Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way.
Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Men's Health Gym Bible
The Men's Health Gym Bible
432 pages, published 2006
by Michael Mejia, MS, CSCS, and Myatt Murphy
The book is divided into three broad parts.
Part One covers gym memberships. There are four chapters, on why to use a gym instead of a home gym, how to pick the right gym for you, contract details, and what to look for in the gym itself. This section is well written and while not exhaustive it is very well detailed. The section on how to read a gym contract - and negotiate for what you need - is well worth the price of the book. It can save you far more than the book cost you. It's only 15 pages, but they are useful ones.
Part Two is a good chunk of the book - a little over 200 pages - on exercises and machines. Everything is covered here. Free weights, cables, machines, cardio machines, bench exercises, etc. How to set up the various implements and what exercises you can use them for is well covered. There are pictures of just about everything, too, including a nice section on the various lat pulldown attachments (although this information is repeated elsewhere in the book, too). The book is biased in favor of free weights, but accepts the fact that machines are here to stay and you might want to use them despite recommendations otherwise. Therefore they include a solid section on what the machines do and how to use them safely.
Part Three - which includes FAQs, gym etiquette, exercises classes, and so on - takes up most of the rest of the book. This is all of the miscellaneous stuff that just doesn't fit anywhere else in the book...but that you'll want to know. It also covers express gyms - placed like Curves and other "in, exercise, and out" circuit-training centers. Their ups and downs are discussed thoroughly. The section on exercise classes is good too. The typical male/female ratio, Also Known As sections for each class, and a useful description of the typical benefits are listed for each class. If you have no idea what Spinning is, look here.
Finally the book includes some sample routines for beginners, for cardio and strength training (overall fitness, fat loss, and strength). These are excellent, but it promises setups for several types of gyms but seems to only cover fairly well-equipped ones. Still, it is a good start and it can keep you training effectively for many months.
The book is solidly aimed at beginners, and it works very well for them. If you read this, you will be able to approach the gym with a much better idea of what you're in for. If this is the only homework you did for choosing and training in a gym, you would be well served. If you are an experienced trainee, the book will likely add something to your knowledge base but it's aimed at a different audience.
Content: 4 out of 5. If you're a new exerciser going to the gym, this will tell you things to do and what to expect and look for.
Presentation: 4 out of 5. Good pictures, good layout, although it does repeat some information in multiple places.
Overall: If you're an experienced trainee, this isn't for you. But if you or someone else is looking for a guide to selecting and training in a gym, read this book. It's Men's Health, but it doesn't give short shrift to women.
I am a professional personal trainer. I train clients at CR Fitness in Wyckoff, NJ.
I am a Certified Personal Trainer from the NSCA.
I am also a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified nutrition coach.
I am also an athlete myself - I formerly fought amateur MMA and submission wrestling, and I train twice a week in MMA.
I also train under a strength coach - Mike Guadango at Freak Strength. I am skilled at training others, but I thrive best when I have a knowledgeable coach to direct my own training.
About Strength Basics
This blog is a collection of various advice and information about basic strength training. I'm interested in strength and conditioning. The "frequently asked questions" in this area are VERY frequently asked.
This is my attempt to pull together the stuff I keep saying over and over. It's also a place for to put links related to strength and conditioning, and to muse on strength training in general. Further, writing this blog tests what I know. You never really know something until you can demonstrate an ability to explain it to someone else. As I write, I learn what I know and I don't know. In the process, I hope to pass on knowledge to you.
I hope this material is useful to you. Please consider it a springboard to future study. Although I endeavor to be complete and accurate, this is not meant to be the final answer to any subject addressed within the blog. Strength Basics may teach you something, but more than that I hope it makes you curious to learn more!
Always remember to check with your doctor before you begin any kind of strength or exercise program. I'm a professional personal trainer, but I'm not your personal trainer. Use this information at your own risk and with the understanding that not all exercise advice is appropriate for all trainees.