BOOK REVIEW: Fitness Weight Training, 3rd Edition

Title: Fitness Weight Training, 3rd Edition
Authors: Thomas Baechle & Roger Earle
Publisher: Human Kinetics Australia 2014, ISBN:
Details: Paperback, 272 pages
RRP: $26.95 OR $22.91 for Network Members when buying online HERE and entering the Promo Code network2015

Review by Peter Lawler

The first edition of Fitness Weight Training appeared in 1995, the second in 2005 and the third this year. It has withstood the test of time, a constant in an ephemeral world. Compared to the first edition way back in the last millennium, there has been considerable cosmetic enhancement with little evidence of embalming! Smooth gloss paper, soothing to the touch of love, colour photographs that enhance the allure of every page plus training programs have been given rainbow identification.

One simple explanation for the success of this book is the enviable reputation of the experienced authors. Both have been prolific authoritative writers for decades. Thomas Baechle is a Professor of Exercise Science at Creighton University. He is the co-founder of the NSCA and the co-editor of the classic Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning the unchallenged bible in the world of strength training literature. Roger Earle was once the head coach at Creighton University. He is now a personal trainer, lecturer at coach education seminars and co-author of the same timeless classic Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, a truly magnificent text.

The target audience is beginners, but the book is still attentive to more experienced trainers. Therefore, there must be reams of basic information regarding knowledge of exercises by name and function, equipment available, stretching and safety concerns. The authors claim the 'largest road block' is knowing what training program to follow. To offset blissful ignorance, 75 programs are provided, an extraordinary number akin to saturation bombing. Three chapters focus on basic theory and practice.

Following a simple bench press test, trainers can then assume their fitness status or initial workout zone. For untrained people there are three colour zones: green, purple and orange, which translate to low, average and high fitness at beginner level. For trained people, the colours to follow are blue, yellow and red for low, average and high, but obviously at a higher level of loading. So that’s six levels of training intensity in total.

The authors identify three types of training programs:

  • muscle toning to firm the flaccid
  • body shaping  to develop the larger muscle groups and;
  • traditional strength training.

This book for basic trainers is very 'strong' on establishing the initial programs. Standard practise for loading bars has been trial and error. Our Tom and Roger are far more diligent than that. Tabulated charts offer an accurate methodology on how best to calculate starting loads. But what exercises must I do? The answer, my friend, lies between pages 47 and 135.

As with all Human Kinetic publications on exercise, the format is always the key. One exercise per page, identification of exercise name and muscle trained, description of the initial (starting) position, downward movement, upward movement, photographs of start and finish position, move on...to programs in the rainbow world (the colour-coded training zones mentioned above). The exercises are all standard fare, no surprises and no excitement.

As indicated in the introduction above, trainers are now prescribed, nay proscribed, to their colour zone. Beginners follow the green brick road and the pinnacle people pursue the elitist red level. It's all colour! The programs are prolific. There are six chapters that cater for the six strata. There are no other books that replicate this approach. Each program has calculated the total time for a workout, what to do for warm up and cool down, the exercises are listed according to the zone you wish to work and what apparatus you choose to sweat upon.

The final segment of Fitness Weight Training – 3rd Edition offers three chapters of advanced weight programs. The pick of these challenges the testing combo of training for strength and aerobic endurance simultaneously.

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