If you follow me over on Instagram (link to the right), then you probably saw that I got very excited about finally getting my hands on this book. Well, I was right to get excited. I don’t often go in for health and fitness books by YouTubers and IG personalities- even the ones by PTs can be a little…well, crap. One book I bought by an IG star kept the recommended diet plan incredibly low in carbs- except the one carb rich post workout meal. Needless to say, it didn’t work for me. Though I tortured myself trying to keep up with it and give it a fair go, it simply wasn’t worth it. I turn into a right arsehole without steady low GI carb consumption. Now, bear that in mind when I discuss this book; if I compare that to this, we’ll see that Zanna (thank god) does things very differently…
The book is hefty, and divided into ‘Move’ ‘Nourish’ and ‘Thrive’ (signalling this was off to a good start already). For simplicity I’ll be looking at each section, but as for things that apply to STRONG as a whole (yes I WILL be capitalising that all the way through, because it deserves it), the photography is beautiful and cleanly laid out. When used for the exercise section you can see exactly what you’re meant to be doing. It’s also incredibly easy to read. Any fans of Zanna’s YT channel (I’ll leave all links to her social media at the bottom of the page), you can pretty much hear her voice as you read it. The phrase “quite frankly” was when I realised this was happening, as it comes before her beloved rants about lack of balance on YT. I have to say, “the badger’s nadgers” has become a favourite after reading this. The tone is always light hearted and encouraging, not pushy or intimidating. The whole book also has a massive emphasis on sustainability in the long term. It doesn’t advocate cutting back all of your food, and upping all of your exercise at once (it doesn’t advocate scrimping on food, full stop). More importantly, it doesn’t advocate cutting back on life, or making fitness your entire life. Coming from a place where this has been an issue for me, I cant put into words how refreshing that was. I feel like this removes a lot of the risks you run with buying health and fitness books; Zanna is giving good, solid advice here. She isn’t telling you to go on a thinly veiled crash diet as I felt the aforementioned book did.
Now, down to the sections…
- As I read STRONG I underlined, starred, and also “!!” where something I had been doing for months was actually wrong. For example: doing my cardio before my weights in a combined session. I swapped them around, hey presto- suddenly I am able to lift more, simply because I am not knackered. I am by no means a beginner, but no one had ever taken the time to explain this to me. If you are a beginner, this is an excellent starting point, but even as a more advanced fitness fan, it is 100% worth a read.
- Here we learn the importance of the mind-muscle connection; this has helped me no end.
- All the words surrounding sets (e.g. straight, drop, giant…) are explained, as are other weight lifting terms. As a clearly female weight lifting fan, again, this is something no one has ever explained to me, thinking I “didn’t need the technical details”. And I didn’t know to look for them, because I didn’t know they frigging existed. Now, I do.
- All the muscle groups (major ones) are pointed out in a diagram, and are easy to identify. Useful for beginners in particular.
- There is a huge section of exercises and several workouts, then a section on putting together your own workouts. Zanna does encourage the reader to go an learn further moves through research, but this book already gives any reader the tools they need for quite some time, rather than trying to pull us into buying another book to top up our selection of workouts. This actually means I am way more inclined to buy another of her books, should one be written (hint hint Zanna).
- The book also explains how to step it up in various ways and how to measure progress other than the scale, something particularly useful if you’re looking to build muscle.
- This is a detailed section on food and nutrition; no fads, no diets, just good honest nutritional basics that we should all know. In fact, I found this book dispelled a lot of fads surrounding nutrition, which I hear a lot about from those who have little idea what they’re talking about (*Cough* bro-science/ serial dieters/ detoxers *Cough*)
- Zanna also points out what many of us are thinking: STOP UNNESSARILY CUTTING OUT FOOD GROUPS! As she says ‘no single food, nutrient or ingredient is the root of all evil’.
- The table on portion sizes is particularly useful if you’re new to all of this.
- It is pointed out that moderation is key, and that enjoying life is also important- working out and eating well should be an enriching part of your life, not a hindrance to living.
- Information on supplements, protein bars, and detox products had me beaming, because I finally feel we have a fitness writer who isn’t trying to promote something other than really looking after yourself.
- “Keeping a healthy mind” set was one of my favourite sections, as well as “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, and the “Self-love” section. Here Zanna points out that ‘health and fitness should be part of your life, but not your whole life’. This is key, and I wish I could’ve learnt this sooner, as it would’ve saved me a whole lot of hastle. It’s ground-breaking to see so many pages dedicated to looking after yourself emotionally and mentally in a health based book, because sadly a lot of those on the market neglect this area entirely, or make us feel we should all be training, eating, and living like PTs (whose fitness is their job)
- AMAZING RECIPES I CANT WAIT TO TRY. No food groups eliminated, and each looks absolutely delicious. My brother and I are planning on making the protein waffles soon. I also fancy the cookies, frittata, Thai fishcakes, burrito…None of the recipes use hard to find ingredients, and there is something for everyone.
- This is the shortest section in the book, as much of the advice has already been covered. Basically, it tells you to take all the information and run with it, but also find your own balance. This section, though brief, really got me doing some soul-searching as to my motivation and what in regards to health and fitness would really make me happy. Beyond useful, as this is the foundation to a good relationship with yourself in the long run.
So that’s that! If this review hasn’t had you hot-footing it over to Amazon to buy the book already, then do so now. I cannot recommend this highly enough, and whether a beginner, an expert, or simply feeling a little lost in fitness and feeling empowered through fitness- get your hands on it. If Zanna does ever read this review, then thank you for taking the time to write this incredible book. I was sceptical after being let down my other books, but this one is different, and you were right: this book could just have the ability to change your life.
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Blog – Amazing posts, and MORE RECIPES