November 08, 2023 3 min read
SECRETS OF GIANTS - A Journey to Uncover the True Meaning of Strength by Angela Ages
(Book Review by Shane Robert)
Training with weights has largely shed many of the past stigmas that it was once associated with. It is widely accepted to promote health and longevity, though it is still commonly viewed as well behind cardio for those tasks. Even the benefits of greater muscle mass are starting to make their way into the mainstream, albeit those who pursue it are still viewed as narcissists at best and one dimensional idiots at worst. What I view as the most profound effect of training, however, has still not received the attention it deserves.
Mental health is a very broad term, one that I’m not entirely sure is accurate, but I am at a loss for another term to use. I have seen countless numbers of people improve their mental health as a result of the pursuit of greater strength, whether it is overcoming addiction or facing childhood trauma, that I am convinced it might be the greatest benefit it has to offer. This is why reading Secrets of Giants by Angela Ages was so refreshing.
A deep dive into the science and psychology of why pushing our physical limits is so impactful—and how we can achieve so much more than we know
I absolutely loved this book and cannot recommend it highly enough. It is unlike most lifting books, which are either dry and sciency, or straightforward ‘do this' kind of texts, in that it is a personal narrative that informs the reader along the way. I love this style of writing and was often reminded of other great reads from the genre, such as Arnold Schwarzennegar’s The Education of a BodyBuilder and Dan John’s Never Let Go, while reading it.
In Secrets of Giants, the author, Angela Ages, tells her story of overcoming physical and emotional tragedy through her pursuit of the sport of strongman. As Angela’s journey unfolds, she teaches the reader not only about Strongman Sport, but the basics of Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting, as well as Crossfit and BodyBuilding, and takes the time to give a brief historical overview of strength training, its impact, and its view in the culture. We get interviews from elite strength athletes, psychologists, and normal people on their individual journeys. You’ll learn some of the latest research on strength training from top scientists, and get anecdotal ideas from the trench dwellers. Throughout all of this, we join Angela as she goes from a stereotypical pink dumbbell “girl-lifter” to a badass strongman competitor, watching her overcome fear, doubt and depression as she does. What this book won’t do is tell you how to train or give you any kind of blueprint to follow. It won’t show you how the author became a world champion. Spoiler: She doesn’t. That’s not what Secrets of Giants is meant to be. Nor, in my opinion, should it be. Rather, it is to share how one person was able to learn about themselves, improve their mental health, and overcome perceived limitations. And, hopefully, help inspire others that, perhaps, they can do the same.
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