30 Dec The 5 Best Fitness Books Of The Year (2017 Edition)

(#233) Here’s my 6th annual post that I do each year as I reflect back on the best “fitness” books I’ve read during the last 12 months.

My criteria for this year’s list is as follows:

  • Books that were released sometime during 2017
  • Books I have in my own personal library
  • Books I have read (or have read enough of to make an impact)
  • Books that have important ideas or concepts to put into practice

Now, my definition of fitness books is pretty unconventional compared to most and my list has evolved quite a bit since the first one back in 2012.

Once again, this is my 6th annual “best of” list.

As usual, coming up with only 5 books was extremely challenging.

As in previous years, I’ll have a few others that are “honorable mentions” and I’ll explain them below.

Here’s my video review summarizing all of these great books:

Rather than provide lengthy dissertations on why I think these books are the best of the year, I’ll simply provide a brief overview and statement about each book.

I could definitely tell you more about why each of these are so valuable and are worth your time to read, but what’s important to know is that I highly recommend each of these for your training library.

If you haven’t read any of them, which one should you start with?

The one that interests you the most or the one you feel you help you the most right now.

Here’s my top 5 list from 2017 in no particular order.

NOW WHAT by Dan John

I’m a huge fan of Dan John’s work and recommend all of his books. If you’ve never read Dan’s work, I’d actually start with Intervention, but NOW WHAT is another important book in Dan’s legacy. To me, this book represents a part of the continuum in what Dan writes about as it introduces new concepts, yet builds on things he has written about before. Dan is a prolific writer and his gift is simplifying and rationalizing health and fitness in a sometimes crazy and irrational fitness world. I devoured this book in a few days, that should tell you how good it was.

GIFT OF INJURY by Dr. Stuart McGill and Brian Carroll

This book goes far beyond the story of how an elite powerlifter (Brian Carroll) overcame a devastating back injury to return to sport with the help of the word’s leading spine expert (Dr. Stuart McGill). For me, the story hits very close to home because I have overcome a devastating back injury, as well. Although I am not an elite level powerlifter like Brian, I do know what it takes to come back from a debilitating injury and return to sport. As mentioned, this book isn’t just a “come back” story. It’s a manual for coaches and strength athletes to use to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. The book is exceptional work and fills a gap that I have not seen anywhere else. This book is useful for any reader to put into practice.

UNPLUGGED by Brian Mackenize, Dr. Andy Galpin, and Phil White

In today’s evolving fitness climate, this book represents a significant message. Unplugged isn’t necessarily ‘ant-technology’, but it does put things into perspective about the potential over-dependence of using technology in health and fitness. I admit, I’m “old school.” Maybe that’s why the book resonated with me so much in today’s “technological advances.” I’m not opposed to using technology (one of my favorite apps is “Coaches Eye.”) But, we do have to be careful and remember that nothing replaces the fundamentals. This is a beautiful book, well written, and simple in it’s concepts and ideas. Very innovative work and a needed resource to remain reasonable in how we approach health and fitness. Read this to learn the truth about technology in fitness.


While this book is specific to Weightlifting movements, it is truly an outstanding approach and system to improve movement and, ultimately, performance. If you’re a movement coach or athlete, this is valuable resource to add to your library and it’s something that will be referenced over and over again. As far as a Weightlifting book, there is really nothing else available that covers the breadth depth of this book. This is reference that provides many “golden nuggets” for the reader to immediately walk away with and apply. Highly recommended for the Weightlifting coach and athlete.

GAME CHANGER by Dr. Fergus Connolly with Phil White

Game Changer is simply an amazing body of work and I haven’t seen or read anything quite like this. The book represents a textbook-like resource for coaches and athletes that are interested in changing the score. It’s not quite a fitness book, but a true sport science reference about what it takes to build athletic excellence. This book is deep and comprehensive. The challenge for the reader may be finding what is most important to take away and apply. Make no mistake, this is an absolutely brilliant resource to understand principles that make teams great. Don’t expect to read this one quickly. It’s probably the most content-dense book on the list and as great as it is, it can be seen as overwhelming to many. Read this in “bite sized chunks” to maximize the learnings. Game changer truly is a game changer. Amazing work.

There’s my top 5, but I’ve got 3 more I have to mention.

Each of these are pretty special, as well.


WHAT DOESN’T KILL US by Scott Carney

This book blew my mind and introduced me to the concept of environmental conditioning. It radically changed my understanding about the importance of cold exposure and what that can mean to optimize health in the human body. While it’s unconventional, there appears to benefits and physiological rationale these approaches. The book was written by investigative journalist Scott Carney, who masterfully tells us about his stories and experiences as a skeptic. As we find out during the book, his journey was transformational. A great book that was insightful and had many ideas to consider for improving human health.

CONSCIOUS COACHING by Brett Bartholomew

Because my list typically reflects books that are relevant to increasing performance, I wasn’t sure how to classify this book on the list. Clearly, this is one of the most important books written in 2017 for coaches in any discipline. This book is essential reading for all coaches to better understand themselves and the athletes (or clients) they work with. It’s very deep and it will make you think. It’s really a book about communication and introspection to get the absolute best results. All the best knowledge about your craft doesn’t mean anything if you can’t communicate with your athletes. This is a breakthrough book and if you’re a coach or work with people, you need to read it.

THE BARBELL PRESCRIPTION by Dr. Jonathon and Andy Baker

This book was released in late 2016. Had it not been for that, this would have easily been on my top 5 list this year and it’s easily one of my “most recommended” books I’ve suggested to others over the last year. The first part of this book on the importance of strength as it relates to health is groundbreaking. The level of depth in the opening section has not been written about in previous literature. For that reason alone, I highly recommend this book. Also, if you think you’re “too old” to lift, you need to read this. Finally, this book also needs to be read by more medical professionals. That’s a sad but true fact.

Have any questions about any of these books?

I’m happy to answer anything you may have, so post any questions below.

Want to check out last year’s list?

I’ve got you covered. Here’s last year’s “top 5” post:

Best Fitness Books of 2016

Feel free to share this anywhere you’d like by clicking on the social share icons on this post.

Let’s get the word out about these great resources!

Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS is a strength coach, athlete, and former “physio” who’s mission is to bridge the gaps in strength, performance and injury prevention. At Rdella Training, you’ll learn how to train at a high level of strength and performance while minimizing (or negating) risk for injury to achieve an unsurpassed level of results.
    Posted at 03:45h, 01 January Reply

    Thank you Scott! Your Barbell Bodybuilding program plus the edge of strength book helped me massively the past two years. Looking forward to some great content this year!

    • Scott
      Posted at 17:51h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks Darshan! I appreciate that.

  • Barbora Vanková
    Posted at 13:31h, 02 January Reply

    Thank you Scott, I apreciate your work! I will add some of this books to my reading list :-)

    • Scott
      Posted at 17:52h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks for the compliments Barbora. I appreciate.

  • Daniel Lona
    Posted at 19:33h, 06 January Reply

    Hey Scott! Thanks for the amazing recommendations! I put almost all of them on my Amazon wish lists. You are fantastic help and resources for us coaches. Thank you for sharing. And I love that you’re doing video now, too!

    • Scott
      Posted at 13:16h, 10 January Reply

      Thanks Dan. Yeah, I gotta get the videos going (consistently).
      Appreciate the kind words and I wish you the best in the year ahead!

Post A Comment

  • No spam and unsubscribe at any time.

Immediate Solutions For The 3 Most Common Problems