(Due to a server crash, this post is being reposted after originally being posted on April 17th, 2010)
I have certainly known of Mike Boyle for many years. His name often came up in discussions and articles on strength and conditioning as well as functional training. Mike is as well known for calling it like he sees it as he is for his contribution to strength and conditioning.
Up until a couple of years ago, Mike and I had never met. I wasn’t sure what kind of guy he was going to be when we did finally meet because I can’t say that I’ve always agreed with everything Mike’s ever written. But who wants an industry of clones?
In the summer of 2007 I had arranged a meeting with Chris Poirer of Perform Better to show him a pre production prototype of the Core-Tex™ at the Perform Better Summit in Long Beach, CA. I sent Mike an email because I knew he was going to be presenting there and asked him if he would be available to take some time to look at the Core-Tex and give me his opinion.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Mike gets approached all the time by people with products and ideas (because I certainly do). Even so, Mike got back to me right away and graciously agreed to spend some time with me between his presentations.
When I finally got to meet Mike, it was a pleasure to see that he just one of the guys. Like so many of the great educators in our industry, Mike had no ego and was genuinely interested in hearing more about the Core-Tex™. He didn’t have to do this since he didn’t know me but he extended me a professional courtesy. And to me, that was a class act.
When I got Mike’s book, Advances in Functional Training, I took it on a plane to England and read it cover to cover. This book is probably the most comprehensive book out there right now in respect to the amount of content it covers on the various components of functional training.
We all know that some people believe that functional training equates to circus acts-which of course it is not. This book covers the full continuum of what functional training really is and leaves out the circus acts.
I often speak in terms of training for function versus functional training because for me functional training denotes a mode or method of training and training for function denotes and objective. The content covered in Mike’s book falls right in line with training for function.
Mike has spent a lot of years in the industry. Yet he is humble enough to readily cite those that have influenced his approach to training and states his reasons for following the training principles he adheres too.
Since the functional training continuum covers everything from restoring normal movement patterns to maximizing sport performance, there is a tremendous amount of information to cover. A book could be written for each aspect of training for function along the continuum. As comprehensive as Advances in Functional Training is, it couldn’t possibly cover everything along the continuum in the depth that each topic requires.
But that is not bad thing. Because what Advances in Functional Training does is give the reader a full appreciation of the many aspects of function. And there is no shortage of content in this book (314 pages).
For example, my professional strengths are focused more around the assessment process and corrective exercise. Therefore, it’s not often that I get to work with clients as they move toward the more advanced end of the functional continuum. Mike’s book serves as a great resource to me for identifying some of the critical variables that need to be part of the training progressions.
The term “soup to nuts” keeps coming to mind when I read through this book. The book begins with where all training should begin-the assessment process. It then takes you through the continuum with appropriate progressions right up to athletic preparation. Mike not only does a great job at guiding us through the functional continuum, but he highlights critical areas where injury and common training pitfalls take place.
A minor criticism of this book is the lack of direct references from the research literature. Although Mike does give credit to other authors and practitioners, I don’t recall reading any direct citations of the literature. Doing so would have strengthened the delivery of many of the concepts in the book.
Advances in Functional Training really is a comprehensive look at a topic that regularly stirs debate from trainers and coaches with different training philosophies. Mike Boyle has made some tremendous contributions to our industry and with this book he provides ample evidence and rationale for a functional training approach.
Published by On Target Publications (January 11, 2010)