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 Book is Finished!

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Book, Exam Preparation, Exercise Science, Exercise Technique, Facility Management, Nutrition, Org & Administration, Personal, Program Design, Review Topics | 7 comments

Wow – talk about the biggest project I have ever undertaken. I’m glad to be done, but at the same time I feel like I could’ve kept going… I’ll have to save those thoughts for a later edition.

Book stats:

Page Count: 104 pages
Word Count: 16,663 words
Image/Diagram Count: 56

The Ultimate Guide to the CSCS Exam

 Table of contents preview:

  • Disclaimer
  • Preface
  • About the Author
  • Materials You Will Need
    • Cost Breakdown
    • Exam Breakdown
  • Part 1 – Scientific Foundations
    • Exercise Science
      • The Sliding Filament Theory Revisited
      • Statics of the Human Musculoskeletal System
      • More Statics: Levers and Mechanics
      • Gender Differences
      • Muscle Twitch
      • Humans: A Hybrid Energy System
      • The Physics of Human Motion
      • Key Anatomy Points
    • Nutrition
      • Protein
      • Carbohydrates
      • Fat
      • Hydration
      • Food Disorders
  • Part 2 – Practical & Applied Knowledge
    • Exercise Technique
      • Fundamental Rules
      • Handgrips
      • Five-Point Body Contact Position
      • Breathing & the Valsalva Maneuver
      • The Five Phases of Sprinting
    • Program Design
      • The Seven Steps of Program Design
      • Cycles and Periodization
    • Organization and Administration
      • Facility Specifications
    • Testing and Evaluation
      • Memorization of the Mean
      • Statistics Review
    • Conclusion and Final Thoughts


Pricing and other thoughts

I’ve priced the book at $27 – I feel this is justified given the amount of unique content I’m providing.

This is not a rehashing of the NSCA book, this is not an outline, it’s high quality content that will set you back less than the price of one online practice exam from the NSCA. As I get feedback I plan on editing and updating the book – purchasing this book at any time entitles you to all future updates. As I said in my previous post the pricing will always be the cheapest possible when you buy it, because it’s only going to go up as I add and update the content.

And with that, I know a bunch of you are scheduled to take the exam in the next month or two. Good luck to you, and I hope my book helps. As always, feel free to contact me via email with any questions, clarifications, or criticisms.

Buy my book!


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My CSCS Exam Results!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Exam Preparation, Personal | 6 comments

I’ll cut to the chase in case you don’t want to read the fluff: I passed. But man, today was a pretty stressful day.  I woke up at 6:30 and took care of, fed, and played with my son until around 10:30 when his grandma arrived.  I ate a small breakfast and then left.

11:30 – Arrive in San Francisco
11:30 to 1:30 – Find parking, drink some coffee, get some last minute studying in
1:30 to 3 – CSCS Exam Section 1
3 to 4:45 – CSCS Exam Section 2 (finished ~ 40 min early)

All in all it was pretty stressful.  I haven’t taken any tests with this kind of pressure in more than 6 years, and none of those tests had direct monetary consequences attached to them.  Retaking the CSCS exam is not cheap, especially not in the time investment end of things.

On top of that stress, just the general anxiety around taking exams, and the rather public nature of me taking this test.  With the blog, twitter, facebook…it felt like a very public test.  What if my strategy for studying was all wrong?  What if I focused on all the wrong things? During the exam, things were still pretty stressful.  A fair number of curve balls and things I could swear I did not encounter anywhere in the book or practice exams.  And again, a few things that I got, but felt were unfair to ask someone who only had the NSCA book as reference and not a deeper understanding of anatomy.

On a more positive note, the past three weeks of studying have been very effective.  Particularly on the last few things I focused on memorizing that are the key to a lot of the practical/applied questions.  I’m looking forward to sharing these with you guys when I regain some motivation, as I am currently tapped out.

I’ve always been open about my results on practice exams, what I’ve done wrong, what I’ve done right, etc.  To that end, I want to be share exactly how I did on the actual exam.  I’m pretty excited about how I did, because I felt that it was going to be a lot closer.  Goes to show that you can be pretty iffy on a lot of questions, but with good guesswork still do just fine. Without further ado:



During the electronic test, you gotta take a photo of yourself.  This shows up in the upper right hand of your screen, I assume to let you know where your seat is in case you step out for a bathroom break….though I found it kind of distracting at time having my ugly mugshot staring at me in the upper right hand corner..haha.

Anyways, I’m really happy I took the electronic exam so I got my results immediately.  As soon as I was done they queued a job at a printer nearby and the proctor handed me the results.

In the end this is just one step in the multi-month process that is me changing my career path, but so far it has been one of the more challenging things to study for and learn. I want to assure you all, that this is NOT my last post.  I’m looking to continue developing this website as a resource for people looking to better their careers in the field of strength and conditioning.  “Everyone Stronger” as the NSCA would say =)

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Front Squat PR!

Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 in Personal | 0 comments

I’m going to interrupt my series on program design to toot my own horn here.  Yesterday was my birthday and my beautiful wife told me I could do whatever I wanted.  So I worked out a bunch, ate a bunch, and generally had an awesome time.  Such an awesome time in fact, that I hit a new PR on my front squat:

I started this fitness journey almost 3 years ago, in May of 2010.  I’ve made a lot of progress and had my share of injuries and setbacks, and through it all I’ve learned so much.  I’m hoping one day I can help other people start their own journeys.  Cheers!


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Maintaining your Body with Kelley Starrett on Creative Live

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Mobility, Personal | 0 comments

If you are in the fitness industry (or in my case, aspiring to be) I hope you have heard of mobilitywod.  It has changed my life.  Really.

Mobilitywod’s owner, Kelley Starrett is the founder of San Francisco Crossfit and is a Doctor of Physical Therapy.  His mantra, that “every athlete should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves” is a powerful one.  His site has over 500 videos of various techniques to increase mobility and athletic power.

That’s my pitch for mobilitywod.  Now let’s talk about his Creative Live event.

Tomorrow, January 30, 2013 kicks off a two day video series titled “Maintaining Your Body”.  The live event is free, sign up here.

I will be trying to study while watching this and taking care of my son over the next two days, so I may not get any extra CSCS studying updates finished until it’s over.  However, I think taking a break for this opportunity is well worth it and you should too.  If you don’t watch the live event it’s available after the fact for $99.  Enjoy!

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