Everyone needs a place to start when embarking on a fitness journey, and what better way to begin it than to read up about it!
Jumping head-first into a workout routine without knowing what it’s about and why you will be performing certain bodyweight exercises is not exactly wise. The more you know about your workout routine, the more effective you will be.
A book that has received praise as the most comprehensive book for workouts is “Overcoming Gravity.” This book is 500 pages long, and it comes with several instructional inputs that aim to improve your workout effectiveness. But at the same time, the book has received its fair share of criticism as well.
So, can this book help you leap into the world of fitness and bodybuilding? Let’s find out in this review of the first edition of “Overcoming Gravity.”
Table of Contents
Overcoming Gravity: An Overview
“Overcoming Gravity,” written by Steven Low, is a guide with information on gymnastic exercises and bodyweight training for every fitness enthusiast to follow. Using his biochemistry, physical therapy and gymnastics background, Low has created a comprehensive guide with logic and factual information as its backbone.
Beyond bodyweight training, the book covers health and injury management, the factors that make a workout regimen successful, and instructions for improving effectiveness. The book also contains scientific data and samples for providing recommendations, which can help those well into their fitness journey.
The idea behind this book is to train you to a level comparable to that of a professional gymnast. Needless to say, the climb is steep and long, and it won’t be easy for even a veteran. Consequently, even the earlier levels of the book may seem too daunting for those who have just started bodyweight strength training.
But the information provided is highly detailed, and it can help you reach as far as you need to in a systematic manner.
The Contents Of The Book
Since it is 500 pages long, the contents of this comprehensive book cannot be described shortly without leaving info out.
The book is more akin to a build-your-own-workout type rather than a straight instructional one. All the data provided will help you structure it well based on your personal preferences and goals.
There are three parts to the book, which are further categorised into 18 chapters, along with an appendix section. Each part deals with a different aspect of fitness and bodyweight training, giving you a complete understanding of how to build a workout routine.
Naturally, this approach towards fitness requires that the reader take their time while learning about these strategies. If you’re one who likes a more straightforward approach, “Overcoming Gravity” may not offer it for you.
There are several bodyweight exercises and a good progression and competence system to keep you going for a long time. So, if you’ve been working out for some time, you will be able to leverage what this book has to offer.
Now, let’s take a brief look at what each part of this manual has to offer.
1. Part 1
The first 11 chapters of “Overcoming Gravity” deal with several exercising elements like leverage. These chapters create a skeletal structure of an exercise routine that you will fill up as you progress through the book. It comes with difficult exercises like the one-arm handstand for your upper body and split squats for your lower body.
Additionally, the first part can help you understand overreaching and overtraining, as well as the dangers associated with it. And you can find information on other types of training too, such as parkour.
2. Part 2
A vast majority of this part deals with injuries and how to prevent or mitigate the damage caused by them.
Injuries are an inevitable part of training and exercise routines, during which the trainee cannot do anything but wait. Maintaining a proper mindset during injury so you can come back with the same energy post-recovery is quite important, after all.
There is a lot of useful information pertaining to the subject, which can help you in the long run. That said, the section could have been cleaned up a little to remove redundancies.
3. Part 3: Appendices
The third and final part of the book is a detailed section named “Appendices”. This section contains several workout programs that you can choose to incorporate into your own.
It’s worth mentioning that the bodyweight exercises listed in this section of the book are quite difficult to perform, like the front lever. They do come with progression levels, but you may struggle to keep up with their rampant increase in difficulty.
Of course, if you have been strength training intensely for a while, this can be a good thing. But if you haven’t, you can freely modify the workout routine to suit your requirements.
Can “Overcoming Gravity” Help You Get Into Shape?
What Makes It Good
If nothing else, “Overcoming Gravity” is detailed and comprehensive. It answers nearly all the questions one might have about a workout routine and its purpose. Even if you didn’t seek these answers, knowing them alone can help improve your workouts.
On top of being thorough, everything in the book can be modified and personalised. And with an extremely high ceiling, the routines detailed in this book are sure to keep you going for a long time.
Lastly, each exercise routine is accompanied by a detailed illustration or photo to help you understand it well. Misinterpretation is simply not possible with “Overcoming Gravity”.
What Holds It Back
There are just a few nitpicks with this book that hold it back from being nigh-perfect.
First off, the book is not beginner-friendly and requires that you have some experience with strength training. And even if you do have some experience, it’s not guaranteed that you will be able to keep up with its steep exercise progressions. The workouts are difficult to perform, but this is mitigated by the modular nature of the book.
Secondly, the book requires the reader to take the time to read it. It doesn’t offer instant workout plans, which can be a drawback for some.
So, is “Overcoming Gravity” worth your time?
As far as intermediate and expert trainees go, the book can be a fantastic resource for aiding their workout efforts. The second edition can also be a great resource to follow with fewer flaws than the one reviewed here.
Overcoming Gravity can be a workout companion that you can refer to time and again until you’ve mastered all of it. The book has a plethora of information that you can use to your benefit. Its meticulous and thorough nature, paired with clear demonstrations, make it a book worth taking a look at.
For those who are just starting out, it may be better to refer to a simpler workout regimen until you are ready. There are several workout programs that are more accessible for beginners and veterans alike, which can help you get started.
Founder of www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.