There are many best fitness books for women out there, primarily directed toward women. It can be hard to know where to start—which philosophies will put you in a state of mind that works for you, which will help you set realistic and attainable goals, and which will help you stick to those goals. Luckily, we’re here to help you and sort the best fitness books for females.

Do you have a specific fitness goal you would like to reach? Completing a marathon, lifting a certain weight at the gym, want to improve your health and approach to fitness on a more general scale? Whatever your ambitions, there are ways to realize them and helpful manuals to guide you on your way.

This list contains texts full of personal experience, wide-ranging studies, hard-hitting truths, tips, tricks, and tactics. Surrounding the permanently buzzy but often misunderstood topic of fitness, just as no two bodies are exactly alike, no one way of getting and staying fit works for everybody. The key to finding a routine that does what you want it to be finding a philosophy makes you feel good about exercise. When you feel good, the rest will fall into place.

It will take some research. That’s where we come in. Without further ado, we present our favorite fitness reads to get you started, re-started, or finished on your journey. (Just kidding: a fitness journey is never finished! But these will have you traveling farther than you ever imagined.)

#1 The Raw Truth Recharge

The Raw Truth Recharge

The Book published just over a year ago, Robbie Raugh’s extensive guide provides an up-to-date consideration of the “7 Truths to Health and Fitness.” It’s a far-reaching text, covering a range of adjacent topics, including family, food, detox, stress management, sleep habits, and more. Raugh understands that health and well-being are about far more than just the state of your physical body—there are emotional and spiritual components that inform and are informed by corporeal fitness. Our bodies, Raugh explains, are like “mobile homes,” temporary but necessary houses for our minds and personalities, which not only require constant care and attention but deserve to be treated with more dignity than we often treat them.

Fortunately, it is never too late to develop a mindset centered around that dignity; and this is why Raugh calls it a “recharge”—it involves a true resetting of our thought processes, self-image, and priorities. She uses over forty years of her own life experience and works with clients to bring this refined technique to the world. Let this mindful text show you how all your systems are connected with care, and how, if you listen diligently to the daily messages those systems send, you can supply your body with everything it needs to help you get the most out of life.

#2 HIIT It!

Hiit It

Gina Harney, the mastermind behind The Fitnessista, brings you the definitive guide to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and the benefits it can have for your health in the long term while producing the results you want to see in a short time. HIIT is rapidly gaining popularity, especially among women who are serious about fitness, and it isn’t hard to see why. The quick and efficient exercises in this style of workout focus on building muscle and burning fat so you can devote less time to working out while making steady progress toward your fitness goals. There’s advice for when, where, and how to schedule a workout into your day, maximizing the chance of your developing and sticking to a routine that can become an invaluable addition to your life before you know it. And since physical activity is only half the battle, Harney also provides recommendations for great-tasting meals and snacks to help you feel better about (and because of) what you put in your body. “Work smarter, not harder,” is her motto—and you can put that motto into action with HIIT. In a short span of time, you won’t believe how far you’ll have come!

#3 Walking for Fitness, Pleasure, and Health

Walking for Fitness, Pleasure and Health

This book is dedicated to women from all walks of life! Walking is one of the simplest and most effective ways to maintain physical fitness and well-being. What’s more, it promotes happiness and socializing, as it is one of the ideal exercises to do in pairs and groups! Helen Vause examines the essential nature of walking to women’s health in the past, present, and future. Inspired by the organization Wonder Walkers, whose membership is speedily increasing and spreading awareness of the benefits of walking, Vause synthesizes medical expertise, stories from walkers of all ages, and her own long-running history of walking to create a case it’s tough to refuse. Of course, walking is hardly only for women, and Vause provides arguments for getting the whole family on board the trek. Walking can take many different forms in many different contexts, from logging miles for a good cause to hiking gorgeous natural trails to merely slowing down and appreciating the beauty of your neighborhood. Whatever your fitness lifestyle, however far you feel you need to go, Vause and the Wonder Walkers are here to remind you that even the longest journeys are only completed step by step.

#4 YSM Body Bible

YSM Body Bible

It’s tough to maintain a fitness regimen, more challenging to start one, and the toughest of all to do either when you’re a mother. Jodie Hedley-Ward, mom to two and creative mind behind the You Sexy Mother series, brings the modern multitasking mother the most comprehensive health and fitness handbook yet—that’s achievable on a packed daily schedule. It’s never too late to feel and look the way you’ve always wanted to. Hedley-ward, along with words of wisdom incorporated from personal trainer Kelli Johnson and other specialists, has put together a simple, steady guide for building habits that will make a big difference in very little time. From diet to exercise, from method to mindset, she compiles a mixture of personal and medical advice, including how to rewire your negative inner monologue and start thinking like the winner you are. Hedley-Ward references herself and her journey frequently, proving with heartfelt text and photographic evidence that everyone’s fitness story is trial by error, made up as we go along. No matter your stage in life, the health and happiness you’ve always been after is within your reach. This down-to-earth guide is a perfect step stool to help you finally grab hold.

#5 Fitness Training for Girls

Fitness Training for Girls

The teenage years are draining for everyone, but—needless to say—there are unique pressures on girls. From social stress to difficulty getting comfortable in their bodies, girls face a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. They aren’t always equipped with the best outlets to encourage them to process it most constructively. Luckily, three conscientious nutritionists have put together “the tough girl’s guide” to everything from cardiovascular workouts to strength training, from overcoming fears at the gym to developing a practical workout routine at home. Many forces, both internal and external, can deter a girl from honing her physical dexterity and endurance. Still, the fact is that her care and attention to those capacities will accordingly improve her psychological stamina and straight boost her confidence. The contemporary world holds more openness to and more challenges for women than ever before—why not arm our girls with the skills they’ll need to face up to that world? And not only face up to it but conquer it? With a handbook at their side full of exercise regimen ideas, nutritional support, and mindset guidance, girls will be able to rely on themselves in ways that will surprise even themselves.

#6 Eating Mindfully for Teens

Eating Mindfully for Teens

Food nourishes us physically, of course, but in our nonstop on-the-go world that’s only the tip of the iceberg (lettuce). With the publication of this pick occurring mere months before daily life around the world was radically transformed by pandemic-induced social distancing, psychologist Susan Albers’ messages about the human relationship to food bear more relevance than ever. She dedicates her extensive study to teens, in particular, subtitling it “A Workbook to Help You Make Healthy Choices, End Emotional Eating, and Feel Great,” and she truly does just that. The book is chock-full of advice for building healthy, balanced habits that will last a lifetime (and are more likely to if they take root during the teenage years). It’s especially useful for teen girls, who are disproportionately affected by disordered eating habits and body image issues. But just because you may have passed your teen phase doesn’t mean you can’t learn plenty from Albers’ research. A handy helper for teens and their parents alike—because it’s never too late to learn how to eat mindfully.

#7 Lift Your Mood with Power Foods

Lift Your Mood with Power Foods

The array of culinary choices before us today is virtually unparalleled—and yet we are often so absorbed in rushing from one activity, moment, or day to the next that we can treat food as an afterthought at best. Women, especially, with jam-packed schedules can fall victim to diets that neither contain much flavor nor supply them with the energy they need to tackle those schedules. As a renowned nutritional consultant, Christine Bailey reminds us, though, simple and effective “power foods” are everywhere if only we learn where to look. She presents a comprehensive encyclopedia of the vegetables, fruits, proteins, dairy products, and complex carbohydrates (yes, even carbs!) that can start you on a regular path of not only health but happiness. To that end, she addresses adjacent conditions and factors largely afflicting women—from seasonal affective disorder to PMS—which women can combat with the mood-boosting power of greens and the other ingredients she mentions. Let these foods sharpen your brain, brighten your smile, and fill you with the passion to take on the challenges that await you. Bailey’s recommendations and recipes will have you feeling, dare we say, powerful.

#8 Life Is Your Best Medicine

Life Is Your Best Medicine

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog presents “A Woman’s Guide to Health, Healing, and Wellness at Every Age,” and her text truly goes (walks? jogs? runs?) the extra mile to make women at every stage of life feel seen and heard. She stresses the importance of making every decision with intentionality and dedication to our health—physical, mental, and spiritual. How we eat and how we exercise, she argues, is but a portion of the battle as women push to live their lives to the fullest: there are the creative activities they participate in, the amount and quality of sleep they get, the relationship they cultivate to the outdoors (including, but not limited to, their own backyard gardens). All these aspects of life as a woman can help to immunize her against the more negative aspects of aging, like body pain, illness, and fatigue. Low Dog combines scientific research with natural and homeopathic remedies, aiming to teach women to rely on their own bodies to know what they need and how to get it. In a social environment where so many women are regularly robbed of that trust, Low Dog’s text is an encouraging and soothing reminder that, if we nurture our bodies, our bodies will nurture us.

#9 Life After Baby

Life After Baby

Having a baby can be one of the most fulfilling and enrapturing events in a woman’s life. And while it may be all those things, it can concurrently drain her of her former energy and zest for day-to-day activities, leaving her off-kilter and disoriented as she continues to devote herself to caring for a growing child. How to regain that balance and restore sanity and well-being? Expert Victoria Dolby Toews offers a host of suggestions and advice from a wide array of specialist mothers in this volume all about “Rediscovering and Reclaiming Your Healthy Pizzazz.”Dolby Toews understands the pull in a million different directions that can often overwhelm new mothers—the desire to give her child everything they might need and more and, simultaneously, to attend to her own wishes and whims and the activities she enjoyed before the newest member of the family came along. And the argument in this book is that one of these desires need not be sacrificed for the sake of the other: they can coexist—and harmoniously—with a dash of planning and strategizing. Let Dolby Toews’ genuine, accessible text help you adjust to your new maternal identity while putting you back in touch with the you who’s been there all along.

#10 Eat Naked

Eat Naked

So much of what we put into our bodies, knowingly and unknowingly, is processed within an inch of its life, beyond the ability to recognize individual ingredients. Needless to say, these foods aren’t doing us any favors. To that end, nutritional therapist Margaret Floyd introduces an instruction manual for reuniting those natural ingredients with our natural systems; specifically, in her words, for “unprocessed, unpolluted, and undressed eating for a healthier, sexier you.” According to her point of view, we should follow a diet of naked (organic) foods. Floyd knows there’s more to food than the physical component: nutrition (proper or improper) affects our mental and emotional states as well, shaping the way we live and approach life. Her book brims with advice on budgeting for a “naked” diet, finding the most flavorful raw foods, and determining which nutrients your body needs in the highest quantities (everybody is different!). It also offers some simple yet tasty recipes that will revolutionize the way you look at such simple—yet tasty—ingredients. And it hardly hurts that all these practices will leave you looking and feeling your happiest and healthiest. No doubt her book is a must-read for women of all dietary persuasions.

#11 Fit Gurl: The Total-Body Turnaround Program

Fit Gurl

Melissa Alcantara, personal trainer of celebrities including Kim Kardashian West—and known to many more as @FitGurlMel on the internet—presents her comprehensive and rewarding daily fitness program. It’s a system of regular training that openly admits its own difficulty..and also its own merit. Alcantara emphasizes the necessity of commitment and routine to creating the body and the lifestyle that you want for yourself. Equally important, she argues, is the idea of the choice being personal to you: the exercises, meant to push you out of your comfort zone, will feel compelling and worthwhile only if you are doing them for yourself and your benefit. Any other reason and it will be all too easy to fall off the wagon and limit your own potential. As for the exercises themselves, Alcantara developed the “‘turnaround’ program” through years of trial and error in her workout experience, including building a career as a fitness trainer only after having a baby and choosing to become fit herself. For extra fulfillment, she throws in recipes for meals, snacks, and smoothies to supplement the effects of the workouts on your body. With this book, Alcantara provides living proof that it’s never too late to be a Fit Gurl.

#12 Thinner Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Female Body

Thinner Leaner Stronger

You don’t have to strive for perfection—that is usually a losing battle anyway—but you can always strive to be your best self. How to actually attain that best self? Michael Matthews is here to tell you it takes much less effort (and just about 100% fewer bells and whistles) than the fitness industry would have you believe. “This book is the shortcut,” proclaims the new third edition of his bestselling workout methodology—and it’s just that, bypassing touted diet supplements, gym packages, and change-it-up workout routines to get to the no-nonsense science of making a direct, definitive difference in your fitness and health. Developing an effective workout routine that doesn’t stress you out or fill you with dread can happen within 12 weeks, and the changes in you will be palpable. Matthews lays out lists of his favorite tried-and-true methods: exercises that consume fat without consuming time; ways to approach food that shift your attitude toward eating rather than the actual foods you eat; the real myths and truths behind losing fat and gaining muscle; and much more. With the goal of building resistance, resilience, and the strong body you deserve—whatever that looks like—Matthews’ book gives you a plan you can really work with.

#13 The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises

The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises

Finally, an array of workout programs training different parts of your body and building different measures of strength, all in one place. And this new-and-improved edition of the classic from Women’s Health magazine contains 100 more exercises; the more, the merrier! This guide comes with an ambitious timeframe—four short weeks—to jumpstart and fast-track your fitness targets. It boldly bills itself as “the most comprehensive collection of exercises ever written specifically for women”: and it just might fit that bill perfectly, offering programs that focus on just about every area of the body and fit every schedule. Fitness experts from the Men’s and Women’s Health conglomerate, as well as some of the world’s most respected personal trainers, contribute the tips and tricks that have helped them. You’ll also find bytes of the latest research in exercise science, which might debunk some of the myths you’ve heard and believed over time about working toward and achieving a more fulfilling fitness lifestyle. With a grand total of 20 workout plans and 1,350 photographs demonstrating each motion and technique, you’re bound to find something in these pages that produces results for you.

What to glean from this potentially intimidating list? There’s no one right way to go about getting and staying fit, and thus there’s usually no one manual that will take anyone from where they are to where they want to be—at least not without some realizations and modifications along the way. The endless combinations of philosophies, workouts, and approaches enumerated in this list will inspire and motivate you to find the methods and mindsets that do the best work for (and with) you.

It can feel, especially when you are only just starting out, like the fitness goals you desire for yourself are impossibly far off, at the end of a discouragingly grueling road. The truth is that fitness, like any other project in life or in work, takes commitment and dedication—but it doesn’t have to be hard. Since being fit is not a one-shot-deal or single destination, your relationship to it will grow and evolve over time. Prepare and welcome that growth and evolution. Your journey will not be linear, and that is okay: in fact, it’s to be expected.

These books are guideposts to help you on your journey. They were written and compiled by real people who have, at some point or other, chosen to embark on that journey for themselves. And they’ll be the first to tell you that the journey looks different for—and on—everyone. Learn from their successes and mistakes. Take the advice, stories, programs, recipes, and suggestions in these texts. They may not constitute a flawless, fail-proof fitness plan, but they’re a solid start.

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