National Strength and Conditioning Association-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)
The NSCA-CPT was developed for strength and conditioning professionals who work in health and fitness clubs, wellness centers, schools, and in clients’ homes. Those seeking their NSCA-CPT gain the necessary experience through developing strength and conditioning wellness plans for physically active people, as well as sedentary individuals. NSCA-CPTs typically work with healthy people; however, they can also work with those who have special needs.
Current CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) certifications are also required. These courses must have a hands-on training component. Courses that are completed entirely online will not be accepted. The course must also include a skills performance evaluation. Acceptable CPR and AED certifications for the purpose of sitting for the NSCA-CPT examination are offered by the American Heart Association through its Heartsaver program, as well as the American Red Cross (which offers a blended program of first aid, CPR, and AED), the National Safety Council, and St. John Ambulance.
The NSCA-CPT examination consists of 140 scored questions. There are several different categories, each with questions that focus on a different aspect of the required knowledge base. The topics candidates can expect to see covered on the NSCA-CPT examination are outlined below:
Client consultation and assessment: 23 percent (32 scored questions)
• Initial interview
• Medical history and health appraisal
• Fitness evaluation
• Basic nutrition review
Program planning: 32 percent (45 scored questions)
• Setting goals
• Program design
• Training adaptations
• Special populations
Techniques of exercise: 32 percent (45 scored questions)
• Machine resistance exercises
• Free weight exercises
• Flexibility exercises
• Functional training exercises
• Calisthenics and body weight exercises
• Sport-specific and performance-related activities
• Cardiovascular machines
• Non-machine cardiovascular activities
Safety, emergency procedures, and legal issues: 13 percent (18 scored questions)
• Safety procedures
• Emergency response
• Professional, legal, and ethical responsibility
The NSCA-CPT examination is available as a hand-written test or as a computer-based test. Scores are available three to five weeks after taking the examination.
NSCA-CPT Practice Questions
1. Shortness of breath at rest is called
2. All of the following are true of intermittent claudication EXCEPT
A. People with diabetes have a greater risk of having intermittent claudication.
B. Intermittent claudication does not usually occur when a client stands or sits.
C. Intermittent claudication usually goes away within 10 minutes of stopping an exercise.
D. Symptoms associated with intermittent claudication are reproducible.
3. Which of the following pulses is not commonly used to determine an individual’s heart rate?
4. The primary function of the respiratory system is
A. Delivering nutrients to tissues in the body
B. Regulating the body’s pH level
C. Facilitating the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide
D. Maintaining fluid volume to prevent dehydration
5. Common complications of diabetes include all of the following EXCEPT
A. Kidney problems
B. Vision problems
C. Hearing problems
D. Peripheral nerve problems
Answers & Explanations
1. B: A client with dyspnea will have shortness of breath while resting or only with mild exertion. It is not normal, and it can be a symptom of cardiac or pulmonary disease. Orthopnea is shortness of breath that occurs when one is lying down. It is relieved by sitting upright or standing. Ischemia occurs when there is a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart. This causes pain in the chest or pain that has radiated to the neck or arm. Syncope is a loss of consciousness that usually occurs when the brain does not receive enough oxygen.
2. C: When an individual has intermittent claudication, he or she will develop pain in a specific area with exercise due to inadequate blood flow to that specific muscle. This pain can be reproduced from day to day. It usually does not occur when a client is sitting or standing. People with coronary artery disease or diabetes are prone to developing intermittent claudication. However, once the exercise that precipitated the pain has stopped, the pain should go away within one to two minutes.
3. D: The popliteal artery, located behind the knee, can be difficult to palpate. The carotid pulse is felt by placing one’s fingers lightly in the lower neck, along the medial aspect of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The brachial pulse can be palpated between the triceps and biceps muscles on the anterior and medial aspect of the arm, near the elbow. The radial artery can be palpated on the anterior arm, near the wrist.
4. C: The respiratory system involves the lungs and is where the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide occurs. The cardiovascular system, which involves the heart and blood vessels, is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to all tissues in the body, regulating the body’s pH level to prevent acidosis or alkalosis, and maintaining fluid volume to prevent dehydration.
5. C: Diabetes can lead to kidney problems (nephropathy), trouble seeing (retinopathy), and decreased sensation of peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy). If these conditions are present, a trainer needs to adapt an exercise program accordingly. Some precautions that can be taken include keeping the blood pressure stable for retinopathy, avoiding exercise requiring high levels of coordination for peripheral neuropathy, or avoiding prolonged exercise for nephropathy.