If knowledge is power, get ready for the ultimate one-two punch. These days, some of the most influential trainers in the game are spending just as much time on books, blogs, and Twitter feeds as they do training clients on the weight room floor. Your challenge: separating the quality exercise science, effective training techniques, and awesome affirmations from all the fitness fluff.
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To keep your search time to a minimum, we’ve narrowed the reading list down to the 15 best personal trainers and strength coaches who are making all the right moves — online and off. Our criteria? Besides being awesome at their day job, these influencers have a voice — and an effective platform to share it. They maintain their own active blog or website and engage with their communities honestly and effectively via social media. Oh, and they all kick butt (in the best way possible). Read on to beef up your reading list — pronto.
Tony Gentilcore One of the web's most socially connected trainers, Tony Gentilcore is quickly becoming the face of modern strength training. Looking for a quality training program or top-notch "how to" video? Chances are they've got Gentilcore’s fingerprints on them. As the co-founder of Cressey Performance and one of New England's most revered trainers, Gentilcore splits his time between the real and virtual world, helping produce better athletes and healthier people in both. — DT
Nia Shanks Writer, trainer, and leader of the "Beautiful Badass" movement, Nia Shanks is putting her stamp on the fitness space with an honest, no-nonsense approach to strength training. But Shanks' work doesn't end there: As co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, she's devoted to changing the way the world views training for women. "Lift Like a Girl?" We dare you. — JS
Eric Cressey When it comes to training, educating, and innovating, there's no off-season for Eric Cressey, Boston's most revered strength and conditioning coach. From his instructional YouTube channel to his awesomely accessible blog, Cressey has sound, sustainable advice to help athletes of all levels perform at their best. — JS
JC Deen JC Deen believes fitness should complement lives, and each individual has an fitness style that works best for them. Deen’s recipe for success includes strength routines, watching that calorie intake, and staying dedicated while having fun. Luckily, JC Deen also has a no-BS guide to looking great naked, something most people secretly (or not so secretly) strive for. You can find his work on Fitness Black Book, BodyBuilding.com, and more, in addition to his own website. — LS
John Romaniello Whether it's training to look like a superhero or just debating which spandexed crime-fighter is coolest, Roman — as his followers know him — lives at the intersection of fitness and pop culture. Roman's writing and advice covers the spectrum of lifestyle, love, and (of course) looking better naked. Hesitant to dive headfirst into the Roman Empire? Just start reading. Chances are you’ll learn something new. — DT
Neghar Fonooni According to her bio, Neghar Fonooni’s “just a regular girl who loves to cook real food, lift heavy stuff, and enjoy the absolute heck out of life." Trainer by day, writer by night, Fonooni is definitely one to watch (and read) in the strength and conditioning field. She teaches women that being strong and powerful does not mean getting “huge” or looking muscle-bound. And in co-founding the Girls Gone Strong movement, her ultimate goal of "redefining what it means to train like a girl" is certainly well within reach. — KM
Kellie Davis Move over, mommy bloggers, this NPC Figure athlete (and Greatist contributing writer!) is a source of serious inspiration. After giving birth to her son, Kellie Davis radically transformed her lifestyle from the inside out. And she did it the best way possible: by sticking to a solid diet and an exercise plan without letting either rule her life. As a former Language Arts teacher and English Major, Kellie channels her passions for writing and inspiring others into her website — after she’s spent time with the family, trained, and refueled, of course. — KS
Bret Contreras Perhaps Bret "The Glute Guy" Contreras could have picked a better nickname, but it ain't bragging if you can back it up. Contreras has seemingly done it all, from writing and lecturing to owning his own gym, training clients, and serving as a fitness expert and columnist for some of the biggest publications in health. Contreras focuses on glutes, thus the nickname, and has even developed a machine, several guides, and techniques such as the hip thrust and Load Vector Training. Contreras has the chops, but he's recently turned his attention to writing as a way to share his knowledge with a wider audience — glutes and all. — ZS
Greg Everett The only thing more impressive than the weights Everett lifts? His comprehensive book on Olympic weightlifting. Co-founder of Catalyst Athletics, Everett blogs about fitness and nutrition for strength-training athletes. He’s also active on Twitter, where he posts clever answers to questions about Catalyst and training in general. — SL
Kelly Starrett Kelly Starrett is no ordinary physical therapist. Focusing on bringing injured athletes back to elite shape, he created the MobilityWod, a blog dedicated to improving performance and avoiding injury through better mobility and movement. Starrett has coached Olympians and other elite athletes, but his blog is full of helpful videos and information for everyone. Plus, his MWOD calls for champagne on Fridays. Who could pass that up? — LS
Rudy Nielsen The growth of CrossFit is making fitness a sport in its own right, and Rudy Nielsen is on the cutting edge of training the sport’s elite. But Nielsen's wisdom goes well beyond CrossFit workouts, and his methods combine the best of powerlifting, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and endurance training. This "good coach with a great beard" has taken the time to learn from the best across these specialties and then turned that knowledge into proven results for elite and everyday athletes alike. — DT
Martin Rooney As the creator of “Training for Warriors” (can’t sound much cooler than that), Rooney offers training tips on speed, strength, endurance, flexibility work, and nutrition, to name a few. Warrior workouts include plenty of push-ups, chin-ups, and high-intensity intervals (Rooney’s mom was a gym teacher, so maybe that's where he got his kick-butt M.O.). Oh, and he's set on becoming one of the strongest 40-year-olds ever. No biggie. — NM
Patrick Ward Nothing beats a good rubdown, that’s why this strength and conditioning coach is also a certified massage therapist. Ward runs Optimum Sports Performance, a training facility in Arizona where he coaches a range of athletes. When he’s not working with clients, Ward blogs about new fitness trends, exercise science, and why it’s important to never stop learning. — SL
Jason Ferruggia As a strength coach and the founder of The Renegade Method, Ferrugia follows a few basic commandments like lift heavy things, avoid most machines, and spend more time barefoot. Ferruggia likes to keep things simple all while building muscle, losing fat, and achieving overall good health. And Ferruggia has almost two decades of experience to back it up, having worked with more than 700 athletes in more than 20 sports. — NM
Mike Boyle As Boston University's assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Mike Boyle has trained athletes from the Boston Bruins and the1998 U.S. Women's Olympic Ice Hockey Team. Somehow, he also found to time to start Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, a fitness company geared towards athletes and everyday Joe's seeking peek performance, weight loss, or a healthier lifestyle. Whatever your goals may be, Mike's pretty confident he can show you how to make them happen. — KS
What trainers do you read? Did your favorites make the list? Share in the comments below!