by Chad Kerksick PhD March 04, 2010 4 min read
I laugh at these questions and comments because it is a necessary evil of my job and its title. I often get from older people, “You look awfully young to be a professor” and from younger people I get, “You don’t look like a professor!” Really? How should I look? Forgive me if I don’t walk around with a pipe, a cardigan sweater and bowtie, but that’s what I do. I work at a major state university as an Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology. I direct my own lab where we focus upon conducting research studies that examine exercise and nutritional interventions to offset the balance of skeletal muscle. While that may seem too “sciency” to some, it basically means I study exercise and nutrition and how they work together to help you develop wider shoulders, great glutes and ripped stomachs. Actually that last part was written more for effect; the areas I really have grown to be passionate about are taking our findings and knowledge and helping the many different clinical populations that experience severe muscle wasting, metabolic disease and an overall decreasing/low quality of life as a result. While I really enjoy working with highly motivated people who want to learn as much as they can to improve their health and fitness, if my knowledge can be used to a keep a grandparent more functional for several more years or a diabetic from developing further complication; that to me is just as important. The greatest thing about my job is that every day I get to study, read, learn, etc. only about things that interest me. This astounded a recent family member who works a job that pays great, but doesn’t allow for an opportunity to do what they want. “You get to do what YOU want to do every day?” Yes, I do.
This first Q&A is intended to introduce me, who I am and why I’m involved with 1st Phorm. On a weekly basis, I will answer questions from the website and work to provide a “science” voice to the website and company. After getting to know the guys at 1st Phorm, its very clear to me that they possess a strong desire to deliver an extremely knowledgeable base of customers and to do that they are committed to working with people that can help them in that vision.
The easiest way to describe what I’m all about is: I am the science guy. My apologies for talking about myself on this first go around, but I do want to make sure those reading understand my background. I’m trained first and foremost as an Exercise Physiologist. All of my degrees have the word Exercise in them. Throughout that process, I developed a keen interest in sports nutrition and since that time I continue to study and research areas related to those topics. I’m also trained as a biochemist, but that is a secondary level of training. I currently am certified as an Athletic Trainer (ATC) and as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Personal Trainer (CPT) through the National Athletic Trainers Association and National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Why is all this important (I know I’m not that interesting, just ask my sister)? Because I want you to know that essentially any question that relates to exercise, training, recovery, nutrition, muscle, physiology, etc. is fair game. While I’m sure there will be times I likely won’t know the immediate answer, you will get the best science-based answer that I can develop. My answer will be unbiased and based off of science or you won’t get one. When I do go off on a tangent and invoke my opinion, you will know. It is highly likely I will write about and say things that people may not agree with, or more likely, tell you things or interject ideas and suggestions to make you think and realize that the newest and latest craze is ‘over-marketing or hype’…forgive me, but it’s likely a matter of time before this happens.
Science has come a long way and is always developing. Another really cool thing about my training is that people oftentimes don’t even realize exercise departments are capable of doing the research we do. I’ve gotten that at the last two schools I’ve been at, a biochemistry or molecular biology professor is amazed to find out we have some of the same equipment as they do and know how to use it. This surprise is almost always followed up with something to the effect of “I thought you guys were the P.E department or I thought all you did was supervise kickball classes or teach coaches” WRONG, that’s back a few decades. These days folks like me are using these devices to look at microscopic level changes inside our cells. Better yet, we are doing the techniques on actual human tissue (skeletal muscle and fat tissue). Personally, I’ve never thought the DNA changes inside a leaf or a fruit fly was all that interesting. Now throw a piece of muscle at me from inside the leg of a guy who just got done doing a heavy leg workout and received different types of supplementation and you’ll have me hooked.
So how can I help you? I can help you because I too am a person who cares about my health and how I look with and without clothes. I regularly exercise as well and lately seem to be doing just enough to keep an excessive amount of fat from piling on my midsection. I can definitely help you because I understand where you are coming from. I’m walking in your shoes from an athlete’s perspective. That’s right, I just might be the guy next to you in the gym and not the stereotypical professor. I love what I do, I love exercise, I love nutrition and I love talking about these topics. I don’t have all the answers (nobody does) and won’t pretend to, but I can hopefully provide some trusted insight from a science perspective to your questions. I hope this first entry is a simple look into my background and my personality. I have a great passion for learning and helping people. I look forward to helping you understand more about your body as you continue to train and make yourself better each day. Until next time…