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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?


The book entitled Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? By Dr. Alex Hutchinson provides an excellent overview of modern fitness science and what works and what doesn’t work. As the book is focused on actual research it provides some excellent discussion on the most effective methods of getting in shape and the potential health benefits of doing so. 

There are fads and there are fads. Fads come and go with lots of claims and false research projects that are designed to give a specific result that can mislead consumers. Their focus is not on science but on the actual lending of perceived credibility within marketing campaigns and messages. Don’t blindly believe most of the claims of fad diets, pills, and 10 minute widget exercises that will give you six pack abs. 

Working out is a process that entails creating stress on the human body. Depending on what someone wants to accomplish they can either move toward brute muscle strength or lean cardio endurance. One can take on a cross training program for general fitness but should work cardio on some days and weights on the others. Each day should have their own focus to maximize change. 

The book provides a number of strong chapters that include fitness gear, aerobics, strength training, recovery, aging, weight management, and nutrition. You might be surprised that most supplements do not work but that certain ones such as amino acids can actually help one gain strength. The book will discuss how research shows the increases and decreases of performance based upon these issues. A moderate amount of whey protein and use of amino acids can have a beneficial effect. Yet protein itself can ignore certain building blocks. See study
While working out with weights it important to understand that slurping down protein shakes after protein shakes won’t do you much good unless you’re a professional body builder. Even then the evidence is relatively week and has a marginal effect. Yet it is important to use at a minimum 60% of your 1-time maximum weight to ensure you are putting enough stress on your body. Protein is helpful but for the far majority of people will simply increase unnecessary calorie intake.

The book will give food for thought of those who are serious about their physical fitness. Every person should have a level of such exercise to maintain health as well as reduce stress. The book will make a strong case for being involved in exercise as well as help you ignore those common myths that waste time and energy in one’s busy day. There is support for the belief that exercise can improve performance in your work life so there are few drawbacks to getting fit today.

Hutchinson, A. (2011). Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? NY: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-200753-7

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