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Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise

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In Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Alex Hutchinson, a physicist, award-winning journalist, and contributing editor of Popular Mechanics magazine, reveals the little-known and often surprising truths that science has uncovered about exercise. A book that ranges from cardio and weights to competition and weight loss, here are fascinating facts and practical tips for fi In Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Alex Hutchinson, a physicist, award-winning journalist, and contributing editor of Popular Mechanics magazine, reveals the little-known and often surprising truths that science has uncovered about exercise. A book that ranges from cardio and weights to competition and weight loss, here are fascinating facts and practical tips for fitness buffs, competitive athletes, and popular science fans alike.


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In Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Alex Hutchinson, a physicist, award-winning journalist, and contributing editor of Popular Mechanics magazine, reveals the little-known and often surprising truths that science has uncovered about exercise. A book that ranges from cardio and weights to competition and weight loss, here are fascinating facts and practical tips for fi In Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Alex Hutchinson, a physicist, award-winning journalist, and contributing editor of Popular Mechanics magazine, reveals the little-known and often surprising truths that science has uncovered about exercise. A book that ranges from cardio and weights to competition and weight loss, here are fascinating facts and practical tips for fitness buffs, competitive athletes, and popular science fans alike.

30 review for Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This book was awesome, with short chapters, each answering a different question about exercise and fitness, reviewing the latest studies and knowledge. I was surprised at how much of my "common knowledge" was actually wrong. I liked the quick summaries at the end of each chapter. Here are some of the things I learned: * Lactic Acid build-up is NOT the source of the DOMS (day-after muscle soreness). Lactic acid is a fuel, not a waste product, that gets cleaned out of your system within an hour afte This book was awesome, with short chapters, each answering a different question about exercise and fitness, reviewing the latest studies and knowledge. I was surprised at how much of my "common knowledge" was actually wrong. I liked the quick summaries at the end of each chapter. Here are some of the things I learned: * Lactic Acid build-up is NOT the source of the DOMS (day-after muscle soreness). Lactic acid is a fuel, not a waste product, that gets cleaned out of your system within an hour after exercise. It's actually the repair process that causes soreness, so soreness is a sign your muscles are building themselves stronger. =) * "Stitches" are still poorly understood but good posture and avoiding eating heavily before a workout may help avoid them. * A good, short, intense interval session can give you the same changes as a long aerobic exercise. * Fitness begins to deteriorate after two weeks without working out. * Barefoot running remains unproven for now. * "Breathing Training" doesn't work to improve aerobic performance, so just breathe the way you do without thinking about it. * Balance training (like on wobble boards or exercise balls) helps reduce ankle and knee problems. * "220 minus age" is a really bad way to find your maximum heart rate. * Your body adjusts well to whatever surface it runs on, so running on hard surfaces does not increase injury risk. However, running on surfaces that are too smooth may contribute to overuse injuries. * High weights/low reps typically build more strength, while low weights/high reps build more endurance. * Choose weights to lift so that you reach failure by the end of your last set. * There's no proof that stretching prevents injuries. It also doesn't help a bit with DOMS. Stretching before aerobic workouts actually slow the performance slightly, so the current wisdom is not to stretch until after your workout. * Exercising with a cold doesn't exacerbate the symptoms or make them last longer. * Running doesn't ruin your knees long-term; it may actually help them. * Obesity isn't a risk when you're fit. Several studies show that those who are slightly overweight live longer. Obese people who are physically fit are actually half as likely to die as those who are normal weight but don't exercise. * The common wisdom that most people burn the same calories per mile no matter how fast they are going is wrong. It's been shown that much more calories are burned when running a mile than while walking one. * The body's thirst response is a good measure of how much you should be drinking during long workouts. It is possible to become over-hydrated. * Basic Gatorade is a great replenishment for long workouts because it delivers fluid, sugar, and salts. Nothing more than that is needed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    Copying chapter summaries for my favorite chapters here: CHEAT SHEET: GETTING STARTED • It takes three months of hard training to see significantly bigger muscles, and six weeks to boost endurance, but health and performance gains on a cellular level start within a few days. • Aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, in bouts as short as 10 minutes, will boost your health, but more is better. • Your body can be “set” to build strength or aerobic fitness during any g Copying chapter summaries for my favorite chapters here: CHEAT SHEET: GETTING STARTED • It takes three months of hard training to see significantly bigger muscles, and six weeks to boost endurance, but health and performance gains on a cellular level start within a few days. • Aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, in bouts as short as 10 minutes, will boost your health, but more is better. • Your body can be “set” to build strength or aerobic fitness during any given workout, but not both at once, so start your workout with the exercises you’re focusing on that day. • A few minutes of short, intense intervals can produce the same effect as a long, slow aerobic workout—but the intervals have to be hard. • About two heart-related deaths occur for every million hours of aerobic exercise, due to pre-existing abnormalities in 94 percent of cases. Not exercising is far more dangerous for your heart. • Cold air can’t freeze your lungs, but dry air can trigger an asthma-like response in between 4 and 20 percent of people. You can moisten incoming air by wearing a scarf or breathing mask. • Be cautious doing prolonged hard exercise in temperatures above about 70°F (21°C). It takes about 10 to 14 days to acclimatize to hotter conditions. • You take in more polluted air when you’re breathing hard. Exercising in the early morning or evening and staying a few hundred yards away from busy roads can reduce your exposure. • Athletic ability and desire to exercise are influenced by many different genes; recent studies suggest that more than 80 percent of the differences among us are environmental, not genetic. • You can retain fitness for about two weeks without training before significant losses occur. A couple of short, hard workouts each week can preserve fitness for longer. CHEAT SHEET: FITNESS GEAR • Your stride on the treadmill is the same as it is outside, but you may need time to readjust to harder outdoor surfaces, so do a few outdoor runs before any races. Set the treadmill incline at 0.5 to 1 percent to compensate for the lack of wind resistance. • Elliptical machines offer a low-impact aerobic workout that is equivalent to running or biking, but they don’t develop “functional” muscle patterns. You can prolong the workout by using the arm levers. • Athletic shoes are optimized for the different movement patterns and playing surfaces in different sports. This boosts performance, but the evidence that the right shoes reduce injuries remains weak. • Running in bare feet produces a different stride pattern and different stresses on your feet and legs, but there’s no evidence yet to link it to a reduction in injuries. • There’s increasing evidence that compression socks and sleeves can help speed muscle recovery after intense workouts. Claims that they boost power and endurance remain unconvincing. • Walking poles help you burn 20 percent more energy by involving your arms and propelling you up hills—as long as you use proper form and vigorous push-offs. • “Active video games” burn more energy than traditional games but are generally equivalent only to a leisurely walk. • Balance training is vital for avoiding the recurrence of ankle and knee problems and may help prevent them in the first place. But you should still do some training on solid ground to maximize strength gains. • Initial studies suggest that specially fitted mouthpieces may boost performance by a few percent by keeping your jaw relaxed, but the evidence remains patchy. • “Inspiratory muscle training” to strengthen your breathing muscles appears to boost endurance by a few percentage points, but it’s unclear whether the benefits are lasting. CHEAT SHEET: THE PHYSIOLOGY OF EXERCISE • Your physical limits aren’t defined by the failure of your muscles, heart, or lungs; instead, there’s increasing evidence that “fatigue” is regulated by subconscious processes in the brain. • Lactic acid isn’t a metabolic waste product that makes your muscles burn. It’s actually a useful fuel that provides energy to your muscles; the fitter you are, the more lactic acid you use. • Hard exercise causes microscopic damage to your muscle fibers. The repair process causes swelling and hypersensitive nerve endings, leading to “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS) that peaks a day or two later. • VO2max is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen you can deliver to your muscles during exercise. It’s a measure of aerobic fitness but varies widely even among athletes of equal ability. • “Lactate threshold” refers to the point at which lactate begins to accumulate rapidly in your blood, indicating that you’re no longer in the “aerobic” zone. It’s often used to monitor the progress of training. • Moderate exercise boosts your immune system, but very intense exercise—serious marathon training, for example—can temporarily suppress it. • Muscle cramps are traditionally blamed on electrolyte loss through sweat, but a new theory suggests that they’re caused by disrupted neural reflexes linked to muscular fatigue. • “Stitches” are still poorly understood but may result from friction between layers of a membrane lining the abdominal cavity. Good posture reduces your chances of getting one. • Peak physical performance for most people occurs in the late afternoon or early evening, around 6 p.m., when body temperature is highest. You can boost your performance at a particular time of day by training regularly at that time. CHEAT SHEET: AEROBIC EXERCISE • No matter what your exercise goals are, aerobic exercise is crucial for your health—and it also plays a key role in sports performance, even in “relaxed” sports like golf. • Use the “Talk Test” to divide your effort between the aerobic, threshold, and anaerobic effort zones. Spend about 70 percent of your time in the aerobic zone. • The old “220 minus age” formula for finding your maximum heart rate is highly inaccurate, especially for older adults. (208-0.7 x age) is better, but the only way to get an accurate reading is with a max HR test. • Altering your breathing to fit a certain pattern or rhythm generally makes you less efficient. If you’re panting uncontrollably, you’re probably pushing too hard. • The smooth, unchanging surface of roads and sidewalks may be more of a problem for our legs than hardness. Running on a variety of surfaces minimizes injury risk. • It is possible, with a lot of hard work, to alter your running form. However, there’s no current evidence that doing so will reduce injuries or make you faster. • Most runners push too hard on uphills and slow down more than they need to on downhills. Practice the mechanics of running downhill to gradually increase your speed. • The muscles in your arms play very little role in running, but swinging your arms may help keep your legs going through “neural coupling.” • Some riders manage to exceed their “maximum” intensity during spinning classes; researchers believe that motivational instructors and the group setting provide an extra boost. • Climbing stairs for just two minutes at a time, five times a day, can produce significant fitness gains without even going to the gym. CHEAT SHEET: STRENGTH AND POWER • Starting in your 30s, you lose 1 to 2 percent of your muscle mass each year. Strength training can slow this decline and help keep your bones strong. • A standard beginner’s program is one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, reaching failure at the end of the last set. Decrease the number of reps to emphasize maximum strength; increase it to emphasize muscular endurance. • No matter how much weight you use or how many reps you do, the most important factor in building muscle is reaching muscle failure by the final rep. • “Toning” muscles with light weights accomplishes little if you’re lifting less than 40 to 50 percent of your one-rep maximum. • Power—the ability to deliver strength in a rapid burst—is more important than absolute strength in many sports. Develop your power by training with explosive movements. • Weight machines are safe and easy to use, but free weights offer a more “realistic” challenge, forcing you to develop balance and stabilizing muscles. • A whole-body strengthening program can reduce strain on your back and possibly fix lower-back pain—but you should not persist with any exercises that cause discomfort. • People exercising under the guidance of a personal trainer gain more strength than those exercising alone, mostly because they’re encouraged to lift heavier weights. • Contrary to conventional wisdom, the amount of protein in a typical North American diet is more than enough to build muscle with any strength training program. CHEAT SHEET: FLEXIBILITY AND CORE STRENGTH • Stretching increases your range of motion, but studies have failed to confirm that stretching reduces injuries. The best time to stretch for flexibility is after exercise, not before. • “Static” stretching reduces strength, power, and speed for an hour or more, thanks to a combination of neuromuscular effects and lowered force transmission in “loose” muscles and tendons. • Runners who display greater flexibility in a sit-and-reach test run less efficiently, and pre-run static stretching also lowers efficiency and worsens performance. • Warming up with “dynamic” stretching exercises raises the temperature of muscles and prepares them for exertion but doesn’t decrease strength, power, speed, or endurance. • Stretching after exercise makes no difference to how sore you are the next day. • Hip muscles and deep abdominal muscles are more important than the superficial “six-pack” muscles for core stability and injury prevention. • The benefits of yoga depend on the style and level; in general, yoga classes are good for flexibility and strength but are insufficient to count as an aerobic workout. • Like other forms of exercise, yoga can help reduce stress hormones and control mood. CHEAT SHEET: EXERCISE AND AGING • Starting in your mid-30s, you lose 1 to 2 percent of your muscle mass each year and about 9 percent of your aerobic fitness per decade—but regular exercise slows this decline dramatically. • Long-term studies find that runners get osteoarthritis at a lower rate than non-runners, contradicting the common belief that running wears down your knees. • Successful masters athletes train consistently without long breaks, focus their workouts on the most essential elements, and take extra recovery time to avoid injuries. • Endurance declines more sharply than speed as you age. Steady training may prevent your rate of decline from accelerating. • Declining motivation may be as important as aging bodies in explaining why older athletes slow down. Ensuring that your family and friends are supportive helps maintain positive social pressure. • Aerobics-style exercise in water can reduce the impact on joints and lower the risk of falls. The exercise benefits are similar to dry land, though your heart rate will be lower due to water pressure. • Activities that build muscle (like strength training) or provide jarring impacts (like running or basketball) are better for building strong bones than cycling, swimming, or elliptical training. • Exercise slows down the cellular aging process in which the caps on the end of your DNA (known as telomeres) get shorter. CHEAT SHEET: MIND AND BODY • Mental fatigue causes a reduction in physical performance, which suggests that exhaustion is controlled by the brain’s perception of effort rather than the body’s failure. • The most productive training is “deliberate practice,” which involves setting goals, monitoring progress, and focusing on technique rather than mindlessly repeating drills. • Responses to music are highly personal, though there are some general patterns (faster music makes you work harder). Watching video is so distracting that it may lead you to slack off. • Once you’ve mastered skills, whether it’s golf putting or darts, focusing too much on the details can lead to choking. • Swearing or imagining yourself doing something evil taps into feelings of aggression that enhance physical performance. • Prolonged physical exercise causes the release of endorphins, which can lead to runner’s high—and exercise addiction. • Training with a group leads to greater endorphin production, which enhances pleasure and performance. About a third of people prefer working out alone. • Exercise makes you smarter and improves your memory, starting immediately. Aerobic exercise is more effective than strength training, and the harder the better.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I think this is a book that anyone who does fitness of any kind should read. It smites fitness myth and misinformation with the power of SCIENCE, which is the best way to do things. One of the things that made it such an easy read was the Q and A format, that make what could be a dry subject more interesting. And there was a little bit of humor interjected here and there. My only complaint is the title, it's one of the stupidest titles imaginable, but I suppose the book had to have some sort of ho I think this is a book that anyone who does fitness of any kind should read. It smites fitness myth and misinformation with the power of SCIENCE, which is the best way to do things. One of the things that made it such an easy read was the Q and A format, that make what could be a dry subject more interesting. And there was a little bit of humor interjected here and there. My only complaint is the title, it's one of the stupidest titles imaginable, but I suppose the book had to have some sort of hook. I just wish that Dr Hutchinson was there to interpret every new fitness study that comes out in the future!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Strock

    I was impressed with the new "science" in this book. Set up in a Q&A format, this book answers some common questions about fitness and weight loss. I'm no novice to exercise techniques and the science behind them, but it's been awhile since I've read up on new exercise science. While I don't think any of the answers are conclusive (it cites lots of research studies with mediocre sample sizes), I did learn a thing or two, like drink pickle juice if you have cramps. I will now tell people that enc I was impressed with the new "science" in this book. Set up in a Q&A format, this book answers some common questions about fitness and weight loss. I'm no novice to exercise techniques and the science behind them, but it's been awhile since I've read up on new exercise science. While I don't think any of the answers are conclusive (it cites lots of research studies with mediocre sample sizes), I did learn a thing or two, like drink pickle juice if you have cramps. I will now tell people that encourage me to stretch after I warm up to SHUT UP. There is no scientific evidence that supports the belief that stretching helps reduce injuries. Furthermore, these warmup stretches lead to inefficiency, so suck on that! I've been reading a lot about high intensity interval training (which I've been dabbling in for a few weeks), so I was pleased to see it mentioned here. This is a great book for those that know little about exercise and/or those that think they do, which could be anyone: meatheads, weight lifters, gym rats...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    The idea behind this book is a good one, but the content is simply outdated. I enjoyed Hutchinson's conversational tone, but sometimes I felt like he was "talking down" to me. Luckily, the way the book is structured, I could skip sections where I already knew the content without missing much. All in all, I think fitness magazines should focus on publishing this sort of material; I'd be much more interested in reading monthly educational snippets than a book-length Q&A-style info dump. The idea behind this book is a good one, but the content is simply outdated. I enjoyed Hutchinson's conversational tone, but sometimes I felt like he was "talking down" to me. Luckily, the way the book is structured, I could skip sections where I already knew the content without missing much. All in all, I think fitness magazines should focus on publishing this sort of material; I'd be much more interested in reading monthly educational snippets than a book-length Q&A-style info dump.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dickson Tan

    Written in an accessible questions and answers format, this book answers some of the most common fitness and sports related questions that you might have, such as of course, "which comes first: cardio or weights". I'd recommend this to anyone. This book is a bit dated now though, so I'm wondering what might change if an updated second edition was written. Written in an accessible questions and answers format, this book answers some of the most common fitness and sports related questions that you might have, such as of course, "which comes first: cardio or weights". I'd recommend this to anyone. This book is a bit dated now though, so I'm wondering what might change if an updated second edition was written.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan Bell

    Hutchinson does the work for you by wading through the most recent studies to delineate scientifically strong fitness suggestions against folk tales with no factual evidence. A good read for anyone who wants to exercise more efficiently.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dmitry

    An excellent summary of everything exercise (and much of nutrition) related. Highly recommended to everyone starting an exercise regime, and even to those who exercise for a long time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    Fairly recent, good info; even one of the trainers at the gym I work at perused it for a half hour or so and then came back and said "I'll see you later... I'm going to buy that book." Fairly recent, good info; even one of the trainers at the gym I work at perused it for a half hour or so and then came back and said "I'll see you later... I'm going to buy that book."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicoleen

    Lots of common sense info in this book. Loved the researched rational and the organization of topics.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I read this book slowly, more so I could take time to absorb it than because it wasn't easy reading. I really like that Hutchinson answers some of the most commonly-asked fitness-related questions. I was interested in it more to learn more about weight loss and cardio vs. strength training science, but I picked up a lot of interesting tidbits. For example: - There's no evidence that coffee takes away from performance. (Note that caffeine isn't the same thing as coffee.) - For my clients anxious to I read this book slowly, more so I could take time to absorb it than because it wasn't easy reading. I really like that Hutchinson answers some of the most commonly-asked fitness-related questions. I was interested in it more to learn more about weight loss and cardio vs. strength training science, but I picked up a lot of interesting tidbits. For example: - There's no evidence that coffee takes away from performance. (Note that caffeine isn't the same thing as coffee.) - For my clients anxious to see results, it might take 3 months to see bigger muscles and six months to boost endurance, but health and performance gains will start within a few days. - It confirmed that short bursts of intense intervals can be produce the same effect as a long, slow aerobic workout assuming that the intervals are HARD. - Working out at the end of a long, tiring day at the office can have an effect more on your mentality- you might not be able to work hard as long as someone who isn't as mentally drained. - Lactic acid isn't a metabolic waste product but instead a useful fuel that provides energy to your muscles. - Peak physical performance for most people is in the late afternoon or early evenings (body temp is the highest). But if you train regularly at a certain time of day, your body will adjust. - Starting in your 30's, you lose 1-2% of your muscle mass every year. Strength training will help combat this. (Phew!) - It confirmed that the amount of protein in most Americans' diets is enough to fuel muscle recovery. - People exercising under the eye of a personal trainer see better gains than someone who doesn't. (This applies to one-on-one training as well as small group led by a teacher.) - If you're not feeling good and trying to figure out whether to work out or not, use the "neck check"- if you have a symptom above the neck like a runny nose or a sore throat, exercising should be fine. If the symptom(s) is below the neck like a fever or a chest cold, you might be better taking time off. - Losing weight through exercise alone is challenging - middle-aged women had to exercise an hour a day just to maintain their current weight. - In a long race, contrary to common thought, a slightly faster start may help one finish with a faster time than a perfectly even pace throughout. - Swearing during a workout may actually give you more endurance since it triggers your fight or flight response. - Sleep helps exercise and exercise helps sleep. In a 2010 study, moderate aerobic exercise (but not strength training or heavy aerobic exercise) increased reported sleep time by 26% in a group of chronic insomniacs. - The body adapts quickly to weight loss or diets. If you burn mostly carbs during a workout, the calories you consume after a workout will be used to replenish your carb stores. If you burn mostly fat, your carb stories will remain full and any calories consumed after the workout will be stored as fat. Lots of interesting tidbits that apply to most of my clients!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Evelyne

    Two of my favorite things are common sense and empirical evidence--that's why I was an economics major. This book is chock full of both. Alex Hutchinson clearly outlines pretty much all aspects of physical fitness--debunking various myths in the process. All the while backing up every statement with empirical evidence (all studies mentioned are thoroughly referenced in the back of the book). As a loyal reader of the NY Times Well Blog (definitely go check it out) I already knew much of what the Two of my favorite things are common sense and empirical evidence--that's why I was an economics major. This book is chock full of both. Alex Hutchinson clearly outlines pretty much all aspects of physical fitness--debunking various myths in the process. All the while backing up every statement with empirical evidence (all studies mentioned are thoroughly referenced in the back of the book). As a loyal reader of the NY Times Well Blog (definitely go check it out) I already knew much of what the book touched upon, but there was sooo much more! Everyone should read this book--especially those who think physical fitness means eating nothing. I'm sorry, if you don't exercise, it is actually to your advantage to have a few extra pounds--you will live longer. I learned several things about the importance of warming up (soooo important to prevent injuries), when to stretch (AFTER workout), the effects of alcohol (doesn't hurt unless you drink WAYYY to much),and how to be slow aging (EXCERCISE). The only thing that I would add to this book would be a section on things that specifically concern women. I would really like to know stuff about exercising during pregnancy, etc.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Evilskillit

    This book was written within the last two years and contains lots of great up to date information about fitness and health. All of the information is backed up with references to scientific studies and explains plainly and thoroughly what the results mean. It's refreshing to read a book about fitness that just gives you the facts, as best as we understand them right now instead of anecdotal stories and unverified stuff made up by the "pros". This book was written within the last two years and contains lots of great up to date information about fitness and health. All of the information is backed up with references to scientific studies and explains plainly and thoroughly what the results mean. It's refreshing to read a book about fitness that just gives you the facts, as best as we understand them right now instead of anecdotal stories and unverified stuff made up by the "pros".

  14. 4 out of 5

    Trung Nguyen Dang

    Fantastic book, probably the best I come across for exercises. The book covers a wide array of common questions, myths, concerns regarding exercises, and answers those with proper scientific studies. The author, PhD and a former competitive runner, went through tons of scientific studies in various journal to write this book. I found myself highlighting all over the book and hard to put the book down once I started. Happy to share the highlights upon request

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Up-to-date and very useful information. Probably aimed more for a beginner audience, but I picked up several useful tidbits too. The question/answer format makes it very readable.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    A handy book with a lot of answer for common questions. It talks about a lot of myths which are really interesting.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Quick read, worth it for someone who is fairly new to exercise and would like motivation. If you're someone who is experienced with working out you likely will not learn a ton. Quick read, worth it for someone who is fairly new to exercise and would like motivation. If you're someone who is experienced with working out you likely will not learn a ton.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    So you want to get healthier? Excellent! Let me explain . . . No, there is too much. Let me sum up. That's basically what this book is. It takes all of the science around exercise and tries to sum it up in concise little chunks to help physiology neophytes like me understand what's going on with Exercise Type A vs. Exercise Type B. So which comes first? Cardio or weights? Well, it may not surprise you that there isn't one right answer. There are just lots of trade-offs. It turns out doing a vari So you want to get healthier? Excellent! Let me explain . . . No, there is too much. Let me sum up. That's basically what this book is. It takes all of the science around exercise and tries to sum it up in concise little chunks to help physiology neophytes like me understand what's going on with Exercise Type A vs. Exercise Type B. So which comes first? Cardio or weights? Well, it may not surprise you that there isn't one right answer. There are just lots of trade-offs. It turns out doing a variety of exercises might be the best thing for you overall. Who knew? (Hint: I did.) Even with that not-so-useful advice being the book's conclusion, it was still good to dig down a bit more into why that is the case, and to learn a few new things along the way, like the fact that lactic acid is actually fuel for your muscles, not a toxic by-product of exercise. The one new fact that, I think, will haunt me the most was that weight gain and loss can level off. Basically, if you eat an extra cookie a day, you will start to gain weight because of the extra calories. Eventually, your body mass will increase. But maintaining that increased body mass takes extra energy, which will eventually cancel out the extra cookie. That makes sense. The thing that terrifies me is that this same process works in reverse. If you drop, say, 300 calories from your daily intake, you will eventually hit the point where you are at a new equilibrium. In order to drop down further than that, you must drop more calories. Ugh. Still, now I understand this idea, and will be able to adjust my lifestyle accordingly to account for it. And that's a good thing. For anybody looking to get a leg up in their personal exercise, or to even try to figure out where to start, I think this book would be a great one to read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    teohjitkhiam

    The master trainers at FISAF, often berating new trainees not to enslave their grey matter to the exhortations of the countless Men's This or Women's That periodicals, would not likely be disappointed with this book. Written by a scientist, the book makes citations to well-documented research by well-established educational or research institutions in the field of sports science. The book covers many topics that would not surprise FISAF-certified trainers or instructors familiar with the subject The master trainers at FISAF, often berating new trainees not to enslave their grey matter to the exhortations of the countless Men's This or Women's That periodicals, would not likely be disappointed with this book. Written by a scientist, the book makes citations to well-documented research by well-established educational or research institutions in the field of sports science. The book covers many topics that would not surprise FISAF-certified trainers or instructors familiar with the subject of sports science. Its utility lies in that it gives new perspectives on the existing body of scientific knowledge while dismissing many old wives' tales. I cite three examples which I hope would illuminate the above point. The first, a discussion on maximum heart rates, reveals a newly-researched computation of 208 minus 0.7 times your age. The second, a curt dismissal of the long-held belief that running would ruin one's knees; in fact it is to the contrary. And finally, an argument for interval sprints as opposed to steady-state running for sports such as soccer or basketball. The book is also handy in that it has cheat sheets, should a reader find it too tiresome to read the entirety or for refresher purpose, that summarizes the gist of the chapter. As a weekend warrior a.k.a. amateur athlete, this book presents a sound basis to experiment with new ideas or refine existing lifestyle habits & exercises. As to whether this book could serve far more experienced trainers/instructors in enhancing the performance of their clients, that is something I am unable to say with any degree of certainty. In closing, this book is not a must-buy but could prove handy to trainers/instructors interested in quality literature on sports science.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    If you have a habit of listening to infomercials about fitness, or pick up the usual fitness magazine this is a really good book at dispelling so many myths about exercise. Even some really longstanding myths. The author is a runner and his bias for aerobics comes through. I think, however, he stays fairly objective listing the benefits of both aerobics and weight training. Here is the bottom line of this book. Exercise is really good for you. Eating a well balanced diet is good for you. You s If you have a habit of listening to infomercials about fitness, or pick up the usual fitness magazine this is a really good book at dispelling so many myths about exercise. Even some really longstanding myths. The author is a runner and his bias for aerobics comes through. I think, however, he stays fairly objective listing the benefits of both aerobics and weight training. Here is the bottom line of this book. Exercise is really good for you. Eating a well balanced diet is good for you. You should really, really exercise. There are so many references to scientific studies and research exacting the mind numbing minutia that it seems to be just hair splitting. If you exercise to be healthy and enjoy working out most of the details are just not relevant. Advice that might shave a half second off a PR, or if you are a competitive athlete it might give you a slight edge. That's the thing even with all the studies and info the information it comes down to this might help or this might do that but there are no hard and fast rules. Why? Because human bodies are very complex and what works for one might not work for another. Good information yes! Good information to know so you don't listen to the BS from gym rats and advertisers yes! My low review is mostly because the information seems to mostly overburden something that should be looked at in a holistic manner. Caveat; unless you really need to make small improvements for competitive events.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Blake

    This was an enjoyable and interesting read. I've been a little obsessive about fitness lately (I'm a marathon runner), and this book was right up my alley. There are a lot of articles on Runner's World and other websites that basically review a recent study and discuss the implications. This book is basically over 100 of those articles one after another. However, each short topic doesn't just focus on one study, but often mentions multiple studies. The science-based approach is very informative a This was an enjoyable and interesting read. I've been a little obsessive about fitness lately (I'm a marathon runner), and this book was right up my alley. There are a lot of articles on Runner's World and other websites that basically review a recent study and discuss the implications. This book is basically over 100 of those articles one after another. However, each short topic doesn't just focus on one study, but often mentions multiple studies. The science-based approach is very informative and it puts to rest a lot of common myths. The chapters focus on different themes, and at the end of each chapter there's a useful summary. I think I've already incorporated several things from this book into my routine, but I need it in front of me to remember specifics... Here are two of my favorite take-aways from the book: 1. We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term, and tend to underestimate what we can do in the long term. This is so true! It applies to running, but also to nearly every other area in our lives. 2. Exercise is addictive. It releases dopamine with an effect similar to drugs. I've had some experience with this and laughed when I read it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I picked this book up because I recently started running and I wanted to educate myself a little bit. While this book was very easy to read and is mostly pretty interesting, it didn't really fill that gap. A large portion of the book is dedicated to questions that are really only relevant for high-level athletes. Hutchinson certainly acknowledges this, and he does pepper the book throughout with advice for casual athletes. Of course, most of that advice boils down to "don't worry about this" and I picked this book up because I recently started running and I wanted to educate myself a little bit. While this book was very easy to read and is mostly pretty interesting, it didn't really fill that gap. A large portion of the book is dedicated to questions that are really only relevant for high-level athletes. Hutchinson certainly acknowledges this, and he does pepper the book throughout with advice for casual athletes. Of course, most of that advice boils down to "don't worry about this" and "doing literally any amount of exercise is better than not exercising at all." But anyway, I did enjoy reading it for knowledge's sake, so three stars it is. He does a good job of putting laboratory findings into context and allowing uncertainty to be the final answer for now. You could certainly just read sections of this book that were relevant to your life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maximum Peaches

    This book is very practical and easy to read. Each chapter has a summary at the end so you can easily see what is relevant and then refer to that part in the chapter if you want more detail. I found out a couple interesting things, like it takes 10-14 days for the body to become adjusted to heat, and most heat exhaustion during races occurs when the race takes place at a reasonable time, but in Northern climates during Spring or Fall when people aren't adjusted to the hotness. I also found it inte This book is very practical and easy to read. Each chapter has a summary at the end so you can easily see what is relevant and then refer to that part in the chapter if you want more detail. I found out a couple interesting things, like it takes 10-14 days for the body to become adjusted to heat, and most heat exhaustion during races occurs when the race takes place at a reasonable time, but in Northern climates during Spring or Fall when people aren't adjusted to the hotness. I also found it interesting that it takes somewhere around 6 months of heavy lifting 4 days a week (I think that's the right number, don't quote me) for objective judges to notice changes in body aesthetics. This conforms with my experience, where even if you're stronger at month 2 you may not notice it aesthetically until a while.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Juanita

    I listened to this as an audiobook and wish I hadn't. Not because it was bad,it was just an overwhelming amount of information. Kind of like listening to the answers to 50 questions you've looked up online over a number or years but instead presented in a continuous 8 hour audio stream. I'm not sure I retained anything and it gave me a headache.I had to take breaks. The questions it answers are things i've actually wondered or even looked up before and the answers are succinct but I think I would I listened to this as an audiobook and wish I hadn't. Not because it was bad,it was just an overwhelming amount of information. Kind of like listening to the answers to 50 questions you've looked up online over a number or years but instead presented in a continuous 8 hour audio stream. I'm not sure I retained anything and it gave me a headache.I had to take breaks. The questions it answers are things i've actually wondered or even looked up before and the answers are succinct but I think I would have gotten more out of it if I had read it slowly instead. Not all, but some of the research is outdated at this point, this book was originally published in 2011 and more studies have been conducted since then.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah LaMountain

    This book is great at debunking exercise myths and presenting scientific facts. It not only helps you understand the science but it also explains where the myths come from, which is incredibly helpful. The information is good for someone if they are new to exercise and focuses on a variety of information so there is good information for every kind of person looking to increase health benefits through exercise. Whatever benefits or exercise that may be. The chapters are easy to read and broken do This book is great at debunking exercise myths and presenting scientific facts. It not only helps you understand the science but it also explains where the myths come from, which is incredibly helpful. The information is good for someone if they are new to exercise and focuses on a variety of information so there is good information for every kind of person looking to increase health benefits through exercise. Whatever benefits or exercise that may be. The chapters are easy to read and broken down into simple categories. Each chapter ends with a key point panel which gives a great summary and the most basic information you need for success.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Don

    This book gives straightforward advice on how to exercise and includes real scientific study and physiological explanations to back it up, which is usually what's missing from those one pager fitness articles you see on the internet or magazines. And it addressed so many common myths, either debunking them or backing them up with science. Amazing book with so many fascinating studies. Highly recommend for anyone interested in fitness, it applies to all levels of competition, including casual ath This book gives straightforward advice on how to exercise and includes real scientific study and physiological explanations to back it up, which is usually what's missing from those one pager fitness articles you see on the internet or magazines. And it addressed so many common myths, either debunking them or backing them up with science. Amazing book with so many fascinating studies. Highly recommend for anyone interested in fitness, it applies to all levels of competition, including casual athletes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    This book had some helpful information about the science of exercise, but unfortunately a lot of it was geared more toward athletes trying to enhance performance rather than just a regular guy trying to get more physically fit. That made.some sections seem far less relevant to.me as a reader than others. Another problem with a book like this is it will invariably be out of date within a few years as new studies are constantly coming out. Still, despite its limitations, this book was a helpful pa This book had some helpful information about the science of exercise, but unfortunately a lot of it was geared more toward athletes trying to enhance performance rather than just a regular guy trying to get more physically fit. That made.some sections seem far less relevant to.me as a reader than others. Another problem with a book like this is it will invariably be out of date within a few years as new studies are constantly coming out. Still, despite its limitations, this book was a helpful part of my personal education in health and physical fitness.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hitchcock

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Short review- this book offers a complete broad overview of how the body responds to different factors and how those factors influence performance Each chapter presents a different aspect of the body, such as nutrition, building strength, cardiovascular training with a broad overview, specific advice, and debunking common myths. Incredibly useful book written about an interesting and important subject in the style of a conversation with a buddy. You will finally learn and understand the difference Short review- this book offers a complete broad overview of how the body responds to different factors and how those factors influence performance Each chapter presents a different aspect of the body, such as nutrition, building strength, cardiovascular training with a broad overview, specific advice, and debunking common myths. Incredibly useful book written about an interesting and important subject in the style of a conversation with a buddy. You will finally learn and understand the difference between strength and power if you read this

  29. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    This book has all kinds of fitness information and cites the studies conducted that led to the findings. There is more updated information about fitness out there, this book was written in 2011, but it has some good advice about what to eat before working out, how you should workout, what to focus on, and a lot more useful information. The question-and-answer format, along with summary sections at the end of each chapter, make it really easy to pick up and put down too.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeff DeRosa

    If you know nothing about exercise, this book will help you sift through the inaccuracies and get you started. If you're an experienced athlete, this book will help reset your mind and focus your attention; and you'll say things like "oh, yes, I forgot about that." This was published in 2011 so updating will be needed soon. But much of the information remains relevant here in 2018. I love how the author cites many different sources. It's also an easy read. If you know nothing about exercise, this book will help you sift through the inaccuracies and get you started. If you're an experienced athlete, this book will help reset your mind and focus your attention; and you'll say things like "oh, yes, I forgot about that." This was published in 2011 so updating will be needed soon. But much of the information remains relevant here in 2018. I love how the author cites many different sources. It's also an easy read.

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