For those of you who also like to read, I wanted to share some of my favorite resources that I’ve come across in the past few years. While none of these books are written explicitly about CrossFit, they all narrow in on a small element of CrossFit, whether that is weightlifting, mobility, or general training. The reason I listed these specific books is that regardless of where I have been, or where I currently am in my athletic journey, I am able to read one of these books again and pick up a different piece of information each time. I am sure that even after three times through some of these books, I’ll still learn something new the next time I read one.
“Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches” by Greg Everett.
I first read this book when I wasn’t even sure how to properly snatch a barbell. Even as a complete novice, I found this book to be really informative, yet accessible at the same time. As a beginner, I was able to get a general sense of the movements required during the snatch and clean & jerk, and Everett made these super complex movements slightly less confusing. I can snatch a bit more than the 33-lb bar, and now find myself going back to this book to really narrow in on a particular fault correction or a specific portion of the lift. So while hours of reading can’t replace hours of practice to finally hit that big PR, I still recommend reading this for anyone who enjoys weightlifting.
“Power, Speed, Endurance” by Brian Mackenzie.
Mackenzie is the founder of CrossFit Endurance, so this book is targeted towards the runners, cyclists, or triathletes out there. I was none of those-I read this book when I was a rower in college, but I still found his approach to endurance training to be applicable to really any sport. In a nutshell, he proposes forgoing those long, slow miles in favor of more high-intensity training mixed with strength work. The strength portion of this book is what I liked most (in addition to text, Mackenzie has pretty cool pictures with technique demonstrations). I definitely didn’t have the aerobic engine that some of my fellow rowers had; however, having a little more strength went a long way for me. Those back squats Mackenzie advocates really pay off for endurance athletes.
“Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Kelley Starrett.
If you’re interested in mobility for the sake of preventing injury, improving performance, or are just wondering what those silly bands are for, this is an awesome read. In the first section, Starrett introduces proper mechanics and general rules for movement (such as how to brace your spine). The second half is dedicated to fixing those nasty mobility restrictions, and how to use the foam roller, lacrosse ball, bands, etc. It reads a little easier than a textbook, so you can certainly go through it cover-to-cover. But if you already know the reason behind that troublesome overhead position, you can also skip straight to the section on the T-spine, for example. There’s also a section on exercise technique for basic power lifts and Olympic lifts, so I’ve also used this book as a resource for those movements.
“Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe.
If I wasn’t rowing on the water or on the Concept 2, I was back squatting. For the majority of my four years in college, I followed Rippetoe’s 5×5 program that he outlines in this book. This book is a great resource on how to set up an effective strength program, including the differences between set and rep ranges, undulating vs. linear training periodization, different squat techniques (for example, hi-bar vs. low-bar), etc. Definitely a must-read for an aspiring powerlifter; but I also think the concepts in this book transfer well to any sport, CrossFit included.
Lastly, just for kicks I’ll mention “Rowing Faster” by Volker Nolte. I’d say about half this book relates to on-the-water technique, which is not so applicable to CrossFit. However, the reason I mention this book is that it’s where I first learned about energy system training (creatine-phosphate, glycolytic, and aerobic systems) and basic physiology. Energy system training is a big part of workout/program design, so I figure a book on that subject is worth a small mention.