The 2012 NSCA Personal Trainer’s Conference: Vegas, Baby!

2012 April 15
by Alan Aragon

This past weekend, I spoke at the annual NSCA Personal Trainer’s Conference. Not only did I have a blast of a good time, it was such sweet revenge. In contrast to several years ago when clinching a speaking spot at a national conference was a long shot requiring a ton of pavement pounding & red tape, I was now invited to speak at a conference held by the industry’s top organization.  Here’s a photo montage made possible by my dear wife, who wanted to capture every dirty detail of this trip.


Pictured above: We just arrived and took the first shot of the M Resort’s lobby. Notice how cool it is that the NSCA logo is blasted up on the back wall of the concierge desk. If you’re reading the twinkle in my eye correctly, it says, “I’m gonna spank this mutha.”


Pictured above:  My state of mind upon arriving was well-captured in this shot.


Pictured above:  After traveling & unpacking, it was time to unwind a bit. There was a great draft bar that served a wide range of delicious microbrews chilled to 32 degrees. Young’s Chocolate Stout for me, and a Pyramid Apricot for my wife.


Pictured above:  What better way is there to follow up gourmet beer than with some hearty grub. Mushroom & Swiss burger for my wife, & I chose the crispy-crusted salmon on mashed ‘taters (for the haters).


Pictured above:  Guess who’s the bigger pig between my wife & I.


Pictured above:  GAME ON!!!  The time finally arrived for me to present. I did the same lecture twice that day, once at 8am and again at 1pm. Check out all those letters after my name.


Pictured above:  Brad Schoenfeld, one of the most knowledgable & accomplished guys in the business, graciously introduced me to the audience. Brad (along with Anoop Balachandran) played an instrumental part in me speaking at the event.

The way I met Brad is an interesting story. On a whim, I emailed him and asked if I would take a look at his peer-reviewed article titled, “Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss?” He gladly sent it over & gave me permission to dissect it in my research review – and I combed through it with obsessive -compulsive rigor. I felt that it was a very well-done article overall, but I also discussed aspects I felt needed more support. Instead of letting my points of contention bruise his ego, Brad actually appreciated the critique, and even thanked me for doing it. He told me that science can only move forward when we hold each other accountable for the accuracy of our material, and that challenging your peers is critical for the advancement of scientific knowledge.

I was so used to dealing with fragile egos among the top guys in the fitness field, that hearing this from Brad literally dropped my jaw to the table. I was impressed with his attitude (to say the least), and was honored to meet & spend time with him at the conference.


Pictured above:  I wasn’t going to merely assume that the audience knew that I’m the Ron Burgundy of nutrition, so I shared some of my background & clientele with them at the beginning of my lecture.


Pictured above:  Here’s a shot of the audience, both time slots I did had a packed room. The energy was off the charts, and the vibe in the room was brotacular.


Pictured above:  Speakers were sheduled tightly back-to-back, so a good part of the Q & A was held outside the lecture halls. It was such a rush to see the audience react so positively to my presentation.


Pictured above:  One of my favorite pastimes – eyeballing the menu. This was taken between the morning & afternoon lectures, right before seeing Marie Spano discuss weight loss strategies. I was extremely pleased to see her discuss research comparing various diets & illustrating the fact that yes – calories DO matter.

Pictured above:  After my 2nd lecture, I was asked to do an interview with Greg Nockleby, the NSCA’s marketing & PR manager. I advocated excessive intakes of grains, dairy, and sugar in the little time I was given in the advertising media (just kidding :)).


Pictured above:  I had the privelege of having a buffet melee with  trainer/researcher extraordinaires Brad Schoenfeld and Bret Contreras. I’ve been friends with Bret for a while now, so I was almost 100% ready when the topic turned to maximizing male performance in & out of the gym. In all seriousness though, we had some amazing discussions about training & nutrition research. Bret is such a sharp guy, and his sense of humor is off the hook. We got so wrapped up in conversation, they had to let us know the place closed an hour & a half before they kindly asked us to get the heck out. Bret & Brad are truly good guys, and I’m looking forward to their continued friendship.


Pictured above:  The Aragon/Schoenfeld epic bro-fist. Brad’s presentation, titled “Facts & Fallacies of Fitness,” was chock-full of research & concepts that wowed & engaged the audience. Overall, the conference provided plenty of fun & learning. I got a lot of useful information from each session I attended, all of which were taught by high-caliber professionals in the field. There were many sessions to choose from (both lecture & hands-on), and it’s always tough knowing you can’t see them all.

The people running the conference are top-notch, and they deserve a ton of thanks & credit for getting me involved with the NSCA. Special thanks goes to Peter Melanson (the NSCA’s Education Manager) for putting up with the multiple drafts of my powerpoint presentation that I sent him each time I found an insignificant typo.

I hope to see more of you from Internet Land in attendance at next year’s event. In the meantime, I’m stoked about seeing the new & the regular attendees of the Fitness Summit next month.

UPDATE: Check out my latest interview with Brad Schoenfeld, talking about a bunch of interesting topics here.


Microsoft Word - AARR wide banner 1.doc

42 Responses
  1. Alex permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Looks like you had an awesome time, Alan. This is, like Brad said, the only way to go forward. To hold your peers accountable for what they say. Make sure to get videos of the summit and upload them to Vimeo since Youtube gives you issues.

    P.S. I like Jamaican music. 😉

  2. Christine C. permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Congratulations on doing so well at the NSCA conference. I hope more of the trainers and dietitians outside of “internet land” get exposed to your material. I hope to make it to one of your seminars in the near future. For now I’ll just wait for the next AARR. >:-)

  3. Chris Karambelas permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Hi Alan,
    Big fan, you may also know me as Christos Son Goku. Was wondering if there is a slight change I or anyone else for that matter could get a copy of the lectures, if they have even been recorded?

    Chris Karambelas

  4. April 16, 2012

    do you even lift?

  5. April 16, 2012

    Nice pics there Alan! The food looks amazing!

    I will hopefully be able to make it next year, as I heard tons of great things about the even this year.

    Looking forward to finally meeting you in person at the Fitness Summit in May.

    rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
    PS–epic bro-fist dude brah!

  6. Tim permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Never chill a micro brew to 32 degrees,the cold actually numbs the taste buds and masks a lot of the flavors, 50-55 degrees F is ideal for most beers.Strong beers (like barleywines, tripels, dark ales) will be their happiest at room temperature (55-60F), most of your standard ales (like bitters, IPAs, dobbelbocks, lambics, stouts, etc) will be at cellar temperature (50-55F) and your lighter beers (like lagers, pilsners, wheat beers, milds, etc) will be at a refrigerated temperature (45-50F). Usually the higher alcohol, the higher temperature and lower alcohol, the lower temperature … you get the point.

    According to Grant Wood, master brewer of Boston Beer Company quote a warmer temperature allows you to taste and experience more of the flavors and aroma from the hops and malt.Colder temperatures can freeze your palate. Drink beer from a glass at room temperature, not from a bottle. unquote

    But then again,you probably already knew all that.

  7. Jaime Nieto permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Hi Alan, wondering if the NSCA would be the right organization for me or if you know of others that I could get involved with.

    I am a yoga instructor and am looking to open a wellness center. I am in the beginning stages of this endeavour but would love any suggestions that you have.

    Thank you!

  8. April 16, 2012

    Enjoyed reading the account of your trip Alan, thanks for sharing! Sounds like a great weekend. Also very glad to see you enjoy all that food & beer!!

  9. Billiam permalink
    April 16, 2012

    That burger = too much want

  10. April 16, 2012

    JC — I lift, I laft, I luvd.

    Chris — as far as I know, the sessions were not recorded. You’ll have to contact the NSCA to see if vids are even available. I personally didn’t see any filming going on.

    Billiam — That burger was heavy-duty. That’s the best way I can describe it.

    Robert — Gotta enjoy those indulgences, ya know? I rarely travel, and I rarely go to Vegas. Hadn’t been to Vegas in literally 7 years. Looks like I’ll be seeing more of it, since the NSCA liked my presentation.

    Jaime — It can never hurt to get a top cert like the NSCA’s, but for your goals, you may want to look into business development. I’ve heard good stuff about this resource:

    Mike — that’s awesmoe that you’re coming to the summit. Looking forward to seeing you & talking about food, barbells, dumbells, and metal.

    Christine — There’s always another Summit or seminar somewhere; it’s no rush. Just be patient for AARR, though 🙂

    Alex — The Summits are never filmed. It’s too black-ops for public consumption, lol.

    Tim — I personally prefer beer that’s nearly freezing. Even if the flavor is dampened, I just like it chilled. that’s why I tend to favor the stonger-tasting stuff (because the cold indeed dampens the flavor).

  11. April 17, 2012


  12. April 17, 2012

    I LOVE YOUNG’S CHOCOLATE STOUT! Looks delicious.

    That burger looks phenomenal too!

    Congrats on the return and very well deserved second trip Alan!

  13. April 18, 2012

    Tim — It was amazing. I’d like to try Rogue & Young’s chocolate stout back-to-back & see which one has more mojo.

    Roland — I forgot to tell you that I finished that Bulgarian relish in about 4 days.

  14. S. Harding permalink
    April 18, 2012

    Congrats on busting broscience in the personal training sector! Heaven knows they (we) need it.

  15. BMJ permalink
    April 19, 2012

    wow, that sounds like it was very fun and educational. How much were they charging to attend the event, if you have any idea off the top of your head?

    Can’t complain about fun in Vegas….and the food is always top notch!

  16. April 20, 2012

    Looks like an awesome time, Alan. I haven’t met Brad in person, but I’ve conversed with him by email a number of times, and he had invited me once to write for the NSCA journal. I’ve also seen some of his past stuff on the Supertraining digest. Definitely a great guy with an evidence-based mindset

  17. April 21, 2012

    James — It’s was such a great time, but how could it not be when it’s spent with your main squeeze? :)… do you ever do speaking events, or is this a part of your past that you’ve left behind for far more brotacular things? The educational manager of NSCA asked me to think of who would be good for the speaking roster, & you were one of the first guys I thought of.

    BMJ — If I recall correctly, it was mid or high 300’s. I don’t remember the exact fee. It was the typical going rate for a 2-day national conference. Definitely worth it if you’re in the industry & have the cash to spare for travel, etc. And yes, Vegas makes it that much better.

  18. Eric permalink
    April 22, 2012

    I’m sure the hotel security had a blast with that “yeaahhh” pic. Beer and burgers, what more could one ask for in a meal, thinking of doing having the monster next weekend ( Thanks for the food porn and the update. One of these days I will see you speak live bro!

  19. April 23, 2012

    I’m totally down for speaking events. I just spoke at the Northwest ACSM a few weeks ago. Thanks for thinking of me…I’m totally open to new speaking engagements.

  20. April 24, 2012

    James — I will put you in touch with the powers-that-be.

    Eric — LOL @ the irony of the name “Bikini Joes.” I think the 10 slices of cheese alone would destroy me, haha. I could get through half of that burger, tops. I would disappoint the competitive eating community terribly.

  21. Pacifier permalink
    April 26, 2012

    Alan, I was wondering about you dissecting the myths about cardio after a fast. On a similar note, what about weight lifting while limiting glucose and then eating later. I read a study on it asserting supercompensation would occur.

    A diet based on similar methods: .. What do you think about it? It basically promotes eating carbs pre-bed and post-workout and higher fat in morning and afternoon.

  22. April 30, 2012

    Pacifier — Re: cardio after a fast, I’ve done an article series on it linked through my static website, and there’s also an update on the topic in the March 2011 issue of AARR. As for the article you linked, I think Borge has some great ideas and he’s good at backing them up with research evidence. I also think that he would agree that the optimality of structuring macro timing that way is not something that’s indisputable or subject to individual trial & error. You can see the level he’s at; close to his potential in size & leanness, and thus for him, it may be warranted to nitpick to that degree in order to tease out the final bits of progress toward the extremes of conditioning. I personally don’t see the need for most people to structore the timing of their carbintake according to the individual sporting goal, preference & tolerance (which can vary widely).

  23. May 1, 2012

    Looks like a great time Alan! : )

  24. Danny permalink
    May 3, 2012

    Dude what is wrong with you! This is the best damn crack on the planet. Just read your review on fasting (from 2008!!!!) and it’s ridiculous! So comprehensive. Hence I’m now subscribed to your journal which is also of a bizarrely high quality. Nirvana. Looking forward to more crack!

  25. snorkelman permalink
    May 7, 2012

    Saturday @11 am must have really rocked!

  26. Jesse permalink
    May 17, 2012


    Great post on protein absorption. Question though, I am looking for source material that matches protein absorption to when a muscle actually rebuilds. For example, after a strenuous workout on a particular muscle group, the muscle doesn’t begin rebuilding muscle fiber until 3-5 days later which is when protein is needed? Until then, it is cleaning out dead tissue etc.,? If that is the case, then pre/post protein intake (timing wise) has nothing to do with the current exercise but rather is feeding the exercise from 3-5 days ago?


  27. Focused permalink
    May 18, 2012

    Hey Alan, nice to see you had a great time eating and drinking with your pals in Vegas. Maybe if you spent a little more time focused on your paying customers, you might actually be able to get a newsletter out within the month its actually due rather than 3 months late (ya, like I’m sure you’ll actually get your April newsletter out by the middle of June…NOT!)

    There you go, HONEST FEEDBACK. Now it’s your turn, go ahead and blast me for saying what your CUSTOMERS are thinking…

  28. May 20, 2012

    Focused — I hear what you’re saying & I appreciate the honest feedback. I’m happy to say I can walk again after appx 6 weeks of immobility. I have been bed-ridden & medicated ever since I got back from Vegas. It was a double Achilles tendon injury whose details are best left undiscussed. Unless I incur another freakish/catastrophic injury (which I don’t plan to – for a looong time), then I will be getting caught up in short order. I found out how hard it is to conentrate & work under conditions of severe pain. Thank God that’s over, now it’s full speed ahead.

  29. Alec B. permalink
    June 20, 2012

    Alan just wanted to drop in and say that your work is extremely appreciated. Always love following your stuff, starting with the protein analysis stuff you use to post on Even shared your latest blog on FB. Also got a couple questions for you if you’re not too busy…

    Do you have a Facebook page for your blog, updates etc?

    Also, I recently (5 weeks ago) really hurt my left hamstring. I originally hurt it in the gym about six months ago and kept trying to play sports on it. Then I “finalized” that injury and slightly tore my hamstring. I trust my Physical Therapists, yet I was wondering if you could give any advice or guidance to smartly strengthening my hammy again? I have not done anything physical at all in 5 weeks.

    Thanks Alan keep up the educating

  30. thombrogan permalink
    July 31, 2012

    Speaking of Vegas…

    What are the odds of a new AARR today?

  31. Jared permalink
    August 9, 2012

    Conratulations on ur continued philanthropic dominance.

  32. August 22, 2012

    Looks like a great event. I’ll have to try and make it next year. Congrats on your success.

  33. August 30, 2012

    Couldn’t make it this year, Alan. It would have been good to see you again. Let us know if you’re ever headed out to the desert – or passing by on the way to Phoenix….

  34. Jared permalink
    August 31, 2012

    BTW, when r they gonna start putting these conferences up on ustream? & when r u gona start a podcast, on which u do interviews w/ interesting ppl, who agree/disagree etc…

  35. Ian permalink
    October 25, 2012

    Alan, did you ever visit a restaurant in Las Vegas named the Sugar Factory. I recall someone who went to the 2012 NSCA conference giving my bartender the conference booklet. And me having a conversation with that someone about PT school, and he gave me his card. Anyways, I stumbled on your site and you look super familiar. Was that you?

  36. Carn permalink
    November 9, 2012

    Hey Allan i had a question for you as i have been trying to find the answer for myself for a while now, i have a high bf% when i was at a deficit the first week i ended up losing almost 5-6 pounds i thought maybe i goofed my macros but i thought it might be just mostly water weight with a bit of fat because i tend to eat high carbs and lower protein. I kept the macros the same and after the first week weight loss dramatically drops and becomes almost non existent. I wasnt loosing 1-2 pounds which i hoped to.What happened? did i crash my rmr within a week? I am kind of lost right now. Not sure what i should do for the next step.

  37. Alan Aragon permalink*
    November 10, 2012

    Carn — Give your weight loss program 3-4 weeks before considering adjustments. Weight loss is rarely a linear thing.

    Ian — Nope, wasn’t me; I don’t have business cards.

    Jared — I’m not sure, you’d have to contact the NSCA, perhaps sell them on the idea.

    Joey — Maybe you can make next year’s PT Conference. Great speaker lineup, details aren’t yet listed on the page:

    Alec — Injury rehab is a bit out of my scope. Thanks for sharing my info on FB.

    All — Thanks for stopping in. It’s tough to keep up with responding to comments, so apologies in advance for the questions I never get to.

  38. December 29, 2012

    Hi Alan, off topic, could not find a place to put this; might move it somewhere appropriate. Appreciate any feedback you can spare.

    1.)  What guidelines can you recommend for gaining muscle mass when doing weights ?  My difficulty is getting the pump, maintaining the pump and most importantly, putting on and keeping muscle mass.

    Over time with compound exercises, I can push pull 1.5 to 4 times body weight 2-10 sets x 8-20 reps.  I tried slow positives 2 secs, slower negatives 2-10 secs, no swing movements; I tried fast movements as well on positives.  If I do 1 sec push and 1.pull, I find it starts to become a cardiovascular exercise.

    2.)  Unlike weight training for strength, is body building all about feeling muscle contraction ?  Speed, angle of movement, rest time, different exercises mixed in, are just facilitators to achieve pump ?  

    3.)  I apply a simple laymans version to reduce lactic acid with opposing moves, such as a push set countered with a lighter a pull set.  What is the pump ?  Is it lactic acid or something else ?  I experienced it with Creatine, three weeks with NO explode at half dose per instruction, and once, with pre-work out protein EAS 42grams.

    4.)  Diet Self experimentation, I cannot get the required kcal.  I compensate with:
    –  shorter workouts, 20-60 mins instead of 2-3 hours;
    –  using fats, fish oil, cold pressed coconut oil, cold pressed olive oil, flax seed, chia seed, for energy and reduce inflammation,  Carnitine and Vit B to help fat burning;
    –  less carbs as most carbs from pasta and rice I find are not gluten free;
    –  Protein.  I find not really useful:   if I massive amounts of carbs from pasta, protein 1g per Kg ie. 0.5g per lbs, I find I can put on modest muscle mass. 
    With protein, it feels like a hit and miss, could it be because it needs calcium exceeding protein in a certain ratio to work ? 
    Could be due to inefficient kidney and liver function from over prescribed anti-biotics of 2-3 years ?
    –  Protein alone does not appear to help much, although Glutamine, Creatine mono, appear to arrest muscle atrophy, and hold the pump during exercise;
    –  Co q10, Vitamin C, B complex, to “detox”,  potassium from bananaes.  Recently tried using GNCs Liver protector without Creatine and reduced protein intake, to somewhat restore liver.
    –  What do you think of the cycles for dieting, 2-4 months cycling from high protein, carbs, fats, vegetables as detox and all other macronutrients on minimal amounts ?

    Trying to avoid steroids though I think I have a low hormone count, which could be due to too much anti-biotics prescribed during child hood over 2 to 3 years.  Tried T-bomb.  Helps a tad, though massive vitamin B complex 50-200mg over the day or CO Q10 100-150mg helps similarly.

    5.) What exactly is paleo diet ?  Does it mean eating natural as possible according to natural agricultural seasonal availability ?  I understand in winter, some advocate eating fat, won’t poly unsaturated fat like coconut oil cause heart problems ? I see some paleo stuff their diet with 30-50% fat as part of total caloric intake to “loose” fat.

    I find taking virgin coconut oil pre-work out help with sustaining energy and appears more stable than highs and lows of high carb regimen. However, I am not on the Himalayas mountain tracking.

    ( My diet presently:
    6-12 reps pyramid to 70% max weight. 30-100 mins. exercise. No cycling.
    2x Low GI bars thrice daily with 2 bananas.
    2x mass gainer or protein shake
    Full breakfast, coffee, coconut oil, flaxseed or fish oil in the coffee.
    Supper, 500ml Yoghurt with protein shake or without. Yoghurt might interchange with breakfast.

    Used to:
    2 to 3 exercises of 10 sets max weight 8-50 reps. 10 sets x 10 reps warm up. 10 sets x 10 reps warm down. 10 mins cycle warm up and warm down. 2 – 3 hours.
    4-5 meals pasta, rice or potatoes, with mainly vegetables.
    1 meal high fiber or with tuna or chicken. )

    6.). Does paleo diet require conductive cold thermogenesis to burn fat for fuel ?  If not, how is fat burned for fuel since the average old body building diet requires more carbs, less fat and protein 1-3 grams per lbs body weight.

    Appreciate your views.


  39. January 24, 2013

    Congratulations. It seems you enjoyed your time. I wish I could have been there in the summit.

  40. September 1, 2013

    Hmm less proteins and carbohydrates as most carbohydrates from grain and grain I discover are not gluten free. I discover not really useful: if I large amounts of carbohydrates from grain, protein 1g per Kg ie. 0.5g per lbs, I discover I can put on moderate muscular mass.

  41. February 25, 2014

    I take pleasure in, result in I discovered exactly what I used to be
    looking for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a great day. Bye

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