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.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review: The Body Sculpting Bible Express - Men's Edition

By James Villepigue and Hugo Rivera
192 pages, published 2005

The Body Sculpting Bible Express - Men's Edition is a book aimed at time-crunched men who want to get "sculpted" within a tight timeframe - 3 weeks of exercise, 21 minutes a day.

The workouts center on an AB split, plus abs/cardio, done 6 days a week. So you do A/cardio/B/cardio/C/cardio/off, then B/c/A/c/C/off. The "A" workout is upper body, back and chest (with equal weight to arms), B is shoulders and lower body, the C is full body. All of them focus on what they call "Modified Compound Supersets" which means just "Supersets with full rest between each portion." Do exercise 1A and then rest 45 seconds, do 1B then rest and repeat.
You start each workout with what's called an active warmup, but it's just static stretching without a long final static hold. Move into position and then out of it. The sets and reps are 2 sets of 18-20 initially, dropping to 3 x 15-18 in the later weeks and finally 4 x 12-15. Set weights are all to failure between the listed reps. One very good aspect is rep speed - you're expected to lift fast but with control, explicitly to take advantage of Force = Mass x Acceleration. That's rare but good to see.

It has a template for 3 weeks of dumbbell workouts, plus a machine workout if you can't find dumbbells (hotel gym, fitness center while travelling) or won't use them (it offers muscle weakness or injury as a ready-made reason). Further weeks are covered, but somewhat scantily - just a workout template for additional weeks and then you return to the start - presumably with more weight.

The book comes with diet advice, centered on caloric restriction and meals with an exact 40/40/20 percentage split of protein/carbohydrates/fat. You eat either 2000 calories or 2500 calories, depending on the week, plus one cheat meal every Sunday. There isn't much held out for different sizes - it's one-size-fits-all prescription. It does give some advice on dealing with too much weight loss by adding a 300 calories a day if you need it. It does come with a really good pick-and-choose list for meeting this diet's requirements, though - choose 1 of A, 1 of B, and 1 of C for a meal, with exact measurements as well.

The attitude towards rest is a bit harsh - miss a workout? Do it on your rest day, you blew your rest for the week.
Another criticism is the goal-setting. You're advised to basically shoot for the moon, but not get too crazy at the same time. The example given says it all:

"Don't limit yourself to what you think you can achieve; write down what you want. (At the same time, if you are a male bodybuilder and you want 28-inch arms, know that such a goal is unrealistic. Shoot for 18 to 20 inches instead.)" - pg 9

Uhm, what? First, genuine 18-20 inch arms are extremely rare. That's an unrealistic goal for most people, even a male bodybuilder with good genetics. Second, what male bodybuilder is doing a 21-minute get started workout? Third, even if one was, this program isn't designed to get them there. It's contradictory and silly, and the idea of specific goals and measurements is good but poorly executed here.

Content: 3 out of 5. It's just an exercise program and specific diet advice for a short program, with nothing else to it.
Presentation: 4 out of 5. The pictures, charts, and boxed-out text are well done.

Overall: If you're looking for a short beginner's program centered on dumbbells, this will do. It doesn't hold much value unless you specifically want this program, and then it's probably only useful for those beginners. A good start but not much beyond that.

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