Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, CPT, sent me this book to review. He has also offered to come and speak to us about his book and his thoughts about working out at home, so be sure to stop by for his guest post on Wednesday with your comments and queries for Brad!
This book is BIG. It has colour. It has photographs to demonstrate exercises. Each division for the exercises is colour-coded to make it easy to flip to your desired section of the book: Shoulders and Arms, Torso, Core, and Lower Body. There are exercises for each of these parts of the body to do with body weight/stability balls/resistance bands, and then also options further on in the book for using dumbbells, barbells, and other kinds of weighted equipment.
There are also different options depending on your budget. Living as a student, my budget for a home gym is limited to a couple of yoga mats, a couple sets of dumbbells, a resistance band, hula hoop, jump rope, and stability ball. But most of the time I find that I only use the yoga mats and stability ball (personal preference: I like using my own body weight). The budget part of the book discussing the best equipment to buy really didn’t apply to me at all, especially because the budgets suggested here range from $100-$2,500. I don’t expect very many of us are willing to shell out that much money for a home gym (the kind using multifunction machines and chinning bars), especially when it’s easy to get in a workout without buying anything. I am strongly supportive of the soup-cans-as-dumbbells method and doing cardio outdoors. Yoga mats are a luxury, as well; not a necessity. In a pinch, rugs or the grass work just as well.
So, while I appreciate the concept of the budget for every body, I didn’t find it to be useful for my personal workout. The exercises included in this book, however, cover a wide range. I very much liked the number of exercises included here, many of which can be done with little to no equipment. Each one is accompanied by a photograph and information regarding the muscles targeted, equipment needed, tips/variations, and a detailed description for how to perform the movement. There were actually a number of exercises I hadn’t heard of before, so it was fun to learn some new ones! I liked so many of the ideas for how to use the stability ball in core exercises.
I wasn’t particularly keen on the slightly patronizing tone of the book in the introduction. The implication that women have difficulty getting in a solid workout because they are too tired at the end of the day from transporting kids and hearing their husband grumbling for dinner made me squirm. I think it’s difficult for a male author to write a health and fitness book designed for women, however. When I reviewed Lou Schuler’s The New Rules of Lifting for Women, I felt an equal unease with the way that the author seems to view his female audience.
That being said, I was impressed with the sheer vastness of topics covered in this book. Over-exercising is touched on (bonus points! I think that this important issue doesn’t always get enough awareness), and there is also some focus on the myths of the notion of “bulking up”, as well as a few notes on the importance of varying up the workout, fueling your exercise with good nutrition, and building a solid mind-body connection. Training routines are included at the back of the book along with some extra information regarding the particular muscles being targeted.
Come back on Wednesday with your thoughts and ideas about building a nice little home workout system and about training for particular goals. Brad will be answering your questions as long as they keep coming!
By the way, the photos of the women in this book: they’re real women. They have toned muscles but they look like regular women who exercise and are in good shape; not fitness models or anything like that. Always nice to see. I’m curious: what kinds of workouts do you do? Do you like using your body weight or using equipment? Home or gym (or outdoors)? And what kind of budget do you allow yourself when it comes to getting fit?
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, and don’t forget to answer this month’s poll!