I spotted Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts, alongside Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy on Amazon. My friend, Ellen, saw them on my Amazon Wishlist and got them for me to fuel my fitness fanaticism.
Let’s be real – reading about getting fit is easier than doing it. So, I really appreciated getting this book!
Regrettably, I can only say the generous gifting of the book was enjoyable. Two terrible books in a row!
Besides being awful, Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts shares some other similarities with Hocus Pocus: Titania’s Book of Spells. Their pages are both glossy, with narrow margins. Both make use of bullet lists and pictures or sketches.
Books trying to keep readers’ attention on dull content employ this tactic – think back to your school text books.
But, where Titania Hardie’s text was a scant 99 pages, this one is nearly 350. Oh, and the authors share a sexist outlook.
No spoilers. At least from the beginning of the book – I didn’t finish it.
I’ll admit it: I hate, hate, HATE not finishing a book once I’ve started it. I’ll slog through almost any writing, just to say I did it.
But, this book rubbed me like nails on a chalkboard from the second sentence on. It went something like this: Young women using this book gain a hot body for life!
(In fact, verbatim, it’s “Younger women can use strength training to sculpt an attractive body they can keep all their lives.”)
It tells me, straight away, who the target audience for this book really is. It’s the men looking at the women who have used this book. It’s not for women at all.
Maybe it’s better that I didn’t finish the book. Having only read the intro and about 20 pages of the text, I won’t bore you with my rants for an entire 350-page crap-fest.
The intro could have been gender neutral, or cut and pasted from a “men’s fitness” book with minimal change needed. I’d expect, in a book dedicated to women’s fitness and health, the author would present data on women. Here, most of the intro’s facts are gender neutral, unclear, or based on experiments using only male subjects.
It’s also obvious that the authors wanted their readers to recall certain facts. Either that, or they think their readers are idiots. The text is repetitious, going so far as to define “over-training” (and warning against it) twice in one sentence.
After that rocky start, the text goes into an explanation of safe training practices and developing your unique exercise program. It almost recaptured my interest for a couple of paragraphs.
The authors lay out what muscle groups to work, the number of reps and sets, and whether to use free weights or machines. They play up using machines, noting that machines work multiple joints. However, I think the writers would have made a stronger point if they explained that free weights involve a range of motion and level of balance that beginners might find hard.
I think I found this part enjoyable because it was genderless. When they were describing muscle groups and the exercises, for the most part, the focus was solely on the workout.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a gal when it comes to safety and form!
Of course, the neutral language doesn’t last. The authors start inserting gender nouns where they aren’t necessary (example: “sedentary women” used when the comment applies to “sedentary people”).
I glanced at the book again when I writing this review. It has been such a long time since I DNF it. I wanted to remember exactly why I was so disgusted.
150 pages about lifting the glutes and shaping comely legs. 40 pages on flattening the abdominal muscles. Toning the back and shoulders so that they roll back, flattering and pressing the breasts forward.
But, of course, the arms and back can’t be too bulky. Because “[overly] developed upper traps (trapezius muscles) are not aesthetically pleasing on women” (page 219).
That’s what I found when just flipping through to see what I missed by not finishing. Clearly, I missed more sexism dressed up to sound objective.
1 out of 5 stars! If I could, I would score it “0 out of 5 stars.” The fact that it has images and sketches of exercises is enough for a star, I guess. I’m keeping the book for that reason.
Maybe I’ll use it to make an exercise program in the future. An exercise program that isn’t just to make sure my butt looks good.
Now, I’m not saying men can’t write an exercise book for women. But, Frédéric Delavier & Michael Gundill make it clear they believe women exercise to look pretty. Their readers don’t use the book to better themselves; it’s so others think they’re “aesthetically pleasing.”
I’ve done weight and strength training since college. It’s a sexist environment. It’s hard enough trying to work out in a room full of meatheads. I feel like they’re either looking at my body or silently critiquing my program.
I don’t want to have to imagine them doing it while I’m reading. The text was vile.