There are a lot of possible sources for fitness information: the internet (RealJock, of course!), magazines, trainers. But it's worth building a library of carefully chosen fitness books that you can use for inspiration when you're feeling jaded, or that you can peruse in your non-computer hours for fun. So today, I'd like to give three book suggestions for all the guys out there looking for new ideas, a fitness beach-read, or a bedtime book. All of these are books that represent the style of functional training that we do at Diakadi, and all are full of ideas that you can use as a springboard to your own training. They also cover the full range of training, from stretching to lifting.
1. Pete Egoscue, Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain (Bantam, 2000)
I have so many clients who come in with repetitive injuries. These injuries range from tight necks, to thrown-out backs, to tennis elbow and shoulder pain. The list goes on. The common denominator with these issues is a lack of stretching. For most of us, our daily grind consists of sitting all day—at our desk, in our car, on our couch. When we work out, we lift weights to bulk up, which just adds to the stress, and we end up constantly tight in certain areas. This will typically lead to improper posture and muscle development, and be cause for injuries. When people do have pain issues, they usually go to a chiropractor or massage therapist. While both of these visits can help alleviate pain, they are fixing the symptom and not the underlying problem. By doing stretches and corrective work daily, we can address the problems we have “always had” and never thought that we could do anything about.
Pete Egoscue is a nationally renowned physiologist and sports injury consultant. In this book, he addresses the chronic pain/stretching connection, and develops a method anyone can use identify and correct even serious imbalances. The book is broken down into chapters relating to various commonly painful areas: backs, shoulders, hips, etc. In each chapter, Egoscue talks about what types of pain are typically experienced in a given muscle group and then offers a series of “E-cises”. The E-cises are roughly 20 minutes of stretching exercises that, if done daily, will stop chronic pain. While 20 minutes may seem like a lot to commit to each and every day, the relief you will get from putting your body back on track will be well worth the time. I highly recommend reading this book and trying out the E-cises. What have you got to lose, other than your chronic pain?
2. Paul Chek, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!: Your Personalized 4-Step guide to Looking and Feeling Great from the Inside Out (C.H.E.K. Institute, 2004)
Paul Chek is an expert in the field of holistic health and corrective and high performance exercise. His book is a complete method—just as the title says, Paul will offer advice on all aspects of life, from nutrition to exercise to health. It's definitely a book to read with an idea of taking from it what you find useful. The nutrition in particular may be for many an extreme approach; and I myself pursue a more balanced approach to nutrition. But his advice to avoid both sugar and artificial sweeteners as well as caffeine can be very helpful to some who find themselves in a dietary trap. Likewise, the exercises are excellent examples of functional training, and should be a key part of any workout program.
The book follows a four-step process designed to let you personalize the Paul Chek method to your particular needs. First, you will complete questionnaires to determine your current health status. Next, you'll develop a unique eating plan designed to fit your metabolism. Next, the book helps you build a personalised exercise program to fit your needs. And fjnally, you'll fine-tune a healthier lifestyle that matches your fitness and dietary routines. It's complete coaching in book form, and while you may not want to follow all of its advice, there is no doubt that it is a comprehensive resource.
3. Mark Verstegen, Core Performance: The Revolutionary Workout Program to Transform Your Body and Your Life (St. Martin's, 2004)
It's important to distinguish between an abs workout and a core workout. Core strength is the key to all other forms of fitness. Your core is your center—the complex of abdominal and back muscles that gives you your stability and allows you to develop strength and power, not to mention good posture and a flat stomach. And yet most of us just do a bunch of abdominal crunches and figure that will take care of our core. Wrong. Your core needs a level of training commensurate with its importance to your body's movement. And there is no significant body movement that does not demand that your core engage.
Enter Mark Verstegen. Verstegen is the owner of Athletes Performance, a company operating elite training facilities and programs for athletes. His book describes a comprehensive core workout that covers every aspect of fitness—balance, flexibility, power, and strength. The exercises are unique and challenging, yet many require very little equipment, meaning that you can do them at home or on the road. No more excuses. This book is a great choice for anyone who wants to lose weight, get strong, and improve his quality of life.
About Mike Clausen: Clausen is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. He has been actively involved in sports and weightlifting since high school, and continues to use that knowledge when training his clients. Clausen is both A.C.E. and N.A.S.M. certified and has been training clients professionally for six years. He enjoys making his clients stronger, both physically and mentally, giving them the tools to create an efficient body and to do things they thought were not possible.