Today I will introduce you one of the most important books of the year.
“Muscle Up” is a book that discusses the rarely spoken benefits of strength training: Health benefits.
It’s a jaw-dropping book with an impressive wealth of knowledge.
I read this book when I started lifting weights. I was already enthusiastic about building muscle but reading the book reinforced my desire to build muscle. It’s required reading for everybody.
Who will Benefit from this Book?
Men, women, boys, girls and elderly people. In short, everyone will benefit from reading this book.
Why Is This Book So Important?
Bodybuilding is an unpopular sport. Regular people can’t relate to bodybuilders.
Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote about the reactions he got from his environment when he took up lifting weights.
I could not have chosen a less popular sport. My school friends thought I was crazy.
I’m convinced most of the people I knew didn’t really understand what I was doing at all. They looked at me as a novelty, a freak. My actual acceptance was limited. There were certain social groups in which the people were intimidated by bodybuilding and felt they should talk down to me. They tried to point out weaknesses in the sport and argued why a person shouldn’t do it. I’ve been through these trips all my life. There’s a certain kind of person who always says, “My doctor tells me lifting weights is bad for your health. . . .” In the beginning, it was kind of hard for me to handle. I was young and impressionable. I knew I wanted to do it so badly nobody could stop me, least of all people I wouldn’t even bother to count as friends, but many times I did question it. I wondered why I was so different, why I wanted to do something a lot of people didn’t like and even made fun of. If you played soccer, everybody loved you; you were a hero. And they gave you anything.
Arnold correctly points out the biases normal people have for bodybuilding.
Arnold had a strong enough desire to ignore the naysayers and follow his passion but most people don’t have the desire of Arnold. Especially, most young and impressionable boys completely dismiss strength training because of the unfavorable reputation of the sport. There are many stereotypes about bodybuilders which get to the level of bullying and most men dismiss it before developing an interest in the sport.
I remember bodybuilding was discouraged when I was a kid.
Today, it’s not as bad as Arnold’s time but there still is a lot of misunderstanding about bodybuilding.
In the past, bodybuilding was seen as downright unhealthy. You can see the same judgment in the quotes from Arnold above.
Aerobic exercise was seen as a healthier option for training than bodybuilding.
Health benefits of strength training are still widely unknown to the general public.
After reading “Muscle Up”, I tried to encourage my older relatives to start lifting weights. People are completely unaware of the health benefits of building muscle.
My mother has osteoporosis, so she started lifting weights after I told her that it’s effective in treating osteoporosis. I learned that from this book.
As you read the book, you will see the jaw-dropping health benefits of lifting weights.
Another misconception about bodybuilding is, it is reserved for people who want to build enormously big muscles.
The book dispels the myth that you need to be a bodybuilder to build muscles.
There are a variety of ways to build muscle and everybody can do it. Building big muscles is not easy. You need years of training and a disciplined diet to achieve that. Moreover, elite bodybuilders use steroids to reach that level of huge muscles. But building a base level of strength is not hard to do. People who are experienced with strength training will tell you that you will build the most muscle mass at the beginning months of your strength training. This is referred to as newbie gains in the bodybuilding community.
Because of the bad reputation of bodybuilding, strength training is seen as an extreme sport. This is not true.
Anyone can build a decent amount of muscle and I agree with P. D. Mangan that everybody should be doing it.
Who is P. D. Mangan?
P. D. Mangan is a 61-year-old writer who writes mainly about anti-aging and fitness. He has 6 published books on Amazon.
Since conventional advice on anti-aging and fitness didn’t provide any useful results, he carried his own research and shares his strategies and findings in his books and on his website.
I judge people by the way they look if they are giving health advice. I wouldn’t want to get weight loss advice from a fatso or strength training advice from a weakling.
Mangan looks great for a 61-year-old man, which proves that he walks the talk.
The book is 142 pages long. There’s a 105-item resource list at the end of the book, which means the author backs the accuracy of the information he presents in the book.
Mangan distills a wealth of information into an easily understandable format and masterfully connects the dots to reach meaningful conclusions.
The book is broken down into 8 chapters, with each chapter devoted to a different major health benefit of strength training. Each chapter is divided into sub-sections which makes it easy to read.
I took so many notes while reading the book. I’ll try to review the points made in the book without violating its copyrights. I’ll also add my own experiences as I have been strength training for a considerable amount of time.
Why Aerobic Exercise Is Inferior to Strength Training
The book opens with questioning the effectiveness of the aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is a common name for the exercises like walking, jogging, and exercising on treadmills, stair steppers, and the like.
Mainstream media recommends aerobic exercise for fat loss and health. As I said at the beginning, strength training has a bad reputation among the common men. Although it’s not as bad as the times of Arnold, when exercising is mentioned, strength training doesn’t even cross the minds of the majority of people.
My readers already know that my experience with mainstream health advice is not so favorable. I found what mainstream media advises about health is completely useless.
So, it’s not surprising to me that, as a man who has a passion for being healthier, Mangan reached similar conclusions.
Before I started strength training, I ran for years with nothing to show for. You won’t see an article on this site such as “The Benefits of Long Distance Running” because I didn’t experience any significant benefits to write about.
On the other hand, I wrote articles about the benefits of strength training and I will continue to do so. Strength training enhanced my life in countless ways so there’s always something significant about it to write for.
Similar to my experiences, Mangan talks about how aerobic exercise doesn’t help much with weight loss and it does nothing to prevent muscle loss.
Mangan points out that muscle loss increasingly becomes more of a problem as we age because we tend to lose muscle year by year if we don’t take a measure against it. He says that strength training is the most effective way to prevent muscle loss that comes with aging.
Strength Training Is Not Just for Bodybuilders
Strength training sometimes goes with the names of weightlifting or resistance training throughout the book. I’ll use these terms interchangeably in this review. All these terms mean the same thing for the purposes of the book and this review.
As the author correctly points out, strength training is regarded as a province of bodybuilders. Strength training, however, is not just for bodybuilders. Everyone could benefit from it including men, women, the young, the middle-aged, and old.
Strength Training Is the Best Exercise for Fat Loss
P. D. Mangan makes a bold claim that cardio isn’t necessary for weight loss.
Most people consider cardio as a must for weight loss. I have vast experience with cardio and it simply doesn’t live up to the hype created around it for fat loss. I listed it as a weight loss mistake because dieting is a superior way to lose weight.
I see people in the gym grinding for hours on the treadmill. These people come and go and I haven’t seen a single case of a fat person successfully getting slim. Same fat people get on the treadmill, do cardio for hours after hours, weeks after weeks, months after months and they stay just as fat as they started.
Here you see the authority power of the mainstream media. If a piece of advice didn’t work for such a long time, doesn’t this mean that there’s something wrong with the advice?
Apparently no. People regard newspapers, magazines, and televisions as the ultimate source of truth. They don’t even question their advice. If the mainstream media advice is not working, they question themselves, not the media.
They often blame their genetics or their work rate. If only they had better genetics, if only they trained harder, the advice would work. Often, there is nothing wrong with the genetics of these people and they often train for hours in the gym. Mainstream media advice is garbage and if you follow it, you will be miserable. It’s that simple.
Nevertheless, the authority power of the mainstream is so strong that I find it almost impossible to change people’s minds about their beliefs.
Mangan provides evidence on how strength training is strongly related to a reduction in waist size, which is a reliable indicator of personal fitness.
This goes parallel with my experience. I built six pack abs with strength training and six pack abs is not possible without a narrow waist. No amount of long distance running would give me six pack abs.
I also find that maintaining my low waist circumference is easier with strength training.
Mangan notes that no amount of exercise can overcome a bad diet. I agree with this. It’s too easy to eat excess calories even when you are training right. You have to watch what you eat. Yes, strength training burns more calories than aerobic exercise and yes muscles burn calories in resting state but still, you have to watch your diet. This is not a difficult thing to do anyway. You’ll have more calorie budget if you have a decent amount of muscles and you keep lifting weights.
The author correctly points out that the best strength training exercises are compound movements. I agree with this, too. I wrote an array of articles emphasizing the effectiveness of compound exercises.
He also writes about how strength training helped him cure chronic fatigue.
Weightlifting Helps Prevent Cancer
Now we are getting to the territories I was not aware of before reading this book.
Honestly, I didn’t get into strength training thinking of how to prevent terminal illnesses such as cancer or heart disease. It was a pleasant surprise for me as I was already strength training at the time I read this book.
In this section, Mangan breaks down the common causes of cancer and how strength training prevents these common causes, hence, prevents cancer.
He backs his claims with scientific research.
You’ll also find a section on what to do if you already have cancer, or are a cancer survivor.
Weightlifting Prevents Cardiovascular Disease
In this section, you will learn why muscle mass is an important determinant of cardiovascular disease risk.
Numerous scientific studies are addressed and Mangan connects the dots to make his claim that strength training is an effective way to prevent cardiovascular disease.
This is another benefit of strength training that I was not aware of.
Obviously, it was nice to learn that I’ve been unknowingly fighting with cardiovascular disease as I am lifting weights because my father has a history of cardiovascular disease. So, I’m genetically inclined to have it. Another thing to note is, my father never did any form of strength training all his life. Luckily he is still alive and I always try to talk him into strength training. He started doing some training but I wish this book was available back then before it started.
You’ll also find a section on what to do if you already have cardiovascular disease.
Weight Training Keeps You Lean and Improves Metabolic Health
Have you ever wondered why you are gaining more weight as you age, while you seemingly eat more or less the same amount when you were young and fitter?
As I got older, I noticed that I gain weight easier. When I was in high school or college, I was eating whatever I want without getting fat. Actually, I was so skinny that my parents would try to talk me into eating more.
As the years went by, I slowly and steadily gained weight. Once skinny, I went up to the levels of obesity.
In this section, Mangan explains why this happens and how to prevent or reverse it.
You will also learn how many calories your muscles burn even when you are resting.
Additionally, you will find the answer to the age-old question: Is it possible to lose weight and build muscle at the same time?
As usual, the author backs all his claims with scientific research and personal history.
I have a similar personal history and similar experiences with aerobic exercise and strength training so I know what Mangan writes in this section is completely true.
Strength Training Fights Aging
Aging is the most common cause of death because we are guaranteed to die at some point in the future.
This implies that if we slow down aging, we can live longer and better, as aging often brings unwelcome illnesses.
In this section, Mangan talks about sarcopenia and how muscle loss that comes with aging is extremely bad for health.
You will learn how much muscle mass you lose as you age and the maladies you can expect that comes with muscle loss.
The list of dangers and diseases caused by loss of muscle mass is frightening.
The benefits of strength training for the elderly people are listed and your jaw will drop to the floor.
My mother is an osteoporosis patient and she started lifting weights with my recommendation. I was able to recommend her lifting weights after reading this book.
If you have elderly loved ones, you must read this section. With every sentence in this section, a light bulb went on in my head.
Strength Training Increases Testosterone in Men
Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for your muscle mass, sex drive, and general well being.
Mangan points out that as men age, testosterone levels almost invariably decline, leading to symptoms such as low sex drive, muscular weakness and fatigue, and depression.
In this section, you will learn how strength training increases your testosterone and how it affects some other hormones important for your well being.
You will also learn if weightlifting increases confidence and self-esteem.
What if you are a boy, girl or a woman? Will you still benefit from the hormonal effects of weightlifting?
Mangan provides answers to these important questions, backed up by evidence.
Drawbacks of Aerobic Exercise
We are told that any form of exercise is good but is there a point where it becomes harmful?
Apparently, there is.
Mangan provides convincing evidence about how too much aerobic exercise can harm you.
The evidence is shocking.
I always heard news about long distance runners dropping dead while they are out running. I don’t remember blaming aerobic exercise for these cases. It’s mostly attributed to genetics, a heart disease history in the runner’s family. Apparently, the problem wasn’t genetics.
You have to read this section if you are doing aerobic exercise. It’s eye-opening.
High-Intensity Training (HIT)
High-intensity training is another form of resistance training.
The author discusses the effectiveness of HIT as a form of exercise and compares it to weight lifting and aerobic exercise.
I trained with my version of HIT for a long time and it’s great.
Mangan discusses the effects of HIT on musculature, fat loss, and insulin sensitivity.
Also, some HIT routines are included in the book in case you want to start immediately. Most HIT routines can be done at home without any equipment, so you can start a HIT routine in the comfort of your home.
How to Implement a Basic Strength-Training Program
Remember that this book is written for everybody. Older people, girls, boys, men, and women of all ages are included.
Mangan lays out a basic strength training program for starting to enjoy the benefits of strength training.
Progressive overload, reps, and sets are explained.
He also recommends the use of weightlifting machines.
On this site, I recommend training with free weights as they are the exercises that build the most muscle.
But I can understand that some people are not in this to build big muscles. Compound movements such as squats and deadlifts have a learning curve which may be steep for especially the elderly. Machines are safer and easier to use. Compound movements may also require a spotter which can be hard to find. With machines, you won’t need a spotter. Machines will never build you big muscles but a base level of strength is enough for most of the population.
Mangan also gives tips on how to lose weight with strength training. He discusses fed versus fasted workouts and which is the best for muscle gain and fat loss.
He also provides sample workouts for those who want to start strength training immediately.
Questions and Answers
Mangan included a question and answer section too.
In this section, you will find answers to questions such as:
- What dietary supplements are useful in strength training?
- What is the minimum effective dose of strength training?
- Can I work out daily?
- Do you need a basal level of strength before you start?
- What’s the deal with abs?
- Should I use heavier weights or more reps for better gains in strength and health?
- Do I risk injury to joints over the long term?
- How do I get motivated to do my workout?
- Lots of people in the gym have done way better than me. What gives?
- Should I have other types of exercise in my rotation besides strength training?
- Should I change the way I lift, such as the type of exercise, reps, weight, and frequency, as I get older?
- How can I get big and strong, fast?
Strength training has so many greats benefits. It’s a shame that more than 99% of the population never do any form of strength training.
Ignore the mainstream media advice and ditch the aerobics.
I’ve done aerobics and I’ve done strength training. Strength training is infinitely better.
This book is required reading for everybody in the world.
You can buy the book by clicking here.