CPPS Re-Visited – How It’s Still Changing the Game

I first wrote about the CPPS in an article titled, “Why CPPS is Changing the Game for Coaches”  back in 2013 when I started to heavily take note of what I was taking part in. You can check it out here https://powerstrengthpro.com/why-cpps-is-changing-the-game-for-coaches/


Since then I’ve attended 7 more CPPS certifications. After my most recent CPPS experience, at the Onnit Academy in Austin, Texas,  and some time reflecting as I travelled, I knew it was time to post another review. Mainly, because of how it has helped develop my team of coaches and our system.

2015 April CPPS @ Onnit Academy

2015 April CPPS @ Onnit Academy



Let’s back up for those of you who don’t know…


CPPS stands for Certified Physical Preparation Specialist (CPPS) Course – the last one I attended took place at the Onnit Academy in Austin, Texas. The certification course is organized by strength and conditioning experts Joe DeFranco and James ‘Smitty’ Smith. It is an entire weekend of lecture, hands-on instruction, live exercise demonstrations, networking with quality coaches from around the world, and more.


There are many certifications in the strength and conditioning and fitness industries. Obviously for me, I strongly believe in the CPPS for any coach who actually works hands on with athletes and clients on a daily basis – whether it be in the private sector,  public sector, or team setting.


At PowerStrength, we have used this system with great success on hundreds of our clients – from youth, to adult fitness, to professional athletes. It has helped build my business by providing a results-based product. You want to learn how to develop and grow your gym business? Provide a great service, care, and get better results than anyone else. The CPPS course provides the framework for this to happen. With the help of my team, we’ve been able to do this because we are relentless when it comes to learning, practicing, and re-visiting to make changes. No egos allowed on our team.

I get asked all the time about our programming, structure of the workouts, exercise selection – and how we make it all run smoothly and effectively  in a 1,500 sq. ft. garage with large groups of athletes. I reply by saying we are all on the same page within our program which allows for a common and clear message delivered to our athletes. Our coaches all speaking the same language develops trust between the athlete and facility. Most importantly, it allows for extreme attention to detail in all that you do in the gym, something we constantly uphold.  This is in large part due to the CPPS, as we use it to set the foundation of our coaching, cues, and progression.

We have sent 6 coaches through the cert. It may be safe to say that no other facility in the world has bought into the CPPS cert like we have. I made it a requirement for all of my coaches. It has paid off, and continues to pay off on a daily basis.

Orlando CPPS @ WWE Performance Center

2013 Orlando CPPS @ WWE Performance Center


May 2014 CPPS - DeFranco's Gym in New Jersey

May 2014 CPPS – DeFranco’s Gym in New Jersey



To expand further I compiled my Top 4 Reasons on how the CPPS is Still Changing the Game. Some are presented again while some are new…


1. It’s Practical

Legendary strength coach, Buddy Morris, defines himself not as strength coach, but rather, a coach of Physical Preparation. What he means by this is that developing athletes is much more than simply “strength” and “conditioning”. Proper movement mechanics (biomotor patterns), neurological efficiency, soft tissue health, mobility, energy system development, power, speed, strength, acceleration mechanics, and many other factors – all play a role in athlete development. Developing athletes is like a puzzle. You must find the right pieces and place them in their proper spots so everything fits.

The CPPS program guides you on how to organize all this, while supplying real world tactics that you can apply immediately in the gym. The science books must guide us, but the coach’s eye must be developed enough to know when and how to apply the science. From the basic assessment process, teaching the fundamental movements, understanding proper breathing, addressing general soft-tissue and mobility upkeep, instructing on proper running and deceleration mechanics, providing the make-up between speed/power/strength, and tying it together with a complete program template – I’d say the CPPS is as practical as they come. Just what the busy coach, or aspiring strength coach needs.


2. Coaches Coach – Come Prepared Because You Can’t Hide 

When you’re not engrossed in the lecture, you’ll be demonstrating and getting a feel for what is being discussed. Everyone coaches in front of the group so you can’t fake it. Studying the materials and being aware of what will be discussed is a necessity. All attendees must coach, and demonstrate,  the fundamental movements and their regressions/progressions. The coach coaches the group. Practicing what you preach and performing it allows you to gain an understanding of what your athletes and clients are experiencing. In my opinion every coach should be doing this, and most of you reading this would agree.

Basic barbell movements (Bench/Squat/Deadlift) are also discussed at length. I’ve been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to instruct on the bench press tutorial on a few occasions. Even with this experience I still pick up new cues from other coaches in the audience during these tutorial times. If I find one cue that I can use every day for the rest of my coaching career then it is money well spent.

And if you somehow skate by during the weekend without coaching the group much, it’ll show up when you have to record yourself doing it all on your own back home as part of the practical exam…just another way the course forces coaches to know their stuff!


Bench Press Tutorial



3.  The Investment for the Development of Young Coaches 

You must be willing to invest in yourself. It is the best investment you can make in this life. The second best investment (as a gym owner) is to invest in your team. While the cert itself is priced higher than most standard written exams- it is a steal when you factor in the content you walk away with. I’ve been strapped for finances just like anybody else. MAKE a way. After 8 certs and 5 other coaches, I know the initial investments (and travel costs), yet I’m also seeing the return on my investment – the return takes the cake.

Young coaches who are looking for jobs, experience, internships, or searching for your path – MAKE it happen. College students always rattle off their book smarts but none of them have actually coached anybody. Learn from the CPPS then go find people to train. Your future employer (or maybe your own business) will thank you later.

Gym owners and coaches, do you want to be the best or not? I was in Florida for the Orlando cert in 2013. I visited a local franchise gym who “claims” to train athletes. One of the young trainers said he loved following Joe DeFranco and how “lucky” we were that we were going to the cert and he’s been wanting to get to one for over a year. I told him he possibly could still attend if he wanted me to look into it for him. His answer was solely based around upfront cost, rather than long-term investment. He also lived 15-minutes away, while many coaches travel from around the world (15+ countries have been represented). With over a year to plan and save, he could’ve made it happen. This trainer will never be the best and his clients will never receive the best service from him with this attitude. Maybe a CPPS-driven gym will one day put him out of business.

Using the CPPS as a standard to develop my coaches has been invaluable and I strongly suggest if you are in charge of leading other coaches, that you look into it for your team after you have experienced it yourself. I could teach them a lot, but sending them to a CPPS gave them ownership of the experience, allowed them to gain more confidence in their abilities, and provided an opportunity to develop their own coaching network and relationships. They couldn’t get this full benefit by sitting in our gym.



4. Constantly Evolving Info & An Ever-Changing Network

Having the opportunity to attend multiple certs, I can tell you how much it has evolved as both Smitty and Joe are constantly improving themselves. This is inspiring, and one of the main reasons why the CPPS will be a major force someday. There is no room for outdated research, practices, and techniques as they are bringing in new information every time. After the last cert, I must take my hat off to Smitty. It was the best I’ve ever attended and the additions he made were something we have since implemented in our PowerStrength system. The upcoming attendees at the next one are in for a treat.

I’ve also been very fortunate to meet and network with many coaches from all over the country and the world. Being like-minded, we share a bond that was forged by the CPPS weekend. It has enabled me to learn from countless coaches anytime I need to. This has also been invaluable. As it grows, it only generates more opportunities to learn and grow from one another. Smitty and Joe D have created an avenue to allow coaches to change the game for their clients, gyms, careers, teams, schools, and communities. They can’t do it all themselves but they have sparked a powerful movement.

I’ll name a few of the CPPS guys that I still chat with and have helped develop me as a coach in one way or another, big or small: my PSTS team, Vince Gabriele, Mike Patella, Brandon Kelly, Brad Martin, Rich Flynn, Kyle Hollenbeck, Kyle Newell, Chad Hobbs, David Green, Faisal Alam, Ryan Hall, Christian Oropeza, Tyler Perdue, Bobby Tran, Dave Taylor, Jonathan Minnis, Eric Gerencir, Chad Dempsey, Jon Hereth, Josh Lord, Curtis Jackson, Ryan Wade, and probably a few more I’m missing (sorry pals).

These guys are littered throughout the country (well, most of them) and you must take advantage if you ever have the opportunity to train with them. Smitty and Joe D are humble experts who have passed on some character traits (even without trying) to the rest of the group and we try to abide by them – train properly, be prepared, care, and don’t worry about who gets the credit.

Getting first-class results and creating a business that thrives is much easier with the right people in your corner.



If you’re hungry for knowledge and are searching for the source to guide you along your coaching journey, then look no further. Maybe someday you’ll be sending your first coach, or referring a friend or colleague to their first CPPS cert. Maybe they’ll catch a spark and positively influence a few clients, or 20, or 100+ someday.


Get after it.



-Mark Ehnis, CPPS

PowerStrength Training Systems

Founder – Owner


Check out www.cppscoaches.com for the upcoming schedule


I get asked all the time about how we train our athletes, organize our workouts, and how we are still able to give such attention to detail to the athlete within our groups. When I share about this cert, some people tend not to believe me but I’m giving it to you straight.