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Edited by P V Komi. London: Blackwell Publishing, 2003, £75.00, pp 523, hardcover. ISBN 0632059117
Enhancing strength and power is now acknowledged as an integral part of the training process for many sports, as well as being beneficial for members of the general public. However, a number of myths and misconceptions about strength and power training still exist. By encapsulating our current knowledge in this area, Strength and power in sports may help to dispel some of these myths and lead to better practice in the field. The range of topics covered in this book is vast, spanning most of the issues that influence the development of strength and power. These issues are examined in detail within the five sections of the book, which are: definitions; the biological basis for strength and power; mechanisms for adaptation in strength and power training; special problems in strength and power training; strength and power training for sports.
Readers who enjoyed the first edition of this book will be delighted to see that most of the original 30 contributors (all world experts in their field) accepted the invitation to revise and update their chapter(s) for this edition. Although such multiauthor books can sometimes lack congruency and be repetitive in places, the editor should be applauded for ensuring consistency and minimising repetition. Although the structure and content area of the current edition is very similar to the first edition, some excellent new chapters have also been included. These new chapters describe: proprioceptive training; aging and neuromuscular adaptations to strength training; biomechanics of strength and power training; the application of vibration loads for strength and power development. Such additions to this edition reflect the rapid growth of research interest and knowledge in these specialist areas. On the other hand, some chapters that I valued in the first edition—for example, anthropometric factors related to strength and power, as well as training for bodybuilding and power events—have been omitted. However, the lack of such sections is a minor quibble, as the material presented in the current edition is well written and probably covers the most important aspects of strength and power development.
This book would be a great reference for anyone interested in strength and power training and development. I would recommend its purchase for sport scientists (in particular exercise physiologists and biomechanists), sports medicine professionals, university students in the field, strength and conditioning coaches, clinical exercise specialists, and perhaps personal trainers. Hence, I believe that a copy of this book should be found in the library of any institution in which sports science or medicine is taught.
Overall, I found the book to be well presented with a logical structure (both within and between chapters). The numerous figures and tables highlighted pertinent results and processes and complemented the material presented in the text. Consistent with the aims of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), this book was very comprehensive, covering (in detail) most issues that have relevance to strength and power development. However, chapters on the influence that anthropometry and nutrition have on strength and power would have been invaluable. Although some of the nutritional issues are discussed in Nutrition in sport (another book in the IOC Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine series), it would be convenient to find such material in Strength and power in sports as well. Similarly, although one chapter described training for Olympic weightlifting, I would have also appreciated the inclusion of comparable chapters on other sports as well. Strength and power in sports was a pleasurable and informative read, as it was generally written in a scientifically rigorous yet reader friendly manner. However, some readers may find sections within the small number of mathematically based chapters more difficult to follow. Regardless, readers should endeavour to work through such chapters, as they will be rewarded with a greater understanding of strength and power development. As the material covered in this book is based predominantly on peer reviewed journal articles (a good number of which were written by the chapter authors), such material generally reflects the current views in the field. However, some examples of anecdotal evidence and/or personal views also appear in certain chapters. The presentation of such non-refereed material may reflect the relative infancy of research in strength and power training and/or the accumulated wisdom and experience of the authors. Although not yet experimentally validated, such speculation may act as a catalyst for further research.
Evidence basis 16/20