Ask Mike Reinold Show

The Best Ways for a Physical Therapist to Start Learning About Weight Training

On this episode of the #AskMikeReinold show, we talk about ways physical therapists can learn more about weight training, and use that knowledge to start working with high-level fitness athletes. To view more episodes, subscribe, and ask your questions, go to

#AskMikeReinold Episode 183: The Best Ways for a Physical Therapist to Start Learning About Weight Training

Listen and Subscribe to Podcast

You can use the player below to listen to the podcast or subscribe. If you are enjoying the podcast, PLEASE click here to leave us a review in iTunes, it will really mean a lot to us. THANKS!

Show Notes


Mike Reinold: On this episode of the Ask Mike Reinold Show, we talk about how physical therapists can learn more about weightlifting, Olympic lifts, power lifting, etc. So that way, you can help your patients with that sort of stuff.

Mike Reinold: All right. Who’s got this question?

Ryan: I got it. Aaron in Tacoma. “Are there any weightlifting certifications or courses that you recommend for physical therapists? We received a tiny amount of instruction in PT school on things like barbell squats, dead lifts, bench press, etc. And I feel that this would be very useful when working with athletes. Thanks for any info.”

Mike Reinold: Aaron. I think it’s actually pretty cool that he had some exposure, probably more than most people are. And I think that’s pretty good. So I think that’s a great concept, right? And I would say one of the more popular questions we get on this podcast and continuously get, and we don’t answer anymore, is should a PT get a CSCS? And we can potentially talk about that too when we get into this.

Mike Reinold: But I like the concept. You want to learn more about the lifts and stuff like that. Let’s start by answering his question directly. Is there a certification? So CSCS, anything else like that? An official USA weight lifting type thing. What do you guys recommend? I don’t know. Has anyone gone through any of them? Dan, have you gone through any of them specifically?

Dan Pope: I haven’t done USA weightlifting.

Mike Reinold: Because some of our coaches have, and so we all share the knowledge in there. But is there any certification or even a con-ed program you’d recommend?

Dan Pope: We do. Well, I’m biased. I’ve been preparing my entire life for this question.

Dave Tilley: Yeah, what if I wanted my my fitness very pain-free?

Dan Pope: Yeah. Yeah. I mean this is one of the reasons why I went to PT school in the first place is because I loved weight lifting. I loved weight training and I just felt like there wasn’t a lot of good information out there on how to help people have pain that want to get back to these lifts. So I went to school and then tried to figure all this stuff out myself. First and foremost, Dave and I just, we both worked for a company called Power Monkey Fitness and they had these seminars throughout the course of the world. They have a camp twice a year in Tennessee and their goal is how to teach these movements appropriately.

Mike Reinold: Great.

Dan Pope: It’s not just you want the glyphs, although it’s very much they want the glyphs, but it’s also all the basic gymnastics movements, running, rowing, everything that you see from a fitness perspective that people are doing in the gym.

Mike Reinold: What about power lifts?

Dan Pope: They don’t go over specifically power lifts for power lifting, although they go over the squat in depth.

Mike Reinold: Squat, but not deadlift bench?

Dan Pope: It’s just not designed for how to deadlift for deadlifting.

Mike Reinold: Got it. Okay. So Power Monkey, great resource for some of the only lifts in gymnastics, which is, huge nowadays, to do that. So building off that, and I know you’ve got more in your head, but building off that, like what about CrossFit? Like going through a CrossFit level one cert?

Dan Pope: They do. They go over all those movements. I’m CrossFit level one. Are you, Dave, anyone else Crossfit level one?

Mike Reinold: Nice.

Dan Pope: Yep, big time. The certification does prepare you on how to teach these lifts pretty well. That’s a big thing. So you’re going to be in front of a class, how do you teach these progressions well? How do you have simple progressions and help a novice get to a proficient level with the lifts? So it’s pretty good from a baseline perspective, you’re not going to go super in depth from nitty gritty perspective in terms of programming, how to perform lifts for legal athletes, small tweaks to change for those high level people. They’re definitely going to give you a really good baseline for the Olympic lifts and then some of the basic gymnastics.

Mike Reinold: It could be a good baseline for a new grad type thing. Good, those are only lift baseline, anything else?

Dan Pope: Certification wise, there’s a few right now. So John Rusin has a course out right now. Ice is also Zack Long barbell physios course, and then also Quinn Henoch has a few courses right now for Olympic weight lifting as well as powerlifting. So if you’re looking for certification right now, those are some good guys that I trust. I haven’t been to the courses myself, but they’re catered more towards physical therapists.

Mike Reinold: What about the USA weight lifting certification?

Dan Pope: That’s another good one, I haven’t been through it. I have a lot of friends that have done it and a couple of our, I guess coaches here have done as well and they have good things to say. I think that’s going to be a little bit more comprehensive in terms of specifically olympic weightlifting, but you’re not going to find the power lifts, you’re not going to be talking about the bench press. It’s not going to be relevant from that perspective.

Mike Reinold: So from the power lifts, I’ll jump in with a couple that I always recommend. So one is our friends in Massachusetts here, but Greg Robbins, Tony Delvecchio, they’re the strength house but they do live seminars around and they have a great website, but they teach the big three all the time. So I don’t know, there’s probably… Think about if you have any other recommendations for the big three-

Dan Pope: Greg Nuckols is a real big guy.

Mike Reinold: Yeah, Greg Nuckols, they have good programs to teach. That’s the power lift. So you know, squat, deadlift, bench type thing.

Mike Reinold: The other one that I think is actually pretty good, it’s a little bit less like training for competition, but more training for the right technique and functional is Strong First. And I don’t know if anybody has gone through that, but Strong First certifications, they get a bunch of good stuff like kettlebell based stuff and they also have the good the main lifts and they include press and stuff like that. So I think Strong First, as a physical therapist, is maybe one of the first ones I would gravitate towards, and kind of go from there.

Dave Tilley: Dean Somerset in Antonio, have the complete hip and shoulder blueprint. I think they talk a lot about that stuff. It’s not all that, but there’s some of that stuff in it.

Mike Reinold: So tons of con ed, a few certs in there. Anybody else have any other suggestions or ideas? I mean, I don’t think the CSCS is going to teach you this, right?

Dan Pope: Yeah, I don’t think so. I think the big thing is that we want these certifications. We want to learn more about it. Probably one of the best things to do to learn these lifts is to go practice those lifts.

Mike Reinold: Bingo.

Dan Pope: I’m guessing you’re already doing it at this point, but find a gym that has a really good coach, right? Or a really good community or culture there that focuses on the lifts you want to improve and practice those lists on a very regular basis, and then potentially go out there and coach a little bit if you want to.

Mike Reinold: Right. I honestly, when I read this question, I thought that was going to be our answer. Right? And, and you want the cert, right? So you can study for this. Like you get your CSCS, you can study for this here, you’re still not going to be able to teach it really well. You’re still not going to able to do it. You need to do it. So you need to join a gym that embraces that culture and loves it, and you need to be part of that. If you can’t do it, how can you teach it? I always say that all the time. So join it. It doesn’t matter what it is near you, if it’s a Crossfit gym or if it’s just it’s own private facility. I don’t care what it is, but go there and learn and experience it and do it yourself. And I think you’ll have a much better understanding of how you can then apply that to your population as a physical therapist. Right? Make sense?

Mike Reinold: So, Dan, in all honesty though, we mentioned a bunch of great resources, you’re a great resource. So I’ve learned a lot about these things at What do you have in the works for people that want to learn more about this stuff?

Dan Pope: Yeah. So obviously if you guys want some information right now, you can just go over to my website. I talk a ton about injury mechanisms for the lifts, how to get back to these movements after you get hurt, proper technique, all that stuff. I just finished up last night, although it won’t be out for a few, probably four to let’s say eight weeks, depending on when this is released.

Mike Reinold: Oh, wow. I thought you were going to say months. But I love that you said weeks. That’s awesome.

Dan Pope: No, I just finished up my full Fitness Pain Free Certification last night myself. Right? So look out for that. But basically, I feel very strongly that physical therapists don’t have a great resource for how to apply these movements properly from an injury perspective. So I’m talking about how people get hurt in the gym, right? And how to progress back out of pain and get back into movements they love and how to stay injury free for the longterm. So look out for that in the next, let’s say four to eight weeks.

Mike Reinold: And that was a great blurb. But I’ve been watching Dan build this for a long time. I know this is going to be awesome. It’s like the summation of his career and everything. But essentially he’s going to teach you how to do the lifts, how to coach the lifts, how to tweak the lifts, how to get people back to the lifts. And it’s going to be pretty dang good. So keep an eye out for that.

Mike Reinold: But I think, summary, putting it all together, I think what we need to do is we got to consider that it’s not just getting a certification, so going to USA weight lifting or something like that and getting a certification. But it’s also learning the basics behind it, right? Doing it yourself so that way you’re in a gym and a part of a community that’s doing it and practicing it on yourself and then helping others and then going through a program like Dan’s that’s going to kind of tell you how to tweak it and how to put it together for the person in front of you that may be your patient. So you’ve got to understand how to do it, learn the basics. You’ve got to do it yourself. And then figure out how to tweak it for the person that wants to do it better or get back to it. Right?

Dan Pope: You got it.

Mike Reinold: Make sense? Awesome. So another great question. We appreciate it. If you have any more questions like that, please head to You can click on that podcast link and fill out the form to ask us more great questions like this, and we will see you on the next episode.