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Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: Fat Loss Happens on Monday

Fat Loss Happens on Monday
by Josh Hillis and Dan John

I picked up this book within days of being released, almost entirely because Dan John's name was attached to it (apologies to Mr. Hillis if he's reading this). Fat loss hasn't been a huge focus of mine lately, but Dan John almost always manages to get me thinking, and I figured I'd get some good ideas from the book.

I was right. I got a lot of good ideas from the book.

The Thing Itself (and the choices you have).

Fat Loss Happens on Monday is available as a physical book, an audio book, an e-book, and as a package where you get all of those things and then some. I opted for the complete package, because I like having things in a few different formats.

The physical book is a moderately sized soft cover. Of the three versions, I have looked at this one the least, though I suspect I'd be mostly likely to revisit it for easy reference. It's a solid book, with some nice pictures and clearly laid out text.

The e-book, specifically the Kindle version, is the one I actually read. It's nicely formatted for the Kindle, though there were a couple of places where the tables didn't stay entirely on one page, but nothing that would ruin the reading experience.

The audio book I listened to once. It is read by Josh and Dan (more on that in a minute), both of whom read their parts well. Thankfully, the audio file is broken up into chapters, something that was not done with Intervention (and which was my sole complaint about the Intervention audio, as it made it really aggravating to try and find particular parts.). Unfortunately, there are several chapters which do not translate well into the audio format. I know this because each of these chapters is replaced with a clip of Josh saying "this chapter doesn't work in an audio format". Hearing that five or six chapters in a row gets old very quickly. I would have preferred something that just said "we left out chapters X and Y-Z, because they don't work in audio format. If you want them, go read the book." But that's a minor quibble.

The complete bundle has some extra goodies included, not all of which I have actually perused. The bits I've listened to so far were good.

What's Inside?

Fat Loss Happens on Monday is divided into 30 chapters, some by Josh, some by Dan. It's a format reminiscent of Easy Strength, but rather than each chapter being a dialogue between the two authors, each author uses a chapter to discuss a particular concept or idea. The lion's share of the chapters belong to Josh, for the record. In the audio version, each author reads their respective chapters.

The first three chapters of the book set up a lot of the premises that underpin the system presented here. The chapters on Park Bench vs. Bus Bench training, and the discussion of epistemology are both gold mines, even if you have no interest in fat loss training at all.

Chapters four through thirteen focus primarily on eating habits. I say habits, not diet, because Fat Loss Happens on Monday isn't really about a particular diet (in the "eat this, not that" sense). Instead, it's a habit-based program focused on changing behaviors so that you can work toward your own goals. The plans and habits are compatible with just about any diet you'd care to follow (paleo, vegan, Atkins, paleo-vegan-Atkins), but can also be worked on independently of any of those diets. Along with some general advice about how to approach food, Hillis outlines eleven habits for working toward fat loss, and provides several different templates for how to add them to your life. It's all clearly laid out, and the variety of templates gives the reader a good handle on how to adapt the program for their particular lifestyle.

Chapters fourteen through twenty-five are focused on the physical training component of the program. It's worth noting that, in this program, the exercise is considered to be secondary to the diet changes. Indeed, the book repeatedly reminds the reader to take care of their diet long before worrying about exercise. The program itself is laid out in nice, easy to follow tables.

Though it's not obvious at first glance, there is actually a lot of programming in here. If you actually work through the entire Pull Your Weight program, you have about six months worth of training here. Compared to the average six to twelve week programs presented by many books, that's huge. 

The program focuses on four major movement groups (push, pull, hinge, and squat). All of the progressions presented are for with kettlebells or bodyweight, making the program one that's easily doable at home. You certainly could use other implements for the program (and Josh explicitly lays this out), but the bodyweight and kettlebell progressions will likely keep the average person going for quite a while.

Chapters twenty-six and twenty-seven present two versions of the Bring It! program, which is designed for those rare occasions when you want to ramp it up.

Chapter twenty-eight presents descriptions for the various exercises that the program calls for. Honestly, I kind of skimmed this. What I saw looked good: there are progressions and regressions for every exercise, and the explanations I read were clear and to the point...I just didn't feel like reading the whole thing.

Chapter twenty-nine provides some charts and checklists you can use for planning your shopping. Chapter thirty closes it out.

What's Good?

I really, really like this book. Honestly, reading it has triggered a bunch of other thoughts about tracking, assessment, and measurement (some of which I started puzzling out in this post).

Why do I like this book so much? Because of the emphasis on concrete steps, actions, and plans. There is no "oh, just do what feels right". It's, here's a plan, here's how you follow it, here are the things that will make it hard to follow, here's how to deal with them.

That's pretty much it, but obviously, in a great deal more detail.

There are no bullshit pseudo-scientific claims. No nonsense about hormone optimization, or evil foods from evil people (or whatever). No magic food timing. Or magic foods. Just...here's a plan. Go follow it.

It's straightforward and to the point. It's aimed at people with real lives.

Who's It For?

Well, obviously, for anyone who wants to lose fat. That's pretty much what it says on the tin. Even in the workout sections, Hillis points out that these workouts are designed to aid fat loss more than to gain strength, develop great endurance, or prepare you for a UFC match. If you have specific workout goals that aren't fat loss, these programs won't help you, and the book may not either.

That said, there are things here worth reading for anyone. I really think the idea of journaling and tracking is huge, and it's an idea I want to play with a lot more in the future. The section on epistemology is must-read, because everyone should read more on epistemology. Seriously.

For the Martial Artist

Is the book useful if you're a practicing martial artist? If you're a martial artist looking to lose fat, sure. I suspect you'd have to modify the workout routines, though that would obviously depend on your training schedule. The eating habits and advice are totally compatible with training of any kind.

Final Verdict

Excellent book. Go pick it up.

Available from On Target Publications or Amazon .



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