Anthony Donskov

Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.

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Who Cut The Cheese? Passing the Smell Test in the Weight Room

Posted by on in Youth Strength & Conditioning
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Who cut the cheese in the weight room? No, I ‘m not referring to the passing of gas; I’m referring to the QUALITY of movement and exercise selection. Too many times we as coaches sacrifice quality for quantity, quality for load, and quality for inflated ego. Any time your clients/athletes engage in training, the smell test must be passed! To pass the smell test: three questions MUST be answered with a YES. If not, your weight room will smell worse than yesterday’s left over’s.


         shirt                     blowing


The Smell Test

  • Does it look good?

Does the exercise look good? Chances are that if the exercise doesn’t look good, one of two corrections needs to take place. Remove weight or regress the exercise for the client/athlete. Such a simple concept, but unfortunately ego and stubbornness get involved and both the athlete and coach suffer. I will also point out that the benefit MUST outweigh the risk. I don’t care how many stability balls, BOSU balls, bands and bars are involved in the lift, if it’s unsafe….it smells!



Smell Test: If it doesn’t look good, remove weight!


This does not pass the smell test!

  • Is the exercise performed with a full range of motion?

Do work coaches! In the strength and conditioning world, work is defined as the weight (gravity acting on the bar/object) multiplied by the distance the object travels. If you don’t set the distance, something smells in the weight room. Do your athlete’s touch their chest when benching?  Do you set the distance for front squats, single leg squats, RFESS, push-ups, lunges every rep? Check your ego and one rep max at the door. I’ve seen plenty of ¼ squats counted as full rep maxes, and bench press numbers that look even worse. If the movement isn’t owned pain free with full range of motion, it stinks!

  • Is the exercise pain free?

If it hurts, it smells. Fatigue and pain are completely different in nature. NOTHING should cause acute pain in the weight room. Clients need to be screened prior to initiating a training program. Postural (static and dynamic) information plays an important role in exercise selection. If it hurts, it stinks and may cause a future trip to the doctors’ office.

The smell test is a pretty simple concept. If it doesn’t look good, isn’t performed through a full range of motion, and causes discomfort, it smells. Over time this smell can hurt your reputation as a coach, but more importantly may harm your clients.  We all need to take pride in quality movement. We all need to pass the smell test. If not make sure your gym has plenty of Fabreze and a good insurance policy.


Anthony Donskov, MS, CSCS, PES, is a former collegiate and professional hockey player, founder of Donskov Strength and Conditioning Inc., ( and Head Instructor/Director of Off-Ice Strength and Conditioning for Donskov Hockey Development ( He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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