Monday, November 25, 2013


Over the past nine weeks the group has been learning different ways to exercise, in both the cardio room, and on the weight equipment. The goal is to keep raising the level of intensity of their workouts by showing them something new each week.

This week, they learned how to perform compound movements with the long straight bar and weight plates. They’re called compound movements because they involve more than one muscle group, and since they use so many different muscles at the same time, these exercises are much more taxing. This means you’ll burn more calories faster.

The first movement is the straight bar deadlift. Bend down at the knee and waist and grab a straight bar. Being sure to use your hips and legs, and not just your lower back, you then straighten back up while dragging the bar up to your waist to an upright posture. Then you reverse the movement by bending at the knee and waist and lowering the bar back to the floor.

The second exercise is a new one called the hanging clean, which starts where the other one left off. With the bar hanging from your arms in an upright, standing position, you slightly dip your knees and hips, and then explosively drag the bar straight up your body, by pushing up with your hips, legs and calves. Your elbows will move outward, and then back inward as the bar goes up past your hands, which come in to grab the bar from below, holding it at shoulder level. Reverse the movement, letting the bar drop back to a hanging position.

The third movement also starts where the last one left off, and is called the front squat. Once you have the bar palms up in the upright position on the shoulders, with your elbows out in front of you (which keeps the bar tight to your upper chest), slowly squat down by sitting backward until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Be sure to keep your upper body as straight as possible and avoid bending forward, which can hurt your lower back. Reverse the movement by pushing up, especially from your heels, and not just the balls of your feet, until you’re standing upright again.

The final movement also begins where the last one left off, and is called the push press. This time, with the bar in the upright position, resting on your upper chest with palms up, slightly bend at the knees and hips, and then explosively straighten your legs, and hips, transferring the energy into your arms, which then explode straight upward, lifting the bar to the overhead position with arms locked out overhead. Reverse the movement until the bar is resting on your palms and upper chest.

The group performed each exercise 10 times before moving on to the next one. Once all four exercises were performed 10 times, they did a bunch of different ab exercises while waiting for their partner to complete the four movements. Then they switched back and forth until each of them had done the whole thing five times.

It’s a fairly quick workout, but it’s a barn burner, with lots of benefits. Be sure not to use much weight while you’re learning the movements. At first, you might even just use the bar, without any weights on it.

You should also get with a trainer or other qualified individual who can actually show you how to do it. You can also check out lots of videos on YouTube. Just Goggle that particular exercise and you’ll find lots of hits showing you how to do it.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Stevannah Drake, who lost 1.1% and 2.0 lbs. Second place was a tie between Tracy and Jeremy Whitaker, both losing 0.7% and 1.0 and 1.2 lbs respectively. Third place went to Sondra Martin who lost 0.4% and 1.0 lb.

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

Monday, November 18, 2013


On Monday night, we reached week eight which means we’ve completed two thirds of the 12 week program. At this point, most everyone who’s going to drop out has done so, unless something serious comes up in the last four weeks.

By now, most of the participants have found their rhythm and are running on auto-pilot. While there might be a mistake now and then, they’ve pretty much figured out their eating. They’ve also been working out long enough that hopefully, it’s become a habit.

In addition to the usual Monday night weigh-in, it was also time for another set of measurements to compare with the measurements taken at the beginning and at the four week mark. By now, the differences in inches will really start adding up.

It’s also a good time to get a couple more pictures to compare with their earlier shots (if they dared to do it). The new pictures will serve as good motivation for you.

A full frontal shot and side profile shot dressed in nothing but boxers (guys), or tight shorts and a sports bra (gals) will really raise your level of “got to do this.” You’ll also be able to actually see the pounds come off from month to month.

This week we did Kickboxing for the workout. After pairing up the participants, we talked about the basic elements of Kickboxing like how to make a proper fist, how to cover your head, bobbing and weaving, scooting in and out, jab, cross, knee-knee, cover, cover, and even a back leg front kick.

At first we broke everything down to the simplest possible elements. Once they started getting it, we started putting things together in combinations, switching back and forth. After practice in the air, they started hitting a pair of targets held by their partners.

After even more practice, the partners also used the targets to counter strike with, which helped the others to remember to keep their hands up. It also helped them learn how to react off an opponent.

Once they had the skills, we added scooting in and out, which helps you change the distance to your opponent as needed. It also adds a lot of intensity to the workout. By the end of the class, they were all doing the entire sequence: jab-cross, cover-cover (or duck, duck), knee-knee, and front kick.

The most important things are to take your time building your skill and comfort level, and to always protect your partner (don’t get too excited). People don’t always react right, and it’s easy to hit someone by mistake.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Pam Johns, who lost 2.2% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs. Sondra Martin was second, losing 1.8% and 4.4 lbs. Lesley Mills and Ryan Carroll tied for third place, both losing 1.1% and 2.2 lbs.

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

Saturday, November 02, 2013


We reached the halfway point of the 12 week program with this week’s Monday night meeting and workout. Overall, things seem to be on track for most of them, although the numbers are down as expected.

If you’ve been paying attention to the last few Biggest Losers, you’ll recall that about half of the participants typically drop out for one reason or another. This has held true over the other 17 Biggest Loser groups we’ve run, and it seems to be holding true now.

We started with 24 people, and at this point it looks like we have about 18 still involved. As I mentioned earlier, the reasons tend to vary. One thing is sure though; it’s pretty hard to get what you want if you stop trying to get it.

Over the years I’ve learned 7 steps that have helped me and others achieve goals in a variety of things, including weight loss:

1. Figure out exactly what you want.
2. Set some realistic goals.
3. Measure your progress.
4. Periodically evaluate your performance.
5. Modify your behavior and redouble your efforts if necessary.
6. Stay focused and be consistent.
7. Don’t quit.

Since we were halfway through, we talked about whether their results have been measuring up to their expectations. If so, that’s awesome. Keep on trucking. If not, then we have to try to figure out what’s going wrong and make some changes.

Have they been hitting it hard? Getting all their workouts in? Getting the eating right? Is something else going on? They need to try and zero in on the thing or things that have been throwing them off track. The tough thing is to modify their behavior so they start getting the results they want. It always is.

To keep turning it up on the exercise side of things, I gave them an 11 station, 3 round circuit (since 11 people showed up for the workout). As usual in circuits, they spent a minute at each station, working for 45-50 seconds, and using the last 10-15 seconds to rotate to the next station.

After they hit all 11 stations, they got a 1 minute break to get a quick drink between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. This amounted to a 35 minute workout with 33 actual minutes working out. The first round was fairly easy, the second round was tough, and consensus was, the third and final round was really tough.

Most of them felt like they’d been working out much longer. They also thought they’d worked out much harder than in a typical hour long cardio workout. Here’s what they did:

1. Handstands on the wall (or donkey kicks)
2. Dumbbell Curls
3. Rower
4. Burpees
5. Schwinn AirDyne
6. Overhead Push Presses w/straight bar
7. Rower #2
8. Battle Rope
9. Kettlebell swings
10. Schwinn AirDyne #2
11. Assorted Abs (crunches & crunches w/legs up; crunches to sides; leglifts)

This week’s Biggest Loser was Tracy Whitaker who lost 3.6 lbs and 2.5% of her body weight. Debbie Eveland placed second, losing 2.8 lbs and 2.1%. Third place went to Jeremy Whitaker who lost 2.8 lbs and 1.5%.

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