The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) offers a variety of certifications including the PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist), CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist), FNS (Fitness Nutrition Specialist), WLS (Weight Loss Specialist) and YES (Youth Exercise Specialist). However, the most well-known and respected certification in the industry is the NASM-CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) certification. According to NASM, the NASM-CPT certification is built on a proven, evidence-based training model that prepares trainers for real-world situations. Throughout its existence, NASM has established itself as being the leader in high quality, evidence-based teaching. The organization puts great emphasis on proficiency, advancement, and outcomes.
NASM was founded in 1987 and has become one of the most respected fitness organizations in the world. The organization exists to provide research-based credentials to industry professionals specializing in the exercise and sports training industry. In 1989, NASM launched the personal trainer (NASM CPT) program. After just a few years, this certification became standard practice in many fitness centers. This can be largely attributed to World Gym designating the NASM-CPT qualification as a required certification for all of its personal trainers. In the late 1990s, this certification was mandatory for all trainers at 24-Hour Fitness locations.
Throughout the last decade, NASM has expanded its reach within the sports medicine field through extensive functional and corrective exercise research aimed to identify muscular imbalances that can contribute to and cause discomfort, pain, and injury. The introduction of NASM’s OPT model, a complete training model, was an industry first and designed to provide a complete balance of muscular strength, power, and size, and cardiorespiratory endurance.
According to NASM, the OPT model is a systematic and integrated training, reconditioning, and rehabilitation program. It was founded by Michael Clark, DPT, founder of NASM. Clark has experience with training and treating numerous elite and amateur Olympic and pro athletes in many different sports such as football, basketball, baseball, boxing, and ice skating. Clark’s organization has had a significant impact on the professional sports world, with over 90% of athletic trainers in the NBA becoming NASM-certified Corrective Exercise or Performance Enhancement Specialists.
The OPT model combines flexibility, cardiorespiratory, core, balance, power, and strength. This model focuses on integrated solutions for every fitness level. While it’s helpful for athletes, the OPT model can also be beneficial for people with special needs, the elderly, or those with clinical obesity. Elite, college and recreational athletes have benefited from the OPT model and it has also been helpful in helping individuals decrease body fat, increase lean muscle mass, and improve overall health. The model takes into consideration not only an individual and their unique needs but also the environment in which they are working. Simply put: everyone can benefit from the OPT model and its impact is not limited to athletes.
When we look closely at the OPT model, we see that its five phases are split into three levels: stabilization, strength, and power. Let’s break down each of the five phases and how they impact a trainee.
To access a sample workout built using the OPT model, click here.
While some employers prefer their trainers to be NASM certified, others will want their trainers to pursue the certification through a different organization. Be sure to keep this in mind when seeking out various potential gyms or facilities for employment. It’s important to note that before you take the NASM exam, you must be CPR and AED certified from a course with a hands-on assessment. Additionally, you will also need a high school diploma or equivalent. If you decide that NASM-CPT is the way to go, here’s a breakdown of the study options provided by the NASM CPT program. With a broad range of options, you’ll be sure to find one that best fits your lifestyle.
The NASM-CPT certification equips trainers with the tools to effectively train a wide variety of clients and help them live healthier stronger lives. NASM has based its training materials on scientific study and the OPT model which serves as a clear guide as trainers lead their clients through the five-phase model. Depending on your current lifestyle and learning style, NASM offers a wide variety of study programs to help you ace your NASM-CPT exam and begin your career as a personal trainer. Interested in learning about other top personal training certifications? Check out our easy-to-read guide that breaks down each certification’s overview, cost, and time investment.