7 Awesome Powerlifting Books You Need To Read

WRITTEN BY Martijn Koevoets

Imagine being coached by Mark Rippetoe, Louie Simmons, Marty Gallagher, Tim Henriques, Zatsiorski and Verkhoshansky…

Chances of that happening are literally zero.

But you can still gain access to each and everyone of these experts. They all have written books on strength training and powerlifting.

Reading their books is a cheap and effective way to learn from the best.

Below are 7 of my favorite powerlifting books.

7 Awesome Powerlifting Books You Need To Read

Starting Strength

This classic book is written by Mark Rippetoe, who was in the first batch to officially receive the CSCS certificate.Starting Strength - Powerlifting Books

And ‘Rip’ was a competitive powerlifter for ten years.

In case you have never heard of Starting Strength or Mark Rippetoe, then check out this Intro to Barbell Training With Mark Rippetoe.

Anyway, I recommend this book for everybody who lifts weights.

It’s not a powerlifting book persé, but I don’t know any other resource that goes into more detail on the squat, bench and deadlift than this book.

Beginners can greatly benefit from it to learn good form right off the bat, and experienced lifters should also check it out because:

  1. There’s always more to learn.
  2. Your form might not be as good as you think it is.
  3. Maybe you’re a powerlifting nerd and want to know how every muscle works to lift the most possible weight.

By the way, Mark Rippetoe has the most hilarious quotes you’ll ever read. I’ve included one for you below.

You Can Buy Starting Strength on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Practical Programming

Practical ProgrammingThis is another book by Mark Rippetoe, and I was lucky enough to get a signed copy straight from Mark Rippetoe.

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training – 3rd Edition has established itself as one of the premiere pieces of literature for anyone interested in getting stronger.

And now the 3rd edition of Practical Programming has joined it.

I also happen to have the 2nd edition of this ‘powerlifting book’ and it has great information regarding the stress/recovery/adaptation cycle of strength training.

Simply put, the more you do something, the better you become at it, and changes in programming are required to further progress. You’ll need more weight, volume or increase your training frequency. Shocking, right?

The 3rd edition goes even beyond this and goes into impressive detail on how to go about the necessary changes in programming as a lifter progresses.

The book contains its largest upgrade in chapters 6-8. With the assistance of Andy Baker of Kingswood Strength and Conditioning, programming for the novice, intermediate, and advanced lifters is covered in amazing detail.

For the novice, the basic principles of the Starting Strength method are discussed as well as a fabulous real world example of a properly executed linear progression.

New to the novice section is a detailed account of the “advanced novice” lifter as well as specialized diet and training tips for the particularly overweight or underweight trainee.

Also new to the 3rd edition of Practical Programming is an extensive look at how to elongate and squeeze every drop of usefulness out of a linear progression. It details resets, stalls, and recovering from the mistake of increasing your lifts too quickly.

It’s a great book if you’re just starting to dip your toes into programming and what to know how to do it.

But, fair warning though… This book is not a science based book, it’s called practical programming and therefore it has lot’s of examples, but little reasoning or information on how to set up a training program from scratch.

Here’s another quote by Mark Rippetoe, just for shit and giggles.

You Can Buy Practical Programming on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Purposeful Primitive

Marty Gallagher coached or met everyone who was anyone in the world of powerlifting in the 80s and 90s.Purposeful Primitive - Powerlifting Books

And luckily for us, his powerlifting book is filled with anecdotes from Kirk Karwoski, Ed Coan, Ken Fantano and Dorian Yates that give you a real feel for the sport when it was still underground.

The tales of strength he shares are inspiring, and he has a way of presenting even the roughest of his subjects with their humanity intact.

One golden nugget in here is the 20-second rule from Kirk Karwoski. You can use it when you’re ready to do some heavy lifting.

It goes like this: “I’m not gonna fuck up for 20 seconds!”

Gallagher also uses these anecdotes when talking about different training styles and nutritional strategies and builds his recommendations for various training phases around the greats he trained with or coached.

The training and diet information is comprehensive. Marty is a big believer in old school training splits and volume, and he has plenty of experience to back up his position.

On the downside, this is mostly a book for beginners and intermediate trainees. If you have been training for a few years and made any real progress, then the recommendations in this powerlifting book will probably not take you to the next level.

This is a book about the hybrid of bodybuilding, powerlifting, and fat loss. What is called Powerbuilding nowadays. It’s a book written by an accomplished lifter, coach and writer with over forty years of experience in the game.

I enjoyed reading it, and will reread it several times, the stories and interviews alone are worth every penny of this book in my opinion.

You Can Buy The Purposeful Primitive on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Westside Barbell Manuals

Westside Barbell Manuals - Powerlifting BooksYou love him or hate him.

Louie Simmons.

Everybody has an opinion of him and his Westside Barbell System, but I’m not here to start that debate.

Personally I believe you should try and inform yourself on as many training systems and theories as you can. You then pick the stuff what you find useful and add it to your toolbox.

In the end you will end up with your own training methodologies and sytems. And you’ll be far better off than the common gym rat that hops from one program to the next every 12 to 16 weeks.

That is why I think you should at least be familiar with the stuff of Louie Simmons and Westside Barbell. I don’t think there is any other gym on the planet that can boast as many equipped powerlifting world records as this gym.

Westside Barbell is the only gym in the world to have 2 over 2700 pound totals, plus 5 over 2800 pounds and 1 who has the biggest total of all time with 3005 lbs.

You’re probably already familiar with max effort and dynamic effort training. But these manuals also give you plenty of sample workouts and real life examples.

It’s actually 2 books. A bench press manual and a squat and deadlift manual.

There also another powerlifting book available by Simmons. It’s called Westside Barbell Book of Methods, but that is more a collection of his articles that are published on the official website.

I have all 3 powerlifting books by Simmons. The bench press manual and squat and deadlift manual are short, more to the point and therefor the better powerlifting books in my opinion.

You Can Buy The Westside Barbell Bench Manual on Amazon.com

You Can Buy The Westside Squat & Deadlift Manual on Amazon.com

All About Powerlifting

All About Powerlifting is well… All About Powerlifting!All About Powerlifting - Powerlifting Books

This powerlifting book literally covers all aspects of the sport, starting with the History of Powerlifting and finishing with the skinny on powerlifting federations.

It goes into great detail of describing the technique, rules and common mistakes athletes make in the squat, bench and deadlift.

This book is ideal for beginners and if you’re thinking of doing powerlifting competitions.

But that is not all. All About Powerlifting also talks about changing weight classes, how to warm up and general nutrition and conditioning for powerlifters. Plus it contains interviews with legends like Kirk Karwoski, Vince Anello and Sioux‐Z Hartwig‐Gary.

This is a great powerlifting book that’s actually accessible to read. Tim’s book is a fantastic way to start your powerlifting career and just stokes the fires for the rest of us meat heads out there.

You Can Buy The All About Powerlifting on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)

Science And Practice Of Strength Training

Science And Practice Of Strength Training - Powerlifting BooksAs the name implies, this book is a scientific analysis of the practice of strength training. Not a pure powerlifting book.

It’s definitely a lot denser than the previous powerlifting books mentioned.

Rather than the typical myths advocated by publications such as Men’s Health and other popular sources for training information, this book provides the scientific foundations for strength training.

It helps cut through the many myths surrounding strength training and provides in depth scientific analysis by one of the world’s leading biomechanists, kinesiologists, and strength training experts.

Zatsiorsky has influenced the weightlifting, powerlifting, strong man, and sports training worlds as well as academia. He describes theories as well as methods.

This book belongs on the shelf of any serious coach, or athlete.

I found this book excellent. It was the first book I read with any real scientific basis for strength training. It helped me start to understand that there is a science to strength training and that this science is lost upon most of the models and bodybuilders that grace the covers of most mainstream publications.

Please don’t be like ‘most’ people, Read this book.

You Can Buy Science And Practice Of Strength Training on Amazon.com
or on Amazon.co.uk

Supertraining

This book take’s it to 11. Yuri Verkhoshansky is to strength and conditioning what Issac Newton was to physics.Super Training-Powerlifting Books

If you’re the typical gym rat, be prepared to have your world blown wide open. You will learn nuances about things you didn’t even know existed.

  • Can you define strength deficit?
  • What’s the difference between “strength-speed” and “speed-strength?”
  • The distinction between central fatigue and peripheral fatigue?

The above concepts and much more were covered in only the first twenty pages. Get the picture as to the depth of this “powerlifting book”?

There’s a joke that describes the only use for Supertraining is as a 1 board.

I disagree. The amount of pure gold in this book is staggering, but it’s an extremely difficult read both technically and organizationally.

Therefore I use is as a reference manual.

I’ve learned more from struggling through Supertraining than I have learned in any other book. I deeply regret not having read this 15 years earlier.

Then again, this book is not for beginners. 

This is the nerdiest powerlifting book on this list, and it’s really only for the nerdiest of powerlifters among us.

From a technical standpoint, this book provides information from both scientific studies (there’s probably over 1000 references), and from Verkhoshansky’s expert opinion. The combination of two is a staggering volume of knowledge. It’s a masterpiece, and it’s cheap at any price.

You Can Buy Supertraining on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Above are 7 of my top powerlifting books. I know there’s more out there. Like the Russian texts and the Scientific Principles of Strength Training by Mike Israetel and James Hoffman for instance.

But if you start with the powerlifting books in this blog post then you will be well ahead of the game and there will be nothing standing in your way.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post about 7 Awesome Powerlifting Books You Need To Read.

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Author: Martijn Koevoets
Martijn is head honcho of Powerlifting University, a powerlifter, author, blogger, online coach & extreme metal aficionado. He also loves a good whiskey. He has been featured on websites like EliteFTS, JTSStrength, JMAX Fitness and more.

Get your hands on my cheat sheet for setting up training programs that took a 132lbs. skinny weakling from not being able to bench the bar to deadlifting 3x his own body weight and winning silver at the nationals.

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