2017 Reading Recommendations

Author : Stephen Griffith C.S.C.S.


Books are a fantastic way to learn about a topic, and every year I take a get to take a journey where I learn and deepen my knowledge.

This year yielded some great titles and I would like to share the books that I feel would best help you on your fitness journey.

When I decide whether or not to recommend a book I first look to make sure it meets certain criteria

  1. It’s understandable
  2. It’s impactful and will help you
  3. It changes your perspective

With that said, here are my top 5 recommendations for this year.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, we will receive a small commission for it. This revenue is important for allowing the website to operate and continue to produce quality materials for you our reader. With that said I have personal experience using all items listed in this article and recommend because I feel they may provide a real benefit for you.

#1 All Gain, No Pain by Bill Hartman

This book was recommended to me by another trainer that I joke always seems to be one step ahead of me. So when he recommended the book I went and picked it up right away. It did not disappoint. I knew after only a few chapters that this would be my recommendation for book of the year.  

While reading this book I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Einstein quote - “if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know it well enough”. The brilliance of this book is in how author and physical therapist Bill Hartman is able to take very complex ideas and make them understandable.

This book says it’s geared towards those who are 40+ but in reality, this book is perfect for anyone whose goal is to move better, feel better, and have more energy.

One of the great things about Bills approach and something that has been a focus for me this year is treating health holistically. This means looking at health not just through the lens of exercise, but realizing that nutrition, sleep, and stress all play important roles in your health and goals.

In this book, you will find a number of self-assessments and useful exercises as well as direction on how to organize your efforts to apply to create a workout regimen that truly is all gain and no pain.

#2 DVRT - The Ultimate Sandbag Training System - Josh Henkins

Up until this book, I would have ranked kettlebells as the best piece of equipment one could own. There combination of strength, cardio, and mobility, paired with their compact size and ability to flow into one another makes them a perfect piece of equipment. But after reading this book and putting its techniques into practice I am now willing to put the sandbag at the top of my recommendation list.

The sandbag offers all the versatility of the kettlebell, a friendly and functional progression,  but at the cost of one kettlebell. If you could only buy one item for your home gym, the sandbag is my recommendation. And if you're going to buy a sandbag, this is the book to go with if you want to learn how to use it.

Despite its title, this is not a book about sandbags. You will learn this from the very beginning that a sandbag is just a tool, but the real value comes from the system. The reason this book makes it on my recommendations list is that of how Josh Henkins goes beyond just a sandbag manual and instead outlines a system of progression that can be used with any exercise tool.

Progression is the key to seeing results, and Josh provides a crash course in how to do so. Teaching you how to manipulate common variables such as weight, and volume, but also how to manipulate other variables such as  ROM, density, planes of movement, stability,  and both holding and body position. Enjoy, because sandbag or not, you will find yourself using progressions in this book.

#3 Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement - Katy Bowman

I love a book that changes how you view the world and Katy Bowman does just that in this book. The central theme of this book is how the 23 hours a day you spend outside of the gym has a far bigger impact on your body than the 1 hour a day you spend in it. Specifically, this book takes a look at movement - or lack thereof - and how you can use it to shape your body and habits.  Her unique background allows her to take this concept a step further and allows her to articulate how movement is fundamental to our well being and how it can affect us all the way down to our DNA. After reading this book you will come away with a newfound appreciation for movement and a number of modifications you can make in your life to make it more movement friendly.

#4 The 4 Hour Chef - Timothy Ferriss  

Nutrition is as important to health as exercise, and even more important when it comes to body composition. With that, I believe that to live a healthy life it’s important to be able to not only cook but cook well. The reason I recommend this book is because it’s not just a book of recipes, but a book that actually teaches you how to cook. This book aims to teach by doing. Each recipe works on and develops another kitchen skill. Throughout the book, you will find tips from world-renowned chefs, and hacks for how to make cooking and clean up quick and easy. By the end of the book, you will feel as though you’ve just gone through a semester in cooking school.

#5  Gourmet Nutrition

To round out the top 5 is the Cookbook Gourmet Nutrition. One of the issues that people who have trouble eating healthy struggle with is that healthy food isn’t as appetizing as junk food.  This book turns that on its head, putting a focus on healthy recipes that taste as good as they are healthy. Each of the recipes is easy to make, and don’t require long to cook. It may be the only recipe book you’ll ever need.


Honorable Mentions

Food Rules - Michael Pollan

This is a great short book that aims to simplify the daily decisions we all make when it comes to eating. It can help you better reduce how much you eat, and what you eat. The only reason it doesn’t make it on the list is that it may be overpriced at 8 dollars. If the book goes on a quick sale again you should pick it up immediately. However, Michael Pollen's other books are well worth the price for a new view of the food industry.

How To Talk To Anyone ( 92 Little Tricks for big success in relationships - Leil Lowndes

Our health is directly related to our happiness, which is, in turn, affected by our social connections. This is a great book full of simple tricks that will help meet and make new relationships.



Here is the complete list of 2017. I’ve included a few links in the list to books that I found really enjoyable and interesting but don’t fit the scope of the website.


Reading List 2017

  1. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding - Arnold Schwarzenegger
  2. How To Talk To Anyone ( 92 Little Tricks for big success in relationships - Leil Lowndes
  3. Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely
  4. Programming for Dummies
  5. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
  6. A More Beautiful Question - Warren Berger
  7. 4 Hour Chef - Timothy Ferriss  
  8. The 4-Hour Workweek - Timothy Ferriss
  9. On Writing Well - William Zinsser
  10. How to Write great blog post and engage readers - Steve Scott
  11. Slaying The Badger - Richard Moore
  12. The Art of War - Sun Tzu
  13. Bike Fit - Phil Burt
  14. Gourmet Nutrition - John Berardi  
  15. Guns, Germs, and Steel - Jared Diamond
  16. New Advances in Functional Training - Mike Boyle
  17. The Best of Sentences The Worst of Sentences - June Casagrande
  18. Automate Boring stuff with Python
  19. Movement Systems Impairment Syndromes of the Extremities, Cervical, and Thoracic Spines- Shirley Sahrmann
  20. The RKC Book of Strength and Conditioning
  21. All Gain, No Pain - Bill Hartman
  22. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual - Michael Pollan
  23. The Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge - Dan John
  24. Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement - Katy Bowman
  25. On Writing - Stephen King
  26. Dynamic Aging - Kate Bowerman
  27. Insights into Functional Training: Principles, Concepts, and Application -Chuck Wolf, Robert Masson
  28. DVRT System - Josh Henkin  
  29. 1984 - George Orwell
  30. Animal Farm - George Orwell



Stephen Griffith