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Volume 3, Number 6

Feature: Core Training


Connecting the Core

Paul J. Goodman, MS, CSCS
Confused about what the core exactly is and how to train it? This article provides a solid definition
for the core, justification for performing core training, and a 10-week progressive program to help
you develop your core strength.


Using the Overhead Squat for Core Development

Ian Hasegawa, CSCS
It is undeniable that core development is vital for enhanced sport performance. There are many
ways that core strength and stability may be developed. Common practices include flexion-extension
movements, draw-in maneuvers, and stability ball exercises. However, the core may also be developed using overhead squats and variations.


In the Gym
The Stability Ball:
Not Just for Circus Performers Anymore
Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
We have all seen the stability ball in the gym, but how can you use it to help you develop your core
musculature? This column discusses the stability ball, and how it can be used in your workout to
provide an unstable training surface.

The Mirror Drill
Mark Roozen, MEd, CSCS,*D
In the last issue, this column covered how to administer an agility test to gauge your agility. This
issue looks at how to set up and perform the mirror drill to help improve your agility and quickness.

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Volume 3 Number 6 |

Volume 3, Number 6

Departments (continued)

Training Table
Breaking Ground With Breakfast
By Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN,NSCA-CPT
Do you ever feel that breakfast is the last thing on your mind when you first wake up? Take a look
at the benefits research is showing for breakfast eaters, and gain a few ideas for healthy breakfast


Fitness Frontlines
G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS
The latest news from the field on combined aerobic and anaerobic training for weight loss, the
effects of milk consumption after training, and collegiate athletes eating habits.


Ounce of Prevention
The Missing Component to Core Training: Endurance
Jason Brumitt, MSPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS
Back injuries are one of the most common problems treated in physical therapy clinics these days.
This column will address exercises designed to help avoid back injury by improving the endurance
of your core muscles.


Mind Games
Dont Let Your Nerves Get the Best of You
Suzie Tuffey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-CPT,*D
Nervousness can affect your performance if not controlled. Take a closer look at how nervousness
can be beneficial, how to identify nervousness, and some nervousness management techniques to
improve your performance.


Train for the Game

An Experts Take on: Core Training
Tracy Morgan Handzel, CSCS
How helpful would it be to know what the leaders in the sports training industry are doing
with athletes that can be considered the best of the best? Now this assistance is available as sports
performance specialist Todd Wright discusses tips and exercises for core training.

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Volume 3 Number 6 |

NSCAs Performance Training Journal is a publication of the

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Keith Cinea, MA, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT
Editorial Review
John M. Cissik, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D
Chris A. Fertal, CSCS, ATC
Michael Hartman, MS, CSCS
Mark S. Kovacs, MEd, CSCS
David Pollitt, CSCS
David Sandler, MS, CSCS
Brian K. Schilling, PhD, CSCS
David J. Szymanski, PhD, CSCS
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Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
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Sponsorship Information
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application, to improve athletic performance and fitness.

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Share your questions and comments. We want to hear from you.
Write to Performance Training Editor, NSCA, 1885 Bob Johnson
Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80906-4000, or send email to

Volume 3 Number 6 |

Inthe Gym
Joseph M. Warpeha, MA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

The Stability Ball: Not Just for Circus

Performers Anymore

n often-underused training tool is the

stability ball. Those big balls you see in the
gym that resemble beach balls are becoming
more and more prevalent in the fitness

industry as well as the athletic world. The main effect of these

balls is their ability to provide an unstable surface to the exerciser.
We are constantly in need of our stabilizer muscles. The stabilizers
are the little muscles that most people do not think about
because their use is almost involuntary. We are forced to use our
stabilizers every day as we live and move in an environment dictated by three dimensions and gravity. The core region is made
up of those muscles that help stabilize and coordinate movement
between the upper and lower body, all the while providing overall
balance. Some of the more easily identifiable core muscles are the
abdominals, obliques, and spinal erectors. In general they act to
stabilize the body, but specifically they support the spine from all
Subjecting the body to an unstable surface requires additional
work from the core region. For example, a beginning-level exercise
with a stability ball may be sitting on it, while raising one foot off
the ground. It is the core region that must engage isometrically
(muscles contract but their lengths do not change) to overcome
this added instability caused by the ball, and maintain overall
body stability. Now if you keep the foot raised and try to press
two dumbbells overhead, the task gets harder.
An intermediate level of difficulty may be kneeling on the ball.
This seemingly simple task can be extremely challenging even for
people who think they have good balance. Once you can kneel
on the ball indefinitely and comfortably, try doing dumbbell
curls. As the dumbbells move through their range of motion, the
center of gravity of the combined mass of the body and dumbbells
constantly changes, requiring rapid responses from the stabilizing

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

A more advanced exercise would be kneeling on the ball while

throwing a tennis ball with a partner. While the tennis ball might
not be heavy enough to move your body, the neural confusion
that is caused by having to catch the tennis ball while simultaneously remaining on the stability ball is significant, particularly
when you have not attempted this before (remember, balance is
almost entirely neural and there is no such thing as too much
balance.) Now switch the tennis ball with a medicine ball and
the task becomes more difficult for obvious reasons.
Kneeling on the ball, sitting on the ball, and all the exercises
associated with these positions are good, but there are also other
ways to use the ball. An example is the crunch performed on the
ball. The abdominals must contract concentrically and eccentrically as the upper body is raised and lowered, but the stabilizers
must also contract to keep you from rolling off the ball. If
performed correctly, it appears to be a very effective way to train
the midsection. These few examples (along with hundreds of
variations) serve to: 1) increase balance, 2) increase strength of
the core region (therefore strengthening the support structure of
the spine and decreasing the likelihood of future back injuries),
and 3) add variety to a workout that probably is dominated by
the same old machines and free weights.
Note: Serious injury can result from falling off a stability ball so
start with easy, beginning-level exercises and slowly progress as
your ability increases. If you have any doubts, either use a spotter
who can provide extra stability and catch you if the need arises
or do not do the exercise at all.

About the Author

Joe Warpeha, MA, is an exercise physiologist and strength coach and
is currently working on his PhD in exercise physiology at the
University of Minnesota-Minneapolis. His main area of research is
conducted at the St. Paul Heart Clinic and involves left-ventricular
dyssynchrony in heart failure and its assessment with ECHO tissue
Doppler imaging. Joe is also actively involved in vascular biology
research at the University of Minnesota, particularly as it relates to
endothelial dysfunction. He is an instructor at the University of
Minnesota and teaches beginning weight training in addition to the
advanced weight training and conditioning class. Joe has certifications from the NSCA, ACSM, USAW, ASEP, and YMCA and is a
two-time national bench press champion in the 165-pound class
with multiple national and state records to his credit.

Volume 3 Number 6 |

Mark Roozen, MEd, CSCS,*D

The Mirror Drill

n the last issue, this column covered how to admin-

to train for agility, with more stops, turns, and changes of direction,
have a smaller set up. For more conditioning and running, a larger
space will allow you and a partner room to move.

ister a test to gauge your agility. In this issue we will

look at implementing a specific drill to help improve
your agility and quickness.

Before beginning any agility, speed, or quickness training, you
want to make sure you are properly prepared. A few simple
guidelines to follow are:
Perform a warm up. To warm up, do movements and/or drills
that move in multiple planes, work acceleration and deceleration
components, and allow the joints to move in a full range of
Make sure you have the proper strength and power base to
participate in the specific drills. The more advanced drills
become, the more strength you will need. The mirror drill we
will be talking about is a moderate drill.
Perform the drills in the proper sequence. Begin with simple
drills first, progressing to more complex drills later.
Allow proper rest time between drills. Keep your training goals
in mind. If you are performing an agility drill to improve change
of direction, allow more rest time. If the drill is for conditioning,
you can decrease the rest time, but agility training may be

Setting Up the Drill

The mirror drill is an easy agility drill to set up. All you need is
a partner, adequate space, and a stopwatch.
Mark out the work area with cones. This space defines the
boundaries of where you and your partner can move. The spacing
of the area will be determined by your training goals. If you want

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Figure 1. The Mirror Drill

Volume 3 Number 6 |

The Drill

About the Author

Find a partner to work with. Select one of you to be the runner,

and the other to be the mirror. Select the specific time you
want to run the drill (this will be based on the specific needs of
the sport or activity you are training for).

Mark Roozen, MEd, CSCS,*D, is owner/director of Performance

Zone, a Fitness and Training Center in Granbury, TX he opened in
the fall of 2003. He received his BS from Northern State University
and his MEd from Tarleton State University. He has been an active
member of the NSCA since 1987. Mark has served on a number of
NSCA committees. Presently he serves on the Nominating Committee
and is the chair of the Membership Committee. He can be reached

On GO, the runner begins moving, and is free to run within

the boundaries of the drill, but must face the mirror. The
mirror then mirrors the movement of the runner. If the runner
comes forward, the mirror will move forward. If the runner
backpedals, the mirror backpedals. If the runner changes
direction, the mirror changes direction.
Go the set time and rest. On the next trial, the mirror becomes
the runner, and the runner becomes the mirror. The number
of sets will be determined by conditioning level and specific sport.

For football, use a 5 second work to 20 second rest period. To
begin, perform 8 10 sets (which would simulate a series in a
football game). As conditioning improves, the number of sets
would increase to equal the number of plays in an average game.

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Volume 3 Number 6 |

Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN, NSCA-CPT

Breaking Ground With Breakfast

o you ever feel that breakfast is the

last thing on your mind when you first
wake up? With research showing the
benefits of increased mental alertness,

lower weight, improved lifestyles and enhanced health for breakfast

eaters, you may never wake up on the same side of the bed again.

What is breakfast anyway?

Break it downbreakfast is break and fast. That means that
just when you wake up, it is the perfect time to break the fast you
experienced when you were sleeping. While your body is sleeping,
your internal organs are still working, performing involuntary
reactions and using fuel for energy. After a good nights sleep, the
levels of glycogen stored in your liver are almost depleted by half.
That means that if you start exercising or simply start your day
without refueling, you will begin in a depleted or disadvantaged

Benefits of Breakfast
1. Breakfast can improve your overall health.
Research shows that individuals who consume breakfast cereal
every day report better mental and physical health than those
who consume breakfast less frequently4.

3. Breakfast can help you emotionally.

Research shows that individuals who consume a cereal breakfast
each day are less depressed, less emotionally distressed, and have
lower levels of perceived stress than those who do not eat breakfast
each day5.
4. Breakfast can enhance your mental performance.
Breakfast enhances ones ability to handle tasks requiring aspects
of memory, such as word list recall and memory while counting
backwards1. Now, can you remember all that?
5. The right breakfast can help you manage your weight.
While many of us might skip breakfast, hoping to decrease our
daily caloric intake, research shows that individuals who consume
a high fiber cereal consume fewer calories at lunch2.
Furthermore, in one study, subjects classified as dissatisfied with
their weight and who dieted reported skipping breakfast more
frequently than non-dieters6.
6. Breakfast can enhance the overall quality of your diet.
Breakfast can set you on the right path for the day. Research
shows that individuals who ate ready-to-eat cereal at breakfast
between 4 and 7 times during the week consumed significantly
less fat and cholesterol and significantly more fiber, carbohydrate, protein, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B6, B12,
and A, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, copper,
and zinc than those who had no cereal at breakfast3.

Putting it all Together:

In addition, individuals who consume breakfast regularly have a

healthier lifestyle than non-breakfast eaters. Breakfasters are less
likely to be smokers, drink less alcohol, and have a healthier diet5.

Try any of these high fiber, high carbohydrate, low fat breakfasts.

2. Breakfast can keep you alert.

Breakfast, particularly one that is high in fiber and low in fat, is
associated with a higher post-breakfast alertness, which can last all
the way to lunch. Studies show that the high fiber/low fat breakfast
is more effective than a low fiber/carbohydrate breakfast, a high
fiber/high fat breakfast, or a low fiber/high fat breakfast5.

1 hard-boiled egg, 1slice whole-wheat toast,

1 Tbsp jam/jelly, 12 grapefruit, 12 cup non fat yogurt

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Table 1. Sample breakfast with total calories, fat,

protein, and fiber.

297 calories, 7 grams of fat, 16 grams of protein,

4 grams of fiber

Volume 3 Number 6 |

Table 2. Sample breakfast with total calories, fat,

protein, and fiber.
2 whole-wheat bagel, 2 t light cream cheese,
1 cup non fat yogurt, 1 cup blueberries

453 calories, 3 grams of fat, 16 grams of protein,

6 grams of fiber
Table 3. Sample breakfast with total calories, fat,
protein, and fiber.
1 cup high fiber cereal (i.e. Shredded Wheat, Grape Nuts or
Kashi), 12 banana, 8 oz low fat milk, 1 orange
360 calories, 4 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein,
7 grams of fiber
Table 4. Sample breakfast with total calories, fat,
protein, and fiber.
1 serving oatmeal, 8 oz low fat milk, 1 orange
268 calories, 6 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein,
5 grams of fiber

Compare With These Quick

Table 1. Breakfast Choices to Avoid
Sample Meals


Percent calories
from Fat


250 300

45 55%







300 350

30 35%

Sweet Roll



Cheese omelet (4 oz)



Sausage (3 oz)
Bacon (3 medium pieces)



Donut (plain)
Donut (chocolate frosted)
Muffins (412 oz)
Fast food or bakery type

About the Author

Debra Wein, MS, RD, LDN, is a faculty member at the University
of Massachusetts, and teaches graduate courses at Simmons College.
Wein chairs the Womens Subcommittee of the Massachusetts
Governors Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports. She is the
President of The Sensible Nutrition Connection, Inc. (

1. Benton D, Parker PY. (1998). Breakfast, blood glucose,
and cognition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
67(4):772S 778S.
2. Levine AS, Tallman JR, Grace MK, Parher SA, Billington
CJ, Levitt MD. (1998). Effect of breakfast cereals on
short-term food intake. American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, 50(6):1303 1307.
3. Morgan KJ, Zabik ME. (1984). The influence of ready-toeat cereal consumption at breakfast on nutrient intakes of
individuals 62 years and older. Journal of the American
College of Nutrition, 3(1):27 44.
4. Smith AP. (1999). Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health. International Journal of Food
Sciences and Nutrition, 50(6):445 449.
5. Smith AP. (1998). Breakfast and mental health.
International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition,
49(5):397 402.
6. Wong Y, Chen SL, Chan YC, Wang MF, Yamamoto S
(1999). Weight satisfaction and dieting practices among
college males in Taiwan. Journal of the American College of
Nutrition, 18(3):223 228.

With all of the research supporting the claim that breakfast is

the most important meal of the day, setting your alarm clock 10
minutes early hardly seems like an inconvenience anymore.
Include breakfast as a core part of your daily routine.

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Volume 3 Number 6 |

Connecting the Core

Paul J. Goodman, MS, CSCS

thletes have been inundated with terminol-


ogy and references to core development

The goal of learning the specific muscles of the core is to enable

individuals to have the knowledge to correctly assess where they
may be deficient. Simply knowing where a deficiency is located
is half of the task, the other half lies with developing exercises
that will address those areas. This will then facilitate the process
of becoming increasingly stable and efficient in overall core

in recent years. However, little has been

conveyed to these athletes on what qualifies as the core, and how

to specifically target muscles that may be beyond the scope of the
commonly referred regions. Although major muscles groups are
important in the function of the abdominals and the back, there
are many other muscles that need to be specifically addressed to
ensure the core is developed completely. If the core is underdeveloped or inefficiently trained, subsequent injuries or detriments
to performance may occur (see Figure 1).
Table 1. Prospective Injuries and Performance Detriments
Caused by an Underdeveloped Core.
Prospective Injuries
Lower Back Painlower lumbar and/or sacroiliac joints
Abdominal strains
Groin strains
Hip Flexor/abductor/adductor strains
Pelvic misalignment
Compensation musculoskeletal injuries

Prospective Performance Detriments

Poor gait mechanics
Poor postural alignment
Poor transferability of force from lower to upper
extremities and vice versa
Inability to decelerate/accelerate with minimal loss of
speed and force

Programs have developed beyond simply upper body and lower

body routines. Integrated designs of programs now incorporate
many methods and mechanisms to increase speed, power, and
strength. Many structural lifts (e.g. cleans and squats) do integrate
the core structure and aid to develop anterior and posterior
development. However, even with the progression of programs
to more complex training, specific core training is still, at times,
not at the forefront of those programs. Often core training is
programmed at the conclusion of a training session. However,
this is when you may not be capable of performing specific
movements to the degree of specificity needed. This can be
attributed to physical and mental fatigue. Therefore, it is suggested to incorporate core training as the precursor to training
sessions. Specific core stabilization and dynamic movements can
be a neuromuscular stimulant, aiding in more ballistic strength,
speed, and power movements.

There is a common inference that the core is comprised of solely
the abdominals and lower back. More specifically, the abdominal
wall, consisting of the rectus abdominus, internal and external
obliques, and the transverse abdominus, has been the primary
focus in many core definitions and routines. These three muscle
groups are responsible for a broad scope of functional movements:
flexion, extension, rotation, lateral bending, as well as compression
of the trunk. These muscles work in conjunction with one
another to create movement of the trunk in the three planes
(frontal, sagittal, and transverse), but also act to stabilize and
support the spine during dynamic movements. However, the
scope of the core definition and responses to movement cannot
be limited within these three muscles.

Inability to withstand and balance external forces

NSCAs Performance Training Journal


Volume 3 Number 6 |

The lumbo-pelvic-hip (LPH) complex is a conglomeration

of 29 different muscles that attach to the core. This complex
musculature is responsible for stabilizing, transferring, reducing,
and producing force during closed kinetic chain movements
(where the foot is in contact with a solid surface such as the
ground). In addition, the muscles of the LPH complex are
responsible for maintaining balance, and serve as a base of
support over the center of gravity during functional range of
motion movements. Open chain movements, (where the foot is
not in contact with a surface), entails less dynamic movement,
consequently diminishing the activity of the LPH.
The multifidus, which is one of the muscles of the LPH, is
responsible for stabilizing the spine and pelvis directly prior to
movement of the limbs. This muscle works in conjunction with
the transverse abdominus to perform this preparatory action.
The muscles of the pelvic floor are also fully activated during this
segment of movement. The pelvic floor is also responsible for
support of the pelvic organs and abdominal contents, especially
when standing and exerting force during movement. However,
the transverse abdominus and the multifidus are the only muscles
active during all trunk motions.
Two other muscles of this region that are of vital importance for
core development are the psoas and the iliacus. These two muscles
are commonly referred to as, or in connection with, the hip flexors
(iliopsoas) due to the common insertion they maintain at the
femur. The psoas also connects to the lumbar region of the spine,
and is responsible for flexion of the trunk, rotation of the femur,
and flexion of the hip with the iliacus. The reason these muscles
are of vital importance in terms of core development is due
to their significance in terms of commonality of injury. If the
iliopsoas is progressively shortened, injury to the lower back can
acutely or chronically occur. Similarly, the psoas originates in the
spine at the same location as the latissimus dorsi. Due to this
intersection, if the shortened iliopsoas pulls on the common
junction of the latissimus dorsi, this can then pull on the levator
scapula, causing shoulder issues. Therefore, when developing a
program that incorporates flexion movements, it is necessary
to compliment the shortening activities with extension and
lengthening techniques.
It is necessary to emphasize the importance of comprehensive
core development around this pelvic region, especially for sports
that involve rapid acceleration of the lower limbs, as well as
abduction and external rotation about the hip. A condition known
as osteitis pubis is consistently seen in sports such as hockey, soccer,
hurdling, and football (especially kickers/defensive backs). This
is a condition that is caused by abnormal shearing forces across
the pubic symphysis. The pubic symphysis is a cartilage joint
that connects the pubic bones within the pelvis. The condition
stems from an elongation and/or a weakness of the adductors that
can be coupled with poor flexibility of the pelvis and sacroiliac
joints. The condition can feel similar to a groin strain but
generally emanates from the lower abdominals, and can

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

consequently cause discomfort in this region as well. The issue

here is to ensure the adductors and abductors of the hip are
strengthened, while also maintaining a degree of flexibility about
the groin.
Many athletes experience lower lumbar discomfort as a common
ailment of training and or competing. This can be attributed to
the vast amount of muscles that surround and intersect within
this region, and that have the possibility of being overlooked in
the core program. Subsequently, in combination with the pelvic
stabilization and strengthening, activity of the gluteus medius,
gluteus maximus, and piriformis should be programmed to
completely stimulate and stabilize the posterior aspect of the hip
and pelvis. If too much attention is spent on the anterior musculature (abdominals) then muscle imbalances can be incurred,
which can lead to the aforementioned conditions and other strains
throughout the core region as well.

Introductory Programming
The following section provides an introductory 10-week
progression of exercises that address the issues presented. To
increase intensity for these exercises, increase the time under tension versus solely increasing the repetitions. Always emphasize
the technical aspect of drawing in (a technique of tilting the
pelvis and bringing the abdominal wall back towards the spine)
and a flat neutral spine to activate the muscles of the entire core.
These routines and exercises are not comprehensive, but are
fundamental to establishing a base of core development and can
be performed two-three times per week, depending upon the
level of core development.
Table 1. Routine (weeks 1 3)

Time and


Plane Holds (Elbows)

0:30 sec each side

/0:45 sec front

0:60 sec each side

/0:120 sec front

45-Degree Hold

0:30 sec

0:45 sec

Dead Bug (90-Degree)

0:40 sec

0:60 sec

Crunch Hold

4 x 0:05 sec
each side

3 x 0:10 sec
each side

Reverse Incline Plane

0:30 sec

0:60 sec

Glute Hold

0:40 sec

0:60 sec

Prone Pass

2 x 8 repetitions

2 x 12 repetitions


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Table 2. Routine (weeks 4 6)


Time and Repetitions

Plane Holds (Hands)

with Leg Lifts

Begin with both feet down for 0:20

sec. Then lift the leg and hold for 20
sec, perform for both sides. Move to
the front position and hold for 20
sec. Then perform 2 x 0:10 sec lift
and holds for each leg in the front
position, completing the drill with
another 0:20 sec hold with both
feet down in the front position.

45-Degree Hold

0:45 sec hold

Dead Bug (90-Degree)

0:50 sec hold

Alternating Crunch Hold

3 x 0:10 sec holds on each side

Dead Bug (Extended)

0:40 sec hold

Reverse Incline Plane

with Leg Lifts

0:15 sec hold with both feet down,

followed by 2 x 0:10 sec lift and
holds for each leg, finishing with a
0:15 sec hold with both feet down.

Prone Pass

12 repetitions

Glute Hold with Leg Lifts

0:20 sec hold with both feet down,

followed by 2 x 0:05 sec lift and
holds for each foot, finishing with a
0:15 sec hold with both feet down.

Prone Pass

12 repetitions

It is important to recognize the core as a very broad scope of
muscles that work in union with one another to create and stabilize movement. Abdominal and lower back specific training is
a necessity when designing programs for core development.
However, it is vital to consider the entire anterior and posterior
musculature of the upper torso through the hips in order to fully
construct a core program. By considering and understanding the
total scope of the core, acute or chronic injuries and performance
limitations can be deterred or avoided completely.

Fig. 1a

Fig. 1b

Table 3. Routine (weeks 7 10)


Time and Repetitions

Bench Bridge with

Arm Lifts

Begin with both arms down, holding

for 0:10 sec, followed by 3 x 0:07 sec
lift and holds for each arm, finishing
with a 0:15 sec hold with both arms

Plane Holds (elbows)

with Leg Lifts (Sides Only)

2 x 0:15 sec holds with both feet

down, followed by 0:15 sec lifts.
Perform for both sides.

Dead Bug (Extended)

0:45 sec hold

45-Degree Hold

0:45 sec hold

Alternating Crunch Hold

3 x 0:10 sec holds on each side

Dead Bug (90-Degree)

0:40 sec hold

Prone Pass

15 repetitions

Glute Hold with Leg Lifts

Begin with a 0:20 sec hold with

both feet down, followed by 2 x
0:10 sec lift and holds for each foot,
finishing with 0:30 sec hold with
both feet down.

Prone Pass

15 repetitions

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Fig. 1c

Figures 1a c. Plane Holds Elbows (with or without leg lift)

Timed and/or Repetition of leg lifts


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Fig. 4a

Fig. 2a

Fig. 4b
Fig. 2b

Figures 4a & b. Glute Hold (with or without leg lift)

Timed and/or Repetition of leg lifts

Fig. 2c

Fig. 5a
Figures 2a c. Plane Holds Hands (with or without leg lift)
Timed and/ or Repetition of leg lifts

Fig. 3a
Fig. 5b
Figures 5a & b. Reverse Incline Plane (with or without leg lift)
Timed and/or Repetition of leg lifts

Fig. 3b

Figures 3a & b. Bench Bridge

Timed and Repetition of arm lifts

NSCAs Performance Training Journal


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Fig. 9a

Fig. 6a
Fig. 9b

Fig. 9c

Fig. 6b
Figures 6a & b. Alternating Crunch Hold
Timed and Repetition

Figures 9a c. Prone PassRepetition

About the Author

Paul Goodman earned his BA and MS from the University of
Wisconsin. He is currently the Head Strength and Conditioning
Coach at the University of Vermont. Before taking this position he
served as an assistant for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Paul
is also the Vermont State Director for the National Strength and
Conditioning Association.
Figure 7. 45 Degree HoldTimed
Fig. 8a

Fig. 8b

Fig. 8c

Fig. 8d

Figures 8a d. Dead Bug (90 degrees or extended)

Timed or Repetition

NSCAs Performance Training Journal


Volume 3 Number 6 |

G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS

Combination Training Results in

Significant Decreases in
Abdominal Fat Mass
Researchers from The College of Physical Education at Dong-A
University in Korea and colleagues from The Department of
Physical and Health Education at the University of Tokyo, Japan
investigated the effects of no training, aerobic training program,
and combined resistance and aerobic training on middle aged
women. The aerobic training group trained 6 days a week for 60
minutes at an intensity of 60 70% maximum heart rate, while
the combination group performed resistance training 3 days per
week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and aerobic training 3
days per week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). Abdominal fat
volume was evaluated with computed tomography before and
after 24 weeks of training. Both the aerobic and combined groups
experienced increases in maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) and
high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol. Of particular interest is the
finding that only the combined group experienced significant
increases in lean body mass. Also, the combined group experienced the greatest declines in subcutaneous fat (-61.8 cm3) and
abdominal visceral fat (-93.0 cm3) when compared to the aerobic
only training group (subcutaneous: -23.1 cm3; abdominal visceral
fat: -82.6 cm3). The findings of this study suggest that utilizing
a combination of aerobic and resistance training produces the
greatest alterations in body composition.
Park SK, Park JH, Kwon YC, Yoon MS, Kim CS. (2003). The
effect of long-term aerobic exercise on maximal oxygen consumption, left ventricular function and serum lipids in elderly women.
Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science,
22(1): 11 17.

Is Milk Effective as a
Recovery Drink?
The effects of the consumption of milk or a carbohydrate beverage
after acute training bouts was examined in a 10-week project
conducted by the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and
Exercise at Virginia Tech University. Nineteen untrained men
completed a 10-week resistance training study. Prior to, and
immediately after the 10-week training period, all subjects were
measured for muscular strength (as assessed by 7 exercises), body
composition, resting testosterone and cortisol concentrations, and
resting energy expenditure. All subjects increased their muscular
strength in response to the training program (+44%). The
resistance training program also resulted in a decrease in percent
body fat (-0.9 kg) and an increase in fat free mass (+1.2 kg).
Interestingly, the group that drank milk after each work out
tended to have a greater increase in fat free mass and body mass
when compared to the carbohydrate group. Resting testosterone

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

concentrations decreased over the course of the study, while no

changes in cortisol and resting energy expenditure were noted.
The results of this study seem to indicate that the consumption
of milk immediately after exercise produces greater increases in fat
free mass and overall mass to a greater extent than carbohydrate
Rankin JW, Goldman LP, Puglisi MJ, Nickols-Richardson SM,
Earthman CP, Gwazdauskas FC. (2004) Effect of post-exercise
supplement consumption on adaptations to resistance training.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(4): 322 330.

Do Collegiate Athletes
Eat Appropriately?
Recently, researchers from the University of Missouri examined
the dietary practices of 345 athletes competing in Division I
Athletics. The survey data collected revealed that 15% of the
athletes surveyed consumed adequate amounts of carbohydrate
and 26% of the athletes surveyed consumed adequate amounts
protein in their diets. When subdividing the subjects by gender
it was determined that only 32% of females (n=165) and 19%
of males (n=185) consumed the minimal amount of protein
recommended. When looking at carbohydrate consumption only
10% of males and 19% of females met the recommendations for
athletes. It was further determined that males tended to be characterized by high amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and
sodium. Finally, the majority (61%) of the female athletes wished
to decrease their body mass by at least 5 pounds, while the majority of male athletes wished to increase their body mass by at least
5 pounds (57.8%). The results of this study suggest that collegiate
athletes do not consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates and
protein in their diets. This practice may lead to negative effects
on their athletic performance. The researchers suggested that
athletes and coaches may benefit from educational programs that
address the nutritional needs of athletes.
Hinton PS, Sanford TC, Davidson MM, Yakushko OF, Beck
NC. (2004). Nutrient Intake and Dietary Behaviors of Male and
Female Collegiate Athletes. International Journal of Sports
Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 14 (4): 389 388.

About the Author

G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS, is an assistant professor, the Human
Performance Laboratory Director, and Kinesiology Department
Chair at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX. He is
a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Associations
Research Committee and the USA Weightlifting Sports Science and
Sports Medicine Committees. Dr. Haff received the National Strength
and Conditioning Associations Young Investigator Award in 2001.


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Ounceof Prevention
Jason Brumitt, MSPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS

The Missing Component to Core

Training: Endurance

Core Program Exercises

ack injuries are among the most common
conditions treated at physical therapy
clinics and athletic training rooms. Many
Americans will suffer back pain at some

point in their life span. To help prevent back injuries and

improve athletic performance, specific training of the core is a

All athletes should perform core exercises to train their spinal

musculature. If an individual is currently experiencing back pain
or has a history of back pain, he or she should consult with a
physical therapist for appropriate therapeutic exercise prescription.
The following section outlines a sample core exercise program
(Table 1). Each exercise should be performed with an abdominal
bracing contraction. This is an isometric contraction of the
abdominals, engaging the trunk muscles without creating
movement of the abdominal wall.
Table 1. Core Stabilization Program.
Phase I: Endurance Training

The Role of the Core

The core, the popular term for the trunk, consists of our spine,
pelvis, and its muscles. Studies have shown stabilization to be the
key role of the core muscles1. The ability to stabilize the spine is
instrumental in protecting the spine from potentially damaging
forces. The ability to protect the spinal joints and associated soft
tissue structures from injury will help prevent injury.

Endurance Training
Stuart McGill, PhD, a spine biomechanist, has identified that
individuals with a healthy spine should be able to maintain
muscle endurance test positions for specific time periods2. It is
important to understand the difference between endurance
training and strength training. Strength training is the modality
commonly used by athletes. This type of training involves
performing 6 10 repetitions for 3 4 sets. Endurance training
involves performing higher repetitions per each set, typically 25
to 30 repetitions.
Dr. McGill has also found that those with a history of back pain
are unable to perform the endurance tests to the same capacity
as those with healthy spines. Clinically, I often find that athletes,
those with or without a previous history of low back pain, do not
have the necessary muscular endurance capacity. Weakness is
typical in the back extensor muscle groups (erector spinae and

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Bird Dog 3 sets 10 repetitions, 10 second holds

Side Bridge 2 3 sets each side, 10 30 second holds
Front Plank 2 3 sets, 10 30 second holds
Perform this phase during daily training for a 3 4 week period.
Phase II: Endurance Training
Continue exercises from previous phase
Roman Chair 2 3 sets, 25 30 repetitions each set
Standing Trunk Rotation with pulley, 2 3 sets each side,
25 30 repetitions
Perform this phase during daily training for 3 4 weeks.
Phase III: Endurance and Strength Training
Perform 3 4 endurance based exercises
Crunches 25 30+ repetitions
Incorporate general lumbar spine strengthening exercises;
e.g.: straight arm pulldowns, seated rowing, one arm
dumbbell rows, etc.
Perform this phase 2 3 times a week.

Bird Dog (figure 1)

Assume a quadruped position (hands and knees on the ground)
with your hands positioned under the shoulders and your knees
below the hips. Find your neutral spine position by rotating
your pelvis forward (anteriorly) and backward (posteriorly). The


Volume 3 Number 6 |

pelvic position half way between these two extremes is the neutral
spine. After performing the abdominal bracing contraction, raise
one arm and the opposite leg as pictured. Hold this position
for a 10-second count. Alternate arm and leg movements
between each side. Incorrect exercise performance includes not
maintaining a neutral spine, poor positioning of hands and
knees (below shoulders and hips), and the inability to maintain
an abdominal brace. Breaking the exercise into components (elevating only the arm or extending only the leg) will allow one
to improve co-ordination and strength prior to incorporating
the entire exercise.
Figure 3. Roman Chair, start position

Figure 1. Bird Dog, finish position

Side Bridge (figure 2)

Dr. McGill recommends this exercise to improve the
endurance/strength for the obliques, transverse abdominis, and
the quadratus lumborum2. Assume the position shown with only
the forearm and the feet in contact with the surface. Hold the
position for 10 30 seconds, performing repetitions on each
side. Errors in form include knees or hips in contact with the
surface or the inability to maintain the torso in a side position.

Figure 4. Roman Chair, finish position

To increase the level of difficulty, hold the neutral position for 10
seconds. Also, holding weighted objects such as a weight plate or
medicine ball will add another level of challenge to the exercise
(fig 5).

Figure 2. Side Bridge, finish position

Front Plank
Support your body off the ground with your forearms and feet.
Hold your entire body in a straight line, maintaining a neutral
spine position. Hold this position for 10 30 seconds.

Roman Chair (figures 3 and 4)

Start with your body flexed at the lumbar spine as shown (fig 3).
Extend the torso; raising your body to a neutral position (fig 4).
Perform 25 30 repetitions.

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Figure 5. Roman Chair, holding medicine ball

If a roman chair is unavailable, an alternate position may be
performed such as the prone hip extension (fig 6 & 7). Extend
your legs in line with your torso. Hold each repetition up to 10
seconds. Resistance can applied by holding weights/dumbbells
between your legs.


Volume 3 Number 6 |

About the Author

Jason Brumitt is a board-certified sports physical therapist currently
working at Southwest Washington Medical Center. His clientele
include both orthopedic and sport injuries. He provides athletic training services to area high schools through a hospital community program.
To contact the author email him at

Fig. 6

Figure 6 & 7.
Prone Hip Extension

Fig. 7

With the high incidence of back injuries seen by medical
professionals, no training program is complete without the
incorporation of core endurance exercises.

1. Richardson C, Jull G, Hodges P, Hides J. (1999).
Therapeutic Exercise For Spinal Segmental Stabilization in
Low Back Pain. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.
2. McGill S. (2002). Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based
Prevention and Rehabilitation. Champaign, IL: Human

NSCAs Performance Training Journal


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Using the Overhead Squat for

Core Development
Ian Hasegawa, CSCS

t is undeniable that core development is vital for

enhanced sport performance. There are many ways
that core strength and stability may be developed.

Common practices include flexion-extension movements, draw-in

maneuvers, and stability ball exercises. However, the core may
also be developed using overhead squats and variations.

The Core
The muscles of the core consist of the rectus abdominis, transverse
abdominis, multifidus (back muscles), internal and external
obliques, quadratus lumbrum (low-back muscle), and spinal
erectors (back muscles). To a greater extent, the glutes, hamstrings,
and hip rotators may also be included because of their relationship
to the hip joint.
The primary function of the core is for stabilization. Stability is
the ability to control force or movement. Core stabilization is
important because it provides a powerful link between lower and
upper body strength. Generally core development will consist of
flexion-extension type exercises (e.g. sit-ups) that target the rectus
abdominis. However, although the core is being strengthened,
these exercises do not address the need for a stable spine or the
transfer of power from the lower to upper body. Also, because of
the bodys position (lying) in most of these exercises, there is a
low carryover to actual sport. The best core work is done in a
sport-specific stance (standing), while maintaining the spine in
an upright and erect position, and allowing movement from the
extremities in practical ways that place stress on the core (e.g.

Core Demands During a Squat

During a squat, posture must be kept, requiring stabilization
from the trunk muscles. Core stability is further challenged with
movement in the extremities. This results in constant changes in
muscle tension and body position. Changes in muscle tension

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

challenge stabilization because the muscles of the core must now

contract in coordination with the muscles of the limbs (as one
relaxes the other contracts). The center of gravity will shift with
body position changes which the core must also overcome for stabilization to occur. The deep abdominal muscles must constantly
work to accommodate these changes in order for balance and an
erect spine to be maintained throughout the entire motion.

Core Demands During

an Overhead Squat
Posture will be much more challenged during overhead squatting
positions. The weight or resistance is now placed above the head
at arms length, causing a shift in the bodys center of gravity.
Remember, the center of gravity or point of stability resides in
the core. If the core is off balance, the body is off balance.
Because of this increased distance, the center of gravity shifts
higher, thus requiring the muscles of the core to work harder in
order to stabilize and support the spine in an upright position.
Overhead squatting also puts the trunk in an elongated position,
which in turn causes a natural activation of the core muscles.
With the arms fully extended overhead, the deep abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals, internal/external obliques) along with
the spinal erectors, must contract in order for both stabilization
and thoracic extension to be maintained.

Overhead Squat (figures 1 & 2)
Start with no resistance and perform the squat. Once the
Overhead Squat can be performed with the arms remaining
overhead throughout the entire movement then resistance can be

Overhead Pitchers Squat (figures 3 & 4)

Place one foot straight behind on a bench and the other foot
straight in front on the floor. The arms are placed straight overhead as in the Overhead Squat. Squat down allowing both the
front and back knees to flex. The arms must remain overhead
throughout the entire movement.


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Overhead Lunge (figures 5 & 6)

Place feet in a split squat position. Squat down allowing both the
front and back knees to flex. Arms remain overhead. Variation of
the exercise may be to extend the arms overhead as you squat.

Variations (figures 7 9)
There are many variations to these exercises. You may increase
the weight of the object or increase the size of the object to
change the resistance. You may also adjust the feet or the surface
upon which the feet are placed.

Core development is not always about how many sit-ups you can
do, or having a six pack. More so, core development should
focus on stability throughout practical movement patterns.
There are many effective approaches one can take in order to
develop a strong core, overhead squatting is just another
approach. Not only will it add variation to ones core program,
overhead squatting is effective, challenging, and practical.

Figure 3. Overhead Pitchers SquatStart Position


Figure 4. Overhead Pitchers SquatFinish Position

Figure 1. Overhead SquatStart Position

Figure 5. Overhead LungeStart Position

Figure 2. Overhead SquatFinish Position

NSCAs Performance Training Journal


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Figure 6. Overhead LungeFinish Position

Figure 9. Overhead Pitchers Squat on Ball

About the author

Ian Hasegawa is a recent graduate from Colorado State UniversityPueblo, with a degree in Exercise Science & Health Promotion. He
is currently a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist serving
as an intern at the NSCA Headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO.

Figure 7. Snatch

Figure 8. Overhead Squat on Disc

NSCAs Performance Training Journal


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Suzie Tuffey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-CPT,*D

Dont Let Your Nerves Get

the Best of You

s an athlete, you have undoubtedly

experienced nervousness. Maybe it was prior
to an important competition, or maybe it
was during a 1-RM lift in training. Think

about how you felt at that time. What effect did the nervousness
have on your performance? For many athletes, an inability to
control or manage nervousness
leads to performance decrements. Fortunately, managing
nervousness is a skill that can
be learned. Lets look at some
important information regarding nervousness and specific

overconfident. Instead of getting rid of nervousness, the goal

should be to manage nervousness so it is an asset as opposed to
a detriment to performance.

Nervousness Manifests
Itself in Two Ways
As was discussed in a prior issue of the NSCAs Performance
Training Journal, nervousness can be experienced both physically
(somatic) and mentally (cognitive). This distinction is extremely
important when attempting to manage or control nervousness.
Symptoms of physical nervousness include increased heart
rate, tight muscles, butterflies,
and jitteriness. Symptoms of
mental nervousness include
worry, doubts, and racing
thoughts. It is easy to see how,
if left uncontrolled, these symptoms can be debilitating to
performance. What types of precompetition nerves plague you?
What symptoms are dominant?

strategies you can practice to

Target the

help you keep your nerves

reined in.

Nervousness is
not Necessarily
We tend to think of nervousness
as something to get rid of, when
in fact, some nervousness can
enhance performance. You have
probably experienced the beneficial effects of some pre-competition nervousnessincreased
focus, physical activation, or slight doubts so as to not be

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

While athletes tend to experience both physical and mental

symptoms of nervousness, it is
often the case that one is more
dominant or one has a more
detrimental effect on performance. It is these symptoms that
need to be targeted with anxiety
management strategies. To get
you started, we will look at two
specific strategiesone that
targets physical nervousness and the other that targets mental


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Managing physical nervousness using

Diaphragmatic Breathing
Correct breathing can be used to calm the body by providing
oxygen to the working muscles and relaxing the muscles in
the chest and abdomen. The key is to take oxygen/air deep
into the diaphragm as opposed to only into the upper
chest, which is what athletes typically do when anxious.
Steps to learning effective Diaphragm (Belly) Breathing
1. Lay on your back with one hand resting on your
stomach just below your belly button
2. Slowly take in a deep breath.
3. Concentrate on bringing the air into your diaphragm.
Your stomach should expand or rise as you inhale
and the hand that is on your belly should also rise.

Managing your nerves can help you to achieve your ultimate

performances on the field or in the weight room. Practice and
use these simple strategies to control your anxiety and achieve
your peak performances.

About the Author

Suzie Tuffey Riewald,PhD,NSCA-CPT,*D,received her degrees in
Sport Psychology/Exercise Science from the University of North
Carolina Greensboro. She has worked for USA Swimming as the
Sport Psychology and Sport Science Director, and most recently as
the Associate Director of Coaching with the USOC where she
worked with various sport national governing bodies (NGBs) to
develop and enhance coaching education and training. Suzie
currently works as a sport psychology consultant to several NGBs.

4. Slowly exhalesqueeze the muscles in your abdomen

to get all the air out.
5. Now, bring rhythm into your breathing by inhaling
and exhaling to a count.
6. IN 1-2-3 HOLD 1-2-3 OUT 1-2-3 repeat
this several times
7. Become aware of the tension leaving your body as
your exhale
With practice, you will be able to use this strategy to
control your nerves moments before a competition.

Managing mental nervousness by managing

Worry and doubts about ones ability are to be expected.
The key is to not focus on the worry and instead get on
with more productive thinking; thinking that can help
your performance.
Identify the productive thinking to shift your focus to
instead of worrying about being worried. Some things they
may identify include:
Performance Reminders: This includes instructional
talk related to the process of performance such as
aggressive start, work from the core, tempo, and
other technique related cues.
Confidence Builders: Talk that reminds you of your
preparation and readiness such as youve trained hard
all year, you didnt miss a practice, your test sets
are better than ever.
Emotional Words: Self-talk that gets you emotionally
focused such as go for it, be strong, and this is
Managing self-talk serves two purposesit will get you
thinking effectively, and in doing so, will leave no room
for you to worry about your worry. Plan your self-talk in
advance so you know how and when to shift your thinking.

NSCAs Performance Training Journal


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Tracy Morgan Handzel, CSCS

An Experts Take on: Core Training

y now you understand the importance of

core training as it relates to your sports
performance. But how helpful would it be
to know what the leaders in the sports

training industry are doing with athletes that can be considered

the best of the best? Heres a peek into the core training philoso-

lengthening effect they have on the psoas and hip rotators.

Even more important, these types of movements are much
more sport specific.
Identify and correct muscular imbalances. Dynamic
warm ups and isolated stretching can be effective solutions
to tightness and compensation in the muscles.
One of the many exercises that Wright uses in his training
programs is a posterior lunge and reach. Wright stresses the
importance of creating variety within this exercise by changing
the reach pattern.

phies and practices of Todd Wright, a leading specialist in the

Posterior Lunge Reach

sports performance industry.

Lunge by taking a large step backwards with the right leg, while
reaching over and behind the left shoulder with both arms.
Return to the starting position and perform 10 repetitions, then
repeat on the opposite side. Create variety within this exercise:

Wright is the Strength and Conditioning Coach to Texas

Longhorns Mens Basketball and trains professional golfers Tom
Kite and Ben Crenshaw. Like most experts, Todd understands
that a strong core is important, but adds, a healthy, well functioning core is the key to athletic success. That is, tight and
weak muscles, muscular compensations, and altered movement
patterns only serve to undermine your core training program if
not addressed.
Wright employs a variety of methods to ensure that his athletes
are functioning at optimal levels. An extensive evaluation and
screening process helps identify areas of weakness and concern.
Designing individualized warm up, strength, and core training
programs help to address and improve identified problems.
When asked what advice he would give to athletes on training
the core, Wright offered the following tips and advice:
Train with good posture. Good posture allows for optimal
alignment of all segments in the kinetic chain. If one
segment is out of alignment, the body compensates
somewhere along the kinetic chain, causing an increased
risk of injury, and decreased efficiency of movement.
Get out of the saggital plane. Forward lunges, bicep
curls, and dumbbell pullovers are performed in the saggital
plane. And while these exercises are great for increasing
strength in corresponding muscles, greater benefit can be
achieved by training in planes that cause the spine to
rotate or bend. Specifically movements in diagonal
patterns have been very effective for us because of the

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

Figure 1. Posterior Lunge Reach


Volume 3 Number 6 |

Reach back with a single arm on the same side of the

lunge, then repeat the lunge and reach with the opposite
arm. Switch legs.
Reach laterally and twist towards the back lunging leg and
In closing Wright adds, Core training is a key component of
performance. As we get better at understanding its function and
improve on our methods of training it, we see our athletes benefit
immensely. From reduced injuries to improved athletic skills
its value can not be underestimated.

NSCAs Performance Training Journal

About the author

Tracy Morgan Handzel, CSCS is the owner and head Performance
Coach of Train for the Game in Atlanta GA. She currently trains
elite and professional tennis players and writes training related articles
for various trade publications. Tracy has served as assistant director
at the International Performance Institute and assistant strength
and conditioning coach at the University of Washington, San Diego
State University, and the University of California San Diego.


Volume 3 Number 6 |

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