5 Best Bodybuilding Books

Best Bodybuilding Books

Updated May 25, 2020
5 Best Bodybuilding Books

Bodybuilding is a very interesting topic of discussion, sadly most discussions on this topic is done by amateurs. It’s difficult for an amateur to give useful advice to beginners because he or she is also just learning the ropes so we created this list of the 5 best bodybuilding books.

On one hand learning from an expert is expensive, and they’re usually out of reach in most cases. This is where books and videos come into play. Reading books on bodybuilding authored by experts will go a long way in improving the effectiveness of your workout routine.

This article is about best bodybuilding books that are currently available for purchase online, they benefit from getting such books cannot be overemphasized. You don’t just get to learn from the best; it also gives you the benefit of a refined routine that has worked for professionals.

If the instruction in the book is followed religiously; then you can be rest assured that the outcome will be obvious on your muscle and overall fitness health.

Without further ado; let’s dive into the selection criteria for recommended bodybuilding books reviewed in this article.

Year of Publication

It’s important to have updated information when it comes to the issue of health and fitness. Because what is considered relevant in the year 2000, might be absolutely irrelevant at this current age.

In selecting the books reviewed in this post; I have put into consideration the publication date of each book and when the revised edition was published. Books older than five years (review edition) is excluded from the list. As such, all the books listed are up to date as far as information and research are concerned.

Some of the books have been around for a while, and they’ve been recommended tremendously across bodybuilding forums. Books that are in this category are given priority over new bodybuilding books with an equally good recommendation.

It is believed that; for a product to have been around for more than five (5) years; while maintaining an overall positive review; then it’s safe to conclude that it has earned its mark.

Author Background

In the initial part of the article; I wrote about the impracticality of an amateur training a beginner. This is why the background of the author is very important as far as the recommendation of bodybuilding books is concerned.

The authors of the books listed in this article have in a way or the other earn their mark in the field of bodybuilding. They’re either Ph.D. in the field of medical science (anatomy or physiology), or award-winning bodybuilders.

Reading from authors with such accolades puts the reader in a good position; knowing fully well that he’s not reading from an uninformed mind, but rather from somebody that knows exactly what bodybuilding is all about.

General Recommendation

If a book is getting recommended over and over again by members of the bodybuilding community, then it worth looking into. In conducting the research for this article; I have gone through various online bodybuilding forums to look check titles of books that are recommended by various bodybuilding enthusiast.

A larger percentage of the books in this article comes recommended by people in the community, although some other well recommended books are not available on Amazon, so I have been unable to write a review about them. I would mention their title at the end of the article; hopefully, you can get it in a local bookshop or from the library.

Technicality/Use Of Language

Imagine opening a book you just ordered from Amazon, and the first few paragraphs is filled with different types of anatomical and fitness terms. Such that it takes extra effort to decipher the message being passed across by the writer.

This types of books would not benefit a beginner much because it would bore them out as soon as they open it.

I have done due diligence in specifying if the technicality of the book is for a beginner or advanced bodybuilders. This will help in making the right decision based on your understanding of how bodybuilding works.

Targeted Audience

Bodybuilding books can be targeted towards an advanced bodybuilder or a beginner. It can equally be targeted towards men or women. Routine is greatly influenced by gender and bodybuilding level, this makes it very important to specify the audience to which the book is targeted.

Some of the books recommended in the article include supplementation and nutrition; something a beginner might not find interesting.

In all, taking your time to go through each of the recommended books will leave you with a specific choice of book to read, gain knowledge and learn from.

5 Best Bodybuilding Books

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding

The New Encyclopedia of Modern BodybuildingThe first edition of the book was published in 1985, five years after the author; Arnold Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Olympia. It’s also important to note that some of Arnold’s best movies; terminator and commando were released within the year 1984 and 1985.

In a way; being a public icon would have influenced the initial sales of the book. But the success of the book lasted beyond the celebrity’s ripple effect, and as such, a revised edition of the book was published in 1999.

Up till date, the book comes highly recommended among bodybuilders, which lends further credence to the quality of information documented in the book. As far as book age and reputation is concerned, the new encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding my Arnold Schwarzenegger has earned it’s mark in the niche.

Arnold does not have a Ph.D. in physical fitness, it’s also not documented that he his a licensed bodybuilder. His years of experience, however, speaks volume when it comes to bodybuilding. He won Mr. Olympia in the early 80’s and he’s considered one of the icons of America’s bodybuilding.

Between winning the Mr. Olympia and several of his action-packed movies; he made the idea of bodybuilding appealing to Americans and arguably the rest of the world.

The language and technicality of the book are beginner friendly. Considering the background of the writer; no complex anatomy term was used, and as such entry-level builder would find it easy to understand the instruction as compared to books filled with anatomical terminology.

Although the book is meant to be for all level bodybuilders, the expert would find the content very familiar.

Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding: A-Z Book on Muscle Building

Book on Muscle BuildingThere are debates in the bodybuilding community on which of is the best between this book and the modern encyclopedia. Published several years after Arnold’s book, and it’s safe to assume that the title of the book was probably inspired by Arnold’s book.

Even though it’s been around for years; the information contained within the book is still very much applicable to current bodybuilding world. Published in 2008, making it one of the most recent bodybuilding book on this list.

When a book is as recent as the encyclopedia of bodybuilding; then you cannot go wrong by following the advice therein.

Even though Robert Kennedy is not a professional bodybuilder but rather a teacher; he made a name for himself by publishing several best selling books in the fitness and nutrition niche. It’s one thing to publish a single book, it’s another to embark on the task of being an author in a particular niche. Lots of research and effort goes into writing best selling books; which makes it easy to agree with the details compiled in the book.

Written in form of an encyclopedia, the book is targeted towards both beginner and advanced bodybuilder. While it may be a perfect reference book for general bodybuilders; people interested in specific exercise instruction might not find the book highly beneficial.

But it’s definitely a must-have in your fitness library.

Strength Training Anatomy

Strength Training AnatomyThe paperback was published in 2010; making it the most recent book so far in this list. Although it’s less than a decade old, it has sold over a million copies as acclaimed by the publisher. Beyond that, the book is highly recommended by experts in the bodybuilding community.

The author; Fred Delavier isn’t a bodybuilder, nor a certified exercise instructor, but he has a strong background in human anatomy. I took major courses in human anatomy as well, and I can understand why a specialist in the field will deem it necessary to publish a book on strength training.

A larger percentage of those that are into bodybuilding don’t do it right. Not because they’re lazy, but mostly because they don’t know which exercise is responsible for the development of various muscles.

What this book offers is exactly what most beginners and experts don’t know. It teaches you the anatomy of bodybuilding. Going into details about which exercise will influence the growth of a particular muscle as well as the surrounding structures. Correct bodybuilding goes beyond the ability to bench certain kilogram of weight; but rather stress the right muscle with the right amount of exercise, until it goes into repair mode.

If you’re familiar with the medical field; there is an atlas of human anatomy; my favorite is Frank Netter’s Atlas of human anatomy. You can liken this book; Strength Training Anatomy to the Atlas of human anatomy; however with a focus on the exercise aspect.

Another part of the book that most fitness books don’t have is the common injury section. This section describes some injuries that may occur during strength training and how to such injuries.

As far as the targeted audience is concerned; I would say this book is perfect for geeks that are interested in the anatomy of their body system as well as bodybuilding. Most people don’t care about anatomical details; which isn’t the best of practice when it comes to bodybuilding.

If you’re looking for a bridge between human anatomy and bodybuilding; then this is your book.

Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength

Encyclopedia of Muscle & StrengthPublished in 2006, the word encyclopedia seems to carry a lot of weight in the fitness book industry, as this is the third book that will have “Encyclopedia” in its title. The aim seems obvious; it strives to be the go-to “bible” for muscle and strength training.

Of all the books listed so far; this is the only one written by a certified work out coach. Jim Stoppani is not just a “gym guy”, he’s also a highly educated man, with a fellow position in Yale School of medicine.

As far as author’s reputation is concerned; Jim is a force to reckon with in the fitness industry. With a Ph.D. in physiology exercise, coupled with years of research in the fitness industry; you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.

Like all other encyclopedia formatted book on this list; the book is filled with the definition of terms, evaluation of muscle groups and details on exercise that affects each muscle. In addition to all of the regular information; Jim goes a step further to talk about fitness equipment and how they can be used in achieving the result you desire.

The language of the book is beginner friendly; which means the content can be understood by both beginners and experts. With Jim’s background as a science guy, a nutrition and supplements section would have been a great addition to the book. But then; you can’t have it all in a single book.

As a beginner or an expert; you can pick up this book and get value for the money spent.

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Bigger Leaner StrongerIt’s hard to see a good book that would talk about exercise and nutrition at the same time. Muscle’s a built in the kitchen. Most people don’t know that. This book is one of the few I have seen on Amazon that discuss both exercise and nutrition.

The author; goes into details about the popular myth that surrounds bodybuilding. Michael Matthews promises to guide readers through the process of gaining 10-15 pounds in approximately 12 weeks.

The book is written in a very simple manner that makes it easy for a beginner to understand to details what the author is passing across.

If you’re interested in learning about nutrition and muscle building as a beginner or expert (everybody can learn one or two things when it comes to nutrition and bodybuilding) with a detailed guide on the use of supplements, then this is the book for you.


bodybuilding shouldn’t be done on trial by error. The following guide from experts will go a long way in aiding your effort in building those muscles.  Reading any of the books listed in this guide is like standing on the shoulders of an expert to learn their tricks.

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