15 Must Read Health, Exercise, Nutrition & Coaching Books from Fitness Expert Michael Wood

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” – Henry David Thoreau

We all understand the value of reading good books especially when they come from the industry that we work in. For me that world is the health and fitness industry. Over the past thirty years I have read and have had the good fortune of reviewing hundreds of books.

Before we get to my book recommendations, I first wanted to share two articles that I read this week, the first is an article that talks about the reading habits of a few big name entrepreneurs. The second article also appeared this week on Business Insider regarding the one book college professors from some of our elite schools would recommend to others.

The following list includes some of the best health/fitness/nutrition/coaching books I have read. For a review and more information on any of the books, simply click the title of the book and to find out more about the author click on their respective name. Finally, if you’re interested, you can find my complete suggested reading list here.

Exercise

The One-Minute Exercise, Martin Gibala, PhD, Avery, 2017

Exercise for Mood and Anxiety, Michael Otto, PhD,  Jasper Smits, PhD, Oxford Press, 2011

Nutrition

Deep NutritionCate Shanahan, MD, Flatiron, 2017

Always Hungry?, David Ludwig, MD, Life & Style, 2016

The Diet Fix, Yoni Freedhoff, MD, Harmony, 2014

Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink, Ph.D, Bantom Books, 2006

Health

The Story of the Human Body, Daniel Lieberman, PhD, Pantheon, 2013

How Fat Works, Philip Wood, PhD, Harvard University Press, 2006

Coaching

Supple Leopard, Kelly Starrett, DPT, Victory Belt Publishing, 2013

Conscious Coaching, Brett Bartholomew, MS, CSCS, Create Space, 2017

Functional Training for Sport, Michael Boyle, MS, ATC, Human Kinetics, 2003

Athletic Development, Vern Gambetta, MA, Human Kinetics, 2006

Core Performance, Mark Verstegen, Rodale Books, 2005

Can You Go?, Dan John, MS, On Target, 2015

All-Encompassing

Challenging Beliefs, (and the Lore of Running), Tim Noakes, MD, Zebra Press, 2012

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Finding Time for Mobility Work Before Your Exercise Session

If you have not found time to add in some mobility work preceding your exercise session then you need to start today. Before you start loading your muscles and connective tissue (i.e. muscle/ligament/fascia) with some type of resistance, it’s imperative that you spend some quality time focusing on mobility with special attention to any tight, stiff, trouble areas regarding your own body.

One of the most important parts of your workout should be the dynamic warm-up and this should always precede any type of strength training. The body needs to be able to move in multiple directions freely, safely and effectively; this is known as mobility.  Dynamic mobility should safely and gently increase joint range of motion and should be progressive over time.  It is important to note that mobility is slightly different from flexibility.  When you perform traditional stretching-type exercises in order to improve flexibility, you’re required to focus solely on that one muscle group that your statically stretching.  Think of the old hamstring stretch or quad stretch that a typical runner might do, and sadly, many still do, before they go out for a run.

According to Dr. Kelly Starrett, author of Ready to Run, “mobility is more of an all-encompassing practice that addresses multiple elements that influence performance.  This includes various “sliding surfaces like muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia, and the joint and motor control necessary to perform a movement correctly.”

goblet-squat1
Credit: Bret Contreras Performing a Goblet Squat. http://bretcontreras.com/

Here is a quick mobility routine, that I call “Mobility 3-Series,” that you can try before your next run or your workout.  It is ideal for opening up, among other things, the hips and lengthening the tight hip flexor muscles (iliacus and psoas).

Mobility 3-Series

Step 1: Perform 3 partial-rep “goblet” squats (use just body weight).

Step 2: Perform 3 full range of motion goblet squats, where you touch elbows to thighs. After the last repetition, transition slowly into a squat pose and hold this position.

Step 3: Maintain a squat pose for 3-seconds (trying to progress over time to holding this pose for 3-minutes).  This position in yoga is known as “malasana” – I think of it as the “catcher position” in baseball and it’s great for improving balance, strength, flexibility and internal change.  The squat pose elongates the spine and builds strength in the back musculature and is critical for Achilles tendon health.

Once you complete the 3-steps try moving through the complete mobility sequence three times.

Bonus Move: Eventually try to transition from the squat pose to crane pose (“bakasana”) and try to hold for 3-seconds (building up to 1:00+).  This pose is ideal for strengthening the wrists, arms, shoulders and abdominal muscles.  Avoid the squat pose if you have any knee pain or any current or previous back issues like a herniated disk.

What are You Reading for the New Year?

imgresOne of my non-fitness goals for the New Year is to stop buying so many books but that can be difficult when part of your job is to keep up and review the latest trends in your industry and in my case, that’s health and fitness. I have tried, however, to read more from my Kindle especially since I’m running out of bookshelf space. There are so many great books that have been published recently not to mention a long list of great ebooks and audio books. So the question is, what are you looking to read to start the New Year off? Here are a few titles that you may be interested in and for a more complete list please look here.

Books

Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Super-athletes and What We Can Learn from Them, by Mark McClusky. I just finished this book and it was excellent – I have recommended it to many. McClusky is a veteran journalist who is also a working-class athlete. He does a great job at taking you behind the scenes of what some of the top athletes are trying and willing to do to improve their sports performance level.

Born to Walk: Myofascial Efficiency and the Body in Movement, James Earl

Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally by Kelly Starrett and TJ Murphy

eBooks (Kindle)

A Guide to Better Movement: The Science and Practice of Moving with More Skill and Less Pain, Todd Hargrove

Your Atomic Self: The Invisible Elements That Connect You to Everything Else in the Universe by Curt Stager I have just started this but it should be a great read. Dr. Stager is a science journalist who has published a number of books and peer-reviewed journal articles. There are many interesting science-based facts that will grab your attention, like the one I tweeted today. I could not agree more with his comment: “the better you understand the world in atomic terms, the richer your experiences may become.”