I have finally finished Chris Highcocks HillFit (full blogger disclosure: I have received my review copy for free, but no other considerations or advantages) and I have to say I quite liked it.
This book has a very clear targeting – people who are not too accustomed to training (strength training in particular) and who want to address this, for example so that they can go hill walking. The aim is to provide an easy to understand, simple (…not easy…) routine that people can just follow. In this it fully succeeds. It is a small booklet – 50-odd pages – and it can be easily read in a single setting. It gives some framework and background for its recommendations, and it gives further links for those who want to know more.
The program itself is a progression of four bodyweight movements – a push, a pull, a squat, a hinge – that can be performed with minimal equipment (a wall, a door, a towel – I am sure Chris is a fan of the Hitchhikers Guide Through Galaxy ), and specific instructions are given as to how the movements are to be performed, which should leave everyone with little doubt what to do, and what not to do.
The prescribed training style is High Intensity Training (“HIT”). As I have written in earlier posts, I have no particular issue with this style, but I do not believe – like some of its proponents seem to – that this is the one and only way to train. A “science base” is all nice and well, but ignoring the views of the likes Mark Rippetoe / Dan John / Pavel who has probably conducted more “experiments” in how to make people stronger than most scientists does not sound right to me. Having said this – the target audience of the book are untrained people who want to get stronger one their own, with minimal time commitment, and minimal risk of injuries, and in this context HIT (especially, bodyweight HIT) might well be the training style that delivers best.
So my overall assessment: if you have not had much exposure to strength training yet, and you want to get stronger as a means to an end and without handing over your soul to the gods of the iron, this book is your best friend. And even if you are wedded to your iron, Chris’ exercises might come handy when travelling, and your barbells were refused at check-in…