T Nation

Help! Personal Training Certificate

I am wondering the best place to obtain a personal trainer certificate. What’s the most credible? Is there something credible w/ a home study option? The last thing I want to do is fork up $300 for a certificate from “MCD” to later find out McDonalds just certified me. Thanks all.

I went through NFPT - I think they had decent learning material. They are a bit more strimgent than most though, because you take a 120 question close-book exam. It’s not that difficult if you study the manual very well. But, don’t take it too lightly and think you will breeze through because you have been training for a few years.

Each organization has their own core material that they want you to learn. Just like a professor is college - you may totally disagree with their teaching, but you must eat and regurgitate their BS to get that degree, so you can move on.

IMO, nothing but the legal docs and some of the tables were helpful. As far as their actual training and nutrition recommendations, you are better off just getting self-educated here at T-Nation. But, T-Nation doesn’t give out certs for reading all of Berardi’s or Waterbury’s articles. I think they are WAY more valuable than most any certification (might even rival a BS degree). Unfortunately, you have to break down and join one of these certifying agencies to “get that piece of paper”. Back to NFPT, there are cheaper certs out there, but these guys are pretty well known, which is good from a public confidence stand point. And, again you have to actually learn something to pass their test.

I think ACSM is a good one as well. I would steer clear of the “on-line and open-book” options and pay the extra money to get a better cert from a more reputable company.

That’s my $.02 anyway…


I would recommend the NASM,the NSCA and the ISSA, in order of difficulty, from hardest to easiest. All are respected.The ISSA has the best discussion group, although being a member of T-Nation, you are a bit spoiled and a bit ahead of the rest.The ISSA group is great for the kind of things you dont always read about here ( I have client with 3000lbs to lose and a peg leg…)The drag about personal training is that you wont get many oportunities to train T-Men and T-Women but you will have to work with special populations like Diabetics and the Chronically obsese. I have certs from all three just cuz I love learnin’ stuff…good luck

Charles Staley wrote some of the ISSA prep materials, if that’s of any interest to you. I think their cert. is around $600 all inclusive (books, videos, test, etc.)

RIT Jared

Depending on what you want to do, you might check out Purdue University. Here is an article from TC on it.


There are also, several degree’s pertaining to exercise that you could study for. On the other hand, you can take a weekend course/test and declare yourself a “personal trainer” with no knowledge of Physiology.