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Book Review: Strength, Life, Legacy by Paul Carter

If every single soul was wiped off of the face of the Earth tomorrow, I would still lift. Without a single person to “impress”. I am a “lifer” because I love to train. Not because I want to impress someone — Paul Carter

I don’t read many blogs, and I subscribe to even fewer. However, I’ve read every post Paul Carter has written on Lift Run Bang for the past year.


1. Makes me think (the highest compliment I can give)

2. Makes me laugh (the second highest compliment I can give–just look at that stupid shirt.  Look at it!)

3. Practices what he preaches

There are a lot of strength experts whose qualifications are essentially their ability to have abs and/or cross their arms across their chests while glaring from the covers of books.

Not Paul. He looks strong and he is stronger than he looks.


When he announced that he had finished his book Strength – Life – Legacy, I was thrilled and ordered it immediately.

It doesn’t disappoint.

Strength – Life – Legacy is a distillation of Paul’s philosophy of life and lifting.

Let’s look at the philosophy first.

Strength Reigns

An excerpt from the introduction:

My motto about training is, and has been for a long time, “be strong – be in shape.”

However, the front runner in that sentence is to “be strong.”

Two sprinters of equal ability.  Make one of them stronger, he wins.

Two fighters of equal ability.  Make one of them stronger, he wins.

This paradigm exists across every combat and sporting platform in the universe.

All things being equal, the stronger version will triumph.

This is the jumping off point for an insightful discussion about the state of the modern male, in terms of strength and usefulness.

But I don’t want to give you the idea that this is a macho screed against skinny jeans and the men who wear them (although it does have its moments).  Throughout the book is the idea that the pursuit of physical strength is best used to:

  • Protect our families
  • Defend the defenseless
  • Teach us about ourselves
  • Make us more useful to humanity

My favorite thing about this book is the idea that strength that is not used to help or protect others, or for the development of a more confident, productive human being, is squandered.

There’s more, but that’s all I’m giving away.  It’s a good discussion.

This is one of those books that makes me want to put down the book and go lift.  That’s got to be a good result for any strength author.

On to the training.


If you lift according to templates, here are some of the programs Paul has used to get his results:

  • The Big 15 template (build muscle)
  • The Strong 15 template (focus on raw strength)
  • Deadlift block cycles
  • Strongman deadlift routines
  • Pause squat cycles
  • Programs for older lifters

I have very different goals than Paul and I don’t follow templates, but I also don’t look like him and I can’t lift like him, so take that for whatever it’s worth. If you would prefer his 90″ thighs to my 15″ calves, you’ll probably learn something from him that you won’t get from me.

The programming section is going to be the meat of the book for most lifters.

Troubleshooting the big lifts

It’s refreshing to hear someone say that not everyone can use identical form on squat, deadlift, and bench press.  I’m 6’7″.  You’re probably not.  We’re going to move differently once we get under a barbell.

Paul has provided some very useful sections on setting up for and performing the big lifts–but better than that, how to find out what works best for you.  The combination of images and clear explanations make it impossible to misunderstand, a quality that many training manuals lack.

Injury rehabilitation/prevention

Paul has had a lot of injuries.  Apparently when you routinely squat and pull over 500 lbs the weight can take a toll on the body.

He’s candid about his mistakes and talks openly about what he could have done differently. He provides detailed recommendations for warmups, stretches, and best practices for injury prevention.

There’s more.  There’s a lot more, but I hate long-form sales copy and I’m going to stop with the bullet points for now.

Paul is one of the good guys.  He’s generous to a fault, genuinely cares about helping others, and he understands that strength training can teach you things about yourself that nothing else can.

I have nothing at stake here and don’t get a commission for promoting Paul’s book. I’m proud to support him and call him a friend.

If you’re interested, you can get Strength – Life – Legacy here.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Boris Bachmann July 23, 2012, 5:59 am

    I like his writing a lot – I’ll have to pick this up later today!