One of the most valuable aspects of becoming certified as a personal trainer is that you gain access to a lot of incredible health, fitness, and athletic training resources. And you also learn how to separate the good from the bad. I’ve put together some of the sources I return to time and again as a trainer and as an adult athlete who came to sports way later than most.
A quick disclaimer: I use the resources I outline here because generally they have smart, useful information. This doesn’t mean I agree with absolutely everything they say or recommend. I take what’s valuable and leave behind what doesn’t serve me or my training clients.
For the Bookworm
I became certified studying two foundational texts, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). I continue to return to these texts for refreshers on exercise science, nutrition, program design, and exercise execution and coaching.
Deadlifts were the scariest until I worked with an excellent trainer to learn not only how to do them, but also how to coach them. Off the Floor by David Dellanave is a good book for learning about deadlifts and for programming to improve your deadlifts. I still highly recommend working with a trainer, especially if you’re new to deadlift technique. (Actually, I highly recommend working with a trainer period.)
Now if deadlifting isn't your thing, you don't have access to a gym, or you simply aren't interested in going to a gym, you can still get remarkably strong. Two kettlebells and your bodyweight is all you need. Kettlebell Simple and Sinister and The Naked Warrior: Master the Secrets of the Super-Strong Using Bodyweight Exercises Only by Pavel Tsatsouline will help you get there.
I came to training and sports kind of late in the game. And I was injured pretty quickly out of the gate. Mental toughness has been surprisingly important, especially as a former non-athlete with an injury. The first book I read about the mental side of sports was The Inner Champion: A Mental Toughness Training Manual for Figure Skaters by Choeleen Loundagin. It focuses primarily on figure skating, but its lessons can be applied to pretty much any sport or just training in general.
I also really like The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow. This book is immensely readable and has some really helpful exercises and tools to keep you disciplined even when you’re not feeling motivated. You don’t have to be training for the Olympics to benefit from mental toughness training. It helps keep you going even when you really want to quit.
For Knowing What to Eat
I’m not a dietitian, so I rely on two books whenever I need to be smart about nutrition. Renaissance Woman: Fat Loss, Muscle Growth & Performance Through Scientific Eating is an excellent manual for understanding how food changes our bodies and improves our performance. If you're struggling to know what and how much to eat, this book has you covered.
I also return often to Becoming Vegan: The Everyday Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD. I'm not technically vegan, but this book helps me effectively include more plants in my meals and provides a really strong understanding of why it's important to do so. I have the "express" edition.
Precision Nutrition is another excellent source for nutrition and behavior change information and coaching. I love the way they communicate nutrition science through at-a-glance graphics and visuals paired with in-depth writing.
On the Socials
I really enjoy a good training podcast in my ears while I'm working out. Often I'll be listening to The Strength Coach Podcast hosted by Anthony Renna. He’s a hockey trainer, so hockey makes an appearance periodically. There are some good interviews here. I also enjoy All About Fitness hosted by Pete McCall. A D.C.-area local, Pete has some pretty good interviews and sometimes delves into current events and politics in ways that make a surprising amount of sense. (He's interviewed historians. Just sayin'.)
I love to scroll through Instagram for inspiration and quick hits of smart of information. There are a lot of highly qualified coaches, trainers, dietitians, and researchers sharing solid content. I look to Instagram for anatomy lessons, exercise recommendations, coaching tips, nutrition advice, and straight up inspiration.
Here are some of my favorites:
Renaissance Periodization (rpstrength)
T-Nation (testosteronenation) - A note on this one: these folks can be a tough follow. They have no filter (or at least often choose not to use it) and they like to tweak people for their nutrition and training choices. But sometimes their straight-up honesty is refreshing and if you have a reasonable sense of humor, you can even have fun with the faux-controversies.
Endeavor Fitness (endeavor_training)
Inside Edge Strength
There are some really fantastic YouTubers in the training and nutrition space. Admittedly, I don’t tend to go to YouTube for training information, but there are some folks I do catch periodically, mostly focused on dance, figure skating, or nutrition.
That’s my training library in a nutshell. And it’s ever-evolving as I find new sources or current folks go in directions that aren’t aligned with my training philosophy or my clients’ needs. It's true that there’s a lot of bad information out there around healthy living, but there’s also a lot of great information and I’m happy to share that with you.
If you have questions or requests for future posts, leave a comment or shoot an email my way. If you have training and nutrition resources that you love, let us know in the comments.
And keep hitting the (hist)gym!