Best Books for Personal Trainers


Being a personal trainer can be a daunting task if you haven’t formally got your degree. Even if you have, it can be frustrating since there’s so much you need to know and to update every time.

Aside from working out, you can learn about fitness, nutrition, and business. Being a personal trainer isn’t easy, and it can be hard if you don’t know how to market yourself. If you want to become successful, I believe you need to learn the ins and outs of being a personal trainer.

But what if you’ve already known about the marketing world?

Is there anything else you can learn?

Yes! There are plenty of other topics that you can learn about. Some of the favorites are human anatomy, strength training, and learning how to optimize fitness through diet.

Besides that, there’s also the spiritual side of being a personal trainer. You may want to incorporate meditation, serenity, and motivation into your clients. If you’ve never practiced these methods, then you could easily benefit from a few books on meditation methods.

I believe that reading a few hours a week can enhance anybody knowledge, including for you as a personal trainer. Many of the top-rated influential trainers take time to improve their methods personally. But, not all of us have free time to read through books consistently.

Here’s a list of the best books for personal trainers, as recommended by the entrepreneurs, CEOs and freelancers on The CEO Library. Each of these books is top-tier and provides you knowledge on how you can improve your clientele.



Best Books for Personal Trainers


Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week

I feel guilty for not having posted a review earlier: I owe a lot to this book. I figured out the value of intensity training and maximizing recovery. I use the ideas but with minor modifications (my own personal workout is entirely based on free weights and barbells, but I incur --and accept --a risk of injury). I have been applying the ideas for more than three years. Just get over the inhibitions (and illusions of control) and accept the idea of training less. Gratitude.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex

The best way to change your life is to change what your life is made up of—your rituals, your habits, how you eat and think. This book is a road map for doing exactly that, written by an author whose results can’t be argued with.
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check

Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet

What's it like to train with a Navy SEAL in winter in New York for a whole month? Featuring the truly remarkable American hero David Goggins.
Marc Andreessen
Co-Founder/Andreessen Horowitz

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Imagine working in an organization where the aim of your colleagues is to help you achieve your results. I could not believe it possible. After reading this book I just had to bring Arbinger to the UK to teach our people. What an experience! We are all better people for it. This book touches the very foundation of culture, teamwork, and performance.
Mark Ashworth
CEO/Butcher’s Pet Care

The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership

A few other excellent coaching and leadership books I read this year: The Winner Within by Pat Riley and The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership by John Wooden (thanks to the friend who recommended all these).
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

The Power of Full Engagement was one of the first books that helped me to start to understand myself, and to work to embrace how I feel and be intuitive. The key concept in the book is that you should be either fully engaged in a task, or fully disegaged and finding renewal. For example, finding the natural dips within your day and thinking about rituals and changes you could make. Maybe you go for a 20 minute walk at 3pm when you naturally find yourself less productive.
Joel Gascoigne

Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail

This book was recommended by Antonio when asked for titles he would recommend to young people interested in his career path.
Antonio Eram
Founder & CEO/NETOPIA mobilPay

Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership

Unstoppable Teams proves that with the right leadership ordinary people can do the extraordinary. Drawing from against-the-odds successes in business ventures and military missions, Mills shares the secrets for building a team that can do the seemingly impossible. Read it and take your team from stuck to unstoppable.
Liz Wiseman
Researcher, Executive Advisor, Author

A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting

I read both of Sam Sheridan’s books A Fighter’s Heart and A Fighter’s Mind this year and they are both spectacular. Don’t be put off by the subject matter. They are good.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

Unleashing Excellence: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service

Many authors tell you why great customer service matters; Yanovitch and Snow show you how to make it happen.
Rich Stamberger
CEO/SmartBrief, Inc.

Michael Jordan: The Life

Michael Jordan and Phil Knight, the Nike founder, two different biographies, those were great. See, Michael Jordan’s was really really quite good and doesn’t seem to get talked about as much but it’s nice and solid.
Yaro Starak

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

Last year I read the book 'Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business' by Charles Duhigg. Look passed the click-baity title and you'll find one of the best books on productivity I've ever read... And I've read a lot of them.
Mike Benkovich

The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win

Until this point in my life, I've never read a book that reveals the truths of leadership in such detail and rawness. The true value of this book cannot be quantified in words.
Pete Roberts
Co-Founder & CEO/Origin Maine USA

Tiger Woods

I was riveted (and appalled) by Tiger Woods and probably talked to more people about this book than anything else I read this year.
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check

Why the Rich Are Getting Richer

The reason why this is my favorite book is that it is an advanced version of Rich Dad Poor Dad which explains in further details how the rich are getting richer by understanding the tax system and real financial education. [...] When I chanced upon Why the Rich Are Getting Richer, I finally understand why I have been running my own tax consulting practice for such a long time. The global tax system is set up to benefit the rich people because they are the ones who contribute to the growth of the economy by putting investments into the economy as well as creating job opportunities.
Jack H. M. Wong
Trainer & Author

No Bull: My Life In and Out of Markets

As a speculator I learned to take the best from books and ideas without arguments (many readers seem to be training to be shallow critics)--good insights are hard to come by. One does not find these in the writings of a journalist. There are some things personal to the author that might be uninteresting to some, but I take the package. The man is one of the greatest traders in history. There are a few jewels in there.

The man did it. I'd rather listen to him than read better written but hollow prose from some journalist-writer.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Managing The Mental Game: How To Think More Effectively, Navigate Uncertainty, And Build Mental Fortitude

Jeff Boss is a former Navy SEAL and knows everything about mental fortitude, and controlling your emotions and impulses in the face of critical situations. He uses his expertise in this book to teach others how to develop resilience and fortitude and cope with difficult situations.

Resilience and fortitude are two key qualities of a successful leader, especially when faced with crisis situations or making tough decisions. This book is a great aid in such moments, when you feel unsure of yourself.

Holger Arians
CEO/Dominet Digital Corporation

The Winner Within

A few other excellent coaching and leadership books I read this year: The Winner Within by Pat Riley and The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership by John Wooden (thanks to the friend who recommended all these).
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell

Silicon Valley’s best-kept secret is not a piece of hardware, a bit of software, or a hacker. It’s a former football coach named Bill Campbell, who became so indispensable that Steve Jobs went on a weekly Sunday walk with him and the Google founders said they wouldn’t have made it without him. We all need coaches to improve, and this book explains what made Bill such a great one—it’s a playbook for bringing out the best in others, being simultaneously supportive and challenging, and giving more than lip service to the notion of putting people first.
Adam Grant

Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality

This is less of a business book, but I strongly recommend every entrepreneur to read the book Integrity by doctor Henry Cloud. The premise is that there is no shortage of bright gifted business people, but he's worked with a lot of CEOs and executives where businesses are having a lot of problems not because of business training, or business coaching, or even business giftedness, but much more from character issues, or personal deficiencies, and that book was very eye opening. I was able to kind of see flaws in myself, or a lot of business things that have gone awry, and our mutual friend Drew, even once said to me that, every major issue he's seen in the business networks he's in, are relational. So that book, Integrity, is awesome, I want to re-read it every year or two.
Colin Jones
Founder/Blackjack Apprenticeship

Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big

Celebrating Failure (can't recall the author) because as a speaker/trainer & business person, failure is almost certain. You will make mistakes when you push & try. What makes the difference is being able to celebrate your mistakes, learn from them and come back stronger than before.
Shaen Yeo
Founder/Positive Education

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms

Personal development book with many interesting insights, written in terms programmers will love and understand. Approachable and not geeky in any way though.
Michael Herrmann

The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives

I recently wrote an article on Man's struggle with his mental health. This is a massive problem, and I am trying to wrap my head around what I think the issue is and get others perspectives. That's why I am listening to this.
Nicky Cullen
Writer, Anxiety Coach

The Consulting Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Expand a Seven-Figure Consulting Practice

An amazingly thorough compilation of distilled wisdom regarding the elements for success in consulting. The most experienced consultant will harvest many valuable tips, and the newcomer won't be able put it down.
Jack Zenger
CEO/Zenger Folkman

Dottir: My Journey to Becoming a Two-Time CrossFit Games Champion

I met Katrin during her first week of attending CrossFit classes, shortly after my first CrossFit Games championship...Her story is a reminder to fans and aspiring athletes that anyone can achieve greatness if they are willing to work hard enough. It’s also a testament to the power of Iceland’s Dottirs that makes my heart swell with pride.
Annie Thorisdottir
Two-Time CrossFit Games Champion

Psychology of the Stock Market

For those interested in the stock markets ~G.C Selden's 1912 (yes 1912!!) The Psychology of the Stock Market. Human emotions and thought processes remain the same. Greed and fear. Even though my business is in fitness and wellness most of the books are pretty awful and I haven't been influenced by individuals in this sphere. i keep hearing younger trainers talking about bodybuilders and their online presence, videos, etc but that doesn't interest me. No I haven't watched Pumping Iron. There are some very good marketers to be sure such as Pat Rigsby and Ryan Lee who I have bought material from but no book per se has influenced this career.
David Sisk
Founder/David Sisk Fitness

Rich Dad Poor Dad

The funny thing is that the books that had the biggest impact (like my Verne’s favourite) are not necessarily the best books, objectively speaking. They were good enough to present a new worldview that I was not aware of. Timing probably was more important than their intrinsic literary qualities. They “managed” to fall into my lap at the right time. Such a book was Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, a mediocre book by my standards of today, but deeply inspirational by the ones from yesterday.

Vladimir Oane

Purple Cow

Then, again when I was younger, at the beginning of 2000s, Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and The Cluetrain Manifesto were two pieces of work I’d always refer to, as well as Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, later on when I was looking at how to become a better tech entrepreneur.
Dragos Novac
CEO/Nordic 9

The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

The human world occurs in language so best get good at it!
Bill Liao
General Partner/RebelBio,

Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI

Read some wonderful and enlightening books this year.
Doug McMillon

Emperor: The Gates of Rome: A Novel of Julius Caesar

To be honest, I’ve always been a fiction and fantasy reader, probably ever since I realised those weird little shapes called alphabets actually made sense in a string. I credit books like Gates of Fire, the Conqueror and Emperor series by Conn Iggulden as shaping my thoughts as a leader.
Xi-Wei Yeo
Director/Living Theories

Reinventing Organizations

First, a word on career paths. In time, I realised that career paths are like one-way streets. Magic happens in unexplored territories. Plus life is how you choose to live every moment, every day. So today, rather than building a career, I prefer to make lateral moves in life, working with great people and being part of ambitious projects impacting the world. There are a few books that got me here: [...] Frederic Laloux Reinventing Organizations.
Cristina Riesen
Founder/We Are Play Lab

The Boron Letters

Here’s a few books I recommend (in this order) on learning how to write effective copy:

  • The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert;
  • Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joseph Sugerman;
  • Kickass Writing Secrets of a Marketing Rebel by John Carlton.
Nick Janetakis

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

I've been a fan of Cal for a long time. His book So Good They Can't Ignore You is one of my favorites, but it's his new book that's probably had the biggest and most immediate impact on me. For those of you who enjoyed Tyler Cowen's Average is Over, you already know how important the ability to focus, be creative, and think at a high level is going to be in the future. This is a book that explains how to cultivate and protect that skill--the ability to do deep work. One thing I've already started doing since reading this book is recording the number of hours of deep work I do each day in my morning journal. It's a way of keeping a running tally and monitoring if I begin to get distracted or slow my pace. Anyway, great book!
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I read this book at a time when Udemy was rapidly growing—over the 18 months where we went from 30 to 200 people. It was helpful to read about Horowitz's challenges, worries, and triumphs when addressing the same types of issues at a similar stage of growth. There are so many big decisions you need to make where there's just no clear-cut, right or wrong answer. There are a lot of gray areas. You gather information from your team, but the hard decisions rest with you. This book helped me realize that while I needed to carefully and objectively consider feedback, I was responsible for making a decision in the end—even when it was an unpopular one.

Dennis Yang