Dr. Yessis: The Legendary Sports Scientist You’ve Never Read About

Edited by Scott Blacklock


“The Gold War”

For decades, the rivalry between two world superpowers played out where sports and politics intersected. Dominating the geo-political landscape for the second half of the twentieth century, the Cold War was fought not on battlegrounds, but on basketball courts and hockey rinks, wrestling mats and chess boards, in stadiums all around the world. The struggle for supremacy resulted in the highest level of sports competition ever witnessed, especially from the Soviets, who triumphed in nearly every sport and event. 

After the USSR collapsed, the world learned what was driving Soviet investment in sports. We now know the extent to which Soviet athletics was exploited to symbolize power and spread its ideology – an effort to win the Cold War along political battle lines.

Though the USSR’s spectacular downfall heralded the end of the war and secured victory for the Americans, the era of Soviet sport dominance – nearly forty years of iron-gripped control over dozens, if not hundreds of international games – has never been replicated. Western coaches and scientists agreed that the secret to their success had to be illegal performance enhancing drugs. In fact, the whole Western sports development world agreed on the matter unanimously – and with virtually zero investigation into the matter. The truth of the matter is something entirely else.    

Behind the Iron Curtain, brilliant Soviet sport scientists, such as Verkhoshansky, Bondarchuk and Vorobyev (to name a few), compiled and openly discussed their findings in academic journals. Their advancements in athletic development and performance represented enormous leaps forward in the field. From technique execution to injury recovery, endurance building to strength training, the Soviets invested in rigorous research to discover the best, most efficient ways to develop their athletes into peak performers. From decades of experimentation, the Russians knew that a measured blend of conditioning and skill execution training elicited the best results. This was proven on a global scale during the USSR’s golden age.

The Americans, on the other hand, struggled to keep up. The concepts and practices that won Soviet athletes gold medal after gold medal were unknown in the West. This led to the American emphasis on high intensity physical training, believing that one’s size and strength were the primary engines driving the highest levels of competitive athletic performance. The Soviets proved, time and time again, they possessed the immense strength and capacity for skill execution needed to best their Western counterparts.

In circumstances both cruel and comedic, the Soviet journals were readily available to the Americans through the Library of Congress, though they might as well have been written in code. The complex technical jargon, written exclusively in Cyrillic, was practically indecipherable to the Americans. To interpret the data, they would have needed a very special person: exceptionally educated in physical education and biomechanics; familiar with the contemporary nomenclature of the field; and fluent in Russian in a time of widespread American rejection of anything to do with the Red Menace. The Americans, hopelessly in the dark, wondered if they’d ever learn how their Communist competitor churned out one world-beating athlete after the other.


“Secrets in Plain Sight”

After a nasty shoulder tear and pinched neck nerve confined me to bed, I took the downtime as an opportunity to catch up on some reading. My material of choice was Joel Jamieson’s Ultimate MMA Conditioning, which those in the know consider the Bible of MMA conditioning. A coach to elite athletes like UFC flyweight kingpin Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and former head of PRIDE’s athletic development department, Jamieson is the primary source on human energy systems as they apply to combat sports.

As far as takeaways, Jamieson helped me see training regimens through a different lens. Suddenly I was able to identify the conditioning protocols of fighters like Vasyl Lomachenko, Giorgio Petrosyan and Tenshin Nasukawa – each representing a pinnacle of combat performance in their respective sport and, more intriguingly, each man applying methodical scientific programs across every aspect of his training. Further piquing my interest in Jamieson’s work were his citations, which draw heavily from the work of Yuri Verkoshansky and other Soviet scientists.

My second revelation came when I tuned in to the “Just Fly Performance” podcast to hear Cal Dietz, strength coach and author of Triphasic Training, the best-selling sports performance training manual. Dietz’s “systematic approach to elite speed and explosive strength performance” is as highly recommended in the athletic development community as Ultimate MMA Conditioning is amongst top MMA minds.

What I’d learn is that the concepts in Dietz’s approach (like block periodization and transfer of training) build off those developed by the same Soviet scientists Jamieson learned from – Verkhoshansky, Bondarchuk, Vorobyev, and Issurin, among many others.

Indeed, Dietz is a longtime friend and collaborator of Yosef Johnson, who published translations of the enigmatic Soviet journals that contained the USSR’s greatest athletic secrets. As a young man, Yosef stumbled upon a book called Secrets of Soviet Sports Training. Fascinated with what he learned, he sought an apprenticeship with the author, whom he later recalled as being “more knowledgeable than anyone I had encountered.” This was an American biomechanist called Dr. Michael Yessis – the man who, beginning in the 1960s, first revealed the secrets of Soviet training, translating and articulating for the everyman in plain English.

An even greater role for him to have played is that of conduit. He gained the attention and respect of countless Russian scientists, coaches, trainers, and athletes – so much so that he was able to connect them to their American counterparts, resulting in fruitful collaborations that served vital roles in furthering Western sport sciences. For instance, Mel Siff, co-author of Supertraining, was introduced to his writing partner, Yuri Verkhoshansky, by Yessis. He himself has acted as consultant to many authors writing this highly technical subject matter. Many reputable and influential names in the field owe a debt to Dr. Yessis and the connections he made when no one else could.

Lastly, Yessis’ contribution to athletics is not solely as translator and social butterfly. A Ph.D. in biomechanics with a background in physical education, and a fluent Russian speaker, Yessis was uniquely qualified to interpret the heavily jargonized Soviet text, but also to build on and improve their methods, becoming a prolific author in his own right and a strong proponent of specialized exercising and execution analysis.

This is the story of the man who pulled back the Iron Curtain – and returned to the West with the secrets of an empire.


“Yessis”

“I have a fairly eclectic background in which sports and science has always played a major role.”

The story of 85-year-old Brooklyn-born Michael Yessis begins in the 1950s, when he was a fresh-faced engineering student. He didn’t remain in the engineering department long. Because sports were so important to him, Yessis ended up switching his major to Physical Education and enjoying a stint teaching PE and coaching a silver medal swim team at an NYC vocational school. During his military service, he did biological research for the Army Chemical Corps. Later, he earned his Ph.D. at USC.

Having long-witnessed the Soviets outperform competitors from every nation across nearly every Olympic sport, in the late 1950s, Yessis wrote to the Library of Congress. Determined to solve the riddle of their sporting dominance, he ordered all that was available on Russian sports training – which, as it turns out, was just one research journal. What he was received was photographs of the journal’s articles, each crisscrossed in Cyrillic script. With the photos in hand, Yessis began what amounted to, in the beginning at least, tedious, painstaking work.

“I had a background in the Russian language from my parents,” Dr. Yessis says, “but it was mainly household Russian. To do the translations, I had to literally look up every other word. However, the information that I gained from these translations compelled me to continue… It became a labor of love.”

With emphasis on the word “labor,” Yessis continued performing translations right up until the breakup of the Soviet empire in 1994. These were published in his groundbreaking “Soviet Sports Review” – a mix of translated coaches’ journals and original work from Yessis, which ran from 1966 to 1994. Full of Soviet-based wisdom from cover to cover, the Soviet Sports Review (later renamed “Fitness and Sports Review International” when Yessis began including original articles) illuminated the finest, most technical details across every sport and skill.

“If it were not for my background in sports and science, I would never have been able to translate the articles,” he says. “As a result, I developed an entirely new Russian vocabulary which came into good use years later when I met and worked with many of the Russian coaches and scientists.”

Dr. Yessis was eventually invited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) to lead groups of athletes and coaches to the Soviet Union, acting as translator and consultant. At the Coaches Institute in Moscow, he recognized many of the Soviets there by name from his readings. Because of this, he was able to recommend Russian experts as instructors for the visiting American teams. This included Anatoly Birukov, who introduced him to the science of sports massage and restoration. These were, at the time, the best in the world in the field of strength training and recovery.

“It was also interesting to note that the Russians became familiar with my journal of translations and were very happy to see that some of their information was being published in the US. The articles and journals introduced me to many different Russian coaches and scientists. I soon became familiar with the Soviet sports training system, which was outstanding.”

Yessis’ early trips to the USSR earned him new friends and a new perspective on the best ways to build an athlete from the ground up. His contributions most certainly go beyond simple translation.

“Understand that there was no one major scientist, as many scientists worked in the same areas,” explains Yessis. “It was not surprising to see many criticisms of the works by some of the top scientists. They openly discussed and exchanged information so that as a result, I more or less read between the lines to come up with what I thought might be the definitive answer.”

“Beginning in the 1990s, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, I began to expand on the Soviet knowledge in some areas as for example specialized strength training. As a result, I not only incorporated some of the Soviet information into my work in practice but I was able to go beyond because of my scientific background.”

He continues: “For example, Verkhoshansky is well-known for his work on specialized strength training and specialized strength exercises. However, the Soviets did not have any sophisticated equipment with which to do many of these specialized strength exercises. This is where I not only adapted the small number of specialized strength exercises that they had in certain fields, but I developed means with which to do their exercises and develop many more.”


“The West”

In the West, the prevailing athletic development strategy is centered on physical conditioning. Western athletes focus on high intensity, low-rep schemes, and compound lifts. However, there is no one, overriding system in the West; in fact, many popular texts on the subject disagree on the protocols. These points are hotly debated.

Which exercises, and why? Should athletes in different sports use different exercises? Are there different phases for each exercise? Why a low-rep scheme? Why high intensity? Is it really as simple as “max strength = better performance”?

The high-intensity, low-rep approach has its place, particularly in powerlifting, but it’s simply not appropriate for all athletes across every sport. Jim Wendler, creator of the 5-3-1 program, stumbled on his methodology after burning out from a high intensity, low-rep, high volume program. When he dropped the volume, he was shocked at his gains. His solution – 5-3-1 – is popular nowadays because of how easily it can be applied alongside other sports training without burning out from the demanding powerlifting protocols.

Wendler’s case is not unique, nor is his approach particularly unusual. Many of his contemporaries have recommended the same adjustments to avoid burnout. In Dr. Mike Israetel’s General Strength Training Principles, he notes the importance of technical training and hypertrophy foundation, even for powerlifters. In Ultimate Conditioning for Martial Arts, Loren Landow (highly sought-after strength coach) discusses the importance of building muscular endurance in order to progress to high intensity exercising. Jamieson cites reliance on maximal strength training as incongruous with athletic performance – the conversion just isn’t there.

Clearly, something is missing from the equation, and Western experts are slowly starting to fill in the blanks based on their own experiences. As I would later find out, however, the Soviets have already asked (and definitively answered) many of the questions about training that are now plaguing Western coaches.


“Analysis”

“In teaching skill execution to athletes and coaches,” Dr. Yessis begins, “I have found that they either do not have an interest in this, as it is complex, or they believe that the athlete already has the best skill possible and that they are not able to improve it. These are usually the coaches who believe that skill execution is innate.”

“But as science and practice has shown, this is a myth.”

The Soviets knew better. They learned the enormous benefits of rigorous analysis applied to every movement required for a particular sport (say, for example, the extended whipping of the arm when pitching in baseball or the turning of the hips and pivoting of the foot when striking in martial arts). Coaches broke down the motions and perfected them, retraining their athletes to move in the most efficient and effective ways.

“For as long as I can remember, I have always had a great interest in sports or more specifically, skill technique. Every time I took up a new sport, I never had instruction but tried to figure out what had to be done in order for it to be effective.”

Yessis, the longtime channel through which Soviet training wisdom flowed into the West, is a strong proponent of skill analysis. He uses video footage of a particular athlete, advancing it frame by frame and performing biomechanical and kinesiological analysis of the athlete’s skill execution. This tells him everything he needs to know.

He recalls early days in his exploration of the Soviets’ skill analysis protocols: “My biggest push in this area… came from my first readings of some of the Soviet literature, more specifically analysis of world-class performers. I always thought I had a good handle on what was involved in skill execution, especially with my background biomechanics. In the Russian analyses, they brought out deficiencies and plus factors that initially I could not see or understand. It dawned on me that I knew very little.”

Over many months of reading, often between the lines, Yessis was able to illuminate the finer details of the dense Soviet journals.

“I started to understand not only what they saw, but how it could be fixed. This started me on the path of analyzing sports skill execution with greater precision and detail, but also how it could be improved. It is in this area that I developed the concept of using specialized strength exercises to correct and improve sports skill execution, [or] ‘technique.’”

Building on the Soviets’ work, Yessis began creating strength exercises based on his analysis. He learned that a broad regimen of training would not suffice for the highest level of athletes.

“Physical abilities are very specific to the technique,” he says. “In other words, general strength has no correlation or very little correlation to skill technique [for advanced athletes who have already achieved sufficient general strength.] The physical development must be specific to the actions or, more specifically, the neuromuscular pathways used in execution of the skill. In essence, you must develop the physical abilities in exactly the same manner as they are used in execution of the skill.”

Coaches in the West are hesitant to jump on board with this radically different style of training. Transfer of training (referring to how exercises and protocols from one sport translate to another, as written about at length by Olympic medalist and legendary coach and scientist, Anatoliy Bondarchuk) is not well understood in Western gyms. The field instead focuses on developing maximal strength using compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench presses, etc.) in a high intensity, low-rep scheme, assuming this style translates well to other sports besides powerlifting. In other words, there is a massive gap between Russian and Western styles – often because of deeply-ingrained misunderstandings and misapplications.

Take, for instance, plyometrics (created by Verkhoshansky in the late 60s and early 70s) – the widely popularized collection of exercises that exert maximum force in short intervals, building greater speed and explosive power. The discovery of the stretch-shortening cycle and the use of (true) plyometrics are responsible, in large part, for Soviet dominance across all sporting categories. However, Verkhoshansky did not name his invention “plyometrics”; he called it “the shock method,” which more accurately describes what happens in true plyometric movements. 

Across the Atlantic, Fred Wilt, an American track coach, watched Soviet athletes warm up with these explosive exercises and labeled them plyometrics. But this nomenclature, now generously applied to nearly any jumping-based exercises (search “plyometrics exercises” or “plyometrics tutorial” on YouTube to get a feel for its popularity), does not accurately convey the intended approach designed by Verkhoshansky.

“When I introduced plyometrics as created by the Soviets in the United States,” Dr. Yessis recalls, “it was difficult to find a word that would duplicate the exact meaning of its Russian equivalent. Fred and I shared this dilemma, and he came up with the term plyometrics, which appeared to come close to what took place.”

“However, after years of use, we now know that plyometrics is perhaps a poor term for what was known as ‘the shock method.’ The fitness and, to a good extent, the sports fields took advantage of the term plyometrics and in time it meant any exercise that included jumping, hopping, skipping and so on… This is a far cry from the true meaning of plyometrics which is more closely associated with the shock method.”

In fact, the majority of those YouTube videos discoverable from the search term “plyometrics” demonstrate exercises that fail to fit within the framework so tediously researched and outlined by Verkhoshansky and later, Yessis. The exercises are easier to perform but they simply aren’t what the shock method promotes. These videos and their creators have popularized the misapplication of plyometrics to the point where Verkhoshansky himself hated the name.

The misappropriation of honed Soviet exercises and protocols does not end with plyometrics. Block periodization (Vladimir Issurin), transfer of training (Anatoliy Bondarchuk), and many specialized strength training principles/exercises developed by unheralded Soviet scientists can be found – misunderstood, misapplied, and misused – across countless Western gyms.

“In the US, emphasis is on physical conditioning, not on improving sports performance. As the Russians determined many years ago, it is a combination of skill execution and development of physical qualities specific to the skill execution that is most important in improving performance. This is probably the most important difference between Soviet Russia and North America.”

“[Skill analysis] is what allows you to identify key movements and then prescribe a highly individualized and specialized exercise based on your biomechanics understanding… In essence, it brings out which exercises are needed and which are most important in the training.”


“Execution”

Skill execution. It’s at the core of it all – at the heart of every match, in the heart of every high-performing athlete. It separates first from second, gold from silver, champions from contenders. Skill execution – and who does it best – determines everything that matters in sports.

“Sports skill execution and analysis of sports skill execution is for the most part not even touched on in the universities, nor do coaches address these topics at the various clinics,” Dr. Yessis laments. “But skill execution should be the core for all training programs.”

“In my work, I use skill execution analysis to determine the strength training program that is needed. In essence, it brings out which exercises are needed and which are most important in training. Specialized strength exercises are then used to improve skill execution and as a result improve sports performance.”

It should be noted that specialized strength exercises that elicit improved skill execution are primarily designed for high level athletes. Of course, Dr. Yessis agrees that they are important across all levels of competition but should constitute up to 95% of an elite athlete’s training regimen. For these men and women, general strength exercises are used only for recovery or warm-up, whereas this is not true for novice athletes.

Yessis’ own approach to helping athletes achieve perfection in motion is, of course, heavily influenced by his primary sources, but uniquely his own – and, in some cases, superior to that of his influencers. Years after the first Soviet Sports Review was published, Dr. Yessis was bridging the gaps he had once earmarked for later resolution.

“For example, Verkhoshansky is well-known for his work on specialized strength training and specialized strength exercises,” he says. “However, the Soviets did not have any sophisticated equipment with which to do many of these specialized strength exercises. This is where I not only adapted the small number of specialized strength exercises that they had in certain fields, but I developed means with which to do their exercises and develop many more.”

By “means,” Yessis is referring to the active cords – essentially resistance bands with clever attachments that allow for an incredible range of movement. They were developed to enable execution of exercises that are specific to a particular sport and typically involve rotation. In other words, the cords let you do exercises not possible with dumbbells and barbells.

“The Soviets had special equipment and exercises designed for each major sport. This is because advanced athletes no longer benefitted from progressing in general exercises. Exercises that duplicate the movement involved in skill produced the most results. It’s important to do these exercises because progressive overload (one of the major principles of improvement) is much more quickly achieved with it.”

Yessis also conceived of a specialized exercise called the glute ham gastroc raise, for which he designed and created the glute ham machine. Built for total core strength exercising, this simple machine enables many exercises with the best transferability across sports: Russian twists, back raises with a twist, glute-ham-gastroc raises. Even a sit-up on this equipment wakes and engages the core in a much more complete way than in traditional form.

The prolific Dr. Yessis is also the creator of 1×20 – a moderate intensity training program that allows for full development of all the muscles in the body, resulting in improved athletic performance.  The program is based on sound Soviet principles, but there is no enigmatic secret to it – no complex instruction necessary. Simply put, 1×20 consists of one exercise performed using one set of 20 repetitions done every other day. Practitioners of the 1×20 method continue repetitions until they approach the target number, but only if execution of the technique is good. 

Athletes are assigned 15-25 individual exercises to perform based on sport and required skills. The athlete will perform the same exercises every day, with increases in resistance applied after every successful session. Technique here is ultra-important. Every rep should be identical to the one before it. Users of 1×20 don’t continue until further; they stop when execution of the technique begins to change.

Every muscle activated, every joint engaged. The benefits of 1×20 are practically endless: max strength and speed gains; head to toe muscular development; improved blood flow and work capacity; bolstered injury prevention and recovery times; strengthened ligaments and tendons; and dynamic exercise selection based on transfer of training principles, which is the best, most efficient way to perfect the execution of athletic skills. This is how champions are built, from the ground up (e.g. Vasyl Lomachenko, who was raised since youth to be a fighter, whose training has always been rooted in classic Soviet sport science).

The Western athletic community has failed to embrace 1×20 as a whole, but those who have switched over from traditional methodology to the 1×20 program. The response from this small subsection of adopters has been overwhelmingly positive. Coaches see incredible gains being made by their athletes under the protocols outlined by Yessis.

Yet, as Yessis is keenly aware, his methodologies, despite well-documented efficacy, are largely uncharted territory in the athletic development world. 

“It is surprising to see this lack of attention to skill execution when we know that skill execution is the core or the crux of an athlete’s success,” he says. “The question is really why it is being ignored. Most likely it is due to lack of education in this area. [But] there is no getting around this! Athletes must be able to execute the skills of their sport and execute them well. The better the skills are executed, the more successful the athlete.”

“To make changes, we must get at least a few coaches interested in skill execution and then begin to emphasize it not only in their work but also in their talks to other coaches. From my work and experiences with athletes, I have come to the conclusion there is not a single athlete in the world [that] cannot be improved from both the technical and physical aspects.”


“Yessis & Me”

Why am I telling you all this? Because not only do I believe that Dr. Michael Yessis’ methodologies are effective, I am literally witnessing their dramatic effect on my own body.

When I was bound to my bed, I read a lot of Yessis’ work. His highly influential Kinesiology of Exercise (recently republished as the greatly expanded Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Exercise) taught me things I never know about my body – the way it moves, the way it responds to certain exercises better than others. This book is about deeply technical science, but explained with crystal clarity and intricate illustrations. Yessis wanted to “free” this information for the ordinary man, not just the top echelon of coaches and athletes. 

I also read his Revolutionary 1 x 20 RM Strength Training Program (and Mike Israetel’s seminal General Principles of Strength Training, which continues to play an important role in my training). This not only turned me onto the program, but gave me a world-class sport science education on building good posture through the most well rounded exercise selection I’ve seen. This prevents injuries, promotes recovery, recovery, and builds a superior athletic foundation through strength training. After trying out 1×20 for a few months, I saw rapid gains in my max strength – so fast and substantial that I was surpassing in lift weight that of my friend, a freak athlete in the highest echelons of striking. This is not normal, people!

Crucial to these incredible gains was even more literature: another Yessis work – Build a Better Athlete, subtitled as “What’s Wrong with American Sports and How to Fix It.” A well-rounded discussion across a range of subjects in athletic development, Yessis wrote this to be digestible for the layman. No book pieces together complex puzzles the way this one does. Running, jumping, hitting, kicking, speed, agility, flexibility, posture… So many areas are covered in this book, yet Yessis links them together beautifully. He shows how different sports’ movements, when broken down mechanically, are transferable to one another many times over. This is why the multi-sport prescription for a young athlete was the chosen way for developing a foundation in the Soviet Union.

Dr. Yessis’ transfer of biomechanics for applications to sports and his concepts in general have given me a second lens through which to see technique – wholly inseparable from athletic development. In this sense, better technique can be achieved faster if you know which gaps to bridge to aid the technique (which muscles to strength, in what range of motion, etc.) Better technique means greater achievement in your area of sport.

Best and most fundamentally important of all, what I learned from reading his books has taken away my worst debilitating pain. Chronic neck and shoulder pain has disallowed any kind of consistent training for years, but not anymore.  Where numerous professional physios have failed to mitigate my pain, this has worked. Where countless books on mobility, massage and rehab by so-called “authorities” on the subject have only given me incomplete solutions, Dr. Yessis has, in less than six months, made my body feel whole and functional again. Family, friends and several competitive athletes who have experimented with the tiny amount of instruction I’ve passed onto them have found familiar old injuries, discomfort and pain vanish as if never there in the first place. Once the solution is known, it appears to be simple!

Now nearly all of my training partners are calling me “strong” – a comment I had never received before. Strength is a huge predecessor to power and speed, and also has an important relationship with work capacity. (Strength is an important determinant in injury prevention, though execution of movement and skill is primary.) The transformation is a bit stunning, to be honest. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I feel like I’m absorbing new, high-level techniques at an accelerated pace, and all this while consuming more and more of Yessis’ material – his books, his articles, his podcasts. I am learning that an understanding of biomechanics and how to develop it in exercises, along with technical training, is the future of optimization in athletes.

I’m insanely eager to learn and apply more, but there’s just one nagging word that keeps flashing in my head: “recognition” – or, more aptly, “where is the recognition for this man?”

To me, Dr. Yessis represents a man who has never stopped pursuing a single-minded mission: to help others excel at what they love doing. The credit he is due has never arrived; that has been given largely to his students, then their students. Still, he never stops putting out new material in the hopes it reaches the right person. 

“I have seen [my work’s] influence in many individuals, but only in a limited number of programs when it comes to major institutions and teams. Its reach however, it has been worldwide. On a comparative basis, it appears that there is more interest in foreign countries than in the US for information on the Soviet training system.”

The avenues for sharing information publicly these days can be treacherous for an author, no matter how brilliant the content. When Firas Zahabi (long-time coach to Georges St-Pierre and well-regarded as one of the greatest MMA coaches) first started his YouTube channel, he shared some techniques he learned from Sagat. He learned from the legendary Nak Muay at a time when Thailand wasn’t so accepting of foreigners and when Muay Thai was not well-known internationally. Online commenters on popular martial arts forums were brutally negative about these techniques, rejecting them as untenable and useless. Zahabi, exasperated as he was frustrated, told me this: “I worked hard to access these techniques. I don’t even know if I truly want to share some of these techniques. And yet, when I do, this is what they say.”

Michael Yessis has been forgotten by history for bringing Soviet sciences to the West and uncredited for instigating the wave of American sport science research and development. The last Yessis book that I read was the first one he wrote on the subject – Secrets of Soviet Sports Fitness and Training, perhaps one of the most important publication ever for Western coaches and sport scientists. This book represents Yessis’ first, brave step towards telling the American sporting world the truths it needed to hear: that the Soviets did it better; that their secrets are no longer secret; and that the Americans, too, could be as fast, strong and explosive as their Soviet opponents. Truly an innovative work that has gone wrongly unacknowledged for so long, I recommend this be your first read of Dr. Yessis’ work.

At the end of our talk, I asked him what he’d like his legacy to be.

“I have not really given thought to my legacy. I would hope it would be favorable. “

“I would also feel rewarded if more coaches, athletes and professors would become familiar with my books and articles,” he admits, “which deal greatly with technique or skill execution and specialized strength exercises that duplicate the sports skills in the particular sport. I would feel rewarded if I were able to favorably influence many individuals who in turn were able to become successful by incorporating many of my methods and system. “

“The greatest reward will be in the number of athletes who were able to achieve their potential and in many cases, great success.”


Recommended Reading List

With full disclosure, I gain absolutely no profits from the sales of his books or products, but if I were to recommend a reading list, his books would dominate the top 5.

  1. Secrets of Soviet Sports Fitness and Training – 2nd Edition with Addendums
  2. Build a Better Athlete
  3. The Revolutionary 1×20 RM Strength Training Program – Available on Kindle
  4. Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Exercise – 2nd Edition
  5. Ultimate MMA Conditioning – Joel Jamieson

I would read it in that order, the first four can be purchased off Yessis’ website at doctoryessis.com, with all 4 having a 10% discount if you use the coupon code kenshin.

If you have supported my work at any point, please share this article – it will help a great many people and mean a lot to me. This would apply especially novice to intermediate athletes who under simple instruction, will see tremendous improvements in a short amount of time. If you show that this community cares, I will do my best in helping to bring over his genius knowledge and expertise directly into the striking arts.

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