The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises by Adam Campbell
Best for: Women interested in strength training who aren’t overwhelmed with a million (733, to be specific) options.
In a nutshell: Author Campbell provides an overview of lifting, a diet plan (boo), and chapters with body-part-specific target exercises.
Line that sticks with me:
“So whether you’re toting groceries or holding a baby, you’ll notice the difference.” Really, dude? Women use their arms for two things: shopping or children? Awesome.
Why I chose it: I’ve been consistent with my non-strength exercise for many years (running, elliptical, long walks), but haven’t really done much focused strength training in quite a while. Plus, I had a gift certificate to the shop where I found this one.
When I started this review, I planned to give the book three stars, but after considering it further, I’ve bumped it down to two.
There are components of it did like. There are workout plans, and there are detailed images. I’ve already tried one of the Back workouts (and learned that not only can I not do a chin-up, I can’t even jump to one and lower myself down) and the Quads / Calves. The latter was good. When I get back from a vacation I’m taking in a couple of weeks, I’m going to jump into the “Get Your Body Back” collection of exercises, because, as I said, I haven’t done strength training in awhile. So at the very basic level, this book is as advertised.
Now, let’s talk through what bothered me about this book.
First, every person in the book is TINY. Like, there is variety in ethnicity of the women showing the moves, but it seems as thought the person responsible for staging the photography thinks the only people who do strength training are a size 2-4 with no boobs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that body type, but come one. There are strong women who are larger than Keira Knightly; perhaps a few of them could be featured?
Next, there are a probably too many exercise options. I fully get that I bought a book that is literally called the “Big Book of Exercises,” but there’s a difference between a dozen exercises per body area and over ninety. It’s just a lot, and it all blurs together. I think it’s possible it could have been better edited to not seem so overwhelming, but this version? Not so much.
Third, the sections on nutrition are pretty generic and a little blech. There’s even a part with a heading called “Why Diets Work.” The text below talks about why nutrition is a necessary component of changing your weight, but come on. Anyone who has read any studies knows that for the vast, vast majority of people, diets don’t do anything good, and often do very bad things. It’s disheartening to see that in a book ostensibly from a health magazine.
Fourth, the marketing of the book. The subtitle is “Four Weeks to a Leaner, Sexier, Healthier YOU!” Again, blech. I’m sexy as I am, thanks. Would it have been so hard to just replace those words with things like ‘stronger?’ Also, is it just me, or is the photo-shopping of the lovely cover woman just a bit too uncanny valley?
And finally, it bugged me that this book was written by a guy. I’m sure there are plenty of women out there who could compile a bunch of exercises, and I wish Women’s Health magazine would support those women. Also, at the end of many chapters are suggested workouts, which I appreciate, but again — full of guys. Seriously, I thought maybe I was misremembering, but I just flipped through and the one time a name stuck out that I thought might belong to a woman or non-binary person, nope. Still a dude.