Nick Grantham has been an influence on my learning as a coach for close to a decade now. He is one of the few guys out there who combines high level coaching, a successful business, and producing consistently high level information for coaches and the general public to consume- quite a resume! In fact, Nick’s seminar way back in 2008 was the first I ever attended as a coach.
As such I was extremely flattered when he recently asked me to come up with a couple of short quotes for him to use in his new book “The strength and conditioning bible” to highlight the importance of the various topics it covers. When I got back from the world cup, the finished product was ready and waiting for me. I’ve just finished reading it, so I thought I would stick up a short review of the book here for anyone interested in picking up a copy.
The idea behind the strength and conditioning bible is a simple one: If you want to look, feel and perform better, you need to be training like an athlete. And to train like an athlete you need to understand the theory, principles and methods that underpin such a system. The purpose of this book is to deliver that system in an easy to understand and digestible format, but more importantly one that you can put into practice in your own training straight away.
What does it cover?
I’m a huge fan of the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that methods are many but principles are few, and Nick does a great job of expressing that idea throughout his book. There are a million different programmes out there, but the successful ones all leave clues and the fundamentals to not change.
In the first parts of the book Nick outlines the theory, principles and components of a successful athletic training programme- an important start, as methods without principles are doomed to fail. I enjoyed how he emphasised the importance of the quality of movement, and the ability of the metabolic system to express human movement, and not just the quantity (force, strength, power etc) as so many books do. Likewise the focus on understanding and managing stress is a strong section of the book.
After outlining the big picture of the training system, Nick gets into the key concepts of each training component like injury reduction, movement quality, strength and power, conditioning and regeneration. The structure of each chapter here is well laid out as it gives the coach the opportunity to delve deeper and understand the science behind successful training a particular physical quality, or jump to a summary of this information if you already know it or you just need a quick reference.
Importantly Nick is always linking theory to the real world and the reader is provided with the most effective training methods for each component of the programme. I particularly liked the section on common injuries and the dual approach of understanding why they happen (so you can prevent them happening in the first place), and what to do about them (because they do happen in every programme no matter what we do). The emphasis on not just the production of force, but also the need to control, transmit and absorb force was another great point.
The book then ends with a photo breakdown of all the major exercises you’ll be using in the programmes Nick provides, with a logical flow from each component to the next, beginning with movement prep and ending with energy system development. Nick also does a good job of providing variations, progressions and regressions for each exercise that will allow you to adapt the programmes according to the level of your development or that if your athletes.
Lastly Nick provides a single session, four week and sixteen week programme to illustrate how all the components come together in the real world. If you’re looking for something to use out of the box, or adapt to your own uses this will be really useful, and it is a sound programme.
Who is it for?
I think this book would be a great jumping off point for anyone who wants to become an athlete or wants to coach them. The obvious problem with writing a book like this is elite athletics is ultimately about specialisation and the higher up you go, the bigger the differences become from programme to programme. As such, writing a book to cover all sports would be prohibitively large and time consuming to produce.
However Nick does an excellent job or conveying the fundamentals shared by all great athletic programmes, in both science and practice. This is the stuff that all athletes and coaches should be doing before they reach the elite level, and this is where we all begin! As such I think it will be a great addition to all coaches bookshelves. Even for the more experienced coach or athlete, I think it would be a valuable read as it will serve as a jumping off point from which one can explore a particular area in more detail.
Lastly I would like to thank Nick for asking a little bit of input from myself. It’s a massive honour to be asked by someone like him about my opinion on certain topics, and also what I made of the book. If you would like to pick up a copy of the book, you can pick it up right here from Amazon. If you’d also like to learn more about Nick and his work, you can check him out right here.