There’s no shortage of fitness and nutrition books out there on the market. With a lot of them aimed at promoting s specific product or service, it’s hard to find something that really gives you the bang for your buck.
Just recently however, I finished a book by Ben Greenfield, titled “Beyond Training”. Those of you that don’t know Ben, this guy surely knows his stuff. He’s a seasoned triathlete, experienced Spartan Racer, health and fitness expert, fitness and nutritional coach, author, and many other titles.
You can check out his main website here: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com
This book was geared towards endurance athletes and their training, nutrition, lifestyle, and more. So right off the bat, it already encompasses more than most single topic books out there.
You can get either a hard copy or an ebook version. I personally have the book version and scrolling through the pages and finding various topics in different sections have been a breeze.
I highly recommend this book whether you’re an endurance athlete or just someone trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Ben talks about not only the athletic side of nutrition and health, but also everyday living and how to boost your brainpower.
If any of these topics sounds remotely interesting to you, this is the book for you.
Here’s a quick review of the major sections of the book and what you can expect from this informative piece.
Beyond Training– More Than Just Fitness
Obviously, the author put a lot of hard work and research into this book, so I won’t be giving away any actual information from the contents. But I will introduce the types of material and the depth that is covered.
As said before, this is more than just a fitness book or nutrition book. It encompasses both aspects for endurance athletes and everyday non-athletes as well. In addition, you tons of information on how to optimize your brain, keeping it healthy, lifestyle changes to improve various aspects of your life, etc.
So without further ado, let’s dive into this review!
To start off, Ben gets into the reason why it’s important to look at fitness from a safety and longevity perspective. He goes into the experiences and anecdotes of various endurance athletes, and compares them relative to their training and performance.
Heart Rate Zones and Building Endurance
We then get into heart rate zones and what it really means and how it really affects us when it comes to athletic performance. Ben gets into some technical science, although not too technical that the average joe can’t understand. But the proof of what he’s talking about is definitely there.
There is A LOT more to heart rate zones than just what we read in common fitness forums and magazines. Ben gives the reasons why we have them, and even shows us what zones we should be training at in order to achieve our specific training goals.
Most of all, we learn how to find our personal heart rate zones.
Ben then gives us the answer to the question we all have in our minds at this point of the book. The best way to improve our endurance, without wreaking havoc on our bodies.
Actually, we’re presented with 2 ways to do this.
Without giving away what they are (you’ll have to read the book to find out), Ben gives not only the principle behind these methods, but also the science of why they work, and then how we can apply them in our training routines with different examples.
Special Training Tactics and Common Negligence
The next section Ben gets into a lot of cool stuff. Special training tactics that helps us get faster not just endurance-wise but also sprinting, really cool methods of affecting our blood glucose levels, different gadgets that we can use to give us that extra boost in performance, and more.
A lot of the stuff in this section can be done right at home. The extra gadgets are only if you really want to geek out and go HAM on everything Ben’s telling you (which he doesn’t recommend btw because you might go out of your mind).
The last part of the fitness section goes into the 5 core necessities that many athletes neglect in their training. For each of these necessities, Ben goes into the different strategies for improving them, the timing of when these strategies can be implemented, the foods, gear, and supplements that helps with each, and sample workouts that we can use based on our fitness level.
This section opens up with how underrecovery is a HUGE problem for athletes, and just how common that is among endurance athletes in particular.
Using scientific data, Ben describes what happens to the different systems of our bodies when we continue to train without proper recovery, namely our metabolism, nervous system, skeletal system, muscle, and even our blood.
The 25 and 26 Ways
Here, we’re introduced to the 25 different ways that Ben has experimented with in determining if we’re truly recovered from a workout and ready to pummel our bodies again. The information from the previous recovery section is brought up and actually used to show that an underrecovered state can be used to our advantage to achieve even more gains, as long as it’s done properly.
These 25 ways includes how we feel and things that each of us can observe. They also include biomarkers that we can test for. Some may require blood tests done at a lab. Ben explains the science behind each and how accurate these tests are for determining recovery.
Then Ben shows us 26 different ways to actually recover from hard workouts and even injuries in the shortest time period. There are a variety of techniques and although a few require expensive machines or equipment that we most likely won’t have at home, there are plenty others that we can still do ourselves.
Ben also includes supplements that are best for recovery, and then goes into the darker side of NSAIDs.
We’re also given ways to combat adrenal fatigue, and if we’re unfortunate enough to fall into that state, what we can do to bounce back from it.
Beat The Hidden Killer and Mastering Sleep
In this section, Ben introduces the hidden killer to most athlete’s progress. This is such a potent detriment to all athletes’ progress not just because it’s common to everyone, but because it’s so hard to quantify.
But Ben shows us all the ways this killer can be present in our lives. Although we may never eliminate it, this helps us be more aware of it and combat it. Ben even gives us ways to fight off this hidden killer, even when we feel we might never beat it.
And of course, who can forget about sleep in a section about recovery? We’re given the down-low on how much sleep we really
require, why that is so, and the different ways we’re affected by lack of sleep.
We then get to the good stuff. A whole much of ways to hack our sleep to make it as re-energizing as possible, supplements that can speed that process up, ways to beat insomnia, how to fight jetlag, and some really cool ways to track our sleep so we know what stages of sleep we’re in.
Get all this in full detail here.
This section starts off with an explanation on the difference and importance between calorically dense and nutrient dense foods. We’re then given 40, (yes you read that right, forty) different meals that can be prepped very easily for busy athletes and non-athletes. These include lunch, snacks, dinner and desserts.
Ben also teaches us about how to track and log our foods and caloric intake. But he provides step by step instructions on how to do so and with the last step being… not logging or tracking at all! These instructions teaches you to track and log your food intake effortlessly.
The Macros and Customization
As mentioned in my previous article on calories, they are not what matters when it comes to weight loss. But even when it comes to training and fuel requirements, Ben reinforces that idea.
Then we’re presented with the Superhuman Food Pyramid, which shows what foods are the REAL healthy, nutrient dense foods that we should be eating more of (base of the pyramid), and what we should avoid (top of the pyramid). Ben addresses a lot of common questions with the macros as well, such as needing carbs to train, protein to build muscle and a lot of other misconceptions with these macros.
Ben even gives a sample week of how the eating plan of a triathlete would look like, including how he would train and the meals he would eat corresponding to the type of training and volume.
Ben then addresses 10 different must-have items for a vegetarian and vegan diet. He explains why these are necessary due to the limited food sources those diets have.
Next, we have 2 essential elements for every aging athlete, 3 reasons why exercise can actually make women fat in certain cases, 5 ways to feed our kids the proper diet for them (hint: it’s different from adults), 6 steps to fast the right way, and 3 big benefits to being in a state of ketosis.
Digestion, Our Gut, and Detox
In these next few sections, we learn about the common causes of not just indigestion, but WHY our digestion gets messed up in any way. We identify the 9 most common causes and how to fix them.
These steps to fixing those common problems helps our gut do a reset and basically revitalize all its important functions.
And we learn about the steps to a proper detox, and the best detox for a hangover.
Food Before, During, After Workouts
We get the 5 types of foods to avoid before ANY workout or race, and the 5 foods that can help tremendously if eaten beforehand.
We also get 2 different strategies on how to fuel our race and what to eat during the actual event. Ben goes over the debate on liquids vs solids, electrolyte loading, and more.
Then Ben gives his take on post-workout nutrition and recovery obtained from food. To top it off, we get a sample Ironman race day nutrition plan.
And the last part of the Nutrition section is dedicated to the 21 kitchen tools, cookbooks, and resources that Ben has found to be the most useful for every endurance athlete.
So here we get to the good stuff that we can all relate to. Ben goes over how to identify 10 hidden killers in our homes and most important of all, how to eliminate them.
It covers the common foods that we eat, consumer products that we use, and common furniture around the house that could be damaging the health of not just us but our families.
Ben then talks to those of us that are all abut training, so much so that we spend 20+ hours per week training for the next event or race. Ben describes 13 methods that we can use to train without sacrificing time to spend with our family and friends.
Lastly, Ben shares his top 10 tips for productivity and how he manages to get all the things he does with his busy lifestyle and commitments.
The last main topic of the book may be the most interesting one to some of us. Ben gives us 2 main ways that our brains can “break” to start this section. Not to leave us hanging, he goes into various ways that we can fix it and keep the damage from reoccurring in the future.
We then have the really cool stuff: 21 different ways to hack our brains to increase focus, concentration, creativity, motivation, brainpower, and IQ. These are all really unique methods and involves everything from supplements to activities that we can do.
To close out this wonderful masterpiece, Ben gives us the 10 rules to live by in order to be an ancestral athlete. These 10 rules aren’t so much rules as they are principles that benefits our everyday life.
After finishing this book, I had a brand new perspective on training, eating and just my lifestyle in general. I really cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Overall, this book is an absolutely must read for any athlete, endurance of not. Even if your a recreational athlete or weekend warrior and never plan to be serious about competing, it’s still very beneficial to apply the principles that Ben has laid out here.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out how everyone else is raving about this book with their reviews.
Ready to up your knowledge and change your life? What are you waiting for?