How Many Hours Should I Put into Studying for the NCSF Certificate?

If you’re considering getting an NCSF certification, then you might be wondering, “How many hours should I put into studying for the NCSF Certificate?” This is a tricky question to answer: Are you wondering how much time you’ll spend studying? How much reading do you do? How many practice tests? You could be a fast reader, meaning that you’ll blast through the textbook. You could have a photographic memory, which would mean you can read over everything once and retain all the information. What we can answer clearly is that the more you study, the more prepared you’ll be, and there are tons of resources available to you.


NCSF Certification Requirements

Getting the NCSF personal training certification isn’t just about studying and passing the exam. There are other requirements involved that you have to meet before you can get certified. You have to be a legal adult, meaning you are 18 years old or older. You have to have a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. If you don’t have a GED, then take the steps to get one. You’ll need to study for those before you start studying for the NCSF exam. Unlike other certifications, you are not required to be certified in CPR/AED to receive and NCSF certification.


NCSF Textbook

Unlike other personal training certification programs, the NCSF certification doesn’t clutter its website with dozens of textbooks. Everything is straightforward and simple. There’s just one NCSF textbook you need in order to study for and pass the exam. NCSF has several studying packages you can purchase to feel more prepared for the exam, and all of them come equipped with a digital copy of the textbook. However, if you’re more tactile and want to actually hold the book in your hand, you can purchase it separately online or purchase the “Home Study Plus Package.”


Instructional Videos

The words and still images in the NCSF textbook are very helpful for studying for the exam. That makes sense as the exam is made up of words too! But sometimes text on a page isn’t enough to root a concept into your memory.

Think about it: If someone told you to stick your arms out parallel to one another, flip your palms up one at a time, set your right hand on your right shoulder, do the same with the other hand, then put your hands on your hips and move them in a little circle — would you recognize that you were being asked to do that macarena?

It’s possible! We all learn in different ways. But for those of us who are visual learners, thank goodness there are instructional videos you can watch when studying for the NCSF exam. Instructional videos are included in all four NCSF studying packages.


Online Practice Questions

Among the extensive study resources offered by the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), online practice questions are an excellent tool that aids in your preparation for the certification exam. This platform not only provides comprehensive questions and answers for review but also includes practice quizzes and a full practice exam to help you assess your level of readiness. These practice quizzes are an integral part of all four NCSF studying packages, ensuring that you don’t have to spend any extra to benefit from this valuable tool. By engaging consistently with these practice questions, you can keep testing your knowledge and have a better idea of what to expect in the actual NCSF exam.


Other Online Study Resources

In addition to the NCSF study package, there are several other online tools and resources to supplement your learning process and enhance your chances of success. Whether you are aiming to save funds by opting for only the book or just want additional study materials to broaden your understanding, these online tools can be beneficial.



One such resource is StudyBlue, an app that gives you the option of creating digital flashcards. This not only helps you conserve space and avoid the aching fingers resulting from traditional handwritten index cards but also lets you access and use flashcards generated by other users for your course. The app simplifies the process of studying by auto-populating the answer to questions like, “What is serotonin?” on the reverse of your digital index card. This feature not only saves time but also ensures the accuracy of your study materials.



Quizlet is similar to Study Blue, with a few variations: While StudyBlue enables you to study using fill-in-the-blank style quizzes, Quizlet is more for multiple-choice quizzes or simple index-card style studying. It is also free.


Wolfram Alpha

Have you ever been studying a concept, and you know you’re memorizing it well enough, but you’re not sure if what you’re studying is correct? What if you have the concept mixed up with something else? Wolfram Alpha can help with that. Ask is any science-related question, and it will give you the correct answer. You can fact-check yourself before you study all the wrong things!


Live Workshops

For those who learn better with face-to-face interactions, there are live workshops you can attend. You’ll hear instructors go over the best methods for preparing for the exam, and then they’ll answer any questions you have about exam content or format. During the course of the workshop, you’ll get hands-on training with plenty of learning exercises that require active participation. This is great for people who learn from doing rather than reading or watching.

Even if you feel like you know the textbook material well enough to pass the exam, remember: passing the exam is only part of what makes you a successful trainer. You have to know how to apply the skills you learn in the real world. For this reason, we recommend attending a workshop if you’re able.


Instructor Support

When you’re trying something new and putting in a lot of effort, you could use a little extra support. Sometimes this can look like an accountability partner, a study buddy, or one-on-one mentorship. Included in all four NCSF study packages, you’ll get instructor support. The primary goal is to ensure that you can navigate the online study portal smoothly. It’s comforting to know that you’re not alone and that technical difficulties won’t interrupt your studies.


NCSF Exam Format

Getting acquainted with the format of the exam is really going to help you succeed. If wording or format trip you up, they can disrupt your performance, even if you know all the answers to the questions.

The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions, and you have three hours to complete it. However, people usually don’t require that much time to finish it. The exam assesses your understanding of anatomy, physiology, health and fitness, client evaluation, nutrition, weight management, exercises, instructing clients, modifying exercises, and managing risks.

If you want to know more about what’s on the NCSF exam, you can go here. Remember: The Strength Coach and Sport Nutrition exams have different contents from the Personal Trainer exam, so if you’re looking to specialize, familiarize yourself with those exams too.



NCSF Exam Registration

Part of the time you’ll put into studying and preparing for the NCSF certification exam is registering for it. You need to find a testing center near your location to take the exam. There are testing locations in every state and the District of Columbia. Some states have as many as 21 testing locations, so there will be a convenient option for you to choose.

Whether you selected the exam or the exam along with the study materials, you have already purchased the exam, so no need to worry about funds at this stage in the game. Just worry about selecting your location, making sure you have the right date and time, and getting where you need to be to take the exam and pass!


Strong Education: An NCSF Partner

We love that NCSF takes special populations into account in their education of new personal trainers. It’s important to know how to modify certain exercises, not just for people who are just starting their fitness journey but also for people who may not be physically capable of performing an exercise in the traditional way.

We believe fitness should be accessible for everyone, and if you think so too, consider getting a special needs personal training certification. The course is available online and includes the exam in the cost, making the process affordable and simple enough. Specializing makes those with special needs and with special needs child more comfortable going to you as their trainer. You’re not just doing good by getting this specialization. You’re also broadening your client base.


Perks of a Special Needs Certification

  • Sets you apart from other personal trainers
  • Broadens your client base
  • It allows you to help a population that is often ignored.
  • Teaches you how to work with all types of disabilities
  • Shows you how to manage client behavioral meltdowns
  • Demonstrates exercises that make future meltdowns less likely and more manageable
  • Includes soft skill training like how to talk to a special needs client
  • Includes video demonstrations as well as digital texts
  • The exam is included in the price of the course
  • Everything is online and can be completed at your convenience


Set yourself apart with a special needs certification.

Distinguish yourself in the fitness and wellness industry by acquiring a special needs certification through Strong Education. Our comprehensive online adaptive special needs certification course is designed to empower personal trainers and service providers with the knowledge and skills to cater to the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, including autism, Down Syndrome, and more.

This specialized certification goes beyond traditional training methods, offering insights into adapting fitness routines and nutritional plans for children, adolescents, and adults with diverse abilities. The course covers a spectrum of topics, including understanding the specific challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, creating inclusive and accessible exercise programs, and tailoring nutritional guidance to support their well-being.

What sets our adaptive special needs certification apart is its emphasis on practical, real-world application. The curriculum combines theoretical knowledge with hands-on, scenario-based learning, ensuring that fitness and wellness professionals gain the confidence to work effectively with diverse populations.

By investing in a special needs certification from Strong Education, you not only enhance your professional credentials but also contribute to creating an inclusive and supportive fitness environment for individuals with disabilities. Stand out in your field, broaden your client base, and make a positive impact by becoming a certified expert in adaptive fitness and nutrition for people of all abilities.

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Thank you for your interest in Special Strong

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In your area we provide virtual in home training. Please take a look at this video to know more about what to expect in a training class. Also join our Facebook and Instagram community where we highlight stories of our clients overcoming challenges to live an abundant life. We hope to highlight your story soon.

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