Book Review: Muscle Up by P. D. Mangan


I’m on a book reviewing kick this week – and today I’ve got a great one for you titled Muscle Up.

Though not a gardening book by any stretch of the imagination, Muscle Up: How Strength Training Beats Obesity, Cancer and Heart Disease and Why Everyone Should Do It by author and all-around tough guy P. D. Mangan ties in excellently with the healthy lifestyle home food growers generally embrace.


When I was a teenager, I failed the President’s Physical Fitness challenge repeatedly. I didn’t have the running speed or the flexibility to hit the required markers – yet I was thin and relatively healthy.

When I hit my mid 20s, I started to gain some weight. I was eating what I thought was healthy: rice, vegetables, homemade bread, pasta… all the “good” grains that were recommended by the food pyramid… yet I was steadily gaining weight. I tried going vegetarian for a year and that made it worse. I also tried some jogging and bicycling but couldn’t get fit. My sedentary life at a desk didn’t help either.

It wasn’t until my early 30s that I discovered the “paleo” diet of protein, fat and little to no carbs or grains (especially wheat) that I dropped the extra weight and became lean again. I lost 30 pounds in about two months and was suddenly looking pretty good for the first time in a decade. The missing ingredient in my journey, however, was a regular fitness program.

Over the last few years I’ve hit the gym off and on, sporadically done lots of pushups and chin-ups, gotten back into jogging and biking then quit both…

I just didn’t really “get” the right way to feel strong and hold on to muscle until I came across Muscle Up and discovered how we’ve really been ripped off by the “experts” and our doctors’ recommendations.

For at least three months now, I’ve faithfully been doing multiple sets of simple weightlifting/resistance exercises every other day for about a half-hour and the results are really showing. I initially started lifting again thanks to my wife (who works out regularly) and some recommendations I’d seen online, but the best arguments for continuing along this path of fitness were given to me by Mangan.

This book has so many reasons to lift weights that you’ll be compelled to put it down every couple of pages and pick up something heavy.

Muscle Up has galvanized my shift from a carb-eating aerobics fan into a protein-eating beast.

I feel better, I look better and the science backs up the results I’m experiencing.

If you’ve struggled to lose weight, struggled to look good, are dealing with heart disease, cancer, obesity or diabetes – this book has the answers.

P. D. Mangan’s writing is crisp, clear and almost minimalist in its stripped-down presentation of facts. He quotes extensively from scientific research and doesn’t waste time telling fun stories or putting in cutesy pictures. It’s a straightforward prescription that, if followed, works.

Just look at the author’s photo on the sidebar of his website. He’s 60 and he looks better than most folks in their 20s.

I’ve always been a problem solver and have had a distrust of the “mainstream” way to do things. When I quite following the food pyramid, I got lean. Now that I’ve abandoned the mainstream cardio thing, I’m becoming truly fit.

With consistency and just a bit of discipline, you can become leaner and much stronger than you think in much less time than you ever thought possible. This book is a must-read for young and old, male and female. No matter how sick you are right now, there is something you can do to get yourself better. In many cases, adding some muscle is the ONLY thing that can make you better.

But don’t take my word for it – get a copy of P. D. Mangan’s book and prepare to have your assumptions challenged and your body transformed.

Buy Muscle Up at this link


From the book description:

“Over the past few decades, mainstream health experts have universally recommended aerobic exercise as a uniquely health-promoting activity. Yet now, Americans are fatter than ever. Aerobic exercise not only has a very poor record at fat loss, it might even cause weight gain. Strength training – also known as weightlifting or resistance training – has much greater power to cause fat loss. What’s more, since it builds muscle mass, strength training has huge advantages over aerobic exercise when it comes to improving health.”

Note: if you buy anything through one of my Amazon links I get a few cents. Thanks for keeping this site going!

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  • David,

    I had a very similar experience in my 30s upon discovering the paleo diet. Dropped 30 pounds and haven’t looked back.

    I took up weightlifting about a year ago and that is when people started to really notice my body changing.

    What has always been a struggle for me is having a resource to give people when they ask how I did it. I want to help them, but I am often lacking the one thing that they can take with them and get started on their own journey.

    P.D. Mangan’s book is that resource. Most folks don’t understand the reason why strength training is so important, this book covers that.

  • Well… I’m not sure if it is a cult of personality thing or what… but I ordered it .. along with the bow and arrow that you recommended awhile back without question.. fearless leader… anymore suggestions for my Christmas wish list , Mr. Goodman (aka David)? Seriously… thanks again for all you do… now if your latest book would come out in paperback before Christmas I would be all set.


    • Thank you, Keith – that’s very kind of you. I get excited about things I like. You’ll love that bow.

      As for Grow or Die, I wish we could have the paperback out that quickly – but it’s actually only a quirk of fate that allowed the publisher to release the ebook this year instead of in January as planned. I… will… wait. The sales are doing very well so far and I’m content.

      P. D. Mangan is a sharp guy. When I launch my podcast (spoiler alert) I’m going to have him as a guest.

  • Thanks for the podcast spoiler alert! I’m looking forward to it.

    Have you been featured on any podcasts previously? If so, do you have a link to them?

  • I got this book for my husband for Christmas and we’re reading it together. Inspiring without being preachy or condescending.

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