Must Read Books For Personal Trainers

We spoke to personal trainers to help us put together this list of must-read books for PTs. Covering areas from foundational training principles, nutrition, psychology, specialised training and business skills. Check it out below.

Written by
Maddison Rule
Published on
April 17, 2024

Whether you’re just starting out as a PT or you’re an experienced professional, the importance of continual learning in a dynamic industry like personal training can’t be understated.

There are lots of resources available online (like our growing collection of PT articles), but one of the best ways to expand your knowledge is to read or listen to books. The best non-fiction books are painstakingly crafted and edited by experts in the field, so you can be confident that they’ll contain valuable and practical advice.

Another reason we love books so much is that you can read or listen to them anywhere. At home, on the tube, walking to the gym or even while you are training. For me an audiobook can turn a mundane trip to work into an interesting and productive activity.

We spoke to personal trainers and coaches here at UNTIL to help us put together this list of 10 must-read (or listen) books for PT’s.

From foundational personal training principles through to practical advice and essential business skills, these books can improve your skills, positively influence your career and enhance your overall personal development.

In this article:

Books on the Foundations of Personal Training

1. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier

Strength Training Anatomy is a comprehensive guide to strength training that provides anatomical illustrations and explanations of various exercises. It breaks down muscle groups, their functions and how different exercises target specific muscles.

This book helps personal trainers understand proper form and technique to maximise effectiveness and reduce the risk of injury during strength training workouts.

This one isn’t available as an audiobook, but with it being a very visual book (there are over 700 anatomical illustrations!), you really need to see and read it to get the most out of it.

You can buy it here on Amazon.

2. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning by NSCA

A comprehensive resource for students in the field of strength and conditioning: Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning covers crucial topics such as exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition and program design.

As an academic resource, it provides evidence-based information and practical applications for designing safe and effective strength training programs for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, making it a must-read for PTs.

Students looking to complete their level 2 and 3 personal training courses will find lots of value in this one.

You can find it here on Amazon.

Books on Nutrition And Diet

3. Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes

Good Calories, Bad Calories explores the relationship between diet, health and weight gain. Taubes explores crucial knowledge and challenges conventional wisdom regarding nutrition. He argues that carbohydrates and refined sugars are largely responsible for weight gain and other health related problems. Thus, we should focus more on improving the type of calories that we consume rather than the total number.

Understanding different stances on diets and weight is crucial for any PT to be more educated when discussing nutrition with clients.

You can buy here on Amazon.

Also available as an audiobook.

4. The Science of Nutrition: Debunk the Diet Myths and Learn How to Eat Well for Health and Happiness by Rhiannon Lambert

This book debunks common diet myths while providing evidence-based strategies for achieving optimal health and happiness through nutrition. Readers are able to make informed choices about their dietary habits through the exploration of scientific research. It emphasises the importance of balanced nutrition for longevity by dispelling misconceptions around fad diets.

With more information being shared online now than ever around nutrition and diets, it’s important that as a PT you can spot and debunk myths. You need to be able to give clear, evidence backed nutrition advice to help your clients reach their goals. That’s why we’ve put this down as a must read for personal trainers.

You can purchase it here on Amazon.

Also available as an audiobook.

Books on Psychology And Coaching Techniques

5. Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In by Brett Bartholomew

We think this one is a must read for all coaches, not just personal trainers. Bartholomew’s passion shines through while exploring the more human side of coaching, addressing how to work with and manage people to ultimately get the best out of them. After all, that’s pretty fundamental in your role as a PT.

With a focus on understanding what motivates individuals and tailoring approaches to suit diverse personalities, this book will help you to form meaningful connections, inspire confidence, and drive lasting success for your clients.

You can buy here on Amazon.

Also available as an audiobook.

6. Atomic Habits by James Clear

The idea behind Atomic Habits is a simple one. Forming good small habits can lead to remarkable results in the long-term. It isn’t a revolutionary concept, but it’s easy to forget when it comes to our day-to-day routines and we slip into bad habits.

With insightful anecdotes and realistic strategies, Clear makes it seem simple to start introducing good habits into your everyday life. Improve your own habits and those of your clients so you can achieve remarkable results together by reading this book and these tips into action.

You can buy the book here on Amazon.

Also available as an audiobook.

Books on Specialised Training Approaches for PTs

7. Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett

A comprehensive guide to mobility and movement, Becoming a Supple Leopard provides insight into improving athletic performance, preventing injuries and enhancing overall physical wellbeing.

This book provides clear explanations and practical exercises for anyone who wants to optimise their body's range of motion, flexibility, function and to overall feel better in everyday life.

You can find it here on Amazon.

8. Cardio Core 4x4 by Jay Cardiello

A workout program designed to maximise cardiovascular health and fitness: Cardio Core 4x4’s emphasis is on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) offers a challenging yet rewarding approach to improving endurance, burning calories and boosting overall cardiovascular strength.

The book includes four minute bursts of intense activity followed by brief recovery periods and provides a time efficient solution for busy individuals seeking to optimise their workouts, providing versatility for various fitness levels and goals.

You can find the book here on Amazon.

Books on Client Communication And Business Skills for PTs

9. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Never Split the Difference offers valuable insights into negotiation strategies derived from the author's experience as an FBI hostage negotiator. The book includes practical techniques and real life anecdotes to illustrate his approach, emphasising the importance of empathy, active listening and tactical empathy in achieving successful outcomes.

This book can benefit seasoned negotiators and those running their own business who seek to improve their negotiation skills. If you work for yourself, improving your skills as a PT isn’t just about working on your fitness knowledge. Whether it’s agreeing on a fee with a client or renting a premises, negotiation can be a really valuable skill to have.

You can purchase on Amazon here.

Also available as an audiobook.

10. Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career by Jonathan Goodman

Referred to by many as “one of the best books for personal trainers”, we couldn’t finish this list without mentioning Ignite the Fire by Jonathon Goodman. You’ll see it in most lists of recommended books for PT’s, and for good reason too. You can consider it as an ultimate guide to becoming a successful PT so if you only read one book on this list, you might want to make it this one.

The book includes valuable insights from Goodman's own experiences, and provides advice on how to excel in the competitive fitness industry. From developing a strong client base to marketing techniques, Goodman covers all aspects of building a thriving personal training business, with an emphasis on authenticity, professionalism and continuous learning.

You can find it here on Amazon.

Also available as an audiobook.

Join the UNTIL community

In the dynamic field of personal training, continual learning is not just beneficial but essential for professional growth and client success. The recommendations provided in this article offer a diverse range of resources covering various aspects of personal training, from foundational principles to specialised techniques and business skills. However, the journey of learning doesn't have to be solitary.

Joining the UNTIL community provides a supportive environment for knowledge-sharing among personal trainers. So, whether you're a seasoned trainer looking to expand your expertise or just starting out in the industry, consider joining UNTIL. Explore how being part of this vibrant community can not only help you grow your business but also keep your clients happier through continuous improvement and innovation. Together, let's embark on a journey of growth and success.