We Bet You’ll Learn Something New: A Review of The First 20 Minutes

When it comes to workouts, I’m a bit of a science nerd. I like the research. I like digging into the studies. And I like to know the latest on what works and what doesn’t. Because of these facts, I don’t just like Gretchen Reynolds’ (you might recognize her name from her gig as, you know, a columnist for The New York Times) new book The First 20 Minutes—I love it. Not a geek like me? No worries. I bet you’ll dig it, too.

Here’s why: Gretchen has the ability to break down cumbersome research studies and scientist-speak into something that not only is easy to understand but also is highly entertaining. (She has a self-deprecating sense of humor, which, we obviously enjoy.) So in The First 20 Minutes, you learn, while you laugh. And it’s not just the nuggets of info that are interesting. No, no. We’re talking Oprah ah-ha-esque moments that might make your head spin a bit—and change your workouts forever.

A few examples? Why sure! How about that stretching before exercise may actually do more harm than good? And that stretching too far beyond your normal capacity at all can impair performance (music to my freakin’ inflexible ears!) Or how about the fact that unless you’re working out for longer than 90 minutes (I’d previously heard 60 minutes), you don’t need fuel/food/gels/sports drinks of any kind? And that you should always drink according to your thirst and not a predetermined schedule? And, OMG, do you know about pickle juice? The stuff is kind of magic for helping with cramping—far better than sports drinks or bananas. Without giving all of the book’s secrets away, just know that even if you’re an exercise pro, you’ll learn a lot.

Although the book is super entertaining, I will warn ya’ll though that it is pretty much study after study. It’s fascinating stuff and logically organized chapter by chapter, but if you hate reading about professional cyclists on an ergometer or swimming mice or anything involving VO2Max, this might not be your cup of tea. But if the science of exercise interests you—especially when it comes to what works, what doesn’t and how to make your own workout more effective—read on!

Anyone else read The First 20 Minutes? When it comes to exercise science, do details and studies thrill you or bore you? —Jenn



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  1. This has been on my amazon wishlist since it was released. I’m glad to hear it’s worthy! I might just have to pick it up for a little Thanksgiving reading while I travel….