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NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training – Book Review

This book acts as a study guide for those wanting to successfully complete the NSCA-CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) exam, so it is extremely thorough, in-depth, and informative, with contributions from some highly regarded and credible educators.

We worked with Mark our Master PT and S&C Course writer, to review Human Kinetics’ new educational book on the NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training. We thought his valuable insights on the industry would deem useful in understanding the importance of this book.

In their own words, “the NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Third Edition, provides guidelines for the complex process of designing safe, effective, and goal-specific resistance, aerobic, plyometric, and speed training programs for clients of all ages and fitness levels”.

This book acts as a study guide for those wanting to successfully complete the NSCA-CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) exam, so it is extremely thorough, in-depth, and informative, with contributions from some highly regarded and credible educators.

Of course, if you are already qualified/certified as a Personal Trainer with a different organisation, this book is well worth having on your shelf as an educational resource because of the amount of content it contains.

I qualified as a Personal Trainer in 2006, but I have this book on my shelf and use it regularly. Personal Training is such a wide and diverse field that it is impossible to know everything, and it always pays to either add a new string to your bow or to expand upon any area that you are already confident about. After almost 17 years I am still refining my methods, expanding my knowledge, and improving my ability to be a Personal Trainer.

There are 4 main areas of content in this book (Client consultation and assessment, Program planning, Techniques of exercise, and Safety, emergency procedures, and legal issues) which are covered in 25 individual chapters – each written by some of the best educators in the industry (a full list of the chapter titles can be seen at the bottom of this blog). To say that the range and depth of the content are thorough would be an understatement.

A book review that only focuses on the strengths of a book would not be very credible, so here is a very short list of weaknesses…and to be honest, it is quite a short list.

As great as it is to see some ‘business’ content in this book, the ‘Business of Personal Training’ section is only 10 pages and doesn’t really go into much detail on any important or relevant business topics. However, the fact that it appears in the Appendix as opposed to being a full chapter tells me that this is almost bonus material on top of all the theory and practical content. No bonus is a bad bonus, but I would suggest that in the future it would be a good idea to add a 5th area of content (business) which could have a handful of chapters providing some business content with the same depth as every other chapter.

I would also like to see the topic of ‘communication’ covered in more detail seeing as every single interaction with every single client can be utilised to ensure adherence to your programming, attendance to your sessions, and referrals to your services.

Other than those two emissions (which I expect to be added to future editions – hint hint) this is a fantastic book, which is a must-have for any Personal Trainer whether you have been doing the job for 2 minutes, 2 years, or 20 years.

Chapter list

  • Structure and Function of the Muscular, Nervous, and Skeletal Systems
  • Structure and Function of the Cardiorespiratory System
  • Bioenergetics
  • Biomechanics
  • Responses and Adaptations to Resistance Training
  • Responses and Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training
  • Nutrition Concepts and Strategies
  • Exercise Psychology, Goal Setting, and Motivation
  • Client Consultation and Health Appraisal
  • Fitness Evaluation, Selection, and Administration
  • Fitness Evaluation Protocols and Norms
  • Flexibility and Warm-up Concepts and Bodyweight and Stability Ball Exercise Technique
  • Resistance Exercise Technique
  • Cardiovascular Exercise Technique
  • Resistance Training Program Design
  • Aerobic Training Program Design
  • Plyometric and Speed Training Program Design and Technique
  • Clients who Are Preadolescent, Older, or Pregnant
  • Clients with Nutritional or Metabolic Concerns
  • Clients with Cardiovascular or Respiratory Conditions
  • Clients with Orthopaedic, Injury, or Rehabilitation Concerns
  • Clients with Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, or Cerebral Palsy
  • Resistance Training for Clients who are Athletes
  • Facility and Equipment Layout and Maintenance
  • Professional, Legal, and Ethical Responsibilities of Personal Trainers