Best Strength and Conditioning Books In 2020

Perhaps you’re new to lifting and looking to connect the dots on the training templates you’ve looked at.

Maybe you’re an aspiring coach, or plan to study exercise science in college.

Or maybe you’re an experienced athlete and need a new bedtime read.

In A Hurry? Here is the list:

While we live in a world where YouTube channels can teach you a lot, truly understanding the components of strength and conditioning takes time.

As an athlete or coach, you want substance. And, you want to understand the physiology behind it all.

This will give you an advantage when training, programming for yourself, or even trying to get your first clients as a coach or trainer

This article contains a list of the 4 best strength and conditioning books in 2018.

3 of them are for beginners, and one is for more experienced athletes.

Whether you’re into CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, or something else, each of these strength and conditioning books will make you better.

How To Choose A Strength and Conditioning Book

Similar to lifting weights, it’s important to keep your ego in check when you choose a strength and conditioning book.

If you don’t understand kinesiology or biomechanics (or at the very least, basic anatomy and; physiology), you’ll want to begin with the basics.

Just like building up a heavy 1RM squat takes time, so does your understanding of the human body in an exercise setting.

Don’t worry, it will all be worth it. You’ll look back fondly on these early days as the time where you truly started to “get”- and fall in love with- your training.

Why You Should Read These Books


If you aren’t sure why you should read strength and conditioning books in the first place, here’s a few reasons:

    1. You will understand why each lift requires certain positions. Those cues you hear your coach say? “Big shrug” on your squat cleans? “Tight belly, tight butt” on your overhead press? There’s a rhyme and a reason to it all. You’ll learn quickly by reading about the basic lifts in CrossFit or other forms of training.
    1. You will cut out a lot of the early “guess work”. Every athlete makes a ton of the same mistakes early on. Let the authors of these books and the resources they offer help shorten your learning curve from 1-2 years to 1-2 months by simply reading about their personal experiences (or experience with coaching athletes) in context with their teachings.
  1. In time, you will be better equipped to program your own workouts. Understanding the nuts and bolts of exercise, such as physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, will paint a broader picture for why we program workouts a certain way. You will better understand why CrossFit and some competitive sites like CrossFit Invictus or MisFit athletics use things like percentages (i.e. 80% of your 1RM), accessory work, and rarely train to complete failure.

4 of the Best Strength and Conditioning Books In 2020

Here is a list of the best strength and conditioning books you can buy right now.

Starting Strength

Starting Strength

Mark Rippetoe put pen to paper on one of the most popular books of all time for beginning strength and conditioning athletes.

For the first few years of CrossFit’s existence, Mark actually was a subject matter expert on strength training for CrossFit HQ until they parted ways around 2010.

This book covers the basic barbell lifts: the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, power clean, and power snatch. Mark walks

Read Also: What are some strength training ideas for short men?

Most importantly, this book teaches readers how to understand the stress/recovery/adaptation model as it pertains to exercise.

You will finally understand why recovery is important and how to balance rest days with heavy barbell training.

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Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning 4th Edition With Web Resource

Considered by many to be the gold standard in the strength and conditioning world, the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) delivers this 4th edition book as a comprehensive manual for all things strength and conditioning.

While the book costs more than some of the others on this list, it comes with online modules, exercise libraries, and other resources to prepare people for the CSCS exam.

Most coaches in the S&C world consider the NSCA-CSCS to be the best endorsement a coach can obtain.

Go with this Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning if you aspire to coach, obtain certifications, or get a degree in a field like exercise science.

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Strength Training Anatomy

Strength Training Anatomy, 3rd Edition

Why should you buy this book? Very simple:

It’s the best book out there detailing every muscle group being worked during any exercise you can think of.

Do you know what’s activated when you squat? Perform shoulder exercises? While you can probably guess some of it…

This is a book for any aspiring athlete or coach to keep in their gym bag.

It will help you develop a keen eye for programming exercises into a workout, as well as be a good reference guide for any other

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5/3/1- The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength

5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength (2nd Edition)

This book makes the list as an intermediate selection.

You can follow Jim Wendler’s advice blindly and still get incredible results, but understanding the basics you’ll glean from the other books should happen first.

Jim Wendler keeps strength training simple.

In a world where we try to overcomplicate everything, you’ll learn how to get strong, muscular and fit with a 4-day per week training method that has been proven over the last decade to work wonders for all kinds of athletes.

This book is worth it’s weight in gold, if only for the various assistance programs that have spawned from the original 5/3/1 program.

This 5/3/1 calculator is a fantastic resource for programming based on your goals while ensuring you aren’t overdoing it.

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Strength and conditioning books will teach you the fundamental concepts you need to increase your performance as an athlete, coach, or student of exercise science.

There truly is a rhyme and a reason to it all, Whether your goal is to train smarter or stop making mistakes with your programming, it’s a good idea to understand physiology, kinesiology, and biomechanics on the big lifts and other forms of training.

After all, as a CrossFit athlete, you truly need to be a master of none.

There is a lot to understand about how your body works in conjunction with bodyweight movements, barbell lifts, and conditioning sessions.

Dive into these books and start reaping the benefits today. Enjoy!