- Possibly the certification with the highest credibility in the industry
- Wide variety of study packages to choose from and excellent study materials
- The OPT model is extremely helpful for a wide variety of clients
- Has an emphasis on building your own business around personal training to help you grow professionally
- Has lots of information on corrective training and functional training
- The price of the packages (especially at the highest end)
- The test is not easy (but overall this is a good thing!)
NASM Review: What is NASM Certification?
The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certification is one of the most well-known certifications in the industry today. Besides their general CPT certification, they also offer a wide variety of specializations such as their CES and PES. Overall I would put this certification in the “corrective exercise” category. It is a great certification for working with sedentary individuals and post-rehab clients. As most clients that personal trainers work with are sedentary and overweight, this is a perfect certification for working with this population. Let’s jump right into my NASM review and see what it is all about. And if you have not done too much research on personal trainer certifications, I have an excellent guide on my top 10 as well as a terrific article on how to become a personal trainer! Check out the NASM website for much more information and the most current prices!
NASM Review: General Information
This certifying agency was started in 1987. Since its inception, it has grown to become one of the most prestigious certifications you can choose from. The program is based around their unique OPT (Optimum Performance Training) model. This model has five phases of progression. The beginning phase is called the stabilization phase. I feel like this stage is the most important for working with a wide variety of clients. It really emphasizes correcting muscular imbalances before moving on to strength training. Since most of the individuals you will be working with are overweight and sedentary, this stabilization phase is extremely important. By sitting all day, a person develops extremely tight hip muscles, weak ankles and forward shoulders. Because their posture is so bad, injury from weightlifting is extremely probable. Correcting these imbalances is the first thing that should be done. NASM does a great job at fixing this.
There are a few prerequisites needed for NASM certification. You need to have obtained your high school diploma or GED and have a current AED/CPR card (although not required to be at least 18 years old to take the exam, most employers require trainers to carry liability insurance and most insurance companies require the insured to be at least 18). The certification is valid for two years after passing the test. Getting recertified will cost you $99 as well as proof of continuing education. Check here for more information!
NASM Review: The Test
The exam consists of 120 questions. All of these questions are multiple-choice, and you have two hours to complete it. The test is administered at the closest PSI facility. These facilities are located in most large cities in the United States. This third party test taking facility ensures that there is no cheating. You will receive a passing or failing grade immediately after finishing the test. Let’s check out the different parts of the test.
- 17% Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts
- 18% Assessment
- 21% Program Design
- 22% Exercise Technique and Training Instruction
- 12% Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching
- 10% Professional Development and Responsibility
The NASM exam is not particularly easy to pass. It is not the hardest test in the industry, but you need to make sure you are fully prepared. It is not a walk in the park. I found the practice tests to be helpful for preparing for the final exam. Once you purchase the certification, you have six months to take the test at a PSI facility. If you are not prepared for the test within the six month time period, you have the option of paying $75 for three extra months. Make sure you are prepared. There is a $199 fee to retake the test. You may, however, take it as many times as necessary to pass it.
NASM Packages that are Available
At the time of writing this article, there are four packages that you can choose from. The cheapest option is $559. This option includes the primary textbook and online study materials (digital textbook, lecture videos, cueing library, practice exam and study guide).
The next option will cost you $749. It includes everything from the $559 package as well as learning activities, including an anatomy memorization activity and flashcard bundles.
The “Guided Study” option costs $909 and features content/exam prep webinars, access to a coach and mentor to guide you and help answer questions, discussion questions, live workshops and a hard copy of the textbook. It even includes an exam prep guarantee which basically means that if you don’t pass the test the first time, NASM allows you to retake the exam at no cost! That feature alone is a $199 value. As long is you are willing to put in the time, this bundle practically assures you that you will successfully pass the exam.
The final “All-Inclusive” option costs $1,299. It includes everything from the “Guided Study” option but then takes it to the next level by including a CPT development program which consists of 80 hours of actual hands on training with fitness clients. It also includes guidance on maintaining a successful personal training business perspective with their “NASM Business Accelerator Program.” They provide actionable techniques to help you maximize your profits, your use of time and the value that you provide to your clients. The package even includes the ultimate level of assurance with the “Job Guarantee” which states that if you do not get a job within 90 days, you get your money back! This package not only helps you get through the exam but also gets you on the fast track to becoming a successful industry leading personal trainer. Check here for the most current packages that are available!
Conclusion: Is NASM CPT Worth it?
In my opinion this is one of the top personal training certifications in the industry. This certification has a strong emphasis on corrective training and muscle imbalances. With this you will be able to work with a wide range of individuals. The options they provide for studying are exceptional and are tailored towards a wide variety of learning styles. This helps to make sure everybody who takes advantage of their study options has a great chance of passing the exam. Be sure to talk with a local employer and find out which certifications they prefer before choosing one. From my experience, everyone has heard of NASM. Most employers prefer it as well. The test is pretty difficult and the retest fee is steep. In my opinion, though, a difficult test only makes the certification more valuable. It makes sure that you know your stuff, and know it well. You will know exactly what to do when it comes time to train your first client. I personally find this very valuable.
Here is their website: I recommend that you check it out for more information.
Now is the best time to get into the personal training industry because you can make great money and do something you love at the same time. I also recommend checking out my certification comparison section as well as my other reviews! Make sure to check out the NASM website for more information on this as well as other specializations from them. Let me know what you think in the comments section!
Tyler Read has a Masters of Science in Kinesiology. Tyler is also a certified personal trainer with NASM, ACE, NSCA and NSCA CSCS. Tyler’s main goal is to help people get started in the personal training industry and to become successful personal trainers.