12 Jun The 12 Best Strength Training Books Ever Written…
I admit, I’m an addict.
Let me explain what I mean because it’s a good addiction, not a destructive one.
I’m addicted to… books.
But, I’m always reading, learning, and applying new things.
Love to learn, always have.
Here’s the downside.
Sometimes, I buy books faster than I can read them, but I can’t help it – I’m a book fanatic.
Another part of the downside is not taking action with you read.
So I always try to take away one big thing and put it into action.
If I can do that, I consider that a win.
I love to teach and share what I learn, which is why I created this site.
There’s a great saying, “when you’re green – you’re growing and when you’re ripe – you rot.”
Now, that’s good.
I think you get the point, to always keep learning and keep growing to be your best.
The easiest way to do that (in my opinion) is by reading books.
People ask me, what’s the secret to reading so much, how do you do it?
How do you find the time?
Do you want to know the secret?
It’s very easy.
Always carry a book with you and read at every opportunity you have.
Shut the TV off, sit down, and open up a book and read.
There’s no secret, you just do it.
Block time, even if for just 10-15 minutes (which usually ends up being much more).
Why am I telling you all this.
Because I read a lot.
No, I read A LOT.
I told you, I’m addicted to books.
With that said, I wrote up the 12 best strength training books I’ve read to date.
This was an extremely difficult task, to narrow down the countless books I’ve read on this topic.
I’m sure there are probably others that deserve to be on this list.
I know that.
Some I haven’t read yet and others that I could have easily been on this list.
But, I had to come up with my list of the best 12 – so this is it.
These books are in no particular order.
Also realize that these are not mainstream fitness books, but books for the serious fitness enthusiast, coach, trainer, athlete, clinician, scientist or rehab professional.
These are strength training and human performance books.
They represent the science and application of getting stronger and moving better, just to be clear on what the list represents.
If you read even just one of these, you’ll have a rock solid understanding on the importance of strength and human potential.
This was very difficult, but here’s my list.
SUPERTRAINING by Yuri Verkhoshansky and Mel Siff
Is Supertraining all it’s hyped up to be?
I believe it is, but this book is NOT for everyone and truth be told, it’s a hard book to read.
I’ve been “reading” this book for years now.
You have to take it in “bite-sized-chunks.” That’s the key to this book, in my opinion.
While it is certainly not the most “user-friendly” book to read, the book represents an incredible knowledge breadth and depth on strength and performance training.
It’s been called one of the greatest books on the topic of strength ever written and I do agree.
Dr. Verkhonshansky and Dr. Siff have written a masterpiece that could be used as a continuous reference for the serious strength enthusiast or coach.
If you are a science nerd, as I am, you’ll likely enjoy the deep science presented in the book.
As massive as the book it, it’s actually broken up into nice readable segments.
Without question, this is definitely the most comprehensive book on this list, but it’s more theory and science than practical application, at least compared to other books on the list.
The research is overwhelming and the depth in all areas of strength (speed strength, strength speed, maximal strength, explosive strength, hypertrophy) is absolutely mind-blowing.
If you read this and understand it, you’ll have an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms of strength, performance, and even hypertrophy training.
I have to be honest though, if I didn’t have the strong science background, I probably would have been completely lost – and at times I was anyway because it goes so deep.
Do not expect to read the book quickly. This is a book you sit and read in small parts over a long time (as I still do to this day).
Take your time with it, digest the material, and refer back to it.
That’s exactly what I do.
This is the “deepest dive” in strength training you man ever read.
It’s a brilliant book for those that truly want a total understanding and appreciation of real strength, but it is very technical.
EASY STRENGTH by Dan John and Pavel
I love this book. So many great insights, programming approaches and important concepts about getting stronger and maximizing hypertrophy.
A very practical book, whereas Supertaining is very scientific, this is more the practical application.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s science there, too. But it’s a very practical guide to strength training.
Talk about valuable “nuggets” of information – this book is loaded with them.
You’ll get endless programming ideas with a solid rationale.
This book contains the infamous Easy Strength program and then other simple, effective program ideas like the Justa singles routine.
I love the format as Pavel and Dan present the concepts with each of their own perspectives. I read through this one fairly quick because it was so engaging. And, I refer back to it very often.
There are also many great pearls from other top strength coaches and athletes, as well.
As with most books on this list, it’s one you may have to read a few times to get the most out of it.
With that said, you’ll still be able to take away valuable insight you can use immediately.
An awesome read and I highly recommend it.
STARTING STRENGTH by Mark Rippetoe
Classic and essential.
If you train with a barbell, my feeling is you MUST get this book.
I say this because it’s the most important manual for proper barbell technique I’ve seen.
This is the book I wish I’d had when I was a kid just starting out in training because it would have radically changed my entire training approach.
Guys, this book is the essential manual for barbell training and an extremely valuable and practical guide that will help you train better.
If there’s a downside to the book it’s that it is packed with technical information about the major barbell lifts, but it’s all great information.
It’s a big book, so it will take you some time to read and comprehend all the material.
The chapter on squatting is worth the price of the book alone – it’s outstanding.
This book was an easy decision to add to the list and knowing what I know today, I wouldn’t train without reading it.
I should also mention, that all the books by “Rip” are oustanding, as well.
Any one of his books could have been made the list and I would recommend them all, but Starting Strength is where it all starts.
An incredible read and high value content.
OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING, 3rd Edition by Greg Everett
For Olympic Weightlifting, this book is essential for proper technique, progressions, and key learnings.
It’s another detailed and comprehensive book and the definitive textbook for Olympic lifting.
If you’re a “technician” and want to learn all the details and progressions, this is the book to get.
It progresses and focuses much deeper into the Olympic lifts than Starting Strength.
If you want to get started or even advance your Olympic lifting techniques, this book is a must have and the one I recommend.
Actually, I’d recommend getting the DVD to accompany the book, as well.
It’s over 400 pages, so expect to take some time reading through this one, like the ones I’ve already mentioned.
For a much lighter read and a more concise book on the Olympic lifts, check out the much shorter, Olympic Lifting for Sports by the same author.
The shorter version is still excellent with the proper drills and progressions and may be a better option when getting started. I think it’s a great companion book to the big version.
SIMPLE & SINISTER by Pavel
In the previous version of this list, I had Pavel’s “Enter The Kettlebell” listed here.
However, I think that Simple & Sinister represents Pavel’s most current training principles and techniques as they pertain to the hardstyle kettebell swing and Turkish get-up.
Both of these kettlebell exercises are of the highest value for all lifters, athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
This book is simply brilliant in it’s simplicity.
It’s an important book to fully understand the value of kettlebells for any athlete, coach or enthusiast to improve strength and performance.
This book represents some of Pavel’s “best work” in a simplified approach and methodology.
For anyone new to kettlebells, this has become my top recommended resource to understand the benefits of hardstyle kettlebell training.
By comparison to many other books listed here, this is a “light read” – but of the highest value.
If you new to kettlebells, this is the book I’d recommend. And if you already have a strong understanding of the tool, this is essential to help you master the fundamentals.
SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES OF STRENGTH by Dr. Mike Israetel, James Hoffman & Chad Wesley-Smith
This book is only available through JTSStrength.com and is now available as an ebook and print edition.
The book is amazing and I almost classify this as a “modern-day” Supertraining, but a bit more streamlined and practical.
The principles that are outlined in the book are essential for program design and intelligent progression.
While the book is geared for the powerlifter, the principles and philosophy of the book can be extrapolated to any area of strength training.
Dr. Mike did an outstanding job in simplifying the science, but the book is definitely geared for the intelligent lifter.
SUPPLE LEOPARD by Kelly Starrett with Glen Cordoza
This one may be a surprise, as it’s really not positioned as a strength training book.
However, it is a tremendous resource about optimizing human movement and preventing injury that is critically relevant to the strength and performance athlete.
It deserves to be on this list because it’s a dynamic guide to the human body and will help us improve performance, whether in strength training or anything else.
A lot of the book is mobility, but there’s a lot of technique and movement principles, all of which relate to optimal performance.
This is an excellent book and covers rationale, technique, progressions, and fixes.
This book covers extremely valuable material and revolutionary concepts.
I think that the chapters on The Laws of Torque and Midline Stabilization are easily worth the price of the book because the principles can radically transform your training approach.
The techniques will really help people to get stronger and improve their training performance by learning how to optimize positioning, minimize risk for injury, and restore potential limitations.
An outstanding book for every strength athlete and coach and one that can be constantly referred back to for fixes and technique refinement.
A “game changer” for the strength athlete and an innovative, practical resource.
It’s meant to be read and put into practice.
THE PURPOSEFUL PRIMITIVE by Marty Gallagher
This is an interesting book and different from many of the others.
First, Mary Gallagher is a genius.
This massive book checks in at almost 500 pages and covers a wide array of topics.
The 1st part of the book (Iron Masters) is outstanding.
Learning about legends in strength like Paul Anderson, Ed Coan, and Kirk Karwoski, among others is incredible reading with great stories and backgrounds on some of the best strength athletes in the world.
This is great insight and entreating reading.
Learning about these athletes is amazing.
The book also covers the methods, mindset, nutrition, and an assortment of other topics, including “cardio.”
The practical application of the material is also excellent and you’ll learn a lot about the world of strength and conditioning.
It’s a great addition to the strength library for the serious strength enthusiast.
A comprehensive manual with a lot of takeaways – I’m due for a ‘re-read’ myself.
Excellent book, well written, and high value content covering just about everything.
THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF STRENGTH TRAINING by Vladimir Zatoriorsky and William Kraemer
No question in my mind that this book belongs on the list.
Here’s an incredibly useful book for those who have serious interest in strength training, but it’s also more “digestible” for the layperson.
This is the textbook in strength covering many great topics.
While it is very “scientific” and reads more like a textbook than a book, it’s definitely much easier to understand and comprehend than something like Supertraining by Verkhoshansky.
Again, this is a more streamlined version of Supertraining.
This book offers excellent details, as well as many practical applications and understandings relevant to strength training.
It is well organized and if there is a book to really understand the “science” of strength, this is it.
It’s an essential resource to have in your library to understand optimal programming approaches, training in special populations, and the basic principles and concepts of strength.
Personally, I refer back this very often.
If you’d like to better understand the various aspects of strength training in it’s full scope in an easy to read reference book, I’d recommend this one, for sure.
Essential reading for coaches, trainers, and serious fitness enthusiasts.
INTERVENTION by Dan John
If there is work in the body of literature that has had a major impact on me, certainly the work of Dan John would at the top of the list.
I’ve read every one of Dan’s books – cover to cover – and they are all outstanding pieces of work that are complementary to each other. All of Dan’s work is of the highest and are important contributions to literature in strength and performance training.
I recommend Intervention as the introduction to the “systems” of Dan John and it will change your approach to coaching and performance.
There’s my list of the 12 best strength training books ever written.
I have to tell you again, this was REALLY hard to put together because I have read so many great books on strength training.
It was hard to drill things down to just 12 books.
And, there are some really great books on strength training that I haven’t even read yet, so maybe the list will shift a little as I discover others, who knows.
Now, you may have read the list and thought to yourself, “well what about this book or that book?”
Well, if you come up with a list of just 12 books on a topic, you have to remember that not every great book will make that list, you know what I mean?
I don’t want to discredit any other great strength training book that is not listed here.
For example, I can tell you that there are other excellent books written Pavel that are “game changers,” as well.
I picked the ones that I thought were his very best.
Could you make an argument that some of his other work should be included?
Absolutely, you can.
I could have included other books by Mark Rippetoe and Dan John that are “off the charts” great, as well.
But, I had to keep the list down to the best 12.
I could have made this a MASSIVE list with all the outstanding strength books I’ve read.
And, truth be told, I initially had the list at 10, but I simply couldn’t leave 2 books off, so I ended up with 12.
Again, this was very hard.
Anyway, I do hope this list serves you well in a couple of ways.
First, I hope that you are inspired to pick one of the books above that you haven’t read, get it, and take action with it.
Second, I hope that you save this list as your “required reading list” in the area of strength and performance.
These books are all excellent and have my highest recommendations.
Learn and take action with them, one at a time.
And, finally, I hope that if you’ve read a few of these, maybe I can challenge you to go back and “re-read” and re-learn something new to implement.
All of these books are great if you don’t let them sit on the shelf occupying space.
Instead, consistently refer back to them and put them into practice.
Better understand movement, mobility, and strength.
Always seek to be better in these areas and come closer to your full physical potential, whether you’re beginner or advanced.
We can all find new ways to be better tomorrow than we are today.
These books will help you do that.
And, remember what I said in the beginning of this article.
Reading is easy.
Carry a book with you at all times and read at every opportunity you can. Read, learn and apply.
I hope you got value from this post.
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