Posts Tagged "CSCS Exam"

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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Reader Question: Late Support Phase of Sprinting

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Reader Question | 0 comments

I got a question today, but the question had pretty specific text and references to NSCA copyrighted material. On top of that, it references a diagram in the textbook…so you can see I have a number of challenges in explaining this material. So this is not a direct quote from the reader, but the text has been changed.

Hey! I got a question regarding the late support phase of running. The question asks what muscle action is acting to propel the runners center of gravity forward. (Text Figure 17.6 p 465-67)

Great question, and I know for a fact that this portion of the book was a little bit confusing for me too. Sometimes my intuition about what’s going on during sprinting wasn’t spot on, part of this is that static diagrams don’t help as much as you would think when you are thinking about high-velocity sprinting.

First let’s think about some of the key concepts from the question:
muscle action – concentric, isometric, eccentric
propel – drive, push, or cause to move in a particular direction, typically forward (google definition)

This question is tricky because a lot of things can propel your center of gravity forward. If you are standing straight and then raise your right knee (concentric hip flexion) your center of gravity just shifted forward a little bit.

So let’s take a look at a diagram I made. I sketched this out by hand from the book (for copyright reasons I’m not using the original) but the book also reprinted this with permission from Track and Field: The East German Textbook of Athletics by Schmolinsky (1).

Five Phases of Sprinting

Figure 1

Questions like these aren’t easy to answer. You can look at the diagram and come up with the wrong answer. Why? The diagram kinda sucks. It doesn’t fluidly show the entire late support phase on one foot. You have to follow the right foot at early support  phase (iv) and then switch to the left foot on the other side of the diagram for late support (v) phase. Would be nice to have a good drawing of the transition from the early to late support phase on the same foot. If any of you are drawers and can make a good drawing of this, let me know! I did an internet search, but most of the diagrams out there are wrong and involve heel striking – a blatant error in running technique.

ANYWAYS – back to the question at hand:

Think about the three muscle actions (isometric, eccentric, or concentric), which ones involves propulsion?
Concentric, of course. Isometric is for stabilizing or holding still, eccentric is for absorbing force or decelerating, and concentric is for movement (this might be an oversimplification…but I can’t think of a counter example at the moment).

Now look closely at the late support phase (v) and you’ll notice a few things happening:

  • Right leg moving forward (concentric hip flexion)
  • Right knee angle opening up (concentric knee extension)
  • Left side of hip going into extension (does this mean concentric hip extension perhaps? or eccentric?)
  • Left knee heading from slightly flexed to extended (concentric knee extension)

This is tricky. 

The two key frames are here:


Figure 2


Let’s get rid of half the possibilities with this argument. Your right side isn’t touching the ground, and since you are already at speed moving your right leg forward is more about getting in position to land for the next foot strike than doing anything for your velocity. So we are left with

  • Is the R-hip in going into concentric flexion? 
  • Is the R-knee going into concentric extension? 
  • Left side of hip going into extension (does this mean concentric hip extension perhaps? or eccentric?)
  • Left knee heading from slightly flexed to extended (concentric knee extension)

Working from top to bottom still, let’s try and figure out if the hip is going into extension eccentrically or concentrically. 

For a moment, let’s think of the leg as a pendulum.

Fig 3 – Oscillating Pendulum – Source: Creative Commons

Notice that when the pendulum reaches horizontal, it’s horizontal velocity is maximum and horizontal acceleration zero.

Now think of your leg as this pendulum. Sure the comparison isn’t perfect, because your leg has muscles and can move actively — but there are also a lot of similarities. Both are at rest horizontally (if rest is considered standing), their equilibrium point is the same, the points where they reach maximal and minimal velocity are the same. Acceleration points may be different, but figuring that out becomes a complex bio dynamics problem.

Let’s review what we know about the left hip (from Figure 2) in the late support phase:

  • It’s past it’s point of maximal velocity, just like the pendulum when it has swung to the left side
  • Since it was at maximal velocity, and is headed towards minimum velocity it must be slowing down (decelerating)

In order for that to happen, you must be in eccentric hip flexion. Your illiacus, psoas, and rectus femoris are actively contracting yet lengthening in order to slow that leg down. Since that is the definition of eccentric muscle action, it is not contributing significantly to forward propulsion.

Thus, only one answer remains:

  • Is the R-hip in going into concentric flexion? 
  • Is the R-knee going into concentric extension? 
  • Left side of hip going into extension (does this mean concentric hip extension perhaps? or eccentric?)
  • Left knee heading from slightly flexed to extended (concentric knee extension)

But, there is one more piece I missed from the initial observations:

Figure 4 - Ankle angle opening up in plantar flexion

Figure 4 – Ankle angle opening up in plantar flexion

Concentric knee extension and concentric plantar flexion both contribute to forward propulsion.
Eccentric hip flexion doesn’t propel you, but it gets you ready for the next stride.

These types of questions are tricky. Recreate them by running yourself and thinking about which muscles are contracting, and in what way. Sometimes figuring these things out requires a lot of sitting around and thinking, and if that’s not your thing just memorize the table.


(1) Schmolinsky, G., ed. Track and Field: The East German Textbook of Athletics.  Toronto: Sport Books.  1993.*
*neither the author or publisher were contacted for use of this sketch, please contact me if you wish to have it taken down

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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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CSCS Practice Exam – Volume 2

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Practice Exams | 0 comments

Volume 2

CSCS Practice Exam – Volume 2

Ah, finally I get to do something more substantial.  The practice exams are great, and are a great way to break up studying.  After completing practice exam volume 1 near the start of this journey, I spent a lot of time and published a lot of posts through my review process.  To be honest creating a post on study topics isn’t the best way for me to study.  Like I said previously, I study best by understanding underlying principles and extrapolating from the principles and creating blog posts isn’t necessarily conducive to that.  So it’s good to break up the studying with a re-evaluation, which is why I’m excited to bring you the results of CSCS Practice Exam – Volume 2!

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Exercise Science Review 1-5, Levers and Mechanical Advantage

Posted by on Jan 19, 2013 in Exercise Science, Review Topics | 0 comments

This is perhaps one of the most challenging topics of the Exercise Science section.  In physics class, I always forgot whether a lever was class I, class II, or class III.  On top of this, you need to know points of origin of muscles and where they insert.  Basically, you have to know Anatomy AND Physics, two topics renowned for their difficulty…though I am exaggerating.  These are really two subtopics of both fields, and we should be able to get through them just fine with some careful thinking and good images (lol @ my photoshop skills).

To fully understand this post, you may need to review what Torque is, what a Lever is, and what Mechanical Advantage (or leverage) is.


  • Class I – A lever in which the load (dumbbell for example), and the applied force (by muscle in this case) act on the same side of the fulcrum.
  • Class II – A lever in which the load and the applied force act on the same side of the fulcrum, with the applied force having greater mechanical advantage (a longer moment-arm) than the load.
  • Class III – A lever in which the load and the applied force act on the same side of the fulcrum, with the applied force having lower mechanical advantage than the load (and thus a shorter moment arm).
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