Even if you’ve never watched an episode of NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser, you’re probably familiar with the concept: Expert trainers and nutritionists challenge and coach obese men and women, helping them transform their lives and lose more than 150 pounds, in some cases. You’d be hard-pressed to watch an episode and not shed a tear-slash-feel completely inspired.
So when you get the chance to personally ask one of the show’s trainers for their top fitness and food rules? You pretty much drop everything—cancel all plans, hold all calls—and jump at the chance (preferably box jump, but more on that later).
Which is how we found ourselves, on a sunny Tuesday in Los Angeles, working out with Trop 50 and Biggest Loser trainer Dolvett Quince, who is every bit the fit, energetic, and motivational person you see on TV.
After joining in a group hike to the top of Griffith Park (stopping five times to do ten squats on the trail), plus doing a circuit workout, we were able to pick Quince’s brain about the most common weight-loss mistakes, his healthy lifestyle mottos, favorite exercises of all-time—and more.
Here, the in-demand trainer and best-selling author of The 3-1-2-1 Diet shares his top tips for getting results. Keep reading for his must-follow fitness and food guidelines!
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What is the biggest fitness mistake you see people making?
Quince: Form is a huge thing that comes to mind when I think of the biggest workout mistake people make. People feel like as long as they're moving, they're doing something right. They'll move for the sake of moving, but then make mistakes in the form. Form is everything because with proper form, you get specific results and the likelihood of injury is minimized.
A common exercise I see performed improperly are squats. People often times just sit down without paying attention to where their knees are going or where their hips are aligned. Anytime you're doing squats, especially with weights where your upper body pushes forward, you put yourself at risk of hurting your knees. Pushing back from your hips as you squat down and keeping your chest upright will give you proper form.
What is the biggest diet mistake you see people making?
Quince: The number one diet mistake I see people making is thinking they can eat whatever they want and be okay as long as they exercise. They have that mindset of "as long as I am exercising, I can get away with anything." Just because you exercise, doesn't mean you can then eat a whole pizza.
Anything you do too much of is a mistake. There are good quality foods out there, with nutrients, that you can eat too much of. Protein is an example. People always say in my industry to eat a lot of protein, but too much of it can be toxic. You have to do things in moderation and you have to reduce the things that can cause you to gain weight, which are breads, pastas, and high-gluten and corn-based food, what I call "sponge food." Because if you eat it, it acts as a sponge in your body, expanding.
I personally stay away from corn. It is the number one product in most processed foods. It can be broken down and used as fuel in a car, and has a longer digestion process than any other food you can put in your body. A good breakfast option for me is oats, almond milk, goji berries and cinnamon, sweetened with truvia.
What are good things to eat before and after a workout?
Quince: I'm a huge snacker. I believe, if you don't have dairy issues, that string cheese is always good as a source of energy. Fruit is always good and also almonds. Those are my three favorite snacks. I mix cranberries and almonds—it's a good option to get going before a workout.
After a workout I always recommend going for protein. Have a turkey sandwich or a protein shake to sustain the muscle that you just built.
Spring is around the corner. How can women working on their bikini body banish lower belly bulge?
Quince: The key is in your diet. If you focus on the way you eat, you can definitely assist with flattening your belly. People often think, "If I do crunches or leg raises, I can tone that area." You can't necessarily tone that area if the problem is skin and fat. The best thing to do is eat well. I always tell women especially to raise their fiber intake. Increase your daily greens. You may have lower belly bulge issues that need attention because you're retaining much more water than a guy would. Increase your water intake, and increase your fiber intake to flush out your system and reduce that water retention in that lower area and minimize bloat there.
What are the top 5 best exercises for the human body?
Quince: I personally love everything. But if I could pick five favorites they'd be: Squats. Box jumps—I am a huge fan of box jumps. They are explosive and really shape the muscles in the body. Lunges. Push-ups. And I am definitely going to go with walking on an incline.
What's one thing people don't work on enough?
Quince: I tell people to do hamstring curls and more hamstring-focused exercises. The reason: People walk forward, they run, they're driving, so they're already using their quads. We always neglect our hamstrings. A strong hamstring supports a great butt. So if you want to have a good butt, work on your hamstrings.
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Let's say a person has just 10 minutes to exercise. What should they do?
Quince: If you have just 10 minutes to work out, you want to try to tackle as many body parts at the same time. I believe in combination training. So if you're going to do a burpee, add a push-up into that exercise so now you're working your shoulders, your trapezoids, as well as your chest. Doing the burpee, you're hitting your core, as well as your legs. If you're going to do a squat, stand up and then do a leg extension emphasizing the glute. If you're going to do a crunch, you should do a crunch and a shoulder press at the same time, so you can tone your back, tone your lats, and tone your rear deltoids all at the same time. Combination movements are the key. Think of two of three things at the same time, and you'll tackle all of your muscles in ten minutes.
Do you ever eat pizza? How do you eat?
Quince: I like to tell people "lean towards clean." When I eat kale, when I eat quinoa, when I eat a piece of lean piece of fish, I know that it's going to make me feel a certain way, and that it's going to make me feel powerful. So that knowledge empowers me to make healthy choices. Yes, I eat pizza. I eat dessert. I am normal in that way. But I lean towards clean. It means not depriving yourself of the things you love, but leaning towards healthier food choices more consistently than bad choices.
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You have reached a lot of people through The Biggest Loser. But if you could reach every person in the world and tell them one thing, what would it be?
Quince: If I could tell people one message, one lifestyle motto to live by, and what I've learned from the last four years on The Biggest Loser, it's that health is more than a push-up. It's much more than a squat. To me, there are four components of health: emotional health, spiritual health, physical, and mental. In my world of wellness, people always concentrate on physical, but if you want to be healthy, you have to pay attention to those other three. Spiritual, mental, and emotional health gives you the one word that I try to live by every time I get out of bed in the morning: balance. If you can get balance in your day, you'll always be healthy.
What are the top fitness and foods rules you live by? What was your favorite tip Quince shared? Tell us below!