Strength Training books

Hi all,

I am considering getting some of these books and I was wondering whether anyone has read them and if they think they are good/bad.

Serious Strength Training-Tudor Bompa
Sport Stretch-Michael J. Alter
Muscle Logic-Charles Staley
Functional Training For Sports-Mike Boyle
Optimizing Strength Training-Kraemer and Fleck
Stretching Scientifically-Thomas Kurz
Periodization Training for Sports-Bompa

Also I was wondering out of Sport Stretch and Stretching scientifically which is better? Or are they both good reads and worth getting?
Also does anyone have any other suggestions of good books? Btw I have a lot of Charlies books and they are fantastic…just looking to read info all the time:)

Many thanks,


In order:

Also I was wondering out of Sport Stretch and Stretching scientifically which is better? Or are they both good reads and worth getting?

Stretching scientifically is almost purely theoretical and sciency, it’s not applied. It’s for nerds, not athletes.

I’d suggest Stretch to Win as a good applied stretching book.

I agree with the last suggestion. Also, The Permanent Pain Cure was interesting, although not as applicable/practical as the Stretch to Win -at least for me.

Heys guys,

Thanks for your suggestions. Lyle, I respect your opinion but I was just wondering how comes you don’t like some of the books? Is it that the content isn’t accurate or they aren’t well written etc?

I have heard a lot of good reports on Stretch to Win. I think I might have to get that one:).

Btw could you possibly suggest some of your favourite strength and stretching books please? I need some suggestions.

Once again thanks for your replies,


Bompa’s models are all horribly out of date. It’s old linear periodization which few follow today.

Boyle’s book has some decent progressions for rehabby stuff I suppose. Of the batch, it’s better than the others.

Kraemer and Fleck continue to thump and old stupid model of American periodized lifting. And their recommendations fail teh rality check. In one of their books, they recommend a base period of 8-10 exercises for 3-5 sets of high reps each. Do the math, that’s a 50 set workout. Just stupid unless you want to be in the gym for 4 hours at a time.

Kurz’s stuff is ok but you can find stuff on PNF a lot of other places. And I actually confused Streching Scientificailly with Science of Stretching. My apologies.

I’d still suggest Stretch to Win for a good stretching book. It’s all you’ll really need and it’s the first ‘fresh’ look at stretching I’ve seen in a long while (not a whole lot to say about it at this point).

For strength training, it depends on what you’re looking for. Practical Programming by Rip is good but little out there is written for athletes who need strength. It’s usually either written by OL’ers or PL’ers who do nothing but show a lot of proximity bias about training (e.g. train like a PL or OL for strength training).


Thanks for your reply. I agree…this does seem to be the problem…finding good books for the ATHLETE as opposed to the bodybuilder as is mostly the case. One of my favourite authors who writes on both strength and bodybuilding is Charles Poliquin. I find his methods very effective, easily usuable and often individualised.

Out of interest, also by Kurz, what do you think of “Science of Sports Training”? I have heard some good reviews.

I agree about the Kraemer bit…4 hours in the gym would be too much. This said, I certainly think they have done some valuable research.


Science and Sports Training is good for applications of recovery methods, broad definitions of training cycles, where to place various attributes in a single workout (i.e. speed, strength, endurance) or in a microcycle.

It’s a good book to have for references. I’ve used it in writing several papers.

I’d recommend Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladimir Zatorisky (sp?). I’ve only skimmed my copy but the strength training section itself makes the book a must, as it lays out some good information regarding the 4 most common methods (Maximal, Dynamic, Repetition, & Sub-maximal) used in achieving sarcoplasmic and myofibular hypertrophy.

I have had a chance to glance at Block Periodization and the new expanded edition of Supertraining, and from the looks of the new pictures, diagrams, graphs, and models presented it looks much better than the previous edition.

I agree that Stretch to Win is probably the best single book on flexibility training currently on the market. In addition to being practical it also pulls together and integrates much of the material found in other sources like Alter, Meyers and Chaitow. In other words, it pulls out most of the practical material you will find in the other majors books on the subject.

I have found that most of the strength training theory and program design books are not very practical. They tend to be overly academic and review a lot of research literature, but at the end of the day it’s often difficult to apply their content to a real training program. And if you attempt to do so the result is often too complicated to be helpful.

As Lyle hinted at, a big problem with a lot of strength training books is that (understandably) they place primary emphasis on strength training and often treat it in isolation from the rest of training. Trying to implement their recommendations in a strength program that is merely supplemental to sports training (especially high intensity training like sprinting) is often a recipe for overtraining.

[QUOTE=lylemcd;227328]Bompa’s models are all horribly out of date. It’s old linear periodization which few follow today.

Not sure why you feel this way…His books are simple and well written to give a good understanding of periodisation and i would definately recommend it. He doesn’t lay out model’s, he gives clear examples of different phases and suggests when to use them. He never says you have to follow a ‘classic’ linear model.

If you want to try something different or simply add variety look at matrix, Ron Laura and ken Dutton. the lactic system.
I used it on 14 to 17 year olds a way back, one of them won a benchpress comp in newcastle area, percentage of body weight, max 3 lifts, lifted 4 x what we were training with, surprised me and upset a couple of bodybuilders.

Whatever you do, make sure you buy your books used and as cheap a price as possible (unless of course you are buying a book from Charlie or Lyle :p). Anyone interested in training athletes should amass a library of sorts. There is lots of good information out there, but rarely does all of it exist in one book (actually, it doesn’t).

I have numerous books that have bits of information that collectively make up a portion of my knowledge base. My most useful information comes from working with athletes and sharing information with good coaches.

No book will tell you how to write a training program or effectively interact with athletes. The best books are not the ones that give you answers, but the ones that make you think.

I actually enjoyed reading Mel Siff’s “Facts and Fallacies of Fitness” - not because the content is fantastic or that Mel has great answers. But the way in which he goes over different issues makes you think more critically about exercise. For that reason, I think it is a good book. I also have his book “Supertraining” which is not as enjoyable to read. I find it interesting, but not necessarily useful.

In the case of Speed Trap and CFTS, I find they are both good sources of information and thought provoking. The philosophy of training comes across very strong in both books and the details are relatively simple and straightforward. I make a point of reading Speed Trap annually, as it helps to remind me why I am in the field of coaching and athlete performance. It’s about the process and experience of helping athletes develop and approach their potential. It’s also about problem solving.

BTW - I own a number of Bompa’s books as well, and even though I don’t necessarily wholly follow the methodology outlined in his books, I do believe for young coaches that they can serve a purpose in understanding concepts such as organized training, planning, recovery, supercompensation, loading progressions, etc. I think we sometimes assume everyone can make the leap to advanced training concepts. Some people need to read some of these books to get “up to speed” so they can advance beyond the fundamental concepts.

Hope that makes sense.

Facts and Fallacies of Fitness is one of my favorite sports science books as well for the reasons Derek mentions. Very thought provoking and a fun read.

I have to agree on Facts and Fallacies. It does require one to consider if the reasons they have used particular exercises are valid and accomplishing what they are intended for.

I do think that the most recent Bompa book-Periodization-with Greg Haff is an improvement on his more recent works.

I think Principles and Practice of Resistance Training(2007) by Michael Stone, Meg Stone, and William Sands is an excellent text.

I thought it was absolute trash. Bompa repeatedly states that the way to improve results is through increasing volume. And uses examples like the Bulgarian OL team who quintupled volume over a 30 year period.

And completely fails to mention something else that increased in use by about 5 fold in that time period, a topic that is not allowed to be discussed here. Because you can’t keep increasing volume indefinitely without ‘support’.

The charts on energetics of sport are 30 years out of date and don’t reflect current thinking on what’s really going on (e.g. a much higher aerobic component to most activities). And all of the bits about intensifying training with intervals all the time go against modern training concepts as well.

All it’s going to do is lead more and more coaches to destroy their athletes with too much volume combined with too much intensity.

Because OMG intervals rule like I heard on the Internets.


I think you will get the most benefit from sports science books if you are first familiar with successful coaching methods like the ones used by Charlie, Gerard Mach, Bud Winter, Louie Simmons, Bill Starr, Al Vermeil, et al.

The proven track records of the training methods tell you what works. The sports science books can help you understand why.

Hey guys,

Can I just say thanks for all your replies…I really appreciate it. I have looked into some books you have suggested and it has been really helpful.

Number 2 I couldn’t agree more with what you have said. There are certainly numerous books that have small chunks of useful info. I will make sure I try to buy as cheap as possible.

I have read on this forum that there is a book “Jumping into Plyometrics” by Donald Chu. Has anyone read this and is it good?

Flash, you are right. I really appreciate the work great coaches such as Charlie, Poliquin, Vermeil etc have done for the strength training community. As you said, the books are just nice to complement their work to understanding how training works I suppose.

Thanks for your help,

PS: if anyone has any other book suggestion I would love to hear.

Though I have not looked at the book in quite a while, I felt the volumes that Chu advocated to be excessive.

It’s almost as though he was trying to make his book and work more important by recommending that you do more reps/foot contacts with that particular training modality.

I would also recommend Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladimir Zatsiorsky. It’s a neat book and covers a lot of material despite its relatively short length. It’s more “digestible” than most other major academic works.

Supertraining by the late great Mel Siff is very good as No. 2 mentioned. Although he is also correct that it can be a tough read. It’s advantage is that it’s so damn comprehensive. I would recommend having it more as a reference than something to read cover to cover for practical advice.

I agree. The main claim to fame of Chu’s book is that it was one of the first to popularize plyometric training in North America. However, in Supertraining and Facts and Fallacies, Siff mercilessly trashed Chu’s interpretation of the Soviet literature on the subject. If you can find a cheap copy of Chu’s book and a copy of Siff’s it might be worth comparing them to each other if only to stimulate your critical thinking on the subject.

Siff’s Supertraining is amazingly comprehensive and already seems like it will be used over and over as a reference in my own training. As far as books for you to purchase, like some of the other (more experienced) posters have noted, you’d almost certainly be better off amassing a large library of knowledge be it from purchasing books or not. I find myself going off on tangents in my training related book purchases and hope that I’ve finally settled on some of the more useful literature available (from old school dogmatic football training books to “combine specialist” books, a few from Human Kinetics and now finally things from UAC like Supertraining and some of the Yessis books).

That being said I’m looking forward to getting myself a bit of disposable income and purchasing some of the Charlie Francis products. (GPP Essentials and Weights for Speed are on my wish list :wink: )