Physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists help you feel your best by offering relief from pain, dysfunction, and overuse injuries. While it’s great to have access to these types of providers, it’s important to also work on one of the best ways to prevent injury in the first place: strength and conditioning.
A proper strength and conditioning plan can help the body to be more resilient to injury, functional, and stay strong through tough training blocks. Strength and conditioning should be a critical part to any athletic regimen, no matter your sport. Everyone can benefit from a thoughtful resistance-based routine.
Who qualifies as a “strength and conditioning specialist”?
There are thousands of so-called strength gurus out there, but it’s always safest to first consult with a certified strength and conditioning specialist, or a “CSCS.” CSCS-certified practitioners have taken the strength and conditioning exam and qualifications offered by and required by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
The NSCA backs its CSCS qualifications with updated science and best practices. Those wanting to become a CSCS must study for and pass the exam offered by the NSCA. You can see how this certification means a little more than just having a big Instagram following on a “fitness” account!
Many gyms, physical therapy and chiropractic practices, and even some coaches will likely know of a locally respected CSCS for you to link up with. Start by putting some feelers out in your community, and of course, check GritLink to see if a provider we have can work for you.
How can a CSCS help me?
CSCS can help you in a variety of ways, whether you’re looking to achieve stronger muscles in one area, a healthier body composition, or work through an injury.
Even if you aren’t looking to “bulk up,” strength and conditioning can help tremendously in ways an additional aerobic workout can’t. Strength and conditioning helps teach muscles to respond appropriately to stimuli like a foot strike or pedal stroke. Not all strength workouts are designed to result in bulky muscle formation. In fact, most strength workouts for endurance athletes are crafted rather to maintain that healthy response to repetitive stimuli.
If you’re injured, a CSCS can also help. Thanks to their knowledge of the anatomy and sports-related injuries, a CSCS can work with you and your medical provider to craft a strength and conditioning program that keeps your body functional while encouraging rehab of your injury. In fact, maintaining a safe strength program throughout injury can sometimes make your return to sport be sooner and stronger.
What to consider when talking with a CSCS
Just like with any provider, each CSCS will have a different philosophy and approach to strength training. It’s important to have an honest conversation with a strength and conditioning coach before committing to working with them.
- Ask them about their certifications. Do they have a degree in Exercise Science or Kinesiology? Have they passed their CSCS exam?
- Ask about personalization. How do they plan on tailoring a strength and conditioning program to your specific needs?
- Ask about their typical clientele. Do they usually work with endurance athletes or athletes in your sport? If yes, what has worked for other clients? If no, how do they plan on accommodating your unique athletic needs?
With winter coming soon and bringing with it some athletic downtime or an “offseason,” it’s a great time to consider crafting a strength and conditioning plan with a CSCS. Check out our GritLink strength and conditioning providers – many can work remotely with athletes who are out-of-state.
By Kristin Goett. Kristin is a social media marketing and public relations professional who currently resides in the Denver area. A triathlete herself, Kristin knows firsthand how important it is to have access to great providers. When she isn’t checking Instagram or posting to Facebook, Kristin is spending her days in the Colorado mountains and training for her next Ironman.
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