I am officially as Certified Personal Trainer! Starting with registering back in November, I've been navigating my way through human sciences, nutrition, and program design. If feels great to say I've accomplished this milestone! Are you also thinking of taking a route towards personal training? Here are some tips to help you know where to begin and how to prepare for the test properly:
What Do I Need to Begin?
You need a passion for sport sciences and a passion to apply your knowledge to help others. Mine came from years of being trained by others as a professional athlete. I learned so much through being trained, but realized when I wanted to explain what I learned to others, I didn't always have the answers. I personally don't plan on working at a gym, but this could aways change. My motivation was to provide more material for my awesome readers and subscribers of LuchaFIT, and to work one on one with people trying to reach their goals. Your end goal doesn't have to be working in a gym, your motivation for personal training can lead you to many opportunities.
How Much Background in Sports Science is Needed?
The more you have, the better! My background boasts solely of what I have learned being a professional athlete, because my undergraduate degree is in business. Just realize that you may need to focus on science concepts a little longer while you are studying for your certification. It is not a deal breaker in any way if you lack any formal studying or training in human and sports science.
Which Package Should I Buy?
ALWAYS look for their 20% off packages. NASM is consistently running deals. Take advantage of paying in installments, they are interest free and helpful on your wallet.
Asses where you are in your life and how much time you will be able to devote to studying. They currently offer 4 different packages, all with varying prices based on the materials you will be provided. I went with the most basic package, but I also knew I would have the time available to spend studying. Knowing that there is a lot of material to retain and knowing how well you study entirely on your own (this was my first "online" class), it can be beneficial to take advantage of a package with more resources. While you are in the thick of studying, you will never regret having more resources. It can be a long an arduous studying process, so if you think you will need it, spend the extra money.
What Outside Resources Helped You?
Besides going through every video, activity, quiz, study guide, and test provided by NASM through their online portal, I spend time on as many free quiz websites and resources as I could find. Here's two that were my favorite:
FitnessMentors.com is a great website with a lot of options available to you. They have a free quiz, a free study guide, and some tough NASM test questions and answers that could be a part of your test. They also have tests you can pay for if you went with the most basic NASM package and find yourself needing more study materials.
The other favorite online resource was Quizlet.com. They have online flashcards of many of the chapter terms made by others, and you can make your own flashcards to study from. My favorite was the flashcards of over and under-active muscles. This was a harder area to memorize and I really benefited from finding it on Quizlet.
Besides the resources mentioned, there is a large thread of people discussing their NASM CPT testing experiences on bodybuilding.com, as well as others who have made study guides or areas to study. I had found a lot of these discussions when I first began researching, which were helpful, but later became overwhelming. There are so many opinions and thoughts about the test; whether its the hardest test they've ever taken, the easiest test they've ever taken, or about the million different areas you have to focus on. Reality is, if you have committed to taking this test, arm yourself with resources and dive in. You know what you are capable of, and only you can actually put in the work to retain the information.
What Would You Change if You Had to do it Again?
One simple study tactic I would have done to save myself time would have been to begin writing out my flashcards while I read through the book. Flashcards are so important, don't neglect doing them! You need to know the terms throughout the book.
Print out the study guide from NASM as soon as you are done reading. I did not get this resource until my last 2 months of studying, but I would have used it right away to help guide my study practices.
Get through the NASM online chapter resources right away, there is no reason to have to cram that in at the end. They are helpful and get you step by step towards the mid-term and practice tests provided. I didn't realize the 50-100 question tests were hidden amongst the resources. I spent too long thinking the activities and quizzes were silly and time consuming until I realized how nicely it built into the tests.
Just a Few of the Important Focus Areas to Spend Time On:
Terms, terms, terms!
Over and under-active muscles, the recommended exercises and stretches that focus on these areas
Know the reps, sets, rest, tempo, 1 Rep Max %, and types of stretching recommended for all the levels of the OPT model: i.e acute variables
Know and understand the nervous, muscular, skeletal, endocrine, cardiorespiratory, and digestive systems
Know the calories in 1 gram of carbs, protein, and fat, as well as the daily caloric recommendations
Have your planes of motion down (sagittal, frontal, transverse) , and how they are applied to exercises
aerobic and anaerobic metabolism (ATP-PC, Glycolysis, Oxidative)
Understanding exercises and which level of the OPT model they belong to
Subjective vs. objective information for assessments
Heart rate zones, when to use them, and the
How to progress and regress exercises
Hydration and dehydration concepts
Know your muscles, I used this book: https://www.amazon.com/Human-Body-Coloring-Book/dp/0756682347/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498584222&sr=1-1&keywords=the+human+body+coloring+book
Retake the quizzes, midterm, and tests from NASM. You will never regret it because its easy to think you understand a question after you see what the right answer is. Make sure you know this information!
So many have said this and I will say the same thing, it's not about memorization, its about retaining and understanding how to apply what you are learning. If you don't understand a concept, make sure you do the research so you do. Having done the work to have a well rounded understanding of concepts helped me on the test when it asked something I felt I didn't know the exact answer.
Best of luck!