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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 12 February 2014
After reading the reviews and seeing that the author has a best-selling book within the dieting field, I bought this one with high hopes. Let me divulge here that I'm a qualified personal trainer and have worked in a gym for five years using HIT with many of my clients. HIT truly is the most superior method of training for weight loss or any number of exercise related goals. Unfortunately I was left underwhelmed by this book; please let me explain.

I'll start with the positives and say that Fast Exercise is extremely well written; I understand the author is a journalist. I applaud the book and the writer for bringing HIT to the attention of more people - It works truly well. Now onto my criticisms:

First of all, the book references many studies, which I applaud, but precious few of these actually compare HIT to other forms of training which leaves you unable to see for yourself just how superior HIT is against the competition.

This being an exercise book, I would expect to put it down and be motivated to exercise. Unfortunately it falls a little flat here. Early on we are given statistics on arthritis and how exercise can cause and exacerbate this, yet we are given no council on reducing the risks. We are only told that we can expect crippling injury if we take part in this form of exercise. This should never be the case with a varied regime and good exercise preparation.

The book mentions some of the benefits of HIT, ie, weight loss, improved athletic performance and VO2 max. But it fails to mention some of the many other benefits such as beta endorphins or improving your tolerance to strenuous activity by pushing back your anaerobic threshold. The author sells HIT severely short here.

My real problem with the book is when the reigns are given over to the co-author who gets more into the specifics of HIT. Many of the exercise explanations are inadequate to say the least which will be a problem for novices. Dangerously, she advises us to run up flights of stairs and then take the lift back down. This is so bad I don't even know where to begin. If you work at all-out intensity and then stop and wait for the lift, you will suffer from extreme blood pooling, which for unfit or elderly participants could be debilitating. Why not just walk down the stairs?

She talks down the importance of post-workout stretching and then says that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is caused by working out. It isn't necessarily - DOMS is caused by prolonged negative exercise such as lowering heavy weights or carrying out stepping. In fact, post-workout stretching is one thing that can alleviate DOMS, yet we're told to not really bother with it. We are also told that pre-workout stretching is a waste of time and I do agree with her on this point. However we are also advised not to bother too much with warming up, which I strongly disagree on, especially when performing HIT at an all-out intensity. You won't be exercising for very long, even by HIT standards if you don't warm up.

I think the most disappointing aspect of the book is the rigidity of the suggested HIT protocols. We are given a short list of them and then pretty much expected to go along with them with little or no guidance as to how we can progress from there or how we can tailor them to our own fitness levels. It's simply 3 x 20 seconds with rest in between etc. There is literally no guidance on using our own protocols or on some of the famous existing protocols such as Fartlek, which isn't even mentioned.

Some of the suggested exercises I would never use for HIT because they are nowhere near intense enough such as reverse curls and planks which have absolutely no place in a HIT workout. Unfortunately, there are many wonderful HIT exercises that aren't included such as burpees, squat jumps and some of the dozens of kettlebell exercise.

I disagree with some of the nutrition advice. We are advised not to eat carbs before a HIT session. Wrong! We should be eating carbs prior to all-out exercise because that is precisely the fuel the body uses when exercising at high intensity. If you have no glycogen from carbohydrates in your working muscles then the body will cannibalise its own muscle protein - Clearly the opposite of what we want regardless of our aims.

Approaching the end of the book, we are treated to filler content such as sections on Ways To Overcome Your Inner Couch Potato and the Guide To Being Active, both of which I've read in numerous places on the internet.

I was disappointed that the actual book finishes at 70% of the way in and from there it becomes Endnotes and Index. That's nearly a third of the entire book which you won't read.

In conclusion, I hope this book brings attention to how wonderful HIT is and in that respect it succeeds very well, especially if it gets people exercising. But there are much better books available on the subject, most notably HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training Explained which will leave you educated and most importantly motivated. But Fast Exercise is an ideal starting point which should get you on your bike and doing some hard, if short, yet effective exercise.
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on 6 January 2014
I'm a GP and many of my patients found that The Fast Diet very helpful. I can see the Fast Exercise book also being something that could really help people who are overweight, not particularly fit but motivated to change. It is simple to understand, extremely doable, science based but radical in its approach. The Fast Exercise book is partly based on Michael Mosley's Horizon, "The Truth About Exercise" but he has also injected a lot of new content. He explains in clear detail the science behind the claims and adds in a lot of useful references. I like the fact that he is a self confessed sloth, but has written this with Peta Bee, who is clearly much more athletic. I don't particularly enjoy exercise and do it mainly because it makes me feel better, so I was particularly encouraged by the fact that you don't have to be super fit to take up HIT (high intensity training). I typically go for a few short runs a week and wondered if it was worthwhile. Now I inject a bit of HIT into my run (i sprint up hills for 20 seconds, rather than puffing up slowly) and can already, I think, begin to feel the effects.
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on 28 March 2014
I found this book to be excellent. It strips down exercise to its bare essentials - so stripped down that there isn't much to this book. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to it.

I exercise regularly (5 times a week.) I run (5 kms up to marathon), competed in martial arts tournaments, weight lifting etc. Due to work commitments and having a young family I don't have the luxury of spending hours each day exercising.
I undertook the HIT part of this book to replace my running/cardio. Due to a calf injury I have not run properly since December. Previously I would run 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes per run (using a variety of runs: LSD, Thresholds, Fartlek,etc.)

After 4 weeks of only HIT (doing 3-6, 20 second bursts), i ran the 12 minute Cooper Test and I matched my previous Personal Best. My resting heart rate is now in the mid 40's and my VO2 max is 53mg/l (estimated from the Coopers Test). At this point in my life Fast Exercise is perfect. I wouldn't use it to train for a marathon, but thats ok as I'm not running one any time soon. It's not sports specific but it will keep you very fit.

Einstein once said make everything as simple as possible but no simpler. I think 3 X 20 seconds is a good example of that.
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on 18 April 2014
Evidence based action on fitness - easy to read, definitely worth following the guidance, brought my blood pressure down finally
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on 14 January 2014
This has frightened me to death. My him is too high, my resting heart rate is too high, I am too fat, and I spend far too much time sitting on my arse. But this book has inspired me to take some positive action
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on 8 January 2014
If you are following the diet plan, then you will like the exercises that have been designed to complement that plan. Nothing too strenuous. Very easy to follow.
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on 1 July 2014
Get it; do it. As an old fart with heart disease I can testify that a couple of months doing HIIT and strength exercises for ridiculously short periods every few days you will lose weight and improve Vo2 and general body strength.
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VINE VOICEon 30 December 2013
This is a good book describing High Intensity Training. (HIT) It's a short book- more like an extended article than a book. It gives a good account of HIT, how the idea has developed, how it can be used and then some good routines that help put it into practice. It has enough depth to make its point, but doesn't go any deeper. It is however well referenced if you want more information. For most of us getting on and doing some exercise will be a better use of time than tracking down the references.

I think HIT is an interesting new approach to exercise that many people will benefit from. This book gives a good introduction to HIT and will help most readers understand the concepts behind it.

If you want more information then Gretchen Reynold's book, The First 20 Minutes: The Surprising Science of How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter and Live Longer is helpful. If you want some reasons to exercise then Spark!: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain may encourage you.
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on 7 January 2014
Having now followed the advice give, I can vouch for the benefits of adhering to this form of exercise as I now feel the benefits for myself
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on 29 July 2015
I did not find it helpful at all, the exercises needed to be done on machines that one didn't havei in the home. A lot of reading matter until you actually found out what to do and not enough detail to the exercises.
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