- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (May 13, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1623363837
- ISBN-13: 978-1623363833
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Men's Health Your Body is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days! Paperback – May 13, 2014
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About the Author
BJ GADDOUR, CSCS, is a master of metabolic t raining and an expert on bodyweight-only exercise. The CEO of StreamFIT.com, he is the creator of the bestselling Men's Health DeltaFit 82-Day Speed Shred System set of eight DVDs. He lives in Milwaukee.
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Top customer reviews
I had never heard of BJ Gaddour, but he sure knows his stuff. While the writing could be a bit more polished, this book is absolutely my favorite of the bunch. His approach, including the pairing of pushing and pulling exercises, makes a lot of sense to me. The book is centered on 8 main bodyweight exercises with 5 “Levels” or progressions in each. I am starting on level 1 of all 8 (see the Table of Contents for specifics), and I think they are good exercises for a relative newcomer like me.
The progressions seem logical and each main exercise includes 3 subtle “Regressions” and “Progression” to make the exercises slightly easier or harder. His explanations on how to position your body are excellent, probably the best of any fitness book that I have ever read. They might be a bit too detailed for someone who is more experienced with bodyweight exercises, but I found them very helpful. There are a couple chapters on other bodyweight exercises (including an entire chapter on burpees) that I will probably reread in a month or two, but I am going to focus on the 8 main exercises for now. I would have loved a few pages on cooling down/stretching after the workouts, but that’s not the purpose of this book.
I like the formatting on the Kindle version quite a bit. Everything is linked, including the index.
Your Body is Your Barbell looked different and worth a try. I wanted to make gains in strength, functional strength. The book had a routine for that. I jumped in. For two months, I followed the "microprogressions" laid out by BJ and stuck with it. When I'd finished the second month, I was indeed stronger. I hadn't simply climbed the ladder of movement progressions; my training partners on the mats at my BJJ school remarked how much stronger I'd gotten.
I had a good experience with this book. It delivered what it promised to deliver, with the caveat that it's up to the reader to put in the work. I'll likely tackle the strength routine in the book again as the weather gets nicer and the summer nears. A real bargain in terms of volume of information versus price of the book.
This review covers the following elements:
Exercises: Number and variety of exercises.
Programming: The sample routines given in the book as well as basic templates for building your own programs.
Progressions: Making a particular exercise easier or more difficult so a person of any level can benefit from the exercise as well as allowing progression in strength and ability.
Educational value: How well the book teaches the reader to understand how the body works and how the exercises work each part of your body.
User friendliness: How easy it is to use the Kindle book.
All three books provide a large variety of exercises, however Contreras is the best here. My problem with the Lauren book is that it is not much more than an encyclopedia of exercises and doesn't do a good job of explaining why you should be doing any particular exercise. Also, he gives many of the exercises goofy, unwieldy names that sometimes don't help you understand what the move actually is. Gaddour only provides major compound movements and skips the core and isolation exercises. On the other hand, Contreras covers exercises for the arms, core, glutes and even the neck. Gaddour and Contreras both cover metabolic training and full-body exercises. Gaddour gets extra credit for an excellent chapter devoted to burpee variations, culminating in the Rolling Pistol Squat (a backward, one-leg burpee). In my opinion, this chapter is worth the price of the book (yes, I like burpees).
The Contreras book is the best in terms of programming. He gives you workout templates and suggestions for what exercises to use. The explanations of each exercise in the book will help you decide what exercises to select. He also provides sample “metabolic” (HIIT and MRT) workouts. The Gaddour and Lauren books only give you set routines to follow without much flexibility. However, the Gaddour book is better because he presents you with various styles of routines, such as for maximum fat loss, maximum strength, and so on. The Lauren book has little variety in the routines.
Gaddour is definitely the big winner here. In fact, I think this is the biggest strength of his book. He gives you eight basic types of exercises. With each exercise, he gives you five levels of difficulty. Within each level he provides three “microregressions” and three “microprogressions” that allow you to fine tune the exercise as appropriate for your skill level. Anyone who's ever engaged in strength training knows how helpful it is to progress in small increments. Contreras also gives examples of progressions and regression, but not with the detail found in the Gaddour book. Lauren is weakest here. To be fair, he does give ideas on how to make an exercise more difficult, just not as well as the other two.
The only area where the Contreras book is lacking in educational value compared to the others is regarding nutrition. Lauren and Gaddour both cover nutrition to some extent, whereas Contreras doesn't mention it. The Gaddour and Lauren books both have chapters devoted to exercise nutrition, the former written by a PhD from Pennsylvania State University.
Contreras' muscle diagrams are outstanding and they really allow the reader to understand how the body works and how the muscles are being used. He breaks it down by primary and secondary muscles worked. I was surprised to learn how many upper-body movements involve the trapezius, for example. Contreras also does a good job explaining training variables such as intensity, density, and periodization. Lauren discusses these topics to a lesser extent.
Lauren is last is this category. The book is laid out poorly. Although the exercises are organized by body part, the Kindle book does not provide links to the separate sections, as in the Gaddour and Contreras books. Lauren has an alphabetic index at the end but, particularly with the odd names he gives the exercises, it's difficult to find exercises for specific body parts. For example, if you want to find three exercises to work your thighs, you will have to go to the non-indexed Exercises section and flip through the pages until you get to what you want. This is a major headache on a Kindle. Contreras and Gaddour both provide extensive hyperlinking to get to where you need to go in the book. Contreras provides links organized by body part and specific exercises – he does the best job here.
Isolation exercises (especially glutes)
Most user-friendly Kindle version
No discussion of nutrition
No specific core exercises
No isolation exercises
Chapter on using household items to workout can be useful
Poor Kindle formatting
No full-body or metabolic training exercises
No discussion of body mechanics
If I had to recommend only one of these books, Contreras would win by a nose, with Gaddour a close second. This was a tough choice as they are both excellent books, but going by the “teach a man to fish” concept I think Contreras does a better job of explaining things such that you can design your own workout programs rather than merely following what someone else has shown you. That said, I highly recommend buying both of these books as each complements the other quite well. Combined, they're nearly perfect.