Beginner Reads

Something I continually preach to our interns is that you should read anything you can get your hands on.    Read, read, read, and read some more.  Even when it may be something you disagree with, there is still an opportunity to learn from it. 

A question was recently raised from an intern about what literature I would recommend for someone starting out in the field of strength and conditioning. 

One of the first items on my list for interns to become familiar with is Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladimir Zatsiorsky.  I believe this book is an excellent resource for those starting out in the field.  It can be a little science heavy as interns have misunderstood certain concepts and theories but for the most part it is an easy read and gives great insight into true sports performance training. 


One my lightbulb went on moments happened in college when I read the 1st edition of Science and Practice.  One chapter went over rate of force development and used shot putters as an example.  An athlete taking his bench press from 50 kg to 150 kg would likely support the basis for increased performance.  However, the same athlete taking his bench from 200 kg to 300 kg would likely not produce the increased results in the shot put.  The explanation was due to explosive strength and the rate of force development.  Until that point, I had always believed you could never be too strong.  I thought maximal strength was the key to everything  During that year I had continued to get stronger in every aspect of the weight room but my VJ, 40 yd dash, etc. didn’t improve any, and maybe got a little worse. 

It all started to make sense.  Well, in reality it just confused the hell out of me but I began to look deeper into the sports training process and eventually started to understand the problems I had experienced first hand. 

Joe Kenn’s The Coaches Strength Training Playbook is a great book on setting up training sessions.  Even if you don’t use them in the exact Tier System format that Coach Kenn utilizes the book can go a long way towards understanding programming microcycles.  A great read for beginners especially. 

Another good resource for beginners to learn programming is Practical Programming for Strength Training by Mark Rippetoe, and Lon Kilgore. 

Another one of my favorite books is Charlie Francis’ Training for Speed.  Not only is it invaluable for speed training but outlines proper programming with the CNS in mind.  A great resource. 

Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training by Tudor Bompa.  This book is a little bit of a difficult read for beginners but I think its important to know basic periodization before delving into other avenues.  Coach Kenn once told me that too many people want to talk about advanced Eastern Bloc training methods when they have no concept of Bompa’s basic periodization. 

Lastly is Stuart McGill’s Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance This book contains great concepts on movement, motor skill development, programming, etc.  It isn’t just for low back health.  This book is quite possibly my favorite strength and conditioning book.

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