You know that I am a bookworm and I read everything I get my hands on. I decided that it would be really interesting if I ask some of the top strength and conditioning coaches,life coaches, as well as physical therapists about the top five- must read books that changed their point of view ( both for life, strength and conditioning, nutrition). Books that they consider everybody should read in their lifetime. Besides getting the opportunity to sneak peek in their home library and some of the post valuable lessons, that help them be so awesome on a daily basis, I thought it would be great to give myself and you more ideas for great books to read.
Many of you ask me about the books I read, so I decided to include my top 5 books as well.
So enjoy what my guests shared with us. I want to once again thank them for the time they took to answer my question.
Steve Cotter, President and Founder of IKFF
Most of the books that have been impactful for me have more to do with mental rather than physical development. The mind is the commander and the body obeys, and so to me is the starting point.
As the title suggests, there is a Science to achieving wealth. The way we use our thoughts/mind is very powerful and creates the environment which either attracts or repels things to or from us. Those who understand how to properly use his or her mind with regards to money are able to attract money to us. It is much more than about materialism however. All people have a right to live well, and having money is simply a necessary ingredient for a full life.
Wilde was a wonderfully witty and thought provoking author. I read many of his books, but this particular book, Affirmations, appeared at a time when I was having a lot of personal struggle and confusion and the words resonated very well with me, reminding me to look within and love myself. Each person must affirm for him or herself their own power and their own unlimited nature. It was very good medicine for me and the lessons contained can be applied to any aspect of our lives.
Silva studied the common factors that were found among successful athletes. When athletes are excelling, they often refer to being “in the zone” that time and space in which the ball or the punches are easier to see, seem to be moving slower, and everything is effortless and fluid. Conventional thought is that the Zone just sort of comes by chance. But Silva found that one can actually facilitate this zone and in this book teaches various imagery exercises to help do so on a more regular basis. Extremely useful for athletes and the techniques can be applied to help focus before any important event, sporting or otherwise.
Reid compiles some the the thousands of years of wisdom from the Chinese martial arts, medical and meditative traditions. To have a balanced health, one must not only exercise the body with vigorous training, but also must exercise the Qi, or the energetic aspects of the body, via qi gong, meditation and soft exercise. As well, must clarify the mind.
For me personally, it was my first introduction to the science of Food combining, which most people are not familiar with and few books on nutrition even touch on this important subject.
In brief, different foods digest or transit (move from stomach into intestines) at different rates. For example, a piece of beef can take 4 hours to begin to transit, whereas a piece of fruit only 30 minutes. So if fruit and meat are eaten together, the meat slows the rate of digestion and the fruits begin to turn rancid in the stomach, causing bloating, gas, indigestion, etc.
In turn, a habit of mixing foods improperly creates sluggish digestion, like having pipes that are filled with gunk. Most people have literally pounds and pounds of undigested food matter just stuck in their internal piping. A broad topic, but a very important one if you want to optimize digestion and therefore, health.
Overtraining occurs when we do not cycle in sufficient rest and recover into our workout programs. It is human nature that after a few weeks on a new training cycle, our body feels strong, great and ready to keep pushing harder and harder. Then on the 4th week, we get a set-back, maybe a cold or an injury. Consisten Winning is based on natural rhythyms, based upon the Fibonacci sequence, which mathematical illustrates natural growth patterns/cycles. The basis of this book is that we must cycle down every 4th week in a training program, to allow the body to “down-regulate” before nature makes us, thereby allowing us to progress consistently. Well worth reading.
Also, any book by Ernest Holmes, most famously the Science of Mind.
Strength and Conditioning:
It’s a bit of an old-school book, and definitely more on the nerdy side (not a lot of pictures), but I truly believe this is the book that helped me realize I wanted to become a coach. Likewise, I think this is a MUST read for any fitness professional, as all the information still has efficacy today.
I’ve read every book Mike as written, and I’ve listened to him speak/lecture countless times, and this is easily the first resource I recommend to people who are serious about taking their knowledge base and expertise to the next level.
I have my qualms with the programming (but I won’t get into that here), but suffice it to say I think this is one of THE best books out there with regards to teaching/coaching/cueing the squat, deadlift, and bench press.
My knowledge base isn’t in nutrition (although I can tell you what gluconeogenesis is!), but my go-to source for anything nutrition related is Alan Aragon’s Research Review.
1. The Art of Non-Comformity – Chris Guillebeau I wish I would have read this book when I was younger. Essentially it’s all about building the life of your dreams without worrying about societal norms or what society tells you you should be doing.
2. Anything by Malcolm Gladwell or Dan Ariely. I’m a geek when it comes to behavorial economics – which when you think about it, is about human behavior and why we do (or don’t do) stuff, which parlays very well to what we deal with as fitness professionals – and I can never get enough of those types of books. My personal favs: Blink and Outliers by Gladwell. Predictably Irrational – Ariely
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee. It’s an American classic for a reason.
I’m normally not a fan of memoirs, but this is just fantastic writing and something that was recommended to me by several people a few years ago. I finally read it in 2008, and fell in love with it for its brutal honesty and storytelling.
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Movement by Gray Cook — I learned the fundamentals of human movement, and where the body should be getting it’s mobility/stability in order to stay healthy over a long period of time. This book has prevented me from building strength on a dysfunctional base.
Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jamieson — I am still in the prcoess of reading this, but it’s changed the way that I think about all training, but especially energy system training for myself and my clients.
Getthing Things Done by David Allen — This book is teaching me (I am still implementing it’s recommendations) how to be extremely effective and productive so that I have time to enjoy my life. This, in addition to hiring a life coach, has helped me lower my stress levels immensely.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill — One of the first books I read that taught me how powerful my thoughts and desires are in terms of helping me reach my goals, whether they are related to wealth, health, relationships, success, etc.
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen — Another book that helped me realize the power of the mind and the importance of directing my thoughts towards the things that I desire most in life.
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1. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie – This is the ultimate book in learning how to treat, handle, and communicate with people. After all this business is about people and relationships, and this is the first and best book on establishing those qualities.
2. Becoming a Supple Leopard – Kelly Starrett – Kelly is an innovator when it comes to mobilization, soft tissue, and restoring movement and ROM. His unique and creative mobilizations help put athletes in better positions and achieve higher performance.
3. Supertraining – Mel Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky – It’s tough to mention books about sports performance and not mention Supertraining. This is the bible of sports performance, and they don’t leave any stones unturned in this monster. Warning though, it is incredibly complicated and I don’t recommend you try reading it from cover to cover. Instead pick out sections that interest you and work through it that way.
4. Practice Perfect – Doug Lemov – This book is a must for any coach, teacher, or person in a leadership role. It truly makes you rethink how you approach your training sessions, how you communicate with your athletes/clients, and what techniques work to improve how you practice and make practice more effective.
5. Science and Practice of Strength Training – Vladimir Zatsiorski – If Supertraing is the bible, this is the cliff notes. Zatsiorski breaks down the fundamental principles of performance in a clear, easy to understand way. This should be a must on every coaches bookshelf.
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My 5 books represent our paradigm shift into understand movement and how the body functions together as a unit. These will help anyone start to understand some of the basic principles of enhancing movement.
Facebook page: Bret Contreras
This classic by Mel Siff and Yuri Verkoshansky is a must-have for any serious sports scientist. I had to read through it three times in order to truly understand much of it, and even now I’ll pick it up and glance through it and learn a thing or two.
This classic from Vladimir Zatsiorsky is a shorter and easier-to-read book on strength and conditioning that should be read prior to Supertraining as it will provide a good foundation of S&C knowledge.
Charlie Francis was a highly influential track & field coach who popularized new methods, exercises, and systems and benefited the sprinting field greatly. This book is especially valuable because Charlie includes actual training logs of his athletes.
Written in 1943, this book was Ayn Rand’s first major success. I read this in my early 20’s and it helped me realize that if you follow your passion and do things for the right reason, success is bound to follow.
This book was written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie, and all of the advice contained within is still highly applicable in today’s changing world. It contains simple but oft-ignored tips such as looking people in the eye, shaking their hand firmly, and talking to them about what they like to talk about, in addition to interesting stories and anecdotes.
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The School for Gods- Stefano D’Anna-I am a big believer in the fact that everything that takes place in our lives is a reflection of our own self. When we are complete, in peace with ourselves and life, then we make room for good things to come in life. When we are falling apart, when we have a grudge on life and people in our lives, then we make room for more negativity. This book reflects this perfectly. This book is a map and an escape plan. Its aim is to show you the path followed by an ordinary man away from an hypnotic view of the world and an accusing and plaintive interpretation of existence to escape the rut of a programmed destiny.
A New Earth- Eckhart TolleEckhart Tolle is on my top list. I think that most people’s problems come from their ego. We build an ego image in our community. We have such an ego image for everything- in front of our friends, our colleagues, our spouses and so forth. We are constantly trying to defend this ego image, and when something from the surrounding environment is threatening “the fame” and the wholeness of the ego image, we feel hurt and disappointed. Tolle does a great work in “dissecting” the ego from every single view, and explaining how a person who is free of his ego, is free of the drama in life. He emphasizes on the importance of living now, here, in the present and leaving the past behind, while having patience for the future to come.
This book totally changed my life. It does a great job in explaining how and why the world functions the way it does. It explains the laws of nature, through the perspective of a physicist and gives you the “recipe” to rule your own life. It gives you the knowledge that everything you want to achieve exists- it is placed on the coordinate system of life, and every possible outcome is dotted on the coordinate system. It is up to you and your decisions, “to connect the dots” in a way, that will draw the perfect route, to walk on the path of life you’ve dreamed of.
That’s one of my Bibles. I think that every person should get a copy of this book and read some pages every single day. It does a great job in explaining how the body functions and that pain, more often than not is a result of neglecting yourself and your body. This book will give you the tools to recover your body and enjoy an injury and pain free life.
I am really keen on nutrition. I think that food is our main tool, towards a healthy and happy life. I think that people fail to realize how important food might be and how eating real, quality food has the potential to give your body the building blocks to heal, without the use of modern medicine. I think that Weston Price does a great job at showing this. I love all his researches and evidences about the correlation between good food and good health. This is the book that will convince you that you should never eat processed foods again and that with every bite of junk food, you are eating away from your health and happiness.
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Books written by Ben Greenfield: http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/books-by-Ben/
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