I have never been asked for reading recommendations as much in the rest of my life as I have in the past few months. It says something good, I think, about the people I’ve been spending time around.
Reading recommendations cannot be made lightly, though. It seems odd to filter one’s reading list, but necessary to ensure some sort of connection is made to the material. I cannot offer a thought-provoking piece to someone who just wants a brand new strength program – he doesn’t care and won’t appreciate it in the least. On the other hand, fitness professionals seeking a new approach don’t necessarily want a new program or technique, but a new point of view on something tried and tested.
I’ve mostly listed Internet sources here for convenience, divided into the two main sections of fitness literature: training for the body, and training for the mind.
I’ve added a separate list for books, but those tend to be more difficult to acquire.
The list is in no particular order – I wrote each entry as it came to mind.
Fitness – The Body
- ExRx.net – A nifty online fitness resource that includes a well-sorted exercise database, multiple exercise calculators (including 1-rep max calculators), and articles on programming.
- Bodybuilding.com – An online fitness resource and store. Although it’s obviously geared towards weight training and bodybuilding, the site has a lot of useful and even insightful articles. The latter are mainly interviews with guys like Duffy Gaver and Mark Twight.
- T-Nation – This website mainly caters to those seeking strength through iron, but does have a good mix of information to offer from guys such as Dan John.
- Breaking Muscle – A far more diverse training resource site offering articles on strongman training, bodybuilding, functional athletics, bodyweight training, and many more.
- Be A Game Character – A fun site filled with workout programs inspired by video game characters. Ever wondered how to develop Sam Fisher’s athleticism? Try this guy’s suggestions and see what comes out!
- Kemme Fitness – A good site focused on movement-based, minimalist fitness. There are a couple of free foundation programs that provide a nice base of movement training.
Fitness – The Mind
- Gym Jones – This is the realm of Mark Twight – former lunatic mountaineer and revered/hated coach. You need to pay a membership fee to access the entirety of what this place has to offer, and even then you might not get it. The site has several training plans and a daily training calendar, but I’ve specifically linked to the “Knowledge” section for the insights presented by those articles accessible to the public or those with a free account. I recommend passing over Rob MacDonald’s writing – I respect the man as a trainer, but his writing just isn’t as rich in insight.
- Grit and Teeth – Michael Blevins is a disciple of Mark Twight who moved to L.A. to take on a new training challenge. His writing is similar to his mentor’s, if less venomous. His main purpose is introspection – which, as a friend pointed out, isn’t dissimilar to my own writing. Blevins also has a “Training” section, but its contents are too technical for anyone with less than two or three years of hard training experience.
- Paul Chek’s Blog – Paul Chek is probably the ultimate expression of the phrase “holistic health and fitness”. Chek draws connections between physical exertion and mental or emotional well-being – certainly a good way to keep training interesting. That being said, I find his writing and beliefs a bit too New Age for my taste, so I don’t hang around here quite as much as the domains of Twight and Blevins
- You Are Your Own Gym, Mark Lauren – An excellent bodyweight training book including multiple progressions and regressions for various exercises, as well as detailed training programs for different levels of trainee.
- Starting Strength, Mark Rippetoe – Basic barbell training supposedly for beginners, although I disagree with the inclusion of the power clean. May be too technical for the lazy reader/trainee.
- Kiss or Kill, Mark Twight – Either annoyingly angsty or too easily relatable, this collection of Twight’s essays from various points in his climbing career displays the mentality needed to paint the line between impossible and merely extremely, perhaps needlessly difficult.
Take and use these recommendations as you will. A beginner would probably do well to restrict himself to the science section – or better yet, find a trainer and come back here in a year or so. More advanced trainees and coaches would, I have found, benefit greatly from exploring the mind driving the physicality.
Workout – Recovery
5000m Row @ moderate pace (finished in 20:57)
2×1-5 Pull-up (focus on getting chest to bar)
5 sets / 90s – 2min rest
10s L-Sit, transition to 10s Tuck Planche
5min Foam Rolling
5min Static Stretching
- Originally I meant to take it easy on the row, but I felt encouraged by my ability to hold ~2:05/500m for ten minutes without yet feeling winded. It turned out to be a very good session.
- My static core strength is surprisingly good, considering how little time I’ve spent directly training it lately. I imagine this is a by-product of all the unilateral and hanging work I’ve been putting in.