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The NASM Weight Loss Specialization will appeal to personal trainers who specifically deal with clients looking to lose weight. This is a comprehensive program that goes deep into the psychology of weight loss as well as the science needed to achieve a healthier body composition. 

I write this review after taking the NASM WLS as well as applying the information in my personal training practice. I’ve spent over 12 years in the fitness industry as a trainer and weight loss coach and the PT Pioneer team has extensive experience with all the major fitness certifications. We know which training programs clients and gyms like to see on a resume.

In this review I cover the following:

  • Is the NASM Weight Loss Certification worth it?
  • NASM WLS costs, price, and study packages
  • General overview of the content in the WLS
  • Pros and cons

Let’s talk about the NASM Weight Loss Specialist Certification.

What type of Certification are you looking to get?
NASM Weight Loss Specialist Certification [year] Review 6
NASM Weight Loss Specialist Certification [year] Review 7

What is the Weight Loss Specialist Certification?

The obesity epidemic is growing and growing. By the year 2030, statistics estimate that 49% of all adults in the United States will be obese. The NASM Weight Loss Specialist gives you the tools to help fight this disease, so you can decrease the risk of clients developing chronic disease along with allowing them to have a happier lifestyle and improve their own self-image.

You learn how to help people lose weight safely, using evidence-based exercise, nutrition, and behavioral tools for long-term success. 

NASM Weight Loss Specialist

NASM Weight Loss Specialist

  • Exam cost: $539
  • Study material cost: Included with exam
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Exam passing score: 70%
  • Exam pass rate: Not known
  • Average completion time: 8-10 weeks

NASM Organization credibility and reputation

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is one of the top fitness certifying agencies in the world with the most popular of the best personal training certifications

NASM was founded in 1987 with the mission of giving fitness professionals the tools to help transform their clients’ lives. Currently, they have the greatest number of certifications and specializations of any organization.

NASM is known for their NASM certified personal trainer certification, as well as for having the largest number of online exercise instructional videos.

Their programs offer premium quality, as do their study materials.

Great for
  • Trainers working with obese and overweight individuals

  • Coaches who want to motivate clients to lose weight
Not Great for
  • Trainers who work with clients who want to focus on muscle and/or weight gain

Is the NASM Weight Loss Specialization worth it?

The NASM WLS is worth it for those trainers who want to focus on helping clients with weight loss. This is a high-level, detailed specialization which goes into multiple strategies you can use to help clients lose weight. 

You also learn the context of the current obesity epidemic along with several coaching case studies which show you how to take clients through the weight loss process and beyond, so they don’t lose those extra pounds only to regain the weight months later.

8.3out of 10

Health Coaching9
Lifestyle Modification9
Business Skills7

NASM Weight Loss Specialist vs Other Weight Loss Specializations

There are many weight loss programs out there, but none has the backing of a recognized certification organization like NASM.

The weight loss industry is filled with charlatans who preach ineffective and sometimes even dangerous techniques to lose weight.

That’s why you want a teaching program that comes from a NCCA-accredited institution. 

NASM’s Personal Training Certification is one of the top personal training programs, and the WLS is meant as an add-on program to complement what you learn in the CPT. 

Certainly, most personal training certifications will teach you the basics of weight loss. You learn the rule of calories in versus calories out and how macronutrients function. But the benefit of choosing the NASM-WLS in addition to your CPT is the level of detail you get.

NASM basically gives you a college-level course in the topic of weight loss and, considering that weight loss is the primary reason most clients choose personal training, becoming a weight loss expert will serve you well. 

NASM Weight Loss Specialist Certification [year] Review 6
NASM Weight Loss Specialist Certification [year] Review 7

Who is the Weight Loss Specialization meant for?

The NASM Weight Loss Specialist will give any personal trainer a comprehensive framework on how to coach clients through a successful weight loss program. This specialization is ideal for trainers who work with general population clients who want to reach their weight loss goals.

The WLS is designed for helping overweight or obese clients specifically, but the framework you learn will teach you how to coach anyone looking to lose weight. 

This is not a medical credential, nor would this program be ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a previous personal training certification. 

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NASM Weight Loss Specialist Cost

The NASM WLS currently sits on sale for $539 (it usually costs $899). This isn’t the cheapest NASM specialization; however, you do get your money’s worth as this is a very comprehensive course with over 15 chapters of detailed content.

NASM Weight Loss Specialist review – content coverage

NASM divides their course into 15 chapters in 5 sections.

Section I: Introduction to the NASM Weight Loss Specialist

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Scope of Practice

Section II: The Obesity Epidemic

  • Chapter 3: The State of Obesity
  • Chapter 4: The Physiology of Obesity
  • Chapter 5: Psychosocial and Obesity

Section III: The Science of Weight Loss

  • Chapter 6: Metabolism
  • Chapter 7: Nutrition and Supplementation
  • Chapter 8: The Impact of Exercise on Weight Loss
  • Chapter 9: Psychology of Weight Loss

Section IV: Client Assessments

  • Chapter 10: The Client Intake Process
  • Chapter 11: Conducting Fitness Assessments

Section V: The Weight Loss Coaching Process

  • Chapter 12: Nutrition Coaching Strategies for Weight Loss
  • Chapter 13: Fitness Coaching Strategies for Weight Loss
  • Chapter 14: Integrating Nutrition and Fitness with the Weight Loss Client
  • Chapter 15: Weight Maintenance and Sustainability

Section 1: Introduction to the NASM Weight Loss Specialist

Each chapter begins with Learning Objectives. These detail the essence of what you’ll get out of the textbook.

The Introduction describes the things you’ll learn in the entire course, which includes:

  • Learning how obesity impacts our culture
  • Understanding the effects of weight loss and gain
  • How you define personal weight goals
  • How to go through assessments for weight-loss clients
  • How to program training cycles for weight-loss clients
  • What to do when obstacles come up
  • Behavioral strategies when dealing with clients
  • Nutritional strategies for weight loss 

Chapter 2 covers proper scope of practice as a weight loss specialist. This is fundamental knowledge you need for success in your coaching. The scope of practice of a WLS is similar to that of a personal trainer, and yet weight loss specialists deal more intimately with certain aspects of their clients’ lives than normal CPTs. A weight loss specialist works as a guide, helping their clients with training and nutrition, so you must know what is legally outside your scope and when to refer clients.

Trainers can assess clients’ fitness, provide nutrition coaching, and program design. NASM goes over the goals and responsibilities of the weight loss specialist and the difference between providing coaching and making specific recommendations. 

Section II: The Obesity Epidemic

The second section of the NASM WLS depicts how we ended up in the current state of affairs we live in and where the future is going if we, as a society, continue on this path of unhealthy living. 

You learn why obesity is a problem, how to define obesity, and its root causes.

These include things like cultural shifts, food environment, an aging population among other roots of the problem. 

NASM teaches you how obesity affects the tissues of the body: the organs, the hormones, along with your cardiovascular, muscle, nervous, digestive, and reproductive systems.

Obesity also impacts your sleep, metabolism, appetite regulation, and response to exercise.

The Weight Loss Specialist then tackles how obesity affects mental health, and cultural stigmas around obesity like fat shaming. You learn about disordered eating behavior.

Section III: The Science of Weight Loss

In Section 3 of the NASM-WLS  textbook, you learn essential topics that help you understand how weight loss works.

We start with the concept of energy balance. You learn the laws of thermodynamics, how to define calories and estimate energy needs. 

NASM details the difference between the calories you burn at rest, and the ones you burn using physical activity. 

Then the WLS material teaches different hypotheses around how metabolism works, such as Set Point Theory and Energy Flux.

In Chapter 7 you get the definitions of macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals with helpful charts showing good foods to eat that are rich in these nutrients.

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Then WLS tackles popular diets for weight management and the pros and cons of each approach. NASM covers everything from Vegan to Carnivore diets along with other options like Intermittent Fasting and DASH. 

Next, NASM explains how exercise impacts weight loss and the differences in cardio versus resistance training.

You learn how exercise helps reduce anxiety and stress.

Finally, the WLS discusses weight loss psychology. This includes both adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies.

You get several cognitive behavior change strategies for designing weight loss programs, a look at willpower and adherence to dieting. 

Section IV: Client Assessments

In Section IV of the WLS, NASM teaches you the client-intake process and how to conduct fitness assessments.

When you first meet with a client, you must conduct certain screens to check if you need a doctor’s referral. These include the PAR-Q+ and a Lifestyle and Health History Questionnaire. 

NASM also includes several dietary assessments you can use and the cases in which you would pick certain ones. You learn when to use a Diet Record versus a 24-Hour Recall or Food Frequency Questionnaire. 

You get a variety of other intake forms, like a sleep and stress questionnaire and goal setting.

Chapter 11 of the Weight Loss Specialist teaches you skills like how to assess an assessment. Then you get several physical assessments you can use to establish a baseline of fitness in your clients, including body composition testing, posture and movement assessments, and cardiorespiratory assessments. Testing your clients’ initial capabilities is part of any training program, so you can create the right plan for them.

Section V: The Weight Loss Coaching Process

Finally, the last section of the NASM WLS course takes everything you’ve learned so far and integrates it into a coaching system you can use. You get practical coaching examples with 6 different case studies. Every client will have unique coaching requirements, so these examples are a great way to practice what you’ll do in different circumstances. 

NASM also teaches you specific programming guidelines for nutrition coaching for weight loss, how to use periodization to your advantage with diet breaks. You also learn how to deal with potential setbacks and how to come back from them. Once you get a client to their weight goal, your job is not over. They need to maintain that weight loss as well. 

NASM Exam Prep and Study Materials

After enrollment, you can take each chapter quiz. Then you are eligible to take the online exam.

The course should take you around 8–10 weeks to complete. 

This package includes entrance to take the test, the primary textbook (downloadable only), access to video demonstrations online, “programming manual” access to an online library of exercises that a weight loss expert specifically designs for weight loss clients.

Almost everything is available online.

NASM Weight Loss Specialist Requirements

There are no specific prerequisites to fulfill prior to the course. If you take the WLS as an adjunct to your CPT, you will, of course, need the typical personal training requirements: you must be over 18, have a current CPR/AED certification and high school diploma/GED equivalency. 

NASM Weight Loss Specialist Salary

According to ZipRecruiter, the average Weight Loss Specialist in the US makes $46,966 per year. If you add the NASM WLS to your CPT, it’s another tool in your belt. Average personal trainer salary comes out at $45,002 according to Indeed. With both of these credentials, you have the potential of earning more. 

NASM Weight Loss Specialist Final Exam 

The NASM Weight Loss Specialist final test consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. The final exam is open-book, you get 90 minutes to complete it, and you need to get 70% or higher to pass. 

If you fail the first time, you get 2 more free attempts. This makes the exam completion much easier than the typical personal trainer final exam, which is usually proctored and closed-book. 

NASM Continuing Education & Recertification

The NASM WLS gives you 1.9 continuing education units (CEUs) upon course completion, which will help renew your current certifications. 

Once you pass the WLS exam you are certified for life. You do not need to renew your specialization. 

Other NASM Offerings

NASM also has some great deals if you want to bundle this certification with a few others.

I always recommend trainers get a personal training certification along with nutrition because it allows them to help clients with both sides of the fitness and health equation: exercise and diet.

Typically this costs a bit more, but the value is worth it in the long term, especially with NASM’s Ultimate Trainer bundle, which contains six total certifications (including the Weight Loss Specialist). This will make you stand out in a crowded marketplace as you are immediately more qualified than 90% of trainers out there.

Visit their website to see if the offer is still running because no good deal lasts forever.

NASM also has a Weight Loss Coach bundle and a Lifestyle Coach bundle that give you the WLS with either personal training and nutrition or just the NASM Certified Nutrition Coach

Other NASM courses to add to your personal trainer resume include:

Another certification that pairs well with the WLS certification is NASM’s fitness nutrition specialist and ACE’s health coach certification (how to become a health coach) because it is very good at teaching habit formation.

Also, NASM’s CES helps individuals with muscular imbalances or that are post-rehab. 

The reason that pairs well is that overweight individuals also tend to have multiple muscular imbalances.

NASM Weight Loss Specialist Overall Rating

NASM Weight Loss Specialization
NASM Weight Loss Specialist Certification [year] Review 10

In my NASM Weight loss specialist certification review you'll learn all of the reasons why this certification can be beneficial to the majority of your clients

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 539

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
4.7

Overall, I give the NASM Weight Loss Specialist 4.7 out of 5. The course is extremely comprehensive and works as a wonderful complement to the NASM Personal Training Certification. 

The only negative here is that this isn’t NASM’s cheapest specialization and that this program is aimed at a very specific niche, so it won’t appeal to everyone. For instance, if you primarily work with clients who want to gain muscle instead of losing weight, this program won’t help you. 

However, the majority of clients who see personal trainers are looking to lose weight, so this specialization will still be helpful for most trainers. 

NASM (WLS) Weight Loss Specialist Certification (YouTube)

NASM (WLS) Weight Loss Specialist Certification Review 2023

NASM Weight Loss Specialization FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long does it take to complete the NASM Weight Loss Specialist program?

The NASM-WLS should take  8–10 weeks for most people to complete. However, you can take longer. NASM gives you up to 1 year from purchasing the exam to take the test. 

What topics are covered in the NASM Weight Loss Specialist program?

As listed above the NASM-Weight Loss Specialization covers:
How obesity impacts our culture, effects of weight loss and gain, defining personal weight goals, assessments for weig`ht-loss clients, training cycles for weight-loss clients, what to do when obstacles come up, behavioral strategies when dealing with clients, nutritional strategies for weight loss

What are the career prospects for NASM Weight Loss Specialists?

Weight Loss Specialists fall under the same scope of practice as personal trainers; however because they often receive referrals from doctors sometimes they can work more closely as part of the healthcare allied continuum. 

Can I obtain the NASM Weight Loss Specialist certification online?

You can take the entire NASM WLS online, from purchasing the course, to studying for the final, to taking the specialization online and receiving your credential. 

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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All content published on PTPioneer is checked and reviewed extensively by our staff of experienced personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and other Fitness Experts. This is to make sure that the content you are reading is fact-checked for accuracy, contains up-to-date information, and is relevant. We only add trustworthy citations that you can find at the bottom of each article. You can read more about our editorial integrity here.

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4 thoughts on “NASM Weight Loss Specialist Certification 2024 Review”

  1. Hi how long does it actually take to get the paper certification from NASM after completing the weight loss specialist final exam? Do I have to contact them?
    Linda

    Reply
    • Hey Linda, if I were you, I would contact them to make sure. Some of their certification specialization courses are not going to have an automatic physical certification for you.

      Reply
  2. NASM currently has the WLS and CNC. I already have the CPT, PES, CES, and M.S. in Exercise Science. Between the WLS and CNC, which would you recommend for me to help my weightloss clients while becoming an expert at nutrition?

    Reply
    • Hey Kimana,
      Overall I would probably recommend the certified nutrition coach by NASM as it is definitely the newest certification and has the most current and up-to-date information in regards to nutrition and weight loss.

      Reply

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