The most recommended bodybuilding books

Who picked these books? Meet our 3 experts.

3 authors created a book list connected to bodybuilding, and here are their favorite bodybuilding books.
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Book cover of Men's Health The Book of Muscle: The World's Most Authoritative Guide to Building Your Body

Greg Siofer Author Of Getting Out: My Story Plus The Exercises And Experience I Learned That Can Help You Get Out From The Wheelchair

From my list on physiotherapy for your recovery.

Why am I passionate about this?

Losing something is exceedingly difficult to accept, however, in sharing my story I hope it gives the personal motivation to recover the things that have been taken away. There is light in a tunnel you just must find it, my story I hope gives you that light.

Greg's book list on physiotherapy for your recovery

Greg Siofer Why did Greg love this book?

If you've never bought a workout book, this should be your first. And if you've tried all the others, this is the one that finally delivers everything you have ever wanted to know but couldn't find in one place. My book was the inspiration from The Book Of Muscle. This book I really enjoyed with the way everything was presented to me, and I wanted to present my information in a similar way.

By Ian King, Lou Schuler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Men's Health The Book of Muscle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A guide for men searching for the perfect body contains photographs celebrating the beauty of the human body, along with easy-to-understand terminology and workout programs geared toward all levels of discipline.


Book cover of Keys to the Inner Universe

Craig Cecil Author Of Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow: Evolutionary Strategies for Building Maximum Muscle

From my list on training for bodybuilding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been involved in weight training for over three decades, from a competitor (setting state and national powerlifting records), to coach (for amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters), to author of four best-selling fitness books. All of my training partners, students, and readers have told me the same thing—my background in weight training knowledge, history, and techniques have enabled me to provide them with the expertise, motivation, and longevity to improve both their physical and mental lives.

Craig's book list on training for bodybuilding

Craig Cecil Why did Craig love this book?

Early in my bodybuilding career, a fellow gym member introduced me to this book. I was astounded by the sheer volume and variety of exercises and variations possible within those pages. Over 1,000 exercises are illustrated and described, so if you ever think you will get “bored” by training with weights, just flip open this book. There truly is a universe of options available. Oh, and Bill Pearl, 5-time Mr. Universe is still going strong lifting weights in his 90s. Variety is the key to longevity.

By Bill Pearl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Keys to the Inner Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bill Pearl's Keys to the INNER Universe is the most complete and comprehensive manual ever published on bodybuilding and weight training.

Keys to the INNER Universe covers every major weight training topic from nutrition to mapping out various training programs. There are over 1200 fully illustrated exercises with proper names and a “degree of difficulty” given for each exercise shown in this encyclopedia. You can choose from hundreds of different exercises for each muscle group and select those exercises that are best suited for your present physical needs.

Pearl reveals ALL THE SECRETS used that enabled him to win the…


Book cover of The Complete Keys to Progress

Craig Cecil Author Of Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow: Evolutionary Strategies for Building Maximum Muscle

From my list on training for bodybuilding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been involved in weight training for over three decades, from a competitor (setting state and national powerlifting records), to coach (for amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters), to author of four best-selling fitness books. All of my training partners, students, and readers have told me the same thing—my background in weight training knowledge, history, and techniques have enabled me to provide them with the expertise, motivation, and longevity to improve both their physical and mental lives.

Craig's book list on training for bodybuilding

Craig Cecil Why did Craig love this book?

Never before or since, has a bodybuilding book been written in the style and flair of John McCallum. Instead of simply describing exercises and programs, John presents bodybuilding lessons in an ongoing series of stories involving Marvin, Ollie, and a cast of others. After reading this book, you’ll never look at a bottle of milk or a cheese sandwich the same again.

By John McCallum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Keys to Progress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who knows how many teenagers in the 1960s bought Strength & Health magazine primarily to inhale John McCallum's articles - he taught us to squat, how to achieve success through hard work, and how to care for our health as we built size and strength, and the whole time, he entertained us with his stories filled with such characters as the legendary Maurice Jones, the mythical Marvin, and the mountainous Doug Hepburn. Here they are: the full collection of the original John McCallum articles, classic gems. If you were to only buy one book - ever - on how to…


Book cover of Brother Iron, Sister Steel: A Bodybuilder's Book

Craig Cecil Author Of Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow: Evolutionary Strategies for Building Maximum Muscle

From my list on training for bodybuilding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been involved in weight training for over three decades, from a competitor (setting state and national powerlifting records), to coach (for amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters), to author of four best-selling fitness books. All of my training partners, students, and readers have told me the same thing—my background in weight training knowledge, history, and techniques have enabled me to provide them with the expertise, motivation, and longevity to improve both their physical and mental lives.

Craig's book list on training for bodybuilding

Craig Cecil Why did Craig love this book?

If there was ever a bodybuilder’s bodybuilder, it was Dave Draper, the Blond Bomber. Dave was able to combine his blond-haired, good-looking California style of living and training, with a successful career in professional bodybuilding in the 1960s and 1970s (Mr. American, Mr. Universe, Mr. World), with a passion and eloquence in writing that was only matched by John McCallum. So, do yourself a favor, read Dave’s book and soak in the true essence of bodybuilding and his training wisdom.

By Dave Draper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brother Iron, Sister Steel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brother Iron, Sister Steel is a private journey into bodybuilding as only Dave Draper, former Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. World, can tell it. Training techniques, exercise descriptions and nutritional strategies form the book's foundation, but what glues this book together are Dave's personal experiences and insights, humor and candidness, all of which speak to the heart and soul. The delight in the iron work, the play of the steel and the redefined motivation will have you striving forward to reach your fitness and training goals.Further your iron journey—or take your first steps—as you find yourself caught up in…


Book cover of Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement

Jim Elledge Author Of An Angel in Sodom: Henry Gerber and the Birth of the Gay Rights Movement

From my list on gay history before Stonewall.

Why am I passionate about this?

In post-Roe America, gay people face the very real possibility of our rights being stripped from us, underscoring the importance of this adage: “Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.” That's why years ago, when I realize that many gay men were ignorant about gay history before Stonewall, I began editing anthologies of gay writings from the past. That led me to writing biographies and histories in which I explore gay men’s experiences, hoping my work shines a light on our forgotten past.

Jim's book list on gay history before Stonewall

Jim Elledge Why did Jim love this book?

Before reading Buying Gay, I couldn’t imagine how physique photography—nude and semi-nude pictures of buff models that appeared in bodybuilding magazines and were available by mail-order—qualified for a place in gay history. In discussions of gay libido, of course, but history? Naw! Johnson showed me the light, revealing how important desire coupled with American capitalism was in the development of gay identity and community. Through the efforts (and talent and chutzpah) of men like photographer Bob Mizer and publisher H. Lynn Womack, gays won the right to express desire more openly than ever before after decades of battles against obscenity laws. In short, Johnson enabled me to see more deeply into the private lives of some of the men I’ve written about.

By David K. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buying Gay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1951, a new type of publication appeared on newsstands-the physique magazine produced by and for gay men. For many men growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, these magazines and their images and illustrations of nearly naked men, as well as articles, letters from readers, and advertisements, served as an initiation into gay culture. The publishers behind them were part of a wider world of "physique entrepreneurs": men as well as women who ran photography studios, mail-order catalogs, pen-pal services, book clubs, and niche advertising for gay audiences. Such businesses have often been seen as peripheral to the gay…


Book cover of The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding

Craig Cecil Author Of Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow: Evolutionary Strategies for Building Maximum Muscle

From my list on training for bodybuilding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been involved in weight training for over three decades, from a competitor (setting state and national powerlifting records), to coach (for amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters), to author of four best-selling fitness books. All of my training partners, students, and readers have told me the same thing—my background in weight training knowledge, history, and techniques have enabled me to provide them with the expertise, motivation, and longevity to improve both their physical and mental lives.

Craig's book list on training for bodybuilding

Craig Cecil Why did Craig love this book?

This is the book I started with, and the one almost all aspiring bodybuilders get as well. And for good reason. It contains everything you need to get started, from exercise explanations to workout programs, nutrition, dealing with injuries, posing, and competition preparation. Of course, the author seems to be a reliable source of this information ;-) Even after three decades of bodybuilding training, I still reach for this book for inspiration and information.

By Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Dobbins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From elite bodybuilding competitors to gymnasts, from golfers to fitness gurus, anyone who works out with weights must own this book - a book that only Arnold Schwarzenegger could write, a book that has earned its reputation as "the bible of bodybuilding."

Inside, Arnold covers the very latest advances in both weight training and bodybuilding competition, with new sections on diet and nutrition, sports psychology, the treatment and prevention of injuries, and methods of training, each illustrated with detailed photos of some of bodybuilding's newest stars.

Covering every level of expertise and experience, with his unique perspective as a seven-time…


Book cover of The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football

Craig Cecil Author Of Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow: Evolutionary Strategies for Building Maximum Muscle

From my list on training for bodybuilding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been involved in weight training for over three decades, from a competitor (setting state and national powerlifting records), to coach (for amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters), to author of four best-selling fitness books. All of my training partners, students, and readers have told me the same thing—my background in weight training knowledge, history, and techniques have enabled me to provide them with the expertise, motivation, and longevity to improve both their physical and mental lives.

Craig's book list on training for bodybuilding

Craig Cecil Why did Craig love this book?

Why am I recommending a football strength training book for bodybuilding? Because every great bodybuilder is a good powerlifter at heart. Football training is about powerlifting movement, and there is no better source on this type of training than Bill Starr, the man who invented the modern strength training programs, used by all college and professional football teams, as well as professional strongmen and powerlifters. Starr learned these techniques from Tommy Kono, the most decorated weightlifter in American history, and he passed those lessons on to one of his students, Mark Rippetoe.

By Bill Starr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Strongest Shall Survive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The original classic strength training manual from the late 70's (third printing, revised first edition 1979)l. The purpose of the book is to help high school and college coaches set up functional strength programs with a minimum of equipment and time. It is also valuable to any athlete who trains on his own and needs direction. The manual was written by Bill Starr, a national Olympic weightlifting champion, who became one of the first professional strength coaches in the country when he trained the Baltimore Colts the year they won Super Bowl V. The 209-page reference contains over 200 photos…