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Safe, Effective Strength Training for Athletes

Sep 8 "None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." -Thoreau

Swat Fitness Book Review and Muscle Fiber Recruitment Question

 Please forgive the delay since the last post. Football season has started and we are quite busy. Thanks for coming back and hope your new semester is going well!

SWAT Fitness: Book Review SWAT Fitness By, Matt Brzycki and Stuart A. Meyers (c) 2003 Operational Tactics

In twenty chapters and 320 pages Matt Brzycki and Stuart Meyers deliver a jackpot of fitness information. It should be noted that while the book is aimed at law enforcement personnel the fitness, nutrition, strength training, weight management and training resources provided are useful to anyone.

Meyers and Brzycki complement each other well in this work. Meyers brings his expertise in law enforcement, which includes training SWAT teams internationally, U.S. Navy Seals, and U.S. Army Special Forces while Brzycki is recognized as a leader in the field of practical strength training and the author of several books on the topic.

The authors begin the book by pointing out the valuable benefits to physical fitness, many of which apply to all people not just those in law enforcement, such as quality of life, improved work performance, and injury prevention. Common training terminology is discussed and a brief overview of human anatomy follows. The chapter on flexibility includes an overview of safe stretching procedures as well as large photos of proper stretching form for each movement.

Chapters include an overview of exercise physiology, aerobic and anaerobic training and strength training. Safe training instruction, applications of various training principles, and charts that can be used to measure and track one's fitness are included. Like the flexibility chapter, each strength training movement discussed is illustrated in clear, large photographs. Free-weight, machine, and manual resistance exercises are all explained in detail.

Further information is given on designing training programs that fit each individual and emphasize the importance of varying the workouts. Metabolic, power, rehabilitative, skill and nutritional training are each given detailed chapters and like the early portions of the book are excellent resources for anyone seeking sound training information.

The chapter on weight management explains in easy-to-understand concepts the path to gaining or losing weight safely. In this era of "super-diet" scams where entire departments of bookstores are devoted to the subject, Brzycki and Meyers do justice to body weight management in only seven pages.

The book concludes with a chapter devoted to common training questions along with answers based on sound research and science as well as an appendix section, which includes reproducible forms and charts. These forms include training logs and exercise lists.

While this book is aimed at law enforcement personnel and what practical training can do for them personally and their careers, it is important to note that all readers can use this book. The wide world of fitness is one full of misinformation and hype. SWAT Fitness helps to bring some reliable, practical and safe information to those who seek it.

Samuel Knopik
Head Football Coach
Pembroke Hill School Kansas City, Missouri
StrongerAthletes.com

Dear StrongerAthletes: Muscle-Fiber Recruitment

Dear StrongerAthletes, I just read your website about muscle fiber recruitment and found it pretty interesting. I am not a coach; just a person who trains with weights regularly. I'm rather ecto-morphic and I train for both strength and size with low volume and low rep principles. My question is regarding muscle hypertrophy and atrophy.

1.) Does sticking exclusively to a low rep range, such as a 4-6 RM, hypertrophy or atrophy the Type-I fibers?

I have been told that since the slow-twitch fibers are not mainly relied upon in such heavy lifts, they will atrophy while the fast-twitch hypertrophy. I have also been told that since the slow-twitch fibers are indeed recruited with such heavy lifts (low-threshold fibers before high-threshold), as you progressively get stronger, the type-1s will progressively get bigger along with the fast-twitch fibers. This source also claims that strength training is a better substitute for endurance training because as you get stronger, your endurance levels naturally increase.

Which one of these is accurate? They both make sense and are both from credible exercise physiologists. I have been sticking with low reps for good while and had decent results; but I sure don't want to atrophy any available fiber as I am interested in size as well. Any further insight would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks very much! Brint Hollis

Mr. Hollis,

We are by no means experts on this and like you do a lot of our research by asking questions from people "in-the-know".

To our understanding if you are reaching the point of momentary muscular fatigue, (MMF), at the 4-6 rep range then yes you are using all of your muscle fibers, slow-fast. That being the case all will grow in size. If, however, you are simply using heavy weights and stopping your sets at 4-6 short of momentary muscular fatigue you are probably leaving yourself short in terms of muscle fiber recruitment.

For safety purposes we like to keep our rep ranges somewhat moderate, 8-10. All things being equal if we push it to MMF we can be assured that we are getting the most from each lift.

Hope this helps.

StrongerAthletes.com

New Team:Mississippi State University

I have been aware of your site for a few years now as the circle of people in the profession I speak with regularly are fans as well. I have served stints at Kentucky, Butler, and Clemson. I have been here at MSU for about a month now and am in charge of the programs for all sports except football and track. All of the teams I train use predominantly high intensity methods, absolutely no cleans of any kind or squats with a barbell on their shoulders. We have had a good first few weeks of training but as you know some teams catch on quicker than others. Let me know if I can do anything to help. Great job with the site and info!


Shannon Patterson
Strength and Conditioning
Shira Fieldhouse
Mississippi State University

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