We all have “those” books.
You know the ones – they always lay next to your bed, either with dog-ears or post-it notes to mark the most important passages.
These are the books that have helped mold you as a coach or trainer.
Today, I thought it might be helpful to give you all some insight as to my Top 10. Rick Kaselj actually gave me the idea for this post while I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago, so I really need to credit him for the idea!
Keep in mind these aren’t necessarily in any sort of order, but these are the books that I’ve most consistently referenced and referred to over the years. Enjoy!
1. Muscles Testing and Function – Kendall
My biggest takeaway from this book was not only understanding the functional anatomy, but how issues with one muscle could influence or manifest itself into issues at other muscles.
If your hip is hiked on one side, what does that do to the same side quadratus lumborum? The same-side gluteus medius?
And what influence does that have on the other side of the body?
If you’re new to training, coaching, or assessing, this book is a must-have.
2. Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance – McGill
80% of the population will suffer from lower back pain at some point in time in their lives.
Do you want to be in a situation where a client rolls in with low back pain and you’re totally shell-shocked as to what to do?
This book not only gives you a base reference of anatomy around the spine, but McGill describes a plethora of research to support his training methods.
Most importantly, I’ve used McGill’s work with great success with my clients and athletes over the past 10 years. I can honestly say I would not be the coach I am today without the work of Stuart McGill.
Random side note – Stu has an EPIC ‘stache. Need I say more?
3. The Complete Keys to Progress – McCallum
While this isn’t your typical anatomy/joint related book that you’ve come to expect from me, this is a fantastic text for those who are new to the iron game.
I read this book often as I was getting started in powerlifting, and it definitely helped me keep my focus on long-term goals and patience. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype of the next big program or routine, but at the end of the day consistent, steady progress will win out 99.9% of the time.
4. Joint Structure and Function – Norton and Levangie
Joint Structure and Function is possibly the best text I own with regards to anatomy and joints. I’m a huge fan of the pictures (Mikey like pictures!), as they help depict not only the joints themselves but the surrounding musculature. Perhaps the biggest draw to this book is the inclusion and representation of the joint capsules, which many books fail to mention or examine.
Awesome, awesome, awesome anatomy text – definitely check it out if you haven’t already.
5. Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes – Sahrmann
Another premiere text when it comes to movement and anatomy, I think this book changed the way many of us looked at movement dysfunctions. For me, the biggest take away was a better understanding of “gliding” within the joint – this isn’t exactly stuff they talk about in your basic ExSci classes at college!
The scary thing here is that Sahrmann does no tissue-based therapy such as SMR, massage, ART, etc. and still gets fantastic results. My immediate first thought was – if you take these ideas, and combine them with quality tissue work, how powerful can your methods become?
I’ll be picking up her next book soon as well. I’m sure it will live up to the hype.
6. Rehabilitation of the Spine – Liebenson
Until I met Craig Liebenson.
This book is very similar to “Muscles: Testing and Function” but has more of an overall slant towards the spine. This book also helped me better understand the assessment process, as well as how to interpret results and develop programming as a result.
7. Supertraining – Siff
And while it is great, it has its limitations.
DON’T sit down and try to read it cover to cover. 8 point font and 8.5″x11″ pages will be the ruin of you.
Instead, pick a topic you’re interested in and read up. When you’re done, find something else, and read up on that.
Siff leaves almost no stone unturned in this text, but it can be overwhelming at times, too. It’s still a fantastic text and one that every serious coach/trainer should have in their library.
8. Anatomy Trains – Myers
In this list we have anatomy texts, we have joint texts, we even have movement/assessment texts.
But what about the tie that binds all of them?
Fasica is something we’re all still trying to understand. At the end of the day, though, even if you never put your hands on someone, this book can help you understand how the body is tied together via fascia, as well as how these fascial lines can promote or inhibit quality movement.
It’s a bit on the dry side, but once you’ve mastered the basics (functional anatomy, joints, etc.), this will start to put the pieces of the puzzle together for you.
9. Science and Practice of Strength Training – Zatsiorsky
If Supertraining is the bible, this is the Cliff Notes version.
Science and Practice of Strength Training gives you a fantastic foundation for understanding how training programs work.
Why do you need to taper before a big event or workout?
How do back extensions help improve your deadlift?
What are the three primary methods to strength train?
I can’t say enough about this book – I’d imagine I’ve read it at least 10 or more times, and I always pick up something new. If you want a foundational text on strength training, I would pick this over Supertraining any day of the week.
10. Anatomy of Movement – Calais – Germain
As trainers and coaches, we all need a basic anatomy reference text.
For me, this was the one.
Again, I’m a visual learner, so the pictures and drawings in this book helped me get a better understanding of how the individual muscles and joints function.
I’m sure there are more comprehensive texts out there, but as far as true understanding and not brute memorization, this one worked really well for me.
So those are my Top 10, and I had to leave some fantastic books off the list.
What would you guys add or subtract?
Any great books that I’ve flat-out forgotten?
I’ll be looking forward to some good discussion in the Comments below!
All the best