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Best Strength Training Books

Updated on May 25, 2014

The Best Strength Training Books

Whether you're an athlete or a strength coach, being well-educated on the topic of strength training is important.  While different aspects of the process should be emphasized depending on your role, a wide breadth of knowledge is still recommended.

These strength training books will help expand your understanding of the science behind many programs or just introduce you to the programs themselves.  Some are more advanced and contain moderately complex biomechanics, while others are just straight forward program books designed to increase mass, strength, or both.


Starting Strength

This book centers primarily on the Starting Strength program. The idea is to become exceptionally proficient at basic barbell exercises in order to gain mass and strength. Rippetoe's program has become the most popular commercial strength training program on the market. It is highly effective and will teach you how to do the basic lifts with proper form.

I suggest checking this book out even if you think you know everything there is to know about strength training. If you haven't read it, then you aren't as well-educated as you thought. It contains a lot of slight nuances that people tend to overlook when performing basic lifts like the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Rating: 9/10

Poliquin Principles

Charloes Poliquin is one of the most respected strength training coaches. His best work, by far, is the Poliquin Principles. It covers a vast amount of information relevant to strength training. He also covers a lot of topics that people may have questions about, but find hard to get concrete information on. Interesting topics in the book include emphasis on tempo, the Kaizen principle, and the science of recovery.

While most of the book centers around exercises for specific bodyparts and the like, I feel that the most interesting and unique information is contained in the first half. It's pretty easy to learn what exercises you need to do to build up your shoulders. His information on the more theory-based topics is definitely a reason to buy the book.

Rating: 8.5/10


Tudor Bompa was essentially the guy that created the idea of periodization.  His book, aptly titled Periodization is the authority book on the subject.  It covers a vast array of information on the topic, most of which is hard to find otherwise.  It is a somewhat difficult book to read, but the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from reading it makes it an important read for anyone, but specifically athletic coaches.

Athletes are better served checking out his Periodization for Sports book as opposed to the more in-depth, science-based Periodization.

Rating: 9.5/10

Science and Practice of Strength Training

Zatsiorsky's Science and Practice of Strength Training is, in my opinion, one of the most informative and useful books on the topic. Almost all of his information comes from referenced studies, which he uses to build a credible scientific base. While the book might contain a little bit too much science for the average athlete, this is a must-have for all real strength coaches.

While the book doesn't have the most practical application in strength training, all of the information can be applied (and has been) to program creation and exercise selection. This is a somewhat difficult read, and you'll probably need at least some background in physics or math to really understand what's going on, but if you're looking to get your CSCS or just want to learn about the science behind strength training, then check it out.

Rating: 9.5/10


Jim Wendler is one of the most well-respected powerlifters in the US. His 5/3/1 program is incredibly useful for making steady gains through the use of progressive overload. It's pretty easy to find the program itself online, but the 5/3/1 manual described here goes much more in depth than anything you'll find online.

This book is one of the more practical ones on this list. It's up there with starting strength, although it's a bit more complex and difficult to understand than the former. If you're an intermediate-level athlete looking to gain mass, then I suggest checking out this book. It's also recommended if you're a strength coach looking to add this method to your programs.

Rating: 8/10

Ultimate MMA Conditioning

Most of the books contained here are just general strength training books. If you've read my hubs, you probably know that I'm really into mixed martial arts, especially the conditioning aspect. Because of this, I suggest checking out Joel Jamieson's Ultimate MMA Conditioning. It's not available on Amazon like the other books are, so you'll have to visit his site below.

Overall, the book gives a lot of useful insight into the ideas of force production and the science behind conditioning. The main gripe I often hear with the book is that the program section is a bit lacking and confusing.

Rating: 8/10

Strength Training Anatomy

This is one of the most useful reference books for strength training, period. Strength training anatomy contains illustrations of various exercises and the muscles used when performing them. There isn't much else to the book. It does have some notes next to each exercise with tips and instructions on how to perform them.

This book comes highly recommended as an incredibly useful reference material. If you already know a good amount about strength training, then you might not learn that much from it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have it.  It has sold over a million copies for a reason - because it's that good.

Rating: 10/10


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    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 6 years ago from United States

      Good research here. I'm definitely going to look into these books. Especially Starting Strength.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Interesting hub. I would recommend Sports Training Principles by Frank Dick as a must read regarding strength training and for anyone wishing to improve their performance.

    • profile image

      khmohsin 6 years ago

      great hub on strength training, I am sure these books will be helpful for increasing knowledge and it will expand our understanding, experience and and help us in daily life discussions