Ten Best Books on Health and Fitness

If you’re looking for a few good books on health and fitness, you won’t go wrong with any of these. I don’t claim to have read all the most important books in this area, but these are a sampling of books I’ve read and profited from, my list of ten best books on health and fitness.


1. Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week, by Doug McGuff, M.D., and John Little. The science of weightlifting.


2. Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder, by Samuel Wilson Fussell. An underrated, hilarious classic by Paul Fussell’s son.


3. Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat, by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. Great tour de horizon of the authors version of paleolithic eating.


4. The Paleo Manifesto, by John Durant. Excellent explanation of why a paleo lifestyle makes sense.


5. The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Performance, by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney, M.D. Low-carbohydrate eating for athletes.


6. The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz. Shows why the government-sponsored low-fat diet craze has been a fraud-filled disaster.


7. Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes. A shorter version of the author’s epic Good Calories, Bad Calories, showing the devastating health consequences of refined carbohydrates.


8. The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman, by Timothy Ferris. Enjoyable read filled with eclectic ideas.


9. Targeted Hypertrophy Training, by Mark McManus. This one’s a freebie, get it by clicking the link and signing up. Best weightlifting training book I’ve read.


10. Best Supplements for Men’s Health, Strength, and Virility: A Concise, Scientific Guide to Maintaining Youth, Vigor, and Manhood, by P. D. Mangan. In my not-so-humble opinion, no man should be without this book, whose title is self-explanatory.


If you think there are others that I should know about, please leave your candidate(s) in the comments.


Leave a Comment:

EsotericTrad says September 7, 2015

Training for the New Alpinism


I’m not a climber beyond occasional bouldering yet this is one of the best books on fitness I’ve read. Looks at the training process in depth and the lessons from that can apply to any sport/fitness pursuit.

    Daniel Antinora says September 25, 2015

    If you’re ever in Vegas I’d be glad to take you bouldering in Red Rock.

    Or mountain biking if that’s your thing.

      P. D. Mangan says September 25, 2015

      Thanks, Daniel, much appreciated. I get to Tahoe once in awhile but I haven’t been to Vegas in ages.

Nathan says September 7, 2015

Properly understood books by Mike Mentzer

Doug McGuff and John little had much inspiration from Mentzer

Adam says September 7, 2015

I think the best health and fitness book of all time is Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.

    SimianOutcast says September 8, 2015

    I second Starting Strength as being a great resource. Another vote for a great book is the out of print Legendary Abs: Gold Edition. The program eventually forks into those who are exercising purely for ab aesthetics and those who are targeting functional strength.


    Ross says September 11, 2015

    Amen. The “soul” of this book is pure instruction — “we really want you to get this stuff, because it’s really important”

Peter Connor says September 7, 2015

Hey PDM, my review of your excellent new book went public on Amazon.
Question: What do you think of swimming as exercise? Thanks.

    P. D. Mangan says September 8, 2015

    Hi Peter, thanks for your review, much appreciated. As for swimming, it can be great exercise if done properly and vigorously. But too many people just get in the pool and move around a little – I’m kind of like that, partly due to being a lousy swimmer. Swimming works out most of the major muscle groups, so it has that over running/walking. However, it’s not a weight-bearing exercise, so you get no positive effect on bones.

      peter connor says September 10, 2015

      Thanks! I swim fairly hard, but mainly use it as a stretching exercise.

Remnant says September 7, 2015

1. I would put in a vote for Stop the Clock as Dennis’s best book thus far and one of the most important health books for men, bar none.

2. Schwarzenegger’s Education of a Bodybuilder is quite good as a primer on determination, willpower and hard work. It is a very inspiring book that drives one to “up one’s game”. There are actually very good appendices in the back (with photographs) on bodyweight exercises and weighlifting programs that hold up well after 35 years.

3. As a big fan of bodyweight exercises, I would recommend every man own one of the following books or a similar book. Bodyweight exercises provide a great deal of freedom and encourage a kind of “functional” fitness that, it my view, is an important component of an anti-aging program. Familiarizing oneself with bodyweight exercises and the amazing range of challenging things that can be done with little or no equipment provides a liberating tool in one’s arsenal for keeping in shape. My top three books for bodyweight exercises:

— Never Gymless, by Ross Enamait. This is not really a beginner’s book and assumes a certain level of strength and fitness in the reader but it provides an amazing range of exercises, creative ideas and suggested workouts. Particularly good on what would now be called HIT training.

— Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy, by Brett Contreras. Excellent for beginners as well as more advanced trainers. He covers a wide range of difficulty levels so this is a great resource for those starting out. The graphics and information on the body’s musculature is extremely helpful as well: I developed a much better understanding of how to target muscles and which exercises are working which muscles from this book. As bodyweight trainers frequently neglect the lower body, this book is also important because Contreras puts a great deal of focus on leg, glute, hamstring and lower back exercises.

— Pushing the Limits, by Al Kavadlo. This book focuses on bodyweight exercises that require NO equipment. Combined with his other book “Raising the Bar” (which is about exercises using just a chin-up bar), it provides an excellent guide to developing strength outside of the gym.

    P. D. Mangan says September 8, 2015

    Remnant, thanks for your comments on my book (as well as the other suggestions). That kind of thing makes my day every time.

grams says September 8, 2015

You’re ugly.

Sam says September 8, 2015

All of the books are about exercise but what if that’s not enough? It seems that almost all Westerners have plaque build up and it’s the leading cause of death globally.


“Practicing Medicine Without A License? The Story of the Linus Pauling Therapy for Heart Disease (Pauling Therapy Handbook)” by Owen Fonorow (Author)

Why am I pushing this (I have no financial interest)? My Dad had open heart surgery 2 years ago and two days ago he had a temporary stroke, TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). It was really scary. He tried to talk and all that came out was blah, blah, blah. The right side of his face sagged as if it had no control. He perked up in about two minutes but I got him to the hospital in an ambulance and he’s ok. This is a guy who never smoked, eats, swims, active. Not the best diet but not the worst. 82. The Doctor says he can do nothing it’s plaque in the brain. I read Paulings book a year ago and tried his therapy and it seemed to pick me up a little. When I got my cholesterol checked it went higher so I stopped. Now I’ve looked into it again and after thinking a little maybe higher cholesterol means it was cleaning me out. Anyways best I know his way is the only way I know that a significant number of people have tried and stopped the progression of heart disease.


Not a part of Pauling therapy is a paper on liposomal glutathione. In it they used mice with heart problems like humans and with small amounts of liposomal glutathione they “…a significant reduction in macrophage cholesterol mass (by 24%), and in the atherosclerotic lesion area (by 30%)…”. It also lowered LDL and raised HDL all in two months time. So I’m going to try it.


I need to add that I’m using homemade lyposomal vit. C. I make it with an ultrasonic cleaner. Going to do the same with the glutathione. One other thing I suggest starting at a low dose on any of these. I started a little high the first time and it made me quit anxious. Maybe start at 1/8 dose and work up.

What’s amazing is the Federal government doesn’t jump all over this kind of research. If Pauling Therapy and a little glutathione can clean you out it would stop the largest killer of Americans. We just have extremely poor leaders in Washington. None of them care.

    Sam says September 8, 2015

    I said,”…All of the books are about exercise…”
    . That’s completely wrong. Sorry. It just stuck in my head.

    P. D. Mangan says September 9, 2015

    Sam, that’s great that you are trying to do something for your father, and I’m guessing (hoping) that he’s on board with it. It seems to be a non-toxic and safe therapy and, anyway, what’s the alternative? I have no experience or really know much about Pauling’s therapy, but I’d like to know whether it works.

    You might take a look at vitamin K2, which can prevent calcium buildup in arteries, though I don’t know whether it can reverse plaque that’s already there.

    Please keep us updated on how this goes.

      Allan Folz says September 9, 2015

      My vague recollection was a Korean or Japanese study on geriatric women showed it did make an improvement, as opposed to merely stopping the decline.

      This isn’t that study, but here’s a report on K2 improving artery elasticity, which I take to mean reverse plaque build-up. 3 years long and 244 participants, which ain’t too shabby. Also, dose was, IMO, a more reasonable 180 mcg/day, (none of this mg B.S., though for treatment of an acute condition I’d not shy away from mg’s/day) and it was MK7.

      Unfortunately it’s 25 Euros to read the actual paper.

      Sam says September 17, 2015

      He used to walk with a cane but two days before his stroke he called me and said he was dizzy and couldn’t drive so I picked him up where he was and drove him home. He got a CAT scan the next day. He had to use a walker to walk and was constantly dizzy. Had the stroke the day after. I gave him a maybe 1/2 dose of Paulings formula. He said he got a reaction. I could never get him nailed down what that meant and I’m not going to hector him. Anyways a few hours later he was walking without the walker. He’s now back to using the cane. His vision was blurred and it’s getting better. Now I can’t say it wouldn’t have happened anyways but it seemed to be directly related to Paulings formula. Of course it’s antidotel.

      I don’t personally know if Pauling Therapy will knock out Heart Disease but it mad a difference for my Dad. The Doctors say they can do nothing as the CAT scan showed blockage in the vessels feeding?? the brain or up in it. His Doctor did say that Pauling Therapy couldn’t hurt.

      Right now I’m just using the Lyposomal Vit. C., Proline and Lysine. I’ll have to get him some of the other. He may already be taking K as he takes vitamins every day.

      What’s amazing is our gov. studies none of this or does poorly controlled studies at best when there’s hundreds of people who the Doctors say they can do nothing for and have lived decades after starting Pauling Therapy. I read that Heart Disease is over 25% of Hospitals profits. I’m not saying they purposely don’t study this for money but humans do have a habit of ignoring that which would ruin their livelihood.

      I read another post that the American Diabetes Association opened a forum where people talked about their blood sugar and that they got massive huge complaints that their carb heavy die was killing people. The only people who could properly maintain their BS were the ones that went on a high fat low carb diet.

      It’s amazing what can be done for health but the question is if any of our health care professionals paying any attention at all?

Jer says September 9, 2015


Excellent as usual.

Any chance you could do an article on “What you need to know if you’re an office worker sitting at a computer 12 to 15 hours a day?” i’ve wound up in a job which is demoralising and energy sapping but it’s the only i can do and it pays well enough. my negative perception is really my reaction to the job. others do fine and love it. it would be great if i knew which part of my body or mind is decaying fastest so i can put the brakes on their first!

and best wishes

    P. D. Mangan says September 9, 2015

    Hey Jer, I will write that post.

      Jer says September 10, 2015

      thanks PD!

    Allan Folz says September 9, 2015

    Stand-up desk. 😉

Jer says September 14, 2015

Did you do a post on why it is possibly a good idea to skip breakfast? I remember reading quite recently an article/post somewhere on this point. I cant find it on your website and when I google the topic, I mainly get hits which say you should never skip breakfast. I found the below article which partially supports the no-breakfast thesis but doesnt endorse it completely – and refers to an undesirable side effect. I realise skipping breakfast is a cornerstone of your fasting plans so just wondered if you addressed it somewhere. i’m not pushed about having breakfast but skipping it seems to go against conventional wisdom…although maybe this type of conventional wisdom only began in the 1960s…. any thoughts appreciated!


“Skipping breakfast leads to weight loss but also elevated cholesterol compared with consuming daily breakfasts of oat porridge or frosted cornflakes in overweight individuals: a randomised controlled trial”

    P. D. Mangan says September 14, 2015

    Hi Jer, oddly enough, whether to skip or eat breakfast is controversial, or at least as controversial as something like that can be. Here’s a paper that advocates it: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042085/

    In it , the authors pint to a study showing that habitual breakfast eaters have a higher incidence of medical claims than those who skip. Skipping breakfast is the easiest way to implement intermittent fasting, so I do it all the time.

      Jer says September 16, 2015

      thanks PD

Paul says September 16, 2015


Just finished your book on supplementation for men and it was excellent. Thank you for cutting out the fluff and just getting right to the point. The vast majority of nutrition books make you read 50 pages in until you find anything usable.

I had a follow up question for you. I am a 50 year old who is about 15 pounds under where I was in my 30’s. I feel too thin at my current weight and would like to put on 10 pounds. When I see people who I haven’t seen in 10 years usually the first things out of their mouths is you got skinny. I am know what I need to do in the gym, e.g. HIT training with compound movements, but I stumble a bit on the diet part. I question whether a paleo type diet will get me the weight gain I want. Any advice you can give me or directions you can point me in would be appreciated.

Thank you

    P. D. Mangan says September 16, 2015

    Hi Paul, I think a paleo type diet will get you where you want if you cheat a bit. Add baked potatoes, for instance, to it, and use plenty of butter. I used to drink full glasses of half and half when I was trying to gain weight. So long as you lift well and regularly in the gym, you should gain mainly muscle. I’m not a big believer in “bulking” because most guys seem to gain a lot of fat with it.

    The downside of using a different style of diet, or of just eating anything at all, could be just gaining fat and spiking your blood sugar and insulin. Be moderate about trying to gain, would be my advice.

    Hope that helps, and glad you liked the book.

    PS: When people say that someone else is skinny, well, it doesn’t take much to look skinny around the average person these days. So my other piece of advice is make sure that gaining weight is what *you* want, not just so you fit in with the overweight average.

      Paul says September 16, 2015

      Thanks so much. I like the half and half idea.

John says September 25, 2015

I haven’t read a lot of health books except for PD Mangan’s (and these are great). One I have read and liked is, “Younger Next Year: a guide to living like you’re 50 until you’re 80 and beyond” (Lodge and Crowley). It preaches a middle path to health – no extremes. It’s not very cutting-edge in terms of supplements, etc., but one message I got from it is “show up and exercise, 6 days a week”. I’ve been trying to do that recently, some days more intense, and some days less so. Just getting out and moving for 45 minutes, 6 days a week. Break a sweat doing something, be it weightlifting, treadmill, cycling, raquetball, whatever. The book also gets into other lifestyle issues, like social network, etc. It’s an easy read but is level-headed, IMO. It adds to my perspective.

    P. D. Mangan says September 25, 2015

    Yes, exercise is certainly important, one of those hormetic challenges without which the body goes to seed.

Scott says September 25, 2015

I’m 51 and just had some blood work done. HFLC diet, regular exercise. BMI 22.1, non-fasting; HDL 66, Total cholesterol 151, cholesterol ratio 2.3, glucose 75, but my blood pressure was 120/82. I have had prehypertension for 15+ years. Can’t shake it. Genetics? Any advice how to lower it? I take many of the supplements you recommend…

    P. D. Mangan says September 26, 2015

    Scott, I can only offer some suggestions. Do you drink alcohol? Even relatively casual drinking can raise blood pressure, for instance the night before a doctor visit. Potassium from fruits and vegetables helps maintain normal blood pressure, so make sure you get enough of those. Finally, have you had BP measured outside the doctor’s office? Many people are stressed enough by going to the doctor that it raises their BP. One other thing: your cholesterol is low; what’s that all about? I can’t see how it could be related to BP, but you never know.

Scott says September 26, 2015

Thanks for the feedback! Great site!

I did drink red wine the night before and was a bit stressed because I’ve had 15 years of lecturing about prehypertension from out of shape doctors…

I eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables. Plenty of berries. The biometric results printout comment for my cholesterol was “very desirable.” I guess not?

    P. D. Mangan says September 26, 2015

    Hey Scott, you’re welcome, and glad you like the place. You know, 120 isn’t all that high, and just being nervous and having a drink or 2 the night before could easily explain it, in my opinion. As for a low cholesterol sure, most doctors will tell you under 200 is great. But your level is in the range where a higher death rate than above 200 is seen: http://roguehealthandfitness.com/heart-disease-risk-low-carb-high-fat-diet/ Triglyceride/HDL ratio is important, and you didn’t mention your trig level – though I bet it’s low if you eat low carb. Also, it’s become very clear to me recently just how important insulin resistance is, and a normal blood sugar and BMI (like yours) probably indicate good insulin sensitivity.

    P.S. Every doctor knows about the problem of measuring BP in the office; it even has a name: “white coat hypertension”, caused by seeing the doctor’s white coat. So I’m surprised your doctor hasn’t considered that.

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