9 Tips For Nailing the CSCS Exam Like a Boss

I took the CSCS exam (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) in London back in 2013 and ​wanted to write down my thoughts on passing it.

Since I couldn't find a proper study guide for it anywhere on the interwebz and recently had a few people ask me how I prepared for ​my CSCS, I decided to come up with a few pointers so you'll go in ready for war like FDR and rock the test on your first try.


This guide will be to your exam success what his mojo is to Austin Powers' ability to be the international shag-master that he is.

What CSCS Exam?

The CSCS certification, provided by the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), is generally regarded as the "gold standard" of training certificates.

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5 Things I Learned About Making NHL Players Strong and Powerful at Prentiss Hockey Performance

Posing with Stanley Cup champ, MVP, 2x Art Ross winner and Olympic gold winner, Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers

Posing with Stanley Cup champ, MVP, 2x Art Ross winner and Olympic gold winner, Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers

I just wrapped up my one-week internship at Prentiss Hockey Performance in Darien, CT – a sports performance facility known for its top end pro hockey clientele.

I had the great opportunity to observe numerous NHL players (not to mention AHL and college players and guys who play in Europe) training for improved strength, power and conditioning.

And obviously I got to pick the brain of head honcho and owner, Ben Prentiss, on any training related question I could come up with. Ben was even nice enough to give me daily homework to ensure I got the most out of this fantastic experience.

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Strength & Conditioning World Tour 2014 – Part 6: Pitman, NJ

After two straight weeks of hopping from city to city making the rounds, I arrived at my final destination on my US tour – the small town of Pitman, New Jersey.

What brought me down here was not the chance to blow my humble travel budget at blackjack tables in Atlantic City or attending a seminar on how to look like a huge douchebag on national TV and make a million bucks while at it hosted by the Jersey Shore crew.

Oh well... maybe next time

Oh well… maybe next time

Instead, I opted to visit Endeavor Sports Performance – a sports performance facility mainly catering to the improvement of physical attributes of hockey players (though they have some baseball, basketball and soccer athletes as well) for 5 full days to get my learn on.

In practice this meant that I got to observe the workouts taking place at the gym throughout the day and ask questions from Kevin Neeld who is responsible for running the athletic development side at Endeavor.

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Advanced Bodyweight Training Strategies – Interview with Alex Zinchenko

Alex Zinchenko

Alex Zinchenko – author of Rough Strength Files

As you know, I’ve been traveling extensively all over the place in the past couple of months.

First it was Eric Cressey’s seminar on shoulder health & lower extremity mobility in Slovenia, then attending a bodyweight training seminar with Al and Danny Kavadlo in Germany, after that I went to one of the biggest S&C seminars of the year, visited some of the most established training facilities and coaches in the industry, observed how NHL players train in the off-season and so on…

At this rate I’ll soon be like a modern day Alexander with no worlds left to conquer.

The one thing that kept me sane (and healthy) between long flights and train rides, nights of subpar sleep and countless BLT’s was training.

Bodyweight training.

Since I had no time and intention to find a passable gym in every new city I visited, the only thing I could count on was utilizing a chin-up bar easily findable in most outdoor parks, and a pair of gymnastic rings I carried in my luggage eveywhere I went for short, intense training sessions.

During my trip in the US I stumbled upon a great book – Rough Strength Files: 42 Ideas on Low-Tech Strength Training – on minimalist training by a Ukrainian fella named Alex Zinchenko.

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Strength & Conditioning World Tour 2014 – Part 5: Darien, CT


After hopping through Providence and Boston, I landed in a small town called Darien – about an hour away from New York near Stamford, Connecticut.

If I told you that for many NHL players Darien, CT – a tiny community of 20 000 people – is THE PLACE to be during the summer months, what would you say? I wouldn’t be surprised if you called bullshit on that statement.

But the reason NHL’ers flock to Darien in droves lies in the fact that it’s home to Prentiss Hockey Performance – a 2000 square foot training facility run by strength coach Ben Prentiss, situated inside a former gas station just off I-95 that Prentiss converted into a gym some 15 years ago.

Ben is a relatively unknown guy (at least in the Internetland of strength & conditioning) because unlike many other trainers more concerned with building a huge internet presence, he actually prefers working with his athletes in the gym day in, day out.

Ben’s client list includes such names as two-time Art Ross winner Martin St. Louis, Stanley Cup winners Brad Richards and Jonathan Quick, 30-goal scorers Max Pacioretty, James van Riemsdyk and Matt Moulson, and a whole bunch of other pro hockey players in the NHL and in Europe.

Needless to say, there are not many people in the business who can match that roster.

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Strength & Conditioning World Tour 2014 – Part 4: Boston, MA

After the Perform Better Summit in Providence, my journey on the U.S. East Coast took me to Boston.

On my first day in the city I headed into the Sports Museum after a great early morning training session at the Charles River playground, which is a small park with various pull-up bars and other implements that allow joggers and other trainees to get in some bodyweight action while enjoying the beautiful Charles River scenery.

The Sports Museum is located neatly inside TD Garden where the Bruins play their home games.

View from the nosebleed section at TD Garden

View from the nosebleed section at TD Garden

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Strength & Conditioning World Tour 2014 – Part 3: Providence, RI

Sometime last year, I would be more precise but that would involve deep reflection and arithmetic, two things I am adamantly opposed to, I made the decision that 2014 would be the year I traveled the world, attended several seminars and talked face-to-face with some of the brightest minds in the strength & conditioning / fitness industry.

Not only that, I was determined to make it to the States this summer even if I had to cut off all my limbs and crawl there on my tongue. So after an 8-hour flight and a short stop in New York, I found myself at one of the biggest training seminars of the year with 1200 other attendees at the Perform Better Summit in Providence, Rhode Island.

To give you a glimpse into the quality of the speakers at the event, Mark Verstegen, who was supposed to give the first lecture at the seminar on Friday morning, had to cancel because he flew over to assist the German national football team at the World Cup in Brazil.

Boyle, Rooney, Cook, McGill... this pretty much reads like the who's who of fitness

Boyle, Rooney, Cook, McGill… this pretty much reads like the who’s who of fitness

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