Product Review: “ A Practical Approach To Strength Training”

“ A Practical Approach To Strength Training”
4th edition by Matt Brzycki
In the 70’s I was training with Arthur Jones at the Quonset Hut at Deland High School . I had met Arthur (“Art” at the time) at the Teen Age Mr. America Contest held in York Pa. After much urging and prodding by Arthur I started making the trip up to Deland and Lake Helen , Florida 1-3 times a week. I was living in Winter Haven , Florida and it wasn’t a short drive. I had an opportunity to go to work for Arthur on the ground floor of the new Nautilus operation. I chose, instead, to go to work elsewhere. I went as often as I could and became friends with many of the people that came and went. With Arthur’s recommendation I started working for POLK Jr. College ( Now POLK College ) as a Strength Coach using a full line of new Nautilus and some Universal equipment. I wasn’t able to go up and train as often once I started with PJC but felt I had what I needed to train well. As time went on Nautilus grew and then exploded! Nautilus was everywhere and was killing the competition.
Fast forward a few years and I had gotten busy and Arthur was really busy. We had less contact, except for a phone conversation now and then. I had fallen out of the loop. I got a computer and started looking around for training info. Fortunately “Cyberpump” was one of the sites I found. On Cyberpump were many articles by Matt Brzycki. I printed everything by him I could find, also everything by Dr. Ken. What they were writing about was what I remembered when I was going to Deland. My interest in “High Intensity Training” had peaked again. On a vacation to Naples , Florida , I took a stack of articles to read by the pool. While reading the articles I found out about the first edition of “A Practical Approach.” I dropped everything and went looking for a bookstore. I found the book and went back to the Ritz Carlton and immersed myself in this book. I was hooked. During this time I was asked to write some articles about my experience with Arthur. I called him and asked his permission and he said “Do what you want.” That is how I got involved with sharing my “HIT” experience, Matt along with Dr. Ken, were the catalyst. Thank you Cyberpump and Bill Piche.
 
About “A Practical Approach” 4th edition
I thought the first edition was good but this new one is far better. It has much, much more information on many more subjects, with up to date, current information. It is now a complete manual on Strength Training and Conditioning, on several methods, levels, and subjects. Like the title says it’s “A Practical Approach.” Matt has a great deal of experience as a competitor, Coach, Trainer, and speaker, years of it. We first met at a Tampa Bay Bucs Clinic, where he was one of the main speakers. We both got bored at the same time and met in the lobby and had a nice talk.  He reads all the research and unlike me, actually understands it. Combined with all this experience and all his contacts in the Strength Community, we are the ones that benefit, anytime Matt starts writing.
From the Inside Flap:
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements
1 Basic Anatomy and Muscular Function
2 The Physiological Basis of Physical Training
3 Genetics and Strength Potential
4 Strength Training
5 Strength Training for Females
6 Strength Training for Youths
7 Strength Training for Older Adults
8 Free-Weight Exercises
9 Machine Exercises
10 Manual-Resistance Exercises
11 Designing and Varying the Strength Program
12 Rehabilitative Training
13 Flexibility Training
14 Aerobic Training
15 Anaerobic Training
16 Metabolic Training
17 Power Training
18 Skill Training
19 Nutritional Training
20 Nutritional Supplements
21 Nutritional Quackery
22 Weight Management
23 A Primer on Steroids
24 Strength and Fitness Q&A
Appendix A: Summary of Free-Weight Exercises
Appendix B: Summary of Machine Exercises
Appendix C: Summary of Manual-Resistance Exercises
Chapters 18 through 23 were very much of interest to me as well as Chapter 3. I really enjoyed this book!
From Matt:
In 1984, I started writing articles for magazines. After a while, my plan was to write articles such that I could later re-write them as chapters and then organize them into a book. By 1988, I had stockpiled enough articles to form the backbone of a book. Around the middle of the year, I sent a book publisher a proposal for A Practical Approach to Strength Training. I soon learned that getting an article accepted for publication in a magazine was much easier than a book. My first five proposals to publishers were rejected. In late January 1989, I sent out one more proposal. I decided that if it resulted in a sixth rejection letter, there would be no more attempts. The proposal was accepted and, as they say, the rest is history. In 1991, I wrote a second edition which wasn’t much of a change from the first edition. For the most part, I re-wrote some of the content, corrected a few mistakes and added a little new material but, again, it wasn’t much of a change. Although the first two editions sold nicely and were generally well accepted, they were criticized by some for being too anecdotal without much in the way of scientific support. In 1994, I decided to answer the critics with a third edition that focused on the relevant research. That edition – published in 1995 – was quite different from the first two. For one thing, the third edition was much larger, in format as well as content, going from 7 x 10 and about 40,000 words to 8.5 x 11 and about 90,000 words. Second, there was a greater emphasis on research. Unfortunately, the book was so research-based that it was somewhat difficult to read.
A lot has happened in the industry since that third edition came out 17 years ago. So I had nearly two decades of catching up to do. One of the great things about working at a university – at least from my perspective – is free, on-line access to dozens of peer-reviewed journals. Having this type of research literally at my fingertips was a tremendous help in doing the fourth edition.
This new edition has given me the opportunity to fill in the gap, so to speak, with everything that’s gone on in the fitness industry during the past 20 years or so. It has also allowed me to revise old content, add new content and correct what I thought was a huge shortcoming of the third edition and that was the writing style. This fourth edition is a much easier read with a more conversational and less “militant” tone yet still has a strong reliance on the scientific research. And despite what the title suggests, this book goes way beyond strength training; it’s really more of an all-around fitness book.
Matt, you did what you set out to do. Well done. Thanks!
TAKU’s NOTE: I have several copies of Matt’s book (3rd edition), and it is one of my favorites. Like Jim, I am a big fan of Matt’s work and have read everything of his I can get my hands on. He is a masterful writer with an excellent grasp on the intricate workings of Evidence based strength and conditioning protocols. I am really looking forward to picking up a copy of this book.
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