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Showing 1-10 of 210 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 258 reviews
on April 12, 2016
This is a review of 3 bodyweight exercise books (paperback editions): "Your Body Is Your Barbell" by BJ Gaddour, "You Are Your Own Gym" by Mark Lauren and "Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy" by Bret Contreras. These reviews are coming from my perspective of a 44 year old man who decided I needed to lose some weight and just get in a little bit better overall shape. After doing my research I decided to focus on bodyweight exercises for their simplicity, efficiency and effectiveness. Bodyweight exercises require minimal equipment, allow you to work many muscles at once (compound exercises), and use motions that are natural body movements unlike a lot of gym machines. All 3 of these books contain basic information on exercises, exercise plans and how to make each exercise easier or more difficult. The ability to change the difficulty level of each exercise (progressions or regressions) will fine tune an exercise to your current particular ability and allow you to keep challenging your body. Examples of bodyweight exercises can also be found on YouTube for further clarification.

Of these 3 books I think that "Your Body Is Your Barbell" by BJ Gaddour (let's refer to it as 'Barbell' for short) is the clear standout. If you are brand new to exercising or just want a solid foundation of the basics this is the book to get. 'Barbell' is a complete *program* clearly organized and aimed at raw beginners but contains enough to still challenge intermediate athletes. The superior organization and explanations are no doubt due to the resources of Men's Health magazine which has been writing about these types of exercises for quite a while. Its purpose is not to overwhelm the reader with all the different bodyweight exercises you can do, but to only focus on the minimum exercises that give the best overall results in the shortest amount of time. It explains the benefits of bodyweight training in a very clear and convincing manner, has a short easy-to-understand section on simple nutrition, and gives good clear information about general fitness. It has excellent photographs of exercises, a readable format and precise guidelines and instructions for what a beginner needs to do and focuses on only 8 basic bodyweight exercises to learn (you ultimately only need to choose 4). The 8 exercises are broken down into 4 movement categories (2 exercises per category that you can pick from). The 4 movement categories are upper body (pushing or pulling) and lower body (hip dominant or knee dominant). The 2 upper body *pushing* exercises are the pushup and handstand pushup, the 2 upper body *pulling* exercises are the row and the pullup. The 2 lower body hip dominant exercises are the hip hinge and the hip thrust, the 2 lower body knee dominant exercises are the deep squat and the single-leg squat. Each of the 8 exercises has its own chapter with 5 different difficulty levels, each with additional progressions and regressions to suit your current ability. The different levels of exercises start with complete beginners, who may be considerably overweight and never exercised a day in their life, to more difficult levels that in some cases might only be completed by Olympic athletes. Clearly the emphasis of the book is on complete beginners to intermediates who want maximum benefits with the shortest amount of time invested.

The next book is "You Are Your Own Gym" by Mark Lauren (let's call it 'Gym' for short). The book begins with some background on the author's military training and his success in restructuring military exercise training routines that produced better results in much less time than traditional methods. He has an interesting section on the superiority of strength training to cardiovascular training and the nutrition chapter is very well written. There is some other good general information on strength training before introducing the exercise portion of the book. The exercises are organized by regions of the body and include descriptions, photos and variations (progressions and regressions) to suit your current physical conditioning. There are several exercise plans included based on your general level of fitness, from very basic to elite athletes. There are only a few photos of each exercise by necessity and the exercise plans require beginners to learn multiple different exercises instead of mastering a few and working in small progressions to increase difficulty. Unfortunately there is little guidance as to which exercises you should learn first and which will give you the most benefit for your time and effort.

The third book is "Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy" by Bret Contreras (let's call it 'Anatomy' for short). This book is a collection of bodyweight exercises organized by muscle region (arms, chest, back, glutes, etc.). Each exercise is beautifully illustrated to show the specific muscles involved. The muscles of each exercise are colored differently to indicate whether they are used primarily or secondarily in the exercise. The book includes muscle regions that the other two books leave out, such as the neck, and does a decent job of indicating many different exercises for a particular region, with variations that are easier or harder. Notes on the particular exercises are helpful as is the general descriptions of each muscle region. The book includes some brief general information aimed at beginners but this book is really for intermediate and advanced users. It seems to be more about bodybuilding than overall general fitness. 'Anatomy' has the same problem as the previous book 'Gym' in that it offers too many options and the suggested workout routines do not focus on general compound exercises but rather require mastering a wide variety of movements. This book is still a useful reference for people that already have a basic knowledge of bodyweight training and are perhaps looking for new techniques or specific information about what exercises target which exact muscles.

In my opinion, beginners need a clear, simple path to follow and "Your Body Is Your Barbell" by BJ Gaddour offers exactly what I needed and nothing which I didn’t to get in the best overall physical shape with a minimum investment of time and money.
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on October 2, 2013
Bret Contreras has produced an amazing addition to the rapidly growing body of literature on body weight strength and athletic training. Bret has included data on muscles involved in each of the exercises he describes. This is data I have not seen in anywhere close to this detail and accuracy elsewhere. Scattered throughout the book are golden nuggets of wisdom on body weight training, and training in general. These are all of the most common sense and readily applicable nature. Warnings as to over use and over training are gently inserted, not to scare, but to keep the user of this book on the right path. There is a brief section on nutrition that makes sense (eat natural foods, leaning protein heavy, but include vegetables and fruits, balancing with a few carbs. That's it). Bret does not push Paleo, either the original or Rob Wolff's version, but clearly approaches that concept.

First Bret introduces us to the concept of bodyweight training. Then he takes the parts of the body and details several exercises in each. In each of these sections, the exercise is rated as to difficulty, well described with diagrams depicting the muscles and bones and postures involved in most of them, , and then discussed in terms of the motions and sports that utilize that activity. The body sections Bret discusses are very inclusive: Arms, Neck and Shoulders, Chest, Core, Back, Thighs, Glutes, Calves. Mention is made of the grip in appropriate places. Then a chapter on whole body exercises is included. Bret finishes with a chapter called "Planning your Program" discussing Individualization, Autoregulation, Strength Balance, Training Goals, Training Variables, Putting it all Together, and Training for Fat Loss. Each chapter is clearly and simply written. Necessary words are defined right in the text. If one masters all the words Bret defines and uses, one would have a good understanding of basic anatomy of the human body. Bret has pruned the details of human anatomy down to the essentials and makes the essentials clear. There is not fluff in this book.

Bret Contreras has both a Masters degree and the CSCS certification. He has owned a strength gym in Scottsdale AZ. Bret is, according to his bio in the book, a sought after speaker. He is a peer-reviewd author and contributor to many industry publications. Currently, he is in New Zealand studying biomechanics, pursuing a PhD in sport science. In spite of all this, this book is not pedantic, but well and clearly written.

Bret has chosen an excellent menu of exercises in each anatomic area. But to keep the size of the book manageable, he has left many good exercises out. The user of this book would benefit from just doing the Exercises Bret includes. But I would recommend augmenting the lists with the encyclopedic texts "Men's Health Big Book of Exercises" and "Men's Health Power Training" by Robert dos Remedios.

This book is a reference book that should be on the shelves of every bodyweight enthusiast, and trainer. I initially bought the Kindle Version. But once, I realized the importance and uniqueness if this book, I ordered the paperback version for my library.
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on October 25, 2015
I love the anatomical diagrams foe each exercise discussed as well as the "exercise notes" for each recommended exercise. This is THE most detailed and extensive collection of body weight exercises in the entire Amazon universe. This is a wise investment for travelers ("road warriors")?such as myself.
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on November 4, 2015
Very informative! I've worked out for almost all my life, and after reading this book, I was shocked to how improper my form and movements were. Just the little tips and advise in each chapter was extremely helpful and was easy to understand. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a great way to build and strengthen muscle, and to fine tune your workouts to make your physique more proportionate with just your bodyweight.
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on September 11, 2014
Great resource, but a bit basic. Covers the fundamentals well. Some of the suggestions for advanced variations are fairly large jumps in level of effort. All the ... Anatomy books are great, if you already have a knowledge of programming. Otherwise they are only so helpful for those looking to begin working out, or developing their own training routine. Also not crazy about the author's suggestion of using tables or desks for bicep curls or inverted rows, but if there are no other options, you do what you gotta do.
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on November 15, 2013
I haven't been through this book completely but what I've read so far I like. The book gives many bodyweight exercises, the proper way to perform the exercise and the muscles involved with the exercises. So many people post exercises that they do to prove "beast mode" but they don't post the proper way (for "dummies") to perform the exercises. I'm an exercise and sports science major and I appreciate informative exercises.

The kindle version of this book is laid out very well. I'm a big believer in how important body weight exercises are. So my recommendation is to purchase this book. You won't be disappointed.
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on February 22, 2015
Great book by one of my favorite fitness experts. I think anybody from any fitness level can benefit from this book. I also like that he explains the importance of exercising the glutes, which most fail to mention in other books. My only complaint is that I would've liked better illustrations of the exercises but not a big deal.
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on August 27, 2017
This is one of the most informative, well written manuals I've ever experienced. I'd highly recommend it for anybody at any strength level
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on June 21, 2015
Very intelligent writer and knowledgable, even as someone advanced this is a great book to have around.If you're starting out with bodyweight trainer or calisthenics, this books should be bought !!
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on September 4, 2017
Hand grips fit nice and snug in peg holes.
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