Strength Basics

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.

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