Book & Product Reviews

Book Review: “Women’s Home Workout Bible” by Brad Schoenfeld

Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, CPT, sent me this book to review. He has also offered to come and speak to us about his book and his thoughts about working out at home, so be sure to stop by for his guest post on Wednesday with your comments and queries for Brad!

This book is BIG. It has colour. It has photographs to demonstrate exercises. Each division for the exercises is colour-coded to make it easy to flip to your desired section of the book: Shoulders and Arms, Torso, Core, and Lower Body. There are exercises for each of these parts of the body to do with body weight/stability balls/resistance bands, and then also options further on in the book for using dumbbells, barbells, and other kinds of weighted equipment.

There are also different options depending on your budget. Living as a student, my budget for a home gym is limited to a couple of yoga mats, a couple sets of dumbbells, a resistance band, hula hoop, jump rope, and stability ball. But most of the time I find that I only use the yoga mats and stability ball (personal preference: I like using my own body weight). The budget part of the book discussing the best equipment to buy really didn’t apply to me at all, especially because the budgets suggested here range from $100-$2,500. I don’t expect very many of us are willing to shell out that much money for a home gym (the kind using multifunction machines and chinning bars), especially when it’s easy to get in a workout without buying anything. I am strongly supportive of the soup-cans-as-dumbbells method and doing cardio outdoors. Yoga mats are a luxury, as well; not a necessity. In a pinch, rugs or the grass work just as well.

So, while I appreciate the concept of the budget for every body, I didn’t find it to be useful for my personal workout. The exercises included in this book, however, cover a wide range. I very much liked the number of exercises included here, many of which can be done with little to no equipment. Each one is accompanied by a photograph and information regarding the muscles targeted, equipment needed, tips/variations, and a detailed description for how to perform the movement. There were actually a number of exercises I hadn’t heard of before, so it was fun to learn some new ones! I liked so many of the ideas for how to use the stability ball in core exercises.

I wasn’t particularly keen on the slightly patronizing tone of the book in the introduction. The implication that women have difficulty getting in a solid workout because they are too tired at the end of the day from transporting kids and hearing their husband grumbling for dinner made me squirm. I think it’s difficult for a male author to write a health and fitness book designed for women, however. When I reviewed Lou Schuler’s The New Rules of Lifting for Women, I felt an equal unease with the way that the author seems to view his female audience.

That being said, I was impressed with the sheer vastness of topics covered in this book. Over-exercising is touched on (bonus points! I think that this important issue doesn’t always get enough awareness), and there is also some focus on the myths of the notion of “bulking up”, as well as a few notes on the importance of varying up the workout, fueling your exercise with good nutrition, and building a solid mind-body connection. Training routines are included at the back of the book along with some extra information regarding the particular muscles being targeted.

Come back on Wednesday with your thoughts and ideas about building a nice little home workout system and about training for particular goals. Brad will be answering your questions as long as they keep coming!

By the way, the photos of the women in this book: they’re real women. They have toned muscles but they look like regular women who exercise and are in good shape; not fitness models or anything like that. Always nice to see. I’m curious: what kinds of workouts do you do? Do you like using your body weight or using equipment? Home or gym (or outdoors)? And what kind of budget do you allow yourself when it comes to getting fit?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, and don’t forget to answer this month’s poll!


  1. MizFit

    love that you reviewed this for us as I totally judged a book by it’s cover (errrm, title) and declined 🙂

    well that an I am simply lifeslammed…


    I look forward to seeing what he has to say/reading people’s questions!

  2. South Beach Steve

    Sagan, I have intentionally, almost solely, done only body weight exercises and outside cardio. The reason is a bit odd, at least for most people. When I finally get to a point I am pleased with my physical condition, I want to be able to say that I followed an exercise routine anyone can afford to do. Lack of money is not an excuse. You don’t have to join a gym to get healthy. Anyone, yes anyone, can do it. I am glad to see you are following a similar program.

  3. Pingback: Book Review: “Women's Home Workout Bible” by Brad Schoenfeld … | backexercises

  4. Crabby McSlacker

    That was a really helpful review!

    Like the fact that he uses real women, and not exercise models, for the pictures. But I agree that all things being equal I’d rather see women writing exercise advice specifically for women, not male authors. Just a personal prejudice on my part.

  5. Monica Shaw

    So, this book really peaks my interest – home exercise is a big one for me (I live in the middle of no where, miles from any gym, so really have no choice but to get exercise on my own terms). It really irks me when writers are patronizing (goes for personal trainers, too) but I’d be willing to take a closer look at this book and see if it has any good ideas for my own home gym. I’m a minimalist, so always looking out for exercises that don’t require equipment. I’d definitely like to hear more about what he has to say in that regard. Thanks for the review!

  6. Hanlie

    Thanks for the review! I think that even on a very limited budget we can work out at home and I’m sure that this book will have many useful suggestions. I also like that he uses real women and not fitness models!

  7. eaternotarunner

    I would have to agree that I am a bit biased against a man writing fitness advice for women, but I do like the idea of getting a good workout at home. I used to think that I had to go to a gym to workout, but now I do lots of outdoor running (so much better than a treadmill), yoga, and pushups! I guess that any book that shows real women and encourages workouts you can do for cheap…well sounds good!

  8. Pubsgal

    Love your book reviews, Sagan! As for this observation…

    “The implication that women have difficulty getting in a solid workout because they are too tired at the end of the day from transporting kids and hearing their husband grumbling for dinner made me squirm.”

    …I’ve resembled both sides of that equation (as has my husband…except for the “grumbling for dinner” part), and it’s hard for *any* person to make time for fitness into juggling parenting and/or career life, even with an excellently supportive partner or when one of the partners is the “at home” parent. It’s not just a female thing.

    When I started out, I purposely only worked out at home, because I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a gym membership and then flake on it. (Which had happened in the past.) Once I proved to myself that this habit was sticking, 6 months later I joined the gym next door to my work. It’s helped a lot, but I still do enjoy working out at home with my DVDs, dumbells, and resistance bands. (It’s rather hard to find a large chunk of time for me at home, these days, since our family is on an earlier schedule. But 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, can add up nicely.)

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