The RKC Book of Strength and Conditioning is comprised of a quick preface, 10 full programs, and 35 standalone workouts. Each of these programs and workouts is written by a different coach. If you love kettlebells, this book is probably already in your collection. If you’re new to kettlebells, this book will surely give you some ideas to play with. If you don’t have any kettlebells at all, you can still do most of the workouts in this book using dumbbells instead (but don’t tell the authors I said that).
When I was first getting into branching out beyond the muscle mags that dominated my youth, a book like this would have presented an awesome playground of information. I can pretty much guarantee I would have loved having access to the writing of so many coaches in just one book. I have a good imagination that would have been lit ablaze by the variety presented. Even if I didn’t own a single kettlebell, I would have loved just to be able to see so many workouts with so many varying goals and levels of fitness in mind.
While it’s blasphemy in some circles to describe the kettlebell as “just another fitness tool,” without mystical properties and not unlike a dumbbell, if you view this book as a set of programs and workouts it is what it is. For any experienced coach, or for people used to programs with a lot of variety such as CrossFit, you’ve probably already seen a lot of what this book offers as soon as you take the kettlebells out of the picture. Many of these workouts (but not all) can be done with a dumbbell in place of a kettlebell, and a little imagination can pretty easily fix the rest. Since this book is strongest in the imagination department, I don’t think anyone would slight me for saying so.
I’d say my only real problem with this book is also its strength. The book features numerous authors, and it’s clear these authors were given plenty of freedom. That’s a good thing. I’m totally on board with letting the authors’ creative juices flow at will, but I think the book could have used greater structure. For example some of the workouts and programs begin by stating who they are designed for and what goal they serve. Most do not, however, and that feature would have certainly made the book better.
As a compendium this book is excellent. It includes authors such as Mark Reifkind, Keith Weber, David Whitley, Lauren Brooks, Jon Engum, and more. As a motivator, it includes many good stories, bios, and tough workouts to last a hungry young athlete who only has fitness as a goal for a very long time. As a book, it’s got decent production value but lacks a definitive structure that would make it more useful. As a text for coaches or advanced athletes preparing for sport, it doesn’t offer much they haven’t seen already, if anything.
Bottom line: If the idea of good size collection of workouts by just as many authors entices you, this book is definitely worth a gander. If you are prepping for a specific sport, or have a lot of experience in the fitness realm, your money is better spent elsewhere.