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CSCS

by Jim
(Colorado Springs)

I've taken and acquired both the ACSM and NSCA certs over the past 10 years as a job requirement. Although ACSM is the source of the vast majority of standards set for PT certifications I can unequivcally state that the CSCS certification through NSCA is MUCH more comprehensive and requires a much greater understanding of the physiological adaptations of exercise. ACSM is considered the "gold standard" for general PT certs, but if you're looking for the cert that is recognized leader at the very top levels of sport then the CSCS (NSCA) should be your choice.

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NSCA-CPT

by David
(NH)

Educates on exercise prescription for the athlete, but also for special populations, and those who are deconditioned and sedentary. The certification covers a broad range of subject material in exercise science and nutrition, sport psychology, anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, and gym design and sport business and marketing. Bottom line: comprehensive cert. Well equipped to work with knowledge and confidence to train, educate, motivate, and mentor different people all where there at in their health and wellness goals.

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NSCA-CPT or CSCS

by Drew Walker
(St. Louis, MO. USA)

In my personal opinion I found the NSCA the most credible certification for personal trainers all around for a couple of reasons. One being that it is the only cert that I have found that actually tests exercise technique by video as well as all the other forms of personal training by multiple choice form. I have worked in gyms now for over ten years and I can't believe how many personal trainers I've seen over the years who can't explain to a client how to perform specific movements by direction i.e. correct body placement and spotting procedures. (usually people with ACE certs have little or no knowlege of this based off what is taught and tested on)

Another reason is because the NSCA-CPT pass rate for test takers is 51% which means almost half of everyone who takes it their first time fails. This is the biggest reason why most people won't chose this the NSCA as their first choice. They will get an easier one and plan to take it later and study while they train clients, then they get hired and it falls to the back burner. But when you think about it personal trainers are selling themselves and their education and I am always asked what my credentials are. So why would you ever want to get a certification that anybody and their brother could just go and get and say "yeah I'm a personal trainer too." (ACE and ISSA are really bad about this, they average close to an 80% pass rate for first timers)

Though I really approve of the NSCA there are some other good ones like the ACSM and NASM. The only down side I see to those are that they deal in more clinical testing and injury statistics than exercise prescription. Dealing with clients in the gym who have had or have injuries such as ACL/MCL is very minimal and most who do will see a physical therapist as apposed to a personal trainer to deal with it.

What really matters most though is the trainer and not what cert he or she is backed by though anyone who is looking to be a trainer take a serious look at what you would want and ask for if you yourself needed one. Did they have college education with it, how long have you been one, whom are you certified through and what do you specialize in. Just like the NSCA specializes in Strength and conditioning based on specific exercise prescription clients want something that fits specifically to them. Where the NSCA, ACSM and NASM are very specific orientated certs, ACE and ISSA and IFA are very general. Just ask yourself if I needed my car engine worked on would I find a general auto mechanic or somebody who specifically works of engines and knows specifically what they are talking about as apposed to generalities.

Either way take your time and read up on which ones you feel work best for you..I'm not really trying to knock ACE, ISSA or IFA though I don't want to see personal training become watered down with nonsence certifications that everyone can get just so they can try and start a new career in the ultimate persuit of making more money. Personal training should be a passion and ultimately for the goal of bettering the clients you serve. And if it is you will want the best for yourself and the best should take some work and effort to get.

Thank you all for reading

Drew Walker AS; NSCA-CPT
Personal Training Director for AllN1Fitness

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