This could just be the very best book I have ever read on strength training and conditioning for sports (and fitness). Page after page, I found myself utterly impressed by Boyle’s wisdom and sensible viewpoints on virtually every topic. In an industry dominated by arrogance and bravado, Boyle’s humility and ability to recognize weaknesses in his method and to change his mind on several concepts, acts a model for all in our field.
The text is divided into 11 chapters. It’s well worth the investment of time reading every word and the book from cover to cover, as there are tips and ‘take home’ messages on every page. The book begins by a discussion on making training more functional. Here, Boyle covers the latest science on the topic and puts to bed some of the silly circus-style training that is mistakenly thought to be functional training. In this chapter, I appreciated the simplicity of his approach to strength conditioning: stability for the stabilizers, strength for the muscles involved in the sport, emphasize unilateral strength development, high emphasis on free weights, protect from injury.
The next chapter covers the analysis of the various demands of the sport. An understanding of these components allows us to see how Boyle selects the exercise, loading and programs covered later in the book.
The next chapter is about assessing functional strength. Again, I appreciated the simplicity of his approach: assessing strength in what matters – chin-ups, rows, push- ups, and split squats. Of the seemly endless battery of tests available to a trainer, Boyle cuts to the heart of the matter by simply assessing upper and unilateral lower body strength which gives the trainer clear directions as to the future exercise emphasis for their clients.
The real strength of this book lies in the next several chapters: program design, foam rollers, stretching and strength training for the lower and upper body, core, plyometrics and Olympic lifting. This is perhaps the best writings on these topics currently available anywhere. Clear explanations of why Boyle choses the exercises that he does and why he avoids other ways or exercise selections. His rationale for his progressions and regressions are ‘must reads’ for all trainers. You may not see eye to eye with every point, but you will certainly appreciate the wisdom and Boyle’s argumentation of why he recommends what he does.
The book concludes with a chapter on program design, where Boyle outlines the key program components, as he sees them, and then provides several sample strength programs (both for two, three and four day per week). The chapter finishes with some sample recommendations for sports specific conditioning.
Mike Boyle has written, in my opinion, the best book on sports training published to date. His wisdom, simplicity of approach, scientific foundations and over 30 years in the coaching game has produced the new standard in the field and a book that will remain a ‘must-read’ for a long time to come.
Reviewer: Tony Boutagy,