Larry North - Living Lean: The Larry North Program

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Getting fit the North way!

Mar 13, 2004 (Updated Mar 14, 2004)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The eating plan and most of the exercises he advises

Cons:Some of the forearm, chest and tricep exercises

The Bottom Line: A book that combines the right eating and exercise program, that anyone can follow for the rest of their life.


This was about the best book I have ever read on exercising and eating right. Like many other people, I had troubles with trying to keep the most body fat off me, and how to exercise. I felt that if I wasn’t sore and exhausted after every, single workout, that I would never get in better shape. I also tried to low fat diet, then the low carb diet, and the reduced calorie diet. Larry North, in my opinion, is a godsend when it came to fitness, and he owns some fitness clubs of his own in Dallas, and has his own fitness radio show. North is a man who has spent years and time finding the moderate approach to fitness. He came from a family that struggled with losing weight (most weighed over 300 pounds!), and through many years of trail and error, he has a program that will work for just about anyone.

What I first liked about North’s book, was the idea that lifting weights/strength training is a good way to raise your metabolism, and a way to reverse the aging problem. Strength training keeps your muscles and bones fit. As well, lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest, too. There are other benefits to strength training: it helps you out in sports, you have more energy, more stamina, and you will feel better about yourself. I liked how North, on this subject, refutes the myth that some women hold. Some women think that if they lift weights, they will “balloon up.” Since women don’t have the testosterone levels that men do, it is almost impossible for women to get big and bulky. (Yes, I know there are exceptions to the rule.) I like his research on strength training. There are many myths out there, which I even bought into at one time, such as: lifting weights will make you look like a monster, muscle turns to fat, weight lifters are not flexible, you need to starve yourself to lose weight, abdominal exercises are good for spot reducing, you need to exercise everyday to make any difference. Wrong, wrong, wrong, as North points out. North correctly points out that weight lifters who are fat, are that way because of poor dieting, and little, if any cardiovascular exercise. They are inflexible, because they don’t stretch after a workout, which speaking of, North states it is safer on your muscles to stretch after they are warmed up, or in-between exercise sets. As well, abdominal exercises, which we should all do, aren’t of any use if they are covered by a layer of fat. This leads to eating right…

I was shocked when I read North’s suggestion that we need to eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day, rather than just a couple of huge ones. This doens't mean you eat junk food, though. You can have boiled eggs, without the yolk or some vegetables to munch on. All the diets I tried, Weight Watchers, for example, were ones that seemed like one must starve oneself. I also obsessed about food all the time when I was on the ‘diet’. When you obsess about food, you will just eat more, which is what happens when you starve yourself. He also suggests that we should eat lean protein, avoid sugary/processed carbohydrates, avoid saturated fats, cut down on dairy products, and other junk food. He even gives an example of what he eats on daily basis. I agreed with this, because I to have struggled to lose some weight and avoid my food cravings. In fact, I agreed with North’s view that, “If you can’t follow an eating program for one day in your life, it won’t work out at all.” We need to not diet, as North advises, but instead make lifestyle changes in how/what we eat and our physical activities. That is the real key to staying fit. As well, I agree that we shouldn’t get sucked into the idea of eating all the fat-free food we want, or thinking we can get away with eating more, simple because we work out.

The issue of “mini workouts” was something I have tried to use as much as I can. North states, but I don’t know if I agree totally, that these are more significant than your eating and exercises program. For example, park at the furthest distance in a parking lot when you go shopping, versus right by the entrance; take the stairs, not the elevator; always engage in some light activity with nieces, nephews or your own children; do some yard work/mow the lawn (not a sitting mower) instead of taking a nap. He does suggest, which again, I have found works, is that you should do a cardio exercises that you see fit, and there are many types: treadmill, stationary exercises bikes, rowing, fast walking, and so on. Anything where you are getting your arms and legs moving at the same time for at least 20 minutes, 3-4 days a week. He views the same way with strength training-do it 3 days a week, because if you overdo it, you won’t get the tone and strength you want to your body. As well, overdoing it can cause injuries.

I also agree with North, that age shouldn’t be a barrier to staying lean and strong, although I wouldn’t recommend kids, like under 13 to 14, to do weight training. I would worry that they may hurt themselves. I know from experience at my local gym, I have seen people with gray hair and wrinkles that look lean, and have some good muscular strength. In fact, working out is why my 55 year old uncle looks so young for his age, along with the baby face he has. I’m not an expert, but that’s my view on that issue, and Larry suggests that you look for a trustworthy and competent exercise trainer when starting out, as one would look for a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant.

There’s only one part I don’t agree with, and that is the exercises he lists for your forearms. I say I don’t agree with it, because I have hurt my wrists doing these two forearm exercises: wrist curls and reverse forearm curls. With wrist curls, you take a weight and only curl it with your fist moving up and down. This strengthens the underside of your forearm. It’s not a bicep curl. I would suggest using one of these, it’s a gripper, which has progressive resistance, (http://shop.store.yahoo.com/homegym/equipment.html) As well, I don’t think one should do chest dips, or tricep dips, as you will see in his book. In my opinion, they are for advanced strength training, and as well, you can hurt your wrists or your hands doing those exercises, especially if you weigh alot. And while on chest/tricpe exercises, some personal trainers will tell you that you can’t isolate specific parts of your chest (or any major muscle group for that matter) doing bench presses, incline bench press, chest flies. They all work it the same way, in my opinion, so just pick one you like. You can hear people around the gym say, "This works the lower part of your bicep" or "This works your lower abs" and more. It’s whatever you like to do, and that’s what I do with strength training and cardiovascular exercising.

Other than that, this is probably about the only fitness and healthy eating book that you may ever need. I read it 7 years ago, and it has helped me out with my exercise and eating program as much as I can. Time to time, I have to go back there to see what he recommends, because I forget sometimes.


Recommend this product? Yes


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