27 Dec The 5 Best Fitness Books Of The Year (2016 Edition)

As we begin, let me tell you this.

The list here should be titled the 5 best and most unconventional fitness books of the year. These aren’t the typical “mainstream” fitness books and if you’ve read anything before from this website, you know that’s not how I roll.

Now that I said that, here’s my 5th year of publishing the 5 best fitness books of the year. (If you missed last year’s article, see the bottom of this post). What I can say about this year’s list is that the books here can improve your life – or help you improve those you work with. These are performance books to enhance sport – or life.

Coming up with this list was tough. It always is. It was tough because I read some great books this year, but the truth is I can’t read everything out there, so there’s probably some great books that I just didn’t get to (yet). I still have a stack of books that were released in 2016 that haven’t been read.

Who can benefit from this list?

Anybody really, but this is written specifically for coaches, trainers, lifters, the serious fitness enthusiast, and or the rehab professional. It’s for people who simply want the edge in lifting, in sport, and in life.

Here’s the criteria for this year’s list:

  • All books were released during 2016
  • These are all books I have personally purchased this year
  • These are books that I have personally read (or have neared completion)
  • All books contain something that I have put into practice myself (see takeaways)


I hope you enjoy this year’s list and if you have questions or comments about anything here – post something below.

Enjoy the 5 best fitness books of 2016



Deskbound by Kelly Starrett, Juliet Starrett, and Glen Cordoza

SUMMARY: Without a doubt, Deskbound was a “game-changer” for me this year and easily the first book that popped into my head when thinking about this list. This book had a significant impact on my own lifestyle in many ways – I’ll discuss more about that below. This book is much more than just a book about the hazards of prolonged sitting though, it’s a comprehensive movement and positioning book for the human body. Basically, it’s organized into 2 major areas (from my perspective). The first area is about movement and positioning and the second area covers mobility and mobility exercises. As with the Kelly Starrett’s previous work, this is NOT just a book as it reads and feels more like a college textbook. And, there are valuable insights from the co-authors, the wonderful Juliet Starrett (who along with Kelly founded StandUpKids.org) and Glen Cordoza. This is an extremely important book for all to combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle in a modern world. I highly recommend this book.

TAKEAWAY: Let’s just say that as I’m writing this article right now, I’m writing from my stand-up desk in my home office. There were 2 major takeaways I had during the reading of this book. First, I immediately started moving more and became more acutely aware of taking “movement breaks” when I was stationary for any length of time. I started standing more at my desk and even started doing all my podcast interviews in standing. These simple things made a huge difference in my mental and physical physiology. And, as I just mentioned, the second major thing I did was to actually purchase a stand-up desk. I invested in a high-quality stand-up desk so that I don’t have to sit for extended periods when working at home. I love it and this was one of the best investments for my movement and positioning. Words cannot express how much of a difference this has made in how I feel. For me, these changes have literally been “breakthrough.”

To listen to an interview with Dr. Kelly Starrett discussing the book and more, click here



SLEEP SMARTER by Shawn Stevenson

SUMMARY: The next book is another ground-breaker for people living in the modern world. I’ve come to realize the importance of sleep in the ultimate health and fitness equation. Sleep Smarter contains 21 key strategies to improve sleep – which will improve overall levels of heath and performance, especially as a strength athlete. The simple truth is that if your sleep is “jacked up,” you aren’t going to get the best results from your training, period. I still feel that sleep is one of the most overlooked and underemphasized aspects of strength and performance training. This one is essential reading for the simple reason it will help any reader fully understand the value of sleep quality and quantity  with specific strategies. A great read and backed by science.

TAKEAWAY: I’ve talked about this several times now (when I’ve been interviewed on podcasts and also on the RT podcast), but there were some major takeaways for me after reading this book. The simple strategies I took away and applied made a major difference in improving my own sleep habits. A few specific examples? Sure. There’s the opening chapter on understanding sleep, of course. Then chapter 5 (Be Cool), Chapter 6 (Get To Bed At The Right Time), and Chapter 8 (Create A Sleep Sanctuary). Just taking action with these few strategies alone could change your life.

To listen to an interview with Shawn Stevenson discussing the book and more, click here



TRUE TO FORM by Dr. Eric Goodman

SUMMARY: Out of all the books mentioned on this list, this may be the most simple to read and easy to apply right out of the gate. The breathing exercises and hip hinge movements are straightforward to apply for all. This book represents the core concepts from Dr. Eric Goodman’s brilliant approach to resolving pain and improving function called Foundation Training. The book does a great job of providing an overview and philosophical approach to Dr. Goodman’s movement based training system – what it is, why it works, and how to use it. I think Dr. Goodman is onto something with this system of constantly improving core stability, improving breathing, and anchoring our bodies for optimal alignment to keep us functioning at a high level. This book – and system of movement – can help a lot of people.

TAKEAWAY: Besides re-affirming my own belief in the importance of the “hip hinge,” there were some simple actionable takeaways for me. One of the big things was the simple application of The Founder exercise – which is an easy to perform hip hinge movement. While there are several exercises covered in the book (but not too many), I like the idea of keeping things simple and just adding in a few “founders” a few times per week as part of my warm up or as part of a movement preparation for training. This has been simple and effective and I have to say I’m interested in learning more about this system of movement.

To listen to an interview with Dr. Eric Goodman discussing the book and more, click here

To get some cool, free training resources from Rdella Training, click here



OLMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING, 3rd Edition by Greg Everett

SUMMARY: I have an obsession with Olympic weightlifting. It’s the most challenging strength skill there is, in my opinion. The 3rd edition of this book is major update and overhaul from the previous edition. If you have the previous edition – do you need this one? Well, my answer is that it depends on how serious you are about weightlifting. If you’re a weightlifting coach or a serious weightlifting athlete, then I highly recommend it. It’s everything you need to know about Olympic weightlifting and it’s a book I refer back to very often in my own training – and for teaching, of course. Pictures, progressions, programming, everything. It’s incredible.

TAKEAWAY: The takeaways are in the details. As I said, this is a book I constantly use and refer back to. The information is comprehensive. The book is a total beast at nearly 600 pages, but it covers everything for the serious athlete and coach to use and put into practice. The paperback is about $40 – and worth every penny. This book is not meant to be read – it’s meant to be applied. I highly recommend this for the serious lifter, but if you need or want a more simple and concise book on Olympic weightlifting, then get Olympic Weightlifting For Sports.

To listen to an interview with Greg Everett discussing the book and more, click here



TOOLS OF TITANS by Tim Ferriss

SUMMARY: I know what you may be thinking here. This is not a “fitness” book. While this is sorta true, there are many health, fitness, and performance insights and ideas contained in this phenomenal book. This is an amazing read and I feel comfortable enough to include as part of my 5 best fitness books of the year for many reasons. The book is organized into 3 major parts: healthy, wealth, and wise. In each part of the book, there are highlights from conversations from The Tim Ferris Show, but this book is not just a “re-hash” of the podcast interviews. Not at all. It’s a collection great insights, wisdom, and actionable advice. Whether or not you’ve heard his podcast before, this book is a major “value-add” and one of the coolest and most interesting books I’ve ever read. It covers many different topics and it’s incredibly interesting.

TAKEAWAY: There are so many “nuggets” in this unique book, it’s hard to say. There are some quotes that already have already had an impact on me (“You need to deserve your carbs” – Charles Poliquin). In full disclosure, I’m still reading this one at the moment, but I’ve read enough to give it a fair assessment and include it on this list. I’ve skipped through to different chapters in the book. Obviously, some of the great chapter highlights I enjoyed were the “healthy” experts such as Christopher Sommer, Dr. Dominic D’ Agostino, Joe De Sena (3x guest on the RT podcast), Dr. Peter Attia, Charles Poliquin, Pavel, Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece, Brain MacKenzie, Dr. Kelly Starrett (4x guest on the RT podcast), and Arnold (although Arnold is included in the “wealthy” section of the book). In my opinion, this book is truly innovative and ultra-valuable for any reader. It’s for the fitness enthusiast, the coach, and everyone else! Genius.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get Tim Ferriss on the show, but if you have any suggestions…let me know.

Anyway, here’s another powerful quote that stuck with me from the book (this one comes from Actor Jamie Foxx):




This is my recommended reading list from 2016.

The level of knowledge contained in these books is literally “world-class.” Each of these resources covers so many different topics (yet they all connect and are related in some way) that can improve quality of life and training performance.

If you haven’t read any of these yet, it’s easy – pick the one that is of most interest to you right now.

Get it, read it, apply it.

I provided a short summary and what I took away from these books. The next step is up to you, my friend. If you like books as much as I do, then this is a wealth of knowledge, advice, and practical applications.

Tools of Titans is certainly the one that stands out as being very different from the rest, but it’s a book that has something for anyone and everyone. Deskbound changed my life. So did Sleep Smarter. True to Form is something I plan to add in more this year to enhance performance and Olympic Weightlifting will be a book I’ll continue to actively use and reference for years to come.

Weightlifting, sleep, movement, positioning, injury prevention, peak performance, and a literal smorgasbord of health and fitness topics – that’s what you’ll find in these books.


To see last year’s list, click here.

Spread the word! Please share this 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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