Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022?

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    Welcome to the most exquisite, comprehensive certification review of the NASM Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT) in 2022!

    In this article, I break down both the good and the bad aspects of this certification:

    Topical information: NASM-CPT pricing, packages, prerequisites
    Fundamentals taught in the NASM-CPT curriculum
    NASM exam cost, difficulty, and study materials
    Explanation of my expert review process

    When finished reading, there’s no doubt you’ll be equipped with more knowledge about the NASM-CPT to see if it’s right for you!

    Let’s go!

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      Quick Breakdown: NASM-CPT

      • NCCA-accredited
      • Highest credibility in the industry
      • Variety of packages to choose from
      • Top-notch study materials
      • NASM’s OPT model is beneficial for all types of clients
      • Emphasizes building your own personal training business
      • Heavy focus on corrective exercise
      • The cost for their certification packages (especially at the highest end) is on the high side
      • Very difficult certification exam
      • Vaguely covers special populations

      7.6out of 10

      Exercise science foundations8
      Behavioral coaching6
      Client health screening8
      Movement screening8
      Resistance training8
      Special population training7
      Aerobic fitness training8
      NASM-CPT General Information

      NASM-CPT General Information

      • Exam cost: $599+
      • Study material cost: $600-$1000+
      • Prerequisites: High School Diploma (or GED), CPR/AED certification from a qualifying provider
      • Exam passing score: 70%
      • Exam pass rate: 60%
      • Average completion time: Approximately 6 months

      Introduction: What is the NASM-CPT?

      As you probably already know, the fitness industry has come to stay.

      According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health and fitness field is growing and will continue to grow throughout the next decades.

      The research concludes that a personal trainer’s role is critical, result-oriented, and therefore leaves no room for mediocrity.

      Once certified, personal trainers can work in gyms, studios, health clubs, outdoors, or help other clients in their homes.

      Your journey starts with choosing a certification, enrolling, and studying for your certification exam.

      Established in 1987, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is a fitness professional certifying agency.

      It is fully registered with the National Commission for Certifying Agency (NCCA), which demonstrates compliance with the set gold standards in the fitness industry.

      Since its inception, NASM has grown to become one of the most prestigious personal training certifications out there to this day!

      Besides their Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification, there are other specializations, such as the Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) and the Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES).

      So without further ado, let’s discuss what you’ll learn, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the NASM-CPT study materials.

      NASM-CPT Content Coverage: the Good and the Bad

      The main study material is their textbook, NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 6th Edition.

      Available both digitally and as a hard copy, I prefer hand-held study materials, so I liked the hard copy the best.

      It is over 600 pages, contains 20 chapters overall, and appendices (5 total).

      The chapters are further broken down into these four sections:

      • Fundamentals of Human Movement Science
      • Assessments, Training Concepts, and Program Design
      • Nutrition and Supplementation
      • Client Interaction and Profesional Development

      I like NASM’s easy-to-digest exercise library, OPT exercise programs, one rep max conversion, muscular system, and exam prep material.

      I also like how the NASM-CPT curriculum covers exercise science, which I’ll mention more next.

      Exercise Science

      The first section, Fundamentals of Human Movement Science, thoroughly covers basic exercise science and corrective exercise.

      The wide use of terminology along with its respective definitions definitely helps during final certification exam preparation.

      While still rich with detail, the pictures in the book are colored and comprehensible, as seen below in Figure 2.2:

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 4

      NASM covers bones and muscles, and all body systems in great depth, too, with corresponding charts and infographics.

      This is especially helpful for visual learners, such as me.

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 5

      The cardiorespiratory system has its own chapter that is very detailed, but yet again, the NASM-CPT has a great habit of making the content easy to understand and not boring!

      NASM does not leave out any information on energy systems and biomechanics and covers everything very much to a tee.

      Behavior Change Coaching Skills

      Lifestyle modification and behavioral coaching are definitely key in helping clients transform into better selves.

      I think the stages of change model (as pictured below) helps trainers conjure rough ideas of where clients are and how to appropriately progress them.

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 6

      Although not as strongly as ACE, NASM does very well covering behavior change psychology and unveiling the common barriers to lifestyle modification.

      My favorite is NASM’s mention of SMART goals, which can be measured and realistically accomplished.

      Take a look-see here!

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 7

      Clients need to have realistic, measurable goals that they can achieve and feel confident about.

      Most importantly, these goals keep clients accountable when you aren’t around and will benefit clients throughout their whole lives!

      Consulting and screening clients to reduce risks of injury

      Before training your clients, you must understand their strengths and limitations so your fitness program is accurate.

      You’ll need to be able to read and interpret fitness assessment results, as well as know any exercise modifications needed to prevent aggravation of any medical conditions.

      NASM exceeds expectations with its coverage on consulting and screening clients in Section 2 of the textbook: Assessments, Training Concepts, and Program Design.

      Another thing NASM definitely got right was its inclusion of made-up scenarios with clients to use as practice, as shown below:

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 8

      The practicality of these activities makes learning how to be a good personal trainer only sets you up for success in your soon-to-be career.

      Program design and resistance exercise technique

      Here, NASM dives right into full-blown coverage on its very famous Optimum Performance Training Model.

      The OPT Training Model is an exercise training model developed by NASM based on scientific evidence and principles.

      You, the trainer, will progress clients through five training phases:

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 9

      First is Stabilization Endurance, where the trainer’s main mission is to help the client’s breathing and heart rate function properly.

      Examples of exercise included in the stabilization endurance phase include walking, jogging, swimming, and biking.

      Secondly, you have Strength Endurance, which ordinarily involves weight lifting and other fitness works (See Table 1.1).

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 10

      The third phase is Hypertrophy, which certainly helps with muscle building. 

      Overhead squats, back squats, and fronts squats are strength-building exercises that personal trainers use to reduce body weight that is unhealthy.

      In fact, according to a survey, many clients hire personal trainers for this type of exercise alone.

      Fourthly, the Maximal Strength phase basically tests the client’s overall strength.

      This mainly includes exercises such as squats.

      During the initial session, trainers conduct an overhead squat assessment to give the client feedback on his or her progress.

      And lastly, there’s Power, which combines both bodybuilding and powerlifting exercises.

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      Taking clients through the NASM OPT Model workouts make everything very easy, safe, and productive at the same time!

      I’ve spoken with many individuals in the industry, all of who know that NASM’s OPT model phases are proven to be very effective among clients, and are thankful for it.

      In the end, NASM has successfully been using the OPT model to ultimately improve the lives of its clients.

      This intensive program helps to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and strength, and improve overall health and performance.

      Thank you, OPT Model!

      Aerobic training program design and technique

      In very rich detail, NASM covers basic components of cardiorespiratory training, along with ways various physiologic systems respond and adapt.

      In a very organized way, you can track clients as they progress with their aerobic training using the OPT Model:

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 11

      Using an individualized approach, NASM successfully implements aerobic training into a variety of clients’ fitness programs.


      Although not in the scope of practice for personal trainers, I think nutrition is an important topic to cover.

      Personal training clients are bound to have questions surrounding nutrition and healthy eating, so NASM prepares you with the basics.

      The NASM-CPT curriculum covers the fundamentals of nutrition in an easy-to-grasp way, while at the same time, is rich in detail.

      For instance, you’ll cover the macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) along with their molecular breakdowns and how each is digested.

      You’ll also learn how each macronutrient is used for energy and how each affects the body.

      You do cover micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, that are found in foods too.

      I’d say NASM falls in line with most other fitness certifying agencies with its coverage of nutrition.

      Though nutrition is clearly not the focus of fitness certifications, it is worth briefly mentioning just for trainers to have a rough idea.

      Helping Special Populations with Fitness

      Since the NASM-CPT is known to be one of the best corrective exercise certifications, they don’t highlight special populations as much as NSCA or ACE.

      However, NASM provides a wealth of information on working with special populations, including the following:

      • Youth
      • Seniors
      • Pregnant women
      • Lifestyle-induced and genetic disorders

      The NASM-CPT textbook includes many detailed pictures, infographics, and templates on special population exercise routines.

      Though this section of the NASM-CPT curriculum is vague, it still covers the basics.

      Thinking Long-Term: Business Skills for Personal Trainers

      Lastly, major props to NASM for going over ways to develop a successful personal training business.

      In its own chapter, you’ll learn the places and types of employment, Marketing 101, setting prices, and much more!

      Table 20.1 shows you the advantages and disadvantages of certain work environments.

      Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022? 12

      With having this information available at your fingertips, you can gauge the pros and cons of ideal workplaces before you even start.

      This chapter is also very informative on gym membership and other fitness-related sales closing techniques, which is key to a booming fitness business!

      You even learn the four “Ps” of marketing, which are:

      • Product
      • Price
      • Place
      • Promotion

      Each “P” is described in enough detail and is very easy to understand and apply.

      The strong emphasis on developing a niche makes sense because the most successful personal trainers will always have and know their niche.

      Having a niche keeps you focused and relevant.

      Without a doubt, NASM teaches you the ropes of the personal training business very well, falling in line with ISSA.


      Overall, the NASM textbook deserves a solid 5 out of 5 because it covers everything you need to know for the exam and beyond.

      However, always seek additional resources and self-educate throughout your career because you can never stop learning!

      And there were a few things NASM doesn’t cover quite as strongly as other fitness certifications or additional resources do.

      Now, let’s tap into the NASM-CPT requirements.

      NASM-CPT Requirements

      The NASM-CPT requirements are relatively simple, straightforward, and very similar to every other fitness certification program out there.

      The requirements are as follows:

      • High school diploma or the equivalent (GED)
      • Current and valid CPR and AED certifications (on or before taking the exams)

      Clearly, you must also have a passion for health and fitness and helping others lead healthier lifestyles.

      If you lack this, you cannot be successful in this industry.

      Although not required to be at least 18 years of age to take the exam, most employers require you to possess liability insurance.

      And most insurance companies require the insured to be at least 18 years of age.


      This minor drawback makes NASM slightly different from other fitness professional certifying agencies.

      NASM Personal Trainer Certification Packages

      NASM offers four CPT certification packages.

      First, NASM’s cheapest package called the Self-Study costs $899 and provides the following:

      • NCCA-accredited personal trainer certification exam
      • Textbook
      • Series of lecture videos
      • NASM exercise library
      • NASM practice exams
      • NASM exam answers
      • Online CPT certification quizzes
      • Comprehensive NASM study guide

      The NASM Self-Study can’t be beaten and is the best option for those who just want to study and sit for the exam, without any additional, “fancy-schmancy” resources, like flashcards.

      Next, there’s the NASM Premium Self-Study, which includes exactly what the Self-Study does, plus additional features, such as:

      • Anatomy Memorization Activity
      • Correcting form videos
      • Learning Activities
      • NASM Flashcard bundles

      This package is ideal for those who thrive on the extra push and who are visual learners.

      The most popular, NASM Guided Study, costs $1599 and includes:

      • NASM study materials and exam readiness webinars
      • Access to coach and mentor
      • Nine discussion questions
      • Live workshop
      • NASM-CPT test prep guarantee
      • NASM-CPT hardcopy textbook

      Additionally, you’ll get direct access to a team of coaches and a mentor who will be dedicated to working with you throughout the process of obtaining your CPT certification.

      This package is perfect for learners who crave the hands-on aspect of studying and live engagement.

      Finally, the fourth and juiciest one of all is the All-Inclusive, which you really wouldn’t want to miss because you are guaranteed a NASM job offer.

      It costs you a whopping $2,699, but the benefits include:

      • NASM Job guarantee after the completion of your “NASM Gymternship”
      • Real-life experience working with experts
      • All the benefits you get from the Guided Study

      Note that this 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!

      I think that the job guarantee is an excellent addition because sometimes even if you are certified, it can be hard to get your foot in the door for training or to get hired.

      This job guarantee lets you get your feet wet in order to get your bearings right and start working directly after getting certified.

      Whereas most personal training organizations teach you how to train clients and tend to neglect the sales, marketing, and business aspect of the profession, NASM does the exact opposite.

      NASM provides guidance on maintaining a successful personal training business perspective with their “NASM Business Accelerator Program.”

      You’ll learn actionable techniques to help you maximize your profits, your use of time, and the value that you provide when training clients.

      Want to be on the fast track to becoming a thriving industry-leading personal trainer?

      Then this is definitely the package I’d recommend for you.

      Want to test only?

      Alone, this CPT Exam costs $599 but does not include study materials or any other perks of the full packages.

      As long as you are willing to put in the time, this bundle practically assures you that you will successfully pass the exam.

      I wouldn’t recommend the test-only option unless you have a very strong exercise science or kinesiology background, or a Bachelor’s Degree in either discipline.

      On a final note, please be sure to check their website for any updates and/or price changes, as these are always subject to occur!

      According to their website, right now you can save 30% on all certification packages, so:

      • Self-Study – $629
      • Premium Self-Study – $839
      • Guided Study – $1,119
      • All-Inclusive – $1,889

      But are these NASM prices worth it?


      You get what you pay for.

      When you pass your exam, you’re a step away from becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and making even more money compared to your investment in the test.

      It’s that simple!

      NASM Exam Difficulty: How hard is the NASM-CPT exam?

      The NASM-CPT exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions, which you’re given two hours to attempt.

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      This exam is administered at the closest PSI facility, and finding NASM exam locations is not difficult.

      These facilities are located in most large cities throughout the United States

      Having a third-party test-taking facility ensures that there is no cheating and that you will receive a passing or failing grade immediately after finishing the test.

      Let’s dissect the NASM-CPT final exam:

      • Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts (15%)
      • Assessment (16%)
      • Program Design (20%)
      • Exercise Technique and Training Instruction (24%)
      • Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching (15%)
      • Professional Development and Responsibility (10%)

      Though the NASM exam is not easy to pass, it’s not the hardest test in the industry, so please be sure that you are fully prepared.

      To pass, you must achieve 70% or higher.

      But this exam is no walk in the park.

      As of 2021, the NASM exam pass rate is approximately 60% for first-time test-takers, which is slightly harder than ACE and ACSM, both at 65%.

      Personally, I found the NASM practice tests to be most helpful when preparing for the exam.

      But according to some NASM-certified trainers I’ve spoken with, questions on both the practice exams and real exams are purposely designed to trick you!

      If you fail, you are allowed to retake the NASM-CPT exam as many times as necessary to pass it.

      While there is otherwise a whopping $199 NASM retest fee, if you choose the Premium Self-Study Package, you may retake the exam entirely for free.

      If you get overwhelmed with the course content and think you may not be able to pass the exam on your own, the NASM Academic Partner Schools have your back!

      Tell me more…

      It is a live setting that offers top-notch personal fitness training education.

      Prospective candidates are trained first-hand by experts in a gym or partner facility that is approved by NASM.

      The aim is to ensure participants gain best-in-class knowledge of all areas they are going to be tested on in the exams.

      This training is focused on functional assessment, program design, and human movement science – and all these are practical.

      In other words, you will not only study the materials but actually see it in practice – long before you get certified.

      This is better than attempting online practice questions and is great value for your money!

      It’s one thing to have the knowledge, but it’s a whole new world when that knowledge is applied and replicated.

      NASM-CPT Continuing Education and Recertification

      The NASM-CPT certification is valid for two years after passing the exam.

      In that two-year period, you will be required to fulfill 2.0 continuing education credits (CECs).

      The NASM recertification fee will cost you $99 on top of your continuing education costs.

      Unlike most other personal trainer certifications, NASM gives you a choice to “NASM Recertify For Life.”

      You’d pay $399 once and never have to pay the recertification fee every two years.

      This is a great deal if you know you’ll be personal training for over six years and/or make personal training your career.

      Also, you can use a completed college degree related to the field (i.e. exercise science or kinesiology) toward your CECs.

      Just submit your college transcript with your recertification application.

      If you take courses from other organizations not yet recognized by NASM, you are required to pay a $25 fee.

      This way, the NASM certification board can verify those CECs.

      I recommend doing other specialization courses to keep you grounded.

      There are NASM courses on nutrition, health coaching, strength and conditioning, and much more that will get you CECs and advance you quickly.

      As much excellent training you get from NASM, make sure to choose professional liability insurance.

      This keeps you safe throughout your career.

      Also, consider management software that will make your job easier and better.

      Almost all NASM-CPTs I have spoken to have done this and would also recommend every trainer to do the same.

      NASM-CPT Review Methodology

      I based my expert review of the NASM Certified Personal Trainer certification based on the following criteria:

      • The opinions of experienced NASM-CPTs
      • A critical review of quality and pricing of NASM-CPT study materials
      • Typically reported information from trainers who passed the NASM-CPT exam
      • Other comparable entry-level fitness certifications, specifically other CPT certifications

      NASM-CPT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


      Hands down, the NASM-CPT is definitely an all-time favorite personal trainer certification among trainers and employers alike!

      In fact, there are many places that would only prefer/accept NASM-certified personal trainers.

      The NASM-CPT is ideal for working with the general population and at the same time, delving into the nitty-gritty of corrective exercise.

      But if you are still unsure of where your personal training career is headed, take the quiz to help point you in the right direction!

      I know that choosing a personal trainer certification can be daunting, and that’s why I recommend that you find out as much information as you can.

      I hope that my NASM-CPT review article provided you with a much clearer understanding of the NASM Certified Personal Trainer certification itself and some additional information as well.

      While it’s not the absolute best CPT program, the NASM-CPT is definitely worth it!

      Now let’s get training!

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      17 thoughts on “Is The NASM-CPT Certification The Greatest of 2022?”

      1. I am just getting started on my quest to be a CPT. I am gathering as muffin info as I can and didn’t want to lose out on you form.

        1. Hey Jill,
          Good luck with your training and I hope it all goes well with you. The NASM is a fantastic certification to get started with.

      2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your information! I’ve been teaching group fitness for a while, and I’ve had several students ask me to train them (they don’t realize my group ex cert is different than a CPT!). So right now I’m trying to gather as much info as I can to see if training makes sense for me. There’s so much info out there, but your articles are so straight forward and helpful! Thank you!

      3. I studied thoroughly. I passed all the “practice exams”. I felt confident and excited to test. I failed by 3%. The questions are poorly worded and confusing. I feel like the questions selected set me up for failure. I feel this way even more strongly knowing there’s a fee to retake the test. I feel very disheartened by NASM. The books content is wonderful and thorough and everything I wanted and expected. I enjoyed learning, but wish I chose a different program. 😔

        1. Hey Kelly,
          I am so sorry that you did not end up passing the exam. The exam is very difficult and some versions are harder than others that’s why they grade them on a scale. It’s very likely that you got one of the more difficult exams which can be tough. Although you may feel down right now, I urge you to not give up. 3% is not that much and you will surely pass it on your second try. The textbook is very big and can be difficult to navigate. That’s why I have created a premium study guide and practice tests to help my students feel confident that they will pass the exam. If you want, you can check these out here as they come with the exam pass guarantee or your money back.

      4. Abhirup Bhowmick

        Sir, I just purchased the NASM GUIDED STUDY , please give me some tips how can I pass the exam in my first attempt.

        1. Hello,
          Congratulations on the national Academy of sports medicine certification. You will not be let down with the information that you learn from this organization. There are a couple study tips that I have for you. I highly suggest picking up the study materials over at Trainer Academy. They have helped lots of my students pass the exam without any problem. You can find that here You can also check out my free study guide for NASM right here on my website.

      5. NASM seems to be incredibly attentive IF you are signing up and purchasing more certifications. Once you re-certify for life, their attention to members is horrible. They sent me emails for the entire 2 years between certification renewals, saying that they would make it easy for me to “rectify” if I wanted to. . .RIDICULOUS. I WAS RE-CERTIFIED and I called multiple times to ask them to FIX THIS in their system so I wasn’t continually bombarded by these inaccurate emails. Because they told me to just “ignore” the emails and DID NOT fix my status in their systems, the NASM online portal REFUSED to let me upload my CEU’s when it actually came time to do so, claiming that my certification had expired. Customer Service is LACKING, from the wait time on hold when trying to remedy this (24 minutes waiting) to the unprofessional attitude that their representatives gave when I asked them to remedy the problem during the 2 years in-between my certification renewals. Like I said, once you re-certify for life and you are not obligated to pay any money for that process, you are UNIMPORTANT to NASM is would seem.

        1. Hello Stephanie,
          I did not know this about the national Academy of sports medicine. I’ve always renewed every two years in paid them and I have never done the recertify for life option. That’s pretty crazy that they did this and it does seem unprofessional of them to not give you priority treatment as you have purchased one of their more expensive products. I’m sorry to hear of the frustration you have spent with them and I would be frustrated as well.

      6. Jean-Louis Nienaber

        Good day,

        I live in Sout-Africa Pretoria. What are the options to study the NASM CPT course in my country regarding exams, training at gyms (partners) etc

        Thank you for your time

        1. Hey Jean,
          It is difficult for me to give advice in different countries as I do not know the rules and regulations for each country etc. Most of my information is targeted towards the United States, Canada and some parts of Western Europe. I suggest you contact your local health club or gymnasium to see which certifications they accept and which ones they prefer. That is the best advice I can give. Happy new year.

      7. Hi Tyler;
        I love your web-site. I am checking into becoming a personal training. But I don’t think I’ll be doing it as a job. Just for my own knowledge and maybe to give advice to friends here and there. NASM seems like the most recognized certification if I ever change my mind on working in this field.

        What course would you recommend at NASM? Where I can get a hard copy book (can you buy the book separately if you buy a lower price course?)? I’m a little confused on the testing. Do you have to take in within 6 months or do you have 12 months? How often can you take the test and is there a limit where they tell you you have to wait a certain amount of time to take it again.

        Thank so much Tyler. You are the Best;


      8. Hi Tyler,

        I am NASM CPT and I am currently working at Goodlife fitness as a personal trainer in Canada and for some reason, they do not accept NASM CPT…and they want me to get Canfitpro CPT asap. They also mention me that they do accept ACE CPT just not NASM.
        so Question #1
        What do you think about NASM CPT vs Canfitpro CPT?
        Question #2
        Is there any specific reason that Goodlife Fitness does not accept NASM CPT?

        1. These are very good questions trying to compare canfitpro to the National Academy of sports medicine. NASM Is the highest recognized certification in the United States and it’s hard to imagine why a fitness facility in Canada would not accept it as a legitimate certification. They probably have some tie to specific certifications and nothing more. That being said, canfitpro is a very good certification. Personal training certifications in different regions is a funny thing. I think there is a lot of politics and money behind people’s decisions as opposed to rational ones. The best idea is to ask your local Fitness facilities which personal training certifications they accept and which ones they prefer before you make any decisions to purchase one.

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