Books to Build Muscle


If you’re still getting your programs from various bodybuilding magazines, I’d be willing to bet you’re still skinny and having a hard time finding ways to build muscle. It’s not that those magazines contain horrible programs. They don’t. It’s that they produce horrible programs for hardgainers. If you’re a bodybuilder with a pristine diet, a complete supplement regimen, and help from an anabolic friend named testosterone, you’ll do just fine on one of those programs. If you’re not, you’re just spinning your wheels. If you’re serious about making a transformation, here are 4 must read training books.

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Over the last 6 years, I’ve spent over $10,000 on fitness books, training DVDs, seminars, and certifications.  I’ll save you the money and time, and give you my 4 picks that will encompass everything 99% of the population will need to know to make a freakish transformation. I guarantee if you read the following 4 books, you’ll know more than 90% of the population and more than 50% of the “certified” personal trainers in commercial gyms. Take the time to invest in yourself.  In no particular order:

Must Read Fitness Books for Skinny Guys to Build Muscle

Practical Programming For Strength Training – Rippetoe and Kilgore

My personal favorite. It’s a great initial introduction to periodization. It walks the reader through the novice, intermediate, advanced, and elite level training program design. Even though most of us will never get past the intermediate program design, read it from front to back. It should be required reading for all personal trainers and sports coaches. You’ll be designing your first 6 month training program within minutes of finishing the book.

Brawn – Stuart McRobert

Although I’m not a fan of bodybuilding, this is not your typical bodybuilding book. Stuart’s training philosophies are the exact opposite of most bodybuilders. 100% of the book is directed towards skinny guys. It’s all about gaining as much muscle mass as quickly as possible (with the hardgainer in mind). Read it once, takes notes, and read it again. If you keep plateauing, you’re probably committing one of the skinny guy mistakes Stuart discusses in this book.

Easy Strength – Dan John and Pavel

I’ve read this book probably 6 times in the last 8 months. It’s the “Brawn” of athletic training. Dan and Pavel are both geniuses who I’ve learned a TON from. It really opened my eyes as to how “easy” training should be.  No other book has changed my training philosophy as much as this one did. Needless to say “kill ’em” workouts are no longer part of my training programs.

Advances in Functional Training – Mike Boyle

It’s hard to have a must read list and not include something by Mike Boyle. He’s trained everyone from stay at-home moms to professional football, hockey, and baseball players. He’s a featured speaker at fitness seminars across the country, and owns Men’s Health #1 gym in the U.S.  In the above book, he tells you exactly how and why he trains his clients the way he does. He gives you systems, progressions, regressions, and more. It’s a complete training “cookbook.” It gives you everything you need to create your own “professional, thousand dollar” program. All 4 books are great for beginners and intermediates (don’t fool yourself, if you aren’t training Olympic athletes or are an Olympic athlete, you’re an intermediate). They give you just enough science to understand the “why” of what they suggest, and plenty of details regarding the “how.” All 4 books could easily be read in 1 month. Take the time to invest in your education. You’ll save thousands of dollars and years of useless training. Have favorite training book or DVD? Drop me a line and let me know what I should add to my reading list.


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