T Nation

NASM Critisism?


Yo, I've been lurking for a while now, but I guess its time I get out the shadows.

So I've had an on-off relationship with strength training for the past few years, and only recently (by that, I mean last year) have I started taking it seriously. I fell in love with the power rack and decided that I wanted to help other people fall in love with it, too, so I decided I was gonna become a personal trainer. I chose to get certified by NASM first, since they're one of the more widely accepted certifications out there, and it seemed like a good way to get my foot through the door.

I didn't really know what I was getting into when I did that. Their way of preaching "functional" training seems a little far-fetched and ridiculous, compared to some of the things I've been learning from outside resources (websites like this, and looking into the methods of great coaches has done wonders for me.) Not to say that I've thrown everything they teach out the window, as there is a lot of good information in there, things like BOSU ball training just don't seem reasonable to me.

Next week, I'm going to take the exam, and hopefully pass. I don't think I'll ever use half of the stuff I've learned from NASM, when I've learned and applied different techniques that accomplish the same thing, basically. Am I right to feel this way, or am I just being an arrogant asshole?


From what I understand getting certified by NASM or the NSCA is a pretty solid way to get your foot in the door. I know that to get my degree I have to get an outside certification I cant remember all the choices of certs I can get but I do know that NASM or NSCA are the two certifying bodies that a lot of students go through.

In terms of all the functional training hoopla some of what they preach can be used but in a lot of ways doesn’t seem effective to me as well. I would suggest just studying what they want you to know even if it seems like a waste. At the end of the day they are the ones that are giving you your certification. How you use that cert is entirely up to you though.


Two things; 1. Use the cert, as you say, to get your foot in the door and 2. Make make good use of the other half of what you learned. You said you wouldn’t use half of what you learned, the other half should make you a better trainer.


I have two NASM certs - Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. The NASM CPT will definitely get your foot in the door to work in commercial gym.

You can definitely benefit from a good chunk of the cirriculum. All the science and anatomy stuff is on point. But the whole thing is really geared towards training novices. As far as their programming scheme (OPT Model) it’s probably a good way to build up an absolute soft-body with no idea of how to exercise, nevermind “lift”. The exercise regressions/progressions are helpful as well as correcting postural imbalances.

I wasn’t too crazy about FNS. The science stuff is good. But their diet recommendations are very FDA/Food Pyramid. It also doesn’t qualify you to give meal plans. It’s more for counseling…like, this food is x-amount of protein/fat/carbs, etc. If anything, it was good for countinuing education credits and padding up my resume.


I’m NASM certified as well, and as others have said it is widely accepted, nationally accredited, and one of the most respected certs that you can get without needing a bachelors.

I understand your apprehension and criticism of what they teach as I had many of the same when I took the exam (I was coming from already having an associates in Exercise science, Personal Training cert from the college where I warned my degree, and several years of training people and myself as well as a ton of self education). The truth is though that pretty much all of the national certifying bodies are behind the times and teach either outdated or “geared towards the unwashed masses” approaches. But this is to be somewhat expected as these are huge organizations and thus are mostly concerned with things like avoiding law suits, “doing no harm”, and need lots and lots of evidence (which is often not available) before they are willing to change their stance on something.

Get the cert, and then only make use of the information that you find directly beneficial for training yourself/your clients. Truth be told, I use hardly anything found in the cert/course material (already had anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology knowledge well beyond what the certification taught/required from my degree); I basically just have it because my gym wants us to have nationally accredited certs for insurance purposes.