Reader Experience: From Grumpy to Passing!

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in Exam Preparation, Reader Question, Study Strategy | 0 comments

This was an interesting experience, for both me and the reader in question. While it always stings a little to get critical feedback, it is always the most useful. In this case, for both parties.

Ronald contacted me dissatisfied with the book, and gave me a lengthy explanation which you can read here:

Hello Julian,

I want to give you my honest regards as it relates to your CSCS Study guide e-book. My experience goes as follows. When I ordered the book my expectations were that there would be some remedy to help me remember or understand the scientific foundations portion of the exam.

My background is I have a Sports Management degree with a concentration of Wellness and Fitness. I graduated in May 2016. I have several other certifications e.g. ACSM CPT, NSCA CPT, NASM CPT PES, CES. As we both know the CSCS is definitely the most difficult and holds the most weight. I failed the exam on February 5th, 2017. I missed the practical applied section by 7 questions. I also missed the scientific foundations part by 3 questions. I am truly seeking mastery of the exam. I literally want to know everything to defeat this behemoth!

I was expecting to see a way that I could relate things such as adaptations to hypoxia immediate and long-term. Also adaptations to resistance training and aerobic training and overtraining. One more thing the testing and evaluation, a cool way to remember those 90 vs fiftieth percentiles for athletes.

The most that I gained from your study guide is a clever way of remembering the one repetition maximum. The mathematical calculations are far too advanced for me. I have never been an electrical engineer, therefore, there were several analogies that went over my head literally. In a lot of ways I must be honest with you I was more confused after assessing the study guide.

I wish that this could work for me, or had things that I could relate to the subject-matter in a simpler format. I hope this worked for you and some others, but for me it was just daunting trying to get through the esoteric format. I respect your profession and wish that I was more mathematical savvy,  but unfortunately I’m not.

I’m glad for this exam I don’t have to know calculus or analytical geometry. I’m sorry to say but according to how the e-book is now it doesn’t work for me. It probably won’t but I wish the rest of the book was designed to be as understandable as the 1 repetition maximum protocol that you designed.

Thanks for reading my email and understanding that it just did not work for me.




I immediately issued a refund and responded, read here:

Hey Ronald,

Your detailed feedback is greatly appreciated. I have refunded you the $27.

However, it seems you purchased the book 5 days ago….so I have to provide some critical feedback of my own:

Trying to understand it in 5 days might be a bit of a stretch.

I have all that math background, and I did not ace the exam by any stretch. I passed, fairly comfortably (80ish percentish if I recall). You have given it 5 days of trying to understand math that seems over your head, at the moment.

I encourage you to give yourself some more credit. When your brain is tired from trying to understand some of this shit, that is time to set the book down and go move your body, or sleep….but then you come right back and try to grasp it again. It’s like going to the gym, you exercise the muscle until it’s your desired strength.

Look for the “NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) & CPT Study Group” on facebook, join it…and start asking some questions.

Best of luck buddy!

I really appreciate your time spent giving me detailed feedback.

You’re going to get it next time! Leave no stone unturned. DO NOT wait until last minute. Make every page in my book make sense to you, even if it means learning better math….none of which required calculus, just good algebra.


Then over the next few months the following emails came in:

Hello Mr. Julian Corwin,

I wanted to thank you for the reply to my feedback concerning the issues I had with your e-book. I have learned a lot from your book in relation to tips and tricks. I also noticed the relevance it has in preparation for the CSCS Exam.

I hope you will allow me to send you the money back. I stand corrected sir you were right. This book has enough intricate details to give me just the edge I need to defeat this behemoth! Lol..

And finally

Hello Julian,

I passed the exam Wednesday the 10th. Your book CSCSEXAMGUIDE was very instrumental in my passing this exam. I was really comfortable with the exercise science portion this time. The ten repetition maximum table memory method was invaluable. You also conveyed the anatomy & physiology/ kinesiology in an easy way to comprehend.  As discussed before I failed both sections back on February the 5th.

When we accept critical feedback and respond in thoughtful ways, amazing things happen. I received the feedback and gave my response, and Ronald did the same. His response was to re-evaluate his approach – which changed everything.

Congratulations Ronald on your CSCS!

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Updates – Book tips, NSCA Lawsuit, and other

Posted by on Oct 30, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hi Everyone!
First I want to take the time to thank all of my readers and book purchasers. I do enjoy helping people learn, and this blog and my book have been a great medium to do that in.

First off I want to talk about the NSCA lawsuit, then some tips about what to do if you fail a section of the exam…to buy my book or not to buy it.

NSCA vs. Crossfit

A study was released in the NSCAs journal claiming participants in crossfit experienced a 16% rate of injury. After crossfit sued, investigated, deposed, litigated, and received sworn statements from the participants…it would appear some data were falsified and the NSCA has issued a correction to it’s study. Bad news for the NSCA, and disappointing for me and you. NSCA is a non-profit that works to disseminate good information about strength and coniditioning…but over the years I’ve seen a few things:

  1. The removal of all paper based practice exams (which used to cost about $65 in total for three practice exams)
  2. Moving to completely digital material (and an increase in price…which makes you wonder, it’s now cheaper to dole out as there is nothing to print, yet it costs more…hrmm)
  3. Updating of the textbook from 3rd to 4th edition, a classic move by book publishers to make more money so older editions aren’t resold & reused
 CSCS Practice Exams - No longer available in paper format. Instead you can buy $500 worth of online study material!

CSCS Practice Exams – No longer available in paper format. Instead for a meager $500 you can buy online material!

Yes, all these things could be completely benign. The cost hikes could all be going to pay for the web development of the online material, etc. But it does make you wonder…and now there is the lawsuit where clearly false claims were made.

But they are not-for-profit!

There are plenty of not-for-profits that manage to become corrupt. Increasing their own salaries is one, and i’m sure there are others

That being said, NSCA CSCS will still remain a sought after certification. Let’s hope the NSCA gets a bit of a wake up call to really go after their mission and remain true to scientific principles. Now, onto other topics!


If you have failed one section of the exam

DEFINITELY: Buy the book if you failed the science portion

BUY: If you failed the practical/applied by a small amount, because much of the practical applied hinges on a solid foundation in science. If you read the book cover to cover and don’t find it helpful, just ask for the refund and you’ll get it no questions ask. Do not send me a message 15minutes after buying the book asking for a refund, I’ll give it to you…but I’ll also give you crap for being lazy.

DO NOT: If you failed practical/applied by A LOT. This is where my book is weakest, which isn’t really surprising since I’m an engineer – science is where I’m strongest. Instead you should probably spend time in a gym, training people, shadowing a trainer. Watch people move their bodies. Then really work on the word problems/scenarios.

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Reader Question – Isokinetic CSCS Exam Questions

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Reader Question | 2 comments

When somebody buys my book, I always send them an email from my personal account telling them they should feel free to ask me any questions they might have. Yesterday I had a great question from one that I wanted to share with you guys. A fair number of people write to me after having not passed one of the portions – so I felt this was relevant.

I took the CSCS exam in July and failed unfortunately. I didn’t fail by much, but before I take the exam again, I want to master everything and not leave it up to hoping that I get a few more questions that are more up my alley.
I messed up on the Scientific Foundations and was significantly under-prepared for that. I figured my 2 years working as a trainer would be enough (along with just reading through the chapters), but it was not.
I failed the Exercise Science and Programming Section by just a few points, much to my surprise. I felt very comfortable with the content, and breezed through the section, but I believe my failing was due to messing up/confusing the  order of exercises when testing vs. when having athletes work out.
 The book, if I’m not mistaken, admits there is some leeway with order when administering evaluations, but in general, on p. 245 they list the accepted order. It just wasn’t entirely clear to me what the safest administration order is, and when you get a question where they give you a scenario, you can find two answers that are very similar and it’s hard to distinguish.
I also got tied up on some of their anatomy questions.
(side note, here’s my question for you: they use the term “isokinetic” quite a bit in the book, and on my test, but the book never EXPLICITLY defines it, as far as I could find. It seems it means “constant speed” in relation to exercises, but I had a number of questions on my exam that used the term and it didn’t always seem like “constant speed” was relevant)
Anyway, any insight you can share would be appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read this if you do.
My Response:
This happens fairly often in my experience, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Your second go around you have the right attitude for passing – mastery is the way to go. Going for “good enough” often results in failing by a small margin.
The isokinetic questions are there as a way to trip up people who don’t pay attention to details. Iso is a greek root for constant, kinetic is movement. So isokinetic is constant speed. There is no practical use for isokinetics – it’s purely a scientific exercise to find out more about muscles. You need a special device to do isokinetic testing, a device that can control the speed and adjust versus force output.
There’s a funny looking graph in the book that most people don’t understand on page 78. It tells us a lot about eccentric, concentric, extensors, and flexors and their relative strength under those different contractions. For example, flexors under an eccentric load are the strongest, especially at around -90deg/s.
Little niche topics like these are extremely important in the exam. They don’t take up a lot of space in the book, but they are confusing and frustrating. They take a lot more time to study. Spend a a lot of time on these topics and really get them down, because as you can tell the NSCA likes to get you on these. Commit that graph on page 78 to memory, be able to draw it on your scratch paper come exam day.
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I want to stress the need to strive for mastery, in all topics of the CSCS exam. Blowing sections off or glossing over parts that seem irrelevant is a quick way to burn some of your time and money not passing a section.
Always, always, always – I recommend at a bare minimum you should do the following in preparation:
-Read the whole book
-Do all 3 official NSCA practice exams
-Do every review question in the book twice
That’s how I did it. My book and other similar resources are supplemental.
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I’m a CSCS – Now What?

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in FAQs, Personal | 1 comment

I’m a CSCS – Now What?

People often ask me:

“What are you doing now that you have your CSCS?”

If I was in there shoes, I would want to know too. Taking the CSCS is a lot of work, and before you begin such an undertaking you should consider whether or not it would be worth it.

At the start of all our journeys to become a CSCS – we are all in different places. Some (like me) are switching careers and are looking for a way to establish ourselves as knowledgeable when it comes to strength and conditioning. Some of us need the certification in order to be employed as an S&C coach for the military, NCAA, or similar places of employment. Some, like Ryan Grella of are physical therapists and being a CSCS just makes sense for your job and career.

It all started five years ago…

For me it started when I got into training. I was bored of my desk job, bored of video games, bored of drinking and socializing. I wanted to build on something and improve myself – inspired by a friend of mine who got in shape doing P90X (yes, I know) I decided to learn how to get in shape & get strong. I started with a $50 set of adjustable dumbbells and a bodybuilding routine – and the changes came rapidly.


Working out 3x a week and changing your diet from complete and utter shit to something healthy can have a big effect in 6 weeks. Still had a long way to go, but from that point on I was hooked. I read everything I ran into online about strength training and tried any diet that made an ounce of sense or seemed plausible. I got stoked about it and wanted to share this passion with others – but I was just some dude who read a bunch of shit on the internet. So I thought I would get my CSCS, and I bought the book and practice exams. They ended up sitting around for a few years – between working, working out, playing video games and cooking I was too distracted.

A few years later I was pushing past intermediate levels of strength and hitting advanced in some lifts. Around this time I started getting injured – hamstring injury, back+abdominal injury, and finally a shoulder injury. I went to a sports medicine doc, physical therapy, massage therapists, and chiropractors. The results were ok, but took forever. Most of the time visits did a little bit, or close to nothing. I couldn’t really tell the difference sometimes whether it was just me resting or the work that was being done.

My First Experience with Bodywork

Fed up with injuries hampering my progress, I decided to try something new. Having heard of Active Release Techniques, I decided to give it a try. I looked up local practitioners and found a massage therapist who really seemed to know what he was doing: Thomas Wells. Using ART in combination a muscle testing techniques: Neurokinetic therapy my shoulder injury which I had been suffering with for 4 months was 80% better after one session. One session, $110 out of pocket…got me the results of 6 weeks of physical therapy & a dozen $20 copays. It was not only cheaper – it was faster. I was hooked, baffled, intrigued, and skeptical all at the same time.

The Transition

As I continued to get bodywork for my various ailments, I continued to ask questions about his techniques. It dawned on me that a happy, healthy, and fulfilling living could be had doing this work. Tired and bored of my desk job – i took the plunge. I quit, and lined up all of the following activities

  • Massage School
  • Active Release Techniques (lower, spine, upper) courses
  • Finishing my CSCS + writing on this blog + finishing the book
  • Neurokinetic Therapy

Fast forward to the present day

I’m working in a room right next to my mentor, Thomas Wells. Working on building my business and honing my techniques. Every day is different. Every client is different. Some cases baffle me, others are straightforward. The work is extremely fulfilling.

But at the same time it’s stressful. Learning how to run your own business is a challenge. You never really have “time off” – because you’re working for yourself. There’s always more to do. Learning how to cope with this is the major challenge. But that’s the point – i’m being challenged and growing.

Would I do it all again?

My CSCS certificate sits on my wall right next my ART Full body certification. It reminds me that I am an expert on strength and conditioning. Even though it is just a piece of paper, it boosts my self confidence – and in any service based business self confidence is key.

It also tells the client that when I assign them a corrective exercise for their ailment, that exercise is being chosen by someone knowledgeable.

I haven’t written on here in a while, and that’s mostly because i’m very busy. I’m working on my business website It’s all a work in progress

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The CSCS Exam – Math Questions (Answer)

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Exam Preparation, Practice Questions | 1 comment

See my previous post for background. Note that I did edit that post on 6/21.

The question is:

The collegiate training center is currently undergoing renovations and all 6 teams of 124 athletes need to share a smaller facility. You modify the facility arrangement to fit slightly more power racks – for a total of 7. The athletic director insists on every athlete maintaining their 1 hour of strength training. The training center is open 8 hours, but every athlete is pairing up and sharing racks operating at a 1:1 work:rest ratio. However, since you are using power racks assume that racking and re-racking weights will cause a 15% drop in efficiency in rack use.
The athletic director asks if you figured out a plan for the athletes, what do you tell him?
I. We can’t accommodate the athletes
II. We can accommodate the athletes
III. We need the facility open 1 more hour
IV. We need the facility open 4 more hours
A. II only
B. I only
C. II and III
D. II and IV

In questions like these, I like to think of it in terms of needs and resources


By needs I simply mean how many resources are required to get the task done. We have 6 teams and 124 athletes, but in this case we aren’t given any scheduling or segregation requirements between the teams – so the number 6 is irrelevant. Each athlete requires 1 hour of strength training, but will be pairing up and operating at 1:1 work:rest ratio. So in terms of time at the station they will only really need 30 minutes. However due to the 15% loss in efficiency due to racking and re-racking weights, each athlete will need closer to 35minutes. Multiply this number by 124 athletes and you get the total number of rack-minutes you need.


What my scratch paper might look like on exam day


The training center is open 8 hours, with 7 racks.

8 hours x 60min/1hour x 7 racks = 3360 rack-minutes. Notice again I like to keep descriptive “made up” units to describe the resources available. Rack-minutes are a resource just like any material resource that we use math to describe (8 six packs x 6beers/six pack = 48 beers, etc).

A quick comparison of our needs vs resources reveals 4340 – 3360 = 980 that we are still in need of 980 minutes of platform-minutes. If we look at the possible answers to the question, we can go back and calculate which option yields us the best answer.

1 additional hour gets us 1 hour x 60min x 7 stations = 420 minutes
4 additional hours gets us another 1680 minutes


More scribbles

See from the math that we really only need 980 extra minutes, somewhere between 2 and 3 hours. However since 3 hours isn’t an option, the correct answer is the one that BEST meets the objectives in question – 1 hour isn’t enough, and even though 4 hours is overkill – it’s the only answer that meets our needs. So the answer is D.

We can accommodate the athletes and
We need the facility open an additional four hours

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