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How Do Biggest Loser Contestants Go From No Exercise to Exercise for Hours a Day?

author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
How Do Biggest Loser Contestants Go From No Exercise to Exercise for Hours a Day?
A group of overweight people are listening to a nutritionist or trainer. Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Dieters and weight-loss enthusiasts can develop a love/hate relationship with NBC's "The Biggest Loser" reality show. While the show is inspiring for those who want to lose weight and change their lives, it can also become frustrating to not achieve big results each week like the contestants. Some contestants go from severely obese to svelte during the 12 weeks on the ranch, with little to no experience with exercise. Armed with a legion of trainers, medical professionals and equipment, diet and exercise becomes a participant's entire life during the show.

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Personal Trainers

You see Jillian, Bob, Brett and Cara training the contestants on TV, but you don't see the behind-the-scenes training professionals that work with the contestants when the cameras aren't rolling. Since the show's reputation hinges on the contestants' ability to lose weight, they are given every opportunity to do so. Having personal trainers on staff nearly 24/7 means that contestants have one-on-one encouragement and personal plans tailored to their specific needs and abilities for the best weight-loss success.

Exercise Facilities

The Biggest Loser Ranch is a facility constructed and maintained for the sole purpose of weight loss. Contestants don't have work, family or other time constraints. For their time at the ranch, they are dedicated to exercising all day, every day. Without the usual interruptions that most people would have while exercising at home, the contestants have access to a fully stocked gym 24/7. Having all of the equipment at their fingertips makes it easy to exercise and begin building stamina for more weight loss.

Medical Care

While the general recommendation is to lose weight at a rate of 1 to 2 lbs. per week, "Biggest Loser" contestants have been known to drop as many as 26 lbs. per week. Before you believe that you can do the same with healthy results, remember that all contestants are highly supervised by an extensive medical staff, who monitor the various types of weight-loss tactics and nutrition each individual contestant uses to drop pounds and put up big numbers each week.


Contestants make significant improvements in their diets during the first weeks at the ranch. When a diet is practically cut in half, say, from 3,000 calories to 1,500 calories daily, it expedites the weight-loss process. That sudden weight loss often spurs contestants to exercise even harder, despite their size or experience with exercise in the past. That diet is maintained through the duration of the filming so caloric restriction is combined with intense exercise for the best possible results and better television.

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