Everything on this page is something I've personally used, read, or ingested ("That's what she said…") that has provided me with phenomenal results.
There are absolutely no paid advertisements or endorsements included here, so, marketers, you can stop asking to be listed in this section — that's what the designated ad areas are for. :)
The books are listed first, because they are, by far, the most important ingredient. Just by reading this small collection, your knowledge of health and nutrition will skyrocket, probably rendering this blog completely useless, so maybe just pick one!
- Scrawny to Brawny – This was the book that changed my life and really got me interested in the world of health and fitness. After years of trying to build muscle, I finally learned how to gain weight.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I took it a little too far and ballooned up about 50 pounds! With great power, comes great responsibility…
But, this book sets an exercise and nutrition foundation that is priceless for anyone, regardless of whether you want to bulk up or slim down.
- The Abs Diet – I was a little reluctant to try this one, because it sounds like just another fad diet book. However, I love Men's Health and figured they wouldn't be pushing something so hard if it didn't live up to the hype.
I was right, and this book was amazing. I couldn't put it down and read it all in one sitting.
There are several workout suggestions and more core exercises than you can imagine, but the real gold is in the nutrition information.
This was the book that opened my eyes to the fact that nutrition is as important, if not more so, than exercise. Plus, they give you simple and easy-to-follow tips for eating the right foods at the right times.
- Precision Nutrition – A few months after reading and following Scrawny to Brawny, I was still hungry for more information. I really liked the nutrition section in the book, because it was very well explained and easy to read and understand.
So, I went looking for more information from the guy that wrote that section, John Berardi. He has since become my go-to-guy for all things health and fitness.
His background, knowledge (that's Doctor Berardi to you!), experience, and credibility are off the charts, and it's easy to see why once you've experienced Precision Nutrition.
This is like the second half of Scrawny to Brawny on steroids — without the steroids, of course! Precision Nutrition drills down, to every last detail, the how and why this information works.
There is no one eating plan or diet that will work for everyone, and there never will be, because all of our bodies are so different. But, with this system (and all the free gifts and bonuses that come with it), you learn how to tailor and tweak an exact and specific plan for you and your body type.
- Gourmet Nutrition – This is categorized as a cookbook, but it's so much more! It's from my main man, John Berardi, so everything in here is top notch, from the information to the actual recipes.
I've made myself robotic enough to survive on relatively bland, boring food day in and day out, but for the other 99.9% of the population, I promise you won't even know you're on a "diet" with this book.
These are easy-to-prepare and surprisingly flavorful meals, snacks, and even desserts, along with their exact nutritional breakdown.
If you never work out another day in your life, just eating right, with the help of this book, will provide you with much better results than nothing at all.
- Turbulence Training – Craig Ballantyne is another health and fitness expert that I really respect and trust. I first came across his name in Men's Health, where he's written a number of articles.
His program has helped shape my bodyweight workouts, one of his specialties, making it a breeze to train on the road or anywhere else in the world without any equipment at all.
Think you can't get a good workout without power racks, dumbbells, and barbells? Just try his infamous BodyWeight 500 workout, or one of it's many variations!
Best of all, Craig is excellent about personally responding to questions, and has helped me numerous times.
- Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle – This program helped hammer home a lot of what I learned in various places, summing it all up perfectly.
The magic formula, or perfect storm, of burning fat and building muscle at the same time is difficult to master, but this will help you get started.
Tracking your progress is absolutely essential to your success, no matter whether your goal is to lose weight or build muscle.
You have to see your results, so you can make sure you are improving with every workout, either through adding weight to the bar, increasing your reps, or even taking shorter rest periods.
If you just go in without a plan, you're going to be stuck in a rut without any data to analyze and no way to figure out what to do next.
- The Workout Log – I've tried and used several workout journals and logs, but they all seemed to have a few little things that were either missing or poorly designed.
This one was perfect from the first time I used it, and is by far the easiest and most sensible notebook I've ever used, plus it's small and durable with a laminated plastic cover, so it's easy to take with you.
- BodyBook iPhone App – After using the above paper-based workout log for nearly three years, I had taken most of my other tools digital via the iPhone. This included things like my To-Do lists, grocery lists, etc., and I loved the fact that I could condense everything into one device.
I toyed with the idea of using a digital workout journal as well, but all of the available Apps didn't even come close to what I needed and expected from my current paper-based notebook — until BodyBook came along!
This did everything I wanted it to do and more, while still being completely simple and fast to use. In fact, it takes even less time to use this while working out than it did to use my notebook, and makes it much easier to track my progress and workouts, since everything is automatically calculated.
If you have an iPhone and you work out, this is a must-have!
- BSN CELLMASS (Creatine) – I like to keep things as "natural" as possible, so I stayed away from creatine for a long time.
Then, after doing more research, I found out our body actually makes creatine itself, and there are even trace amounts in whole, natural foods.
That, combined with the fact that study after study show no side effects when combined with a healthy diet and exercise routine, and the fact that my go-to-guy for nutrition, John Berardi, gives it the thumbs up, all convinced me to give it a try.
It's certainly no miracle supplement, but I do notice gradual increases in mass and strength whenever I go back on it, after taking 1-2 month breaks to prevent saturation and/or building a tolerance — both of which are more of a mind/placebo thing than based on any hard scientific evidence.
- 100% Whey Protein – Gold Standard – Good ol' whey protein, a staple of most weightlifting diets.
While I get the vast majority of my protein from whole, natural foods, protein shakes are perfect for a quick protein boost right after working out.
Plus, they come in handy when traveling, as well, so you'll never find me without at least a few tubs of this stuff in the pantry.
- Life Extension Multivitamins – Any multivitamin is better than none, but after trying several, I like this one the best.
It's one of the few that I can actually "feel" a difference when taking. They're relatively expensive, but they've got a great reputation, and if you can afford them, they're worth every penny.
- NOW Foods, Super EPA Double strength – 60 Softgels (Fish Oil Capsules) – If I could only have one supplement on this list, I'd probably go with fish oil. The benefits are seemingly endless, and the list of things it can help/prevent is growing all the time.
Seriously, if you're still not on the fish oil bandwagon, you're getting left way behind!
- Flaxseed Oil 1000mg, 100 softgels – Flaxseed oil also contains essential fatty acids, like fish oil, and, similarly, is linked to a long list of potential health benefits.
- NOW Foods, Glucosamine & Chondroitin plus MSM – Glucosamine is best known for its joint-improvement abilities. As with most supplements, it has its share of critics, but this is another one that I can literally feel — and hear — working.
Weight bearing exercises like squats can actually strengthen your bones and joints, but there's also a fine line where too much banging or improper form can lead to cartilage breakdown and other injuries.
Before glucosamine, I would hear lots of creaks and cracks in my knees when walking and exercising, and since starting this supplement, the sounds have lessened dramatically, so I'm sold!
- Greens+, 9.4 oz powder – Once again, I came across this product thanks to John Berardi.
He swears by it and takes it on a regular basis, and while you should always do your own research, that's really all I needed to know in this case.