Best Strength Training Books – It’s Time to Pump Some Iron

Cardio workouts shed body fat when paired with a healthy lifestyle.  What if we told you that strength training could do the same thing and more? 

The practice of strength training reach far and wide. 

From building lean muscle mass to increasing stability and coordination to more substantial bone density, strength training has proved its worthiness in the fitness industry for years. 

Not quite convinced?  That’s cool. 

Let’s crack into those scientific studies and take a peek.

Effects of Strength Training on Body Composition in Older Males

One of the best things about strength training is the ability to help our bodies as we age. 

The stronger we are, the less likely we will have falls and injuries.  This study from the Journal of Applied Physiology had males over 60 years old perform strength training exercises for 16 weeks. 

They used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (measures bond density), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and hydro densitometry (underwater weighing) to measure body composition before and after the program.  That was a whole lot of big words that are super fun. 

Isn’t science just the best?  

After 16 weeks of strength training, the men in the study had a substantial increase in both their upper and lower body strength. 

Their total fat-free mass or lean body mass increased by 2 kilograms (4.5 pounds). 

Finally, their total fat mass decreased by 2 kilograms (about 4.5 pounds).  The conclusion?  Strength training is the bomb diggity.  

Periodized Strength Training Study

Periodized strength training varies a training program by time intervals and volume to get results. 

This study focused on a group that performed periodized training and a group that didn’t. 

In the end, the group that did periodized training saw a more significant decrease in body fat percentage. 

They also saw a greater increase in lean body mass and motor performance than the non-periodized group.  Interesting, right?

Coordination for the Win 

As we get older, our coordination starts to suffer.  Building up our strength and utilizing our core muscles will improve our coordination and balance. 

This study looked at what effects coordination has on strength training.  Thirty-two people performed strength training for twelve weeks, and the results proved that coordination improved their ability to weight lift. 

As they got stronger throughout the program, they coordinated multiple muscle groups to improve their movement and stability when lifting weights.

Magnesium Supplements Can Help Strength Training

Ever thought that magnesium could possibly help you in your strength training progression? 

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition experimented with magnesium supplementation on twenty-six participants to determine if it would affect strength development. 

The researchers concluded that the group that took magnesium supplements for a seven-week week period while strength training saw a more significant increase in strength than the control group. 

Perhaps adding some magnesium supplements to your strength training might be like adding chocolate to milk.  It’s just the right thing to do. 

Best Strength Training Books

Now that we know that strength training is the bomb diggity, we need to lift some weights or use calisthenics to increase our lean muscle mass. 

Before we go crazy, we need to make sure we are doing our strength training exercises correctly. 

Proper form is everything, and when you are just starting, you don’t want to risk injuring yourself by lifting too much or having the wrong form. 

We will review the best strength training books for you to pick up and read to get those muscles working.  Let’s rock and roll.

1. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training

Mark this one down because it is the best strength training book out there.  Get it?  Pun intended because Mark Rippetoe is the author. 

Not only is it the best strength training book, but it’s also the best book for beginners.  Let’s break it down to find out why.

The book explains all of the primary barbell lifts in depth.  The squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and power clean/power snatch are all discussed at length to ensure that the reader understands each exercise thoroughly. 

Using physics, biomechanics, and functional anatomy to explain the correct form, Rippetoe guides you through with step-by-step instructions. 

The correct form makes all of these strength training exercises easier to execute. 

Now, are you starting to understand why this is the best strength training book for beginners?  Plus, we are just getting started.  We are twinning. 

You are getting started, and we are getting started.  See what we did there?

Mark Rippetoe – The Man Behind the Pages

Mark Rippetoe has worked in the fitness industry for over 40 years and owned Wichita Falls Athletic Club for 25 of those years.  He was a competitive powerlifter for ten years. 

In 1985, he was in the first group of people to get certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). 

A CSCS are specialists who are licensed to use scientific knowledge to train athletes to improve their performance.  This guy has skills!

The Starting Strength program that Mark began is for a novice strength trainer to develop their strength and provide for future training. 

This is the reason why this book is the best for beginners.  It breaks down everything you need to know as a beginner to succeed with your fitness journey. 

Reviews of this book stated that this program promotes faster strength gains during the initial training periods.  Get fit fast, you say?  Where do we sign up?

What else can I learn from this Strength Training book?

We are so glad that you asked us that.  This book is a gold mine of information about strength training and conditioning as well as strength training anatomy. 

The basis of barbell training is explained concisely and thoroughly.  Rippetoe also explains why barbells are the most effective tool for strength training.  

The book is in its third edition.  The illustrations and photographs of the lifts are new and improved.  They also revised the instruction methods of all six lifts based on four years of seminars and training.  

One of our favorite aspects of this book is the focus on recovery.  Rippetoe expounds on the importance of recovery for the body as it experiences stress from strength training. 

This is the foundation for developing your strength and your health for the rest of your life. 

Recover is overlooked in our fitness regimen.  Illustrating its importance is one of the main reasons this is the best strength training book on the market.


  • In-depth illustrations and explanations
  • Excellent to build proper form and the basis for strength training
  • Excellent full-body, compound exercises get your strong quickly
  • This is the fitness book to buy
  • Explains why and how exercises work


  • The author is dismissive of alternative exercise methods
  • Rigorous program – the author says that if it doesn’t work, it’s the user’s fault
  • Some descriptions are a bit long
Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition

Starting Strength has been called the best and most useful of fitness books. The second edition, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, sold over 80,000 copies in a competitive global market for fitness education.

  • Why barbells are the most effective tools for strength training
  • The mechanical basis of barbell training, concisely and logically explained.
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02/19/2024 04:54 am GMT

2. Practical Programming for Strength Training

If you are looking for a strength training book that compliments Starting Strength, check out this book written by Mark Rippetoe. 

This guy gets things done!  Practical Programming for Strength Training is written for novice, intermediate, and advanced weight lifters. 

The main focus is effective strength training programming and training with a specific goal in mind.  

Tell me More

This 3rd edition comes with updated chapters, illustrations, and pictures.  The explanations on programs that work for powerlifters are even better in this edition as well.  

Each section is expanded to further your knowledge in each area.  For the novice, you will get more information about the three approaches to the issue of getting stuck in a rut and how to overcome it. 

The expanded intermediate section now comes with 18 programs and 11 examples.  Finally, the expanded advance chapter has detailed examples of 9 different programs.  

Since we are expanding, the Special Populations chapter is longer to describe example programs that have been used throughout the past leading to successful professional lifters.  Learning from the best will make us better.

With day-to-day and week-by-week workout programs for every level, this book is the best when it comes to the theory and practice of programming your strength and conditioning.


  • An excellent continuation of the book Starting Strength
  • Great for intermediate and advanced lifters
  • Teaches you what you need to know to create your program
  • The book helps you to get strong quickly and safely


  • Some reviews say it is slightly biased towards bodybuilders
  • Some reviews say it is difficult to read
Practical Programming for Strength Training Practical Programming for Strength Training

Practical Programming for Strength Training 3rd Edition addresses the topic of Training. It details the mechanics of the process, from the basic physiology of adaptation to the specific programs that apply these principles to novice, intermediate, and advanced lifters.

  • Each chapter completely updated
  • New illustrations and graphics
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02/19/2024 04:14 am GMT

3. Westside Barbell

Left side!  Strong side!  Sorry, we just watched Remember the Titans, and we want you to get pumped up because these books are fantastic. 

Written by Louie Simmons, a former American powerlifter and current strength coach, this book culminated all of his training methods over the past 30 years. 

Using the training in this book, Simmons broke world records and helped others do the same in powerlifting.  

Louie Simmons Explained

How about reading a book written by someone who invented some strength training equipment?  Louis Simmons did just that. 

The Reverse Hyper, a machine that works the glutes and hamstring without putting stress on the lower back, is now used in CrossFit gyms worldwide.  

Simmons practiced powerlifting for over 50 years and is one of only five lifters to be total Elite in five powerlifting weight classes.  We are getting all powerlifting jargon on you. 

That means you can lift enough weight to reach Elite status, according to the powerlifting community’s criteria.  It ranges depending on your age and other factors.  

Westside Conjugate Method of Strength Training

Louis Simmons developed the Westside Conjugate method of training.  Before you get excited to conjugate some verbs, it’s not that kind of conjugating. 

This method uses several special exercises to enhance your strength training while incorporating near max lifts in every workout. 

Because of this method, powerlifters have seen vast improvements in their strength.  A general idea of what a sample template looks like is below.

  • 2 days of bench presses
  • 2 days of squats/deadlifts
  • 2 days of dynamic training
  • 2 days of max effort training
  • 4 days of repetition training

Simmons developed this training plan for powerlifters.  He breaks down how to meet peak or making sure you are peaking at the time of your next powerlifting meet. 

All of his information is supported by scientific explanations of why the program works.  If you are looking for an in-depth description of all things powerlifting, this is the best strength training book for you.


  • In-depth and scientific explanations about strength training anatomy
  • Information on how to design resistance training programs
  • Discusses unique concepts that are uncommon in other strength training books
  • Excellent book for competitive powerlifters
  • It encourages you to push your limits, meet your goals and break your records


  • Some of the information is chaotic and confusing
  • Not recommended for beginners
  • Some information is slightly out of date

This book is a collection of training methods I have obtained through the past 30 years.

  • It has enabled Westside lifters to break 100 plus world records
  • Has helped countless more. I am proud my resume is never up to date
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02/18/2024 08:29 pm GMT

4. SuperTraining

If you are looking for a strength training book that reads more like a textbook, this is the one for you. 

There are over 600 pages of vast amounts of information in this book.  From individual training to group training to biomechanics to periodization, no stone is left unturned here.

An excellent description of this strength training book is a comprehensive guide to training methods.  Let’s check out the authors behind this incredible read.

Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky – A Soviet-era Coach and Sport Scientist

Dr. Verkhoshansky is one of the most respected coaches of the 20th century.  He is known for inventing plyometric training, which uses exercises to lengthen your muscles and then immediately follow that up with exercises that shorten and contract those same muscles. 

The combination of speed and power makes for more effective training.  He became famous when he was a Soviet coach, and he introduced the barbell squat into the practice of Track and Field jumpers and sprinters. 

He coached European record holder Boris Zubov when he became the Moscow United team coach in the sprint and jump events. 

His credentials are far and wide, and he wrote over 30 books.  He passed away in 2012 after a long life of progressing the strength training industry.

Dr. Mel C. Siff – Highly Regarded Sports Scientist

Dr. Siff was a scientist who trained in Applied Mathematics and Physiology.  Most of his work centered around biomechanics and muscle physiology. 

As chairman of the South African Universities Weightlifting Association for over 20 years and manager of the National Weightlifting Team for two years, Dr. Siff is highly respected in the powerlifting community. 

He passed away in 2003 and is regarded as one of the most outstanding sports scientists in history.

A Comprehensive Strength Training Book 

This strength training book might be one of the most comprehensive strength training books for sports. 

The chapters vary from “Factors Influencing Strength Production” to “Organization of Training” to give you everything you need to know about sports training. 

One of the main focuses is on specialized strength methods.  If you are a runner, this is the book for you since Dr. Verkhoshansky specialized in helping the track and field community. 

If you have a question about strength development, this book has got you covered. 

Think of it as an encyclopedia of strength training with science to back it up.


  • The amount of incredible information is endless
  • Great for coaches with detailed science-based information
  • Scientific research can help to fix form and maximize results
  • Geared towards serious readers who want to learn the science behind strength and muscle growth
  • Perfect for committed trainers who want to go above and beyond


  • Poor wording and translation make it challenging to understand
  • Some reviews have said it’s too long and detailed – harder to gain practical information
  • It does not discuss how to perform any exercises
  • References are ancient
Supertraining - 6th expanded version Edition Supertraining - 6th expanded version Edition

This book is a must have for any athlete or coach. Every topic is covered in almost 600 pages.

  • The development of adaptation process during the long term sport activity
  • Current Adaptive Reserve of the human organism
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02/18/2024 10:57 am GMT

5. The Bodybuilders Nutrition Book

One of the most important aspects of bodybuilding is your diet.  You can’t build viable muscle mass without help from essential nutrients. 

This book is the one you want if you are looking to bodybuild and get your diet in line with the process.  It explains how your body uses the nutrients and the best way to take advantage of them when bodybuilding. 

Don’t be swayed that this book is older because the information is still relevant.  It is still one of the best strength training books because it explains every vitamin and mineral and how they are absorbed into the body. 

Certain foods can help in the absorption of those vitamins and minerals, and that is explained too. 

They also list vitamins and their quantities that you should be consuming based on your daily activities and goals.

Franco Columbo – Italian Bodybuilder

The author is Franco Columbo, an Italian bodybuilder, powerlifter, actor, producer, author, and chiropractor. 

Wow!  This guy is busy. 

He won the title of Mr. Olympia at an international bodybuilding competition that is world renown. 

Due to his accomplishments within the bodybuilding community, he was inducted into the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Hall of Fame. 

To top things off, he trained alongside his good friend Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I’ll be back.  Did you say it in Schwarzenegger’s voice?

An Awesome Book about Nutrition

This book will be helpful if you need to understand more about nutrition and its effects on your bodybuilding. 

From explaining about the right number of calories to what supplements work to the impact of drugs on your diet, this strength training book covers it all. 

They give you sample diets to follow that include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  It helps you understand the best time to eat based on your workouts to get the most out of your metabolism.  


  • This is a must-read for any serious bodybuilder
  • Great for strength trainers too
  • Discussion of the purpose of vitamins, minerals, and supplements is beneficial
  • Provided meal plans work great


  • Out of date, but still contains relevant information
  • Recommended vitamin dosages seem too high in some cases
The Bodybuilder's Nutrition Book The Bodybuilder's Nutrition Book

Dr. Franco Columbo, a well-known expert on nutrition and kinesiology (and two-time Mr. Olympia) presents the most successful strategies and diet plans for achieving a superior physique. 

  • Pro forma warnings on steroids
  • pro forma warnings on steroids
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02/18/2024 05:00 pm GMT

Ready to get some Strength Training and Conditioning?

By now, you have probably bought all of these books because they are excellent reads. 

Hopefully, we helped you understand which books are the best for strength training and conditioning.  Find a program that works for you and your schedule. 

Happy lifting!

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Kristen holds a bachelors in English from Louisianna university. With a longstanding passion for fitness, she owns and operate her own gym and is a certified jazzercise instructor.

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