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11 Best Books About Personal Training (+4 Bonus Recommendations)

Are you a personal trainer looking for direction and inspiration to become a better fitness professional and build a successful business? 

If so, you should not overlook books because they can be a source of timeless wisdom, effective and evergreen strategies, and invaluable tips that could make you go, “Aha!” 

To that end, we’ve compiled a list of some excellent personal training books that can make you a better coach, communicator, and business person. 

Let’s discuss.

The 11 Best Books on Personal Training

1. Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy by Brad Schoenfeld

Though most people now see Brad Schoenfeld as one of the foremost experts in the field of muscle hypertrophy, he began his career as a personal trainer and writer. 

Brad achieved decent success in natural bodybuilding and has since transitioned into exercise science, where he seeks to answer questions that have fascinated him for decades. Some include:

  • What is the best training frequency?
  • How much weight is ideal for hypertrophy?
  • Does nutrient timing matter? If so, to what extent?

Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy go over these questions and many others.

Personal trainers should read the book because it provides good explanations with reasonable scientific backing to some strength training questions we’ve all pondered at some point. The book was most recently updated in 2020 to account for some of the new findings in the literature.

Check it out on Amazon.

2. NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training (Third Edition) by Brad J. Schoenfeld and Ronald L. Snarr

NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training is one of the best personal training books every aspiring fitness professional should read. 

Written by Brad Schoenfeld, the author of the first book on our list, and Ronald Snarr, a foremost expert in exercise physiology, this book is packed with valuable information you can apply to your practice.

Unlike some fitness books, this one is written for trainers and coaches looking to become more knowledgeable in the field and better serve their clients. The third edition was produced to reflect some of the latest research developments.

The book includes plenty of new content on biomechanics, muscle structure and function, the adaptive response to working out, nutrition, client assessment, and more. 

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Put simply; it is one of the best personal trainer books you should read to elevate your practice and learn how to write better training programs, coach your clients in their nutrition, assess their movement, and much more.

Check it out on Amazon.

3. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (7th Edition) by National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

NASM Essentials to Personal Fitness Training is more of an alternative to the NSCA’s book, but eager coaches can read both. The 7th edition is jam-packed with even more helpful information and plenty of illustrations, making it easier to grasp most concepts. 

Further, NASM’s essentials cover all the information you need to pass their exam and become a NASM-certified personal trainer.

Personal trainers should read the book to expand their knowledge, prepare for the NASM exam to get certified, and learn what it takes to land a good job.

Check it out on Amazon.

4. Ignite the Fire by Jonathan Goodman

Building a career in personal training can feel vastly complicated and weigh on your confidence, causing you to doubt yourself. Plenty of questions pop up, and it certainly doesn’t help that you’re unsure where to start.

What certificate to pursue? What jobs to apply for? How to land clients, and, perhaps even more importantly, how to deal with difficult people?

Ignite the Fire by Jonathan Goodman is one of the best personal training books because it breaks it down for you. Jonathan has been a successful trainer for nearly two decades and has helped countless trainers find the right path in the fitness industry.

The book also covers essential information on money management, building multiple income streams, writing workout routines, and more.

Check it out on Amazon.

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5. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Though some people see Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning and Essentials of Personal Fitness Training as the same, the two books differ significantly. 

Where Essentials of Personal Fitness Training goes over plenty of theoretical and practical information personal trainers need, Essentials of Strength and Conditioning leans more toward specific information someone might need to become a certified strength and conditioning specialist. 

Learning essential strength and conditioning concepts is highly beneficial for personal trainers interested in understanding how and why certain things work. It expands on:

  • Biomechanics of resistance training
  • The endocrine system and its response to working out
  • Training adaptations
  • Age and sex-related differences
  • Nutritional strategies

You will come across some concepts and ideas found in other books for personal trainers, but there is also plenty of unique information that will make you a better coach.

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6. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking about books for personal trainers, but we’ve included it in this list because it provides a lot of value. 

The book gives valuable insights into human behavior, motivation, and why we do what we do. It combines theoretical information with many practical instructions on building better habits and breaking bad ones in a simple and organized way. 

As a trainer, you will play a role in your client’s habits, so it’s important to understand how that happens. Helping your clients build better habits and break the ones holding them back will help them stay consistent more easily and see better results in the long run.

Check it out on Amazon.

7. Strength Training Anatomy (3rd Edition) by Frederic Delavier

The third edition of Strength Training Anatomy is one of the best books for personal trainers who care about their professional development. 

While there are plenty of anatomy and physiology books, the one by Frederic Delavier is perhaps the best one you can read to gain a deep understanding of how the human body works, how human movements occur, and what muscles work during various activities.

With countless diagrams and simple instructions, Strength Training Anatomy gives personal trainers the insights they need to understand how everyday exercises affect the human body. 

The book also covers anatomy, leverages, and what positions might put people at risk of injuries––all of which is must-know information for someone aspiring to coach others.

Check it out on Amazon.

8. Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew

Learning how to write good programs, teach exercises to clients, and get them interested in fitness are valuable skills every personal trainer needs. However, these are far from the only things that go into a successful personal training practice.

Conscious Coaching is one of the best personal training books, not because it explains how an exercise affects the body or why a particular progression model works, but because it teaches coaches how to engage clients correctly.

Brett Bartholomew has had a long and successful personal training career, which has helped him understand how effective communication occurs and how one develops a good relationship with their client. 

In his words, “No skill will separate a coach or any other professional, more so than the ability to communicate more effectively.”

The book revolves around emotional buy-in, which essentially refers to people’s investment in fitness––how motivated someone is to reach their goals and their belief that doing so is possible.

Check it out on Amazon.

9. Change Maker by John Berardi

As the book’s subtitle suggests, Change Maker is about turning your passion for health and fitness into a powerful purpose and a wildly successful career. 

Like Ignite the Fire by Jonathan Goodman, Change Marker focuses on building a thriving personal training career and standing out among aspiring fitness professionals. 

The book is jam-packed with valuable information on choosing your area of specialty, building relationships, getting new clients, building a reputation, understanding your client’s needs, and more. All the information is outlined in a simple-to-follow, step-by-step fashion, making it easier to execute.

Check it out on Amazon.

10. Strength Training for Fat Loss by Nick Tumminello

Strength Training for Fat Loss is among the fitness books every personal trainer should read to better understand fat loss and how to help each client.

Many of your clients will come to you seeking to lose weight, and knowing how to coach them effectively will lead to better outcomes. 

Nick Tumminello has done a fantastic job of putting together a complete book that teaches personal trainers and everyday gym-goers how to train and eat for fat loss. Some of the information in the book goes over:

  • Effective exercises for the entire body
  • Step-by-step instructions on putting together effective routines
  • Realistic and sustainable nutrition recommendations
  • Home, gym, and bodyweight training suggestions for optimal results

Check it out on Amazon.

11. Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe

Starting Strength is another valuable book for personal trainers interested in understanding barbell training and what makes it great. 

Suppose you don’t enjoy doing and teaching barbell exercises. The book won’t offer much value in that case because most of the information revolves around barbell lifts, biomechanics, step-by-step instructions, and barbell programming.

man deadlift barbell

However, starting Strength is an excellent read if you’re interested in learning about simple and effective training methods that can benefit a wide range of people. The book dives deep into five core barbell lifts (squat, bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and power clean), the biomechanics of each, how the movements affect the body, and how to program them in the best way for long-term results.

Filled with many photographs and illustrations, Starting Strength provides simple-to-understand instructions for beginners and the necessary nuance for coaches and personal trainers.

Check it out on Amazon.

4 Valuable Books to Expand Your Personal Training Business

Reading fitness and nutrition books is great, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just that information. Becoming a successful personal trainer requires a good understanding of human psychology, body language, business, marketing, and effective communication.

To that end, we highly recommend four additional books for personal trainers:

1. What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins

Learning to read your clients and understand their intentions is a lengthy process that takes time and experience. 

One thing that sets apart an awesome personal trainer from an average one is their deep understanding of body language, which allows them to know what their clients are thinking and planning to do next. 

What Every Body Is Saying focuses on body language and how small motions can tell you a lot about a client––how they feel, how invested they are, and if they are likely to continue working with you.

Check it out on Amazon.

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People is arguably the most popular book on our list, and it leans heavily toward socializing. 

As its title suggests, the book teaches you time-tested core principles on effective communication, getting people on your side, and helping them change for the better––without them even realizing it. 

The book teaches you how to make friends and equips you with the necessary skills to communicate with prospective clients, develop relationships, and build a successful career.

Check it out on Amazon.

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3. How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes

Does it sometimes feel like an invisible wall stands between you and a client? You’re good at conversing with most people, but some of your clients refuse to open up, no matter what you try.

If that’s the case, How to Talk to Anyone is an excellent read. The book covers 92 tips to converse with anyone, no matter how closed off or disengaged they might initially look.

You learn how to build deep and lasting relationships with people naturally and effortlessly.

Check it out on Amazon.

4. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Everyone wants to be a successful personal trainer, but few people consider what it takes. 

Personal training books on training and nutrition provide an excellent foundation and the necessary knowledge to coach people, but none of that matters if you can’t market yourself and get people to hire you. 

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing was published in 1994, but many of the lessons inside have stood the test of time and are still relevant today. It teaches you core marketing principles that show you how to market yourself, stand out, and be more appealing to prospective clients.

While not every lesson in business books applies to personal trainers, most of the information in 22 Laws is helpful, at least to some degree.

Check it out on Amazon.

Conclusion

Building a successful personal training business is a long and challenging journey. 

The first 11 books on our list provide you with all the information you need to get started, earn the right certificates, land a good job, and effectively coach people.

Some of the books lean more toward the career aspect of personal training, whereas others dig into the nitty-gritty of fitness, biomechanics, programming, the stress response to working out, etc. 

We’ve also shared four books that teach you valuable lessons on good business strategies, marketing, effective communication, body language, and other details that might be useful on your journey.

You don’t have to read all the books on our list. In fact, it’s best to start with one or two. We highly recommend the following:

If you’ve already established your practice, you probably know how challenging it can be to organize your client roster and stay up-to-date with everyone. Fortunately, using the right tool can make the process much easier, so don’t miss out on the ultimate personal training software––try Hevy Coach today!

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