Leadership / Business Development

How To Be A Successful Personal Trainer – By Chris Hitchko

If you’re looking to become a personal trainer, this is the first book you should read.  Chris prepares you for the life of a trainer, hours you’ll be working, opportunities of employment, how to make 75k, successful characteristics, and interviews of top trainers in the field. 


Ignite the Fire – Jon Goodman

Jon’s book was the first book I read out of college.  It’s a must read for expectations in the life of a trainer.  He gives tons of great pointers to make training a career. 

Give and Take – Adam Grant

Are you a giver, or a taker?  Stories from the most successful people in history and how being successful begins with a giving mentality.  It’s so easy to take, but those who make it in the long run, give give give. 

Deep Work – Cal Newport

The average mind cannot perform 90-minutes of solid, creative work.  With all the distractions today, it’s easy to waste time.  Deep Work will help change your methodologies to studying, writing, and time spent being creative. 

How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

A must read for life.  Enough said. 

Make Your Bed – Admiral McRaven

His viral speech at the University of Texas sparked this book.  Admiral McRaven gives his ten pointers in which he learned during his years in service as a Navy Seal.  At the end of the day, if you want to be successful, make your bed. 

Death of Expertise: Tom Nichols #5

Colleges are diploma machines.  Everyone is an expert with the immediate access to Google.  The Death of Expertise is a top 10 book that every trainer should read

So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport #6

"Follow Your Passion" is Bad Advice.  Passion without control is reckless.  Mr. Newport examines what it takes to be successful and how successful people make it; passion with control, is deadly. 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Mark Manson

To find the true meaning of life, you need to dig a little deeper, but most importantly, not give a flying fuck about what anyone else thinks.  Mark nails it on the head.   

go is the Enemy - Ryan Holiday #4

“Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.”  One of the more influential books I’ve read.  Mr. Holiday helps put the ego in check.  Even more impressive, is the monthly email list of books of which Mr. Holiday sends out.  His recommendations are truly spectacular! 

The Art of War – Sun Tzu                        

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”  The take away’s from this iconic book can be used in business, life, and relationships. 

Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain- Ryan Blair

Growing up in a broken family, poor, homeless, and in a gang, Mr. Blair prevails as the ultimate entrepreneur.  To go to the top, lose it all, and then resurface due to his killer mentality, Nothing to Lose is a great motivational book. 

Cowboy Ethics – James P. Owen - #10

A recommendation from top CEO’s around the world, Cowboy Ethics is what America is lacking today- Grit, Integrity, Purpose, and . I read this book at least once a year; the images are amazing!

Purple Cow – Seth Godin

As a business owner, you need to stand out.  Everyone and their aunt seems to be a personal trainer today, how are you going to be different?  Mr. Godin helps teach you what it takes to think outside the box and to be creative. 

Team of Rivals – Doris Goodwin

Imagine if Hilary Clinton stepped down from her presidency and told her poplar vote to vote for someone else, in turn which wouldn’t allow for Trump to become president?  Lincoln did that.  A genuine mastermind, and Goodwin paints the perfect picture about how to be a leader.  HINT HINT, Leaders don’t call themselves leaders!  

Contagious – Jonah Berger

“Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.” As a trainer, you need to be the mayor of your gym and town.  Everyone needs to know you.  Mr. Berger teaches you how things become contagious.  

Zero to One – Peter Thiel

I’m a big fan of reading books from individuals who walk-the-walk.  Why not study the habits and performance of those who’ve already done it?  Co-founder of Paypal, Thiel educates the reader on how to make it.  FYI- it’s not taking the easy way out as he could have by becoming a lawyer. 

The Way We’re working ISN’T Working – Tony Schwartz

One of the first audio books I heard, Mr. Schwartz explains why working 50+ hour weeks isn’t the answer.  He goes into detail on how beneficial exercise can be to corporate America.  It’s amazing what happens when you take two groups of people one of which exercises regularly, and the other doesn’t.  Exercise group productivity goes up!  HOLY SHIT

The 4-hour Workweek -  Tim Ferris

Mr. Ferris helps make your workweek easier, shorter, and more productive.  This book (I cannot attest to the rest of the series), is great for helping trainers work smarter, and not harder.  I’d highly suggest skipping all of his anecdotes, as he LOVES to talk about how awesome he is. 

Triggers – Marshall Goldsmith

What makes people change?  If you want to find out, read this book. 

Start with Why -Simon Sinek

How did the Wright Brothers become the first people to fly?  How in holy hell did Martin Luther King get a million people to SHOW UP without a single tweet?  Whatever happened to Tevo?  All of those answers and more in this amazing book.  SPOILER ALERT… You could get a awesome Cliffs notes by watching his TedTalk. 

The Way of the SEAL – Mark Divine

Mr. Divine goes through how he became a Navy SEAL.  His mental game is beyond impeccable.  He teaches you how to strengthen your mind with breathing techniques, and building your own “Mental Gym” during meditation. 

Winners and How They Succeed – Alastair Campbell

The name says it all- the winning mindset. 

Swim with the Sharks without being Eaten Alive - Harvey Mackay

“Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate your competition.”  The Mackay 66 gives you a heads up on any given client/customer. 

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

“If you give up before your goal is reached, you’re a quitter.  A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits.”  Mr. Hill’s mindset is unmatchable.  I “borrowed” from him for my book, Positive Fucking Mindset (he was more politically correct than I am.) 

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

It takes 10,000-hours to consider yourself an expert.  If you were to train 40-hours a week (most gyms set 28-hours as full-time), for 52-weeks, that would take you 5-years.  I’ve never graduated a trainer who consistently trained 40+ hours a week for A YEAR!  To get to the top, it takes hard work, showing up, patience, and being humble

Spark – John Ratey

Exercise cures cancer.  Well maybe that’s a little extreme, but exercise is the fountain of youth.  Learn about Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) and all the wonderful benefits from exercising regularly. 

Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi

Chapter 6- Don’t schmooze, don’t rely on gossip, and be willing to give something away.  Trainers today WANT, WANT, WANT, and don’t want to WORK WORK WORK.  In order to make a name for yourself, you need to be willing to give a lot, and think about others, over yourself. 

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”  How are you going to get to the tipping point?  Better read to find out. 

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit- Aristotle.  Change your habits to a positive fucking mindset, and see where that gets you.  

Shoe Dog – Phil Knight #2 TIE

I’m bias; I love autobiographies.  Mr. Knight was told time and time again, that his idea is stupid and he should quit.  He was presented with numerous obstacles and he prevailed.  If you want to make it in this industry, you need to have the mindset of Phil.  One day I’ll find my Penny. 

Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance #2 TIE

If Elon Musk were to play Phil Knight, it would be the equivalent of the current Golden State vs Cleveland Championship series- REMARKABLE!  Elon on the American society “We've grown fucking soft.”  I see it daily with trainers talking about long hours and big brother taking too much out of their paychecks.  If you want to read about a winner, this book is a MUST!

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

Don’t watch the movie- read this book.

Louder than words – Joe Navarro

Apart of the monthly book club that I have, one of my trainers read this book, and What Every Body is Saying.  He said this one is better, so I’m taking his word for it.  I read the former and it was great!  If you want to get better at reading the body language of your clients, these books are for you. 

Strength and Conditioning

Monthly circulations to subscribe…

MASS (Monthly Application in Strength Sports) – Stronger by Science Greg Nickols & Eric Helms

Strength and Conditioning Research -  Chris Beardsley & Bret Contreras

Performance Menu – Greg Everette


Stronger Curves – Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis

Who better to teach you how to develop your glutes than the Glute God himself?  A must read for all trainers to get a gauge on glute training.

Younger Next Year – Chris Crowley and Dr. Lodge

A must read if you’re training anyone over the age of 60.  Working out anything less than 6-days is unacceptable. 

The New Rules of Lifting (Women) – Alwyn Cosgrove, Luo Schuller & Forsythe

Male trainers should read the Women version; female trainers should read the for Men version.  Alwyn adds in the workouts, while Casandra (Forsythe) adds in the nutritional guidance.  One of the first books I read and thankfully so. 

Cortisol Connection  - Shawn Talbott

The Goldilocks Hormone, Cortisol is constantly beat up as being BAD.  Neither great, nor bad, Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands that does what it’s targeted to do.  IF there’s too much, it’s bad; too little, bad.  Learn what produces a lot of cortisol in this great book

Functional Stability Training (Core / Hip / Shoulder) – Cressey & Reinold

A must watch for all trainers

Easy Strength – Dan John & Pavel

Dan John is The Man.  Pavel is The Man.  Enough said.  READ IT. 

Illustrated Essentials of Musculoskeletal Anatomy by Sieg and Adams

I use this book during the 4-month Personal Training Academy (Show Up Academy.)

Sports Gene – David Epstein

“In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success and the so-called 10,000-hour rule.”  Can you truly become anything you want, or is it your genes?  Derived from Anders Ericsson and the role of deliberate practice.

Hypertophy – Brad Schoenfeld

Gotta get your STD’s – Metabolic Stress / Mechanical Tension / Muscle Damage.  When it comes to the shoulder, listen to Cressey.  When it comes to the Glutes – Bret C.  When it comes to the GAINZ – Brad. 

Powerlifting – Tim Henriques

One of the most diverse instructors at the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI).  His strength background is highlighted in a must read for all new students in the Academy.  Your knowledge of the “Big Three” (Bench, Squats, Deadlifts) will greatly increase due to Mr. Henriques text/book. 

Olympic Weight lifting – Greg Everette (Catalyst)

If you want to learn more about the Olympic Lifts, Mr. Everette’s book is a must have.  I don’t suggest implementing Olympic Lifting unless working with athletes or individuals who are trying to compete.  When I lived in the Bay Area, I’d like to take quarterly field trips to his gym (Catalyst near San Jose.)  He was co-host with Robb Wolf and his Paleo Podcast.

Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe

Self-taught Bio-mechanist, Mr. Rippetoe wrote one of the fundamental books for all trainers to read. 

2x4 – Bret Contreras

Bret continues to put out monumental work in the field of strength and conditioning.  Alongside his brilliance with the Gluteus Maximus, 2 x 4 is a great program to help take those strength gainz to the next level.  

Core Performance – Mark Verstegen

The man behind Exos which is a top name brand / camp not only producing top athletes, but coaches as well.  This is one of the foundational books I suggest for trainers to begin with. 

The Shoulder Patients Handbook – Paul Roache

I was blessed to live with Dr. Rouche while in San Francisco.  He performed shoulder surgery on my brother and top ortho for athletes within the Bay Area.  The images in this book are amazing to compliment your anatomy.

Low Back Disorders – Stuart McGill

The Low Back Guru, Dr. McGill wrote an awesome text within Low Back Disorders.  If you’re looking at gifting a book to a client or family member, give them Back Mechanic (a much simpler book to navigate with exercises.)

Bulletproof Knees -  Mike Robertson

If you want to learn about knees, here ya go.

Practice of Strength Training – Kraemer and Zats

Consider by many as the “BIBLE” of the fitness world.  Dr. Kraemer was my professor (and number one man crush.) 

Conditioning for Strength and Human Performance

Text book fun

Designing Resistance Training

Anything by Kraemer is worth a read

Exercise Physiology (McArdle and Katch)


Strength and Conditioning: Biological Principles and applications (Cardinale)



Precision Nutrition – Dr. Berardi

Alan Arogon Monthly Review

International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) / Guru Performance Institute

The Beck Diet Solution – Judith Beck

Learn about Cognitive Therapy and how it can help change the mindset of your clients by understanding behavior.  One of the best nutrition books I’ve read with lots of helpful examples to implement with clients. 



LookGreatNaked.com – Brad Schoenfeld










Examine.com – Best site for scientific research on supplements




Coreperformance.com (Exos / Verstegen)

Thomasplummer.blog- Business within Fitness

Strongerbyscience.com – Creators of MASS (Greg Nuckols, Eric Helms, and Mike Zourdos)

Muscleandstrengthpyramids.com – Eric Helms Pyramids

Soheefit.com – Top 100 most influential personal trainers with internships under Cressey & Norton

Biolayne.com – Layne Norton

Drjohnrusin.com – Doctor of Physical Therapy

Deansomerset.com – Mobility & hip Guru

Mobilitywod.com – Kelly Starrett (Crossfit Doctor of Physical Therapy with tons of great videos)

Powerwod.com – Jessie Burdick (Crossfit Power guru)

8weeksout.com – Joel Jameson MMA Guru and HRV training