The Biggest Loser: Boot Camp

Bob Harper
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Lower Body Strength , Upper Body Strength

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This workout is a strength and cardio “bootcamp” circuit workout led by Biggest Loser coach Bob Harper and has 5 or 6 background exercisers that are Biggest Loser contestants (some fitter, some still losing the weight – providing a large span of ability and modifications). This workout was issued at the same time as Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga (also led by Bob) and they are intended to be used in conjunction with each other. Now that I have done both workouts I think they complement each other very well. IIRC the contestants are the same group for both workouts. I’ve only watched two seasons (didn’t recognize the people), but according to Bob at the beginning of Boot Camp, the background exercisers are a selection of previous contestants from several seasons. The woman on the back left side demonstrates beginner modifications (and keeps it all low impact). All of the contestants are smiling and look like they are having fun.

Despite this being a “bootcamp” workout, I was pleased that Bob doesn’t use any hokey army talk (like “get down and give me 20” or calling his exercisers “soldiers” or everybody wearing camouflage pants) because I’ve dealt with that in other workouts and it’s annoying! Actually he doesn’t reference it as a bootcamp workout at all (except in the introduction) and primarily classifies it as a circuit workout.

This workout follows the same general chaptering that all of the Biggest Loser workouts do: a 5 minute warm up, 25 minute beginner or basic chapter, then two additional 10 minute chapters (which are intended to be added on for “Level 2” and “Level 3” for a user to gradually increase the duration and intensity of the workout), and a 5 minute cool down. Example: Level 1 includes the 5 minute warm up, 25 minute basic chapter, 5 minute cool down for a 35 minute workout; Level 2 includes an additional 10 minute chapter for a 45 minute workout; Level 3 would include all chapters for a 55 minute workout. This workout does clock in exactly at 55 minutes.

Breakdown of the workout is as follows:

1. Warm up (5 minutes): The warm up consisted of pretty general moves, like unweighted squats (with pulses), unweighted lunges with trunk rotation, jumping rope, hamstring stretch. There was a boredom factor in the warm up but thankfully the rest of the video was more engaging.

2. Level 1 chapter (20 minutes): This was a series of sometimes upper, sometimes lower, often times combination upper-lower body moves, with cardio intervals in between. He did not have a weight suggestion but everybody only had one set (I think a guy in the front used 10# but another woman used more like 5# bells). I used 5# and 8# bells depending on exercise. He goes pretty quickly throughout and I would not recommend higher than 10#. Moves included forward/backward lunges with a kick, ultimately adding upper body military press, squats with lateral to overhead press to work the chest and shoulders (this required lighter weights, IMO), side lunges with triceps kickbacks. Cardio was very simple and athletic, lots of jump rope, lateral ski-like moves, and jumping jacks. As I stated there was a modifier that did these moves all at low impact. Also included were pushups. While the moves were straight forward, there was no boredom factor because he moved so quickly from move to move. There wasn’t any resting time so it got the job done of getting and keeping the heart rate up there.

3. Level 2 chapter (exceeded 10 minutes, more like 12-13 minutes): I think this was the hardest section in the workout (maybe upper intermediate to low advanced). Followed the same general pattern as Level 1, but included more advanced moves like squat thrust, plie squat deep enough to touch weights to floor (then hold the squat, at length!), jumping jacks in plank position. Bob incorporates a medicine ball (if you have one) to do a long pushup series with ball alternating hands, then a Russian twist segment balancing on glutes with legs raised, moving ball from side to side. This is the only time in the whole DVD that he uses the ball.

4. Level 3 chapter (about 8 minutes): This chapter is easier than the others (high beginner to intermediate). There is no aerobic intervals, this is mostly upper body work using the bands (one exerciser demonstrates with dumbbells). The bands were very effective. Exercises included double arm row with band in static lunge position (then switch sides), one arm French press with band, lateral raise and anterior delt lifts with band (one arm at a time), biceps curls with band (both arms at the same time). My arms were working but this was still a nice breather and I thought the placement as the third chapter was very appropriate (and appreciated!). There was one leg exercise of leg kicks with band around leg (works core and quadriceps with balance challenge). If you wanted to intensify this chapter you might use both the band and weights (a la Your Body Breakthrough strength workout) but I was worked enough by this time that the bands were great alone.

5. Cool down (about 5 minutes): Some quick yoga poses to cool down and stretch the muscles. Quick and efficient, although I generally do my own stretches.

This was a really good workout and got my heart rate up there! For those of you that have used Biggest Loser Cardio Max, a lot of moves are the same, but in this video uses moderate poundage weights at a slightly slower pace (but still fast paced). There was a couple of longer pushup sets intermixed with lots of standing combination upper body/lower body work. Actually it rather of reminded me of a Pink Firm workout, which might turn off some. For instance this workout uses the same side squat + triceps kickback combo that the Pink Firm favors. Also like the Pink Firms this workout uses a lot of lunges (like lunge with trunk rotation) and similar traditional upper body work. I would classify this as slightly more intense than a Pink Firm (thanks to the Level 2 chapter), maybe intermediate but can be modified up or down depending on poundage and level of aerobic intensity (high/low). There were some other moves like squat thrust that are a little more advanced that regular Pink Firm fare.

Bob has the same personality as he does on the show, down to business but friendly and jokes around a little. The music was Biggest Loser-themed and for those that watch the show it will be recognizable. The production quality is high and the chaptering is good as noted. Menu options let you pick any one section or the sections (at any of the three levels) with the warm up and cool down. There is also an option to have music plus Bob’s instruction or music only. The background was plain and non distracting, maybe in a corner of a gym (but still wide and open). Overall grade B+.

Instructor Comments:
I enjoy Bob as an instructor and he has the same charisma and energy that he has on the show. He is encouraging and smiling and reminds you to just do as much as you can, if your heart rate is up then you’re doing a great job. He gives good form pointers and looked like he was enjoying himself. I would (and in fact have) purchase more of his workouts and trust that I will continue to enjoy his instruction enough that I preordered his new 2010 offerings (his own productions, not BL). He is just so encouraging and friendly, but still tough and down to business.

Emily B.