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, July 11, 2011

Book Review: The New Abs Diet for Women

By David Zinczenko and Ted Spiker
Published 2010
395 pages

The New! Abs Diet for Women is a recent entry into the ever-growing and very popular Abs Diet series.

This book is essentially the same as the previous version - the Abs Diet for Women - and the original - the Abs Diet. If you've read either of those, you're well on your way to knowing what is in this book. The improvements seem to be largely refinement and polish. This review is written assuming you've looked at my prior review of the Abs Diet.

Nicely, they front-loaded the book with the Abs Diet Cheat Sheet - basically a primer and answer to the immediate question - what can I eat and how much? It's a clever move and they organized well enough that it's an easy photocopy . . . or ripped out page. This gets a lot of what readers want to know and need to know on a daily basis out of the way. That makes the rest of the introduction section which follows much easier to read. You already know where you are going.

The diet is the same as the previous versions as far as I can tell - the "Abs Diet Power Foods" and quite low-calorie diets (1400 kcals is about the norm) with a single cheat meal a week. It'll work, for sure. But it contains the usual misinformation - a whole section on why low-carb diets don't work that seems more based on bashing low-fat Snackwells than low-carb diets, the whole "avoid saturated fat" suggestion combined with getting 1/3 of your fat calories from it (and 1/3 from each of the "good fats"), and the myth about 1 pound of muscle burning 50 kcals a day. Ugh. It's like nothing changed from the previous versions in this respect.

The exercises section shares some of the flaws of a lot of diet books. Exercises get all of two pictures - start and finished - and some limited explanation of technique. Some of them just don't match the picture to the explanation, and the explanation isn't adequate. For example, the squat picture has the start and then the finish - and the woman isn't even halfway down into the squat. But the text says to stop when your thigh is parallel to the ground. The picture doesn't show that, and the text isn't clear if they mean the bottom of the thigh, or the top (which is more likely to actually be parallel). The squat isn't alone in having pictures that don't quite show the form advocated.

Other offenders - presses are done seated, upright rows are done at all (they put the shoulder in a bad spot, under a heavy load), leg extensions (ugh!), and more. Nicely, there is a no-crunches ab exercise section, which is a real plus. The book doesn't quite come out and say some people regard crunches as a slow path to lower back injury, but it does acknowledge you may want strong abs without doing any crunching. So at least they show you the how even if the why is absent.

The workouts are typical of the series - circuits and higher-rep exercises, and emphasis on free weights (good!) and cables exercises (also good), but the occasional odd machine thrown in (leg extensions being the most glaring example). Again, they will work, especially combined with the diet and sufficient zeal.

Content: 3 out of 5. The diet will work, and the exercises are generally good. Enough errors, not fixed since earlier editions, drag it down.
Presentation: 4 out of 5. Well put together, easy to read, and easy enough to follow the workouts.

Overall: An okay entry into the Abs Diet series, and an okay diet-and-exercise book. Not a bad choice but there are so many better choices for women, such as Rachel Cosgrove's book.

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