In his Amazon review of Paleo Workouts for Dummies, Dan John called the book a “very good book on modern training with an awful title.” And while Dan John is frequently quotable on many topics, I am choosing to quote him today on this one particular thing because of its all-around truth. Pat Flynn’s book is a very good book and it does have a very questionable title.
In fact, I think the title may keep people from realizing what an awesome book this is. Some people (and apparently many of them are my Facebook friends) are going to have a knee-jerk response to both the usage of the word “paleo” and the “Dummies” franchise. But I would ask you to suspend disbelief for a moment and be open to considering that the contents inside this book are, in fact, not only legit, but also quite valuable.
What is meant by “paleo” in this book is really the concept of minimalism, and it is something that Pat Flynn has espoused for some time. For the deconditioned, the chronically over-trained, and the time-disadvantaged, minimalism is a great approach to fitness. And that pretty much includes all of us, right?
The concept in this book is to work with basic human movements and put them together in a way that is most effective. Pat’s tools of choice are the kettlebell and paleo-style nutrition. The book spends a great deal of time explaining the basic movements involved in Pat’s workout plans, including progressions for athletes of all experience and strength levels, and modifications for young adults, older adults, and pregnant athletes.
As a supplement to the book there are also online resources where readers can read additional articles and print out “cheat sheets” as reminders on the information included in the book.
Beyond the exercise portions of the book, there is also an in-depth explanation of paleo eating and paleo living. Basically, this means eating organic and grass-fed whole foods, getting lots of sleep, getting your sunlight, and generally reducing stress. The book also addresses the benefits of fasting protocols and lists the most useful supplements, which I personally appreciated since I think many paleo eaters wrongly vilify supplementation. The inclusion of all these aspects makes the regimen in the book a well-rounded approach to health.
And then there are the workout plans. There is a 21-day plan for beginners and a ninety-day plan for athletes. The workouts are clearly laid out and include warm-up, strength-training, and metabolic-conditioning aspects. If you just flip through these pages, the plan may come off as not-too-exciting, but this is what fitness minimalism is about, and this is a good thing. These are simple, straightforward workouts that are effective and easy to incorporate into busy lifestyles. This is where people need to start, especially beginners. In that sense, “paleo” means “keep it simple, stupid,” not like, literally, live like a caveman.
I think that aspect is probably what I would find most useful in regards to this book. I would happily give it to someone who is getting started and wants a book that will cover all the basics of healthy living and movement, without spending a bunch of money. This book won’t ask you to buy a bunch of equipment, spend a ton on food, or commit giant swaths of time. It’s going to give you the low-down on everything you need to know and help you cut a clear path. For those not initiated into the world of fitness (i.e. those most likely to buy a “Dummies” book), this is a great resource.
For those of you who are more advanced and already Pat Flynn fans, there’s one small thing to know: you won’t find a lot of Pat-Flynn-ness in the writing in this book. As a Pat Flynn fan myself, I find that a little disappointing, as he is one heck of an entertaining writer. If you persevere, however, and make it through to the dedication and acknowledgements at the end of the book, you will find some classic Flynn tidbits.
In summary, take the title with a grain of salt, and if you know someone looking for a good primer on effective fitness, check this book out.
“Paleo Workouts for Dummies” is available for $13.38 at Amazon.com.