• Trainer Talk with Brad Schoenfeld
    This Trainer Talk focuses on Brad Schoenfeld, one of America's leading fitness authorities. Brad is a bestselling author of eight books. He has appeared or been published in over 1,000 magazine and newspaper articles and has been featured on hundreds of television shows and radio programs. Brad lectures for the exercise science department at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx, NY.
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  • TrainerTalkBannerTrainer Talk | Brad Schoenfeld

    Brad Schoenfeld, MSc, CSCS, CSPS, FNSCA 

    Brad Schoenfeld is widely regarded as one of America’s leading fitness authorities. He has been published or appeared internationally in over 1000 magazine and newspaper articles and has been featured on hundreds of television shows and radio programs across the United States. He is a bestselling fitness author with 8 published books that total more than 400,000 copies in print. Brad is a lecturer in the exercise science department at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx, NY and has over 30 peer-reviewed publications to his credit. As a trainer, he has worked with numerous high level athletes and physique competitors, including many top pros. He earned his master's degree in exercise science from the University of Texas, and is currently pursuing his PhD in health science at Rocky Mountain University where his research focuses on elucidating optimal resistance training regimens to maximize muscle growth. In 2011, he was named the NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year. Visit Brad's web site at www.lookgreatnaked.com. 

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    1. Describe a typical day in your life  
    One of the things I enjoy most is not having a “typical” day. At this point in my career, my days are highly varied. In addition to working with clients, I also teach, speak, write, conduct research, and serve as an educational consultant for various fitness companies and organizations. For me, the diversity of experiences is what keeps life stimulating and furthers my pursuit of self-actualization.  
     
    2. Can you identify a key turning point in your life/career that put you on your current path?   
    I was about midway through college and had become entrenched in the party scene. More often than not, I would stay out until all night long, subsisting on chicken wings and beer and doing little if any physical activity. Even though I was not overweight (due to a function of genetics), I was very out of shape. You could say I was “skinny-fat,” with emerging flab and no muscle tone whatsoever. 
     
    One day I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw—it was a true epiphany. At that point, I said to myself it is time to get my butt in gear. So I joined a gym and formulated a training routine with the help of my brother (who had been working out seriously for several years). My body changed rapidly and it was not long before I was hooked. Soon after, people in the gym took notice of my transformation and started asking me for advice on training, which ultimately led to pursuing a career as a fitness professional.  
     
    3. Do you have any mentors?   
    I have many mentors and my late father is at the top of the list. He was a cardiologist/researcher who always preached the importance of the scientific method. No one shaped my life’s path more than my dad. The late Dr. Mel Siff also had a substantial impact on my fitness philosophy. He made me cognizant of the fact that we should not be afraid to challenge established dogmas and that just because someone has an advanced degree does not mean they have all the answers.  
     
    Other mentors include Dr. Brent Alvar, Dr. Nick Ratamess, Dr. Mark Peterson, and Dr. Bill Kraemer, who have all been integral in helping me become a scholar in the field of exercise science. There are many others but they are too numerous to mention. I am constantly learning from anyone and everyone that I can.  
     
    4. Why did you choose the NSCA when selecting your certification(s)?   
    The NSCA is the premier fitness organization hands down. Their mission of bridging the gap between science and application is how all trainers should approach the craft. It is the essence of an evidence-based approach. When you are certified through the NSCA, you are looked upon with distinction by the upper echelon in the field. It brings you instant credibility as a fitness professional.  
     
    5. Describe your area of expertise    
    My primary focus is on helping people optimize body composition (muscle development and fat loss). I have worked with numerous physique athletes (bodybuilders, figure competitors, etc.) over the years, as well as numerous recreational trainees who want to look their best.  
     
    That being said, I consider myself a student of exercise science and have diverse interests in pretty much all aspects of fitness. In particular, I have done a lot of work in the “functional fitness” realm (the term “functional fitness” is all too often misunderstood and misapplied) as well as work within a variety of special populations.   
     
    6. What advice do you have for up-and-coming trainers who are interested in developing their career in the fitness industry?   
    Two things: First, study the science of exercise. Training is both a science and an art. The problem with a majority of trainers is that they try to be artists without understanding the scientific basis for what they are trying to accomplish; you cannot disassociate the art of trying from its underlying science.  
     
    Attaining knowledge requires a proactive approach. Read relevant research journals such as the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and the Strength and Conditioning Journal. Make it a point to attend conferences and reach out to those who are knowledgeable to ask them questions. Understand that learning is a never-ending journey and make a concerted effort to be an eternal student of the craft.

    Second, pay attention to the business aspects of training. I have seen some of the best trainers languish in obscurity because they did not have the proper management and marketing skills to succeed. Training is a business and it is imperative that trainers become business-savvy to be successful. Again, reach out to people who are successful in the field and pick their brains. 
     
     
    Attending conferences is a great way to network with others and exchange ideas. Finally, social media is becoming an increasingly important avenue to build a platform; in my opinion, every trainer should have a strong presence on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
     
    7. If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?   
    To be more skeptical about embracing theory as fact. Over time I have come to appreciate that research and theory are constantly evolving, so that what we think we know is subject to continual change. An astute fitness professional adopts an evidence-based approach where current research is synthesized along with personal experience and the needs of the individual to design a customized program.  
     
    The program is then continually reevaluated and tweaked based on whatever new evidence that may arise. The bottom line is that we should never be married to a certain concept or philosophy. There is no sin in being wrong; the sin is in refusing to change one’s opinion when evidence shows it is appropriate.  
     
    8. Tell us about yourself - what captures your interest, what do you do for fun?    
    By choice, I do not have much free time at this point. I love what I do and want to maximize my productivity as much as possible. There simply are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to achieve. In the downtime that I do have, I have participated in martial arts for many years. I am educated in several different styles and am currently studying Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I also play jazz piano – I have studied since I was a kid – and try to carve out at least a few hours a week to practice.
     
    9. Do you have any upcoming speaking engagements?   
    My newest book is called “The M.A.X. Muscle Plan” (Human Kinetics, 2012) which details a science-based approach to maximizing muscle hypertrophy. It was the culmination of years of research and practical application of principles, so I am extremely pleased with how well it has been received. I will be speaking frequently in 2014, including several international engagements. Those interested can check my website for updates. 
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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