It's a bit unfair for me to be reviewing this. I have done some ballroom dance and argentine tango for about the last year. This book presumes a good...moreIt's a bit unfair for me to be reviewing this. I have done some ballroom dance and argentine tango for about the last year. This book presumes a good deal of familiarity with technique from ballet, Jazz and modern dance. I took one semester of ballet classes way back in college and it would be charitable to say that I sucked. So, from the outset, this book was way over my head.
There are lots of exercises here for relaxation and to increase various ranges of motion. Before I say anything about them, I should really give them a chance. There's also a conditioning workout at the end of the book that looks really good, but I haven't tried it yet. Maybe I will go back at some point and try more that's in the book. But for a novice who dabbles in another kind of dance, this was the wrong choice. It just seems like there aren't many alternatives.(less)
I've been doing workouts from the first book in this series (The New Rules of Lifting), and they''ve helped enormously. This book has updated material...moreI've been doing workouts from the first book in this series (The New Rules of Lifting), and they''ve helped enormously. This book has updated materials, and its workouts are designed for functional movements, and not just for building size and strength. The variations that Cosgrove gives all target the core and supporting muscles at least as much, or more, than the main muscle groups that you would ordinarily associate with an exercise.
For example, with a traditional squat, you load up a barbell with a ton of weight. You pick it up with the barbell behind your neck and resting on your shoulders. Then, keeping your back neutral, you bend your knees until the thighs are parallel to the floor and come back up. With this exercise, I could crank out the three sets of 12 reps with a load of 180+ pounds.
The first squat variation here does something different. Instead of balancing the barbell behind the neck, you hold it straight overhead with your arms extended. This makes the exercise much more a question of dynamic balance and shoulder flexibility, and much less a workout for the legs. I did it this way for the first time this week, and instead of using 180 pounds, I was reduced to two sets with 20 pounds and one set of 30 pounds.
And the surprising thing is that the workout was even harder than before. In fact it was way too hard for me. The next day, I felt good sore throughout the midsection, but it was an odd sort of soreness. When you do lots of ab work, ordinarily, you get sore on the outsde layers of muscle. Here, I was sore on the inside, almost like the way you feel in the early stages of food poisoning. And then the next day, the real soreness kicked in. I basically cramped and spasmed the entire day throughout my whole midsection, and ended up completely immobile. Now, I just feel like my midsection got severely beaten, but I'm getting slowly back to normal.
That doesn't sound like a recommendation for the book. I didn't think I had overdone it, but its obvious that my basic core muscles are even weaker than I thought. So I'm looking forward to going back to this program, but starting from scratch and using basically no weight at all to begin with. It's abundantly clear that this program really targets the muscles it says it does, and this little episode has made it even clearer that I need this kind of conditioning.
(As an aside, when I go to the gym, I see about 90% of the guys working with bicep curls and bench presses. Then some will do some lat pulldowns. Very few do any leg work at all. And core work is almost unheard of, and at best comes as an afterthought. For health and really good functional strength, I'm convinced that this is exactly backwards. Core work is probably the most important thing to do, followed by legs. Upper body work is mostly a question of vanity. I never thought I would start lifting weights again, but its helped me alot with some nagging injuries (especially my knees), and I think I will be OK so long as I focus more on being long and lean, and not worry at all about size.)(less)