The lack of quality editing greatly harms this otherwise wonderful book. Whoever edited the book should have known that to lose weight is not to "loose weight." But, because the contents of the book are so valuable, I won't take any stars away from my opinion of it.
I'm told a second printing is in the works (may be out by now) and hopefully all these messy things will be fixed. That doesn't help those who bought the book in its current state, however. Get the second printing if you can wait.
Now to the contents of the book . . .
I was very impressed by the fact the author, Mark Lauren, says straight out that he doesn't train movie stars. He trains men and women to survive, to be able to function well in life. That's what's really needed. The good looks, the great body, come as a side effect but is not the goal.
Lauren says, "I want you to understand, unlike many other fitness authors, I do not train movie stars, television celebrities, models, or other personalities whose livelihoods hinge on being fit. I train those whose lives do. For a decade I've used bodyweight exercises to create the leanest, strongest, most confident people of our civilization."
"This book comes to us at a time when, despite their best intentions, most people are too crunched for time and money to devote enough of either to attaining their fitness goals. In this age of information we are bombarded with incorrect advice, useless gadgets and pills, and pure hype. The methods outlined by Mark Lauren are proven and time tested. I know because I've seen his results. I've commanded the best of the best, and Mark's training has helped make them that way. Now he has honed his program into one for every man and woman." That's what John T. Carney Jr., Colonel USAF says in the forward. And that pretty much sums up what you'll get from the book. And that's a lot!
This is powerful stuff. It really spoke to me because I'm all about functional training. I don't care so much about the shape of my butt as the shape of my health. I care less about the numbers of the circumference of my butt than the numbers of my blood pressure. The fact that these exercises make me look good is just a wonderful side effect!
Mark says that in less than two hours per week you can get as fit as an elite warrior. I follow the PACE program of Dr. Al Sears and the way he trains and his philosophy works hand in glove with what you'll learn in this book. In fact, let me recommend Sears book to you. Pace: The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution
Mark says, "The popularity of training equipment, systems, and fad diets is mostly the result of marketing --- not a genuine attempt to help a generally out-of-shape society reach higher levels of fitness and well-being. In this age, where our homes and gyms are cluttered with fitness gadgets, the simplest and most effective method for developing strength and losing fat has been largely overlooked ---knowing how to train using nothing more than your body."
He adds, "Most weight training exercises isolate only certain muscles, requiring a fairly small portion of your body's total muscle mass, unlike bodyweight exercises that incorporate many at once. These exercises have the added benefit of being much more demanding of core strength (6-pack anyone?) than exercises that require weights and machines."
The heart of the program is interval strength training. This is one area where these exercises work well with PACE.
Many people are turning from aerobics (cardio) and other forms of exercise because of injury and discomfort as they age. The author says, ". . . things like running are extremely high-force, damaging to your knees, hips and back." Oh, is this ever true! And when you get my age, you'll really feel it if you've spent a lifetime pursuing these activities.
Even Kenneth Cooper who started the aerobic era now says it's a bad thing.
Mark says, ". . . interval strength training is superior to aerobic activity in burning fat, as well as building strength, speed, power, and even cardiovascular endurance. All this in far less time than tedious 'cardio' sessions."
I like the fact this is a no-nonsense book. Moreover, Mark doesn't limit the information to men like many military and fitness writers. He writes to both men and women and treats both equally. He gets lots of points with me for that and I appreciate it. We all face survival and the need to function in daily living, regardless of our sex.
There's also a nutrition section in the book. No recipes. Just some good, solid nutrition advice that's pretty much on the mark as far as I'm concerned.
In some of the exercises you will need some sort of equipment. But it's equipment most anyone has around the house such as a broom or telephone book. You won't need any equipment with most of the exercises, however.
Frankly, in the few exercises that suggest a phone book, I'd rather use dumbbells. But, if you're in a hotel room, a phone book is handier.
I put a bar between two chairs to do the chin-ups. You can also use a broom, anything that won't break.
He gives all sorts of ways to work out. I like the Tabatas: 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds, for a total of 4 minutes. It's a total 15 minute workout. On the days I do PACE, I use a different interval. But the results are great!
Of the exercises Mark says, "Many of these 111 exercises I developed and named myself, others are little known gems, and still others are classics modified in new ways. Each exercise description detail a single repetition. Obviously, you should do multiple repetitions for multiple sets with rest in between sets. For more advanced athletes, typically each set should be done until you hit muscle failure and cannot do another rep."
There are also variations at the end of some of the exercises. You can make them easier or harder. And yes, these exercises are safe and effective for both young and old. If forty is so far in the rear view mirror that it's disappeared from view, as in my case, have no fear. If I can do it, you can do it. And if you're young, you would be well advised to get going on this right now. These exercises will keep everyone who does them functioning for life and able to take care of themselves in any event.
If you've done power yoga, you've done many of these exercises. One of his exercises is simply a combination of the sun salutation, down dog and the cobra. If done in a flow, as in power yoga and as the author advises, it's a powerful exercise that works almost every muscle. Mark calls it "Dive Bombers" and says it's for the "pectorals, triceps, deltoids and core."
He also rates the exercises from 1 to 4 with one being easy and 4 being the most difficult. Many are combinations and almost all of them can be modified.
Very good photos of each step of the exercises are presented. Then the author gives us his program. You can select how you want to set up your program. He gives you a number of workouts or you can do your own.
There are programs for endurance, power, intervals, supersets and undulating. They cover a number of weeks. Then you change off. Fact is, there is a program here for anyone. But, you can always do things your own way.
At the end of the book there's a helpful appendix called "The 6 necessary training principles behind any successful program." There is another one called "The science behind the program." There is also a useful appendix called "Household Equipment", which as it sounds describes items around the house you'll find useful in some of the exercises.
I opened this book expecting to find just another workout book by another fitness "guru". What I discovered was a wonderful adventure written by a no-nonsense guy who knows what he's doing and who presents it in a really great way. He trains for function, not beauty. And function is what gets us through life and helps us survive when called on to do so.
- Susanna K. Hutcheson