By: Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams
Publisher: Rodale Books, 2004
Mark Verstegen has long been known as a trainer to national and international-class athletes (think Mia Hamm and the German national soccer team!), but what he knows and creates can help us everyday folks achieve better fitness or more-accomplished recreational athletic pursuits.
Now, he's just launched a website for consumers (www.coreperformance.com) to go with his book, Core Performance, which was released last year and is now out in paperback.
Mark may look like a bit of a musclehead (no insult intended there!), but his book is an easy read that tells you what to do, how to do it, and illustrates the exercises with super easy-to-follow photos. His emphasis â€“ one often ignored in the public's normal quest for 6-pack abs, toned tummies, or trim thighs â€“ is strengthening the core. That's more than just doing crunches and balance board stuff. It's about the entire center with abs and low back, and using those muscles to control everything we do physically. Plus, it's about teaching the core to respond how it should since everything is related to each other. You know, sort of, like the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, is connected to the shin bone.
So strong muscles and chest aside (he was a walk-on linebacker at Washington State who turned to exercise physiology and coaching after a career-ending neck injury), this is a book for everyday people who want to feel better and look better too.
Oh sure, you'll still find bench presses and lunges and squats, but done in a real-life way. All instructions are broken down so well, with the objective name so you know why you're doing something or considering it, with tips named to keep your form on track, and â€“ this is marvelous â€“ something called "you should feel" named where you find the list of body parts in everyday human lingo.
You'll also find really progressive exercises using cable pulley machines and stability balls. So, yes, some of this you may need a health club or home gym to do, but much of it you don't.
He also lays out stretching routines, workout programs, touches on nutrition and training logs, plus supplies a reading list. One drawback, we suppose, is that the book is laced with little profiles of super-power athletes, as is the text laced here and there with comments from athletes. If this book is also for real people, it'd be nice to have a few real people as examples too. Still, that's a minor quibble. Be inspired and get to work.
SNEWSÂ® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: hardcover, $29.99; paperback $18.95