Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way.
Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Book Review: Fitness and Strength Training for All Sports
by J. Hartmann and H. Tunnemann
Fitness and Strength Training for All Sports is a translation of an Eastern Bloc strength training manual into English. I first heard about this from watching a video of Joe DeFranco going through his bookshelf with Zach Evan-Esch, and so I went ahead and tracked it down. It's aimed at strength coaches rather than novices. Simply put, this book has just about everything. From power generation to hypertrophy, recovery techniques to stretching and warmups, periodization and basic anatomy - everything is covered.
The book starts with the biology and anatomy of strength training before it moves on to the practical aspects of improving sports performance. The anatomy section is well written and easy to follow, but it's essentially theoretical information - useful for coaches and would-be personal trainers, but not for trainees looking just for a guide to what to do.
The book has a program section, with sample workouts ranging from beginner's bodyweight circuits to advanced barbell workouts aimed at experienced strength athletes. The workouts are well varied, but if you want to use them it will require quite a lot of flipping back and forth to the exercise chapter, figuring percentages of your 1RM on all of the exercises, and so forth. They aren't grab and go, although they give a good idea of how the authors intend for exercises to be organized and what percentages and rep counts are considered appropriate.
The exercise chapter has 116 different exercises of all kinds, organized by body parts. They range from partner calisthenics to the big basics (squats, deadlifts, chinups, etc.). Many of them feature kettlebells, too, often in some odd positions - I've done pullups with a kettlebell hanging from a belt, but never with one hanging around the neck on a strap! The partner exercises are quite creative, but are probably familiar to anyone in a martial arts class - partner pickups, partner squats, etc.
Perhaps the best sections are the ones that address the core goal of the book - improving sports performance, and improving power output. Since power generation - the ability to exert strength quickly - is critical to sports performance, and sports performance is the name of the game (got to win those gold medals . . . ), both sections are well done. The basics of power generation are covered, as are methods to train it - compensatory acceleration (lift a light weight as fast as possible), the contrast method (lift heavy, then lift light and fast), and plyometrics (direct power training) are all covered.
It's hard to cover this book section by section, as it has quite a number of them and it covers sports strength training so thoroughly. Suffice it to say that it's all in here, albeit a bit dated thanks to the advancing knowledge of strength training.
My only real reservation about this book is one that it shares with other Eastern Bloc training manuals: Yes, these methods produced gold medalists and an impressive body of athletes. But did they work because the methods are the best available, or because they selected out the ones for whom those methods worked best for, out of a large pool of athletes?
Content: 4 out of 5. Everything is covered quite thoroughly - if you're programming for athletes, it is in here. The only negative is that the (original) book is over 20 years old, and strength training technique has advanced.
Presentation: 5 out of 5. The line drawings could be more attractive, but that's the only quibble. Everything else is presented well, and the drawings are very clear and easy to follow.
Overall: This book is a must-read if you are coaching athletes. It is a dense read sometimes, but it's very valuable material and well-presented. If you aren't training athletes, or you're a beginner yourself, this could be more than a little overwhelming.
I am a professional personal trainer. I train clients at CR Fitness in Wyckoff, NJ.
I am a Certified Personal Trainer from the NSCA.
I am also a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified nutrition coach.
I am also an athlete myself - I formerly fought amateur MMA and submission wrestling, and I train twice a week in MMA.
I also train under a strength coach - Mike Guadango at Freak Strength. I am skilled at training others, but I thrive best when I have a knowledgeable coach to direct my own training.
About Strength Basics
This blog is a collection of various advice and information about basic strength training. I'm interested in strength and conditioning. The "frequently asked questions" in this area are VERY frequently asked.
This is my attempt to pull together the stuff I keep saying over and over. It's also a place for to put links related to strength and conditioning, and to muse on strength training in general. Further, writing this blog tests what I know. You never really know something until you can demonstrate an ability to explain it to someone else. As I write, I learn what I know and I don't know. In the process, I hope to pass on knowledge to you.
I hope this material is useful to you. Please consider it a springboard to future study. Although I endeavor to be complete and accurate, this is not meant to be the final answer to any subject addressed within the blog. Strength Basics may teach you something, but more than that I hope it makes you curious to learn more!
Always remember to check with your doctor before you begin any kind of strength or exercise program. I'm a professional personal trainer, but I'm not your personal trainer. Use this information at your own risk and with the understanding that not all exercise advice is appropriate for all trainees.