Monday, July 15, 2013

My 'Top 10 books about strength training with weights'


Part of sharing useful information is definitely telling people where it can be found.
The following books contain a wealth of knowledge and have been a big influence on how I think about training. Read them all and you'll have a pretty serious knowledge base when it comes to strength training in just about any form, with any methodology.

So, here is my top 10 list of books on strength training (with weights).

1. Dinosaur Training (Brooks Kubik).
It may seem a bit simplistic and outdated now that pure strength training is more 'mainstream' now as a recreational pursuit, but that doesn't make it any less useful. You want to learn about the basics of hard work, heavy weights, and progression, look no further; and there are plenty of inspirational words and iron game history to be found here, as well. I read this in, I think, my junior year of high school, and it blew my mind--at the time, I thought that a 200-pound squat and bench were 'heavy'.

2. Easy Strength (Pavel/Dan John).
I don't think Pavel's last name really needs to be listed, do you? Anyhow, this is a brilliant work, a goldmine on developing strength for athletics or life as a general phenomenon... as well as training for strength as an end unto itself. All about being stronger (and bigger and faster) and yes, making it easy. This is, I think, perhaps the most relevant book on strength training for any purpose around today.

3. Maximum Muscle (Matt Perryman).
 If you were to read only one book on getting stronger and bigger, it should be this one. Perryman examines the science of progressively building muscle and strength; and the book contains tons and tons of programs, not to mention overviews of many different training styles. He released it free in pdf form, so there's absolutely no excuse not to get it and read it.

4. OTS III 'Big Beyond Belief' (Leo Costa).
Even if you aren't a professional bodybuilder (if you're reading this, odds are that you're not) and don't intend to use the programs written here, this is an eye-opening book. The 'Eastern Method' of high frequency training is applied to bodybuilding here. You'll learn about manipulating volume, intensity, frequency... rep ranges, rest periods, slight overtraining or undertraining, everything--to break through strength and size plateaus. Not only that, but there's a section on exercise choice that is quite good.

5. The Steel Tip Collection (Ken Leistner).
I think that this is the definitive book on oldschool HIT, even moreso than Arthur Jones' original manuals. By 'oldschool' I mean extremely hard work in a moderate rep range with maximal weights--not counting seconds doing one-legged leg curls on a nautilus machine. There are a number of great pieces on the full squat, deadlift, overhead press, and grip work, as well as powerlifting prep cycles and examples of athletic (mostly football) training. Even if you don't agree with HIT principles, this book is a 'must' in order to understand them. Not to mention that it's an inspirational read.

6. Beyond Bodybuilding (Pavel).
This is likely the most expansive book of the bunch in terms of programs, workouts and sheer volume of information. There is literally zero excess here, and contains all of Pavel's philosophy, condensed. There's some real 'true knowledges' here in terms of volume training, basic powerbuilding (i.e. powerlifting + bodybuilding), linear and wave cycles, and periodization for top-tier powerlifting.

7. From the Ground Up (Dan John).
Basically, weightlifting (olympic lifting, that is) for everyone. Very accessible, especially for those just starting.

8. Metroflex Gym Powerbuilding Basics (Josh Bryant).
This book brings powerlifting, bodybuilding, and strongman training all together in one place. These are 'the basics that everyone's using' in the field today.

9. Destroy the Opposition (Jamie Lewis).
If you like high frequency training, love experimenting with exercise variations, and don't mind some profanity, this is a tremendous book on powerlifting. Program design, exercise choice, form variations, everything. There's little that you can't find on his blog, but I like to get my strength training information without sifting through scat porn (which is often just the beginning, actually)... that's just me, though. And, it ties all his best articles together in a neat package, which is nice.

10. The Westside Barbell Book of Methods (Louie Simmons).
As with Ken Leistner's book... even if you aren't into 'westside' or geared powerlifting, Louie's had a huge influence on powerlifting and you'll learn a lot by reading this, period, whether you intend on doing it (or even agree with it) or not.

Happy reading!

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