The 7 Best Weightlifting Books of 2020

Learn the basics and beyond with these instructive manuals

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: "Bigger Leaner Stronger" at Amazon

"Claims that you need ​only exercise for three-to-six hours a week."

Best Budget: "The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding" at Amazon

"Teaches how to sculpt muscles and eat better."

Best for Women: "Strength Training Bible for Women" at Amazon

"Includes step-by-step workouts and simple tips for exercise."

Best About Your Body: "Strength Training Anatomy" at Amazon

"Geared toward athletes and experienced gym-goers."

Best Bodyweight Workouts: "You Are Your Own Gym at Amazon

"Outlines a number of workouts for different skill and age ranges."

Best for Beginners: "Big Books of Exercise" at Amazon

"Teaches beginners the basics of weightlifting."

Best for Competitive Weightlifting: "Olympic Weightlifting" at Amazon

"Covers everything from foundational breathing to proper form."

Best Overall: "Bigger Leaner Stronger"

Courtesy of Amazon

Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body is popular fitness guru Michael Matthews’ comprehensive book on losing weight and building muscle. This book includes sections that dispel common exercise rumors and cover a variety of workout material.

The core of Matthews’ book is an outline of a new lifestyle. Bigger Leaner Stronger explains a routine that will help readers become “leaner and stronger” through mental discipline, improved diet, and a number of specific workouts. To sum, Matthews advertises that readers need ​only exercise for three-to-six hours a week to get fit.

Best Budget: "The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding"

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding was originally published more than a decade ago, but this 800-page book is still a “#1 Best Seller” on Amazon because it covers absolutely everything. The reference book tells readers how to sculpt muscles, eat better, and start a more fruitful workout routine. The book also includes pictures and diagrams and can help readers get lean or bulk up.

Best for Women: "Strength Training Bible for Women"

Each of the three authors of Strength Training Bible for Women: The Complete Guide to Lifting Weights for a Lean, Strong, Fit Body have strong credentials. Both William Smith and David Kirchsen have degrees in physical education or exercise science, while Julia Ladewski is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and an elite, competitive powerlifter. This paperback book is designed specifically for women. It includes step-by-step workouts as well as simple tips for general exercise. The book includes advice for beginners and experts as well as routines for the gym or at home. Eighty percent of reviewers gave the book five stars with many noting the book’s clarity and brevity while it explained proper technique and exercise anatomy.

Another notable book on weightlifting for women is Michael Matthews’ Thinner Leaner Stronger, a companion book tor Bigger Leaner Stronger.

Best About Your Body: "Strength Training Anatomy"

If you’re as interested in how exercise affects your body as you are in building muscle, Frédéric Delavier’s weightlifting book, Strength Training Anatomy, is right for you. This French journalist’s book gives readers an in-depth look at how various weight-training exercises work on the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and tissue via countless, detailed, color illustrations.

The popular book is best used for reference and geared toward athletes and experienced gym-goers. All in all, the purpose of the book is to help readers understand exactly how various exercises work on the body to help improve effectiveness.

Best Bodyweight Workouts: "You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercise"

Who said you need to go to the gym for a great workout? Exercise expert Mark Lauren’s You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercise teaches readers about how to use their own bodyweight as a home gym. Focused on resistance training and “rapid” workouts, Lauren uses special forces-style workouts along with nutritional advice to help readers develop full exercise regimens at home. The book outlines a number of workouts for different skill and age ranges as well as educational material on how and why bodyweight workouts can be effective.

In addition, Lauren’s app serves as a nice complement to the book. Both bodyweight experts and beginners recommended the book.

Best for Beginners: "Big Books of Exercise"

The Men’s Health and Women’s Health Big Books of Exercise provide a great way for any beginner to get into weightlifting. Both books are written by Men’s Health journalist Adam Campbell, who holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology. These books will help beginners understand the basics of weightlifting and other workout techniques to begin to feel comfortable in the gym or at home and to develop a regimen. The books include hundreds of photos and specific routines from top trainers, such as 12-week workouts. They're also useful for those looking to exercise during an injury recovery or older athletes looking to keep fit.

Best for Competitive Weightlifting: "Olympic Weightlifting"

Written by Olympic weightlifter and coach Greg Everett, Olympic Weightlifting is a comprehensive book for both competitive weightlifters and their coaches. This book is focused on helping athletes in the sport of weightlifting rather than amateur exercise enthusiasts who are looking to bulk up.

Praised a number of USA weightlifting coaches for its accuracy and helpfulness, Everett’s book covers everything from the foundational steps of breathing to the proper forms of the snatch, clean and jerk. It also includes nutritional advice and a select number of workouts. Everett has an entire section on correcting common Olympic weightlifting errors.

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