My NASM Review Sparks Discussion

In November 2010 I posted an review about the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certification.  Three years later, I’m pleasantly surprised to see it’s the most helpful review and that it stirred up a bit of discussion: NASM Review.

Below is my response to a question posted November 2013:

Will you share more on what disgusts you about NASM’s approach to training? I’m interested in hearing what NASM leaves out and focus on.
Thank you. I appreciate it. -Philen

Good question Philen. Thanks for asking. It’s been several years since I’ve studied or read much of what NASM has recently put out, so I may not be in the best position to give an opinion. But judging from the depth of knowledge (rather, lack thereof) of human physiology and understanding of coaching/training principles I’ve seen in NASM certified PTs I’ve interviewed for potential hire, it seems not much has changed.

I’ll point out a specific NASM training approach I disagree with, but ultimately what do I believe is wrong with the NASM approach? It’s personal training watered down. I guess they simplify/leave out/don’t go into as much depth so more people can pass their exam. But… I believe a low quality bar is a bad thing. It’s a disservice to both trainers and clients. If a higher quality bar means less certified personal trainers, then so be it. That is a good thing.

The Ball Wall Squat; a NASM staple. I hate this. It teaches incorrect movement patterns and is bio-mechanically unsound. You don’t squat with a vertical spine/torso and knees bent at ninety-degrees, which is what you can get away with when there is a stability ball propped behind your back. They have their reasons for teaching this (which I guess was initially inspired for rehab purposes), but to have a relatively injury free and able bodied person (a typical client) learn this is criminal. Teach clients to squat correctly from the beginning. Teach them instead to squat unassisted.

So, for people looking to become a CPT and get into this field, what should they know? This is what I recommend and this is where the quality bar is set at Anthropos Performance:

1. NCSF (National Council on Strength and Fitness) Certification – Highly recommended (I like this better than NSCA). They have a well structured CEU program.

2. “FIT” by Lon Kilgore.

3. “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe.

Note 1: If you don’t have a life science background, getting NCSF certified will be tough. I recommend taking an Anatomy/Physiology course at your local community college to prepare for NCSF.

Note 2: The above three resources should be considered your base. Study and own the knowledge contained in the above resources, and build from there.

In Strength and Health,
Nuey Thepyasuwan, CSCS, CISSN

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