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Book Review
Excellent Book on Strength Training 
October 26
, 2003 - By Mike Muha

Teach Yourself Visually: Weight Training
By maranGraphics Development Group
2003, maranGraphics

I've been lifting weights for years without any instruction - I've just learned by watching others and seeing pictures in some of the XC ski racing books I've purchased over the years. But I always knew I was missing something: proper form. I'd looked at some of the body building books, but their focus on massive muscle building was not for me - I want fast, small muscles. Excessive bulk just makes it harder to climb hills in a race!

It was with great pleasure that I stumbled on to "Teach Yourself Visual: Weight Training." From my perspective, there are several major benefits to this book:

First, the book has sections for weight machines, free weights, exercise balls, and stretch tubes. I've used all in my training, and it's really valuable to have examples of each in one book. Obviously, the book can't show you every machine out there, but it does provide hints on how you can utilize other equipment.

Second, the book provides clear examples of what to do and - more importantly - what not to do. After all these years, the book told me that I really need to tighten my abs when lifting. I found that some of the back problems I'd been experiencing disappeared as soon as I followed that tip. That simple hint alone was worth the cost of the book.

Third, it clearly shows what muscles are being exercised and tells you ways to make the various exercise easier or harder to fit your conditioning level.

For people who may feel a little intimidated by books showing muscle-bound, high testosterone men and women, this book is very non-threatening. It provides simple, straight-forward examples using people who look "normal."

The book follows a very consistent format:

At the top left on each two-page spread is an explanation of what exercise is useful for, some tips, and suggestions on how to do the exercise if you have any physical problems (e.g., bad back).

The top right provides ideas on how to make the exercise easier or harder, or outlines other variations.

The core of the spread consists of the four photos and their captions. The first photo shows the starting and ending position of the exercise; the second photo shows the middle position. The captions underneath provide clear information about body position and body movement.

The third photo and caption are all about what NOT to do. I think this is one of the key values of the book, because I have observed people at the gym - including myself - doing exactly what the authors say not to do!

The final photo shows exactly what muscles are targeted by the exercise.

There's a fairly strong set of exercise that could be considered core strengtt exercises, although they are not identified as such.

This is a book on general strength training - there are no ski specific exercises in this book. But many of us make general strength or core strength part of our training regime. Many more may want to but don't know how. For both groups: you'll learning something from this book.

Overall: highly recommended!


Strength, Balance, & Core training for the Nordic Skier

Read a review of RepMotions: The science of enhancing progressive-resistance training
Read review of Armit: Power for Poling
Read a review of The New Steady Ski

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