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    NCSF vs NASM Which one will win?

    This is the most up-to-date NCSF vs NASM review to help you understand each body’s distinctiveness based on:

    • The focus, scope, and recognition
    • Study materials available and much more

    What I’m going to be sharing are based on my experience, considering that I possess both certs.

    Let’s get started to find out more.

    NCSF vs NASM

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      Introduction

      Hey everybody, welcome to my in-depth comparison of NCSF and NASM.

      NASM, short for the National Asociation of Sports Medicine was founded in 1987 and is based in Chandler Arizona.

      It has risen to prominence as one of the most recognized and accepted certifying agencies in the North American fitness community. 

      It is an NCCA accredited institution and is one of the most popular places for personal trainers to get their education.

      NCSF, short for National Council on Strength and Fitness was founded in 1996 at Florida International University.

      Since then it has gained reputability as an industry-accepted NCCA accredited certification.

      The aim of this article won’t be to decide how one cert is better than the other, but rather to help you decide which one is better for you.

      I personally prefer NASM since it falls more within my field of interest, and has a more established track record, but who’s to say NCSF isn’t perfect for you?

      Let’s dive in and find out!

      NASM vs NCSF Quick information

      NASM vs NCSF Quick information

      Did you know that NCSF is a community-based initiative aimed at inspiring fitness habits among residents of South Florida?

      Read on to find out more amazing facts.

      NASM is one of the 3 most popular certifying institutions by search data (the others being ACE and ISSA).

      This is because of how popular it is when entering the fitness business with potential employers or collaborators.

      A NASM CPT cert is almost guaranteed to get your foot in the door. It has a wider recognition than most certs out there and has a robust knowledge base and introduces trainers to the practical applications of fitness principles well.

      NCSF found its footing from initially being a community initiative aimed at inspiring health and fitness habits amongst the inhabitants of South Florida.

      It has since become a notable feature in the fitness arena, improving in leaps and bounds despite its relatively recent inception.

      After being accredited by the NCCA in 2004, NCSF has risen to become a well respected certifying establishment.

      The Focus, Scope and Recognition NCSF and NASM

      The Focus, Scope and Recognition NCSF and NASM

      This section will help you with the focus, scope, and recognition of each certification.

      Both NCSF and NASM are NCCA accredited, so you can rest assured that they are legit and trustworthy. this also means this comparison is more to guide you to the right one for you rather than to tell you which one is the best.

      NCSF

      NCSF was founded off the back of a community initiative. This initiative was aimed at fostering a sense of value towards matters of health and fitness in a world where sedentarism and poor dietary habits are far too common.

      That is why today, the NCSF is involved in pushing initiatives aimed at improving public health through the use of exercise.

      In 2012 they became part of the National Coalition for the Promotion of Physical Activity which includes other certifying bodies with a community health focus such as ACE and ACSM.

      The aim is to improve daily activities towards healthier and more wholesome approaches to lifestyle.

      NCSF finds favor when it comes to physical education opportunities such as schools or care homes where the inspired focus to simply improve lifestyle choices is more preferred than simply making gains and improving physical performance.

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      This doesn’t mean NCSF is not great for improving the more focused fitness goals such as body composition, performance enhancement, and rehabilitation.

      NASM

      NASM on the other hand is more focused on enhancing physical performance as opposed to improving community health.

      The scope of practice when it comes to NASM is performance enhancement through corrective exercise protocols.

      Fixing and preventing imbalances and deviations through the use of the strength and conditioning protocols set forth by NASM’s OPT model is the agenda.

      OPT stands for Optimal Performance Training and is aimed at improving physical ability while reducing injury risk.

      It is delivered through 5 principles identified by NASM as being the key to improved all-round fitness and performance. 

      These are:

      • Stabilization endurance
      • Strength endurance
      • Hypertrophy 
      • Maximal strength
      • Power 

      This makes NASM great for anything from general personal training, all the way to coaching serious athletes and sports teams.

      Study Materials

      Study Materials

      Below, you’ll see the different packages of study materials you can opt for based on your preference.

      NCSF

      NCSF has a robust suite of study materials. What you get will depend on which package you select and purchase.

      You can simply just go for the exam and fend for yourself when it comes to prep and study material.

      From there the packages come bundled with varying amounts of study material and are priced accordingly. 

      Next up you’ll get the Home Study Course & Exam which includes:

      • Personal Training Textbook 2nd Edition(Digital)
      • Instructional Videos
      • Lesson Notes
      • Questions and Answers
      • Review Quizzes
      • Instructor Support
      • Membership (One Year)
      • NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Exam
      • Practice Exam Questions

      The second package on the tier list is the Workshop Course & Exam which comes with:

      • Personal Training Textbook 2nd Edition(Digital)
      • Workshop Reference Guide
      • Instructional Videos
      • Lesson Notes
      • Questions and Answers
      • Review Quizzes
      • Instructor Support
      • Membership (One Year)
      • 2-days of workshop instruction (16 hours)
      • NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Exam
      • Practice Exam Questions

      That means it contains everything you’d get in the Home Study Course & Exam package with the added extra of the Workshop reference guide and the 2-day workshop.

      Third on the list in order of lowest to highest price is the Home Study Plus Package. It contains:

      • Personal Training Textbook 2nd Edition(Digital)
      • Personal Training Textbook 2nd Edition
      • Instructional Videos
      • Lesson Notes
      • Questions and Answers
      • Review Quizzes
      • Instructor Support
      • Membership (One Year)
      • NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Exam
      • Practice Exam Questions

      This is everything you’ll get in the Home Study Package with the added benefit of a hardcopy textbook. 

      Last but not least is the Workshop Plus Package, which basically includes everything listed.

      This package will cost you.

      As you can see, NCSF comes with quite a hefty list of study materials, dependant of course on which package you choose, a great mix of theoretical and practical material where most certs tend to present material that is exclusively theoretical.

      NASM

      One of the things that makes NASM so great is its full and comprehensive study material offerings.

      You can select between 4 different packages these are:

      • Self Study Package 
      • Self Study Premium 
      • Guided Study 
      • All-Inclusive package 

      As you would expect, each package offers different study materials and is priced according to what you get and how much you get.

      Let’s dive in and see what each offers.

      Self Study

      • 100% Online Course
      • NCCA Accredited Exam 
      • NASM-CPT Digital Textbook
      • Content Learning Videos
      • Exercise Video Library
      • Practice Exams & Quizzes

      Self Study Premium

      • 100% Online Course
      • NCCA Accredited Exam 
      • NASM-CPT Digital Textbook
      • Content Learning Videos
      • Exercise Video Library
      • Practice Exams & Quizzes
      • Exercise Coaching Demonstrations
      • Job Guarantee 
      • One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus 

      Guided Study

      • 100% Online Course
      • NCCA Accredited Exam 
      • NASM-CPT Digital Textbook
      • Content Learning Videos
      • Exercise Video Library
      • Practice Exams & Quizzes
      • Exercise Coaching Demonstrations
      • Job Guarantee 
      • One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus 
      • 10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible) 
      • Certification Exam Retest
      • NASM-CPT Hardcopy Textbook
      • Access to Fitness Experts 
      • Business Accelerator 

      All-Inclusive

      • 100% Online Course
      • NCCA Accredited Exam 
      • NASM-CPT Digital Textbook
      • Content Learning Videos
      • Exercise Video Library
      • Practice Exams & Quizzes
      • Exercise Coaching Demonstrations
      • Job Guarantee 
      • One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus 
      • 10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible) 
      • Certification Exam Retest
      • NASM-CPT Hardcopy Textbook
      • Access to Fitness Experts 
      • Business Accelerator 
      • NASM EDGE CPT Exam Prep 
      • Gymternship™ 
      • Recertify for Life 

      NCSF vs NASM Cost Breakdown

      NCSF vs NASM Cost Breakdown

      Here is a breakdown of the cost of each certification based on your choice of study package.

      NASM is definitely more expensive overall than NCSF.

      NASM package costs break down as follows:

      • Self Study Package $799.
      • Self Study Premium $1099
      • Guided Study $1124
      • All-Inclusive package $1539

      NCSF package costs are:

      • Exam Only $299
      • Home Study Course & Exam $688
      • Workshop Course & Exam $728
      • Home Study Plus Package $757.95
      • Workshop Plus Package $797.95

      As you can tell from the number, NASM is the pricier option. A combination of higher demand, more brand value, and a more established industry entrenchment along with having had a legacy at the cutting edge of health and fitness research, translates into NASM’s price tag.

      NCSF shouldn’t be overlooked just because it is cheaper. It has a very attractive suite of study materials, and despite its less illustrious heritage and status, it is still a well-structured institution worth every penny.

      The most expensive NASM package is almost double the cost of the most expensive NCSF package.

      Having said that, It’s also important to remember that these certs often have discounts that occur periodically, allowing you to nab a cert at a reduced rate.

      Keep an eye out for these deals and specials as they usually have a time window before the price resets back to it’s original.

      Information on the test and recertification

      Information on the test and recertification

      Below are the different topics you need to study to pass the certification exams and the requirements for recertification.

      NCSF

      The NCSF-CPT exam will assess you across 9 categories. The categories cover different topics and are weighted differently based on how significant NCSF has determined each category to be.

      These categories are as follows: 

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      • Functional Anatomy: 15%
      • Exercise Physiology: 10%
      • Physical Activity and Health Promotion: 6%
      • Screening, Evaluation and Professional Practice: 11%
      • Nutrition: 11% 
      • Weight Management: 7% 
      • Exercise Prescription and Programming Considerations: 19% 
      • Training Instruction: 16% 
      • Considerations for Special Populations: 5%

      The test consists of 150 multiple choice questions which you will have 3 hours to complete.

      NCSF has one of the fitness industry’s largest exam networks with over 1000 exam centers across 83 countries.

      This is one of the few ways NCSF actually trumps NASM, it has an international presence whereas NASM is confined to the North American fitness community.

      But back to the exam, and when it comes to difficulty, NCSF is considered relatively easy. It has a pass rate of about 80% which means with even a moderate amount of prep, you’re probably going to pass.

      Don’t take this fact for granted, it’s still better to just apply yourself and do the best possible. Always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

      The passing grade 70% minimum, just like most other CPT certs.

      If you miss the mark and fail, you will, of course, be able to retake the exam.

      You will need to wait at least 30 days and pay a retake fee of $99 before you can give it another shot.

      After getting certified you will need to recertify after 2 years.

      Recertification is standard across most legit certifying agencies and comes at the cost of a small fee and some continuing education units or CEUs.

      In the case of NCSF, you will need 20 hours’ worth of CEUs and $50.

      NASM

      The NASM CPT exam will assess you across 6 domains of study. These domains will test you over the distribution of 120 multiple-choice questions.

      Each domain is weighted differently based on how significant NASM deems it to be.

      The domains are:

      • Domain 1: Basic and applied sciences and nutritional concepts (17%)
      • Domain 2: Assessment (18%)
      • Domain 3: Program design (21%)
      • Domain 4: Exercise technique and training instruction (22%)
      • Domain 5: Client relations and behavioral coaching (12%)
      • Domain 6: Professional development and responsibility (10%)

      The exam is a proctored test, administered in one of the many nationwide PSI test-taking facilities, under the supervision of an invigilator, typically in a room with other candidates.

      You will be required to complete the exam within 2 hours.

      The passing grade for NASM CPT is 70% across all domains.

      The test itself is known to be pretty difficult and has a pass rate that hovers in the low to mid 60% range. As of writing this, the current pass rate is 65% which means quite a sizeable number of candidates end up failing.

      If you do fail, you can retake the exam.

      The retake policy will have you waiting a full week and an additional cost of $199 before you can take the exam again.

      As for recertification, that takes place every 2 years in which you will need to obtain 2.0 CEUs (approx 20 hours) and pay the recertification fee.

      Conclusion

      Conclusion on NCSF vs NASM

      In a nutshell, that is all the first-hand info you need to get started with either NCSF or NASM.

      So there you have it, my in-depth comparison of NASM and NCSF, two amazing certifying institutions with top-notch knowledge and practical resources for you to jump-start your career.

      I’m going to go ahead and say that NASM CPT is the superior cert, simply because it has a stronger footing in the industry and has a broader appeal in the community. 

      It has done its time and paid its dues for a little bit longer than NCSF, and from a personal bias perspective, it speaks more to my style as a trainer.

      NCSF CPT isn’t without its merits though.

      One advantage it has over NASM is its international reach. While NASM can only get you involved in the North American territories, NCSF is spread across the globe.

      It’s also much cheaper overall, and seeing as it is an NCCA accredited cert, you won’t lose much in terms of value by opting for it over NASM.

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