December 13, 2011

Book Review - Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?

We were first introduced to Alex Hutchinson through his website Sweat Science. Alex is a physicist that regularly posts articles about "Fitness myths, training truths, and other surprising discoveries from the science of exercise". He is extremely knowledgeable in this field and a great writer. My favorite thing about him is that he seems very unbiased towards the subjects he talks about. He takes up-to-date and sometimes controversial topics, analyzes the research in detail, then puts it all into terms that the common folks can understand. He notes the strengths and weaknesses in the scientific research on the subjects of interest - and not only points out what we do know, but also makes it clear that there are lots of things we still don't know! On his blog there is lots of discussion in comments of his articles, and he regularly responds to commenters. Jake and I both come from very scientific backgrounds and are interested in the exercise science field, so Hutchinson's articles are right up our ally.

Alex recently came out with a book called Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?. Jake picked this one up a couple months ago, and we both really enjoyed reading it. It's amazing how many myths are floating around in the exercise field that don't have any scientific background at all! He addresses topics such as

"To lose weight, is it better to eat less or exercise more?"
"Should I exercise when I'm sick?"
"Could stretching before exercise make me slower and weaker?"

Here is the entire list of topics covered in the book. Altogether, there are 111 questions/topics addressed.

He covers so many topics that everyday exercisers of all types would really benefit from reading this book. All of the information is based on real research - I think there are about 30 pages full of references at the end of the book. You can tell that he really did HIS research! Obviously, a lot of the questions don't have an answer to them and there might not be a right or wrong. But sometimes that's the information that is the most valuable.

I found the book so much information to digest with one sitting, so I read about 15-20 pages a night. Jake, however, read it straight through on a long travel day. I am pretty good at keeping up with scientific research, but I still learned a lot with this book. It's been fun to share with others what I have learned as well. Jake and I would highly recommend it for anyone that loves exercise, how to make the most of it, and the science behind it.


  1. Thanks for the review Andrea I think I might have to pick this one up for my friend for Christmas. She is very interested in exercise science and it sound like a great read.

    So which comes first, weights or cardio? I always do weights first because I hate doing them after cardio when I am a big ugly sweaty mess. :D

  2. Bottom line - whichever is more important to you! But there's always a little more to it than that...