It’s going to take some time before I review all the lifting books I’ve read.
These short book reviews are my opinion based on whether a book has helped or hindered me in achieving my goals, which are now aimed at the sport of powerlifting. A really good book about fitness may only get four stars if it is not 100% applicable to powerlifting. This doesn’t mean a book has to be about powerlifting, but it must be useful in attaining my powerlifting goals.
- Must buy this book!
- Not the best, but still worth buying.
- Do not buy this book!
5/3/1 2nd Edition by Jim Windler
This book provide everything necessary to implement the 5/3/1 program, providing you already know how to lift. (Well, almost everything. 5/3/1 for Powerlifting has a little more information.) It’s not the best program, as there is no such thing as “the best program.” However, it’s really simple to understand, and my 5/3/1 calculator makes it even simpler.
The 2nd edition has a few improvements, but not enough for you to buy it if you already have the 1st edition. I was disappointed that it didn’t include everything from 5/3/1 for Powerlifting. I think it’s also a little overpriced for not including this.
5/3/1 for Powerlifting by Jim Windler
If you’re going to compete and you’re only going to buy one of the 5/3/1 books, get 5/3/1 for Powerlifting. You can easily get by without the information you miss in 5/3/1. It’s too bad that the 2nd Edition of 5/3/1 doesn’t include the additional information of this book. The two books combined are really only worth the price of one of them.
There’s also a 5/3/1 for Football, but since I don’t play football, I’m not going to buy it.
Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger
This is the book that introduced me to powerlifting. You can’t find the word powerlifting in the index, but from this book I got the names Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu, which led me to the word powerlifting in a search on the internet.
The programs in this book are useless for a powerlifter, and even questionable for a drug-free bodybuilder.
The instructions on individual exercises in this book are dangerously lacking. They don’t give a beginner enough details. I dislocated a shoulder doing one of the exercises wrong, and a few years later after I figured I knew what I did wrong, I dislocated the other shoulder. Needless to say, that was the last time I did that exercise.
Even though the information in this book has caused me a lot of grief, I’m still emotionally attached to it, so I have to give it at least one star. However, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.
Experiments with Intermittent Fasting by Dr. John M. Berardi
There’s a lot of talk about intermittent fasting in the fitness industry and a number of books on it. This book is short and to the point, but most of all, it available as a free download. Not only that, it only contains good solid science.
You may want to know that The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler suggests fasting 20 hours every day with a 4 hour window of feasting; and, Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon, which I haven’t read, suggests fasting one or two non-consecutive 24 hour periods a week.
The only thing I don’t like about Experiments with Intermittent Fasting is the selection of Sunday as a full day of fasting. As a Christian, Sunday is always a religious feast-day. If you have a day with little or no limits on your diet, Sunday is the day. The day to select as a fast day, from a Christian perspective, is Friday. If you want to fast two days a week, the other day to select as a fast day, again from a Christian perspective, is Wednesday.
Explode Your Squat, Explode Your Bench & Explode Your Deadlift by Andy Bolton
These are really good books, but they are way overpriced. If you don’t have anybody to show you how to move from Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength to competition powerlifting, these books would be useful. However, there’s likely a cheaper way to go that I don’t know about.
I bought these three books as a special package deal with 8 other books for $67.81 Canadian. As I write this, just the 3 books by themselves are being sold on Andy’s website for 50% more than I paid for all 11 books.
These books are all really short e-books. If you combined all 11 books, they’d equal the size of Starting Strength, which is only going for $29.95 on both sides of the border right now. Starting Strength is also a real book (if you want the Kindle Edition, it’s only $9.99). If you compare Starting Strength with all 11 books I got from Andy’s website and take into consideration that these 11 books are only PDFs that don’t cost anything to produce, Andy’s books are worth no more than $29.95 combined (I paid more than double that). Still, they do contain good information.
Would I buy these books again? Not at the present price.
Heavy Duty & Heavy Duty II: Mind and Body by Mike Mentzer
Mike Mentzer just built on the ideas of Arthur Jones (see Nautilus Bulletin #1 & Nautilus Bulletin #2). I wasted a decade of training by following the advice of these men.
It’s called “High Intensity Training” (HIT), and it’s a real rush, but it’s also really unproductive. It’s a blast to collapse on the gym floor after a workout and to wonder if your legs will continue to support your weight as you walk from the gym back to the office. However, I’d rather get stronger and not weaker.
They say HIT will allow you to reach your genetic potential in two years. It’s true that after two years of HIT you won’t make anymore gains, but saying that this is your genetic potential is selling yourself short.
Nautilus Bulletin #1 & Nautilus Bulletin #2 by Arthur Jones
There was a time when I thought Arthur Jones was a genius. However, I now know I wasted a decade of training by following his advice and the advice of his disciple, Mike Mentzer.
Mark Rippetoe explains in the introduction of Starting Strength how wrong Arthur Jones was about using his machines instead of a barbell. I’ll go further than Rip and say Arthur Jones’ theories about weight training are even more useless than his machines.
The athletes Arthur Jones used as examples of the effectiveness of his training principles, such as Casey Viator, Sergio Oliva, and the Mentzer brothers, all gained most of their muscle mass before following Jones’ advice.
Power Eating by Susan Kleiner
This is the most balanced diet book I’ve ever read. Really good basic nutritional advice. However, it’s a little out dated in a couple ways. It continuously recommends low fat milk, where recent research suggests milk fat is not only good for you, but may aid in loosing body fat. As well, it makes no mention of intermittent fasting, which is proving to be a useful and safe technique.
Secrets of Strength by Earle Liederman
I enjoyed this book a great deal, even though it didn’t give me any information that improved my training. It’s a unique look at how people viewed weight training in 1925. For example, Liederman has to explain to his readers that one cannot get stronger without increasing the size of his muscles. It seems people of his day wanted strength but didn’t want to get big.
For entertainment, this book would get five stars, but for useful information applicable to powerlifting, it only gets half a star.
Seminar 2011 DVD by Andy The Jack Bolton
The cinematography of this DVD is very amateur and you can’t always make out everything Andy says. The focus is the deadlift, and the squat and bench press don’t get much time. There is good information on this DVD, but you can find just as good information for free on the internet. However, it’s a pleasure to watch Andy lift and listening to him talk is quite enjoyable.
If for no other reason, this DVD is worth getting just to inspire you.
Starting Strength & the DVD with the same title by Mark Rippetoe
I wish I had this book and DVD when I started weight training in college during the early ’90s. Actually, I wish I had this book and DVD and started training eight years earlier when I was in junior high.
If you already lift with fairly good technique, you’ll likely gain nothing from this book. However, if you’re like most people that have never trained, this book is a must read and the DVD is a nice add-on.
This book is not really geared (no pun intended) for powerlifting, but it gives a good base from which to move on to powerlifting. Once you’ve got the technique taught in this book and DVD down and you’ve gain enough strength, you just need a few small technique changes (they seem small, but they make a huge difference in the amount of weight you can lift) to start powerlifting.
Nonetheless, this book is not flawless. Rippetoe, like many in the fitness industry, seems to believe that he is right about everything, and if he suggests an exercise should be done a little different (or a lot different) than everyone else, he is, of course, correct and everyone else is doing it wrong. The list of people that are “doing it wrong” includes practically everyone that hold any powerlifting record in every federation around the world.
What doesn’t help is that a personality cult has grown around Rippetoe on his online forum where no intelligent discussion is tolerated that brings Rippetoe’s way of doing things into question. Even a request for further explanation why Rippetoe suggests to lift the way he does is met with hostility and no explanation is ever given.
Training Three Days a Week by Jim Wendler
This is a really good book if you’re having problems figuring out how to make Westside or 5/3/1 programming work outside of training 4 days a week. I actually didn’t quite understand how the Westside program worked until I read this book. This book shows you how to make these programs flexible.
Nice book, but way over priced. I was disappointed with what I got considering what I paid.
The Vault by Dave Tate
This book is loaded with good information. The main focus is Westside style training, which I’ve never done but may try a few years from now. This eBook also contains links to unlisted YouTube videos of The Force Training Seminar and Passion Into Profit Seminar. However, the best thing about this book is that it’s free if you subscribe to the EliteFTS Strength Club, which is also free and gives you loads of good information.
The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler
This is the book that introduced me to intermittent fasting for health reasons apart from religious reasons. It contains a lot of suppositional information as scientific fact, and if you do a little search on the internet, you’ll find some of this science is garbage. However, the basic idea of fasting everyday for 20 hours and feasting everyday during a 4 hour window is reasonable.
There’s not really any reason to buy this book as all the useful information in it can be found in the book Experiments with Intermittent Fasting by Dr. John M. Berardi, which is a free download. Most of the information found in The Warrior Diet that’s not in Experiments with Intermittent Fasting is not worth the time it takes to read it.
Books I’ve Read but Haven’t Reviewed Yet
Just because I bought these books doesn’t mean they’re any good. As noted above, I did get hooked into HIT, so I have a past of poor judgement.
- Beyond Bodybuilding by Pavel Tsatsouline
- Enter the Kettlebell! by Pavel Tsatsouline
- IART Maximum Technique Training Video VHS
- IART Reference Manual by Brian D. Johnston
- IncrediBody MuscleNOW by Francesco A. Castano
- The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline
- Never Let Go by Dan John
- Power to the People! by Pavel Tsatsouline
- Powerlifting by Barney Groves
- Powerlifting: A Scientific Approach by Fredrick C. Hatfield
- Under the Bar by Dave Tate
Books On My Shelf That I Haven’t Read Yet
I haven’t read any of these books yet, so I can’t tell you what I think of them. However, if I didn’t have reason to believe that these are really good books, I would have never have boughten them.
- Diets Designed for Athletes by Maryann Karinch
- Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity by Mark Rippetoe
- Powerlifting Basics, Texas-Style by Paul Kelso
- Practical Programming for Strength Training by Rippetoe & Kilgore
- Relax Into Stretch by Pavel Tsatsouline
- Strong Enough by Mark Rippetoe
- Super Joints by Pavel Tsatsouline
- Supertraining by Yuri Verkhoshansky & Mel Siff