A little while back I found an indigogo campaign to support the creation and publication of the Mad Skills Exercise Encyclopedia. The creator, Ben Musholt , recently sent me a copy for review, which I am more than happy to do. I received my e-copy in October and here's what I thought.
First off, a little about the author. Ben Musholt is a licensed physical therapist and certified APEX Movement parkour and freerunning coach, who lives in Portland, Oregon. He is a lifelong martial artist, and has a background in gymnastics and board sports. Aside from writing 'Mad Skills', he also posts to the websites ParkourConditioning.com and BreakingMuscle.com .
Mad Skills is about using your body. There are over 700 pages of body weight and free weight exercises within it's covers to challenge your hum-drum routine. Hell, there's an entire chapter dedicated to different types of push-ups. If you're a regular follower of my blog then you know that I love the idea of using body weight as resistance. This direct quote from the introduction sums up why this book should be a part of your collection.
"Its aim is to open your eyes to hundreds of different ways to move, strengthen, and enhance your body’s ability to function in both daily life and on the playing field."
It's not about weight loss, sculpting out a killer 6-pack, or a how-to book about getting into that summer bikini. It's a massive array of exercise to add to your repertoire.
One of the things I love most about the book are the illustrations. They are very well drawn and display the given exercise in a simple manner. Just take a look at the example below taking from the chapter "Balls to the wall" dedicated the and exhaustive list of exercise you can do with a stability ball.
You can also see from the above example that the instructions for an exercise are broken down step by step in a way that is easy to follow. The example of of the stability ball pike above may be quite advanced for some readers, but luckily there is a wide range of exercises from the very simple, to extremely challenging. Basically, there's something to suit everyone's needs.
Each chapter starts with a brief description of the exercises within the chapter and why they are important. I will admit that when I was thumbing through the pages - well, scrolling through, since I have an e-copy - I was disappointed that the description of each individual exercise did not mention what muscles were targeted. That's the physical therapist in me. Practically, it's not really needed since this book is meant to be a reference of exercise, not an anatomy lesson.
Overall, Mad Skills is a great book to have in your arsenal to liven up a boring exercise routine. There are exercises you may be familiar with and ones that will challenge you. It is a great reference tool to get you thinking a little differently about movement and exercise. I would recommend it to anyone looking to change they way the exercise, or to those wanted to realize the potential of what your body is capable of during a workout.