Best 5 Books for Personal Trainers & Fitness Professionals

Personal trainers play an essential role in the fitness industry and rightly so, they’re experts in their field. When it comes to working with clients, they really can do it all. From sharing nutritional advice to planning and coaching exercises, setting goals and using motivational techniques, the tools in a PT’s arsenal or vast.

If you’re newly qualified as a personal trainer, your head will no doubt be full of all of the knowledge and skills gained on your course. You’ll likely feel ready to go out and conquer the world, but it’s important to bear in mind that the learning actually never stops. You only have to look at the advice from the UK’s best personal trainers to understand you can never rest on your laurels. Assuming just because you have a personal trainer qualification and you know it all, isn’t going to get you to the great heights you’re destined for.

With that in mind, here’s a quick list of the best books for personal trainers that will help you brush up on core concepts, develop your knowledge and help you become a better personal trainer.There’s not a single mention of ‘getting rich quick and training 1000 clients from the comfort of your pj’s’.

Top 5 Books for Personal Trainers

ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription

Now in its tenth edition (published in 2017), Guidelines for Exercise… is the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)’s flagship publication and a must-have for studious personal trainers. As you’d expect from ACSM, the book focuses on evidence-based recommendations, including the latest clinical research. Adding to exercise prescription, advice for special populations and behavioural theories, this tenth edition includes a host of new content including health screening.

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everything to Take Action

Simon Sinek’s global bestseller might seem like a choice out of left field, but it is an incredibly powerful read. The crux of the book is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Drawing from the successes of companies like Apple and notable figures like the Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King Jr, Sinek posits that it’s all about the ‘why’ – why you do things is much more impactful than how or even what you do.

Your job as a personal trainer is to inspire others, to lead from the front and this book provides a clear roadmap for how to do that.

The Back Mechanic

Some may know him by name alone, others by his extensive experience, or perhaps even his impressive moustache, regardless Professor Stuart McGill is the world’s foremost authority on the spine and back pain. In his seminal book, Professor McGill dispels the long-standing myth that back pain can be ‘non-specific’. He’s of the mindset that it always has a cause and this book challenges you to work with clients, identify the root of the issue and offer guidance to address the pain. The Back Mechanic is a fantastic resource that you, as a PT, can come back to time and again, particularly if you’re dealing with clients who have tried other forms of treatment and rehab that haven’t worked.

If you’re interested in learning more about the man behind the method then check an incredibly comprehensive interview with Professor McGill on the HFE blog.

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning

Produced by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, this book is billed as an essential text for strength and conditioning professionals. Don’t be put off the hefty price tag as it’s a comprehensive resource that explores theories, principles and concepts of strength and conditioning and how they apply to performance. This fourth edition, published in 2015, includes access to a collection of 61 videos which really brings everything to life.

Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists

When it comes to the body, fascia is literally everywhere and this book is ideal for PTs looking to further their knowledge about how it relates to the body and movement. On the face of things, fascia and myofascial release could be seen as quite heady topics but everything is presented in a very clear and accessible way complete with diagrams, photographs and access to video demonstrations. Author Thomas Myers has over 40 years practising manual therapy and delivered workshops and training worldwide, he really is an authority on everything fascia and Anatomy Trains more than proves it.

Written by Josh Douglas-Walton, marathon runner, fitness writer for HFE and yerba mate tea drinker.