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Book Review: Science and Practice of Strength Training (second edition)

by Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky & William J. Kraemer


This book is phenomenal!


The authors have trained over 1,000 elite athletes between them. These include Olympic, world, continental, and national champions and record holders. They know what they are talking about!


It was first recommended to me on a course run by Charles Poliquin in around 2009. I got it and it sat in a pile of books waiting to be read for some time (you’ll discover this is a common fate for most books I buy).


Eventually, I worked my way through the other books and got to this one. I’m glad I did. It is an absolute gem!


Given that it takes a “sciencey” approach it is extremely easy to read. Makes good use of graphs, charts, and pictures to get the point across and makes complex topics understandable.


An interesting element of this book is the integration of both Eastern-bloc and Western training methodologies. These potentially diverse approaches are brought together through shared principles, practical evidence, coaching experience, and the weight of scientific findings.


I haven’t read the first edition, but apparently the second is far more practical than the first. This is vital. What you get with the second edition is an understanding of the core concepts and a guide on how these can be applied to the real world.


The book covers the principles of training in-depth. It isn’t full of cookie-cutter training templates, but teaches you the concepts and how to apply them to training. In fact, the book does an excellent job of highlighting why there is no such thing as one perfect program for everyone.


The book is broken down into three sections:

  • Basic Concepts
  • Methods
  • Special Populations Training


Basic Concepts covers the theoretical aspects of task-specific strength, athlete-specific strength, supercompensation and the fitness-fatigue model.


The methods section describes various protocols to manipulate training to elicit the desired adaptation.


Special Populations Training focuses in on specific techniques to women, youths, and the elderly.

I genuinely found the book to be a page turner. I was so eager to read more and learn more. I found the content helped crystallise so many thoughts on training that had previously been a bit of a hodgepodge of random ideas. Consequently, the book helped to gain real clarity on the application of strength training.


This book gives you a solid theoretical grounding in strength training and provides plenty of examples and anecdotes to leave you with many actionable takeaways that you can apply to yourself or your athletes.


I strongly recommend you get a copy if you want to master the craft of strength training.

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