Monday, August 18, 2008

Basic Training: A Fundamental Guide to Fitness for Men by Jon Giswold

Basic Training is a fitness guide for men, offering advice on how to stay motivated, how to change your life to be more healthy and finally how to exercise so that you can get the body you want.

It's also a really nice picture book for those who enjoy the male physique.

That said, there is useful information in 200 pages of this book. I especially like how the book tackles those three major areas. Exercise is all well and good, but as the book points out, it's more important to create a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain over the long-haul. That's what this book tries to do and I think it does a pretty good job.

The Audience 

While the book is advertised as a fitness program for anyone, I really think the target audience for this book is more geared towards the gay demographic than anything else. It's probably the photographs mostly, but overall after reading the book, I felt like while anyone would get some useful information, gay men would probably appreciate the book more than others.

However, I think the advice is universal and even if you're straight, I think this book has a ton of useful advice beyond simple exercise techniques. We really all need to step up and work on our healthy lifestyles.

What's in the book... 

Like I said, there are three major sections in this book, Motivation, Action and Lifestyle.

Why those? Well, it's fine to exercise, but for a lot of us, it's more than just learning about the exact way to do a crunch, or what kind of exercise is best for us, it's finding out to change our lifestyle such that we enjoy exercising and we create an overall lifestyle that makes us want to stay fit and enjoy life.

That's why I like the way that this book is broken down. The Motivation section provides an introduction to why we should exercise and why we want to have a healthy lifestyle. It offers information on how to prepare for exercise, how to monitor our progress and how to keep going when we don't necessarily feel like getting out there and doing something.

The Action section deals with more of the traditional aspects of exercise. Here's you'll learn about how to develop a weight-training program, what the ideal exercises are and how to work on cross-training so you work out your entire body. There are also plenty of explanation of those exercises along with the photos showing you how to do them. You'll work your upper and lower body, tighten your core and learn how to stretch. Beyond the weight-training, you'll also learn about aerobic exercises you should be doing and guidance on those exercises.

The Lifestyle section helps you work your overall body and mind. It goes over the gym experience, personal grooming and hygiene, diet basics and how to nurture your soul. Some might scoff at a section like this, but I actually think it's the most helpful. All the exercise in the world isn't going to mean much if you don't get your life in order. You'll learn how to take care of yourself, learn what you should be eating and get an idea of how to center your mind and your body so you can operate at the best level you can.


It's hard to talk about the book without at least mentioning all the black and white photography. It's really good. It's not simply photos of people working out, it's photos of men enjoying life and showcasing healthy lifestyles. It also is photography that celebrates a man's body. It really does add to the book and I have to admit to flipping through from time to time just to look at the photos.


I can't say that I do every exercise in this book or have taken all the advice, but overall I have found this book to helpful and to have some really good general advice for almost anyone looking to make themselves healthier.

I first read this book several years ago and it's got a place in our bookshelf and I do take it down from time to time to read through it again. I have to admit to liking the photos a lot, but even without them, I'd find this book helpful.

Final Thoughts 

If you are a man looking for a guide to an healthy lifestyle, Basic Training by Jon Giswold is a great choice. It is filled with useful information on not only exercise, but whole-body and mind health.

I'd think almost anyone could learn something from this book.

Get Basic Training: A Fundamental Guide to Fitness for Men for your Kindle

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