The Manifesto of Mass, By James StettlerReview by Adam Sinicki
I was very excited when the review copy of The Manifesto of Mass arrived at the office. Having read a fair amount of the articles on the Area 9 website (as well as James' article on this very website) I was expecting a particularly informative and entertaining tome.
The presentation of the book re-inforced those expectations and it certainly looks the part. This is particularly nice as it's published in-house by Area 9 themselves. Having worked at Writers' News for some time now I've seen my fair share of poorly produced titles from self-published authors and independent publishers alike. Luckily Area 9 seem to be a professional outfit and the book is well bound with an awesome front cover, and, more importantly, a well arranged interior. The only thing that does take the sheen off slightly is the editing which in places could be more thorough. For an instructional book of this nature however this isn't really a big issue - it's the information that really counts and it doesn't dissapoint in that department.
As well as all the normal stuff there's also some information here that's hard to come-by elsewhere. No subject is too controversial and James tells it like it is laying all the information out for the hopefull trainees and letting them make their own decisions. You'll find information on steroids, site-location and every other underground method currently out there. The book doesn't condone such practices but merely explains them in a way that respects the reader enough to allow them to come to their own conclusions. It lists not only the advantages and side effects of each method, but also explains how to use them and identify faulty goods. While such information may seem irresponsible it's actually quite the opposite - those who are inclined to use these methods would find a way even if it wasn't in the book and could possibly harm themselves through lack of instruction. The Manifesto of Mass ensures that if you should go down that road then at least you will do so causing yourself minimum damage and being fully aware of the risks. Drugs are unfortunately an inevitable aspect of bodybuilding, and whether you choose to use them or not it doesn't hurt to be fully informed on the subject and those that choose to leave the topic out are ommitting a major part of the sport. Besides, if the instructions for injecting the gear aren't enough to put you off then probably nothing will be!
The same kind of honesty is applied to the other chapters of the book too with James explaining exactly which supplements work, what kind of training is effective, and how long you should expect to wait before seeing results. Refreshingly for such a title he admits that not every technique will work for every person (including his own) and should be adapted for the individual. He even encourages readers to seek additional information from elsewhere. It's certainly a breath of fresh air in a market swamped with outlandish claims, hyperbole and bullshit.
The training advice in the book is also very sound and involves nuking each body part with 'pre-exhaust' and 'flush' sets before leaving it to recover for several days. It's similar to a method that I have used regularly myself and which I have found to be very effective (although I leave out the rest because I'm naughty/obsessive/weird).
This is the only section on the actual workouts themselves though and it might have been nice to have another chapter or two on the workouts themselves. Here's hoping for an expanded section in the fourth edition.
All in all this book is full of information, allot of which you probably won't find anywhere else in print. The writing is clear and easy to follow and the author obviously knows his stuff (another very good section deals with protecting the immune system to prevent getting ill thus slowing gains - an aspect that is frequently neglected). The book is clearly aimed at the hardcore bodybuilder who's interested in getting massive or even competing and it caters perfectly for that demographic. While the books such as The Complete Book of Men's Health are undoubtedly the health spas of the book world - this title is clearly more of a classic gym; it may be slightly grittier, but here is where the read work is done. Recommended.
(You can find The Manifesto of Mass and other products here).