The best strength training books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about strength training and why they recommend each book.

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Strength Rules, How to Get Stronger Than Almost Anyone--And the Proven Plan to Make It Real

By Danny Kavadlo,

Book cover of Strength Rules, How to Get Stronger Than Almost Anyone--And the Proven Plan to Make It Real

I believe deeply in the power of movement practice with strength training leading the way in foundational needs. Being a simplicity seeker, I am particularly drawn to the stripped-back nature of training with your own body weight (calisthenics) as a weight. I find this practice endlessly challenging and rewarding. I have long been a fan of the work of Danny Kavadlo (and his brother Al) who are two of the world’s leading authorities on calisthenics and were writing about its benefits years before it became as trendy as it is now. I’ve been fortunate enough to be coached by Danny several times whilst we holiday in New York and have written on my blog about some of our time and talks together.  

Danny is also a proponent of keeping things simple and likes to focus on what matters most. This book is something of a simplicity manifesto (to all things…


Who am I?

The origin story on my blog reflects some of my story best. After a period of reflection several years ago, I realised I was accumulating more in my life. More things that didn’t matter. More commitments I wasn’t truly passionate about keeping. More friction! So, I started to take some action. That action has meant: I have made good on long-term threats to write and for the last 10 years I have been writing at my blog and authored an expanding list of short books full of big ideas (all under the umbrella of simplifying life). I have accumulated less material possessions but enjoyed more (travel and holidays, events, life experiences).


I wrote...

Simplify - from Inside Out

By Carl Phillips,

Book cover of Simplify - from Inside Out

What is my book about?

Modern life can be hectic. Filled with noise. Filled with things screaming for our attention. Filled with complexity. Filled with tasks that need to be done. Filled with stress. However, we can walk another path. Life can be calmer. It can be less noisy. It can be less stressful. A powerful tool we can all learn to wield in our lives is simplicity. We can simplify our lives. To do so, we must first go inside. We must simplify from the inside out, to achieve a meaningful return.

That’s what this book is about. What follows is a series of essays that prod at some big topics and challenges we all face. Where I can, I have shared some potential solutions that can support us living a simpler life. All are offered from the personal perspective of someone that believes in the power of simplicity. Someone that believes this journey to simpler, starts from the inside out.

Practical Programming for Strength Training

By Mark Rippetoe, Andy Baker,

Book cover of Practical Programming for Strength Training

Practical programming is a very good introduction to programming and periodization methods that beginners and intermediates can easily implement to be effective in their own routines. Unlike some of the later recommended books, Practical Programming gives templates which the reader can use as their own program while explaining why they work which can eliminate some of the guesswork and confusion of trying to apply concepts to make their own routine. Only once it gets into the advanced section does it become more theoretical in nature and ask you to apply the concepts you learn to your own training. In conclusion, this book helps to bridge the gaps from using routines to making your own routines well. 


Who am I?

My philosophy as a coach, physical therapist, and author is based on the maxim: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” My books Overcoming Gravity, Overcoming Poor Posture, and Overcoming Tendonitis were written with this in mind. I find this phrase key in learning and growing as an athlete and in my own life outside of fitness and from those I’ve coached and taught too. Understanding and applying is a lifetime pursuit that keeps the brain active and stimulated.  


I wrote...

Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength

By Steven Low,

Book cover of Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength

What is my book about?

Commonly referred to by readers as an "exercise Bible", Overcoming Gravity is a comprehensive guide that provides a gold mine of information for gymnastics and bodyweight strength training within its large 8.5"x11" size and nearly 600 pages. The first two parts examine the physiology behind strength training to prepare the body for the rigors of bodyweight training and analyze the parts of a strength training routine and how they fit together to make progress. The next sections offer information on health and injury management and program implementation. Finally, exercise progressions are included to help you achieve your goals. 

If you prefer your health and fitness books to include scientific data, comprehensive sample programming, and effective recommendations, Overcoming Gravity is the ideal choice for your library.

Periodization Training for Sports

By Tudor O. Bompa, Carlo Buzzichelli,

Book cover of Periodization Training for Sports

Periodization training for sports is one of the best books in terms of understanding how everything comes together into a full plan (“cycle”). Like some of the other books, it also delves into the anatomy and physiology of strength training and tissue adaptations, but where this book shines is the focus on understanding the various manipulation of training variables to progress. It covers short term, medium, and long term which are usually weekly, about 1-2 months, and yearly plans respectively. 



Who am I?

My philosophy as a coach, physical therapist, and author is based on the maxim: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” My books Overcoming Gravity, Overcoming Poor Posture, and Overcoming Tendonitis were written with this in mind. I find this phrase key in learning and growing as an athlete and in my own life outside of fitness and from those I’ve coached and taught too. Understanding and applying is a lifetime pursuit that keeps the brain active and stimulated.  


I wrote...

Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength

By Steven Low,

Book cover of Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength

What is my book about?

Commonly referred to by readers as an "exercise Bible", Overcoming Gravity is a comprehensive guide that provides a gold mine of information for gymnastics and bodyweight strength training within its large 8.5"x11" size and nearly 600 pages. The first two parts examine the physiology behind strength training to prepare the body for the rigors of bodyweight training and analyze the parts of a strength training routine and how they fit together to make progress. The next sections offer information on health and injury management and program implementation. Finally, exercise progressions are included to help you achieve your goals. 

If you prefer your health and fitness books to include scientific data, comprehensive sample programming, and effective recommendations, Overcoming Gravity is the ideal choice for your library.

The Strongest Shall Survive

By Bill Starr,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow: Evolutionary Strategies for Building Maximum Muscle

By Craig Cecil,

Book cover of Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow: Evolutionary Strategies for Building Maximum Muscle

What is my book about?

There's more than one way to build muscle...Learn about all of the bodybuilding strategies from the past century. Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow takes you through the evolution of bodybuilding training, from early 20th century circus strongmen to the latest muscle-building techniques of today.

In this book, you’ll learn diverse training strategies, including: Volume Training, Peripheral Heart Action Training, High-Intensity Training, Periodization, The Bulgarian Method, Pre-Exhaustion Training, Heavy Duty, The Weider System, The Hardgainer Method, SuperSlow, Holistic Training, Power Factor Training, Positions of Flexion, and Static Contraction Training. Each training system is fully explained and includes sample workouts to get you started. Don't keep training the same way every time you workout!

Science and Practice of Strength Training

By Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, William J Kraemer, Andrew C. Fry

Book cover of Science and Practice of Strength Training

The Science and Practice of Strength Training is an intermediate to elite book aimed at understanding periodization concepts as how they best apply to specific tissues, adaptations, and populations. This deeper understanding will allow the reader to understand the reasons why they are implementing exercises, sets, repetitions, rest times, and so on into their routines and how that can play out with long-term progress. The specific populations mentioned are training for women, young adults, and seniors, so it's applicable to a broad range of people not just your regular athletes or recreational athletes wanting to know more. 


Who am I?

My philosophy as a coach, physical therapist, and author is based on the maxim: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” My books Overcoming Gravity, Overcoming Poor Posture, and Overcoming Tendonitis were written with this in mind. I find this phrase key in learning and growing as an athlete and in my own life outside of fitness and from those I’ve coached and taught too. Understanding and applying is a lifetime pursuit that keeps the brain active and stimulated.  


I wrote...

Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength

By Steven Low,

Book cover of Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength

What is my book about?

Commonly referred to by readers as an "exercise Bible", Overcoming Gravity is a comprehensive guide that provides a gold mine of information for gymnastics and bodyweight strength training within its large 8.5"x11" size and nearly 600 pages. The first two parts examine the physiology behind strength training to prepare the body for the rigors of bodyweight training and analyze the parts of a strength training routine and how they fit together to make progress. The next sections offer information on health and injury management and program implementation. Finally, exercise progressions are included to help you achieve your goals. 

If you prefer your health and fitness books to include scientific data, comprehensive sample programming, and effective recommendations, Overcoming Gravity is the ideal choice for your library.

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