Memorable Powerlifting books

There are so many books and e-books available on strength training and powerlifting nowadays that it's hard to remember back to the days when there were very few resources available.  Here are some of the books (all out of print now, I think) that I used to read over and over hoping to find a nugget or two of knowledge that I might have missed before:

catalogue of bodybuilding and strength training exercises
Bill Pearl's "Keys to the Inner Universe"
sample pages from "Keys to the Inner Universe"
an example of the detail in the book
In addition to copies of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Education of a Bodybuilder" and "Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding", my other cherished book on the subject is Bill Pearl's "Keys to the Inner Universe".  Unlike Arnold's encyclopedia, Pearl's book is decidedly low-tech, filled with illustrations of just about every exercise and its variations that existed in its day.  Bill Pearl was built like a brick house and since I had always wanted to be strong, his book provided an endless supply of exercise ideas for me to try when I was a kid.  While there are no barbell glute bridges, reverse hypers, or rear-foot elevated split squats, there are so many other exercises and variations in the book that one should be able to find a solution to any strength or physique related issue within it.

early powerlifting books
Two of the first powerlifting books
Once I was exposed to powerlifting, I quickly bought two of the first, if not the first books on powerlifting.  Dr Terry Todd's "Inside Powerlifting" and Mike Lambert's "Power Technique".  Mike Lambert was also the publisher and editor of the magazine "Powerlifting USA".  Dr. Todd's book in addition to the monthly issues of "Powerlifting USA" were my first exposure to the types of training programs used by the champions of the day.  I must've read and re-read my copy of "Inside Powerlifting" at least a hundred times.  That's what we did in place of watching hours of video on YouTube.  At the time, it seemed fun but I have to admit, there's a heck of a lot more variety available today.  The great blog, The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban has posted many of the pages of this book.

Lambert's book, "Power Technique" was a collection of photo sequences of champion powerlifters.  For a young fan of the sport like myself, seeing pictures of the lifters whose names I had only seen in the record books was like opening a window to a new world.  Imagine what it was like 30 years ago, the record setting performances of the day were documented in Powerlifting USA months after they occurred and there was no readily available video (There were videos available of meets like the Budweiser World Record Breakers in Hawaii but they were expensive so I was able to buy very few of those).  Pictures were the most available media we had to help us visualize legendary feats of strength.   My dreams of deadlifting 700 lbs (still unrealized) or competing at a Senior Nationals* were largely fueled by the pictures and the words in books and magazines.

*I eventually made it to a Nationals but not the USPF Senior Nationals, the premier national meet of its day. 

Dr. Fred Hatfield's books
Dr. Fred Hafield's books
Not long after "Inside Powerlifting" came out, Dr. Fred Hatfield's book, "Powerlifting: A Scientific Approach" came out.  Another new book on powerlifting!  Of course I bought it right away.  I also bought his book on PNF stretching.  Back in the early 80's, that was some cutting edge stuff.  Powerlifting was getting "scientific".  If one could only see what it would turn into once the internets were in use...

Underground Body Opus, Millitant Weight Loss and Recomposition
The first nutrition book that blew my mind
Dan Duchaine's "Underground Body Opus, Millitant Weight Loss & Recomposition" wasn't a powerlifting book but it was the first book I can remember that was written strictly for the sub-culture of physique trainers.  This book came out in the mid-90's after I had already moved to Toronto and was no longer actively competing or even lifting seriously.  Dan Duchaine's book was the first that brought the hot-rodding techniques used by competitive bodybuilders into the light of day.  I bought the book without the intention of actually doing anything in it but more to learn about what people did to get in contest-ready condition.  Some of what he wrote is no longer in vogue but much of what he wrote is still used and re-marketed by diet gurus on the internet.

There are other coveted books in my collection but those are the ones that I value the most because they are part and parcel of the memories of my journey to chase ever more strength.  Even now, when I re-read them, I remember what it was like to be excited by their promise of bigger squats, bench presses, and deadlifts.  Maybe in 30 years, I'll hold an antique Kindle, read an e-book of today, and think the same thing, but even if I don't, I hope the lifters starting in today's times carry with them fond memories of the media and resources of their day that fueled their passion.


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