The NASM OPT model is a fitness system designed to meet the challenges of a sedentary society. NASM developed its Optimum Performance Training™ model based on clinical research in partnership with the University of North Carolina. It is a safe and progressive template that can help beginners or athletes achieve their fitness goals. Personal trainers can use the OPT model to help their clients reach their goals, whether they are for:
- weight loss,
- body recomposition,
- powerlifting, or
- athletic competition
Even decades ago, people were not as deconditioned as they are today. What happened over the last 40 or 50 years?
Technology and Lack of Physical Activity
Sitting disease is the result of a sedentary lifestyle. It is the primary reason that the majority of adults are overweight and prone to injury. Lack of physical activity is a direct result of technology that glues you to your seat:
- in the office,
- while commuting,
- watching entertainment or
- on the computer
- using your smartphone
After decades of inactivity, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to chronic health conditions like:
- cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- high cholesterol
The NASM OPT Model Explained
The NASM OPT model consists of 3 significant levels or building blocks, and 5 phases of training within these three levels.¹
The 3 Levels of Optimum Performance Training:
NASM OPT Model Image Credit – NASM Essentials of Fitness Training
- Hardcover Book
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 720 Pages - 05/28/2017 (Publication Date) - Jones & Bartlett Learning (Publisher)
Plus 5 OPT Model Phases of Training:
- Phase 1: stabilization endurance
- Improve muscular endurance and body composition
- Develop neuromuscular efficiency (coordination)
- Boost joint stability
- Improve posture and flexibility
Stabilization endurance training is a prerequisite for the Strength and Power levels in the NASM OPT model. The stabilization foundation protects you from injury by ensuring your joints, tendons, and ligaments are healthy enough for weight training.
- Phase 2 of training: Strength Endurance Training
- The purpose is to increase your prime mover muscle strength. The prime mover is the muscle, which is the primary source of power in an exercise.
- Increase lean muscle mass
- Phase 3 of Training: Hypertrophy Training (optional)
- Increase muscle size
- Phase 4 of Training: Maximal Strength Training (optional)
- Improve the ability to handle a maximum weight such as in powerlifting
- Increase motor unit recruitment, the maximum number of muscle fibers
- Phase 5 of Training: Power Training (optional)
- Improve neuromuscular efficiency
- Increase your speed, agility, quickness, and power
- Enhance your rate of force production
The rate of force production is the amount of force you can generate in the shortest time.
What is the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ Model (OPT Model™)?
Level One: Stabilization Level
Stabilization level focuses on exercises that:
- Challenge your sense of balance
- like pushups on a stability ball.
- Pushups on a stability ball is an example of training in a proprioceptively enriched environment, meaning, unstable, but controlled
- Use high repetitions between 12 and 20
Proprioceptively enriched environment means that the exercise is not on a stable surface, such as a stability ball.
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Level Two: Strength Level
The focus of the strength level is to increase prime mover strength.
Phase 2 of training: Strength Endurance Training
How do you increase prime mover strength while maintaining stabilization? The answer is to superset one prime mover exercise followed immediately by a stabilization exercise with minimal rest into your training program. Here are some superset examples:
- bench press and stability ball pushups
- barbell row and stability ball dumbbell rows
- standing barbell shoulder press and single-leg dumbbell presses
- barbell high-bar back squat followed by single-leg squats
- use moderate weight and 8 to 12 repetitions per set
Phase 3 of Training: Hypertrophy Training
Training to increase muscle size includes the following acute variables:
- medium to a high volume of sets
- low to moderate repetitions between 6 and 12
- average rest periods up to 3 minutes between sets
Phase 4 of Training: Maximum Strength Training
- use high loads to achieve maximum strength
- low repetitions in the 1 – 5 range
- more extended rest periods up to 5 minutes
The prerequisites of the Power Level are Phase 1 and Phase 2 of training.
Phase 5 of Training: Power Training
Training plan includes:
- superset one strength and one power exercise
- perform the exercises as fast as you can
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NASM OPT Model – Final Thoughts
The NASM OPT Model will guide you through 5 phases of training:
- strength endurance, hypertrophy, maximal strength, and
You need to understand the NASM OPT Model if you want to become a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. And even if you don’t, the OPT model is an excellent system to achieve your fitness goals.
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¹ NASM Essentials of Fitness Training 6th Edition