The ISSA Bodybuilding Coach Specialist is a certification specialization from the ISSA that teaches the tools to be able to work with bodybuilding athletes.

If you are a current personal trainer who wants to learn more about bodybuilding techniques, ISSA has created an excellent course you can use to further your fitness knowledge. 

In this article we cover:

  • Price of the ISSA Bodybuilding Coach Specialist
  • Quality of the textbook and study materials
  • CEU requirements
  • How does the ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist compare to the competition?

After finishing this article, you’ll know if the ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist is the perfect fit for you.

If you’re choosing which personal training certification to go with, we recommend our helpful quiz, which will help determine which certification makes the most sense for your goals.

ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist Information

9.5
ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist Information
  • Exam cost: $639.24 (purchased with study materials)
  • Study material cost: $53.27/month for 12 months
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Exam passing score: N/A
  • Exam pass rate: N/A
  • Average completion time: 1-3 months
Pros
  • Complete bodybuilding technique coverage
  • Easy exam
  • Good CEU opportunity 
Cons
  • Slightly more expensive than NASM Physique and Bodybuilding Specialist 
9.5
Our Score
Bodybuilding Techniques10
Nutrition Coaching9
Client Health Screening9
Goal Setting9
Periodization10
Flexibility and Recovery Tools10

About ISSA Bodybuilding Coach Certification

ISSA began in 1988, and has since grown into one of the biggest fitness certification providers on the globe. Their most popular program is their ISSA Personal Training Certification

ISSA was the first organization to provide a fully online certification program and they are known for excellent customer service and an easy platform to learn on. They’ve certified over half a million trainers and exercise professionals in the last few decades. 

Is the ISSA Bodybuilding Certification legit?

ISSA is 100% legit as an organization as well as with their bodybuilding certification. With their CPT they offer both DEAC and NCCA-accredited certifications. ISSA has established a solid reputation over the last 30+ years. ISSA offers some of the best online certifications as well as excellent resources to help you succeed as a fitness professional. ISSA’s certifications include a free professional website and business skills, which are an essential aspect of succeeding in the fitness industry. There are multiple unrecognized bodybuilding coaching programs out there, but both ISSA and NASM are two certification organizations that offer highly regarded physique and bodybuilding certifications.

How much does the ISSA Bodybuilding Coach Specialist certification cost?

The ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist costs $639.24, which you can do in 12 payments of $53.27. This makes it almost the same price as the similar NASM Physique and Bodybuilding Coach Certification.

Is the ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist worth it?

The ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist is worth it. This is a great way to renew your current ISSA CPT, but also a good way to learn more about bodybuilding and how to coach bodybuilding athletes. 

Quality of Study Materials

The ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist includes the typical ISSA Guided Study program. This takes you through the chapters of the textbook with accompanying videos. ISSA older programs used to have less polished material, but it’s good to see they’ve raised the bar with their newer certifications.

Along with this you get practice tests and quizzes at the end of each chapter, an online forum, a free professional website, and a study exam. 

ISSA Bodybuilding Textbook

The ISSA Bodybuilding Coach textbook teaches everything from the basic biomechanics of movement to correct exercise selection for each muscle group, to periodization, contest prep and more.

Overview of Muscle Structure

This begins with an overview of muscle structure. ISSA covers the nervous system and mind-body connection. Learning how to connect the mind and body is an essential aspect of bodybuilding, so understanding the science behind how that association works gives you a good foundation to work with. 

Then you learn about the different planes of movement motion occurs in. This is pretty standard and is covered in most CPTs, but useful as well. As a personal trainer, you need to create training programs which use all major planes of movement (sagittal, transverse, frontal).

Exercise Selection

This ISSA bodybuilding course goes into the importance of training the major compound movements. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and presses are a great tool because they stimulate multiple muscles at the same time, giving you a better bang for your buck, so to speak.

ISSA actually provides an easy list of the top ten exercises for legs, chest, back, arms, shoulders, abs, calves, and neck, and you get a chapter on using unique tools for bodybuilding like bands and chains. The more depth of knowledge you have, the more you can make modifications for clients. Some people get the best results for chest hypertrophy from bench pressing, while others prefer incline dumbbell presses or dips. The more options you have at your disposal, the better for working with all your clients. 

Cardiovascular Exercise

The ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist includes a chapter on losing fat using interval training. A lot of bodybuilders still prefer doing steady state cardio, but interval training is going to be the fastest way to burn calories, so it’s good to know how to use this approach as well. 

Flexibility and Recovery

ISSA discusses how to address flexibility restrictions, which is a concern as you start to build more and more muscle. That muscle needs to be pliable.

The ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist details recovery techniques and the DOMS effect. The only way to build muscle is through recovering from the tissue damage you incur during workouts, so this is imperative. ISSA also teaches how to use fatigue in a hypertrophy context. 

Assessments

Then the ISSA textbook goes through body composition testing. You learn the ABC Bodybuilding Periodization Model, along with how to avoid overtraining. ISSA includes more program design content and how to organize bulking and cutting phases.

Contest prep is one of your main priorities as a bodybuilding coach, and often coaches let the athletes train in the off-season, and then step in in the final few weeks to help peak them properly. 

Muscle Building Techniques

ISSA also gives you a chapter on how to shape the muscles and bring up lagging body parts. 

Then you get a full overview of bodybuilding methods including how to use splits, rest-pause, drop sets, German Volume training, forced reps, partials, and more. 

Nutrition and Supplements

Nutrition and diet is a key component of physique building. ISSA covers nutrition for bodybuilding and supplementation, including certain compounds that bodybuilders use to get ready for competitions.

Performance-enhancing supplements are a big part of bodybuilding, for better or worse, and you need to at least understand why some people choose to use them.

Then you learn how to prevent injuries and there’s a chapter on bodybuilding sports psychology.

Our Thoughts on the Textbook

Overall, we feel the content in the ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist covers all you need to know as a personal trainer looking to specialize in hypertrophy with clients. This is certainly a good primer, which you can use to get you started as a bodybuilding coach.

The only real negative in terms of coursework is the lack of business skills included in the curriculum. Given that the ISSA Bodybuilding certification is intended as an adjunct to the ISSA CPT, which does offer a lot of business knowledge, this isn’t a big deal. 

ISSA Bodybuilding Final Exam

The ISSA final exam is included in the price of your certification and can be taken at home.

The final exam has 110 multiple choice questions and you must score 75% to pass.

You can use your notes on the final, and you get one free retake, which is a nice option for any nervous test takers. 

Average Income for ISSA Bodybuilding Coaches

The average salary for a bodybuilding coach is similar to general fitness coaching. Salary.com states that the current US average for personal trainer salary hovers around $67,456. 

The advantage of having both bodybuilding and personal training credentials is you can train a wider variety of clientele, which means more total income. 

We believe you could certainly earn more. 

Generally, your career builds over time as you build your client base and establish your reputation in the fitness industry. Overall, the personal trainer job outlook looks promising at the moment with extensive growth happening in the health and wellness sphere over the coming decade. 

CEU Requirements

There are no CEUs required to renew; however, the ISSA Bodybuilding Coach Specialist will give you 20 continuing education credits you can use to renew your ISSA Personal Training Certification.

This makes this course an excellent option for someone who already has their CPT through ISSA. Instead of having to take over smaller classes, you can do the ISSA Bodybuilding Coach and get a credential and renew your certification all-in-one. 

Certification Take Away

What we liked:

  • Great bodybuilding tool-set

What we didn’t like:

  • More pricey than the NASM PBC

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What does an ISSA bodybuilding specialist do?

An ISSA bodybuilding specialist is a highly trained professional who specializes in guiding individuals through their bodybuilding journey. They possess extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and nutrition, allowing them to design personalized workout programs and meal plans tailored to each client’s specific goals and needs.  With their expertise, an ISSA bodybuilding specialist plays a crucial role in helping individuals achieve their desired physique while promoting overall health and well-being.

What is the difference between an ISSA bodybuilding specialist and a personal trainer?

An ISSA bodybuilding specialist and a personal trainer may seem similar, but there are some key differences. While both professions focus on helping individuals achieve their fitness goals, an ISSA bodybuilding specialist specializes specifically in the field of bodybuilding. They possess in-depth knowledge of muscle development, nutrition, and advanced training techniques tailored to sculpting and defining the physique. On the other hand, a personal trainer has a broader scope and can work with clients from various fitness backgrounds and goals. They provide general fitness guidance, including weight loss, strength training, and cardiovascular conditioning. 

References

  1. Personal trainer salary. Salary.com. (n.d.). https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/personal-trainer-salary

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