Monday, December 19, 2011

My Top 5 Books of 2011

I have read a lot of good books this year so this was no easy task.  However, if I had to pick my top 5 the ones listed below would be them.  The books are listed below in no particular order. 

Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jamieson - I have said it on this blog before and I will say it again, this is an excellent book!  It takes a very difficult topic, energy systems development, and makes it easy to understand.  It is also very applicable to any athlete or fitness enthusiast, not just MMA athletes as the title suggests. 

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky - This may have been my favorite book of the year.  Robert Sapolsky is the man!   I believe this book should be mandatory reading for everyone! 

People are always stressed, and often, they do not realize the consequences of this.  Of particular importance to trainers and coaches is the idea that training is a stressor.  Therefore, this book helps us understand how our programs affect our clients and players.  It also made me realize that I must take a hard look at my clients' mood and energy each day.  If they are tired and stressed then giving them a tough workout is not always the best idea.

This book has also changed the way that I train.  I will detail this in an upcoming post, but I have made some big changes in how I approach each session.


The Power of Less by Leo Babauta - I am not the most organized person is the world - I often have 5,000 things running through my head and it has been hard for me to get these ideas under control.  Having ideas is great, but they do not mean much if you do not apply them/put them into practice.

This was my problem.  I had great ideas and I had great intentions to read and learn everything, but I could not get myself organized enough to get any of it done.  I would start one thing and then move onto something else, and then onto something else, and so on.

This book has helped me tremendously with this.  I have not gotten it all under control yet, but it is getting better.

The Perfect Health Diet by Dr. Paul Jaminet and Dr. Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet - I have to give a shout out to my good friend Tyler Simmons of for recommending this book.  I chatted with Tyler at a recent conference about my goals to gain weight and improve strength and he gave me some great ideas.  I enjoyed the ideas that he gave me so much that I asked if he could recommend some good books on the topic and he named this one.

The book was excellent and it, along with Tyler's help, has greatly improved my understanding of nutrition and has changed the way that I eat.  I now feel a lot better in terms of energy, digestion, and mood.  I am not sure it is all due to the changes I have made in my eating, but I am confident that a lot of it is. 

NOTE: I have also been trying to mellow out and relax a little, which I struggle to do.  I am kind of a high strung person.  Therefore, I atttribute a lot of my mood, energy, and digestion improvements to these changes as well.  

This book has a lot of great information with a ton of resources to back it up.  Also, be sure to check out their blog HERE along with Tyler's HERE.  They both have great information.

Textbook of Work Physiology - One of my goals for this year was to learn more physiology.  I have not read all of this text yet, but it has helped me a great deal with my understanding of the subject.  Bill Hartman recommended it to me and it has a lot of good, practical research in it along with important  concepts and topics.

It is not an easy book to read so if you do not have a background in physiology, you may want to start with an easier text on the subject.  However, it is not impossible because I am making my way through it and I do not have much of a physiology background.

Easy Strength by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline (honorable mention)- I know this is number 6, but I had to include this book.  I love Dan John and I can't help it.  I could read his stuff over and over and over.  This book is made even better by the fact that Pavel is a co-author.  It even includes information from some of my heroes, such as Mel Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky:) 

This book has made me think a lot about how I write training programs.  It has some great ideas that just make sense.  It is so easy to get caught up in looking for difficult answers and solutions, when often, the easiest answer is the best (right, Bill Hartman? :).  The book is quite practical and has great training programs and ideas for beginners to advanced lifters, athletes, or just general population.  

Basically, what I am trying to say is that you should just read it!

So what were your top books of the year?  I am always looking for good stuff to read. 

Have a good week everyone!!


  1. Ahhh I just had "Why Zebras..." in my cart on Amazon last week and removed it! I'm absolutely going to go back and order it now. Thanks for the recos!

  2. Yeah I would definitely recommend it! Thanks for reading, Jen.

  3. Hey Zach, I was just catching up on my blog reading and saw this post. Great books and thanks for the shout out!


  4. No problem, Tyler. Thanks for all your help!

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