Strength and conditioning coach

Last updated

A strength and conditioning coach is a fitness and physical performance professional who uses exercise prescription to improve the performance of competitive athletes. [1] This is achieved through the combination of strength training and aerobic conditioning, alongside a variety of further methods. Strength and conditioning coaches also help athletes with injury prevention and proper mechanics within their sports performances. [2]

Physical fitness state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports, occupations and daily activities

Physical fitness is a state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports, occupations and daily activities. Physical fitness is generally achieved through proper nutrition, moderate-vigorous physical exercise, and sufficient rest.

Exercise prescription commonly refers to the specific plan of fitness-related activities that are designed for a specified purpose, which is often developed by a fitness or rehabilitation specialist for the client or patient. Due to the specific and unique needs and interests of the client/patient, the goal of exercise prescription should be focused on motivation and customization, thus making achieving goals more likely to become successful. The prescription of exercise came about because of the major impact that exercise can have on our health and the many benefits it brings to our body. Exercise benefits our mind, body and emotional state. It can also benefit our social life as well. Exercising daily can help to prevent various illnesses, which is another reason why physicians prescribe exercise to their patients. Many people don't get the adequate amount of exercise or don't exercise at all which leads to them contracting harmful ailments.

Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.


Employment characteristics

A strength and conditioning gym Australian Opals in the AIS Strength and Conditioning Gym during day three of the Opals camp.jpg
A strength and conditioning gym

Strength and conditioning coaches may work with sports teams, as well as individuals. Strength and conditioning coaches are often employed by higher education institutions and professional athletic teams.

Higher education Academic tertiary education, such as from colleges and universities

Higher education is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after completion of secondary education. Often delivered at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, conservatories, and institutes of technology, higher education is also available through certain college-level institutions, including vocational schools, trade schools, and other career colleges that award academic degrees or professional certifications. Tertiary education at non-degree level is sometimes referred to as further education or continuing education as distinct from higher education. The right of access to higher education is mentioned in a number of international human rights instruments. The UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 declares, in Article 13, that "higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education". In Europe, Article 2 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, adopted in 1950, obliges all signatory parties to guarantee the right to education.

Strength and conditioning coaches have the option to specialize in a particular sports team, type of performance, training type, training philosophy, or work in the collegiate level, where they are assigned a sport. The general description and duty of a strength and conditioning coach is to develop an exercise prescription plan that modulates aerobic, resistance, and/or flexibility training to suit the metabolic and physical demands of the sport in question. [1] With aerobic exercise prescription, strength and conditioning coaches determine the type, duration, and frequency of each exercise. For resistance exercise prescription, the type of exercise, total session volume, rest period, frequency, and intensity are determined. [3] They may also be involved in prescription of stretching routines or other approaches. Nutrition and medical consultation are not within their scope of practice and training qualifications.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. "Aerobic" means "relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen", and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time. What is generally called aerobic exercise might be better termed "solely aerobic", because it is designed to be low-intensity enough so that all carbohydrates are aerobically turned into energy.

Stretching form of physical exercise where a muscle is stretched to improve it

Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility, and range of motion. Stretching is also used therapeutically to alleviate cramps.

Nutrition is the science that interprets the interaction of nutrients and other substances in food in relation to maintenance, growth, reproduction, health and disease of an organism. It includes food intake, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism, and excretion.

Qualification standards

United States

In the US, The National Strength and Conditioning Association offers a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach qualification that is required for positions in the field.[ citation needed ] In addition to the C.S.C.S. certification, it is encouraged to attain a bachelor's degree in majors that are related to exercise science due to the competitiveness of the field. [4]

The Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches association also offers certification exclusive to the collegiate and professional-level strength and conditioning coach. This certification is known as Strength & Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) and requires a bachelor's degree and a 640-hour internship in addition to passing the certification exam. [5]

United Kingdom

Strength and conditioning in the UK is generally overseen by the UK Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) and the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS). Both organisations provide regulations and standards for employers and professionals. A UKSCA membership and Bachelor's degree in sport and exercise science are generally accepted by many professional sports clubs as prerequisites for strength and conditioning positions. As well as the UKSCA and REPS, 1st4sport Qualifications offer standardised training in accordance with other official National Governing Body qualifications.


The implementation of effective strength and conditioning programmes has led to an increase in speed and strength. [6] [7] [8] Research has demonstrated that not only does training improve performance but incorrect training (distance running, a slow-twitch muscle fiber activity, in football athletes with fast-twitch characteristics) can cause decrements to performance. Using techniques such as plyometrics in some high-power athletes and sports-specific movements in others, strength coaches may improve physical function and athletic performance. [9]


Plyometrics, also known as jump training or plyos, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength). This training focuses on learning to move from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid or "explosive" manner, such as in specialized repeated jumping. Plyometrics are primarily used by athletes, especially martial artists, sprinters and high jumpers, to improve performance, and are used in the fitness field to a much lesser degree.


Criticism has followed the increased use of strength and conditioning coaches in a variety of sports due to the shift in importance to the size and speed of the players. In rugby union, a game with heavy physical contact and minimal[ clarification needed ] protection, players are being described as being "too big", creating collisions that are increasing the risk of short and long term injuries. [10] Further, it has been proposed that the increased weight and speed of players and subsequent rise of collision force leads to more frequent and severe concussion injuries. [11] [12]

However, there is as yet no research to suggest an increased use of strength and conditioning leading to an increased risk of injury.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Weight training common type of strength training

Weight training is a common type of strength training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It utilizes the force of gravity in the form of weighted bars, dumbbells or weight stacks in order to oppose the force generated by muscle through concentric or eccentric contraction. Weight training uses a variety of specialized equipment to target specific muscle groups and types of movement.

Personal trainer fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction

A personal trainer is an individual certified to have a varying degree of knowledge of general fitness involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. Trainers also measure their client's strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments. These fitness assessments may also be performed before and after an exercise program to measure their client's improvements in physical fitness. They may also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellness besides exercise, including general health and nutrition guidelines.


Kinesiology is the scientific study of human or non-human body movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, biomechanical, and psychological dynamic principles and mechanisms of movement. Applications of kinesiology to human health include biomechanics and orthopedics; strength and conditioning; sport psychology; methods of rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy; and sport and exercise. Studies of human and animal motion include measures from motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of muscle and brain activity, various methods for monitoring physiological function, and other behavioral and cognitive research techniques.

Anaerobic exercise

Anaerobic exercise is a physical exercise intense enough to cause lactate to form. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power and by body builders to build muscle mass. Muscle energy systems trained using anaerobic exercise develop differently compared to aerobic exercise, leading to greater performance in short duration, high intensity activities, which last from mere seconds to up to about 2 minutes. Any activity lasting longer than about two minutes has a large aerobic metabolic component.

Sports science is a discipline that studies how the healthy human body works during exercise, and how sport and physical activity promote health and performance from cellular to whole body perspectives. The study of sports science traditionally incorporates areas of physiology, psychology, anatomy, biomechanics, biochemistry and biokinetics. Sports scientists and performance consultants are growing in demand and employment numbers, with the ever-increasing focus within the sporting world on achieving the best results possible. Through the study of science and sport, researchers have developed a greater understanding on how the human body reacts to exercise, training, different environments and many other stimuli.

Overtraining occurs when a person exceeds their body's ability to recover from strenuous exercise. Overtraining can be described as a point where a person may have a decrease in performance and plateauing as a result of failure to consistently perform at a certain level or training load; a load which exceeds their recovery capacity. People who are overtrained cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is also known as chronic fatigue, burnout and overstress in athletes. It is suggested that there are different variations of overtraining, firstly monotonous program over training suggest that repetition of the same movement such as certain weight lifting and baseball batting can cause performance plateau due to an adaption of the central nervous system which results from a lack of stimulation. A second example of overtraining is described as chronic overwork type training where the subject may be training with too high intensity or high volume and not allowing sufficient recovery time for the body. Up to 10% of elite endurance athletes and 10% of American college swimmers are affected by overtraining syndrome.

Complex training, also known as contrast training or post-activation potentiation training, involves the integration of strength training and plyometrics in a training system designed to improve explosive power. According to Jace Derwin:

Strength training and plyometric training are both effective measures for increasing athletic performance independent of each other, but a true program designed for power-based athletes needs to incorporate both disciplines. A study done in 2000 in the NSCA's Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research measured three different training protocols: strength training, plyometric training, and a combination of both. The group that used combined methods was the only group that showed significant increases in BOTH strength and power.

A vertical jump or vertical leap is the act of raising one's center of mass higher in the vertical plane solely with the use of one's own muscles; it is a measure of how high an individual or athlete can elevate off the ground (jump) from a standstill. Daniel Kabeya has the highest vertical jump ever recorded.

Electrical muscle stimulation elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses

Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. EMS has received an increasing amount of attention in the last few years for many reasons: it can be utilized as a strength training tool for healthy subjects and athletes; it could be used as a rehabilitation and preventive tool for partially or totally immobilized patients; it could be utilized as a testing tool for evaluating the neural and/or muscular function in vivo; it could be used as a post-exercise recovery tool for athletes. The impulses are generated by a device and are delivered through electrodes on the skin near to the muscles being stimulated. The electrodes are generally pads that adhere to the skin. The impulses mimic the action potential that comes from the central nervous system, causing the muscles to contract. The use of EMS has been cited by sports scientists as a complementary technique for sports training, and published research is available on the results obtained. In the United States, EMS devices are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.

Endurance training is the act of exercising to increase endurance. The term endurance training generally refers to training the aerobic system as opposed to the anaerobic system. The need for endurance in sports is often predicated as the need of cardiovascular and simple muscular endurance, but the issue of endurance is far more complex. Endurance can be divided into two categories including: general endurance and specific endurance. It can be shown that endurance in sport is closely tied to the execution of skill and technique. A well conditioned athlete can be defined as, the athlete who executes his or her technique consistently and effectively with the least effort.

Ballistic training, also called power training, is a form of training which involves throwing weights, and jumping with weights, in order to increase explosive power. The intention in ballistic exercises is to maximise the acceleration phase of an object's movement and minimise the deceleration phase. For instance, throwing a medicine ball maximises the acceleration of the ball; this can be contrasted with a standard weight training exercise where there would be a pronounced deceleration phase at the end of the repetition i.e. at the end of a bench press exercise the barbell is decelerated and brought to a halt. Similarly, an athlete jumping whilst holding a trap bar maximises the acceleration of the weight through the process of holding it whilst they jump; where as they would decelerate it at the end of a standard trap bar deadlift.

Compression garment

Compression garments are pieces of clothing that fit tightly around the skin. In medical contexts, compression garments provide support for people who have to stand for long periods or have poor circulation. These come in varying degrees of compression, and higher degree compression sleeves, such as sleeves that provide compression of 20–30 mmHg or higher, typically require a doctor's prescription. Compression garments worn on the legs can help prevent deep vein thrombosis and reduce swelling, especially while traveling.

UPMC Rooney Sports Complex

The UPMC Rooney Sports Complex is a multipurpose, multisport training, sports science, and sports medical complex of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The complex is located along the shore of the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is unique in that it is the only facility in the United States housing the practice and training facilities for both a collegiate NCAA football team and a professional National Football League team, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers respectively. It is also unique in that it combines these training facilities in one location with an academically based sports science and medicine program. The complex consists of four centers which include the Center for Sports Medicine, Sports Training Center, Indoor Training Center, and the Fitness and Conditioning Center located in three buildings along with four outdoor practice fields all situated on 40 acres (16 ha) of land. The UPMC Center for Sports Medicine located in the complex is an international destination for amateur and professional athletes alike for its training, medical, and rehabilitation studies and services.

Professional fitness coach a professional in the field of fitness and exercise, most often instruction, including aerobics and yoga instructors and authors of fitness instruction books or manuals

A Professional fitness coach is a professional in the field of fitness and exercise, most often instruction, including professional sports club's fitness trainers and aerobics and yoga instructors and authors of fitness instruction books or manuals.

Athletics is a term encompassing the human competitive sports and games requiring physical skill, and the systems of training that prepare athletes for competition performance. Athletic sports or contests are competitions which are primarily based on human physical competition, demanding the qualities of stamina, fitness, and skill. Athletic sports form the bulk of popular sporting activities, with other major forms including motorsports, precision sports, extreme sports and animal sports.

Liam Hennessy FRAMI is an Exercise Physiologist, Strength and conditioning coach and former international athlete, who competed in the Pole Vault. Dr. Hennessy is from Cappawhite, Tipperary, Ireland and has worked in sport for over 25 years, with a number of professional athletes and teams as well as being a contributor to the academic knowledge base through published research and through his founding of distance learning institution Setanta College.

Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, are a frequent concern for those playing sports, from children and teenagers to professional athletes. Repeated concussions are a known cause of various neurological disorders, most notably chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which in professional athletes has led to premature retirement, erratic behavior and even suicide. Because concussions cannot be seen on X-rays or CT scans, attempts to prevent concussions have been difficult.

Physical exercise has been found to be associated with changes in androgen levels. In cross-sectional analyses, aerobic exercisers have lower basal total and free testosterone compared to the sedentary. Anaerobic exercisers also have lower testosterone compared to the sedentary but a slight increase in basal testosterone with resistance training over time. There is some correlation between testosterone and physical activity in the middle aged and elderly. Acutely, testosterone briefly increases when comparing aerobic, anaerobic and mixed forms of exercise. A study assessed men who were resistance trained, endurance trained, or sedentary in which they either rested, ran or did a resistance session. Androgens increased in response to exercise, particularly resistance, while cortisol only increased with resistance. DHEA increased with resistance exercise and remained elevated during recovery in resistance-trained subjects. After initial post-exercise increase, there was decline in free and total testosterone during resistance recovery, particularly in resistance-trained subjects. Endurance-trained subjects showed less change in hormone levels in response to exercise than resistance-trained subjects. Another study found relative short term effects of aerobic, anaerobic and combined anaerobic-aerobic exercise protocols on hormone levels did not change. The study noted increases in testosterone and cortisol immediately after exercise, which in 2 hours returned to baseline levels.


  1. 1 2 "Strength & Conditioning - English Institute of Sport". English Institute of Sport. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  2. "Strength and conditioning coach". Human Kinetics. 2011-08-25. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  3. Kraemer, WJ. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory and Application. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Chapter 12. Ahead of print, March 2011.
  4. "Becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach" . Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  5. "About Us". Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  6. Lombard, Wayne P.; Durandt, Justin J.; Masimla, Herman; Green, Mervin; Lambert, Michael I. (2015). "Changes in Body Size and Physical Characteristics of South African Under-20 Rugby Union Players over a 13-Year Period". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 29 (4): 980–988. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000724. PMID   25387267.
  7. Izquierdo, Mikel; Häkkinen, Keijo; Gonzalez-Badillo, Juan J.; Ibáñez, Javier; Gorostiaga, Esteban M. (1 July 2002). "Effects of long-term training specificity on maximal strength and power of the upper and lower extremities in athletes from different sports". European Journal of Applied Physiology. 87 (3): 264–271. doi:10.1007/s00421-002-0628-y. ISSN   1439-6319. PMID   12111288.
  8. Karsten, Bettina; Stevens, Liesbeth; Colpus, Mark; Larumbe-Zabala, Eneko; Naclerio, Fernando (2016-01-01). "The Effects of a Sport-Specific Maximal Strength and Conditioning Training on Critical Velocity, Anaerobic Running Distance, and 5-km Race Performance" (PDF). International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 11 (1): 80–85. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2014-0559. ISSN   1555-0273. PMID   25946163.
  9. Kraemer, WJ. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory and Application. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Ahead of print, March 2011.
  10. Rhodes, David (19 September 2015). "How big will rugby players get?". BBC News. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  11. Schofield, Daniel (11 February 2015). "Rugby concussions soar by 59 per cent, says report". Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  12. English, Tom (1 June 2014). "Rugby's concussion issue under the spotlight". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 May 2017.