Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Well, the group has been through nine weeks of training—those that are left, that is. Typically, we’ll see about half drop out for one reason or another. At this point, it’s been much more extreme.

Out of the 29 Biggest Losers that started nine weeks ago, just six made this week’s weigh-in! I know a couple others are out of town, but that’s perhaps the lowest weigh-in ever.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on. Since we’re doing pretty much the same workouts, I have to conclude it has something to do with the timing.

The workouts are on Friday nights, and I know it’s tough to get here sometimes, especially on Friday night. But in the past, we’ve had some large groups, so that can’t be the only reason.

Perhaps it’s just the time of year. It is summer, after all, and the heat index is up there, too. I like the summer workouts because we can get outdoors, but when it gets too hot, we start staying inside and using the equipment here.

That’s what we did this week. Usually in Week Nine, I’ll take the group out to the football field and they’ll run/walk a quarter mile and then do 25 pushups, 25 body squats, and 25 sit-ups, four times.

This time, they did the quarter miles on the treadmill and went into the mat room for the pushups, body squats and sit-ups. Pretty nice with that air conditioning! Oh well, they still did the work.

They probably wouldn’t burn quite as many calories as they would have done if they were doing it all outside, but we didn’t have to worry about heat sickness this way. I used it as an opportunity to have them try to go faster than usual on the treadmill. So it all worked out in the end.

For the Biggest Losers that were there, it was a great workout. It was quick, but very effective. Most finished in under twenty minutes. But the main thing is that they’re finishing what they started.

After getting started, the hardest thing for people is learning how to stick it out. The first month is painful as your body is getting used to doing the work. The next month, you’re feeling stronger, and it doesn’t hurt as much. You’re also getting some results.

I don’t worry much about the people that make the weigh-ins at this point. I worry even less about the people that still make the workouts. By now, they’re getting strong, and they know they can push themselves much more then they used to. They’ve also made eating right and exercising smart a daily habit.

These are qualities that will serve them pretty well, especially once they’re out on their own. If there’s a common mistake I see with people working out, it’s that they tend to keep doing the same routine, without any variation at all.

It’s really good to better to change it up, and do different things. It’s good for your body and it’s good for your mind. Your body likes it because it gets stressed in different ways, and so it has to develop more. Your mind likes it because it’s something new.

Of course, if you drop out of a program, it’s going to be kind of tough to change it up and do new and different things. So maybe the most important thing lesson to learn is…DON’T QUIT! If you quit, you don’t get what you want.

One who hasn’t quit is Cheryl Clark, our Biggest Loser this week. She lost 3.1% of her body weight and 6.2 lbs. She’s had some weeks where the scale wasn’t as kind as she’d have liked, and like many women, she’s also learned she needed to be eating more.

Cheryl’s been pretty persistent though, and it’s been paying off. To date, she’s lost 18.2 lbs in nine weeks. With three weeks to go, if she keeps this up, she can be down about 25 lbs for the 12 weeks.

Second place went to Michelle Clark, who lost 1.3% and 2.0 lbs. Janice Johnson was third, losing about 1.0% and 1.8 lbs. Vanessa Becker was fourth, losing 1.0 lb.

Next week, depending on weather, we’ll do either the 5 K challenge or teach them an advanced Level IV workout. Either way, it’s going to give them another chance to step it up. See you then!

Friday, June 18, 2010


This week we had a couple of interesting workouts. On Friday afternoon, several of the Wood Street Warriors accepted my challenge to come out for a trail run. I’ve got a half mile loop through the woods and fields but this year I added a couple of twists: a really steep short hill down to the creek, and an extra stretch up around where the pond is going to be.

Their challenge was to run at least four laps around, with 10 body squats after the first lap, 15 body squats after the second, 20 after the third, and 25 after the fourth. If they really felt froggy, they could add a fifth lap and 30 body squats for a total of 100 squats and 3.75 miles. If they did a sixth lap, that would take the distance up to right around 4 ½ miles!

Trail running is quite a bit different than jogging on the road or even the treadmill. While the road is toughest on you, trail running is much easier on the feet and knees because the ground is softer and has some give to it.

It can be a little tricky though. You’ve got to really watch where you’re going so you don’t turn an ankle. Instead of long strides, you need to shorten your stride on uneven ground, and put your whole foot down deliberately.

But those adjustments also drive up the intensity of the work. Since the terrain is uneven, it takes more muscle control to keep your balance, which also works your core more. This makes it very good for your overall health and posture. In fact, my chiropractor is always telling people to go out and walk on uneven ground.

After the first lap, the gals knew they were in for something. The hills didn’t look that threatening, but because they kept coming at you, and were pretty steep, it drove up the intensity.

Once you got over the short hill, you got a short break before the next one kicked in, which made this yet another form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I told them the only real goal the whole time was to push up the hills. Try to really hit the hills hard.

The body squats in between laps further kicked up the intensity and combined with the hills made it quite a lower body workout. By the time they’d finished 4 laps, they’d done the equivalent of a 5 K run, plus all the hills and squats! The 5th lap was a walk/run lap, but by the time they’d walked half of it, they’d recovered enough to run the rest. Great job ladies!

Afterward, I scooted back to the center to work with the Biggest Losers and their own introduction to HIIT. Always an eye opener, HIIT training shows you that you can always do more than you think you can do.

After warming up on either the treadmill, bike or elliptical, they kicked up the intensity using Borg’s scale of Perceived Exertion. They took it up to what felt like about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is being in a coma and 10 is too hard to continue.

Working at what feels like a 5 or 6 is very low intensity, and a 7 is what feels like moderate intensity right in the middle of the cardio zone. When you get to what feels like an 8, it’s pretty serious—you don’t know how long you can keep it up.

Working at what feels like a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 is even harder. This is work that is so hard that you don’t know if you can keep going, even for a minute. Of course a 10 is so hard that you have to stop, so you don’t want to get quite that intense.

They did a minute at what felt like an 8, and then a minute where they backed off to recover. Then they kicked it up again by going faster, or raising the level on the machine. After another minute of recovery, we took it up to what felt like a 9.

Typically, they won’t really be working hard enough for it to really be a 9, so I had them do it again, only harder. This time, I could tell it really was a 9 because they were huffing and puffing and watching the clock to see when the minute was up!

After a minute to recover, they switched machines and tried the whole routine again. Finally, they switched machines again so they got to experience the whole thing on a treadmill, elliptical and recumbent bike. The idea was to show them that you can do HIIT anywhere, even out in the woods with hills like the Wood St. Warriors!

HIIT training burns many more calories than a traditional workout. Moderate exercise will burn around 5 calories a minute. If you push pretty hard, you can get that up to around 10 calories a minute.

With HIIT training, you can get as high as 15 calories a minute, but it also gives you a much longer after-burn, meaning you’ll continue to burn more calories even after the work is over. This is a great tool for them to use as they move into their third month of training. It’s often just the ticket to get you through a plateau!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Nicole Clodfelter, who lost 1.4% of her body weight and 3.6 lbs. This came after a week where she turned up her intensity quite a bit, running her second 5 K and taking nearly 5 minutes off her time!

Second place went to Michelle Clark who also ran a 5 K in just over 31 minutes. She was delighted that she was able to keep running the entire time! Michelle lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.4 lbs.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This week we went outside again. That’s one of the benefits of doing Biggest Loser in the spring and summer. The last time we went outdoors, the group did the park-to-park run, with four stops along the way. At each station, they also did a bunch of jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups and body squats at each stop.

This week they jogged down to the park at Main and Jasper St. Once they got to the water tower, they did three sets of burpees and sit-ups.

Here’s how you do a burpee—from a standing position, bend down and put your hands on the floor, kicking your feet out into a pushup position. Do the pushup, and then hop back to a squatting position before jumping straight up in the air with your arms stretched out overhead. That’s a burpee!

They did 10 burpees in a row, which is tough, because you’re using almost every muscle group. That puts quite an oxygen demand on the body, especially after jogging first. Once they finished the burpees, they hit the grass and did 20 sit-ups. This actually helped them catch their breath, because they were lying on their back.

Once they finished the sit-ups, they did 10 more burpees, 20 more sit-ups, and finished with a third set of 10 burpees and 20 sit-ups. By then, everyone was feeling it.

At that point, I split the group in two and had the stronger runners take a lap around the park before heading back. The others simply started back from there. The run/walk back is always much harder than people expect because of all the work they did in between.

From start to finish, the workout took less than 30 minutes, and everyone agreed that it was more intense than they were used to. My goal is to teach them that they can do almost always do more than they think they can do. It’s also to show them what they should be feeling like in their workouts during the week.

If my workout is the only one that gasses them that much, then they need to step it up during the week. The challenge is to keep raising their level of intensity each week. That will help them keep taking the weight off, especially when their body gets used to what they were doing.

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. In fact, your body might even get weaker! You need to keep changing it up. Next week, we’ll teach them how to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to help them get more out of their cardio workouts.

If you’re already working out and doing pretty well, and want a more advanced version of the combination workouts, here’s another one for you. Run a ¼ mile, and then do 25 pushups, body squats, and sit-ups. Then repeat the whole thing three more times.

That’s one of the most talked about workouts we’ve done, and the group just might see it sometime in the next couple of weeks! Another challenge they’ll be facing is to do a 5K (3.1 mile) walk/run. Again, the goal is to keep up the intensity.

Someone who’s done a good job finding more intensity is Karen Brown who took first place this week by losing 1.6% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs. You may recall that she lost 42 lbs in Biggest Loser “9” some months ago. She’s continued to work on it, and this week, she walked 9 miles three different times!

One of those times was right before we did the outdoor workout I told you about, so she actually did closer to 11 miles that day! With that kind of effort, I’m not surprised she was the Biggest Loser this week.

Second place went to Michelle Clark, who’s also been pushing hard in the gym. She lost 1.3% of her body weight and 2.0 lbs. Third place was a tie between Vanessa Becker and Janice Johnson, who both lost about 1.0% of their body weight. Vanessa lost 1.0 lbs and Janice lost 1.6 lbs.

Friday, June 04, 2010


This week the group learned the second free weight routine. As always, the goal is to continually keep changing it up. It doesn’t take long before your body adapts to a certain routine. That’s when results start falling off.

Even if your goal isn’t weight loss, it’s smart to keep things changing. If you’re a bodybuilder or trying to put on size, it’s good to do things in 3 week cycles—four at the most. Then you need to change it up somehow.

By changing the routine, it keeps your body “guessing.” It’s adapted to the workout levels, the intensity, and even the order in which you do things. By varying the exercises, or the exercise order, you can make the workout more difficult. Give it a try.

The first dumbbell (DB) routine I typically teach is a full body workout that hits every muscle group:

1. Front Squat
2. Chest Press on the Ball
3. Bent Knee Dead lifts
4. Single Arm Rows
5. Lateral Raises
6. Single Arm Bicep Curls (alternating)
7. Overhead Tricep Press
8. Abs Crunches on the Ball
9. Side Twists

The second (new) DB routine hits the same body parts, but uses different exercises. By mixing it up, it will create a whole new set of demands on the body.

1. Walking Lunge
2. Peck Fly’s on the Ball
3. Straight Leg Dead lifts
4. Pullovers on the Ball
5. Arnold Shoulder Press
6. Double Bicep Curl
7. Tricep Kickbacks
8. Ab Routine #1-5: Crunches (knees bent), Crunches (legs up), Side Crunches (L) then (R), Leg Lifts

There are several ways to do the workout. You could do it as a circuit from start to finish, and then do it again once or twice. Try not to stop for breaks until you’ve completed the circuit.

An alternative method is to put things together in pairs, called supersets. Do the Walking Lunges and Pec Fly’s back-to-back, two or three times. Then move on to the Dead lifts and Pullovers. Do them both back-to-back, and then repeat the pair again once or twice.

Take the next three exercises and put them together: Arnold Press, Bicep Curl and Tricep Kickbacks. Do all three back-to-back, two or three times. Finally, do the Ab Routine at the end. Pick a number, say 20 reps, and do each one of the five abdominal exercises 20 times.

Either way, the goal is to hit the entire body, which you will. You’ll want to keep moving without rests. If you need to take a drink, take it between pairs of exercises, or at the end of a circuit. That will keep you moving! Good luck.

By the way, don’t forget about the 5th Annual C.A.M.A. Bike Rally, on Saturday, June 5th. You can get information from !

This week’s Biggest Loser was Michelle Clark, who lost 1.3% of her body weight and 2.0 lbs. Janice Johnson was second with 1.2% and 2.8 lbs. Dale Rasmussen placed third, losing 1.1% and 2.6 lbs. Mindi Milner, Nicole Clodfelter and Karen Brown all tied for fourth place, losing 1.0 of their body weight and 2.0, 2.6, and 2.2 lbs respectively.