If you are serious about learning the necessary proper technique to continue to get stronger, faster, and, ultimately, fitter, then these books are required reading! These are the few books out of the many I have come across that stand out in my mind as having the biggest positive influence on my training while working out at home. These books ultimately were my coach and taught me how to work-out at home correctly and safely and have helped turn me into the coach and athlete I am today. These books gave me the tools and knowledge to know how to make better decisions before, during, and after work-outs. I have selected the books on this list because you do not need years of schooling to understand the principles and theories presented, making them a perfect tool to vastly increase your knowledge and skills on how to work-out at home. These books are books provide actionable items and many pictures that make learning and understanding easy.
Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance
In this text, Kelly Starrett, the CrossFit San Fransisco celebrity behind MobilityWOD.com, presents his system for organizing and bracing spine position and how to create stable joints through all human movement. He also breaks down most of the movements utilized in WOD at Home (squat, push-up, snatch, kettlebell swing, push press, deadlift, etc.) into step-by-step instruction to provide you check-points to be sure you are moving as efficiently and effectively as possible. The back of the book turns into an invaluable dictionary of mobility movements broken down by muscle area. If you are having any aches or pains or just want to learn how to perform basic human maintenance on yourself, than the back of this book is a gold mine! The importance of the concepts presented in this book cannot be overstated. Without these concepts, your work-outs are not at their maximal potential and you are not supplying your body with the proper alignment and stability needed to produce maximal or efficient force during your work-outs. In my eyes, this is THE book anyone who works out at home, is becoming a coach, or is a serious athlete MUST READ to understand how to unlock full athletic potential.
Additional Note: I didn’t want to include this in the actual book write-up because it is just a personal story which I have found to be common with others in my gym who have read the book. You will be so motivated to change how you hold yourself and perform that the next few weeks can be really tough. We spent most of our day trying to put ourselves into good positions while eat sat, ate, and slept, along with working-out, and as we realized how often we are in crappy positions and how hard it is to change, our lives became overwhelming. Once you take a step back and realize that you will never be perfect and introducing new habits takes time, the concepts will follow you around the rest of your life in the most positively influencing way. You will not be ignorant of good or bad positions anymore and you can make educated decisions on what you are going to do with that information. My life and body are so much better because of this book and I refer to it with my clients on a weekly basis.
Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally
Kelly has another hit right on the nose with this book. This book is focused more for the distance runner, but could be re-named, “Ready to Work-out: Unlocking your Full Fitness Potential.” The concepts of allowing yourself to move like a human being, working through pain, the importance of hydration, having full range of motion, and performing proper warm-ups and cool-downs are so transferable to any work-out routine or sport, it is another must read. This book seems to be a much easier read than Becoming a Supple Leopard, but don’t mistake ease of understanding as lack of meat in the book. There are so many take-aways from Kelly Starrett’s books, that you will keep them close to you because you will refer back to them a lot which makes this book another must read and will leave you wanting to share it with a friend, but also not wanting to let it out of your site.
Free+Style: Maximize Sport and Life Performance with Four Basic Movements
Carl Paoli is a gymnastics/movement coach at Kelly Starrett’s gym, CrossFit San Fransisco. He has an amazing way of thinking about body positions and finding out why athletes do what they do. Carl’s concepts allow you to analyze what you are doing and help you figure out if you are on the right path. If no one ever strayed from the path, then we would never have innovation. Carl’s book tells some personal stories that give a platform to think about human movement. He then provides what he calls the “freestyle four.” He presents that working progressions towards efficacy in the pistol (one-legged squat), muscle-up, handstand push-up, and the burpee will provide athletes with the foundation needed to succeed in learning most all other movements. Don’t worry, if you cannot do a handstand push-up or a muscle-up or are no where close, the point is to start building your foundation of tools needed for these four movements. By filling in your gaps using much more basic progressions, you will eventually work-up to these movements while, along the way, maximize your foundation to learn other movements used in most fitness programs and sports. This is another easy to read book full with great concepts that get you thinking outside the box. This ability to understand movement as opposed to simply memorizing and copying helps get you to a valuable level that will continue to give back to you through-out your life.
The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body
Like Kelly Starrett’s, “Becoming a Supple Leopard,” this book will motivate the hell out of you to do mobility work and give you a process and tools you need to find your blind spots that are holding you back or causing you pain and fix them. This book focuses on teaching you how to do soft tissue work on yourself to make your fascia which is through-out your body, move and behave like it is supposed to. Once you have been around fitness for a while, you realize that if you are not taking the necessary steps to maintain your body and help it recover, then you will pay the price with injury. Unless you see a chiropractor or physical therapist a few times a week, learning how to maintain yourself is a must and this book gives you the tools to manage your soft tissue needs and identify parts of your body that need work which you may have never touched before. If I hadn’t read, “Becoming a Supple Leopard” first, then, “The Roll Model” book may have been the most influential book of my life. This is another must read that will you will keep close within arms reach.
Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches
If you are serious about learning proper technique for the most technical lifts we perform, the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch, then this book is a no brainier. This book is pages and pages of amazing insight into these lifts with frame-by-frame pictures, so you see every step of the movements. This book leaves no doubt on body position, when to jump, when to pull, how to stabilize, etc. The Snatch and Clean and Jerk have so many pieces, that many new people can be overwhelmed. Especially if you are working-out without a coach, this book should be read immediately.
The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance
I’ll keep this one short. I have been on the Paleo diet since 2011 and saw immediate results. I feel better, look better, and have continued to make athletic gains in the gym. Unless there are scientific studies definitively saying that eating meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and some starch is somehow bad for you or does not encompass all the nutrients humans need, then I will be on the Paleo diet for the rest of my life.
*I should add that:
- I eat the Paleo diet plus green beans and cheese,
- I do not count calories,
- I try and eat 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% fat by estimating, and
- I have a cheat meal each Sunday to make fighting cravings throughout the week that much easier;)