NASM PES Review 2022 - NASM PES Certification Cost vs Value
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    NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist Certification Review 2021- Is NASM Legit? Let’s Find Out.

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

    Introduction 

    Hey Everyone, welcome to PT Pioneer, the internet’s best career guidance platform for the fitness industry.

    Have you ever wondered about a career as a sports performance trainer and which cert is best for that qualification?

    If the answer is yes, you’re in the best place possible, as I’ll be discussing the NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist cert and how good it is for you.

    To help us on this mission, I will be touching on:

    The General Focus and Popularity/Recognition
    The Study Materials and Pricing
    Information on the Tests and Recertification

    With that said, let’s get right into it.

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

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      Quick Breakdown: NASM PES Certification

      8.9out of 10

      Exercise science foundations10
      Nutrition Coaching Coverage8
      Behavioral coaching10
      Client health screening9
      Movement screening9
      Resistance training10
      Special population training7
      Aerobic fitness training8

      Pros
      • NCCA Certified
      • One of the most recognized and respected certification
      • providers
      • Certified for life, no recertification required
      • Well priced for a NASM cert
      • Great entry point for athletic trainers or conditioning specialists
      Cons
      • Not as well recognized as NSCA CSCS
      • Prerequisites can be intimidating, although not required
      • Very little focus on other population groups outside of high-performance athletes

      NASM PES General Information

      NASM PES General Information

      • Exam cost: $699.00 – $999.00
      • Study material cost: INCLUDED
      • Prerequisites: CPR/AED, High School Diploma, government ID, Recommended (NASM-CPT certification, Sports Nutrition Certification, Certified Massage Therapist, NCCA, NBFE or DETC Accredited Health/Fitness Certification, 4-Year College Degree)
      • Exam passing score: 70%
      • Average completion time: 3 to 9 months

      Introduction: What is NASM?

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

      It was established in 1987 and has become one of the foremost authorities and educational institutions in fitness.

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

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

      NASM also recently 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 with the PES cert, we can safely assume that the principles and ethos ingrained in the OPT model are in full display.

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

      NASM PES Content Coverage: the Good and the Bad

      In order to understand what NASM PES has on 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 you 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.

      Exercise Science Foundations Coverage

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      The first and most fundamental knowledge concept when it comes to workouts and fitness training of any sort is exercise science.

      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 when it comes to 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 Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared 7

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

      This time we’re dealing with exercise principles for those who are in the business of pushing their physical limits on a consistent basis.

      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), which is an integral part of exercise science is peered at through the lens of sporting discipline as opposed to general function.

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

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

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

      Nutrition Coaching Coverage

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

      When it comes to performance enhancement, a pristine nutritional approach is a key to success.

      Nutrition not only provides the raw materials for an improved and adapted machine, 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 not in-depth enough when it comes to results-driven coaching practices.

      Behavioral Coaching Coverage

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

      When it comes to performance enhancement and athletic training, this concept becomes the maker or breaker of success.

      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.

      This is chapter 16: Psychology in sports performance.

      This chapter details not only behavioral change from the perspective of adopting beneficial habits while relinquishing those that aren’t, but 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 in order to earn their place professionally, and secondly in order to maintain that place and bring desired results.

      NASM PES homes in n 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 you grasp concepts 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.

      Just by looking at the greatest athletes of any given sport, a key indicator of their success is the mentality 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

      Client Health and Movement Assessment Coverage

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      Before you begin training any sort of 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 features to assess include:

      • Blood pressure
      • Body composition
      • Cardiac output
      • Breathing and lung capacity
      NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared 11

      All these are covered in 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 in order to find areas that can be improved upon or enhanced.

      That means your testing methods and resources will be more sophisticated and precise.

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

      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

      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.

      NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared 12

      Just as with health screening, movement screening is crucial, especially with athletic performance.

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

      Assessing their movement potential is therefore essential, and this is 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 (eg. 1 rep max, personal best times)
      • Perceived areas of weakness (pain or discomfort during certain movements, lack of mobility/flexibility)

      Objective data, which you would asses would include:

      • Posture
      • Balance and proprioception
      • Biomechanical integrity (squat assessments, push assessments, step assessments)
      • Compensation assessments

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

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      My only gripe is that I would have preferred Medical assessments to be in a separate chapter from movement assessments.

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

      Resistance Training Coverage

      NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared 13

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

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

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

      This chapter is huge and plays into the OPT model NASM promotes quite prominently so pay attention

      NASM’s curriculum in this regard starts off with the reason why resistance training is important for high-level athletes.

      For the average person, resistance training is healthy and can bring about some cosmetic benefits, but as a performance enhancement pro, understanding why and when to apply resistance training is important.

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

      • Overload
      • Variation
      • Individualisation
      • 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 how to correctly administer resistance training principles, as well as aerobic or cardio training principles, are unavoidable weapons in your arsenal.

      This brings us to the next topic, aerobic fitness

      Aerobic Fitness Training Coverage

      NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared 14

      Just as with resistance training, aerobic training or cardio is an essential component of fitness and a crucial component of performance enhancement.

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

      Also, consider the fact that there are more sports that 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.

      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.

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

      So how does NASM handle this topic?

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

      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 touches on 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.

      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.

      As far as coverage of that group, NASM PES does a perfect job.

      However, high-performance population 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 a high school to a college level would have been beneficial.

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

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

      Being able to provide the right coaching and performance enhancement for disabled athletes would have been an excellent addition to the curriculum.

      One of the chapters does touch 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

      NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared 15

      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 PES Certification Requirements

      Speaking of prerequisites, this NASM certification lists a hefty set of recommendations in order for you to enroll.

      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 any equivalent cert from an equally reputable provider such as ACE, ACSM, ISSA, or NSCA, I’m not entirely sure.

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

      It’s not entirely clear what the mandatory requirements are, but I can assume your standard entry prerequisites apply such as being at least 18, having your first responder certifications (First Aid, CPR, AED), and having a government-issued ID. 

      Study Materials: Quality and Price 

      NASM PES Review [year]- NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared 16

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

      Compared to a lot of NASM’s 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

      • 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:

      • 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

      NASM PES Exam Structure and Difficulty

      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.

      This is possibly due to the fact that the prerequisites required to even qualify for the PES, create a barrier to entry that only allows highly qualified, astute, and dedicated trainers to take the course.

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

      NASM Recertification and CEUs

      The NASM PES is a lifetime certification.

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

      This is in contrast to many certs which require renewal every two years in most cases. 

      Renewal comes at the cost of some continuing education credits and a nominal fee.

      But in this case, you can rest assured that you won’t be bothered by a biennial renewal.

      Review Methodology

      I conducted this review by looking at the NASM PES textbook as the foundation of my analysis.

      I also used my knowledge and understanding of sports training and experience with sports performance training certifications.

      Added to that, past exam papers, as well as the trove of online forums discussing experiences with the cert, helped me flesh out my opinions and understanding of this certification.

      NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist FAQ

      Conclusion

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

      Beyond that, its content is very applicable to the general PT as it allows you to hone your skills and knowledge of the fundamentals a personal training cert would have imparted.

      Having said that, 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, within that scope are a couple of special population considerations that have been overlooked.

      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, and although not as recognized as the NSCA CSCS, it is still considered as strong an offering by many alumni.

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      22 thoughts on “NASM PES Review 2022– NASM PES Cost vs Value Compared”

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

      2. 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!

        1. 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. https://www.ptpioneer.com/corrective-exercise-specialist-certifications/

      3. Christina Catalano

        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.

        1. 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.

      4. 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?

        1. 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.

      5. Christina Catalano

        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.

        1. 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. 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!

        1. 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.

      7. 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.

        1. 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.

      8. 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?

        1. 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.

        1. 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.

      9. 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?

        1. 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.

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