From the beginning

I wish someone had told me all this from the start. I was lucky enough to have people above me lend me the helping hand and tell me the rights and wrongs, so I want to share some of the ideas I learned along the way that have helped me. Hopefully, they'll get you started or push you forward.


I didn’t know I wanted to be a strength coach until I switched my degree from the standard business and economics to kinesiology. Waking up in the middle of business law class, I realized I should make a change. So why not make it something I actually enjoyed and had a passion for? For those of you who are switching majors like I did, congrats on figuring it out. For the rest of you who knew from the start, go to college and get an exercise science related degree. The amount of information that will be slapped in your face is overwhelming. All I can say is read, read, read, and read some more. The more knowledge you pour into your brain the better. If you don’t do it now, you will have to do it somewhere else down the road. Why waste your time?

With what little free time you have left, hit up the weight room once you get your head out of the books. Most likely, you're already there and spend more time in there then you should because you're so sick and tired of reading. You can still learn in the weight room and get big and strong at the same time by picking the brains of bigger and stronger individuals who are training next to you. Don’t believe everything they say. Be smart with what you accept. You do go to college.

The best person to pick the brains of is the strength coach. If you have a strength coach at your college, learn as much from him as possible. Get some practical experience in the weight room by offering your help. Wipe down the cardio machines, clean up the chalk, or do whatever it is you can. At least it gets you to start early and see what it feels like. Learn what the other coaches are programming with their athletes and do it yourself. This way you can try to understand why they're doing it and you can feel what the training is like. This will build the foundation for the mansion that you're going to build on top.


Whether it's the NSCA, CSCS (certified strength and conditioning coach), or the SCCC (strength and conditioning coach certified), get your certification. The CSCS will require the completion of your undergraduate degree, and the SCCC will require a nine-month internship. Either way, you need some practical experience to take the test. If you didn’t get into the weight room at your college, an internship will help you learn and understand the hands on information. Your degree taught you what you need to know for the scientific part. The sooner you take the certification test the better, so you can take the test with confidence.

Certifications are a simple requirement of many graduate assistant positions. Why would you put it off? A certification will immediately show how serious you are not only to future employers but also to yourself. It is a good accomplishment as your first step to being a strength coach.


We all have to do them. It is part of the learning process and shows respect for the strength coaches before us. You will clean everything, organize supplements, and above all learn the chain of command in the weight room. Heck, you might even get to do a little coaching. Learn, know, and understand the philosophies of each coach you work with. Combining other coaches’ philosophies will be the beginning of your own. If you have a question, ask at the appropriate time and go through the appropriate chain of command. Think about your questions and make it count. These questions during your internship will make or break your current and future success. Your internship is going to be your reference for your next step up in life, so be on your A-game.

Practice what you preach

Come on. This is a given, right? I mean you have to look the part. No one wants to listen to a strength coach who has twig legs and pencil arms or muffins for a chest and bacon for a neck. Get after it and lift some weight! Do it all. You should be able to perform every exercise and program that you design. No time? Get up early and hit the chamber like Arnold. Put some muscle on your body and the respect from your athletes and colleagues will become easier to obtain. Do yourself a favor and get big. One of my supervisors told me this and it sums up what I’m trying to get across: “Nick, take every opportunity to die huge!”

Have an open mind

I've met personal trainers and strength coaches who say, “I don’t believe in powerlifting” or “I don’t do Olympic weightlifting because it may cause injury to my athletes” or “I don’t do back squats.” Being a good coach at anything requires you to be open and try new ideas. Once you try a new idea, you can’t just throw it to the ground. A wise coach once told me that everything is a tool. Your knowledge is your toolbox and you can take out whatever you need to address the problem. Just make sure you don’t pull out the drill and try to hammer in the cement foundation with scrap wood. You need to mix that with the right consistency and let it sit. If you are close-minded, you will get nowhere fast. Do what you always do and you'll get what you always got. Buck up and don’t be afraid of something different that will make you better.

Apply to everything

Please make sure your email isn’t “curlsforthegirls” or “lightweightbuddy.” I have seen and heard too many stories about inappropriate emails at my last internship. Don’t be foolish because your resume will get tossed immediately. It is a full-time job applying for graduate assistant positions and job openings, but you should still do as many as possible. Get experience writing cover letters because you will need to find something to set you apart from all the other applicants. Make sure your voicemail recording is professional, not immature. If you can’t be responsible for a professional sounding voicemail, how will that transfer over into the weight room? Answer every call even if you're busy. That way you can prove you exist and set up a good time to do an interview. If you can’t get to the phone in time and you don’t get a message, chances are you have an immature recording or they have plenty of other people to call.

The first couple of phone interviews will be nerve racking. After a couple interviews, the process will become easier. As you become more confident, the coach or manager will notice the comfortable tone in your voice. Be yourself because you don’t want to get to your new position and have your superiors wondering who in the world they hired after seven days.

Final thoughts

If you don’t enjoy minimal pay for 50 hours or more a week of strenuous, hardcore, powerlifting, weightlifting, Strongman, muscle building, speed developing, and agility training, I suggest finding a different path to follow. To be a strength coach, your personality has to be a little “off.” But we are on point in the weight room. Coaching is your passion, so have fun. Remember, everything you learn, you'll pass on to someone somewhere down the road. Teach it the same way you learned it or tweak it so it’s better. There isn't any need to hide the knowledge. Share it with others. If you're open-minded throughout your career, you can always learn something from everyone.

I hope this information has helped future aspiring strength coaches out there. Some of you know most of these tips, but sometimes it's good to hear it again and put yourself in check. Good luck, chalk up, and enjoy the ride.