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The real inside look at a workout

April 15, 2008 |  2:59 pm

If there's one question personal trainers get asked ad infinitum, it's "What muscle groups am I working now?" It's second only to "Is our session over yet?"

Workout200You'll never have to bug your trainer again once you get a copy of "Anatomy of Exercise"  by Pat Manocchia (Firefly Books, 2008). The 192-page hardcover book by Pat Manocchia is subtitled, "A Trainer's Inside Guide to Your Workout," and that's meant literally. Alongside photographs and instructions for various strength training exercises (most using equipment) are anatomy cutaways that diagram exactly which muscles are being used. This isn't the first of its kind, but the book is a useful resource, especially for beginners. A chin-up, for example, targets the trapezius, the posterior deltoids, the teres minor, the triceps brachii, the teres major, and the latissimus dorsi. And yes, please study these because there will be a quiz.

Seeing how many muscle groups are engaged in even the simplest exercise is fascinating. A straight arm pull-down on a cable machine engages muscles from the thighs to the upper shoulders, and something called "the skater," a leg pull on a cable machine, lists 31 muscles used. For exercisers interested in targeting specific areas, this leaves out the guesswork.

Our one quibble with the book is those drawings of the male figure — the guy appears to have a bit in common with, ahem, a Ken doll. Kind of emasculating, even for an anatomical rendering.

— Jeannine Stein