I haven't done a thread here in a long time. Too busy at GUS but I've been doing so much reading and research lately. Even more than usual. And it got me to thinking.
I've been asked before what books to buy what articles to read and all of that. It's almost impossible to answer because there aren't just one or two things that you can recommend and call it good. Everything has limitations and what's more everybody doesn't have the same goals or needs for information. Where I might need lots of indepth and heavy info a guy just looking to be able to know a bit more about what he is doing would probably NOT benefit from that. In fact, he might just end up with a lot more questions than are necessary.
Looking at some of the books that people habitually recommend there are two that stick out. Supertraining and Science and Practice of Strength.
In the past, for someone who just wants some good basic info, I've told them neither book is the right way to go. And I still feel that way. Frankly, I think many 'gurus' recommend these books to sound smart and not many of them even understand them. They don't really think about whether those books are appropriate for anyone other than trainers or people who are just ate up with strength training.
Supertraining is easy to explain. There is SO much information in it but hardly anything practical. Now everything is theory but most 'strength training' books try to bridge theory with practice (Science AND Practice, duh). Supertraining is more a reference than a strength training book and you have to do a whole lot of interpretation. It's back out again and you can get it without going broke but I don't recommend it as a "must have" for every trainees bookshelf.
Science and Practice (Zatiorsky and Kraemer) is a bit harder. There is SOME practical nature in it however it is written from a scientific standpoint. One of the main criticisms of people in the west who would criticize it was that Zatiorsky was more of a lab guy, a theoretician who studied training rather than one who carried it out. It's and unfounded ad hominem but what people miss is that everything in the book is MEANT to be interpreted to some degree.
And lots of people seem to interpret it opposite to the authors interpretations (when they give them).
The average trainee doesn't want to be interpreting heavy biomechanical and physiological info. Without a BIG background not many will understand most of it. I have to read primary texts to get much of it.
The other problem is that it is a poorly organized book. Looking at it I am pretty sure that it is a pulled together hodgepode of lectures and presentations, papers here and there. The second edition being a little bit better I hear but all I've ever owned is the second. I'm not saying that it's the worst organization I've ever seen but it doesn't flow from one concept to another. You have very advanced information before basic and back again.
One of the biggest problems is the lingo. I don't think the average trainee wants to read about "peripheral factors of force production" and calling muscle cross section a peripheral factor is an example of pointless jargon.
Throughout the book there are many statements that almost seem to come out of left field. The author says stuff and you scratch your head wondering what it has to do with the price of tea in china.
Many times, when there does seem to be a point, the references are archaic. You have to know a bit of history and you have to understand how strength testing is carried out in a lab setting.
Here is one example:
After many of the sections in the book there are points given (examples) to illustrate something about the concept. Many of the points will be quite meaningless to most. The points will seem 'pointless'. You have to realize that everyone has their own point of reference and when someone elses point of reference is completely different than yours they may not make a lot of sense to you.
On the section on Intermuscular Coordination there are some points given to illustrate the importance of it. Intermuscular Coordination simply means that complex movements are require a complex coordination of various muscle groups.
The first point given is about EMS. It goes like this. You can make a single muscle or a muscle group grow by electrical stimulation but you have to work your ass off to see any gains in a multijoint movement from that. So that not many athletes do EMS because of that.
Did you know that not many athletes do EMS? LOL. It's a bit out of date but even if it weren't it would probably not help a lot of people to know that changes brought about through electrical shock do not help your nervous system coordinate movement. You still know nothing about motor learning.
The next point doesn't seem to have ANY point. Paraphrasing:
The best [Olympic] weightlifters are the strongest people in the world (value judgement!) but they cannot perform the slow gymnastics exercises which require only strength like in the cross exercise on the rings (Iron Cross?). On the other hand, he says, elite gymnasts do not exercise with free weights to make the shoulder girdle stronger they do so with bodyweight exercises...
and like that...what it has to do with intermuscular coordination I can't get. He says that weightlifters are different than gymnasts but both require intermuscular coordination. How is that illustrating the importance? A greyhound dog requires intermuscular coordination to run fast but I can't run as fast as a greyhound dog. On the other hand, greyhound dogs don't lift weights....you see what I'm getting at?
MOST of the points in the book are like that. It TRIES to be practical but it's not. There are many more criticisms I can make.
Yet it is chock full of information for those who would take the time to sort through it. But lots of information is not the only value of a book.
I'd recommend the book only to actual trainers and strength and conditioning pros. Complete geeks who are just ate up with this stuff. The only other people I'd recommend it too are people who are very influenced by other people who constantly refer to the book. Before you get very influenced by someone elses interpretation of info...READ THE PRIMARY INFO YOURSELF.
One more criticism...lack of references. Many of the scientific theories are not referenced which makes it difficult to do further research based on the book. And it has also caused Zatiorsky to be given credit as the originator of many theories he is not..simply because the book is popular but "experts" are not as well read as they should be.
The bibliography a the end is given as "suggested reading" by chapter but there are not any cross-references.