Tuesday, October 29, 2013


For the last month, we’ve been getting the group used to working out daily. They’ve been using all the weight machines three to four days a week, in addition to their daily cardio workouts.

Over the last couple of weeks they’ve also picked up quite a few exercises that use free weights, dumbbells, and exercise balls. This has helped them add lots of intensity to their workouts. That means they can burn more calories.

This week, we talked about how to add that intensity in the cardio room with HIIT (high intensity interval training). The neat thing about HIIT, is that you can do it on any piece of cardio equipment, whether it’s on the treadmill, elliptical, rower, stationary or recumbent bike, Schwinn AirDyne (bike with arms), or the stair stepper.

After a short warmup, the goal is to take a one minute interval and try to go harder than usual. Then you slow down for a minute to give you a little break to recover. Then you hit it hard again for another minute, slow down and rest a minute, and so on.

You can decide how long the hard intervals are, as well as the rest intervals. Once you get in great shape, you might go 90 seconds hard, and only 30 seconds easy. Or you could even go 2 minutes hard and 1 minute easy.

Later, you might pour it on for an entire quarter mile, and then walk a couple minutes, repeating until you’ve covered a mile and a half, or two miles with high intensity intervals. I’ve done half mile repeats (800’s) where you just kill it for a half mile, and then walk two minutes, before repeating two or three more times.

You can do HIIT training on one piece of equipment for the entire time, say 20-30 minutes. You can also rotate between different pieces of equipment during your workout.

For example, start with three or four one minute HIIT intervals on the treadmill, move to the rower and do three or four HIIT intervals there. Then do three or four HIIT intervals on the elliptical. Finally, move to the Schwinn AirDyne bicycle and do several HIIT intervals there.

This is essentially what the group did during the Monday night workout. That way they got to feel what HIIT workouts felt like on the different pieces of cardio equipment. I think they learned that in the end, HIIT workouts are tough no matter where you do them!

It’s a good idea to do a few minutes easy at the start to be sure you’re fully warmed up. You also want to ease into the intervals, making each one a little harder, ramping up the intensity of the tough intervals. Don’t just jump right into the toughest, fastest, or hardest one.

Finally, you want to work up to a couple intervals that are almost too tough to complete. They might be so tough that you just can’t maintain the pace for the entire minute. Try to hang on for the whole minute if you can. If not, that’s O.K. Just rest a few seconds and then try to finish it.

At least now you’ll know what your limits are. I’ll bet it will be more than you thought you could do. If you couldn’t quite make the whole minute, make it your goal to try and get it the next time you do a HIIT workout. It’s very possible that you’ll get it that next time.

Make sure you don’t stop immediately after the toughest intervals. Spend a little time cooling down first. Be prepared for lots of sweat, and needing a couple of minutes to catch your breath.

You might also be hungry later, because these HIIT workouts take a lot out of you. You’ll still be burning calories too, even a couple hours after the workout. That means you’ll burn more total calories than in regular cardio workouts, and that will help you get what you want!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Steve Johnson III, losing 2.5% of his body weight and 5.4 lbs. Jeremy Whitaker was second, losing 1.9% and 3.6 lbs. Third place went to Stevannah Drake, who lost 1.8% and 3.4 lbs.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Monday, October 21, 2013


We just finished the first four weeks of training with Biggest Loser “18.” With one month down, and two to go, we’re still really just getting started. Up to now we’ve focused on helping them learn to control their portions, watch their total calories, and get moving at least once every day (twice is better).

It takes awhile before something new can become a habit. But after a month of eating right, it should start getting a little easier to put healthy meals together. And with a month of daily workouts behind them, hopefully they’re getting to the point where they’re not having to fight themselves to get to the gym either.

So at this point, the main issues will be getting them to stick with the program, and to keep them progressing in their workouts. Typically, about half the group drops out of most programs at one time or another.

Right now, we’re doing pretty well with about 20 out of the original 24 still here, giving us about an 80% participation rate. The irony is that the harder they work now, the better results they get. The better they do, the more motivated they are to continue. That’s why we push pretty hard to get good results early.

In the end, you get what you focus on. Work hard and work often, and sooner or later, you’ll likely get what you want (as long as it’s reasonable). One thing is certain. If you quit trying, you’ll never get what you want.

The other big focus will be teaching them how to add intensity to their workouts. As they get stronger, they can work out harder, burning more calories in the same amount of time. Or, they can work out longer, which also burns more calories. This translates directly to more weight loss.

One of the big keys is mixing up the workouts by adding new and different exercises that they aren’t used to. This helps them get through the inevitable weight loss plateau.

Circuit training is an excellent way to keep things moving along. To that end, I gave them a two part workout with a bunch of new and challenging exercises. The first part was four rounds of four exercises, each lasting about 50 seconds, with 10 seconds to move to the next station.

Round One: Bouncing pushups over a BOSU trainer; Box Jumps on and off of a step with several risers; Standing dumbbell (DB) curl & overhead presses; and AB rollers with a stability ball.

Round Two: Pushups on an upside down BOSU trainer; Box Step Over’s side-to-side; Walking Lunges; and Pushups with their legs on the stability ball.

Round Three: Body Squats standing on the BOSU trainer; Box Step Over’s length wise; Walking Lunges with DB curls; and Knee-Ins on the stability ball.

Round Four: Burpees while holding the BOSU trainer; Box Step Over’s while turning behind; Walking Lunges with DB curl & overhead presses; and Pikes on the stability ball.

The second part of the workout took about 12 minutes. One person got on the battle rope and had to do 25 battle ropes (L & R) while the others took did DB Burpee Curl & Presses (holding two DB, drop down and do a pushup on them, then stand back up with the DB, curling & pressing them overhead; repeat).

When the person finished on the rope, another took their place, rotating until everyone had a chance to do the battle rope. Everyone else continued with the DB Burpee Curl & Presses, which was pretty brutal by the time everybody got through the rope!

What makes workouts like these so difficult, but also so effective, is that the are using whole body movements like the Walking Lunge, Curl Press, or DB Burpee Curl & Presses. The exercises on the BOSU trainer and stability ball also require lots of muscle, especially your core.

Since these exercises use all the major muscle groups, often at the same time, they require lots of oxygen, and burn tons of calories, including a long after burn. Start-to-finish, it was less than a half hour, but I’ll bet they’ll tell you it was the toughest workout by far.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Julie Panetti, who lost 2.1% of her body weight and 2.6 lbs. Second place went to Maddie Johnson, who lost 1.9% and 4.6 lbs. Third place was a tie between Pam Johns and Jeremy Whitaker, both losing 1.5% and 2.4 lbs and 2.8 lbs respectively.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Monday, October 14, 2013


This week we talked about how to keep your diet in check while you’re eating out. The easiest and most obvious way is to simply check the menu for calories.

Many fast food places publish the calories for most items, either in the store or online. You’ll also find them on the good phone apps. Some of the larger restaurant chains also have a low calorie menu where you’ll know the value of the whole meal.

Most of the fast food chains now have some pretty healthy menu choices like grilled chicken sandwiches and salads, wraps, and of course 6” subs. The key there is to avoid the fries and large pops, which add a ton of calories to your meal.

If you can’t find the calories, then you can make a good guess. Figure a 5-6 oz serving of meat or poultry is around 150 calories and a 7-8 oz serving is 200 calories. Both will usually be about the size of your palm; the smaller size for women, and the large size for men.

A quality serving of starch (potato, sweet potato, pasta, rice, etc…) will be about 150 calories for a half size portion (ladies), or 300 calories for a full size portion (guys). Like we talked about last week, the key is to just eat one serving.

It’s hard to consume more than 100 calories in a serving of vegetables, even with a little sauce. The only issue with salads is the dressing. A serving size is usually just 2 tbsp, which would be 50 calories (low fat) or up to 200 calories or more for house or regular dressings.

Soft drinks or sweet teas typically run around 120-150 calories per 8 oz serving. This doesn’t sound like much but it’s easy to have a refill or two without even thinking about it, so be careful.

Once you have an idea of what certain foods are, you can plan to fit it into your day. If you know it’s going to be a little high, you can scale back elsewhere, by skipping a snack, or in some extreme cases, another meal if you know you really need the room.

Of course you can always make up for it by throwing in an extra calorie burning workout like an extra walk at night, or staying in the gym a little longer. The point is that sometimes you can eat some of the foods you might have thought were off limits. If you’re careful, between the two strategies you can ensure that nothing will be stored as fat; you’ll just burn it.

This week they did a full body circuit with dumbbells (DB) and calisthenics for the Monday night workout. It was just 30 minutes, but I’m pretty sure they thought it was action packed. Here it is in case you’d like to give it a try:

1. DB Chest Press & DB Pec Fly’s on the Ball (Chest)
2. DB Squat & DB Deadlifts (Lower Body)
3. DB Single Arm Rows, and DB Pull-overs on the Ball (Back)
4. Pushups, Sit-Ups & Body Squats, run-in-place w/3 burpees (3 rounds)
5. DB Shoulder Press & DB Lateral Raises (Shoulders)
6. DB Overhead Tricep Press & DB Tricep Kickbacks (Arms)
7. DB Hammer Curls & DB Bicep Curls (Arms)
8. AB Routine #1-5: Crunches, Crunches w/legs up, Cross to L, Cross to R, & Leg-lifts (Abs)

First place this week was a tie between Jeremy Whitaker and Shelly Borchers who both lost 1.9% of their body weight and 3.6 and 3.4 lbs respectively. Steve Johnson III placed second, losing 1.7% and 3.8 lbs.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Our goals for Week Two were to make sure they’re exercising every day, and then to help them start ramping up their workouts as they get stronger. In previous Biggest Losers, I worked the group out after each weekly weigh-in, and told them what to do the rest of the week.

For Biggest Loser “18”, I’m posting a different workout on Facebook each day, which is the same workout I’d do if I were personally training each of them. So this is even better. It’s pretty cool to come in and see people actually doing it, just like I posted.

The daily posts have been mostly workouts utilizing machines up to this point. Now they’ll start including some free weight exercises, as well as more sets and reps of everything.

Using free weights will force them to use more muscle groups to help stabilize the weights, which means they’ll burn more calories in their workouts. I held back a bit early on to help with soreness, and help them build confidence, but now they’re ready for more.

To that end I set up a circuit with a bunch of dumbbells, exercise balls, kettlebells, and some other cool stuff. This will help them learn how to turn things up in the weight room.

They split up into groups of four, each group doing a station for a minute or so before rotating to the next station. It wasn’t a super tough workout, but the information gained will open the door to much more interesting workouts that will be tougher!

On the food side of things, the goal this week was for them to continue eating the right amount of food, but also to start looking at the quality of their food. They learned about the three main categories:

Protein – is for building muscle and bone; lean cuts of beef, pork, poultry, fish, nuts, and some beans. Most people don’t get nearly enough protein, especially if they are working out. Every meal and snack should include protein, and even then, you might need to supplement with a protein shake.

Starches – are complex carbohydrates that provide long lasting energy, and some vitamins and minerals. Sources include whole grain breads and cereals, oats, barley, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and some beans. We usually get too many starches in our diet, especially at things like potlucks, or if we’re eating fast foods, or junk foods, which are poor substitutes nutritionally, and much higher in calories. If you eat one quality starch per meal, you’ll always have the energy you need to get through your day and workout.

Fruits & Greens – are basically free foods that provide lots of quick energy (fruits), vitamins & minerals (both), and a ton of fiber (vegetables especially). It’s hard to go wrong with these, unless you’re a diabetic (see your doctor). A good plan is to try to have fruits at least at breakfast & lunch, and vegetables at least at supper.

Most experts also recommend an Omega-3 (fish oil) to make sure you’re getting the proper amount of “good” fats. Recent studies are showing that it’s even better if you take a “Multi-Oil” that contains a blend of Omega-3, 6, & 9 oils.

These tips have helped a lot of our Biggest Losers lose quite a bit of weight over the last 17 groups. For more detailed and personal information, see a nutritionist or your doctor.

The winner for Week Two was Pam Johns, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 2.8 lbs. Nicole Shaughnessy placed second, losing 1.6% and 2.3 lbs. Steve Johnson III and Polly Webster tied for third, both losing 1.4% and 3.2 lbs and 2.0 lbs respectively.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!