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Physical Activity and Dementia
A 5-yr study of elderly subjects (mean age 75 yrs) showed that those who were most active during the day (doing chores, etc.) had the lowest rate of cognitive impairment (Arch Intern Med, 2011).

Core Performance Endurance

Author: Verstegen M, Williams P
Category: Training
Audience: Elite Athlete
Length: 238 pages
Publisher: Rodale
  Year Published: 2007
List Price: $27.95® Rating: Good

Core Performance Endurance is the third book in this series by nationally-acclaimed conditioning coach Mark Verstegen. His other books are Core Performance (2004) and Core Performance Essentials (2006).

• Recommended For:  elite athletes and serious weekend warriors.


• Mark Verstegen began his coaching career at his alma mater Washington State University.  He then served as assistant director of player development at Georgia Tech.  In 1994 he created the International Performance Institute on the campus of IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, FL.  In 1999, he moved to Phoenix, AZ and established the Athletes' Performance Institute.  He is a contributing columnist for Men's Health magazine.  His training advice has been profiled by hundreds of national media outlets.  Verstegen is a sought-after consultant, having been involved with the NFL Players Association, Adidas, EAS, Gatorade, Keiser, Power Plate, and numerous athletic governing bodies.  His favorite activity is mountain biking.

• Pete Williams is a veteran journalist.  He has written about sports, business, and fitness for publications such as USA Today, Men's Health, and others.  Williams is the author of 7 books, including co-authoring all 3 Core Performance books with Verstegen.


The 238-page book is organized as follows:

  • Chapter 1:  A Call to Change
  • Chapter 2:  Self-Evaluation
  • Chapter 3:  Building Your Pillar
  • Chapter 4:  Power Endurance
  • Chapter 5:  Energy System Development
  • Chapter 6:  Regeneration
  • Chapter 7:  Eat to Perform
  • Chapter 8:  Timing Is Everything
  • Chapter 9:  The Core Endurance Workout:  An Introduction
  • Chapter 10:  Core Movements


Core Performance Endurance opens with a lengthy testimonial ("Foreword") by professional triathlete Jessi Stensland.  She started out as a swimmer before becoming a competitive triathlete.  Apparently, she reached a performance plateau and that's when she attended Verstegen's facility in Tempe, AZ.  She claims that the Core Performance program "literally saved my career" and that she has been able to "cut my overall training time by a third, yet [remain] stronger and faster than ever."

Next is an Introduction by Verstegen where he summarizes his training philosophy.

Chapters 1 and 2 ask the athlete to re-examine his/her approach to training.  It is important to keep in mind that even though Core Performance Endurance is written for endurance athletes, the emphasis is on strength-training.  Indeed, there is not one single page in this book devoted to tempo runs, interval training, miles per week, or anything like that.  So, for many endurance athletes, this may be a new dimension in their overall training regimen.

Chapter 3 introduces a concept Verstegen calls "prehabilitation" or "prehab".  The idea here is to perform strength-building exercises in the shoulders, torso, and hips (the "pillar" as he calls it).  This, he claims, will reduce the risk of injuries during running, biking, and swimming.

Chapter 4 is titled "Power Endurance", sort of a curious term since "power" and "endurance" are often thought of separately.  However, as Verstegen points out on page 35:  "Because [endurance athletes] lack power, their bodies are forced to work much closer to their muscular and anaerobic thresholds."  This, then, is the foundation of his training philosophy.  It's certainly a tantalizing concept, but, unfortunately, Verstegen doesn't offer any hard data demonstrating his program actually lives up to his claims.

Chapter 5 reviews the body's energy systems, which may or may not be of interest to most readers.

Chapter 6, "Regeneration," is an excellent chapter.  Some elite endurance athletes overtrain.  These athletes could benefit from this book by simply incorporating the principles in this chapter into their training program.

PART III (pp. 60-100) covers sports nutrition.  Chapter 7 offers common-sense recommendations on nutrition and is acceptable information.  However, the second half of chapter 8 (pp. 95-100) attempts to discuss supplements.  Obviously, this topic cannot be covered adequately in 5 pages.  More importantly, it just doesn't belong in this book and should have been omitted.

PART IV outlines the training program.  Chapter 9 provides an overview, while chapter 10 (pp. 117-215) shows dozens of color images of young, fit models performing all of the specific exercises.  Chapter 10 is generally well-done, however, it's somewhat confusing at first how to design a specific training program (more on this below).

• What I Liked:  color images of models demonstrating each specific exercise; the overall concept that endurance athletes add core strength-training into their training program.

• What Could Be Better:  The organization could be improved.  It took me the better part of an hour before I discovered the chart I was looking for...buried deep in chapter 10, on p. 199.  This chart summarizes the "Basic" program, the "Advanced" program, and a program for "Race Week".  It seems to me that readers would start with this chart when designing their own program, so, it needs to be identified in the Table of Contents to make it easier to find.  Pages 199-213, which appear at the end of chapter 10, should really be their own chapter (call it "Program Design").  The chart on page 199 would then be the first page of that chapter.

Also causing confusion was the oversight in how colored headers and tabs were used.  On page 199, the "Basic Program" appears in an orange header, the "Advanced Program" appears in a blue header, and the "Race Week" program appears in a green header.  These same colors are used like tabs on the ensuing pages.  At first, I thought that these colors were carried through consistently (ie., everything in the orange grouping represents the "Basic" program....), but that's not the case at all.


Verstegen's philosophy to incorporate (a) strength training and (b) more rest and recovery in the training regimens of elite endurance athletes is important.  Many athletes who do that will likely see a dual benefit:  improved performance and reduced injuries.

In general, I like this book.  However, I am bothered by the fact that Verstegen doesn't include any hard data on any of the athletes he has trained.  Considering his many years of training experience, this omission undermines the credibility of this book.  After all, it does state on the front cover: "Increase Your Performance and Avoid Injuries."  Admittedly, I'm the scientific type, so I am trained to look for evidence to back up claims, but, it seems to me, if I was an elite athlete, I'd like to see at least some rudimentary proof of success....other than a single testimonial by a professional triathlete.

Despite the layout issues described above that have potential for causing confusion, most athletes would seem to benefit from the training elements Verstegen presents.  Eliminate the discussion of supplements, reduce the discussion of sports nutrition, add some performance data from actual clients and this book will be outstanding.

Reviewed by: Stan Reents, PharmD 6/2/2014 3:30:03 PM

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