I’ve been gone for quite a while, but I ran across this book by Marty Gallagher and decided a review would be a good way to drop back in and say “Hello”!

The book for review is CrossCore® Hardcore: Revolutionary Resistance: How to Build Maximum Muscle and Extreme Strength Without Weights, Machines or Gyms Kindle Edition and published (on Kindle) May 3, 2016 so it’s “fresh”!

As you know, these limited run fitness books in paper cost alot more – the paper edition of this book is a whopping $30 – but the Kindle edition when I purchased it was just $10. At that price I decided to buy it. And if it were terrible I can always get a refund from Amazon.

First, there are some oddities about the book or at least it’s Amazon description. What they heck is it talking about for one thing? I wasn’t quite sure at first what a “CrossCore®” was or is. Fortunately someone decided to let the cat out of the bag and just call the thing what it is.. a SUSPENSION TRAINER. Once you realize that you can begin to appreciate the book a bit more.

Second, the pretext of the book is  a mystery to me.  The story goes that some “special op” guys really wondered if there were “anything” that they could carry with them short of a set of kettlebells that was “worth it” to stay in shape. That story is probably true but it soundss a bit odd since, supposedly, the TRX was developed by and for “specal op” guys right? But then kettlebells were all the rage for “special op” guys and then “tactical barbell” and then back to this.

In other words, given the origins of this book it’s good to know all the “special op” guys are about as clueless as the rest of us about what what works … the difference is their name get’s thrown around for street cred because it sounds better to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a special ops guy who wanted to know…” than to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a fat middle aged guy who dropped out of Planet Fitness and wanted to know…”

I’ll be reviewing this from the perspective of the fat middle aged guy in case you were afraid you weren’t “spec op” enough to benefit from it, ok?

Third you can go about half way through the book hearing about the “pin out” position and you hope they’re not talking about a grenade, but it’s not quite apparent. Actually they’re talking about the construction of the CrossCore® suspension trainer. As you know some suspension trainers are basically a strap attached to an anchor point (or two straps to two anchor points).

To add instability other suspension trainers are pulley based.

When a pulley is involved you have to maintain stability to keep the pulley from moving while performing the exercise and that adds a different layer of difficulty (and stabilizing work) to the exercise.

The CrossCore® has a “pin” that can be used to stop the action of the pulley and decrease the need for stabilization during exercise. If you’re a complete newbie starting out with the CrossCore® you can start “pin in” and, as you progress switch to exercises that are “pin out”.

Unless you count the latest edition of the IsoGym, which doesn’t really have a pulley but has instability because the strap can move around a carabiner, I’ve never used a pulley based trainer. But does stopping the pulley keep the rope or strap entirely free of movement? I really don’t know, but that’s the implication.

You can see the “pin” and some exercise progressions suggested by the CrossCore® though the book has variations beyond this video and even suggests a use of the device not suggested by the company – but I don’t think that will apply to most average users.

Once past the bravado and confusion, we get into the real content of the book and Gallagher doesn’t disappoint. His goal is to use the suspension trainer to create enough resistance that a very fit “special ops” guy can get a good upper body workout in 15 minutes or less.

As you’ll read, the way of doing this is to apply a variety of techniques to the actual exercises to boost the inefficiency of the exercise.

For example, each exercise is done at reduced “grind” speed… no explosive work. Progressions are accomplished by changing foot placement even during the exercise. Progression is also accomplished in the case mentioned by starting with one arm movements to near failure moving to two arm movements to near failure. These are like “drop sets” essentially in the 5 to 10 rep range.

The difficulty of these moves can be enhanced by pauses during the reps, relaxation at the point of greatest flexion, and full lockout at the point of greatest extension.

I have to admit I didn’t know you could do “one arm” work the described in the book and that was a valuable thing to learn and the “first thing” that jumped out.

Of course the premise is that elite athletes can get the strength building they need using this device in lieu of any other machine or weight. I’m a bit skeptical still though the workout described is amazingly challenging. What I mean is that I didn’t see how a deadlift, for example, could be replaced. Possibly I just read through the list of exercise progressions in the back of the book too quickly. One exercise was listed as the remedy for “glute stimulation” so perhaps that’s the cure all in this case?

As Gallagher notes in the book, real progress will involve real mental application in each exercise. The average guy or gal probably isn’t used to devoting that much attention to an exercise and so that’s why they have unspectacular results.

No matter what device or protocol you’re using – even body weight work – Gallagher’s section on mental involvement and hypertrophy should be helpful.

I certainly was inspired to “give it a go” “Gallagher Style” with my suspension training after reading the book so I’d have to say that alone was worth the $10 price tag. (That’s really what you wanted to know, right? “Was it worth it?”)

Of course I usually quote Gallagher her on the topic of “strength endurance” and THIS BOOK ISN’T THAT! This is about pure strength and hypertrophy with exercise done in the 5 to 10 rep range, not hundreds or thousands.

As the book progresses the user is shown Basic to Advanced routines – some using weihts in a backpack (hey what about “no other equipment”?) and a large variety of possible exercises to round out the information.

This is a strength book, but if you’re using a suspension trainer and know how to use it for ENDURANCE, you can always do what Dr. Schwartz said about IsoTonoMetrics… you can be cranking out reps for endurance and slow them down for strength as part of an overall workout.

In the world of modern fitness with “periodization” you could do strength one day and the next workout do more endurance work. Any knowledge of how to increase the usefulness of a suspension trainer should be useful.

This book will be great if you travel a lot and need to stay in shape with a suspension trainer… you can make sure your basic strength isn’t falling behind that way!  Why you or a special ops guy might not want to throw in a resistance band or two for variety or just extra resistance isn’t something the book discusses much because the goal is to find ONE TOOL that essentially can “Do it all”… fair enough.

I’m not sure I’d have wanted to invest in $30 version… you may. The Kindle book was sufficient for me and accomplished it’s goal.

I’d love to hear your comments! Thanks for reading!



  1. John says:

    Hi Chuck,

    Nice to see you back. Good review. The “pulley” does add a slightly different variation to the suspension trainer. Thanks for posting it!