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Animal Arms
Super Routines of the Super Stars
Book Reviews

By Wesley James
http://www.pipeline.com/~wjames/MuscleMaker/

We have two books to review, Super Routines of the Super Stars - Hot Training Cycles for Ultimate Muscle Growth and Animal Arms - Ultimate Size and Shape Training for Building Monstrous Arm Muscles. Both books were ostensibly authored by Robert Kennedy and Dwayne Hines II. The books have a great deal in common with each other. They are both soft-cover, perma-bound (commonly known as trade paperback) books which are a collection of what purport to be the workout routines of various star bodybuilders, past and present. In addition, the "Arms" book discusses the subject of arm training at some length, providing a good deal of useful, through in part scientifically questionable, information. Both books appear to be assembled from material excerpted from articles attributed to various stars, from back issues of Muscle Mag International and/or other publications - my guess is that Mr. Hines did the work of assembling the material. I seriously question the assertion that many of these routines were ever used by those to whom they are attributed. I do not, however, question that Mr. Hines can cite articles that validate these attributions. It has long been practice that articles which contain workouts or routines of stars are written primarily so their authors will have something to publish. Any resemblance to the actual routines used by the aforementioned star is purely coincidental. As such articles are so common and both these books rely on them, they perpetuate a deception. You might conclude, therefore, that I would dislike these books; that is not the case.

Generally, I believe an author's work should be judged on his/her own criteria. A book written for beginners should not be faulted for lacking advanced training information. Conversely, a book written for advanced trainees should not be burdened with the requirement of covering basics in detail. In this regard, these books are problematic. Judging them as aimed at beginners, which they appear to be, I could criticize them heavily as a mixture of good and misleading information to those not yet capable of distinguishing training truth from fiction. So, if you're a beginner, you don't need to buy these books any time soon. On the other hand-- dismissing the apparent target audience-- intermediate and advanced trainees who are looking for exercises, routines or, to a lesser degree, techniques to serve as a change of pace, a break from their norms or a little variety, these books may prove a useful addition to the bookshelf. Depending on your age, you may also find a little nostalgia in the photographs of some of the stars of years past. I can see long-time trainees pulling either or both of these books off the shelf for ideas and in the process finding some joy by being reminded of how good so-and-so looked back when.

This brings me to a second matter. Super Routines of the Super Stars is a 64 page book priced as $10.50 U.S. and while it contains a large number of excellent photographs, all, save the covers, are black and white. Animal Arms, at $12.95 U.S., is slightly larger (79 pages) but it also contains only black and white photos except for the covers. Considering that magazines with many more pages sell for roughly half the price and are full color throughout, these prices seem high. I'm sure the publisher would argue that the books contain no advertising and are printed on heavier paper stock. They would argue that the press runs are smaller on books. All this would endeavor to justify the higher prices. I simply disagree. Many people read magazines in some measure because they contain ads. It helps them stay posted on the latest products and prices. Thus, from one perspective, ads both increase and decrease the value of reading material targeted to bodybuilders. We can call it a neutral point from the readers perspective. The lack of ads only hurts the publisher's pocket, a price for which the reader should not have to pay. Black and white costs far less to print than color. If the publications contained ads, they would surely include color. Heavier stock is nice but not strictly essential; these are not art books nor are they printed on glossy stock. The smaller press runs issue is another double-edged issue. Lower priced books would likely sell more copies, making larger press runs more economically feasible. The argument goes on.

So, where does this leave me? I enjoyed reading through these books and I think they can serve a productive purpose. If price is not an issue, by all means consider adding these to your library. I've noticed there are four additional books which appear to be part of the same series. (We have not examined these other books.) They are advertised in the pages of MMI and are available through both Barnesandnoble and Amazon. You might also want to read the blurbs on some of the other books in the series. If you're on a budget, you can afford to pass these up; if not, give'em a look next time you're at your favorite bookseller.

Copyright © 1996 Physique Tools and Wesley James


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