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Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You've Always Wanted Kindle Edition
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Now on to my review.
First, the pros:
1) The book has extremely valuable motivational and inspirational advice. Joe Manganiello has a very powerful writing style that can make any reader feel empowered. His insistence that one can overcome mental barriers by overcoming physical barriers is particularly insightful.
2) The workouts in the books themselves are very effective and very intense. Joe advocates workouts in which two muscle groups are trained in alternate sets with no rest in between. This is a really powerful approach to getting in shape, since it combines weight lifting and cardio in a sense, and really dials up the intensity, something Joe really stresses the importance of. Which brings me to my next point...
1) As previously mentioned, Joe argues that true muscular growth lies in intensity. This is a very good argument that I believe most fitness experts would agree with, but with the schedule advocated by Joe (training 6x per week, and up to 2x per day towards the end of the program), training with intensity is just not possible for the majority of people. First of all, training twice per day 6 times per week seriously taxes one's nervous system. However, a good amount of athletes might be used to this type of training and perhaps their NERVOUS SYSTEM can handle the high frequency/high volume. However, the split used in this book does not allow for adequate muscle recovery. Joe advocated a 3 day cycle repeated twice which would be Chest and Back day 1, legs and triceps day 2, and shoulders and biceps day 3, then repeat the 3 days and rest on Sunday. Because biceps are used during back day, shoulders are used during chest day, and triceps are used during chest and shoulder day, your triceps end up being worked out 6 times per week and shoulders and biceps are worked 4 times per week! Unless if one has an unbelievable recovery ability, there is no way that one can train out intensely and still be able to keep up with this schedule. To make matters even worse, after Day 3 (shoulders and biceps), most of the movements on Day 4 are close grip bench press and close grip chin-ups + close grip supinated row variations, which heavily recruit both biceps and shoulders. The result? One ends up training their sore muscles again, when they have not had sufficient time to recover.
Although Joe does not say it, the workout split that is advocated in this book is very similar to one of the splits that Arnold Schwarzenegger used when training for Mr. Olympia. Arnold would do Chest and Back on day 1 (like Joe), Legs on day 2, and Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps on day 3 (so Arnold left triceps for day 3 instead of day 2, unlike Joe), and would repeat the cycle again and take Sunday off. One must keep in mind that Arnold, with all the respect and credit that he deserves, was a professional bodybuilder on performance enhancing drugs when he was training on this schedule. Not only that, but it is rumored that he was constantly changing training partners because none of them could keep up with his schedule. That is to say, other professional bodybuilders on performance enhancing drugs could not train intensely and keep up with a schedule that is remarkably similar to the one advocated in this book.
If this is not enough to make it clear that the regimen advocated in this book could easily lead one to over-train, take it from Ron Mathews, Joe's trainer who put together the exact program described in the book. When asked about the program in an interview for the New York Post, Mathews said: "I put him on a really crazy workout program. To have your body fat that low is almost impossible to maintain and isn't necessarily healthy." The author of the website goes on to say that "Mathews advises such a rigorous workout only for those seeking a specific goal, with at least three months of dedication to get there." (It should be noted that the program in the book is only a 6 week program, although presumably one could continue it for 3 months.)
2) As mentioned in the previous reviews, the book lacks specific details which are integral to understanding the program. I will not repeat what others have said here, but the book seriously needs to have revisions made for both the exercise and nutritional aspects.
3) Lastly, this is perhaps the most controversial "con" that I believe the book has that I am sure will be met with criticism by others. However, I will simply present my ideas here and readers can decide for themselves if they agree or not and make their own decision: Some of the exercises that are in this book could be potentially dangerous to individuals with certain body types. The barbell upright row, for example, has been looked down upon by most fitness experts due to the dangerous position that it places the shoulders in. As I have said before, I am not a doctor nor a personal trainer, but I have heard from both doctors and physical trainers that upright rows internally rotate the humerus to a dangerous degree and place a sheering amount of force on the shoulder girdle in its most vulnerable position. Also, Joe advocates going below parallel on bar dips in order for "the exercise to count." Whereas most people are aware of the fact that upright rows can be dangerous, not many people think the same of dips. Dips have been used for years in the gym, and some people have yielded great results in terms of tricep and chest development by implementing them into their program. I do not intend to start a controversy here about whether dips are safe for people with bad shoulders (or normal shoulders) or not, but I do recommend doing a bit of research before you try them (especially if you are going below parallel). As a general rule of thumb, if an exercise does not feel right, most likely it is not doing much good for your body. I would highly recommend reading about Eric Cressey's opinion about dips. Eric Cressey is a renowned personal trainer that works with a majority of professional athletes and weightlifters. He has some popular posts online, namely "Shoulder Savers" on T-Nation.com. Cressey has argued in past posts that dips internally rotate the shoulder beyond its normal range of motion and can lead to anterior shoulder instability. The take-home point is to listen to your own body when doing the exercises.
In conclusion, this book is very good for its inspirational advice and the workouts themselves. However, its schedule leads to overtraining, it is not descriptive enough, and some of the exercises in the program could be dangerous to certain individuals. No modifications are offered for these exercises.
Although I like the overall book, I do feel as though it is missing some items that should be addressed. I suspect I'll get some push back on my comments but I stand by my position. Joe is in phenomenal shape. He looks great and I'm sure that this routine can work but to be truly effective AND efficient, I think these items should be covered. Maybe the publisher could respond here.....
First, the good. Joe does outline the set and rep schemes to be used for each exercise, and the rest periods, and the book provides excellent photos and descriptions of how each exercise is to be performed.
Unfortunately, he leaves out a few important pieces of information. First, how much weight should be used in the various exercises and sets? The book only refers to using "light" or "moderate" weight. Obviously each person will differ, but a benchmark such as X% of a person's 1 rep maximum or a percentage of their body weight would suffice to know what would be appropriate. Unfortunately no such instruction is given, so there's really no way to know what the appropriate weights are that should be used for these exercises.
Next, should any of the sets be done to failure? If so, which ones? Should there be any forced reps? Should the weight progressively increase from one workout to the next? Should the reps be done slower (longer time under tension=more difficult) or faster? All of these are important things to know.
In addition, many of the exercises in the program require specific equipment that can only be found at a gym. So those of us who have workout rooms and equipment at home are left to wonder what to do in place of say a Pec Deck machine, or a Low Row machine. It would have been great if alternative or substitute exercise options were provided for the exercises that require specific machines.
Finally, while Joe gives a great overview of the do's and don'ts of diet and nutrition, and some sample meals, again the specifics are lacking. Should we be aiming to eat at a caloric surplus, maintenance, or deficit? Is the goal to first bulk then cut, or do a body recomp? The portions a person eats will totally change depending on these factors, but there is no explanation of this in the book. Even if a person ate the sample meals Joe includes, if they're eating portions that result in a deficit, there will be no muscle growth. Or if they're eating portions that result in too large a surplus, there will be excess fat gain. To not provide more guidance or formula to aim for for each person's particular caloric needs leaves the diet section incomplete.
Ultimately, these things could all be fixed with a subsequent book revision, which I hope Joe considers doing. There is a lot of potential here, and it was at least interesting to get a glimpse of the type of workouts he does. But as a real world nuts and bolts manual, it is too incomplete to execute properly.
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