Welcome to the Trainer Academy study guide for the ACSM CPT exam. This exam prep takes you through the knowledge you need to pass the ACSM exam on your first try.

ACSM Exam Information

ACSM Exam InfoQuestionsTimeLocation
120 Scored, 15 Unscored150 MinutesHome online proctored exam

Here is the basic ACSM CPT exam info! The test contains a total of 135 questions you must answer within 150 minutes.

120 of these questions are scored, while 15 are non-scored ‘experimental’ questions.

You will not know which questions are scored and unscored, however, you only need to get a 70% passing score on the scored questions. Incorrect experimental questions will not count against you.

Exam questions fall into three categories:

  1. Recall – basic facts, information, or steps in a process.
  2. Applications – comprehend and implement processes, interpret simple results, or summarize information.
  3. Synthesis – Differentiate and relate parts of a system and make judgments on new information based on given criteria.

All types of questions are weighted equally. However, they tend to increase in difficulty as you go from recall to application to synthesis questions.

ACSM Exam Questions

Domain NamePercent of ACSM ExamNumber of Questions
Initial Client Consultation & Assessment25%30
Exercise Programming & Implementation45%54
Exercise Leadership & Client Education20%24
Legal & Professional Responsibilities10%12

Each Domain contains questions from chapters across the textbook. As such, the chronological order of chapters in the textbook does not correspond to the order of the domains.

Domain I – Initial Client Consultation & Assessment

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This section of the ACSM curriculum focuses on the initial client interview and screening process. It also includes the anatomy questions on the ACSM exam. Science is heavily emphasized in this section, which means you will learn information you could apply later to one of the exercise science careers in clinical research if you want to go that direction.

The following risk factors are used to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease. Each positive risk factor counts as +1 on the scale.

• Men age 45 or older or women age 55 or older
• Family history of heart attacks, coronary revascularization, or sudden cardiac death. First degree relatives only – this risk factor is met when one male relative younger than 55 has had a heart incident or one female relative younger than 65
• Client currently smokes cigarettes, quit smoking within the last 6 months, or is exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis
• Client engages in less than 30 minutes of exercise 3 times per week for at least 3 months (“sedentary”)
• Client has a BMI over 30 or waist circumference greater than 102cm for men and 88cm for women (obesity)
• Resting blood pressure equal to or above 140/90, in either number or client is taking hypertensive medication (hypertension)
• Client has an LDL cholesterol at 130mg/dL or above and an HDL of less than 40mg/dL (dyslipidemia)
• Client is diabetic

Note that having HDL cholesterol above 60mg/dL counts as a negative risk factor, meaning you can subtract 1 from your total score.



Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 311.

• Improved VO2 max with maximal effort cardio
• Lowered resting heart rate
• Lowered exercise heart rate at submaximal intensity
• Improved oxygen utilization
• Ventilation decreased at submax effort, increased at max effort
• Stroke volume decreased at submax effort, increased at max effort
• Cardiac output decreased at submax effort, increased at max effort
• Blood volume increased
• Lowered systolic blood pressure
• Blood lactate decreased at submax effort, increased at max effort
• Oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle decreased at submax effort, increased at max effort
• Decreased all cause mortality
• Decreased coronary artery disease
• Decreased cancer risk
• Decreased osteoporosis risk
• Decreased anxiety
• Decreased depression

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 159.

Circumference:
Circumference of body areas is measured with a flexible measuring tape and used to determine baseline size, waste-to-hip, and other cardiovascular risk factors.

The biggest number to calculate is the waist-to-hip ratio, which allows the trainer to assess the risk of a specific disease. The circumference is appropriate for clients interested in health and weight loss.

1.5 Mile Run
The 1.5-mile run is used for assessing cardiorespiratory fitness. It is appropriate for clients who can already jog for at least 15 continuous minutes. To obtain the best, most accurate score, clients should be instructed to pace themselves throughout the test.

The formula for cardiorespiratory fitness is:
VO2max (mL/kg*min = 3.5 + 463/(1.5 mile time to completion)

Rockport 1-Mile Walk Test
The Rockport 1-Mile Walk Test assesses cardiorespiratory fitness and is appropriate for clients who are deconditioned or otherwise unable to jog or run. The minimum fitness level for this test is the ability to maintain a BPM above 120 for 1-mile. Clients must walk for the test to be accurate, they cannot run.
The test is less useful for very fit individuals.

The data required for the test is the total walking time to complete 1 mile, the client’s weight in kilograms, and the recovery heart rate, which is the pulse taken in the minute after completion of the mile walk.

Once the client has a 1-mile walk time, the formula for VO2max is as follows:
VO2max (mL/kg*min)=132.853 – (0.1692 * bodymass in kg) – (0.3877 * AGE) + (6.315 only for men) –  (3.2649 * walk time) – (0.1565 * recovery heart rate)

1-Repetition Maximum
1-repetition maximums test a client’s maximal ability to lift a heavyweight. Before testing 1RM, the client should be experienced with the exercise being tested and have already demonstrated proper, safe execution of the technique.

1RM tests can be performed on most resistance exercises but are typically used on lifts such as the barbell back squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and power cleans.

Clients should perform roughly 3 warm-up sets and then perform 3-5 1RM attempts with 3-5 minutes between attempts to obtain the highest weight lifted while maintaining form.

Push-up test
The push-up test measures the muscular endurance of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The push-up test is appropriate for most otherwise healthy individuals who can perform at least one push-up.
Women perform the pushup test on their knees while men will perform standard push-ups.

sit-and-reach test
The sit and reach test measures the combined flexibility of the hamstrings and rear back muscles.

Clients should perform a warm-up and flexibility routine before performing this test for optimal results. The score is the furthest point out of two attempts that a client can reach forward on a box while seated with legs extended.

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 342-350.

SMART goals are a framework for goal setting that helps ensure client success.

SMART is an acronym that stands for:
• Specific
• Measurable
• Attainable
• Realistic
• Timely

In essence, for a goal to be “SMART,” it must meet the above criteria. Goals that fail to meet the above criteria ultimately set the client up for failure given the likelihood of not reaching said goals.

For example, a SMART goal would be “lose 10 pounds in 3 months” – this goal is specific, measurable, can be attained by clients under most circumstances, is a realistic amount of weight to lose in that timeframe, and it has a set deadline.

Compare this to a non-SMART goal such as “burn fat as quickly as possible,” which is non-specific and meets essentially none of the SMART criteria.
SMART goals set clients up for success in the short, medium, and long terms.

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 222.

(SMART goals are also a good framework for you as a trainer when building your business. If you want to be making money as a personal trainer, and continue to earn more, pick a SMART goal. For instance, if you want to become an online personal trainer, and make money that way, pick a time frame, a method for interacting with clients, and a way to measure your progress toward that goal.)

Types of support are the methods that trainers, coaches, and individuals in the client’s life can assist with in terms of helping the client stay active and adherent to the program.

The types of support are as follows:

·         Emotional support
o   Spouse taking a walk with the client
o   Friends encouraging them to stick with it
o   Group fitness instructor encouraging attendance
o   Workout partners

·         Tangible support
o   Spouse cooks dinner while client exercises
o   Family member offers to babysit
o   Friend offers to pick up dry cleaning or groceries

·         Informational support
o   Health newsletters or emails about incorporating exercise into lifestyle
o   Handouts from a personal trainer on new exercise routines.
o   Magazine subscriptions providing clients with monthly information on exercise
Informational posters or bulletins

·         Appraisal support
o   Spouse praises client on progress made
o   Coworkers give feedback on changes in clients
o   Trainer provides positive reinforcement and individualized feedback
 
Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 242-243.

The skeleton is a system of bony levers that allow muscle force to be used for a variety of motions in human activity. It includes cartilages, bone tissue, and periosteum tissue covering the bones.

Bones also support soft tissue, protect internal organs, and act as important sources of nutrients and blood constituents and serve as rigid levers for movement.

The body has roughly 206 bones, although the exact number varies. The skeleton is a light, strong structure that provides leverage, support, and protection.

The skeleton is divided into the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton.

Axial Skeleton
• Cranium
• Vertebral column (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae)
• Coccyx
• Ribs
• Sternum

Appendicular Skeleton
• Shoulder/Pectoral Girdle (Left And Right Scapula And Clavicle)
• Arms (Left/Right Humerus, Radius, Ulna)
• Wrists And Hands (Carpals, Metacarpals, And Phalanges)
• Pelvic Girdle
• Legs and Ankles (Left/Right Femur, Patella, Tibia, Fibula)
• Feet (Tarsals, Metatarsals, And Phalanges)

Vertebral Column (part of axial skeleton)
• Vertebral bones separated by flexible discs
• Allows some movement to occur.
• Seven cervical vertebrae in the neck (C1-C7),
• Twelve thoracic vertebrae in the middle and upper back (T1-T12)
• Five lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5)
• Five sacral vertebrae – fused together and make up the rear of the pelvis.

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 50-51.

The junctions of bones in the skeleton are called joints and include fibrous, cartilaginous, and synovial joints.

The articulating ends of bones are covered with smooth hyaline cartilage, and the entire joint is enclosed in a capsule filled with synovial fluid. Additional supporting structures include ligaments and cartilage.

Fibrous Joints
• allow virtually no movement
• example – sutures of the skull

Cartilaginous Joints
• allow limited movement
• example – intervertebral discs

Synovial joints
• allow considerable movement
• example – elbow and knee
• low friction
• large range of motion
• most movements occur about the synovial joints

Articulating joints are categorized based on how many planes of motion they operate in.

Uniaxial joints
• One axis of rotation
• Example – knee, elbow

Biaxial Joints
• Two perpendicular axes of rotation
• Example – wrist, ankle

Multiaxial joints
• Allow movement in all three axes that define space.
• Example – hip and shoulder joints

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. 48-60.

Skeletal muscles are organs that contain muscle tissue, connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels.

Tendons attach the muscles at multiple points to the bone periosteum, a specialized connective tissue that covers all bones.

Fibrous connective tissue called epimysium covers every muscle in the human body and is contiguous with the tendons at the end of each muscle.

Individual muscle cells, called muscle fibers, are long cylindrical cells. The fibers are grouped into bundles known as fasciculi.

Each fascicle bundle is wrapped in a connective tissue layer called perimysium.

Within the fasciculi, individual fibers are surrounded by connective tissue called endomysium, which is contiguous with the muscle fiber’s membrane, or sarcolemma.

Macrostructure of Muscle Connective Tissue Layers
• Tendon – attaches to bone periosteum
• Epimysium – outer connective tissue layer surrounding the muscle
• Perimysium – middle connective tissue surrounding fasciculi
• Endomysium – inner connective tissue that surrounds each muscle fiber
• Sarcolemma – muscle fiber membrane contiguous with endomysium

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 149-150.

The cardiorespiratory system consists of the:
• heart
• blood vessels
• lungs
• air passages

The heart is a muscular organ that consists of two separate but interconnected pumps.
The right side of the heart pumps blood through the lungs for oxygenation, and the left side of the heart pumps the oxygenated blood throughout the body.

The heart consists of the following chambers:
• Right atrium – receives non-oxygenated blood from the body
• Right ventricle – pumps blood through the pulmonary circulation
• Left atrium – receives oxygenated blood from the pulmonary circulation
• Left ventricle – pumps oxygenated blood through the body

The heart contains a system of valves that passively ensure proper blood flow direction:
• Tricuspid valve and mitral valve (Atrioventricular valves) – prevent backflow of blood from ventricles into atria during contraction (Systole)
• Aortic and pulmonary valves (Semilunar valves) – together prevent blood flow from the aorta and pulmonary arteries during ventricular relaxation (Diastole)

A system of bundles and nodes controls the contraction of the heart:
• Sinoatrial node – Pacemaker of the heart, source of the rhythmic electrical impulses
• Atrioventricular node – Delays impulse from the SA node to allow blood into the ventricles
• Atrioventricular bundle – Conducts impulse to ventricles via the left and right bundle branches – further branching into Purkinje fibers. AV bundle transmits signals nearly simultaneously to the left and right ventricles

Once blood leaves the heart, it enters the blood vessel system:

The arterial system transports blood throughout the body through the following structures:

• Arteries – large tubes that rapidly transport blood from the heart
• Arterioles – small tubes that branch off the arteries and control the blood before entering the capillaries
• Capillaries – smallest tubes that facilitate the exchange of O2, CO2, and nutrients between blood and tissues

The venous system returns blood to the heart through the following structures:
• Venules – collect blood from capillaries and transport it to veins
• Veins – larger tubes that return blood to the heart

Arteries have stiff walls to contain the high pressure of blood from the heart.
Veins have thinner, dilatable walls that constrict or expand depending on the current needs of the body
The respiratory system re-oxygenates the blood returning to the heart from the body.

The respiratory system consists of a series of passages that ultimately bring oxygen into the body and return carbon dioxide:
• Nasal cavities – warm, purify, and humidify air entering the body
• Trachea – first-generation respiratory passage
• Right and left bronchi – second-generation passages that split from the trachea towards the right and left lungs
• Bronchioles – additional 23 generations of passageways that deliver air to the alveoli
• Alveoli – location in lunges where gas exchange (diffusion) occurs nearly instantaneously

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 135-145.

The three planes of motion are:
Sagittal
o Splits body into left and right halves
o Example exercise – squats, deadlifts
Frontal
o Splits body into front and back halves
o Example exercise – ice skaters, band walks
Transverse
o Splits body into the upper and lower half
o Example exercise – cable rotation, Russian twist

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 46.

Anterior – front of the body, ventral
Posterior – back of the body, dorsal
Superficial – located close to the body surface
Deep – below the surface
Proximal – closer to any reference point
Distal – further from any reference point
Superior – toward the head
Inferior – away from the head
Medial – toward the midline of the body
Lateral – away from the midline of the body
Supination – combined movements of adduction and external rotation
Pronation – combined movements of abduction and internal rotation
Flexion – movement resulting in the decrease of the joint angle usually in the sagittal plane
Extension – movement resulting in the increase of a joint angle usually in the sagittal plane
Adduction – Movement toward the midline of the body usually in the frontal plane
Abduction – Movement away from the midline of the body usually in the frontal plane
Rotation – Right or left rotation in the transverse plane
Agonist – primary muscle responsible for a given movement
Antagonist – muscle responsible for the opposite action of a given movement
Stabilizer – muscle that assists the prime mover to stabilize the joint against unwanted movement

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 47.

Pulse – The pulse can be detected via manual palpation at three sites:
Radial – located on the anterior surface of the wrist
Brachial – located in the groove between the triceps and biceps
Carotid – medial border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the lower neck region
Skinfold – Skinfold measurements use calipers to assess the amount of subcutaneous body fat and estimate total body fat percentages based on a standardized formula.
The ACSM skinfold measurement sites are as follows:
Abdominal – vertical fold 2cm to the right of the umbilicus.
Triceps – vertical fold, on posterior midline of the upper arm, halfway between the acromion and olecranon processes, with the arm held freely to the side of the body.
Biceps – vertical fold on the anterior aspect of the arm over the belly of the biceps muscle, 1cm above triceps measurement location.
Chest/pectoral – diagonal fold, one-half the distance between the axillary line and the nipple for men, or one-third the distance between the anterior axillary line and nipple in women.
Medial calf – vertical fold at the maximum circumference of the calf in the midline of its medial border.
Midaxillary – vertical fold on the midaxillary line at the level of the xiphoid process of the sternum.
Subscapular – diagonal fold 1-2cm below the inferior angle of the scapula.
Suprailiac – diagonal fold in line with the natural angle of the iliac crest takin in the anterior axillary line immediately superior to the iliac crest
Thigh – vertical fold on the anterior midline of the thigh, midway between the proximal border of the patella and the inguinal crease.
Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 320-329

planes-of-motion-ACSM

Domain II – Exercise Programming & Implementation

Domain II is the biggest section on the exam and contains the majority of practical personal training information in the ACSM curriculum. Topics include exercise techniques and programming guidelines. In comparison to the NASM CPT certification or the ISSA CPT, the ACSM certification is stylistically a bit less practical and more theoretical in terms of the content covered.

• Must pay more attention to hydration and clothing to dissipate heat due to reduced thermoregulation; avoid hot/humid exercise conditions
• Not the time to expect major fitness improvements
• Aerobic exercise at 12-13 RPE for 150 total minutes weekly
• Avoid supine exercises after the first trimester
• Focus on controlled exercise to maintain ROM

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 563

CVD:

• Start at low intensity
• Target heart rate 10-15 bpm below the level that elicits abnormal symptoms
• Beta blockers and similar drugs decrease the accuracy of intensity prescription
• RPE levels of 11-13 are typically in the correct zone for CVD
• Perform 8-10 exercises using major groups
• Begin with 10-15 reps at light resistance for a single set initially
• Perform resistance training 2-3 non-consecutive days per week
• Increase intensity slowly

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 560.

Hypertension
– Daily or frequent aerobic exercise totaling more than 150 minutes per week
– 40-59% HRR or 12-13 RPE for aerobic intensity
– Resistance training kept at 60-80% 1RM and is secondary to cardio
– Ensure cooldown is performed
Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 574.

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 342-350.

Diabetes
– 3-7 days per week of aerobic activity, total of 150 minutes per week
– 40-59% HRR or RPE 11-13
– Aim for maximum caloric expenditure
– Circuit training with light weights is very effective for managing blood sugar
– Be alert for hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia warnings
– Eat 1-2 hours before exercise
– Have fruit juice or candy available in case of blood sugar drop

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 566

Obesity

-150 minutes or more of vigorous aerobic activity to maximize calorie expenditure
– Resistance training aimed at improving lean body mass should always be secondary to aerobic exercise
– Carefully monitor for hydration/environmental concerns during exercise
– Non-weight bearing activity can reduce orthopedic issues

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 570.

  1. Agility – the ability to move rapidly while changing direction in response to stimulus
  2. Balance – The maintenance of equilibrium while stationary or moving
  3. Coordination – The ability to use the senses together with body parts in performing tasks smoothly and accurately
  4. Reaction time – The time elapsed between stimulation and the beginning of the response
  5. Speed – The ability to perform a movement within a short amount of time
  6. Power – The rate at which one can perform work

    Reference:
    American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 371.

The FITT-VP Principle is an acronym that guides effective exercise programming by giving you each consideration to take into account when designing your clients’ programs.

Frequency

Frequency refers to the number of training sessions in a given time period, typically one week.

Intensity

Intensity refers to heart rate reserve percents, %1RM, or other exercise-specific relevant metrics for measuring the relative difficulty of a given exercise.

Time

Time refers to the total amount of time in a given training session or a given work set. For cardiorespiratory fitness, time is usually discussed in terms of keeping the heart rate at a certain level for a period of time.

Type

Type refers to the modality of exercise such as treadmills, cycling, barbell training, swimming, etc.

Volume

Volume is the total amount of work performed, typically in a given session. It is typically expressed as the amount of weight lifted multiplied by the total repetitions at that weight.

Progression

Progression is the method used to make exercises more challenging. Progression can be accomplished by manipulating most of the FITT-VP components to increase the difficulty of an exercise. Progression can include increases in volume, intensity, time, or technical requirements for an exercise, among other considerations.

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 436

Skeletal muscles are organs that contain muscle tissue, connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels.

Tendons attach the muscles at multiple points to the bone periosteum, a specialized connective tissue that covers all bones.

Fibrous connective tissue called epimysium covers every muscle in the human body and is contiguous with the tendons at the end of each muscle.

Individual muscle cells, called muscle fibers, are long cylindrical cells. The fibers are grouped into bundles known as fasciculi.

Each fascicle bundle is wrapped in a connective tissue layer called perimysium.

Within the fasciculi, individual fibers are surrounded by connective tissue called endomysium, which is contiguous with the muscle fiber’s membrane, or sarcolemma.

Macrostructure of Muscle Connective Tissue Layers

• Tendon – attaches to bone periosteum
• Epimysium – outer connective tissue layer surrounding the muscle
• Perimysium – middle connective tissue surrounding fasciculi
• Endomysium – inner connective tissue that surrounds each muscle fiber
• Sarcolemma – muscle fiber membrane contiguous with endomysium

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 149-150.

The acute program variables are the specific programming guidelines for individual training sessions.

Choice of exercise

Order of exercises

Amount of resistance

Number of repetitions

Number of sets

Duration of rest periods between sets and exercises

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 389-395

Muscular Strength:

Volume: 1-3 sets per exercise
Intensity: 60-80% 1RM
Repetitions: 8-12
Rest period: 2-3 minutes between sets for core lifts, 1-2 minutes for assistance exercise
Frequency: 2-3 days per week

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 393-394.

Muscular Hypertrophy

Volume: 1-3 sets per exercise
Intensity: 30-60% 1RM upper body exercise, 0-60% 1RM for lower body
Repetitions: 3-6 not to failure
Rest period: 2-3 minutes if high intensity, 1-2 minutes for assistance/lower intensity
Frequency: 2-3 days per week

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 393-394

  1. Place a barbell on the back of your shoulders and grasp at both sides with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly out.
  2. Dismount the bar from the rack and descend until the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Ascend by extending the knees and hips until the legs are straight.
  4. Keep head forward with chin level, back straight, and feet flat on the floor
  5. Keep equal distribution of weight throughout the forefoot and heel and either squat within the power rack or have spotters.


Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 404

Domain III – Exercise Leadership & Client Education

This section focuses on the ‘soft skills’ of training. In particular, verbal and nonverbal communication. It also includes nutrition.

• Must pay more attention to hydration and clothing to dissipate heat due to reduced thermoregulation; avoid hot/humid exercise conditions
• Not the time to expect major fitness improvements
• Aerobic exercise at 12-13 RPE for 150 total minutes weekly
• Avoid supine exercises after the first trimester
• Focus on controlled exercise to maintain ROM

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 563

Barriers to exercise are the commonly cited reasons why individuals may not begin exercising or find long-term adherence difficult.

A major role of the ACSM personal trainer is to help clients think through creative solutions for addressing their barriers to exercise.

The barriers are as follows:

Personal barriers
o   Lack of time
o   Lack of motivation
o   Physical (obesity, chronic disease, etc.)
o   Lack of energy
o   Poor body image
·        
Social
o   Family/work obligations
o   Lack of social support
o   Gender role/social expectations

Environmental
o   Lack of access to programs or facilities
o   Cost of programs
o   Safety concerns – i.e., lack of sidewalk, unsafe neighborhood
o   Bad weather

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 234-240

Carbohydrates:

·         4kcal/gram
·         Provide energy
·         Spares protein
·         Oxidizes fats
·         Component of other molecules
·         Stores energy in glycogen

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 167.

Fats:
·         9kcal/gram
·         Energy source
·         Insulation
·         Cushion against concussive force
·         Satiety control
·         Gives food flavor
·         Carries essential vitamins

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 172.

Proteins:
• 4kcal/gram
• enzyme and protein synthesis
• transportation of nutrients
• energy source


Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 172.

• Fat – 20-35% of total calories
• Protein – 10-35% of total calories
• Carbohydrate – 55% of total calories

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 168-180.`

Let’s be honest, this section covers the basics of what you need to know as a trainer, but if you really want to be effective, you will want a separate nutrition certification to round out your skills, which then allows you to become a nutrition coach as well.

At Trainer Academy, we also have a list of the best sports nutrition certifications if you want to learn about nutrition as it directly links to athletics performance.

Domain IV – Legal & Professional

The final section covers the scope of practice and liability-related issues in personal training. It is smaller and less emphasized but still has key information you will need for the exam and the job in terms of your basic personal trainer duties.

An ACSM Certified Personal Trainer works with exercise-capable individuals to improve health, physical fitness, performance, quality of life, and lasting positive behavioral change. The typical personal training job involves working with clients on safe exercise techniques and programming for various fitness goals.

The minimum requirement for an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer is a high school diploma, CPR and AED certification, and of course, passing the ACSM CPT exam.

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 6, 7

The personal trainer’s scope of practice can include any of the following activities:

• Interview and screen potential clients
• Perform fitness assessments on clients to determine their current level
• Help clients set realistic goals, change goals as needed, and promote client adherence to the program
• Develop and modify exercise programs, including progression, for different fitness goals
• Teach and demonstrate safe and effective exercises and educate the client about unsafe exercises
• Spot or supervise the client during exercise performance
• Maintain client records of workout data and progress or lack of progress
• Accurately answer clients’ health and fitness questions
• Educate clients about fitness and health and encourage them to exercise on their own as well, assuming medical approval

As a certified personal trainer, you will likely perform additional duties outside of the direct scope of practice, such as equipment cleaning or maintenance, paperwork, or other on-the-job duties as required by your specific employment situation.

You must understand that the ACSM CPT certification does not include meal planning or diagnosing injuries or medical conditions. You are also not cleared to work with individuals who cannot exercise independently.

Often, performing regular continuing education credits (CEUs or CECs) is a requirement of major fitness certification organizations.
The ACSM CEU requirement is 45 continuing education credits every 3 years. You can earn ACSM CEC credits by taking a variety of additional fitness certifications or attending various conferences or events.

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 6-7

Personal trainers work in a variety of environments and arrangements. These include:

• Commercial, for-profit fitness centers
• Community, non-profit fitness centers
• Corporate wellness centers
• University fitness centers
• Private studios
• Mobile training
• Online training
• City recreational facilities

Reference:
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fifth Edition. Page 17-20.

ACSM Certification Breakdown

Of all the personal training certifications, ACSM is the oldest institution. Their fitness certs are highly prized and held to high standard of excellence. This nationally accredited personal training certification can be challenging for newer prospective trainers so we want to give you a leg up on the test with this training guide!

Be sure to take plenty of practice tests and look at test taking strategies that augment your studying experience to ensure you can pass your exam. Practice test questions are some of the best items you can have. The best practice questions are designed to mimic the real exam and make sure you crush it the first time around. Just be sure to really understand the answers as opposed to only memorizing the practice exam itself.

Becoming an ACSM-certified personal trainer sets you apart from many fitness professionals. The ACSM CPT training program will prepare you for many careers in exercise.

You will be more than capable of handling the day to day responsibilities that come with being a personal trainer. Every person taking the ACSM exam needs to be prepared.

You can learn how to become a personal trainer, but the ACSM also prepares you for specialist certifications.

ACSM CPT careers include:

  • ACSM exercise physiologist
  • Group exercise instructor

Adding these will increase your opportunity to earn the best personal trainer salary.

For instance, becoming a fitness instructor will mean that now you have the possibility to both do private sessions and group classes. However, it would be worth taking additional training courses in group fitness and conditioning for your development.

The ACSM-CPT is excellent for healthcare professionals and ensures you can handle any of the subjects related to being a personal trainer and fitness professional.

One of my biggest tips for succeeding as a trainer is committing to continuing education. The question is, can you commit to being the best coach you can be?

Preparation will make or break your ability to pass the exam. We recommend checking out the Trainer Academy ACSM study guide online. If you are wondering how to prepare for exams, we’ve got you covered.

Candidates who make it through the courses on Trainer Academy have an insanely good chance of earning the certificate the first time.

We also have a free ACSM CPT practice test so you can make sure you’re ready to schedule a test. You can also study through content such as that found on YouTube, Instagram, and even LinkedIn to ensure you cover all your bases.

Of course, if you are old-school, you can always opt for the book version of the study guide. Trust me, there is a solution for people of all studying types. To be prepared for the field of personal training, you need to start by looking at all your options and avail yourself of all services you can to make sure you crush it on the exam.

Anyone can succeed in the industry, but what sets successful trainers apart from those who fail to thrive boils down to dedication and commitment, and it all starts with the exam.

Our students routinely dominate both their exam and their fitness careers, but the devil is all in the details.

As a company, the Trainer Academy team is fully committed to the name and success of our students and learners, so you can count on us to get your where you want to be. From our material to our support during your studies, we have everyone covered. We have everything from digital study guides to practice tests that can supplement your paperback or hardcover textbook.

Hopefully, this ACSM CPT study guide helped you prepare for your examination. It’s time to pick your testing dates and get your ACSM cert!

FAQ

How do I study for the ACSM exam?

Your best bet for studying for the ACSM is purchasing a quality third-party study guide, like the one offered by Trainer Academy, to cut down on study time. Without a study guide, your next option is purchasing an expensive test package or studying directly from the ACSM textbook.

Is the ACSM test hard?

The ACSM exam has a 69% first-time pass rate, making it moderately difficult in terms of fitness exams.

Is the ACSM exam online?

The ACSM exam is taken online via remote online proctoring through Pearson VUE.

How long does it take to get ACSM certified?

Once you purchase your ACSM exam, you can take it as soon as you are ready. With no background in fitness, expect to spend around 3 months preparing for the ACSM exam.

Does ACSM require a degree?

The ACSM CPT exam does not require a college degree or another fitness degree. A physiology degree is helpful but not necessary.

At Trainer Academy, we want you not only to pass your certification exam, we want you to pick the right one!

For that reason we have comparisons between ACSM vs ACE, ACE vs NASM, NASM vs ISSA, and NASM vs ACSM.

There are individual articles about certs, like our NSCA CPT review and NCSF CPT review.

We also have free study help to get you started no matter which cert you pick:

For ACE, we have an ACE study test and ACE study guides so you study and then test your knowledge prior to the exam.

In the case of NASM, there’s a NASM practice exam and a NASM CPT study guide which we think will make a big difference in your test prep.

Finally you pick the NSCA CSCS exam we’ve got you covered with a CSCS practice test and CSCS study guide, because that’s an exam you want to pass on the first try–the re-test fees are almost as much as the entire exam!

Whichever one you choose we wish you good luck and a bright future personal training.

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