The most common question I get is “What book do you recommend?”. This is a list of my favorites. Every single one of these books has played a huge role in my personal and professional development.
I’ve split the list up into 4 sections. The first is business development as I find that’s where most trainers are weakest, followed by training, personal development, and finally books that have challenged my thinking.
Please note that the PTDC does get a small commission if you buy any of these books through the links provided. It’s one of the ways we fund the site. If you do decide to buy one of these books please use the link provided.Enjoy the list -Jon
My top 5 business development books
ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income - Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett
I still remember reading this book while lying upside down on a park bench in Central Park NYC. I’d already started the PTDC but was clueless as to what blogs are capable of, where to start, and what to do. Blogging was a new language to me and I credit this book to teaching me the tricks of the trade. It’s a must have for any new blogger.
It’s amazing how simple Tim makes life sound in this book. The nicest part about this book is that each chapter can be read as it’s own entity — which makes it a great reference book as well. This book opened my eyes to the need for outsourcing and taught me how to do it.
SPIN Selling - Neil Rackham
Everybody lives by selling. You can be the best trainer in the world but if you can’t sell then you won’t be successful. I was scared of selling early in my career but after reading this book I realized that the goal of selling is not to dupe. The goal of selling is believe in your service and make you client understand it’s benefits. With spin selling in action both parties walk away smiling after the sale
Writing sales materials is, in my opinion, the most overlooked aspect of personal training. It’s rare that I see effectively sales letters from trainers and is something that can really set your business apart. The biggest take home is to know your potential customer inside and out and understand what makes them tick. The goal isn’t to tell them what they need. Instead the goal is to figure out what they need and mold your marketing materials around it. You’d be well off to read anything by Dan Kennedy you can get your hands on. I also really enjoyed a number of titles from the No B.S. series. No B.S. Direct Marketing in particular.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? - Seth Godin
I don’t worship idols but if I did I’d kneel to a golden statue of Seth Godin every morning. I soak up everything he writes and recommend you do the same. I’ve bought and gifted 6 copies of Linchpin to date. In the current economic climate the only way to succeed is to stand out, be different, and make yourself indispensable. Linchpin shows you how. I also loved Purple Cow and Tribes.
My Top five training books
Movement: Functional Movement Systems - Gray Cook
Gray Cook’s FMS has taken over and is quickly becoming the gold standard. Movement is a bit more advanced of a text but will give you a great understanding of movement patterns. Athletic Body in Balance by Gray is also a must-read.
Starting Strength - Mark Rippetoe
Interestingly enough this was one of the first books I read about strength training even though it’s quite advanced. If you’re looking for a book that delves into more advanced protocols for building strength this is a great addition to your library.
Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists - Thomas Myers
The knee bone’s connected to the… neck bone. Well not quite but Myers beautifully illustrates the myofascial lines (trains) that run throughout our body. You’ll learn how adhesion in the foot can cause neck pain. Often when I’m working with a client who’s in pain I’ll work down the whole line and voila — pains gone. If you ever work with people in pain (which 100% of trainers do) then this is a must-have for your library.
Low Back Disorders - Dr. Stuart McGill
I credit this book with turning my business around. When I first read it I was living at my parents house second-guessing my personal training career. I wasn’t making enough to move away from home and continually deal with client-retention issues. After reading it I decided to make myself an expert in chronic low-back pain. It’s still a primary driver for my business. If you want to get more into performance I also highly recommend Dr. McGill’s other text Ultimate Back Fitness & Performance
Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning - Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle
I first read this while studying for my CSCS exam. In my opinion it’s the best primer to use on your journey for knowledge. My suggestion is to buy this book and use it as an all-encompassing bible. If a section peaks your interest than pursue more knowledge in that area.
My top 5 personal development books
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny - Robin Sharma
I first heard of Robin Sharma when he gave the keynote address at a conference I attended years ago. Since then I’ve read a couple of his books and have found that he has the ability to seamlessly make a connection with the reader. My only issue with his writing is that it’s not always actionable. Nevertheless I recommend this book if you find that you’re stuck in a rut.
Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
This monster of an autobiographer took me 4 months to get through. I had heard of Ghandi before but didn’t even know why he went on his hunger strike. The book was worth every second. Ghandi is, in my opinion, the most inspirational human being ever to walk this earth. The amount that he was able to accomplish against all odds is incredible. This book will put your life into perspective and motivate you to “be the difference you wish to see in the world” – Ghandi.
Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill
This epic will beat you down and force you to challenge every aspect of what you do professionally. It’s a tough read but when you finish it you might just think it’s the most important book you’ve ever read.
Your Erroneous Zones - Wayne Dyer
What makes you tick? This book will force you to take an inquisitive look into the most important person on this planet. Yourself. Once your done you’ll have a full understanding of what makes you tick and how to take control of your life.
The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran
The most beautiful piece of writing ever assembled. For 4 years this book permanently lived on my bedside table. Whenever I felt stressed, angry, or frustrated I would open to a random page and read a one of the short poetry segments. Do yourself a favor
5 books that made me think
Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning - Dan John
I’ve been known to philosophize about weightlifting to anybody who will listen. Dan beautifully meshes weightlifting, life, and love in this book which is a collection of his articles over the years.
Multiple Streams of Income: How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth! - Robert G. Allen
The book that started it all! I remember reading this book on my parents couch starting at 7pm on a winter night not looking forward to my 6am client and 14hr day that followed. I had spent 2 years working 12-14hr days and desperately needed a change but felt trapped. Once Robert mentioned infopreneuring I knew I had found my answer. I was going to write a book, assemble the best coaches in the World and start a website. I stayed up until 4am that night writing out my idea in full before falling asleep in front of my computer. This was my inspiration.
The Power of Full Engagement - Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
This gem was given to me from a client. I wasn’t sleeping well and found I never had time for myself. I loved how the authors applied periodization principles from sport to business. The carryover is uncanny. I credit this book with teaching me the time-management techniques I use to this day.
The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think and It’s Not Too Late - Michael Ellsberg
If there was ever a book that I wish I wrote (other than the one I did write) it’s this one. Ellsberg makes a strong case for a change in our education system and lays out what you need to do to be successful in today’s society. (Spoiler alert: It’s to get real world education.)
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference - Malcom Gladwell
If you haven’t read this yet stop what you’re doing right now and order it. It’s amazing how simple Malcom Gladwell is able to make business seem but I’ve seen this book work in the real world over and over again. I also highly recommend Blink