I love books. I love them. I LOOOOOVE them.
It seems to me at this point in human history, whenever someone is interested in pretty much anything, there’s a fount of knowledge available via books. On my quest to be Smarty Pants of All Smarty Pants, I try to read two books a week. At this point I’ve read approximately a shit ton of books relating to health and hotness. But unfortunately… many of these books are not that helpful. What’s a regular guy or gal to do when they seek the health and hotness dream?
Fear not, dear reader. Allow me to gently point the way. Though many of my favorite books on training are little geektastic, I’ve definitely come across several books that are totally accessible, accurate, and informative.
ACTUALLY A BOOK
I’m pretty sure I was supposed to write this book.
Curse you Lorraine Peterson!!!
This nearly was mine…
For general health and hotness, I’ve always been a fan of the New Rules series, a collaboration between fitness journalist Lou Schuler and fat loss guru Alwyn Cosgrove. The first book in the series, The New Rules of Lifting, was released a few years back. Although we’ve moved forward from some of the concepts in the original NROL, when it was first released it was a refreshing blast of sanity in the fitness book genre. The follow up was the equally helpful The New Rules of Lifting for Women, but I recommend picking up The New Rules of Lifting for Abs, the most recent installment. Suffice it to say, it’s the first mainstream fitness book that is representative of the current best practices in core training (ie. stop doing sit-ups, you’re hurting yourself). Check out my review here.
For folks looking to get stronger, you can do no better than Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. Full disclosure, Starting Strength is a little dense. But guess what? If you want to safely and effectively get better at the big barbell lifts, there’s no way around the fact that you MUST learn the technique. And if you want to add size or strength, to my mind nothing beats the barbell lifts. And since you need to have a reasonable base of strength to put on muscle, even if your goal is to get all beefy, you would do well to focus on strength for a while before you go the more conventional “bodybuilder” route. My review here.
If you’re looking for a book devoted to beefasizing (NOT A WORD), I love Stuart McRobert’s Brawn. Though I don’t love all the exercise selections and some of the recommendations are slightly outdated, all-in-all it’s a wonderful antidote to the mainstream muscle magazines. To sum up the book, a lot of traditional mass-gaining recommendations are based on folks who are on heaping amounts of steroids. Natural dudes, particular those that are naturally skinny with small joints (ectomorphs) tend to do better with lower volume. Lift hard but not long, then go sleep and eat. A LOT. Repeat. (Though I also enjoyed his encyclopedia Beyond Brawn, I think the original Brawn is a little more user-friendly.)
It’s fair to say that there are little things in all of these books I don’t totally agree with. The latter two particularly have some information I believe to be outdated. All-in-all though, these three books rise like a winged bird* of glory from a sea of steaming bullshit. So if you want to broaden your fitness horizons but aren’t sure where to start, look into these books and let your further edumacation begin!
ACTUALLY A BOOK
I try to make sure I don’t read only fitness books.
Cuz I wanna be a well rounded person, ya know?
*probably redundant to call a bird “winged,” yeah?