Top positive review
39 people found this helpful
Excellent strength training book - not too technical - easy to implement
on 10 December 2003
All potentially interested parties in this book, especially if you are European, should try and ignore the cheesyness of the title. And to be honest the text can be just as cheesy at times, that said however, the information that this book contains is good if you are not already into sports science, otherwise you may have already covered this stuff elsewhere. The concepts posited in the book are not new as they have been around for a long time in the various schools of strength training. Many of the concepts are explained in layman's terms so that you can understand what he means quickly and get to work implementing them in your new routine, or existing routine as a booster. One such example, would be that of "irradiation" or the concept of steadily increasing muscular tension moving across muscle groups as a given weight increases, and therefore makes more demands upon the body as a whole. In this particular case, he uses a bucket analogy - said bucket being held at arms length empty is no feat of strength and can be done by using the muscles of the arm and shoulder, however should one begin to fill the bucket then the increasing weight demands a response from adjoining muscle grops and the smaller muscle groups of the trunk - if the bucket is to remain held in that position. This principle of steadily increasing muscular tension and neuro-muscular learning is basically what is at the heart of strength training, more specifically, the development and improvement of maximal strength.
For a more sports scientific explanantion of these techniques, the reader may want to consult the "Supertraining Forum" online or purchase a (ever rarer) copy of the excellent "Supertraining" from Dr Mel Siff. Near maximal lifts for low reps and three to five sets is nothing new in the OL and Powerlifting circles, but to the uninitiated, as I was when I first bought the book 5 years ago now, it truly does show you the proverbial "lost way". The author also reminds us that this knowledge has been around since the last century and was developed by the likes of Arthur Saxon and Eugene Sandow - old time strong men. Men who were strong as strong as you could shake a stick at (why you would want to shake a stick at a strongman is beyond me though!), back when there were no gyms, no supplements and no glossy and boring bodybuilding comics etc.
When I first started to use methods such as periodisation and the 5-3 rule I made huge progress and became much stronger, but do not be fooled into thinking you can consistently make such progress. There will come a sticking point and lifting consistently heavy for long periods, even under periodisation. will take its toll on your body. There are no shortcuts however, you still have to work hard, you only get out what you put in. Heavy deadlifting alone can seriously exhaust your nervous system, and I personally, often find myself fit for nothing after a deadlifting sesh.
A major annoyance about the book is that the text is very sparse at times - and no there are not loads of pictures or diagrams - a fair few but not overdone, and at the end of the book there is about ten pages of advertisments for his other books and products like exercise machines etc. which is just not cricket really, is it Pavel. For me at least, the information contained in this book was very useful albeit not scientific. Could I recommend it? Yes - but not at the new price, buy second hand then you wont be as dissapointed with what you get for your money. Have I bought other books from him? Yes. Were they similar, with the ads at the back? Unfortunately, yes, but they too still had some good stuff in them.
A golden rule of thumb for any books professing the hackneyed "secrets" in the title would be to tell yourself before you buy that there is a catch somewhere, and then, if you absolutely must buy it, do so - if only to satisfy yourself that, yes, you should have listened to your inner voice in the first place as you were right all along. Same goes in this case. There are no secrets, the contents have been around for a long time in many of the better sports science text books and various coaching circles, but the average Joe going to the gym never gets to hear about this. I class myself as a "Joe" too, and for me the book had the effect of revealing "secrets" - it was all new to me at least! Five years of training under my belt since I bought the book, and I am older and wiser and have read more and better texts on the subject, that said, it still is a good first book for those people serious about improving their maximal strength without getting into too much science.