The topic of strength training and nutrition (with respect to fitness) is undeniably complex. As a result of the topic's complexity, there have been many bad books and resources produced over the years. This problem is further compounded by the fact that strength training and fitness is a huge potential market, and subsequently is littered with all sorts of 'get-fit-quick' type scams and misinformation.

As a newcomer to the field of strength training, it has been quite difficult for me to assimilate all of the information out there, and even more difficult for me to weed through all of the bad and contradictory information that is out there.

What are the definitive books and resources on strength-training / nutrition that a person should read if they want to gain a more fundamental understanding of the subject?

  • 1
    Not sure, but this question may be better suited as a community wiki...
    – Moses
    Apr 9, 2012 at 2:26
  • Yeah, I think community wiki would be a good way to answer this.
    – user3085
    Apr 9, 2012 at 2:33

4 Answers 4


Books about Strength Training:

  • Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training (3rd Edition). Mark Rippetoe.
  • Practical Programming for Strength Training (2nd Edition). Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore.

Books about nutrition:

  • I included the Rippetoe books because a lot of people follow his program, with tons of anecdotal evidence supporting it, and it doesn't market itself as a get-fit-quick program. Stronglifts is a similar program... does it have any books?
    – user3085
    Apr 9, 2012 at 2:41

A couple books by Stuart McRobert.

Either Beyond Brawn and The Insider's Tell All Handbook of Weight Training Technique or Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great. The third is essentially the first two in one book.

You could probably get away with just the technique book, as detailed instruction on lifts is pretty sparse. I've only seen Starting Strength go into that kind of detail, but unfortunately it only covers barbells, and not everyone has access to a gym with barbells. Beyond Brawn covers a lot of issues that are often ignored in other books, for instance procedures for checking weights before you lift to make sure it's safe, weighing weight plates to make sure you're actually loading the same weight on both sides rather than having a 1-2lbs different causing an imbalance that could eventually lead to injury. The technique book acknowledges that not all exercises are suitable for all people, and rather than saying squats with free weights are best, you should only do them, it actually goes into a fair bit of detail on how to best use alternate options such as leg press machines if squats aren't a safe and viable option for you.

For definitive sources on nutrition, there isn't really one. Julie Daniluk has a great quote; "7 billion diets for 7 billion people," and that really is the truth. When you consider food intolerances, allergies and heredity what could be excellent advice for one person could be terrible advice for another. That said, her book - Meals that Heal Inflammation - is quite good. One, inflammation happens with exercise, so having a diet that doesn't aggravate it is always a good idea, and two, it sets out a program for figuring out what exactly is the diet for you. It starts out with a core set of foods that generally don't cause problems for the majority of people, and then has you gradually add additional foods to your diet so you can see how your body reacts to them. Even if you choose not to follow her program, or get her book, anything you do read and follow probably should be along those lines. If the person writing the book doesn't understand that different people have different needs, they obviously don't understand the topic of nutrition well enough.

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    +1 for the nutrition answer. My best recommendation for a nutrition book is actually to go to a community college or local college, pay the $90 and get a textbook for their Nutrition 101 class. It will tell you the ins and outs of nutrients, carbs, proteins, fats, digestive cycles, etc etc. Then, once you have that down, you can evaluate your diet along the lines of what Robin is suggesting, re inflammation, tolerance, etc. You can read one book and it can be the right "fit" and work amazing, or you could read 50 and still be no better along than before if they don't match YOUR needs.
    – JohnP
    Jul 11, 2012 at 21:09

Fit by Lon Kilgore and Justin Lascek is a great book on general fitness and nutrition. Wide variety of training is covered (strength, endurance, and mobility).

The Rippetoe books are great for strength training if that ends up being your primary focus. Other nutrition books I suggest to people are "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf and "The Primal Blueprint" by Mark Sission. These are primary "eat clean, get out the processed crap


100% true ! there is a lot of contradicting info and as u said 'get-fit-quick' type scams and misinformation. I could help you out with the BEST nutrition book:

nutrition's best book that has scientific information, is written by actual doctors and that is NOT trying to sell you stuff or make you consume more is The navy seal nutrition guide. Read this book from A to Z and u'll learn the real stuff (It actually makes sense that this book is professional and accurate, since it was written in the 1990's and it targeted military special forces, it wasn't aiming at reaching the consumer market)

As for strength training, i am not sure what level of strength training your aiming at, but i recommend mark lauren's You are your own gym as a bodyweight strength training bible, it is very well written , has lot of good info, and has around 101 variation of bodyweight training. I heard good feedback about a book called Practical Programming for Strength Training but i didn't personally read it, but you might check it out and see.

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