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Build Muscle Lose Fat Look Great: Everything You Need to Know to Transform Your Body

August 21st, 2012

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Book Overview:

Build Muscles, Lose Fat, Look Great has 200 pages devoted to exercise technique, to provide the most complete descriptions on the market in addition to over 400 pages to cover other issues. Building on his popular titles Brawn and Beyond Brawn, this newest book by Stuart McRobert provides an extraordinary wealth of additional complementary information. It is crammed with practical, safe and highly effective instructions. This book is for men and women of all ages who want to transform their bodies, whether beginners or experienced trainers.

Book Review

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out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12796 user reviews
Weight Loss Books Build Muscles, Lose Fat, Look Great has 200 pages devoted to exercise technique, to provide the most complete descriptions on the market in addition to over 400 pages to cover other issues. Building on his popular titles Brawn and Beyond Brawn, this newest book by Stuart McRobert provides an extraordinary wealth of additional complementary information. It is crammed with practical, safe and highly effective instructions. This book is for men and women of all ages who want to transform their bodies, whether beginners or experienced trainers.

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  1. Torben Breindahl
    August 23rd, 2012 at 02:57 | #1


    I highly recommend this book for beginners and experienced athletes, who want a refreshing view on modern weight/strength training techniques. It is a very detailed book filled with good advice presented by the author in a very personal way. It is the first book I have read on this subject that contains in-depth information and guidelines on safety, risk factors, training moral & ethics, mental attitudes etc. I also enjoyed the chapter on “How too handle weights between exercises”, a topic which is seldom mentioned in other books. The author has strong opinions on drug abuse in connection with body-building as well as several “myths” and general misinformation, which is widespread and accepted in many training environments.

    The cover page and title of the book gave me a negative impression to start with (for me it sends the wrong signals to the reader). However, after reading it my opinion totally changed. The sound advice in this book made me change several exercise routines and quit using some machines, which I now consider to present a risk. It also helped me to form more realistic goals.

  2. Marty Koch
    August 26th, 2012 at 16:33 | #2


    This book is excellent both for those new to the iron game as well as those who may think they know all there is to know, as I once did. I am coming off about a year layoff after developing several physical limitations arising from years of ‘hardcore’ training: ignored stretching, bulled my way through workouts with increasing weights while joints, muscular restrictions, and other semi-serious pain should have told me something was wrong. Somewhere along the way, I started to let form suffer and the sheer accumulation of small physical traumas that I ignored finally built to up to a level where I could barely function in everyday life, let alone continue in the gym. Mr. McRobert (McR) seems to have gone through a similar scenario in his Beyond Brawn: The Insider’s Encyclopedia on How to Build Muscle and Might (Brawn), so I felt a real sense of hope when I stumbled across an old edition of that book some months ago. As I’ve worked my way back to a near-normal life through a sports med Dr., traditional PT, and alternative treatments, I feel I am now ready to start getting back to my lifting career, but where to begin? Right here with this book, it seems. He gives all the caveats and advises for stretching, ‘strict’ form, basic multi-joint compound (old school) exercises and shows in fairly good detail how to do each piece. I recommend this book highly for these reasons.

    As others stated, this book does not go into excruciating detail citing innumerable studies concerning fast- and slow-twitch, type A and B fibers, hyperplasia vs. hypertrophy, etc. I find this fact not a drawback, but rather an asset of the book. Too much of this kind of detail too soon will lead to overload and turn people off – especially beginners who are the presumed target audience for the book. Even for experienced lifters, dwelling on this type of thing leads too much of the time to ‘overanalysis paralysis’, causing folks to either flounder in indecisiion and quit training altogether or alternatively jump too quickly from one routine to another in search of the holy grail instead of just getting into the gym consistently and giving it 100% intensity each training session progressing over time. Indeed all the hyper-technical data omitted herein can be found in numerous other publications and should probably be reserved for a much later stage of one’s training career when progression halts or plateaus and new avenues to increase need to be explored.

    One thing I appreciate greatly is the detailed way McRobert explains how to very gradually increase in training ‘intesity.’ I allow that he does use somewhat vague language in differentiating progressive levels of intensity, but if one reads carefully and closely monitors his lifting (the elusive ‘mind-muscle connection’) he will understand how to safely and successively ramp up over time from ‘easy’ to ‘nearly hard’ to ‘hard’ training. McR likewise instructs us to exercise good judgement in weight progression, something we could all use a refresher on from time to time. Programming a sound methodology for single- or double-progression into the mental databank from the beginning will prove the most productive, beneficial, and safe in the long term.

    There is a great breadth of bodybuilding information here and what lacks in depth is, for the most part, unnecessary for all but the most advanced trainee or those who wish to delve ever more deeply into ‘muscle science’ for academic pursuits. Detailed instruction on stretching, lifting, and cardiovascular training including many, many photographs make this volume a fairly self-contained A-Z beginners guide to solid physique development. All told, there is a great lot to recommend this book to a wide audience.

  3. J. Warden
    August 26th, 2012 at 18:56 | #3


    I have followed the program as written and am now in Month 10 of ‘The Program’. I am enjoying it thoroughly. Working long hours and weekends, I sometimes train every four or five days instead of twice a week recommended in the book but that is the only change I have made. I took it extremely easy to begin with starting with a 40kg Squat and Deadlift, 30 kg Bench Press, 10 kg Dumbell Press, etc. It got toughish around the middle of month 7 so I changed to the optional split routine. In Month 10 I am following the full body workout training three times every two weeks and am now upto a 100kg squat for 15 reps, 81kg for 2 sets of six on the bench, 125 kg Deadlift and am using 24 kg dumbells in the Overhead Press. I can hold a 100kg barbell for 60 seconds and do 37 dips. I weighed 78 kg when I started and now weigh 82.5 kg at 180 cm tall.

    One excellent part of the program is that it uses enough exercises to prevent any muscle imbalance so my shoulders, knees, back and everything else feels fine. People I meet sometime comment on my physique which surprises me because I haven’t noticed any change but do feel alot sharper and stronger. If you are able to do a desk job and eat lots, you will do progress alot further than me. I would recommend this book over all the books you can find if you want to get big and strong injury free and don’t want to spend all you life in the gym simply getting more and more tired. Of course Stuart’s other books are good too but, as this book has a year program from start to finish, it encourages you to stick with it and not switch and mess around with programs too often. Good Stuff!

  4. Patrick D. Goonan
    August 27th, 2012 at 06:00 | #4


    Formerly, I was a physiology teaching fellow, a biochemist and have also pursued graduate studies in psychology. I was an all state runner and later developed an interest in weight training. After graduate school, I was a fitness trainer and worked with one athlete who made it to the Olympics along with an exercise physiologist. That establishes the context for my review.

    I was extremely impressed with this book. In one 625 page volume, you get an excellent summary about all aspects of weight training including how to train, basic anatomy, detailed explanations of exercises, how to build a training routine, periodization, etc. It really is one stop shopping and the information on proper form and bulking up is accurate and invaluable. This book also contains many excellent references and backs up what it says.

    Although this book is targeted to people who want to lose weight and build muscle, it is entirely appropriate for any bodybuilder, strength trainee, etc. It covers a lot of ground very thoroughly.

    Overall, this volume is encouraging in tone, easy to understand and gives you the “why” behind the author’s suggestions. Although it is long, it is well-organized with useful diagrams, charts, summaries, photos and descriptions of important exercises. I also have a listmania list on my profile with other suggestions, but this is the one volume I would be certain to own if I could only buy ONE book.

  5. Superstar
    August 28th, 2012 at 03:47 | #5


    This book is not the first book a novice should purchase. There are far better books on the market. Tom Venuto’s ebook, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle is the best book on the market for someone who wants to lose weight and gain muscle. It’s expensive for an ebook, $40, but worth the price. Venuto does everything McRobert attempts to do but fails. Venuto gives you a wide selection of programs that fit your ability level. He spells out what foods you should eat while giving you a choice.He recommends a cardio program that will work. McRobert refers you to a website and gives generalities. The cardio program that McRobert advocates is not for novices and is insufficient for those once they attain good condition. Kathy Smith’s book Lift Weithts to Lose Weight is another great novice book. The best part of McRobert’s book is his listing of alternatives to squats e.g. the hip belt squat, dumbell deadlifts. It’s worth the price for that alone. The biggest flaw in the book is his program. It starts with ten minutes of calisthenics, ten minutes of stretching and an hour for lifting. For an out of shape, overweight 40 yr old, this is far too much. His lifting schema is about 9 exercises for 3 sets of 8. This is old hat and is a fine beginner program IF YOU’RE IN GOOD SHAPE. Most people who are overweight aren’t in good shape, so a limited program of 5-6 exercise for a set or two is what they should start with. Bodybuilders have junked McRoberts approach 40 yrs ago. Most bodybuilders follow a pumping approach advocated by Arnold. Education of a Bodybuilder explains the pumping approach well. For those interested in getting strong, not caring how big they are Tudor Bompa’s Serious Weight Training is a fine book Bompa also has a good approach to maxamizing muscle size. McRobert’s periodization program is poor compared to Bompa’s. Body for Life is another fine book. It is highly motivating, the diet is a good one easy to follow, but the exercise program is too exhausting for anyone out of shape. My qualification as a reviewer are: I have a B.S. & M.S. in Physical Education with all the exercise physiology courses taken that were offered. I have been lifting for over 40 years. Read at least 50 books on weight lifting/bodybuilding. Subscribed to muscle mags for nearly 40 years and still subscribe to Flex & Muscle Fitness Illustrated. McRobert does point out that genetics limit what one can accomplish rather than gloss over this point as most authors do, but he doesn’t point to any research that can predict what you can expect in possible muscle gains. Men’s Fitness quoted an article that did this nicely. The article is available on Testosterone Nation.

  6. Al-El
    August 28th, 2012 at 13:25 | #6


    I purchased this book when it first came out last year and it exceeded all expectations, to say the least. I have subscribed to Stuart’s now defunct magazine, Hardgainer, and read all of his previous books. And I can say with all honesty I learned something enlightening and new from each one, despite having started training back in 1979 and having worked in numerous gyms as a certified personal trainer. This latest tome of Stuart’s, Build Muscle, Lose Fat… is his most ambitious yet, organizing and updating all of his previous best information into one volume. I regularly refer to it for its incredible detail. And despite some minority negative opinions are regarding this book, this is bodybuilding and strength training in reality-land…no steroids, and will work for those whose genetic potential is below, above, or average. I am looking forward to Stuart’s next work…can he top this one?

  7. Jay Lee Vaysman
    August 28th, 2012 at 13:59 | #7


    Over the years I tried many different programs, and books , nothing ever worked or I would loose an interest in the program, until I have stumbled upon this book.

    If you are serious about changing your appearance , this is it. This is the only book, you will ever need.

    People, who left negative reviews just did not take enough time to actually follow the program , no amount of reading or motivation will help you out. You’ll need good directions, which this book provides and lots and lots of hard work to put in.

    If you follow the program the way that author suggests, I guarantee you will see immediate results within a month and a half. I have been following the program for 6 months now and changes in my appearance are dramatic.

    I would of never believed that I can look like this. I’m 34 years old and suffering from colitus , so there is no chance in hell that I can eat any supplements , fruits , vegetables or dairy, but regardless of that, just from being on meat and potatos diet, hard work and following “the program” I have gained muscles and lost extra weight. . My shoulders and chest are twice the size after I have been following directions from this book, I feel stronger, I can bench press my “own weight” with ease .

    IF you want to be disappointed look for some other book, but for the real results and if you are not afraid of hard work, this is the book for you.

  8. El ingenioso hidalgo
    August 30th, 2012 at 11:21 | #8


    This book is a great asset because it is the first one I found that actually explains in detail the proper technique for performing the main exercises: squats, deadlifts, presses etc. It also provides arguments for why some exercises are dangerous and should not be used, such as the behind the neck pulldown and others I was only guessing before that they might be harmful or inefficient (such as the hack squat).

    I speak from the perspective of someone without much experience in strength training and who does not even aspire to become a “big” bodybuilder, but merely wishes to be in good shape and be decently good looking. This book reveals how one can do that without training as an olympic sportsman and without risking hernia, shoulder pains and other injuries.

    As mentioned, the description of the strength training exercises is really helpful, compared to most books or articles that summarizes everything in 2-3 obscure lines, leaving couches and trainees to fill in the gaps using their imagination (and risking their health, just to re-discover the wheel).

    I will also follow the training program recommended in the book, at least for a while, to see if it works for me. But the book is also valuable as it gives ideas for creating one’s own program, which is always useful, even if some of the details the author gathered from his own experience may prove at some point not to fit the reader’s body and temperament.

  9. Gregory Tutunjian
    August 31st, 2012 at 03:07 | #9


    Stuart’s latest book includes his recurring theme to lift safely and with proper form – both of which are communicated with detailed instruction and overall guidance. It’s one thing to lose fat and look great (no one would object I expect) but working through your current condition safely and with an eye to many years of fitness is not always in one’s mind. Stuart shares his experience and helps to ensure that you’ll be in the gym and conscious of how to work out effectively AND safely so that you’ll be there for years to come.

    Completing each chapter, I was always left feeling that I had concluded a classroom or training session with Stuart. The information here is presented in a way that you can apply it immediately and with knowledge of the expected outcomes. There are no outrageous claims – quite the opposite. The core essentials (nutrition, sleep, rest, focus, form and commitment, amongst others) are emphasized.

    Start here if you’re new to fitness training. If you need to move off a plateau, you’ll benefit from Stuart’s book, too.



  10. Glyn G. Wyss
    August 31st, 2012 at 17:42 | #10


    As a personal trainer and searcher of knowledge I buy a great deal of books.

    If you wanted just one book that you could believe in for common sense and effectiveness – this is it!

  11. OverTheMoon
    September 2nd, 2012 at 14:02 | #11


    Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great is the modern update of “The Insider’s Tell-All Handbook on Weight-Training Technique” by Stuart McRobert. It is actually a whole new book, completely revised with so many additional sections that it is like the new Brawn + technical descriptions. Get this book if you can find it. It may be his best book to date and certainly one of the best muscle books around.

    There are trainees out there who are bench pressing 90lbs of iron for twenty reps who praise themselves after doing it, but know in the back of their mind that their right wrist is starting to get a little sore from their workout. When moving onto the barbell curl that wrist just hurts too much to complete a full set. Well “pain is gain” so they drop the set and go back to the dressing room knowing that it will be two weeks before they recover. Try giving the same trainee “Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great” and watch them reduce the bench press from 90lbs to 45lbs for eight reps maximum. “What has gone wrong?” they might ask. “Why have I suddenly gone from brawn to frailty?” The truth is that nothing is wrong. They are just learning to do it right this time… and they will gain more because of it.

    While motivation bodybuilding books like “Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, will certainly show you the vast majority of exercises that are required for a great high volume training (HVT) program, it does not go to great length to show you everything that you need to know about doing the exercises correctly and the pitfalls of doing them incorrectly. Danger workouts include the Vertical Machine Press, Straight-Arm Pullover, Bent-Over Barbell Rows, Bent-Over dumbbell Rows, T-bar rows and the One-Arm Dumbbell Row to name but a few. Although nearly everyone can get away with doing these exercises in small amounts without injury, they are considered high risk exercises and long term applications can prove absolutely disastrous. If the basic low-risk workouts can cause injury when executed without perfect form do you really want to increase the odds of getting an injury by doing high-risk exercises with bad form?

    While “Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great” does not promise an injury free bodybuilding career it will firmly establish conditions that will prevent injury. If you can workout as much as you like as often as you like and do not need to nurse an injury then naturally the result is a gain rather than a loss that could have been avoided.

    Every exercise you learn from a book or a magazine should be cross-referenced with “Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great” to see what it has to say. Even bench pressing professionals who have been at this for years will find that their form is not as good as what this book can prescribe.

    The fact that it covers the big three – Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat is enough to substantiate the price tag. It also includes Back Extension, Calf Raise, Close-Grip Bench Press, Crunch Abdominal Work, Curl, Dumbbell bench press, Decline Bench Press, Dumbbell Row, Finger Extension, Grip Machine Training, Incline Bench Press, Incline Dumbell Bench Press, Leg Press, Lever Bar Work, L-fly, Neck Work, Overhead Lockout, Overhead Press, Parallel Bar Dip, Partial Deadlift, Pinch-grip Lifting, Prone Row, Pulldown, Pullover, Pullup/Chin, Pushdown, Rader Chest Pull, Rotary Torso, Shrug, Side Bend, Squat, Stiff-legged Deadlift, Thick-bar Hold, Timed Holiding and the Wrist Roller Training. I had given up on ever doing a Close-Grip Bench Press.

    I guessed that some exercises are just not for some people. It took me several readings of the Bench Press section to understand that even though I believed I was executing right angle holds I was not, meaning that my hands where too close. When I was told to bring them in closer for the Close-Grip Bench Press I just ended up murdering my wrists and elbows. This book eventually taught me that my Bench Press was more of a Close-Grip Bench Press and my Close-Grip Bench Press something that was just begging for an injury. I can now perform both. Also I am more aware of back arching where I thought there could not possibly be any. All you need to do is to look at the pictures in “Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding” to see that even these professionals had no qualms about using a photograph where there is evidently bad form being used. You can literally see the holes after learning from “Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great”.

    “Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great” is the kind of book that becomes more useful the more you use it. This is by no means a quick-fix booklet but a much needed and much sought after bodybuilding manual. I would certainly read and learn everything in here before I consider any other book outside of it. While the Schwarzenegger bible is a great motivation tool this book is really where you want to focus.

    Forget all the other books about different training methods until you get perfect form right first and then you will be in a much better position to judge other training methods, especially the ones that tend to have an impact on executing perfect form correctly. For some reason other books and bodybuilders keep making reference to slow and controlled exercising to avoid injury. They erroneously call this `perfect form’ from time to time. Injury has nothing to do with the speed or control of the exercise. Injury occurs because of bad form. But once you perfect form you should go slowly. If there is any advocate for `one method’ in bodybuilding that can improve on gains then that `one method’ is learning perfect form. I will update this review as I do more research/practice. Until then…

    Astalavista baby!


    - His other book “Brawn” teaches doing the big three progressively for the best gains – Squats, Deadlifts and Bench Press, so learn them and do them.

    - Read “Brawn” after you read this.

    - read “Beyond Brawn” for advanced training material.

    - Have someone show you the deadlift before you do any.

  12. Jeremy Stevens
    September 3rd, 2012 at 02:38 | #12


    Excellent work as I’ve come to expect from Stuart McRobert. I’ve read ‘Brawn,’ ‘Beyond Brawn,’ ‘Further Brawn’ and now ‘Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great’ and I must say that I’m inspired as always after reading this author’s work. If you are brand new or advanced, this book will be informative and inspirational.

  13. KLW
    September 3rd, 2012 at 05:28 | #13


    To start with, I should say that I learned most of what I know about exercise from technical and professional sources: exercise physiology textbooks, direct reviews of scientific studies, professional coaches, Siff, Yessis, Verkoshansky, etc… I usually avoid popular writers because there is so much bunk mixed in with whatever decent information they have to offer that it drives me nuts.

    Nonetheless, I was interested in giving McRobert a try, since the favorable reviews are nearly ubiquitous. After looking this book over for a couple hours, I have to say I cannot really endorse it. McR definitely has a higher ratio of good info to bunk than many fitness gurus I’ve seen, but still has big problems.

    The biggest problem I have with the book is the plain, declarative style. McRobert mostly just tells you how it is and what to do without giving much in the way of explanation or references. I understand that there is a need for popular books for more ordinary folk who don’t want to pour through scientific studies and participate in debates, but this book contains way too many questionable claims to be presenting them like gospel.

    For instance, he makes somewhat miraculous claims about ART massage therapy, including stuff about fascial adhesions being the major cause of injury problems. Look it up. ART has scant anecdotal support, and there is no evidence whatsoever about “fascial adhesions” being freed by it, nor that such phenomena are any hindrance to anyone. Likewise, he simply states that one should consult a *chiropractor* before doing squats… what on earth would a chiropractor necessarily know about heavy strength training? Chiro has never been shown to accomplish anything except temporary symptomatic relief of a few chronic pain problems, and has nothing to do with exercise science at all.

    Okay, those are more peripheral bits. I have other problems that are more fundamental. Number one, there is way too much emphasis on stretching. Most real athletes – particularly Weightlifters – don’t do a lot of stretching. A little light stretching never hurt anyone, but extensive stretching programs carry a high risk of tearing muscles, loosening joints, and should only be used to address specific, identified problems. Proper weight training itself IS a relatively complete flexibility program for general purposes.

    Another issue I have is with exercise selection and program design. There are way too many piddly bodybuilding exercises and machine exercises, and the programs themselves have too many exercises for a lot of trainees. I would rather see emphasis on simplicity and the big exercises. Unless you are a lean bodybuilder fine-tuning your physique, exercises like calf raises and the neck machine are mostly a waste of time at best, unnecessarily injurious at worst. Though he has good debunking info on ab exercises, he doesn’t go far enough: they are virtually all a waste of time.

    One telltale flaw in this area is the L-Flye, and McR’s claims that these are necessary to prevent shoulder injury. If you NEED weird rehab exercises in your regular program to shore up imbalances caused by other exercises, your exercise selection is flawed. Good, biomechanically sound exercises don’t need special counter-exercises to shore them up. If you skip or de-emphasize flat bench pressing and flyes, you shouldn’t need L-Flyes – pressing overhead and dips are inherently sound exercises that work the same muscles and have better practical application.

    I could go on, but I’m not looking to write my own book here. If you must read a popularizer, I suggest trying a recent book or two by Clarence Bass, or just go to his website and download about a book’s worth of articles for free. If you are interested in more depth, try the free articles at Casey Butt’s Weightrainer website, Supertraining and Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, by Mel Siff, or a real exercise science text like Essentials of Strength and Conditioning by Baechle and Earle.

  14. Electronixsale
    September 3rd, 2012 at 18:06 | #14


    You could spend countless dollars and hours trying to learn about weight lifting. Save yourself the trouble and buy this book. It may be the last one you’ll ever need.

  15. Eric V. Jenkins
    September 5th, 2012 at 10:51 | #15


    This is a combination of McRobert’s previous two books “Beyond Brawn” and “The Insiders Guide to . . .”. There isn’t much new info in this update, but it combines the two books effectively. McRoberts primary flaw is frequent repetition of his main points and taking 100 words to say what anyone else could say in 20. He could easily reduce the text of this book by 150 pages and lose no information. However, this is true of almost all weight-training and bodybuilding books. As Mcrobert acknowledges, weight training isn’t all that complicated.

    The thorough and clear instruction on lifting technique is very valuable in helping readers avoid injury.

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