretty easy, but it’s not. By the time the Biggest Losers made it into the third round, most everyone was huffing and puffing, and sweat was flowing freely. In the fourth round, they were looking forward to finishing. By the time they got through the last four minutes, they were ready to stop. Here’s what they did.

Station One was “Wall Ball”, where they squat holding a 10-20 lb ball, depending on their size, as they come back up from the squat, they throw the ball up above them and bounce it off the wall, catching it when it comes back down. Then they squat again, doing the entire exercise again for a minute.

Station Two was “Single Arm Cleans” with a dumbbell. From a squatting position, they hold the dumbbell in one hand, between their feet. With an explosive pulling movement, they kind of jump up a bit while jerking the weight from the ground, all the way in a straight line up their body until they are holding it straight over head. Then they put the weight back down between their feet and repeat the exercise. After doing several, they switched arms, continuing for a minute.

Station Three was the “Ball Station.” Here, they partnered up back-to back, and passed a medicine ball back and forth by twisting from side to side. In later rounds they switched the direction that they handed off the ball, even catching it over one person’s head while the other one hiked it like a football. The final round consisted of “woodchoppers” where one person holds the ball on the floor between their feet, and then lifts it overhead while twisting to the side, before bringing it back down, and then back up to the other side.

The fourth and final station was “Kettle Ball Swings.” A kettle ball is basically a steel ball with a handle sticking out, that’s large enough to hold on to. Here they held it with two hands and brought it back between their legs while squatting down. As their arms bounce off the inside of the legs, they brought their arms and the kettle ball back up by using their hips and shoulders, continuing the movement until the kettle ball was straight overhead. It was important to keep a tight grip so the kettle ball wouldn’t swing down and bonk their noodles—but everyone survived!

All four exercises required a great deal of core activity to keep their bodies straight and in position, especially when holding the weights overhead. They also required both their upper and lower bodies to be active throughout the movements, which meant the core was working as well to help them transfer energy from one area to the other.

Another benefit is that the weight training almost becomes cardio, as evidence by all the huffing and puffing in the later rounds. By the time you get 15 or 20 minutes in, you’re pretty gassed, because using all those different muscles at the same time increases your energy demands significantly. That means you need more oxygen to keep things going, and that means you’ll get a cardio workout too.

1. Wall Ball
2. Single Arm DB Cleans
3. Partner Drills with Medicine Ball
(Back and forth, side to side, over and under), and Wood Choppers
4. Kettle Ball Swings

All in all, I think the workout was a real hit. Even though they were all pretty tired after just 20 minutes, there was quite a bit of laughter throughout—always a good sign that a workout’s a success. You might give it a try yourself. Make sure you get with someone who knows how to perform the movements correctly, and try them with fairly light weights until you feel pretty comfortable with them.

Next week we’ll teach them another way to boost the intensity with some high intensity interval training. They’ll also get some more information about the required 5 K walk/run over in Charleston on Saturday, March 27th.

This week’s Friday night Biggest Loser was Donnie Bartos, who lost 2.4% of his body weight and 4.4 lbs. Second place went to Karen Brown, who lost 2.1% and 4.8 lbs. Scott Block placed third, losing 2.0% and 4.2 lbs. Leslie Rush and Scot Grimes tied for fourth place, losing 1.4%. Leslie lost 2.4 lbs and Scot lost 3.4 lbs.

For the Saturday morning group, the Biggest Loser was Brad Adams, who lost 1.6% of his body weight and 3.6 lbs. Scott Dosch placed second, losing 1.4% and 3.4 lbs while Dawn Stewart was third, losing 1.2% and 2.4 lbs. Fourth place went to Cheri Dosch, who lost 1.0% and 1.4 lbs and Shirley Fiscus placed fifth, losing around 1.0% and 1.6 lbs.

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