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Muscle Up: How Strength Training Beats Obesity, Cancer, and Heart Disease, and Why Everyone Should Do It Paperback – October 23, 2015
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Has the mainstream advice also been wrong about exercise, i.e. that cardio is the gold standard and that weightlifting should not be the primary focus of an exercise regimen if practiced at all? As Dennis Mangan shows in this book, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Whether due to the image of bodybuilding in the popular imagination as a vanity activity by low IQ “bros” who abuse steroids or other reasons, weightlifting has not primarily been viewed as something that promotes real health benefits. Mangan shows this is not the case at all.
In fact, as Mangan documents here with extensive and compelling evidence, weightlifting – or strength training or resistance training, as it may also be called – brings a plethora of amazing health benefits including: reduced cancer risk, improved cardiovascular health and reduced CVD risk, vastly improved body composition (i.e. losing fat and gaining muscle), improved insulin sensitivity and other bio-markers, greater resiliance to disease in old age, and higher testosterone levels, among other things.
This book also destroys a number of myths about cardio exercise. The truth is that both resistance training and HIT, or high intensity interval training, (basically, all out sprints of various kinds), are far more effective at promoting fat loss, improving blood pressure, enhancing various markers of good health and increasing resistance to disease, than cardio exercise. In fact, racking up the miles on the treadmill – particularly if done to excess – results in muscle loss (sarcopenia), does NOT lead to fat loss, can damage your heart and ultimately if overdone may lead to chronic fatigue and a weaker immune system generally.
So, who will benefit from this book? I can think of several categories of people:
-- Current exercise enthusiasts: Many people love to exercise but have been brainwashed by the common received wisdom, and are spinning their wheels -- literally and figuratively -- on the stationary bike, treadmill or other “chronic cardio” device. This book may convince them of the folly of chronic cardio and the benefits of resistance training.
-- People looking to start getting healthy: Most people just starting to work out are likely to take the path of least resistance (pun intended), and simply jog or do a stairmaster. A resource like this book will point them in the right direction as soon as they get started.
-- Elderly people: Many elderly people are resigned to living out their lives in a debilitated and reduced capacity, on the belief that such as state is inevitable and irreversible. Mangan cites some amazing studies that show phenomenal and rapid turn-around in the health of elderly people, such as those who suffered hip fractures, through the use of resistance training.
-- Overweight people and those suffering from the “diseases of civilization”: Diet is a huge culprit in the state of obese, diabetic America. But resistance training, as Mangan documents here, is incredibly powerful in helping to shed fat, improve insulin sensitivity and even turn around some diseases at which mainstream medicine throws either pills or its hands up.
-- Teenagers or parents with teenagers who want to inculcate good exercise habits early in life.
Aside from the chapters on the specific health benefits of weightlifting, Mangan also offers a succinct and to-the-point chapter on the main compound lifts, HIT and sample programs. He also discusses a number of important considerations relating to exercise volume, form, tempo, free weights vs. machines, recovery time and other topics that are useful in crafting your own program.
Another excellent book from Dennis Mangan.
Overall the author makes a very convincing case to get out there and pump iron, and he provides references to various studies he uses to back up his assertions.
One area that's a little weak is the chapter on implementing a program. It does briefly cover a lot of topics, outlines some differing opinions on questions like number of sets, reps, lifting to failure, and does offer his suggestions for starting out -- but there are no references to any studies to back up those recommendations. Maybe he's planning a next book to dive deeper into the subject matter from that chapter -- that would be interesting. There are lots of studies on volume, whether the seated row is better than lat pull downs, light weights vs heavy, etc. and lots of different programs ranging from super slow to starting strength to body beast. It'd be great to see him dive into that.
Also, the "About the Author" section needs a lot more info about the author's background.
(One minor issue with the Kindle version on Android is that you can't go to the Table of Contents directly, you have to go to the Cover and then swipe from there. Once you get to the TOC, the links are clickable however. I could see using this book as a reference on my phone and having a working TOC would be great.)
Highly recommend it.