Passed The NCSA-CPT Exam, Knowing Squat, Why Charles Stanley Trains and Forums

January 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

Well, I found out this past week that I passed the NCSA-CPT (National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer) exam!

I wrote it in December and just got the results via email after submitting my CPR/AED card. They'll be mailing the certificate to me in the next few weeks.

As for the exam itself, it was really a pain in the ass to write. The exam location, which was York University, was in another city, and the time started at 9:00 AM ending at 12:00 PM. Meaning, to make sure that I could make it on time, I had to stay overnight at a hotel to write this exam.

The desks were tiny, probably the smallest desks I've ever used as an adult. The width of the writing surface of the desk was probably as wide as a single sheet of paper. Sitting in a chair made of wood for 3 hours was literally a pain in the butt, and having my head down looking at test for 3 hours was a pain in the neck. I train my neck on a regular basis, but this was tough, even for me! My neck was sore after, and I'm pretty sure I had a neck pump after the exam.

As for the test itself, it was challenging. It was a 150 question multiple choice test, with about 35 questions that required you to watch a video before answering the question from the exam booklet. There is no practical component like the Can-Fit-Pro Personal Training Specialist, or PTS test (I was required to train a mock client in front of another trainer).

Unless I'm mistaken, the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) exam is the same way (all multiple choice with no practical component), meaning just about anybody who is a good text book reader and test taker can obtain these certifications, with the exception that the CSCS has a requirement of a bachelor's degree in any subject.

This would be the second training certification I've obtained in the past 10 years. The first one was Can-Fit-Pro PTS. I let that one expire because of a career change. I really should have kept up with it though.

I also obtained a 3M National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) many moons ago during the dot-com bubble in 1999. Yes, I am probably older than you think 😉

As far as my opinion on certifications go, in the end, they're really just a piece of paper saying that someone has paid the appropriate fees and have managed to pass a multiple choice test (or whatever the test format and requirements happens to be) that is based off of the textbook and other materials provided by the certifying agency. It doesn't mean that they actually workout train themselves on a regular basis, or have worked with clients in the past (unless those happen to be required for the certification).

It is what it is.

Now I have to keep up with these CEU (continuing education units) that continue to make money for the certifying agencies will...err...continue my education.

However, I suspect that most of my "education" in the future will come from under a heavy barbell, and coaching others.

Anyways, check out these articles!

  1. Knowing Squat About Squats by Alex Schuld, Howard Hensen and Ryan Atkins
  2. Why I Train by Charles Staley
  3. Fuck Your Forum by Paul Carter


John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.

Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)


  • Texas Method: March 4, 2011 - April 28, 2013
  • Smolov Jr for Bench Press: June 4 - 22, 2012
  • Starting Strength: Nov 29, 2010 - March 4, 2011