13 Best Bodybuilding Books

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Looking for the best bodybuilding books to help you sculpt your body into that of a Greek God? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

With so many out there, we’ve compiled a list of the 13 best bodybuilding books on the market to help you achieve your bodybuilding goals.

Do you want to take your passion for bodybuilding to the next level? Kickstart your career in fitness today with a Level 3 personal training course from OriGym. Download our free course prospectus to browse the full range of courses on offer. 

#1. Arnold Schwarzenegger: The New Encyclopaedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding - By Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins

If you’re looking for a classic bodybuilding book, this is it! Written by bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is a must-have addition to your bookshelf. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a bodybuilding icon, having starred in countless blockbuster films that leave audiences in awe of his body. Arnold introduced this old school bodybuilding book to the world in 1999 and it is still as popular today as it was back then. 

It is no surprise that this is one of the best selling bodybuilding books ever. Step into the mindset of seven-time Mr. Olympia and say ‘hasta la vista baby’ to that stubborn fat, and hello to Conan the Barbarian-like muscles.

At 800 pages long, it is packed full of useful advice to help you in your bodybuilding journey. Arnie touches on everything from exercises to nutrition, injury prevention to competition preparation. 

There is even a photographic section dedicated to bodybuilder “Hall of Famers”, so you can gaze at what other bodybuilder’s have achieved over the years. 

At a reasonable price of £19.97 on Amazon and available at nearly every book store, this 5-star book is essential reading for any aspiring bodybuilder. If anybody knows, Arnie knows.  

Amazon Rating: 5/5

Published: 1999

Pages: 800

Available at: Amazon, WHSmith, Waterstones, Blackwell’s, Wordery.

Price: £19.97 (Amazon)

#2. Bodybuilding Anatomy by Nick Evans - By Nick Evans, MD

Nick Evans is a pioneer in the modern bodybuilding world. He has sold millions of copies from his “Anatomy” collection worldwide; this being the follow-up to his highly popular Strength Training Anatomy

Bodybuilding Anatomy is one of the best books for bodybuilding because Evans gives a great insight into what is needed to increase muscle size, dedicating individual sections to each muscle-group, such as how to get bigger arms

Evans is an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in sports medicine, so knows everything there is to know about the human body and how to get the most out of it. 

Evans’ knowledge reaches far beyond bodybuilding, exemplifying each bodybuilding exercise in great detail. This is one of the best bodybuilding workout books as Evans ensures that you know why you are doing a particular exercise- not just how to do it. 

It is also one of the best natural bodybuilding books on the market, as it backs up every piece of advice with science. Plus, as a qualified doctor, you know that you can trust his word!

The paperback copy of this book is up on Amazon for £45.16. Although it is the most expensive book on this list, it is reasonable considering that it is one of the top bodybuilding books out there. But if you are looking for a cheaper option, you can buy the 2015 version of this book for £12.95. It doesn’t have the same legendary status as his 2006 offering, but it does cover a lot of the same content.

Amazon Rating: 4.6/5

Published: 2006

Pages: 200

Available at: Amazon, WHSmith, Blackwell’s, Wordery

Price: £45.16 (Amazon)

#3. Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body- By Michael Matthews

A little different to some other books on this list, Matthews encourages his readers to get a leaner muscular body rather than bulking up massively. So, if you are looking for a bodybuilding book that can help you get aesthetically lean, this is the book for you. It is amongst the best bodybuilding books for men who are aspiring to look more like Zac Efron than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  

Matthews’ methods are extraordinary because he insists that you can get the body you have always wanted without cutting out the foods you love, without doing cardio, and without doing more than 6 hours of exercise a week. He swears that you will gain 10 to 15 pounds of lean muscle in a few months if you follow his regime. 

This is also one of the best bodybuilding nutrition books out there as Matthews explains how you can continue to happily eat without any guilt. He is strongly against the mass consumption of pills, powders and potions and wants you to achieve your body naturally.

That said, if used correctly, supplements can be a good way to help you bulk up and maximize your gains. But they don’t have to break the bank! 

Whilst this isn’t explicitly a vegan bodybuilding book, it promotes the same principles of leading a natural and healthy lifestyle. 

Amazon Rating: 4.6/5

Published: 2019

Pages: 492

Available at: Amazon

Price: £12.81 (Amazon)

#4. Functional Training and Beyond: Building the Ultimate Superfunctional Body and Mind- By Adam Sinicki

Although it has only recently been released, this is one of the best selling bodybuilding books out there. Functional Training and Beyond is the modern-day guide to bodybuilding. 

It explores techniques and methods that other authors on this list have not even touched upon. Sinicki encourages readers to train their mind as well as their body to maximise results.

Sinicki understands that it is all well and good telling you what you need to do to achieve your perfect body, but if your motivation isn’t there, the muscular frame you are hoping for won’t become a reality. Sinicki challenges your mind to step up and take control. 

As Sinicki points out, motivation is the key to success. If you’re a PT and want to help motivate your clients, check out this selection of the best motivational personal trainer quotes.

Sinicki is best known for his YouTube channel The Bioneer, where he treats his subscribers to new and innovative training techniques every week. His book is basically a ‘best of’ compilation of his most popular videos- and more. Check out our list of the best fitness YouTube channels for more inspiring fitness videos! 

If you are tired of being told the same things from traditionalists and want to add a bit more excitement into your workout routine, then this is the best bodybuilding book for you!

Amazon Rating: 4.7/5

Published: 2021

Pages: 384

Available at: Amazon, Wordery, WHSmith’s, Blackwell’s, Waterstones

Price: £13.12 (Amazon)

#5. Strength Training Anatomy- By Frederic Delavier

This is a classic bodybuilding book that has sold over a million copies worldwide- and we can see why!

Delavier is an insanely intelligent individual. Having studied Morphology and Anatomy for 5 years, as well as Dissection for 3 years at prestigious colleges, Delavier displays his full intellect here in Strength Training Anatomy.

Delavier draws the illustrations himself, mapping out the benefits of each muscle-building exercise. Delavier demonstrates what a slight change in posture and positioning can do for your body. For example, he’ll talk you through how to perform a sumo deadlift with correct form to prevent injury and target the right muscles.

Many readers will realise what they have been doing wrong after reading this informative publication. You will understand what muscles you are missing as well as hitting with each workout. With coloured illustrations and a chapter dedicated to each muscle, this is truly one of the best books on bodybuilding. 

You will learn more from Delavier’s illustrations than what you will read in the average science textbook. Your bodybuilding knowledge will be expanded 10-fold after reading this fitness masterclass! 

Amazon Rating: 4.7/5

Published: 2010

Pages: 192

Available at: Amazon, WHSmith, Blackwell’s, Waterstones, Wordery

Price: £14.62 (Amazon)

#6. Jim Stoppani’s Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength- By Jim Stoppani, PHD

Jim Stoppani’s Encyclopaedia of Muscle and Strength is one of the best bodybuilding books ever. This monstrous 584-page bodybuilding book is full of informative and ground-breaking research conducted by Stoppani. In 2002, Stoppani won the Gatorade Beginning Investigator in Exercise Science award and it is clear to see why. 

This is one of the best bodybuilding workout books as Stoppani goes into detail explaining 116 different exercise programs and rates them on difficulty, length and time. There is a section for every stage of a bodybuilder’s journey, whether you are a novice or expert. 

If you’re looking for more exercise programmes to follow, there are many bodybuilding and weightlifting apps out there with a whole host of useful features for beginner or pro bodybuilders. 

Instead of reading this all in one go, you could just use it as a reference book to check back to after putting into practice what you have already learnt. This book is packed full of information, and can act as the single text you base your bodybuilding progression on over the next few years. 

Amazon Rating: 4.7/5

Published: 2006

Pages: 584

Available at: Amazon, World of Books, WHSmith, Waterstones, Blackwell’s

Price: £16.69 (Amazon)

Want to know more about bodybuilding? Here’s 2 more articles we think you’ll love:

#7. Joe Weider’s Ultimate Bodybuilding: The Master Blaster’s Principles of Training and Nutrition - By Joe Weider and Bill Reynolds

This is undoubtedly a classic bodybuilding book. Joe Weider, a household name in the bodybuilding world, co-wrote this famous text with writer Bill Reynolds. It is a real old school bodybuilding book!

It was released in 1989 when Weider was 70 years old, so he had a lifetime of bodybuilding knowledge behind him. The creator of Mr and Mrs Olympia certainly knows what he is writing about.

This book contains every aspect of the Weider system of bodybuilding. His training principles have been followed by the greatest of bodybuilders (yes, including Arnie!). Weider writes about everything that he has learnt and practiced over the years, including instinctive training, progressive overload, body part sequencing, muscle confusion and supersets. 

It is also one of the best books on bodybuilding nutrition. Joe Weider lived to the grand old age of 94 for a reason - he kept his eating clean and his training mean! 

So as one of the best bodybuilding diet books written by a legend in the field, you can’t go wrong in purchasing Joe Weider’s Ultimate Bodybuilding, especially for such a reasonable price.

Amazon Rating: 4.6/5

Published: 1989

Pages: 528

Available at: Amazon, WHSmith, Blackwell’s, Wordery, Waterstones

Price: £11.95 (Amazon)

#8. Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts - By Frederic Delavier and Michael Gundill

This is the second time Delavier appears on this list, and not without good reason. This time he’s targeting the female market. 

Delavier understands that a lot of what bodybuilding experts talk or write about is targeted at men, so here he flips the script and has produced one of the best female bodybuilding books out there.

This is a very useful bodybuilding book for women who feel inexperienced with using weights. What weight should I lift? What exercise will benefit me the most? How many sets to how many reps? What will make me strong but not bulky? Delavier has all the answers. 

If you’re a woman just starting out in bodybuilding, OriGym’s list of the best female bodybuilders will give you some inspiration! 

It is one of the best bodybuilding books for women for a reason. Delavier understands the way the human body functions and knows exactly how women’s physiology is different to men’s. Just like in his 2010 book, Delavier depicts how to perform exercises in the right form with phenomenal illustrations, detailing exactly what you need to do to get the most out of each workout. 

With 290 illustrations, 159 exercises and 49 different training programs, Delavier and Gundill deliver a great bodybuilding book for women. If you’re a woman looking to get into bodybuilding, this book has everything you need!

Amazon Rating: 4.6/5

Published: 2014

Pages: 360

Available at: Amazon, WHSmith, Waterstones, Blackwell’s, Wordery 

Price: £12.75 (Amazon)

#9. Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible: A Complete 24-Week Program for Sculpting Muscles That Show - By Tyler English

Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible is a holy text that will help your muscles transform from being small like David to big like Goliath. It will be going a bit far to say this book can perform miracles, but after putting English’s methods into action, you will really feel like you can turn water into wine (or maybe at least into a protein shake). 

Tyler English is a Natural Bodybuilding Champion and you can see why he won after reading this book. It is a great insight into the life of a professional bodybuilder, and if you follow it step by step you might feel like entering a competition yourself. 

Although this is one of the best bodybuilding books for beginners, it is also great if you are serious about upping your bodybuilding game and turning pro. English trusts that you have the motivation and pushes you to the limit with intense exercise plans and strict dieting rules. 

According to English, your dieting has to be on point if you want to achieve the natural muscular body you desire. In this great bodybuilding nutrition book, English tells you what to eat and when, so your time in the gym doesn’t go to waste.

As English points out in this book, a protein-rich diet is essential for gaining muscle. 

English takes you step by step through his 24-week program, encouraging you to follow his unique training and diet precisely. You will burn fat as well as build muscle with a target end-goal of being competition ready when the 168 days are up. 

Amazon Rating: 4.5/5

Published: 2013

Pages: 698

Available at: Amazon, WHSmith, Wordery

Price: £14.99 (Amazon)

#10. Serious Strength Training- By Tudor Bompa, Mauro Di Pasquale and Lorenzo Cornacchia

They say that 3 is a crowd, right? Well, not when it comes to writing about bodybuilding. Tudor Bompa (award-winning sports scientist and former Olympic athlete/coach) collaborated with Mauro Di Pasquale (sports medicine and nutrition specialist) and Lorenzo Cornacchia (kinesiologist and former bodybuilder) to write one of the best workout books for bodybuilding. 

This book combines personal advice with extensive scientific research to provide all the information you need to master strength training. The 3 authors all take pride in being part of the elite in their field, combining their knowledge to produce something that already feels like a classic bodybuilding book. 

They list the 80 exercises that cause the greatest stimulation in the muscles, as well as detailing how readers should structure their diets to meet their individual metabolic profiles. It focuses on the 6 key phases of strength training (anatomical adaptation, hypertrophy, mixed, maximum strength, muscle definition, transition). 

This top bodybuilding book gives great insight into how to improve your current workout routine by pinpointing how to properly take advantage of periodisation (see the FAQs for more on this!). 

It is by no means a bodybuilding ‘diet’ book, but it does touch upon nutrition and how it can enhance your training. 

Bompa competed at the Olympics as well as coached Olympic medal-winning athletes, so he definitely knows how to reach peak performance and maintain a high standard of training. Combine that with a renowned nutritionist and a kinesiologist, and you are onto a winner.

Amazon Rating: 4.5/5

Published: 2012

Pages: 368

Available at: Amazon, WHSmith, Wordery, Blackwell’s

Price: £17.45 (Amazon)

#11. Men’s Body Sculpting - By Nick Evans, MD

Another two-timer on the list. Evans is back with a book just as good as his first entry. This time, there is more focus on getting you the aesthetically pleasing body you’ve always wanted rather than just improving your strength. You will be beach-body ready in no time after following Evans’ clear steps in this great bodybuilding book.  

It is undoubtedly one of the best bodybuilding books for men. Evans walks you through exercises that will help your pectorals pop, your biceps protrude and your abs glisten in the eye of the beholder. 

Evans offers an array of advice on nutrition too. He gives his opinion on what are the best supplements to take to enhance your workouts and help speed up results. You will reduce fat, generate mass and overall look like an entirely new person after putting Evans’ training methods into fruition. 

Whilst it touches on nutrition, this isn’t technically a bodybuilding recipe book. There are many great bodybuilding books on this list, but if you are looking to tone your body and get lean, then this is the book for you. 

Amazon Rating: 4.4/5

Published: 2010

Pages: 256

Available at: Amazon, Blackwell’s, WHSmith, Wordery

Price: £13.29 (Amazon)

#12. Bodybuilding for Beginners: A 12-Week Program to Build Muscle and Burn Fat- By Kyle Hunt

This is truly one of the best bodybuilding books for beginners. Hunt maps out a doable 12-week plan to get you in the best shape of your life. He will help you go from a complete bodybuilding amateur to a professional in no time at all

With accompanying illustrations, Hunt takes you through 45 high-impact exercises, as well as 10 warm-ups and cool-downs to progress you from no-muscle to Mr. Muscle.

As well as making sure you do the right workouts to maximise your gains, Hunt offers meal ideas, food prepping tips and a guide to macronutrients to help you cut fat and build muscle. 

Kyle is the owner of Hunt Fitness, a big online fitness and nutrition coaching business that is highly popular amongst people looking to increase knowledge and improve their efforts in the gym and in the kitchen. 

If you want to expand your nutritional knowledge further and use it to help others, you can complete your nutrition training with OriGym!

This is a well explained and well planned out book, simply laying out the criteria for what you need to do week by week, day by day. Hunt never overcomplicates things, teaching you the basics in part 1 and helping you build a foundation. 

He then shows you the fundamental exercises in part 2 with the help of illustrations, and takes you through the 12-week program very gently in part 3. 

Amazon Rating: 4.4/5

Published: 2019

Pages: 212

Available at: Amazon, Wordery

Price: £10.72 (Amazon)

#13. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Edition- By Mark Rippetoe and Jason Kelly

Now to finish the list off, here is a book entirely concentrated on an integral part of bodybuilding – barbell lifting. Rippetoe mainly writes about how you can use progressive overload to increase your strength and maintain a routine. He uses the stress, recovery, adoption cycle to help you gain strength quickly.

This is one of the best natural bodybuilding books around. Rippetoe shows you how to build muscle naturally, all through the use of repeating and increasing your barbell lifts, whether it be through the squat, press, bench press, deadlift, power clean or power snatch. 

It is a great bodybuilding book for beginners but also for more advanced lifters, as Rippetoe details the importance of correct technique and form. This is the third edition of Rippetoe’s book, having improved upon his teaching methods through 4 more years of research and testing. He has honed his craft and produced another exemplary text to add to his collection. 

It is one of the best bodybuilding workout books, because to complete each exercise, all you need is a barbell- no other equipment. Rippetoe utilises the barbell like no other bodybuilding expert does. In this completely indexed guide to barbell lifting, you will be left doubting the way you have trained your muscles in the past.  

Amazon Rating: 4.8/5

Published: 2011

Pages: 347

Available at: Amazon, Wordery

Price: £29.87 (Amazon)


What is Progressive Overload?

In any bodybuilding workout book, it is likely that you will come across the term progressive overload. This is simply when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your workout. 

Progressive overload is the best training method to avoid plateauing, so your body never adapts to a particular routine. It aims to challenge your body and help you get stronger! 

What is Periodisation Training?

Another term you will likely come across in any of these top bodybuilding books is periodisation.

Periodisation training is the planning of training variation over an extended period of time. It is heavily used by athletes looking to optimise their performance in preparation for competition, to prevent overtraining, and to improve their overall performance. 

Before you go!

From classic bodybuilding books to new approaches and ideas, we hope that you’ve found something for you on our list.

So, which bodybuilding book will you be adding to your bookshelf? Whether you’re starting your bodybuilding journey or simply want to take your training to the next level, it’s time to get reading!

If these books have got you feeling inspired, why not start a career in the fitness industry with one of OriGym’s personal training courses. Download our free course prospectus to find out more about OriGym and what we offer!

Written by Joshua Birchall

Freelance Fitness Writer & Expert

Josh holds a BA (Hons) in Film Studies with Creative Writing from Edge Hill University, combining his love for movies with his passion for writing. His passion brought him to OriGym, where he enjoys writing content blogs on all things health and fitness related.
Josh keeps himself active through long-distance running,  participating in HIIT workouts at his local gym playing football and playing tennis
for Ormskirk Tennis Club.

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