I've got a long list of things to write about, but getting this up first was pretty important to me. I've got a backlog of ideas to write about that were all spurred by my reading of Easy Strength (and listening to a couple of interviews with Dan John as well), so I wanted this up to set the context.
Easy Strength is a collaborative work between Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline (referred to on the cover, and hereafter, as Pavel). It's odd, because despite both being very goal driven coaches, I'm not sure I could easily pin down the single goal or point of Easy Strength. Well, that's not true. I think, in some ways, Easy Strength can be summed up in Dan's adage that "the Goal is to keep the Goal the Goal." At the heart of the book, Easy Strength is about knowing why you're training, and then training for that particular purpose.
Part of my hesitation in acscribing a single purpose to Easy Strength comes from the unique way the book is formatted. Inspired by My Dinner With Andre (a movie I've never seen, but which features Wallace Shawn, apparently), the book is presented as an ongoing discussion between Dan and Pavel. The publisher even went so far as to use different fonts for each speaker, and to include a little head shot of each man next to the portions where each is "speaking". It's a bit gimmicky, but I found it easy and engaging enough to read. It helps that I enjoy both author's writing styles. I noted one reviewer on Amazon who seems irritated by Pavel's "Evil Russian" schtick. It's still his schtick. If it bothers you, move on.
The book is broken up into eight rather substantive chapters, starting with a discussion of Dan John's Quadrant model for sports (which I'm still wrangling with a bit), and then covering a variety of strength training topics, including (in no particular order here) the titular "Easy Strength" program, methods of assessment, armor-building, sport-specific training, plyometrics, and systematic education. I've probably forgotten some other stuff. There is a lot of information in here. Some chapters feature more of one author than the other, but both contribute a great deal overall.
The book is a mixture of philosophy, anecdote, research sharing, and program design. For those who like Pavel's work, the closest thing I can think of to this is Beyond Bodybuilding. It's not a single, simple program or equation for accomplishing a goal--it's a big box of information to dig through, think about, experiment with, and return to. I've already read the book twice, and am sure I'll be diving back in for more. As I mentioned earlier, Easy Strength has spawned a lot of good thoughts and ideas that I'll be writing more about in the future. I like that. When a book makes me think and write, I take it to be a sign that I did not waste my time reading it.
That said, while the book is great, it's not perfect. Some of the information, while excellent, is repeated verbatim from other works. I don't mean it's the same concept--I mean there are literally pages from Never Let Go that are duplicated in Easy Strength. Now, I like Never Let Go a lot, and the stuff that gets repeated is certainly valuable, but I did find it a little frustrating to realize I was reading the exact same paragraphs over again.
There's also just some sloppy formatting issues. Nothing that makes the book unreadable, but just annoying. I expect a little better from a professional publishing house.
So who is this book for? If you're a strength or fitness coach, I think the book is worth reading. If you're the kind of gym nerd who just likes reading and thinking about strength, the book is worth reading. Actually, if you are a coach of any sort, the book is worthwhile, both for helping guide your athlete's strength programs, and for some good ideas on coaching and learning.
However, like Beyond Bodybuilding, this book requires a bit of thought. If you want something with a single clearly laid out program, Easy Strength will not give it to you. Something like Enter the Kettlebell, Power to the People! : Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American
, or any number of other books will fill your need just fine. If you want to think about the why's and wherefore's of training, then pick this up.