The 14 Best Strength And Conditioning Books For 2023

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This year is all about getting fitter and stronger. But improving your body strength, toning up those muscles, and maintaining a healthy workout is more than just signing up for a gym membership or watching a few aerobics classes on YouTube each week.

After setting a goal at the start of the year to get fitter and stronger, I soon realized it requires you to be committed and put in the work if you want to get the body of your dreams.

For those serious about strength and conditioning, you will find greater insight, knowledge, and guidance on your workouts from reading books about strength training.

If you’re a curious reader who needs a little inspiration to get out of my armchair, then below you will find my best books about strength and conditioning based on recommendations from fitness experts, sales data, and millions of reader ratings worldwide.

Whether you’re a total beginner or you’ve been working out for a while and looking for inspiration, these books may be the resource you need to get into shape this year.

The Best Books About Strength Training

So without further ado, here are the best books on strength and conditioning as recommended by fitness professionals.

1. Glute Lab – Bret Contreras

Recommended by Kerri Howell of

  • Recommended fitness level: any
  • Reader rating: 5/5

My favorite is Glute Lab by Bret Contreras. It’s so large and heavy it could be used as a weight!

Its name is a bit of a misnomer; it’s the Bible of everything strength training. There is an emphasis on glute training, though.

Everyone from beginner to advanced can learn something from this book, including sample workouts, pages, and exercises.

Honorable mention goes to The Resistance Training Revolution by Sal Di Stefano. This book challenges the usual advice doctors give their patients (cardio is long) and delves into the benefits of strength training for a long, healthy lifestyle.

Sample workouts are included. This book is geared toward beginners though fitness experts and coaches would benefit from reading it, too.

2. Periodization Training for Sports – Dr. Tudor Bompa

Recommended by Isaac Robertson, the co-founder of Total Shape and a CISSN and ISSA-certified professional. Isaac Robertson has worked in the health and fitness industry for eight years. He also has over 11 years of entrepreneurial and business experience.

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner to intermediate
  • Reader rating: 5/5

I highly recommend Periodization Training for Sports to anyone starting their fitness journey. 

Bompa collaborates with Carlo Buzzichelli, a strength and conditioning specialist, to show how periodized workout sessions can be used to peak at the right times by adjusting strength training parameters over the course of six training phases. 

Bompa’s book teaches readers how to see results after minimal time and effort with effective workout plans that are 100% scientifically proven.

3. Concurrent Aerobic and Strength Training – Scientific Basics and Practical Applications – Moritz Schumann, Bent R. Rønnestad

Recommended by Michael Perry, Founder of and Certified Personal Trainer

  • Recommended fitness level: intermediate to advanced

This book places more emphasis on scientific theory. It’s the best for me because it goes deeper than the previous versions.

The application side won’t help a coach create a workout, but it will provide the proper information to develop future training workouts.

This book’s emphasis on the molecular science of training is one of the reasons I love it. It advances our knowledge of how athletes respond to exercises.

The balance between increases in aerobic conditioning and neuromuscular function is also discussed, along with dietary variables and inflammation. 

If you don’t play high-performance sports or interact with young athletes, this text is an excellent resource for learning about the distinctions and similarities between age groups and genders.

And if you’re serious about endurance sports, this book is a terrific investment.

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4. Pacing: Individual Strategies for Optimal Performance – Kevin Thompson

Recommending by Vidur Saini, a certified health coach and fitness writer at

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner to intermediate
  • Reader rating: 5/5

The main reason for liking this book is literally its title. It says it all. Written by Kevin Thompson, this book is an excellent read for people looking to make a career in athletics.

The best part about it is that it pays attention to different training for everyone. 

Moreover, the writing is easier to understand, so readers can relate to what Thompson wishes to convey. The central theme is a highly novel innovation — sports psychology joining forces with training. 

This is something monumental for sportspeople to have a carefully thought-out, long-lasting career. Pacing is an excellent read for beginners.

People who are established as athletes but want to include a fresh perspective in their routine can also read it.

5. Squat Bible – Dr. Aaron Horschig and Dr. Kevin Sonthana

Recommended by Lalitha McSorley, Lead Physical Therapist at Brentwood Physio

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner to intermediate
  • Reader rating: 5/5

It teaches people how to master squatting in every way. That includes the front squat, high bar squat, low bar squat, and overhead squat. 

The book discusses various methods of squatting, as well as different issues people face while squatting. 

The book also goes over the real science of squatting and the biomechanics behind it.

6. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning – Gregory Half and Travis Triplett

Recommended by Shawn Richards, an Expedition Coordinator at Ultimate Kilimanjaro 

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner
  • Reader rating: 4.7/5

As a trainer and fitness lover, studying new techniques and workout tactics is a passion of mine.

Not only can I learn for myself, but I can offer various pieces of training to my clients.

It might be a classic, but, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning by Gregory Half and Travis Triplett is a must-read, especially for those beginning their fitness journey. 

This book is a collage of information from many different professions that have been training for the majority of their life.

Parts of the book include personal experiences of masters in the fitness industry. It also helps explains how body mechanics work and why certain exercises will always be successful.

This type of information is crucial in understanding bodybuilders. 

The experiences in this book also act as inspiration; knowing that these individuals have beaten the odds will motivate you to strive for your personal goals.

This book is also essential for those looking to get into strength and condoning seriously and want to understand scientific explanations of proper training. 

The scientific evidence helps decide what fad exercises should be avoided. Fitness is an art, which means the basic principles must be followed.

7. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training – Mark Rippletoe

Recommended by Michael Slowak, Co-Founder of Boxingholic, a site dedicated to boxing training. He’s also an ACE-certified trainer and has been an active boxing trainer since 2014.

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner to intermediate
  • Reader rating: 5/5

As a fitness trainer and boxing trainer myself, here is a highly recommended book for strength and conditioning that I absolutely stand by Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition by Mark Rippletoe.

This book is a widely popular and highly regarded book on barbell training. It is written by Mark Rippetoe, a well-respected strength coach and author.

The book covers the fundamental principles of barbell training, including proper technique for the squat, press, deadlift, bench press, and power clean, considered the most important exercises for strength training.

It is designed to provide a solid foundation for those new to barbell training and to help more experienced lifters improve their technique.

I recommend this book because it details these exercises through useful and clear illustrations.

But most importantly, the author teaches the proper form required to do these exercises, as the proper form instructed in the book tremendously helps you lift more weight and prevents you from any injuries associated with these exercises.

Overall, I would recommend Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition, to anyone interested in learning more about barbell training and proper technique for basic barbell lifts.

It is a well-written and comprehensive resource that provides a strong foundation for anyone looking to get started with barbell training or to improve their existing barbell training program.

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8. Bigger, Leaner, Stronger – Michael Matthews

Recommended by Rob Wagener, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and Owner of

  • Recommended fitness level: intermediate
  • Reader rating: 4.6/5

One of the best books I’ve read and recommend to anyone looking is Bigger, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews.

It does an incredible job of writing in such a way that beginners can read it and comprehend even some of the more complicated concepts, but complex enough so that even the well-versed in fitness can find golden takeaways. 

With plenty of science-backed information and real-life stories from athletes, it’s a great book that easily bridges a complicated gap between the new and experienced.

9. New Functional Training for Sports – Michael Boyle

Recommended by David Rosales, an NSCA-CPT and the head trainer at Roman Fitness Systems

  • Recommended fitness level: advanced (for coaches)
  • Reader rating: 5/5

Mike Boyle is probably the goat of strength and conditioning. He has changed the field many times over simple programming that flat-out works. 

In New Functional Training, Boyle gives you everything you need to create an effective, simple training program for athletes and general population clients alike. 

The book will give you effective programming because it explains everything in simple terms and gives you tools to explain it to your clients.

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10. Science and Practice of Strength Training – Vladimir Zatsiorsky

Recommended by Evander Nelson, a sports & nutrition expert with more than 12 years of experience in bodybuilding, kickboxing, and dieting. 

  • Recommended fitness level: intermediate to advanced
  • Reader rating: 4.7/5

This book is not for beginners who want to learn how to start to build strength. It goes more in-depth into the science of how strength is built.

Reading the book taught me to train more efficiently toward my goals.

For example, the book gives illustrations and training programs tailored to your goals’ specific needs, such as improving maximal strength, explosive power, or endurance. 

Each of these requires different training programs, which the book will give you a clear understanding of.

11. Science of Strength Training: Understand the anatomy and physiology to transform your body – Austin Current

Recommended by Caroline Grainger, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer at FitnessTrainer Personal Trainer Certification, BS in Kinesiology from Texas Tech University. 

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner to intermediate
  • Reader rating: 5/5

As a fitness trainer, I work with all kinds of clients, from those looking to get off the couch and into shape to older folks looking to stay active to people trying to lose weight to people training for specific athletic competitions or goals. 

One of my clients’ most common fitness goals is to get stronger.

One of the books I always recommend for these clients is Science of Strength Training: Understand the anatomy and physiology to transform your body by Austin Current. 

Fitness, in general, and strength training, in particular, are fields where you have to cut through a lot of rumor, lore, and pseudoscience to get at the truth, and this book gives you the scientific foundation you’ll need to differentiate good strength training advice from snake oil.

This book covers everything from basic metabolism to muscle groups to the biochemistry of muscles in action, recovery, and building fast-twitch versus slow-twitch muscle fibers. 

I recommend it as a way for my clients to get a good baseline understanding of how their bodies work and how they can best reach their strength training goals.

If you’re going to pick up one book about strength training, especially if you’re new to the practice, I highly recommend Science of Strength Training.

12. Power Yoga: Strength, Sweat, and Spirit – Leah Cullis

Recommended by Smriti Tuteja, a Yoga Instructor at

  • Recommended fitness level: intermediate
  • Reader rating: 4.5/5

Power yoga is great for strength and conditioning and suits practitioners irrespective of their level in their fitness journey. 

The book is a great resource for those who wish to dive deeper into their practice. It touches upon yoga’s physical and spiritual aspects and contains everything from poses to philosophy. 

It is a comprehensive book about power yoga and thus different from other run-of-the-mill books in the market.

13. FITNESS AT 40, 50, 60, AND BEYOND – Michael Spitzer

Recommended by Michael Spitzer, Author of Fitness at 40, 50, 60, and Beyond

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner (over 40s)
  • Reader rating: 4.2/5

Many good books and online videos are available today to help people lose weight or learn the fundamentals of weightlifting, power-lifting, or other forms of exercise regimen.

What is less common to find is information specifically designed for people well into their 40s, 50s, 60s, or older.

The fitness concerns for people in the “over 40” or “over 60” categories are often slightly different from those of people training in their 20s or 30s.

With age comes an increased concern over issues such as slowing metabolism, bone loss, muscle tissue atrophy, lung capacity, sexual function, flexibility, daily pain management, and more.

Michael Spitzer’s FITNESS AT 40,50, 60, AND BEYOND is unique in this regard as it was written over 18 months while working with over 200 people at a hospital rehabilitation and fitness center.

The book discusses what happens to all the major body organs as we age and references clinical research to explain how specialized diet and exercise can slow these effects.

The book was a Living Now Book Awards Bronze winner.

At 432 pages (with 260 photographs), this book can be thought of as a comprehensive guide for fitness as it covers everything from the aging process  — diets for weight loss — recipes — detailed exercise regimens, and special secrets & tips.

The book is excellent for those who have never grasped the concepts of macros, meal planning, proper exercise form, or self-discipline.

The information provided is written in a very in-depth yet not academic and boring style.

Humor and analogies abound, making this a great read.

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14. Your Personal Trainer – Douglas Brooks

Recommended by Kellie K. Middleton, MD/MPH, an Atlanta-based Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in shoulder, elbow, and knee injuries while treating general sports and orthopedic injuries

  • Recommended fitness level: any
  • Reader rating: 4.5/5

This book offers a comprehensive overview of strength training from beginner to advanced levels.

It details the day-to-day aspects of strength and conditioning, such as the proper exercise form, selecting weights and reps, and creating effective workout plans.

It’s an excellent book for those wanting to take their strength training skills to the next level. In addition, the book is filled with diagrams and photographs to help the reader understand the concepts better.

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best strength and conditioning books

Final Word on Strength and Conditioning Books

So there you have it. Those are the best strength and conditioning books recommended by fitness professionals and backed up by reader ratings.

I hope that you can find something on this list that inspires you.

Thank you to all the experts for sharing their knowledge and expertise in this guide.

Want more fitness inspiration? Check out these other posts!

Disclaimer: This website uses affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through a link at no extra cost to you.

Last Updated on March 26, 2023 by Louisa

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About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

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