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The best fitness books to read right now

From Dutch icemen to ultra marathon swimmers, this is our list of the best fitness books on the market right now.

Greatest Fitness Books compilation

For those interested in fitness, there are endless amounts of advice and information available to us, and books are often the ultimate deep dive into someone else’s fitness philosophy. 


They can be a great gift for any fitness fanatic, or they can help you learn about new ways to adapt and change your life.

Whether you’re looking for a book to help you begin your fitness journey, a detailed description of recovery techniques, or a new training method, these are our picks of the best fitness books money can buy.

Looking for triathlon-related books to fill up that Christmas stocking? Check out our list of the best triathlon books for your wish list.

Best fitness books

The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel

Best in-depth triathlon book

Legendary triathlon and cycling coach Joe Friel has helped shape the way we view endurance sports. Since the 1980s, he has given coaching seminars and consultation for national Olympic bodies, athletes and sports corporations alike.

The Triathlete’s Training Bible is a deep dive into nutrition, recovery and weight training specifically designed for triathletes.

Friel provides a comprehensive reference for all ability levels, including planning a season, race preparation and how to split workouts throughout the week. It’s the ultimate guide to tapping into your full potential as a triathlete.

First published in 2004, this latest version was reprinted in 2016 to account for the latest advances in training and technology. It holds all there is to know, from maximising form to pinpoint nutrition.

The Fitness Mindset by Brian Keane

Best for a holistic approach

Brian Keane’s work attempts to solve frustration around tiredness, sleep, nutrition and physique difficulties. His advice comes from personal experience: from primary school teacher to professional fitness model, to one of the top online coaches in the UK and Ireland.

As the title Fitness Mindset suggests, Brian argues physical and mental health complement and supplement each other. The book is split into two sections, the first focusing on physical health and the second on mental health and how the two intersect.

This method comes with plans and techniques to help minimise stress and anxiety, build physical fitness and improve your quality of life.

The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof

Best for mental strength

Wim Hof more than earned his rise into the public eye. When you’ve ran a half marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts and sandals, and set 26 Guinness World Records, it only takes so long before people notice. And they have.

Celebrities and athletes all over the world have begun adopting Hof’s method, a practice centred around breathing and ice plunges, stated to have numerous mental and physical benefits.

This book is centred around his extraordinary life, in which he discovered what he believes to be the power of ‘cold exposure, conscious breathing, and the power of the mind’.

He’s had his detractors, but many swear by his techniques and philosophy. Whatever your opinion, this is a fascinating, icy deep dive into one man’s mission to unlock human potential.

Check out our list of the best ice baths on the market.

The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow

Best for sports psychology

Often, we watch great feats by athletes with disbelief. They appear completely alien to normal people, able to fight through lactic acid and intense pain to produce moments of pure brilliance. Through sports psychology and motivational stories, Jim Afremow argues that pure athletic ability isn’t all that counts.

Built out of 20 years of experience working with athletes and teams, including roles as a sports psychologist for Olympic teams, he argues it’s the mental game that matters most.

The Champion’s Mind packs the advice he gave athletes into its pages, writing on humility, teamwork and getting into the ‘zone’. There’s wisdom on sustaining performance and even pre-performance routines for you to implement in your own life.

Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett

Best for runners

Dr Kelly Starrett tackles the growing intrigue around primal forms of running. For a sport so often riddled with injury, he asks if there is a space for a return to a pure form of barefoot running.

Starrett argues that life today makes the notion of being ‘born to run’ difficult. It’s destroyed by sitting down and wearing the wrong shoes, causing numerous injuries and physiological issues.

Ready to Run presents 12 methods to prepare your body for top-performance running, using a minimalist running shoe. There are ways to treat pain, adjust to the demands of new technique, and increase mobility. This is a book for anyone wanting to tap into their true potential as a runner.

Take a peek at our list of the best running books for motivation.

ROAR by Stacy T. Sims

Best female-focused book

This book aims to revolutionise the way sports science views women. Stacy T. Sims has directed research programs at Stanford and AUT University focused on female athlete health and performance, continually pushing for improved research on women’s physiology.

Stacy argues that nutrition and training programmes are mostly designed for men, which limits the potential of female athletes. So she translated her early work and findings into ROAR, a nutrition and training guide designed for women.

This consists of everything from hydration and meal plans to specific strength exercises. It also includes chapters based entirely on exercising through menopause, the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. ROAR is a breakthrough: a fitness book that works with female physiology, not against it.

80/20 Triathlon by Matt Fitzgerald

Best for a new training program

Research has found that the Pareto principle, or the idea that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes, can have serious results for athletes. The suggestion is that athletes experience their greatest performance when they do 80% of their training at a low intensity and 20% at a moderate intensity.

In 80/20 Triathlon, Matt Fitzgerald and David Warden apply this principle to triathlon training routines. They lay out the evidence and offer complete plans for every possible triathlon event, from Ironman to Olympic distances. They aim to reduce your fatigue and improve results with a key message: train smarter, not harder.

The World’s Fittest Book by Ross Edgley

The best for all-round training advice

The World’s Fittest Book is quite a title. But if any book deserves it, it might just be this. Extreme adventurer and ultra-marathon sea swimmer Ross Edgley combines teachings from Olympic champions and world record holders with his own experience travelling around the world into a wide-ranging work on all things fitness.

It took him 10 years to write and you can certainly see why. Edgley covers everything from nutrition, fat loss, strength, and stamina to more eccentric topics, including waterfall meditation by the Yamabushi monks in Japan and ultra-marathon running in the Namibian wilderness.

It’s an ambitious book, likely to hold valuable advice for every reader, no matter where they are on their own fitness journey.

The Pocket Atlas Of The Moving Body by Mel Cash, Anne Wadmore

Best for knowing your body

Knowing your body’s anatomy isn’t just great for general knowledge. It can also be a great way to maximise your training and get the most out of competing. Published in 1999, this book from sports massage specialist Mel Cash provides vital insight into the muscular and skeletal system.

It contains all the information you need to understand how the human body moves and maintains posture, with clear and detailed illustration from Anne Wadmore.

It’s a great way to gain an in-depth understanding of how the body works and how injuries occur, for anyone involved in sports, at all levels. A neat pocket-sized book, it’s a short but concise way to develop your understanding of the human body.

Good to Go by Christie Aschwanden

Best for recovery

It can be hard to know where to begin with exercise recovery. It’s an over-saturated market, filled with claims about endless streams of new products and fads.

In this book, science writer Christie Aschwanden gives her insights into trendy recovery methods, from Tom Brady’s infrared pyjamas to Simone Biles’ pneumatic compression boots.

Aschwanden covers a lot of ground, from the ridiculous to the more normalised. She presents rigorous thoughts and investigations into just about anything you can imagine, even testing them on herself. Good to Go is the perfect book for anyone wanting to learn more about the weird world of recovery.


Want to get reading but always on the go? Have a look at our list of the best triathlon audiobooks to download today.