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The 10 Best Bodybuilding Books



The Best Bodybuilding Books

Which are the best bodybuilding books to read?

Over the years, advancements in technology and the internet have changed the way we consume information. 

It’s now even easier to research workout routines and nutritional information. 

However, with so much information to chose from, it can be hard to know where to start or who to listen to.

Plus, consuming content online can become a bit of a headache, which is why it’s a good idea to utilize information from more traditional methods, like books, from time to time. 

Books are a great way to cut through the noise and provide focused information outside of the digital spectrum and give you the chance to learn from some of the most decorated and respected athletes in bodybuilding. 

So, with that in mind, here’s a list of the 10 best bodybuilding books to read:


Top 10 Bodybuilding Books Compared

The list of bodybuilding books and figures mentioned below has been compiled from various web sources.

These are the 10 best bodybuilding books to read:


10. The Bodybuilder’s Kitchen

The Bodybuilder’s Kitchen by Erin Stern features 100 muscle-building recipes and customized meal plans. 

It’s designed to help you understand what and when to eat and how your body uses food to burn fat and build lean muscle. 

Professional bodybuilder and two-time Miss Figure Olympia Erin Stern includes five weekly meal plans, 100 delicious fat-burning recipes, and her expert insight into what it takes to achieve a bodybuilder’s physique.

The book provides 160 pages of mouth-watering illustrated recipes to fuel every part of your day and meal plans to suit different bodybuilding goals like bulking, cutting, and carb cycling.

The Bodybuilder’s Kitchen will provide you with everything you need to fuel your workouts and improve your physique.


9. Bodybuilding: The Complete Contest Preparation Handbook

Peter Fitschen’s bodybuilding book helps you prepare for your first bodybuilding competition. 

It consists of 240 pages of high-quality information, ranging from the sports background to information about nutrition, training, and meal planning. 

The book is written by a professional natural bodybuilder and certified strength and conditioning specialist.

It offers readers scientifically supported and experience-developed guidelines to help you achieve your bodybuilding goals.

It’s split into three sections, which make it easy to read and navigate, and features over 60 photos that illustrate the body types of each division as well as mandatory poses. 

Fitschen also includes information on how to handle the offseason’s physical and emotional aspects, which is not something that’s often discussed in other bodybuilding books. 

Bodybuilding: The Complete Contest Preparation Handbook was published in 2019, so you can be sure to know that you’re getting up-to-date information and guidance. 


8. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe provides detailed instruction on every aspect of the basics of barbell exercises. 

Mark Rippetoe is an American strength training coach and author who’s worked in the fitness industry since 1978 and competed in professional powerlifting for over a decade. 

The book consists of 347 pages of easy-to-follow instructions for performing exercises like the squat, press, deadlift, bench press, power cleans, and power snatch. 

The latest edition is completely revamped with new illustrations, photographs of all the lifts, revised instruction methods, and how the human body adapts to stress through recovery. 

Starting Strength is an excellent book for anyone that’s beginning a strength training program and wants to understand biomechanical compound movements.


7. Joe Weider’s Ultimate Bodybuilding 

Ultimate Bodybuilding by Joe Weider was released in 1989 and is often regarded as the holy grail of bodybuilding books.

It follows Joe’s “Weider system” of bodybuilding, which he started developing in the 1930s and continues refining to this day. 

Pretty much all bodybuilders in the modern history of the sport have followed Joe’s principle at one point or another, including some of the greats like Lee Haney, Franco Columbo, and Lou Ferrigno. 

Weider, or “The Master Blaster” as he’s commonly known, explains everything from body part sequencing and biomechanics to nutritional best practices.

He provides information for beginners, intermediate, and advanced bodybuilders and lays the groundwork or blueprint for bodybuilding. 

Although the 528-page book was released back in the late 80s, you’ll still find that most of its principles remain relevant today. 


6. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder

This 256 page, 1993 classic was written by five-time Mr. Universe and seven-time Mr.Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The autobiography documents how Schwarzenegger became known as the “Austrian Oak” and his rise to the top of bodybuilding. 

Throughout the book, Schwarzenegger details his fitness and training secrets in step-by-step guides and includes comprehensive programs and dietary tips on how to use bodybuilding as a way to improve health. 

Specifically, his program includes a four-day split training program broken down into specific exercises that target individual muscle groups. 

You’ll see Arnold perform exercises himself in photos, and the book will provide you with a closer look into the life of one of the best bodybuilders of all time.


5. Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible

The Natural Bodybuilding Bible by Men’s Health offers readers a 16-24-week, step-by-step program for gaining muscle. 

It’s written by Tyler English, a professional bodybuilder and bodybuilding coach who won the 2010 World Natural Bodybuilding Federation Pro-Am lightweight Championship. 

The book outlines a 16-24 week course of weight lifting and nutrition that claims to help you shed body fat and stimulate explosive muscle growth. 

It walks you through exactly how to build a competition-ready body, exercise by exercise, and meal by meal. 

By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have everything you need to get in the best shape of your life. 

The Natural Bodybuilding Bible consists of 336 pages of high-quality information and was published on 13 March 2013.


4. Jim Stoppani’s Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength

Released in 2014, the Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength by Jim Stoppani covers everything you need to know about muscle and strength training. 

The encyclopedia includes 381 exercises across 13 muscle groups and 116 science-based training programs rated by duration, difficulty, effectiveness, and more. 

Stoppani was the senior science editor of Muscle & Fitness, has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, and is JYM Supplement Science’s current owner.

You’ll find definitions of key terms and concepts, explanations of the role and importance of individual muscle groups, descriptions and types, the latest nutritional information around losing fat and gaining muscle, and much, much more. 

The Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength is ideal for anyone who’s just getting started with strength training or intermediate to advanced athletes who want to improve their knowledge. 


3. Strength Training Anatomy

Frédéric Delaviers Strength Training Anatomy bodybuilding book has sold over a million copies worldwide and is often cited as one of the best bodybuilding books of all time. 

The third edition includes new exercises, additional stretches, and even more of Delaviers famous illustrations, which help you visually interpret how muscles perform during exercise. 

You’ll find over 600 full-color illustrations detailing the primary muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue, as well as some of the most common strength training injuries and how to perform exercises safely. 

The author studied morphology and anatomy at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and released his 192-page third edition bodybuilding book in 2010.

Strength Training Anatomy is best suited for those interested in understanding how strength training works and visual learners. 


2. Bigger Leaner Stronger

Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body (Second Edition) is one of the best-selling bodybuilding books of all time. 

Its author, Mike Matthews, is the Legion Athletics owner and has over a decade of weight training experience. 

His mission is to “provide time-proven, evidence-based advice on how to build muscle, lose fat, and get and stay healthy.”

Bigger Leaner Stronger is Matthews’s practical guide to strength training, based on the fundamentals of losing fat and building muscle, and utilizes time-tested, science-backed strategies and programs. 

You’ll learn what it takes to build lean muscle tissue, develop strength consistently, and reduce body fat to a point where you can see the muscles you’ve built. 

The book is presented in a way that’s easy to digest and is ideal for anyone looking to improve their overall body composition and health. 


1. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger has become known worldwide as “the bible of bodybuilding.”

The 800-page “bodybuilding bible” details tried and tested exercises, strategies, workout routines, and bodybuilding techniques.

The latest edition also brings additional sections on diet and nutrition, the prevention and treatment of injuries, sports psychology, and training techniques illustrated by some of modern bodybuilding’s most prominent stars. 

Schwarzenegger, seven-time Mr.Olympia champion, covers all levels of experience and expertise and even goes as far as to show you his secrets to dedication, training, and commitment to help you realize and achieve your fitness goals. 

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding is perfect for anyone that likes weight training and wants to build muscle. 



We hope you enjoyed our list of the 10 best bodybuilding books to read.

Our personal favorites are Strength Training Anatomy and The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding

They work well together, and both offer a unique and exciting perspective on the sport of bodybuilding. 

Our Top Pick
The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
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07/16/2024 03:56 am GMT

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best bodybuilding books to read:

  1. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
  2. Bigger Leaner Stronger
  3. Strength Training Anatomy
  4. Jim Stoppani’s Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength
  5. Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible
  6. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder
  7. Joe Weider’s Ultimate Bodybuilding
  8. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training
  9. Bodybuilding: The Complete Contest Preparation Handbook
  10. The Bodybuilder’s Kitchen

What’s your favorite bodybuilding book? Leave a comment below.

With almost two decades of lifting experience under his belt, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us around bodybuilding and supplementation. Deadlifts and barbell curls are his go-to exercises, and, when he's not writing about health and fitness, you'll find him in the gym busting out some arms! Follow Jacked Gorilla on Instagram: @jackedgorillanews

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