Let’s get this out of the way first: The best health and fitness book ever written, by far, is Spartan Up! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life.
What can I say? It’s my baby. And no self-respecting parent would ever say someone else’s baby is better.
That said, a bunch of other books collectively finish a very close second. When it comes to health and fitness, as with everything else in life, the more you know, the better. So here are five awesome reads that will help you get and stay fit for life.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
By Christopher McDougall
Any book about endurance racing gets my vote. McDougall, an avid but often injured runner, wanted to find out why his foot was hurting. Searching for answers, he spoke with the world’s greatest distance runners, scientists at Harvard, Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians (whose ability to run hundreds of miles without rest amazes even the best ultra-athletes), and other experts. In addition to providing all sorts of useful information, the book is smart and funny and filled with some really engaging (and sometimes pretty weird) characters.
Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free
*By Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.
This book is based on Thomson’s Bright Line Eating boot camps. Rooted in cutting-edge neuroscience, psychology, and biology, Bright Line Eating reveals why people who are desperate to lose weight so often fail. (Spoiler alert: Their brains block the process.) By working with four “bright lines”—clear, unambiguous boundaries—Thompson demonstrates how to heal your brain and shift into a mode where you’re ready to release cravings and shed pounds. This book is a pathway to freedom from fast food, carb addiction, processed sugar, and the tyranny of distorted thinking.
Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance
*By Dr. Kelly Starrett
If you want to fully understand the principles that guide human movement, this book is for you. Becoming a supple leopard gives you a blueprint for moving safely and effectively while navigating your way through life and fitness. The book features hundreds of step-by-step photos showing how to safely and effectively perform all sorts of exercises, including most of my favorites. It also shows the common ways people screw them up. Dysfunctional movement patterns, which are often invisible to even seasoned athletes and coaches, can bring your body and your workout regimen to a screeching halt. This book teaches you how to spot and fix them. Learn more about Dr. Starrett and his philosophy on episode 55 of the Spartan Podcast, available here.
Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body
Thinner Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Female Body
By Michael Matthews
The basic premise is what I’ve been saying for years: You don’t need steroids, superhuman genetics, crash diets, expensive (and mostly useless) supplements, and ridiculous amounts of time at the gym to become physically fit and build a great-looking body. You just need to approach your training more intelligently. Matthews addresses many of the harmful myths that permeate the fitness and food industries, and shows men and women how to get results they never thought possible.
Live Spartan. Download the Spartan Way of Life E-book