Take Charge: Fitness at the Edge of Science by Clarence Bass – A Review

Take Charge: Fitness at the Edge of Science is the newest book by long time fitness expert and author Clarence Bass. I’ve been reading and learning from Clarence Bass for a long, long time, starting with the “Ripped” column he wrote for Muscle & Fitness magazine for 16 years. I enjoyed his column, and have also enjoyed his books. I’ve learned a lot from them, and this newest, Take Charge, is another outstanding read, full of cutting edge scientific research regarding fitness combined with the insights of a man who has lived fitness for over 75 years now.

Bass is in better shape and has less fat than probably 99% of the population, and what makes it more impressive is he’s closer to 80 than 70 now. The pictures of him at 75 years old are motivating, and show an example of how we don’t have to gain weight and slow down as we age. (Well, maybe we slow down a bit, but we don’t have to stop challenging ourselves to be the best we can be.) Bass is truly an inspiration to all of us getting older.

However, Take Charge is much more than pictures and inspiration from a fit septuagenarian. The book contains a lot of research on the science of fitness and aging. So, while Bass lives much of what he writes about, he’s also providing the experts and studies that prove the concepts he writes about work. His goal is to arm readers with the information to take charge of their own lives and fitness.

Bass has always been a strong proponent of challenging yourself and setting goals. (One of his books is titled Challenge Yourself: Leanness, Fitness & Health At Any Age.) This book starts out with a note on goals and how they evolve. Chapter two looks at the concept of effort, and not just how heavy a person lifts. This chapter is very important and should get everyone doing some kind of resistance training.

The third chapter focuses on interval training and starts out with a bit about the Tabata Protocol, something Bass endorses as do I. If you are not familiar with this kind of training, Bass does a good introduction to it, and then continues with scientific evidence as to why everyone should include intervals in their training regime. Chapter four discusses the aerobic-strength alliance. Bass shares the research that will allow you to gain strength and endurance.

The next chapter, six, gets away from how to train and gets into why you should train. The research provided on exercise and the brain is fascinating and one of the reasons exercise is so important. Chapter seven gives some additional reasons to exercise as Bass describes exercise and aging. Since I’m getting older (aren’t we all?), this chapter made me perk up, and the examples and studies make me realize that my race is far from run yet.

Chapter seven is on the dangers of too much sitting, something done much more in our society these days. The chapter will help you take charge and fight back against too much sitting and tells why walking is so good for you. Chapter eight has some great advice on staying fit and living a healthy lifestyle.

The ninth chapter, Healthy Eating, contains information on diet. It is researched, but also contains how Bass eats. It’s a short chapter with some good guidelines on eating, as well as other sources to learn more on the topic. Chapter ten, Dieting Dynamics, focuses more on those who need to lose weight, where chapter nine was just general healthy eating. If you have pounds to shed, this chapter can help get you started.

Chapter eleven shares some personality traits that will help you stay fit and age gracefully. Not surprising that attitude is so important. The final chapter, twelve, profiles a few individuals who have taken charge of their fitness. These should motivate you, and illustrate that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, you can take charge of your body and fitness levels. And finally, there are a couple of pages briefly sharing the routine Clarence Bass follows these days.

While the above gives an extremely brief description of the topics covered in each chapter, I can’t stress enough that this book is both motivational and educational. Bass really wants you to live longer, stronger and healthier; and he shares the research to help you do just that.

I strongly believe that we should all study health and fitness, because if we don’t take care of our bodies, where are we going to live? And I personally want to live as long as I can, and I want those years to be enjoyable and productive. Health and fitness are the keys to doing that. When it comes to books on health and fitness, I can’t recommend those by Clarence Bass enough. They are straight forward, practical, and written by someone who lives it. I’d put Take Charge: Fitness at the Edge of Science right up at the top of the list of books to read if you want to live longer, stronger and healthier. Read it, and more importantly, incorporate the ideas and suggestions into your lifestyle. With the words Bass signs off with, “Good training to you all!”

Check out my favorite books by Clarence Bass on amazon: