50 Health and Fitness Books to Help you Build a Better Body

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health and fitness booksI love to read.

Books inspire me. They are my continuous source of knowledge and motivation. It is inside books that I dig up new ideas and concepts that I can then test out and potentially incorporate into my life.

Essentially, books give me the information that I need to build a better body.

They empower me.

Many of the ideas that I come across I end up trying, testing and then sharing with all the fitness bloomers out there.

But why be the middle man here?

I know some of you are interested in getting straight to the source so I’m more than happy to share my list of health and fitness books that I either have on my desk or digitally hidden in my ebook reader.

Some of these I’ve read (marked with a *). A lot of them I haven’t (yet). Some of them I’ve heard good things about. Others I pulled from some top sellers lists. But my goal is to read (and sometimes re-read) each and every one of them.

If there are books that you know of that you think have value and aren’t on this list, please share them in the comments below so we can all benefit. Besides, I’m always looking to expand my library.

Here are 50 health and fitness books that should have a spot on your bookshelf.

Note: majority of the quotes are referenced from www.goodreads.com

1. The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss*

“The result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to hack the human body.”

Get this book.

2. Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon*

“A fascinating breakdown of intermittent fasting.”

Get this book.

3. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future by David Wolfe*

“Incredible analysis of the pivotal role of superfoods in promoting nutritional excellence, health and well-being, beauty enhancement, sustainable agriculture, and the transformation of diet, lifestyle, and planet.”

Get this book.

4. Primal Blueprint by Mark Scisson*

“A fascinating journey through human evolution, exposing potential health issues that arise from trying to do the right things living in the 21st century.”

Get this book.

5. Dark Side of Fat Loss by Sean Croxton

“A deep dive into the reasons behind why “mainstream” nutritional and health guidelines are completely flawed.”

Get this book.

6. The Paleo Solution – Rob Woff*

“Learn how simple nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes can radically change your appearance and health for the better.”

Get this book.

7. Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

“A (five year) scientifically-backed analysis of why the “eat less, exercise more” mantra is completely flawed and why the problem lies in the kind of calories we take in, not the number.”

Get this book.

8. Why We Get Fat: And What to do About It by Gary Taubes*

“A revelation of the bad nutritional science of the last century, none more damaging or misguided than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat, and the good science that has been ignored. A mere summary of the 500+ page monster that is Good Calories, Bad Calories

Get this book.

9. The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss

“The cookbook for people who don’t buy cookbooks. Featuring recipes and cooking tricks from world-renowned chefs, interspersed with the radically counter-intuitive advice from Ferriss.”

Get this book.

10. Starting Strength:Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe*

“Exceptionally illustrated and detailed analysis of the five most important exercises in the weight room.”

Get this book.

11. The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

“A practical guidebook for living a masculine life of integrity, authenticity, and freedom. Explore the most important issues in men’s lives from career and family to women and intimacy to love and spirituality”

Get this book.

12. Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance by Dr. Stuart McGill

“Get the latest scientific evidence on back exercise – what helps and what hurts, and why, from a world renowned authority.”

Get this book.

13. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall*

“Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run sets off to explore the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets.”

Get this book.

14. The Science of Yoga: The Myths and the Rewards by William J. Broad

“The Science of Yoga takes us on a riveting tour of unknown yoga and draws on more than a century of painstaking research to present the first impartial evaluation of a practice thousands of years old.”

Get this book.

15. You are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren

“Provides the most effective, efficient, inexpensive, and convenient routine for exercise available, this simple program requires no gym or weights—only the human body.”

Get this book.

16. Never Let Go by Dan John

“Coach Dan John breaks down the most complicated concepts of strength training and high-performance athletics in a no-nonsense, yet clever and motivating manner.”

Get this book.

17. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle*

“A New York Times bestselling author explores cutting-edge brain science to learn where talent comes from, how it grows and how we can make ourselves smarter.”

Get this book.

18. How to Eat, Move, and be Healthy! by Paul Chek

“Explore and identify your unique, individual needs and learn how to address issues that may be preventing you from looking and feeling your best. Follow this proven four-step program that has helped thousands of people look and feel their best.”

Get this book.

19. Nudge by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein*

“Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein explore the decision making process we all go through and demonstrate how thoughtful “choice architecture” can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice.”

Get this book.

20. Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May, MD

“From a physician and recovered yo-yo dieter comes an integrative, easy-to-follow plan that helps readers stop obsessing about food and weight and start nourishing their bodies and minds to build optimal health, energy and joy.”

Get this book.

21. The Evolution of Obesity by Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin

“In this sweeping exploration of the relatively recent obesity epidemic, the authors probe evolutionary biology, history, physiology, and medical science to uncover the causes of our growing girth.”

Get this book.

22. The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner

“National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner has traveled the globe to uncover the best strategies for longevity found in the Blue Zones: places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives.”

Get this book.

23. ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer

“ChiRunning is a revolutionary running technique that employs the deep power reserves in the core muscles of the trunk, an approach that grows out of such disciplines as yoga, Pilates, and t’ai chi. Discover how to run faster, farther, and with much less effort at any age.”

Get this book.

24. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier*

“Strength Training Anatomy showcases the muscles used during each exercise and delineates how these muscles interact with surrounding joints and skeletal structures. This is one of the best reference guides on the planet.”

Get this book.

25. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

“Pollan proposes a new answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Get this book.

26. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey

“A groundbreaking and fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain.”

Get this book.

27. Enter the Kettlebell: Strength Secret of the Soviet Supermen by Pavel Tsatsouline*

“Drawing on five years of developing and leading the world’s first and premiere kettlebell instructor certification program, Pavel reveals the true power kettlebells can bring us.”

Get this book.

28. Power to the People by Pavel Tsatsouline*

“Power to the People brings Russian strength training secrets to America and shows readers how to build an incredible body using simple techniques and simple fitness tools.”

Get this book.

29. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin*

“Skinny Bitch is a tart-tongued, no-holds-barred wake-up call to all women who want to be thin. Although the authors have a strong bias towards vegetarianism, this is actually a very funny and informational read.”

Get this book.

30. Clean by Alejandro Junger

“The revolutionary program to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.”

Get this book.

31. The Live Food Factor by Susan E. Schenck

“The first comprehensive guide to not only the raw food diet, but also the raw food movement itself.”

Get this book.

32. Food Matters by Mark Bittman*

“A plan for responsible eating that’s as good for the planet as it is for your weight and your health.”

Get this book.

33. The Art of Expressing the Human Body by Bruce Lee

“Revealed for the first time, an intensive and ever-evolving conditioning regime Bruce Lee used to build his incredible strength and physique.”

Get this book.

34. Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith

“This groundbreaking work in transpersonal psychology brings a fresh approach to the yoga-based Eastern chakra system.”

Get this book.

35. The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises*

“The most comprehensive collection of exercises ever created.”

Get this book – men’s version.
Get this book – women’s verson.

36. Men’s Health: Book of Muscle by Ian King

“The world’s most complete guide to building your body.”

Get this book.

37. The Complete Dynamic Warm Up by Jeremy Boyle*

“A comprehensive, full dynamic stretching course for beginners and seasoned athletes alike.”

Get this book.

38. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

“The dark side of the all-American meal. Learn how fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad.”

Get this book.

39. French Women Don’t get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

“Don’t Diet. Eat Chocolate. Drink Wine. Take Long Walks. Enjoy Life. Stay Slim. See how the French women do it.”

Get this book.

40. Convict Conditioning by Paul “Coach” Wade

“Learn how to bust free of all weaknesses and build incredible strength using the lost secrets of supreme survival strength.”

Get this book.

41. Pain Free by Pete Egoscue

“A breakthrough system for eliminating chronic pain without drugs, surgery, or expensive physical therapy.”

Get this book.

42. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell

“The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss, and long-term health.”

Get this book.

43. Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine by Simon Singh

“In this groundbreaking analysis, more than 30 of the most popular alternative healing treatments are examined for their benefits and potential dangers.”

Get this book.

44. Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John E. Sarno

“One of the world’s foremost back doctors examines new treatments to relieve pain without exercise, meditation, or physical therapy.”

Get this book.

45. Movement that Matters by Paul Check

“Provides trainers and fitness enthusiasts with the tools necessary to create functional training programs for themselves and their clients.”

Get this book.

46. Easy Strength by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline

“How to stack the strength-deck in your favor and get stronger for your sport. Feels very much like a conversation between two great coaches captured in written word.”

Get this book.

47. The Fungus Link by Doug Kaufmann

“Learn how to fight the microscopic fungi that can cause hormone problems, mental disfunction, autoimmune disease, ear nose and throat illness, wight gain and hair loss.”

Get this book.

48. Your Guide to Healthy Hormones by Daniel Kalish

“Learn how to balance your hormones naturally using simple and inexpensive natural lifestyle techniques.”

Get this book.

49. Fat is not your Fault by Dr. Bryan Walsh

“A noted nutritionist explains how to conquer the guilt of being overweight, become healthy, and change your lifestyle forever.”

Get this book.

50. TT Kettlbell Revolution by Chris Lopez*

“Discover how you can burn body fat, increase your energy levels, and dramatically increase your confidence in your body all with a single fitness tool – the kettlebell.”

Get this book.

Added to the library:

51. Primal Body Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas*

“Combining your body’s Paleolithic needs with modern nutritional and medical research for complete mind-body wellness, Primal Body Primal Mind shows how our modern grain and carbohydrate-heavy, low-fat diets are a far cry from the high-fat, moderate-protein hunter-gatherer diets we are genetically programmed for.”

Get this book.

52. It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig*

“A clear, balanced, sustainable plan to change the way you eat forever—and transform your life in unexpected ways.”

Get this book.

Conclusion

There you have it guys.

Some of the best health and fitness books on the planet.

I hope to make this list into a useful resource for everyone. Something we can all keep coming back to for new literary ideas. I’ll continue to add books to this list as I discover them.

Remember, if you’ve read or know of any awesome health and fitness books that you’d like me to add to this list, please include them in the comment section below.

And if you enjoyed the list, please share it on Facebook and Twitter (you can use the buttons on the left).

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Comments

  1. Hey Srdjan,
    Man … what a list! I can’t say that I’ve read all of them but I have read a few of ‘em. I like your suggestion to read one that is unfamiliar, just might have to give that a go.

    PS – the site is looking awesome!

  2. Great list. I have #15 and #24 at home; and have a couple of these books on my wishlist at amazon.com.

  3. Hey Srdjan,

    Good job!

    I’ve read a good few of those, and some more have just been put on my amazon wish list, hooray! I luuurrrvvve buying and reading books.

    One that you might want to consider is ‘Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, a great read and massively useful.

    There’s always more out there:)

    Cheers
    George

    • I think we definitely share the same love for reading (and buying) books, although my ebook reader has saved me a ton of cash lately. Thanks for sharing that title. I’ll check it out and add it to the list. Cheers!

  4. The 4 hour body is an amazing book and I got a ton out of it as well. The slow motion training section is a must read for anyone looking to put on lean muscle as quickly as possible. The book is backed by lab work, and scientific evidence as well. A must read for anyone interested in the science behind it all..

  5. Hello Srdjan,
    Nice post on health and fitness books, Thanks for share this list of books on health and fitness. I agree with your books collection. all books are really helpful and informative.
    Thanks for the sharing. I am sharing this post on my FB and Twitter.

  6. pheonix1754 says:

    Hi Srdjan,Pretty nice list..gonna look them up.Thanks a bunch.

  7. I was happy to see #33, The Art of Expressing the Human Body by Bruce Lee on your list! I love that book. Overall quite a good list of books you’ve put together!

    • Thanks Philip! I’m a huge fan of Bruce Lee. You seen any of his documentaries/movies?

      • Hi Srdjan,
        Thanks for your reply. I, too, am a fan of Bruce Lee. I have seen all his movies and a few different biographies/documentaries about him too. I admire him as a person, martial artist, and athlete. I have a couple other books of his as well, but The Art if Expressing the Human Body has been my favorite. I’ve been interested in
        Fitness and martial arts for most of my life. I just recently began using kettlebells which is how I came across your site (YouTube kettlebell videos :) )
        I like the message you are putting out on your website and appreciate your videos with all those great exercises!

        • Hi again,
          I forgot to mention above that I recently read another great book about exercise and fitness called The First 20 Minutes. It’s pretty new, I think its a 2013 publication and I checked it out from the library I work at. There are a few things that I am not in 100% agreement with the author about, for example she proposes (based on recent studies) that stretching isn’t really a beneficial activity whereas I feel that over the course of my life I have benefitted tremendously by stretching to maintain flexibility. Overall though, the book is excellent and is one of those books that seems to keep getting better and more interesting right up to the last chapter. If you get a chance to read it let me know what you think!
          Philip

          • Sounds like an interesting book Philip. Do you know by chance what kind of stretching the author was referring to? Static? Dynamic? Corrective? I’d be curious to know. I’ll have to pick it up and read it sometime. Thanks for sharing!

        • Thanks! I’m glad you’re liking the content! I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee too. He too, once, suffered a brutal back injury (like myself). But he fought through it and came back even stronger.

          • philip gaddis says:

            The chapter of The First 20 Minutes that discusses flexibility mainly focused on two questions. First was does stretching before exercise prevent injuries or increase performance. The second question was can you really increase your flexibility all that much by stretching. The conclusions that the research she cites is that stretching can actually be counterproductive towards increasing performance, that muscles actually seem to perform better when they are more tight than when they are stretched. I don’t really have a problem with that conclusion, it seems to make sense. The second conlusion however is a bit more questionable to me, and that is that (basically) everyone has an innate amount of flexibility and stretching will not give you any major increase over what you naturally have. The impression given is that there isn’t a lot of benefit to stretching in either case, and it may do more harm than good. I guess I am “lucky” and was born natually flexible, but at age 41 I am still just as flexible as I was when I was first becoming interested in martial arts, around the age of 10 or 11. I credit that to a lifetime of regular stretching. So perhaps the argument I would make is that stretching may not give you more flexibility than what your biological make-up allows, it will at least allow you to maintain and/or maximize that flexibility. I’m trying to rememeber if she discussed various methods of stretching (ie static, ballistic, etc). I think the point was pretty much that no stretching will make you flexible if it’s not in your genes to be flexible. I’ve known people who started exercising in their 30s after years of inactivity who became fairly flexible after months of regular stretching, so I am not convinced that the benefits are as little as these studies make them out to be. Not having done the research myself, it’s hard to say for sure, so I don’t want to sound like I am making a definitive statement, just that my experience seems to indicate otherwise.
            I’m sorry to hear about your back injury, however it seems like you have taken a bad situation and helped it motivate you to become stronger for it. That’s admirable! Certainly in your videos you show no sign of injury, so that’s a credit to your hard work and committment, and a testament to the power of our bodies to recover after injury! I remember seeing or reading that Bruce Lee put that time he was injured to good use by reading and thinking deeply about martial arts, and it was during that time that he formulated a lot of his ideas for Jeet Kune Do. If you’re willing to look hard enough there can be a positive outcome to any setback. That being said I hate getting injured myself. A few weeks back I pulled a muscle in my calf and it’s been preventing me from running, which I generally consider the most-important exercise for me, personally. Thankfully the week before I injured my leg, I had purchased a kettlebell! I have spent the past three weeks exercising with the kettlebell and it’s been wonderful! Like you said in your kettlebell manifesto, once discovered, kettlebells change the way you look at exercise. It was really love at first swing for me! I’m still hoping to get out for a nice run sometime soon though :D
            Your trip to Thailand, and your intense study of Muai Thai was really interesting to read about, sounds like something I would love to have done! I’m happy you got to have that experience!

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