The Morbidly Obese Person's Workout

The Box Squat

I recently read the book 'Buddhist Healing Touch' by Ming-Sun Yen, MD, Joseph Chiang, MD, and Myrna Louison Chen and came upon something they referred to as the 'Five Minute Daily Exercise' workout that can be performed 'anytime, anywhere' and by anyone.

The workout is (1) squat down as low as you can comfortably go 50 times and (2) do as many wall push-ups as you can until you feel tired.

This workout is a good start. However, if I had only five minutes to workout, I can think of a much better workout for anyone who is not morbidly obese. But for a morbidly obese person, this workout is perfect.

If you are overweight, but can get out of bed or a chair by yourself and can make your way throughout your daily tasks without assistance, then don't worry, you are not morbidly obese even if you are 100+ pounds overweight. What you need to do is to burn more calories by moving more (much more) and by eating a sensible diet. Workouts and diets for you can be found all over the place, you just have to make up your mind to do it and follow through.

A morbidly obese person is someone who needs help to get out of a bed or a chair and who needs some form of assistance to get around because they are so grossly overweight. A morbidly obese person is one accident away from never getting out of a bed or a chair ever again. There is no magic pill or therapy that can make a morbidly obese person lose weight. The morbidly obese person can lose weight the same way the rest of us do: by burning more calories by moving more (much, much, much more) and by eating a sensible diet.

The obvious problem of a morbidly obese person is that they are overweight for whatever reason. But the not-so-obvious problem of a morbidly obese person is that they are VERY weak in relation to their bodyweight. Due to their lack of strength, their sense of balance is also VERY poor in relation to their bodyweight. All of the items mentioned above lead to a lack of confidence and without confidence they lose their motivation.

So, the first item of business for a morbidly obese person is to get as strong as possible as quickly as possible.

Morbidly Obese Person's Exercise 1: the Box Squat

Most morbidly obese people can be helped to their feet from a sitting position. The movement of getting to a standing position from a seated position is called a 'squat'. When someone helps someone else squat it is called an 'assisted squat'. Any squat is a good squat. Some squats are better than others. And some are easier than others.

The strongest squatters on Earth are elite level powerlifters who can squat in excess of 1000 pounds. They train the squat lift by doing what is called a 'box squat' (see image below).

The Box Squat, rear view.

The box squat allows powerlifters to squat with maximum poundages by using their hip and leg muscles to their maximum advantage while putting minimal strain on their knee, hip, and ankle joints. They simply take a very wide stance and squat down onto a box. The box height can be varied depending upon the needs of the lifter.

The morbidly obese person can take advantage of the lessons learned by powerlifters by doing the box squat. And they are fortunate that they don't have to hoist a heavy barbell over their shoulders, they can just use their own bodyweight.

To perform the box squat, squat down with legs wide onto a bed, couch, or chair. To make the box squat easier, increase the height of the 'box' (bed, couch, or chair) by adding cushions or books to the 'box'. To make the box squat harder, decrease the height of the 'box'.

If you can't perform a box squat at any 'box' height, have someone help you perform 'assisted box squats' by helping you from the seated position to the standing position.

Hip and leg strength are the most important types of strength that a morbidly obese person needs to acquire.

Morbidly Obese Person's Exercise 2: the Wall Push-Up

To develop upper body strength, the morbidly obese person can do wall push-ups. Wall push-ups are the standing version of the popular floor push-up and are easy to perform. Just stand next to a wall, lean your body forward, and press your body away from the wall. If you can't do a complete wall push-up, no problem, just do a partial one until you are strong enough to do the full range of motion wall push-up.

The wall push-up is demonstrated in the following YouTube video:

Other Workout Considerations

It's important to remember that you are building strength with this workout. The way to build strength is to NOT go to muscular failure and to perform all repetitions with good form and under control. You should feel invigorated after a workout, not drained and overly fatigued.

Perform as many repetitions as possible without reaching muscular failure. Perform multiple sets if possible, or perform several sets throughout the day. Three sets once a day or two sets twice a day is a nice target.

It's not important how much you do in one workout, but that you regularly perform the workout. Do the workout three days a week for the first week, five days a week for the second week, and every day of the week thereafter.

Some soreness can be expected initially, but the soreness should disappear and not appear again after a week of working out.

Once you are strong enough to start walking again, walk as much as you can. Once you are strong enough to stand up from a seated position without assistance, practice doing so several times a day. Once you are strong enough to get out of bed by yourself, practice it several times a day, or several times before you leave your bedroom in the morning.