NASM PES review. Tyler Read holds the NASM performance enhancement specialist textbook and reviews the NASM performance enhancement specialist

Welcome to my review of the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist program based on taking and passing the NASM PES exam, along with my knowledge as a fitness professional for over a decade.

Our PTPioneer team includes several trainers certified through NASM, ACE, NSCA, ISSA, and the other main organizations and we have combed through the data on the NASM PES to give you the ultimate review of this specialization.

To help us on this mission, I touch on the following:

  • Organization info: pricing, packages, prerequisites
  • Program and textbook quality
  • How does the NASM PES compare to other performance specializations?

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Alright, let’s dive in to the article!

What is the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist?

Board with letters spelling out "what is the nasm pes" next to the nasm textbook for performance enhancement

The NASM Performance Enhancement Specialization from NASM, is geared towards teaching exercise professionals how to train athletic performance in both general population clients and athletes alike.

In this program you learn how to improve speed, strength, agility and quickness in clients at a high level. Bonus content includes weight room maintenance and management, and football, baseball, and basketball in various lectures. 

This is the NASM equivalent to the NSCA CSCS and it emphasizes strength and conditioning principles. 

NASM PES General Information

NASM PES General Information

  • Exam cost: $699.00 before discounts
  • Study material cost: INCLUDED
  • Prerequisites: CPR/AED, High School Diploma
  • Exam passing score: 70%
  • Average completion time: 3 to 9 months

NASM credibility and reputation

The National Academy of Sports Medicine, or NASM, is a certifying agency in the health and fitness field.

Established in 1987, it has become one of the foremost authorities and educational institutions in fitness, offering what some consider the best personal trainer certification.

NASM’s popularity is prominent and far-reaching, often cited as the most popular certifying agency based on numerous relevant metrics and Google trends.


It is, without a doubt, a gold standard certification with a global reputation.

NASM also acquired AFAA, the Athletics and Fitness Association of America.

This brings a major certifying agency under the umbrella of NASM and, in the process, consolidates a wealth of resources and influence for better educational products.

NASM occupies a niche in the corrective exercise specialist field; that is to say, their training methodologies, as indicated in the curriculum, are geared towards exercise principles that assist in correcting imbalance and deviation.

This is exemplified in the OPT model, short for Optimum Performance Training.

This model permeates through all of NASM’s certification programs, including the NASM specialty certifications.

As a specialization in performance enhancement would entail, we can safely assume that the principles and ethos ingrained in the OPT model are fully displayed.

But enough speculation and assumption, let’s actually find out what this performance enhancement program brings to the table for a student.

Is the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist worth it?

is the nasm pes certification worth it. Tyler holds up NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist Textbook and decides if the NASM CES makes sense for his personal training career

Yes, the NASM PES is worth it for those trainers looking to learn more of the details behind sports performance training.

If you want to earn more as a trainer and learn more comprehensive strength and conditioning tools than you would learn from the NASM CPT, this is the specialization for you.

This is a very thorough course which also comes in at a reasonable price compared to some of the other strength and conditioning certifications out there. 

  • Certified for life, no recertification required
  • Well priced for a NASM program
  • Great entry point for athletic trainers or conditioning specialists
  • Not as well recognized as NSCA CSCS
  • Not a NCCA accredited certification
  • Very little focus on other population groups outside high-performance athletes

NASM vs. other top strength and conditioning certifications

The main competitors to the NASM PES are the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Certification (NSCA CSCS) and the ISSA Strength and Conditioning Certification (ISSA SCC).

The NSCA CSCS is the big dog in the game of strength and conditioning and is recognized as the most complete certification. NSCA is, after all, a premiere athletics research institute. 

Price-wise, it’s similar to the NASM PES, but it is a full NCCA accredited certificate, so it comes out on top in that aspect.

However, the CSCS is also a grueling exam with a 56% pass rate, much lower than NASM’s 70% and the re-test fees can cost almost as much as the entire exam.

The ISSA Strength and Conditioning Certification is a full cert with NCCA approval, but it costs a bit more than NASM and isn’t quite as thorough from a content standpoint. For example, NASM includes more technique guidance for certain exercises like the Olympic lifts. 

I like ISSA’s program, but I think overall NASM gives you a bit more from an exercise science perspective.  

Who is the specialization meant for?

NASM’s PES is meant to teach trainers the skills and techniques of a strength and conditioning coach. This is not a personal training certification geared to teaching the general population, nor is it a full certification on its own. It’s much better when paired with a CPT. 

For this reason, I’d definitely recommend looking at NASM’s Strength and Conditioning Bundle, which gives you a personal training certification, along with nutrition and the PES at a reduced cost.

Normally, getting these three programs separately would be a lot more expensive, but this way you get the benefits of all of these at a fraction of what you’d normally pay in stages. 

Certainly, as a fitness professional, you are going to be asked about nutrition as well as training, so having a nutrition certification will aid in your knowledge, giving you more authority on the subject so you can earn more.That’s the rationale for paying a bit more at the beginning of your career, so you can gain a lot more in the long term. 

Great for
  • Personal trainers wanting to learn about strength and conditioning
  • Fitness professionals looking for a great way to re-certify
Not great for
  • People who want to be a strength and conditioning coach at the highest level
  • Anyone looking for a personal training certification

NASM PES course costs and options

NASM pes cost and course options - NASM textbook laid out on table with gold coins and mystery boxes - how much does NASM PES cost?

The NASM PES costs $699.00 for self-study, $849 for premium self-study, and $999.00 for all-inclusive. This changes a lot due to the frequent deals and special offers typically given by NASM on their website.

Compare NASM PES packages image

Compared to many NASM programs and courses, this is pretty well priced, in contrast to the certified personal trainer cert, which can cost well into the thousands of dollars depending on which study package you pick.

Each package contains the fundamentals, such as practice exams, the textbook, and the study guide for your exam prep.

This is what each study package offers:

The Self-Study Package

The Premium Self-Study package option contains all that in addition to the following:

  • Bonus Content 
  • Programming Toolkit

And finally, the All-Inclusive study kit has everything I’ve just listed in addition to:

  • NASM-PES Hardcopy textbook
  • Live Workshop

Don’t forget to check the NASM site for the official pricing, as they tend to run specials and discounts from time to time.

NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value 4
NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value 5

NASM PES course layout

NASM CES course layout - NASM textbook open to table of contents to display NASM CES certification curriculum

To understand what NASM PES has to offer, we must take a look at the curriculum.

I generally rate certifications and courses based on the quality and relevance of what they teach everyone first and second, by how they administer those teachings.

I’ll be doing this by taking on the NASM PES book.

Let’s take a look at this source of knowledge.

Exercise Science Foundations Coverage

Exercise science is the first and most fundamental knowledge concept when it comes to workouts and fitness training.

NASM PES chapter 2 cover image - science of human movement

You are entering the business of exercise instruction, so learning the key aspects of how exercise works is crucial.

This couldn’t be more true regarding coaching for performance enhancement.

NASM PES touches on exercise science principles throughout the course curriculum to varying extents, but it is in chapter 2 where the concept takes center stage.

Chapter 2, Science of Human Movement, breaks down the subjects of biomechanics, kinesiology, and the physiology of the musculoskeletal system as they relate to enhancing athletic performance.

NASM PES image - anatomic planes of movement in chapter 2, science of human movement

That’s an important thing to remember. Exercise science would normally touch on the fundamentals of exercise for the average person.

This time we’re dealing with exercise principles for those in the business of consistently pushing their physical limits.

For that reason, the subjects and topics discussed go pretty in-depth.

For instance, while the expected topics, such as the types of muscular contractions and the force curve, are introduced, they are also accompanied by the different tactics and methodologies you can use to manipulate and optimize them.

Functional anatomy (body parts concerned with movement and force production), an integral part of exercise science, is peered at through the lens of sporting discipline instead of general function.

This allows you to engage with the material in a way that encourages a performance enhancement approach.

This is also evident in how the cert presents exercise programming, prep, and technique.

In my opinion, NASM PES does an overall excellent job of bringing exercise science principles to the fore.

Nutrition Coaching Coverage

Many would argue that nutrition is the most important component of a health and fitness program, and I’m inclined to agree.

Nutrition Coaching Coverage - image of chapter 14 cover page, performance nutrition

Regarding performance enhancement, a pristine nutritional approach is a key to success.

Nutrition not only provides the raw materials for an improved and adapted machine, but it also provides fuel and energy for continued activity.

This is a general requirement for healthy living, but more so for enhanced physical output.

So what’s NASM’s take on this topic?

Chapter 14: Performance Nutrition is where you’ll find all you need to know about performance-enhancing dietary coaching.

This chapter does a great job of explaining the science behind nutrition but is not in-depth enough regarding results-driven coaching practices.

Behavioral Coaching Coverage

Managing and changing behavior is tantamount to success in any exercise training scenario.

This concept becomes the maker or breaker of success when it comes to performance enhancement and athletic training.

The importance of behavioral coaching plays an unavoidable role in the careers of professional athletes. NASM goes in-depth with behavioral coaching in the final chapter.

Cover image from NASM PES - Psychology in Sports Performance, Chapter 16

This is chapter 16: Psychology in sports performance.

This chapter details behavioral change from the perspective of adopting beneficial habits while relinquishing those that aren’t. It also looks into the mental conditioning required for a “big game” and “gracious loser” approach.

Professional sports place a heavy amount of pressure on athletes, firstly to earn their place professionally, and secondly to maintain that place and bring desired results in line with expectations.

NASM PES touches on behavioral coaching in the following categories:

  • Concentration and focus
  • Motivation and discipline
  • Dealing with stress and pressure
  • Mental health
  • Leadership skills

While it is a short chapter in the curriculum relative to the others, it does a very good job of helping someone grasp things that are often overlooked in other courses of a similar reputability.

Mental fitness is the precursor to physical fitness, so it’s good that NASM has an entire section of its PES syllabus dedicated to this aspect of training.

And when it comes to performance enhancement, an enhanced, toughened mind is the key to true athletic progress.

I would state that just by looking at the greatest athletes of any given sport, a key indicator of their success is the power, mentally, they carry.

Good examples include:

  • Michael Jordan
  • Michael Schumacher
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (bodybuilding career)
  • David Goggins
  • Mohammed Ali

The list could go on, but the point I’m making is to be the best, you have to think the best, and that’s where behavioral coaching from a performance enhancement perspective comes in. Achieving your fitness goals starts with the mind. 

Client Health and Movement Assessment Coverage

Before you begin training any client physically, one essential aspect to cover is their medical history and current medical condition.

For this, you would implement a client health screening.

Besides understanding the medical history and the presence of any chronic conditions, you also want to paint a picture of general health.

Important health and risk features to assess include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Body composition
  • Cardiac output
  • Breathing and lung capacity

All these are covered in Chapter 3: Testing in Sports Performance.

Image from NASM PES textbook - cover from chapter 3, Testing in Sports Performance

Of course, as already mentioned, you are assessing and testing for the sake of performance enhancement in an athletic direction.

Unlike client health screening for personal training clients, where you’re just checking if they’re medically suited to exercise, you are screening to find areas that can be improved upon or enhanced.

That means that, in response to this data, your testing methods and resources will be more sophisticated and precise.

A blend of objective and subjective data will allow you to assess your client’s health.

Objective data comes in the form of information you gather from your client through testing protocols such as 

  • ECG
  • Blood pressure test
  • Body fat assessments
Image from NASM PES textbook - shows skin fold testing sites

Subjective data includes information your client presents to you, such as:

  • History of surgery
  • Chronic conditions
  • Current medication

NASM PES covers this depth of health screening well enough, but they go further to impart candidates with the skills to modify their assessments.

Modifications based on the physical and metabolic demands of different sports and different positions in those sports are indicated as essential.

The quality of a medical assessment determines the quality of a performance program, and the quality of a performance program determines the quality of an athlete.

The quality of an athlete indicates the quality of their coach.

Just as with health screening, movement screening is crucial, especially with athletic performance, giving you appropriate feedback. 

Your clients are movement specialists, and in many cases, this is how they earn a living.

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Therefore, assessing their movement potential is essential, covered in Chapter 3: Testing in Sports Performance.

As you can already tell, it’s lumped in with the health screening that you’ll conduct on clients.

Both medical and biomechanical assessments are often placed in the same category as there is a great degree of overlap, as one can imagine.

With that being the case, NASM PES also indicates the two-factor data gathering approach when it comes to movement screening for athletes.

That is to say, as a coach, you should gather both subjective and objective data.

For performance enhancement movement screening, subjective data comes in the form of:

  • Current or previous injuries
  • Personal records and performance statistics (e.g., one rep max, personal best times)
  • Perceived areas of weakness (pain or discomfort during certain movements, lack of mobility/flexibility)

Objective data, which you would assess for proper training programs, would include:

  • Posture
  • Balance/stability and proprioception
  • Biomechanical integrity (squat assessments, push assessments, step assessments)
  • Compensation assessments
Image from NASM PES textbook - shows assessment of overhead squat from different angles

All these key points are highlighted in the PES curriculum in Chapter 3.

My only gripe is that I would have preferred medical assessments to be in a separate chapter from movement assessments. A soft tissue injury lies in a different category to an overhead squat assessment. 

Normally, this wouldn’t matter, but since we’re dealing with the high-octane world of athletic performance, separating key concepts would make this easier to digest.

Resistance Training Coverage

Resistance training is given its own complete chapter in the NASM PES Essentials textbook and course curriculum.

As a major component of your essential fitness professional skills, especially as a performance enhancement specialist, NASM does a great job of spotlighting this topic. This is a good sign.

Chapter 10: Resistance Training Concepts is where you’ll find the meat and potatoes of this topic.

image from NASM PES textbook - cover image from Chapter 10, Resistance Training Concepts

In this regard, NASM’s curriculum starts with why resistance training is important for high-level athletes.

For the average person, resistance training is healthy. It can bring some cosmetic benefit in the form of hypertrophy of the muscles, but understanding why and when to apply resistance training is important as a performance enhancement pro to help individual client needs.

Next, you’ll be guided through the core principles of resistance training, such as:

  • Overload
  • Variation
  • Individualization
  • Adaptation

This chapter also tackles the concept of resistance training for rehab and injury recovery, which exemplifies NASM’s approach to corrective exercise principles.

In the same way, you will also learn about injury prevention or prehab.

Understanding ways to correctly administer strength training principles and aerobic or cardio training principles are unavoidable weapons in your workout arsenal for clients of all levels.

This brings us to the next topic: aerobic fitness.

Aerobic Fitness Training Coverage

Just as with resistance training, aerobic training or cardio are essential fitness components and crucial performance enhancement components.

As an athlete, few sports are lenient on your cardiac output capacity, so in a sense, nailing your aerobic training skills and exercises is more important than the resistance training aspect.

This chapter is huge and plays into the OPT model NASM promotes quite prominently (their patented periodization phase model), so pay attention.

Also, consider the fact that more sports are cardio dominant than there are strength dominant sports.

Bodybuilding and lifting are probably the only sports that are resistance training, reliant with little emphasis on aerobic principles and more on something like reps and weight in the gym. 

Even so, aerobic training is as much a health maintenance protocol as it is a performance enhancer.

So, regardless of the sport, a good chunk of your programming will be dedicated to aerobic training sessions.

For instance, let’s look at bodybuilding. The cardiac output required to supply extreme amounts of muscle tissue with adequate nutrition means a strong heart is crucial.

So how does NASM handle this topic on the page?

Chapter 5: Metabolic Energy System Training highlights this topic in the PES curriculum.

image from NASM PES textbook - shows cover image from chapter 5, Metabolic Energy System Training

As you can assume from the name, they aren’t just talking about aerobic fitness, although it does play a huge role.

The chapter also discusses anaerobic fitness and the difference between it and aerobic fitness.

You’ll also gain insight into the metabolic energy system as a whole and how it responds to the different training stimuli to add to your expertise. 

Special Populations Training Coverage

Special populations are groups or categories of fitness training prospects who face challenges or have goals that fall outside the general realm of personal training.

The general realm is that of your average person, the constraints they face, and the goals they wish to achieve.

Members of a special population group would include:

  • Handicapped and people with disabilities
  • Youth training
  • Senior training
  • People with chronic, limiting conditions
  • High-performance athletes.

With that in mind, we can safely conclude that the NASM PES, in its entirety, is a special population training program aimed at high-performance athletes.

Regarding coverage of that group, NASM PES does a perfect job.

However, high-performance population-type members are the only ones with a focus in this course.

It is, after all, based on that category of clients.

Regardless, I still feel other sensitive population groups could have been included in more detail.

For instance, when it comes to athletic development, the key is to start them young.

This would conclude that a good amount of focus on training kids from high school to college level would have been beneficial.

It is also true that athletes with disabilities are a prominent fixture in professional sports.

An entire Olympics is dedicated to showcasing handicapped athletes at the highest level.

Providing the right coaching and performance enhancement for disabled athletes would have been an excellent addition to the curriculum, so coaches can find the approach solutions with some background info. 

One chapter touches on youth training in moderate detail, as indicated in Chapter 8: Plyometric Training Concepts.

I think more emphasis is needed when it comes to these two population groups, even to the point of warranting their own chapters in the curriculum.

Summary: NASM PES Content

The NASM PES covers these concepts well:

  • Exercise science
  • Health and movement screening
  • Aerobic training
  • Behavioral coaching

The NASM PES is disadvantaged in the following areas:

  • Special populations training
NASM facts under summary of NASM PES

NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist exam prep and study materials

nasm pes exam prep study materials - NASM certification open to olympic lifts chapter with highlights for note taking

NASM’s study materials are good for all of their programs. NASM has the best exercise library of any of the certification organizations. Additionally, their online modules work well and the entire process is very streamlined to support learners of all types. 

Most of my students say that they prefer the NASM study tools over other major organizations on account of this. 

In terms of tips, I’d say this: you get two practice tests and quizzes at the end of each chapter. I would make sure to use the study guide and review the material for at least a month before taking your first practice exam because you only get two before the final test.

NASM Performance Enhancement requirements

Speaking of prerequisites, this NASM certification lists a hefty set of recommendations for enrolling. However, none of these are requirements. 

The first one of these is the successful completion of either the NASM Personal Trainer certification, NASM Massage Therapy, or NASM Nutrition course, which I would consider the tentpoles of the institute.

You could also earn an equivalent cert from an equally reputable provider such as ACE, ACSM, ISSA, or NSCA. Each company has its own CPT.

Other recommendations that stand out include having a 4-year college or university degree in an exercise or sports science-related field.

Finally, I would certainly recommend getting a CPR/AED certification for safety reasons. When working with people, you need to know how to respond in emergency situations involving individuals you train. Also, knowing a bit of first aid as well can be beneficial. 

NASM PES salary

According to Ziprecruiter research, average NASM Performance Enhancement Specialists make $63,399 per year in the US. This is more than ten thousand dollars more than NASM CPTs, which make $50,905.

I think this speaks to the substance of the PES, and its ability to help increase your earning potential. Working with athletes can be an extremely lucrative profession. While the NSCA CSCS is more geared towards collegiate and professional coaching, the NASM PES is no slouch.

I always recommend that fitness professionals set a target income goal to start out with and then try and increase the figure every year as they accrue more knowledge, skill and clients. After a few years of quality coaching, you can charge more for your services, based on providing a good product and results for clients. 

Taking the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist exam

NASM  PES  exam - Tyler Read takes the NASM performance enhancement specialist to earn his NASM pes certification

While I don’t have any data on the pass rate, the exam is considerably challenging if we’re to take anecdotal evidence to heart.

After scouring several forums, including Reddit, where former candidates express their experience with the exam, it seems to be challenging, but a welcome challenge at that. I personally did not find it too difficult and I think if you plan appropriate study time, you should be able to pass on the first go. I would certainly schedule a few months to synthesize the material. 

The exam session consists of 100 multiple choice questions to be completed in 90 minutes.

NASM Performance Enhancement continuing education and recertification

The NASM PES is a lifetime credential.

That means once you’ve earned it, you’ve got your sports performance certification for good.

This is in contrast to many programs which require renewal every two years in order to stay certified in most cases. 

A renewal comes at the cost of accruing a number of continuing education credits and a nominal fee.

But in this case, you can rest assured that you won’t be in a position where you have to deal with that.

Other NASM training courses

Below are links to more information about NASM’s other classes:

NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist program overall rating

nasm pes overall rating - NASM performance enhancement specialist textbook displayed on table with lettering board
NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value 6

In my NASM PES certification review you will learn about this advanced certification that focuses on peak performance training for athletes! 

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 699

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:


  • Good price for NASM
  • No need to re-certify ever few years
  • Great entry point into strength and conditioning


  • Not a full certification
  • Less respected than NSCA CSCS
  • Less focus on special populations

Overall, the NASM PES gets a 8.7 out of 10.

NASM PES is a great certification for those looking to get into the sports performance enhancement field.

Beyond that, its content applies to the general PT as it allows you to hone your knowledge of the fundamentals a personal training cert would have imparted, adding to your sports performance professional skills.

One area it does fall short is the variety of special populations it teaches about.

While it is a very specialized and specific scope of practice, a couple of special population considerations have been overlooked within that scope.

Those are youth and disabled athletes, both prominent subcategories within the performance enhancement field.

If you’re thinking of combining skill sets, the PES goes hand in hand with the NASM CES and nutrition certs, with their CPT cert as a good foundation.

Overall, NASM PES comes from one of the most celebrated and consistent education providers in health and fitness globally. Although not as recognized as the NSCA CSCS, many alumni still consider it a strong offering.

NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

nasm pes FAQs - nasm pes textbook on table with frequently asked questions regarding nasm performance enhancement specialist

What is NASM?

NASM stands for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has been around since 1987.

They have built one of the best reputations in the fitness credentialing industry and are NCCA accredited, making them a Gold Standard cert provider.

The PES is the NASM sports performance training program and equips candidates with the skills to train athletes.

How much does NASM PES certification cost?

The standard price for the NASM PES self-study is $699.00, although this price might fluctuate based on the deals and offers in place.

This is the cheapest package, so expect to pay up to $999.00 if you go for the all-inclusive.

What is a Performance Enhancement Specialist?

A performance enhancement specialist is an exercise and fitness expert who is a sports performance trainer.

As a sports performance specialist, your coaching objectives differ from what you’d typically be tasked with when functioning as a PT.

In that sense, the NASM PES is a sports training certification, although the concept of performance enhancement needn’t be limited to active athletes.

Is NASM a good certification body?

Indeed they are. In fact, NASM is one of the most respected certification providers globally and is the most popular based on search volume and enrollment figures.

Does NASM provide study materials and other resources?

Yes. Included in your self-study package are the following:
NASM PES Essentials of Sports Performance Training (course text)
– Online Exam Access
– Online Practice Tests
– Syllabus and Study Guide
– Application Videos
– Lecture Videos
– Exercise Libraries
– Module Quizzes

The premium self-study package contains all that in addition to the following:
Bonus Content 
– Programming Toolkit

And finally, the all-inclusive study kit has everything I’ve just listed in addition to:
NASM-PES Hardcopy textbook
– Live Workshop

How long does NASM PES certification last?

The NASM PES is a lifetime certification.

That means after passing, you won’t need to recertify.

What is the NASM PES test retake policy?

If you fail to hit the 70% mark, NASM will award you three more attempts at the final exam.

If you fail beyond that, you must re-register and pay a full course fee.

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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22 thoughts on “NASM PES Review 2024– NASM PES Cost vs Value”

  1. Will I struggle to pass the NASM PES course if I haven’t taken the NASM CPT course? I’m a basketball coach with the intent of starting my own training business to help kids get to the next level for basketball. In my own opinion, I feel like the PES certificate fits more for that if I’m not training them in the weight room but more on the court and places for body workouts. Am I fine taking the PES course only?

    • No you do not have to have the NASM certification, but I highly recommend that you do. You should check the prerequisites, they might require a general personal training certification.

    • You will be able to access a digital copy of your performance enhancement specialist certification from your portal online. Also, you should have received the physical certification a couple weeks later.

  2. thank you for the post, a couple of questions..

    why do you recommend the CSCS if already having a degree? i have a BSc for sport coaching science.

    when i was looking at the pes.. the premium self study mentions the programming toolkit but doesnt offer much information about it. do you have any further information on that?

    • I would say that the gold standard in the industry for strength and conditioning certifications is the NSCA CSCS. Both certifications are good, but employers definitely look at that as the gold standard in both highly respected certification in the industry. Good luck with your strength and conditioning career.

  3. I work with high school level athletes. I want to choose a certification that allows me to best prepare these athletes for play, as well as setting a good foundation for lifting and conditioning habits they take to the next level.

    • Hey Mark,
      If you already have a four-year degree, I suggest getting the CSCS certification from NSCA. , if you do not have this though, the performance enhancement specialist by the National Academy of sports medicine is definitely a good option as well.

  4. Hello Tyler,
    Thanks for the info. This page is very helpfull!

    Could you give me some information on how the procedure works for PES? I enroll, study the material at my own pace, and once Im ready I make the exam (online)?

    And for the CSCS: I first study the material and when ready I sign up for the exam (at a CSCS affiliatie?)

    Thanks for the help!

    • Yes, you have it correct. You can study the information for the performance enhancement specialist and then when you are ready you can take the exam online. Or the certified strength and conditioning specialist certification, you will need to go to a third party testing facility that accepts the CSCS. You can find a list of these locations on the NSCA website.

  5. Hi, I am a doctor of physical therapy and would like to get a CPT cert that would help me with strength, conditioning, and mobility for athletes to seniors. Ive been told the NASM certs would be good, but I am not sure which one to go for. Do you have any suggestions? I would like to increase my knowledge of nutrition as well as strength, conditioning, and mobility.

    Do I need a base CPT to get any of the specialized certs as a DPT? I do not have any personal training certifications.

    • Hello Christina,
      The personal training certification from NASM is definitely a fantastic certification. If you already have a bachelors degree which you obviously do, I would suggest the CSCS from NSCA as it is the gold standard in regards to strength and conditioning certifications. You will be able to use all of this knowledge even while working with seniors. In terms of mobility though, I do feel like the National Academy of sports medicine has the upper hand in this area. You can always do both certifications.

  6. Hi – my goal is to do youth fitness/nutrition coaching. would the ISSA nutrition fitness certification plus the nasm pes certification be a good combo?

    • The biggest question is if you already have a general personal training certification such as the general NASM or ISSA CPT. The performance enhancement specialist certification is for training athletes. I think a better combination would be the general NASM/ISSA with either the NASM CNC or the nutritionist certification. I hope this helps.

  7. Hi,

    I am a DPT and am interested in learning more about personal training to work with teen athletes to geriatrics. My baseline knowledge on strength and conditioning and corrective exercise is good from school and personal fitness, but I would really like to understand personal training better. I am not confident that what I know is strong enough to train athletes beyond rehabilitation and I would like to understand strength and conditioning for geriatrics better.

    I have a bachealors and a doctorate. Am I able to get the CSCS or NASM PES without previous personal training certifications? And which one is considered the most “prestigious” or would you say is the best for a PT to have?
    I know this may sound silly, but do both add letters to your name? I am only asking this because it helps with landing certain jobs without having to explain a long list of my educational background.

    • Hey Christina, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. In terms of the most prestigious personal training certification for strength and conditioning specific training, the certified strength and conditioning specialist by the NSCA is definitely the golden standard. This is the one I would suggest going for If you have a bachelor’s degree. And no, you do not need any previous personal training certification to get either one of these two. I am not quite sure what you mean by adding letters to your name. Good luck with all the studying.

  8. Hello and thanks for offering all of this information. I am a massage therapist who will always benefit from learning more about the human body and human performance. I also think it would be beneficial for my practice to be able to offer simple exercise plans to help my clients stay injury free and integrate the benefits of their massage sessions into their daily lives. Furthermore, I am interested in working at a fitness center/offering mostly body weight exercise & mobility classes. It seems to me that the NASM-PES would allow me the ability and the certification to safely and effectively do all of the above, but I just wanted to reach out and get your thoughts on the matter. Thank you!

    • Hello Meredith,
      The performance enhancement specialist by the American Academy of sports medicine is actually a certification that’s geared towards athletes for performance aspects. Just from the look of it, it looks like you want to implement training so that people stay injury free and mobile. For this, I would definitely recommend the corrective exercise specialist certification from NASM instead of the PES. That is, unless you plan on working with a ton of athletes. I would check out my article on the top corrective exercise specialist certifications to see which one, if any is up your alley.

  9. Hello! Could you please elaborate why you think the PES is a better certification than the CSCS? You say that the techniques are modern and curriculum more up-to-date. Would it be possible to give an example?

    • No problem. I really like the PES training model because it follows along the lines of NASM’s OPT training model. This model is relatively recent to the personal training industry and has really become the standard for progressing along any sort of exercise program in a safe and very effective manner. For the these reasons I think that PES is better than the CSCS. Just my two cents.


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