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What is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist?

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association(NSCA):

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists® (CSCS®) are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance. They conduct sport-specific testing sessions, design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs and provide guidance regarding nutrition and injury prevention. Recognizing that their area of expertise is separate and distinct, CSCSs consult with and refer athletes to other professionals when appropriate.

When looking for areas to improve my practice, I saw this as an opportunity to better understand training for peak athletic performance. Everyone wants to climb harder, run faster, jump higher, but the means to achieve these goals is often muddied by all the training advice on the internet, some of which is excellent while other is questionable at best.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • "Follow this 1 tip to _________ better"

  • [insert pro athlete's name] weekly training routine

  • "This supplement is the key to gainzzzzzz"

Training, like rehab, should be individualized. It should take into account your performance goals, injury history, training age, and availability for training. It should utilize evidence-based testing to assess needs and measure progress.

While preparing for my CSCS certification exam, I learned more about key principles that I am now incorporating intentionally into my practice as clients transition from injury recovery and back to sport performance.

  1. Periodization matters: Blocks of training should have a focus and specific outcome. Long term goals are achieved by successfully completing shorter training blocks to address specific performance needs.

  2. Intensity matters: 3 sets of 10 reps works well in a general sense, but there is a better recipe for increasing max strength, local muscular endurance, or peak power. Sport movements are sometimes slow and at max effort, while others require speed and agility. Training that reflects this will be more effective.

  3. Nutrition matters: Food, hydration, and supplements all contribute to sport performance. Meeting recommendations for carbohydrates, protein, and fat, will help optimize performance in endurance events and intense training sessions. With climbers and runners often seeking to be simultaneously lean and strong, better nutrition will yield better results and decrease risk of injury.

  4. Age matters: Youth aren't just smaller adults. Training "programs should be multidimensional, incorporating elements of resistance training, fundamental movement skills, speed, plyometric and agility development, and dynamic stabilization." A holistic approach should include progression appropriate to their age and skill level, as well as education about recovery strategies, nutrition, and lifelong training and athletics.


Want to learn more? Schedule a free consultation to talk about your training goals, and let's do this!

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