NASM CES Review 2023 - An Outstanding Specialization

Hello and Welcome to the Ultimate NASM CES Review!

Once you have read this article, you will know if this Corrective Exercise Specialist program is optimal for your future in the fitness industry!

In this article, we will be covering these topics:

The Necessary Fitness and Corrective Exercise Information Coverage of the NASM CES
The NASM Certification Exam and Recertification Information
Comparisons with Comparable Organizations in the Fitness Industry

I also recommend that you take the quiz to find out which PT certification is the best fit for you to obtain.

Let’s jump in and see how the CES stacks up!


Quick Breakdown: NASM CES Certification

9.6out of 10

Exercise Science Foundations9
Exercise Technique10
Client Assessment10
Movement Assessment9
  • Best corrective exercise certification/specialization
  • The new update to text adds to the quality
  • NASM OPT model is one of the best training models
  • Chapter-to-chapter material separated well
  • Pretty expensive for a specialization
  • Could include behavior change information prevent in personal training certs
NASM CES General Information

NASM CES General Information


  • Study program cost: $449 – $1,199
  • Prerequisites/Recommendations: NASM CPT cert, other NCCA Accredited Certification, Massage therapy cert, or 4 year college degree
  • Exam passing score: 70%
  • Average completion time: 3 months

NASM CES Video Review

NASM CES Certification Review 2023 – NASM’s popular Advanced Cert!

What is NASM?

NASM stands for The National Academy of Sports Medicine, and this organization has been around for around 34 years now. The NASM is one of the best and most well-respected organizations in fitness.

The NASM has well over 1.3 million fitness professionals that have gone through their programs in over 80 countries.

For a comprehensive breakdown on the top CPT organizations in the fitness industry, check out my in-depth review on the best personal trainer certifications.

They are well known for their NASM CPT certification and their many different specializations for trainers and other health professionals. They can vary from corrective exercise to nutrition. 

These specializations and many other courses for NASM all may count as Continuing Education Units for fitness professionals to use for recertification. They offer obscure courses and anything from women’s fitness to MMA conditioning.

You do not have to be a certified professional with NASM to utilize these continuing education credits; you can also be certified through other organizations.

Let’s look at more specifics on the CES certification from NASM.

NASM CES General Information

The NASM CES is a corrective exercise specialist certification, and it is a popular specialization of the NASM organization. It is one of many NASM specializations and NASM specialty certifications.

Specializing in Corrective Exercise is a reliable way to increase your earning potential and work on helping reduce your clients’ risk of injury. 

Personal trainers with a NASM CES cert will earn 26% more than others, on average. That’s not bad for something that can be used for recertification alone if anything.

Corrective Exercise Specialists are known for their ability to help people move, feel, and live better. The Corrective Exercise Specialization looks to correct imbalances and dysfunction that exists in clients.

The CES program is done through an online e-learning portal, and this study method is tried and true with NASM.

These aren’t required, but in general, it is recommended that candidates for this program have at least one of these things:

  • NASM Personal Trainer Certification
  • Certification for Massage Therapy
  • A Health or Fitness Certification accredited by NCCA, NBFE, or DETC
  • 4-year college degree or higher
  • REP’s Level 3 or higher

The curriculum for NASM’s corrective exercise cert is split into four sections:

  1. Introduction to Corrective Exercise Training
  2. Corrective Exercise Techniques
  3. Assessment
  4. Programming Strategies

A last important piece of information is that this is an NCCA accredited course. It is highly regarded within the fitness industry, as the NCCA is the gold standard.

What Does A Corrective Exercise Specialist Do?

A corrective exercise specialist aims to help people move better in all aspects of life. The corrective exercise specialists can program more efficiently and more effective workouts.

Achieving this certification will allow you to broaden your client potential and also help to keep your current clients. 

Clients who work out with corrective exercise specialists will be able to recover more quickly from their workouts and meet their fitness and movement goals more efficiently. 

This certification is a wonderful way to expand your fitness expertise and help clients in fundamental ways. There’s also the amazing benefit of recertification with NASM Continuing Education Units and completion of this program.

The increase in earning potential is the main benefit of this specialization. This increase in earning potential is due to the skills learned in fixing muscular imbalances and working with more individualized programming with clients. 

A CES can modify a client’s program to fit any muscular issues and dysfunctions they may have.

On average, a CES trainer is likely to make 26% more than a personal trainer without the certification, and it should be evident as to why.

Now, let’s break down the contents within the study program packages!

NASM CES Packages

NASM offers two packages for people to choose from when going for this specialization. Both packages award 1.9 CEU credits with NASM. 

The one negative I would like to point out is that the specialization does not award the learner with enough credits to recertify with NASM, but it does with outside organizations. 

At that price, it is odd that they leave you requiring 0.1 more CEUs when they are the certifying organization. Slight negative due to pricing and hours to complete.

CES Self-Study Package

The first package from NASM is the Self-study package, coming in at $899 base price. It is often on sale for $449. This is a good deal for one of the best fitness specializations in the industry.

Included in this package is quite a bit of material. The digital course content (which serves as the textbook), learning videos, coaching demonstrations, advanced video animations, quizzes, online practice exams, and online final exams.

This is a good amount of material and honestly the equivalent of a personal training certification when you break down the text and the whole package. 

CES Premium Self-Study Package

This package starts at a base price of $1,199 and is constantly on sale for $599. This is still an amazing deal for a lifetime specialization.

This package adds to the self-study package. It includes the previous materials: the digital course content, learning videos, coaching demonstrations, advanced video animations, quizzes, online practice exams, and online final exams. 

The new additions for this package are the 16 audio lectures, six webinars, biodigital models, a study schedule, and an exam study guide. 

So, for $150 more (when on common sale price), you will get quite a bit of added study materials. This is probably optimal for someone coming from outside of NASM that isn’t familiar with all of the quirks of NASM. 

So, is the NASM CES worth it?

The NASM CES presents these two study programs for the specialization. They are both great, but if someone only desires to do the course for recertification, then it is doable without paying so much.

But, for anyone that wishes to get a great specialization that will benefit their fitness career, the NASM CES is well-priced for what comes with it. 

If you are looking to purchase a hard copy of the NASM CES textbook, it can be purchased separately through NASM for $199. 

NASM also offers a virtual corrective exercise workshop taught by a corrective exercise master for $299. 

There is a lot of material to unpack in the content coverage of the cert, and we will be going over that in the next section.

NASM CES Content Coverage

Let’s look at this certification and the content coverage based on the categories of exercise science foundations, exercise technique, client assessment, movement assessment, and programming.

The exam content is broken up into four domains of nasm study, and 18 chapters are split up throughout the domains. 

Let’s take a look at each of these domains.

Domain 1: Introduction to Corrective Exercise Training

  • Chapter 1: Rationale for Corrective Exercise
  • Chapter 2: Human Movement Science and Corrective Exercise

Domain 2: Corrective Exercise Techniques

  • Chapter 3: Inhibitory Techniques
  • Chapter 4: Lengthening Techniques
  • Chapter 5: Activation Techniques
  • Chapter 6: Integration Techniques

Domain 3: Assessment

  • Chapter 7: Client Intake and Assessment
  • Chapter 8: Static Assessments
  • Chapter 9: Movement Assessments
  • Chapter 10: Mobility Assessments

Domain 4: Programming Strategies

  • Chapter 11: Corrective Strategies for the Foot and Ankle
  • Chapter 12: Corrective Strategies for the Knee
  • Chapter 13: Corrective Strategies for the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex
  • Chapter 14: Corrective Strategies for the Thoracic Spine and Shoulder
  • Chapter 15: Corrective Strategies for the Wrist and Elbow
  • Chapter 16: Corrective Strategies for the Cervical Spine
  • Chapter 17: Self-Care and Recovery
  • Chapter 18: Real-World Application of Corrective Exercise Strategies

The webinars cover each of the corrective strategies for each body part. It is an effective and helpful way to nail down the corrective exercising programming topics for each body area. 

Let’s break down each of these categories we rank for.

Exercise Science Foundations

This is the weakest of the categories, but it is not as big a deal as one would think. 

There are few dedicated chapters to the basics of exercise, unlike with some other fitness specializations in the industry. This is likely due to the recommendations that NASM puts out there. 

It makes sense that it doesn’t receive a major focus, as the main base of users will be people with extensive experience and knowledge within the industry. 

Taking that into account, it handles exercise science to the expected degree. Chapter 1 and 2 provide a solid intro into exercise and corrective exercise, which has the main foundations of the techniques and rationale.

Save 30% on the NASM CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist) Certification
See the NASM CES Sale Here
Save 30% on the NASM PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist) Certification
See the NASM PES Sale Here
Save Big on the NASM CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach) Certification
See the NASM FNS Sale Here

So, in essence, you will be expected to have a good amount of knowledge in the realm of kinesiology and biomechanics before entering this certification. 

From there, the certification does a good job expanding on what is already known by trainers and fitness/health professionals. They apply this knowledge throughout each of the following categories. 

Exercise Technique

Exercise Technique is going to focus on corrective exercises and the NASM methodology for implementing these corrections. 

NASM breaks down the corrective exercise techniques into four different phases, which allow problems to be fixed. 

The name of this process created by NASM is the Corrective Exercise Continuum.

The Corrective Exercise Continuum is the main feature of this NASM cert, like how the OPT model for training is the main feature of their CPT certification and CSCS certs.

The Corrective Exercise Continuum is broken down into four different steps that you will go through with clients.

Step 1 is Inhibiting the affected area through the use of myofascial rolling. This is essential as the first step, and the online course does an excellent job of teaching the different methods to do so.

Step 2 is to Lengthen the muscles/areas, and this is through many well-described modalities of flexibility training.

Step 3 involves Activation of the muscles through the use of isolated strengthening techniques.

And finally, Step 4 is Integration through the process they call Integrated Dynamic Movement. This brings it all together, and hopefully, the result will be fixing the underlying issues.

NASM CES Review [year] - An Outstanding Specialization 1

Altogether we have four concrete steps to help clients fix their existing injuries, dysfunctions, and imbalances within the body. The steps flow perfectly and make the program design simple for new corrective exercise specialists.

All of the implementations of corrective exercise that follows later in the text will follow this basic layout. The guidelines in place by NASM are perfect, and the charts and tables allow for the easiest studying of this material. 

The Corrective Exercise Continuum and its use will set apart a corrective exercise specialist from a personal trainer trying to correct problems. This will allow the trainer to do so much more in terms of correcting issues that are found.

They also do an excellent job teaching the movements and progressions expected with this type of certification.

NASM CES Review [year] - An Outstanding Specialization 2

Let’s look at the client assessment portion next.

Client Assessment

The assessment of clients is well done, as there will be chapters devoted to assessments before exercise and during a program. 

When it comes to this section, before exercise, there is one chapter that involves client intake and assessing the information you receive. 

With this learning, you will create individualized programs that tackle and use the techniques through the corrective exercise technique sections. 

I believe that the assessment of clients is another area that NASM has tackled perfectly. There is little room for improvement, as it is already executed so well. 

Movement Assessment

NASM CES Review [year] - An Outstanding Specialization 3

There are three chapters to cover when it comes to the assessments of the body, and specifically movement. Chapters 8 – 10 all go over these essential sections for corrective exercise. 

There will be a great array of static, movement, and mobility assessments that are all covered in great detail. This section also features the most videos, printable handouts, and knowledge checks of any domain. 

This means that you will be certain to nail down the materials held in this domain with the vast array of study materials. 

Assessment of the clients is the most critical area for a corrective exercise cert, as this is the start of any program being designed. You can’t properly program corrective exercise without some kind of accurate assessment of the potential issues. 

For that, it makes sense that this section has the greatest amount of video and infographics to study and get as close to hands-on as possible. 

Learners should have no problem mastering the basics of the beginning of corrective exercise program design. 


Programming strategies is the largest portion of the textbook and perhaps the most in-depth look at the body parts and how they relate to movement. 

Within this domain, NASM devotes six chapters to separate checkpoints of the body. You will be able to understand the kinetic chain and how all parts of the body influence other parts.

The kinetic chain checkpoints that are broken down are:

  1. Foot and Ankle 
  2. Knee
  3. Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex
  4. Thoracic Spine and Shoulder
  5. Cervical Spine

The usual five are touched on in this program, but they also focus on one that we don’t see as much, which is the wrist and elbow. This makes sense as there are a lot of potential issues and uses for these joints, too.

NASM CES Review [year] - An Outstanding Specialization 4

These are the primary body sections that are focused on, and each chapter thoroughly explains the common injuries and preventative strategies in amazing detail. 

Once the common injuries are detailed, they do an incredible job detailing how and where this may affect the other kinetic checkpoints of the body. 

This section is done better than any other corrective exercise certification in the industry.

Now, let’s look at the final exam for the NASM CES.


You can take the final exam upon completion of the course. This exam is unique, as you are free to take the test at home or wherever you prefer to take the exam.

In total, it is a 100 question multiple-choice exam. The test-taker will have 90 minutes to complete the exam.

To complete this specialization exam, you will need to get a 70% or better, so you must answer 70 questions correctly.

But, even if it is a challenging exam, you get a total of 3 attempts to pass. So, it should be easily passable within those three attempts. If you fail once, just study some more and take it again.

Exam prep is easy for this credential. Just about everything is included within the study packages they sell. The online courses included practice tests, lecture videos, and tons of materials. 

It could be a good idea to make use of our flashcards and study materials offered for free here on PTPioneer.

Review Methodology

This PTpioneer NASM CES review is based on my expert opinion and these criteria:

  • Gathered opinions of successful personal trainers and health coaches within the fitness industry
  • Comparisons between other top specializations and certifications to verify quality and pricing
  • The usual information coming from new trainers that have passed the NASM CES certification exam
  • Many other specializations, certs, and entry-level fitness programs

NASM CES Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


In conclusion, this NASM CES certification/specialization is the best corrective exercise cert and possibly one of the most valuable specializations that a trainer could add to their resume. 

Without a doubt, a personal trainer can benefit from the materials included in this program, and once achieved, you are almost guaranteed to make more money than before. 

It should be looked at as the first option for someone who needs to recertify and wishes to add some knowledge and ability for future clients. 

It truly is a top certification from a great organization. We would rate it a 9.6/10 overall.

We hope you enjoyed our NASM CES Certification Review. If you would like more reviews and fitness certification information, make sure to bookmark PTPioneer. 

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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12 thoughts on “NASM CES Review 2023 – An Outstanding Specialization”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler,

    Such a great article! So glad I found it. Just a quick question for you- how long does it usually take to finish the NASM CES certification?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Ruth, The NASM CES usually takes between 4-6 months depending on your previous knowledge or college classes you may have taken. I would plan for 6 but if you end up breezing through it you can always set a test date for earlier also 🙂

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey AJ,
      I believe since the corrective exercise specialist certification is all online, you don’t actually need to set a date to take it. You can simply on your study portal say I want to take the test now and start taking the test once you are fully prepared for it. I don’t think there is any period of time you need to wait after setting a date for taking the exam.

  2. PTPioneer User

    Hi! Do I need to take the exam within a given time frame, say 6 months? will the course expire beyond then? Thanks!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Isabel,
      I believe that the national Academy of sports medicine provides six-month study time before you are required to take the exam. They may however have an option to extend it for another six months but you’ll have to ask them as they change these rules time to time.

  3. PTPioneer User

    Hello Tyler,

    I have been doing research for years about cpt certifications and I’m just now seeing this information about the corrective exercise specialist certification. Which is very interesting to me. I already have my bachelors in exercise science (more like masters with all the credits I’ve taken as a pre-med student lol) and what I would like to know is, if one just takes the corrective exercise specialist exam are they still considered a personal trainer or do they have to take both the personal trainer exam and corrective specialist exam with NASM or any organization that offers the CES?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Yes, in fact you actually need to have a general personal training certification to be eligible for the corrective exercise specialist certification if I’m not mistaken. There are a lot of similarities between the general personal training certification from the National Academy of sports medicine and their CES. It would definitely help if you had this first.

  4. PTPioneer User

    im interested in taking your NASM CES course but i dont see it on the site? I only see the conventional NASM study guide. Seems silly but could you direct me to where i can find it.

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