28 Dec The 5 Best Fitness Books of The Year (2015 Edition)

Here’s my 4th annual post summarizing the top 5 fitness books of the year.

If you’re a regular reader, you know how much value I place on reading great books to improve the quality of your life – in any subject, not just fitness.

There were some great books this year, without a doubt.

While I read a lot of books each year, I can’t read everything, so I’m sure there were some other outstanding books that are probably deserving to be mentioned here, as well.

The list criteria has evolved a bit through the years, so here’s what I based things on this year:

  • The book must have been published this year (January through December)
  • These books have high practical application
  • Easy to read (although some of the books are extremely comprehensive)
  • Relevant, important, and unique
  • These books are primarily related to strength training and performance

In looking back, these 5 books were the ones that I thought were most valuable and necessary in the area of human heath and performance for any fitness enthusiast, coach, or athlete.

These books are comprehensive resources – meaning that they are meant to be read, referred back to, and applied.

Ok, let’s dive in to this year’s best.

*These are listed in order of publication, with the earliest first.

Strong Medicine

1-STRONG MEDICINE by Dr. Chris Hardy and Marty Gallagher.

Topic: Health, Nutrition, and Peak Performance.

This fantastic book by Dr. Chris Hardy and Marty Gallagher came out in March and I started reading it soon after. This is not only a very unique book, but contains so much amazing information on optimizing human health and performance. Everything about this book is different form what is available. Backed by numerous scientific references, the material is presented in simple concepts and visually illustrations. This is a massive text at nearly 600 pages, but a fun and engaging read. I can’t think of anyone who would not benefit from reading this book for a more complete understanding about human health. To better understand how your body works, this is a must read. And, you can also check out both authors discussing concepts about the book on a previous podcast episode.


Can You Go

2-CAN YOU GO by Dan John.

Topic: Fitness Assessment and Program Design.

It seems like this book came out so long ago, but I realized it only came out in May. Can You Go is a “system” to assess fitness goals. Maybe most appropriate for coaches, but anyone can greatly benefit by reading this book. With many tactical tools and assessment ideas, it’s a valuable approach to assess and measure for program design. The 1-2-3-4 assessment is just one of the chapters that’s worth the investment. As with all of Dan’s work, it’s the little details contained in the pages that can make the biggest difference for all of us. Can You Go is an assessment system and valuable set of tools.

Supple Leopard500

3-SUPPLE LEOPARD, 2nd EDITION by Kelly Starrett with Glen Cordoza.

Topic: Human Movement, Mobility, Athletic Performance.

Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett originally debuted back in 2013. I was even wondering why I should buy the 2nd edition when I already had the previous edition, but in a podcast interview I had with Kelly, he assured me it was a complete overhaul to the previous text. He was right. The new edition came out in May and it is a complete update to the previous edition with improved design and added content. This book is one that I keep handy on my shelf for quick reference, especially when looking to address specific mobility issues or self mobilizations. Supple Leopard reads more like a textbook and is meant to be used and applied in the gym with countless ways to maintain and restore human movement and mobility. An essential resource for all and the new edition is a fantastic upgrade.

scientific-principles5004-SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES OF STRENGTH by Dr. Mike Israetel, James Hoffman, and Chad Wesley-Smith.

Topic: Strength Training Principles and Science.

The first thing you need to know is that this book is available as an e-book only. Not a kindle book, but a downloadable e-book from Jugggernaut Training Systems. That’s the only thing I didn’t like about it because I had to print the entire book out and had to have it bound (all 371 pages). Yes, I much prefer physical books as a opposed to e-books, but that’s just me. That aside, this is a valuable book that deserves to be placed alongside such classic work like Supertraining by Verkhoshansky and Siff. While Scientific Principles is geared towards powerlifters, the training principles here can be applied to almost any area of performance training. The brilliant Dr. Mike Israetel spearheaded an amazing resource for the serious strength enthusiast. What makes any program great is the principles behind it, as this book explains. To hear more about this book, you can catch Dr. Israetel on the podcast.



5-BEFORE WE GO by Dan John.

Topic: Various Topics in Fitness, Training, and Performance.

I know, another Dan John book. Well, it’s been a banner year for Dan John. First, Can You Go, then Before We Go. The 2nd new book by Dan came out in November and I literally devoured this book (cover to cover) in just a few days. And, I even did this while I was finishing up my own book. This book is very different from Can You Go because it’s a compilation of some of his best articles. I love these types of books because they are just a mix of great topics and program ideas, much more similar to Dan’s early masterpiece – Never Let Go. A few of my favorite chapters include: 6 Challenges You Must Accept and Beat, Figuring Out Your Life and Lifting Goals, Forty Years of Insight. There are genius insights in this amazing book.


In case you’re wondering, some of the books below I have not finished reading in their entirety yet – which is partially why they may not have been included in the top 5 list.

The 5 books above are simply the primary books I’ve read this year that really stand out (for me personally), but the books below are fantastic, as well, based on what I’ve read so far.

Past “TOP 5” Book lists:

Finally, I’m extremely excited to announce the release of my own NEW book titled “The Edge of Strength.”

While I’m certainly NOT listing my own book on the “best” list (that would be tacky) I did want mention it because it’s a book I’m proud of and there’s something in there for everyone – beginner through advanced.


It’s a unique book about the strength training philosophy and methodology I’ve developed and used over the last several years. It’s an uncommon book that will answer many questions and has taken me decades to figure out.

The book was released on December 15th and is now available on Amazon.

There are many outstanding resources listed here.

I’d recommend any and all of them.

These will all greatly enhance your knowledge to train better and optimize results.

If you have other great fitness or performance books you’ve read this year – post them below.

If you would, please share this important article on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere you’d like.

Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS writes about strength training methods to optimize health and performance. If you enjoyed this, join a strong and growing community of passionate fitness enthusiasts and subscribe below to get a ton of cool, free stuff! Subscribe at RdellaTraining.com/join and get your FREE Report and Resource Guide.
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