NASM vs ISSA – Let’s Start the Comparison!
NASM vs ISSA: The overall Focus of Each Certification
In my NASM vs ISSA article you’ll learn which beginner certification is perfect for the type of training that you would like to do.
ISSA is a very good certification for personal trainers that are just starting out. They have a slight emphasis on powerlifting or reactive training. They focus on what they call “the strength curve”. This type of training is usually emphasized in powerlifting and athletes that are trying to reach peak performance. But overall I would put ISSA in the “general” category for certifications.
NASM primarily focuses on muscular imbalances and corrective exercise training. This certification lets you train a wide variety of individuals with it’s OPT progressive training model. It teaches you how to deal with post rehabilitation clients. Level one of the OPT training model is stability training. This stage makes sure all of your clients are fit enough to move on to other advanced training methods. I would put NASM in the “corrective” category for certifications.
Although ISSA does a good job with the basics of personal training, they tend to ignore functional training more than they should. If your future clients are going to be high school or college athletes or you would like to focus on peak performance training, you should consider going with ISSA.
It should be noted thought that NASM does have an advanced certification called the PES or performance enhancement specialist which is much better than ISSA for working with athletes. This certification also emphasizes on peak performance for athletes. Since the PES is completely focused on performance, it does a better job than the general ISSA certification.
Since you are most likely just getting started in the fitness industry I recommend you check out my article on the best training certifications as well as my ultimate guide on how to become a personal trainer.
Also if you would like to learn how much personal trainers make, check out my article on personal training salary! Let’s jump right into my NASM vs ISSA article.
- Check out the NASM site for more information on the certification
- Here is a link to ISSA for more info
Information on the test, materials and pricing
After purchasing the NASM exam bundle, you will have a total of 6 months to complete your studying and take the exam.
To sign up to take the test you need to register a date and time with a local lasergrade facility. You can locate these facilities in most major cities in the United States. One of the best things about it is that you get your test results immediately after you finish taking it.
You need to score at least 70% in order to pass.
The test contains 120 multiple-choice questions and you receive 2 hours to complete all of them.
In my opinion, that is plenty of time.
There are 3 general packages that you could purchase through NASM.
The cheapest option is the exam only package. And as the name suggests you get no study materials. This option costs $599.
The next option is the self study package. This costs $699 and includes entrance to the examination, they is a textbook, online study resources and flashcards.
The next bundle is the self-study with live workshop bundle. It costs $849 and includes everything that the self-study bundled did with an additional live workshop and “exam prep super bundle”.
The next bundle is called their online classroom. This bundled costs $999 and includes access to their eTeach program. This program takes you through the learning process and breaks down difficult concepts for you. And it comes with a moneyback guarantee if you do not pass the exam!
Check out my full review on NASM for more information.
I also suggest you take a look at their site for the most current information!
ISSA has a set price of $599 for their test and study material bundle. I often see them discounted down to $499 though. Make sure to check for the special around holidays.
The study bundle includes the textbook, entrance to the exam and online study materials to aid you in your studying process. The textbook that they provide you is absolutely huge! It is approximately 800 pages long!
ISSA has an open book testing format. Make sure to highlight important information in the book as well as add bookmarks so that you can easily find the information you are looking for.
Although the test is open book, there are multiple difficult sections to it.
They have multiple-choice, true false, short essay questions and two case studies.
The hardest part of the test by far is answering the case studies correctly. You will be given to random individuals with different goals and capabilities. You will need to develop a 12 week progressive exercise routine for them to fit their needs.
In my opinion, I do not like tests that are open book because it does not force you to memorize the information. You will need to have all this information memorized when working with your clients.
You need to score at least 75% in each category as well as 75% overall.
Once you purchase their certification you have 2 years to complete the test. Check out my complete review on ISSA for more information.
Conclusion on NASM vs ISSA
Overall it is pretty clear that NASM is the most well recognized certification in the industry right now.
Their OPT training model has been revolutionary and most trainers apply their principles.
Before you choose either certification, you should check with potential employers to see which certifications they except and which ones they prefer.
Some employers do not accept certifications that aren’t NCCA accredited. ISSA is not accredited by the NCCA, but they are accredited by the DETC.
I have spoken to multiple gym owners that do not accept ISSA. Most people think that the NCCA has stricter guidelines than DETC.
The most important question is what type of individuals you would like to train wants to become a personal trainer.
With NASM you will be able to train a wide range of individuals. You will be able to work with the “average American” that is very sedentary and has multiple muscular imbalances. You will also be able to work with post rehab patients that need a safe progressive exercise routine.
If you are looking to train only athletes, ISSA might be the best way to go.
On the other hand, NASM has a very good advanced certification geared towards athletic performance. This certification is called the PES or performance enhancement specialist.
In my opinion, this certification is much better than ISSA’s general certification in regards to working with athletes. Overall I give the trophy to NASM because of their study materials, industry recognition and wide variety of clients that you can train.
Make sure to check out both of these certifications websites to you more information before you make a decision.
I hope I provided good information on NASM vs ISSA for you! Here are some additional comparison articles that compare the NASM certification: NASM vs NSCA, NASM vs ACE, NASM vs NCCPT and NASM vs ACSM. Here are some additional articles that compare the ISSA certification: ISSA vs ACE, ISSA vs NSCA and ISSA vs ACSM. Write me up a comment down below!