Sports science is simple—you just keep working out for 30 years while continuously scrutinizing your results.
What? You don’t have that much time?
Then start out by exploring 12 Strength and Conditioning Books for Elite Athletes and Their Coaches.
Strength and Conditioning Books
Years and decades were spent in order to write and publish a myriad of books on strength and conditioning training. Then, hours were spent to pick out the cream of the crop.
All for you to find out exactly what you need in just five minutes.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a coach, an experienced athlete, or just starting strength training—this book has to be on your bookshelf.
Reason? It’s worth it. Proof? The authors have trained national, continental, and world champions; their trainees consisted of over a thousand elite athletes, including Olympic.
But before it settles down on that shelf, it will go through months of being your best nightstand buddy. The one you keep rereading every time you go to bed, trying to grasp the differences between maximal and relative strength and learning the biomechanics of every movement.
Essentially, it resides somewhere between an academic textbook and a casual read, slightly closer to the former. It will teach you neither peculiar exercises nor training programs, but it will give you everything you need to know about strength and conditioning.
It has practical insights, coaching experiences, and rock-solid training principles and concepts backed up by relevant scientific findings.
Moreover, the second edition has three new chapters targeting specific groups of athletes: women, youngsters, and seniors.
If your goal is to become an advanced level coach or athlete, this book is a must.
As follows from the title, strength training anatomy is like an X-ray for each and every exercise. In a nutshell, it’s a book of over 600 skillfully drawn illustrations of a human body performing weight training movements.
It’s divided into seven sections—from arms to buttocks—and doesn’t waste paper on fluffy introductions. Instead, it makes sure all the fundamental barbell, dumbbell, cable, and machine exercises are included and provides do’s and don’ts for each exercise.
This book is strictly focused on one thing: exercise biomechanics. It doesn’t contain workout programs and it’s definitely not an all-in-one option.
Yet this helps keep the volume concise and intelligible. This book is thorough but digestible, and is suited for beginners as a training instruction and for advanced athletes and coaches as a reference guide.
Many training books try hard to look similar, but they are nothing more than an imitation of the original. The Delavier’s bible has been here for more than two decades, and will be here for even longer.
Strength Training Anatomy is definitely something you should keep within arms reach.
It’s time to shift gears.
This book is strictly for strength and conditioning coaches. Precisely, for those of them who know that creating a workout routine is actually the easiest part.
The real challenge is to make athletes buy into it and believe in you as their coach. To inspire people to become part of the culture. To make an impact on their life.
This goes beyond just training. Forget about racks and machines for a moment.
This is a book of stories.
Storytelling is one of if not the best educational strategy. What makes the best coach? Knowing how many reps and sets to do? Absolutely not. The best coach is the one that makes his athletes keep coming back to the gym to hit those reps.
This book is for coaches who never stop learning. For those who change the lives of athletes for the better long after they’ve stepped out of the gym.
P.S. So, you’re not a coach. Do you want to feel as if you’ve been trained by a team of the very best coaches in the world? If so, Weight Room Wisdom can become your best investment.
Since we shifted gears, let’s stay there for a while.
How do you become a coach? Where do you start? What obstacles might you meet? What awaits you along this road?
Most importantly, what principles guide successful coaching careers?
This book is a place where 32 professional strength and conditioning coaches share their success stories. This is a mandatory read for everyone in the field, especially for those who’re just starting out.
Long story short, if you long to become a professional, you should read it.
But even if you don’t, this is still an interesting casual read for an athlete. How is it on the opposite side of the rack? Has my coach always been a superman? Could I work as a coach? What is a successful coaching philosophy?
If you need all these answers, check out The Golden Age of Strength and Conditioning.
Veering back to exercising. More precisely, to functional training.
This is a unique book. Not because it’s written by Michael Boyle, whose gym was named one of America’s 10 best gyms by Men’s Health magazine. Also, not because it’s a tried-and-true strength and conditioning training masterpiece.
But because the Kindle edition gives you online access to relevant video demonstrations, commentary, and exercise analysis.
This book is all about practicality, simplicity, and effectiveness. The author celebrates a unilateral based training methodology and incorporates many kettlebell exercises, and his rationale for such an approach is solid.
It’s definitely a decent choice if you are a novice at functional training. Most importantly, the progressions in this book are easily scalable, so the workouts remain challenging as you advance.
If you want to become a better athlete or even a better coach, check out New Functional Training for Sports now.
Look, another textbook-ish piece of paper. Or is it?
Let’s check it out.
First, it’s now in its 4th edition. This should mean something, shouldn’t it? Second, it’s edited by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), which is self-explanatory. Third, 4.6 stars over hundreds of reviews. Social proof, right?
Now, jokes aside. This book needs no introduction. If you want to become a certified specialist, this book is no doubt among the most efficient ways to prepare yourself. Its scope conveys all the skills, knowledge, and abilities required of a strength and conditioning professional to pass the CSCS exam.
In simple words, this is the most comprehensive guide to what strength and conditioning training is.
If you’re serious about your endeavors, get Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning.
(Tip: Get the hardcover version because the eTextbook is missing some content.)
Cutting right to the chase: This is a decent book about strength and conditioning training. It was edited by the director of postgraduate programs at the London Sport Institute, and it’s a useful resource for strength and conditioning practitioners.
Truth be told, there’s nothing more to say. This book is good: It’s informative and detailed, it has plenty of references, it’s very well put together, and it offers a number of sources to delve further into. It has everything required to turn you into a specialist, and there’s no more to add.
It doesn’t disappoint. Just, there’s nothing special about it that can make it stand out like the other books. It’s solid but lacks unique features.
Is this a problem? To many, no. But it’s really up to you. Open it up, look at the table of contents, check out the introduction. Do you like how it’s written? If so, then just get it.
In business, they say, cash is king. In a gym, the periodization is, no doubt, the kingest of all kings. The emperor, the mikado, the tsar.
Forget about the “no pain, no gain” philosophy—strength and conditioning have advanced tremendously since Ronnie deadlifted his 800 lbs barbell. Now it’s not only about how much but also about when and what.
It becomes especially important in sports, where you don’t just care about today’s results but have to look forward to forthcoming seasons, and where you must pursue your longevity along with maximizing your current results.
This book is about creating smarter workouts and constantly reaping their benefits in the long run. Basically, this is what conditioning is all about—to be optimized for your current conditions. To peak when you should peak, and to rest when you should rest.
They call this book a future bible of strength training. Might be. One thing is unarguable: The author long ago pioneered most of what is now considered the new standard in strength and conditioning training. A decent reason to give it a look, isn’t it?
This book is here to bridge a common gap between exercise science and practice. It covers all facets of physical preparation, from strength, agility, and power training to metabolic conditioning and injury prevention.
Its content is heavily research-based, thought-provoking, and also very current. The information provided is practical, objective, and, most importantly, readily digestible.
What makes it stand out is that Paul Gamble is somebody who deeply understands the specific difficulties of working in competitive team sports and takes seasonal factors into account.
This book is not a how-to manual; on the contrary, it’s a very well-organized work with an abundance of up-to-date research provided in a clean manner. Undoubtedly, a gem for a sports team coach.
Check it out right now.
“Most physical training systems are designed for the domesticated human animal” — this is what the author says, offering you the radically opposite approach.
Cultivating strength for a sense of accomplishment or pride? Forget about that. Paul Wade will show you how to train as if your entire species depended on how wild you are. How to work out so your body becomes a lethal weapon. How to become a predator, and ultimately, how to survive.
This is a bold statement, yet given that the author spent almost two decades in hell, aka America’s prisons, you tend to believe him. This book may indeed be a unique perspective on strength and conditioning training.
Clearly, Convict Conditioning is so bad-ass you might want to drink a protein shake after reading it.
Did you know there’s a difference between exercise and training that is crucial for your understanding of how to build a strength and conditioning supertraining program?
If not, Practical Programming is what you might have been searching for. It addresses the topic of building workout routines with a long-term goal in mind rather than to pursue short-term results.
This book is for those who train to win. And not just today, but in their 50s, 60s, and even 80s. It can turn your grandpa into a warrior. It provides detailed day-to-day and week-to-week programs for any level of physique. It’s comprehensive and answers many unanswered questions.
It might become an eye-opener for you. It’s not a regular book on how to bench; it delves deep into how to manipulate recovery, intensity, and volume to achieve—and most importantly maintain—great results at any age.
If you think about starting strength training, Practical Programming for Strength Training is your entry ticket.
The last but not least, a book whose vivid cover is illustrated with a man turning over a massive tire. This is no coincidence—there are plenty of tire, keg, and even stone training instructions that aren’t really covered in detail anywhere else.
It combines old-school simplistic methods of strength training with the modern science of conditioning enhancement. It will make you bigger, stronger, and faster.
And tougher. Zach has spent nearly three decades figuring out what really works in the real world. Through pain, sweat, and tears. And pain, believe him, is a powerful teacher.
If you don’t want to spend decades sacrificing your health to retrace his path, start with something that can give you real results right away.
A lot has changed since Austrian Oak won his last Mr. Olympia.
Back then there was nearly no such thing as the science of training. Nowadays, you don’t need to be a pioneer to build an incredible physique. At least not with these 12 Strength and Conditioning Books for Elite Athletes and Their Coaches.
Did you like it? Do you have something to add? Leave a comment down below!
P.S. How about some bodyweight training? Check out the 10 Calisthenics Books That Can Rebuild Your Physique.