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PT vs S&C

Personal Trainer vs Strength and Conditioning Coach: What's the Difference?

When it comes to getting fit and healthy, many people turn to professionals for help. While the terms "personal trainer" and "strength and conditioning coach" are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. In fact, there are major differences between the two professions, and understanding them can help you choose the right expert to meet your goals. In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between a personal trainer and a strength and conditioning coach, and what you should look for when hiring one.

Education and qualifications

Personal trainers typically have a certification from a recognised organisation, such as the Australian Fitness Academy (AFA) or Vast Fitness Academy (VAST). These certifications require passing an exam and completing continuing education credits to stay current in their field.

Strength and conditioning coaches, on the other hand, usually have a bachelor's or master's degree in exercise science, kinesiology, or a related field. They often hold additional certifications in strength and conditioning from organisations such as the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA).

Scope of practice

Personal trainers work with individuals or small groups to help them achieve their fitness goals, whether that's losing weight, building muscle, or improving overall health. They may focus on cardio, resistance training, or a combination of both, depending on the client's needs and preferences.

Strength and conditioning coaches, on the other hand, work primarily with athletes or sports teams to improve performance and prevent injury. They design structured training programs that focus on specific skills and physical attributes needed for a given sport, such as speed, agility, and power. They may also provide nutrition coaching, injury prevention strategies, and recovery protocols.

Setting and equipment

Personal trainers can work in a variety of settings, including gyms, studios, or private homes. They often use basic equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, and cardio machines to train their clients.

Strength and conditioning coaches typically work in a specific athletic setting, such as a university or professional sports team. They have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that are designed specifically for athletes, including weight rooms, conditioning areas, and recovery centers.

Specialisation and experience

Personal trainers may choose to specialise in certain areas, such as weight loss, bodybuilding, or corrective exercise. They may also have experience working with specific populations, such as seniors or individuals with disabilities.

Strength and conditioning coaches typically specialise in a particular sport or type of athlete, such as football, basketball, or soccer. They may also have experience working with athletes at different levels of competition, from high school to professional.


Personal training sessions are typically one-on-one or small group sessions, and the cost can vary depending on the trainer's expertise, location, and duration of the session. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour.

Strength and conditioning coaches are often employed by schools, universities, or professional sports teams, and their salaries are generally higher than personal trainers. However, if you're looking to hire a strength and conditioning coach as an individual, the cost may be similar to that of a personal trainer.

While both personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches share a passion for fitness and helping clients reach their goals, they have distinct differences in education, scope of practice, settings and equipment, specialisation and experience, and cost. Consider your goals, budget, and preferences when choosing the right expert for you. Whether you choose a personal trainer or a strength and conditioning coach, remember that the key to success is finding someone who is knowledgeable, professional, and can help you achieve your goals safely and efficiently.

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