on January 23, 2006
Both my wife and I tried the Slow Burn workout for about a month and I thought I'd share our experience. We're middle age and in better shape than average. We ended up switching to another workout routine but not because Slow Burn wasn't working for us "physically". It was working, but it ended up not being a good "psychological" fit for us.
Slow Burn, the book, is good. The author lays out his case logically and makes it easy to get started. He anticipated and answered about every question we had and provided good, practical advice. The home workout described can be done with just a modest investment. As others have said, though the workout is designed to do just once a week for 30 minutes (that's what attracted us initially), if done properly it's very intense.
The book actually lays out two different routines, one for the home with basic equipment, and one for the gym with weight machines. We worked out at home. The first week, as suggested in the book, we did the workout 3 times to speed up the learning process, then switched to 1/week once we were comfortable with the routine and had figured out the appropriate weights. Having a partner really helped with the time-keeping for each exercise. The book recommends getting a metronome. We didn't have one but I think it would help, escpecially if working out alone. The 2nd and 3rd week sessions went well. We were left drained and wobbly but in a satisfied way. But then a few days after the 4th week session we admitted to each other we really weren't looking forward to the next workout, and agreed to make a change.
An intense workout just 1/week sounds good, but at least in our case we learned we prefered a lower intensity routine we do more often. Maybe it has something to do with our age. As we grow older we like a daily routine more. After getting recommendations from friends and some trial and error we settled on the Joe X routine which we do each morning now. Joe X takes more time overall than Slow Burn each week but it keeps us motivated and lifts us up instead of wearing us out. We also looked at 5-Factor Fitness and Body for Life. Though we ended up doing something else, these two programs also seem good and are worth considering. I guess the point I'm making is we're all different and the physical side of fitness is only part of the issue. Like a diet, the best workout routine is probably the one that you can stick with, and it may be different than the next persons.
on February 13, 2003
So, as people have noted, slow lifting has been around for a while, but this book, along with Power of 10, is really trying to bring it more into the mainstream.
The book is split into two parts: The "Why" and the "How". The first part, the "Why" section, explains why the Slow Burn workout is good for you. The benefits they describe aren't exclusive to slow lifting; they can apply to any sort of strength training. And whiel some of the benefits they describe are pretty well known to people who weight-lift, it's good to remind all those people packed into the 5:00 Spinning class that strength training isn't just for massive guys in spandex with no body hair.
The book also made some pretty surprising (or outrageous) claims -- for example, that an aerobic exercise like running barely improves your heart at all; it just makes your leg muscles more efficient for future runs. Or that lots of stretching does you more harm in the long-run than good. (Come to think of it, I do know lots of dancers with dislocated joints.) And I would tend to believe them, except for the fact that the tone of this whole section totally turned me off. Frankly, it sounded less and less like an exercise book and more like an infomercial. Hey, guys, if your facts are persuasive enough (and they seem to be), I should be able to figure out on my own that the Slow Burn program is good without you screaming at me to "Join the Slow Burn Revolution!" every third paragraph. Enough with the hard sell!
Anyway, the second half of the book, the "How" section, describes several Slow Burn exercises to perform. And they include two sets of exercises: one you can do at home without much equipment, and one you can do at the gym with machines. I focused mostly on the second section, and found the descriptions to be pretty helpful. They include photos of each exercise at the "start" and "end" stage, along with a list of pointers to remember.
I do have some complaints with this section, though. They give you several odd rules to follow -- for example, to do exercises in exactly the order they describe, to spend the first three seconds lifting the first inch and the remaining seven seconds lifting the rest of the way, or to only spend a minute resting between exercises -- without really telling you why any of that is important. That kind of information would have really been helpful. Especially, say, if I needed to improvise or change my routine in any way.
But anyway, all of this is well and good, but it doesn't really matter unless the program works, and so far, it's been working really well. I've been doing a slow lift routine, once a week, for about a month now, and there's a noticeable improvement in my physique. I've definitely gained muscle in my chest and back, and my abs are regaining some definition, too. I also feel great the day after. I'm sore in a "I worked out pretty hard" way, not a "Jeez, I think I tore a tendon" way. Could I have gotten the same results if I had worked out with an old "25 minutes of cardio, 45 minutes of lifting three-to-five times a week" routine? Probably. But, unlike the 3-5 times a week routine, this one I can actually do and still have a life outside the gym.
"Okay," you're thinking, "There's gotta be a catch." Right? Well there is, kind of. The catch is this: This workout saves you _time_, not _effort_. Sure, it's only a 30 minute workout per week, but it's not the same 30 minutes you spend on the stairmaster. This is the most intense 30 minute workout you'll ever have, and it requires some willpower and discipline to see it through. The whole point of the technique is to bring your muscles to failure as soon as possible, and you can't do that if you quit because it's starting to get hard or you don't feel like working. So ask yourself this: Are you not going to the gym because you have other things you'd rather do with your time, or are you just lazy? 'Cuz if it's the latter, there's no exercise book out there that'll help you.
Oh, and I'm not quite sure why so many reviews around here are focused on the diet. The section on diet is this tiny little 5-page appendix at the end, and it's a pretty moderate, "Try eating more protien and fewer carbs" approach than anything crazy. Personally, I haven't really changeed my diet at all.
on June 19, 2005
I'm female, 55 and was not fit, though I used to be in my 20's. After two kids and 30 lbs of slow slide into middle age I was ready to find a way out but nothing had worked much. I'd done most of the standard recommended programs. It helped some. I wasn't a couch potato but hardly what I'd consider fit.
2 years ago I ran across Slowburn Fitness and started doing it. I was SO grateful for something short, simple and effective. 2 years later I'm as strong (or perhaps stronger) than I was in my 20's. I have endurance and stamina. I also have lost 30 lbs and am down to a very good body mass figure. And ALL of this with two 15 or 20 minute sessions a week. I couldn't believe they meant it but they did.
The people who write negatively about this program say that its hard to do or it "hurts" and so people wont want to do it. I found just the opposite. I was SO glad I could do it at home, virtually for free, and not have to be at a gym (though later I've come to use gyms sometimes.) I was SO grateful that it was working they way the authors promised. And I can't believe that it really delivered what it promised, but it did.
So get it and do it! It is the least dangerous, safest and most effective program --especially for us older types for whom injury during exercise is an issue. Just be aware that you do not have to HURT to do this, just work out till your muscle fatigues. The exercises are designed to fatigue muscles fast, in only a few repetitions. If you are not used to the feelings you might consider them unpleasant but. . .just remember, its ONLY FIFTEEN MINUTES. (twice a week at that) and you get as much fitness or more than if you were spending hours doing other programs.
For me that is exactly what I needed.
on March 10, 2003
I'm relatively new to the slow burn workout program, but can say that so far, it's working well. I enjoy the workouts--amazing!--and I already see results from the workouts in myself and in my husband. It's obviously not a quick fix. You HAVE to be committed to doing the exercises correctly and regularly. But it does work. In this book and in The Power of 10 by Alan Zickerman, the authors make it clear that this is not a 'too good to be true' exercise program--I'm not sure why some of the one-star reviewers say the authors imply otherwise. The authors are very forthcoming with the fact that this is a lifestyle change rather than a quick-fix miracle cure.
Additionally, I've read Protein Power and been a low-carber for about 3 years now. Low-carbing, too, is not a quick fix, but a lifestyle change. I also wonder if critics of low carb eating realize that this is the same method of eating that is recommended to avoid and treat diabetes. When my mother and young cousin were both diagnosed borderline diabetic, the diet advocated by their nutritionists were low carb diets. Because this diabetes runs in my family and in my ethnic group (I'm African American) I find that it only makes sense to hedge my bets by adopting this healthy way of eating.
All in all, both the low-carb way of eating and the slow burn method of working out are excellent for me and my family. We have more energy, more strength and we look good! :-)
on May 29, 2005
I read this book over a weekend a few years ago. Since I lived in New York City, I decided to call Fred and sign up for four months of lessons (twice a week). After that, due to monetary constraints, I went back to my gym knowing that I completely understood how to do the exercises.
I recommend this method ONE-THOUSAND percent to those people (like myself) who always hated working out the traditional 3 times a week (and usually gave it up after 3 months). After each workout, you will REALLY feel that you have worked out and achieved something.
I must warn people that the first 3 or 4 times you try Fred's method, you will HATE it. It is torture. But after about the fourth time, you "get" it and realize that this is the ONLY way to work out for people who hate working out. I know this sounds like a contradiction, but what happens is you begin to "realize" that you are getting so much more out of doing an exercise for just one set (and just 2 or 3 reps per set) for a minute than you are by doing the typical 3-set/10 reps routine that most people do. Psychologically, you will actually start to LOVE working out this way and look forward to your once-a-week at the gym. I have been at this for a few years and it definitely shows improvement in my body form (and I am 50 years old.) I will do this method for the rest of my life.
By the way, you will also notice that after doing your 30-minute routine, you will be sweating as if you just got off of a treadmill (check out all the big muscle guys around you and see if they are sweating after their weight-lifting routines). That alone will tell you that you are getting much more out of your 30-minute routine then they are. (But since those guys love going to the gym, they would never consider doing slow burn unless they had time constraints.)
I strongly suggest that after reading the book, you find a trainer in your area who can show you how to do the slow burn routine properly. There are subtleties that you will NOT learn unless a professional trainer is watching you in order to correct the mistakes you will make at the beginning.
on March 1, 2008
I have waited years to review this book: I bought it five years ago with "The Power of Ten" when I was a professional Pilates instructor. At the time, I was 33, and working as a Pilates teacher in the busiest Pilates studio in the city--of which I was the owner. I did this program for three months without following the dietary recommendations other than cutting out bread and pasta. Clients who hadn't seen me in a few months looked dumbstruck when they saw me: "WHAT are you doing? Your hips are gone!"
Some people are foodies: I'm an exercise-ie. I like trying new ways to work out, and one of the things that made me a good Pilates teacher is that I made a point of trying to figure out which exercises worked best for certain body types. One of my students who took from me for years came to me one day, and said, "I love this stuff for the meditation, but I've gone back to the gym. Heavy weight training is the only thing that makes me physically smaller."
I had a hard time believing her: weight training with light reps and little weight had always made me bulk up--one of the things I loved about Pilates is that it didn't make me bigger.
However, I was frustrated with the fact that although Pilates had done incredible things for my coordination, flexibility, strength and overall appearance, and it had made me lot thinner than I would be without it, I had never been able to make my legs much smaller. (Prussian ancestors. Enough said.)
So, I started reading about heavy weight lifting, including another book like this called the "Power of Ten". I chose the routine in this book over the "Power of Ten" because it seemed safer. The exercises in this book use a very limited range of motion--they specifically avoid challenging your balance or using your rotator cuff with your arms out to the side, movements which I had seen injure clients when done with a heavier weight, both in my own practice and from people who had shown up to my studio with black eyes. (Stability ball and heavy hand weights. Hmm...that will end well.)
Anyway, from following this program, I became the thinnest I have been in my adult life, with the exception of the years I went to strict Iyengar yoga classes three days a week. (I love yoga, but to really get the muscles activated you have to concentrate in ways that feel like work. Now that I work for a living, some weeks I'm not up for that.)
Aside from the fact that this takes less time and less mental effort than some other kinds of strength training, I never felt like I was about to get hurt while doing this routine. Traditional weight training programs use movements that might injure some people precisely because of the large range of motion required; the number of repetitions required by standard weight training can cause overuse injuries or injuries because of poor form when you have to do so many of them.
All in all, I highly recommend this workout. But, I disagree entirely with the idea that this is all you need. I found that I had much better results in terms of lack of pain and tightness when I did this workout and then did the Pilates matwork for thirty minutes afterward: we've all seen those guys at the gym who are bound up by their arm muscles. That's what happens when you use a muscle to the point that it has to repair and then don't re-set the resting muscle tone to its normal length--the muscle heals shorter. Not good.
Also, I found that it was really helpful to do a Pilates machine workout on the third day to work out the lactic acid and to remind myself not to start hunching over with my newfound, but still-not-entirely healed-and-slightly-painful strength.
Finally, you will have to do more exercise than this workout if you are expecting to lose fat: both authors are from cities where people walk. I think that fact causes an error in the thought process used by both authors to evaluate how exercise effects the human body; their test populations were doing this with another form of exercise before they started weight training. Furthermore, most of the people featured in both the "Power of Ten" and this book have active jobs like teaching and modeling. So, the experience of both authors had to be that doing just this workout once a week will make you thin--but, the results are actually from walking with this workout.
Truly, without some extra activity, it doesn't work: I found that when I stopped being a Pilates teacher and got a more sedentary job, this was not enough exercise to keep me from gaining weight, even though I was actively dieting. There is a, 'calories-in, calories-out' truthism here. Also, both human growth hormone and metabolism are stimulated by intermittent activity, which would require more than once a week exercise. (See the book, "The Spark." by Gaesser.)
In addition, you need to walk or run or jump or dance for other reasons--there is a lot of evidence that even very mild cardiovascular exercise improves brain function dramatically in a way that strength training does not. If part of your goal as you get older is to keep your marbles, weight training is not enough.
That's not to say you can do this and keep up a heavy workout schedule: it wouldn't work--it would just be overtraining. However, when combined with some kind of Pilates, yoga, or stretching, and even a little bit of walking, um, well, yeah, this is the magic bullet.
on August 5, 2006
This book has changed the way I think of exercise, of health, of fitness, EVERYTHING! It's excellent! It's a well-written, easy to understand book that teaches you how to work out once a week for 30 minutes and receive benefits all week. I've been an RN for over 30 years and have learned things I had never understood correctly before.
I have never felt so energized. Within 3 weeks, my husband began commenting on how much I've changed physically.
My husband has been a weight lifter and exercise nut for over 20 years, I gave him this book and two weeks on this program has improved his stamina more than anything else he's ever tried. Now he buys copies for everyone. Even trainers at his gym.
I can't praise it enough.
on January 4, 2003
With all the bogus and non-sensical exercise books and programs out there it's refreshing to see an honest, straight forward, and sensible exercise book and program. The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution is one of the best exercise books I've ever read. As an exercise specialist with over 20 years of experience I'm very well versed in virtually all the exercise methods currently promoted. I can say without hestitation that Slow Burn is the safest and most effective method to exercise.
In the book, Hahn and his co-authors do an excellent job educating the reader on important concepts such as the differences between fitness and health, dispelling the myth that "aerobic" exercise or "cardio" exercise is the key to fitness, and why strength training is so valuable and important and why strength training should be the cornerstone of every exercise program. The second half of the book details exactly how to perform Slow Burn properly.
About the only negative I can say is that the authors should have -- for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the Slow Burn concept -- begun the book with a clear introduction and explanation to what Slow Burn is and why it's so "revolutionary".
Overall though, I highly recommend this book and hope that it gets the recognition it deserves. Everyone should be exercising like this!
on March 10, 2003
Using laymen terms, the book does a good job in explaining the muscular physiological changes that take place during and after this exercise "revolution" program that promotes good muscular strenghening and increased overall stamina.
I, being impatient, immediately went to the section that defines the 11 separate exercises and illustrates the proper technique to use. The program can be achieved with a minimal of equipment and cost. Even some home made devices such as gallon water jugs filled with water (approx 8.2 lbs)can be used for the proper weight lifting requirements. This made the book valuable to me, since I travel 6-8 months out of each year and can therefore easily pack everything I need. An option of exercises using typical fitness center equipment is also illustrated. The in-home and fitness center equipment is illustrated clearly with step by step instructions for each of the 11 separate exercises.
Using this book, and maybe one visit with a trainer to review your technique, is all you would need to strike out on your own. After going through one sessions, believe me when I say, you feel like you worked out in the gym for 3 hours. For an example: Try doing a typical pushup using 7 seconds to touch your chest to the floor and about 7 seconds to return to the starting position. WOW!
I eventually went back and read every page. It makes sense not to beat your body up with jogging, impact aerobics and other potential muscle damaging exercise du jour, especially at my age of 60. Thank you, both my husband (age 65) and I feel confident that the technique recommended in this book will be safe. We will be coaching each other.
on November 10, 2003
Note I sent to Fred Hanh. This stuff works!
I am a 52 year old man who has suffered from low back pain for about 10 years. I could just lay down for a few minutes and my back would seize up on me. The pain was so severe that some mornings I could hardly get out of bed. I remember one time having to roll out of bed and land on the floor the pain was so powerful. Usually after being awake a while the pain would ease up. Every activity I planned was effected by my back pain. Depending on how strong the pain was that day. I have tried everything short of surgery to solve this problem. First I tried chiropractors for several years. I can remember one session where I screamed in pain so loud they heard me in the waiting room. But the pain never went away. Then I read various books on exercises for back pain. All these different exercises and positions, but the pain still persisted. Then I tried Yoga for 2 years I suffered through all the various positions that I could do when my back wasn't hurting me too much. One session I noticed we had a substitute Yoga instructor. Later I found out our regular instructor was having low back pain and couldn't teach that week. I thought: here is a teacher of Yoga, teaching 5 or so classes a day, and even she has low back pain. Maybe yoga doesn't work? DUH! Nothing I did, even OTC pain pills stopped the pain. I had heard surgery was too dangerous, so I had pretty much resigned myself to living with this the rest of my life, since I didn't want to get hooked on pain killers.
One day in a Barnes and Noble book store I saw your book and remembered seeing you on a morning talk show. At the time I had looked for your information but could find none and soon forgot. I tried the work out method from what I learned on the talk show but didn't stick with it. So I decided to try your book. As I read what you said made sense. When I got to the part about the back machine, I knew from your description the one I was using at the Y was set up wrong. It wasn't working out the right part of my muscles in my lower back. I brought in your book and discussed it with the staff at (...). They I'm pretty sure, thought I was crazy. But I set the machine to work with stops more like you display in the book. Rather than exercising the butt muscles I was now working the lower back. Immediately I felt that burn you mentioned in a different part of my back. My first thought was, 'this might be my answer'. Within about 2 weeks the pain was virtually gone. Well now it's November and I started in June. No more pain. None. How is this possible? In the past, I've had a few weeks where the pain diminished and was moderate (...)I am 52 and now feel 22. Thank you so much.