Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Cure for Anything

I've been reading The Cure for Everything by Timothy Caulfield, in which he examines myths about health and fitness and debunks a fair few of them.  I am enjoying it.  If you are knee deep in the blogosphere and the various research then not much will be new to you, but the guy writes well.  The establishment position - although not yet what is hitting the media - is pretty settled:

  • You need to do resistance training
  • High Intensity Interval Training is efficient and effecting
  • Fat loss is about a calorie deficit

I liked this quote:

You should assess every fitness claim - whether it is about a new form of exercise or an amazing new product - by first asking yourself this question: does anyone benefit financially from creating the perception that this works? If the answer is yes, adopt an attitude of healthy scepticism. 


Stuart Gilbert said...

I've been reading this book myself, and have almost finished it. I'm just on the chapter concerning homeopathic medicine. It's a good read, and reinforces the message that you have been saying recently, that the basics work, if you are prepared to stick at it.
I would say that the weekly exercise program that he lays out and the end of chapter 2, is probably a bit too skewed in favour of interval training. If I remember correctly he advocates 3 interval sessions and 2 weights sessions in a week. Keeping in mind that he regards himself as an ex athlete, and a sprinter at that, I feel that this prescription would probably be too much for most.

Chris said...


I would agree - that routine is a bit too much. One resistance session, 1 interval session and lots of activity is enough!

Puddleg said...

There is, if anything, worse nonsense being promoted by people who don't have the wits to benefit financially from it.
In any case, healthy skepticism is always useful.
Remember that medicine is an art, the art lies in knowing what sort of person is likely to benefit, there are few medicines (in the wider sense) that are good for everyone.
Someone who implies that exactly the same product or system will benefit all-comers is less to be trusted. They may have a good thing, but they don't know, or aren't being honest about, its limitations.

Anonymous said...

got the book. It's very good. But his exercise prescription is intense and high volume. For instance,He wants you to work up to 6-8 sets per exercise. My experience is that if you go to fatigue on every set, you can't do many sets without lowering the weight quite a bit, and it's too time consuming. IOW, most people won't do it.
Then again, telling people especially older trainees, that one workout per week and one set per body part is enough is not validated either in my experience or the most recent studies.

Anonymous said...

When undecided between two choose neither

Diana said...

I thought I was the only one who thought that the exercise recommendations were extreme, not workable for most people, and that he touted interval training too heavily.

Also, I think he went after the low-hanging fruit a bit much. I can figure out the difference between crazy claims and garbage.

The business about the crass commercialism in the "fitness" industry, the search for visible abs, was good, but he undercut his own criticisms by obsessing about getting down to 10% body fat, and the lengths to which he went to do so.

In short, I was disappointed and I thought the book was overrated. And the name was grandiose.

Chris said...


yes, the exercise routine was over the top.

Overall I think it is a good book. The title is grandiose, but that is the journalistic style he adopts.

"Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights" by Alex Hutchison is probably better overall

Diana said...


I'll check out the Hutchison book.

He's a physicist! I like them, they have a fact-oriented problem solving approach (except Taubes).

Diana said...


Now that I think of it, the title of the Caulfield book is probably ironic. Let's be fair.

I've ordered Hutchinson from the library. Thanks for the tip.