A List of the Top 10 Weight Training and Bodybuilding Books

10 Excellent Sources of Weight Training Information

Whether you're a novice or an experienced weight lifter or bodybuilder, books are still an excellent source of information even though the internet also has a lot to offer.

In these 10 books you will find much that you need to know about weight training whether you're an 'exercise at home person' or a committed gym trainer or bodybuilder. I've tried to balance quality of information, readability and range of interests from basic information to the far corners of the weight training disciplines. I hope you enjoy at least some of them as much as I did.

(All books may not be available in all countries. Prices mentioned here are in $US.)


Young male crossfitter squatting to lift bar bell on shoulders in gym
Cultura RM Exclusive/Corey Jenkins/Getty Images

Sub-Title: A Simple and Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners
Authors: Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore, 2005
Paperback: 248 pages, 10.9 x 8.3 inches
Suitable for: Novice to intermediate, coaches

Comment: This is a fine book for anyone considering weight training in general and powerlifting in particular. It describes how to learn and teach the big three core lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift, plus the press and power clean. A chapter on programming and teaching youth weight training is included. Both authors are highly experienced coaches with lifting experience.



Authors: Liz Neporent, Suzanne Schlosberg (third author varies by country), 2006
Paperback: 408 pages, 9.1 x 7.3 inches
Suitable for: Novice to intermediate

Comment: This is a good starting out resource because it is quite comprehensive in its own way and very well written with short factoids, no verbosity and good humor. Even more experienced weight trainers could use this to brush up on some basic knowledge. The book includes illustration and photographs of all exercises. Different versions are produced for some countries.


Author: Frederic Delavier, 2005
Paperback: 144 pages, 9.8 x 7.7 inches
Suitable for: Novice to advanced

Comment: Almost my favorite strength training book. For less than $20 this is a bargain. It has wonderful illustration and naming of the anatomy of strength training and shows quite clearly which muscles respond to which exercises. About 100 exercises are described and illustrated plus some brief comments on injuries. For quick-view anatomy instruction, it's among my favorites.


Author: Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle, 2005
Paperback: 179 pages, 10.9 x 8.5
Suitable for: Novice to intermediate

Comment: The value of this book is it's no-nonsense procedural description of weight training from the basic essentials to more advanced programming techniques. It's very thorough and much more focused on weight training programming than Weight Training for Dummies for example. Plenty of tables and charts and excellent exercise illustrations but no photos. Both authors have certification roles with the US National Strength and Conditioning Association.


Authors: Vladimir Zatsiorski and William Kramer, 2006
Hardcover: 264 pages, 11 x 8.6
Suitable for: Intermediate to advanced

Comment: Both authors are esteemed academics with a long history of writing and training in the weight lifting sciences. This is not a book for the uninitiated unless you have a strong scientific background, preferably with some exercise physiology.

It's strength is the science and the many references that provide confidence that what they tell you is as accurate as possible. Zatsiorski describes research on decades of Russian weight lifting methods and results. The book is an essential reference really.


Author: Tudor Bompa and Michael Carrera, 2005
Paperback: 259 pages, 11 x 8.7 inches
Suitable for: Intermediate to advanced, coaches

Comment: Bompa is credited with establishing the concept of periodization within the weight training disciplines, particularly for sport-specific training. In this well-researched and referenced book, the guru takes us through the periodization process while offering many insights into what works and what does not with plenty of examples for different sports. It is reasonably complex and not perfectly organized but still a great book to have if you coach weight training.


Authors: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins, 1999
Paperback: 832 pages, 10.9 x 8.5 inches
Suitable for: Novice to advanced

Comment: How can you not be impressed by an 832 page book by a legend of the sport and all for about $20 and with excellent content and acceptable writing and presentation. Note, this is about bodybuilding pure and not so simple. You won't get specific information on sports training, powerlifting or Olympic lifting. Even so, it has a huge amount to offer even if bodybuilding is not your thing.


Authors: Matt Brzycki and Fred Fornicola, 2006
Paperback: 160 pages, 8.4 x 5.4 inches
Suitable for: Novice to advanced

Comment: This is one of those books that fills a niche and is just great to have in a library. Dumbbell training is so flexible, and the sheer variety of exercises is very large, as this book demonstrates well. It's not the largest of the books listed here, but one of the best in concept and presentation. If you intend to do beginner or advanced training at home with dumbbells, then this is a great book to refer to.


Subtitle: Tone up, burn calories, stay strong
Author: Joan Pagano, 2005
Paperback: 160 pages, 9.2 x 7
Suitable for: Novice to intermediate

Comment: As the title says, this books is written for women and it does not fail. An experienced personal trainer, Pagano teaches well and writes well, which results in this book being a very good guide for women starting out, but also for women with some experience of weights. There is some bias to working out at home but that's not a bad thing. It ranges across equipment such as dumbbells, fit balls, bands and includes plenty of body-only exercises. It's an excellent book.


Author: Mel Cunningham Siff, 2003
Paperback: 498 pages
Suitable for: Intermediate to advanced

Comment: Supertraining is not generally available in bookstores but it can be found online. This book forms a part of the history of weight training practice and science and this would seem to make it a logical choice here.



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