The Best Fitness Books – Read These for a Complete Training Knowledge

By on September 27, 2019

One of the requests I get more often than any others in the comments section of YouTube, is to share some the best fitness books I’ve read. And so… that’s what I’m going to do now!

Read them and you’ll probably have a better understanding of health and fitness than 99% of people

While I do a lot of my research online, I also go through a lot of books. Books still provide a more in-depth source of information on a single topic, and can also be very inspiring and motiviational. Here are some of the best fitness books that I’ve ever read. Between them, I think they provide a pretty comprehensive overview of fitness and health in general. Read them, and you’ll probably have a better understanding of health and fitness than 99% of people.

Best fitness books

The Best Fitness Books

The Fitness Instructor’s Handbook: A Complete Guide to Health and Fitness by Morc Coulson

This book is aimed at fitness instructors completing a level 3 diploma. The book is Reps certified, meaning that it contains the entire curriculum needed to become a trainer at most gyms in the UK. Even if you’re not in the UK, or interested in becoming a trainer, this can serve as a comprehensive introduction to fitness, nutrition, working out, and basic anatomy.

Some of the information in here is out-dated at this point, and a lot of it is a little basic. But if you want to make sure you understand the fundamentals, then I recommend this as a great place to start. Many of the best fitness books out there will benefit from having this basic understanding first.

The New Encyclopaedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger

One of my first books on training, and one of the best and most iconic fitness books of all time. This is Arnie’s gigantic introduction to bodybuilding, which can help pretty much any newcomer to the gym to build massive size. Of course, many of the strategies included in here are now labelled as broscience by some, but the truth is that they work, and particularly if your primary goal is mass. This is the training method used by the golden era bodybuilders, and it remains a fun and effective way to workout that is relatively safe for beginners thanks to the focus on single joint movements, trained at a relatively low weight. I’ve spoken at length about the value of this form of training even in a “functional” routine, and it certainly deserves a place in your collection.

Best bodybuilding books

The best stuff? The introduction to Joe Weider’s Intensity Principles, which remain among THE best ways to gain mass and experience that feeling of pump that Arnie… raves about. This is also one of the best ways to develop your mind muscle connection, just BTW.

The World’s Fittest Book by Ross Edgely

Ross Edgley is like the far more awesome version of what I aspire to be. He’s a fitness author turned adventurer who after writing this book went on to swim around the UK. He also has a completely unique and scattershot approach to training, which he demonstrates in this book covering topics ranging from work capacity to Wim Hof. It’s a great. broad introduction that’s beautifully presented and highly motivating. And I am a huge advocate of trying new and exciting things in your training. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to expand their fitness horizons. And his arms are ridiculously huge. Damn him.

World's fittest book best fitness books

The best stuff is the stuff that discusses pushing past your limits, explaining how you just need to ignore your body’s protestations that you need to stop. He also shares some interesting stories about people who seemingly defy expectations regarding aging and slowing down. In other words, it’s highly motivating, and especially where it explores the interplay between health and psychology. In terms of variety, presentation, and sheer interest, this is definitely one of the best fitness books.

Bruce Lee The Art of Expressing the Human Body by Bruce Lee

This book is ostensibly a guide to Bruce Lee’s fitness regime, as described by his own notes and the conclusions drawn by editor John Little. While I think the occasional liberty may be taken, where premature conclusions about Bruce’s training are drawn from little evidence, there is also undoubtedly a LOT of great stuff to be found.

Bruce Lee fitness book

What this really highlights is just how experimental Bruce was with his training, and the way he incorporated concepts from bodybuilding, old-time strongman training, and martial arts into his routine. This book is what first introduced me to the notion of overcoming isometrics, and inspired my most successful video on this channel (now with 2.7 million views). Like The World’s Fittest Book, this one provides lots of topics for further research to help you take your fitness further.

Peak: The New Science of Athletic Performance That is Revolutionizing Sports by Dr Marc Bubs

Okay, now we’re getting a little advanced! Overly-long subtitle aside, this book is one of the best “hidden gems” when it comes to fitness books. The book is aimed at athletes and athlete’s coaches, and combines information from numerous different fields (sports psychology, nutrition, sleep science) to help provide an edge. The content is extremely comprehensive and includes a lot of cutting edge stuff you might not otherwise have known. The book does sacrifice a little depth for breadth (I’m pretty sure the author Dr Marc Bubbs also misunderstood Henneman’s size principle…), and it’s also a little dense with some unnecessary repetition. It’s another one to read after you have mastered the basics. But it’s worth digging through; it’s a veritable goldmine and certainly one of the best fitness books.

Peak workout book

Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low

This is THE guide to callisthenics and body weight training – bar none. It goes extremely in depth and is absolutely massive. It will help you progress, avoid injury, and train in a way that’s smarter and anatomically sound. I will say though, that some background in fitness will help you out here as it’s not the most welcoming for beginners. And there are very few pictures. And it’s massive. Which is all awesome, but a little intimidating!

Studying to be a personal trainer, you come across a lot of advice and information that seems a bit unnecessary. Do you really need to start so light? Wouldn’t clients rather see results fast? Likewise, do you really need to think that much about grip? Or avoiding over training? Does the core need its own training?

Learning calisthenics properly helps you to understand ALL of this and why it’s so important. These moves are complex and challenging and they force you to utilize all the concepts and understanding you have about fitness. I actually think that in learning about planche alone, you can gain a far greater appreciation of your body and strength as a whole. This book will help you with that and it’s one of the best fitness books whether you’re interested in calisthenics or not!

And keep checking back guys: I’ll be adding to this list with new suggestions over time!

Also, be sure to check out my own ebook Super Functional Fitness that is coming very soon. You can learn more and perhaps pre-order here.

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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