RIF – Reading is Fundamental
At least the “right” kind of reading. What I mean by the “right” kind of reading, are books and publications that actually delve into the why’s and principles behind the training you are doing. How many times do you think Muscle and Fiction has recycled the “Summer Arm Blaster Workout?” Unfortunately, there is much more bad reading on strength training than there is good reading. Its easy to go to the magazine stand, or your local bookstore and grab the latest copy of the flashiest magazine or book out there that promises a complete body makeover in just 12 weeks. That’s all fine of you want to be a member of the “Bench on Monday Gym Rat Club”, but if you want to learn about real strength and put those principles into practice, you need to look elsewhere.
So, for your reading pleasure, I have put together an introductory list of books (introductory does not equal complete – you may be aware of others that are not on this list) you should strongly consider buying or checking out from your local library. They are listed in no particular order of importance. One thing to remember is that if you want to get one of these books, is to NOT to get a Kindle version. Most contain many illustrations and pictures, and anyone with a Kindle will tell you that getting the pictures to match up with the text can be frustrating if not down right impossible.
Never Let Go by Dan John – Dan John is a very accomplished strength athlete and coach. His book, Never Let Go reads like a novel. He is very motivational, and has the ability to distill down some rather complex subjects into an easily digestible format. On top of it, he is just a plain old good guy. When I was starting a high school powerlifting program, he spent hours on the phone with me, helping me with everything from practice organization to training methods for teenagers.
Starting Strength, 3rd Edition by Mark Rippetoe – Rip is almost a cultural icon in the world of strength training. He tells it like it is and doesn’t hold back what he thinks. This may put off some readers, but I don’t think he really cares – its just his style. His workout programming is fantastic, and he has a great reputation as a coach, having developed some of the best coaching queues in use today.
Strength Training Anatomy Workout II by Frederic Delavier – This is just one heck of a book. Not only does it show you a gazillion exercises, and give you several workout plans, but the illustrations are second to none. In this book all exercises are shown from a muscular/skeletal point of view, with each one distinctly showing what muscle groups are working, how they are working and why.
Science and Practice of Strength Training, 2nd Edition by Vladimir Zatsiorsky – I’ll admit that this book can get a bit heady at times, but it is important stuff. At some point you are going to need to understand the $2 words and phrases used in this book if you are going to take your training to the next level. Vladimir Zatsiorsky is currently a Professor of Kinesiology at Penn State, and specializes in the biomechanics of strength training.
There are still many other great authors out there like Pavel, Tate, Cosgrove, Cook, and Kilgore just to name a few more for you. Most anything from these authors is worth the read. Each one has their own way of looking at things, and their own approaches to strength training.
The point here is to open your mind to what is all out there. Unfortunately it is very hard to sift through the garbage to find to good stuff. Internet gurus on message boards, magazine racks full of ripped dudes and pretty ladies in yoga pants do a lot to cast some dense fog on the scene. Your job is to read past the flash and hyped headlines and decide for yourself what works, what doesn’t, and what is just plain BS.