Title: Strong & Sculpted
Authors: Brad Schoenfeld
Publisher: Human Kinetics Australia, ISBN-13: 9781492514565
Details: Paperback, 224pp
RRP: $30.95 OR $23.22 for Network Members who have joined the Human Kinetics Rewards program HERE and use the promo code NETWORK16 at checkout.

Review by Tony Boutagy PhD, AEP, AES

Strong & Sculpted is, perhaps, the most comprehensive book published to date on strength training and programming for females. The author, Dr Brad Schoenfeld, is widely regarded as the world’s preeminent expert on strength training and muscle growth. Schoenfeld has two decades’ experience in training females and unrivalled research knowledge on the topic, making this text a unique and highly valuable contribution to the fitness community.

The book is divided into eleven chapters, which commence with two sections describing the theory of strength training programming. Schoenfeld has contributed an enormous amount of primary research in this specific area, making these chapters the most up-to-date, thoroughly researched writings available anywhere. Here the reader will learn about training volume, intensity, frequency, loading, effort, rest intervals and exercise selection to optimise program design. The author also discusses the controversial topics of functional training, the use of machines vs free-weights, rep ranges and spot reduction. This is a very helpful addition for those who have been confused about the best exercises and programs to follow to optimise body composition.

Chapters three to five cover exercise selection with pictures of every movement and technique descriptions for every muscle group in the body. The usefulness of these chapters lies with the vast variety of equipment selection used (including machines, free weights, bands, cables etc.), novel exercise variations and ‘expert tips’, which provide invaluable coaching cues. In an industry where there has been an increasing promotion of potentially unproven ‘functional and unstable training methods’, it was pleasing to see a true strength and hypertrophy authority advocating a heavy reliance on traditional strength training exercises choices with machines and free-weights.

Chapters six and seven discuss general and specific warm ups to get the most out of the workouts and foundational programs to build a base of fitness and strength upon which more challenging workouts may be built. The total body workouts found here, despite being introductory, offer comprehensive conditioning from which even the trained will derive benefit.

The bulk of the exercise programs are found in chapters eight, nine and ten. Here, several programs are presented for basic and advanced training, as well as peaking. These programs offer varying levels of difficulty, which, performed as written, or modified to suit the needs of the individual, allows for many months of training and will surely result in impressive improvements in body composition. Another strength of these chapters is in the discussion of using rest, program variation and de-loading to avoid overtraining and stagnation.

The final chapter is on cardiovascular training. Although brief, this section covers the basics of choosing the right mode, designing the work-to-rest ratios for high-intensity interval training, and busts some current myths of fasted vs fed training to optimise body composition.

Strong & Sculpted presents the approach of a world-class trainer and scientist on strength training for females and makes an extremely valuable contribution to the library of personal trainers and females who want to optimise their body composition.