In this post, I will provide you with the best bodybuilding books of all time that can help you get the physique you always dream of.
When people start lifting, they think it’s going to be easy to gain lean muscle or get the infamous six-pack abs.
They say things like, “I don’t want to get too big!”, thinking they would exercise too hard and get swollen in one night.
The truth is, most people quit going to the gym after a few months because they don’t see any noticeable results.
If you think about it, the fundamental of bodybuilding is simple: proper workout, proper nutrition, and proper rest.
But since the era of internet, we’re constantly being exposed to a lot of information on bodybuilding, ranging from the good and bad ones (most of them are broscience).
That’s why I curated the following books on bodybuilding, to simplify things and to make sure you’re learning from the right person.
1. Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body by Michael Matthews
If you want to achieve a lean, muscular, strong and healthy body as quickly as possible you don’t need to grind out hours a day in the gym or overeat clean food to get ripped.
That’s why bodybuilder Michael Matthews has gathered the scientific research and built a simple-to-follow program to ultimate male bodybuilding.
Bigger Leaner Stronger reveals exact methods of diet and training that lead to a 10-to-15-pound increase of lean muscle mass, with maximum results for your efforts.
Furthermore, it shows you how to build muscle and lose fat while eating healthy foods that never leave you feeling starved or like you’re on a diet.
It will show you how to master the inner game of fitness and create your own self-discipline to build the body of your dreams.
- All in one training system that delivers huge growth.
- Shows how to apply the simple laws of muscle growth.
- A year’s worth of workouts including supplement tips that will save you money and recipes to help you enjoy your food while getting shredded.
2. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier
Gain a whole new understanding of how muscles function with exercises, stretches and more from Powermag’s Editor Frederic Delavier’s key illustrations.
As Editor of Powermag, and journalist for Le Monde du Muscle, and contributor to Men’s Health Germany, Delavier creates a resource of anatomy with helpful insights from his experience.
The color illustrations show primary muscles worked along with relevant surrounding bones, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue to provide an “X-ray” insight of how muscles work.
With one-of-a-kind color illustrations and strength training advice, Strength Training Anatomy brings muscle anatomy to life in a way that will help you picture the muscles as you work out.
Plus, there is a new section offering insight into common strength training injuries and safety precautions to help you exercise safely.
- Over 600 full-color illustrations.
- Anatomical exercise depictions illustrate superficial and deep muscle positions.
- Science-based depictions of muscle during exercise.
3. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe
With the third edition, Starting Strength builds on one of the best and most useful fitness books to create one of the most detailed instructions on basic barbell training.
After six years of testing and adjustment, the third edition has added the latest teaching methods and updated bio-mechanical analysis.
You find solid training such as stress/recovery/adaptation used worldwide to explain the success of training methods.
Find out why barbells are the most effective methods of bodybuilding.
The methods described work for all body types, man, woman, young, old, fit and not so fit.
- Detailed instruction and methodology for implementing barbell training.
- Complete and easy to follow instructions to barbell exercises.
- All new photographs and improved illustrations to show the exercises and the science behind them.
4. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revised by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins
This classic bodybuilding book covers every level of weight lifting expertise.
With Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal experience, it shows how to manage your body and how to recognize your own gifts and potential for greatness.
The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding gives you a comprehensive listing of health, nutrition, weight training, sports psychology, treatment and prevention of injuries each illustrated with some of bodybuilding’s newest stars.
You get to see the many aspects of bodybuilding, from tips on strengthening to health and diet, all with Arnold’s special inspiration throughout.
As it is organized for easy access to expert advice on topics; including effective strength training methods, prevention and treatment of sports injuries, and comprehensive nutrition, you have it all at your fingertips.
- Training methods and tips to define each muscle of the body.
- “Bodybuilding Hall of Fame” photo gallery.
- All-encompassing resource to help you with the latest advances in bodybuilding.
5. You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises by Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark
An elite Special Ops physical trainer shows you how to use the resistance of your own bodyweight to look better and achieve a higher level of fitness.
Elite trainer Mark Lauren packs in the exercise regimens that he has used to train nearly one thousand soldiers getting ready for the front lines.
With this novel new way of working out, you can work out almost anywhere, whether in the living room, yard, office or while traveling in a hotel room.
Shows you how to achieve rapid results with working out just thirty minutes a day, four times a week.
You Are Your Own Gym reveals how Lauren’s special regimen and motivation is safer than weightlifting and that it burns fat and builds more high metabolism muscle.
- Includes workout levels: Basic, 1st Class, Master Class, and Chief Class, to help you get started.
- 125 exercises to work each and every muscle.
- A do-anywhere physical training program.
6. The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You! By Adam Campbell
Adam Campbell, Editor of Men’s Magazine, reveals plenty of exercises to choose from.
The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises shows you how to mix it up with new exercises from a list that you are sure to have not seen in its entirety.
Let’s face it. Doing the same exercise can be boring. No need to look up online exercises to make the gym workout less boring. They are all organized and easy to look up.
Additionally, you will find 12-week work out plans that help you get back into working out.
Not only will you find plenty of exercises, you will find correct posture and common mistakes that cause injuries.
- List of exercises grouped by muscle groups and their ideal exercise.
- Stretching exercises telling what part of the body is stretched.
- A section on losing weight.
7. Jim Stoppani’s Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength by Jim Stoppani, Ph.D.
The comprehensive training guide helps you understand the best equipment and the optimum exercises to develop muscle and strength.
It shows you the definitions of key bodybuilding concepts and the effects of many types of workouts.
Jim Stoppani brings evaluations of bodybuilding equipment options to help you know your way around the gym.
You can learn proper form to each exercise for the muscle group you want to build.
As it ranks training programs by duration and time frame to specific results, you can choose what works best in developing your program.
- A research-based guide to bodybuilding concepts, terms, and equipment.
- 381 exercises for 13 muscle groups and the whole body.
- Presentations and evaluation of training programs.
8. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Douglas Kent Hall
A complete picture of the education of Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilder; will show you the special motivation he used to succeed.
In addition to Arnold’s story, it shows you how to get started in bodybuilding right away.
Offers a complete bodybuilding program that bodybuilders of any level and experience can pick up and gain more insight to break to higher levels of achievement.
Arnold also reveals some of the many secrets that discovered from years of training to help grow muscle and increase recovery.
The easy to read biography shows the emotional roller coaster that Arnold Schwarzenegger endured on his way to becoming a seven-time winner of the coveted Mr. Olympia title.
- Biography of Arnold Schwarzenegger from a small town in Austria to Mr. Olympia.
- Written for athletes who want to compete in bodybuilding.
- Shows the special brand of inspiration and success that goes well beyond bodybuilding.
9. Better Than Steroids by Dr. Warren Willey
Obtain optimal health and fitness through select nutritional programs and exercise programs.
With focused nutrition and dedicated workouts, Dr. Warren Wiley shows you how to optimize your bodybuilding and realize your goals.
Keep this as a bodybuilding reference in the gym bag and on the bookshelf.
Better Than Steroids has helped thousands of people lose weight and maintain optimal health.
That being said, it will show beginner bodybuilders in an easy to understand way how to learn proper diet and how to make your body work for you.
- Sample 12 week goal plans to show which eating plan and training type work for you.
- A tool chest of eating tips and training techniques.
- A quick resource for advances in bodybuilding tools and techniques.
10. High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way by Mike Mentzer and John Little
High-Intensity Training or HIT, the bodybuilding techniques of Mike Mentzer, enables bodybuilders to get results with shorter more effective workouts.
With only 40 minutes PER WEEK training, you can workout the Mentzer way saving time and growing muscle.
High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way, reveals proven techniques to help bodybuilders get results and win competitions.
Its chock full of biographical information, professional photos of Mentzer’s workouts and competition poses to motivate and instruct you as a serious bodybuilder.
Furthermore, it shows you the science of productive bodybuilding to help you with fail-safe principles that build maximum muscle size and strength.
- High-Intensity Training HIT techniques.
- Inspirational Photos of Mentzer, the first man winning a perfect score in the Mr. Universe competition.
- Biography of Mike Mentzer.
11. Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts by Frederic Delavier and Michael Gundill
A new guide and a standard for women’s strength training.
Delavier reveals exercises and techniques to reach the goals you want with 290 color illustrations, 157 exercises and 49 exercise programs.
You will see illustrations of workouts and in them the muscles that interact with each other to maximize the efficiency of the program.
You will find the exercises, workout programs, and advice you need to reach your bodybuilding goals.
In addition to illustrations, Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts reveals the workouts that help bodybuilders of all levels learn how to sculpt each-and-every body region while losing fat and adding lean muscle.
- Step-by-Step instructions work together with illustrations.
- 290 full-color illustrations, 157 exercises, and 49 workout programs.
- Sample workout plans for beginner, advanced, and professional.
12. Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding: The Complete A-Z Book on Muscle Building by Robert Kennedy
Explains the ups and downs of the history of bodybuilding, including history, lifestyle, nutrition, supplements, and steroids.
Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding: The Complete A-Z Book on Muscle Building covers most of what you want to know about professional bodybuilders with articles and photos of well-known bodybuilders.
You can discover the sacrifice and trials famous bodybuilders endured and placed on themselves to reach their level of success.
Additionally, Kennedy reveals the extreme circumstances uncovering some of the huge risks that former bodybuilders have taken and lost to in the name of winning, and competition.
Covers the history of bodybuilding, exercising, tanning, nutrition, and poses, with sections for beginners and advanced alike.
- Articles and photos of professional bodybuilders.
- Sections give insight into tips and tricks used by competition-winning bodybuilders.
- From workouts to diet plans, has information to help you improve your fitness and overall health.
13. Brother Iron, Sister Steel: A Bodybuilder’s Book by Dave Draper
Dave Draper tells his tale of bodybuilding and how he succeeded to the titles of Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and Mr. World.
You will find Draper’s humor and candidness draw you into the heart and soul of the bodybuilder
Learn the motivations and personal insights, Draper’s delight of iron-work, and his style to take your journey of bodybuilding to new levels of clarity.
Lessons hit home with the clarity that is the personal candor and rhythm that only Draper can make; he elegantly shows how your muscles work with the weights of the bodybuilder.
Training enthusiasm abounds with Brother Iron, Sister Steel.
- Poetic on bodybuilder lifestyle and informative on routines and specific exercises.
- Draper’s insights and personal recollections provide inspiration and readiness to hit the gym.
- Genuine help for those starting out with bodybuilding.
14. Championship Bodybuilding: Chris Aceto’s Instruction Book For Bodybuilding by Chris Aceto
Packed with information on the latest techniques, Championship Bodybuilding guides you how to build a great body or how to build a great body for professional competition.
Chris Aceto divides the book into three parts: novice, intermediate, and experienced bodybuilders to further elaborate on specific exercises.
Learn how to maximize your effort with the training sections that describe training schedules, repetition ranges, size and endurance and an exercise prescription that matches your ability.
Furthermore, each exercise is drawn with a three-dimensional diagram that allows you to grasp the range of motion of each exercise.
Of course, the latest supplements are covered, along with insight into fat-burning, aerobics and building a high metabolic rate.
- Comprehensive and easy to understand guide to develop your exercise plan.
- Organized training section builds your knowledge of bodybuilding.
- Nutrition section and discussions keyed to all levels of expertise.
15. Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible: A Complete 24-Week Program For Sculpting Muscles That Show by Tyler English
Written with professional bodybuilding in mind, Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible, reveals the total-body diet and workout plan.
In a highly organized layout, Tyler English has laid down a how-to manual to win at bodybuilding competitions with only a dedication to diet and muscle building technique.
With this dedication to nutrition, you learn how many macronutrients are required and where to get them to best develop your body type and lean body mass.
You will find a how-to guide on how to win your first bodybuilding competition purely, and naturally on guts, grit, and dedication.
The complete 24-Week program offers loads of flexibility in workout plans where you choose from 3, 4 and 5 day splits to best match your ability.
- Shows how to pack on pounds of lean muscle training and eating natural foods.
- Insightful guidance to bodybuilder tools of the trade, history, tanning, and posing.
- Detailed explanations and pictures of every exercise.
16. Building the Classic Physique: The Natural Way by Steve Reeves, John Little, and Bob Wolff, Ph.D.
Focused on building the classical statuesque physique, Steve Reeves writing style speaks to bodybuilders whether you are 20 years old or 50.
Written from the time and mindset where bodybuilders strived for health and vitality. No bulking, no cutting that will cheat the body of genuine longterm health.
Reveals insightful routines to be used often as routine training and for bodybuilding competition with a higher intensity to whip up shape.
Building the Classic Physique shows how to maximize your bodybuilding sets so you won’t hold anything back, known as “down the rack system.”
The workout guidelines demonstrate a standard of thinking that leads to vitality and aesthetic based on Greek and Roman ideals of male body perfection, the V tapered back with a slim waist and broad shoulders.
- Photos and magazine excerpts of Steve Reeves offer inspiration.
- Provides a sensible program to a natural, classic symmetric physique.
- All natural diet and exercise approach to bodybuilding.
17. Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and William J. Kraemer
Science and Practice of Strength Training helps you navigate the complexity of strength training programs and how to find what works best for you.
The training approaches speak to population blocks, women, young athletes, and seniors.
And this is further divided into three specific parts: strength training, methods, and training for the three population blocks.
Together the authors have trained more than 1,000 athletes which they meld into solid advice and coaching concepts you can apply to your workouts and your group.
The expanded and updated coverage of strength training will ground you in the foundations of bodybuilding technique.
- How muscles adapt to strength training based on scientific study.
- Learn safe and effective training practices.
- Shows how to develop physical training programs.
18. The Poliquin Principles: Successful Methods for Strength and Mass Development by Charles Poliquin
The Poliquin Principles offers the experienced bodybuilder a huge amount of readable training tips to optimize training programs.
The in-depth discussions of Poliquin’s studies show him as a virtual coach that bodybuilders can learn from and grow from his coaching.
A game changer that will show you concise instructions to change your strength training to grow muscle mass.
Where it may lack in editing and photography, the real beauty of Poliquin’s studies comes from the huge variety of ways to alter your workout that improve your training.
A clear and concise book on strength training with scientific analysis tips and training to improve your workout.
- Offers myriads of variations to strength training.
- One of the foremost experts on strength training.
- Scientific analysis of weight lifting to show how you can best modify your exercises and see mass growth.
19. Serious Strength Training by Tudor Bompa, Mauro Di Pasquale, and Lorenzo Cornacchia
With the latest most effective exercises, Serious Strength Training will bring your workouts to the next level.
Bompa, DiPasquale, and Cornacchia construct the blueprint for increasing muscle mass and gaining strength from solid well explained scientific principles.
You can uncover the general program for your needs, or tailor it with an adaptation of the six training phases to your specific needs.
Additionally, you will find the latest and most effective exercises to build hardcore strength.
If you want more after you’ve put the effort and time to build a solid body, Bompa and his co-authors deliver the scientific research and muscle building exercises to grow your muscle mass and entice your appetite for bodybuilding.
- Choose from 67 muscle building exercises and diet plans.
- Programs are detailed in six training phases from all aspects of muscle conditions.
- Nutritional plans accommodate the six training phases of your workout plan.
20. Beyond Brawn by Stuart McRobert
Apply the knowledge of drug-free bodybuilders on how to increase muscle mass and strength without great genetics and without steroids.
Beyond Brawn takes you to the inside, practice side of weight training.
McRobert propels you into the detailed and practical know-how of bodybuilding and informs you of expert bodybuilding technique.
With 23 chapters with exercises and nutritional guidelines, McRobert shows you how to apply hard work and discipline to reach your bodybuilding goals.
You will find personable and effective bodybuilding training methods to build long-term muscle mass with a healthy and sustainable body.
- Shows how to grow muscle mass with weight poundage adjustments.
- Recommendations and principles to grow and maintain muscle mass.
- Straight talk on the timeless building blocks to building a brawny physique.
Quick Question: What Is The Hardest Thing About Bodybuilding?
Is it the exercise? The diet? Or having the motivation to go to the gym?
Or maybe you want to share your tips on bodybuilding & weightlifting so other aspiring bodybuilders will benefit from it.
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below!