3 Essential Books for Bodybuilders

Aspiring bodybuilders have access to more information than ever before. There’s so much information it’s become hard to decipher who you should be listening to. The world of social media has allowed anybody to have an opinion on bodybuilding, whether right or wrong. There’s so much poor information available. Save yourself some time and learn from those who came before you.  If you’re aspiring for an old-school physique, these are the books we recommend.

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger

This is the bible of bodybuilding. Any old-school bodybuilder worth his salt will have studied this book. It details every aspect of bodybuilding from this history of the sport all the way through to work out techniques for every muscle group. The book covers Silver Era legends such as Steve Reeves and John Grimek and discusses the techniques they used in the early days of the sport. Later chapters cover the likes of Tom Platz, Franco Columbu, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and many more legends of bodybuilding. 

Everything is covered in this encyclopedia. I’d especially recommend this book if you’re looking to compete. Arnold dives into a lot of detail around training and nutrition when prepping for the stage. The book is great to dive in and out of. Before a workout, look up the body part you’re looking to train and you’ll find some great information to take your workout to the next level. 

Steve Reeves: Bodybuilding Journal (an analysis) by Clinton L. Emshoff

Steve Reeves was known as “The Shape” for the impressive physique he brought to the stage. After dominating the Silver Era, Reeves took on the bright lights of Hollywood and became the highest-paid actor in the world. Arnold cites Reeves as his motivation for moving from bodybuilding to acting. 

Steve Reeves competed in the 40s and 50s, so there’s not a lot of good information available online. This book does a great job of breaking down Steve’s workout plans and diets at different stages of his career. The book is an analysis of Reeves’ actual workout log during his prime. The book includes many of Steve’s workout routines and an insight into how he trained. There’s also a complete photocopy of Steve Reeves’ original workout log.

Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier

Understanding anatomy is vital if you hope to become the best bodybuilder you can be. The likes of Mike Mentzer and Boyer Coe spent long periods of time studying the body to better understand how to build muscle. This is the most comprehensive book you’ll find. The book has over six-hundred illustrations to show you how the muscles work during each exercise. Delavier does a great job of explaining the perfect technique for each exercise and how to avoid common mistakes. This book will take your bodybuilding to the next level and be especially useful for binging up lagging body parts.

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