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The 12 Second Sequence™ -- Book Review

A best-selling book by fitness expert Jorge Cruise, The 12 Second Sequence™ is a comprehensive resource for overall health and fitness. Its 235 pages explain the trademarked title, address nutrition and motivation issues, describe an 8-week plan of workouts and meals, answer frequently asked questions, and provide record-keeping and other resources.

When I first read the title, I was doubtful about the validity of an exercise approach that uses seconds! However, as I read the first 3 chapters I realized that the 12 seconds represent a pattern of strength training practice. According to Cruise, research has shown that sustained, slow muscle contractions that completely fatigue the muscles are the most efficient way to build lean muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass is important not only for strength but also for weight loss. Lean muscle burns more calories than fat, so as a person increases the proportion of lean muscle to fat, he or she also increases metabolism.

In order to achieve the most efficient workout, Cruise teaches a 10-2-10 pattern. In each exercise, a slow, 10-second muscle contraction is followed by a 2 second pause at the point of greatest muscle tension, then a 10-second release. Only 4 repetitions are assigned for each exercise; for this reason, weights are used so that 4 reps are enough to completely fatigue the muscles.

This pattern is the core of Cruise’s plan. The book continues with advice regarding proper nutrition to build muscle (plenty of protein, for instance), motivational tips, and detailed descriptions and illustration of the suggested exercises. One problem with Cruise’s program is that it requires equipment for full effectiveness – during the quick-start phase (the first 2 weeks), a set of dumbbells, a Swiss ball, and a mat are needed. In the advanced phase Cruise recommends a “functional trainer” cable machine. This is expensive equipment, and many individuals will not be able to afford it. Another option is to use the machine at a gym, but some of us do not have a gym nearby or may not be able to afford a membership. Cruise does try to address this problem by providing an alternate, no-equipment-needed workout in the resource section, but emphasizes that the results will not be as good.

My only other concern about the book is a minor one: Cruise heavily pushes his signature products, a little more than I consider appropriate. For instance, while he acknowledges that other whey protein drinks are acceptable, he advises that his “Jorge’s Packs” have been developed with just the right types of protein, and are preferred for the 3 prescribed snacks per day.

However, this slight criticism is unimportant considering the positive aspects of the book. The workout descriptions are very detailed, and Cruise explains exactly how to determine the point of greatest muscle tension. The motivational tips are great! Some accommodations are suggested for special circumstances, and the eating plan is flexible, including one “free day” per week. Cruise also suggests aerobic power walking 6 days a week to boost metabolism even more, as well as improving cardiovascular fitness.

The 12 Second Sequence™ is well-written and clear. Cruise does use some trademarked catch-phrases, but they are thoroughly explained in the text. Otherwise the book is free from jargon and easy to understand. After reading this book, I’m excited to start using the program for myself!



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