Posts Tagged "Strength Training"

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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Chapter 14 – Resistance Training and Spotting Techniques

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in Exercise Technique, Review Topics | 0 comments

Instead of covering topics on specific questions I missed, I decided to cover an entire chapter this time.  Chapter 14 is fairly short, and a fair deal of it is just diagrams of different exercises, what muscle groups they utilize, and how to correctly perform them.  Fortunately I know a great online resource for that, more on that later.


There are a number of different ways to grasp the bar, you should know about these because they can have different effects on muscle activation

  • Pronated / Overhand – Palms facing down or away from you
  • Supinated / Underhand – Palms facing up or towards you
  • Neutral Grip – Halfway between the two, palms facing towards each other
  • Hook Grip – Instead of wrapping your thumb around and over your other fingers, you wrap your fingers around your thumb.  This allows you to pick up more weight than you may have otherwise been able to.
  • Open / False Grip – Any grip in which you do not wrap the thumb around the bar, also known as the “suicide grip” during the bench press

Five Point Body Contact Position

When performing exercises on a bench, with your back on the bench the NSCA book calls out a specific stable position you should always maintain.  Since this takes up the majority of their section on stability and positioning, you should probably know it for the CSCS exam.

  1. Head is placed firmly on the bench
  2. Shoulders and upper back are firmly and evenly on the bench
  3. Buttocks are evenly and firmly positioned
  4. Left foot on the floor
  5. Right foot on the floor


Holding your breath during an exercise has a fancy name, called the Valsalva Manuever.  The maneuver greatly increases the stability of your trunk by increasing the pressure in your abdomen, which stabilizes your entire upper body by creating a rigid, fluid filled “ball” if you will of high pressure.  Think of it like any normal ball, when it’s filled to the max it’s more “stable” that is, you could stand on it easier or do anything off it easier with more stability.  If it’s not full, it’s less stable.

This doesn’t come without drawbacks, as holding your breath through a sticking point in a heavy exercise will increase your blood pressure.  The NSCA recommends only holding your breath for 1-2 seconds so as to minimize the negative effects.

Weight Belts

Short version: they help make your valsalva maneuver more effective; they get the ball more rigid. However using the belt also removes the opportunity to train the core simultaneously during the exercises you use it on.


This section I found a little excessive, but nonetheless it is a necessary one to know.  I’m going to try and break this section down into a few salient points:

  • Always spot closer to the weight on dumbbell exercises
  • Don’t spot power movements
  • Use more spotters for heavier loads
  • For complex heavy movements the spotters should be at least as strong and experienced as the athlete

Resistance Training Exercises

The NSCA book contains an extensive section going over a variety of exercises.  There is a great online resource for this:

There’s a huge amount of detail, including a muscle map, an exercise and muscle directory.  If you need to know what muscles an exercise uses, or what exercises to use to grow a certain muscle, is a fantastic resource.

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Should I Become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)?

Posted by on Jan 1, 2013 in CSCS Prerequisites, FAQs | 1 comment

Certifications for any specialized discipline confer a degree of authority on the subject matter they cover.  In the case of the CSCS – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, you are conveying a number of things:

  • You know the science behind strength and conditioning training
  • You have some basic knowledge of nutritional requirements for athletics
  • You are generally well educated (requires a bachelors degree)
  • You can handle emergency situations (AED and CPR also required)

This gives you a bit of a leg up on some other certifications.  The NASM certification for example, requires no college degree and exam preparation materials cost more.  As part of signing up for the CSCS you automatically become a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Assocaition (NSCA) and receive monthly publications pertaining to the world of Strength and Conditioning.

Coming from a science and math background myself this science-bias plus the monthly publication appeals to me.  If you are like me, and looking for a career change towards the fitness industry then the CSCS might be a great option for you.

Read all of this with a grain of salt, as I am NOT YET certified!  I started this website as a study guide, as I learn about the CSCS and the material it tests for I will write about it here and hopefully it helps you!

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