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    This is the complete comparison of two of the top CPT certifications, the NASM CPT and the ACE CPT.

    I will compare them on:

    Study materials
    Exam difficulty
    + much more

    With both certs in my possession for over 10 years, I have accurate insight into the pros and cons of both. By the end, you will know which is best for you.

    Let’s kick off the learning process right away.

    ACE vs NASM

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      Welcome to my ACE vs NASM comparison.

      Are you having trouble choosing between these top two personal training certifications?

      In this article, you will realize which certification is perfect for your style of personal training.

      You also need to check out my must-read article on the comparison of the top five personal training certifications, or if you like vs articles: NASM vs ISSA and ACE vs ISSA.

      Make sure to check out the NASM and ACE sites for more info.

      Check out Trainer Academy for the best study materials for either certification.

      The team over there offers an exam pass guarantee and overall will reduce your study time by 50%.

      I also have my own free NASM study guide and free ACE study guide that you guys might find helpful.

      The menu at the top of this page will answer any question related to personal training that you have.

      If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here (I’ll respond within 24 hours).

      Also, visit the home page for the most recent and popular articles.

      I highly recommend that you take the quiz to find out which personal trainer certification is the best fit for you overall.

      This is just an estimation, read the article to get the full understanding.

      ACE vs NASM Quick Information

      ACE vs NASM Quick Information

      Let me show you below what each focuses on, their certifying bodies, costs, and pass rates.

      Let’s do this swiftly!

      NASM is considered more of a corrective exercise certification, whereas ACE is more of a general CPT certification.

      NASM progresses clients using their OPT training model, while ACE uses its IFT training model.

      Both NASM and ACE are extremely well-recognized within the industry and are both NCCA accredited certifications.

      Both certifications have fantastic study materials that include the textbook and live support.

      NASM also has the option for life workshops, compared to ACE which does not.

      The cost for ACE ranges between $599 and $799, whereas NASM costs between $524 and $2199 for their most expensive package.

      The pass rate for the ACE test is 65%, while the pass rate for the NASM test is 64%.

      The overall focus and recognition of NASM and ACE

      Overall recognition 1

      Here, we’ll uncover how each type will be beneficial to your personal training endeavors.

      Find out more as you read on!


      I categorize the certification as a corrective exercise certification.

      While you can train average sedentary Americans, they do have a slight emphasis on muscular imbalances.

      Most sedentary individuals have many muscular imbalances from sitting all day.

      NASM starts to address these imbalances before progressing these clients through a strength routine.

      The beginning stage of their OPT training model is called “stabilization.”

      This is the level that focuses on corrective training for muscular imbalances.

      NASM is useful for training sedentary individuals as well as clients that are coming off an injury.

      Having the skill set to get clients back into the habit of exercise is one of the best things you can do for them.

      Here is the official YouTube video for NASM:


      ACE does an excellent job at helping potential trainers learn the essentials of exercise science for them to build useful workout routines for a wide variety of individuals.

      I would put the ACE certification in the general category because they go over so many topics but does not necessarily specialize in any one of them.

      Their exercise routines are typically geared towards the average sedentary American that is trying to lose weight.

      And that is a good thing considering that most of your clients starting out will have these exact goals.

      Here is the official YouTube video for ACE:

      General focus summary

      General focus: It all depends on the type of clients that you would like to train.

      One is not better than the other unless you can determine in advance what kind of trainer you would want to become and the overall goals of the clientele that you will have.

      Overall, I think that NASM helps you prepare better for the average client as a personal trainer.

      This is because most clients have some muscular imbalance that needs to be corrected.

      The winner for certification focus is NASM (by a hair)

      Winner of the general focus is NASM

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 4

      Popularity and Industry Recognition


      NASM an extremely well-recognized certification within the industry.

      It actually might be the most sought-after certification currently.

      If you have ever hopped on an Internet forum or gone to the personal training reddit section, you’ll see exactly how popular the NASM CPT is.

      Not only does it have extreme hype online, but it also might be the most talked about certification by big-name employers such as 24-hour fitness.

      This is just how much weight the NASM certification has in the industry.

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      The NASM certification is accredited by the NCCA which is typically thought to be the most gruelling and well-recognized accrediting agency.


      ACE is also an extremely well-recognized certification within the personal training industry.

      Every commercial, private, or local gymnasium that I have ever talked to accepts this certification.

      Similar to NASM, every gym accepts ACE.

      Just like NASM, ACE is also accredited by the NCCA.

      To show you guys how the internet connect both certifications with regards to popularity, here is a screenshot of the last 12 months on Google trends.

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 5

      As you guys can see from the image, both certifications are practically neck to neck regarding which ones are being searched on Google.

      The winner for recognition and popularity is … a Tie!

      1st Place for NASM

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 6

      1st place for ACE

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 7

      Info on the study materials, price and earning potential

      info 1

      In this section, you’ll find the different study materials available based on package and the cost of each package.

      Don’t be in a rush, more info below.


      When talking about the study materials, you receive from NASM it all depends on the package that you purchase.

      Self-study package: The most common packages the self-study package.

      This includes a digital copy of their massive 720-page textbook, online video lectures, a full exercise library, multiple quizzes, multiple practice exams, and the official study guide to go along with their textbook.

      Premium self-study package: This package includes everything that the general self-study package did but adds and anatomy memorization activity, learning activities (for difficult concepts) and a bundle of flashcards.

      CPT guided study: This includes everything that the previous two packages did but adds exam prep webinars, full access to a mentor or coach (for any questions), additional discussion questions, access to a live workshop, exam prep guarantee (free retest) and a hard copy of the 720-page textbook.

      CPT all-inclusive: This is a combination of the three previous packages with the addition of CPT development program (includes 80 hours of on-site practice) and The NASM business accelerator program.

      I know this package only adds to extra things but trust me, they are beneficial especially if you want to create a full-time business with personal training.

      I also can explain how helpful the hands-on practice is.

      Check out my free NASM study guide here.

      For the best NASM study materials (yes even better than the ones provided by NASM), check out Trainer Academy.

      These can help reduce your study time by 50% and offer an exam pass guarantee.


      Similar to NASM, ACE offers three separate packages that you can choose from on their website.

      Each of these packages contains different study materials as well.

      ACE Pro essential package: This includes practice tests, access to ACE study coaches, the textbook (e-book format), The fitness professionals e-book, ACE Academy elite  (guided study), access to additional personal training resources (calculators, fitness assessment forms, etc.)

      ACE Pro plus package: The Pro plus package includes everything that the Pro essential did but adding in a hard copy of the manual, hard copy of the study companion manual and a hardcopy of the ACE exercise science for fitness professionals book.

      This package is primarily for people that love hard copies (like I do!).

      ACE pro advantage package: The Pro advantage package includes everything that the previous two did with the addition of the fitness math online course.

      This helps cover the most difficult concepts to master and explains them like a charm.

      Check out my free ACE study guide here.

      For the best ACE study materials, check out Trainer Academy.

      It will drastically reduce your study time.

      Overall, both programs offer fantastic study materials for their certification.

      The fact that NASM provides a little bit more hands-on experience and business practice with their more expensive package give them the edge overall.

      Winner for the study materials is NASM

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 8

      The Price of the Certifications

      NASM CPT

      The price of NASM all depends on which package you purchase from them.

      Here are the current prices and my discounted price. Readers of my site can use my personal discount code PTP25 to save 25% on all NASM CPT certifications.

      • $699 $524 (25% off) – Self-study package
      • $1099 $824 (25% off) – Premium self-study package
      • $1499 $1024(25% off) – Guided self-study package
      • $2199 $1649 (25% off) – All-inclusive package
      • Check out my special deal for 25% off

      ACE CPT

      Just like NASM, the price of ACE all depends on which package you purchase from them.

      Here are the prices for the three packages available.

      Although the overall price after the $125 off discount is less with NASM, their self-study package does not offer much in regards to study materials compared to the Pro essentials package from ACE.

      So if you were to go with the cheapest option we from both certifications I would say you get the most bang for your buck with ACE.

      Also, this $125 off discount is not always active with NASM.

      The overall winner for certification price is ACE

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 9

      Earning Potential

      One of the most important factors for people that are looking to become personal trainers is how much money they could potentially make when they get certified.

      Since this is going to be your job, you want to earn as much money as you can to support yourself.

      Before I show you how much money you can make with NASM and ACE, I would like to point out that the certification is not the most critical factor when it comes to how much money you make.

      More important than the certification you hold is how much you hustle, practice, learn and develop your craft.

      This is 100x more important than what certification you hold.

      These numbers I found on payscale.com.


      The average income for a NASM certified personal trainer is $41,000.

      The employers that are most likely to hire a NASM certified personal trainer are LA fitness, lifetime fitness, 24-hour fitness and anytime fitness.


      The average salary for a personal trainer holding the ACE certification is also $41,000.

      The top employers for someone holding the ACE certification are 24-hour fitness, golds gym, anytime fitness and the YMCA.

      The winner for earning potential is a tie!

      1st place for NASM

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 10

      1st place for ACE

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 11

      Info on the tests and recertification 

      Info on tests 1

      Below, I’ll show you all you need to prepare and get a 99% pass rate in either the ACE or NASM certification.

      Let’s delve right in!

      NASM CPT

      After you purchase the certification, you will be given 12 months to sign up and take the test.

      The test contains 120 multiple-choice questions.

      You will have 2 hours to complete the examination, and you will get the results immediately after you finish.

      You need to score a minimum of 70 on a scaled score to pass.

      A scaled score means that there are different versions of the tests where some are more difficult and some are easier.

      The overall passing rate for the NASM exam is 64.3%.

      If you pass the  NASM test, you will know right away, and your certification will arrive in the mail approximately four weeks after the test date.

      If you happen to fail the test on your very first try, You will have to pay $199 to retake the test.

      Requirements: You are required to take the  NASM test at a lasergrade facility.

      You can sign up at any Lasergrade facility.

      These facilities are located in most major cities throughout the United States.

      You must hold a valid CPR/AED certification by the time you take the test.

      Check out my full review here. Check out their site here for more and current information!

      Also, practice your skills with my NASM practice test here.

      For more information on the exam, check out my NASM test prep article and NASM exam FAQ article.

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      ACE CPT

      After you sign up for the ACE certification, you will have six months to take the test.

      There are 150 multiple-choice questions that you need to answer.

      Although there are 150 questions, ACE equates this to a maximum of 800 points.

      You need to score at least 500 points to pass which equals approximately a 62.5% or higher is necessary to pass.

      Roughly you will need to answer 90 out of the 150 questions correctly to pass.

      This equals approximately 500 out of the 800 total points.

      You also get a whopping 3 hours to answer all these questions.

      In my experience that is way more time than is needed.

      There is a 65% pass rate for 1st-time test takers according to ACE.

      Just like NASM, if you happen to fail the test on your first try, you can pay $199 to retake it.

      Requirements: To take the test you need to set a date for a computer-based exam location.

      These exam locations are held all around the world and can be found on the ACE website.

      You are required to be 18 years old and have a valid CPR/AED certification.

      Here is my full review on ACE. You need to check out their website for the most current information!

      Take my free ACE practice test here! For more information on the exam, check out my ACE test prep article and ACE exam FAQ article.

      Overall, ACE has a very slightly higher pass rate than NASM.

      The overall winner for the test information is ACE (literally by a hair)

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 12

      Recertification Requirements and Continuing Education


      Regarding continuing education or CEU’s, NASM requires each personal trainer to complete 20 hours over the course of the two-year certification.

      It costs $99 to recertify every two years.

      You can check out more information on NASM continuing education here.


      Just like NASM, ACE requires their trainers to recertify every two years.

      You also need 20 hours of continuing education credits for ACE.

      The cost to recertify is $129.

      You can check out some continuing education options for ACE in my article here.

      Overall NASM costs $29 less to get recertified.

      Both of them require 20 hours every two years of continuing education.

      The winner for continuing education is NASM

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 13


      conclusion on NASM and ACE 1

      I’ve had an interesting time dishing out valuable info on ACE vs NASM to you.

      You won’t regret having either of these certifications.

      Regarding job potential, both are very highly recognized by employers.

      They are both accredited by the NCCA which is good.

      I have talked to employers that prefer NASM over ACE as well as the other way around.

      The gym I work at currently prefers NASM over any other certification on the market.

      You honestly have a high chance of getting employed and making a good living with either certification.

      I have to say that NASM gets the slight edge for me as the best personal trainer certification, but you really cannot go wrong with either!

      The overall winner for NASM or ACE is NASM!

      ACE vs NASM - Which is the better certification in [year]? 14

      Thanks for stopping by everyone, Don’t forget to leave a comment.

      Also, share this page using the social media icons if you found it helpful!

      For those of you that want to see my full video on NASM vs ACE here it is on youtube.

      Although I made that video almost 4 years ago, most of the information stands true to this day.


      If at the end it’s still hard to choose which cert is best, I recommend that you take the quiz to help you choose the cert that is best for you.

      ACE does cost slightly less money than NASM which is a good perk.

      Also, some of the best personal trainers I have ever known are certified through ACE.

      I think the study materials for NASM and ACE are fantastic.

      If you are having trouble understanding specific concepts, both companies will provide additional assistance and offer different ways to study so that you can finally understand the topic.

      Both certifications have excellent study materials is when it comes down to it.

      Whether you choose ACE or NASM, you will feel adequately prepared for training your first real client when the time comes.

      Some of the best trainers that I know are certified through both agencies.

      In the end, it all comes down to what type of clients you will be training in the future.

      If you were working with anybody that is coming off an injury, I would go with NASM.

      Both certifications are excellent for training the average sedentary American as I have mentioned above.

      If you are just getting started in the personal training industry the first post, I would suggest you check out if you haven’t already, my guide on how to become a certified personal trainer.

      If you are wondering how much money you can make as a trainer, check out my article on how long it takes to become a certified trainer and salaries for personal trainers.

      If you are looking to train athletes, NASM has an advanced certification called the performance enhancement specialist.

      I highly recommend that you check out both websites to see which one would be the best for you!

      I hope my article on the differences between ACE and NASM was helpful in choosing which certification will be right for you.

      Shoot me a comment if you have any other questions regarding these certifications.

      When it comes to NASM against ACE, which will you choose? Leave a comment below!

      1. https://blog.nasm.org/newletter/overactive-versus-underactive-muscles-mean/
      2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24616604
      3. https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US
      4. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Personal_Trainer_(CPT)_(NASM)/Salary
      5. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=American_Council_on_Exercise_(ACE)/Salary
      6. https://www.nasm.org/resources/faq
      7. https://www.acefitness.org/faqs/

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      75 thoughts on “ACE vs NASM – Which is the better certification in 2021?”

      1. I am absolutely fresh to the PT world and I have a heart for the elderly. I am 55 and out of shape but I want to start the foundation for a second career, and I do believe that this will also motivate me to get back into shape. My hope is I can get certified and begin working with healthy seniors and not so healthy ones. I am still unsure of which cert to go with! My friend says NASM because that is what she has. I just received my BSc in an unrelated field and still want to continue studying.

      2. Just wanted to thank you for the article you wrote comparing Ace & NASM, it was very informative and helpful! I plan on beginning my PT certification studying right after Christmas. I kept going back and forth between Ace & NASM but now I’m almost positive I will be going through Ace. I will definitely be coming back to your ptpioneer site!

        Thank you again,

      3. I just signed up with NASM in February 2017, the full course, which is $1999 but they seem to always have a 25% discount sale going on most of the time so I got mine for $1500. One thing I have read after purchasing this course is that I have to buy my exam. One would think with this high price the exam would be included. Another thing is that their instructions are hard to follow on the website. I am not sure if my course has started or not, so I tried to call and no one home on the weekends or at night. Also, they are very hard to get a hold of if you are already a customer. I have to wait on hold for up to 20 minutes just to get to talk to someone then after that it takes them a long time to help me with my issues. They are not open 24/7 for assistance and I have to dial them at least seven times before I get an open line, meaning when I call I get this message, “no routes found” and then they hang up. So I have to keep calling until there is finally an open route then it’s, like I said, up to 20 minutes to talk to someone. This is very discouraging. Needless to say, I am now looking to switch to ACE, but will do my homework more in depth.

        1. Hey Carol,
          I am sorry to hear you had such a horrible experience with NASM. I have never had those problems myself and when I call I always reach somebody helpful very promptly. Sorry to hear, you can always switch to ACE.

        2. Dear carol,
          thanks for sharing your experience with NASM. I myself was having a difficult time choosing what program to go with. You definitely made my decision a lot easier. When it comes to learning something new, its very important to have proper direction and guidance. It disappoints me that NASM is failing in this category because it was my #1 choice. I am still researching both programs but as of now it looks as though i will go with ACE. Thanks again!

          1. Great to hear, both of these organizations are fantastic the National Academy of sports medicine as well as the American Council on exercise will provide you fantastic personal training credentials to start your career.

      4. Good morning Mr.Taylor thank you for your article! Please let me know which certificate is better for working with senior citizen group of clients.
        Maybe I missed this information.

        1. Hey Olga,
          I’m sorry if this information was missed. I think that NASM is definitely a better personal training certification for working with elderly individuals. This is because of the OPT training model takes more precaution and increases the intensity of exercises more gradually. It is meant to focus on stabilization for a long time before moving on to strength training which is very important especially for elderly individuals or people that have not exercised in a very long time. I hope this helped answer your question 🙂

      5. Hi, I am contemplating becoming a personal trainer, but my goals are different to the ones outlined on your article. I would love to work with people who struggle with diabetes and help them achieve health through exercise more than relying on medication. I have a bachelors in psychology with a minor in nutrition. Do you know which program would be best based on what I want to do? Thanks

        1. Hey Sophia,
          This is a very specialized concentration of individuals that you would like to work with. Honestly, neither one of the certifications dives too much into special populations although both of them do a little bit. What you would want to do is get a specialist certification. Unfortunately, most specialist certifications require you to have a general personal training certification before you can take them. A certification that talks will do more about special populations needs is the senior fitness specialization from nasm. I hope this helps

      6. hey so I plan to become a PT very soon now that I graduated high school, and I am leaning more towards taking the NASM exam but Ace still looks so good, so I was wondering, would it be possible to be certified for BOTH nasm and ace?

        1. Both the American Council on exercise and the National Academy of sports medicine have fantastic personal training programs. It is absolutely possible to get certified through both NASM and ACE. Having multiple certifications only improves your knowledge as a trainer. But you should probably do one before the other is my suggestion. What type of people do you want to train when you become a personal trainer?

      7. Hi,
        Thank you so so much for this article. I am a Stay at home mom, fitness blogger, athletic clothing designer, I own a successful Etsy shop selling kids party supplies. I have been talking to my husband for 6 months about taking my fitness blogging to a new level and becoming a PT. I am so glad I came across your site. I have been thinking about taking the NASM but after this, I am really considering ACE.

        Mine and my husband’s hobby is working out. I help family and friends get in shape as well. I am not really in it for the money (at least for now) because I do not want to work outside the home. I am looking to just learn more about helping people get fit.

        In 2016-2017 my husband was very sick from pancreatitis and respiratory failure and on life support. He pulled through and it changed our lives. My goal in life is to help others.

        1. Hey Maegen,

          Fantastic story and I’m so glad that your husband is healthy now. It is true that learning about health and fitness is an incredible gift not only for your own family but also giving you the ability to help other friends and family as well.

          I totally agree and the American Council on exercise is a fantastic certifying organization to go through. You will love their study materials and support that they offer. NASM is also a fantastic option but has a slightly different focus. You could always come back and get certified with them at a later date or even get an advanced certification to really specialize in the type of training that you want to learn.

          Even if you don’t work as a personal trainer in the typical gym situation, it is still a fantastic knowledge to hold. I’m curious what you’re fitness website and clothing line is? Maybe we can collaborate on some ideas together as bloggers. Let me know 🙂

      8. What a great article! The comments leave me feeling a little uneasy but I like the idea of stability first before strength training. It’s like learning how to stand before you walk. For that and many other reasons, I feel NASM will be right for me. Thank you for your articles. I will definitely check out your other blogs.

        1. Hey Yasmin,
          I like your analogy for the national Academy of sports medicine in regards to learning to stand before you walk. I totally agree with you with this regard in terms of the stability phase. Make sure to check out my article on the top personal training certifications as well as this could further help your decision.

        1. Hey Petr,

          Unfortunately, I do not know too much about the IYCA certification as I have never gone through it or reviewed it on my website. That being said, NASM is recognized as one of the top all-around certifications for all age ranges. On top of this they also have a youth exercise specialist (YES) advanced certification that is excellent. I highly recommend it.

      9. Hi, great information. Thank you. I am looking for a new career later in life and I love working out and group classes. Teaching group classes will be my focused. Do I need to get certified as a Personal Trainer to teach group classes or get the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification?

        Thank you,

        1. Hey TJ,
          You do not necessarily need a general personal training certification such as ACE or NASM in order to get the group exercise certification. I do think that it is helpful though. This is especially true if you are trying to do both group training as well as general personal training as you can pull clients both directions to get a lot more work. It also is good to have a general understanding one-on-one personal training for your group classes in regards to injury prevention, proprioception training etc. I hope this response helped!

      10. Hi, thank you for the article. I am still very confused between ACE and NASM. I signed up for NASM and took a test, unfortunately I failed the test few points. I read the book, did lots of practice test at the app and still failed. Test was hard and nothing close to a book material or any prep tests I was practicing. OPT model is a great approach but I don’t think NASM really teaches you how to create a workout. I feel like NASM is great for those who already have some fitness experience and whar to advance in anatomical knowledge. Now I feel so much resentment to study again and take the test again. I was thinking to try ACE, considering that they might take a different approach in teaching. My question is, does ACE teache you how to put together a workout to meet someone’s fitness goals? I don’t know if I should just study NASM again or try ACE. Any feedback is very appreciated, please.
        Thank you

        1. Hey Yuliya,
          First of off, sorry that you did not pass the exam on your first try. The test is definitely a difficult one and a lot of the practice tests and study material supplied by NASM are not the best. I would still suggest trying to go with NASM one more time as it is still one of the most recognized certifications in the industry. On top of that, the retake fee is only $199, whereas you will have to pay over $500 to start with ACE. It would require less studying overall to stick with NASM, then to switching certifications and trying to learn their information. I highly suggest checking out my personal study materials that will point you in the right direction of what exactly you need to study to pass the exam. I promise this will help tremendously. You can check it out right here: https://www.ptpioneer.com/nasm-premium/

        2. I self-prepped for NASM exam after 10 years as a Certified Public Accountant. I’m not really sure how the test was much different from the materials in NASM’s book. Not only do they lay out the weights that each topic will represent on the exam, they also highlight the areas that are most important within those topics. I didn’t feel any question on my exam was unfair. NASM’s study guide option does a fantastic job of preparing you for test success. It’s also possible you ended up with a terrible question pool in your exam. But, I assure you I passed without any prior textbook knowledge of the fitness industry.

          1. Awesome to hear Sean,
            I am glad that you passed the test without any problem. A lot of people do not have the same success that you do on the exam. The NASM exam is graded on a scaling score which means that some versions are much harder than other versions of the exam. It might’ve been that you got one of the easier versions, or it might’ve been that your study techniques were awesome. Either way congrats on passing the exam!

      11. Does the recertification cost include the required 20 hours? Or Do you have to pay the recert cost plus the cost of 20 hours?
        Awesome article!!!

        1. Hello Denise,
          the cost for recertification for both NASM and ACE does not include the continuing education itself. It is just to recertify with those certifying agencies for two extra years. On top of that, you will have to pay a continuing education provider in order to go through a course, webinar or other curriculum in order to show proof of the 20 hours you completed of continuing education. I hope this helps and good luck!

      12. Hi Tylor,
        Thanks for the informative article. I am from India and my education is mostly related to technical background. Recently past few months I have started getting habit of eating clean and healthy and slowly it has become quite a part of my life and I want to pursue my career as nutritionist. After going through your multiple articles I have zeroed down to ACE for nutrition coach. But as I see CPR/AED something as prerequisite. Can you tell me something about it?

        1. Hello Vivek,
          Yes you need to get a CPR/AED certification from an approved supplier. This is basically for safety purposes as you need to know how to use the AED defibrillation machine in case somebody’s heart stops beating. You also need to know CPR to maintain oxygen flow to the brain to keep them alive as long as possible before an ambulance comes. These are general prerequisites for working in a gymnasium and is also a fantastic idea if you are going to be working for yourself doing nutrition or fitness consultations. I suggest checking out the American Red Cross for more information on how to get certified.

      13. I’m retired from the military and I coach HS Cross country and I wanted to use a program that can assist me in training my young student Athletes which program would you prefer.

        1. Hello William,
          Although both programs are excellent, if you purely want to work with youth athletes NASM has a youth exercise specialist certification. You may want to look into their general certification, and later on down the road pickup of this youth exercise certification as well. I hope this helps!

      14. Just Mitchell

        I love the article and thank you very much for your effort. I am looking to go in the direction of training athletes. I study training methods, nutrition, anatomy, kinesology, etc. on my own. Now i’m looking to get certified and take the neccessary steps to make it happen. With your info provided, I am assuming ACE is the route to go? Or do you suggest NASM which focuses more on imbalances. I have a YMCA in my area but not an LA Fitness, and I saw you suggested ACE for that gym which is why I hesitate with NASM. But I do not intend on staying in this area for as long as I have to. Eventually becoming a self employed personal trainer is my ultimate goal. Im looking to be the best trainer I can be for the people/athletes I serve. Thanks for your time man, have a great day!

        1. Well it sounds like you are on your way to becoming an awesome personal trainer. In terms of training athletes, both will do just fine. On the other note of where you will work, both of these certifications are so highly recognized that any gym you working will recognize them as a top-notch certification. So that part I would not worry about. If you just want to specialize in athletes, I do recommend picking up a specialization certification. But first obviously, you do need to get certified with a general CPT certification. If you want to go the route of training athletes, I usually recommend going with the general NASM certification and then going for the NASM PES performance enhancement specialist certification afterwards. I really hope this helps and good luck with all the studying!

      15. Thanks for this great post! I still have a question though. My goal is to get my initial certification, and then get a specialty senior fitness certification, which NASM and ACE both offer. Are you very familiar with the senior fitness certs for either? I really feel like the one that would better prepare me for working safely and effectively with seniors is the one I want to choose. Any suggestions? Thank you!

        1. Hello Aline,
          Thank you for the great feedback. To be honest I have more information on the NASM senior fitness specialist program and I know it is a fantastic one. Either way, I would suggest sticking with the same company for both of them although you do not have to do this. I hope this helps and good luck with all the studying!

      16. Anna Lee McDonald

        Thank you for all the helpful information!
        However, I was wondering if the final exams for these certifications were online on a computer or paper/printed out at the special locations?

        1. For both the ACE and NASM exams you will need to go into a test taking facility and take them in a monitored setting. This is to prevent any sort of cheating from going on. Once you are done with the exams for either one of them you will be able to find out if you have passed or failed on the spot. You will be able to print out a temporary certification online but the full certification will be mailed to you and arrive within a couple weeks after passing the exam. I hope this helps!

            1. You do not need to bring your laptop to the exam location. All you need to bring is identification, proof that your CPR/AED certified and proof of payment. You are not allowed to bring any study materials and to the testing area while taking the tests.

      17. After getting my CPT I plan on getting other outside certs for my continue Ed. Have you found that more outside certs offer CEUs for one more than the other? Or if they offer CEUs, they offer both ACE and NASM. Also is the process easy for getting CEUs approved? Lastly, I’ve had a difficult time learning anatomy though I think it’s super important. Does one over the other present anatomy material better than the other? Thank you.

        1. Hey Vanessa,
          In my experience, most full personal training certifications whether is the specialization certification or an additional CPT will offer complete continuing education for the majority of any other certification requirements. I hope this makes sense. Basically, if you need continuing education for the American Council on exercise, going through the full national Academy of sports medicine program will be sufficient continuing education to renew with ACE. And vice versa.

      18. Hi, Im very new to your channel and webpage. Love what I see so far,but I am very excited about starting my quest to being an ACE cpt but don’t have the full amount of money to get the study material. Is there anything you can recommend that I can begin studying now just so I don’t feel like Im wasting time when I can be studying? Thank you in advance.

        1. Hey Patrick, that’s cool to hear that you’re starting out with the American Council on exercise certification. You can start here with my free study guide and practice test on my website https://www.ptpioneer.com/study-ace/ Once you have enough money, I highly suggest picking up a study package from Trainer Academy. They have a premium study guide that has helped thousands of my students pass the exam. They also have helpful practice tests as well. https://traineracademy.org/ace/

      19. Hi, I’m an Ace certified group instructor. Was formally also certified through Nasm CPT. Year’s ago now. I let it lapse. I’m familiar with the opt model, I’m thinking about recertification, become a certified pt again along with my gfi. I am training a few people without a cert. As in my state anyway, it is perfectly legal, up to the gym owners. I’m an independent contractor. I’m wondering about the ift model through ACE and how it differs from the opt model. Honestly, I use some of the theories I learned from the opt. Model, but never fully grasped it? I don’t personally feel that training someone who has never worked out before on an unstable surface is a good idea. Learn to stabilize on 2 feet before 1 or a bosu, stability ball. Lunges aldo help to teach balance. I find new people to be very nervous. We don’t want to scare them off! I prefer to help them learn proper form in exercise and educating to why it’s important, work on correction of imbalance in the body as part of a training routine. If it’s all corrective, people get really bored. There’s only an hour, people don’t want to warm up for half of, sorry, my opinion. So wondering what ace teaches?

        1. Hello Monica, This is all very important questions that you have. And to be honest, there are a lot of similarities between the IFT model and the OPT model from NASM. It doesn’t focus as strongly on corrective exercises as NASM I would say is the biggest difference. There are still lots of fitness assessments for muscular imbalances but it does not Focused so heavily on stabilization. This might be a good option for you and it’s always a good idea to get a different opinion from a different certification. Since you already have a lot of knowledge from the National Academy of sports medicine, I would switch it up and go with the American Council on exercise to expand your skill set.

      20. Hi Tyler!

        I am very interested in signing up for a bundle package so that I can get certified as a personal trainer and nutrition/health coach. This would be a huge career change for me. I’m aiming to primarily work with youth, particularly those seeking to lose weight and implement healthier ways of eating into their lifestyles. Youth athletes would be of interest too, but not at the top of my priorities list. Both NASM and ACE sound excellent, but I would like to know which one would be the best for me based on my goals.

        1. Hey Candace,
          I’m so sorry that this message is super late. All of December I was crammed. If you are looking to get a personal training certification as well as a nutrition certification, I would lean more towards the national Academy of sports medicine. And this is mostly because there nutrition certification is much more up-to-date and in-depth compared to the American Council on exercise. Both of their personal training certifications are fantastic. And if you were just getting a personal training certification, they are pretty similar in terms of quality. You can always focus later on down the road on the youth exercise with NASM’s youth exercise specialist certification. I hope this helps and happy new year!


        THANK YOU

        1. No matter if you have a bachelors degree or Masters’s degree in physical education or kinesiology, most gymnasiums do require you to be certified by a credible personal training certification in order to work in their facilities. I don’t necessarily agree with this logic, but it is the way it is.

      22. Hey! So I work out Mon-Friday and LOVE it. I often get asked to provide some workouts for others or people ask me can they work out with me in the gym. I thought about getting certified and came across your article. Which do you recommend for me? I love strength training and lifting weights and stress the importance of doing that and not just running to lose weight or get to fitness goals. It’s all about diversifying your workouts. I just want to train others to get in shape, meet their goals and have a better understanding of health and fitness. What should I do?!

        1. Hello Kennedy,
          this seems like all of the information you’d like to help people with come from a general personal training certification. Both the American Council on exercise as well as the national Academy of sports medicine are great options for you. Both of them touch on the importance of cardio, flexibility as well as a lot of weight training or resistance training to include in their programs. If I had to pick one out of these two I would go with the national Academy of sports medicine because I file the better layout their information in a logical format.

      23. Hey Tyler,
        First of all I wanted to thank you because you’ve been extremly helpful .. i mean in my case lol.
        So I’m a french dude who use to live in Canada, Toronto for 2 years before I came back to Paris 7 years ago. I’m planning on going back there to start a Personal Trainer career (got a hook up in the gym industry there) !! So as a french gentleman without any VISA for now … can I get to start the NASM courses from France. Paris (I workout since almost two decades now) ?
        I’m gonna take your quiz by the way mate

        Best regard have a great day Tyler


        1. Hello, that’s a great question. You should be able to take the exam at some sort of test-taking facility over there in Europe. I know they have testing facilities for the National Academy of sports medicine all around the world but you will have to check the website to make sure where they are. Good luck with your personal training career.

        1. Some specialist certifications have prerequisites of a general personal training certification. I definitely recommend you get a general personal training certification before you tried to specialize in anything as well.

      24. Hi Tyler,

        I have worked in the industry for 20+ years, starting out as a collegiate strength and conditioning coach and I currently run a corporate facility that offers personal training and group exercise classes. I held both CSCCa and NSCA certifications in the past and missed my recertification deadline with NSCA last year, so I lost it (CSCCa is cancelled once you no longer work in industry). I took your what certification is tight for you quiz twice and it suggested ISSA (despite originally thinking I was going to pursue NASM). If I do ISSA and wait for offer to get 3 certs in one (PT, nutrition and 1 choice), will ISSA’s Corrective Exercise cover what I would miss by not doing NASM? While I continue to grow, my primary focus at this point of my career is having a certification, as my job extends well beyond PT (wellness and wellbeing). Thanks for any advice!

        1. Well the corrective exercise specialist from the international sports Sciences Association is significantly different from the general personal training certification that you would be doing with NASM. If you were looking to Simply get recertified NASM is a fantastic option. But, the three for one deal is definitely enticing and an excellent bundle of certifications and knowledge.

      25. ACE is basic AF. It’s great more if you want to be a mediocre trainer. They just want your money. When you need support they are slow AF!

        1. Good to hear your feedback on the customer service aspect of the American Council on exercise. I have never personally experienced this but it’s good to hear all opinions.

      26. Hi,
        Thank you for the detailed information.
        One question, I am from India and working professional in finance & A/c’s from last 6 years and always have passion into fitness and been into training and follow healthy nutrition from last 8 years. So, Can I do any of this course apart from my current job time and also do part time job to gain experience in this field.
        My purpose is to study and apply for job in abroad if its possible to get there and settle. Please guide what courses and path to make me move out of India and work in any foreign country ?

        Thank you!

        1. You can absolutely work as a nutrition coach part-time. It really depends on how many clients you can get on your own or if you need help from an organization such as a gym to get you those clients.

        1. That’s a good question, both the American Council on exercise and the National Academy of sports medicine or actually pretty well known in the European countries. I would definitely contact local employers to see which ones they accept though.

      27. Hello!!
        I am wanting to work at a small town gym teaching group classes mainly. Some general personal training on the side. But I love step, Zumba, barre, and yoga. I am also interested in the “transformation” program. With the idea I could be next to someone through their whole journey.
        Anyway, I was wondering what program you think would be most beneficial?

        1. I usually always recommend to start with a general personal training certification such as nasm or Ace. From there you have a good building block of fitness and you can expand into other specialty certifications such as transformation specialist, corrective exercise specialist excetera

      28. Hey Tyler,

        I was an ACSM CPT for 6 years and then let it lapse. I then started looking at recertifying and read your blogs with the company vs company. I truly feel NASM is far superior to ACE or ISSA and on par with ACSM and NSCA. I chose NASM because of its overall focus and it’s in depth content on the industry itself, the business aspect, the corrective exercise, It’s programming (it’s there you just have to click on all the links to see the sample workouts), along with its science and anatomy content. As with any general certification it lays the foundation and through CEUs, professional development, and experience the niche and fortes of the individuals coaching/training style will evolve. I did the elite program through NASM and I finish my last course the Behavior Change Specialization (BCS). All in all NASM blew away my expectations and I’ve nothing but great things to say about them. If you want a well rounded, very thorough, not “Easy” but not impossible (you get what you put in…kinda like health and wellness) NASM is the way to go! I also have a BS in Healthy Lifestyles Coaching from ASU and I’m a Assistant Fitness Director for US Fitness. I will be getting my CSCS this fall. Again thank you for your blogs and your desire to help and educate!

        In health,

        1. Hey there, I’m so glad that you had a great experience with the National Academy of sports medicine. They are definitely one of my top three certifications hands down. They have a fantastic curriculum, support, study materials and I really like their Optimum Performance training model. That’s why I definitely give them an A+ on my site. Good luck with your personal training career and I’m glad that you have enjoyed your experience becoming a trainer up until this point.

      29. Hi Tyler,
        Thanks for the great website! My choice comes down to between ACE and NASM and after taking your test, i got NASM. I have been comparing the two, going scrutinizing your reviews and study guides (over and over again), i have the NASM 6ed book, the new ACE table of contents and ACE 4ed book. I have to say i absolutely love the book structure and the OPT model with its 5 phases and how clear it is what to do in each phase – highly quantitative.

        However, it boils down to costs and course content, and i have decided to go for ACE. My reasons are:
        [Superficial reasons]
        1. ACE logo looks cooler and their website looks much much better (more this decade look). Well i will have to log in regularly right, guess it helps if i like what i see.
        2. ACE is non profit – not sure why this matters though.
        3. ACE is also recognized by EREPS – this would be a plus point if you’re like me in Europe
        4. Why the so many “please call … for …” in NASM website? It’s 2020, it’s all online, there’s email, live chat, zoom, skype etc. Can’t afford to call from europe.
        [Value for money]
        5. With the current summer sale, ACE would cost cost me €150 less (NASM without book and ACE with book)!
        6. One can purchace ACE courses anywhere. You have to go to NASM international partners (they charge you their prices) and you cannot take advantage of the discounts in (US) website!
        [Course content]
        7. Will i miss out on the OPT model if i don’t take the NASM-CPT? No, i already have 6ed book, it’s easy/clear to read.
        8. ACE based on the 4ed (terrible to read, reminds me of my old thermodynamics textbook) offers a whole lot of softskills and the writing style highly qualitative. The qualitative and lengthy writing does a good job at explaining the whys and discusses the approach that is being dealt with. Therefore by doing ACE-CPT and with NASM book i will learn more.
        9. ACE has just launced the new&improved course material – hope the book looks much better 😉
        10. PS. ACE 5ed book is impossible to find online for a good price. I got my NASM 6ed boook online for a fraction of the price!

        1. That’s a very in-depth breakdown. Let me try to give my info. I do think that the optimum performance training model is fantastic. It really helps you work with a wide variety of personal training clients. If you were looking to only train in Europe, that bite be a factor. Although I do know that a lot of people have used their National Academy of sports medicine certification in various parts of Europe. I do agree that the NASM is a little bit easier to follow although the 5th edition of Ace has definitely gotten better. It is pricey to find online though. In terms of price for the exam, calculating the price for the textbook that you already have I would say they probably come out about even. I personally like NASM more and the OPT model is definitely part of that reason. So that would be the choice I go with. Good luck with your personal training career. Either one will serve you well!

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