Passing Your CSCS: Not What You May Think

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is known throughout the strength and conditioning community as the “gold” standard of certifications and if you want to work in this field you probably need it.  While I was at Rowan, this was obviously what they push for and for many passing the certification, they may believe that they have finally made it.  In reality, it is only a certification that is needed more for liability purposes while being on staff somewhere.  Does becoming certified in something automatically certify you as knowing “that” much.  Maybe in some cases, in others..maybe not.  In athletic training, you need a certain amount of  hands on hours to get certified, for teaching, there is student teaching, being a doctor..the same thing.  Hopefully the examples make sense.  You need to coach people to really understand what works and what does not.  Cueing athletes during lifts, using progressions, creating programs, what limitations does someone have, periodization (set x rep schemes), assessments, taking into account people’s stressors, these are just some of the things that the “gold” standard does not apply in full detail (and probably for good reason).  In no way is this a rant about how bad the NSCA is but it shows you that just because someone is certified does not mean much if they are not continually educating themselves and working with athletes.  There are a lot of people who may be “certified” because they took a 4 hour weekend course.  Does this really qualify someone to know how to train people considering how specific each individual is?  I think not, I consider myself a nube (yeah, I just referred myself the same way as a new person playing video games) in this field and feel like I need to learn something everyday in order to stay on par.  It is in always surrounding yourself with great coaches and a philosophy that I truly believe helped me pass my CSCS exam.


How do I think I passed my exam?  It started and continued from the beginning with my internship and until the day I took the exam (as a coach at Endeavor).  Learning as much as I did and then having the desire to want to learn more was really all I needed to pass the test (maybe that is specific to me).  The reason why I credit our facility is because I looked over the book in 6 days (skimming through the chapters), and had a quick overview study guide that one of our interns gave me. Typically, that timeframe is not the norm.  In short, the past year at Endeavor gave me the motivation to learn about practical information and how to continually be a better coach.  Most of the information you should learn simply from reading other great strength coaches blogs, watching webinars, etc… Obviously the CSCS information needs to be glanced over mostly because the information comes from their book.  The information does seem to be outdated but that is also another reason to keep learning.  So, for people who have the opportunity to take the exam because they need to, it may be in the best interest to get a quality internship and read people who know what they are talking about first, then take the exam (if you are provided that luxury).  The coaches at,,, and the other strength coach blogs really helped mold me into the coach I am today and will continually help me with my career going forward.

For those that think those who have a CSCS certification know what they are talking about, be wary.  Not every coach knows what they are talking about.  There are CSCS internet experts who think they know more than those who have been in the trenches for many years.  That is the most exciting part of my job is learning from others and coaching clients is as much a learning experience as it is hopefully for them.




Categories: Strength Training

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