Book Review: Athletic Forever

Posted: November 20, 2010 in Book Reviews

 

 

This is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf forever.  I honestly couldn’t remember what I read in it, it has been that long.  I believe it was Eric Cressey who I first saw suggest this book and I’m glad he did and I’ll tell you why.  In 270ish pages, the authors manage to pack loads of high quality and applicable information in a logical and meaningful sequence.  By this, I mean most people, regardless of background, will be able to pick this book up, read it, understand it, and apply it.

The authors are cream of the crop sports surgeons and researches having worked with an endless array of professional athletes.

However, the book is over 20 years old.  In terms of research, we’ve learned quite a bit since this book’s original publication.  Having said that, there are some things I don’t agree with.  I don’t believe it’s a matter of differing opinions though.  I think it’s simply a representation of the divide between where we were in terms of knowledge 20+ years ago compared to now.  At any one point in time we have a set of ideas, knowledge and experiences, and if you’re doing it right as a professional, you’re not married to this set of variables.  You’re willing to revise your methods and ideas as technology and information advance.

Where this book is extremely strong, even to this day, is:

1.  Explaining the biological changes that occur with aging and how activity and inactivity impact your body and performance.

2.  Explaining the very basic nuts and bolts of exercise science such as intelligently stressing your body to invoke a specific response.  Any book that’s worth reading in the context of the lay person regarding exercise science is going to briefly discuss the General Adaptation Syndrome and how it applies to exercise.  Though this concept has been beaten to death in most books, they explain it in better terms than any other I’ve read in a long time.

3.  Highlighting many of the still viable metrics for assessing health such as VO2 Max, body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, resting heart rate and a number of others.

4.  It does a great job of explaining the body in lay terms as far as it’s gross properties for exercise such as the cardiovascular system, bioenergetics 101, and the musculoskeletal system.

5.  The books strongest point is the second part that covers injury prevention.  Here it explains the general injury/healing process and then breaks out, chapter by chapter, the basic anatomy (so that anyone can understand it) and common problems and injuries for each of the following body parts: the foot, ankle, lower leg, knee, thigh, back, shoulder elbow, wrist, and hand.  Even with the age of the book, most folks would know a lot more about these body segments as well as common problems that many of experience.

I really wish they would have included a section for hips in this part – I’m surprised they left them out.

Where the book is weak is it’s exercise and nutritional recommendations.  I wouldn’t buy this book for specific recommendations in these departments.  In deed you should read these sections of the book but do so keeping in mind how far this field has progressed since the writing of this book.  Let’s face it, this industry is saturated with information and books.  Hell, I feel lucky when I read something and I can take away 2-3 useful nuggets.  You know a book is good when I’m saying there are only a few nuggets where the book is weak.

Who is it for?

I’d recommend it to anyone interested in maintaining an active lifestyle throughout their life.  Above everything else, this book drives home the message of, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”  It’s hard for my clients to associate the negative health effects from leading a sedentary lifestyle.  Put differently, scaring people into action with, “you better or else you’ll get sick” threats rarely works.

However, all of us have seen the deleterious effects of aging.  Of course biology and genetics are going to play a major hand in how things pan out.  Make no mistake though – how you treat your body now will play a role in how you’re able to live later.  Everyone can relate to the idea of maintaining independence in their later years of life and this book is a prime example of why this idea of independence must be accompanied by an active and healthy lifestyle.

You can purchase the book through Amazon.

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