The NSCA national conference was held this past week at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. For me, this was a particularly special event as I was named the NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year at the awards banquet ceremony. I also got to catch up with many friends and colleagues, some of whom I haven’t seen for a while, as well as meeting with some of the top researchers in the field about my doctoral work.
Throughout it all, I spent the majority of the days attending various presentations. Here are some of the highlights from the sessions I attended:
- JC Santana gave two presentations. His first was a hands on presentation on bodyweight training. Lots of cool variations of exercises such as pushups, squats and lunges that could be used to alter muscle recruitment and energy system development. His second presentation was called “Combat Spartan Training.” Here JC discussed an approach to fitness that he uses with MMA fighters, discussing applications for general fitness training. JC is one of the most dynamic presenters in the fitness field, and both sessions were highly entertaining.
- Dr. Dan Bernadot presented on nutrient timing. Certainly Bernadot has good credentials–professor of nutrition, multiple research publications, etc. His primary contention, however, was the importance of consuming multiple, small meals throughout the day to optimize fat loss. As I mentioned in a previous post, this claim is contrary to the majority of research that I’ve seen. He did provide several references to support his contention, so I need to go back and review these studies. I’ll have more to say on this in a future post.
- Dr. Joe Weir presented on customized supplement approaches for the future. This was an extremely interesting lecture where Weir discussed the role of genetics in response to nutrition. He presented evidence, for example, that a certain percentage of the population has been shown to be susceptible to weight gain from saturated fat intake while others are at a considerably less risk. The take home message is that the time is rapidly approaching where we can get a genetic printout of our bodies and then individualize a nutritional regimen accordingly. We should be able to do the same with exercise, too.
- John Cissik presented on evidence-based core training. This was one of my favorite presentations of the conference. As the name of the discussion implies, John discussed the research on the benefits (or lack of such) of core training. As John points out, there is a surprising dearth of evidence to support the need for a core training regimen with respect to improving sports performance and aiding in rehabilitation. Now some apparently misinterpreted John’s message to mean that core training is a waste of time. This isn’t the case. Rather, it simply implies that we should take a closer look at the evidence and not be so quick to assume that the standard advice about the subject is substantiated by research. Look for an interview with John in a future blog post.
- Dr. Andy Fry did an excellent presentation titled “Back to the Basics about Strength and Conditioning.” Dr. Fry provided a template that could be used to create a strength training routine from scratch. What I liked best about his approach is that he did not advocate a particular method of training. Rather, he presented a modifiable way to systematically create a routine. It was a highly practical session and his technique should be standard reading for trainers and fitness enthusiasts alike.
- Dr. Chad Kerksick co-presented on the importance of training to failure. This is a heavily debated topic and Kerksick did an excellent job reviewing the literature and presenting recommendations on the topic. Bottom line is that training to failure is an important component of a training routine, but it’s use should be balanced by recovery issues. Some failure training is necessary, but it should be periodized in a routine depending on the goal’s of the lifter.
There were many other excellent presentations, but I’m running short of time. Next year’s conference will be in Providence, RI. Hope to see you there!