NASM Certification (NASM stands for the National Academy of Sports Medicine) is one of the most prestigious certifications for a Personal Trainer.
NASM Study Guide Purpose
The purpose of this NASM study guide is to help you achieve NASM CPT Certification.
The intentions of this NASM Certification study guide are:
- To provide reliable and informative information about the NASM Certification.
- To help myself and others pass the NASM Certification Exam for Certified Personal Trainer.
- To be an accessible online resource for myself and others who are interested in NASM Certification.
- To be a study aid for anyone who has set their sights on NASM Certification.
My goals are to:
- Study and pass the NASM Certification exam coming up in March of 2017.
- Do my best to answer or find the answers for comments and questions as soon as possible.
- Share additional resources for passing the NASM Certification.
- Be the Best NASM Certification Resource possible.
This NASM study guide is NOT an official NASM product or affiliate of NASM and has no approval or endorsement by NASM.
Introduction to Fitness
What are the benefits of exercise?
- Cardiovascular exercise decreases the chance of getting Cardiovascular disease.
- Cardiovascular (CV) exercise helps to improve cv health.
- Exercise improves your heart muscle.
- As well as the health of your blood vessels.
- CV training can help you to increase power.
- Power means how fast you can move or lift a weight.
- Resistance training helps to increase muscle strength.
- What is resistance training? Resistance training can include bodyweight, cables, TRX, weights and kettlebells.
- Anytime that you have resistance opposite the movement of a muscle, you have resistance training.
- So, for example, the biceps helps to move your forearm up.
- The biceps muscle contracts and moves your arm up by way of the elbow joint.
- This is known as elbow flexion.
- Elbow flexion is a single joint exercise.
- When you add weight to your hand, in the form of a dumbbell or kettlebell, that is resistance training
- Exercise improves muscle endurance.
- A well designed exercise program can result in hypertrophy – an increase in muscle size.
- Atrophy means a decrease in muscle size which happens with disuse.
- Hypertrophy mean an increase in muscle size, which happens from progressive resistance exercises.
- Reduce body fat.
- Increase balance, coordination and flexibility.
- Improve your speed and the ability to jump.
Yes, there are still more benefits to exercise
- Better movement, improve your ability to perform activities of daily living also known as ADL.
- Activities of Daily Living means the things that we normally do in daily living.
- For example, any daily activity we perform for self-care, work, homemaking, hobbies, weekend sports and/or leisure.
- Exercise increases bone mineral density.
- Increase your resting metabolic rate also known as your BMR, your basal metabolic rate.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Lower your heart rate.
- Reduce cardiovascular demands for exercise.
- What is the definition of Exercise?
- Exercise is a physical activity that is planned, structured and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body.
- Improve insulin sensitivity of your muscles and overall glucose tolerance. This can help to reduce or reverse any Type 2 onset Diabetes.
- Activate your muscles through physical activity.
- Active muscles are more sensitive to insulin.
- The benefit of greater insulin sensitivity is better overall health.
- Reduce your risk of injury and disease.
- Lower the risk of Osteoporosis by strengthening your bones.
- Reduce the risk of sarcopenia.
- Sarcopenia is age related muscle loss.
- Prevent lower back pain by strengthening your muscle and losing weight.
- Enhanced well being and self-confidence.
- Improve your body composition.
- Weight loss, fat loss, muscle gain and improved body composition.
And this is not the end of the benefits of exercise, only the beginning.
Exercise and Nutrition Science will continue to unlock more benefits of physical activity.
The key to seeing results from exercise training is the intensity at which you exercise.
Why wait till science discovers additional benefits of exercise?
If there was a pill that gave you all these same benefits as exercise does, it would fly off the shelves.
Exercise is as much the fountain of youth as is good nutrition.
They both count to improving your health.
What is Health?
Health means the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of disease or weakness.
Not being sick or weak is not enough.
You want to be in a better, a total state of physical, mental and social health.
Do you feel right now that you are in such a state of health?
What is Physical Fitness?
We always here the common terms of health and fitness thrown around.
Are health and fitness the same?
Health is as we defined above, a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being.
Fitness is defined as the ability to carry out our daily tasks with vigor and alertness.
Physical fitness means not getting fatigued and having ample energy left over to enjoy leisure time pursuits.
Being fit also means being able to have the fitness and energy to respond to unforeseen emergencies.
The definitions of activities of daily living, health, fitness and exercise are from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Clearly, we all want to be in a state of health.
But, even moreso, we want to be fit.
Because as we see, fitness is a higher level of health.
What are the 5 Key Components of Physical Fitness?
A key balanced exercise program will result in the following components of physical fitness:
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Body Composition
- Muscle Strength
- Muscle Endurance
- Flexibility – pain free range of motion
By improving fitness, you achieve the above 5 components of physical fitness.
This will help to shield you from the dangerous health risks of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Dyslipidemia also known as High Cholesterol
There are many other health risks from which exercise and good nutrition can protect you.
Once you learn the amazing benefits of regular exercise, why would you not partake?
Why do we need Gyms and Personal Trainers?
In the old days, gyms were for athletes, powerlifters and bodybuilders and people, mainly men who were training for the olympics.
Did anyone else have to go to a gym?
Have you seen pictures of people from a hundred years ago?
How many oversized, obese people did you see in older photographs from a century ago?
Not many if any.
The only place where people who were significantly obese hung out was in the circus.
This is not to criticize anyone who is obese today.
I have been there myself and I believe strongly that obesity is not your fault.
I believe that modern obesity is a product of several factors, many of which are not under your control.
About 75% of men in the United States are overweight or obese.
Women’s obesity rates have been climbing as well.
Today, we need gyms and personal trainers for average people, both men and women who do not get the time to move.
Our bodies are built to move.
And our digestive system is built for real food, not factory made food.
We need Personal Trainers to help guide us to a safe and effective exercise program.
Gyms are necessary, because without them, people might never move outside of off the couch.
Do you believe that there is a new disease called sitting disease?
No joke, read about it here.
Today, we need the gym for health and fitness for the masses, not just for athletes.
We need gyms for men and women, who are both way too sedentary.
Instead of training people for the Olympics, gyms are now training people to be able to do average things, like be mobile, carry groceries, take a shower without falling and the ability to get dressed.
We all need to learn that exercise is one of the best things we can do to help ourselves.
And getting NASM Certification is a great way to learn how to help others maintain and improve their health and fitness.
We are going to go deeper into the introduction to fitness.
Specifically to make you aware of the risk factors for heart disease that exercise can help to avoid.
You need to know these risk factors and how to assess them for your NASM Certification exam.
However, in the meantime, it is wise to begin to get acquainted with Kinesiology.
Mainly because many questions about Kinesiology are going to come up on your NASM test.
Actually, that is not the main reason.
The real reason, is because by understanding Kinesiology, you will be able to design more effective exercise programs for your clients.
You probably did not know that there were so many distinctions in joint movements that you have done your whole life.
But there are, and by knowing these differences, you can design a more balanced program.
Many people only exercise the mirror muscles, those muscles that they see in the mirror, the front of the body.
But there is a treasure of muscles to be built on the posterior, the rear of the body.
And they happen to be some of the most powerful muscles in your body.
For the sake of balance, health, safety, strength and esthetics, you have to know which exercises to specify in a program.
You want your exercise program to be balanced for your client.
To this end, NASM Certification requires that you be very familiar with the skeleton and the muscles and joints of the body.
You might never have studied Kinesiology or Anatomy, but after you get familiar, these studies will open your eyes to exercise science.
You will have a deeper understanding of how to create a more balanced training routine for yourself and your clients.
The Study of Movement
You need to get started right away in learning about the major joint movements of the body.
Some terms will not be familiar, but just read and absorb and more detail will follow to elaborate on each joint.
Kinesiology is the study of movement.
For our purposes, Kinesiology is going to be the study of joint movements.
The fact that we have joints is a convincing proof that we are engineered to move.
We are built to move.
Sitting all day is not what we were built to do.
Let’s look at the major joints of the body:
Movement in your body happens at joints.
Muscles move the joints.
The muscles contract and your joints move.
The ankle joint moves the least and the shoulder joint moves the most.
This is what you would expect.
If the ankle joint moved the most, the ankle would not be a stable joint.
The lack of joint movement in the ankle is a benefit to keep us sturdy.
Here are the major joint movements in the body:
Flexion and Extension
Shoulder Extension – the shoulder joint angle increases, when you move your arm backwards.
For example, when you do a straight arm pulldown, or you do a chin-up.
Your shoulder is moving backwards and downwards.
This backward movement is called shoulder extension.
The primary muscles used in shoulder extension are:
- Posterior Deltoid
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Teres Major
- Triceps Brachii Long Head
As said above, all flexion and extension occurs in the sagittal plane.
Adduction and Abduction
In shoulder adduction, the shoulder is moving towards the midline of the body.
For example, when you do a lat pull down, your arms and shoulders are moving into your body.
Similarly, when you do a pull up, your arms and shoulders are moving towards your body.
This downward movement of your shoulder joint is called shoulder adduction.
The major muscles used in shoulder adduction are:
- Pectoralis Major Sternal
- Biceps Brachii Short Head
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Teres Major
- Triceps Brachii Long Head
Regarding planes of movement, all adduction and abduction as well as lateral flexion happens in the frontal plane.
Horizontal Adduction and Horizontal Abduction
In horizontal adduction and abduction, the shoulder is moving in a horizontal plane, also known as the transverse plane.
Think of how your arms move when you are doing a butterfly on the bench or a reverse fly.
In the case of horizontal adduction, the shoulder muscles used are:
- Pectoralis Major
- Anterior Deltoid
- Biceps Brachii Short Head
Therefore, the joint movements of the transverse plane are:
- Horizontal Adduction
- Horizontal Abduction
- Rotations, such as internal and external rotation of the shoulder and hip joints and spine.
Shoulder Internal Rotation
Shoulder internal rotation employs the following muscles:
- Pectoralis Major
- Anterior Deltoid
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Teres Major
Because shoulder internal rotation is a rotation, therefore, it is in the transverse plane.
Remember, you must know that all rotations occur in the transverse plane.
These concepts must be committed to memory for your NASM Certification.
The FADDI Mnemonic is described in Shoulder Flexion Muscles , Joint Movements and Exercises for NASM Certification.
This mnemonic will help you memorize all of the shoulder joint movements that involve the pectoralis major and their muscles.
Without this mnemonic, the memorization of the shoulder joint muscles will be difficult.
Especially because FADDI only covers four; flexion, adduction, horizontal adduction and internal rotation.
You still have another four shoulder joint movements that you need to memorize:
Shoulder extension, abduction, horizontal abduction and external rotation.
EABE Mnemonic for Shoulder Muscle Memorization
For the shoulder joint movements of extension, abduction, horizontal abduction and external rotation, the mnemonic is:
E is for extension
AB is for all abductions, meaning, shoulder abduction and shoulder horizontal abduction
E is for external rotation
For all of the FADDI shoulder joint movements, you know that the pec major muscle is involved.
On the other hand, for EABE shoulder joint movements, the primary shoulder muscle involved is the deltoid.
As a result, the following mnemonics are for the EABE shoulder joint movements:
Extension – PDLTT – posterior deltoid, latissimus dorsi, teres major, triceps brachii long head
Horizontal Abduction – PDIT – posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor
Abduction – PDSB – posterior deltoid, subscapularis, biceps brachii long head
External rotation – PDIT – posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor
Notice that the muscles recruited for shoulder horizontal abduction and external rotation are the same:
PDIT – posterior deltoid, infraspinatus and teres minor.
Additional Joints with Flexion and Extension
The ankle joint can do flexion, towards the shin and extension, away from the shin.
The knee joint can do flexion, such as when you do a lying leg curl.
Or the knee joint can do extension, such as when you do a seated leg extension.
The elbow joint is also a single joint movement, specifically, flexion and extension.
Elbow flexion is done for example in a chin-up exercise.
And elbow extension when you do a triceps pushdown for example.
The hips on the other hand, have a fair amount of mobility, almost as much as the shoulder.
Just remember that the range of motion for the shoulder is much greater than that of the hip.
While you can lift your arm over your head, most people cannot lift their leg that high.
For the hip, you have:
Flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, and internal and external rotation.
Adduction is when you bring your leg into your body.
Abduction is when you move your leg away from your body.
Any spine movement is considered a multi joint movement.
The spine can perform lateral extension as in a side bend.
Flexion and extension is also possible with the spine.
Rotation can be performed by the following joints:
- Internal Rotation
- External Rotation
These are the basic joints that you need to know for NASM Certification:
The Hip, Shoulder, Spine, Knees, and ankles.
Wide Grip vs Close Grip
There is a big difference in doing an exercise with a wide grip vs a close grip.
The change in grip will change the joint movement. For example, think of the bench press.
If you take a wide grip when doing the lat pulldown, your joint movements are:
- Shoulder Adduction
- Elbow Flexion
Whereas, if you take a close grip on the bench press, then the joint movements are:
- Shoulder Extension
- Elbow Flexion
How do you take a wide grip vs a close grip?
Everything depends on where your elbows are.
If your elbows are in, close to your body, then you are doing a close grip.
Whereas, if your elbows are out, away from your body, then you are doing a wide grip exercise.
The difference in muscles activated is significant.
Let’s look at the muscles recruited in a wide grip lat pull down vs a close grip lat pull down:
Wide Grip Lat Pull Down
We know that we have adduction.
As a result, we remember our joint movement and muscle used acronym FADDI.
FADDI stands for flexion, adduction, horizontal adduction and internal rotation.
We know that all FADDI joint movements use the Pec Major and now we can recall our acronyms for the muscles:
Adduction is PBCLTT – Pec Major Sternal, Biceps Brachii Short Head, Coracobrachialis, Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, and Triceps Brachii Long Head
Close Grip Lat Pull Down
A close grip lat pulldown is the joint movement of shoulder extension.
Shoulder extension as we have pointed out before is part of the EABE mnemonic.
The FADDI mnemonic and the EABE mnemonic is first discussed at length in this article on shoulder flexion.
The EABE mnemonic tells us that the prime mover muscle of shoulder extension, abduction, horizontal abduction and external rotation is the deltoid.
For shoulder extension, the muscle mnemonic is PDLTT or Posterior deltoid, latissimus dorsi, teres major and triceps brachii long head.
So, as you can see, taking a wide grip or a close grip, makes a big difference in the joint movements of any exercise.
And since the joint movements are different, so are the muscles used to move those joints.
Spine exercises are considered multi joint exercises.
Why learn about Kinesiology?
The benefit of learning kinesiology is that you will be able to describe the activities of a person in joint movements.
For example, a basketball player, when shooting a basket, is doing shoulder flexion and elbow extension.
As a result, you now know that designing an effective exercise program for a basketball player will include shoulder flexion exercises.
Knowing Kinesiology helps you to create and design an individual exercise plan.
This enables you to create a more balanced program for your client.
At this point, you should recognize that even without the purpose of NASM Certification, you are learning beneficial concepts for your own exercise program.
Does it make sense to only do shoulder flexion exercises and ignore shoulder extension exercises?
The answer of course is no.
Once you start to apply Kinesiology and understand joint movements, you will appreciate the knowledge of exercise science that you are gaining.
What is FITTE?
The FITTE principles are used when you design an exercise program.
FITTE is an acronym which means the following principles:
Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type, and Enjoyment.