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Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes--and What We Can Learn from Them Hardcover – Oct 30 2014
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—Gretchen Reynolds, author of The First 20 Minutes
“Success in top-level sports is no longer just an athletic contest -- it’s a learning contest that takes place on the frontiers of science, technology, and the human body. If you’re interested in understanding and competing in this new world, you need to buy Mark McClusky’s smart, invigorating, and useful book, right now.”
—Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code and The Secret Race
“In my more than 20 years researching the field of health and fitness, few books have captured my attention like Mark McClusky's riveting investigation of the groundbreaking science fueling elite athletic performance. Faster, Higher, Stronger breaks the code and gives everyday readers a chance to steal the cutting-edge secrets of the pros.”
—Dave Zinczenko, author of Eat This, Not That
“Is fatigue mostly in your head? Can built-in talent take you to the Olympics in only four years? Will big data transform how we play basketball? Faster, Higher, Stronger is a brilliant, fun report on the science of hacking your performance.”
—Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think
“Mark McClusky has written an enlightening, intelligent, comprehensive look at the merging of sports and science. It’s truly fascinating stuff.”
—Jeff Pearlman, bestselling author of Showtime
“An engaging journey through the intersection of sports and science, Faster, Higher, Stronger is a must-read for armchair athletes, coaches, parents, and anyone who wants to understand human potential."
—Chris Anderson, bestselling author of The Long Tail and Makers
—The New Yorker
“McClusky’s eye-opening account of sports science shatters outmoded training myths and heralds a revolutionary new terrain, in which the combination of high-tech methods and scientific breakthroughs designed will give the sports fan something wondrous to watch.”
“In Faster, Higher, Stronger, journalist Mark McClusky takes us into the world of athletics, looking at what differentiates winners from losers in elite competitions, from the Olympics to Formula One auto racing. The focus on extremes of excellence and performance at the margins of human capability makes a great read. The casual sportsman is not forgotten, as McClusky touches back on his own golf game to help weekend athletes relate. Marginal gains, trainability, and best fit run through the book, which is filled with engaging stories of athletes reaching the podium or missing by a hair.”
“Speed-skating super-suits, motion-tracking cameras, the 10,000 hour rule—it's all covered in Mark McClusky's engrossing look into how athletes use science to avoid injury, train smarter, and shatter records.”
“McClusky states that “every great athlete is the product of the interaction between their genetics and their effort,” and he presents rigorous research with an accessible style relatable to both professional and lay readers alike. All of this trickles down to amateur athletics as well, and McClusky does a good job of relating cutting-edge science to people wanting to run their 5K a little faster or shave a few strokes off their golf handicap.”
“While most of the work is dedicated to advancements in sports science, McClusky saves the inevitable conversation of performance-enhancing drugs for the conclusion. He tries to discover the thin line between finding and utilizing scientific advantages and actual cheating. It's a difficult one to discover, but the book's overall strength is McClusky's willingness to engage those questions many sports fans have trouble navigating. This is a fascinating read about the creative—and sometimes bizarre—training techniques extreme athletes use. VERDICT: This brief but detailed tour of modern sports science will garner strong interest from athletes, sports fans, and even couch potatoes.”
About the Author
Mark McClusky is the editor of Wired.com and founding editor of Wired Playbook. Previously, he was special projects editor at WIRED, an editor and reporter at Sports Illustrated and SI for Kids, and a founding editor of Sports Illustrated’s website. A former member of the baseball analytics collective Baseball Prospectus, McClusky contributed to several of its bestselling books, and is a coauthor of Alinea by Grant Achatz. He lives in Oakland, California.
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In Faster, Higher, Stronger, McClusky builds on his previous articles to provide a fascinating, in-depth look at how science, technology, medicine, nutrition and training work together to improve the performance of elite athletes.
Today, even the casual athlete is aware of how technology and science are used to improve performance, whether it be through a golf swing analyzer, the design of a new running shoe or through altitude training. Throughout the book, McClusky uses examples of familiar athletes to illustrate the progress made in various sports and the advantages of different training techniques for strength vs. endurance vs. skill athletes. He even discusses several long-held but misunderstood training concepts, like the need for carb replenishment during workouts less than 75 minutes long, that weekend athletes can apply to their own workouts. There is a wealth of information here - sometimes reading like a medical or chemistry textbook so be prepared - but it is incredibly fascinating and informative.
With so much emphasis on Olympic and professional champions, I was beginning to think McClusky would leave the elephant in the room of sports unaddressed. But in the second to last chapter, "Athletes' Little Helper," he finally tackles the delicate issue of performance enhancing drugs (and the fall of icons like Ben Johnson, Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong). It's one of the more interesting chapters in the book and McClusky does a good job of walking that fine line between jaded sports journalist and unabashed fan.
Faster, Higher, Stronger is not just for those aspiring to Olympic greatness or a place on the roster of a professional sports team - that would be a very limited audience. Instead, it is written for the average layperson who wants to better understand the strides made in the study of how the human body works when pushed to its physical limits.
The book is well-written and researched. McClusky incorporates scientific data, sports facts, interviews and citations of research. Readers will learn all that goes into championship athletes and their teams. A focus is on what sets the elite tier athletes apart from the other great professional and amateur athletes. So much of the work involved is geared toward finding slight edges here and there. A good way to sum up the contributions is in the words quoted from a book about cycling, "performance by the aggregation of marginal gains." The book touches on the many little ways of improvement by science and expert training.
For the average athlete, there are some bits and pieces to take away. One thing I will try to practice is the shot of espresso before the event, as practiced by European cycling teams and shown to at least trick the brain into thinking it is not fatigued.
I think the book could have been enhanced by a chapter at the end that summed up and itemized the gleanings for the average athlete or parent of athletes to incorporate in their routines and lives.