I’ve seen hundreds of strength and conditioning interns over the past 10 years and it almost never fails that the best ones simply read more than the more average interns. There is no better way for strength and conditioning interns to fast-track their knowledge and skill set than to devour information. That’s where we are going to start off:
Step #1 – ARE YOU READING?
Step #2 – ARE YOU READING THE RIGHT STUFF?
Don’t be fooled, Step #2 is even more crucial. In the information age it’s easy to get lost in the abyss of info. The purpose of this guide is to wade through the B.S. and give up-and-coming strength and conditioning interns and professionals a resource that they can trust and follow.
Here’s the set-up with three sections:
- Performance –Includes resources for the basics of training – movement prep, plyos, strength, mobility – as well as more in-depth topics like hypertrophy, periodization, olympic weightlifting, kettlebells, and energy systems.
- Nutrition – Includes foundational articles and websites for supplements and nutrition plans. Also includes resources for common protocols like carb cycling, nutrient timing, and intra-workout supplement protocols.
- Personal Development – Many young strength and conditioning professionals spend 100% of their time on the X’s & O’s of training and nutrition. Learning how to work with people, manage your money, and set career paths is often a missing link that can yield big dividends in any career.
For performance and nutrition there are two tiers:
Tier 1 – Start Here FIRST. If you haven’t read these resources, there is no need to gallivant up to Tier 2.
Tier 2 –This is where you can sharpen the sword and pinpoint specific areas of interest.
Basics: Core Performance by Mark Verstegen – This is the FIRST book that I recommend to every one of my strength and conditioning interns. It includes a full system of Pillar Prep, Movement Prep, Plyos, Strength, Energy System Development, and Regeneration.
Basics: New Functional Training for Sports by Michael Boyle – Similar to Verstegen’s Core Performance, Boyle provides a well-rounded approach to developing athletes.
Basics: Intervention – Dan John – If you are looking for somebody who keeps it SIMPLE, look no further than Dan John. One of my favorites is the concept of park bench workouts vs bus bench workouts.
Basics: Strength Coach Podcast – Turn your car into your library. Listen to one of the longest running strength and conditioning podcasts while you are driving to the gym.
Basics: www.T-Nation.com – The most comprehensive site on the internet. Read from damn near any topic related to muscle. I find it’s easiest to navigate by either searching a specific topic or to find a coach that speaks to you and read all the articles published by that person. My three favorite coaches are Christian Thibaudeau, Dan John, and Jim Wendler.
Basics: www.DrJohnRusin.com – I love seeing a guy bleed the line between physical therapy and training. Dr. Rusin’s articles cover recovery and injury prevention from the perspective of a guy who has a doctorate but actually spends time in the gym!
Basics: Stick to the Recipe by Michael Boyle – MUST read article for all strength and conditioning interns. No need to develop your own recipe right out of the gate. Stick to the recipe that Boyle and other greats have set before you. Only THEN can you add your own spice.
Recovery & Mobility: Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition by Kelly Starrett. “Every human should have the ability to perform basic maintenance on their own bodies” Consider this book the maintenance guide for every joint and muscle that would need maintenance.
Recovery & Mobility: Movement by Gray Cook. At EXOS, we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to screen our athletes as soon as they walk in our doors. This covers that screen, but more importantly, what to do with the results to improve mobility/stability where needed.
Strength: Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. If you want to know ANYTHING as it relates to the bench press, squat, deadlift, press, or the clean, then pick up this book. Rippetoe dissects each one of these movements.
Strength: 5/3/1 (article) by Jim Wendler. Once you have read Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, then you can put it into action with Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. One of the simplest strength programs there is.
Strength: Theory and Application of Modern Strength & Power Methods by Christian Thibaudeau. Want to learn about special strength and power methods? Thibaudeau gives you a full deck here. He goes into when and where to use clusters supramaximal eccentrics, wave loading, strip sets, and other techniques.
Hypertrophy: Escalating Density Training (article) by Charles Staley. One of the best programs for hypertrophy and work capacity. There’s no need to count sets here. Staley uses the concept of putting time on the clock (15 minutes) and packing as much work as you can in that time frame.
Hypertrophy: High-Threshold Muscle Building by Christian Thibaudeau – Want to understand the why’s behind hypertrophy? Thibaudeau gives 11 principles that will help you understand and write better hypertrophy programs.
Periodization: Black Book of Training Secrets – Christian Thibaudeau – One of the most well-rounded books on programming that there is. What I love about this book is that Thibaudeau talks about high-level shit, but still manages to keep it simple. It’s a thing of beauty.
Periodization: How to Design a Damn Good Program (article) by Christian Thibaudeau – Required reading for all my interns as they start to learn to write training programs. This article takes a step-by-step approach that is hard to beat.
Periodization: Periodization Training for Sports by Tudor Bompa – If you are working in a team-setting, this is your book. It covers annual planning, how to peak at the right time, as well as six phases of training.
Kettlebells: Simple & Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline. An entire book dedicated to the Get-Up and the Swing written by the man who eats pickles and drinks vodka? You know it has to be solid.
Kettlebells: www.Strongfirst.com – Anything and everything kettlebells. Pavel has created a monster here.
Conditioning: Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jamieson. If you are like me, you may want to skip the A & P stuff in the first quarter of this book, but after that, Jamieson gives out pure gold on specific plans to increase conditioning of fighters and other athletes.
Conditioning: Warrior Cardio by Martin Rooney. Rooney is known for delivering killer metabolic finishers. This book gives you a resource with all those finishers in one place.
Olympic Weightlifting: www.CatalystAthletics.com – Anything and everything olympic weightlifting.
Speed: The .10 Difference by Nick Winkelman. This is an online video course delivered by one of the best speed coaches in the world. I worked with Nick for years and can tell you he held nothing back here.
Recovery & Mobility: www.OriginalStrength.net – Worth tuning into their YouTube channel for the mobility drills alone.
Recovery & Mobility: Complete Guide to Tissue Regeneration (article) by Mario Novo – One of the most comprehensive reviews of what works & what doesn’t when it comes to injury recovery and tissue regeneration.
Certification: NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist The gold standard for strength & conditioning coaches at every level.
Certification: EXOS Performance Specialist Online Certification – 24 hours of online content delivered by Nick Winkelman and other EXOS coaches on how to enhance an athlete’s performance. There is nothing else like it available.
Basics: Nutrition for Newbies (article) by Tony Gentilcore. So simple. I send it to all my relatives and neighbors that ask me for “nutrition advice”.
Basics: www.PrecisionNutrition.com – The best resource in the nutrition game right now.
Supplements: www.Examine.com – Want to know if a certain supplement is legit? Examine is crazy. They pull all the research on any supplement on the market and give you the real verdict.
Carb Cycling: Carb Cycling for Idiots (article) by Mike Roussell. Carb cycling works. I personally use it as my everyday diet. The only problem is most people make it too hard. Roussell’s article keeps it simple.
Flex Dieting: Flexible Dieting (article) – Want some ice cream? Go ahead. Flexible dieting or IIFYM (if it fits your macros) allows you to eat whatever you want …….as long as you stay within your macro count for the day.
Workout Supplementation: Time Your Meals for Muscle Growth (article) by John Meadows. I have basically used my body as a personal experiment lab with every diet and workout protocol that there is. Meadows has gotten the window of pre-workout, intra-workout, and post-workout nailed down to a science.
Certification: Precision Nutrition – If you’re a fitness professional that wants a bit more credibility from the nutrition side, this online cert is the way to go.
People Skills: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Success is 85% people knowledge and 15% product knowledge. We are in the people business. Carnegie’s book will change and shape nearly every interaction you have whether it is in the weight room or at the grocery store.
People Skills: Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath. Are you speaking the language of your clients? This book will help you, as a coach; better communicate with your athletes and clients.
Goal Setting: The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. This book has changed my productivity levels like nothing else. It helps me make the “main thing” the “main thing”.
Financial Success: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Nothing will make you lose sleep at night quite like being broke. Nobody gets into the S&C field to make money. They do it because they love it. That doesn’t mean that you have to live dirt poor to do it though. Ramsey has seven simple baby steps that anyone can implement to improve their finances.
Financial Success: The Dave Ramsey Podcast/Radio Show – Learn to make money while you drive to work!
Career: CEO Strength Coach by Ron McKeefrey. A must-read for any young coach looking to go into S&C. Young coaches spend too much time on sets & reps and too little developing a career plan and lifestyle design.
Fitness Business: Podcasts/Articles/Courses by – Alwyn & Rachel Cosgrove | Thomas Plummer | Bedros Keuilian – These guys are pioneering what it takes to make a successful business in the fitness world. If you are thinking of opening your own gym or shop, you MUST be listening and reading from these guys.
Time To Hit The Books!
That’s the ultimate guide! Remember to include balance in your reading, just like you would keep balance in your training program. As a general rule of thumb – for every two books you read on training and nutrition, read one on personal development.
About The Author
Joel Sanders coaches athletes and clients out of the renowned performance center, EXOS, located in Phoenix, Arizona. For more from Joel, check out his:
Twitter & Instagram: @coach_jsanders
YouTube: Joel Sanders
Facebook: EXOS Education Community