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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2007
I bought this book for my husband, because he has loved the first book written by Mark Verstegen, Core Performance (which earns 5 stars). I had hopes that this book would pick up where the other one left off and continue with updated and new stuff. It didn't really do that, Instead, it seemed to be a rehash of the first book without much new. Just a different presentation. If you haven't read the first book, then this one is excellent. However, if you have the first book already, you don't need this one because it doesn't have very much new info to share.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
Regardless of age/gender, you should buy this book. I just turned 40, have 3 kids and live a very busy lifestyle. The principles in this book are simple to understand and incorporate everyday.

This book was recommended to me by a business associate of the author. It was specifically recommended because it is the 'easiest book the author has written for incorporating fitness into the normal person's lifestyle' (i.e. for those who do NOT have the time to spend an hour or more at the gym each night). For me, the book is really two books; (1) nutrition 101 and (2) exercise for life.

For nutrition, the author makes it easy to understand the theory of nutrition (i.e. eating). He starts with theory, then grocery shopping, and then the eating schedule. This book does recommend more frequent mini-meals, rather than big dinners. Anyways, some very sound basics to answer the question of what you should put in body for maximum performance and health.

For exercise, the author asks you to commit 30 minutes a day to a core performance workout (ok, with a shower its 45 minutes). For novices, the Core is essentially your mid section (abs, stomach, butt, thigh, shoulder, back, etc.), but the program really hits every muscle group. As for the program, you can do all the exercises at home, without investing in costly equipment. The exercises focus on flexibility, endurance and strength and really do work. I started the program a little over 3 weeks ago and can already "feel" and see the difference. For the record, I've had lower back issues for 6+ years and since using the Core Performance it's never felt better. Not once have I have to 'roll out' of bed in the morning.

Live longer, feel healthier, and look better. Some motivation, 30 minutes per day, and this book are all you really need.

Thanks Mark for making professional athletic training programs applicable to the regular guy!
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2007
As an educator who trains personal trainers my critique on most fitness books for the consumer is that they focus on training individual muscles; for example doing chest press just for the 'pecs'

Mark does an excellent job of introducing the concept of training movement patterns, not individual muscles--this is the secret to top conditioning coaches and Mark does an excellent job of presenting the info in consumer friendly language.

As a personal trainer I will buy this book for clients and teach them exercises out of this book so they can progress or regress the exercises on their own. My goal for clients is to teach them how to be independent when working out and Verstegen's book is a great resource for that goal.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2008
I recommend the Core Performance training program, their books and their website for enhancing your health as well as athletic performance. Here's my experience with the book and their web site:

"Core Performance Essentials" is about building an exercise foundation for the average person/weekend athlete to improve health and well being.

"Core Performance" is for the competitive athlete that wants to undertake a comprehensive, rigorous training program to improve performance

The Core Performance web site contains all of the above training programs and more, allowing you to cycle though different training programs over time. While I was initially put off at the annual price of $80 per year. I signed up after completing "Core Performance Essentials" and consider it to be a good investment.

I am a 51 year old male with merely average, not outstanding athletic abilities. I've done basic jogging/aerobic exercise for 30 years every other day. I don't engage in any competitive sports at present. I exercise to maintain overall health, vitality and weight.

I followed the "Core Performance Essentials" book for nine months, slowly cycling through the levels of workout in this book. I then progressed to an online membership at, where I have been through two cycles of one of the many online workout programs, called "Live Better, Live Longer". I am on a rational, time sensitive plan of 3 sessions a week, for 45 to 60 minutes a session.

I feel much better on this program. I have better overall body strength. This program particularly emphasizes the stabilization and strength of your major joints - shoulders, hips and knees, and I can tell it. I also simply enjoy the workout sessions better than extended sessions of aerobics and conventional resistance training alone. In general, each session is a blend of basic floor/stabilization exercises, circuit resistance training, aerobic work and stretching designed to improve overall physical fitness.

As I read Core Performance Essentials, I found that I agreed with the central premises of Mark Verstegen and his staff. Aerobic exercise alone, and for extended exercise periods greater than 30 minutes, provides limited benefits for most individuals and athletes (unless you are a competitive runner). Extended, conventional weight training is also of limited benefit in terms of improving overall health and athletic performance.

Verstegen and staff, having trained and rehabilitated many collegiate and professional athletes for years, also found that conventional aerobics and weight training did little to protect athletes from injury. As such, the Core Performance exercise philosophy encompasses a range of exercises design to prevent injury and strengthen your major joints, back and muscles, as well as improve athletic performance.

The vast majority of us are terrible at setting up and going through training cycles with health and performance goals in mind. We all know that we are supposed to change routines every few weeks, but very few of us do. Change and variation is built into all cycles of Core Performance exercise - in the books and on the web site. My web site generated workouts change a little bit every session, which I like.

Also of note on their web site, is the fact that all of the exercise routines are demonstrated in short video clips from different angles. I go to the site about once a month to review my routines and brush up on proper form. While it would be great to have a personal trainer help on form, this is a good alternative.

Lastly, the nutrition section is sound. Its not a radical departure from current thought in nutrition, but it does give the reader a focused, practical view on how to plan your meals and snacks in regards to athletic performance and weight control.

If I wasn't doing this program, I think I would still incorporate the framework of the Core Performance system in some way. Perhaps combining Pilates, Yoga or similar floor/movement exercises with a focused, short aerobics program, for example.

If you are looking for an extended program or path to improve your overall health or to athletic performance, I recommend starting with one of the "Core Performance" books and trying out the exercises for 8 to 10 weeks. If you still like it, consider building and progressing your routines with a subscription to their web site.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2008
I bought the original Core Performance and found it very informative. I was in the mode of lifting to get bigger instead of better. But, I also found the workouts to be very daunting with the time and equipment I have at home. Core Performance Essentials is more for me. It is Core Performance for Dummies, simpler workouts that still improve your performance as a weekend warrior. The only thing I see missing is the regeneration stretches. I gave my copy of Core Performance to a friend and never got it back and wish I still had the list of stretches. I now do yoga instead, FITtv's Namaste Yoga works great. I would recommend this book if you like me want to improve but do not have the time to be a professional athlete.
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72 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2006
Success in a fitness program ultimately rests on a foundation of personal goals and beliefs -- yoga, with its background in Hindu philosophy and its meditative element; martial arts, with their combat, sociable competition and self-defense element; or here, author Verstegen's push for success in the "game of life." He comes across as a no-nonsense athletic coach; his experience and the tone of his writing are as such.

Why did I read this book? I've been an avid bicyclist for decades. I started yoga a few months ago, at first warily. Having started yoga, I picked up some books which describe other programs that include stretching and strengthening exercise, for purposes of comparison. I have arrived at a few conclusions:

* Most of the basic stretching exercises are similar for different disciplines; yoga, being an ancient discipline, holds the claim of originating many of them. There are variants, improvements and fads in and among all of the programs. Strengthening exercise is more varied, but all the good programs are based on a solid understanding of anatomy and physiology.

* The average US adult is so badly physically out of shape in one way or another that *any* reasonably comprehensive fitness program would effect a major improvement. (Well, I knew that already. But then, I thought *I* was in shape!)

* Ordinary daily activity -- be it bicycling or walking, or work involving physical activity, or participation in a sport -- is not a comprehensive exercise program. Complementary exercise is important. I found, for example, that my yoga practice cured the muscle imbalance and stiffness that had led to recurrent pain when bicycling.

* Basic strengthening and stretching exercises are not necessarily exciting or even enjoyable. Enjoyment is largely a function of incidentals. Do you like a particularly inspiring coach or teacher? The music in the aerobics class, if it's not so loud as to impair your auditory fitness...? (You could take earplugs.) The crowd at the gym? At the yoga class? The attention to detailed body awareness in Iyengar yoga or tai chi, so it becomes a focus of attention in itself? Will the goal of improving performance in a competitive sport keep you motivated to do other exercise? Would you enjoy the competition in karate itself? You might try different programs till you find one that works for you.

Again, I think that a person who enjoys competitive sports is probably most likely to enjoy the Core Performance Essentials book and follow its program, because Verstegen speaks in the language of the competitive athlete. I appreciate his making it clear right from the start that fitness is to be achieved only through commitment and persistence; and is not just about looking good (though you will). However, his motivational element doesn't quite click with me, on the very individual level that I've never had much interest in competitive sports, and that sharing the interest in yoga with my wife will keep me going with it.

The book expresses the author's very individual approach to fitness, but also includes copious advice on nutrition, more widely available from other sources. Still, it's useful to have the nutrition information under the same covers with the exercise information, particularly for people who start from being seriously out of shape. Vegetarians note, however: Verstegen, with his very middle-of-the-road American approach, does not describe meatless diets. Verstegen strays slightly from his rejection of the commercialization of fitness by promoting his own line of nutritional supplements a few times.

The book is heavy on motivational talk and testimonials. If I have one serious complaint, it is that I sometimes found a useful nugget of wisdom about actually what to do, only after wading through a couple of pages of repetitive pep talks. Well, a lot of people need the motivation -- let's only hope that it succeeds. For those of us who are already motivated, it's a case of pick and choose, and highlight the nuggets of wisdom and dog-ear the pages that actually show the exercises.

All in all, if this book appeals to you, you won't go wrong by following its program for physical fitness. The focus, again, is wide in addressing all components of a physical fitness program but narrow in viewing personal success as a "game." I happen to think of life more as a voyage, myself. But also, you will not find the extension to mental relaxation, or larger societal issues of harmony and sustainability, that often go with Eastern discplines and that appeal to their practicioners; depends what you are looking for.

Even if following another fitness program, you will probably learn some new things from this book, as I did. It's a quick, easy read if you are reading it just for purposes of comparison. So I recommend it, even in that case.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2006
Mark Verstegen, founder of a training center serving professional athletes, uses sports training analogies for "athletes" (ordinary people) playing the most important game, the "Game of Life". The premise is that everyone needs good basic training to take good care of one's body and function well for daily activities such as unloading groceries.

Verstegen focuses on exercises to develop the "pillar" -- essentially one's core plus hips and shoulders. Functional strength needed for everyday life as well as athletics comes from developing this pillar, not from doing something very isolated like bicep curls that one might want to do for cosmetic rather than functional reasons. The author rejects "body-building-based" workouts that isolate one muscle since most movements in daily life and sports involve multiple muscle groups working together at the same time. This training supports those movements and is thus also highly efficient for developing overall functional strength and coordination.

This book is more concise than his previous book and much more well organized for beginners (probably most people). It takes you through 4 levels of increasingly challenging but similar exercises. Each level has sections such as Movement Prep, Prehab (preventing injury rather than Rehab later), Stability, and Strength.

Overall an immensely helpful fitness book for everyone from beginners to athletes. It changed my thinking about what kinds of resistance training to focus on with limited time.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2005
Core Performance Essentials is a streamlined version of Core Performance. It will bring out the athlete in you , help you move better, prevent injury and just plain feel good. Everyone from beginners to advance individuals can put some or all parts of this book into their current workout program. Coach Verstegen's unveiling of Movement Prep to the non-athletic world revolutionized how we warm up.

Core Performance Essentials is simply the best book there is for functionally performing better in life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2007
I am always looking for a good workout and this one was simply amazing. I have been on it for 3 weeks and the results are amazing. Best thing is I am able to slot it into my busy schedule. It is also very low impact since I have bad knees and a weak back, I found this a excellent fit.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2009
For the average user, especially someone who has been physically inactive or out of shape, this is the perfect solution. I have so far lost close to 60 lbs and am only at the end of level 2, stage D (of 4). The approach Mr. Verstegen tries to instill with making gradual change though physical activity,focusing on health, wellness, and over quality of life is evident in the core performance system. I will update this review as I progress through each level, but so far my body has become stable, strong, flexible, and overwhelmingly more mobile. All while decreasing levels of pain I felt from previous inactivity and injury. I would strongly recommend this product, stick with it, give yourself time to grow with it, as emphasized by Mr. Verstegen, there is no race, it's about challenging yourself and staying committed.
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