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My Top 3 Best Memorable Iron Game Books

By Strength Oldschool

Strength Oldschool Bodybuilding Book Collection

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The photo above displays all the bodybuilding, weightlifting and autobiography books I've collected over the last 20+ years. I also have a billion bodybuilding magazines stored away in one of my rooms. My favourite magazines were the classic mags from the pre-1970s, for example, Reg Park, Casey Viator, Arnold and Sergio Oliva.

Today I’m publishing my Top 3 Best Memorable Iron Game Books which I highly recommend to anyone to read, especially to beginners with emphasis on skinny individuals who find it challenging to gain weight and build size and strength.

My top three books are memorable to me as they motivated myself to train harder, learn about Iron History and opened my mind to new concepts on creating training routines/programs.

You can’t go wrong with the advice presented in each of the following books. The following books will inspire you, make you laugh out loud, SHOCK you at times, but most importantly...Will make you think about setting up the most effective, training routine possible to achieve gains in muscle, size, power and strength.

These books would suit any level of experience, but especially those lifters who are just starting out and are looking for solid, no bullshit, honest, basic, proven, training routines and motivation to help them succeed.

In no particular order…


1. The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum

The Complete Keys to Progress Book by John McCallum

This book is tremendous. Really makes for some incredible, funny and informative reading.

A funny quote from the book...

There’s a young man down the street from me who trains with weights. He’s been at it for about three years now but you’d never know to look at him. He’s got no build at all. My grandmother’s been dead for twelve years and she probably still looks better that he does.” ~ John McCallum


John McCallum was a strength author back in the 1960’s. He wrote training articles for ‘Strength & Health‘ magazine and these gems of training articles have all been compiled to form the book ‘The Complete Keys To Progress‘.

Within this book, you will learn how to build muscle, bulk up, read about how bodybuilding legend Reg Park trained; learn how to get strong fast, discover basic weight training programs for beginners and intermediates; concentration skills to achieve bigger, stronger lifts; how to make the ‘Get Big’ protein drink, how to build up your neck; PHA Training, how to build a bigger chest, how to enlarge your rib-box, learn about ‘The Breathing Squat’ and much more!

This book is extremely funny and entertaining from start to finish. John McCallum was probably one of, if not, the best bodybuilding and strength authors ever, in my opinion!


2. Arnold - The Education of a Bodybuilder

Arnold - The Education of a Bodybuilder book by Arnold Schwarzenegger

This book is the autobiography of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m a massive ‘Arnold’ fan so when I bought this book years ago in my early 20’s, I was fascinated to read about Arnold’s life and learn how he built his physique from an early age.

Over 250 pages and I read it within one day! Pretty good for me ha ha. Arnold takes the reader through his early years talking about his early training, what he ate, the contests he entered, talks about his bodybuilding rivals i.e. Franco Columbu, Sergio Oliva etc. He also details about going A.W.O.L. from the army to enter a bodybuilding contest and much more!

Arnold provides information on how a beginner should start training and eating, explaining about protein, carbs, fat etc. He provides various bodybuilding training programs for beginners to advanced trainers plus info on how to prepare for a bodybuilding contest.

Throughout the book there are plenty of photos of a young Arnold and of him at various bodybuilding contests. The main reason why I love reading this book is more to do with learning about how Arnold trained in his younger years, before he began to strip away body fat and get ripped for Mr Universe and Mr Olympia contests.

I enjoyed reading about how and why he began bodybuilding and his pursuit for muscle gains and bulking up and becoming as big as he possibly could, which for him was 250 lbs of beefy muscle.

I also love the fact that he prescribes beginners to use a 'full body training routine' three times a week to build the foundation of their physique. No split training until after the lifter has built their desired mass. Arnold - The Education of a Bodybuilder makes for interesting and entertaining reading and I highly recommend it.


3. Strongman - The Doug Hepburn Story by Tom Thurston

Strongman - The Doug Hepburn Story by Tom Thurston

This is the biography of a weightlifting legend by the name of Doug Hepburn. He was from Canada and over came disabilities to become the 1953 World Weightlifting Champion.

This is a sad story to be honest about such a talented and highly intelligent man who overcame so many obstacles in his life. But this book is a must read, highly entertaining, superb stories and provides invaluable training information on how the legend Doug Hepburn trained.

The training programs suggested in this book would work for any type of lifter, not just for an Olympic weightlifter. If you love reading about strength, then check out this book. Highly recommended.


In Conclusion

I purchased the above books years ago and have never parted ways from them. They remain a staple of my bodybuilding / Iron Game book collection.

I highly recommend these books to beginners of the bodybuilding game, especially natural lifters who wish to build their physiques without resorting to steroids.

Yes I know Arnold took performance enhancing drugs but Arnold did recommend basic compound movements for beginners within his book and that is excellent advice for natural lifters or any lifters for that matter.

One major lesson to be learned from reading such books is that very basic training routines are much more effective at building strength and muscle than anything else. You can’t go wrong with sticking with the basics.

There are quite a number of bodybuilding and Iron Game History books which I haven't read yet but unfortunately, finding the time to sit down and read has been problematic. Hopefully that will change soon.

I'd like to hear readers opinions on which Iron Game books make for an interesting read and why? Nowadays with how popular Youtube is, reading is probably considered a past-time now.


Keep training hard folks,

All the best!


Strength Oldschool



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