NASM Certified Personal Trainer Review – Become a Professional in Fitness

We know that you have always wanted one of those personal trainer shirts so you can strut around the gym with a purpose. 

It’s ok to admit it. 

We are right there with you, and that’s why we are here to review the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) program. 

We’ll go through all of the pros and cons to help you decide if this course is right for you.  Are you already excited about buying your personal trainer shirt? 

Start saving your money because you will be getting one of those shirts soon.

National Academy of Sports Medicine CPT

As we said, NASM stands for National Academy of Sports Medicine, a company that has been around for over 30 years.  They are best known for their CPT or Certified Personal Trainer program.  However, that is not the only certification that NASM offers. 

We already discussed the NASM Nutrition Certification on The Fitness Tribe and explained how important learning about nutrition is for a personal trainer.  NASM also offers many other certifications to include a group training certification and a youth specialization certification. 

This company is rocking the certification game.  Not to brag, but NASM is also NCAA-accredited (National Commission for Certifying Agencies)–not to be confused with the college sports NCAA. 

This certifies that the fitness certification has the requirements for a high-quality program.  Did we mention that NASM now offers an international certification?  That’s right. 

You can get your NASM CPT certification no matter where you are in the world. You can totally name drop with this certification.  Build up your street cred.

At NASM, they understand that you might need a few options for your personal training certification.  No worries there.  They have four different programs available for your personal trainer certification.  Let’s explore them, shall we?

NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification

With a Personal Trainer Certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you’ll master the necessary skills to start training clients and the tools required to help them see results.

$699 $999 $300 OFF

CPT Self-Study Program

The title really says it all. This program is built to be done totally at your own pace. 

For those of us who have too many balls in the air, this program allows you to make your own schedule or not have a schedule at all. 

Get it done when you can is the motto.

CPT Premium Self-Study Program

If going at your own pace sounds amazing, then this program is that and more. 

Not only can you go at your own pace, but you also get more premium content with this module, so you are learning it all. 

There are still no deadlines here, so winning!

CPT Guided Study Program

Where are our friends who need a little bit of guidance?  If so, this is the program for you. 

We are talking about the same premium content as the self-study program and unlimited support from the experts.  Guidance and support is only a phone call or email away. 

The NASM CPT coaches will work with you on every aspect of the program.  A bonus is that you get a mentor as soon as you sign up for the program. 

There’s nothing like a good mentor to guide you through life.  Are we right?  This is NASM’s most popular program.

CPT All-Inclusive Program

NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification

With a Personal Trainer Certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you’ll master the necessary skills to start training clients and the tools required to help them see results.

$699 $999 $300 OFF

Ooh…this just got really fancy and is the best value of them all.  Now put your swimsuit away as it’s not that kind of all-inclusive.  It might be even better. 

With this program, you will get the premium content with guided assistance to ensure final exam readiness. 

You will also be placed into the Gymternship Program.  Nice wordplay NASM.  This will give you hands-on experience with certified personal trainers. 

The best place to learn is on the job, right?  Not only that, you will be guaranteed to land a job once you pass the exam.  Rock on!

There are a lot of Acronyms – What is the OPT Model?

NASM is so cool they developed the Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model. 

This model ensures that the training program is based on scientific evidence and extensive research.  It’s important to have a training program that suits everyone, no matter their age, body type, or environment. 

The OPT model allows trainers to assess their clients at the onset to figure out their body’s needs.  For example, an athlete who is training for 2 hours per day, 7 days per week, will not have the same fitness program as a working mom with two kids. 

Once assessed, the OPT model is broken out into five phases, stabilization endurance, strength endurance, hypertrophy (increase in muscular size based on exercise), maximal strength (maximum force a muscle can exert in a single contraction), and power. 

Personal trainers learn all of this and more in the NASM CPT training program, but we’ll break it down a bit for you now.  We’re cool like that.

Stabilization Endurance

This is the foundation of the OPT model, aka the concrete that holds everything together. 

In this phase, clients perform anywhere from 12 to 20 repetitions where their speed is slowed and weight lowered to get the correct technique. 

Proper technique is the groundwork for your fitness, and without it, you can’t move on to strength and power.  See our mobility course article to understand more of the importance of stabilization and mobility.

Strength Endurance

Once your client has their stability, you can introduce them to heavier weights. 

As they start training with heavier weights, their workouts become more intense.  Strength starts building, and the client is feeling more and more confident.

Hypertrophy (Muscular Development)

Since you have introduced your client to strength and started to build up their weight training, it’s time to heat the stove a little more.  Hypertrophy workouts are all about building more strength and muscle growth. 

As muscles tear and repair to build stronger, these developments are measured and built upon.  Your clients will start with low repetitions and move up to intermediate repetitions with more weight load.

Maximal Strength

It’s time for some superhuman strength. 

Maximal strength builds up your muscles by adding more weight and more repetition consistently.  This is similar to hypertrophy in that it focuses again on the building of muscles with even more weight-bearing exercises. 

You are pushing your client’s fitness even further by enhancing their strength.


I’ve got the power.  It’s gettin’, it’s gettin’, gettin’ kind of heavy.  Anyone else channeling The Power from the 80s?  That’s what your client is going to sing once they reach this level. 

As the personal trainer, you will push them with high force and high-velocity workouts.  Think of it as supersets–harder and faster training with heavier weights.

The NASM CPT Exam – Wait! There’s a Test?

Before you start stressing out, the NASM CPT exam has a study guide.  C’mon, that is exciting!  All kidding aside, the content provided will have you more than ready to tackle this exam. 

The exam itself is four-answer, multiple-choice, and consists of 120 questions. 

Also, since COVID is a thing, NASM is offering the exam to be taken online live with a proctor.  Pretty cool for those of us who can’t make it to an in-person exam during these crazy times.

In 2015, the National Academy of Sports Medicine teamed up with the Professional Examination Service to ensure all of the exam content reflected the abilities required for an entry-level personal trainer.  The content was broken down into course domains.

  • 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%

NASM wanted to make sure that every aspect of personal development was covered with this exam.  Once you are done with this exam, that personal trainer shirt is earned!

Who is Eligible to Take the Test?

There are some requirements to be eligible to take the NASM CPT exam.  You have to be a rockstar.  Oh wait, you totally are!  There are a few other requirements, though, so let’s look at them below.

  • You must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, such as the General Education Development test or GED.  
  • You must hold a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.  This must be through approved providers like the American Heart Association or American Red Cross, or the equivalent.
  • You must hold an automated external defibrillator (AED) certification.

Easy peasy, right?  Keep in mind that NASM does not accept online certifications for CPR or AED training. 

It must be through one of their approved suppliers.  While NASM does not require you to be 18 years of age, most facilities require that you hold liability insurance. 

Most of the time, insurance companies require you to be at least 18 years of age to purchase liability insurance, so make sure to check the age requirements beforehand.

When can I see if I passed?

Another major plus with the NASM CPT program is that you will know immediately if you passed the exam.  That’s the beauty of their web-based testing software. 

While the official results take about two weeks, the preliminary results allow you to show your employer that you have passed, and you can begin your personal training career.  Basically, buy your personal trainer shirt.  Can you tell we really want one of those shirts?

Can I retake the exam if I didn’t pass?

You can absolutely retake the NASM CPT exam if you didn’t pass the first time. 

We all get nervous during tests, and sometimes that affects our score.  Keep calm and know NASM gives you another chance.  They require you to wait one week from your initial test before retaking it.  Hit the books and study away for a week. 

If you don’t pass with the second attempt, you will have to wait 30 days before you can try again. 

Unfortunately, after the 3rd attempt, you will have to wait a full year before you can retake the NASM CPT exam. 

Of course, that will not happen because coaches, study guides, and online support will help you achieve that perfect score.

I am already a NASM CPT.  How can I get recertified?

If you are already rocking your career as a personal trainer, we salute you.  However, NASM requires that you recertify every two years to stay up-to-date on all of the latest research. 

The fitness industry is ever-changing as we discover more and more about our bodies and the biology of it all. 

The National Academy of Sports Medicine has based its program on that science and research, which is why it is at the top of its industry.  Plus, as personal trainers, we like to learn. 

Below is a quick guide to re-certifying.

  • Login to your NASM account and click on the NASM CPT Recertification Portal.
  • Click on My CEUs under the Continuing Education section in the left menu column.
  • List your CEUs by choosing Provider/Petition CEUs or Add Other CEUs.  The good news is that if you have done a CEU by NASM, it will already be filled in for you. 
  • Include documentation of continuing education courses you have completed.  Remember NASM requires at least two NASM-approved courses to maintain your certification.
  • Include a copy of the front and back of your CPR and AED certification cards.
  • Click on Renewal under the Certification section in the left-hand column.
  • Check the box next to your expiration date and click on Renew or Certify for Life.
  • You will be directed to the NASM checkout cart to pay your recertification fee.

If for some reason you have let your certification lapse, you can still be a personal trainer.  Recertify within 90 days of your recertification date, and you will pay a small late charge. 

After 90 days, you will have to pay a larger late fee, and you have up to a year to re-certify.  Unfortunately, after a year, you can no longer recertify, and you would need to go through the program again.

The NASM Certification sounds great, but how much does it cost?

NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification

With a Personal Trainer Certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you’ll master the necessary skills to start training clients and the tools required to help them see results.

$699 $999 $300 OFF

The cost of being a personal trainer is sometimes quite expensive initially, but once you start getting clients, you recoup that money quickly.  Not only that, NASM has interest-free payment options. 

Pay monthly installments rather than everything right upfront.  Let’s break down the costs. 

Did we mention that right now it’s 30% off?  No better time to get certified.  

  • Basic Self-Study Course – Pay one installment of $559 for this course right now.  The usual price is $799, but you are saving quite a bit of money with the sale.  If you prefer the monthly payments, you will pay an initial fee of $49 and then $46 for 11 months.  That comes to $555, which is almost the exact price if you were to pay in one installment, so you are not penalized for paying monthly.  
  • Basic Premium Self-Study Course – With this plan, you will pay $769 instead of the usual $1099.  Don’t you just love a sale?  For the monthly plan, the initial fee is $49, and then you would pay $65 for 11 months.
  • Guided Study Program – For the most popular course, you will pay $1049, a 30% savings from the usual $1499.  Again, for the monthly payments, you will pay $49 initially and then 11 installments of $91.  Big savings here for the guided course gives you access to all of the online support from coaches you need.
  • All-Inclusive Program – The best value for your money is priced at $1539, which usually runs at $2199.  Man, that is a good deal!  The monthly payments have the initial $49 fee and then run at $135 for 11 months.  This kind of savings for this program is huge because you get unlimited help from the coaches and personal trainers’ hands-on experience.  Not only that, you are guaranteed to find a job after you are certified by being in the Gymternship program.  This program kicks major butt!

How Much Does a Personal Trainer Make?

In general, personal trainers normally make between $30,000 to $49,000 per year.  Not too shabby! 

Not only that, NASM certified trainers actually start at $42,000 per year because the certification is so highly valued in the fitness industry.  Remember, this is a starting out point. 

A lot of NASM certified trainers end up opening their own facilities and developing their niche.  Once you do that, you can expand your salary up to 20% per year.  Make it rain, people!

Let’s Check out the Pros and Cons

By now, you think that was all fabulous information, but you like a list of pros and cons.  We understand that, and we do too.  Lists make everything a little easier to digest, so let’s list the pros and cons of certifying with the National Academy of Science and Medicine.


  • NASM is NCAA accredited – It is considered the gold standard of personal trainer programs.
  • Certification is great for beginners as well as experienced trainers.
  • The course is 100% online.
  • Your course fee provides you with a NASM CPT digital textbook, content learning videos, exercise video library, and practice exams/quizzes for all 4 programs.
  • Option to recertify for life with the CPT All-Inclusive Program.


  • The price is one of the highest when it comes to personal training courses.
  • The hardback textbook is only available via the Guided study and All-Inclusive programs.

We are thinking that the pros far outweigh the cons with the NASM CPT certification. 

This prestigious certification is what you need to have clients flocking to you to get fit.  Maybe buy a personal trainer shirt that has some bling on it. 

You deserve it!

NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification NASM Courses and Products | Personal Trainer Certification

With a Personal Trainer Certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you’ll master the necessary skills to start training clients and the tools required to help them see results.

$699 $999 $300 OFF

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Kristen holds a bachelors in English from Louisianna university. With a longstanding passion for fitness, she owns and operate her own gym and is a certified jazzercise instructor.

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