I own a total of one, count them ONE, fitness oriented books. You’d think with my obsession, I’d have a library full, but I’m sadly not on the book bandwagon.That, and I feel weird about buying books.
Anyways, ever since I started my ongoing Biggest Loser Challenge on sparkpeople.com, I’ve heard nothing but raves for one book in particular:
Friends were getting pretty awesome and consistent results with this book, so I set out to get one. Only problem was my aversion to buying books. While the CPL has a couple in it’s shelves, it is ALWAYS checked out. When I finally got my new toy (my precious!), I decided to bite the bullet and download it. Having an electronic copy made it easier for me to lug it around to my apartment’s gym and local YMCA anyways. Win-win.
Now, for the good stuff.
The book is split up in to four-ish sections:
I. The introduction. Obviously, it does as it should. It gives you a vague overview about what you’re getting in to and some of the benefits of making ladies lift barbells instead of “Barbie” weights. I already lift weights regularly and do not use the pastel colored variety, so this already made sense to me. This is a great section to read if you are on the fence about your need to lift anything but a tv remote and spoon as it does walk you through the medical reasons why weight lifting is better than about 80% of what you probably do in the gym today. Throughout the book, he uses a large number of somewhat recent medical and university based studies to support or break down his findings. He even tells you when they are small studies, which I support as a complete and utter nerd.
What I did not like is how he puts down endurance training. What he says about endurance (especially running), makes sense in that cardio, especially non-interval work for long periods of time, breaks down muscles while strength training builds it back up. However, I think there are many cardiovasucal benefits that outweigh the good and bad of running or elliptical hogging. The trick is, as he notes, is to focus on intervals rather than continuing endurance. Since I Jeff Galloway my runs, I essentially does what the author supports.
II. Nutrition. As you most likely know, there are a BAJILLION diets out there. Most of the big ones- Watchers of Weights, Carbs Are Evil, Near Starvation, Carbs Are Our Friends, etc.- get some attention. He sums up his “diet” pretty simply. We cannot survive on 1200 calories (the lowest we can go to optimally function, but oddly, what most diet gurus suggest). We need the right amount of fuel from macro nutrients: fat, carbs, and protein. By eliminating or drastically decreasing one of those nutrients, we are depleting ourselves of what our bodies need to survive and prosper. Especially when lifting, macro nutrients mean even more to help build the muscle. He suggests the Zone like 30-40-30 ratio. Meaning, most meals should be 40% of your caloric intake should be carbs, and 30% and 30% should be fat and protein.
Protein is the main emphasis. He suggests buying whey protein powder, which I have been meaning to get for my morning smoothies. I, personally struggle with protein consumption. I tend to eat only about 60-80 grams a day when we should, as exercisers, get 100+. Now, as we know SOB is a vegan and protein consumption can be very difficult for those who are not living off of perdue chicken planks like I am. The author does mention vegan and vegetarian lifestyles in a somewhat positive way, but this book is not for you if you are unable to manage that large amount of protein in your diet.
III. Workout Plan. Basically, his strength plans are all large muscle groups with light emphasis on the core (which, if you read or study the body, you know that the core are actually muscles connected to other muscles… so you are working your core when you use your legs, shoulders, etc). My first workout was last night and it went like this:
Warm Up: Floor to stand squats
Exercise A (continuous): 2 sets of 15 reps of barbell squats
Exercise B1 and B2 (repeated): 2 sets of 15 reps of 60 degree angle push ups and 2 sets of 15 reps of step ups with 10lb weights in each hand
Exercise C1 and C2 (repeated): 2 sets of 15 reps of standing rows with barbell and 2 sets of 8 reps of a jackknife lunge on the swiss ball
Now, this is the easiest workout, so the amount and quality increases over time, but you can personalize it however you want. He does not tell you how much weight to use, but even though I do lift frequently, I struggled with just the weighted barbell on the squats and rows. Unless you are using a very light or smaller barbell, this could be quite the challenge ahead. Oh, and I should mention that even with the 60 second rests in between the sets, I did this routine in 30 minutes. I like efficiency in my workouts.
Overall, the book gives you enough plans for about 6-9 months of workouts. They are also broken down in different stages and the exercises offer vary in difficulty. The pictures of the workouts are great and really helped me decipher what was needed to be done, but if you aren’t a picture person, his descriptions are pretty straight forward. Just read beforehand.
What I did not like… 6 months is all you get. There is really no explanation on what to do when you finish the program. It’s just done. I also do not like that he doesn’t list the equipment you will need. If I didn’t have access to my apartment gym or YMCA, I’d be furious if I bought this. Just in case you’re curious, you will need: a barbell with plates, a step (preferably a block step or a bench), hand weights over 5lbs, swiss balls, and cable machines (but there are modifications mentioned if you do not have this). All in all, I got it done in my bare minimum apartment gym, but my barbell was much larger than the one used in his book, I used a bench as my step block, and I opted to do the standing row instead of a sitting one since I dont have a cable machine that modifies.
IV. Motivation. The last part is about motivation. To be honest, it didn’t really inspire me, but I’ve been on this journey for awhile. When I got to the last section, I just wanted to do it. I didn’t need to hear about all the excuses he hears or how he wishes me well. I do like that he is no-nonsense. Just get your work done. You’re on vacation? Great. Take it, enjoy it, maybe workout if that’s your thing. But when you get home, get in to the routine. Ok. Kids stressing you out? Deal with that. Work out later. Modify. Adjust. Adjust some more.
So my overall opinion is that this book would be great for those ladies out there who are intimidated by the weight room, but who have some experience with weights or lifting. If you have no idea what a barbell is or cannot perform a pushup on your knees, try something lighter until you’re ready. You will not lose weight with lifting, but you will most likely lose inches and gain some balls-to-the-wall confidence. And, dear god, you will NOT bulk up.