The Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha Book Review


This is not your average fitness book.

Man 2.0

This review will show you what the book Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha will, and won’t help you achieve.

In fact, it’s really not a fitness book at all.

Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha is a book written for the guy who wants to be a living god — a down to earth god who also lifts weights and loves ice cream.

It’s a complete manual for how to change your life for the better, using your physique and health as catalysts.

Like every book on self improvement, it makes a lot of large claims. It promises to help you “balance your hormones, build more muscle, burn more fat, have more sex,” and “…live an unreal life.”

Here’s the video trailer:

This review will help you decide if Man 2.0 lives up to the hype.

What’s an Alpha Male?

If you hear the word “alpha male,” you probably think of a jerk who takes himself too seriously.

The authors, Adam Bornstein and John “Roman” Romaniello, aim to change that. They want to replace the egoistic, self-absorbed jerk persona with a modern day renaissance man. They list what they call “The Seven Traits of the Alpha”:

  1. Helpful — but not condescending.
  2. Confident — But not cocky.
  3. Vain — But not conceited.
  4. Prideful — But not arrogant.
  5. Humble — But not self loathing.
  6. Tolerant — But not weak.
  7. Dedicated — But not obsessed.

So far so good.

The rest of the book is devoted to helping you master these seven traits, starting with your mind.

Engineering the Alpha, Mindset

According to Man 2.0 “…most guys unknowingly live their lives in an ordinary world with no thought to leave it.” They give up on being awesome, and become content to live an ordinary, dull, uninteresting life.

There are 15 “Alpha Rules” designed to help you adopt the Alpha mindset. Almost all of the rules are focused on problem solving, personal relationships, self confidence, and prioritization.

The last rule best sums up the theme of the book — using humor and assertiveness to reinforce common sense:

“Rule #15. Learn how to cook. If you’re approaching thirty and can’t make a few meals, then take the next month and learn. Seriously, it’s time to grow the fuck up. Alphas know how to take care of themselves. It’s a basic human function.”

Before changing your mind, however, the authors believe that you need to change your body first.

The Alpha Diet and Exercise Plan

Most of the Man 2.0 diet advice is great:

  • Calories count.
  • Eat lots of protein.
  • Eat fewer carbs (remember, this book is not written for high level athletes).
  • Eat more fat (yes, including saturated fat).
  • Don’t be a vegetarian if your goal is optimal muscle gain, fat loss, or health. (Though they don’t demonize it, either, and they provide a few work-arounds.)
  • Take diet breaks (“cheat” days).
  • Cycle your macronutrients and calories.
  • Eat mostly meat, fruit, and veggies.
  • Be flexible.
  • Track your calories and macronutrients.

On the other hand, a few of their recommendations are a little unscientific.

They place a lot of faith in the importance of nutrient timing, and claim that intermittent fasting is the most “… scientifically supported diet ever created.”

At this point, the jury is still out on whether or not intermittent fasting is really going to help you lose fat, gain muscle, live longer, or do much of anything.

To their credit, they admit that “the amount of research on intermittent fasting in healthy populations is limited.” They also believe that “the best approach to your diet is the one that is sustainable for you and fits your lifestyle,” and they don’t say you need to intermittent fast. If it helps you stick to your diet or improves your life in any way, there’s no evidence intermittent fasting is going to hurt anything, either.

This, and a few other minor claims, cost them a few points in terms of credibility. Overall, however, the diet advice in Man 2.0 is more accurate than 99% of other diet books.

The Man 2.0 exercise program is also good:

  • It’s periodized.
  • It’s simple and clear.
  • It’s (somewhat) customizable.
  • It has a few cool new exercises.
  • It’s integrated with a diet plan (as all good fat loss/muscle gain programs should be).

If your knowledge of exercise is mostly limited to bodybuilding magazines, you’ll get a lot out of it. If you’re an exercise nerd who reads publications like the Alan Aragon Research Review or the Body Recomposition blog, there won’t be as much new material in it for you. That said, it’s still a fun read, and you’ll probably learn a few new things.

Does the workout and diet plan redefine the fitness world or what you thought possible? No.

Is it a great plan for most people who are looking to lose fat and gain muscle? Absolutely.

The Best Part of Man 2.0

It’s hilarious.

Even if you never use any of their diet and exercise recommendations, it’s worth reading for entertainment. I was laughing out loud almost every other page.

Be forewarned: If you’re sensitive to cursing, sexual references, and aren’t a little bit of a geek, you may not find it as amusing as I did. If you find it funny, give it to a bro, not your mom.

At the same time, the authors also include touching and insightful stories from their own lives. These help illustrate what it takes to reach what they call “Alpha Status,” a point where you are happy with your body, your career, and your relationships, and ready to “kick some ass and do what you’ve always wanted.”

Roman’s account of his entry into the fitness world is especially fascinating, inspiring, and hilarious.

The Biggest Problem with Man 2.0

No references.

It’s obvious these guys are better at critical thinking than most other fitness authors, but they didn’t include a reference section. They mention a few studies in the text and include the names of a few researchers and journals, but no citations. Minor fail.

Update: Roman let me know that their publisher cut the reference section to save space — not their call.

Can You Trust This Book?


Overall, this book gets a 7/10 in terms of scientific accuracy. It’s far closer to the truth than most fitness and health books, but a few statements stretch the limits of credibility.

Both Adam and Roman also seem like they’re open to changing their minds, which is always a good sign. They don’t come across as preachy or dogmatic, and they seem to be able to laugh at themselves and admit when they’re wrong. Props.

A Good Diet & Fitness Book — A Great Motivational Manual

In many ways, Man 2.0 is more of a motivational and inspirational cheat sheet than a fitness book. It’s hilarious, inspiring, and down to earth.

The authors would probably agree that if you get nothing else out of this book except the motivation to get off your butt and do something — even if it’s not “The Alpha Plan,” you’ll have gotten your money’s worth.

The Imprüvism Verdict

Accuracy: 7/10

Reader Friendliness: 10/10

Delivery on Promises: 8/10

Overall Score: ★★★★

Disclosures: None

What do you think of the book Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha

Do you plan on reading it?

Have you read it yet? If so, what did you think?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  1. says

    I’m 55 years old and battled weight issues through my whole life. One time
    back when I was 40 I entered the EAS body transformation contest and completed the rigorous 12 week course. I’m a big guy in general at 6 foot 4 inches. In the contest I went from 230lbs and 22% body fat to 209 and 8% body fat. I was pretty ripped with 6 pack abs.
    Anyway over the years and a few serious quad tears- quitting smoking and super bad eating habits I managed to get to 337lbs and 46% body fat. In November of 2012 I started operation
    “Happy-Healthy- and Fit”. Using my years of proven gym techniques and the traditional 5-7
    small meals with emphasis on protein nutrition regiment I got down to 297lbs and 35% body fat (roughly 5 months) and moving in the right direction. Then I came face to face with “Man 2.0″ and everything

    went into warp drive. I loved the book and really hoped the intermittent fasting worked because that 6 meals a day shit is a massive pain in the ass! Anyway- I’m in week 4 of the
    “Alpha” program and I’ve gone from 297lbs to 282.6 lbs in 25 days and I feel great. This first month has been amazing and I’m expecting major success with this program going forward.
    It’s still early but I’ve never enjoyed reading a fitness book more and I “believe” in its principles. This is something I could do for the rest of my life! My thanks to the authors-
    John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein.
    I did have the foresight to take some exceptionally gnarly before pictures so this body transformation will be amazing- if I don’t “puss” out!

    • says

      Hey Michael, thanks for the awesome and inspirational comment.

      It sounds like you’ve made quite a few positive changes, and overcome some major obstacles along the way. Keep up the great work, and please keep me updated on your progress. Feel free to post your before and after pictures in the comments — it’s great motivation for others.

      What exactly about Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha inspired you to act the most — more than other resources?

      Good luck and great job,

      - Armi

  2. Don Juan Jovi - The Spanish Bon Jovi says

    I loved this book. I was surprised to see a lot of hate for it out there on the web. Well, not surprised as it can be a hell hole sometimes.

    It needs work, there’s no doubt about it. There’s a lot of fluff and couple of contradicting statements, a few math errors etc but I think it did what it was intended to do. I haven’t started the program yet but look forward to it.

    I think many of the people who are slating it harshly are already in the know like you mentioned. I still think there’s some solid information to be had out of it.

    The publishers taking out the references section is sad.

    • says

      Hi Don,

      Glad you liked it. Some of the negative feedback is probably due to the hype surrounding the book. The whole “hormone optimization” gig is kind of marketing B.S., but the things they tell you to do in order to optimize your hormones are still good recommendations for the most part.

      Hope you get something out of it and let me know what you think of their program.

      - Armi

  3. Russell Cox says

    I’m 4weeks in to this program. I’m down 11lbs and past the point of the gym routine being miserable. At 37 years old and having failed at everything I’ve tried in the last 5 years I’ve found this to be the only thing yet I can totally buy into. I’ve fixed my diet and drastically reduced my boozing I think because its a byproduct of the whole program instead of focusing on not drinking so much. Oh, and you do want to “fuck more” maybe just because you look and feel better just as fast (or faster) than it says you will. The fasting schedule is easier to adjust to than it sounds and it has me loving life! Good read!!!

  4. Dave says

    I was very excited about this book initially. Having read several lifestyle/fitness books including most recently Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body and Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution I was hoping for another honest opinion of how to eat healthfully and exercise properly. Much of what is stated in the book makes sense but red flags went up immediately when they recommended supplements as part of the Alpha diet. They even provided links to where you can purchase supplements on their website. That sent my BS detector into overdrive. It is scientifically proven that unless you have a medically diagnosed deficiency then supplements do you absolutely no good. Oh well, maybe the rest of the book is true.

    • Bret says

      You say that this is scientifically proven? where is this? I don’t agree with a lot of supplementation on the whole, but I also know that supplements do help you obtain better results. On a deeper level, what if you have heavy metal toxicity? and your body is not able to remove those heavy metals? supplements in the form of chlorella and molybdenum are essential to assist in the removal of these toxic substances. Creating a blanket statement that ‘supplements should never ever be used’ is kind of blinkered.

  5. Andy says

    I think this book review is one of the best I’ve seen yet. It isn’t biased either way. It actually sounds like what I tell people when recommending it. I agree that this book itself has very little references for the intermittent fasting support. A good book to read that does have many references supporting this subject is Eat, Stop, Eat by Brad Pilon.


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