Both of Mark Rippetoe's major contributions to strength training literature are now in their third editions. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training - 3rd Edition has established itself as one of the premiere pieces of literature for anyone interested in getting stronger, and now the 3rd edition of Practical Programming has joined it.
The 2nd edition was full of wonderful information regarding the stress/recovery/adaptation cycle of strength training. Simply put, the more you do something (say, squat or deadlift), the better you become at it, and changes in programming (frequency, set/rep schemes, etc...) are required to further progress.
New to the 3rd edition is an impressive amount of detail on how to go about the necessary changes in programming as a lifter progresses.
The book contains its largest upgrade in chapters 6-8. With the assistance of Andy Baker of Kingswood Strength and Conditioning, programming for the novice, intermediate, and advanced lifters is covered in amazing detail.
For the novice, the basic principles of the Starting Strength method are discussed as well as a fabulous real world example of a properly executed linear progression. New to the 3rd edition is an extensive look at how to elongate and squeeze every drop of usefulness out of a linear progression. It details resets, stalls, and recovering from the mistake of increasing your lifts too quickly. All of these scenarios are backed up with biomechanical details of the human body. Additionally, new to the novice section is a detailed account of the "advanced novice" lifter as well as specialized diet and training tips for the particularly overweight or underweight trainee.
The Intermediate section has received the largest upgrade of all. While novice programming allows for progress from workout to workout, intermediate programming stretches out progress over a week to week basis. Though Rippetoe discussed his "Texas Method" style of programming in the 2nd edition, it prompted a lot of questions about variations and alternatives to the demanding programming. The details of the Texas Method are contained in 30+ pages of the most important, effective writing in strength programming literature. Broken into four phases, the amount of detail contained here is staggering, and should hopefully answer any questions and address all problems trainees may have with this very complex programming. Also included are "split routines" spread over four days, as well as a Heavy-Light-Medium system popularized by coaching great Bill Starr in the 1970's.
The advanced chapter delves into periodization, or the structuring of training schedules beyond a week to week basis. The book makes very clear that this programming is for ADVANCED lifters who's progress on a week to week basis has stalled out completely. At this point, a strength athlete will be at the point where they are ready to specialize in a certain realm of athletics. Specific training details for powerlifters, MMA athletes, and Olympic weightlifters are described in exhaustive detail. Most recreational lifters will never reach this level, but its inclusion here is extremely welcome.
The final chapter will prove extremely useful for current strength training coaches. It includes specific training details for females, youth, and an extensive section on older (35+ years) lifters.
Simply put, Practical Programming 3rd Edition is required reading for anyone who has a desire to achieve their maximum potential in the weight room. Buy it, read it, read it again, and get stronger!