T Nation

Becoming a Trainer


im not 100% were this should be post so i will put it here, in beginners.

straght to the point. how do i become a personal trainer? not so i can help others, right now. but so i can learn all there is to know ( ok maybe not all) but so i can learn the facts and maybe one day help someone look at themselves in the mirror and be proud.

you see i am 29 and have never led a healthy life ( never had too, ive always been real skinny) recently i decided i was too skinney and wanted to change it, so im currently bulking from about 135 tring to get to about 200 (currently 157ish in about 5 months). i want to learn the things there are to know about training and proper nutrition at a higher level then just internet searching. so im asking the T-Nation gods to help direct me on the right path.




Hope that helps!



It depends on your location and your learning style. If you want to self study, then go with the NSCA or NASM. If you want to learn in a classroom with a teacher and be able to ask questions then go with NPTI, plus you actually workout each day you are in class. Good luck with your goals.



I was hoping someone would bring this up. I'm relatively new to this site, but I am looking into the CPT certification through the NSCA. Do you have any tips on what materials/study packages i should buy in order to prepare for the exam. They offer the textbook and I was going to get the CPT-Study Package.

I started working out when I was 15, and now that I'm 25 and a professional server, I want to something with my life. I have an extensive knowledge of the inside of the weight room (machines, workouts, technique, etc.) and a decent knowledge of the human body (biology, nutrition, etc.).
How much preparation should I expect for the exam? And what ways should I go about studying?
I have a degree in English Lit from DePauw which means I am very good at self-study and memorization. Let me know what you think. Thanks a lot.

I apologize for the complexity of my inquiry.


Hey man,

Your story sounds similar to my own. I worked for many years in the restaurant business and got sick and tired of taking people's shit! I've worked out since my early teens and have even helped some friends get into shape, so it was a natural progression for me to move into personal training.

I just passed the NSCA-CPT exam and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Only 57% of the students ended up passing the 3 hour exam. I would definitely purchase the CPT package and leave yourself at least 1-2 months to study. Pay particular attention to the sections on client evaluation and program design, as I found these to be the most challenging.

Eventually I would like to work in the rehab and chronic ailments field so I am now actively pursuing certification through the CHEK institute as an Corrective Exercise Kinesiology intern and a Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach.

If you want to pursue a career more towards the athletic conditioning field, I would look into training with someone like Charles Poliquin.

Good Luck!



I'll actually be covering some stuff that will be of interest to you tomorrow in my newsletter; you can sign up here:



Off topic. Why did all you guys get a NSCA certification as opposed to one of the other certifications? ACE/ACSM/AFFA etc...


I asked a few trainers I know and there seemed to be general consensus that the NSCA was the most reputable. Of course being a CSCS through the NSCA is very well respected in the industry and it is the certification that most strength and conditioning coaches posses. Unfortunately, in order to sit for that exam you need at least a bachelor?s degree (BS/BA), which I do not have, so I had to go for the personal trainer certification instead.

But in all reality, I just needed the certification to get hired and get my foot in the door. I'm sure that any of the other certifications you listed would also get you hired depending on the gym. Some chain gym's here in Canada will even hire you without a proper certification as long as you get certified within three months of employment, either through a third party or through an in house training program. That just shows you how unregulated the industry can be at times.

As I build a steady client base, I am continuing my studies through the CHEK institute and applying the techniques I learn in a working environment. It is my hope that in a few years, once I establish a good reputation, that I can go out on my own and open a private training studio.



I don't know a single NSCA trainer. All of my colleagues are ACSM/ACE. Maybe NSCA is bigger in Canada than in the US?


All you need to become a trainer is a credit card. Its as simple as that. ANY bozo can become one, just look around. If you have the $500 you can become one in under a month, possibly 2 weeks. Most offer take home tests, e.g. paraphrasing from the book, and doing a few calculations. Its frighteningly simple. Its not regulated, as was supposed to be a few years ago. Its a joke and these companies have allowed these joke trainers to multiply. The industry needs to be blown up as a whole and started from scratch and NOBODY should be grandfathered in, NOBODY!

If you have a degree look into ACSM and NSCA (CSCS). If you dont, NASM, ACE, ISSA.


I agree that the industry is rife with piss poor trainers. I recall one day when I was working out in the gym doing sumo deadlifts and this personal trainer was working with a client next to me. I over hear the client ask the trainer, "What's that exercise he's doing?" The trainer replies, "I don't know, but whatever it is he's gonna injure his back." I just shook my head and felt like saying to the client that he should ask for his money back.

Yes, I think that the industry as a whole needs a shake up with proper governing bodies to educate and regulate trainers, but for now these certifications should be looked upon by trainers as simply a jumping off point. Good trainers will constantly be acquiring new knowledge by attending seminars and workshops like those offered by many of the authors here on T-Nation, as well as focusing on a specific niche in the market place (i.e. athletic conditioning, rehab etc.) I have no desire to rest on my laurels and spend my days training middle age housewives to obtain "buns of steel" and "rock hard abs".


Here in Canada the popular certifications are:



These will get you hired at pretty much any commercial chain fitness club. However, for more specialized training facilities such as these:



They expect a minimum of NSCA-CPT as well as "other" strength and conditioning training, preferably a CSCS from NSCA.


I want to find a CPT or CSCS here in Chicago. The NSCA website has a search tool and has a list of all their certified trainers in Chicago but it doesn't give any other information besides their name/phone #/address. Obviously, that's important information; but I was curious about rates, where they train and if they could train me at my own gym. It sounds weird, but I dont want to randomly call people up and assail them with questions.

Can someone help me out?