Review Topics

Lean Mass is 2500kcal per pound, NOT 3500kcal

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Exercise Science, Review Topics | 0 comments

I had a discussion with a few people on the facebook study group page recently.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding this concept, and it’s because it isn’t highlighted very well in the book. In the very first paragraph on the top of page 224 it talks about the kcal requirements of lean mass being 2500kcal/lb, not the usual 3500kcal/lb. This has profound implications for many of the exercise science questions – I suggest you commit this fact to memory.

This distinction tripped me up for the longest time….

Due to me being at least a little bit OCD about understanding concepts and being honest with myself about what I know vs. don’t know, I had a question on a practice exam that I could not get the right answer to. I’m good at math – my numbers were right, they just weren’t coming up with the right answer. Convinced that the question itself couldn’t be wrong – I went back and re-read the question carefully….

“…assume all of the weight gained will be lean mass” — hrmm, I wonder why they would point this out? MAYBE LEAN MASS HAS A DIFFERENT REQUIREMENT…at least according to the NSCA.

So I pored back over chapter 10 and finally found it, unbolded, unhighlighted, hanging out inconspicuously on the aforementioned page 224.

According to the NSCA:

LEAN MASS = 2500kcal

FAT MASS = 3500kcal


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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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The Dreaded HAZIM – H-zones, A-bands, Z-lines, I-bands, and the M-line

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 in Exam Preparation, Exercise Science, Review Topics | 0 comments

HAZIM is the mnemonic device I’m using to remember all the various zones, lines, and bands related to a sarcomere.

As you’ll recall from my previous post we discussed how myosin fits inside multiple actin filaments much in the same way as a piston fits inside a cylinder.


Let’s look at the image from the wikipedia page on sarcomere:


Sarcomere. Source: Creative Commons

This image is very useful, but it misses the last portion of the mnemonic, M-line (or M-bridge, the NSCA book uses both terms).


Microscopic image of sarcomere with M-line called out

Now take a look back in the NSCA book, and you will find some images that give you a cross-sectional depiction of what each zone looks like.  Here is my re-creation of the various bands:


A-band I-band M-line

Keep in mind the A-Band image is operating under the assumption that we are looking at a portion of the A-band that has both actin and myosin filaments, if we look in the H-zone (myosin only) it would look the same minus the green circles.


I couldn’t come up with any better mnemonic than HAZIM, which I have included below superimposed over a Reddit rage face…who for the purposes of this page we can refer to as the character Hazim.


HAZIM – Now associated with a reddit rage face due to lack of creativity on my part


Anyways, if you know the word HAZIM, and you have a structural representation of a sarcomere in your brain…that is you know that actin has to be anchored somewhere, myosin has to be anchored somewhere, and you remember that myosin slides between actin filaments much like a piston in a cylinder, you should be able to recreate a drawing of a sarcomere on paper.

In fact, do that.  Now.  Use the HAZIM mnemonic to remember that there are different zones and lines that start with those letters, and then identify them on your drawing.  Two lines, Two bands, and 1 zone…should be easy enough =).

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What do Motors and Muscles Have in Common?

Posted by on Sep 27, 2013 in Exercise Science, Review Topics | 0 comments

I started this post a month ago, and it got hairy in a hurry.

I thought “hey, let’s start at the beginning and just do a quick post”.  Yeah things didn’t turn out that way.  It’s the images that take a while, and constructing a good analogy.
Section 1 Chapter 1 is titled: “Structure and Function of the Muscular, Neuromuscular, Cardiovascular, and Respiratory System.”

This chapter is a terrible intro into the science of strength and conditioning, but I understand why.  Starting with a chapter explaining how muscles work on microscopic level makes sense from an organization standpoint, but I can’t imagine the number of people who opened the book, read the first chapter, and set it on their shelf never to complete their CSCS.

You turn the page once and it’s immediately confusing.  I am not easily confused.  At least, as an electrical engineer, I like to think so….back in school I often had to deal with pretty abstract concepts.  But these pages take a while to absorb, so let’s break it down and hopefully elucidate what’s going on here…I think I finally have a good mental 3-d picture of what’s going on, I just need to associate these mental pictures with the term “H-zone” “I-band” and “A-band”.

We’ve been over motor-units and things of that nature, so if you don’t remember that…maybe review this post, and the ones before and after it.

This all comes down to how we can mentally picture two structural components of muscle: Actin & Myosin.  These are the two basic structural components & engines of what make muscles move.  Take a look in the book on page 6 and 7, and look at all the pictures they have drawn for actin and myosin.  Do this for 5 minutes and build up a visual, 3D understanding of what they look like.

Now let’s draw an analogy.

The Piston

In engineering, a lot of what we do is make approximations.  If you’ve ever taken calculus, a classic example is a Riemann sum.  What does this have to do with muscles?  Not much, except I think that a muscle fiber is a pretty good approximation of a piston or pneumatic cylinder.



Compare that with a simplified drawing of actin and myosin interacting in a muscle fiber:



It’s not too far of a leap:


Although instead of one muscle representing one cylinder, a single myofilament (which is just another subunit of a large muscle) is actually many many cylinders stacked around each other with many pistons operating at the same time.  Represented graphically:


Think of it like this, the material that creates the cylinder is the metal material that normally surrounds the piston and creates an airtight seal.  Though in a muscle it’s not continuous, but represented by individual strands of actin.

It makes little sense (or at least I can’t think of a reason) to design a real life engine this way, because you simply take up more space.  Furthermore, it complicates how you get gas in & out of the chamber.  You might as well just have one big cylinder.

But in the case of a muscle, it makes a lot of sense because the driving force isn’t the rapid expansion of a gas, it’s the cross bridging of actin and myosin.  The more actin and myosin cross bridging, the greater the force.


What are M-lines, I-bands, A-bands, H-zones, Z-lines?

The motor analogy is pretty simple, and gives you a good idea of what a very small section of muscle looks like…but it very quickly breaks down and doesn’t work when we look at the bigger picture and try to describe different areas of the filament interaction.

I’ll save all that for the next post!

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Mnemonic Device for Lever Classes

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Exercise Science, Review Topics, Study Strategy | 4 comments

This helpful mnemonic device comes from reader Jackson.  His biomechanics lab TA shared this one with him, and he in turn shared it with me via email.

Remember levers and their different lever classes?  Check out this post for a refresher.

Now, which is which?  1st class lever has the fulcrum, load, and effort applied to which ends?  To be honest, I’ve already forgotten.  I remembered when I wrote the original post on it, and probably remembered for a while afterwards…but use it or lose it.


Which lever class is which?

Which lever class is which?

Can you identify them?


If you had trouble with this, then you should read this piece from Jackson:

I just graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in kinesiology, and my next step is taking the CSCS exam which is in just a few hours for me. I started studying for the exam in May while working part-time as a personal trainer.

Your blog has helped me prepare quite a bit, so I thought I would share one of my tips.

My biomechanics lab TA showed me the mnemonic “FLE 123” for remembering lever classes. F = fulcrum, L = load, and E = effort. The fulcrum is in the middle for 1st class levers. The load or resistance is in the middle for 2nd class levers. And, the effort force is in the middle for 3rd class levers.

Hopefully, that helps you.

Pure gold!

This is a brilliant mnemonic device for remembering lever classes

This is a brilliant mnemonic device for remembering lever classes

The genius of this mnemonic lies in the symmetry.  Identifying the component in the middle of the lever is the only information necessary to identify the lever, as the other two components can be flipped and the lever still retains it’s class.  Effort-Fulcrum-Load is the same as Load-Fulcrum-Effort, they are both first class levers.

Prove it to yourself.  Pull out a piece of paper, and write down FLE 123.  Now draw the three classes of levers and fill in the middle item using the FLE123 mnemonic.  Fill in the rest.  You can do this on exam day on your scratch paper and will always have all three levers handy.

Thanks Jackson!

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