Best Bodybuilding Books in 2020 – Top 10 Books To Read

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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Which are the best bodybuilding books to improve your knowledge on training and nutrition?

With the modern-day sedentary, yet quick-paced lifestyle, maintaining health and fitness is a must. 

Humans are far away from their natural patterns that dictate a lot of movement, combined with consuming local food. 

This is exactly why you have to read and educate yourself and establish healthy habits, based on that information. 

Now, maintaining general health, fitness and wellness is one thing. 

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However, when it comes to sports performance (Bodybuilding in this case), reading is even more important. 

Especially if you have competitive goals, you MUST learn about how the body works with what we’re giving it – Be it stress from a workout or nutrients from food. 

If you recognize yourself in the above sentences, then you’re on the right place, because we’re about to give you the Top 10 Bodybuilding books. 

The BEST way to avoid mistakes is by learning from the best, who have been through those mistakes. 

In our honest opinion, this is pretty much the only “Shortcut” there is to fitness. 

Why Read The Top 10 Bodybuilding Books?

arnold reading a book

“B-b… but bro, why do I have to read, can’t I just go and do the heavy deadlifts and squats?” 

Well, some of you may HATE reading, but hey, as we just said – Educating yourself by learning from the best is a key element of becoming a good athlete. 

By utilizing these priceless sources of information, you can learn a lot in just a couple of minutes. 

This information may help you prevent mistakes or even optimize your current plan. 

Some of the things you can learn from the books on our list are the following: 

  1. How to establish proper nutrition habits 
  2. Learning the correct exercise techniques 
  3. Laying the fundamentals to build upon 
  4. Muscle building principles 
  5. How to set up a proper training split 
  6. Supplementing how to’s  
  7. How to remain motivated  
  8. Creating an individual plan 
  9. Etc, etc. 

Rest assured, some of the books on this top 10 list can take you from a newbie, to someone who has a full training arsenal. 

Not only will this knowledge improve your own body, but you can eventually help others. 

DISCLAIMER: You will still have to work hard! But it will be a combination of smart & hard work. 

Top 10 Bodybuilding Books 

Now without further ado, let’s take a look at the most useful bodybuilding books one can purchase. 

1. The encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger 

The encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding

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This is without a doubt the BEST book when it comes to bodybuilding. 

If you’re reading this article then you probably know the author of this book – The Austrian oak, 7 times Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

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Originally published in 1985, this book has been completely revised and up to par with modern-day bodybuilding. 


As the name “Encyclopedia” suggests, this book is meant to encompass all the different aspects of bodybuilding, including but not limited to: 

  • The most effective strength training methods 
  • Bodybuilding techniques of the Golden Era 
  • Supplementation advice 
  • Thorough advice for general fitness, health and nutrition to optimize those 
  • Useful information for trainees of all levels – From beginners, to advanced & even professional trainees 

We place this book on the top spot simply because it is a thorough, actionable book to take you from a beginner to a more advanced trainee. 

Fact of the matter is that our knowledge about training, nutrition and supplementation has expanded vastly through the last decades, but the Golden Era physiques remain the BEST. 

The king of the Golden Era was without a doubt, Arnold himself, which is why, we highly recommend learning from the best and applying that knowledge in your training and lifestyle. 

This book is perfect for everyone who has goals of developing a beautiful, strong and functional physique.  

2. Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength – Jim Stoppani PhD. 

jim stoppani's encyclopedia of muscle & strength

The Encyclopedia of muscle and strength is one of the best written, evidence-based books you can buy. 

You should know by now that training and nutrition encompass a variety of aspects and sciences, including, but not limited to: 

  1. Biomechanics 
  2. Physiology 
  3. Biochemistry 
  4. Psychology 

Jim’s goal when writing this book, was for it to be a thorough guide that goes from the very basics of important terminology, to more complex information. 


Just like Arnie’s book on the top spot, this second encyclopedia is meant to be a book that explains all the important aspects of training and nutrition. 

Though Jim shares his expert knowledge, he still manages to present complex concepts with simple words, so that even a beginner can understand it. 

Even though that is the case, the encyclopedia is still very informative. 

Here are some of the things we can find in the book: 

  • Nutrition advice & how to create sustainable habits 
  • Biomechanical analysis of each muscle group 
  • Basic & advanced terminology 
  • Main concepts of fitness training 

The author – Dr. Jim Stoppani, is one of the more known fitness experts & authors, who has graduated the University of Connecticut. 

He is a medical researcher & fitness trainer, who applies all his knowledge in work with clients. 

Needless to say, his proper education allowed him to establish not just successful relationships with training clients, but also a well-known supplement brand. 

We recommend this specific book to people who are looking to understand more of the theory behind training and nutrition. 

The book goes way beyond the usual recommendations of “experts” who just tell you to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. 

What you will find is the very back end of the fitness process – How the body reacts and adapts to certain stimuli, what processes occur, etc. 

Needless to say, this information is not just theoretical, but also practical. 

3. Encyclopedia of bodybuilding – The Complete A-Z Book

Encyclopedia of bodybuilding - The Complete A-Z Book

This next encyclopedia is without a doubt one of the best-known and most recognized bodybuilding books one can find. 

Though this book was first published some time ago, it has been completely revised and re-written to fit 21st century understanding of training. 

The whopping 800 pages of this book offer in-depth insight to each and every aspect of bodybuilding science. 


Just like the other 2 books in the top 3, the encyclopedia of bodybuilding has the main goal of becoming a source of everything you need. 

Without a doubt, the book was carefully written in order to encompass every important aspect of fitness science: 

  • How to develop a proportionate physique 
  • Learning the correct technique of each exercise 
  • Optimizing the process through proper supplementation 
  • How to build muscle in the fastest way possible 

And that’s just a part of the whole book. 

To top it off, there are also guidelines for trainees who are looking to compete on stage and last but not least, there are pictures of the most inspiring bodybuilders that ever lived. 

The book was written by Robert Kennedy, who is a well-known fitness expert and author. 

Throughout his career he has published more than 50 books, many of which were even New York Times bestsellers. 

We recommend this book to every fitness enthusiast, as it covers nearly every aspect of creating sustainable habits to boost health and fitness. 

The books is perfect for trainees of all levels – Be it beginners or experts. 

4. Championship Bodybuilding by Chris Aceto 

Championship bodybuilding by chris aceto

As the name suggests, this book is your best guide for a bodybuilding competition. 

The book goes from the most basic techniques and methods, all the way to modern-day understandings & findings about training and nutrition. 


Chris Aceto’s Championship Bodybuilding book is split into 3 parts, starting from fundamentals and working its way up to advanced principles and methods. 

The book was meant to be a full-on guide for bodybuilding competitors or even just fitness enthusiasts. 

The book includes but is not limited to: 

  • Establishing good eating habits 
  • Creating a bodybuilding competition diet 
  • Physiology of training 
  • Exercise techniques and methods 

Perhaps the best thing about this book is the fact that it is split into 3 parts, each of which corresponds to the level of fitness – Beginners, intermediates & advanced. 

The book was written by Chris Aceto, who is a well-known fitness trainer and former bodybuilder.  

As a matter of fact, he goes by the nickname “The Real Technician”, so that should speak for itself. 

This book is meant for experienced bodybuilders who are looking to further optimize their training process and contest prep. 

However, even if you are not a bodybuilder, you can still make use of the amazing information in this book. 

5. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederick Delavier

frederick delavier strenght training anatomy

As you should know by now, as simple as lifting weights seems, it leads to an avalanche of physiological processes. 

In this book, Frederick Delavier gives us a better insight of the anatomy of weight training. 

With his easy to understand explanations and graphs, Fred explains the work of each muscle group throughout different exercises. 

This is one of the best books if you want to know exactly what happens in your body during a workout. 


Some of the things you can find in the book are the following: 

  • In-depth anatomical analysis of each muscle 
  • Physiological analysis of muscle growth 
  • How to avoid injuries 
  • The best exercises for each muscle group

Besides written information, the book has over 600 colored illustrations and graphs to make everything easy to understand. 

The author – Frederick Delavier is a French writer and anatomy expert. 

This book is perfect if you are looking to learn more about what is happening on the back end of training. 

6. Bodybuilding Anatomy by Nick Evans 

bodybuilding anatomy nick evans

Another viable book that describes bodybuilding anatomy in depth, is that of Nick Evans. 

If you are looking to gain quality muscle mass and understand more about the processes that go behind the scenes, this is your book. 


From the basics of weight training, to nutrition information and advanced training methods, this book has it all. 

This book, just like many other on the list, has the main goal of becoming the ultimate source of information about weight training. 

As the name suggests, the main focus of this book is the biological and anatomical part of the process. 

Nevertheless, there is still a good deal of actionable information for you to apply in your training. 

Here are some of the things that you will find in this book: 

  • How to emphasize on certain muscle groups 
  • Exercises & their variations 
  • Anatomy of training 
  • Biology of training 

This book was written by Nick Evans, who is a well-known fitness author and expert. 

Needless to say, he is well educated on his area of research, meaning that all the information in his books is solid and evidence-based. 

This book is recommended for people who want to learn the training process in-depth. 

From the very applicable techniques, to the back-end of the process, where the physiological processes occur. 

Though the book focuses on the back-end of stuff, it still has a good deal of actionable information. 

7. Better than steroids by Dr. Warren Willey 

better than steroids

This book by Dr. Warren Willey has one main purpose – Helping the everyday trainee create sustainable, long-term results. 

The premise here is utilizing proper training, combined with proper eating & sleeping habits, as well as the elimination of toxic such. 

All of this is better than using performance enhancing drugs, especially when it comes to creating results that last. 


Better than steroids” is a book that focuses primarily on the nutrition habits required to create a stunning physique. 

Without a doubt, what you put in the body after an intense training session is one of the primary determinants for progress. 

This book covers: 

  • Bodybuilding and fitness nutrition 
  • How to naturally make gains 
  • Exercise & training techniques 
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid them 
  • Helpful graphs and diagrams to understand everything easily 
  • How important nutrition is in training & health 

The author of this book – Dr. Warren Willey is not only a doctor but a fitness expert, who has over two decades of experience in the field. 

Dr. Willey focuses on using exercising & nutrition as a preventative measure & means of improving health. 

This book is suitable for anyone who is trying to improve their knowledge about training and bodybuilding nutrition. 

Again, the book is based on evidence and contains only proven to work information & facts. 

It is important to mention here that this book focuses more on the nutrition and less on the actual training techniques. 

8. Sport Supplement Guide by William Llewellyn 

Sport supplement guide

We can’t talk about fitness without mentioning supplements. 

The sport supplement guide is exactly what the name suggests – Your source of information about the most useful supplements to use. 

This book focuses specifically on that topic and gives you an in-depth explanation about what works and what doesn’t. 


From the best-known supplements like whey protein & creatine, to lesser known, effective products, this book has it all. 

Here is a part of what you will find in this book: 

  • Supplements to avoid 
  • Best supplements to use 
  • Supplementing with vitamins and minerals 
  • How to combine supplements with nutrition 

This book was written by William Llewellyn, who is a fitness scientist that focuses on the lesser known aspects of fitness nutrition. 

He is an expert on the topic of supplements, and has done dozens of studies throughout his experience. 

His book is suitable for fitness trainees of all levels, but mainly more advanced ones who are looking to optimize the process with supplements. 

If the fitness industry is confusing you with misleading information and you’re wondering what works and what doesn’t, this book is for you. 

9. Men’s body sculpting by Nick Evans 

Men's body sculpting nick evans

Another book on this list by Nick Evans, is the one on body sculpting. 

This specific book aims to give you the full guide to sculpting a perfect physique. 


From muscle gaining to fat shredding, this book has everything you may need for sculpting an Apollo-like physique. 

The book is more actionable than his previous one on the list, as it offers three different programs to work with. 

Needless to say, all the programs were created by experts, making them as functional as possible. 

The book contains information about: 

  • Training nutrition  
  • Muscle building 
  • Fat shredding 
  • In-depth exercise analysis & instructions 
  • 3 programs to choose from 
  • How to improve & maintain the body of your dreams 

As we already mentioned previously, Nick Evans is a Doctor and a fitness expert with years of experience in medicine and fitness. 

More specifically, he is an expert in strength training. 

This book is one of the best choices for people who are looking for something more actionable to work with. 

Most of the books don’t provide specific plans, but this one focuses exactly on that. 

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, this book is one of the best choices for you. 

10. Bigger, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews 

bigger leaner stronger

Last but not least, we have a book that can be a full-on guide to becoming a good-looking, functional human being. 

This book covers all the essentials you may ever need, to create a good-looking body that lasts. 

All of this, without resorting to crazy training and diet plans. 


According to the author, this book is a clear guide to your fitness goals. 

The book contains useful information on all aspects of fitness – Training and nutrition. 

What you will find is not just what to do, but also what NOT to do. 

Here’s what you can find in Michael’s book: 

  • Nutrition advice 
  • The most important exercises for muscle building 
  • Fat burning advice 
  • Most important things to avoid 
  • Fitness supplements guide 

The author of this book, Michael Matthews, is a famous fitness expert. 

Besides his books, Michael is also the creator of a well-known fitness blog, called “MuscleForLife”. 

Through years of education, Michael has learned what works and what doesn’t. 

Based on his experience and knowledge, he created this book to give you the ultimate approach to fitness. 

This book is perfect for trainees of all levels, who are looking to optimize their training process. 

The book literally bashes through all the BS in the fitness industry and gives actionable information. 

Based on the information in this book, you will certainly be able to improve your fitness and lifestyle. 

Bottom line 

Whether you are trying to learn more about what’s happening on the backend of the training process, or just use actionable info, this list has it all. 

Rest assured that all 10 books on the list are written by experts who know what they are talking about. 

To ultimately make the best choice, you just have to know what you’re looking for! 

If you are unsure, make sure to ask in the comments and we’ll give you our personal recommendations. 

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3 thoughts on “Best Bodybuilding Books in 2020 – Top 10 Books To Read”

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