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Friday, 18 November 2005

Bench Press by: Sven Lindqvist

Bench Press
Sven Lindqvist
Translated Sarah Death

Granta Publications

What do an aging 50-year-old writer and a skinhead body builder have in common? This is an intriguing little book, written part as memoir and part as history of working out, weights and bodybuilding, and little bit of dreams. Sven, who is our 50- year-old writer, meets the skinhead in the sauna; they end up talking, as people will at the gym, and a man who only swam laps started working out. Yet in the process of working out, he experiences an almost religious epiphany.

A man, who was happy as a writer traveling the world, and was content with middle age, slowly reawakens dreams from his youth. As he workouts, Sven remembers childhood dreams, like a desire to visit the Sahara desert.

This book begins with a quote from Marcus Aurelius; “Does transformation frighten you? Yet what can happen without transformation? Can you yourself take a hot bath without the wood being transformed, can you nourish yourself without the food being transformed? Do you not then see that your own transformation is equally necessary?”, and this book will change you. As I read it, my own childhood dreams and aspirations, long put away, were awakened. This book is broken up into 85 penses or thoughts. Some are the personal reflections of the author, some of history, and tidbits of information fun and bizarre, and a few are visions that Sven has along his journey.

This book is the first in a trilogy. The last chapters of the first two are the first chapter of the next. They are Desert Divers , a journey into the desert to see childhood dreams, and Exterminate All the Brutes, a history of genocides in Africa committed by Europeans and leading up to the great genocide of the Nazi reign. Sven, in the preface to Bench Press, states: “As a boy, I read about fire-eaters and well-divers, sandstorms and desert lakes. I dreamed of going to the Sahara. Bench Press is the story of how I found my dream again....…these books grew out of one another and form a single unit, taking the reader from the self-obsessed physical culture of the early 1980’s to a new awareness of the crimes of the past and the threats lying ahead in the future.”

Lindqvist books in English are not easy to find, but are well worth the effort. Back to the writer and the skinhead, what they have in common is self-image and self- doubt that can be overcome, and dreams that are assisted by building the body. Or as Montaigne stated a long time ago: “To Strengthen the mind you must harden the muscles.” Use this book for the mind and maybe it will challenge you to do some work on tuning up the body as well.

(First Published in Imprint 2005-11-18 as 'Memoirs, brains and brawn')

(Reprinted in Across the Creek the St. Jerome's Students' Union newspaper column 'Book Look' November 2005)

Other Fitness Articles:
Fall 2011 Programs
Workout program March 2012
My Gear February 2012
Fitness My Retrospective

TRX Articles:
TRX an Introduction
TRX Force

TRX Force Tactical
TRX Essential Flexibility

My P90X Series:
Phase I, Phase II, Gear, Phase III, Fitness Options, P90X at 120 Days Out

Health & Fitness Book Reviews:
The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation - Mark Sisson
The Ten Commandments Of Lifting Weights - Jared Zimmerer

Toadally Primal Smoothies - Todd Dosenberry
Caveman Resurection - Jeff Pickett
40 Days to Optimal Health - Dr. Scott Morris
Eat Stop Eat - Brad Pilon
The Primal Blueprint - Mark Sisson
The New Rules of Lifting - Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove
Bench Press by: Sven Lindqvist
Sly Moves by: Sylvester Stallone
Fit for Eternal Life: A Christian Approach to Working Out, Eating Right, and Building the Virtues of Fitness in Your Soul by: Dr. Kevin Vost
Body for Life 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strenght by: Bill Phillips
Lose Fat Not Faith by Jeremy R. Likeness
Living The Good Life: Your Guide to Health and Success by: David Patchell-Evans
Dump your Trainer by: Ashley Marriott and Marc L. Paulsen


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