A couple of weeks ago, I successfully passed my CPT exam through NASM and promised you a Study Guide. Today I am here to deliver my best tips!
I have received a number of questions from people currently in the process of studying for their own exam as well as from those who are moving towards making the commitment to getting their certification.
I am going to do my best to answer all of them!
Please let me know if there is anything I am missing or if there is anything you are still curious about. If you have taken the test as well and have something to add, I invite you do so in the comments section at the bottom.
It’s going to be a long one, so let’s get to it!
• What made you choose this specific certification through NASM?
I wanted to get certified in personal training so I could study the science of fitness. Whether I use it to actively train clients at a gym or not, I wanted to back my workouts and information I share with you all with facts and research. I wanted to really dive in and understand how the body functions.
After doing an extensive amount of research and talking with a handful of people in the industry, becoming a CPT is what I needed to do to move forward and the National Academy of Sports Medicine seemed like the clearest answer on how to get there.
NASM is one of the (if not THE) most accredited and highly respected online fitness education programs you can get certified with, and is immediately recognizable on professional resumes.
I am currently scoping out my next educational move, and getting certified specifically in group fitness is next on my list.
• What do you plan to do with your CPT?
I have always been interested in having a career in the fitness industry.
I used to teach barre classes in Orlando. My time in front of a group fitness class was short lived, however, when we decided to move our lives up north and work for the NBA again. After six seasons of dancing professionally, I decided to retire my dancing boots and move on to the next chapter.
I really miss teaching group fitness! Currently, I am looking into teaching small group personal training sessions as well as a variety of group fitness classes (from barre to Zumba to anything I can get hired to train for!).
I am also looking at specialty certifications and am seriously considering checking out the NASM Fitness Nutritionist and Weight Loss specializations.
• What exact program did you purchase?
NASM offers several different levels of study programs.
The cheapest is taking the Exam only (no textbook) for $599, and they keep building up to in-person learning classes and programs. I chose the CPT Self-Study program that includes the textbook and online resources.
The CPT Self-Study starts at $699, and I received a generous discount off of my package after speaking with my contact.
(Scroll to the bottom for a special discount offer if you’re interested!)
Specific CPT Test Related Questions
Before we go any further, check out my Tips for Studying with NASM post I shared a while back!
The CliffsNotes version:
– Don’t get overwhelmed. Take it one chapter at a time.
– Make notecards and review them often!
– Access the online Syllabus for a structured plan that makes sense.
– Watch the videos and really utilize the eLearning Center!
• How much time do you have on test day and did you use it all?
I shared my full experience taking the CPT test the day after I completed it.
In that post, I mentioned you have 120 minutes to take the exam. There are 100 graded questions and 20 extra ungraded research questions they throw in to gage the success or fail rate for possible future test questions.
I finished the exam in about an hour, then spent another half hour going through my marked questions. I ended up using all 120 minutes!
• Is there anything I should know about taking the test?
All of the questions are multiple choice, so you don’t have to worry about spelling vocabulary correctly or anything of that nature.
You have the opportunity to skip and mark questions along the way and can go back to re-answer those specific questions later on.
I utilized this option and marked absolutely everything I thought I might get wrong. I wanted to see how I did before I submitted it, or at least how I thought I did.
I’m pretty sure I marked a lot of the research questions. Don’t let them freak you out!
• Is there anything you wish you knew early on?
YES. While I had plenty of help with study guides and blogs I found online, nothing helped me more than the discussion threads on bodybuilding.com.
Specifically this one!
The grammar isn’t awesome, but the information discussed is on point.
It started in 2011, so some of the information may be old, but everything discussed is still very useful. To get to the most recent posts on the version of the test I took (CPT 4), I clicked over to the last page and went backwards.
I found these thread forums the night before my CPT exam and wished I found them months before that. There were very question specific tips, and I know my score improved because of them.
• What exactly did you see appear on the test?
The amount of information thrown at you in order to prepare for this exam can be overwhelming.
As soon as I got home from the test, I whipped out the official CPT Study Guide from the eLearning Center, circled what I saw on the test and crossed off what I didn’t.
I fully recommend reading everything in the book and everything the Study Guide suggests, but here are specific subjects I saw pop up on the exam.
Ready? (It’s a long list… so Aspen is sending you good vibes!)
• The Certification Handbook – pay attention to how long a personal trainer should keep client records (4 years)
• OPT Model (differences and goals in all phases)
• overweight + obesity statistics
• Diabetes (Type I and Type II)
• prime movers
• Definitions in Chapter 2
• Muscle as Movers
(Agonist, Synergist, Stabilizer, Antagonist functions of exercises)
• Figure 2.34 (page 41) concentrate on Epimysium, Perimysium, Endomysium
• the function of bones (as levers)
• stroke volume
(The way they worded this one tricked me! Pay attention to this definition.)
• Functions of the right/left atrium and right/left ventricles
(and Figure 3.3 on page 57)
• arteries and veins
• depressions and processes in bones
• mechanoreceptors: muscle spindles fibers and golgi tendon organ (GTO)
• aerobic and anaerobic metabolism (ATP-PC, Glycolysis, Oxidative)
• force and force-couples
• Pay special attention to definitions and concepts in CHAPTERS 5, 6 & 12!
(The majority of the test stems from information here.)
• planes of motion (Frontal, Sagittal Transverse)
• flexion/extension movements + abduction/adduction movements
• muscle actions (Isotonic, Eccentric, Concentric, Isometric, Isokinetic)
• Guidelines for Health and Fitness Professionals (Table 6.1 on page 108)
• subjective vs. objective information for assessment
• motor behavior, motor control, motor learning, motor development
• Be familiar with all assessments:
(PAR-Q, YMCA 3-Minute Step Test, Rockport Walk Test, etc.)
• Max Heart Rate formula and Target Heart Rate Training Zones
• Davis’s Law
• Pronation Distortion Syndrome, Lower Crossed Syndrome, Upper Crossed Syndrome
• Checkpoints for Single-Leg Squat Assessment, Pushing Assessment, Pulling Assessment
• Self-Myofascial Release (foam rolling), Static, Active-Isolated, Dynamic Stretches (know differences)
• Definitions in Chapter 7
• Appendix D (the name of each muscle and it’s isolated function)
• Training Zones (Table 8.9 on page 215)
(Know the HRmax percentages and RPE numbers.)
• Circuit Training
• Local, Global, Movement Systems
• Phases of Plyometric Exercises (loading, transition, unloading)
• Integrated Performance Paradigm
• SAQ Training for Youth, Weight Loss, and Seniors
• General Adaptation Syndrome and SAID Principle
• Periodization: Macrocycle, Mesocycle, Microcycle
• Chronic Health Conditions and Physical or Functional Limitations
• protein, carbohydrates, and fats
(Know how many calories are in 1g of each.)
• Essential Amino Acids (Table 17.4 on page 468)
• daily recommendations and importance of water
• Table 18.2 Dietary Reference Intake Terminology
• SMART Goals
• active listening
• Stages of Change
(Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance)
• Ten Steps to Success (be familiar with the order)
• Four Ps of Marketing
Whew! That list looks crazy long, and it is. Just like studying, take it one chapter and one subject at a time. It will all come together!
• Any last tips?
>> If you’re like me and had a hard time remembering anatomy terms, consider purchasing an Anatomy coloring book.
I chose The Human Body Coloring Book on Amazon and it was a great tool to help break it all down one muscle at a time.
I also found explanations of the nervous and movement systems extremely helpful. I took pictures of the diagrams and labels on my phone and referenced it whenever I was on-the-go.
>> Use the Practice Test!
The format and questions on the Practice Test in the eLearning Center is a great preview of the real thing. In fact, I recognized a handful of questions that were taken straight from it. Be careful, however, not to just memorize the right answers when they are revealed. Really dig back into the material when you get something wrong.
>> Download at least one good NASM Prep App
I personally used (and paid for) the NASM Test Prep app on my iPhone.
There are several great ones to chose from, and I highly recommend using at least one throughout your entire studying process. Whenever I had a free couple of minutes, I would whip through twenty questions or so and it really helped with reviewing information and vocabulary along the way!
Phew! Is that it? I know… that was a lot to take in.
But, I really wanted to make the Ulitmate NASM Study Guide, so I’m not apologizing for it.
To anyone in the study process or who will soon be in the study process, my biggest piece of advice for you is:
Take earning this certification seriously, but don’t let it run your life and stress you out. Schedule a specific study time every night, couple of nights, or block of time on the weekends to knock out the material and stick to it.
Actually engage in the information and don’t be afraid to ask your friends or spouse to help review Fitness Assessments or muscle movements.
Focus on learning one chapter of material at a time. If something overwhelms you (I’m talking to you, Appendix D), skip it and return once you feel more prepared to soak in the information.
And finally, use all of the tools available. Online, on your phone, in forums, through eTeach (if you purchase that package) and talk to people who have been through the process. I am always here as a resource and invite any questions you may have!
NASM Special Offer
I recently received a phone call from Michael Golembewski, my contact at over NASM. I had emailed him sharing the good news and he wanted to offer any of you interesting in becoming a CPT a special offer!
For the next 30 days, they will be offering 10% off the CPT package (which – believe me – helps!), but you have to contact Mike directly via phone (602-383-1263) or email (Michael.Golembewski@nasm.org) to receive this specific discount.
Simply shoot him a message and let him know you got his contact information from my blog, Housewife Glamour. He is very welcoming and has been a pleasure to work with throughout this entire process!
Disclaimer: After choosing to get certified through NASM, I reached out to the company and received a discount on my package. Even so, please know I had already decided to purchase the program, on my own, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
Thank you Heather! I am going to be studying to get my CPT through the NSCA soon. So I am sure I will be using some of your tips. Great post!
Yay, congrats to you going for your CPT! Please don’t hesitate to shoot over questions that you may come across. Best of luck!
Congrats! I went to a live workshop along with studying at home for my CPT test and that was super helpful too. Love that you’re rocking the NASM gear:)
Thank you! I bet the live workshop was helpful. Love keeping up with you and your teaching journey!
Chrissy @Pink Polish and Running Shoes
What a great resource! Thanks Heather. I’m not currently studying for my CPT, but it is a goal of mine someday so I will file this away for later.
Woo hoo, best of luck when that time comes! Thanks for reading 🙂
Olena @ candies & crunches
CONGRATULATIONS, Heather!!!! <3 xoxo Olena
Thank you Olena! 🙂
Chelsea @ Raw N' Toned
Congrats on passing 🙂 <3 . And I would totally hug you right now if I could. I'm going to be starting my studying in December, and that last very long list will help out a ton!
Thank you Chelsea! Good luck with your studying!!
Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut
Congrats, girl! I am NASM certified although I haven’t done much with it yet except for (like you said) using it to inform my blog posts and articles I write.
I totally agree that you need to use ALL of your resources…the book, the online program, a phone app (I had two!) as well as taking notes and making flashcards. It’s serious stuff and anything can be on the test and everyone’s test is different so you and I couldn’t say exactly what would be on the next person’s test even if we had a photographic memory. 🙂
The one question that threw me though was how long you’re supposed to keep client records…totally guessed on that one ha!
Thank you for sharing, Amanda. Great tips!! Yeah, I found the answer to that one on the bodybuilding.com records. I wouldn’t have had any idea either!
From someone that just recently started studying, this is awesome! It is so overwhelming if I think about the big picture for too long. One chapter at a time 🙂
I’m sure I’ll be back to read this again!
A little late but still, congrats on passing!
Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the coloring book recommendation, it’s soo helpful! …Along with this entire post 🙂
Oh good, I’m so glad you found this helpful! Best of luck on your exam!
Great article thank you it was very useful. I am currently studying for my cpt through nasm as well I was wondering how long you studied for? Thanks rachel
I took the full six months to study, but I would say I was consistent in studying every day/week for about two months of that time.
Thanks for the info!! I’ll be taking my exam next Wednesday. I could pee my pants ha! I’m so nervous but am spending as much time as I can on all of this before my test. I have 3 kids and a busy life that doesn’t provide a lot of quiet moments. Doing what I can but I jotted down a few things from your list that I had either forgotten about or not really focussed on so thank you! Congrats on passing. Hope I can say the same this time next week!!
Woah, thanks for the info. I’ll def be going to use your post as a study guide. I am taking my test in July and I am already nervous.
Feel free to reach out with any specific questions. Best of luck to you during the study process!
Ok is the study guide the list of things on this post or is there a book to print out? There was a pic of a book but clicked on it and nothing happened(feeling dumb here) lol. And what specific app for iPhone was best? Thank you!
Hi Jennifer! I’m referencing the Study Guide in the eTeach program (part of the NASM CPT course). It’s been a while… so forgive me if this isn’t labeled 100% accureately, but you should be able to access it under Course Resources or Course Documents. For the iPhone app, I mostly used NASM Test Prep: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasm-test-prep/id639857929?mt=8. This one looks great as well: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasm-exam-prep/id386221718?mt=8. Best of luck to you!
Thank you so much!!
Hi! I take my test tomorrow afternoon and I’m extremely nervous! (*tear*) I have been studying my butt off for several weeks, especially this entire week. So far, the resources I’ve been using are the flash cards, previous quizzes (As I attended the online eTeach courses), the NASM test prep app, and very frequently the practice exam. I’m spending countless hours studying an abundance of information, and I’m sure the actual test will not be identical to the practice exam so my questions to you are: How much of the practice exam do you think will be on the test? Will many questions from the NASM test prep app appear on the test? Thanks for taking the time to read my question and hopefully answer.
P.S. I too am a native Detroiter 🙂
Congrats!!! I am considering and this post was helpful to me!
Woo hoo! Feel free to reach out with any questions 🙂
Thanks! I surely will!
Thank you so much for this post! I just passed my NASM test today and I couldn’t have done it without this spot-on information – especially the “gimme” questions from the Bodybuilding website – those were all on there. A lot less anatomy than I thought – and most of the questions were on body movement, muscle actions, etc. I thought the exam was pretty hard but doable if you study the above, do the practice test until you get a 90% (there were exact questions from this exam on there, but with a little different wording) and I definitely learned a lot from the medpreps.com exams that you linked to. I bought the 30-day plan and kept taking it over and over until I got a 100% – lots of concepts from those tests are on the exam. Again, thank you!
Thank you so much for posting this! I have been looking into which program to go through to get certified as a CPT! I finally decided on NASM and this blog entry helped me so much. I couldn’t decide on which of their programs to choose. I was really stuck between the Self-Study and the Self-Study with the eTeach, and seeing that you were able to do it with the Self-Study program alone makes me feel confident that I can too!
Thanks so much for this, I will be using this a lot when it comes time to study for the exam!
The Self-Study is definitely doable, it just takes a lot of commitment and motivation to complete the course entirely on your own! At the time I was studying for this exam, I wasn’t planning on actually working as a personal trainer (I just wanted the knowledge and to learn how to properly create workouts and programs), so I wasn’t necessarily interested in eTeach or even the higher levels that included in classroom sessions and shadowing personal trainers. Looking back, I wish I had more experience in person before I was hired as a personal trainer, BUT I have had an amazing mentor to teach me how to put everything I studied to use. I feel very grateful that he hired me knowing I would take a few months to get into the training grove. Anyways, that’s where I’m at! I’ve been training for almost 8 months now and still feel like there is plenty to learn, but I am very happy with my choice to go through NASM. The workout templates and fitness testing we do mirrors the theories displayed in the text. Best of luck with your journey!
Great post! I refer back to this every few weeks as I’m also studying for my NASM exam (test in 3 weeks) but I’m super nervous! I feel like there are so many definitions and muscles to remember that I almost feel like i’m going crazy just trying to remember and understand them, let alone understand everything else! Everytime I think I’m ready to study Appendix D, i get so overwhelmed. D: Any advice on what to do?
This is EXACTLY how I feel right now. I bet you passed!
I just passed my exam in no small part to this, Thank you very much was great to pull up when needed really well structured, Thanks
Jessica recently posted…Statistics & The Basics
Woo hoo, congrats Jessica! You should be proud of your accomplishments!
Heather!!!!! Thank you for this guide. I meant to come back and tell you that I passed my exam last week and I couldn’t have done it without this guide! thank you again for posting this because it was a BIG help! XO
KyannaSimone recently posted…Diva’s Half Training: Week #7
This is awesome news! Congratulations Kynanna!
Helpful does not even begin to describe this. Thank you for this information! I will be using it and I am confident it will help me pass the test in March! 🙂
Thank you so much for this post! I passed the other day and felt like your post had a lot to do with it. I found this other free guide too that helped a lot too. Here is the link for those of you still studying.
Keep up the good work!
Whoops here you go. http://www.fitnessmentors.com/free-nasm-cpt-study-guide/
Seems like this study guide is really useful . Just started studying yesterday and glad that I found this . Any other helpful advice besides study guides and practice test ?
Hi Reggie, check out the bodybuilding.com forums! I link to them in this post. They really helped me! Best of luck!
Hi Heather thank s for the great tip i already took the CPT course one year ago now i need to take the nasm exam .. I know i should have take 5 months after graduate so all the informations and in class tests would still be fresh in my mind but i just got distracted with other things and posponed the important things .. Now i really want to do it.. Can you tell me how long did you study for? I have all the books do you suggest go each chapter at a time? What else can you suggest me?
Hi Dary, sorry for the delayed response. I signed up for the Self-Study program which lasted 6 months. I took the entire time to study, but I really just ended up cramming in about 3-4 months. A chapter at a time is the way to go with a refresher each time you start a new one! Best of luck!
Heather recently posted…Orangetheory Fitness Workouts: What To Expect & FAQs
Thank you so much for all of this information. I just started studying yesterday and quickly became overwhelmed at how much information I was expected to know. Does anyone have a recommendation on how to structure your learning in the most efficient way possible? Any help would be great.
I am enrolled in the 9 week CPT 4 eTeach course, which I will start on June 20, 2016. Once the course is completed, how soon would you suggest I take the exam. That same weekend I complete the course or would you recommend a week later to allow myself to review the materials before I take the exam.
Hi David! Hmm, I would say it’s a personal preference, but I wouldn’t wait too long. Maybe allow yourself an extra week or two to review material? I wouldn’t put it off any longer than that. Good luck!
Do you think it’s worth paying for the more expensive package, that offers the development program? I haven’t had any academic background so I’m curious if it’s worth the investment. Thank you!
I see Heather has not responded, so I figured I’d offer my personal opinion! I bought the 16 week guided study program, which is usually around $1,000 but NASM usually gives a hefty discount when purchasing. I am a psychology major so I have no anatomy background, and I find that the guided study package actually is helping me understand all parts of the body. I have also found some helpful websites to aid in learning anatomy and physiology at the same time. There are also websites out there that offer practice exams that will boost your chances of passing the cert exam by 60%… I have not purchased any of those yet because they’re all close to $100+. The website for anatomy and physiology is completely free and just helps you learn the muscles and the basic definitions you will need to remember. It’s memrize.com and they also have a mobile app. I hope I could help you a little! Good luck!!
Great response Emma, thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Heather recently posted…Orangetheory Fitness Workouts: What To Expect & FAQs
I wouldn’t know much about that since I chose the self-study, but I can tell you that if you plan on using the certification to actually become a trainer, any additional in-person mentoring and sessions would really be helpful! I originally got the certification “just to have it”, but ended up training because I found an amazing mentor who showed me the ropes. I couldn’t have done it without him!
Heather recently posted…Orangetheory Fitness Workouts: What To Expect & FAQs
This is soooo good! I am thinking about getting Certified someday soon. But I am just overwhelmed as to where to start! I have been out of school for so long, It scares me to think about starting again.
Where it says “(The majority of the test stems from information here.)” is that above that statement or below? I am making a study guide with all of this but was wondering what this meant to help me really focus on some point more than others! I a little overwhelmed and only have about 4 weeks to study everything. Thanks so much for this!
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You actually make it appear really easy together with your presentation however I find this matter to be really one thing which I believe I’d never understand. It seems too complex and very large for me. I am having a look ahead on your next put up, I will try to get the cling of it!
Thanks for this Study Guide.I am looking for this!
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