Bodies aren’t sculpted in a library, they’re sculpted out in the real world or in the gym. So why would a bodybuilder want to pick up a book on their art and start reading about it when they could be training? The reason should be plain as day: if you’re not training and dieting the right way, then you might as well not be training at all.
The best bodybuilding books for beginners have info on everything that newbie gym rats might want to ask about. Whether you want to learn about what foods you should be eating or how many reps you should be doing, the best book should act like a resource you can turn to the moment you have a problem.
Considering that I read a whole bunch of rubbish when I first started working out, I figured i’d share some of what I learned with others who wanted to start their journey toward physical perfection.
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Table of Contents
Benefits of Reading Bodybuilding Books
Honestly, when i first started I thought that the only thing a book would be good for is lifting it if I didn’t have my barbells around. As it turns out, I was completely wrong. Personal trainer and all-around fitness expert Bruce Kelly wrote that there’s scientific evidence to say that people can end up in an endless cycle of bad health decisions (1).
While Kelly’s work touches more on poor eating habits and how plenty of people getting involved in the fitness scene still like to kick a few back, the same goes for how people spend time in the gym. I know that I wasted plenty either screwing around or performing ineffective exercises.
Paisley Hansen, one of today’s top freelance health experts and a gym rat herself, also cited some evidence that many people who claim to be all about proper eating aren’t capable of out-exercising their bad diets (2). This goes for top bodybuilders as well.
Is this enough to sell you on the advice a bodybuilding book can offer? It wasn’t for me, but I can be boneheaded sometimes! Certified personal trainer Davey Wavey cited info that claims many bodybuilders suffer from high cholesterol and blood pressure (3). While there aren’t any exact percentages, that kind of stat was finally enough to get me to invest in one.
When i opened up my first one, I found other a bunch of other reasons to keep reading:
• Tips on proper form
• Great illustrations on muscle groups
• Whole diets
• Exercises I’d never heard of
• Gym etiquette, which I really needed a lesson in
• Supplement info
Things to Look for in a Bodybuilding Book
Check to see if an audiobook version is available. These are becoming more common, and can be good if you want to listen to something while you’re training. Regular books are still best for providing illustrations for you to check out, though, so you don’t want to give up on reading just yet, especially considering that this isn’t going to be boring materials.
Have a look at who the author is. if you haven’t heard of them, then see what their credentials are. You might want to do a little research to make sure they’re legit because there are plenty of weirdos out there that make bogus claims.
Be sure that you find one you’re actually interested in reading too. The best bodybuilding book is obviously the one you plan on making genuine use of. Remember that eBooks these days are equal to printed ones, so weigh them both equally if you don’t mind getting an electronic one.
How to Find the Best Bodybuilding Book for You
When i finally decided to pick up a book, I ordered a beaten used copy of New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding that had seen better days. Go ahead and laugh, but there’s no one who has done more to promote bodybuilding than its author – Arnold Schwarzenegger himself! Sometimes selecting a book based on just its author isn’t a bad idea. The fact that this thing was actually written by none other than Arnold certainly kept me reading.
However, I lucked out and got a good one. I could have just as easily picked up something that was filled with junk advice that would have made me rip my deltoids if I tried it! It probably sounds obvious, but read reviews before you buy anything. Discard any that are clearly promotional or written by clueless people who can’t tell a lat from a bicep.
Check out YouTube too! I know it sounds stupid, especially considering half of the fitness videos I find these days there are crazy.
Best Bodybuilding Books
One other thing you want to pay attention to is the age of the book in question. On one hand, you don’t want to read something with outdated stuff, but don’t ignore things just because they’re a little older. A few bodybuilding books have stayed in print for years because they’re just that good.
Top 5 Best Bodybuilding Books for Beginners
If you enjoy reading books that are written like they’re advice given to you by your bros in the gym, then check out Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews. It’s a perfect book for those of you who want to avoid having to do a ton of cardio to loose fat and pack on lean muscle.
Matthews’ advice can be followed no matter what your circumstances are, so you won’t have to worry about investing in equipment or expensive supplements to enjoy all the benefits of what he has to say. It won’t set you back much, either, so it’s worth taking a chance on if you weren’t sure about it.
• Includes lots of recent innovations in bodybuilding
• Focused totally on natural techniques
• Offers flexible dieting advice
• Author is clearly a fan of certain types of products
• Writing isn’t very concise, and it sometimes takes passages a while to get somewhere
• Works cited section mentions web resources that aren’t there any longer
Nicholas A. Evan’s Men’s Body Sculpting may be the best choice if you’re a rank beginner who is just getting into the world of bodybuilding. It’s written by an expert who has developed a proven program based around scientifically proven biomedical concepts.
Different sections of the book are dedicated to pumping iron, generating mass, shredding fat, maintaining your build and sculpting raw muscle into a competitive physique that you can be proud of.
• Excellent illustrations to help you visualize the workouts
• Evans’ program is perfect for every age
• Text cuts straight to the facts
• Even though its newer, a few exercises are slightly outdated
• Nutritional information is overly simplified
• eBook version is hard to read because it was imaged poorly
Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding: The Complete A-Z Book on Muscle Building
I brought up the New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding before, which is written by Arnold himself. While Robert Kennedy’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding isn’t meant to be a revision of what many call the gym rat’s bible, it does offer a ton of updated information considering that it was written some nine years after Arnold’s book came out.
Kennedy’s volume is perfect for beginners since you can just open it and quickly find the answer to almost any question you might have. Entire articles are dedicated to everything from supplements to posing. While new copies can be quite expensive, it’s to be expected of any book that’s this thick.
• Covers nearly every topic on bodybuilding
• Easy to find information you need
• Excellent descriptions of workout schedules
• Not conducive to reading from cover to cover
• Missing a few recent techniques that are popular in gyms
• Doesn’t explain some exercises in enough detail
Better Than Steroids
Plenty of people have claimed to come up with natural routines that are better than using steroids, but Dr. Warren Willey is one of the few people with the clout to back up his claims. Better Than Steroids is based on his experiences as the medical director of the Fitness Medicine Clinic. While this means he has a tendency to throw a ton of science at you, he greatly simplifies it to make his book perfect for those who are just starting their bodybuilding routines.
Even though it’s short, Dr. Willey avoids using flowery language and thus gets straight to the point so this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
• Written by a holistic doctor
• No filler sections
• Inexpensive eBook version available
• Only 180 pages long
• May be a bit too simple for some readers
• Doesn’t get into intermittent fasting
Strength Training Anatomy
Frederic Delavier has to be one of the most famous modern bodybuilding authors since he’s sold over 2.5 million books. His Strength Training Anatomy, 3rd Edition is an excellent choice for those looking for an inexpensive textbook that can also be used like a training manual.
You might even consider blowing up some of the pictures from the book to bring with you to the gym so you can be sure you’re doing things Delavier’s way.
• Great illustrations
• Covers both men’s and women’s health issues
• Organized like a reference book
• Several versions are out there, so you need to make sure you’re getting the latest edition
• Contains a couple of jarring typos
• Lacks a good lower traps exercise
In a best case scenario, you’d want to have as many books on bodybuilding as possible. You might not want to read them so much that you’re sacrificing time you could spend training, but you’d want to have multiple resources so you can get different opinions on the best way to organize your workout or diet plan.
Bigger Leaner Stronger is a good option if you’re short on cash, but you might want to splurge on the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding if you have the cash to do so. It’s complete enough that you wouldn’t need another resource in your library. Better Than Steroids is a good choice if you want to keep another book around that gives you a good look at the scientific side of bodybuilding and offers a bit in the way of medical advice to keep you fit and trim.
While these five would make an excellent library for any beginner, keep looking at books from all different eras. You’d be surprised how many people still turn to the New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding every day!
1 – https://fitnesstogether.com/alexandria/blog/what-are-your-bad-habits-costing-you-
2 – https://www.fatherhood.org/bid/192548/You-Can-Not-Out-Exercise-a-Bad-Diet
3 – http://www.daveywaveyfitness.com/exercises/myth-bodybuilders-are-healthy