Pushing Yourself to Power

Pushing Yourself to Power

ISBN: 1-932458-01-8
Reviews: 104 customer reviews
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Based on the most effective and comprehensive strength and fitness system ever taught, Pushing Yourself to Power provides you with everything you need to achieve your natural, God-given strength and fitness potential. Whether you simply desire to slim down and shape up, or your ultimate goal is to build your maximum, all-around functional strength, athletic fitness, and natural muscularity, Pushing Yourself to Power offers complete training strategies specifically tailored to your goals.

Author and internationally renowned strength and conditioning coach John e. Peterson shows you how to use the world’s oldest, most reliable, and effective strength-training exercises to create the superior physique, strength, stamina, and power you’ve always dreamed of having.

Whether you’re a beginner or a world-class athlete, you’ll find complete training strategies to take you from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. Precisely illustrated with hundreds of detailed photos, you’ll see clearly how to perform every exercise in all its variations.

If you’re looking for a complete exercise system that will give you the results you’ve always dreamed of, does not require a gym or expensive exercise equipment, and can be done anytime and anyplace—Pushing Yourself to Power is for you!

About John e. Peterson:

JOHN PETERSON, internationally renowned strength and fitness coach and creator of the Transformetrics™ Training System, knows the painful reality of struggling to overcome physical adversity. At the age of four John was a victim of the dreaded disease polio, which left him with horribly misshapen legs that doctors were forced to break and reset—all without anesthesia for the ...

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User-submitted reviews of this product can be found below.
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S. McKay
S. McKay wrote...
"THE physical fitness book for EVERYONE!"
Oct 04 2006
I was athletic growing up. I played soccer from 2nd grade to the end of high school. I was in good shape and could run, but didn't have a lot of focus on my upper body. When I ...
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... married, I settled into the lethargic married lifestyle and left my athleticism behind. When my wife became pregnant with our child, I decided to work out and be something my child would be proud of.

I didn't want hassle of going to gym, so I bought dumbbells and an adjustable bench to workout on. It wasn't long before I overdid it and hurt my left shoulder doing the incline bench press. I went through physical rehabilitation in an attempt to rebuild my shoulder. After 5 short weeks, the practitioner thought my rehab was as far as it was going to go. I still had pain in using my shoulder and didn't have my full range of motion. I didn't blame the practitioner, his job was to focus on the problem at hand; however, he did he give the advice to start slowly with body weight exercises first, then work my way into weights.

I scoured the Web and found a well known author touting his body weight exercises. This sounded like just what I needed, but I had a sense of distrust about this author. Further searching led me to Mr. Peterson and the Bronze Bow Web site. I browsed the message boards for a while. I was amazed at the people that had stories similar to mine. I could relate to the "busted up bodybuilder" syndrome, in that even though I wasn't a body builder, I had experienced first hand the ills of free weights. I was amazed at the insight offered on the board, and was duly impressed that the author himself, Mr. Peterson, had the interest and humbleness to make postings on the board as well. I received Pushing Yourself to Power two months later as a birthday present.

As I began to follow the exercises in the book, dramatic changes began to take place. Using the Tiger Moves as the basis for my workout, I quickly came to the point were I no longer needed to take ibuprofen daily to overcome the pain in my shoulder, and regained the full range of motion in my shoulder, if not gained some.

Don't let this lead you to the conclusion that what Mr. Peterson teaches is only for rehab. I have been steadily practicing what is taught in the books, as well as branched out and tried some of the suggested exercises on the bulletin boards. I fully understand what it means to say to "listen to your body" when designing a workout regimen. I have recently began looking more into isometrics to try and increase my strength and aerobic calisthenics to bulk up. Information gleaned from the message boards has been invaluable in these pursuits.

Just last week someone made a comment to me about the size of my forearms for my body size and asked if I lifted weights. I proudly told them I only lift my body.

W & M Tide
W & M Tide wrote...
"Excellent Program"
Sep 21 2006
This is a fantastic program for sculpting the entire body using no special equipment other than a pull-up bar. Well illustrated with high quality photos and clear, well-written ...
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... text, this book sets forth a thorough set of exercises for each section of the body and includes a workable, real-world dietary program. Mr. Peterson has taken the concepts of the Atlas course, modernized them, explained them in greater detail, and illustrated each in a manner that leaves no confusion as to form. The only glitch in the book is Mr. Peterson's apparent idolization of Matt Furey by placing Furey in the "Heroes" section of the book along with such veritable icons as Earle Liedermann, Charles Atlas, Herschel Walker, and Rocky Marciano, each a champion of bodyweight strength training.

Burnett Newkirt
Burnett Newkirt "WT Colorado" wrote...
"Great Book!!!"
Sep 18 2006
This book is great way to get rid of weights and $$$$$ Health club memberships!! Aside from power walking and/or swimming this is all you need to strengthen your body. I've had ...
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... this book for 6mos now and have noticed drastic improvements are my strength, endurance, balance and overall body strength. I've done it all 2hours a day at the gym, martial arts power and lifting. The techniques in this book have allowed me to maximize every muscle in my slim 155lb frame!!! Also try "DYNAMIC STRENGTH" By HARRY WONG!!! The two books work great together!!

Gregory Smith
Gregory Smith wrote...
"Not perfect, but useful for its target audience"
Sep 16 2006
It's so hard to find a balanced review of this book. There are people who love it, and people who hate it, and a lot of the difference between those groups comes from their ...
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... background and what they were expecting. Hopefully you can figure out from my outline of what's good and bad whether this title would be useful to you, and set your expectations accordingly.

Most of what PYTP discusses is musty history. The main value of the book is to serve as an aggregator of techniques rather than an innovator of them. There's a heavy influence from the many decades old Charles Atlas "Dynamic Tension" program. The book gives Matt Furey credit he probably deserves for popularizing ancient exercises that Furey himself never tried to take credit for inventing; this seems to annoy some for no good reason. If you're already familiar with the classic systems from people like Atlas and Liederman, and you're familiar with Furey's exercises, then, no, you won't find much value here.

Those who are new to these techniques will find this glossy treatment an easier way to learn than trying to accumulate all of them separately. Suggesting one should instead decipher the tutorials or ancient texts scans floating around the Internet is really missing the point. When I was trying to learn how to do a "Furey Pushup" aka "Hindu Pushup" aka any number of other names it's been called, I appreciated having Peterson's clear pictures sitting next to me on the floor as I worked it out. I know perfectly well that I can download and print many valuable bodyweight training systems myself, for "free", from sites like Sandow Plus. My time is valuable enough that purchasing this book made more sense to me, and I appreciate the way in which the similar exercises from multiple schools of training are sorted by body part for easy comparison in this title.

On the personality side, John Peterson has a curious mix of enthusiastic sincerity with naivety, and this can come off as salesmanship. He really does think these exercises are the best approach, because it's worked great for him and he's never really looked at the other options, and he really has helped many people. He enthusiastically passes along the legends of his inspirational heroes without checking to see if those are really just ad copy. He really does believe in the power of Christ to help you, and he sometimes feels compelled take a moment to tell you how wonderful that is. I don't really agree with a lot of his philosophy, but relative to the size of the book these are pretty small diversions, and I find they entertainingly paint the author as a likable but fallible personality without interfering with my use of the text.

There is a brief section on nutrition. I can summarize his findings: "this is what worked for me once". Just skim that as an amusing interlude and move along to the next section.

You can't miss the clear bias against weightlifting in this book, and it oversells the body-weight exercises it suggests as being at least equal and generally superior to those done with weights. Weight training has an enormous efficiency for building muscle that cannot be equaled by any other approach. If you're already training with weights, and you purchase this book expecting that it will improve your performance in those weight exercises, you are confused; there is no better way to improve weight training performance than just doing more of it. But training with weights, presumably at a gym, requires several types of commitment: the money for a membership, wanting to exercise badly enough to leave the house for a while, and aligning ones schedule with the gym's hours are just some parts of that. If you'd like a program that's moderately effective but doesn't require any of these things, Peterson will give you the building blocks to make one here. You'll still need to be motivated to exercise, in some ways more motivated than someone at a gym because of the intensity required to get results from this approach. And there's plenty of assembly required--you'll have to put together a program from the encyclopedia-like presentation yourself. The pieces are all here, and there is a useful organization to the material, but it can be a bit fuzzy how to start if you're not already familiar with the mechanics of assembling a workout plan.

Weight training also presumes a level of fitness and freedom from injury that isn't always available. You can easily injure yourself with weights, either from bad form or doing exercises that just aren't compatible with your body structure; once you've started to have some muscle or joint issues, continuing to use weights becomes very dangerous. You can also injure yourself with body weight exercises, and this book deserves criticism for recommending the controversial neck bridge without appropriate safety warnings. But for the most part, the exercises in this book are suitable even for the unfit and the mildly injured, and you'll be hard pressed to overdo them such that you get hurt. That's why it has such a following among older folks and those whose bodies won't support weightlifting. And the bias against weights makes it really mesh with the worldview of those whose injuries were from weights. Try to read comments from those enthusiastic fans the same way you should treat the author's enthusiasm toward his religious beliefs: it's not that they're shills, they really do believe and have a reason for that belief that is valid to them.

What I believe is that this is a good reference guide to classic body weight, isometric, callisthenic, and similar exercises presented with better than average photos of form. The price tag is reasonable considering the density of material, and that you're getting just about everything Mr. Peterson (and the many people whose material he has assimilated) has to say on this subject in one shot here. That itself is refreshing compared to some of the piecemeal releases other authors in this genre (Matt Furey and Pavel Tsatsouline spring to mind) offer in their books. Don't believe people those who tell you this program is perfect, and be similarly skeptical to those who suggest it has nothing to offer.

Justin_P "Justin_P" wrote...
"Equal to Dynamic Tension!"
Jul 21 2006
If you want to buy one book that will cover all of the basis in getting fit (exercises, diet, mental and spiritual outlook) this is the book that you need to buy. The ...
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... bulk of this book is based on using variations on isometric training. It only looks easy! These exercises are very, very potent and they work wonderfully. What is great about the workouts is that you supply the resistance, so these exercises can be done by anyone in modestly good shape. There are some great calisthenic exercises here as well.

This book is very uplifting and invigorating. If there was a sixth star, I'd rate it as such.

Mark J. Grice
Mark J. Grice wrote...
"The Key is the "PUSH" Part"
Dec 05 2005
I've been meaning to write a review of this book from some time, but I wanted to wait until I had a chance to really work with the exercises. A little background on me ...
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... (since anyone thinking of buying an exercise book wants to know: Will it work for a guy like me?)

I am ready to turn 45. I am what you might call a weekend athlete. I play hockey in a league here. I have never been a world-class athlete or body-builder, but I've never been horribly out of shape, either. I take care of myself. Don't smoke, drink a little, and watch what I eat. I'm in pretty good shape. I am not as trim as I was in High-School, but I don't have much of a gut. I am 6'2" and about 200 pounds. So, kind of middle of the road physique-wise.

I am a reader, so I have read all kinds of books on fitness and bodybuilding, and buy Men's Health every month (damn, I could save some money with a subscription, come to think of it!). I know about every theory you can name. (If only knowing were the same as doing!)

Last year, I joined a local fitness club. After three weeks, I felt a difference. My body tightened up nicely. My waist trimmed. I looked better in clothes, and my wife appreciated the difference out of them.

I wasn't bulky big. But the difference was noticeable. I felt good.

But, you know how it is... you have a job, a wife, two kids... Getting to the Gym is hard when you are also designated Kid Taxi.

I stopped going... lost my definition, put on some weight, and was pretty disappointed in myself.

Enter Push Yourself to Power (PYPT). I've been working out with it for a couple of months, and the gym results are back - even though I haven't darkened the door of any gym. That's very cool!

Is it magic? Are you kidding?

No exercise program is. And buying it won't make you any fitter, any more than buying a Tae-Bo DVD will trim inches off of your waist-line. Unfortunately, you actually have to use it to see a benefit.

But it does work.

There are, however, a couple of things that you have to know... because this exercise program won't work for anyone.

The beauty of the system is that you don't have any weights.

The problem of it is that you don't have any weights.

Let me explain:

When you lift a 25 pound weight, two things work together: The weight offers resistance, and your muscle provides the effort. This will make your muscle work hard and which eventually leads to muscle breakdown. Your body, being incredibly smart, rebuilds the muscle better - seeing that it now needs more strength.

This is the basis of all body-building theory. Your body builds what it needs. If you eat potato chips and sit on a couch, it doesn't need muscle. If you work digging ditches, it does. The body adapts.

Weight training, essentially, fools your body into thinking it needs to develop efficient muscles to exist. So it does.

So, resistance + effort = growth.

In normal weight lifting, you provide half of the equation: Effort.

In PYTP, you need to provide BOTH the effort AND the resistance. And that is the challenge. If you are lazy, this will not work for you.

You can be lazy and get results with lifting weights. 25 pounds is always 25 pounds, whether you are fired up and ready to go, or tired and wishing you were in bed. It always takes 25 pounds of effort to lift it.

But with PYTP, you have to provide the 25 pounds of resistance with one muscle so you can reap the benefit of 25 pounds of effort with the other. This is where the "Pushing" part comes in. If you are unwilling to push yourself, you will get a lame workout, and get no results.

That is the challenge... But, there is a tremendous upside to this:

You see, if you do a set dumbbell curls you pick a weight that you can lift 8 or 10 times. The problem is that your muscle has different needs at the beginning of a set than it does at the end. If I can curl 50 pounds 8 times, that means the first couple of reps are too easy for my bicep, whereas the last couple are actually too hard. (And these last reps can actually be a problem... because your muscle is breaking down and getting weaker, the stress of the weight is now being partially borne by your joints and tendons... this is how "lifting" injuries can occur. It isn't just bad technique... sometimes it is simply working with a weight that is too heavy...)

Now imagine lifting a dumbbell that magically changed resistance as you went. So it was heavier for the first couple of reps when you start out, and got lighter as your muscle fatigued. If this were possible, you would get a better, and safer, workout.

That's the theory behind PYTP. And, if you focus and concentrate, you can achieve this.

But, there is another drawback to no weights, and that is: No measurement.

If I bench press 180 pounds for a week, and then move up to 200 next week, I can MEASURE my improvement.

But this won't happen with PYTP. My resistance and effort will change daily. I will never be able to see that my right arm is now stronger, because it is being resisted by my left arm which is now proportionally stronger, too. In fact, it will FEEL like exactly the same workout.

Other than the fact you can see your arms are bigger, you won't notice a difference. Of course you can set up measurements that you do once a week. Maybe go to a gym and test yourself. Or see how many pull-ups you do, or whatever.

For me, I don't care. When I was in high school, the question of: "How much can you bench?" came up often... but it never does any more. No one cares in my world. All I want to do is play hockey, take care of my family, and spend time with my wife. I want to look "good" and feel good. I don't want to run out of steam at the end of the day, and I don't want my body breaking down too soon as I age.

I measure strength differently these days.

There is one HUGE advantage to PYTP that should be mentioned: It can be done anywhere.

Last week, I was watching a hockey game on TV, and thought: "Wow, it's Tuesday...I need to workout today." Ordinarily this would mean either blowing off the workout, or turning off the game, grabbing the keys, and heading to the gym. (Guess which one usually won...?)

But, now it meant simply standing up, and starting. I got a full workout in, while watching the game. That is such a great feeling!

OK... so that's how I feel about the "theory". What about the book?

First of all, I view PYTP as more of an encyclopedia of exercises than a routine. Beginners may be frustrated by this. If you want "here's how you start" type of advice, you should get PYTP with something like the Miracle 7 or Powerflex - both of which have more routines, and fewer exercises.

There is a website, which is very cool. And John Peterson is actually involved in the website. I don't know of many other places were you can post a question for the author, and actually get an answer from him (usually in less than a day).

Now, be forewarned, many of the answers boil down to: "You need to do what feels right to you and your body" but usually other guys on the board will also chime in. John is about as non-pushy as I've ever seen. If you are looking for the drill sergeant type approach: "Do this now you maggot!" you're not going to like Bronze bow website.

But it is a great add-on for the book. And I have been amazed at the tone of the site. Even when some guys come on and try to start a flame war, the mods and author simply smooth things over without resorting to flaming back. It's a very "gentlemanly" site. (Though a few women do post, I am speaking of the classy tone...)

There is also a chapter on nutrition, but I don't think anyone is going to have a huge epiphany after reading it. The South Beach Diet is a good book for anyone who needs a diet. And there are better books on nutrition in general (some from Bronze Bow as well). But, I don't think John considers himself a nutritionist, anyway.

The goal-setting and life/time management chapter is fairly thin, too. If you want to read on this more (and it is worth reading) I highly recommend: "10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management" by Hyrum Smith (founder of Franklin Time Management). Best book I've ever read about it.

There are some chapters on John's heroes. It's OK, but, to be honest, I wasn't overly inspired. It might be nice if someone would do a rewrite... maybe one of those guys who writes those tear-jerking stories in Reader's Digest. As prose goes, I didn't find PYTP inspiring. But then again, I didn't buy it for that.

There has been a lot of comment on the "Christian" tone of the book. I have a few thoughts on that... First, if you read any martial arts book, you will be inundated with the "Zen" philosophy, and eastern religion... but I've never seen a reviewer in the martial arts books even comment on it. Why is the fact that John is a Christian so irritating to so many reviewers?

Personally, I'd much rather have a guy come right out and proclaim what he believes so I know where he is coming from. And it's not like each exercise starts out with a Bible verse. Basically, you can skip his chapter on his personal beliefs and go straight to the exercises. It's not a big deal. Unless you're looking for something to be offended about...

Over all, I really like this book. The pictures are good, the descriptions accurate, and it gives you what you need to get in shape - and stay in shape - no matter how busy your schedule is.

Highly recommended. Definitely worth the purchase price.

John wrote...
"It worked for Bruce Lee"
Nov 29 2005
The book states that Bruce Lee used isometric exercises after hurting his back lifting weights in the early 1970s. If you look at pictures of Bruce without a shirt, you see ...
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... that isometrics can work. I personally have hurt myself (minor injuries like strains) just getting weights up and into position, so I like isometrics. Some of the exercises in this book feel great, and some feel like nothing, like they won't work. I would say, most feel really good, like I am getting something done. My triceps ached the day after I first did them, so I think this works. Overall, this is a good book, and I think that many if not all of the exercises are proven over decades (Charles Atlas, etc.). The fact that animals in the wild have great "tone" (like the big cats) without using weights (obviously) suggests that it is possible to use this kind of isometric tension to get muscle mass and tone.

Peter Hagen
Peter Hagen "Fitness enthusiast" wrote...
"The best, and proves himself"
Nov 25 2005
This is the best book, bar none, for getting into shape quickly. It contains loads of wonderfully illutsrated exercises, and diet information that will set you straight. If you ...
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... ever only buy one book on exercise or fitness, this is it. The proof is in the pudding - the author is in phenomenal shape. He sticks to his beliefs and his system, and pulls no punches. At the same time, however, he is one of the most kind and genial men you would ever talk with.

Greg Newton
Greg Newton wrote...
"A plow horse or a race horse?"
Nov 18 2005
Many who started bodybuilding and weight lifting back in the seventies; fondly remember starting our physical culture journey by doing the Charles Atlas dynamic tension ...
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... exercises as a teen. The course was over fifty years old by then, and while it had good advice, the directions were hard to follow without coaching. So, after pulling and pushing our way through the first few weeks of the course, many of us gave up and turned to the barbells that were beginning to show up in our high school weight rooms.

Much later, after years of heavy weight training, I found myself, like many other life time weight trainers, with aching and deteriorated knees, shoulders, and back. I got winded easily. I had lost much of my flexibility and coordination as well. This was despite hours spent stretching and working out hard in the gym. For some reason my bulky build lacked functional strength. While I could lift heavy and go hard in the gym, this didn't give me strength and energy for daily tasks or sports.

For someone hitting middle age, who had been a black belt martial artist, this was hard to take. So ditching my thirty year love affair with the weights, I began stumbling around for an alternative for conditioning.

Enter Pushing Yourself to Power. John Peterson followed the Atlas program as well, but he was fortunate enough to have the coaching of a grandfather and great-uncle who were life long physical culture devotees. Pushing Yourself to Power is a master text of physical self development. It covers everything from breathing, nutrition, joint mobility, power calisthenics, dynamic tension type exercise, and isometrics. The Dynamic Visualization program in the book can be used safely for out of shape beginners or athletes suffering from injuries. For the more advanced athlete there is the five hundred pushup challenge. There is an excellent and inspirational biographical section on remarkable athletes who developed Herculean builds without using weights, such as the late actor and athlete, Woody Strode. John also shares his refreshingly, positive Christian faith in the book.

If you are interested in bulky, superfluous muscles and pushing heavy weights in the gym, this book is not for you. But, if you are interested in building a pain free, lean, lithe and muscular physique with coordination, flexibility, endurance, speed, and strength to spare, this book is tailor made for you. You see, as John's grandfather explained to him many years ago, the athletes of the twenties, thirties and forties lived closer to agricultural life than we do today. They had seen the mighty musculature of the plow horse and the strength he developed. But they had also seen how the plow horse had to be put down at a relatively early age, because of deteriorated joints. They compared this to the race horse, which enjoyed a longer life without swollen joints and pain.

The choice is yours. Do you want to be a plow horse or a race horse? After almost two months of utilizing this book, I've lost ten pounds, dropped a pant size, and increased my coordination, endurance and flexibility dramatically. I can now do things I haven't been able to do in years, such as run, climb, and perform one arm pushups. It's the race horse for me. How about you?

P. McKenzie
P. McKenzie "civet5285" wrote...
"What kind of strength are you seeking?"
Nov 07 2005
Many of the reviewers don't so much disagree about the content of this book as they do about the concept of strength. What does it mean to be strong and fit? If you are ...
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... interested in powerlifting, weightlifting, or strongman fitness, or endurance athletics (marathons, etc.), this isn't the book for you. Although Peterson puts down people in that field as not being strong because they can't, for example, do pullups, it's really a "courses for horses" thing; maybe Poul Anderson couldn't do a pullup, but Peterson on the best day of his life couldn't dead-lift seven times his own bodyweight, or press three times his own bodyweight, or lift a 285 lb concrete ball onto a pedastal at head-level, or farmer-walk with a 250-lb dumbbell in each hand, or run a competitive triathlon or marathon or 100-mile super-marathon. Reviewers who disagree about this book usually disagree about the relative merits of different kinds of strength.

That said, here's where I think the book could be useful. If you are interested in getting fitter, and stronger in the sense of being able to more easily dominate your own body's weight, then this book has material that could help you. If you are interested in being a dedicated strength or endurance athlete (power lifter or strong man or marathon-type athlete), then, as some reviewers have correctly pointed out, you need to go elsewhere.

I wouldn't buy this book if you already enjoy pumping iron, because weights and weight-lifting have been pretty well-documented to lead to the best strength gains per unit of training time (contrary to what Peterson implies in the book, and very contrary to what many of his sycophants parrot). It's not weight-lifting that injures people, it's improper weight-lifting. Lest people try to tell you that strong iron-pumpers don't retain their strength or health, several were still strong in their 70's, 80's, and in one case, 90's, still lifting weights people less than half their age couldn't budge. Again, it's not that they weren't or aren't strong, but that they've chosen to be strong in a different way.

If you absolutely hate pumping iron and doing weights, as I do, this book may have some useful information.

The calisthenics material isn't anything new, really just doing circuits or high-volume reps with bodyweight.

So, overall, yes there's good material and info here, with some preachy stuff, a little snake-oil-salesman charm, and photos that demonstrate the moves well. However, you really have to know what you want and whether or not this is the book that will give it to you, and a lot of that depends on what sort of strength you're trying to gain. For powerlifters, strongmen and people who love weightlifting, I give it 2 stars; for people who want to improve their body's appearance and dominate their bodyweight, and/or hate to lift weights, I give it 3 1/2 stars.

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