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, February 1, 2010
Book Review: Optimizing Strength Training
By Fleck, Steven J. and Kraemer, William J.
Published in 2007
Optimizing Strength Training is a book on one specific but broad subject - non-linear aka undulating periodization. The simplest explanation of non-linear periodization is a series of workouts in which the sets, repetition, and intensity vary in an undulating fashion. That means they'll go up and down - think of waves and troughs. 5 x 3 alternated with 3 x 12 and 2 x 15, for example, workout to workout instead of month to month or week to week. That maybe the nutshell explanation, but the nuts and bolts are not so simple.
The book first addresses the concept of periodization - planned variations in the intensity and load of workouts - in general. From there, it quickly moves on to the practical considerations of undulating periodization. What it is, how to implement it, and the nuts-and-bolts of choosing set/rep schemes and intensities.
Chapters are dedicated to practical considerations, workout design, the variables of the workouts, and more. This review does not do justice to the depth of the coverage of the subject. This books aims to be, and pretty much is, a one-volume text on the subject.
One especially useful chapter, in my opinion, is Assessment. This chapter covers the ways you can assess the effectiveness of your training on your athletes. These range from physical measurements (a full set of illustrations show how to do these) to rep-maximum testing of various lifts, such as bench pressing or power cleans. Even the warmup sets to use for such testing are covered in great detail. This chapter is useful stand-alone, even if you don't intend to use the rest of the book or design your own workouts. It's a better guide to assessing clients than I've seen in most other books, and it's not something that gets this much depth in other discussions of periodization.
The book closes out with fifty (!) case studies. They tend to be short - a problem stated in a few sentences, and a short paragraph outlining your options for dealing with it. If they are not comprehensive, I can't easily tell you what they missed. Dealing with an athlete who missed time due to a non-medical emergency? Coming back from injury? Team members unable to meet previous levels of training results? Whatever, it's in there.
There is also a glossary (well-written and useful), training logs, and a good index to round out the text.
Content: 5 out of 5. If you want to learn how to construct and utilize undulating periodization, this book will show you how.
Presentation: 4 out of 5. While very well written and organized, the book is sometimes overly dense and it's clearly aimed at an educated and experienced audience.
Overall: If you need a book on non-linear periodization workouts, this is the place to go. If you have no idea what that previous sentence meant, this is not the book for you. It's not aimed at beginners, and it's a dense read even if you understand the concepts involved. Still, it is well worth reading for a strength and conditioning coach or athletic trainer.
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.