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354 of 375 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best bodyweight exercise book out there
UPDATE: There is now a companion app for iPhone available on the app store! Search for "You Are Your Own Gym" on iTunes. This app goes great with the book since it allows a user to use timers for the workouts.


This is an awesome book with a great introduction using the author's military experience. I've been using the workouts for a short while...
Published on May 7, 2010 by Paul S. Okstad

329 of 429 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad science, worse writing, exercises require equipment.
I was only expecting a book of bodyweight exercises, but was pleased to see a rather bulky section at the beginning discussing nutrition, strength training versus endurance training and other often-overlooked but vital aspects to fitness. However, upon actually reading this material, I was dismayed to see good, current science alongside urban legends and discredited...
Published on May 13, 2010 by ShawnMilo

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354 of 375 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best bodyweight exercise book out there, May 7, 2010
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This review is from: You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women (Paperback)
UPDATE: There is now a companion app for iPhone available on the app store! Search for "You Are Your Own Gym" on iTunes. This app goes great with the book since it allows a user to use timers for the workouts.


This is an awesome book with a great introduction using the author's military experience. I've been using the workouts for a short while and already notice my ass getting kicked by stuff I wasn't doing in the gym.


* The 10-week workout plans are awesome, and the beginner workouts will challenge strong guys that come from a weight training background. They are written in such a way that a beginner can jump in and get in shape with less than an hour a day (usually 15-30 minutes). They are very detailed and describe which exercises to do on which days. They also describe what type of set/repetition methodology to use, such as: ladders, tabatas, interval sets, etc. Slowly the workouts transition from high-volume/low-intensity to high-intensity/low-rep and finally alternates between the two rapidly. It may remind a lot of people of P90X, except it's a fraction of the price and with more sensible theory explained.
* This book is an excellent fitness reference with over 100 bodyweight exercises categorized by one of the following types:
PUSH, PULL, LEGS, and CORE. In addition to this, there is a set of exercises that develops all of the body's muscles.
* The theory behind the programs are also included so that users can formulate their own programs.
* Almost all of the workouts in the book can be done inside with minimal equipment. Great for people who travel or are on a budget.
* People who weight train at the gym a lot will notice they are getting more range of motion and working out more muscles. E.g. If you do squats at the gym, the side lunges and 1-legged Romanian dead lifts will hit other muscles you neglected while improving stability.
* Diet theory and suggestions are included in a dedicated chapter, but not so much data that it overloads the reader. The main emphasis of the book is still on exercises.

Great job Mark on putting together these 10-week programs. This is a great book and I hope to buy another copy from the next edition of "You Are Your Own Gym" by Mark Lauren!
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318 of 341 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The trainer of Special Ops gives everyone the tools to get in elite shape, May 28, 2010
This review is from: You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women (Paperback)
The lack of quality editing greatly harms this otherwise wonderful book. Whoever edited the book should have known that to lose weight is not to "loose weight." But, because the contents of the book are so valuable, I won't take any stars away from my opinion of it.

I'm told a second printing is in the works (may be out by now) and hopefully all these messy things will be fixed. That doesn't help those who bought the book in its current state, however. Get the second printing if you can wait.

Now to the contents of the book . . .

I was very impressed by the fact the author, Mark Lauren, says straight out that he doesn't train movie stars. He trains men and women to survive, to be able to function well in life. That's what's really needed. The good looks, the great body, come as a side effect but is not the goal.

Lauren says, "I want you to understand, unlike many other fitness authors, I do not train movie stars, television celebrities, models, or other personalities whose livelihoods hinge on being fit. I train those whose lives do. For a decade I've used bodyweight exercises to create the leanest, strongest, most confident people of our civilization."

"This book comes to us at a time when, despite their best intentions, most people are too crunched for time and money to devote enough of either to attaining their fitness goals. In this age of information we are bombarded with incorrect advice, useless gadgets and pills, and pure hype. The methods outlined by Mark Lauren are proven and time tested. I know because I've seen his results. I've commanded the best of the best, and Mark's training has helped make them that way. Now he has honed his program into one for every man and woman." That's what John T. Carney Jr., Colonel USAF says in the forward. And that pretty much sums up what you'll get from the book. And that's a lot!

This is powerful stuff. It really spoke to me because I'm all about functional training. I don't care so much about the shape of my butt as the shape of my health. I care less about the numbers of the circumference of my butt than the numbers of my blood pressure. The fact that these exercises make me look good is just a wonderful side effect!

Mark says that in less than two hours per week you can get as fit as an elite warrior. I follow the PACE program of Dr. Al Sears and the way he trains and his philosophy works hand in glove with what you'll learn in this book. In fact, let me recommend Sears book to you. Pace: The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution

Mark says, "The popularity of training equipment, systems, and fad diets is mostly the result of marketing --- not a genuine attempt to help a generally out-of-shape society reach higher levels of fitness and well-being. In this age, where our homes and gyms are cluttered with fitness gadgets, the simplest and most effective method for developing strength and losing fat has been largely overlooked ---knowing how to train using nothing more than your body."

He adds, "Most weight training exercises isolate only certain muscles, requiring a fairly small portion of your body's total muscle mass, unlike bodyweight exercises that incorporate many at once. These exercises have the added benefit of being much more demanding of core strength (6-pack anyone?) than exercises that require weights and machines."

The heart of the program is interval strength training. This is one area where these exercises work well with PACE.

Many people are turning from aerobics (cardio) and other forms of exercise because of injury and discomfort as they age. The author says, ". . . things like running are extremely high-force, damaging to your knees, hips and back." Oh, is this ever true! And when you get my age, you'll really feel it if you've spent a lifetime pursuing these activities.

Even Kenneth Cooper who started the aerobic era now says it's a bad thing.

Mark says, ". . . interval strength training is superior to aerobic activity in burning fat, as well as building strength, speed, power, and even cardiovascular endurance. All this in far less time than tedious 'cardio' sessions."

I like the fact this is a no-nonsense book. Moreover, Mark doesn't limit the information to men like many military and fitness writers. He writes to both men and women and treats both equally. He gets lots of points with me for that and I appreciate it. We all face survival and the need to function in daily living, regardless of our sex.

There's also a nutrition section in the book. No recipes. Just some good, solid nutrition advice that's pretty much on the mark as far as I'm concerned.

In some of the exercises you will need some sort of equipment. But it's equipment most anyone has around the house such as a broom or telephone book. You won't need any equipment with most of the exercises, however.

Frankly, in the few exercises that suggest a phone book, I'd rather use dumbbells. But, if you're in a hotel room, a phone book is handier.

I put a bar between two chairs to do the chin-ups. You can also use a broom, anything that won't break.

He gives all sorts of ways to work out. I like the Tabatas: 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds, for a total of 4 minutes. It's a total 15 minute workout. On the days I do PACE, I use a different interval. But the results are great!

Of the exercises Mark says, "Many of these 111 exercises I developed and named myself, others are little known gems, and still others are classics modified in new ways. Each exercise description detail a single repetition. Obviously, you should do multiple repetitions for multiple sets with rest in between sets. For more advanced athletes, typically each set should be done until you hit muscle failure and cannot do another rep."

There are also variations at the end of some of the exercises. You can make them easier or harder. And yes, these exercises are safe and effective for both young and old. If forty is so far in the rear view mirror that it's disappeared from view, as in my case, have no fear. If I can do it, you can do it. And if you're young, you would be well advised to get going on this right now. These exercises will keep everyone who does them functioning for life and able to take care of themselves in any event.

If you've done power yoga, you've done many of these exercises. One of his exercises is simply a combination of the sun salutation, down dog and the cobra. If done in a flow, as in power yoga and as the author advises, it's a powerful exercise that works almost every muscle. Mark calls it "Dive Bombers" and says it's for the "pectorals, triceps, deltoids and core."

He also rates the exercises from 1 to 4 with one being easy and 4 being the most difficult. Many are combinations and almost all of them can be modified.

Very good photos of each step of the exercises are presented. Then the author gives us his program. You can select how you want to set up your program. He gives you a number of workouts or you can do your own.

There are programs for endurance, power, intervals, supersets and undulating. They cover a number of weeks. Then you change off. Fact is, there is a program here for anyone. But, you can always do things your own way.

At the end of the book there's a helpful appendix called "The 6 necessary training principles behind any successful program." There is another one called "The science behind the program." There is also a useful appendix called "Household Equipment", which as it sounds describes items around the house you'll find useful in some of the exercises.

I opened this book expecting to find just another workout book by another fitness "guru". What I discovered was a wonderful adventure written by a no-nonsense guy who knows what he's doing and who presents it in a really great way. He trains for function, not beauty. And function is what gets us through life and helps us survive when called on to do so.

Highly recommended.

- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! Ditch your gym membership, this is the real deal!, September 22, 2010
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This review is from: You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women (Paperback)
I always remember a football player friend telling me many many years ago that after he had been injured, he'd been put on a special program where he was only allowed to use bodyweight exercises to build strength and that he had originally laughed at the idea but after a couple of months of it was astounded to feel stronger and fitter than he'd ever felt in his life. This had always stuck in my head and I had often wondered about the validity of bodyweight exercise vs pumping weights.

So when I saw this book I thought it looked interesting enough to buy. I could never have envisaged the way it would change my life. When I was younger I had been a gym junkie and runner but - now at the age of 40 - hadn't done any real exercise for a few years. But this book has changed EVERYTHING! His workouts are amazing! The variety of exercises is staggering - and after 20 weeks of exercise, 5 days a week, I am STILL not bored! My body has gone from a flabby out of shape lump to firm, toned and lean as hell. Everyone I know has commented on the amazing transformation.

I started on the intermediate 10 week program and followed it religiously every day making sure I was quite careful with what I was eating as well - you DO need to lay off the junk food if you want to see results but hey, that should be no surprise to anyone. Then I went into the advanced 10 week program and am now just about to finish that. My strength gains have been phenomenal to say the least. I feel lean, mean and agile - probably more than I have ever felt in my life. I hoping to progress right through all the 10 week programs right through to Elite and then I'll start making my own up.

If you only buy one book on strength exercises, this should be IT! As long as you are disciplined and stick with it, it WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Guaranteed!
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207 of 229 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really great work out book, May 4, 2010
bookworm (Tampa Fl USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women (Paperback)
Just started using this exercise book and being a 50 year old woman found the excercises not only easy to use but am noticeing faster results than my old regimine at the gym where I was using the equipment. I have more time being able to do them at home which is a big plus in my busy schedule.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This stuff is harder than the gym... just try it, August 10, 2010
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I used to be super fit, cycling 50 miles a day, going to a body building gym (owned by a former Mr Great Britain) and a tonne of other sports. My resting heart rate was 40bpm in the morning. I've since grown up, got busy and become a lot less fit. I just started going to the gym again and I thought I was making decent progress and wasn't going to give this type of exercise the time of day. After a short period of time I was pressing 90lb dumbbells and feeling good again. This body weight stuff looked too easy. Big mistake. I've only just started this program but I can already tell it is a lot better for my body and it makes the gym feel easy - no matter how hard you push it at the gym.

Can you, mr big gym man, do a spiderman? I doubt it. The compound exercises and techniques like ladder and so on combine together to give you a much more practical type of fitness. I don't know about you, but when lifting, hauling, pushing things in the real world, I don't get to support my back against a seat back and use an isolated muscle! This type of fitness will really grow your stabilizing muscles so much more.

At first, I laughed at exercises like burpees. Really not laughing after even just 20 of them, never mind 50 - 100.

Really looking forward to being able to do some of the level 4 exercises like the spiderman and that one where you do a push up but also lift your legs!

I don't care if some of this stuff is like yoga but renamed, or exercises that have been taught for centuries. It is well thought out and communicated in such a way as to make it accessible to everyone.

ps, I just calculated that I would create $600,000 of savings by putting my $45 gym membership in a good growth stock mutual fund for the next 40 years (accounting for inflation so the $45 would increase by 3% also).


I just came across my review and had to add to it for my experience one year or so later. For most of this year, I was saving my business and trying to spend the very little down time I had with my family. So with all of that, I neglected the plan and doing so definitely affected my health and how well I was taking care of myself. I've only just got gotten back onto the First Class plan (plan 2 of 4) and I'm on week 7. I feel so much better than I did 7 weeks ago and it that short amount of time, I've progressed much quicker than I ever did at pushing iron around. Now, when I have a busy week at work, I'm more careful to get that session in, even at a lunch break, because I know I need to in order to be 100% at work and home.

FUNCTIONAL: This time around I've really appreciated the functional side to this fitness. I moved office this week and wasn't ever afraid of injuring myself from lifting incorrectly or having to carry heavy, awkward objectives. You can get strong at a gym but the compound exercises set me up perfectly for all the full body lifts, pushes, pulls and holds I had to do. To me, that's functional. Even if you're a specialist in some sport and functional means something else to you than it does for me, I think having a strong core, better flexibility and balance along with the proficiency of having practiced lots of full body movements in the program makes for a real-world functional body. You can't rely on the guidance and support of a machine when lifting heavy goods so why would you train by using a some type of squat machine in the gym?

He has an iphone and android app and to be honest, that is what has made a huge difference this time around. I don't need to find the table in the book/ebook and then refind an exercise if I'm not sure about it and all that jazz. I put my iphone in my armband, turn the app on and press 'Start workout'. It then guides me through the whole thing with timers and rest periods along with pictures and writing on each exercise and type of workout (ladders/tabatas/supersets etc.). This solved my biggest frustration so now all have to think about it doing the work! Having said that, I would strongly recommend reading the book first, then getting the app. I've recommended the app to many friends and without reading the book, they want to pick and choose exercises from it but I know they don't. The understanding you gain from the book shifts your perspective on the body weights so you take a more purposeful approach rather than throwing in a few body weights you pick from an app.

Hope this helps.
Cheers, David.


Just came across this and had to give it another update. I mentioned in the last update that I was in week 7 of of plan 2 of 4, that's the First Class program. I finished that up and then went into and completed the Master Class program. I didn't mention his periodization before and I think that is a big part of the success of his programs. In his traditional programs you basically change your routine every 2 weeks. So for two weeks you may be focusing on endurance, then for 2 weeks you may focus on strength, then power and so on. Not only does this work with your body so you don't plateau but it's also mentally beneficial too. It gives you a bit of a break and provides different short-term goals. One week you're trying to stay consistent and hit a high number of reps then you do a strength block and you're trying to hit some low numbers before or by the time you fail and cannot do any more.

This plan is now my winter training plan and I use the exercises throughout the other seasons for my core. I've made this switch only because I've started cycling again after a 9-year hiatus and that requires very sport specific training. I only have time to train for one thing each day so it's cycling now. However, I'm really missing my upper body strength as I had gotten to the point where I coud do one-arm pushups quite easily and handstand pushups were also a brease. I'm looking forward to getting back into it here soon. When early spring comes and I'm putting more focus back on cycling again, I'll make sure I don't completely turn this program off again but rather do maintenance during the cycling season instead.

Lastly, I've had a personal trainer for my cycling and he has prescribed for me specific workouts according to my cycling goals and my weekly schedule. To be honest, the YAROG is almost on par with this high level of personal training because it's done so well and because it doesn't take a lot of time each day. My cycling trainer has state champion athletes and has won national pro races himself so I don't say this lightly. When it comes to overal strengthening and fitness, these programs feel like they are tailor made for you if you just do what he says.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I gave this program ten weeks--, August 6, 2012
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--and the results are pretty good. Unlike most of the negative reviewers, who are quibbling over the author's nutrional ideas or whether or not it's fair to use household implements and still call it bodyweight training, I've actually done the program for a while and I like it. I'm fairly advanced at this type of training but, coming off a long-ish layoff and with the injury that caused the layoff still limiting me, I chose the intermediate level program in You Are Your Own Gym. It worked pretty well.

My big question about the book going in was its use of divided routines* (For those new to this type of training, I'll define this and other terms at the bottom of the review). It's been a decade or more since I've done these, having decided, definitively, that full body workouts, done in a traditional 3-times-a-week,L-M-H program** worked better, at least for me. But Lauren's book (and my injury) gave me reason to reconsider. My hope was that the divided routines in YAYOG would, at my current age (47) and level of fitness (not what I once was), promote better recovery and, thus, better gains. Has that been the case? Yes, I think perhaps it has. I still feel weird coming out of a workout with only half of my body tired and, again, the layoff and injury make direct comparisons difficult but overall, I'm ready to pat myself on the back, declare victory, and move on. Of course, you could take the exercises in YAYOG and re-arrange them into full-body workouts.

How does You Are Your Own Gym compare with other books in this category? Pretty well, I think. In recent years, I've also done Pavel Tsatsouline's The Naked Warrior, Paul Wade's Convict Conditioning, and Brooks Kubik's Dinosaur Bodyweight Training. YAYOG definitely rates higher than Naked Warrior, which is too narrowly focused to be useful for most people. It's also much better than Convict Conditioning, the author of which insists that periodization*** isn't necessary for bodyweight training. I think he's wrong about that. So does Mark Lauren, who does a great job with periodization in YAYOG. In fact, it's probably the best thing about the book. Dinosaur Bodyweight Training was, until I picked up YAYOG, the clear category winner for me. The workouts are harder than the ones in YAYOG (in most cases, much harder) and more dedicated to strength than conditioning. But YAYOG has served a definite purpose for me and would, I think, for others as well. So call it a draw between these two, with YAYOG better for beginners and the Dinosaur book a winner for advanced trainees. Women, I think, would mostly prefer YAYOG.

Before I define the above asterisked terms, let me say one thing to anyone new to this type of exercise: if terms like these make your eyes glaze over and your teeth ache, don't worry about it. You can train for a long time, years probably, making steady gains, without knowning any of these things. It's only advanced trainees who have to get crafty to keep coaxing gains out of their bodies and by the time you reach that stage, you'll be hooked, reading everything you can find, gobbling up the jargon.

*Divided routines--in this case, doing lower body work on one day, upper body the next. There are other ways to divide but that's the way this book does it. The theory is that, not working the same parts two workouts in a row, you'll recover better and thus make better gains. Sometimes it works that way.

**3 times a week, L-M-H--the gold standard workout of strength training. In this regimen you choose 3-6 exercises, usually one per movement (a fairly standard routine would be: one upper body push, one upper body pull, one squat variation, one lower back exercise and one abdominal exercise) and you work them all in each workout, training three times a week, with one Light, one Medium, and one Heavy session. You can vary the weight used or, in the case of calisthenics, the difficulty of the exercises used, to achieve this variety, the difference between Light, Medium, and Heavy, but, more typically (and usually more effectively), the same weights and/or exercises are used and the sets and reps are varied instead. Most trainees find that keeping the sets constant as well, varying only the reps, is most effective.

***Periodization, in its simplest definition, means varying the difficulty of your workouts, not going all-out every time. The above L-M-H program is one way of doing this. There are dozens of others. However you do it--and, again, Lauren does a great job with periodization in You Are Your Own Gym--you do have to do it. Going all-out, lifting your heaviest weights for the most reps all the time, leads first to plateau-ing, then burnout (both physical and mental) and, then, if you're persistent enough about it, to injury. And it doesn't matter whether the weight you're lifting is a barbell or your own body, the same rules apply.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rehabilitation after years of not working out, October 9, 2011
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I am a 19-year-old girl who got mono about two years back. I was so sick when I had mono that every single one of my muscles atrophied (and I was relatively in shape before, not particularly strong but not weak or out of shape at all), and eventually all I gained back was basic strength (enough to walk up stairs although with difficulty, for example).

If you want to know how weak I was before starting my workout program about 3 weeks ago (I started Mark's program 5 days ago):

-can't do one pullup
-can't do one pushup
-unable to do one dip
without assistance
-very little grip strength
-cannot run 1/6 of a mile without feeling like my heart is ripping out of my chest
-running made my muscles sore (pretty sure that's a really strong sign of being weak)
-hardly able to do raised pushups
-can't walk up stairs without being winded (I am very thin and I breathe like I'm 400 lbs overweight) and my thighs burning
-extremely little energy to do any physical activity

I never worked out because I didn't think I had the time and I just didn't have the motivation. Then one day, it hit me that being weak would cause me to die if a disaster ever happened, because I wouldn't have the physical fitness to evade anything whatsoever. And also I might have a heart attack if I keep up this horrible inability to even breathe. Then I got serious. I went to the gym with my boyfriend and did some running and cardio because my lung capacity is so pitiful it made me mad. Small progress there but not much. I was consistently stuck on the the same weight for the assisted pullup machine, my favorite machine because I can't do a single pullup and the motion is fun to me. But I simply could not progress and I didn't know why. I was doing a hard weight for me, and doing a lot of it, so what was wrong? Anyway, Mark taught me how to make everything more complicated so your body will get stronger. Within only the first day of Mark's basic workout, after my muscles healed from being sore (2 days), I could now EASILY do 20 pushups on a raised surface (when I could previously only do about 10 with extreme difficulty). I have not been able to test out the assisted pullup thingy yet, but I'm pretty sure I'll have improved there as well. I am so excited to have found this book because now I can work out at my house and not just the gym.

Now I work out and just tear the hell out of omy muscles with extremely extended negative motion, tons of pauses, and I will perform an action past failure and hold for as long as possible (not without good form of course!). AMAZING results. When performing the ladder-style reps, on the last 2 sets I really, REALLY force myself to do all this. I have effectively learned to beat the living hell out of my muscles and force them to man up, and so far, upon my third workout on the basic workout, it's working pretty well and I've never thought I really would be able to significantly increase my strength until now. Thanks so much, Mark Lauren, for writing this book!!

By the way, I'm not overweight nor do I have any fat loss goals so I can't speak on that front. I'm not totally sure if these workouts would actually cause you to lose fat but it sure will increase your strength which theoretically will cause you to burn more calories upon resting. It's worth a shot no matter what, because I think losing weight is pointless if you're weak. Function over form is extremely important to me although it's nice to have both. But if I was overweight I would do this anyway in addition to a lot of interval training (which I do as well just for endurance, heart health, and muscle building).

I am female but I don't think that's an excuse to be weak. I certainly do not work out like a woman anymore and I am proud of it--my goal is to one day be as strong and agile as Lara Croft (my dream since I was like 10). :)
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Think Twice Before Buying Kindle Version, January 9, 2011
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I found the book quite informative and his exercises very creative but I would suggest you think twice before buying the Kindle version. I did and I really regret it.

These types of books are best in a traditional book that is is easy to flip through, move back and forth and bookmark. If I want to check a technique while exercising I want to do it quickly. For me, that's with a real book. Novels are okay on a Kindle but not reference books.

The second thing I would suggest is that you apply a whole lot of common sense before you perform these exercises. I found that lacking in places in this book. There are one or two exercises that he suggests you perform by standing on the edge of your bathtub. Clearly, this is not a very wise idea.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely Grateful for this Book!, July 14, 2011
This book helped me get my pre-pregnancy body back and then some!

True, it is a bible of bodyweight exercises, but the true value is in the programs Mark put in there. The 10-week programs magically keep the workout consistent yet varied so you are always on your toes. Each week (or two) has a different set of exercises and a different method to do them. Thanks to these programs, I found out (after years of working out), that varying the method you perform the same exercise (and not just the intensity) really challenges your body and delivers faster results.

Speaking of results. I kept fit through out my pregnancy working out twice a week (doing "The Perfect Pregnancy Workout") until the 8th month, plus a lot of walking and climbing stairs (no car and fourth floor apartment w/o elevator, that's living in Europe!). Still, 4 months after the little one arrived, I had 10 pounds to lose. And despite exercising during the pregnancy, my muscles all over were weak, my legs and stomach a wobbly mess. The worst part was my back was starting to hunch forward from carrying a baby all day. Constrained by a baby that rarely napped more than 30 minutes, I knew I needed to do intense exercise in a short time. I started again on Pilates but for some reason it wasn't delivering like before. Googling "body weight exercises" led me to this book, and I started on the basic program immediately. As others mentioned, don't let the word "basic" fool you though, it was incredibly challenging.

After only 2 weeks, I started to see significant changes. It felt like my body was shrinking and tightening. After a few more weeks, the comments (and inquiries) from friends started flowing in, "Tell me what are you doing?", "wow, you're back to your old body!", etc. The results were so obvious that a good friend immediately ordered the book, my boyfriend joined me within two weeks (I regularly find him doing pull ups on our bathroom door), and both my brother and my sister are on the program.

Anyway, 4 or 5 months later now I'm halfway through the "First Class Program" (that would be the second in the series). My legs, back and upper body looks so much better (quite shapely and well defined) than even before the pregnancy. My stomach is back (sadly not as slim as before). But my biggest motivation to keep doing this is the strength I gained. All by doing 3 or 4 workouts a week (yes, I must add that I would skip a week here and there, then get back on track which did not seem to affect the results).

Just wanted to give a review from the female point of view. Best money I spent on a book!
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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book overall--but you do need some equipment, March 31, 2011
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I enjoyed Mark Lauren's book because it does provide a great variety of mostly body weight-only exercises that do work. Some of the moves are innovative, or, at least, good adaptations of traditional squats, push-ups, etc. They are not running military boot camps by lining up rows of bench presses, doing a few reps, then 'resting' a few minutes--so rest assured, body weight exercises are effective. The descriptions and pictures of the exercises are excellent.

I gave the book three stars for a few reasons. First, having worked out for years, I disagree that you can have a truly effective program without a chin-up bar. World-class trainer or not, Mr. Lauren's suggestions to use doorknobs, broomsticks, chairs, paint cans, etc. come close, but only if your budget will simply not allow for the most basic of fitness equipment. Also, in my opinion, some of the improvised moves are not entirely safe--I wonder how much abuse most hollow doors or modern (plastic) broomsticks can take. Honestly, some very basic equipment is necessary--in my opinion, the minimum is a chin-up bar. You could survive without dumbbells by doing traditional (and effective) moves like push-ups, squats, and dive-bombers and skip moves like lateral shoulder raises and dumbbell chest presses.

Second, like the other reviewers, the book contains numerous typographical/editorial errors, and the overall "flow" could be better. Obviously not a big deal, but it detracts from the professionalism of the book.

Finally, the fitness routine charts seem to have been hastily thrown together and placed among a few pages at the back of the book. I found the layout of these charts to be somewhat confusing relative to many of the other fitness books I've read.

EDIT 2014: I was browsing, as usual, through the Amazon bookstore and saw my review. I actually changed my 3 star to a 4 star because, relative to the many books I purchased since I first read Mark's book, this is a very good reference overall. Mark put a lot of effort into explaining each exercise and, my slight complaint about equipment is minor. As I get older, I notice that body-weight training helps me feel strong and flexible after a workout--and energized. Body-weight training can be varied, say, using supersets to keep the heart rate up to Pavel Tsatsouline's "ladders" to develop pure strength. (I like Pavel, but, the books are a little expensive. Google 'Pavel Ladders,' a concept he explained in the Journal "Milo" more than 10 years ago.) In contrast, heavy barbell work has been leaving me feeling sore and exhausted, with nagging problems like aching shoulders and tender knees. I'm sure a doctor could explain this, and my experience is obviously unique to me, but body-weight training doesn't beat me up like the barbell does--yet, it seems to still provide a very good fitness benefit.

I'll admit, I often feel like I need to "add weight" to an exercise in order to make it "effective." If you agree, try Mark's workouts with a gets hard fast, and it is only one additional piece of equipment. I don't think I can link to the site, or I would make a recommendation. Don't get one filled with little bags of sand.

People all over the internet will debate which is best: body-weight training, barbell training, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. etc.; the reality is, the best training is the one the one you can do right now. Although many will argue, try the workouts, see how you feel. I think this book gives you something you can do right now for a fair price, so I've upgraded to 4 stars from 3.
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You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women
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