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Book Review - Maran Illustrated Weight Training

Category Book Reviews

I'm really getting addicted to these Maran Illustrated titles.  I received a copy of Maran Illustrated Weight Training, and this is one of those fitness books that speaks to the "normal" person...

Section 1 - Weight Training Basics: Weight Training Basics
Section 2 - Work Your Upper Body: Work Your Chest; Work Your Shoulders; Work Your Back; Work Your Triceps; Work Your Biceps and Wrists; Work Your Abdominals
Section 3 - Work Your Lower Body: Work Your Legs; Work Your Buttocks; Work Your Calves
Section 4 - Using An Exercise Ball And Tubing; Using an Exercise Ball; Using Exercise Tubing
Section 5 - Design A Weight Routine: Design a Weight Routine
Section 6 - Stretching: Stretching
Section 7 - Cardiovascular Training And Nutrition: Cardiovascular Training; Nutrition; Index

Although my current fitness and weight level wouldn't necessarily show it, I've spent a lot of time in the gym doing weight training.  I even considered competitive bodybuilding for awhile, and I was familiar with that entire scene and lifestyle.  So while I'm fine with a weight training book by a current Mr. Olympia, the person trying to get started for the first time can easily be intimidated by that.  Hyper-muscular individuals enhanced by various "substances" aren't realistic for 99% of the population, and it sets some pretty false expectations.  Fortunately, there are alternatives, and this book is one of them.

The Maran Illustrated approach to a book involves a graphically appealing format with an abundance of photos to illustrate points.  No endless pages of "text only" here.  Each exercise that's illustrated follows pretty much the same format.  A photo of the starting/ending position, a photo of the middle position, a picture of the muscles targeted by the exercise, and most importantly, a photo of what you *don't* do when performing the exercise.  I can't tell you how many times I've had to bite my tongue when watching others in the gym, knowing that their particular motion on a given exercise makes it either useless or dangerous.  This emphasis on what to do and what *not* to do isn't normally covered in other books.  In fact, I don't think I've seen any other book show that level of responsibility.  I'd commend it for that alone.

But we're not done yet.  The material in the first section is stuff that I'd like to get all gym attendees to memorize.  They cover the basics on equipment, how to choose a gym, why weight training is good for you, etc.  But they also devote some time to etiquette.  Etiquette!  That's another hot button for me.  I don't want to listen to you scream while you crank out that last rep.  I don't want to use the bench that's still covered in your sweat.  And I *really* don't want to wait to work in while you're reading the paper between sets.  If I could staple this section to the forehead of a few individuals, I'd be a happy man.

Do I like this book?  Yeah, I like it a lot.  The models illustrating the exercises are normal-looking, fit individuals.  The information is technically sound, and effort is made to make sure you're doing things right.  They even cover fitness balls and exercise tubing, which I normally dismiss in my mind as gimmicks.  But I had to rethink those attitudes after covering that area.  

Bottom line:  This would be the first book I'd recommend in nearly all cases if someone was getting ready to take up weight training.  Great job!

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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