How Many Hours Should You Put into Studying for the NCSF Exam?

How Many Hours Should You Put into Studying for the NCSF Exam


Congratulations on taking the next step in your career in health and fitness! Whether you have chosen the route of a certified personal trainer, a certified strength coach, a sports nutrition specialist (or even a combination), the National Council on Strength and Fitness, or NCSF, offers a series of certifications that will jumpstart your role in the industry. 

If you’ve begun your courses, or even if you’re still exploring your options, there are some important things to note about the curriculums in each particular area. We understand that you may already have some concerns, such as, “Which NCSF program is right for you?” or “How many hours should you put into studying for the NCSF exam?” It can be a little overwhelming, but not to worry! We’ve broken it all down for you.

No matter which program you choose, you can rely on getting a great certification from NCSF, as it is known for its good reputation, accreditation and global recognition for each of its three certification programs. 


Certified Personal Trainer

The certified personal trainer (CPT) certificate from NCSF is recognized as a premier personal trainer certification and sets you apart from your competition! The CPT program includes instruction from industry experts and prepares you extremely well for your career.

The course is self-paced, meaning you have the freedom to complete it on your own terms. Most candidates complete the coursework itself within several months. 


Certified Strength Coach

Becoming a certified strength coach (CSC) provides you with opportunities of working with children, fitness connoisseurs and professional athletes alike. Getting your CSC certificate from NCSF will allow you to experience a program that is nationally accredited by the NCCA, and is recognized by schools, colleges, health clubs and professional organizations. 

This program will teach you cutting-edge training techniques, comprehensive assessment protocols and more. NCSF allows all candidates up to six months to schedule their CSC certification exam and recommends 2 – 4 months of coursework and study before doing so.


Sports Nutrition Specialist

A sports nutrition specialist (SNS) can help their clients lose weight, optimize their health through nutritional strategies, or enhance their athletic ability. Getting an NCSF certification for this position provides you with an advantage in your credibility for your clients, as well as any health club you decide to work with.

The NCSF SNS program is self-paced, but it takes most candidates 2 – 4 months to complete before the certification exam.

What Materials Can You Use to Study for the NCSF Exam?

Preparing for the NCSF (National Council on Strength and Fitness) exam requires dedicated study hours to ensure success. While each training program’s duration might differ, it is prudent to plan and allocate ample time for study before attempting the certification exam. However, you need not worry about the resources for your study; the NCSF provides a plethora of study materials that can be directly accessed from your course package(s).

The study materials provided typically vary depending on the package you select. These include valuable resources like comprehensive textbooks, clear and informative video instructionals, and more. Further detailed breakdowns of what the NCSF offers in their coursework will help you understand the complete spectrum of study materials available. However, note that not every package will encompass all these study materials. Therefore, it is critical to assess your study requirements, compare them with what each package offers, and select the one that’s most suitable for you.

Each package’s features are designed to cater to different learning styles and preferences, and choosing the appropriate package will certainly facilitate a comprehensive and effective study process for your NCSF certification. Make sure to take advantage of these materials; they are purposefully designed to enhance your understanding of the course and help you ace the certification exam.


Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Coursework Materials

  • Personal Training Textbook 2nd Edition (Digital)
  • Personal Training Textbook 2nd Edition
  • Workshop Reference Guide
  • Instructional Videos
  • Lesson Notes
  • Q & A
  • Review Quizzes
  • Instructor Support
  • One Year NCSF Membership
  • 2-days of Workshop Instruction (16 Hours)
  • NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Exam
  • Practice Exam Questions
  • Course Payment Plan

The CPT coursework ranges from $299 – $599.


Certified Strength Coach (CSC) Coursework Materials

  • Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning Textbook
  • Advanced Concepts of Strength & Conditioning Textbook (Digital Edition)
  • Instructional Videos
  • Lesson Notes
  • Q & A
  • Review Quizzes
  • Online Certified Strength Coach Practice Exam
  • Certified Strength Coach Reference Guide
  • 8 NCSF Continuing Education Units
  • 2 Days of Workshop Instruction (16 hours)
  • One Year NCSF Membership
  • NCSF Certified Strength Coach Exam
  • Course Payment Plan

The CSC coursework ranges from $299 – $599.


Sport Nutrition Specialist (SNS) Coursework Materials

  • Sport Nutrition Specialist Textbook
  • E-learning Access
  • Instructional Videos
  • Lesson Notes
  • Practical Activities
  • Review Quizzes
  • Online Sports Nutrition Specialist Practice Exam
  • Online Sports Nutrition Specialist Flashcards
  • Instructor Support
  • 8 NCSF Continuing Education Units
  • Sport Nutrition Specialist Exam
  • Course Payment Plan

The SNS coursework ranges from $299 to $549.

How Many Hours Does It Take to Recertify with NCSF?

The amount of hours you put into studying for the NCSF exam could vary from person to person, based on individual learning styles or paces. When it comes to getting recertified, however, there are some very specific hours needed to do so. Remember, the learning never stops!

There are some certification programs out there that allow you to retake the exam as a form of renewing your certification, but NCSF is not one of these. In order to get recertified with NCSF (which you must do every two years), you’ll need to provide proof that you have acquired 10 continuing education units (20 hours of CEUs). 


CEUs include the following:

  • Ethics and professional practice: Professional business practices, sexual harassment policies, ethical workplace behavior, etc. 
  • CPR certification renewal: Make sure you have the most up to date CPR certification when you get ready to renew!
  • General CEUs: This could include conferences, home study and other seminars.

These requirements are for CPTs, CSCs and CSCs alike. All recertifications can be done online.


Tips about Studying for the NCSF Exam

When gearing up for the NCSF exam, adopting effective study strategies is paramount for success. To begin with, delve into the exam content outline to understand the key domains and competencies. Then, craft a well-structured study schedule, consistently allocating dedicated time to cover various topics. Moreover, leverage official NCSF study materials, including textbooks and practice exams, aligning with the content. Subsequently, familiarize yourself with the question format by practicing with sample questions and identifying areas that require additional review. Additionally, joining study groups allows collaborative learning, enabling insights and diverse perspectives. Furthermore, apply theoretical concepts to real-world scenarios, as the exam often features practical application questions. To balance intense study sessions with breaks, prioritize self-care for optimal concentration. Additionally, regularly review and simulate exam conditions by taking full-length practice exams closer to the test date. By adhering to these tips, you’ll enhance your readiness and navigate the NCSF exam confidently.


Special Strong Certification

While choosing the right coursework for yourself can be a big decision and time commitment, it’s important to also know that it is an investment for your career. An NCSF certification will propel your career for sure. If you are interested in taking it even further, getting a Special Strong certification is a great way to do so.

It takes about eight hours to complete the coursework for Special Strong, and you’ll be trained in special needs personal training for those with autism, Down Syndrome and other disabilities. Having a Special Strong certification puts you ahead of your competition and credits you even more. You can learn more about the program here.


Strong Education teaches personal trainers and service providers on how to adapt fitness and nutrition for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities through our online adaptive special needs certification course.

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