The National Academy of Sports Medicine is a leader in the fitness industry when it comes to personal training certifications.
The NASM CPT in particular is a respected fitness certification for personal trainers.
But how good is the NASM CPT really?
In this article, we critically review the NASM CPT certification along the following criteria:
By the time you finish reading, you will know whether the NASM CPT is the best CPT certification for your fitness career goals.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
NASM or the National Academy of Sports Medicine was founded in 1987. Their mission was to merge the corrective and therapeutic aspects of kinesiology with the prescription and delivery of health and fitness protocols.
This is why NASM has a leaning towards corrective exercise as implemented through its proprietary OPT model (Optimum Performance Training).
NASM in other words helps trainers help their clients to achieve better physical performance by improving imbalance, impedance, and deviations as well as reducing injury risk while optimizing the standard pillars of fitness.
These pillars include power, strength, and stabilization.
This is what makes NASM such a hit with fitness professionals. The OTP training model allows trainers to really open up their career options.
That’s because while most certs allow you to deal with just general population groups, NASM CPT equips you with the tools to work with anyone from the typical gym-goer, all the way to elite athletes.
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As we mentioned, the Trainer Academy only provides access and insight into THE BEST certifications and their study materials.
One of the ways we determine how good certification is also the first thing we look at when deciding it’s a hit or miss.
And that aspect is accreditation.
Accreditation is a certification’s certification so-to-speak.
It is a stamp of approval awarded by a panel of experts and organizations of authority in the field of health and fitness practice.
NASM is accredited by the NCCA, which is the most recognized and reputable accrediting body in North American sports science.
There are other legitimate accrediting bodies out there such as DEAC, but for the sake of this article and NASM CPT, all you need to know is NCCA is the badge it carries, and that’s a really good thing.
Use the links below to find out other personal certifications that can compete favorably with NASM CPT.
Cost of Study Packages
NASM CPT has quite a range of prices all depending on which study package you choose.
There are 4 different packages available and their standard pricing is as follows:
- $699– Self-study package
- $1099 – Premium self-study package
- $1499 – Guided self-study package
- $2199 – All-inclusive package
It’s important to note that prices occasionally changes since NASM regularly runs discounts and special promotions.
You should check regularly the current cost of the CPT cert packages by clicking the link here.
The average price point of NASM falls on the higher end when it comes to cost, which we feel is justified based on the quality and reputation of this cert.
Discounts are also offered for special members of society such as military veterans and service members.
You can also get discounts from participating or signing up for some of the membership deals and packages such as NASM Connected, which we’ll get into later in this article.
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Quality of Study Materials
The resources you will receive in your study pack will depend on the program you have chosen. Generally, this includes the following:
- A digital textbook (eBook)
- Video lectures
- An extensive exercise library
- Practice quizzes and tests
- A study guide
- Anatomy guide to help with memorization
- Exam prep webinars
- Coach and mentor guidance
- Textbook hard copy
- 80-hour real-world practical
- Access to the NASM Business Accelerator
Concerning each specific package, have a look at the table below for the distribution of study materials.
|Self-study package||Premium self-study package||Guided self-study package||All-inclusive package|
|100% Online Course||100% Online Course||100% Online Course||100% Online Course|
|NCCA Accredited Exam||NCCA Accredited Exam||NCCA Accredited Exam||NCCA Accredited Exam|
|NASM-CPT Digital Textbook||NASM-CPT Digital Textbook||NASM-CPT Digital Textbook||NASM-CPT Digital Textbook|
|Content Learning Videos||Content Learning Videos||Content Learning Videos||Content Learning Videos|
|Exercise Video Library||Exercise Video Library||Exercise Video Library||Exercise Video Library|
|Practice Exams & Quizzes||Practice Exams & Quizzes||Practice Exams & Quizzes||Practice Exams & Quizzes|
|Exercise Coaching Demonstrations||Exercise Coaching Demonstrations||Exercise Coaching Demonstrations|
|Job Guarantee||Job Guarantee||Job Guarantee|
|One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus||One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus||One-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus|
|10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible)||10-Week, Instructor-Led Course (Optional/Flexible)|
|Certification Exam Retest||Certification Exam Retest|
|NASM-CPT Hardcopy Textbook||NASM-CPT Hardcopy Textbook|
|Access to Fitness Experts||Access to Fitness Experts|
|Business Accelerator||Business Accelerator|
|NASM EDGE CPT Exam Prep|
|NASM EDGE CPT Exam Prep|
|Recertify for Life|
As you can see, NASM comes with quite a variety and depth of options. You have an assortment of materials that provide both practical and theoretical study options.
There’s also a decent offering of career support resources with the higher tier packages.
It is however quite pricey which is why NASM CPT study materials get a 7 out of 10 from us.
If you really want to take your exam prep to the next level, then you’re definitely in the right place.
Our team of experts, many of whom have taken and passed the NASM CPT exam has developed a suite of sweet study materials.
Trainer Academy packages cut out a lot of the fluff and cut straight to the chase, offering you a guaranteed pass when sitting for your NASM finals.
Exam Layout and Passing Grade
Once you’ve settled on your preferred package, it’s time to get busy and prepare for the exam.
From purchase, you will have six months to take the test at a PSI facility or online via remote invigilation.
If you aren’t ready to test, or simply forget, within the 12 month period, you will need to pay an extra $75 to gain an extra 3 months of prep and exam time.
A 70% minimum passing grade is required across the 120 multiple choice questions in the final exam.
The exam tests you on the various chapters and domains as set out in the course textbook.
These sections are also weighted differently, so you will need to prepare more for some than you would for others.
The exam is laid out as follows:
- 17% Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts
- 18% Assessment
- 21% Program Design
- 22% Exercise Technique and Training Instruction
- 12% Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching
- 10% Professional Development and Responsibility
Live remote proctoring is how the two-hour exam is conducted. this allows candidates to take the exam at a preferred location with all the structures and quality control you would expect from a real-world exam experience.
As with a normal exam setting it’s important not to forget your proof of ID as well as current first responder certificates (First Aid, CPR/AED).
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Exam Difficulty and Pass Rate
NASM CPT has a 64% pass rate, which means your odds of failing are 36%.
Although that means you’re likely to pass, it also means failing isn’t off the cards if you don’t prep adequately.
These statistics place NASM CPT on the higher end of the difficulty scale when it comes to PT certs.
In this regard, it’s not the most difficult cert you can take, that dubious honor is reserved for ACSM and NSCA certifications, which are notorious for their difficulty.
However, compared to certifications such as ISSA, it’s not a walk in the park.
With adequate prep and a thorough perusal of the study material, such as what we provide here at Trainer Academy, you won’t have any problems.
If you are unfortunate enough to fall into the 36% that fail the exam, fear not, because just like any other certification, you will be allowed to retake it.
The NASM CPT retest will set you back $199.
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As we’ve already mentioned, NASM is one of, if not the most popular fitness certifications in North America.
It is highly regarded and accepted by almost all gyms and health and fitness establishments.
You’ll probably only find it difficult to get a foot in the door with companies that have an affiliation with a competing certifying agency or who administer their own in-house competency assessment.
But we can go on and on about how popular NASM is, let’s look at the stats.
As far as enrollment figures go, NASM has the highest of all the top NCCA accredited certifications, with a 2019 figure of 22,304 trainers enrolling.
Not only that, but it turns out NASM is also the most searched certification based on google search queries. Search data comes at 1600, neck-in-neck with another juggernaut, ACE.
However, the Popularity of NASM only extends as far as the North American Area, unlike ISSA and ACE which have made themselves popular choices internationally.
This seems to be changing as NASM is beginning to roll out a more global approach.
NASM has now rolled out in numerous global territories, these include:
- The UK and Europe
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- The Middle East and North Africa.
This new phase in NASM global presence along with the online administration of their exams means that the gold standard in North American fitness is now set to be a global standard.
Click on the links below for a more in-depth comparison of all certs.
Expected Study Time
As mentioned, you have 12 months from the time you purchase your exam package to prep and take the test.
But how much time do you actually need to adequately study for the exam with a guarantee that you will pass?
Well, that’s where we come in. While there isn’t a standard reference for how long it will take you to properly prep towards guaranteed success, here at Trainer Academy, we’ve developed a system of study material that can help you do just that.
Our NASM premium MVP Study BluePrint helps you map out your study time based on what time you have available as well as your personal objectives.
Although we can’t put a standard on how much time you should take to study. We advise that you try to knock your prep and exam out of the park within 3 months.
3 months is the sweet spot in terms of giving yourself enough time to master a new set of knowledge principles while retaining it fresh enough to apply it with a sharp memory.
If you have extensive knowledge in the field of fitness science, say you’ve certified with another institution, or have a degree, the study time can easily be reduced.
On the flip side, if you’re completely fresh to the academic side of health and fitness, you might need some time to first familiarize yourself with basic concepts and terminology before you begin full-on prep.
It will also depend on your circumstances and current commitments. Having an existing busy schedule will mean you will have less time to allocate per day.
Having large amounts of otherwise free time means you’ll have ample opportunity to hunker down and minimize the period between registration and the final exam.
Learn more on: The Best Fitness Certifications
An interesting statistic you’ll find when delving into the world of professional fitness training is how income levels correlate with different credentials and specializations.
Many factors are influencing this ultimately, but one that we’ve determined, and will take a look at is income as it relates to the certifying agency you obtained your cert from.
When it comes to NASM, it wasn’t surprising to find that trainers holding this cert raked in the highest annual income with an average of $41,598.
Now, this is partly because NASM certifications are amongst the most converted and widely accepted in the industry.
The stat also shows that trainers who go for a NASM cert are likely to hold other higher education credentials such as a college degree.
That’s because graduates in health and fitness sciences are often influenced to get top-tier certifications such as ACE and NASM.
Another interesting factor may be the socio-economic factors affecting trainers going in. Since NASM is one of the more expensive certs, it makes sense that trainers who aim for it tend to be from more favorable financial circumstances.
What this means is trainers in this socio-economic grouping would likely have access to more savings, assets, and disposable income that can potentially accelerate their careers.
With this in view, NASM CPT can be considered both a cause and effect of higher income stats in personal trainers.
Similar read: Personal Trainer Salary
Primary Focus Of Certification
As we’ve already touched on, NASM has a focus or leaning towards corrective exercise.
This is a category of performance-focused health and fitness protocols.
Many of the other certifications and their agencies tend to lean towards the more cosmetic aspects such as weight loss and bodybuilding.
That’s what makes NASM CPT such a stand out in comparison to most other certs.
Despite this, NASM does cater to all categories of fitness consumers, making it a versatile knowledge resource for most situations.
But let’s get back to the main story here, corrective exercise, which is administered through the OPT model or Optimal Performance Training.
This system focuses on the major pillars of fitness with a form follows function approach.
It is broken into 3 categories, stabilization, strength, and power, which are in turn collectively split into 5 subcategories.
Let’s take a look.
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Stabilization is the first step in the OPT model.
In this step, you will be introduced to training methodologies that promote balance and proprioceptive training in the four extremities as well as the core muscles.
Strength is the most extensive category in the OPT model.
It covers a wide range of fitness concepts designed at correcting and optimizing the biomechanic state of your clients.
First off, you’ll have strength endurance. This sets the foundation for continued quality training. Without the necessary muscular endurance, your clients won’t be able to push themselves to achieve other desired training effects.
Next up is hypertrophy or muscle building. This is where body composition is optimized for greater strength with the benefit of aesthetics as well.
Lastly, we have maximal strength which aims to improve overall strength, knocking on the door of one’s true potential.
Power is pretty straightforward. It is the amount of strength you can exert over a period of time. The more strength applied in as little time as possible results in more power.
So when all these aspects are combined, it leads to a boost in overall performance with the aim being longevity, independence, and a greater quality of life.
Simply put, corrective exercise helps fix imbalances and abnormal weaknesses in the biomechanics of the human body.
Things such as postural deviations, hypermobility or inflexibility, and even some forms of rehab.
This means NASM has a leaning towards strength and conditioning for the average person, and in so doing, is aimed at improving daily function and physical independence.
With this, we can begin to paint a picture of where your career could head by jumping in with a NASM cert.
You could essentially work with many special population groups, from athletes all the way to the elderly members of society.
That is to say, you will look as good as you perform and you perform as well as you train.
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As with most certifications, NASM CPT has a validity period of 2 years from the date of certification.
After this period, you will need to recertify.
The recertification fee for NASM CPT will set you back $99 along with the required proof of continuing education credits or CEUs.
To obtain CEUs, you’ll need to participate in academic or in field programs and activities.
One example is submitting earned credentials such as college degree transcripts or any other certs you may have obtained during the time between certification and recertification.
The number of CEUs you will need to recertify with NASM is 2.0, which equates to about 20 hours of continued education.
When earning CEUs, it’s important to get them done through institutions and organizations endorsed or recognized by NASM.
If you don’t, you will need to pay an added $25 along with the recertification fee to verify those credits.
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Recertification takes place through the following steps:
- Log into your NASM account and enter the NASM CPT Recertification Portal
- Click My CEUs under the Continuing Education
- Enter your CEUs.
- Include relevant documentation (e.g., certificates of completion).
- Include a copy of the back and the front of your current adult CPR and AED certification.
- Click on Renewal
- Check the box next to your CPT expiration date and click on Renew or Certify for Life.
- After this, you will be directed to the cart to checkout and pay for your NASM recertification
- Finally, a verification email will be sent out indicating that your application has been received
NASM also has a great package called NASM Connected. It’s a portal to a plethora of CEU opportunities all for a nominal fee of $299/year.
In NASM connected, you will have access to over 350 fitness courses, all of which will award you NASM recognized CEUs.
Aside from the credit earning potential, NASM Connected is just a great way to expand your horizon, allowing you to stand out from the generic personal trainer.
You’ll be keeping ahead of trends, and find new ways to implement exciting value to your growing business.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you will get:
- 30% off all NASM Specializations
- Articles by NASM Fitness Experts
- Courses from the best institutions and providers
- Easy access to NASM business tools and resources
- Easy access to NASM Webinars, videos, and podcasts
- Over 350 CEU Courses
Certification Take Away
NASM’s reputation precedes it. With a heritage of providing the industry with the cream of the crop when it comes to trainers and coaches.
Its extensive list of career-accelerating resources is one of the reasons why trainers who certify and exist in the NASM ecosystem are amongst the top earners.
While traditionally only accessible to the North American fitness community, NASM has now opened up to the world and is set to take over.
We rate NASM 9/10 for its stellar reputation and quality of education.
Our PT certs reviews are available for your perusal through the links below.
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