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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts


Posted: December 03, 2007

So how did you do last week? When you’re facing holiday meals like Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s often a victory just to hold your ground and not gain weight.

On the Biggest Loser TV show, they said that the average American will gain seven pounds between now and the new year. All it takes is to eat a little more, and be a little less active. Do it a couple days in a row, and you’re in trouble.

In our case, only a few contestants gained weight; the majority lost weight—some quite a bit. Angie Archibald lost 5.4 pounds, but she’d been sick for over a week, and missed the last weigh-in, so that reflects two weeks of weight loss.

Tony Peel and Brian Blair were the Biggest Losers this week, tied at 4.2 lbs lost. This was Tony’s second week at the top, and he says he’s learned something about workout intensity.

Last week, he’d gained a couple pounds, because he hadn’t been working as hard, and missed several workouts. After last week’s Friday night workout, he realized how much harder he could be working (I push them all pretty hard), and stepped it up.

Brian was also pleased that he’d lost weight over the holidays. His family went for a walk on Thanksgiving, and he’s tried to be as active as possible, even with a busy schedule.

It comes down to pushing yourself. Some people know they can’t do it, so they hire a personal trainer like me to help them keep the intensity high. They tell me they’d never do it on their own, so I do it for them. That’s O.K.

Others could push themselves harder, but don’t really think about it—they don’t realize they could be doing more. Here’s a good way to know if you’re not pushing hard enough.

Every workout should have moments when it’s difficult to carry on a conversation without having to stop and catch your breath. This applies to both cardio days and weight training days.

If you have to stop and catch your breath, you’re in oxygen debt—where your body is trying to get enough oxygen back in to meet the demands of the exercise. Try to have several peak moments where you raise the workout enough to feel this way.

You should also be perspiring freely. Sweat is a sign that your body has heated up due to the demands of the exercise, and it is removing the heat in water, through the pores in your skin so it can be evaporated off. Sweat is a good thing.

When lifting weights, you should be using a weight that isn’t easy—that you could keep on lifting forever. You should be using weights that get difficult around 10-12 reps (guys) and 12-15 reps (gals). My goal is that it’s so difficult, that you actually fail on the last rep—meaning you couldn’t fully raise it, curl it, squat it, or whatever.

If you achieve muscle failure, that means the work load was higher, causing you to burn more calories, build more muscle, speeding up your metabolism, and helping you to reach your goals. It all works together.

To that end, I gave them another killer workout Friday night. We again combined weights with the kickboxing, but this time we did three sets of each weight lifting exercise.

Finally, I taught them several new exercises. They’re going to spend the last four weeks in Level Three… Instead of doing single motion exercises like a squat, a curl, or a shoulder press, now they’re going to start combining the exercises. A good example is the Walking Lunge—Curl—Press.

Basically, they’ll do the Lunge that they’re used to, but instead of just lunges, they’ll maintain that position, and do a Biceps Curl with dumbbells in each arm, and also a Shoulder Press. Then, they’ll lower the dumbbells from the press, lower them in the Curl and take another step, and so on.

Since you’re trying to supply oxygen to so many muscles at once, the routine actually becomes a cardio workout, too. And by throwing several other exercises in a circuit with the compound movements, the intensity of the workout goes way up.

I call it “Active-Rest.” While one muscle group is resting for a moment, you’re hitting another, and so on. That way you’re keeping the intensity of the workout high, burning more calories, even in as little as 15, 20, or 25 minutes.

These workouts will give you that tighter, firm (ripped up) body you’ve been looking for. They also help bring out that inner athlete—everything else you do will get better.

They’re not for beginners, though. Remember, the contestants spent the first month building a base with the machines, and the second month learning various free weight exercises and strengthening their core. Now, they’re ready for Level 3.

The compound exercises they’ll be building their routines around are the Clean, Jerk & Press; the Walking Lunge—Curl—Press; Thrusters (Squat & DB Shoulder Press); Box Step Up—Curls; Dumbbell Cleans; EZ Bar Deadlift—Curl—Presses; Jumping Squats, Jumping Pullups; Push—Presses, Jumping Lunge Presses; and Jumping Lunges with Dumbbell Cleans!

While it sounds a little intimidating, anyone can do it, with a little guidance. You just learn the movements first, and then add a light weight, adding more when you get comfortable. Next week, I’ll tell you how they did!