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MUST READ BOOKS – STRENGTH & CONDITIONING

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strength and conditioning books

Strength & Conditioning is an extremely vast topic and there are hundreds of very good reads which can be recommended. But I would be dividing this topic into various sub-topics to simplify the suggestions and limit them to the topic at hand.

Here are the my recommendations for ‘Must-Read-Books’ for Strength & Conditioning:

  1. NSCA – Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning – this book generally tops the list, whenever there is a discussion of strength & conditioning resources. Probably one of the best books to study, and is the main reference text for the NSCA CSCS certification course. This comprehensive resource, created by 30 expert contributors in the field, explains the key theories, concepts, and scientific principles of strength training and conditioning as well as their direct application to athletic competition and performance.

The book provides the most comprehensive information on organisation and administration of facilities, testing and evaluation, exercise techniques, training adaptations, programme design and structure and function of body systems. Its scope, precision and dependability make it a definitive reference for strength and conditioning professionals to consult in their everyday practice.

  • Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe Starting Strength has been called the best and most useful of fitness books. No other book on barbell training ever written provides the detailed instruction on every aspect of the basic barbell exercises found in this book. And while the methods for implementing barbell training detailed in the book are primarily aimed at young athletes, they have been successfully applied to everyone: young and old, male and female, fit and flabby, sick and healthy, weak and already strong. Many people all over the world have used the simple biological principle of stress/recovery/adaptation on which this method is based to improve their performance, their appearance, and their quality of life. Starting Strength is your complete guide to developing strength — the foundation of athletic performance and the key to long-term health.

It explains the mechanical basis of barbell training. Complete, easy-to-follow instructions for performing the basic barbell exercises: the squat, press, deadlift, bench press, power clean, and the power snatch. How the human body adapts to stress through recovery, and why this is the foundation of the development of strength and lifetime health. How to program the basic exercises into the most effective program for long-term progress, and much more.

  • Supertraining – Yuri V. Verkhoshansky & Mel C. Siff – this book is not for everyone. It needs deep scientific understanding and is a tough book to read. Though, certainly not a user friendly book, but is surely one of the finest strength training books every written.

The books offers extensive information on topics like: The shock method, The development of adaptation process during the long term sport activity, The “compensatory adaptation”, Current Adaptive Reserve of the human organism, The strategy to manage the adaptation in the training process * The specificity of protein synthesis in the adaptation process, The structural reconstructions during the adaptation process and the phenomenon of Supercompensation, Heterochronism of adaptive reconstructions, The function efficiency in a high – adapted organism, The optimal regime of adaptation, The phenomenon of immune defence decrease, The general schema of adaptation process during the sport activity, The practical aspects of the Adaptation Theory, The future developments of the use of Adaptation Theory in sport This book is a must have for any athlete or coach. Every topic is covered in almost 600 pages. Strength and the muscular system, Philosophy of physical training, The muscle complex, Adaptation and the training effect, Sport specific strength training, Factors influencing strength production, The means of special strength training, The methods of special strength training, Organization of training, Strength training methods, Designing sports specific strength programs, Restoration and stress management, Combination of resistance methods, The use of testing, Overtraining, PNF as a training system, Models for structuring the annual training, Preparedness and the training load, Periodisation as a form of organization, Plyometric etc.

This is not a book you can just read through in leisure. It needs a lot of time and effort and repeated references to understand. You may have to read and re-read it in parts, slowly and gradually.

  • Strength Training – NSCA – Written by a team of experts chosen by the NSCA, Strength Training combines the most valuable information with best instruction for proven results: Assessing strength to personalize programs, Incorporating new exercises and equipment for increased intensity, Increasing muscle mass as well as strength, power, and muscular endurance, Preventing injuries, Improving performance

Whether you’re launching a lifting program or fine-tuning a serious training regimen, Strength Training will fill any knowledge void and correct the misconceptions to ensure proper technique, safety, and progressions. Multiple program options for specific machines, free weights, body weight, and other types of apparatus provide the flexibility to tailor your training to personal preferences or needs. It’s the authoritative guide from the world’s authority on strength training.

  • Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training – NSCA – It is a practical resource for current and aspiring strength and conditioning professionals and personal trainers. With unmatched visual demonstration of a variety of free weight and machine exercises, the text is a valuable tool for those preparing for NSCA certification and for others who design programs for athletes and clients of all ages and fitness levels. The fully updated, full-colour reference explains 70 resistance training exercises with step-by-step instructions, photos, and online video demonstrations. 

Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training, is organized by body region, including total body, lower body, upper body, and core, and focuses on specific resistance training exercises that pertain to each region. Every chapter contains a table that describes each exercise’s concentric action, predominant muscle groups, and muscles involved, enabling readers to understand the impact of the exercises on each body region. To reinforce fundamental techniques, the text includes guidelines related to general safety, tips for breathing and spotting, preparatory body position, and weight belt recommendations. 

Exercises are explained through sequential instructions and photos to ensure that readers will learn the safest and most effective technique. Accompanying checklists identify the correct grip, stance, body position, and range of motion for each exercise. Online videos demonstrate proper technique as well as common errors so that users can recognize incorrect techniques and make appropriate adjustments. 

  • Science & Practice of Strength Training – Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, William J. Kraemer & Andrew C. Fry –  this is a favorite book among strength and conditioning professionals. Together the authors have trained more than 1,000 elite athletes, including Olympic medal winners, world champions, and national record holders. Influenced by both Eastern European and North American perspectives, their experience and expertise are integrated into solid principles, practical insights, and directions based on scientific findings.

Science and Practice of Strength Training, shows that there is no single program that works for everyone, at all times and in all conditions. It addresses the complexity of strength training programs while providing straightforward approaches to take under specific circumstances. Those approaches are backed with physiological concepts, ensuring readers gain a full understanding of the science behind the practice of strength training. In addition, the authors provide examples of strength training programs to demonstrate the principles and concepts they explain in the book.


The book is divided into three parts. Part I focuses on the basis of strength training, detailing basic concepts, task-specific strength, and athlete-specific strength. Part II covers methods of strength training, delving into velocity training, training intensity, timing, exercises used for strength training, injury prevention, overtraining, athlete monitoring, and goal-specific strength training. Part III offers even more practical applications, exploring training for specific populations, including women, young athletes, and senior athletes. The book also includes suggested readings that can further aid readers in developing strength training programs.

  • Special Strength Training: Manual for Coaches – Natalia & Yuri Verkhoshansky – it is one of the most complete and up to date book in Special Strength Training (SST): Methodological foundations of special strength training, Guidelines for planning SST, SST means and methods – resistance and jump exercises, Complex method, Stimulation method, Contrast method, Circuit method, Strength-aerobic method, Organization of SST in training process and Block Training System, SST means methods and program for acyclic sports, SST means methods and program for cyclic sports, SST means methods and program for sports games and combat sports, traditional SST exercises used by high-level track & field athletes, questions and answers about warm-up, ‘Ultra Mass’ bodybuilding program, the contribution of Yuri Verkhoshansky to the development of sport science.

With coverage of data analysis and performance feedback, both vital skills for the contemporary strength and conditioning coach, this concise but sophisticated textbook is the perfect bridge from introductory study to effective professional practice. Written by experts with experience in a wide variety of sports, its chapters are enhanced by extensive illustrations and address key topics such as:

  • fitness testing and data analysis
  • developing strength and power
  • motor skill acquisition and development 
  • strategies for competition priming
  • monitoring training load, fatigue and recovery. 

Advanced Strength and Conditioning: An Evidence-based Approach is a valuable resource for all advanced students and practitioners of strength and conditioning and fitness training.

9. Strength & Conditioning for Sports Performance – Ian Jeffreys & Jeremy Moody – This book is a comprehensive and authoritative introduction to the theory and practice of strength and conditioning, providing students, coaches and athletes with everything they need to design and implement effective training programs. The book includes a clear and rigorous explanation of the core science underpinning strength and conditioning techniques and gives a detailed, step-by-step guide to all of the key training methodologies, including training for strength, speed, endurance, agility, flexibility as well as plyometrics. Throughout the book the focus is on the coaching process, with every chapter highlighting the application of strength and conditioning techniques in everyday coaching situations. The book also includes a unique and extensive section of sport-specific chapters, each of which examines in detail the application of strength and conditioning to a particular sport, from soccer and basketball to golf and track and field athletics. 

The book includes contributions from world-leading strength and conditioning specialists in every chapter, including coaches who have worked with Olympic gold medallists and international sports teams at the very highest level. It can be a great textfor any degree level student with an interest in strength and conditioning, for all students looking to achieve professional accreditation, and an invaluable reference for all practising strength and conditioning coaches.

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