How To Study For The CSCS Exam: Part 3

How To Study For The CSCS Exam: Part 3

Normally I don’t post on the weekends, but considering I’ve been MIA from the blogging world, I had to get it in.

It’s one of those Saturdays with a glass of sangria involved and creative energy on point.

After receiving a flood of emails and still LOTS of questions about my articles “How To Study For The CSCS Exam” Part 1 and Part 2, I’m oscillating between annoyed, happy to help people, and confused.


Maybe I wasn’t clear in my posts, maybe peeps aren’t getting the point, or maybe peeps are freaking the fuck out.

YES, the CSCS is hard as hell. If you fail, the zombie apocalypse will hit, the world will go up in flames, you will get AIDS and die, and you won’t be a strength coach. All in that order.

Kidding. Except I’m not.

Alas, since I love to help people, annoyed or not, I suppose I’ll write a Part 3 on how to study for your CSCS exam.

Let’s pray third time’s a charm here. Don’t make me write a Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, etc. This ain’t Walking Dead where I drag out 10 seasons and repeat the same shit over and over and over again.


I get it by now: zombies eat people. And Rick is a BOSS.

Without further ado, here are my 3 *more specific* tips for studying for the CSCS exam:

1.) Apply what you learned to your life.

I’ve spoken about this strategy before in Part 2, but it certainly bears repeating. If you currently coach/train and immerse yourself in practical experience daily, then you’re already ahead of the game.

If not, start coaching. Anyone. Anything. Your mom. Your cat. Your blow up doll.

Chances are, we are more likely to remember material when we apply it to real-life situations.

So you’re coaching someone a squat jump? Think about what actions are at play – countermovement, eccentric, amortization, and concentric phases.


Or you want your team to be fueled to play? Implement some ideas from the nutrition chapter.

Even with the science, exercise physiology, and biomechanics chapters, you can apply the key concepts. What is happening to your client’s actin and myosin filaments at the cellular level as they ascend for a pull up? How can you give your athlete a mechanical advantage in a plank? What is happening to your client’s cortisol as you make them do 3RM dead lifts? What’s happening to their HGH levels? What role do lever arms play in core workouts?


But please, remember this: DO NOT give your clients or athletes an anatomy lecture. Again, repeat this stuff quietly in your own head as they execute movements.

2.) Understand your wrong answers from the practice exams.

Taking the practice exams should be the a minimum requirement before sitting for the test. And if you want to kick it up a notch, go back to your wrong practice answers and truly understand why you missed the boat.

Most of the time, people will memorize the correct answer and peace out. Onto the next. BUT keep in mind: this could be detrimental since questions on the practice and CSCS won’t be exactly the same, so understanding your weak areas is a must.

As an example, a practice test question could ask:

 – What are the primary movements of the first phase of the power clean?

Answer: hip and knee extension


You must know this because it can relate to a question on the actual test:

– What muscle groups are involved in the first phase of the power clean?

Answer: hamstrings, gluteals (hip extensors), quadriceps

See where I’m getting at? Two very different questions, but similar answers and concepts repeated again.

What chapters do you need to brush up? More importantly, what key subjects within chapters could you revisit?

3.) Be passionate about the material.

Sure, reading a textbook twice the size of your head blows. After a long work day, or 8 hours straight of clients, or getting laid by your lady, not many people would want to hit the books. Let alone, *absorb* topics like mechanical disadvantages/advantages, hormonal adaptations to resistance training, blood pathways of the heart, or layout measurements in a training facility.

The way I see it: it’s all a matter of perspective. If you’re truly passionate about the material, you’ll have an insatiable desire to get better.  After all, that is WHY you’re taking this exam, right? To learn how to help your athletes. To learn how to prevent injuries. To learn how to integrate sport nutrition to training. To learn how to coach the olympic lifts. To learn how to manipulate sets/reps for strength, power, and hypertrophy so people become beasts.

^ This is me telling you to study this chart!!!!!

So when you find yourself bummed out, feeling flat, and not up for studying, remind yourself why you started. You made an active choice to sit for the test in order to get better and grow in your career as a strength coach. Stay passionate, action-oriented, and get shit done. Ain’t nobody got time for complaining.

So there you have it. Part 3. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I’m hoping to receive emails with less questions and more thank you’s and how-awesome-Erica-is messages. Fingers crossed.

Good luck and let me know how you do. And I will NOT be seeing you in Part 4. ;-0

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