Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This week I gave the group another Level 4 workout. From now, till the end, our goal is to keep things intense with circuit training, and also to keep teaching them new exercises to put into their routines.

The key with Level 4 circuit training is to mix it up day-to-day by changing the different exercises. This keeps your body from getting too used to things, which means it’s always going to be challenging, so you’ll burn lots of calories. That means you’ll keep losing weight! It also keeps it fresh, which helps keep your interest.

When you do circuit training, you want to have exercises that will hit your entire body. This means you’re going to target your pushing muscles (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps), pulling muscles (Back & Biceps), lower body (Hips & Legs), and also your abs or core.

It can be as simple as doing one exercise from each group, or doing a longer circuit with 2 or more exercises that hit each area. You want to arrange things so each area gets worked, then rests while you hit a different area. This way, you move from one exercise to the next, without needing an actual break, and that’s what keeps the intensity high.

Last week, they did an 8 station circuit that was made up of Wall Ball (Squat thrusters), the Rower, Battle Ropes, Leg Raises, Pull-ups, Deadlift Sumo Hi-Pulls, the Exercise Bike, and Assorted Ab exercises with a ball.

This week’s circuit used some more new movements for the group: Box Jumps, Mountain Climbers, Single Arm Kettlebell Swings (switching arms), Dynamax Ball Smack Downs, BOSU Ballistic Push-ups, Pilate Crunches, and Burpees!

They did each station for 45-50 seconds, with 10-15 seconds to move and get ready for the next station. There were 7 stations, done 3 times by the Biggest Losers, for a total of 21 minutes. The 5:30 group did 4 rounds totaling 28 minutes.

1. Box Jumps (lower body) – jump on and off a box for 45-50 seconds. We use an aerobics step with several risers. The better shape you’re in, the more risers.

2. Mountain Climbers (entire body) – in a push-up position, bring your knees up alternating L-R as fast as you can for 45-50 seconds.

3. Single Arm Kettlebell Swings (shoulders, biceps, hips, core) – in a slight crouch, using a fairly light kettlebell, swing it up until it’s horizontal to the ground with one arm, lower it down, bouncing off one leg, and then switch arms on the way back up. Repeat for 45-50 seconds.

4. Dynamax Ball Smack Downs (upper back, core) – holding a 10 lb soft medicine ball, reach up overhead, slightly raise up off your heels and then bring the ball down violently, letting go of it so it smacks the mat! If you’re in great shape, use a heavier Dynamax ball. Do it for 45-50 seconds (which is much harder than it sounds).

5. BOSU Ballistic Push-ups (chest, shoulders, triceps) – using a BOSU trainer, do a pushup with your L hand is on the BOSU, and your R hand on the floor. Following the push-up, explosively transition yourself so that your R hand is now on the BOSU, and your L hand is on the other side on the floor. Continue for 45-50 seconds. In every other set, flip the BOSU over and do the pushups with your hands on the handles.

6. Pilate Crunches (core) – lay on the mat on your back with your legs straight and arms in front of you. Bring your knees up to your chest while lifting your shoulders off the mat and reaching toward your toes. Repeat for 45-50 seconds.

7. Burpees (entire body) – from a standing position, bend your knees, reach down and drop into a pushup position. Do a pushup before hopping back to your feet and doing a small jump while reaching over your head with your arms. Repeat for 45-50 seconds.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jackie Landsaw, who lost 1.4% of her body weight and 2.4 lbs. Jeremy Whitaker was second, losing 1.2% and 2.6 lbs. Nicole Shaughnessy placed third, losing about 1.0% and 1.2 lbs.

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This week marked the end of eight weeks—two months down, and one to go. At this point, weight loss often slows down, and the people have to fight hard to get past a plateau. To help them turn it up another notch, I introduced them to what I call Level 4 workouts.

Level 1 consists of doing the basic weight and cardio machines. Level 2 workouts replace the machine circuit with basic free weight movements with dumbbells. Recently, they’ve been doing Level 3 workouts by doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in the cardio room, and Supersets with their free weights.

Level 4 workouts take free weight movements and combine them with new core-training movements and short bouts of cardio, arranged in a circuit that you complete several times.

You do each station for 45-50 seconds, with 10-15 seconds to rest while moving to the next station. The Biggest Losers did 3 rounds for a total of 24 minutes. The regular evening class did a bonus 4th round for a total workout time of 32 minutes. Here’s what they did.

1. Wall Ball (10-20 lb ball) – Keeping your body erect, squat facing a wall with a ball on your shoulder. As you come up, toss the ball overhead on a wall, and then catch it on your other shoulder, repeating the squat. Repeat for 45-50 seconds.

2. Rower (Concept 2) – Get on and row for 45-50 seconds.

3. Battle Ropes (take two ends of a 50’ rope wrapped around something) – shake it up and down, side-to-side, making circles, etc… for 45-50 seconds.

4. Leg Raises (on dip, leg raise, pull-up station) – do as many as you can straight leg, and then with knees bent for 45-50 seconds.

5. Pull-ups (on dip, leg raise, pull-up station) – assisted with your leg if necessary, do as many wide grip pull-ups as you can; change grip to neutral grip, and reverse grip when needed. 45-50 seconds.

6. Kettlebell (KB) Sumo Hi-Pulls – starting with a fairly light KB hanging down in front of you with a dual grip, keeping your back straight, squat down so the KB touches the floor. Then stand up and raise the KB up with both arms until your hands are at eye level, and repeat for 45-50 seconds.

7. Exercise Bike (Schwinn AirDyne) – get on a ride, using both arms and legs with great intensity for 45-50 seconds.

8. Assorted Sit-ups with small Ball (8-10 lb ball) – Round 1: Regular sit-ups while holding ball in front of you with arms extended; Round 2: Bicycle motion with legs while holding ball in front of you with bent arms, moving ball to each side of your body; Round 3: Lay down on your back, with your legs straight, while holding the ball in arms extended overhead. Jack-knife your body up so your straight arms holding the ball touch your toes of your straight legs (good luck with this one). Bonus Round 4: Lay on your back with knees bent, holding the ball between your knees, with your arms extended straight side-to-side for balance. Bring your knees side-to-side so they touch the ground on the L, then R, etc… do each for 45-50 seconds.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jeremy Whitaker, who lost 2.6% of his body weight and another 6.0 lbs. His 8 week total is 45.9 lbs! Second place went to Ashlee Hiatt, who lost 1.6% and 2.8 lbs. Johna Todd was third, losing a little more than half a pound.

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This week the group worked on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It’s always an eye-opener for them because they find out they can do quite a bit more than they thought.

HIIT is all about short, hard bouts of exercise followed by brief moments to recover. You start with a few minutes going easy to get warmed up. Then you pick up the pace for a minute. Then you back off for a minute to give yourself time to recover a little bit. Then you do another minute even harder, rest a minute, and so on.

You can do the intervals on any piece of cardio equipment. Here in the gym, we had them split up into smaller groups on the treadmills, ellipticals, and Schwinn AirDyne bikes. After several intervals, each group rotated to the next piece of equipment.

We also varied the time of the intervals. For the first couple rounds, we stuck with one minute intervals. After everyone had done three rounds in each area (9 rounds total), we rotated back to the beginning, and shortened the work and rest intervals to 30 seconds.

After a few of those intervals, we went to 20 second high intensity intervals with just 10 seconds rest. The shorter intervals let you go even faster, since you don’t have to go as long, so they’re even more intense.

We switched equipment again, and they did two 90 second work intervals, each with a minute rest. Finally, they did a monster 2 minute interval to cap things off. They started at a very high workload but the interval was so long, they had to slow down a little bit to be able to finish.

In the end, they worked out for 45 minutes, which included a few minutes at the start for a warm-up, and a few minutes at the end for a cool-down. They learned they could do the high intensity interval training on any cardio equipment. They also got some experience changing up the interval times to allow even great intensity.

It’s good to do HIIT at least once a week, and it really doesn’t matter what you do it on, or what your interval times are. What matters is that you use it as a tool to push yourself beyond what you normally would do. This challenges your body, and will get you in great shape!

If you’re trying to lose weight, as they are, HIIT also has a longer calorie after-burn than regular forms of exercise. The work is so hard that your body will keep burning calories long after your workout. You might even get hungry later.

Make sure you don’t do HIIT on an empty stomach, though. You’ll quickly burn through all the readily available fuels in your body. Since you can’t access fat for fuel quickly enough to meet the demands, you’ll want to have a little sugar in the blood to get you through, so have a snack 30-60 minutes before your workout.

If you’re new to exercise, getting into HIIT can be as simple as trying to jog a minute and then walking two minutes. As you get stronger, you can decrease the rest period little-by-little, until at some point, you’ll be able to just keep jogging. Give it a try!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Ashlee Hiatt, who lost 1.8% of her body weight and 3.2 lbs. Betty Payne was second, losing 1.5% and 2.0 lbs. Third place went to Johna Todd, who lost 1.4% and 2.8 lbs.

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Well we made it halfway through our latest twelve week Biggest Loser program with no major bumps or bruises. We’re down four from our original group, but that’s to be expected. Remember, in any program like this, it’s normal to see half the group drop out for one reason or another.

That’s why I talked with them Monday night about digging deep to discover what it takes inside to keep things going. If you can’t do six weeks, how can you do six years? Losing the weight—and keeping it off—is a lifelong pursuit, not just a twelve week program.

In the end, you’ve got to have something bigger than a want-to, if you’re going to get something of this magnitude done. It’s got to be a have-to. It’s got to be so big that it’s going to just “kill you” if you don’t get this done.

That’s the kind of drive and commitment it takes to do big things. Anything less than that will fall by the wayside sooner or later when things come up.

After six weeks, you start running into more than just psychological issues. Your body starts adjusting to the work and weight loss starts to plateau.

That’s why it’s important to keep changing things up, and increasing the intensity of your workouts. So this week, we took the first two free weight routines the group learned (published in last week’s article) and combined them.

They performed each set of exercises, back-to-back, without a break, 10-15 repetitions each set, a total of three times in each round. Each round also included an exercise that worked their abs. That way they got a break from the major muscle group worked while also covering their midsection too.

Here’s what they did, in case you’d like to try it yourself. Make sure you get with someone who knows how to properly perform each exercise. If need be, you can always use Google and YouTube to find videos online.

Round One: (Chest)

• Dumbbell (DB) Chest Press on Ball

• DB Pec Fly’s on Ball

• Ab Crunches on Ball (3x)

Round Two: (Back)

• DB Single Arm Rows

• DB Pullover on Ball (3x)

Round Three: (Lower Body)

• Walking Lunges

• DB Squats

• DB Bent-knee Deadlifts

• Ab Crunches on Ground (3x)

Round Four: (Shoulders)

• DB Shoulder Press (Arnold Press)

• DB Lateral Raises

• Cross-over Sit-ups on Ball (3x)

Round Five: (Arms)

• DB Hammer Curls and then Single Arm Curls

• DB Overhead Tricep Press and then DB Kickbacks

• Leg Raises (3x)

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jeremy Whitaker who again had a big week, losing 3.3% of his body weight and 7.8 lbs. He told us he’d increased his jogging from 3 miles to 5 miles/day. One day he did 5 miles in the morning and another 3 miles that evening. Jeremy’s lost 37.0 lbs in the six weeks.

Second place went to Carla Duke, who lost about 1.0% and 1.2 lbs. Nicole Shaughnessy was third, losing about a half a percent and 0.6 lbs. Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


During the first four weeks, the group focuses on using the strength machines—what I call Level 1 workouts—first as a circuit, then in pairs, back-to-back, to get a better workout. The machines are nice to start out on, because they provide a safe, controlled motion, and allow you to focus on each muscle group.

After the first month, it’s time to expand their horizons by starting them out on free weights. They notice the difference in their workouts right away because there are quite a few differences between machines and free weights.

Machines guide the motions. Free weights require you to control the weight the entire time. Machines isolate the particular muscle group you’re working on. Free weights force you to use accessory muscles to help stabilize your body during the movements. Finally, since you have to use more muscles, that means you’ll burn more calories during your workout.

While there are hundreds of different free weight exercises, a good plan is to start replacing each machine with one basic free weight movement. I call these Level 2 workouts. For example, the Chest Press machine is replaced by the Dumbbell (DB) Press on a ball. The Seated Row machine is replaced by Single Arm DB rows, and so on.

After a week of basic movements, we did a second free weight workout with similar, yet different exercises. They did the first workout on M-W-F in Week Five, and are doing the other on M-W- F this week.

Here they are in case you’d like to try them. Get with someone who can show you how to do each movement correctly. Or you can Google the movements and view videos on YouTube.

The goal is to do three sets of 10-15 repetitions for each exercise. All of the exercises are performed with dumbbells (DB), at a weight they could lift comfortably at least 10 times. If it gets too easy, use the next heavier pair of dumbbells in subsequent sets.


1. DB Squat (Legs, Hips)

2. DB Press on Ball (Chest)

3. DB Bent Leg Deadlifts (Hips, Legs & Lower Back)

4. DB Single Arm Rows (Upper Back)

5. DB Lateral Raises (Shoulders)

6. Single DB Overhead Press (Triceps)

7. Alternating DB Curls (Biceps)

8. AB Crunches on the ball (Crunches, Sit-ups, and Knee-In’s)

9. Ball Twists (Standing, Lumberjacks)


1. Walking Lunges (Legs, Hips)

2. DB Pec Fly’s on Ball (Chest)

3. DB Straight Leg Deadlifts (Hips, Legs & Lower Back)

4. DB Pullovers on Ball (Upper Back)

5. DB Arnold Press (Shoulders)

6. Bent-over double DB Kickbacks (Triceps)

7. Double DB Curls (Biceps)

8. AB Routine #1-5 (Crunches w/Knees Bent, Crunches w/Legs Up, Crunches to R side w/one leg crossed, Crunches to L side w/one leg crossed, Leg Lifts)

This week’s Biggest Loser was Ashlee Hiatt, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 3.0 lbs. Second place went to Jeremy Whitaker, who lost 1.1% and 2.6 lbs. Third place was a tie between Sheryl Bennett and Vince Porter, both losing about 1.0% and 2.0 and 2.1 lbs respectively.

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.