Best Strength Training Books – 17 Essential Reads for Gym Goers

The internet is an amazing resource for gaining knowledge and information. But is does have its downfall:

Information online is often broken down into single pages or topics, which makes learning a large amount of information on a single subject rather time-consuming.

If you ever want a deep-dive into a topic, reading a book by experts in the field is still the way to go. That's why I have created my ultimate list of the best strength training books available.

They say knowledge is power. Well, in this case its strength and power!

best strength training books

Below is a series of what I feel are essential books for different aspects of strength training. 

I have broken them down into categories for easy navigation but many books overlap and could have gone into multiple categories.

In all honesty, you will learn something from any book on this list, no matter what type of training you are involved with.

Best Weight Lifting Books for Beginners

Startin​g Strength – Mark Rippetoe

An absolute classic! I don't think any strength training book list would dare to miss this one.

Starting strength is the ultimate guide to simple barbell lifting techniques and training methods.

Easy Strength - Dan John & Pavel

An interesting dialogue format between that offers perspectives from two legends in the industry. Easy strength offers a huge amount of very practical information.

Also contains programs and routines that you can implement right away.

Practical Programming for Strength Training - Mark Rippetoe & Andy Baker

One of the most comprehensive books on the theory and application of designing a strength training program.

This will take you from merely "working out" to actually training. Couple this with Starting Strength and you'll have a great foundation of knowledge.

Best Powerlifting Books

Powerlifting - Dan Austin & Bryan Mann

The title of this one says it all; it takes a much more specific look at programming and preparing yourself for powerlifting competition.

Written by a multiple powerlifting champion, this book is great for learning how to train effectively with the 3 "power lifts" in mind.

Westside Barbell Book of Methods - Louie Simmons

Louie Simmons and his Westside Barbell brand is a huge name in powerlifting. His methods are somewhat divisive but they have certainly made an impact on the powerlifting world.

The writing is pretty sporadic but there is a lot of information to give you some different views and methods of training.

Best Bodybuilding Books

New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold's huge book has gained a reputation for being the "bible" of bodybuilding.

There is an absolute ton of detailed information inside this book.

While I think some of the methods are a bit "bro-sciencey" and the routines are not the best for your average lifter, it is definitely worth reading.

Strength Training Anatomy - Frederic Delavier

This is a great visual guide for learning how the body works while applying it to strength training principles.

The detailed illustrations are supremely detailed and show you exactly how everything is working during each exercise.

Best Olympic Weightlifting Books

Olympic Weightlifting - Gregg Everett

This book is the ultimate resource for learning the Olympic lifts and their progressions. Gregg rreally takes a deep-dive into details of the snatch and clean & jerk.

If you coach or practice Olympic lifting, this will be a book you constantly refer back to.

The Weightlifting Encyclopedia - Arthur Drechsler

Written by somebody who has been a high level coach, athlete and judge, this book brings a wealth of information to the table.

It features a lot of detail and Drechsler's enthusiasm for the sport is clear as he projects years of wisdom on to the reader.

Best Books for Strength Coaches and Advanced Lifters

Scientific principles of strength – Dr. Mike Israetel, James Hoffman and Chad Wesley-Smith

As the title suggests, this book provides an in-depth look at the science and principles behind programming for short and long-term strength gain.

Definitely not for the beginner lifter but coaches and individuals who are looking to learn about proper program design will benefit from this one.

Scientific principles of strength training cover

The Science and Practice of Strength Training – Vladimir Zatoriorsky and William Kraemer

I would deem this to be almost essential reading for anybody involved with strength training.

Divided into 3 parts, the book covers a wide variety of practical information as it relates to strength training.

There is a lot of scientific information and it is rather textbook-like but is still readable and digestible for anybody.

Essentials of Strength and Conditioning - Gregory Haff and Travis Triplett

This book is recommended as the number 1 resource for the Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam.

It is probably the most comprehensive overall text for exploring the principles and theories of strength training and nutrition. 

Best Movement and Mobility Books

Becoming a Supple Leopard - Dr. Kelly Starrett

This is a truly awesome book for learning how to optimize human movement as it relates performance and strength training.

Filled with images and in-depth guides, you will learn how to get your body into the best positions to reduce injury and improve performance.

Movement - Gray Cook

Gray's book outlines the importance of assessing and fixing dysfunctional movement patterns to improve performance and reduce injury occurrence.

The book is a textbook style book and is certainly not light reading. However, it provides a great deal of important information for serious lifters, athletes and coaches.

Best Calisthenics and Bodyweight Training Books

Never Gymless - Ross Enamait

This is a 230 page book that covers a wide range of exercises and their progressions for a number of different training goals.

The book also features information on programming and periodization for bodyweight exercises as well as sample routines.

Note: purchase this from Ross's website (rosstraining.com); it's way cheaper than Amazon!

never gymless cover image

Overcoming Gravity - Steven Low

This book is for those who wish to develop a deeper understanding of programming and periodizing calisthenics/bodyweight exercises.

It covers everything from exercise technique, progressions, injury awareness and building workout programs.

Other Great Books for Strength Enthusiasts and Lifters

This section is for books that I love but don't necessarily fit into the categories above. However, I think lifters will get a lot out of reading them. I imagine this section will be added to and updated the most over time.

Never Let Go: A philosophy of lifting, living and learning - Dan John

I actually suggest reading all of Dan John's books but I remember really enjoying this when I first read it.

Chapter by chapter, and in an entertaining writing style, Dan imparts endless wisdom on strength training, fitness and life in general.

Anybody reading this list should read this book!

For now, that concludes my list. I know there are plenty of others great books that could have gone into the list.

However, if you just read the books listed here to start with, you will gain more knowledge than you know what to do with.

Let me know what you think of my list in the comments and suggest some of your own for me to read myself.

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Amit GUPTA - August 10, 2019

Would you suggest one good book for persons involved in strength training. Thanks for the first reply

    Barbell Pursuits - August 12, 2019

    Hi Amit, I’d recommend Startin​g Strength by Mark Rippetoe. He also has a lot of youtube videos on different lifts.

Amit GUPTA - July 14, 2019

What you think of body by science

    Barbell Pursuits - August 2, 2019

    In the title they claim “fitness in 12 minutes a week”. I think minimum time should be 2-3 hours per week for good fitness.


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