Nathan Jendrick is a personal trainer who keeps things simple and to-the-point in this do-it-yourself handbook on how to exercise with no fancy or expensive exercise equipment.  As someone who has experience and knowledge in the field of nutrition and exercise, I wanted Jendrick to go deeper and give more information, but I’m not the demographic he has targeted for his book. This book is meant for the novice exerciser who realizes that he needs to eat better and exercise more but has neither the time, money or knowledge of how to start. Keeping in mind who he has written his book for, Jendrick’s done a fine job resisting the urge to over-complicate the science of nutrition and exercise and has given his target readers exactly what they need to get started on a healthier and physically fit lifestyle. In this case, less is more and it works.

Jendrick starts his book off on the importance of mentally preparing and adapting yourself to exercise on a regular basis. He clearly states that this is often more of a challenge and hurdle to overcome for the inexperienced exerciser than actual physical exercising. This is good advice because exercising on a regular basis is a mental exercise in disciplining yourself to overcome those days when you physically and mentally just don’t want to work out. He emphasizes that physically exercising and the positive emotional feeling you have after each work out is the fun part. Mentally disciplining yourself to work out is the hard part.  This, in my opinion was the most important point he makes in the book.

The chapter dedicated to nutrition is well done.  He covers all the essential points from establishing your baseline diet to demystifying current scientific understanding of proteins, fats and carbohydrates and the necessary role they play in a balanced diet. He covers the tricky and often confusing topic of Glycemic Index efficiently and emphasizes the importance of drinking lots of water and reading the labels of the food you buy. He also covers the topic of protein and nutritional supplementation which I felt was very important since his naive target audience is vulnerable to commercial advertisements promoting nutritional supplementation. These advertisement are targeted at the novice, uneducated exercisers who don’t  really understand at this point in their fitness journey that there is no easy road to becoming  physically fit except through dedication to regular exercise.

The chapters on warm-up exercises, resistance exercises and stretching exercises are well done. They are simply described and illustrated so the reader can easily understand how to mechanically perform them correctly. This is very important for injury prevention.

His chapter on Cardio fitness, I felt was a big disappointment. It was just not comprehensive enough.  For his target audience, this chapter is of great importance. The title of his book is Gym-Free and Ripped. An essential part of getting ripped is to lose body fat. The most efficient way to lose body fat is through increasing your caloric expenditure and cardio exercise is the best way to do that. As well, from a pure heath perspective, it’s important to have a strong heart. Most novice exercisers understand the importance of a strong heart  but they don’t have the knowhow on to how achieve it. He makes no reference of how to measure your resting heart rate, calculating your maximum heart rate, the intensity or percentage of maximum heart rate you need to exercise at, the length of time to exercise at, how often you need to exercise or the type of exercises that you can engage in to improve cardio fitness. This is a glaring oversight.

The inadequacy of the cardio fitness chapter weakens what is otherwise a well-done fitness book for beginners. The picture on the cover of a man’s 8- pack abs is a bit misleading in terms of setting expectations of what can be achieved by following the exercise programs laid out in the book. However, Jandrick makes it clear very early in his book that good nutrition and strong mental discipline is what is needed to improve anyone’s level of health and fitness, especially for someone who is making a significant lifestyle change. This point, I believe, is the silver bullet of the book and why I would recommend it to someone who wants to start exercising but is not ready for or can’t afford a membership at a gym or a personal trainer.