I’ve always loved reading, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my goals in 2018 is to read more. Maybe you also enjoy reading, have a goal to read more, or maybe you’re just looking for something to take to the beach this summer.
In either case, I wanted to share with you some of the books on my bookshelf that have had the biggest influence on me in my fitness journey, and that I use as reference in my personal training practice.
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Beat The Gym by Tom Holland – This book had one of the biggest influences on me when I first started my fitness journey. Holland writes in a simple, easy to understand style, that’s perfect for those beginning a fitness journey. He gives easy to understand principles on how to get the most out of a gym membership and how to stick with regular training, such as simple tips like if a gym allows for a locker rental, rent the locker and keep gym clothes in that locker so you never have an excuse to skip going to the gym. Plus, he gives you some real talk, like this rule for cardio: “If you can read during cardio, it is too easy.”
If you’re in the beginner stages of exercise, I recommend this book.
Encyclopedia of Sports & Fitness Nutrition by Liz Applegate – At one point early in my fitness journey, I was exercising regularly, running 3-4 times per week, but I still just felt bad with little energy to push through tough workouts. This book taught me a simple principle – food is fuel. What you eat directly impacts how you perform. While counting calories and being at a caloric deficit will help you lose weight, if you’re eating Popeye’s everyday it’s going to impact your performance and the way you feel. Don’t let the name fool you, this book is very easy to read, and contains some basic principles for meal planning and exercise for every age group. If you want to understand the principles of nutrition, this book is for you.
Which Comes First: Cardio or Weights? by Alex Hutchinson- This book takes common fitness questions you might have, and gives you the practical answer by distilling down the latest research into easy to understand language (notice a common theme? I like easy to read books). How long does it take to get unfit? Is running on a treadmill better or worse than running outside? Will compression clothing help me exercise? Why do I get sore a day or two after hard exercise? All these an other questions are answered in this book. For me, it’s a great reference to answer the fitness questions my clients have with research based responses, rather than just Bro Science.
Framework by Dr. Nicholas DiNubile – After my shoulder surgery, I enrolled in an Orthopedic Specialist course to help me learn how to rebuild my strength post rehab, and how to help others. This was the textbook for that course. The training principles and exercises in this book helped me design exercise programs to help my clients strengthen muscles associated with back, knee, and shoulder pain with both post-rehab strength training and with pre-hab exercise to help make them injury resistant. There are also books in this series specific to the knee, lower back, and shoulder; but they all build off of the core principles in the original Framework. If you suffer from back pain or knee pain, the principles in this book might help you.
Stretching by Bob Anderson – Bob Anderson literally wrote the book on stretching back in the 1980. I discovered this book from Framework, and it’s been a valuable guide for me in my post workout stretching. The book contains guides for pre and post workout stretches for all types of sports and just everyday activities, like stretches to do if you sit at a computer all day. I also dig the old school illustrations. If you want to improve in your post workout stretching, this is for you.
Becoming A Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett – Out of all the books on this list, this one is the heaviest, both in reading and probably in actual weight since it’s about the size of a college textbook. This book has had the biggest influence on how I perform and teach movement patterns such as the squat, deadlift, and push up. In many ways, this book is geared toward CrossFit and Olympic style lifters, but the underlying principles for correct movement, posture, and loading can be applied no matter what fitness level you’re at. I would recommend this book for those who more advanced in their fitness journey, and who are looking to refine and improve in their exercise techniques.