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

#1 The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger

arnold bodybuilding book

Arguably the best book to buy for aspiring bodybuilders, this mammoth encyclopedia (800 pages!) contains everything you need to know about bodybuilding.

Written by Arnold Schwarzenegger, this book is known world-wide, famous for it’s high quality content. Every topic is covered: nutrition, supplements, exercises, workout programs, you name it!

#2 Powerlifting – Dan Austin & Bryan Mann


For those of you out there who are looking looking to add shear strength – this book is a must buy. Powerlifting is a complete guide into the sport: focusing on technique, and training. The author Dan Austin, who’s the winner of nine world Powerlifting championships and 15 USA National Championships, shares his wisdom in this concise powerlifting manual.

There are 100 different exercises inside – which are designed to help you improve your strength and performance. Other topics in the book include: nutrition and flexibility.

#3 Championship Bodybuilding – Chris Aceto 

Championship Bodybuilding book

This old school classic (1996) will stand the test of time. Whilst not as well known as books like Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, it’s still a fantastic book to pick up for bodybuilders.

Author Chris Aceto (old school bodybuilder) shares tips and strategies on building muscle and losing fat. Topics within the book include…training splits, nutrition i.e. calorie, protein, carb and micronutrient intake, supplement advice, and plenty of effective routines (for beginners, intermediates and advanced trainees)

You can actually download the book for free here if you want the PDF only

#4 Strength Training Anatomy – Frederic Delavier 

strength bodybuilding book

Full of colourful illustrations, this book is a must buy for those who want to understand muscle mechanics and how the body works when lifting weights. Strength Training Anatomy goes through the entire body, illustrating in detail what muscles look like, and explaining how each of the individual muscles work in relation to certain exercises.

There’s a section for arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, glutes, and the abdomen – and within each section there are exercises to suit each muscle group.

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#5 Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy – Brad Schoenfeld (Updated edition)

Best Bodybuilding Books

Author Brad Schoenfeld is currently one of the most respected speakers in the muscle building field. Brad specialises in hypertrophy training, which is predominantly aimed at bodybuilders.

In this book Brad explains the science of hypertrophy, putting things into easy to understand terms, and backing up the science with proven studies. He also clears up any confusion, and dispels any old school bodybuilding myths.

#6 Becoming a Supple Leopard – Dr Kelly Starrett 


Whilst not directly linked to bodybuilding or powerlifting we couldn’t leave this book out. It’s a must read for those of you who want to improve performance, mobility and strength.

In Becoming a Supple Leopard Dr Kelly Starrett gives you tools to look after your body, enabling you to perform more efficiently during workouts, recover quicker in between sessions, and reduce the chance of injury.

There’s a chapter on each part of the body i.e. chest, back, shoulders, arms, abs, thighs, hamstrings, calves, and hips. There are hundreds of exercises in the book to help you release tight muscles and improve performance.

He’ll get you using implements like a lacrosse ball, and foam roller to release tight muscle tissue. This book will help you increase strength, power, speed, agility and most importantly encourage ‘training longevity’ – if you want to be lifting for years to come, and to keep healthy muscles and joints… then make-sure to pick up a copy.


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.

Steve Theunissen

For the past five years, I have been a full-time fitness writer.  I also love to write about history and have written more than thirty books on the great battles throughout history. I live in sunny Tauranga, New Zealand with my wife of 33 years, Shelley.

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Written by our Lead Coach, Daniel