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Kit Review: The Concise Book of Muscles

As I’ve got stronger and fitter I’ve found that I can better feel the distinct muscles in my body as I workout. Plus with less body fat I can see them too 🙂

Thats led to me becoming more interested in how everything fits together and what things are called and so I picked myself up a copy of The Concise Book of Muscles from Amazon.

The book starts with an introduction to some of the terminology used when describing muscles and their purpose (abduction, pronation, protraction etc.). After this there are a set of colour coded sections containing muscles grouped by area:

Face head and neck
Trunk
Shoulder and upper arm
Forearm and hand
Hip and thigh
Leg and foot

Each muscle is clearly shown on the skeleton and the text covers how the muscle attaches, how it moves, and likely causes of injury.

As someone who knew next to nothing about this beyond the names of the larger muscles its amazing just how many muscles there are in your body. The shoulder is particularly interesting: its very complex so I’m not surprised so many people suffer from shoulder injuries.

But back to the subject at hand – the whole book is in full colour and very well presented.

If you’re interested in learning more about how your body is put together then I can certainly recommend this as a good starting point.

Full disclosure: I bought this book myself and the links in the article earn me nothing, not even a penny, if you click them.

Categories: kit review

Kit Review: Polar RS100 Heart Rate Monitor

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment

I bought myself a Polar RS100 heart rate monitor at the end of January and have been wearing it for most sessions in the weeks since. I mainly bought it out of curiosity: I was intrigued at what my resting heart rate would be, how my heart rate changed during different kinds of exercise and for a rough approximation of how many calories I was burning.

The gadget itself was fairly cheap (I paid about £50 for it from Amazon) and the wrist unit feels pretty cheap! Its got quite an unpleasant plastic-y feel about it and the wrist strap doesn’t give me much confidence that it will last long.

On the other hand it does all that you’d expect of it with a minimum of fuss. Its fairly easy to set up, has a nice big button on the front which you can stab at when moving to mark off laps and by holding one of the side buttons down you can lock the unit so that you can’t accidentally stop and start it or otherwise interfere with it by mistake. It will also beep audible cues at you to help you keep within target heart rates, out the box it will also beep about everything else it does too but thankfully you can turn that off.

Calorie calculation seems reasonable – it was roughly in line with my own and my trainers estimates which I know are fairly accurate as I’ve planned my weight management around them successfully for some time now.

One thing I’ve never got to grips with is the “file” functionality. I gather its supposed to store 1 summary of your training (as well as totals since you last reset it) but after my first couple of outings I don’t seem able to find this summary. User error maybe?

The monitor comes with an excellent quality strap which you fix round your chest – as opposed to the old style plastic straps this one is all fabric and is very comfortable. A handy bonus is that its also compatible with the cardiovascular equipment in my gym at least. It seems to stay in place even when you’re dripping in sweat and trust me I’ve done my best to try this out!

All in all if you want something basic and cheap this monitor is a good buy, just don’t expect the world.

Full disclosure: This heart rate monitor was purchased by the reviewer using his own hard earned cash and I have no affiliation with Polar or any of its competitors (do they even have any?).

Categories: kit review

Kit Review: Endura Air Defence Jacket

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I don’t own a car and make all my regular daily journeys (work, shops, gym) on a pushbike so its important to me to have a reliable jacket that can cope with the full range of UK weather (rain, drizzle, gloom, wind, more rain, spot of sunshine – blink and you’ll miss it, and then more rain now with added gusting wind).

Much to my delight I was given an Endura Air Defence Jacket for Christmas. Lucky me!

I’ve been wearing it every day for just short of a month now through one of the coldest winters in the UK for years and, frankly, this jacket has blown me away. I’ve mostly been wearing it with a t-shirt or gym top as a base layer with just the jacket on top and even in temperatures as low as -4 centigrade I’ve been comfortable and warm while moving. Equally impressive as things have warmed up, cue sweat, I’ve found the jacket to be breathable and I’ve stayed dry and comfortable.

The secret to the jackets success seems to be its soft outer shell. This feels almost rubberised to the touch and keeps out all wind while still letting your body breathe. I’ve been caught out in a few showers and the jacket has kept me completely dry. That said if I thought it was going to rain heavily I’d still wear a more heavy duty waterproof.

Within the shell is a thin fleece layer for insulation. There are side vents for ventilation which you can unzip if you find yourself getting too hot – though its still winter here so these are still unused on my jacket.

Sleeves are long enough to cover you fully even if you have to stretch on your bike and there is a rear pocket and a mesh type pocket and also a small pocket for your phone or keys.

Without a doubt this is the best jacket I’ve worn for Winter cycling and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Woooo! My first kit review! I’m not sure how regular these reviews will be but I’ve got a Polar RS100 heart rate monitor on the way and am just starting out with a new pair of trainers for my cardio so at least two more!

Full disclosure: This jacket was purchased for me as a gift by my family, neither myself, or any of my family and friends, have got connections with Endura, and no animals were harmed during the writing of this review.

Categories: kit review