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Biggest Loser Fitness Trainer, Bob Harper’s Fitness Philosophy to Being a Lean Mean Machine

Bob HarperBob Harper has been a part of the highly controversial reality series, ‘The Biggest Loser,’ since 2004. Thanks to the worldwide popularity of this show where he gets to supervise the transformation of morbidly obese participants, Bob was labeled as “one of the most in-demand fitness specialists worldwide,” by Men’s Fitness magazine, March 2012.

Lots of love versus plenty of hate for The Biggest Loser:

The show is widely unpopular for focusing too much on rapid weight loss over gaining healthy body composition and does not highlight crucial fitness aspects like the benefits of gaining muscle. Some experts also criticize the show for setting up unrealistic weight loss expectations in the minds of the viewers. The participants put their entire life aside to move to an isolated weight loss camp, where they over-train to the point of dire injury risk as the trainers show them some serious tough love that often borders on bullying and abuse.

Despite the bad press, ‘The Biggest Loser’ highlights the importance of accountability and its contribution to staying disciplined and consistent. It uses the spirit of competition to encourage the participants to make radical changes that they initially do not even have the confidence to make and lastly, clearly underlines the fact that there is no substitute for hard work. If you want to make a change in your life, you will have to get up and work for it and you might even have to work really, really, hard for what you want.

In an interview to Fitness magazine, Bob Harper sums up the impact that he thinks the show has created. He says that, “Biggest Loser gives inspiration. You can get back on track no matter how far you are off of it. I get e-mails and tweets every day from fit people who really get something out of the show. I think of it as informative reality TV.”

Evolution of Bob’s workout patterns and training principles:

Bob Harper doing exercise

An ardent advocate of Yoga, over the years, Bob’s faith in Yoga has only grown stronger. He claims that, “Yoga is the fountain of youth. You are only as young as your spine is flexible.”

Holding a pose, be it Yoga or Pilates, can be every bit challenging as an arduous cardio workout and though it may not bring the satisfaction of getting drenched in sweat, it definitely brings with it the added benefit of improved posture and a stronger lower back. One should commence the yogic lifestyle by easing into simple forward and back bends along with various levels of planks held for a period of 5-10 deep breaths which should be taken up to a minute long hold for each pose.

Bob’s ‘inside-out’ method of fitness endorses attaining fitness of mind, body and spirit in tandem, which starts with building a strong core. A strong core easily transcends into a strong body. He insists that everybody should invest the time and effort to learn and practice sun-salutations and not just Yoga enthusiasts. A powerful move, it will improve flexibility and strengthen every inch of the body cohesively.

Bob Harper doing exercise

Bob Harper doing upright exercise

The day Bob Harper fell in love with CrossFit:

Bob Harper doing exerciseAt 46, he entered the CrossFit arena. Harper claims that as a trainer he always promoted strength training in circuits, cardio in intervals and mostly favored endurance activities like running and cycling.

However, with the added complexity of Olympic lifts, power lifts, sprints, body-weight conditioning and plyometric moves, randomly assigned in a circuit meant to be finished within a pre-determined time according to the typical CrossFit format, he experienced workout intensity on a completely new level. Despite his solid background and credibility as a trainer, Bob had to work hard to earn his respect amid the CrossFit community. He has been a devoted member of BRICK CrossFit in Los Angeles ever since 2011.

After introducing the tenets of CrossFit in the Biggest Loser as well, he acknowledges that the value of muscular strength is somewhat of a revelation to him. His team started performing considerably better than the members of the other team as their strength augmented with more defined and developed muscles.

In the Men’s Fitness cover story, Bob Harper explained that he favors CrossFit for the straight-up efficiency of its format. “Jumping into CrossFit was like jumping into the deep end of a pool. These workouts are so compact. I used to do long sessions all the time, and my body started to get beat up. But with CrossFit, it’s almost like my body is finally getting a chance to rest while, at the same time, I’m pushing it harder than I’ve ever pushed it.”

Even if you are feeling intimidated or do not feel strong enough to get a taste of CrossFit just yet, you may work on your strength at home and build your efficiency to execute Bob’s three (far from easy) favorite moves that build unified strength and guarantee weight loss. He recommends a Burpee with a lateral jump, walking lunges holding a ten-pound weight overhead and goblet squats. Check out the following video to understand how to execute the given exercises correctly.

Sorting the complex relationship with food:

Bob Harper's Skinny BookIf you find yourselves constantly confused about nutrition, Bob’s best-selling book, The Skinny Rules’, is worth a read to help you get a jump start in your attempt to reform your lifestyle. Despite the ‘non-negotiable’ label on the book cover, you may consider the skinny rules as more of a well defined structure, where you learn to fill in the details of ‘right choices’ in your meal planning.

The guidelines to making good choices prevent you from sabotaging the positive impact of exercise on your weight loss, while, at the same time, help you stay on top of your hunger and cravings.

Even though the book explains at length and includes several delicious recipes, we sum up the 20 skinny rules mentioned in the book:

  1. Drink a large glass of water before every meal. No Excuses.
  2. Do not drink your calories. Give up soft drinks like coke and fruit juices, although, beverages like unsweetened herbal tea or green tea would do.
  3. Eat protein at every meal, or stay hungry and grouchy. In spite of being a huge proponent of a plant-based diet, for which Bob even went completely vegan for several years, he selectively recommends some amount of animal protein as extremely healthy to maintain muscle tone. Your go to sources should be fish and egg whites above all other meats.
  4. Slash your daily intake of refined flour and wheat.
  5. Eat thirty to fifty grams of fiber a day. It helps you stay regular, slashes the calorie density in your meals and helps you stay full for longer.
  6. Eat apples and berries every single day. They are loaded with antioxidants.
  7. Significantly reduce the amount of carbohydrates consumed after lunch.
  8. Learn how to read food labels so you know what you are eating. Avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup in it or any kind of trans-fat.
  9. Stop guessing about portion size and get it right, for good. Buy pre-portioned food boxes and bags to avoid consuming more than you should.
  10. Eliminate added sweeteners, including artificial ones. Train your taste buds to relish the natural tangy sweetness of fresh fruits, dry-fruits and vegetables.
  11. Get rid of white potatoes from your daily diet.
  12. Make one day a week – meatless.
  13. Swear off fast foods and fried foods, completely.
  14. Eat a REAL breakfast, which means no donuts, bagels or muffins. Particularly if your mornings are rushed, prepare your breakfast in advance, ready to grab on your way out. Oats, egg whites, berries in yoghurt cups could be some healthy choices.
  15. Build a habit of making your own food and eat at least ten meals a week at home.
  16. Banish high salt foods. Dump all those packets of crisps.
  17. Eat your vegetables. Just Do It! No multi-vitamin can replace their potent benefits.
  18. Do not consume a big meal right before sleeping. Start going to bed hungry.
  19. Get a good night’s quality deep sleep. Recovery time is essential; hence, it should be a priority for everyone. People who get enough rest make better food choices.
  20. Plan one splurge meal a week. It empowers you to take responsibility of your indulgences while staying on top of your cravings.

Do not be fooled by the number of times the word ‘skinny’ appears in all his bestselling books. By no means does he endorse the emaciated, underweight, weak look. Going by the way he designs the most grueling workouts, he is a huge proponent of power, strength and endurance. However, he does favor the leanness that helps one feel light and energetic and aids an active and positive lifestyle.

Bob Harper with his dog

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