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The Purposeful Primitive: Using the Primordial Laws of Fitness to Trigger Inevitable, Lasting and Dramatic Physical Change Paperback – June 24, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


I would venture to say that I have read every book pertaining to weightlifting over the last three decades, and I have probably read the majority of the articles in this area. There are two things I can say unequivocally about what I have read. One, Marty Gallagher is the best writer in the world of physical fitness and strength, bar none, and two, Gallagher s newest book The Purposeful Primitive is the best manuscript ever produced in this field.

Teeming with esoteric information on training, biomechanics, nutrition, and sport psychology, The Purposeful Primitive is a wealth of information that every serious lifter needs to read. You are going to like this book. NO! You are going to LOVE it. I promise you that. It s Gallagher s best work, and that means it is strictly world class.

Dr. Judd Biasiotto, author of 46 fitness and health-related books, world powerlifting champion --Dr. Judd Biasiotto

As a student, athlete, teacher, researcher, professional coach, and businessman I have spent over 60 years in health, fitness and sport, devoted to how to become the best you can be . The Purposeful Primitive has been a very interesting journey for me... back-to-the-future...

Marty does a wonderful job bringing out the art and science of training, extracting many of the critical universal and specific principles (guiding rules to action social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual) that are applicable to living a productive life in general, and in training for health, fitness and sport, specifically. In addition, I like the way Marty personalizes the lives of outstanding athletes and shows how they applied these fundamental, can't-miss principles in their training to help them become the best they could be in their sport.

My recommendation: if you want to achieve something great in your life , add The Purposeful Primitive to your training library... yesterday.

Dr. Bob Ward, Sports Science Network, former head strength and conditioning coach, Dallas Cowboys --Dr. Bob Ward, Sports Science Network

What can one say with certainty about the author of this book Marty Gallagher? Nothing other than the facts that he has been there and done that as an 800-plus pound squatter! That he has written over a thousand articles about fitness and nutrition in the published print media (not to include his amazing blog). That he is not just a genius, but the best interviewer and storyteller going. And that he has not only truly trained the world's strongest athletes, but that he has distilled the most useful information from 15 of the foremost weight lifters, bodybuilders, psychologists and bodymaster nutritionists of the last half century into a form that can be used by anyone from overweight, exercise-adverse beginner to world champions in their sports.

From Olympic lifting to power lifting and bodybuilding, whether muscle gain or fat loss, from cooking to supplements, from changing exercise and eating habits to molding the psychology of a champion (whether one is even remotely interested in competition or not), Marty has covered it all. I only wish I had had a book like this when I was growing up and trying my best to get bigger and stronger. Marty has demonstrated, without question, that he is the current and undeniably best trainer of champions and ultimate guide to physical and mental transformation. This book not only provides the simplest instructions and cheapest financial and lifestyle requirements, it is absolutely the single best book ever written on being the best you can be physically and otherwise.

James E. Wright, Ph.D, former Director of Sports Science, U.S. Army Physical Fitness School; former Health and Science Editor, Flex Magazine --James E. Wright, Ph.D

About the Author

Three-time World Master Powerlifting Champion, Teenage National Olympic Lift Champion, Marty Gallagher coached Black s Gym to four National team titles and in 1991 coached the United States squad to victory at the World Powerlifting Championships.

Marty's highly-acclaimed 230+ weekly Live Online columns for Washington created a legion of followers for his Purposefully Primitive Fitness philosophy. Over the last thirty years he has had over 1,000 articles appear in two dozen fitness publications.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Dragon Door Publications; 1st Paperback Edition edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938045717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938045717
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Robert on July 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
A book on the crossroads of bodybuilding, power-lifting, and fat loss, by an accomplished lifter, coach and writer with over forty years of experience in the game.

Mixed feelings about this book. Short form: I highly recommend it to a range of audiences, despite my reservations. I enjoyed reading it, and will re-read it several times, looking for the bits I can make use of.

Marty coached or met everyone who was anyone in the world of Power lifting in the 80s and 90s, and he fills the book with anecdotes that give a real feel for the characters that made a half-underground sport what it was. He also uses these anecdotes to great effect when discussing training styles and nutritional strategies, building his recommendations for various phases of body recomposition around the greats he trained with or coached. His writing is engaging, and his genuine love of the sport shines through. The tales of strength he shares are inspiring, and he has a knack for presenting even the roughest of his subjects with their humanity intact.

The training and diet information are comprehensive. Marty is a big believer in old school training splits and volume, and he has plenty of experience to back up his position. It's an approach to training that will feel pretty revolutionary to a machine trainer or someone caught up in the absurd, unproductive isolation training so many unqualified trainers end up foisting on their clients.

On the downside, this is mostly a book for beginners and intermediate trainees. I didn't see his weight training recommendations as all that relevant to my own current needs; my program is already spartan by Marty's standards, and I expect a fair number of more experienced lifters will feel the same way.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
In a review for a previous product, I stated there are 3 books I considered indespensible in my workout library. Now there are four. This book is worth the purchase for the section on the Iron Masters alone. When you add in the different approaches to lifting for strength and power, the psycology of working out, the cardio and diet sections, and all the little essays that give us a look into the "Purposeful Primitive", you have a book that is, in my opinion, one of the best books for approaching getting the best out of your body. I read this book cover to cover very quickly, and will probably read it several more times, just to pick up little kernals of information I missed the first time. The book almost reads like an Anthony Robbins book on NLP - here are the masters, here is how they worked out, here was their psycology, here is how you can apply it to yourself.

On another note, I must disagree with the first reviewer on the steroid situation. Steroids are mentioned, but not gone into great detail. This is not a book on how to cycle your anabolic drugs, but rather how to workout, no matter your experience level or goals for yourself. Steroids have been around in power sports since the late '50's and in most sports for 30 years now. Only now are they coming into the news because of teen athletes trying them, which is never a good thing. However, you can still get the benefits from these workouts and the ancillary information without the benefits of performance enhancing drugs. Will you be able to bench press 600 or deadlift 800 without the drugs? Probably not. Will you be able to squeeze every bit of the talent God gave you and be the best physical specimen you can be by following this book? Definitely so!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By old lifter on October 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book contains quite a bit of good information. However, the product does not deserve the effusive praise it has received on this site and from the esteemed commentators in the book itself. It is a common sense guide to weightlifting, aerobics, & nutrition. As such, it faces a lot of competition from the likes of McRobert, Rippetoe, McCallum, and Strossen. I do not believe The Purposeful Primitive is equal to any of them.

My 1st issue is the editing. The book is too long because information is repeated needlessly. Second, the book espouses a three tiered approach to total health and fitness. That's commendable. However, as other reviewers have pointed out, most of the men mentioned in this book were steroid abusers. Whether that takes away from their accomplishments or not is debatable, but when you're selling a guide to achieve a healthier lifestyle, I think the spokesmen ought to at least be healthy in mind, body, & spirit. Finally, the stories of violence against "lesser" men are juvenile and irresponsible. As McCallum pointed out 50 years ago, those that train with weights are ambassadors of the iron game and have a responsibility to portray it in a positive manner. Behavior such as that glorified by Gallagher merely reinforces the "meathead" stereotype of lifters.

As I said, there is good information here. That information is better presented by the authors mentioned earlier, though.
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59 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Mark Twain on May 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
This books is a fun read at times with the exception of a few of the chapters which relate stories about steroid-bloated bullies intimidating those who they perceive to be inferior.

I found very little useful training info here that I haven't read about before, but some of the author's anecdotes are amusing if not downright creepy at times. Basically unless you weigh 300# plus and use 'roids you are not worthy to enter a gym or use the same equipment as the "elite" lifters. In fact, if you dare to attempt to join the gym you might get run out the door by some bloated bully on a 'roid rage.

Most of the lifters protrayed in the book are (I should say "were" as most of them are long gone) PEDs users so there is very little, if any, useful information for the average, natural lifter - you know, the type of "scrawny pencil neck geeks" that the author and his fat-*ss lifting buddies would enjoy intimidating and throwing out of the gym in the snow - as if the reader should somehow respect and admire these idiotic actions.

I got a real chuckle seeing the photo of Jim Williams and Hugh Cassidy with their huge guts hanging over their lifting belts - how many of these guys are around today and living a quality life? I hardly find them heroic or to be admired just because they had the gift to get fat.

Other than that there is some very basic information about nutrition and the author's grandmothers home cooking (who cares?), and some outlines of workout routines by Paul Anderson, Bednarski, Coan and others, using the basic compound exercises and the author's ego-filled rant about how he coached powerlifters like Ed Coan. Yeah, right, like this guy "coached" Ed Coan - give me a break.
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