BOOK REVIEW: MARCH 2015

Title: Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength (2nd Edition)
Author: Jim Stoppani
Publisher: Human Kinetics Australia
Details: Paperback, 378pp
RRP: $32.95 OR $28.01 for Network Members when buying online HERE and entering the Promo Code network2015.

Review by Peter Lawler

It must be noted that I detest tattoos. It is essential that you know this. Once the exclusive province of sailors desperate for the sight of land, any individual battling their way through the 21st Century must confront the eternal questions: how many tattoos do I need to get through my life? How many can I carry and where? Can I live without them?

The cover of this 'encyclopaedia' is hideous. It is in fact the author – hairless Jim! In a staged pose, the tats run up his right arm, across the Chest Desert and down the left. At first sight he appears to be clasped by a boa-constrictor snake! I must overcome my aversion – nay detestation – of non-sailors bearing tats. I must move on. And I mustn’t judge the book by its cover… The single volume encyclopaedia awaits!

The first edition of this wholesome text was reviewed in 2006. Comments pertaining to the first edition questioned the claim of being an encyclopaedia – a highly ambitious assertion it must be said. Modesty aside, Jim Stoppani (PhD) has constructed an excellent text with a broad market appeal. What makes it so?

Jim's unique feature is his assessment of training schemes that have emerged over the past century. Parts two, three and four, in total nine chapters, identify and explain every known workout methodology to maximise muscle mass or maximal strength or, if desired, maximal fat loss. Jim asserts, correctly, that experienced trainers need constant change of training regimes, volume and intensity to prevent muscle adaptation, which minimises the training effect desired. The myriad schemes are ranked on four crucial factors:

  1. Time: the total time a designated workout takes to complete. If time is short, do not choose.
  2. Length: the time required for actual gains to occur. Do you have sufficient patience?
  3. Difficulty: the experience required to complete difficult exercises prescribed.
  4. Results: the effectiveness of the program for gains desired.

Every regime defined is accompanied by a sample program that clarifies its mechanics.
Example: Section: 'Programs for Maximizing Strength'. Page 197.
Training Regime: 5-3-2 method. Complete five heavy weeks of five sets of five reps (8 exercises are listed). Next, increase the weight and complete 3 weeks of three sets and three reps. Finally, increase weight and complete 2 weeks of two sets x 2 reps. A 10 week program.

All schemes are assessed by a score of 1 to 5. Five is the highest. The 5-3-2 system scored: time: 2, length: 4, difficulty: 4, and results: 5.

Comment: This scheme is one of the best for MxStrength. It would require an experienced trainer due to the length and difficulty assessed as a FOUR. Jim's assessment of results as a FIVE endorses the value of the 5-3-2.

Part FIVE shelters thirteen chapters of 'Training Exercises'. Nothing excites here – standard exercises. It is a voluminous section that dominates the landscape from page 307 to page 523. It's Jim's compendium of what exercises are available for the twelve body zones, which he has identified, including: chest, biceps, calves, whole body... nowhere is overlooked.

Part SIX contains nutritional advice for maximising muscle mass and strength or maximal fat loss – choose carefully. Consume and digest what this book has to offer.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.