Book Review: "Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness" by Fred Fornicola and Matt Brzycki
Sometimes when you love a workout implement, you need to write a book about it. And what better device than the dumbbell? It doesn’t get more foundational than the good old dumbbell. Walk into any gym and you will see people using them. The dumbbell's ability to improve athleticism has been tested by time, athletes, and science.
Because of their love of the dumbbell, Matt Brzycki and Fred Fornicola decided to write Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness. This book is full of dumbbell exercises and is written by coaches with experience. Matt is in charge of recreational fitness at Princeton University and is a former Marine. Fred is a fitness writer and runs a personal training business. More importantly, both have been in the business of fitness and coaching for a long time. They bring their combined experience to the table in this book, and have also enlisted the help of a host of other coaches.
In addition to providing an extensive library of dumbbell exercises, this book takes a comprehensive look at other information about the dumbbell. You will find information about the history of the dumbbell (I’ve always wondered how it got that name), exercise theory for using dumbbells and other implements, and a multitude of exercise routines written by numerous guest authors.
The only part of the book that needs some work is the section on lifting theory. I love that the authors have this included this section, and fans of old school styles of exercise like high intensity training (HIT) will especially appreciate it, but I found some of the information to be debateable. For example, the authors oppose explosive training and low rep training as a matter of safety and effectiveness, but low rep training has been done for a very long time by Olympic lifters. However, this book did just celebrate its seven-year anniversary on the market, and Fred’s website has indicated that an updated edition may be forthcoming.
There are other parts I raised my eyebrows at, but they were more a matter of semantics than anything else. For example, the “squat” and “lunge” exercises are actually variations on the split squat. However, these are issues that concern me as a reviewer, but aren't so important for the audience. All in all, although the rationale sometimes stands on shaky legs, the routines will be effective for most readers.
Ultimately, Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness is a solid, foundational book. It's perfect for the inexperienced recreational lifter, as long as they take some of the information with a grain of salt. The exercise descriptions and basic, full-body workout routines alone are worth the price, especially for people who are new to dumbbell training. Using this book as a starter guide for training safely in the gym will effectively open people up to the wide world of fitness.
"Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness" is available for $14.95 at Amazon.com.