Top 5 Strength & Conditioning Books

JUNE, 2019
I get asked often for book recommendations on all kinds of topics, and I realized I probably give out different recommendations based on what recently popped up in my emails, news feeds, or social media scrolling. So it’s time to put a stake in the ground and declare my top 5 strength & conditioning books.
While they won’t make any coach a great coach, they WILL provide enough of a background to get started. As a high school coach, probably with as much classroom planning as practice planning on your plate, I’m sure your list of ‘must reads’ is growing by the day. I wanted to provide this list, not as an all encompassing, comprehensive list, but rather as a starting point to be knowledgeable enough to train your kids safely and still get results.
1. Complete Conditioning for Football – Dr. Pat Ivey and Josh Stoner
Well this one should be self-explanatory. Josh Stoner is currently the Director of Athletic Performance at Stephen F. Austin. Josh and I wrote this book as a new edition to the book originally written by Boyd Epley and the University of Nebraska Strength and Conditioning Staff. This is a comprehensive training manual for the sport of football for all levels from High School, College, and Professional. Many principles discussed in the book apply to all sports and athletes.
2. The Stress of Life – Dr. Hans Selye
Dr. Selye defines stress and stressors and their impact on our lives. When I first started reading this book, I needed Dr. Bryan Mann interpret it for me. If you read this and come away with a better understanding of the General Adaptation Syndrome, then you will be a better coach and programmer. Understanding how life’s stressors all pull from the same source allows the coach to take comprehensive integrated approach to programming.
3. Periodization – Tudor Bompa
I remember exactly where I was reading this book. I started reading it on the plane during a football trip to Hawaii. I read half this book on the flights over and back and I read the rest when I was on nightly diaper changing and feeding duty with my first daughter. The impact this book had on my programming in my early career was paramount. This is a must read for any Coach/ Teacher working in the weight room.
4. The Coach’s Strength Training Playbook – Joe Kenn
Coach Joe Kenn is the current Head Strength Coach for the Carolina Panthers. Coach Kenn writes about his Tier System and challenges us think differently about training athletes. I strongly encourage this book for programming situations with higher needs for adaptability. There were times when the Tier system saved us because a team’s competition schedule was almost impossible to plan for.
5. Supertraining – Yuri Verkhoshansky and Mel Siff
This may be the densest training book I am aware of. As I’ve heard Kaz Kazadi state, “It’s a thick sandwich to eat”. Nevertheless, it may take you decade to digest it if you take a bite every now and then. This book discusses everything related to performance training from strength to the transferability of special skills. I think of Supertraining as the Encyclopedia of sports performance training.
Again, there are too many ‘top’ strength and conditioning books to put in my top five – turns out there’s only room for five! But these are my picks and you can’t go wrong with any of them. And even if you’re more interested in other books, or if others have recommended different books, you’re still embracing the learning process as a coach. We’re never too old to learn new tricks and better ourselves so we can better coach our athletes.


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