Notice I didn’t say these were the “best”, I said they were my favorite books for fitness. Different strokes for different folks as they say. . . and that being said, let me also say that these are in no particular order.
My Top 10 Favorite Books For Fitness
#1 Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe
You haven’t read this book and you’ve picked up a barbell in the last month? Stop. Do not pass Go, do not collect two-hundred dollars. Go directly to your local book retailer and get Rippetoe’s Starting Strength now!
#2 The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain
We can debate diet all damned day. The Paleo method just makes sense to me and even better, has never failed to give myself or my clients desired results when followed. Don’t knock it ’til you try it. 😉
#3 The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
Yes, Mark leans pretty strongly toward the Paleo nutrition-wise. But his exercise philosophy is also worth examining. And yes, I know he owns a supplement company. I don’t care, I still love his book.
#4 The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Look at me – I am in no way a bodybuilder. But this is one of the first (if not the first) fitness books I ever read and it will forever be dear to me. There are lessons to be learned in these pages.
#5 The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This is probably the book I return to more than any other when my life feels out of whack. I think the only book I’ve read more times than this one is Fight Club.
#6 Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
I’ll admit, I saw the movie before I read the book. But I’ve returned to the book and movie time and time again for motivation and the slap in the face that reminds you what life is about. Read it or watch it – but KNOW it.
#7 The Way Of The Superior Man by David Deida
Reading this book made me comfortable with my ambition. And ladies, I definitely recommend this as a source of insight as to what the hell us guys are thinking most of the time.
#8 It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back To Life by Lance Armstrong
Is this guy superhuman or what? I dare you to try to read this and not get inspired.
#9 Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
When you go to basic training in the United States Army, the only book you are allowed to take with you is one religious text. The Tao Te Ching is the book I took to basic training. I also carried a pocket sized version in the lower left shirt pocket of my BDU’s the whole time I was in the service. Full of timeless philosophy, the Tao Te Ching is worth a read regardless of your religious inclinations.
#10 Living The Martial Way by Forrest Morgan
If you have a martial arts background, this book will speak to your soul. But even if you’ve never considered the martial arts, you’ll appreciate the discussions on timeless values like honor and discipline.
So there you have it – my top 10 favorite books for fitness, nutrition, health, and life.
What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.
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Awesome post, it made me want to read all of these books. I am especially interested in The Primal Blueprint and The Way of the Superior Man. I’ve read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and I loved it.
I really like The Art of Expressing the Human Body by Bruce Lee though, that has got to be one of the best fitness books out there. Bruce Lee has always been sort of an idol for me though, so I might be kind of biased!
Thanks, Ken. I’ve flipped through The Art of Expressing The Human Body and I think that’s where I read the Bruce Lee quote, “I’d rather be over trained, than under trained”. Thanks!
Nice list. I’d have to add think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill to it though. Otherwise, good reads!
Think and Grow Rich was on the initial brainstorming list that I made for this post. Definitely a great book for teaching goal setting. Thanks!
The Spartan Diet by Anthony Bova was life changing for me. Then, there is David’s Psalms that are inspiring to the soul and help me recover from a tough workout.
SOLID list my friend.
I have to admit that I think the Spartan Diet was my first exposure to eating with a distinct paleo lean. It’s been years since I’ve read it (I had the download version on a computer that is long gone now), but I think the only thing I didn’t care for was the running. Other than that, I loved the diet and training recommendations. Thanks!
For us ladies, “The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess” by Lou Schuler and Cassandra Forsythe with Alwyn Cosgrove collaborator. This book made me put down the pink dumbbells and pick up the real ones (barbells, too!)
Thanks, Toni! And good to hear you’ve put down the pink paper weights. 🙂
Ross Enamait- Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless
Love both of those books. And pretty much anything Ross does. Thanks.
Vic, here are some books I’d add, not necessarily a TOP list, but something I came up with quickly:
1. Rippetoe’s Practical Programming for Strength Training – because it explains the training process for a beginner, intermediate and advanced tranee.
2. Pavel’s Power to the People – because it explains the irradiation techniques for better strength. Other good ones are Bulletproof Abs and Beyond Bodybuilding.
3. The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi – it’s a book about samurai sword fighting, but the strategic thinking can be applied to anything.
4. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. A great message about staying in the present – very difficult to apply – hence valuable!
5. Screw it Lets do it by Richard Branson – short, sweet and super motivating life lessons!
6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Basically teaches you to treat people the way you want to be treated. For example – you can’t win an argument – you’ll either not convinced your opponent, or gain the upper hand but get an enemy in the process.
7. I second the Art of Expressing the Human body by John Little – an account of Bruce Lee’s methods. WAY ahead of their time.
8. Science and Practice of Strength Training by Zatsiorsky and Kraemer. Solid training fundamentals.
9. Tao of Jeet Kune Do – Bruce Lee’s notes collected posthumously.
10. The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene – strategy of success by two super successful people.
Mr. Magary, can I assume the book Tao Te Ching has been translated? That being the case which translation do you read and or recommend? Thanks, Russ Lini.
Russ! Always good to hear from you. The text is so short, I recommend reading multiple translations until you find the one that speaks to you. The one I return to is translated by Jane English and Jacob Needleman.