It’s been over a year since I last did a product review article. Today I’ve finally got my act together and completed a new product review. The product I reviewed is The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building by Shannon Clarke and I have broken the review down into the following sections.
– Product Overview.
– Good Points.
– Bad Points.
– Overall Rating.
The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building contains 16 chapters and 110 pages. However, the information covered can be grouped into 4 main sections:
– Action Plan & Further Reading.
The first 4 chapters and 48 pages focus on an introduction to all things related to building muscle. The very first section introduces the author Shannon Clarke. For those who don’t know, Shannon is a fitness expert and AFLCA certified personal trainer who holds a degree in Exercise Science. She is a published author who also contributes to some of the largest fitness sites on the Internet including Bodybuilding.com and Askmen.com. In terms of muscle building she most definitely knows her stuff.
Shannon begins the main part of the ebook by discussing some of the common reasons people fail when trying to build muscle and some of the popular misconceptions associated with this type of training. After this she discusses what you need before you start working out and then provides a pretty comprehensive overview of the basic weight lifting principles and terms. In this section Shannon covers sets, reps, rest period between sets, the different types of lifts, periodisation, avoiding injuries and more.
The next 8 chapters and 27 pages discuss a number of muscle building exercises and options. In these chapters Shannon covers exercises for the main muscle groups – chest, abs, arm, leg, shoulder and back. For each body part she provides some basic exercises with recommended sets and reps and also some specific training tips for the particular body parts.
After this, Shannon takes a look at working out from home and then covers cardiovascular exercise. She covers the pros and cons of home workouts and outlines some of the equipment you will need if you choose to workout from home instead of joining a gym. Shannon then discusses the different types of cardio training and how you can implement cardio into your workout.
The next 2 chapters and 16 pages cover meals and supplements. Shannon begins the meals section by focussing on the amount of calories you need to be eating and then goes on to discuss carbohydrates, protein and dietary fats in more detail. In the supplements section Shannon discusses how to avoid over hyped supplements and how to determine which ones are actually worth your money.
The next chapter and 4 pages look at how lifestyle factors such as alcohol, smoking, stress and sleep affect your muscle building progress. Shannon also provides some positive lifestyle choices you can make to overcome these negative habits.
5) Action Plan:
The final chapter and 11 pages provide you with an action plan and some further reading. The action plan brings together all the information in The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building and provides you with some daily exercise and diet plans. The further reading section then links you to a number of useful resources such as exercise databases, calorie calculators and healthy recipes.
1) Key Terms:
From a beginner’s point of view the best part of The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building is the introduction to key terms. When I first started weightlifting I didn’t know the difference between a set and a rep. I couldn’t tell you if someone was performing a compound or isolation movement. It took me months to learn all the different terms and I would have really benefited from something that told me exactly what each term meant right from the beginning.
2) Training The Different Body Parts:
Another thing that The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building does well is explain exactly how to work each of your muscle groups. When I first started weight lifting I just wanted to build muscle. I didn’t know that you had to train your different body parts in different ways. I also didn’t know how to train them in different ways beyond what the trainer had shown me. In fact during my first few months at the gym I only learnt new exercises when I asked one of the trainers for a new program. If I had something like this ebook from the start it would have been brilliant because I would have understood what I was doing right away instead of blindly following an exercise program.
3) Fitness Misconceptions:
Another thing I really liked about The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building is that it gives you the truth behind some of the common fitness misconceptions. There’s a lot of bad information floating around in the gym from both trainers and regular gym goers. However, when you are first starting out you take it as gospel because after all these guys are in the gym all the time. Why wouldn’t they know their stuff? When you get a little bit of experience you realise that some people at the gym simply love the sound of their own voices and may not actually have the best advice. This part of the ebook gives you that information even if you don’t have the experience and saves you wasting a lot of time listening to bad, ill-informed advice.
One of the first things I did after joining the gym was head down to the shops and buy a weight gain supplement. It contained a ridiculous amount of calories and promised that I would gain a lot of muscle very quickly. When I looked at the ingredients I saw that it was mainly sugar but since I didn’t know any better I continued to take it. Luckily I only made this mistake once but I know a lot of people who consistently waste their money on well marketed, ineffective supplements. This section of The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building tells you what ingredients to look out for when buying supplements. If I had read this when I was a beginner I would have never invested in that sugar filled weight gain powder and this section could save other beginners from wasting their hard earned cash when it comes to buying supplements.
1) Diet Section:
The diet section of The Beginners Guide To Muscle Building is a lot lighter than the exercise section. Whilst it does give a good introduction to carbohydrates, proteins and dietary fats it doesn’t really cover vitamins or minerals at all. In fact the only mention that vitamins and minerals do get is in the form of supplements.
2) Lifestyle Section:
The lifestyle section is even lighter than the diet section and to be honest feels like a bit of a bolt on. Whilst they are all valid points, I think they need a lot more meat. Two short paragraphs on why smoking is bad are not going to motivate many people to quit.
It’s kind of strange reviewing The Beginner’s Guide To Building Muscle as I’ve been weightlifting for over 10 years. With my current knowledge, there’s very little this ebook would teach me. However, if I had read it before my first ever gym session then it would have been a massive help and I highly recommend beginners get a copy.
Whilst the diet section could do with a little fleshing out and the lifestyle section probably doesn’t even need to be included, the introduction and exercise sections are fantastic. They help give you a basic understanding of weightlifting and building muscle that normally takes months to develop. Overall, The Beginner’s Guide To Building Muscle is a must read for beginners.