If you’re not familiar with Chris’s blog, go over and subscribe now. I’ve been following his posts for a few years now, and he never misses a beat. I have no idea how he does it, but his info is always at the cutting edge of fitness research.
Chris’s writing is always free from dogma and bias, and he is very adept at critically analysing the latest research, whilst keeping an open mind to new ideas and theories. I was therefore very excited to learn he was consolidating his extensive research into an ebook, and downloaded and read a copy the first chance I got.
Hillfit certainly lived up to expectation. I have read many training ebooks over the years, and the majority are full of pseudo science, training folk-lore and anecdotal evidence, all jazzed up with lots of techno-speak in order to try and give the impression of intelligent design.
Hillfit is exactly the opposite. Every single recommendation made in the book is based upon good quality, well designed research studies. All the studies are fully referenced, and where possible the summaries or abstracts are actually printed in the book so the reader can draw their own conclusions. (This is in contrast to many other fitness ebooks which quote studies that on further investigation turn out to draw totally different conclusions to the authors interpretation!)
Don’t let all this talk of science put you off, however, as Chris has done an excellent job of interpreting all the research and compiling it into this concise, easy to read and understand, practical guide.
OK, enough with the praise already – What you’re probably asking now is “All well and good, but what on earth is Hillfit, and what does this have to do with me?”
Essentially, the ebook is called Hillfit, as it is a strength training program designed with Hill Walkers in mind. Chris is a keen Hill Walker himself, and has recognised the fact that many of his fellow trekkers lack the strength and conditioning necessary to get the most out of their time in the hills.
The book recommends a supplementary strength training routine based on the principles of HIT, similar to what I recommend in my Train Primal guidelines. The beauty of the routine is that it is all based around bodyweight exercises that can be done quickly and conveniently at home, without the need to travel to the gym or buy equipment.
But I’m not a hillwalker, so why are you telling me all this? First off, why not! Getting out and walking in nature is fundamental to Primal Living, but I digress!
I think perhaps, the name Hillfit is a double-edged sword for the book. On the one hand, it is always good to define your niche, and certainly most walkers could benefit from some additional strength training, but I do wonder if they realise this? They certainly will once they’ve read the book, but will they read it in the first place? One great point of the book is Chris’s definition of the distinctions between exercise and activity, but I have a feeling most hill walkers consider their activity as their exercise, and might not recognise a need to do more.
The book could have just as easily been called run fit, swim fit, cycle fit or even life fit! The basic principles behind the training program would apply to any recreational activity.
The book could also very easily be Fight Fit or Sport Fit – Though the specific exercises detailed in the book may well be at too low an intensity for a professional fighter or athlete, all the theories and concepts behind the separating out of skill training and conditioning still apply, the use of HIT and congruent exercise, safe and effective warm ups etc etc. All I would recommend to the more advanced athlete would be to scale the workouts by selecting more challenging bodyweight exercises, or going to a gym and using resistance machines.
All that said, I do like that the name is non-threatening, and conveys the fact that strength is important for all people, for all activities, in all stages of life, and should not be the preserve of the young or athletic. It’s unlikely your Mum is going to be inclined to read the typical HIT training book full of pictures of muscle bound men and talk of getting pumped and ripped, but I’m sure she would find Hillfit both easy to read, applicable to her own situation, and could happily incorporate the simple routine into her schedule. I’m certainly buying my Mum a copy!
So, to recap – I strongly recommend you get yourself a copy of HillFit. It’s clear and concise, so won’t take you long to read, and all the info in there is top notch, and can easily be applied to improve your warm-up, training and recovery whatever your chosen activity happens to be. It’s also a great book to buy for friends and relatives that you know could benefit from some effective training, but don’t know where to start.