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Book Review: Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?

I just read Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise by Alex Hutchinson, published in 2011.  Per Amazon.com’s rating system, I give it five stars (I love it).

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Since starting Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance workout program four months ago, I’ve developed a serious interest in exercise.  I stumbled across one of Alex Hutchinson’s helpful (and recommended) blogs: Sweat Science.  That’s where I heard about this book.

Mr. Hutchinson uses a Q & A format to address 113 debatable issues facing people who exercise regularly.   The questions are independent although grouped according to subject matter, such as “Nutrition and Hydration.”  This is great for those who have time only for snippets of reading (bathroom reading, for example).

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a particular interest of mine lately.  I see it as way to replace five hours a week of traditional cardio (aerobic) training with just one hour.  The author gives a nice description of HIIT and succinctly and accurately summarizes the science in support of it, along with the risks.

Mr. Hutchinson typically answers controversial questions with the best available evidence from current scientific research.  Rarely, he has to depend simply on expert concensus, which is less reliable.  I envision a new edition every five years or so.

The book is easy to read.  The style is congenial and witty.  Contrary to a recent publishing trend, the font size is reasonably large. 

The audience for this is folks who have made a commitment to make regular physical activity part of their lifestyle.    Trust me, I’m a doctor: the guys at the gym and Internet sources are quite often wrong on these issues. 

If you refuse to do more than just stroll in the neighborhood for 30 minutes a day, you don’t need the book.  But I urge you to consider challenging yourself to do more.   

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under Book Reviews