What Do I Need to Study to Become a Personal Trainer? - Social Media Explorer
What Do I Need to Study to Become a Personal Trainer?
What Do I Need to Study to Become a Personal Trainer?

If the idea of helping others achieve their fitness goals while making great money is appealing to you, becoming a personal trainer may be your calling. Personal trainers are highly sought-after professionals worldwide due to the rising concern for health and fitness.

Entering the world of personal training may seem overwhelming at first with a multitude of certifications, courses, and specializations out there. Fret not, as our comprehensive guide will break down everything you need to study to become a personal trainer. By the end of this guide, you’ll be one step closer to embarking on this rewarding career path.

The Appeal of Becoming a Personal Trainer

There are numerous reasons why someone might want to become a personal trainer. Among them are:

  1. Improving Lives – Helping clients achieve their fitness goals, such as losing weight, gaining muscle, or improving athletic performance is incredibly rewarding.
  2. Flexible Schedule – Personal trainers often have more control over their schedules, which allows for a better work-life balance.
  3. Staying Fit – Personal trainers lead by example and can enjoy the benefits of a fit and healthy lifestyle.
  4. Financial Benefits – Personal trainers have the potential to earn a significant income, with top trainers charging premium rates for their services.

With the right qualifications, you too, can gain these benefits and join the ranks of successful personal trainers. Our step-by-step guide will detail everything you need to know to get started.

how to choose a personal training course

Step 1: Acquire a High School Diploma or GED

To enroll in most personal training certification programs, you need a high school diploma or GED as the minimum educational requirement. If you haven’t completed high school, consider obtaining your GED. Many local educational institutions and online resources offer test preparation courses.

Step 2: Choose the Right Personal Training Certification Program

There are numerous personal training certification programs available, but it’s critical to choose a program that is accredited by a reputable organization like the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Here are four major NCCA-accredited certifications:

  1. NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine): NASM is known for its Corrective Exercise Specialization (CES) and comprehensive approach to functional movement and injury prevention.
  2. ACE (American Council on Exercise): ACE is renowned for its extensive resources, study materials, and excellent exam preparation support.
  3. ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association): ISSA emphasizes bodybuilding and strength training, offering a well-rounded approach to personal training. Check out ISSA’s courses here.
  4. ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine): ACSM focuses on scientific research, promoting evidence-based practices in the field of exercise science.

Each of these certifications has its own advantages, so consider your long-term career goals, preferred training style, and personal interests when selecting the right program.

Step 3: Complete the Personal Training Certification Course

Once you’ve chosen a personal training certification program, it’s time to study. Coursework varies across certification bodies, but they generally cover the following areas:

  1. Anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology – Understanding the human body and how it moves is essential for personal trainers.
  2. Nutrition – Learning the basics of nutrition and how it affects performance is crucial for creating effective exercise and meal plans for clients.
  3. Exercise programming – Learn to design individualized, progressive exercise programs that cater to each client’s specific goals and needs.
  4. Client assessment – Familiarize yourself with the tools and techniques for evaluating a client’s physical fitness, body composition, and movement patterns.
  5. Motivation and communication – Acquire practical skills for fostering strong client relationships through goal-setting, motivation, and effective communication strategies.
  6. Safety and risk management – Learn to establish a safe training environment and minimize the risk of injury during exercise.

Studying for your personal training certification will require dedication and time management. Most certification programs recommend 80-100 hours of study, which may take 3-6 months to complete.

Step 4: Pass the Certification Exam

Upon completing the coursework, you must pass a certification exam consisting of multiple-choice questions that test your understanding of exercise science, nutrition, and personal training concepts. Exam formats differ by certifying organization, so consult your chosen program for specific exam details.

Step 5: Obtain CPR/AED Certification

In addition to your personal training certification, most fitness facilities require CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) certification. You can acquire these certifications through organizations such as the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. Ensure that your CPR/AED certification is current, as they typically expire within two years.

learn what steps to become a PT

Step 6: Gain Practical Experience

After obtaining your personal training certification and CPR/AED certification, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned and gain experience. Begin by working at a local gym, health club, or fitness facility. As you gain experience and build your client base, you can transition to private training or start your own personal training business.

Step 7: Specialize to Stand Out

To distinguish yourself in the competitive personal training industry, consider pursuing a specialization. Here are some popular choices:

  1. Corrective Exercise Specialization: Learn to assess muscle imbalances and design corrective exercise programs to help clients overcome pain or limitations.
  2. Performance Enhancement Specialization: Develop the skills to train athletes and improve their performance through sports-specific workout programs.
  3. Nutrition Coaching: Become an expert in nutrition and help clients make lasting dietary changes to achieve their goals.
  4. Group Fitness Instruction: Learn how to lead group exercise classes effectively, catering to the fitness levels and goals of various participants.

By choosing a specialization, you’ll increase your marketability and elevate your expertise, setting the stage for a successful personal training career.

Don’t forget marketing too! Read our guide to becoming a fitness influencer.


Becoming a personal trainer is a fulfilling career choice that comes with numerous perks. By following our comprehensive guide and investing time, effort, and resources wisely, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful personal trainer. Don’t forget to sign up for a personal training course to jumpstart your journey. Remember, a knowledgeable, motivated personal trainer can truly change lives – let that personal trainer be you.

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About the Author

Gesten van der Post
Content marketer, blogger, occasional journalist and casual crypto trader.

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