A bodybuilder’s impressive physique is recognizable anywhere in the world. Building muscle mass has long-lasting health benefits. It slows down the natural muscle decline that comes with age, keeping you stronger for longer. It also contributes to better bone health.
If you are a serious bodybuilder or are looking to start working towards your ultimate fitness goals, you must be wary of hearing the same advice over and over again.
Be it on the internet, or from your friends, family or acquaintances; there’s not much of a difference in their opinion. To help you out, we’ve created a list of some of the best bodybuilding books of all time. So read on and get to work!
The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Whether you are an elite bodybuilder, a gymnast or a fitness freak, this book is a must-have. Written by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the ultimate fitness and bodybuilding guru, it covers everything related to fitness.
It covers the latest advances in weight training, bodybuilding competition, diet and nutrition, sports psychology, prevention of injuries, treatment of injuries, methods of training, etc.
All this along with some of the newest stars in bodybuilding. It contains tried- and tested tips from Arnold for sculpting, strengthening and defining each muscle. It even has strategies and tips for competitive bodybuilders, including selecting poses and handling publicity. It even talks about the history and growth of bodybuilding as a sport.
All this comes alongside Arnold’s personal way of motivation and inspiration. This book will not only help you reach your fitness goals, but it will also help you achieve your personal best.
Arnold shares his secret to dedication, training, and commitment. He shows how exactly you can take control of your body.
Bigger, Leaner, Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body (Michael Matthews)
As the title suggests, this book specializes in building the male body. It suggests simple ways that can help you gain a muscular physique without steroids, good genes, extreme diets or spending ridiculous amounts of time in the gym.
It focuses on exact methods of diet that can help you put on 10-15 pounds of lean mass easily, within a matter of a few months. It will help you discover the mistakes that most men make, leading to frustration.
It highlights three scientific laws of muscle growth that will force your body to become bigger, leaner and stronger. It can help you create flexible diet plans that will transform your body composition. It can help you build muscle while spending no more than 3 to 6 hours in the gym per week, doing fun and challenging workouts that you will enjoy.
All this comes with the added benefit of high energy levels, no aches and pains, and better spirits.
Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts (Frederic Delavier and Michael Gundill)
This book focuses exclusively on the female body. Based on anatomical features unique to women, it presents 157 exercises and 49 programs for strengthening, sculpting and developing arms, chest, back, shoulders, abs, legs, and glutes.
It provides step- by- step instructions along with anatomical illustrations to ensure understanding to maximize the efficiency of each exercise. It explains how the muscles interact with surrounding joints and skeletal structures. It also illustrates how variations of movements can isolate specific muscles to help you achieve targeted results.
It provides programs for reducing fat, adding lean muscle and sculpting the body. Whether you are beginning a regime or enhancing an existing regime, this book is a must-read.
Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength (Jim Stoppani)
This is a research-based book that covers all aspects of developing your muscles and strength.
It is a comprehensive training guide, complete with explanations of the role and importance of each muscle group, latest nutrition information for losing fat and increasing muscle mass, presentation of exercises and descriptions and examples of workout programs and their effects.
The proper technique for each exercise is tailored to the type of resistance used (weights, weight machines or bodyweight).
Each of the training programs is rated according to workout duration, level of difficulty and overall effectiveness.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Stoppanis-Encyclopedia-Muscle-Strength/dp/1450459749
You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises (Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark)
This one is written by an elite Special Operations physical trainer.
It presents a simple program that can help you realize your dream of getting into amazing shape.
The author himself has been on the front lines of preparing nearly one thousand soldiers to get them lean and strong in record time. He shares the secret to an amazing and effective regimen.
He suggests simple exercises that require nothing more than the resistance of your own bodyweight. Using the expert training, nutrition advice and motivation technique, you are bound to see rapid results.
Working out just thirty minutes a day, four times a week, you will most certainly feel the difference.
These exercises build more metabolism-enhancing muscles, burn more fat and are safer than any other exercising regime.
The workouts are divided into different levels- basic, first-class, master class and chief class. It provides 125 exercises to work every muscle from your neck to your ankles, all the while making use of the world’s most advanced fitness machine- your own body.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Your-Own-Gym/dp/0345528581
Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Douglas Kent Hall)
This is another book from Arnold Schwarzenegger, five-time Mr. Universe, seven-time, Mr. Olympia, and Mr. World. He is the ultimate face of bodybuilding. This is his autobiography that explains how he came to the sport of bodybuilding, and how he was inspired to become the star he has become.
Along with this, he shares fitness and training secrets and demonstrates a step- by- step program and dietary tips to work towards better health. This program also includes a special four- day regimen of special exercises to develop individual muscle groups. The book is also illustrated with photos of Arnold in action.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Arnold-Education-Bodybuilder-Schwarzenegger/dp/0671797484
Better Than Steroids! (Dr. Warren Willey)
Written by a former competitive bodybuilder, this book provides the secret to a bodybuilder’s perfect physique. It focuses on the importance of proper diet and not missing workouts.
It covers foundational information such as how to determine your caloric needs, the supplements you can benefit from and four different diets.
He also provides a sample 12- week plan for muscle gain and fat loss, muscle gain and maintaining fat or maintain muscle and lose fat. It emphasizes the fact that you can’t be lazy if you want a great physique and once you set your mind to it, you can reach all the fitness goals you like.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Better-Than-Steroids-Warren-Willey/dp/1425103391
Brother Iron, Sister Steel: A Bodybuilder’s Book (Dave Draper)
Written by Dave Draper, former Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe, this book is a private journey into bodybuilding. It is a standard book for exercises and provides training techniques, exercise descriptions, and nutritional strategies.
It also includes Dave’s personal experiences, insights and humorous anecdotes. It has the motivation to keep you striving forward to reach your fitness goals. Overall, a motivating and must-read book for fitness enthusiasts.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Brother-Iron-Sister-Steel-Bodybuilders/dp/1931046654
The Poliquin Principles: Successful Methods for Strength and Mass Development (Charles Poliquin)
This book is aimed at serious bodybuilding and focuses on how to plan training programs rather than on specific exercises or presenting pre-planned regimes.
The author, a Canadian strength coach discovered a ton of information about the minute details of exercising, such as the speed at which exercises should be done, and the amount of rest to be taken between exercises. They may seem like tiny issues, but make a big difference in how fast a muscle can grow and how strong it can become.
Alongside this, the book is filled with funny jabs at some of the advice that is freely available. He also points out that much of the training information in bodybuilding magazines come from editors and writers themselves since bodybuilders themselves hardly bother to tell people about what they do in the gym.
Serious Strength Training (Tudor Bompa, Mauro Di Pasquale, Lorenzo Cornacchia)
This book is for people who already have a workout regime, but want to improve upon it to gain more muscle mass, strength, and definition.
The book comes from Tudor Bompa- a well- known expert on optimal schedules for training, Mauro Di Pasquale- a leading authority on nutrition for strength training and Lorenzo Cornacchia- former bodybuilder. The result- the greatest and most effective exercises and programs for strength.
This book features scientific principles and the latest research and provides a blueprint for increasing muscle mass and achieving strength goals. It enables you to follow the general programs or tailor one to your needs through manipulation of the six training phases- anatomical adaptation, hypertrophy, mixed, maximum strength, muscle definition, and transition and proper application of your individual metabolic profile.
If you are looking to start some serious bodybuilding, this book is the perfect guide for you.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Serious-Strength-Training-Tudor-Bompa/dp/1450422446
The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You! (Adam Campbell)
If you want a better body, this book is the one for you. The most comprehensive collection of exercises ever created, this is the essential workout guide to help you reach your fitness goal.
This book will act as a body-shaping power tool for both beginners and experienced bodybuilders. It contains hundreds of useful tips, latest findings, and discoveries in health science and cutting- edge workouts from the world’s best trainers. Backed by the authority of Men’s Health magazine it features 100 fat loss exercises in 20 workouts designed by BJ Gaddour- the fitness director of Men’s Health. These are illustrated by over 1300 photographs, showing the movement of each muscle.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Mens-Health-Big-Book-Exercises/dp/1623368413
Bodybuilding: How to Build the Body of a Greek God (Epic Rios)
This book explains the importance of having a well- proportioned body and how you can get it. It explains the types of workouts, exercises, and daily training the ancient Greeks performed every day to have well-sculpted artistic bodies.
It comes with an 8- week training program that can help transform your body into a modern-day Greek God. It also provides you with information on nutrition based on the kind of food Greek Gods used to eat. All in all, it covers everything you need to know for developing an extraordinary body- the body you have always dreamed of having.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Bodybuilding-Build-Greek-Health-Fitness/dp/1548044245
Ultimate Bodybuilding: The Master Blaster’s Principles of Training and Nutrition (Joe Weider and Bill Reynolds)
This book is written firmly based on the training principles of the Weider System of bodybuilding, which has been followed by literally every bodybuilder in the history of the sport. You can certainly rely on the information presented in this book to develop a perfect physique.
It emphasizes the fact that one of the most fundamental secrets of successful bodybuilding is to know your own body and how it reacts to various training programs and nutritional practices. This book presents the examples and anecdotes from personal experiences of leading experts in the field to improve the lives, careers, and interests of people worldwide.
The text is divided into many parts; each part being separately dedicated to novice bodybuilders, intermediate bodybuilders, advanced bodybuilders, body part training, bodybuilding nutrition, the psychology of bodybuilding, etc. It depicts hundreds of different exercises along with photographs of champion bodybuilders doing them. Whether you are an experienced bodybuilder or a novice, this book is certainly a must-have.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Joe-Weiders-Ultimate-Bodybuilding-Weider/dp/0809247151
High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way (Mike Mentzer with John Little)
This book comes from the late Mike Mentzer- the first man ever to win a perfect score in Mr. Universe. It presents the high-intensity training (HIT) techniques that were used by Mike Mentzer himself.
The highly effective and proven approach followed by the book enables bodybuilders to get results and win competitions. It explains that you can get the perfect body by doing shorter and less frequent workouts each week. HIT sessions are extremely time-efficient and require roughly 40 minutes per week of training, rather than lengthy workout sessions every day that many bodybuilders are expected to put in daily.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/High-Intensity-Training-Mike-Mentzer-Way/dp/0071383301
Train Like a Bodybuilder: Get Lean. Get Big. Get Strong. (Erin Stern)
This book is a step- by- step guide to training like a professional bodybuilder and get the strong, ripped physique you’ve always wanted.
It contains over 60 step- by- step exercises, 10 structured workouts, expert guidance on nutrition, training, etc. Coming from a two- time Ms. Figure Olympia, these tried and tested techniques will help you build lean, strong muscles. Erin walks you through her techniques and teaches you everything you need to know, including how to plan your workouts, how to bulk up or cut fat for muscle definition, using nutrition to maximize the benefits of the work you put in while you’re in the gym, etc.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Train-Like-Bodybuilder-Lean-Strong/dp/1465483748
Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Advanced Guide to Building Muscle, Staying Lean and Getting Strong (Michael Matthews)
If you already know a little something about bodybuilding, want to go from being an ‘intermediate bodybuilder’ to the advanced stage, then this book is perfect for you.
This book can help you pinpoint the weak points in your physique, that when corrected, can help dramatically improve your proportions. It contains eight scientifically proven ways to break through the intermediate phase. It also has whole-body mobility routines that will not only help prevent injury but will improve your performance as well. It also guides you to help you maintain single-digit body fat percentages year-round and also talks about various dieting styles like intermittent fasting, carb- cycling and Paleo.
The content is neatly organized and backed by decades of dietary and training lessons, insights and principles, anecdotal evidence and over 250 scientific studies. It will help you push your body to its genetic potential in size, performance, and aesthetics.
Overall, this book is a must-have in your shelf, since it will help you get the body of your dreams; the kind of body that makes people wonder whether you’re on steroids, or whether you’re just a genetic freak; one that fills you with self- confidence and pride of achievement.
Definitely recommended to people who have already started working towards their perfect body goals, and are looking to break through the plateau.
Amazon link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Bigger-Leaner-Stronger-Advanced/dp/1938895258