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  • "Essentials of Weightlifting and Strength Training" Author: mohammed F. El-hewie, MD. Its an excellent test and will have all your answers

Thoughts on various books on strength training by Chris Rice[]

I purchased some of these but I highly recommend the public library system – they can obtain many of these for you at no cost - and these books are expensive. All these books are in English but not in English if you know what I mean; many of these are scientific texts and read like them. Most do not read like novels. Many of these are texts about Olympic style weightlifting and while those theories, results (facts?) remain true, the information will have to be modified to fit your personal goals of power lifting, track and field, or other sporting activities. Others are designed more for general sport training. If you read a lot of these, they become somewhat repetitive; but each offers a different perspective and different ways of wording which sometimes is more understandable. I want to thank Andrew Charniga and several others for translating many of the Russian texts. I have read all the books listed but have not studied them and do not make any claims of a thorough and complete understanding. That is my next goal; I will just give my impressions of each based on a quick, basic read.

Numbers 1 thru 8 are the Olympic lifting texts sold by Sportivy Press and Charniga. There are a couple more available that I have not read. These all deal with the Snatch and Clean and Jerk training with some coverage of the Olympic Press. The Soviets training of their weightlifters was a giant lab experiment that lasted for years; they documented every move they made, every variable, and in my opinion, their research was the building blocks upon which all modern training methods are based. Most of us plan our training day by day, these books talk about multi YEAR training and how to plan for it. Numbers 1 - 8 are all somewhat similar but are different enough to warrant the reading of all. I do not know exactly how to write reviews that differentiate these texts; they are all similar but different in their coverage. There are also several other authors of Russian training that I have been unable to obtain – hopefully I can find them in the future. These cover in depth the training for the Snatch and C&J – from technique to different types of strength, periodization schemes, and how to recover and every other variable you ever thought of. There is no mention of the various drugs used so don't expect to learn about them here. As a fledgling Olympic lifter, I found these invaluable and by far the most interesting of all the texts I have read. If your interest is in Olympic style weightlifting, then these are the books for you. Sportivy Press also offers "Yearbooks" that I haven't read yet but plan to purchase soon.

Numbers 9 - 13 - of a more general overview in nature and use the so called Soviet or Eastern Block training methods learned from the Soviet studies but aimed at a wider range of activities than just the Olympic weightlifting movements.

Numbers 14 – 16 are books solely about Olympic style weightlifting but are not like the Russian texts. These are written more like a book to read than a textbook. They offer a more complete overview of the sport. They still go into depth on the subject matter. The rest of the list are some more books that I have read about training etc, that I thought others might find of interest.

Although they are power lifters, also worth reading are the many articles by Louie Simmons and Dave Tate – they drew heavily on many of these books in developing their Westside methods of training and while many find Simmons work controversial, he has been responsible for a lot of innovative thinking. I must also mention the training hall and competition videos available from Iron Mind – these are invaluable training aids if one is forced to learn on their own. I especially liked the 1998 Bulgarian Training Hall tape. All this said, a good coach is by far the most valuable resource one can have. Although different philosophies have now been developed by the "Bulgarians, Greeks, Polish, Chinese, etc"; the Russian model still has validity and deserves study – and besides; there's nothing out there on these other methods to read. Oh, and to answer your unasked question, I do have too much time on my hands to have read all this stuff.

1. The Snatch and Clean and Jerk by Roman and Shakirzyanov. This is a book analyzing the technique of various World Class lifters in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Probably has limited value to anyone not learning the Olympic lifts. Charts etc. of how high to pull your snatch and clean; differences between lifters in various weight classes and pictorial breakdowns of lifts are valuable tools for those of us with less than perfect technique, if for no other reason than to show how different even world class techniques are from each other.

2. The Training of the Weightlifter by Roman. Probably my favorite of the group. It seemed to be somewhat easier to understand than some of the others. This is the first book I would recommend that serious Olympic lifters read of the Sportivy Press collection. It explains the system the Russians developed to dominate the world scene for many years. The yearly and long term plan developed over many years.

3. Managing the Training of Weightlifters by Laputin and Oleshko. Covers changes in training after the abolition of the Press, Sporting form and connection to Periodization, training loads, physical qualities, methods of strength development and perfecting of technique. Recuperation and food supplements also.

4. A System of Multi-Year Training in Weightlifting by Medvedyev. As the title says, multi year planning – and I can't figure out what to do tomorrow. This one covers the age problem, exercises to be used, biomechanical fundamentals, speed strength, training load, multi year training, and restoration.

5. Programming and Organization of Training by Verkhoshansky. This one covers some application of training to sports other than weightlifting. Classification of sports, attaining sports mastery, special physical preparedness, training load and it's effects, contents, volume, and organization of the training load, and long term lag in training effect,

6. Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sport by Verkhoshansky. Covers the role of special strength training in attaining sports mastery, structural regularities, regimes of muscular work, factors raising the work effect, dynamic correspondence as a means of strength training, general tenants of strength training and principal aims in organizing special strength training.

7. Weightlifting Training and Technique with several authors. Various articles on Olympic weightlifting. Several are very interesting. Some topics are biomechanics of the weightlifting exercises, elastic deformation of the bar, the junior weightlifter, and improving flexibility with resistance. Also several other topics.

8. Weightlifting and Age by Dvorkin. The training of junior weightlifters under the Russian system. As a 55 year old master lifter, I still found this one appropriate as it starts at the beginning and advances towards maturity of the lifter. It talks about the number of years needed to attain certain levels of accomplishment even training full time.

9. Serious Strength Training by Bompa and Cornacchia. I didn't like this one as well as #10 below. Lots of pictures of exercises and pro bodybuilders. Some good info in it but it seemed harder to sort it out. I very seldom like anything using roided out pro builders as examples of weight training. I wouldn't buy this one myself.

10. Theory and Methodology of Training by Bompa. A good all around book on Soviet style training that is more understandable than many. Not about weight training per se but sport in general. Covers just about everything.

11. Secrets of Soviet Sports Fitness by Yessis. Kind of an overview of Soviet training principles. It seems more general in nature than some others and designed to introduce soviet ideas for all sports. Fairly easy to understand.

12. Science of Sports Training by Kurz. I found this one to be a little harder to understand than others. Aimed at development of all sport training and not just weight training, it seemed "busy" in its' explanations at times. It's like it's all in there but harder to get it out.

13. Science and Practice of Strength Training by Zatsiorsky. This one I really liked, at times I even thought I understood parts of it. This one belongs on my "must have" list.

14. Olympic Style Weightlifting by Schmitz. A short book showing how to perform the Olympic lifts and basic Olympic lift routines. There is also a video companion to this book. Jim Schmitz has been in the game for a long time. This one seems to have been done in a hurry, especially the video.

15. The Weightlifting Encyclopedia by Drechsler – This one covers all aspects of the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, i.e., the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. It's a kind of hold your hand and walk you through it type of book that misses little. Calling it an Encyclopedia is not an exaggeration at all. It also is available with a video showing first hand a lot of information; again leading you step by step through the whole process of getting started in Olympic lifting. A good starting point for the beginner with value later on.

16. Weightlifting Olympic Style by Tommy Kono. If you do Olympic lifting in your garage, this is probably as close to "a coach in a book" as you're going to find. Kono's advice seems to be as good today as it was when it made him a champion. His explanations are easier to understand than any others I have seen. An awful lot of good advice here. If you're an Olympic lifter – you need this book!

17. Supertraining by Mel Siff. This is the big daddy of fitness books. Mel Siff covers just about everything one might want to know about any kind of training. Don't plan on getting through this one in an evening of light reading. This one seems to have been written in English and seems easier to read and comprehend than a lot of the translated books but Siff also lost me at times until I came back and reread it.

18. Facts and Fallacies of Fitness by Siff and Cunningham. Interesting read of commonly held ideas on training and why they are not accurate.

19. The Warrior Athlete by Millman. Not a weight training book at all but talks about "the zone" in sport. Written in 1979, it's an interesting read with value to all athletes. The short version is kind of "relax, don't over think, be smooth, go with the flow".

20. IronMind's Stronger Minds, Stronger Bodies by Strossen. This is a true must read for all athletes. It's not all that interesting, it's not really fun to read; but it's all about the other side of things. You know the half the really good guys have that the rest of us don't. Mental, emotional control, and all the rest of the not so little things that have to all come together for success.

21. Dinosaur Training by Kubik. A really good motivational book. Kubik has his own beliefs and after reading the book, you really want to run out and try some of this stuff. I think this might just be the way to train if you're a construction worker and need all around strength in every direction. It wouldn't hurt anyone to incorporate some of his ideas once in a while if you lift for general pleasure and not for specific type competitions. Well, maybe even then.

22. Beyond Stretching by Tsatsouline. A book on flexibility that pretty much covers it all, including how much is too much. My favorite stretching book.

23. Stretching Scientifically by Kurz. Similar but not identical to 22 above. Still very well done.

24. Stretching by Anderson – having trouble finding a stretch to hit that one little spot you can't reach – it's in here. On the other hand, numbers 22 and 23 are much better reads, with Pavel being my first choice.

25. Performance Rock Climbing by Goddard and Neumann – While this doesn't seem to fit into this group, I want to mention it because it discusses engram learning or the process of learning movements. This book has a surprising amount of training knowledge that I think is appropriate to weight lifting and I think it makes a good addition to our training knowledge. The "how" in how our bodies learn movement is interesting and valuable. Rock climbing is a strength to weight ratio sport but no one has too much strength in any sport. I would highly recommend this book to Olympic weightlifters or others serious about their training.

26. Power to the People by Tsatsouline. Easy to read with the Pavel super salesman format. Pavel is an interesting read in any of his several books. Offers a very simplistic approach to training that's not all that simple. A couple good tips in here.

27. Overtraining in Sport by Kreider, Fry, and O'Toole – dry and boring come to mind but has some good info in it.

28. Enhancing Recovery by Krellmann – more dry and boring good to know information.

29. Power Eating by Kleiner. I hate reading diet books – I'm one of those naturally skinny people and my diet theory is eat it quick before it gets away. I'm into volume with nutrition as a side dish. This one follows pretty standard medical style theory of higher carbs, but does recommend a protein level much more accepted by lifting standards. There's a newer version out than the one I read. A pretty complete eating guide for athletes that makes more sense than most.

30. The Nautilus Bodybuilding Book by Darden. One theory of training is the "train to failure" principle. Often referred to as the Nautilus or HIT principal; it is a good read. Darden does explain the principal well if in glowing and idealistic terms. The Russian texts also talk about it (with a different name) but as part of a more complete program and not as the "only" way to train. Remember Darden and Jones were selling something here besides the book.

31. Keys to Progress by McCallum. I grew up on McCallum in Strength and Health magazine. The guy is just plain fun to read and while training ideas have changed over the years, remember a whole generation of lifters grew bigger and stronger on these programs. They are bodybuilder oriented, but emphasize hard, hard work and are really entertaining. A must read for any iron game fan.

32. The Outdoor Athlete by Steve Ilg. Not exactly the type of book read by serious weight trainers, it does cover the basics well with routines laid out for many outdoor activities such as climbing, skiing, mountain climbers etc.

33. Mastery of Hand Strength by John Brookfield. As close as it gets to a grip training "cult" status book. Grip training is becoming a big sub culture in strength training and this book covers it well. With some of the strongest hands in the world, he writes about what he knows – forearms and hands.

34. Secrets of Advanced Bodybuilders by Health For Life. The company also put out several other books about fitness such as Power Forearms, Legendary Abs, Maximum Calves, The Seven Minute Solution (rotator cuffs)etc. These books provide some pretty good explanations of how to isolate and target muscles during exercise.

35. Powerlifting Basics, Texas Style by Kelso – KISS - Keep it simple stupid is the theme behind this book. Uncomplicated, simple, and highly entertaining. I also remember reading another book by Kelso about shrugs but I can't find anything on it now in my notes.

36. The World's Fastest Lift by World Class Coaching – The most detailed video I have seen on the snatch. Broken down frame by frame and inch by inch – it's a very detailed training aid to learning this lift. Is it perfect technique? – well – that's an argument I have heard discussed on the forums for a long time but until someone else takes it on their self to make another one, I highly recommend this if you want to learn how and don't have a coach available.

37. The World's Most Powerful Lift by World Class Coaching. The Clean and Jerk broken down like the snatch. It kind of seems like an after thought when compared to the Snatch video. I'd probably skip buying this one again.

38. The Westside Seminar Video by Elite Fitness Systems (Dave Tate). I'm not a power lifter but I heard so much about Dave Tate and Louie Simmons that I got the video. While a lot of this isn't that pertinent to Olympic lifting, I like a lot of what he has to say. There isn't much in the video that can't be learned from their respective web sites but it does tie it all together well. I want to complement Dave Tate for being one of the most helpful (for free) people I know. Power lifters are as into speed and quickness now days as Olympic lifters are, and these guys are certainly worth a look.

In closing, I'd like to share my thoughts on what to buy if you're new but serious in Olympic lifting like I was a little less than two years ago. My choices would be

Weightlifting Olympic Style by Tommy Kono

The World's Fastest Lift by World Class Coaching (Video)

The Training of the Weightlifter by Roman

Supertraining by Mel Siff

Pick another one or two of the Russian books by Sportivy Press



  • WOW weightlifting site lists several sites related to weightlifting.
  • Cal's website (XLAthlete) is packed full of amazing information outside of just weightlifting.
  • Tommy Kono's book (Weightlifting- Olympic Style)- he simply goes over basic weightlifting technique, programming, mental aspects of weightlifting, and has amazing stories.
  • Artie Drecshler's book "The Weightlifting Encyclopedia" is also a wealth of knowledge, the book covers over ALL aspects of weightlifting- training styles, programming, teaching progressions, safety considerations, grip, stance, competition etc...
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