Book Review: "Strong Curves" by Brett Contreras and Kellie Davis
One of the first things that made me like Strong Curves was that it addresses the typical concerns of female training without pandering to them or watering down the training. So much of the time what I see happening in globo-gym settings is that strength training is disguised in an effort to get women to do it. And, as a result, women don’t get proper strength training and, even worse, they think they’ve experienced it and they now don’t understand why they need it. (FYI: Anything involving colored dumbbells and a Bosu ball is not strength training.)
But any woman who wants a nice booty needs to do strength training. And the truth is, a huge number of the women who step foot into a gym, whether it be a CrossFit box or a globo-gym, are there to build a better booty. So it only makes sense that one of the authors of Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body is none other than the “Glute Guy” Bret Contreras. The book is co-authored by one of his clients, Kellie Davis, who went from overweight mom to physique competitor under Bret’s tutelage.
The book begins by discussing the uniqueness of the female body and why the glutes in particular are so important (and not just for aesthetics). There is also a fair amount of discussion of the pelvic floor muscles, which will be appreciated by just about any woman whose done box jumps or double unders. There are also a couple pages of the book that address why and how to work out while pregnant.
Chapter 5 outlines the Strong Curves eating plan. There’s really nothing new to be said about nutrition, but it does give a lot of nice information in the form of charts and lists, as well as provides you with every mathematical equation you could possibly need to determine your caloric needs. And yes, this plan will require you to count some calories. (And yes, if you’re measuring your food in any way already, including using the size of your palm, you’re already practicing caloric restriction.)
Starting with Chapter 7 Brett begins outlining the Strong Curves exercise program. The program consists of three or four full-body workouts per week, although there is also a “glutes only” version of the program that is also explained. As Brett explained the program, there were two points he made that really stuck out to me:
- Doing too much ab work just makes your core thicker and therefore gets you further away from having the “coveted X-frame,” as co-author Kellie Davis calls it.
- 98% of women have cellulite. Just think on that one for a minute, and then never fuss about the fact that you have it again.
The book details four different twelve-week programs:
- Booty-ful Beginnings Program for Beginners
- Gluteal Goddess Program for Advanced Lifters
- Best Butt Bodyweight Program (for at home)
- Gorgeous Glutes Program (lower body only)
Each program is broken down into weeks 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12. There is a workout A, B, and C for each of three three phases. If you are doing four workouts per week, you do workout A again on your fourth training day. For every program the book also provides a full set of blank training logs that can be easily photocopied and taken to the gym with you.
Each workout follows this template:
- Glute Dominant Exercise
- Horizontal Pull or Vertical Pull Exercise
- Quad Dominant Exercise
- Horizontal Press or Vertical Press Exercise
- Hip Dominant, Straight-Leg Hip Dominant, or Hamstring Dominant Exercise
- Glute Accessory Exercise
- Linear Core Exercise
- Lateral or Rotary Core Exercise
From page 164 through to page 320, the book becomes a massive, detailed reference guide. There is a glossary of terms followed by in-depth instruction for every movement used in any of the twelve-week programs, as well as instruction on warm-up and mobility drills. For every exercise you will see:
- Multiple clear, color photos
- A definition of the movement
- Mention of where you should feel it in your body
- Tips for execution of the exercise
I really appreciated the layout of this book. The middle section where the workouts are presented is very streamlined. Each workout takes up only one page and includes sets, reps, and photographs (see photo below). If you are an experienced exerciser, you’ll be able to go workout just with this information. For beginners who might not remember or know every movement, you have the reference section to turn to.
My one critique of this book would be the way the reference section is organized. There’s no index to quickly flip to an exercise and since it’s organized by categories such as “Straight Leg Hip Dominant,” “Vertical Pull,” and “Lateral/Rotary Curve” in an order that doesn’t seem to be outlined anywhere in the book, it could take someone a fair amount of time to locate the exercise they’re looking for. An easy fix would have been to put the page number next to each exercise on the workout pages so a beginner could flip right to the appropriate exercise. So my one tip for anyone buying this book would be to write the page numbers in yourself on the workout pages, if you think you might need a reminder of proper technique.
Overall I think this book is a great resource for both beginner and experienced female athletes. It is full of quality information, as well as quality training programs. And while they are full-body workouts, if you're looking for booty, I can honestly say, these workouts made my glutes hurt.
"Strong Curves: A Woman's Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body" is available for $22.33 at Amazon.com.