“I want to say without hesitation that BEYOND BRAWN is the greatest book ever written on how to train with weights. And it is the greatest book ever written on how TO LAST while training with weights.”
— Dick Conner, Evansville, IN, USA
25-year-plus proprietor of The Pit, a famous gym in Indiana
“BEYOND BRAWN is an encyclopedia of information, detail upon detail, of all of the subtopics related to weight training. It is not a powerlifting or weightlifting ‘book.’ This is the book that remains on the floor next to the bed or on the night table which can and should be looked at nightly. It should be brought into the gym and reviewed prior to training, as a reminder to do things correctly and well, and for motivation. This is a book that can serve as a reference for those who seek factual, useable, effective, practical and applicable training information that can make a difference in one’s quest for muscular size and strength. It is information upon information about how to train properly and effectively if you believe in the concept of ‘basics first’ training. I obviously liked it a lot and recommend it highly.”
— Dr. Ken E. Leistner, Valley Stream, NY, USA
Publisher of The Steel Tip, and co-founder of Iron Island Gym.
“For bodybuilding instruction, BEYOND BRAWN is par excellence, featuring an unprecedented depth of practical, relevant and readily applicable training information. Even more than that, the book is a training partner, companion, friend, and labor of love. A truly exceptional book!”
— Jan Dellinger, York Barbell Company, York, PA, USA
“BEYOND BRAWN is packed with what I consider real information on how to build your body. This book provides all the information you will ever need to develop slabs of muscle safely and effectively. It’s like having your own personal coach and mentor guiding you to bodybuilding success. BEYOND BRAWN is the definitive Encyclopedia on Bodybuilding — a superb book that is truly very special.”
— Bill Piche, Marion, IA, USA
“BEYOND BRAWN provides the most comprehensive education ever published for typical bodybuilders and strength trainees . . . the book provides real-life insight along with amazingly in-depth solutions to the great many problems and obstacles which dog trainees of all levels of experience. This manual is as hands-on as the barbells you train with. I recommend it unreservedly.”
— Mike Thompson, London, England
“BEYOND BRAWN is the most comprehensive, helpful and honest book on natural strength training today. With great care and in extraordinary detail, this book covers every training-related topic you can imagine, and without any hype or commercial messages. It will surely help everyone who reads it and I will strongly recommend it to all of my clients.”
— Bob Whelan, M.S., M.S., C.S.C.S., Washington, DC, USA
President, Whelan Strength Training
“BEYOND BRAWN shows you in intricate detail the most productive and safe ways to train. This is the book we all wish we had years ago. It is an absolute MUST READ.”
— Richard A. Winett, Ph.D., Blacksburg, VA, USA
Publisher, Master Trainer
“To say BEYOND BRAWN is ‘a good book’ is like saying the Bible mentions religion. In fact, those who make a ‘religion’ of bodybuilding will find BEYOND BRAWN is their ‘Bible,’ making more sense that the Ten Commandments. It is my only regret that I wasted too much time and energy in the past to finally come to the same conclusions required for bodybuilding success as does Stuart McRobert in BEYOND BRAWN. It is much more than a training manual and is refreshingly honest, with a totally positive way of life suggested for bodybuilders, being a philosophy for healthy living and happiness in itself. So much sense in a single volume makes THIS book the best chance you are going to get to gain useful muscular development and power without the pain of injuries and failure, which are often the result of false advice and foolish trails offered in glossy magazines or glitzy books. The road to big muscles and super strength is not an easy pilgrimage, but this book will tell you the true route in detail.”
— David Gentle, Romsey, England
Author of over 1,000 articles on bodybuilding
“For people like me, who have followed Stuart McRobert’s work for years . . . will have seen a man possessed with the urge to spread the word about common-sense training. In BEYOND BRAWN he covers it all. Laid out in reference-book style, and make no mistake this book is destined to become a core book of your collection — constantly referred to — each paragraph of every chapter hammers home Stuart’s message. I have no qualms in saying that this is ‘a must have’ book.”
— Stephen Gardener, London, England
Three long reviews:
First long review, by Kevin R. Fontaine, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
Stuart McRobert . . . has taken it upon himself to help trainees of average genetic potential (so-called “hard gainers”) maximize their strength and muscular size without resorting to anabolic compounds . . . In BEYOND BRAWN Stuart provides the most comprehensive treatment of virtually every relevant aspect of what he refers to as “rational weight training.” Following its predecessor, the immensely influential book entitled BRAWN, BEYOND BRAWN provides an exhaustive treatment of topics that you just will not find in any other single source.
The book is divided into three sections: (1) Establishing a Secure Foundation; (2) How to Train; and (3) Special Issues. The foundation section, among other things, includes chapter-length treatments of the general hard-gainer philosophy, growth expectations, and describes the type of exercise equipment required to train effectively.
The how-to-train section provides the hands-on material pertaining to effective abbreviated weight training. This section includes chapters on intensity, how to design and personalize training programs, and how to avoid overtraining. This section also provides information on that I consider to be one of the most important, yet all but ignored topics in the Iron Game — how to perform repetitions that are both safe and effective (i.e., provide thorough inroad to the musculature being worked while minimizing the risk of injury). Stuart has always been known for his conservatism with respect to exercise selection (e.g., opposition to exercises such as the upright row, Hack squat and press behind neck because of their biomechanically unnatural stresses upon the body) and it clearly shows in this book . . .
Stuart has a strong personal interest in spreading the word and promoting safe exercise technique because several years of his training life were taken from him as a result of a series of injuries incurred through adherence to improper exercise form, e.g., squatting with a 2 x 4 under his heels. Indeed, one of the most important and interesting chapters in the book (found in Section 3) is Stuart’s autobiographical account of his training injuries and the struggle to find a therapeutic regimen to help him get back to the gym. Given Stuart’s checkered past with respect to training-related injuries, anything he says pertaining to preventing injuries should be given particular attention by readers.
What I like best about the book is that it provides honest, hype-free information on how to get the most out of your training. Absent are the extravagant claims of success or training “secrets” that are so prevalent in most weight-training books on the market. Moreover, you will not find any photographs of pumped-up genetically elite bodybuilders in the book. Indeed, the only photos in the book are of pieces of exercise equipment. This book, plain and simple, provides the nuts and bolts of how to sensibly and effectively train for strength and size with an eye toward ensuring that this is done safely so that one can derive a lifetime of health, fitness and enjoyment from weight training.
All in all, BEYOND BRAWN is the best training book of its kind I have ever read. Everyone who delves into this substantial volume is sure to come away with something that could immediately be applied with great effect to one’s training. As such, this book should not sit on a bookshelf, it should be consulted often as it is a comprehensive reference to virtually all you would ever need to know to maximize your genetic potential.
Second long review, by Steve Wedan, Centreville, VA, USA:
If you’ve been led to believe there exists a single hard-gainer routine, you’ve been MISLED. You’ll find many ways to apply what you will learn in the materials produced by CS Publications, not one narrow application. There are, however, principles of common sense strength- and muscle-building, and for the seeker of such wisdom, BEYOND BRAWN is, in my opinion, the single best source. Far from serving as a pulpit for any one sort of training routine, this book equips the bodybuilder and strength enthusiast with a super-solid foundation for making his own choices. He learns how to create training programs for himself and how to alter them as he progresses ever nearer his ultimate potential.
My favorite principle taught by author Stuart McRobert is the use of cycles. Training cycles have been around for a long time, but they’re often shrouded in arcane language and complex mathematics (especially for the competitive lifter). Not so in BB. In this book, you will learn how to set up your own training cycle, one which is self-adjusting, so that illness, family emergency, or an altered work schedule will not get you off-track. And, once you have milked dry your training cycle, you will be prepared to set up your next one. You will also enjoy being measurably stronger than you were when you began the cycle, while minimizing your chances for injury. I don’t know of any book as thoroughly packed with results-producing material for the weight man or woman as this one.
One bodybuilding book you’ll see in your local bookstore might be written by a magazine editor, another penned by someone ghost-writing for a champ whose name graces the cover and whose image fills its pages. Multiply that by scores, and you get an idea of the kind of muscle books filling the marketplace. Stuart McRobert, on the other hand, is no armchair expert wordsmith, nor is he a natural-born superman interested less in teaching than in creating another stream of income. Stuart is in the trenches with the rest of us, and spends fifteen pages of BB demonstrating it, as he recounts his assault on a 20-rep set of deadlifts with 400 pounds. And he is mortal, as he tells us the mistakes he made in his heroic attempt. He follows this account with a chapter describing the way he was able to overcome the pain he suffered from his mistakes.
Stuart doesn’t finish this book until he’s discussed the issues of age and nutrition . . . From choosing the proper equipment to goal-setting, BB delivers. It’s realistic. It’s encouraging. And it’s practical.
If BB is not on your bookshelf — with plenty of margin notes and dog-eared pages — you are cheating yourself of one of the finest muscle-building books ever written, possibly THE finest. For the often-confusing journey toward muscular achievement, it’s the best roadmap I’ve ever read.
Third long review, by James C. Buckley, Rotherham, England:
“BEYOND BRAWN can change your life”, says Stuart McRobert in his introduction. And he isn’t kidding. He goes on to detail a “radically conservative” approach to weight training that will challenge you to think, or think again, about your entire lifestyle. Act in response to this challenge and you’ll find, like me, that this is the best approach for everyone, and even ESSENTIAL for nearly everyone — i.e., for those of us who don’t abuse drugs, who have normal muscle-building potential, and/or for those who have busy working or family lives.
In section one BB lays out its philosophy for safe and highly effective training by showing how such training contrasts with the kind of “conventional training” that I once did. Before BB, I was underweight and constantly exhausted because I was training for too long, too often, using too many sets. Then one day, back in September 1998, an unfamiliar guy walked into my college gym. I was pushing myself through my usual twelve sets of leg training, using my usual — pathetic — weights. The guy, his name was Rob, immediately drew attention to himself, partly because of the noise he was making while jumping up and down to warm himself up, and partly because his thighs were so huge. Rob, clearly confident and out-going, soon introduced himself and our conversation, slightly awkward as it was (he continued his warm-up as we spoke), soon turned to training. I could see that he felt he had some enlightened ideas, and that he wanted to share them.
I was dubious to say the least when Rob explained his training, and I promised myself that I would never risk training like that — as if I had something to lose. Nevertheless, I soon found myself, as advised, studying the HARDGAINER website. Not long after that I was ordering my hardback copy of the newly released BEYOND BRAWN with confidence — and things started to happen.
The inescapable sense, logic and the “straight-talking” that I found in the opening chapters of BB struck me at once. All this seemed to come together when I read and re-read the third chapter, “All-Time #1 Practical Priorities.” That one chapter encapsulated enough information to give my training life a whole new basis and framework. Learning from Stuart’s engaging “clear vision on hindsight,” I chose to reject the convoluted and confusing instruction that I had become used to; I reacted against the extremes of training volume, frequency and/or intensity promoted by most other books. I learned that training volume, frequency and intensity, like so many other variables, could all be understood in comparatively simple terms: they all needed to be applied sensibly, in moderation, and AS A MEANS TO AN END.
Studying the second and third sections of BB showed me how best to apply this new (to me) training philosophy. EVERY DETAIL relating to how to go about building “a superbly muscled, strong, lean and healthy physique” was explained. Nutrition and cardiorespiratory health, as well as training equipment, workout preparation and recovery, were all discussed in the same direct and sensible manner that I’d come to expect from section one. A chapter on designing training programs included a number of sample frameworks, so I could begin by simply choosing to follow the framework that I felt best suited me personally. From there I went on to make use of the following chapter’s thorough discussion of training personalization. I really was reading “an encyclopedia” for weight trainees of all ages and levels — an encyclopedia that was presented clearly, with the aid of frequent summaries and lists of “rules,” throughout.
But there was more: BB, I found, did not stop at telling me all I needed to know about how to build-up my physique. In one chapter, by recounting the story of several months of his own training life, Stuart had really demonstrated how training must accommodate the “ups and downs” of “real life.” Here, and throughout, guidance was added on how to avoid injuries by, for example, using a sustainable rate of progression and excellent training technique. There was also an entire chapter devoted to the treatment of training injuries — something I greatly appreciated when I finally had to deal with a chronic shoulder injury dating back to my years of “conventional training.” The chapter devoted to nutrition in BB even included a short discussion relating to digestive problems, and I was pleased to be able to refer back to later, at a time when I began to experience some such problems.
Beyond that, Stuart even had something meaningful to say about life’s “big picture,” within which training is “only a small part.” BB reminded me to practice modesty and, in a chapter called “Beyond the Exterior,” to count my blessings; it encouraged me to enjoy my life and training in the present, even while becoming a “goal driven” individual intent on long-term success.
Ultimately reading, reading, and re-reading BB enabled me to gain a great deal of strength and some 30 pounds of muscular bodyweight. I achieved this in under two years, which, realistically, was amazing given that I managed it while working hard in the “real world” and in spite of my ordinary (at best) genetic potential. All those gains, and I had previously trained for five years without making any meaningful progress! BB had dramatically changed my physique because, first, it dramatically changed, and improved, my whole lifestyle. Reading BB, and indeed acting in response to it, even made me a happier person, able to think more positively.
This is a book that really should be studied REPEATEDLY and EXCLUSIVELY. A copy of BB should be bought alongside EVERY new set of weights, and a copy should be available for reference in EVERY gym. Too many people are risking damage to their healthy and perhaps young physiques; too many of us have needlessly endured years of frustration. Forget conventional instruction, the latest untried training innovations, and the food supplement advertisements. Please, focus your attention upon BB’s radical yet conservative instruction. You will be very glad you did.