Tuesday, March 23, 2010


This week let’s look at the benefits of challenging yourself. During the 12 weeks of Biggest Loser, the goal is to provide ever-increasing challenges to the group. By the end of the cycle, most of them are doing things they never thought they could do.

On the first day, during the fitness test, the 1 mile walk/run, a minute of pushups and a minute of sit-ups just about did them in. Most of them felt like that was a workout. But it wasn’t. It was just a fitness test.

Since then, they’ve done a month on machines, a month with free weights, with a bunch of cardio thrown in between. Then they did a Level III circuit workout with Wall Ball, Dumbbell cleans, Medicine Ball exercises, and Kettle Ball swings. That was an eye-opener. Last week, they did High Intensity Interval Training.

This week, the goal was to show them how to combine the interval training with the Level III workouts to make an even more fun and interesting workout. To that end, they walked/ran a quarter mile, and then did 25 pushups, 25 body squats, and 25 sit-ups—four times! That means they ran a mile, and did 100 pushups, body squats and sit-ups.

Like everything else, when they heard what they were going to do, they were a little nervous, because it sounds tough. It’s more than that. This type of workout is very deceptive. You start out thinking it’s not too bad, but by the time you get halfway through it, you realize you’re in for quite a challenge. By the third round, you wonder if you are going to be able to finish. In the last round, you’re just trying to hang on.

What makes it so difficult is that you’re caught between energy systems. It’s not completely anaerobic (without oxygen), but it’s not really aerobic either (with oxygen). The first several minutes of exercise are performed mainly by using energy stored directly in the muscles. This fuel is called glycogen, and is basically carbohydrates bound with water.

If you take off sprinting, you’ll use up glycogen until it runs out, and then you’ll feel like you’re gassed out. But if the workload isn’t too strenuous, you can keep going by using some free fatty acids already present in the blood, until your body starts using fats for fuel. It takes several minutes for this to kick in.

As time goes on, glycogen gets depleted, as do the free fatty acids in the blood. That leaves just fat for fuel, which burns in the presence of oxygen. That’s fortunate, because you’re probably breathing a little harder than normal to maintain the levels of oxygen needed to burn the fat.

If the workout gets too hard, you have to back off, because you can’t get enough oxygen in to burn enough fuel to keep it going. That’s why it’s good for people just starting out, to do walk/run intervals, rather than just try to take off running.

The other thing that made this workout difficult was the sheer amount of large muscles being used. It’s not just the running, but also the pushups hitting the upper body; the sit-ups working the core; and those body squats depleting all that glycogen from the lower body.

All that muscle requires even more oxygen to keep moving. Add it to the running demands and it becomes one tough form of high intensity interval training. If you want a challenge, and think you’re ready for it, give it a try.

It’s doing things like this and the workouts over the last couple weeks that are showing these guys and gals what they’re really made of. That’s why I want them to do the 5K walk/run in Charleston next weekend, in place of our usual workout.

Once they’ve made it through the 12 weeks, then they need to try to continue to find new challenges. Some of them will find more 5K runs and try to improve their times. Some might even try a half marathon (13.1 mi). Some will even tackle a full 26.2 mile marathon!

The main thing is to keep active and the best way to keep active is to find activities you like to do. If you can set a challenging goal a few months away, it will keep you training, and that will help keep the weight off.

It was a tough week for weigh-ins. A lot of people hit a plateau, and more than a few even gained some weight. That’s what happens when you get this many weeks into a weight loss program. It will be important for them to try and figure out what happened, and get off to a fresh start.

This week’s Biggest Loser from the Friday night group was Sheri Tyler, who lost 2.4% of her body weight and 5.0 lbs. Leslie Rush placed second, losing 2.2% and 3.6 lbs. Third place went to Scot Grimes who lost 1.1% and 2.6 lbs. Nicole Clodfelter placed fourth, losing about 1.0% and 2.4 lbs.

Scott Dosch was the Biggest Loser from the Saturday morning group, losing 1.5% of his body weight and 3.6 lbs. Jennifer Bowers placed second, losing 1.2% and 2.4 lbs. Dale Rasmussen lost 1.0% and 2.6 lbs to take third, and Cheri Dosch was fourth, losing about 1.0% and 1.0 lb.

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