Last week I passed my NASM CPT exam. I was so excited!!! I’ve been dying to write this post as I know a lot of you have been curious about this process and I want to answer as many questions as I can. During my 6 months of studying I read so many blogs and forum’s with info about the exam and study process. I have to say the ones that helped me the most were the ones that encouraged me to study the material and learn how to apply it. I want to be a good trainer and I know you do too, and that involves more than just passing a test. So, here we go……
Why I chose NASM
When I first started tossing around the idea of beocming a trainer, NASM was the only association I was familiar with. I had heard of some of the others like ACE and ACSM for example, but NASM was familiar to me because my trainer and friend was NASM certified and I had been at a gym where most if not all the trainer’s held an NASM certification. So, I knew it was highly valued. I also knew they were strong in program design(something I LOVE) and the basic sciences. I’m 33 so I knew I needed some major brushing up in those areas.
What package did I choose?
I chose the self study package. They give you 4 to choose from, the least expensive being JUST the exam for $599. I chose the self study for $699. You get a textbook, online materials, and exam. Oh, and a backpack to hold your stuff.
Yes, I got a picture with the FedEx guy when he delivered my stuff
So anyway, I felt this option was completely sufficient for me to be well prepared.
How I studied
I had spent about 3 months reading an older version of the text book prior to ordering my own material. I wanted to be familiar with the material but this is by no means necessary.
Once I recieved my text book I started reading through it. I started in Ch. 1 and read the entire thing. At first I was taking notes as I read, then decided that was a total time suck. So, I got out a highlighter and made note of things that looked important. This took me about 2 1/2 months. I wasn’t doing it every day. I have 3 kids and a crazy busy life. The final 3 months is when I would say I nailed down and got serious. I made note cards….
And developed an unhealthy mid afternoon coffee habit…
This is only the tip of the ice burg. But, the notecards helped a TON, especially with the Basic Sciences and vocab words.
I spent a lot of pre-school days at the library. My friends and family thought I’d fallen into a hole for a couple months.
I followed the study guide provided by NASM. At first, it looks daunting. So, I read the book, made note cards to get familiar with the material, then attacked the study guide. That way, by the time I got to it, the material was familiar and not as overwhelming. I also utilized online materials such as the practice exam, e-learning center and iphone apps with practice quizzes. It’s a lot of information. A lot. So, the best thing for me was to have a system so I didn’t get overwhelmed. I’m a list person, so here is your to do list...
1. Order your bundle
2. Read the text book and highlight important information
3. Make notecards for vocab words and charts(I used the study guide to walk me through this, but only made notecards for charts and vocab)
4. Work your way down the study guide making notes, additional notecards and spending time on the material until you have it down, then move on to the next thing.
5. Take the practice exam on the NASM website several times.
Practice Exam, apps, and blogs/forums I used
I spent a ton of time perusing the internet for affirmation that I was doing all the right things. Application is key. If you just try to memorize facts you’ll have a hard time. I kept telling myself that I needed to be able to know the information up one side and down the other so I could identify it if it was worded differently on the exam.
So, I used the practice exam on the NASM e-learning center 4 times. Once at the beginning(I failed), another half way through, once 2 weeks out, and one final time the night before I took my exam. I went from a 69, 78, 86, to finally a 91 the last time I took it. Some questions are the same, some change. I personally think it helped me a ton. You may see reviews saying it was nothing like the real thing. I disagree and one of the best pieces of advice I got was to take that thing as often as you can. Don’t try to memorize it. But, use the material and information to gage where you are in your studying.
The wording on the actual exam is similar as well to the practice exam. I also used Peanut Butter Fingers
post on her exam experience. She gives a list of things to know as well. As for forums, be on guard. Some scared me to death. Bradster on Bodybuilding.com has a great feed on how to be over prepared. I was over prepared. There are a few questions throughout that feed that actually popped up on my exam, however, just remember you are in this to be an exceptional trainer, not just pass an exam so use those forums with some caution.
I also used several apps that were extremely helpful. I used the official NASM app most. It’s a game show type set up with jeopardy and two other game options. I felt this was the closest to the real thing.
I also used MedPreps app. It was good but be aware there are a lot of questions. Some of them covered things I wasn’t familiar with so don’t let that scare you. I still think it was helpful and had a lot of familiar material.
I also used a muscle app. Every time I studied anything related to muscles(hello Appendix D) I opened my app and looked at the muscles. The absolute best app i3D4 Medical Imuscle 2.
I can not tell you how much of a game changer this was for me. Knowing the muscles and their isolated functions is a huge part of this material. That is almost impossible without knowing WHERE the muscles are. I’m a visual learner so this was my best friend almost every time I sat down to study.
I’m sure there are so many things I’ve left out. My brain is swimming in material and information I want to tell you. I’m going to finish with the notes I jotted down as soon as I got home from my exam. Things that stuck out to me that you need to know. Please PLEASE feel free to comment below or email me with any questions you may have. It’s a lot. I get that. Pay extra attention to the following:
Ch. 2 vocab
Slow/Fast twitch muscle fibers
Local/Global stabliziation systems
muscles of the core
Assesments*(Tables 6.12, 6.13, 6.14)
Client Interaction and Professional development
Stages of change
OPT Model..know it like the back of your hand:
3 energy systems(Glycolytic. Oxidative, ATP-PC)
Heart(atria and ventricles)
Support Mechanisms of Blood
Structures of the Respiratory pump
Ch. 5 definitions
Obese and Hypertensive clients
Beta Blockers(what they do to heart rate and blood pressure)
Daily water intake/endurance athletes
Muscles as Movers(Table 2.6)
Planes of motion
subjective vs. objective information
Heart rate zones
Postural imbalances(PDS, Upper Crossed/lower crossed) and shortened/lengthened muscles
Golgi tendon organs
alarm reaction/resistance development/exhaustion
Ch. 4 definitions*
Planes of Motion* knowledge of this will help you in other areas as well
Examples of planes of motion
Guidlines for health and fitness professionals
Max heart rate formula for each zone
YMCA 3 min. step test
Integrated Flexibility Continuum
Static/Active/Dynamic stretching summary
Muscle Spindle fibers
Appendix D*use the muscles app and group your muscles(hamstring group etc.) which helps break it down. Also, stand up and go through the motions as you study. Great for helping you feel what muscle is moving.
Kinetic chain checkpoints
phases of plyometric exercise
Progress/regress a client’s body position
Eccentric/Isometric/Concentric muscle actions
Ch. 17 definitions
Essential Amino Acids(8)
Risks of low calorie diets
Overall, I was very happy with my experience with NASM. I felt they prepared me not only for the exam, but for a career as a fitness professional. I had no problem completing the exam in the time given. You are able to mark questions you aren’t certain about. I went through and answered all questions I was sure of, and marked the ones I wasn’t sure of. I went back and answered the marked questions and it took me just over an hour…plus the 5 minutes I sat there scared to submit it. I felt the material they give you more than prepares you if you take the tim to study it and know how to apply it.
I’m so excited that NASM has been willing to work with me to get a discount to any of my readers that contact them and mention my name/blog name. You can contact Michael Golembewski at 602-383-1263 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. I believe the discount will vary by which bundle you decide to purchase. It’s a pricey exam so this is a huge perk!!!
I know that was a lot!!! Hopefully it was helpful. Again, don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions you may have. Good luck ya’ll and go crush that exam!!!