The 7 Best Weightlifting Books to Buy in 2018

Learn the basics and beyond with these instructive manuals

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Whether you’re preparing for swimsuit season or looking to improve your fitness, developing a successful weightlifting routine is critical, but it can be difficult. If you’re new to weightlifting, there’s nothing more intimidating than walking into a gym, staring at the dumbells and having no idea where to begin. If you’re an experienced athlete, weightlifting regimens can quickly become stale as you focus on the same muscle groups again and again. For many, the answer is a great weightlifting book.

Weightlifting books are the perfect tools to help people really understand and develop a reliable routine focused on strength and fitness. They’re far more informative and comprehensive than a YouTube clip. Books can help beginners learn a comfortable and safe workout or help more experienced gym-goers find the right exercises to complement their cardio and diet. Learn more about a few of the best books on the market.

Our Top Picks

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. Matthews advertises that readers need ​only exercise for three-to-six hours a week to get fit. Most of the more than 3,400 Amazon reviews for the book are glowing, with many including before-and-after photos. One even claimed that this book has changed their life!

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 has is best used for reference and geared toward athletes and experienced gym-goers. The purpose of the book is to help readers understand exactly how various exercises work on the body to help improve effectiveness. Amazon reviewers emphasize the importance of Delavier’s illustrations for improving stretching and strength training.

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 includes pictures and diagrams and can help readers get lean or bulk up. Reviewers consistently praise the usefulness and relevance of Schwarzenegger's book despite its age.

Best Bodyweight Workout: 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.

Reviewers of Lauren’s book on Amazon point to the importance of stretching as part of the routines and sticking with the workouts. Many also pointed to Lauren’s app as a nice complement to the book. Both bodyweight experts and beginners recommended the book.

Best Beginner Weightlifting Books: 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. Amazon reviewers of the book note the book’s simplicity and effectiveness, particularly for people looking to exercise during an injury recovery. This book also is useful for older athletes looking to keep fit.

Best Competitive Weightlifting Book: 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.

Reviewers praised the book for its comprehensiveness ​while emphasizing its focus on competitive weightlifting. Some reviewers added that this book can be interesting to CrossFit athletes as well.

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