The Only NASM CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need (infographic)

The Only NASM CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need (infographic)

Bonus: 4 week and 8 Week Timeline for Studying for your NASM CPT Exam

The NASM CPT Exam can be considered one of the most difficult Fitness Certification Exams in the industry.

Completing 120 questions in 120 minutes, with only your memory, not even a piece of scratch paper, can be a truly daunting task.

When you sign up, depending on the package you get, you’re given a text book and some basic online materials and let loose without much direction. It is no wonder almost a third of people fail this exam.

As a college professor, I have had the opportunity to assist over 1,000 students in their pursuit of the NASM CPT Certification. With some trial and error I have been able to determine the best study materials that will lead to your success.

Like any major career-changing certifications the right study tools and a plan of action can be a godsend. For this reason Fitness Mentors brings a list of the best study tools with an 8 and 4 week study timeline for you to plan accordingly.

But first, here is an infographic you can use to help you determine the study materials you want to use:

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ACE CPT Exam Study Guide

Here’s our take on the study resources tips from the infographic: NASM CPT Textbook:

The NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 6th Edition is obviously going to be your best tool, as all information that makes it onto the NASM CPT Exam can be found inside.

It is composed of the Code of Professional Conduct (page vii), 20 chapters, and Appendices A-D. All of these sections need to be read to ensure you have covered all potential information that makes it onto the test.

This includes about 650 total pages of information. Because of the vast array of topics covered, and the sheer density of that information, it is not recommended that the book be your only tool for studying, unless you have a photographic memory.

The Code of Professional Conduct section in the preface of the book is important to read as NASM does ask a question or two regarding its contents. There is no need to memorize it, but have a general idea of what each code means and how to apply it in the real world of personal training.

Regarding the chapters, some are more important than others, for the real world and then for the test. When it comes to the total package of testing and understanding the real world application of the content, every chapter is important to read. Although questions come from all chapters, if you were to focus on chapters that were most important to the test I would recommend the following be read thoroughly or even twice:

Chapter 6: Fitness Assessment

Chapter 7: Flexibility Training Concepts

Chapter 9: Core Training Concepts

Chapter 13: Resistance Training Concepts

Chapter 14: Integrated Program Design and the Optimum Performance Training (OPT) Model

Chapter 17: Nutrition

Chapter 19: Lifestyle Modification and Behavioral Coaching

Chapter 20: Developing a Successful Personal Training Business

As far as the Appendices go, understanding the muscles from Appendix D: Muscular System is most important. My suggestion would be to focus on the large muscles of the major joints and understand their joint motions during eccentric and concentric muscle actions (Integrated Function). Also, the stabilizer muscles of the core and shoulder do come into play in the real world and on the exam.

Reading can be a grueling process and isn’t the best way to learn for some, but is necessary. Along with reading be sure to highlight important topics and make flash cards for terms that are tough to memorize. The NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training textbook should be used as the primary source of studying, but there are other great tools to make studying easier and also more fun.

Jones & Bartlett Learning (www.Jblearning.com)

With your book comes some great online tools, offered by the publisher Jones & Bartlett Learning. Although these are not the greatest tools you can use, they do come free with your textbook, located on the inside of the front cover.

Visit their site listed above and activate your account using your access code (found inside the front cover of the text under the scratchable silver lining) and email. Inside you will find a plethora of unique study programs, most of which make you feel like you’re back in the first grade, although some are great. For example, the practice quizzes and lab activities.

The Practice Quizzes located on JB Learning are great questions, but they tend to leave people feeling overconfident. In saying this, I am referring to the simplicity of the topics and wording of the questions. The actual NASM CPT Exam will throw you for a loop if you go in expecting those type of questions. Use these practice quizzes after completing your reading for each chapter as a way to ensure proper comprehension of the basic topics and ideas.

Lab Activities from this site are going to give you an opportunity to express your knowledge and show your understanding on given topics. Open your book and locate the information being requested, then do your best to put it in your own words.

Unfortunately there is no one to tell you how accurate you are being in your explanation. In my opinion, these feel like busy work a teacher would give you in class so they can browse Facebook and see how much fun their friends are having on vacation. But, (don’t start your sentences with a conjunction [another thing your teacher would tell you]) putting the knowledge you gain on paper can be a way that some of you might learn best, although not too many of these specific subjects make the actual exam, hence the busy work comment.

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Interactive CPT Online

Most often when purchasing the NASM CPT Exam, NASM is going to recommend study materials along with it. The cheapest package with study materials is $699 and it includes the Exam, Textbook, Interactive CPT Online, and Online Flashcards. Assuming you purchased this package, the Interactive CPT Online can be found in your NASM account under My Courses. Note: most people do not purchase the exam alone, even though it may be a cheaper/better option (blog post on that coming soon). NASM eTeach, priced at $999, is also a commonly purchased package. Most who purchase this seem frustrated at the fact that they do have much for human interaction and no human lecturing.

The Interactive CPT Online utilizes PowerPoint style slides with voice-overs to deliver the information (summarized) from most the topics present in the textbook. The voice over is done by a man in a pretty monotone voice, making it quite boring, but it gets the information across decently. Within this Interactive CPT Online, you also get pages that have interactive puzzles for you to solve to encourage retention. All of the voice-overs and slides lead to a 100 question practice exam. The unfortunate thing is that they prepare you decently well for the practice exam, which provides a little too much false confidence towards testing for the actual exam.

This is a great tool and works very well in conjunction with the textbook. When I originally took the NASM CPT Exam over 8 years ago I utilized the textbook and this as my only source of information, which I thought prepared me well. NASM has since changed the test over 5 times, but hasn’t done much to improve upon the Interactive CPT Online content, leading to their recent increase in failed official exams.

NASM’s CPT Study Guide, Version 6

This Study Guide was created by NASM for use in conjunction with their textbook, to allow students to target specific sections of the text that will help them in passing the actual exam. Like I mentioned in the previous section, NASM regularly changes the questions on the actual exam and fails to update their suggested study materials.

Yes, a certain amount of the information listed in this guide will make it onto the test and it will allow you to build your knowledge base, but it might not be worth the time. (NASM might say that all information is covered in those recommended sections, but since they are so broad you don’t really know what exactly they are referring to. This will lead to uber frustration on test day.)

Fitness Mentors has done the work for you and grants you free access to a completed version of this study guide right here. Utilizing this tool allows you to study exactly what NASM recommends without taking too much study time away, increasing the efficiency of your study process. I do agree that taking the time to complete this guide on your own would give you a better understanding of the material, but is the expended time worth receiving only a tidbit of the required knowledge? That will be for you to decide.

A version of the incomplete study guide is available to print and download here. Complete this study guide as you get to each suggested topic during your reading.

Fitness Mentors Free Book Notes:

Like one instrument cannot create an orchestra, it is important to realize that one form of instruction cannot educate as well as many. Different perspectives and inputs may be necessary to fully comprehend this information. Offered for free at https://fitnessmentors.com/free-nasm-cpt-study-guide/, is notes from all 20 chapters of the NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 6th Edition.

The Chapter Notes are going to give you the perspective of what one individual thought was most important from each chapter. Totaling 144 pages, this will give you a great overview of all topics in different wording, which may trigger better understanding. This was created xenical generic name before the actual exam was taken and can be seen as a summary of the book including a broad inclusion of all topics.

I suggest using these notes as a summary of each chapter to follow the reading of the text. It can be a great refresher when time has passed from breaks due to life occurrences.

Apps from the App Store

The Only NASM CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need infographicv3

When looking through the App Store, whether Android or Apple, there are more than a dozen apps that aim to assist students in passing their NASM CPT Exam. Most of these are just test questions and/or flashcards created from or taken from older versions of the material. The subjects don’t change a whole lot as far as the information, but the questions from the actual exam change significantly. That being said, utilizing these tools to improve your test-taking ability and question comprehension can be useful to someone who struggles at test taking in general.

A simple search of “NASM” brings up apps that range from $0.99 to $20.99, so the investment is minimal. The only thing that separates the apps is the number of questions they offer. Some say 400 questions, some say 600; some say 250 questions with 250 flashcards. Keep in mind that these questions were released by NASM to the general public after they updated their materials and exams, so the questions will be similar no matter what app you choose (they just put them together and are selling them to you as a matter of convenience). In purchasing a few of them in research for this review, I feel as if every test question from my original exam almost 9 years ago was included. That being said, like the practice questions in the Interactive CPT Online and JB Learning, if you are extremely successful at these practice apps and their questions or flashcards, don’t let that build too much confidence, as NASM knows these questions are out there and will make damn sure they don’t repeat them on the actual exam.

When using any practice questions to study, be sure to quiz yourself after having a decent understanding of the material; chapter by chapter or at the end of the book. The bad thing about most of these apps is that none of them break the questions down in a chapter by chapter standpoint, but by subject (this how they get away with using older versions). Some tell you a page number, but since they pulled it from older versions of the text, it is not on the given page in the updated version. From a learning/teacher perspective, if you quiz yourself before you truly understand the material, the words sound like gibberish and you may lack efficiency and waste study time, so use these apps accordingly.

Fitness Mentors Study Guide for the

NASM CPT

CPT Study Guide 1

Now you may be thinking I am now going to boast about how amazing our products are just so you go and buy them, but I am only going to be honest about how they can help you, as they have helped hundreds before you.

In the game of studying, it is the exam creators’ job to attempt to test your knowledge of the information in a way that applies to how you would use it in the field. Therefore the studier must attempt to understand all topics in an applicable way.

In reality, reading one book for 6 months straight in an attempt to understand all the information thoroughly is a dead end street. After 5 years of teaching this information in a college setting, I truly feel that I have only recently mastered all the information, as its detail makes comprehension very difficult.

The student needs the information to be presented in a way that challenges the thought process and encourages understanding; this is exactly what Fitness Mentors provides. FM’s Study Guide brings the most important topics to the forefront of your studying, and promotes optimal comprehension by asking you questions about the information that get you to think about the material differently.

The Study Guide is a tool that can be used in multiple ways. Using the study guide during your initial reading can enhance the focus of each chapter helping you to focus your retention on the most important topics (recommended 2 months of studying). It can also be used towards the end of your studying as a way to go back over the information to revisit the most important topics and lock them in your memory for the test (recommended 1 week to 1 month of studying).

The Guide does not give away any information, as memorization fails to optimize full comprehension. Instead, the study guide allows the student to create their own idea of what the information means in their own words, garnered by specific questions. A sample can be found here: Study Guide for the NASM CPT Exam.

Fitness Mentors Audio Lectures for the NASM CPT

The Only NASM CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need infographic

Why NASM does not have this sort of educational tool boggles my mind. People learn best when a real human explains the information to them in a simple way that they can understand and learn to apply. Students need teachers, not more information in writing, or spoken to them from Mr. Monotone.

When initially reading the text you might come across something like Altered Reciprocal Inhibition.

The book will explain this in a scientific way and define it as “the concept of muscle inhibition, caused by a tight agonist, which inhibits its functional antagonist”.

Blah, blah, blah most of you will scratch your head and wonder what that even means; or if you do get the definition, applying it may be difficult.

In the Audio Lectures you can have an extremely good looking professor explain how what they are referring to is as simple as if one muscle is tight or shortened due to overuse or injury, you can bet that the muscle on the opposite side (antagonist) is going to be “inhibited” or weakened.

In example, in your typical want-to-look-good-to-get-chicks, beach muscle, frat bro that works out chest 3 times/week and back and legs only once maybe (only if they ran out of beer money), their Pec Major and Anterior Deltoid are tight/overactive pulling their shoulders forward into a rounded position. This will guarantee a lengthening/weakening position for the muscles on the opposite side of the body being the middle/lower traps and rhomboids, leading to shoulder pain, elbow pain and other issues. This is what Altered Reciprocal Inhibition actually is. Then as a bonus the lecturer will even tell you how to fix Altered Reciprocal Inhibition for different muscle groups, which tends to be absent in the textbook.

The Audio Lectures can be used similarly to the Study Guide, as you study for the first time chapter by chapter (recommended 2 months of studying), or after you have read you go back and review the material in a different light (recommended 2 weeks to 1 month of studying).

When you combine the explanation of the over 40 hours of Audio Lectures with the further comprehension of the Study Guide, you get a study package set up for true understanding and success. As a teacher and continuous student of all things fitness, it is easy to stand by the 99% pass rate as a measure of effectiveness. (Shameless plug) Click here to learn more about the Audio Lectures of the NASM CPT.

Fitness Mentors Practice Tests of the

NASM CPT

Where would we be if we gave you all the proper education without testing your understanding of the topics we recommend focusing on? Like any good educator, it is important to test the effectiveness of your teachings with exams and quizzes to ensure comprehension. Now there are plenty of cheap and/or free practice questions for you to dive into, which were mentioned above, none of them will test you from the newest edition of the book with the most relevant, test specific information in mind.

NASM Practice Tests

The Practice Tests should be used after completing your reading and other study materials on a chapter by chapter basis or at the finish of all studying. Once again, if you test yourself before you know anything it might not do much good. The Practice Tests for the NASM CPT should be used anywhere from 1-3 days before the exam, to 2 months prior if you choose to test yourself after each chapter you complete.

Online Course

This may sound like another shameless plug, but we are confident in our products and have worked really hard making them the best ACE study materials out there.

The Fitness Mentors’ Online Course for the NASM CPT Exam includes all the stuff we’ve discussed above — practice tests, study guides, audio lectures — plus a bunch of bonus stuff we only offer in this package: PowerPoint Presentations, PowerPoint Lectures, Study Guide Answers, and a Final Exam Review. We are so confident in it we even offer a pass guarantee.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us or feel free to leave a comment below.

8 Week and 4 Week Study Timeline

As NASM Gives you at least 6 months of study time before you test, there are a lot of options for you to choose. A thorough read with just the book can be totally acceptable as a way to pass the test, but for most of you, life will get in the way.

Since life gets in the way more often then we might like when studying, below we have developed an 8 and 4 Week Study Timeline for those of you that either want to dive in to complete the certification ASAP, or struggled and have limited time left. Studying within these limited time-frames is enough for success, but don’t fall behind or you might end up in super cram mode, in which you better be using our practice tests and study guide or your probably screwed. You can also call us anytime if you have a special scenario so we can point you in the right direction and tailor a specific study program that fits your needs (424) 675-0476. Complete the form below to access the 8 and 4 Week Study Timelines for the NASM CPT Exam.

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The Only ACE CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need (infographic)

The Only ACE CPT Exam Study Resource You’ll Ever Need (infographic)

Bonus: 4 week and 8 Week Timeline for Studying for your NASM CPT Exam

The ACE CPT exam is known to be one of the most difficult in the fitness industry. With 150 questions in 180 minutes, you’d better know your stuff if you’re going to pass this one the first time around.

When you sign up, the study materials you get from ACE include a book, some basic online materials and a “good luck” pat on the back. It is no wonder that nearly one third of all ACE CPT test takers fail.

But, you’re smart and you’re found this great resource that will help you be one of the two-thirds who passes and starts an awesome career path in personal training.

The following recommendations have been put together by me, a college professor responsible for helping 1,000s of students get their personal trainer certifications. In my many years of experience I have figured out the best study materials and have even created a few of the best ones on the market. I also have many leather bound books and my walls smell of mahogany.

Without further ado, here is an infographic on my recommendations for studying for the ACE CPT.

ACE CPT Exam Study Guide
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Here’s our take on the study resources tips from the infographic:

TEXTBOOK

ACE textbook

American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual, 5th Edition Textbook:

Trust me when I say that this textbook will be your best study tool as all the information you’ll find in the final exam is contained in the book.

At the time of this writing, the fifth edition is the most up-to-date version of the book. Here, you’ll find the key concepts and terms that you’ll need to prepare yourself for the exam and to become a solid personal trainer.

You’ll also find the ACE Integrated Fitness Training® Model, insight on managing a personal training business, and technical standards adopted and developed by ACE.

From the authors:

In addition to new technical standards for cardiorespiratory, functional and resistance training, the manual also features new information about managing a personal training business, engaging graphics that identify key concepts and terms, and essential exercise science information.

Although some chapters are more important than others, you’ll likely find that questions are pulled from every chapter, so it is important to read each chapter and understand its concepts.

The Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals text is also a good asset to read and understand as it covers foundational exercise science, human anatomy, exercise physiology, fundamentals of applied kinesiology, nutrition basics, and the physiology of training.

Appendices A-C are also very important and will contain a few test questions, namely from the ACE Code of Ethics.

ONLINE TOOLS

ACE provides a few online study tools that you will want to utilize as part of their ACE Academy Elite 2018 interactive study platform. This platform includes video lessons, progress tracking, and practice quizzes to help you reduce the time you need to study.

The ACE Study Center on Facebook is a dedicated social page that allows you to connect with others preparing for the exam as well as help you find tips from candidates who have taken the exam.

STUDY GUIDES

There are numerous study guides that I have found to be useful, however, the Fitness Mentors team created most of them.

Within the ACE book, the Exam Content Outline located in the back of the book is a helpful resource.

Fitness Mentors has created a Free ACE CPT Study Guide that includes a chapter-by-chapter resource. The Fitness Mentors Premium Study Guide for the ACE CPT Exam provides you with all the specific topics that are covered on the exam, puts you through tried and true learning methodologies, and ensures you learn the topics from lots of different angles.

APPS

When looking through the App Store, whether Android or Apple, there are a total of 4 apps that aim to assist students in passing their ACE CPT Exam. Most of these are just test questions and/or flashcards created from or taken from older versions of the material. The subjects don’t change a whole lot as far as the information, but the questions from the actual exam change significantly. That being said, utilizing these tools to improve your test taking ability and question comprehension can be useful to someone who struggles at test taking in general.

Perform a simple search for “ACE CPT” and you’ll see a wide range of apps from free to $10. While I do like these apps for improving test taking ability and comprehension of concepts, I caution you to not allow the apps to build too much confidence. Reason being, ACE will do their best to alter the questions so that they are not the same ones that are littered around the internet.

The takeaway is that apps can help you prepare, but you won’t rely on them as if they are the exact test questions you’ll see on the exam. This is why it is so important to not only practice test taking, but to also ensure you understand the concepts of the book so you can interpret different styles of questions.

AUDIO LECTURES

Imagine getting ready in the shower to an extremely good-looking professor going over all the important concepts to study in for the ACE CPT exam. With the Fitness Mentors’ Audio Lectures for the ACE Certified Personal Trainer Exam, that is exactly what you get.

Why ACE has not created something like this boggles my mind. People tend to learn best when an actual human breaks down concepts in a simple to digest way they can understand and learn to apply.

For example, when you are reading the text you’ll come across ventilatory thresholds. Broken down into VT1 and VT2, the VT is the ‘point of transition between predominantly aerobic energy production to anaerobic energy production.’

Blah, blah, blah most of you will scratch your head and wonder what that even means; or if you do get the definition, applying it may be difficult.In the audio lectures, I’ll just say something like, “they are a way to measure a client’s intensity during exercise.” Here’s some further breakdown of VT1 and VT2 that is intended to be a bit more practical and applicable:

ventilatory thresholds ACE exam example

The Audio Lectures can be used similarly to the Study Guide, as you study for the first time chapter by chapter (recommended 2 months of studying), or after you have read you go back and review the material in a different light (recommended 2 weeks to 1 month of studying).When you combine the explanation of Audio Lectures with the further comprehension of the Study Guide, you get a study package set up for true understanding and success. As a teacher and continuous student of all things fitness, it is easy to stand by the 99% pass rate as a measure of effectiveness. Click here (shameless plug) to learn more about the Audio Lectures for the ACE CPT.

PRACTICE TESTS

Practice tests are an excellent way to test your knowledge and measure yourself against a clock. ACE provides two, 150-question practice tests as part of their study packages that you’ll definitely want to check out.

I’ve shared my feelings towards apps — they are good for improving test taking ability and comprehension of concepts, but I would not rely on them for memorizing similar questions on the exam.

For the most up-to-date questions that are updated based on actual test-taker feedback, you’ll want to check out the Practice Tests for the ACE CPT from Fitness Mentors. With over 400 ACE CPT questions based off of specific test topics, and organized in quiz form for every chapter as well as two final exams, they are the best test-taking resource on the web.

The Practice Tests should be used after completing your reading and other study materials on a chapter-by-chapter basis or at the finish of all studying. Once again, if you test yourself before you know anything it might not do much good. The Practice Tests for the ACE CPT should be used anywhere from 1-3 days before the exam, to 2 months prior if you choose to test yourself after each chapter you complete.

8 WEEK AND 4 WEEK STUDY TIMELINE

With ACE, you have six months from the time you buy your study materials (from them) to schedule your exam (but you can take it within nine months). While you could just read the book within that time frame and take the test, I’ve found that most students don’t have a lot of success this way.

As life tends to get in the way of studying and we can’t all remember everything we read forever, we have created a 8 and 4 Week Study Timeline. This is especially helpful for those of you that want to dive right in and complete your certification ASAP, or for those who may have struggled and have limited time left.

Of course, study timelines are not always enough if you leave it to the last minute to cram, and in this case, you’d be better suited using our practice tests, study guides and audio lectures to get up to speed.

You can also call us anytime if you have a special scenario so we can point you in the right direction and tailor a specific study program that fits your needs (424) 675-0476. Complete the form below to access the 8 and 4 Week Study Timelines for the ACE CPT Exam.

Download your FREE 4 and 8 week study timeline for the ACE CPT exam.

ONLINE COURSE

This may sounds like another shameless plug, but we are confident in our products and have worked really hard making them the best ACE study materials out there.

The Fitness Mentors’ Online Course for the ACE CPT Exam includes all the stuff we’ve discussed above — practice tests, study guides, audio lectures — plus a bunch of bonus stuff we only offer in this package: PowerPoint Presentations, PowerPoint Lectures, Study Guide Answers, and a Final Exam Review. We are so confident in it we even offer a pass guarantee.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us or feel free to leave a comment below.

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ACE CPT Review

ACE Personal Trainer Certification Review

Considering getting your CPT with the American Council on Exercise (ACE)? Here’s an ACE CPT review to help you decide if this certification is right for you.

First and foremost, ACE is NCCA accredited, meaning the National Commission for Certifying Agencies has identified their coursework as reputable and meets the criteria for what is considered a high-quality program within the personal training industry. This also means that this CPT gives you a high likelihood of getting you a job within a gym.

It is also one of the most popular of the personal trainer certifications, with our research indicating that there are over 13,100 tests taken each year, second only to NASM. Like NASM, the cost of ACE’s study materials and test are a bit higher than most. The cheapest study package and test sits at $599, whereas some of the other CPTs fall around the $500 range.

While slightly more expensive up front, ACE looks to be a good investment as the average income of an ACE personal trainer is amongst the best in the industry. ACE personal trainers, on average, make $41,546 per year, second to only NASM trainers. Of course, there are a lot of other factors that allow a trainer to earn more, and we recommend this online course for learning many of them.

ACE also has modest continuing education (CEU) requirements. Trainers are required to take 20 hours of CEUs and the current cost is $129 to recertify every 2 years.

The exam is comprised of 150 questions, and a 62.5% or higher gets you an ACE CPT. The focus of ACE’s education is Program Design, Implementation, and Modification, meaning you’ll learn how to design programs for your clients, help them achieve success within them, and modify them as necessary as their skillsets improve.

General Consensus on Difficulty of the ACE CPT Exam

In our analysis of personal trainer exam pass rates we found that ACE was sort of middle of the road at 65%. The exam with the highest pass rate is ISSA at 89.9%, but that exam is open book.

The consensus we have heard about the exam from actual test takers is that the questions are subjective and there always seems to be more than one right answer. Another thing we frequently hear is that the ACE study materials are somewhat inconsistent with the information that is provided on the exam, making some feel inadequately prepared after solely relying on these.

This is why we recommend learning how to study for the ACE CPT but also what to study to ensure you pass the first time. The Fitness Mentors’ free ACE Study Guide will help you along your path. If you really want to get serious, check out our Premium Study Guide that focuses on the subjects that are most important to pass the ACE CPT.

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ACE vs NASM: What’s the Best CPT for You?

ACE vs NASM: What’s the Best CPT for You?

You’ve made the wise decision to pursue a career in personal training. Fantastic!

Now, on to the next major decision. Which certification should I pursue, ACE or NASM?

I’ll detail some very important factors regarding ACE vs NASM, and by the end of this post you’ll be able to determine which CPT is right for you. It should also preface that I have a certification in both, so I can provide realistic views of which cert may be better for who.

NASM vs ACE Video Review

ACE VS NASM CPT Overview

Before you make a decision on your CPT, it pays to know a little bit about what makes each organization unique.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) was founded in 1985 under the name IDEA Foundation, with the goal of becoming one of the first major fitness education bodies with national credibility. ACE places a strong commitment to create global impact and “facilitate partnerships with policymakers, fitness industry leaders, community organizations and the Healthcare Industry.”

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the younger of the two at its 30th year, is a global leader in fitness certifications with recognition all over the world. They focus their health and fitness solutions on evidence and research that they use to craft their training and knowledge programs. NASM boasts that their certifications “require the most comprehensive knowledge of human movement science, functional anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, as well as functional assessment and program design.”

Both organizations are NCCA-certified, the gold standard for fitness certifications.

ACE vs NASM fitness

ACE vs NASM: An Objective Look into Other CPT Considerations

Price of ACE & NASM Study Packages and Exam

We did some research into the cost of the cheapest study package and test. Here’s what we found:

ACE is the cheaper of the two CPTs, coming in at $599*. Their most basic package includes:

  • ACE Personal Trainer Manual
  • ACE Personal Trainer Manual Study Companion
  • ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals
  • ACE Academy Elite 2018 (Interactive Study Platform)
  • Access to Personal Trainer Resources
  • ACE certification exam
  • ACE Personal Trainer Manual eBook

NASM comes in at $799 and is the most expensive of all CPTs that we evaluated in our initial best personal trainer certification analysis. This cost includes:

  • NCCA Accredited Exam
  • Textbook (hard copy and PDF)
  • Lectures Videos
  • Exercise Library
  • Cueing Library
  • Practice Exams
  • Quizzes
  • Study Guide

*Note: these prices are subject to change and sale prices may reflect different numbers.

Winner: ACE

Pass Rate of ACE & NASM Exam

Both ACE and NASM are known for having somewhat difficult exams that require extensive study, as well as knowledge, on challenging topics such as anatomy, physiology and biomechanics. While there are tests with significantly higher pass rates in the industry (ISSA’s pass rate is 89.9%), these certification bodies ensure you obtain the knowledge necessary to become a stellar trainer.

The focus of education:

  • ACE: Program Design, Implementation, and Modification
  • NASM: Exercise technique and training instruction

NASM Exam Pass Rate: 64.3%

ACE Exam Pass Rate: 65%

Winner: Tie

Number of Test Questions on the ACE & NASM Exam

NASM has the fewest test questions in the industry as a whole, whereas ACE has amongst the most. If you are the type of test taker who’s mind goes blank due to testing anxiety, you may want to consider a shorter test.

BelowNumber of test questions / total test time / minimum passing score

NASM: 120 questions / 120 minutes/ 70% or higher is passing

ACE: 150 questions / 180 minutes / 62.5% or higher is passing. 800 points available based on scaled questions 500 points needed to pass

Winner: NASM

CEU Requirements for ACE & NASM

Maintaining your certification via continuing education is required by both ACE and NASM as well as all other personal trainer certification bodies. The more CEU hours you need to get within a certification period, the more time and money you have to spend.

Fortunately, both ACE and NASM have similar recertification requirements as well as similar costs.

NASM: 20 hours of CEUs and $99 to recertify every 2 years

ACE: 20 hours of CEUs and $129 to recertify every 2 years

Winner: Tie

Certification Popularity for ACE & NASM

This factor is based on the number of trainers with a given certification, something to consider if you are looking for evidence as to what other trainers are doing in the industry.

Unfortunately, when we called NASM they said they don’t publish numbers on how many trainers have earned their CPT. They did, however, mention that they have twice as many as their competitors combined. We do have data on ACE that showcases they have about 45,000 trainers certified.

Without throwing out some unverifiable number, let’s just say NASM has 50,000 trainers with their CPT.

Winner: NASM

Average Income of ACE or NASM Personal Trainers

How much will I make as an ACE trainer? How much will I make as a NASM trainer?

These are common answers that I get that I have an answer for! While ACE and NASM don’t publish this information I was able to extrapolate it from self-reported data on reputable websites such as payscale.com. These incomes are averages of 30+ different people holding the same certification currently working as fitness professionals.

To me, this consideration may outweigh some of the others — study materials cost, pass rate, CEUs, etc. — because an upfront investment can pay dividends down the road.

Unsurprisingly, NASM and ACE are at the top tiers of average incomes for personal trainers.

NASM average income: $41,598

ACE average income: $41,546

Winner: Tie

It should be noted that the mere acquisition of a NASM or ACE CPT doesn’t mean you’ll make $41k, nor does it mean you’ll be limited by that income amount. Your success as a personal trainer is dependent on a lot of other factors including your business acumen, how you market yourself as a trainer, and other factors like geography and approach.

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Which CPT is Better ACE or NASM?

Now you have some objective (and subjective) data for which to make a decision about moving forward with an ACE or NASM CPT. Based on the above data, NASM gets a slight nod based on the popularity of the certification. However, this factor can be considered subjective, and is unlikely to affect your ability to get a job or train.

That said, these certifications are both fairly even in the areas of exam difficulty, CEU requirements, and average income.

The bottom line is that you need to identify which factors are the most important to you and determine how the career path you want to follow necessitates one CPT over the other.

ACE vs NASM: Thoughts from a trainer with both certifications

When considering either certification it is first important that you check with the employer you’d like to work for to ensure they accept one or both of the certifications, as that can provide the direction you need.

As stated above, both certifications are nationally accredited which will get your foot in the door almost anywhere. What truly matters is what elements from above have the biggest impact on you? Cost, test-length, income, popularity/reputation? They both require abundant study time and are difficult to pass. (If it’s grasping the material is a concern we have you covered as we provide the best study tools to help you easily pass either test and become a successful personal trainer.)

My final thought would be that NASM provides an easier to use programming model (the OPT Model) that is great for new trainers, while ACE focuses their education on working to assist clients in optimizing their behaviors. If you feel you would struggle with the coaching of clients and want to improve in that area, go with ACE. If you feel you want to have more knowledge of how to design an effective workout program, go with NASM. For more information on how to become a personal trainer, check out our post on that topic.

Feel free to give us a call and we can always help point you in the right direction (424) 675-0476.

Reviews of our ACE & NASM Study Materials

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The 5 Hardest ACE CPT Test Questions (and Answers)

The 5 Hardest ACE CPT Test Questions

(and Answers)

The ACE CPT Exam is known for being one of the most difficult personal training certifications to pass. Out of the almost 800-page textbook they select 150 questions that need to be completed in a three hour time limit. This can cause major anxiety as knowing what to study can be hard to determine. Not to mention most of the questions come from a single sentence hidden deep within each chapter [our Audio Lectures and Study Guide help to point these out]. Through teaching the ACE CPT Certification materials at a college level for over 5 years and testing multiple times, we have selected what we believe to be the 5 hardest ACE CPT test questions and have coupled them with the answer and detailed explanation. (This has been updated to reflect the newest version of the ACE CPT Exam, Edition 5)

  1. A 44-year-old man name Roger comes to you wanting to exercise. After a thorough health-risk appraisal, you learn than his father had diabetes and smoked cigarettes. He quit smoking one year ago and he alternates between exercising on the stationary bike and treadmill 3 days per week for 30-45 minutes per session during his lunch break at work. He has a BMI of 31, Systolic Blood Pressure of 142 mmHg, Diastolic Blood Pressure of 88 mmHg, and a total serum cholesterol of 187 mg/dl. What risk classification is Roger and how many risk factors does he have if any according to ACSM guidelines?
    1. High risk, 4 factors
    2. Moderate risk, 4 factors
    3. Moderate risk, 2 factors
    4. Low risk, 2 factors

You memorized all of the positive risk factors and classifications right!? It can be a lot to know every single risk factor, as most of the risk factors have more that one component. His father smoked cigarettes which means nothing. He smoked cigarettes but quit one year ago. What was the timeline again for quitting smoking? Six months which means it is not a positive risk factor for Roger. He works out 3 days per week for more than 30 minutes which means he is not sedentary, so no positive risk factor there. He has a BMI of 31, which is over the limit of 30 and is considered a positive risk factor. His systolic blood pressure is 142 which is above the cutoff of 140 so there is another positive risk factor. His total cholesterol is 188 mg/dl which is below the 200 mg/dl cutoff, so no risk factor there. This means there is a total of 2 risk factors. Did you memorize how many risk factors are associated with each risk classification? Well Low Risk is less than two so its not low risk. Moderate Risk is greater than or equal to 2 so that becomes Roger’s risk classification.

Correct Answer: C

Memorize all positive risk factors and their and their determining values including: Age, Family History, Cigarettes, Sedentary, Obesity, Hypertension, Dyslipidemia, Prediabetes and the one negative risk factor High HDL Cholesterol.

  1. What is the rate of strength loss associated with reversibility?
    1. A client who stops working out will lose strength at one-quarter the rate that it was gained.
    2. A client who stops working out will lose strength at one-half the rate that it was gained.
    3. A client who stops working out will lose strength at the same rate that it was gained.
    4. A client who stops working out will lose strength at twice the rate that it was gained.

Remember that one statistic, from that from that sentence, in that one paragraph on reversibility? Reversibility discusses how the body loses muscle and strength when no resistance training is being performed. A basic resistance training routine can maintain muscle through aging as well as increase the amount of muscle by 3lbs in three months. Based on Faigenbaum et al., strength is lost at about one-half the rate that it was gained. It is easy for ACE to pick a question like this as it is very relevant to the field, but the likelihood of you memorizing it is low.

Correct Answer: B

  1. What is the rate of resistance increase for progressing a client with the goal of muscular strength?
    1. Once the client reaches the terminal number of repetitions increase the load by 5%.
    2. Once the client reaches the terminal number of repetitions increase the load by 8%.
    3. Once the client reaches the terminal number of repetitions increase the load by 10%.
    4. Once the client reaches the terminal number of repetitions increase the load by 15%.

Chapter 10 focuses on teaching you how to develop and progress a training program. Did you happen to memorize how to progress each goal of training? Probably not. It is much easier to memorize information when it is organized in a chart or table, but on the ACE CPT Exam they like to find go into the middle of a paragraph and choose a statistic. Out of 800 pages the ability to find and memorize this specific of information is trying. (That’s why we recommend grabbing our Study Guide for the ACE CPT Exam as we point out what is most important to pass the exam)

Correct Answer: A

  1. Choose the list of muscles that all externally rotate the shoulder.
    1. Rhomboid major, Upper trapezius, Posterior deltoid
    2. Infraspinatus, Subscapularis, Teres major
    3. Latissimus dorsi, Pectoralis Minor, Teres minor
    4. Infraspinatus, Teres minor, Posterior deltoid

In our opinion, ACE does not do a good job of showing you what muscles perform what movements. This can be disheartening when the ask questions like this on the exam. The text briefly discusses the rotator cuff and the internal and external rotation test, which when put together can provide the necessary information to get this right. We highly recommend utilizing another resource to learn specific kinesiology, the muscles and their functions, as multiple questions come up around muscular actions and joint motions.

Correct Answer: D

  1. What is the exercise intensity recommended for a client with hypertension?
    1. 70-80% of Maximal HR
    2. 40-50% of VO2 Max
    3. RPE of 9-13
    4. 40-60% of VT2

The first thought on this type of question is did you memorize the suggested intensity for each of the Special Populations? Did you memorize the suggested intensity for any of the Special Populations? The second thought is what method of intensity should be used for a client with hypertension? The above question has four different methods for measuring intensity: Max HR, VO2 Max, RPE and VT2. These methods are covered in the Cardiorespiratory Training chapter and can all be used to measure intensity, but the special populations chapter tells you which method to use. The RPE scale is the recommended way to measure intensity for most of the special populations and holds true for hypertension as well.

Correct Answer: C

Alright guys. 5 questions down, 145 to go.

ACE can pull questions from any sentence in the book which makes the 800+ pages daunting for the unmotivated reader (Our Audio Lectures take you page by page through the text and explain everything to make this process easier). Check out more of our tips and tricks to passing the exam by signing up to receive the “5 Secrets to Passing Your ACE CPT Exam”. Also if you need more help we have some great premium materials, like our Practice Tests for the NASM CPT Exam that make this test a breeze. Check them out here. (If you can score above a 136 out of 150 on both of our practice final exams you are ready to test.) Also feel free to give us a call with any questions about your upcoming test (424) 675-0476.

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