Review of Mark Baselice's Muscle in a Month By Ted Landry of CriticalBench.com
Mark Baselice is a personal trainer, fitness professional and author. In his book Muscle in a Month Mark presents a no-nonsense, easy-to-follow training and nutrition regimen that anyone can follow. The premise of Mark’s plan is that by following the path he’s laid out, nearly anyone can put on up to ten pounds of lean muscle mass in just one month. I’ve taken a critical look at Mark’s approach and overall, I agree with his ideas. Let’s see what he says.
Mark promises to keep things simple and he does. He sticks to the basic premise that two things have to happen in order to build mass: 1) you have to eat more calories than you burn each day; and 2) you have to lift heavy. Mark’s plan is not complicated or difficult to follow. He doesn’t ask you to count calories or measure every portion of food. You really can’t get any more simple or straightforward than that. He even allows you to ‘cheat’ on your diet without feeling guilty.
The 30-day plan includes four week-long segments. Each includes a seven-day diet plan, workout plans and a study course. Mark asks that you start with ‘before’ photos and measurements and then follow up with ‘after’ photos and measurements. The before photos are a great motivator and will allow you to really see your progress along the way. He also includes a list of ‘bad’ foods you can eat without feeling guilty while on the plan. Mark even includes handy logs so you can keep track of your meals and training.
You train four days a week on the Muscle in a Month plan—two days on followed by a day of rest, then two more days on followed by two days of rest. Each training session opens with a five minute period of cardio performed at a reasonably high intensity level (heart rate 101-126 beats per minute). Except on leg day, training sessions wrap up with 20 – 30 additional minutes of cardio. The post-training cardio is high intensity with a target heart rate of 150 BPM and above. The cardio activity is included to improve the delivery of oxygen to the muscle cells.
Mark’s training methodology incorporates strength training methods with progressive resistance techniques. Each training session incorporates six to seven exercises of three to four sets each. Rest periods between sets are kept pretty short, maxing out at 45 seconds. Complete exercise descriptions with photos are included in the later sections of the book.
I really like the weekly study sections that are part of the plan. Nutrition is the first week’s study course. Here, Mark provides a basic overview of the nutritional concepts behind the Muscle in a Month plan. He encourages you to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you like. Otherwise, he provides tips about cooking and restaurant choices, the types of foods to buy and things to avoid (sugar, salt, alcohol, etc.). He also offers tips and suggestions and provides information about nutritional supplementation.
In the second week’s study course, we learn all about the exercises that are part of the plan. Mark provides clear, easy-to-follow instructions along with photos demonstrating proper form. The plan includes a nice variety of exercises, most of which are performed using free weights or dumbbells. He also includes some body weight exercises too.
In the third week, the study course focuses on training and nutrition. This is a really comprehensive section that provides a great deal of information. Mark provides a lot of worthwhile tips and suggestions along with information about supplementation and eating right. He also includes a shopping list and information about sugars, carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
The last week’s study course provides a discussion of Mark’s ‘exchange program,’ through which any serving of food on a list can be exchanged or traded for any other serving of food on the same list. This provides flexibility and allows you to vary your menu. Nutrition information for all of the foods on this list makes the system easy to use. This section is followed up by the ‘bad food’ list, which allows you to cheat on your diet without feeling guilty about it.
At the beginning of the book Mark promises to keep the Muscle in a Month program simple and straightforward. After reading though his material I have to say he did an excellent job of doing just that. His approach is sound, easy to follow and doesn’t include any unnecessary fluff. I would recommend Mark’s program to anyone.