I was recently asked what the differences were between personal trainers,certified personal trainers and strength coaches. My verbal answer was fairly short, todays blog is the longer version and in completely my own opinion. (1)
A good strength coach is a teacher.
We teach our athletes how exercises are properly performed. We understand the difference between exercise TECHNIQUE, FORM and STYLE. Page 123 of the CPT book (or any exercise book for that matter) shows the technique. Things go far deeper than page 123.
Once the basic technique is grasped, we work with the individual to determine the form and style that works best for them. Since no two people possess the same physical qualities, no two will share the same form.
Good coaches know this, bad coaches force everybody to lift the same way, which is either how the technique was described on page 123 of the CPT book, as visually memorized on YouTube, how the trainer has always done it or represents the limit of what the trainer presently knows.
Fact: Even the same athlete will not completely replicate the same exercise twice in a row, although they might look highly consistent from an external view. The best ones seem to be the best at compensating for this.
We understand that a good training for one person could be damaging to another. We further understand that this applies to the softer skills. Even if age,experience and gender were matched, extroverts and introverts benefit from different approaches.
We can understand that there are no contraindicated exercises, just contraindicated individuals, and we can program exercise selections best suited to the individual based on that knowledge.
We look past the external view of the individual, and consider the internal view of things, what is happening inside the body during an exercises execution?
When needed,we can adapt and modify on the fly.
We have critical thinking skills along with an open-mind. Both are requirements to determine what works best for a given individual.
We put aside time and money for our own education, and we never graduate. We know our scope of practice, and the depths and limits of our skills and abilities.
(1) Unlike Physical Therapists (DPT/PT), Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT) and Registered Dietitians (RD), Personal Training is not a protected title.
I am aware of some internal policing done where individuals claimed particular qualifications/specializations and were outed by others that actually held the credentials.
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) vs Personal Trainer. A CPT has passed a certification exam from one of the numerous credentialing bodies, which on average are valid for 1-4 years and require a specified amount of continuing education credits to maintain.
A personal trainer has not taken any type of exam nor is held to maintaining an educational minimum. This difference in and of itself does not mean the trainer is bad nor does being certified mean the trainer is necessarily good. The CPT exams vary widely in terms of difficulty, with some having relatively high failure rates and others meant to be easily passed.
A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) has met two requirements: (A) The hold a minimum of a bachelors degree (any field of study) and (B) completed the NSCA CSCS examination. The CSCS is often considered the minimum qualification required to work with professional and collegiate athletes, however there are many well-regarded coaches without the CSCS designation doing the same.
A Strength Coach may, or may not hold a CSCS,CPT or any other credential. There are individuals that “self-award” themselves this title, while having no experience in the matter.