Before we move on the understand more about this specialization, we need to be clear on three things:
- Firstly, a certification won’t make you a strength & conditioning coach in India . Even if it is the best certification in the world, becoming a good strength coach, needs a lot of theoretical studies and practical hands on experience. But this is one specialization you can choose to move up your career.
- Second, as of now, in India, there are no institutes, colleges or Universities which provide a strength and conditioning specialization course. If someone is providing, then the course material & teaching faculty is way below the required standards.
- Third, a full-fledged college degree from a good international university abroad, would be a much better choice, anytime you opt to become a strength coach. This specialization needs time and detailed study of a lot of concepts under a qualified person.
Strength & Conditioning coach in India , unlike normal personal trainers, have a specific purpose and that is to help athletes attain optimum performance through strength training, exercise, and nutritional programs. They work primarily with athletes at all levels, as well as members of the general public who wish to improve their strength, speed, agility, and endurance.
As the science in human performance advanced in terms of research, the importance of strength & conditioning in high level competitive sports has taken a centre stage. But, where strength coaches form the backbone of most school, collegiate and pro sports competitions, and even in general fitness centres, the value of strength coaches is rarely recognized in India, even at level of pro athletes. It is very recently that certain sports and games have hired strength coaches to enhance the athletes performance and more importantly minimize injuries, which plagued the Indian sporting scenario quite badly.
Internationally, qualified strength coaches are always in great demand, and have great employment opportunities like universities, schools, fitness centres, physical therapy clinics, and with professional sport teams. Strength coaches, work in close coordination with sports coaches to develop systematic training programs for both teams and individual athletes. They are also employed by professional sports goods and equipment manufacturing companies.
The job of a strength coach is highly specialized and skilled, as the needs and demands vary from sport to sport, and athlete to athlete. Even in one sport, the needs of various athletes may vary. The most important aspect is not just performance enhancement, but safety i.e. injury prevention as the performance improves. Aim of the strength coach is to prevent athletes from getting injured during training, conditioning coaches must know the correct exercise and lifting techniques and be able to teach them to athletes.
Well this does not mean the skills of a strength coach are only for athletes. They can help general population in number of ways, for e.g. for building functional strength in people from various age groups, including kids, women and elderly. Also, there are separate specialization for training all of the above people.
Acc. to NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Organization), the profession involves the combined competencies of sport/exercise science, administration, management, teaching and coaching. The responsibilities and professional scope of practice for Strength & Conditioning professionals can be subdivided into two domains: ‘‘Scientific Foundations’’ and ‘‘Practical/ Applied’’:
- Exercise Sciences (Anatomy, Exercise Physiology, Biomechanics, etc)
- Program Design
- Exercise Technique
- Organization & Administration
- Testing & Evaluation
Of course everything starts from education, and formal education is a primary requirement to become a strength coach. As I said, a proper university degree and hands on training would be much better than a certification, but nevertheless, one can gain similar expertise by enhancing his/her knowledge by following a proper path, which involves not certification (that is the start), but reading number of books, research studies etc. for life.
There are many strength & conditioning courses and certifications around the world, but as we have discussed before that, we will limit our search and recommendations to the courses available for strength & conditioning coach in India. But as I said before, these certifications are just the beginning, as we will later discuss what all books you need to read after you have done your basic strength & conditioning certification.
Here are the top choices. In fact, these are the only certifications available in India which you can do. There are otherwise a number of top strength & conditioning degree courses and certifications which can be done outside India. Also, the certifications discussed too have less in common with each other and no one is less in terms of quality than the other:
- NSCA CSCS (NATIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION – CERTIFIED STRENGTH & CONDITIONING SPECIALIST)
- NASM PES (NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SPORTS MEDICINE – PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT SPECIALIST)
- ISSA SCC (INTERNATIONAL SPORTS SCIENCE ASSOCIATION –STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH)
NSCA CSCS (NATIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION – CERTIFIED STRENGTH & CONDITIONING SPECIALIST)
Probably the most well-known and acclaimed strength & conditioning certification around the world. Acc. to NSCA, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance. They conduct sport-specific testing sessions, design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs and provide guidance regarding nutrition and injury prevention. CSCS has a strong base of strength & conditioning as theory.
The preparation of this certification needs time and a thorough study and understanding of the concepts. For giving the exam, you need to have a bachelor’s degree (not necessary an exercise science/medical degree) from a recognized institute, a hand-on adult CPR-AED certification. You do not need a general CPT (certified personal trainer) certification to do a CSCS certification.
The CSCS exam is comprised of two sections that test the candidate’s knowledge in the Scientific Foundations and Practical/Applied areas.
– Scientific Foundations – 80 scored and 15 non-scored multiple-choice questions
– Practical/Applied – 110 scored and 15 non-scored multiple-choice questions.
The pass rate was 56% for first-time candidates attempting both sections of the CSCS exam in 2018. Candidates must pass both sections and meet all other eligibility requirements within 1-year from initial exam date.
For preparation there are two main books, of which the “Essentials of Strength Training & Conditioning” acts as the primary book for study and reference and “Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training” as a reference book. This is along with other study material and practice tests.
To know the cost of NSCA CSCS, please refer to its official website: https://www.nsca.com.
NASM PES (NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SPORTS MEDICINE – PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT SPECIALIST)
Another brilliant certification, and quite distinct from the NSCA CSCS certification, as it has a major focus on sports training. It is based on NASMs popular optimum performance training model (OPT) that they use in their general personal training certification. In fact one should not be comparing it with CSCS as both have extremely unique features.
Acc. to NASM, he NASM Performance Enhancement Specialization will prepare you to work with clients at any level from youth sports to professional athletes. The advanced knowledge and skills gained from the NASM-PES program will help you improve client athletic performance, especially their power, speed, agility and quickness.
For giving the NASM PES exam, you should hold either the NASM CPT or an NCCA/DEAC/NBFE accredited general CPT, or a four-year college degree.
For preparation there is one big book, along with other study material and practice tests. To know the cost of NASM PES, please refer to its official website: https://www.nasm.org
ISSA SCC (INTERNATIONAL SPORTS SCIENCE ASSOCIATION –STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH)
ISSA SSC is the easiest of the above certifications and can be done entirely online which makes it very attractive to some. To obtain the ISSA strength and conditioning certification you need to be at least 18 years old, a school pass out and have an adult CPR/AED certification.
For preparation there is one big book, along with other study material and practice tests. To know the cost of ISSA SSC, please refer to its official website: https://www.issaonline.com. The ISSA SSC certification manual has recently been revised and the course content is quite extensive.
In my opinion NSCA CSCS & NASM PES stand among the top certifications for strength & conditioning coach in India. Both are quite different as CSCS has a strong strength & conditioning component involved and PES, has a sports training component involved, based on the NASM OPT model.
But, as I said before, this is just the start for a strength coach. There are number of books and research studies you need to go through to really reach a good level of expertise as a strength coach.