Suggested Reading

If one reads enough books, one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chance of survival increase with each book one reads.” – Sherman Alexie

The first two items on this page should be part of every candidate’s CSCS exam preparation strategy. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning is the official preparation text for the CSCS exam, and the more practice questions you expose yourself to, the better the chances of your success. I would not sit for the CSCS exam without having these resources. – Ryan Grella

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, CSCS Exam Study Guide
Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning is the most-preferred preparation text for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam. The research-based approach, extensive exercise technique section, and unbeatable accuracy of Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning make it the text readers have come to rely on for CSCS exam preparation.


CSCS Practice Exam SetCSCS Complete Online Practice Question Bundle. Helps candidates become familiar with the type, scope, and difficulty of the questions on both sections of the CSCS Certification exam. Contains 204 questions encompassing the Exercise Science, Nutrition, Exercise Technique, Program Design, Organization & Administration, and Testing & Evaluation domains.


The next items on the list are not mandatory, but will go a long way to reinforce key points and concepts, especially if a candidate has a limited academic and professional background with regards to exercise science.

ebook_template_5NSCA CSCS Examination Review and Study Guide eBook. Comprised of 373 pages this eBook contains a bulleted outline of all 24 chapters of the preparation text Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, as well as two simulated practice tests and 550 total multiple choice practice questions that allow individuals to test their knowledge, comprehension, and ability to recall key points.


Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance TrainingExercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training-(Book & DVD) This manual gives detailed explanations on technique for each free-weight and  machine exercise, and the accompanying DVDs show the movements for each exercise in action. Readers using this manual to study for the CSCS or NSCA-CPT exams will find this resource particularly helpful as they prepare for exam questions relating to anatomy, biomechanics, program design, and exercise technique.


CSCS Exam Content Description BookletCSCS Exam Content Description Booklet This booklet provides a detailed listing of the major content areas of the CSCS exam and the specific knowledge and skills within each area that are expected of strength and conditioning specialists. A candidate can review a very detailed outline of the CSCS exam to identify weak areas that need to be remedied with focused review and preparation.


The last items on the list are not specific to the CSCS exam, nor are they essential with regards to a candidate’s exam preparation. They do however represent foundational texts in the field of exercise science, and would be a valuable addition to a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist’s library. Continued professional growth is something all of us should strive for. I have included texts that I have found extremely valuable throughout my career, and I’m always looking for new suggestions. – Ryan Grella

  • Designing Resistance Training Programs – 3rd Ed– two of the world’s leading experts on strength training explore how to use scientific knowledge to develop personalized training programs.
  • Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance– has helped more than 350,000 students build a solid foundation of the scientific principles underlying modern exercise physiology.
  • ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription– this text has long been considered the Gold Standard in sports medicine, exercise science, and health and fitness. It enables you to test and evaluate individuals to prescribe effective exercise programs tailored to their particular needs and based on the latest evidence.
  • ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription – was created as a complement to ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription and elaborates on all major aspects of preventative rehabilitation and fitness programs and the major position stands of the ACSM.
  • Sport Nutrition– presents the principles, background, and rationale for current nutrition guidelines specifically for athletes. Using a physiological basis, this text provides an in-depth look at the science behind sport nutrition. Students will come away with a comprehensive understanding of nutrition as it relates to sport and the influence of nutrition on exercise performance, training, and recovery.
  • Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches– a comprehensive guide to learning and instructing the Olympic and related lifts. Includes sections on teaching progressions, lift analyses, error correction, programming, competition, supplemental exercises, warm-up protocols, nutrition, and sample training programs.
  • Applied Body Composition Assessment– brings both practitioners and students up to date on the latest body composition methods and equations for healthy and clinical populations. This is the most comprehensive textbook on body composition assessment available today.
  • Netter Atlas of Human Anatomy– used by students everywhere, Netter is simply the best atlas of human anatomy in existence.
  • Movement: Functional Movement Systems:– author Gray Cook crosses the lines between rehabilitation, conditioning and fitness, providing a clear model and a common language under which fitness and rehabilitation professionals can work together. The discoveries, lessons and approaches you’ll learn, how to view and measure movement quality alongside quantity, how to ascertain dysfunctional patterns with the Functional Movement Screen, etc.
  • Arnold Schrawzenegger The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding– a classic, if you love the sport of bodybuilding, you’ll want this book in your library. Some of the information is more bodybuilding lore than science, but the 800 page book includes every movement imaginable for every muscle group.
  • The 12 Best Strength Training Books– Compiled by this list contains the 12 best books on the subject of strength training and covers foundational science, anatomy, programming, and lifting technique. Read one a month and after a year you will have a solid foundation to design and implement your own program or coach and instruct others