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Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise
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Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,620 ratings  ·  175 reviews
In Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Alex Hutchinson, a physicist, award-winning journalist, and contributing editor of Popular Mechanics magazine, reveals the little-known and often surprising truths that science has uncovered about exercise. A book that ranges from cardio and weights to competition and weight loss, here are fascinating facts and practical tips for fi ...more
Kindle Edition, 339 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by William Morrow
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Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was awesome, with short chapters, each answering a different question about exercise and fitness, reviewing the latest studies and knowledge. I was surprised at how much of my "common knowledge" was actually wrong. I liked the quick summaries at the end of each chapter.

Here are some of the things I learned:
* Lactic Acid build-up is NOT the source of the DOMS (day-after muscle soreness). Lactic acid is a fuel, not a waste product, that gets cleaned out of your system within an hour afte
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
Copying chapter summaries for my favorite chapters here:

• It takes three months of hard training to see significantly bigger muscles, and six weeks to boost endurance, but health and performance gains on a cellular level start within a few days.
• Aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, in bouts as short as 10 minutes, will boost your health, but more is better.
• Your body can be “set” to build strength or aerobic fitness during any g
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction, fitness
I think this is a book that anyone who does fitness of any kind should read. It smites fitness myth and misinformation with the power of SCIENCE, which is the best way to do things.

One of the things that made it such an easy read was the Q and A format, that make what could be a dry subject more interesting. And there was a little bit of humor interjected here and there.

My only complaint is the title, it's one of the stupidest titles imaginable, but I suppose the book had to have some sort of ho
Adrienne Strock
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nf, 2012
I was impressed with the new "science" in this book. Set up in a Q&A format, this book answers some common questions about fitness and weight loss. I'm no novice to exercise techniques and the science behind them, but it's been awhile since I've read up on new exercise science. While I don't think any of the answers are conclusive (it cites lots of research studies with mediocre sample sizes), I did learn a thing or two, like drink pickle juice if you have cramps. I will now tell people that enc ...more
The idea behind this book is a good one, but the content is simply outdated. I enjoyed Hutchinson's conversational tone, but sometimes I felt like he was "talking down" to me. Luckily, the way the book is structured, I could skip sections where I already knew the content without missing much. All in all, I think fitness magazines should focus on publishing this sort of material; I'd be much more interested in reading monthly educational snippets than a book-length Q&A-style info dump. ...more
Dickson Tan
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in an accessible questions and answers format, this book answers some of the most common fitness and sports related questions that you might have, such as of course, "which comes first: cardio or weights". I'd recommend this to anyone.

This book is a bit dated now though, so I'm wondering what might change if an updated second edition was written.
Dan Bell
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hutchinson does the work for you by wading through the most recent studies to delineate scientifically strong fitness suggestions against folk tales with no factual evidence. A good read for anyone who wants to exercise more efficiently.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-science
An excellent summary of everything exercise (and much of nutrition) related. Highly recommended to everyone starting an exercise regime, and even to those who exercise for a long time.
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly recent, good info; even one of the trainers at the gym I work at perused it for a half hour or so and then came back and said "I'll see you later... I'm going to buy that book." ...more
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of common sense info in this book. Loved the researched rational and the organization of topics.
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book slowly, more so I could take time to absorb it than because it wasn't easy reading. I really like that Hutchinson answers some of the most commonly-asked fitness-related questions. I was interested in it more to learn more about weight loss and cardio vs. strength training science, but I picked up a lot of interesting tidbits. For example:

- There's no evidence that coffee takes away from performance. (Note that caffeine isn't the same thing as coffee.)
- For my clients anxious to
Two of my favorite things are common sense and empirical evidence--that's why I was an economics major. This book is chock full of both. Alex Hutchinson clearly outlines pretty much all aspects of physical fitness--debunking various myths in the process. All the while backing up every statement with empirical evidence (all studies mentioned are thoroughly referenced in the back of the book).

As a loyal reader of the NY Times Well Blog (definitely go check it out) I already knew much of what the
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written within the last two years and contains lots of great up to date information about fitness and health. All of the information is backed up with references to scientific studies and explains plainly and thoroughly what the results mean. It's refreshing to read a book about fitness that just gives you the facts, as best as we understand them right now instead of anecdotal stories and unverified stuff made up by the "pros". ...more
Trung Nguyen Dang
Fantastic book, probably the best I come across for exercises.
The book covers a wide array of common questions, myths, concerns regarding exercises, and answers those with proper scientific studies. The author, PhD and a former competitive runner, went through tons of scientific studies in various journal to write this book. I found myself highlighting all over the book and hard to put the book down once I started.
Happy to share the highlights upon request
Up-to-date and very useful information. Probably aimed more for a beginner audience, but I picked up several useful tidbits too. The question/answer format makes it very readable.
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A handy book with a lot of answer for common questions.
It talks about a lot of myths which are really interesting.
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quick read, worth it for someone who is fairly new to exercise and would like motivation. If you're someone who is experienced with working out you likely will not learn a ton. ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So you want to get healthier? Excellent! Let me explain . . . No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

That's basically what this book is. It takes all of the science around exercise and tries to sum it up in concise little chunks to help physiology neophytes like me understand what's going on with Exercise Type A vs. Exercise Type B.

So which comes first? Cardio or weights? Well, it may not surprise you that there isn't one right answer. There are just lots of trade-offs. It turns out doing a vari
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The master trainers at FISAF, often berating new trainees not to enslave their grey matter to the exhortations of the countless Men's This or Women's That periodicals, would not likely be disappointed with this book. Written by a scientist, the book makes citations to well-documented research by well-established educational or research institutions in the field of sports science.

The book covers many topics that would not surprise FISAF-certified trainers or instructors familiar with the subject
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have a habit of listening to infomercials about fitness, or pick up the usual fitness magazine this is a really good book at dispelling so many myths about exercise. Even some really longstanding myths. The author is a runner and his bias for aerobics comes through. I think, however, he stays fairly objective listing the benefits of both aerobics and weight training.
Here is the bottom line of this book. Exercise is really good for you. Eating a well balanced diet is good for you. You s
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fitness
This was an enjoyable and interesting read. I've been a little obsessive about fitness lately (I'm a marathon runner), and this book was right up my alley.

There are a lot of articles on Runner's World and other websites that basically review a recent study and discuss the implications. This book is basically over 100 of those articles one after another. However, each short topic doesn't just focus on one study, but often mentions multiple studies. The science-based approach is very informative a
Mar 12, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I picked this book up because I recently started running and I wanted to educate myself a little bit. While this book was very easy to read and is mostly pretty interesting, it didn't really fill that gap. A large portion of the book is dedicated to questions that are really only relevant for high-level athletes. Hutchinson certainly acknowledges this, and he does pepper the book throughout with advice for casual athletes. Of course, most of that advice boils down to "don't worry about this" and ...more
Maximum Peaches
Mar 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very practical and easy to read. Each chapter has a summary at the end so you can easily see what is relevant and then refer to that part in the chapter if you want more detail.

I found out a couple interesting things, like it takes 10-14 days for the body to become adjusted to heat, and most heat exhaustion during races occurs when the race takes place at a reasonable time, but in Northern climates during Spring or Fall when people aren't adjusted to the hotness.

I also found it inte
I listened to this as an audiobook and wish I hadn't. Not because it was bad,it was just an overwhelming amount of information. Kind of like listening to the answers to 50 questions you've looked up online over a number or years but instead presented in a continuous 8 hour audio stream. I'm not sure I retained anything and it gave me a headache.I had to take breaks.

The questions it answers are things i've actually wondered or even looked up before and the answers are succinct but I think I would
Sarah LaMountain
This book is great at debunking exercise myths and presenting scientific facts. It not only helps you understand the science but it also explains where the myths come from, which is incredibly helpful.

The information is good for someone if they are new to exercise and focuses on a variety of information so there is good information for every kind of person looking to increase health benefits through exercise. Whatever benefits or exercise that may be.

The chapters are easy to read and broken do
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book gives straightforward advice on how to exercise and includes real scientific study and physiological explanations to back it up, which is usually what's missing from those one pager fitness articles you see on the internet or magazines. And it addressed so many common myths, either debunking them or backing them up with science. Amazing book with so many fascinating studies. Highly recommend for anyone interested in fitness, it applies to all levels of competition, including casual ath ...more
This book had some helpful information about the science of exercise, but unfortunately a lot of it was geared more toward athletes trying to enhance performance rather than just a regular guy trying to get more physically fit. That made.some sections seem far less relevant as a reader than others. Another problem with a book like this is it will invariably be out of date within a few years as new studies are constantly coming out. Still, despite its limitations, this book was a helpful pa ...more
Michael Hitchcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book has all kinds of fitness information and cites the studies conducted that led to the findings. There is more updated information about fitness out there, this book was written in 2011, but it has some good advice about what to eat before working out, how you should workout, what to focus on, and a lot more useful information. The question-and-answer format, along with summary sections at the end of each chapter, make it really easy to pick up and put down too.
Jeff DeRosa
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you know nothing about exercise, this book will help you sift through the inaccuracies and get you started. If you're an experienced athlete, this book will help reset your mind and focus your attention; and you'll say things like "oh, yes, I forgot about that." This was published in 2011 so updating will be needed soon. But much of the information remains relevant here in 2018. I love how the author cites many different sources. It's also an easy read. ...more
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Alex Hutchinson is a columnist for Outside magazine and was a long-time columnist for Runner's World. A National Magazine Award winner, he is a regular contributor to The New Yorker online, pens the weekly "Jockology" column in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and writes for the New York Times. FiveThirtyEight recently named him one of their "favorite running science geeks." He was a two-time finalist ...more

News & Interviews

“I'm in a weird place because the book is about to come out. So I'm basically just walking around like a raw nerve and I'm not sure that I...
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“Earlier studies with dogs and goats have suggested that brain temperature, rather than core temperature, might control the limit of exercise tolerance in the heat.” 2 likes
“The important thing is that, thanks to epidemiological studies, we know that exercise is the most powerful anti-aging tactic we’ve got.” 1 likes
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