6 Must-read Books to Help You Get Fit

Paul L. Underwood
by Paul L. Underwood
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6 Must-read Books to Help You Get Fit

It’s a cliche that knowledge is power, and yet few of us take the time to investigate the works that can make us more powerful (or faster or stronger … you get the idea). With that in mind, we asked fitness experts what books they recommend, with the idea to start building a library of inspirational reads.

Their answers might surprise you — a certain wild-haired intellectual makes an appearance …

By Pavel & Dan John

“This book is the best I’ve read in the strength and conditioning space because it takes a topic that often gets lost in the details and makes it simple to understand. Many books on how to get strong and be a resilient athlete are too much to digest for folks looking to get strong and stay strong. I loved how this book cut right to the important stuff and kept a focus on the fundamentals of strength and conditioning. It impacted how I train and how I program in a big way.”

— Tim DiFrancesco, former strength and conditioning coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and founder of TD Athletes Edge

By Malcolm Gladwell

“[It’s about] what it takes to be great and how to achieve it compared to anyone else. Some great stories on what it means to be an outlier and [how] being different doesn’t mean you’re behind. Be an outlier, be different. (Since weird is the new normal I’m proud to have been ‘weird’ since day 1.) Mr. Gladwell also explains the 10,000-hour rule which is widely popular. This was a book given to me by my mentor Fraser Quelch from TRX as he told me ‘Wanna be great? Read this book!’”

— Marc Coronel, TriggerPoint and TRX master instructor and owner of Open Mind Fitness

By Dr. John Sarno

“As a runner myself, and as a coach of runners and other endurance athletes, I have seen what miraculous and seemingly devious things training does to the body. In this book Dr. Sarno also reveals how the mind impacts the body in ways we hadn’t thought of before, and perhaps may even struggle to accept. For many people facing chronic pain, Dr. Sarno’s eye-opening ‘prescription’ is life-changing. At minimum it is captivating to see the mind-body connection at work.”

— Sandra Gallagher-Mohler, CEO and run coach at iRunTons

By Mike Stroud

“It is an easy read but tells some great stories about people and the body’s ability to adapt to extreme stresses and training. The beginning is an anthropological viewpoint and then each chapter tells a different story. It’s amazing to hear about what a wonderful adaptation machine our body is.”

— Rich Hesketh, athletic development coach at DECAMAN Athletics

By James K. McPartland

“Essentially this book is about a fictitious character who is never satisfied with what he has so he is also striving for more (more money, more things, etc.). And in that quest for ‘more,’ ultimately his personal life gets sacrificed. The takeaway message for me is that most of the time we take for granted what we already have. Be thankful for the gifts you have, not the ones that you don’t. I read this book in one day and for me to just sit and be doesn’t often happen …”

— Dan McDonogh, Under Armour senior manager of athlete performance and innovation

By Chris Crowley

“It’s funny, realistic and the honest-to-god ‘magic pill’ to increase health, fitness and longevity. This book isn’t just for older folks, the health and fitness lessons can apply to anybody of any age. The ‘lifestyle’ is doable and well rounded. The ‘Younger Next Year Rules’ are:

  • Exercise six days a week.
  • Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week.
  • Do serious strength training with weights, two days a week.
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Quit eating crap.
  • Care.
  • Connect and commit.”

— Shana Verstegen, a trainer and world champion log roller


About the Author

Paul L. Underwood
Paul L. Underwood

Paul is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He tweets here, he Instagrams there and he posts the occasional deep thought at plunderwood.com. He’s probably working on a run mix as you read this.


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