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This book is primarily written to get women interested in bodybuilding, but Langer gives us all permission to lift weights using bodybuilding methods for the sole purpose of looking good. This book is terrific for getting us started.

Langer begins the book with a short autobiography, then gets down to business. She starts out with some basic chapters on beginning weightlifting, and the different kinds of weightlifting. She proposes that one use a "cross-training" program of weights, aerobics, and stretching to achieve the physique that one desires. She then takes the budding bodybuilder through the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of weight training. She also includes chapters on stretching, pregnancy, nutrition, psychology of bodybuilding, and competition.

I really like this book for a number of reasons, in part because of the organization. Langer gives the reader enough information to begin work at the beginning of the book; the reader has to read only the first 36 pages before getting the descriptions of the exercises in the beginning routines. To proceed to the intermediate level, the reader has only to read one more chapter. I think in some ways one of my favorite chapters is the one introducing advanced bodybuilding techniques, where Langer gives us all permission to simply maintain the unspeakably gorgeous bodies we've earned without going on to hardcore bodybuilding.

Another reason that I like this book is that Langer is very generous about designing routines for the reader. She provides three beginning routines (each of which should be followed for six weeks), then she gives three intermediate routines (I assume that these are also to be followed for six weeks each). She implies at the beginning of the advanced training chapter that one will have achieved foxdom by this time, but she makes no promises (besides, she has those pesky chapters on eating right and doing aerobics-she never claims that weights alone will do the trick). She also includes some stretching routines.

The book is generously illustrated with pictures of Langer posing and demonstrating the exercises. Some of her costumes are a bit reminiscent of Supervixen, but there are a couple of simply gorgeous photographs showing how beautiful a muscular woman can be. Langer also includes lots of pictures of herself in an advanced state of pregnancy in the chapter on pregnancy (and she closes her autobiography chapter with a picture of herself, clearly great with child).

The writing is clear and the instructions are clear. I should comment that I'm a 43-year-old woman who is currently about 15 pounds overweight, but who is also in an excellent state of cardiovascular fitness. In the recent past, I had achieved a bodyfat percentage of 17 using Joyce Vedral's Now or Never workout. After I let myself go, I tried to get back to that workout, but found that it had gone stale on me (which may well be one reason I lost my motivation to work out). Langer's book is similar to Vedral's in that she stresses diet and aerobics as well as weightlifting, but her routines have a great deal more variety. While I haven't achieved the physique that I desire, I am impressed with the muscles that I've developed while still using only the beginning routines.

One quibble that I have with this book is that Langer seems to assume that one is young. At one point she even counsels against lifting heavy weights after the age of fifty. I haven't had the opportunity to evaluate that statement (and Langer doesn't elaborate on it), but I figure that I have a few years to go before I get to fifty, and I think that Langer's book can greatly benefit me between now and then.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to weight train, but I would not recommend it anyone who fears "bulking up." Langer has a bodybuilder's admiration for muscular bulk, and she assumes that that's what the reader is after.

Instructor Comments:
Anja Langer is a professional bodybuilder and bodybuilding coach from Stuttgart, Germany who is trying to get women interested in the sport. She made second place in the Ms. Olympia competition in 1988. She planned to compete again in 1990, but had to change her plans because of her pregnancy. I don't know if she is still competing, although I did manage to find on website on women bodybuilders that included a picture of her.

Mollie F