OPS Welcome to the SUMMER issue of the
OPS CORE Magazine 2021. With the heat
this Summer expected to be extreme, it is a
good idea to insure you take an active
approach to Sun Safety. Sunscreen, hats
and covering where you can. Stay Safe,
Move Better - Train Better - Coach Better
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OPS CORE SUMMER 2021 ISSUE PG 2
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WHY CHOOSE NASM?
WHAT IS NASM?
The NASM Certified Personal
Trainer, NASM-CPT certification
sets the standard in fitness,
requiring a comprehensive
knowledge of human movement
science, functional assessment,
and program design. In addition to
our NASM-CPT, we offer a
progressive career track with
advanced specialisation and
continuing education courses –
which keep our personal trainers
at the top of their game.
OUR CORE, YOUR STRENGTH
The NASM-CPT program does
more than introduce you to the
fundamentals of training. It sets
you on the path to becoming a
leader in the industry.
At NASM, we want you to succeed.
That’s why our courses are
offered on a variety of formats,
including hands-on learning, self
directed and self-paced study. The
NASM-CPT is one of the most
sought after certifications in the
personal training industry.
ACCELERATE YOUR CAREER
Distinguish yourself from your
peers. Gain specialised
capabilities, and increase your
THE TRAINING MODEL
The OPT model sets NASM apart
from the rest of the industry. From
the beginning, NASM has focused
on developing fitness programs
based on the latest scientific
research, not anecdotal evidence.
That focus on science – facts, not
fads – led to the creation of the
most rigorously tested system
available to fitness professionals
today: the proprietary Optimum
Performance Training (OPT)
The OPT model is a systematic
training reconditioning and
rehabilitation program that covers
the entire body through three
distinct levels that build one into
the next : Stabilisation, Strength
and Power. Most important, the
program works whether you are
training elite, college, high school
or recreational athletes, or
working with general fitness or
- learning on the
Getting into the fitness industry can be a daunting task, with its glorification of near perfectly sculpted bodies,
science terminology and oftentimes overcomplicated programs and exercises. Even for those of us who come from
athletic backgrounds, it is easy to feel unnerved at times, when talking to true experts in the field. Knowing how to
train yourself is one thing, but knowing how to train others is another entirely.
Imposter syndrome can kick in hard for new trainers, especially when well established trainers next to
you are discussing advanced concepts together in what would seem like pig latin to the uninitiated. Learning on the
job can be tough enough when you know that simple mistakes can cost you a potential client, let alone the
possibility of injuring a client, but doing it next to seasoned trainers can be downright intimidating, knowing that
prospective clients are most likely making mental comparisons between the two of you. After all, why should the
client choose you over your more experienced counterpart?
Fortunately, there are gyms and trainers who are happy to take on mentees and allow these newer trainers
to shadow them before they officially enter the industry. I myself elected to go through the Joint Dynamics
Mentorship program almost immediately after attaining my NASM CPT, at Optimum Performance Studio, and it
has definitely helped me a ton. Reading and memorising concepts for a test is one thing, but knowing how to put
them into practice, how to structure a session, progress a client, and the soft skills that are all essential to a smooth
flowing session, are something that only time and experience can really teach you.
The Mentorship program at JD allows for an invaluable pressure free environment where you can both see
these in action, and practice them yourself while receiving feedback from some of the best trainers in the industry.
It’s worth pointing out however, that while you could approach this program as a course to complete, merely
checking off the requirements, the returns are so much greater if you really try and spend time there and simply
absorb as much as you can, because as long as you are willing to ask and willing to learn, the JD team are more than
happy to answer and help out.
At the end of the day, I believe that new trainers should try and keep in mind that like any other role, it takes
time and effort to get good at training, and that getting certified is really only the first step. Much like graduating
from medical school with a medical degree doesn’t guarantee that you know how to be a doctor, getting that first
certification in personal training is more like the entry key to the industry than a license to train. Besides, even
doctors require extensive interning at the hospital and learning through shadowing before they are allowed to
practice, and really, your approach to personal training should be no different. Remember to be patient, treat your
education as an investment into your career, and more than anything, don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know
something and be willing to ask. Chances are, your fellow trainers will respect you more for it and your clients will
get better results in the long run.
OPS CORE SUMMER 2021 ISSUE PG 9
are they worth
Learn the benefits, risks, and
whether they’re right for YOU.
By Helen Kollias, PhD
OPS CORE SUMMER 2020 ISSUE PG 10
JOHN BERARDI PHD, CSCS,
Dr. Berardi (a.k.a. “JB”) is a co-founder of
Precision Nutrition, which has become the
world’s largest online nutrition coaching and
certification company. He’s an advisor to Apple,
Equinox, Nike, and Titleist, and was recently
selected as one of the 20 smartest coaches in
I’ve devoted my entire career to making
health and fitness something that’s
achievable and attainable for every type of
person, from every walk of life.
OPS CORE SUMMER 2020 ISSUE PG 11
What are BCAAs—and are they
By Helen Kollias, PhD
What are BCAAs? | Do BCAAs work? | BCAAs vs whey | BCAAs vs. EAAs |
BCAAs vs food | Bottom line
“Get ripped with BCAAs,” says the company that sells them.
“I took BCAAs and had way more gains,” says guy at the gym.
“Taking BCAAs twice a day helps recovery,” says fit human on Twitter.
With all the talk, it’s enough to make any muscle-conscious person
wonder: Should I be taking a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA)
Unless, however, you’re a molecular biologist with a specialty in muscle
development. (That’s me.)
Or you’re someone like Stuart Phillips, PhD, one of the world’s top protein
researchers. He’s the principal investigator at McMaster University’s
protein metabolism lab—one of the most prolific protein metabolism labs
in history, publishing more than 250 research papers that have been cited
more than 32,000 times.
When making BCAA claims, people often cite research from Dr. Phillips’
Yet Dr. Phillips doesn’t recommend BCAA supplementation—for anything.
So if THE expert on BCAAs doesn’t recommend them, why do so many
people swear by the supplement?
And what other, less expensive options might work just as well or better?
Let’s find out.
What are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)?
Before we get into what BCAAs are, let’s talk about amino acids in general.
Amino acids are the building blocks for protein. There are 20 different
amino acids, divided into three categories.
Amino acids can be divided into three categories: essential amino
acids, conditionally essential amino acids, and non-essential amino
Your body can make some amino acids—these are called “non-essential”—
but they have to get others from food. These are called essential amino
acids. Conditionally essential amino acids can be made by the body some of
the time, but not under times of stress—like after a tough workout, or when
you’re sick. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a subgroup of three
essential amino acids (EAAs):
Of the three BCAAs, leucine is the most researched, and appears to offer the
biggest physiological benefit. It stimulates muscle protein synthesis, which is
when muscle cells assemble amino acids into proteins. This process is key if
you want to build muscle strength and size.
Around the turn of the millennium, Dr. Phillips was one of several
researchers who helped figure out that leucine was the star of the musclebuilding
show, because of its stimulating effect on protein synthesis.1-4
When his and other studies were published, people in the muscle-building
universe got excited.
Their thinking went like this
But hold up, muscle-building universe—don’t get too excited…Do BCAAs
Probably not—for many reasons. Here we go into just three of them.
Reason #1: Leucine can’t build muscle without other
Here’s an analogy: Think of muscle as a brick wall. Granted, this will be an
unusual wall that someone builds and destroys over and over again—but
visualize a wall nonetheless.
When it comes to building that wall, leucine is the most important brick.
The wall doesn’t get built without it.
But leucine can’t finish the job all by itself. You also need histidine bricks,
lysine bricks, methionine bricks, and many other amino acid bricks
If you only have a pile of leucine bricks? No wall.
If you have a pile of leucine, isoleucine, and valine (the BCAAs)? Still no
You need bricks from all 20 amino acids.
Bottom line: To build muscle, you need all the amino acids, not just
Reason #2: Leucine doesn’t work like lighter fluid.
People wrongly assume: The more leucine (from BCAAs, EAAs, or whole
protein) you take, the more protein synthesis you get. And more protein
synthesis means bigger muscles.
Light those muscles up, baby!
Except the mechanism is more like a dimmer switch, Dr. Phillips explains.
Leucine will turn up the protein synthesis switch—but not indefinitely.
It doesn’t continually make the lights brighter and brighter until it’s just you
and the sun hanging at the gym, getting infinitely more swollen.
Here’s how it actually works:
About 0.5 grams of leucine turns on the lights, initiating muscle protein
synthesis. You’ll find that much in an egg—or any other food that contains at
least 5 grams of complete protein.4 You’ll max your wattage somewhere
around 2-3 grams of leucine, though the exact amount will vary based on
your sex, body size, and age.4-6 You’ll find roughly that much in a meal that
contains ~20-30 grams of complete protein, found in:
3-4 ounces of meat
1-2 cups of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese Bottom line: Leucine turns up
muscle protein synthesis, but only to a point.
Reason #3: BCAAs don’t go straight from your mouth to
They first have to make their way through your intestines, and into the
bloodstream. (And many don’t.) Amino acids compete with one another to
enter little doorways (called transporters) to get into the bloodstream. And
they can only use the doors specific to their amino acid type. If you flood your
GI tract with single amino acids from a BCAA supplement, the doors reserved
for single amino acids will get backed up. Instead of your bloodstream, they
end up in your toilet.
And the ones that do get into the bloodstream? They still have to find their
way into your muscles. (Again, many don’t.)
That’s because leucine can only get into a muscle cell if another amino acid
(called glutamine) happens to be leaving the muscle at the same time. So if
you have a ton of leucine—and not enough glutamine—leucine either can’t
get into the muscle cell at all or it does so very slowly.
Bottom line: Leucine needs glutamine to effectively get into muscle
What’s best: BCAAs vs. whey protein vs. EAAs vs. food
Let’s start with the truth, straight from Dr. Phillips’s email to me when I told
him about this story: “BCAAs are a waste of money… kind of sums up my
If you want to supplement, spend your money on Essential Amino Acids
(EAAs). You need all of the EAAs to build muscle, not just leucine.
But, for most people, even EAA supplements aren’t necessary. And they may
not be superior to… food. Truth is, we don’t fully understand the complexity of
the interactions between amino acids and other nutrients in the body. It’s
likely that the ratio of amino acids is more important than the absolute
amount of one amino acid or nutrient.
Luckily, we evolved eating whole foods that likely (naturally) have the ratios
we need to function well.
In other words, the best “supplement” may be the one that you slice with a
knife, spear with a fork, and mash between your molars before swallowing.
The #1 source of amino acids
Yogurt, chicken, rice combined with beans, and other protein-rich foods
contain all of the amino acids that most people need for muscle
development. And, they cost less than supplements.
The “just eat real food” approach will work for you if:
✓ You’re ready, willing, and able to eat protein-rich foods throughout the day.
Data shows muscle growth is maximized by a daily protein intake of 1.6-2.2
grams/kilograms (g/kg) body weight. Try to distribute protein throughout the
day, with an intake of about 0.4-0.6 g/kg per meal (assuming you eat about 3-4
meals per day). For specific protein recommendations based on your sex, age,
and body size, use our macros calculator.
✓You’re under age 65. It takes less protein to stimulate protein synthesis when
you’re younger, making it pretty easy to get all you need from food.
The #2 source of amino acids
Let’s say consuming 1-2 protein portions per meal sounds unlikely. In that case:
Whey protein is your next best option.
As the chart below shows, when compared to other protein powders, whey
contains the most leucine and EAAs per scoop.8,4
Whey protein is a great option for:
✓ People who don’t really like protein-rich foods. If you’re not sure if this
describes you, write down what you ate in the last few days. Then check how
many palm-sized portions of protein you tend to eat per meal. If you’re not
getting 1-2 palms of protein per meal, whey might save the day.
✓ You’re trying to lose weight—and you’re hungry. You might want to
periodically mix up a simple whey protein shake to stop the growlies—for
relatively few calories.
✓ You’re 65 or older. Protein needs go up as we age. At the same time, some
older people either feel less hungry or have trouble chewing and digesting
certain protein foods. All of this makes it more difficult to get enough protein
from food alone.
✓ You’re trying to gain muscle while losing fat. Usually, when people gain lean
mass (which includes muscle), they also gain a bit of fat along with it.
Conversely, when they lose fat, they also lose some muscle.
(No one ever said life was fair.) But you might be able to minimize your muscle
loss if you eat more protein while cutting calories, finds research.9
Compared to a steak, whey protein is relatively low calorie, making it easier to
boost your protein consumption without also boosting your calorie intake.
So, if you’re older, or wanting to increase protein consumption in an easy,
calorie-minimal way, whey’s a good protein source to add to the roster.
The #3 source of amino acids
For the vast majority of people, either whole foods or whey protein offers
everything they need.
But EAAs might be a good option if:
✓ You’re an athlete who’s trying to shed fat for a competition. Whey protein
isn’t calorie-dense. But in those rare situations where every single calorie
counts, it might make sense for you to use EAAs instead, which provide your
muscles with the essential building blocks, at very few calories.
✓ You can’t stomach protein powders. Some people have trouble digesting
whey and other protein powders. Or they could be allergic to dairy. In those
cases, EAAs might be a better option.
✓You don’t mind the flavor of EAAs. Fair warning: they’re bitter.
When should you consume protein? Before, during, or
Maybe you’ve heard that you should consume protein right after a workout—
in order to take advantage of something called “the anabolic window.”
But this is a misinterpretation of the research.
Yes, exercise does make muscles more sensitive to protein synthesis. In
other words, the anabolic window is real. But that window remains wide open
for a long time. Eating meals within two to four hours of your workouts put
you well within it.
And most people, unless they’re fasting, are going to eat within four hours of
Bottom line: BCAAs (usually) aren’t worth it.
Even after you read this, maybe you still want to try BCAAs. Or you have a
client who’s itching to experiment with them.
Because the best way to find out whether anything does or doesn’t work for
you is this: run an experiment.
How to experiment with BCAAs if you really, really want
to try them.
Before you start, decide on a few metrics to track. You could measure your:
Appetite, on a 1 to 10 scale before and after meals.
Weight or girth measurements
Power / strength output at the gym
Jot down your baseline(s).
Then go ahead and start taking BCAAs.
After a few weeks, check back in. How do you feel? What progress are you
making? Is the supplement working? Have you seen a difference? If yes,
keep doing what’s working.
If no, that’s helpful information that could save you some money.
If you’re a coach, or you want to be…
Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through
healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalised for their
unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.
If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition
Level 1 Certification.
BECOME A PRECISION
NUTRITION LEVEL I COACH
GAIN INSTANT ACCESS
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. 21
Want to be the person that changes
peoples lives? Then AFAA Group
Fitness Certification, might just be
the way to do that…Take a look at
what is available to become a
Certified Group Fitness Instructor.
AFAA ONLINE SELF STUDY
AFAA Continuing Education.
Gain valuable CEU’s, stay
current, and make your
members want to return to your
classes again and again.
ONGOING EDUCATION FOR AFAA
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EDUCATION 2021 CENTRAL STUDIO
OPS CORE AUTUMN 2020 ISSUE PG 34
WHAT IS YOUR TRX
OPS CORE SUMMER 2019 ISSUE 36
OPS CORE SUMMER 2021 ISSUE PG 38
Everybody finds it hard to continue education, especially in this industry. Thankfully the
trend moving forward is online education. Online education is becoming the industry
standard, so you can learn from the comfort of your own home.
Did you know that personal trainers who have
their NASM Corrective Exercise Specialization
(NASM-CES) earn 48% more on average than
other personal trainers without the NASM-
CES. That's an amazing pay increase in an
industry where your income is typically
determined by the number of clients you have,
how many sessions they book and how much
they are willing to pay.
NASM’s Corrective Exercise Specialization
applies to all clients, which means you bring
increased value to new and existing
customers. Obtaining the NASM-CES
demonstrates your continued passion and
investment in education, helping you better
establish yourself as a leader in the fitness
You can also apply the NASM Corrective
Exercise program to clients that are already in
good physical condition but want to do more!
Maybe they are preparing for a race or
competing in a sport. You will have the added
value of making sure they are able to do their
very best, maintain movement efficiency and
help avoid injury as they challenge their bodies
and push the limits.
FIND OUT MORE
FROM THE CROWD
FIND YOUR SPECIALIZATION
44 OPS CORE SUMMER 2019 ISSUE
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for trainers to run their own business.
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