Book Review: Total Knockout Fitness, Martin McKenzie & Stefanie Kirchner (2014)

March 28th, 2014 2:32 pm by Kelly Garbato

A Beginner’s Perspective

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

Written by Martin McKenzie (a personal trainer based in the UK) and Stefanie Kirchner (an expert in nutrition and holistic health), Total Knockout Fitness provides an overview of boxing for strength, flexibility, cardio fitness, and more. With a step-by-step explanation of total body fitness exercises, as well as boxing form, footwork, and punches, Total Knockout Fitness makes a nice intro guide for beginners. However, more intermediate and advanced practitioners may also appreciate the workout routines designed specifically for them.

Divided into fourteen chapters (or “rounds”), Total Knockout Fitness walks you through various boxing workouts. Starting with Round 5, the authors end each chapter with suggested workout programs that combine the exercises presented in that (and previous) chapters.

Round 1: Equipment – The authors briefly explain the equipment you may need for your workout: a skipping rope, gloves (fitness or bag), hand wraps, focus pads, punching bags, etc.

Round 2: Knowing Your Opponent – Your biggest opponent being yourself! Here newbies and pros alike are encouraged to assess their current fitness level by performing an assortment of activities (e.g., press-ups, crunches, star jumps, toe touches).

Round 3: Tipping the Scales in Your Favor – McKenzie and Kirchner offer some diet tips for good fitness, including a meal plan. While I’m happy that it includes vegetarian options (tofu, vegan meats), I do wish that they’d explored the healthfulness of a plant-based diet.

Round 4: Total Knockout Fitness Exercises – This chapter provides an illustrated guide to some 46 (give or take) fitness exercises, including the Bear Crawl, Dorsal Raise, Hand Stretches, Jumping Lunge, Squat Jump, and Skipping (rope), to name just a few. There’s a little repetition here, as a few of the exercises used to assess your fitness level in Chapter 2 make a second appearance (e.g., the Burpee). Each photo (or series of photos) is accompanied by an in-depth explanation of the exercise.

Round 5: Warm-Ups – The authors offer tips and tricks for warming up, with an emphasis on skipping rope and dynamic stretching. This section includes suggested Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Warm-Up programs of ten minutes each.

Round 6: Form and Footwork – Along with information on Stance, Guard, and Footwork, this chapter includes illustrated Form and Footwork drills and exercises, as well as suggested Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Ultimate Form and Footwork programs.

Round 7: Punch Precision – The authors begin this chapter with some helpful advice on maximizing your punches, then launch into descriptions of various punches and punch combinations. Each punch is illustrated with multiple photos. There are also some excellent tips for mirror boxing. The chapter concludes with a single suggested Ultimate Upper-Body Workout.

Round 8: Total-Body Training – This chapter combines the footwork and upper-body exercises you’ve already learned into a total-body workout. You’ll learn how to move and shift with punches. The authors provide suggested Intermediate and Advanced 15-Minute Express Workouts that utilize the exercises learned up to this point.

Round 9: Flexibility – Chapter 9 includes an overview of different types of flexibility, as well as information about posture and alignment. The Ultimate Flexibility Booster Workout is the only suggested program for this chapter.

Round 10: Cardio – In Chapter 10, the authors pull together the moves you’ve already mastered to create a cardio-focused boxing workout. Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced programs are included.

Round 11: Weight Loss – With a focus on weight loss, Chapter 11 presents Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced programs to help you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Round 12: Toning and Shaping – Using the boxing moves you’ve acquired thus far, Chapter 12 suggests workouts designed to flatten your abs, lift your bum, and shape your legs, arms, and waist. Four programs are presented here: 15-Minute Early Riser Express, and Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Ultimate Toning and Shaping.

Round 13: Strength and Power – Strength and power through body-weight and explosive movement exercises is the goal here. You get three suggested programs – Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Ultimate Strength and Power Booster – along with tips for faster, “mini” workouts.

Round 14: Going the Extra Round – This chapter combines boxing workouts with swimming, cycling, and running, complete with suggested Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced “fusion” programs for each.

Total Knockout Fitness also comes with a bonus DVD that features some (but not all) of the exercises described in the book. The DVD consists of four workouts: Total Knockout Fitness Exercise Technique; Basic Ultimate Cardio Booster Workout; Intermediate Ultimate Weight-Loss Workout; and Advanced Ultimate Toning and Shaping Workout. These programs appear to be different than those suggested in the book.

I requested this book through Library Thing mainly for the DVD. I’ve been doing some combination of Tae Bo, kickboxing, yoga, and light weights for about ten years now, and am always looking for good exercise DVDs to add to the rotation. (Disclaimer: I work out at home, alone, without any professional instruction, and am by no means an expert.)

As a general rule, I don’t do well with exercise books; I’m terrible at reading instructions, visualizing the movements in my head, and then recreating them with my own person. Thus I had hoped that the book would simply reiterate and elaborate upon the moves depicted on the DVD. In reality, the DVD is more of a companion to the book.

Unfortunately, I was only able to understand about half of the exercises in the book without seeing a real-time demonstration. Some of the more explosive movements seem downright dangerous; I’m seriously scared to try a few of them (such as the Burpee) without professional supervision. (To be fair, I refuse to do several Tae Bo maneuvers as well. It’s just not worth the risk of injury!)

That said, more experienced athletes than I (and those with better spatial skills) probably won’t have a problem. Nearly every exercise presented in the book comes with multiple photos and a detailed explanation.

But back to the DVD for a moment. The instructions are clear and concise, and the transitions from one move to another smooth and clear. Each workout includes the instructor (McKenzie) and two models, who rotate from one workout to the next. There isn’t any music, though I suppose you can add your own soundtrack if you like. It’s all very low-key (I prefer more noise) and professionally done.

As for the book, it’s quite informative, though I think they could have done a better job with the details. For example, the length of each suggested workout program isn’t always clear. Since the authors recommend that you exercise for an hour several times a week, I guess we’re to assume that every workout program not labeled runs about an hour? Also, do they mean for us to combine the suggested footwork (Round 6) and punching (Round 7) programs into a single, more comprehensive workout? Or is that what the total body (Round 8), flexibility (Round 9), cardio (Round 10; etc.) programs are for?

Overall, I think that beginners and pros alike can benefit from Total Knockout Fitness. It’s got a little something for everyone and, if you’re down with reading about boxing moves without always seeing them played out, can be a great way to integrate boxing into your fitness routine.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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One Response to “Book Review: Total Knockout Fitness, Martin McKenzie & Stefanie Kirchner (2014)”

  1. fuck yeah reading: 2014 books » vegan daemon Says:

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