Friday, January 1, 2010

Advances In Functional Training - Review

Coach Michael Boyle seems like a really nice person who rubs some muscleheads the wrong way. The herd was livid when he suggested that competitive workouts could drive athletes and soldiers to carry 'training' a little too far... People attacked his manhood when he had the audacity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, athletes don't need to back squat... He makes you think and question... and that pisses off people who can't think for themselves. "Advances In Functional Training" will be no different. There are many gems in it to be mined, cut, and polished for coaches and athletes, but someone won't like the term "functional", or that Coach Boyle doesn't look like Vin Diesel. If you can't get past these things, then read no further - my review will not be useful to you.

Michael Boyle's new book "Advances In Functional Training", without a doubt, is a must-read on the subject of current strength and conditioning practices. The influences of Shirley Sahrmann, Stuart McGill, Mark Verstegen, Dan John, Paul Chek, and Gray Cook are readily apparent, and if you don't know these people well, then you're behind because they, as a group (along with Michael Boyle and other notable 'revolutionaries' such as Louie Simmons and Pavel Tsatsouline) have shaped the face of strength and conditioning over the past 15 years. Having this book would be a great place to start if your knowledge needs shoring up. Unlike other books that require you have a copy of your Anatomy Coloring Book handy, or enjoy Mel Siff as light bedtime reading, "Advances In Functional Training" is not written for the research aficionado - it is written for coaches and athletes. It assumes basic exercise literacy - there are not a lot of detailed exercise descriptions, and it does not cover the finer nuances of the Bulgarian split squat. There is great discussion about a variety of topics pertinent to coaches, such as development for football combines, injury prevention, and basic physiology as it applies to common strength deficits in the gym and on the field. "Advances" is a MUST-HAVE for the budding strength and conditioning coach or trainer who is looking for readily applicable information concerning assessments, exercise selection, methodology, and programming.


Bryce said...

You're up late Boris! You're review has sparked my interest - I'll have to look into this. I've heard that Mike's new book has been ruffling some feathers, but it's nice to see an exponent of the back squat take an objective look at his work and have something positive to say afterwards.

Great job on the SSST! 205 is no joke.

Happy New Year!

Boris said...

Thanks Bryce - it's a great book.

I'm still a little stiff from the SSST which means (to me, in this case) that I could have been pushing the training a little harder. 2010 should be better.

Happy New Year Bryce!

Niel K. Patel said...

Thanks for the review Boris. I've heard great comments about the book and I added to my "books to read list."

I admit, the first few articles I read from Mike Boyle didn't really strike me as "amazing" until I gave it some time. That's when it really sunk in my head and I said wow.

Shaf said...

This book left me with more questions than answers.

While Mike Boyle is certainly a competent strength coach and an exceptional marketer, I felt this book fell a bit flat.

My biggest criticism is that this book lacked a unifying theme, and I felt it was little more than a collection of Boyle's writings on his website and from a few other places.

It was chaotic, and many interesting topics were just briefly described, and whetted the appetite, and given Boyle's marketing savvy, I suspect this was on purpose.

Boris said...

Thanks Niel. It is not deep, deep concepts, but the simplicity that I appreciate.

Except for a few postings here and there and his first book, I have not kept up, so I can't comment on that. If you felt it fell a bit flat, maybe it was because you felt it was trying to do too much. For someone as well read as you are, it is unlikely that there are going to be as many a-has as there would for someone newer to S&C.

I think you are right - there are certainly A LOT of topics that were barely scratched and left you looking for more, but I wasn't looking for something exhaustive. There were a few points that I had to pause and wonder if they were new at all, but then realized that, as you know, many coaches/trainers know very, very little about strength and speed development... They NEED to be told that, for example, scorpions just might not be the best for your Biggest Loser-wannabe lineman or client.

There were things to find fault with and some points I disagree with, but IMHO it's a must-read for budding S&C coaches/trainers.

Thanks for stopping in Shaf - I always enjoy your take on things!

Mestengo said...


You should reconsider who you list as "wisemen" next to Boyle. It wasn't that long ago that Chek was busted, does the guy own a shirt?, for selling someone else's core program as his own.

Boris said...

There's no doubt Chek is weird. I don't think anyone would argue he's not.
Could be more specific about the core program? I haven't heard the criticisms.