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From The Desk Of Clarence Bass

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Three Reviews:

Great Expectations: IRON MAN magazine Mind/Body Review

By Becky Holman

Clarence Bass is the author of the renowned Ripped book series, which documents his efforts in the 1980s, when he was in his mid-40s, to get his bodyfat percentage down to an astounding 2.3 percent.  No low-carb diets here; he did it with lifestyle eating habits that he's maintained for decades.  Even more impressive is that he recently turned 70 and has kept his bodyfat in single digits since that first book.

His latest is Great Expectations-Health, Fitness, Leanness Without Suffering, which documents how he does it, but it's much more than a how-to-tome.  It's a monumental motivation manual for those in their 40s and beyond.  Bass is a true inspiration, and his diet and exercise philosophies are sensible and simple.  They're also based on the latest nutrition and exercise science. 

He thoroughly discusses proper, healthful eating and then outlines portion reduction during a balanced diet to reduce bodyfat stores as opposed to reducing one of the macronutrients, like carbs.  He contends that carbs are necessary to burn fat and quotes the research to back up his statements.  You'll see Bass' exact approach to staying lean for life, which, by the way, is the title of another of his great books.

You also gets his ideas on exercise and his complete training routine.  As amazing as it sounds, he trains with weights only twice a week, with brief, high-intensity workouts, yet at 70 he has a physique most 30-year-olds would envy.  You'll find lots of references to, and discussion of, Arthur Jones' ideas and Jones' Nautilus training style.  While Bass does exercise six days a week, his other four sessions consist of walking or some type of high-intensity cardio training. 

You also get loads of motivation from exercise physiologists and scientists who state emphatically that falling apart as you age is not a fact of life, but pure hogwash.  To prevent it, you simply have to put in some effort, as you do at any age, and have a positive mind-set--expect the best.  Hence the title of the book, Great Expectations.

Now that Bass is 70, his wisdom is even more applicable to men and women in middle age and beyond.  All you have to do is look at him to know that his principles work.  As he says toward the end of the book, "The bottom line is that you've got to understand what you are doing and believe it will work."  Easy.  One look at Clarence and you're a true believer.

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Great Expectations: Health Fitness Leanness Without Suffering

Review by Richard Winett, PhD

Great Expectations is Clarence Bass's ninth book and his best one. Considering the superior quality of his other books, the Ripped and Lean Advantage series, Lean for Life, and Challenge Yourself, this is saying a lot.

This book achieves an unusual and successful blending of content. The book reports in engaging ways about the science of nutrition, exercise, and aging. The backdrop is Clarence's own application of the science to his eating, training, and physical activity. The format and style of the book makes the reader feel you are spending a typical week with Clarence and Carol Bass, having meals with them, training, walking, and conversing. The blending works so well because the writing is clear and crisp and on par if not better than the top nationally syndicated health columnists.  

What is terrific to see in the many pictures in the book is that Clarence in his 70th year is still training with passion and enthusiasm and looks terrific. Clarence doesn't suggest that he is 'defying aging.' Rather by example Clarence is showing us, as the title of the book suggests, that we can have great expectations at any age.

Several facets of the book and the story are particularly striking.

In the last several years, Clarence has had two health problems requiring surgery. He recounts these episodes in some detail. The most important parts are how he approached these problems in a positive way, learned to take personal control of the situations while collaborating with his doctors, and came to view the episodes as necessary maintenance to continue to live a full life.  

While some dreadful details are honestly reported, the take-home message of these episodes – and the whole book – is to approach life in a positive, optimistic way and to develop and then believe in our own abilities to make the best of our circumstances.

Clarence has continued to train consistently and hard, but he has realistically adapted his training to changes in his life. He shows us, for example, some new exercises that replace his squatting and deadlifting. In a number of ways, these exercises may be more suitable for some people than the squat and deadlift. Clarence also incorporates some longer duration, 'slower,' repetitions into his training.

Clarence has been right for a long time about an effective frequency, volume, and intensity of training. Clarence has 'worked out' a goal-directed balance between resistance and aerobic training. The result is a low volume, relatively infrequent, and higher intensity program. The program can be completed in about three hours a week and adapted to different circumstances and preferences. Adapting and planning training and accomplishing training goals also helps keep training satisfying and enjoyable.

Clarence also complements his harder training with comfortably walking most days of the week. In a world that makes it increasingly easy to be sedentary, engaging in some form of physical activity most days is a general health recommendation.

Clarence also has been right for a long time about healthful nutrition. He emphasizes eating many servings of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, lean sources of protein, consuming some 'good' fats, and eating frequently while maintaining appropriate portion size. Rather than a stringent, often unhealthy and unappetizing deprivation 'diet', Clarence focuses on enjoying the tastes of foods and the overall experience of eating. His approach is an excellent fit with guidelines and recommendations from virtually every health agency for preventing weight gain or maintaining a weight loss and for reducing risks for heart disease, cancers, and diabetes.

Clarence is not preaching to us and offering us exercise, physical activity, and nutrition prescriptions that assume 'one size fits all.'  The ownership ideal that he espouses means that each reader should consider the principles and examples from Clarence's book. Then based on personal preferences and goals, the principles can be enacted in ways that are enjoyable and satisfying to each of us. 

Clarence's ultimate message is that we can shape our training, physical activity, nutrition, and life itself, so that each day can fulfill our Great Expectations.

[Richard A. Winett, Ph.D., is the Heilig Meyers Professor of Psychology at Virginia Tech where he directs the Center for Research in Health Behavior as well as the Clinical Science program. Dr. Winett also has published Master Trainer for 17 years as part of Ageless Athletes, Enterprises: www.ageless-athletes.com]

To purchase Great Expectations, GO

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The heart of the book [is] encouragement.”

Review of Clarence Bass’ Book Great Expectations

By Greg Sushinsky

      The bold though partially hidden display of a lean, taut nude figure of a man, which carefully reveals, yet tastefully conceals, the physique of one of the greatest practitioners of physical culture in our modern day, is the first thing that strikes you about Clarence Bass’ new book, Great Expectations. The cover art is a fine choice for the book, part suggestive of bodybuilding, part fitness, part art, and stands at a kind of a junction between all these, maybe fusing them for a moment in a way that is both startling and welcome at this point in the history of bodybuilding and fitness, invoking the spirit of true physical culture. The striking character of the front cover is balanced by the friendly, informal welcoming photo of Bass on the back, as the cover notes clearly announce what he and the book are about. It is a package that points beyond mere bodybuilding and even fitness, and points to a celebration, an updating and bringing into the 21st century a new physical culture. The front cover photos by Laszlo Bencze, though, and many other photos by him throughout the book announce well that this is not just another bodybuilding or fitness book.

    Clarence Bass is a well-known, significant name in the fitness field, best known in bodybuilding. He just turned 70, is a former lawyer, has been a successful high-school athlete, an Olympic lifting champion, a title-winning bodybuilder, who champions exercise, fitness, nutrition and health in a lifelong way which outshines all previous limiting categories of these topics. Known in his bodybuilding incarnation for his “Ripped” physique, many readers will recognize Bass for his human-anatomy-chart extreme definition which he still wears as his body, a badge from his ceaseless devotion over the years to his craft, a craft which is far beyond bodybuilding and fitness and for which there is truly no category, though physical culture would come closest. Bass is also a prolific writer, author of eight previous books, who wrote the Ripped Department column in Muscle & Fitness magazine for 16 years. 

    While some may be initially put off by the unusual photo of Bass on the cover, it is a cover that may one day become—should become—a classic in physical culture. Also, the subtitle, Health Fitness Leanness Without Suffering, is pointed, direct, and perhaps ground breaking as well. Some of the material has been touched upon or at least hinted at by Bass in his other writings, but the value in this book is both the elaboration and the organic way in which it is organized and written. Though the book is read best in order, once read, you can go back to many of the sections which do double-duty and can stand also on their own.

   The book begins with an overview highlighting Clarence Bass’ approach, which invokes a connected spirit of attitude and action married to positive anticipation of results; it is a theme of engagement that will wind through the whole work as he shows you how he does this and how you can too. He then launches into a chapter the likes of which you don’t usually find in fitness and certainly bodybuilding books. The chapter covers Bass’ hip replacement and bladder surgery. What makes this different is that candid medical experiences are seldom included in the super-human writings of athletes, rarely in bodybuilding and fitness circles, and are rarer still drenched in the kind of naked honesty that Clarence provides. The detailing of his bladder problem and subsequent treatment captures the fear, anxiety, aloneness and frustration that we all nearly universally come up against at some time in our lives. It is a tribute to Bass’ honesty that he includes this, and the way he does again vaults the book far beyond the mere fitness category.

     The heart of the how-to then begins with Bass detailing the hows and whys of weight loss, metabolism, exercise and eating. One of the best things Bass does as an author is share stories and approaches of others, giving them the limelight, sharing what Clarence has learned from even ordinary practitioners of the art of leanness, exercise and health. He details practical ways to achieve and maintain fat loss that work for many, and that are sustainable without heroic effort. 

      The exercise Rx follows suit. Bass explains the whys and whats of exercise and how his own approach has evolved, and how yours can, too, into a reasonably intense but neither time-consuming regimen nor killing effort that will take care of strength and cardiovascular training, the twin pillars of importance for best results. Further chapters elaborate on the exercise approach in greater detail, with more background and some scientific citing.

     The center of Bass’ ways involve a consistent whole food, low fat nutritional approach, which for him is a way of eating, not a diet. He is, in his words, anti-diet, instead counseling to develop a consistent, gradual approach to losing weight and body fat. He also details how he applies his principles to his own eating and how this fits into his lifestyle as a part of it, not its sum or totality. The whole idea is to live a full life, to enjoy your eating and exercising, not to work excessively hard, and not to suffer (remember the sub-title?). Even his chapters on reaching a physical peak, chapters seven and eight, where he shows you how he goes about his preparation for elite-level leanness and physique training, illustrate these ideas in action.

    There is more than this, even. Clarence Bass, via photographer Laszlo Bencze, shares photos and writings of days of his personal life with his wife Carol, which shows how Clarence integrates these physical culture principles into his daily living and also gives us a glimpse into the wider personality that Clarence is other than the fitness persona part. In this, Bass becomes a more fleshed-out, multi-dimensional man.

   There are some criticisms to make of the book, the foremost one being that those who are non-exercisers with serious weight problems are likely to find Bass’ example a bit daunting, if not intimidating. Clarence does his best to invite them in, quell their fears, and to encourage them; there’s not much else he can do. Also, sometimes Bass relies a bit too much on citing the scientific underpinnings in his discussion. It can be helpful, yet to those unconvinced it will be meaningless, to those already convinced, unnecessary. One thought to keep in mind: Bass has a definite point of view that falls along the spectrum of silent (or otherwise) arguing in the fitness world: He is a staunch proponent of low-fat living, though without over-simplifying, he does briefly offer a discussion if not a nod of acknowledgement for those who prefer the nearly opposite, the low-carb approach. 

   Small criticisms aside, you will find wonderful things here: Bass’ personal adventure into leanness, the things he shows and teaches, the shared, encouraging joyful nature of his path, such things as the spotlight on Nils Wikstrom, a friend of Clarence’s whose own unique yet compatible views of fitness illustrate Clarence’s own tolerant approach, and the many friends Clarence cites that he’s made and who in turn encourage him in his own fitness endeavors. This is in some way the heart of the book: encouragement.

      Clarence Bass is not only a passionate advocate for healthy exercise and nutrition, but is an ardent, expert practitioner of same and an articulate, highly intelligent spokesman for it. This comes shining through the book. It is in its sinews and corpuscles, in much the same way that Clarence has stamped these practices into the sinews and corpuscles of his own body and life. So, too, there is a “more than” here, which is that the book is more than merely an abstract treatise on leanness and exercise, it is also the encounter with a man who has rather than just observing, plunged deep into the adventure, and along the way communicated with relish the joy and struggles of this journey to his fellow beings. We are the richer for his experiences. 

End.

[To learn more about sports-health-and-fitness writer Greg Sushinsky, visit http://writing.gregsushinsky.com/index.html]

To purchase Great Expectations, GO

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Ripped Enterprises, P.O. Box 51236, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87181-1236 or street address: 528 Chama, N.E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108, Phone (505) 266-5858, e-mail:  cncbass@aol.com, FAX:  (505) 266-9123.  Office hours:  Monday-Friday, 8-5, Mountain time.  FAX for international orders: Please check with your local phone book and add the following: 001-505 266-9123

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Copyright © 2007 Clarence and Carol Bass.  All rights reserved.