Best Personal Trainer Certification (Part 3)
Posted On June 25, 2022
Specialized Certifications for Personal Trainers and Strength Trainers: PICP
I just took the Level 1 Strength Trainer Certification from the Poliquin International Certification Program (PICP) in New York City ($650, 3 days). It was very good information.
I learned about the certification through a mentor, Joe Dowdell. I trust his opinion because he is very committed to continuing education and has obtained almost all the reputable certifications.
Charles Poliquin is a famous strength coach who has trained more Olympians than any other strength coach I can think of (except maybe Mike Boyle).
If you read Part. 1 of this series, you know that there are many good certifications out there and that there is no one best certification for everyone. It all depends on who you want to work with and your career path.
But, if you want to work with athletes to increase performance, this certification is right up there with the NSCA’s CSCS and the Athlete Performance Mini-Internship (I’ve taken both and honestly, even though the NSCA is the most respected, I think as if I got more practical knowledge from Poliquin and Athlete’s Performance).
There are several things that I loved about this certification and a couple of things that I think could be improved.
* Level 1 Strength Trainer certification focuses on manipulating acute training variables (sets, reps, rhythm, and rest) for highly effective program design. These may seem like basics, but no other certification covers it like Poliquin. It’s amazing how few people really understand how to manipulate time under tension, rhythm, and rest for specific goals and sports. They also emphasize creating accurate descriptions of each exercise, to ensure the greatest amount of variation and adaptation (Squat vs Barbell Back Squat Shoulder Width Stance).
*I loved the amount of research they provided as evidence, although they could have done a better job of summarizing it. I have found that the best certifications specialize in one area. (Too many certifications try to be jacks of all trades and end up being masters of none.)
* The information is easily transferred to the practical application and is applicable to your clients in the general population. If you want to learn program design, particularly for power, strength, or fat loss, this certification is great.
* They provide a good methodology and protocol for assessing maximal strength, albeit somewhat incomplete (see below). Based on this test, they provide a good, research-based formula for evaluating strength balance throughout the upper body. (Ex. If you bench press xxx, you should be able to do 8rm external rotation with 8.6% of that bench press weight, and if you can’t, there’s an imbalance, etc.).
* Course instructors were friendly, knowledgeable, and generous with their attention.
* You have to take a test before being admitted to the class, as well as a test at the end. I like this! Only committed trainers are featured, and they are featured with a good understanding of the basic material, so no one is asking stupid questions.
* One of the instructors did not understand BASIC biomechanics. Either that, or we had a huge miscommunication.
* Some of the images in the manual were misleading and/or confusing.
* The little demo about stretching was a waste of time at best and misleading at worst. Stick to what you’re good at, leave the stretch to certifications that focus on that!
* We were asked about group training and German body training, which is a very good thing, but we only covered it up during the conference. I wish I had spent more time on these specific programs, but there is also a lot of good information about them online.
* Some of the topics in the manual could be written better. Initially, they do a good job of defining the different qualities of strength (limit strength, maximal strength, absolute strength, speed strength, strength endurance), but they are less clear when referring to these qualities later in the manual.
* They were clearly negligent and did not follow their own methodology when choosing a trainer to demonstrate the 1rm test protocol for the bench press. They specifically chose someone who seemed to be out of structural alignment and then tested him to the limit, without even asking him if he had been training consistently for the last 12 weeks (which is his own protocol).
*Also, they should change their protocol and ask what kind of training they have done in the last 12 weeks, because a person could be training for 12 weeks and still not be ready for a 1rm bench press. RULE #1 in personal training is to do no harm. The trainer came the next day and was unable to participate in certain lifts, and I understood that he had joint pain, not just muscle pain. It’s not great and it’s not necessary. I later spoke with another trainer who said that he was injured at a PICP certification.
You may read this last part and say “Wow, there’s no way I’m going to do this certification” but I think you should reconsider, it’s a very valuable certification, just know your own limits and don’t do anything you think is risky (and keep it up!) ego under control! I know it’s hard when there are other trainers around).
We all had to do a 1rm test to gain experience; I chose the pull up because I am a climber. I was able to do 1 pull-up with 90lbs loaded on me, chin on the bar. There are several exercises to choose from, so you should be able to find one you’re comfortable with, and if not, you can and should pass.
On the subject of biomechanics, one of the instructors mentioned that he does 1 and ¼ reps on the bench press with girls with ¼ reps at the top of the movement, because this part of the movement overloads the triceps and the girls worry about the back of your arms. looking good
Totally cool with me. This instructor mentioned that he is very precise in following his programs and exercises, so I asked him if he ever manipulated his intent on the bar to overload his triceps as well.
In other words, you can push against the friction of the bar with your triceps, your hands are not going to move, but the line of force caused by the friction, when combined with the line of force of the bar (gravity) creates a resulting with a different line of force that changes the angles of force in the axes of rotation of the shoulder joint and the elbow joint. (Not a typo, axes is the plural of ax. Who knew?)
With intention, you can make the lower part of the bench press harder on the triceps and the upper part harder on the chest. Can you do this and still lift the maximum weight? Nope! Can you lift a bar with just your triceps? Nope! But that was not my question.
His response was “I’d love for you to come bang me sometime,” as if whoever could bank more would settle for who knew more (it’s not like that, duh).
Wow cowboy, first of all I was just asking a question, second of all I would be honored to train with you because you know so much even if you don’t understand basic biomechanics, and third of all you can do one. of my Empire State Building stair workouts with me. I can climb 86 flights in LESS than 15 minutes, I’d love to see your face while you’re trying to keep up, though to do that I’d have to slow down, and speed is not my style friend. Either way, none of these trainings were going to solve anything, I was just trying to learn from their perspective without losing my perspective.
His final response was “Yes, you could probably do that, but why not just do a triceps exercise instead of modifying a bench press?” Really, didn’t we start this conversation because you said you like to modify a 1 and ¼ rep bench press to work your triceps more? Caramba! He wasn’t going to push because this wasn’t a biomechanics seminar and he didn’t want to be one of those coaches who takes over a conference to prove his point. Anyway, this instructor has a lot of potential, but he’s young and cranky! I liked it to say the least 🙂
I hope you have enjoyed this post and that you will consider this certification. Also, if you want to be able to tear apart expert instructors, textbooks, and just about everyone else in the gym on biomechanics or exercise mechanics, you should seriously consider the Resistance Training Specialist certification.
What is your favorite certification? Why? What information helped you choose a certification? Is there a topic you want to learn about in particular? Would you take the PICP certification?
Leave me some questions in the comments and I’ll get back to you right away. SHOW ME YOU’RE ALIVE!
Until next time, keep your business in shape.