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Personal Trainer Resources / Anatomy / Assessments / Apps / Biomechanics / Training Principles

We created this blog to include ALL of the relevant information involved in becoming a certified personal trainer. A lot of the information discussed in the leading personal training textbooks (ACE, ACSM, NASM, NSCA) is better understood when the learning styles are combined (Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic). For most people, it's not enough to just read through a textbook. The descriptions and links that follow include the best tools, videos, blogs, pictures, and other resources that we have found helpful to fully absorb and understand each topic.

If you have any questions or would like something else covered in more detail please send us an e-mail at We appreciate you checking us out and are here to support along your journey to becoming certified. We hope you find these tools helpful and wish you all the best with your future endeavors as a fitness professional!

Become a Certified Personal Trainer 👉 CPT Prep Study Guides from Amazon and Audio Prep 🎧 from Audible contain everything you need to pass your exam along with practice questions very similar to the actual tests!

Anatomy Websites (Nervous, Skeletal, & Muscular Systems)

  1. Zygote Body – 3D image of the human body that you can rotate and peel away layers to see muscle locations and what they are connected to.

  2. Get Body Smart – Muscles of the human body including actions, attachments, locations, and nerve supply.

  3. Inner Body – Detailed description of the muscular system with illustrations of muscle locations.

  4. Muscles & Motion Great illustrated videos and descriptions of muscular mechanics involved in any movement of the human body. Also shows the difference between proper vs improper form of various movements.

  5. Poke a Muscle – Game to help memorize muscle locations.

Another helpful tool is The Anatomy Coloring Book on Amazon

Biomechanics (The Human Movement System)


Fitness assessments are used to get a baseline of your clients current heath and fitness level before starting a training program. The information gathered during assessments is used to create a safe and effective program that meets the clients goals, needs, and abilities.

  • Subjective assessments are used to gather information on health history which can include past injuries or surgeries, previous exercise history, occupation, lifestyle, and any medical conditions or symptoms they may currently have.

  • Objective assessments are performed to observe and measure things such as a client’s heart rate, blood pressure, height, and weight. It’s also used to assess their posture and movement patterns to note any muscular imbalances or joint dysfunction that needs to be addressed.

Static Posture Assessments should check for proper alignment of the 5 Kinetic Chain Checkpoints, symmetry, and specific Postural Distortion Patterns. Always start from the ground up when assessing clients. Fix the foundation first (foot / ankle) before moving up the kinetic chain to correct other compensations.

  • Head (Cervical Spine)

  • Shoulder Girdle

  • Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex

  • Knee

  • Foot & Ankle

Postural Deviations

Postural Distortion Patterns

  • Pronation Distortion Syndrome: A postural distortion characterized by foot pronation (flat feet) along with adducted and internally rotated knees.

  • Lower Crossed Syndrome: A postural distortion characterized by an anterior tilt to the pelvis (arched lower back).

  • Upper Crossed Syndrome: A postural distortion characterized by a forward head and rounded shoulders

Movement Observations & Assessments should relate to basic functional movements such as squatting, pushing, pulling, and balancing. Video descriptions are linked below for the following (4) major movement assessments:

  • Overhead Squat Assessment: A transitional movement assessment designed to assess dynamic flexibility, core strength, balance, and overall neuromuscular control.

  • Single-Leg Squat Assessment: A transitional assessment performed on one leg to assess dynamic flexibility, core strength, balance, and overall neuromuscular control.

  • Pushing Assessment: Evaluates movement efficiency and potential muscle imbalance during pushing movements.

  • Pulling Assessment: Evaluates movement efficiency and potential muscle imbalance during pulling movements.

Cardiorespiratory Assessments help to identify safe and effective starting exercise intensities based on client’s current fitness level. The best measurement of cardiorespiratory fitness is V02Max. However, it is not always practical to directly measure V02Max. Therefore, the submaximal tests listed below can be used to predict ones V02Max.

Additional Functional Assessments


Training Principles

General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) describes how our body responds and adapts to stress. GAS is broken down into the following (3) phases:

  1. Alarm reaction: The initial response to the imposed demands or stressor. Increased oxygen and blood supply to the necessary areas of the body. This phase last approximately 2-3 weeks. Neuromuscular adaptation is primarily taking place in this phase which can cause fatigue, weakness and soreness as the body adapts. Initial increases in strength are mainly from neuromuscular adaptation not necessarily structural, muscular changes. DOMS (Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness) is common in this phase where pain or discomfort is felt 24 – 72 hours after intense exercise or unaccustomed physical activity. Starting slow and progressively overloading your clients system will help to mitigate some of the soreness that comes along when first beginning a training program.

  2. Resistance Development (Adaptation): The body adapts to the imposed stress of exercise by changing structures in the body and increasing its function capacity. This phase last approximately 4-12 weeks. During this phase muscle fibers increase in thickness and intramuscular coordination is improved which increases strength and the body’s ability to perform the exercise movements.

  3. Exhaustion phase: The body can no longer adapt to the imposed demands of the applied training stimulus. Further adaptations may halt and the potential for breakdown or injury increases. The risk of overtraining syndrome (OTS) also increases. Correctly using the OPT Model will help keep clients out of this phase.

The Principle of Specificity states that the body will adapt to the demands that are placed upon it.*Only the muscles that are trained will adapt and change in response. It's also referred to as the SAID principle: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands

Mechanical specificity refers to the weights and movements placed on the body. To increase endurance higher reps of less weight would be used. To increase strength heavier weight with fewer reps and longer rest periods would be used.

Neuromuscular specificity refers to the speed of muscular contraction and exercise selection. Different speeds and patterns are used to increase neuromuscular efficiency.

  • Stability exercise are performed at slow speeds in controlled but unstable environments.

  • Strength exercises are done in stable environments with heavier weight to focus on the prime movers.

  • Power exercises are performed as fast as possible as seen in plyometric training.

Metabolic specificity refers to the energy demand placed on the body.

  • Endurance training primarily uses aerobic pathways (Aerobic Oxidation & The Oxidative System

  • Strength & Power training primarily use anaerobic pathways (ATP-PC & Anaerobic Glycolysis)

Acute Variables are the components that specify how each exercise is to be performed. They determine the amount of stress placed on the body and what adaptations will occur in response to those stresses. Acute variables include the following:

  • Repetitions (reps)

  • Sets

  • Training Intensity

  • Repetition Tempo

  • Training Volume

  • Rest Interval

  • Training Frequency

  • Training Duration

  • Exercise Selection


Math Formulas & Helpful Calculations

Tools and Calculators to help determine everything from body mass index (BMI), target heart rate zone, blood pressure, body fat composition, and daily caloric needs.


Fat = 9 calories per gram 1 Kg = 2.2 pounds (pounds ÷ 2.2 = Kg)

Protein = 4 calories per gram 1 Inch = 2.54 cm (inches x 2.54 = cm)

Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram 1 Meter = 100 cm (cm ÷ 100 = Meters)

Alcohol = 7 calories per gram 1 MET = 3.5 ml (V02 ÷ 3.5 = MET)

3500 kcal (calories) = 1 pound fat

Methods of Estimating Exercise Intensity

Max Heart Rate (MHR): 220 – Age = MHR or 208 – (0.7 x Age) = MHR

* 30 year old would have Max HR of 190 BPM | 220 – 30 = 190 BPM

Heart Rate Reserve (HRR): Max HR – Resting HR = HRR

* 30 year old with resting HR of 60 BPM | 190 - 60 = 130 BPM

Target Heart Rate (THR) = HRR x % Intensity + Resting HR (Karvonen Formula)

* 30 year old mentioned above to train at 80% intensity | 130 x 0.80 + 60 = 164 BPM (THR)

V02 Reserve = V02 Max - 3.5

Target V02 = V02Max - V02Rest x % of Intensity + V02Rest (3.5)

Ventilatory Threshold describes the point of transition between predominately aerobic energy production to anaerobic energy production.

The First ventilatory threshold (VT1) is the “crossover” point which represents a level of intensity at which blood lactate accumulates faster than it can be cleared. This causes us to breathe faster in an effort to blow off the extra C02 that is produced. The “talk test” (if a person can talk comfortably in sentences while performing the exercise) is a good indicator that someone is training below VT1.

The Second ventilatory threshold (VT2) occurs at the point of intensity where blowing off the C02 is no longer adequate to buffer the rapidly increasing lactate. High-intensity exercise (≥VT2) can only be sustained for a brief period due to the accumulation of lactate.

A person’s heart rate can be determined at both their VT1 and VT2 thresholds by using the Submaximal talk test for VT1 and VT2 threshold testing.

  • Submaximal Talk Test for VT1 protocol. A treadmill, elliptical, cycle ergometer or arm ergometer can be used since they are easy to track HR and maintain a steady pace.

  • VT2 Threshold Testing is only recommended for well-conditioned individuals with fitness and performance goals. 15 – 20 min of steady high-intensity is performed and then 95% of that average HR during activity is used to estimate the VT2 threshold.

Detailed protocols for each of these can be found here ➡ Ventilatory Threshold Testing

VT1 and VT2 metabolic markers can be used to divide training intensity into the following three zones.

  • Zone 1 (low to moderate exercise) reflects intensity below VT1

  • Zone 2 (moderate to vigorous exercise) reflects intensity above VT1 to just below VT2

  • Zone 3 (vigorous to very vigorous exercise) reflects intensity at or above VT2

Body Composition Calculations

Body Mass Index (BMI) = Weight (Kg) ÷ Height (m2)

* Calculate the BMI of a man who is 6ft tall & weighs 180 pounds

180 ÷ 2.2 = 81.81 Kg | 6ft x 12 = 72 inches |72 x 2.54 = 182.88 cm | 182.88 ÷ 100 = 1.83 m |1.83m2 = 3.35 | 81.81 ÷ 3.35 = 24.42 BMI

Fat weight (FW) = Body weight (BW) x Body fat (BF) %

* Calculate based on 180 pound body weight & 20% body fat | 180 x 0.20 = 36 lbs of fat

Lean body weight (LBW) = Body weight (BW) – Fat weight (FW)

* Calculate based on information above | 180 – 36 = 144 lbs LBW

Desired Body Weight (DBW) = Lean body weight ÷ (100% - Desired body fat %)

* Calculate DBW if the person above wanted to be at 10% body fat | 144 ÷ 0.90 = 160 lbs

Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR) = Waist circumference ÷ Hip circumference

* Calculate based on an individual with a 32-inch waist and 36-inch hip | 32 ÷ 36 = 0.89

Strength Assessment

1 Repetition Max (1RM) = Pounds lifted ÷ % of 1RM (See 1RM Table for % 1RM)

* Calculate based on 180 pounds lifted for 10 repetitions | 180 ÷ 0.75 = 240 pound 1RM

Daily Macronutrient Recommendations

Carbohydrates: (45% - 65% of total calories)

It is recommended that an individual consumes 6 – 10 grams of carbs per Kg of bodyweight. This equates to 2.7 to 4.5 grams per pound lb. *The majority of all of carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates (veggies, sweet potatoes, whole grains)

  • A 180 person would fall in the range of 486 – 810 grams of carbohydrates per day. 1 gram of carbohydrates yields 4 calories. 1944 – 3240 calories per day.

Protein: (10% - 35% of total calories)

0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended for the general population. Adult athletes can range from 1.2 up to 1.7 g per kg of body weight depending on their amount of training and recovery needs.

  • A 180 person would fall in the range of 65 grams for the general population or 98 - 139 grams per day for an athlete. 1 gram of protein yields 4 calories so this would be 260 calories per day for the general population or 392 – 556 calories per day for an athlete.

Fats: (20% to 35% of total calories)

  • A 180 person would fall in the range of 80 grams per day for an athlete. 1 gram of fat yields 9 calories so this would be around 720 calories for this individual.

Total calories from fat (FAT CAL) = Fat grams per serving x 9 kcal x # of servings per container

Percent of calories from fat (%FAT) = (Fat grams per serving x 9 kcal) ÷ Calories per serving

Calculation for daily caloric deficit to achieve desired weight loss in a set time frame.

  • Weekly caloric deficit = (Desired weight loss in lbs x 3500) ÷ # of weeks

  • Daily caloric deficit = Weekly caloric deficit ÷ 7

Make sure you understand how to calculate macronutrient requirements based on your client’s current weight and activity level. You need to be able to calculate based on calories per gram and percentage of total recommended calories for each macronutrient. A good way to practice this is to track the food that you consume for one day and then calculate the percentages and grams of macronutrients based on your total intake. There is a great app for tracking food called MyFitnessPal. It allows you to scan bar codes on most food labels using your smart phone camera and it will automatically input the nutritional data.


Health & Fitness Instagram Accounts to Follow

@WHOOP is a fitness tracker that measures heart rate, HRV, blood oxygen levels, skin temperature, and sleep cycles. Their mission is to unlock human performance by tracking daily strain, recovery, and sleep which helps us understand how our bodies adapt and respond to stress (training, lack of sleep, poor eating, alcohol and caffeine intake, etc.) This invaluable information provides the tools to live optimally. #UnlockYourself

@hubermanlab Dr. Andrew Huberman Professor of Neuroscience & Lab Director, at Stanford. He puts out great descriptive videos on how the nervous system works and some practical techniques to help control our responses to stress.

@vuoriclothing Their slogan is "Investment in Happiness" which includes everything that makes us healthier, more resilient, and happier. They have hands down the best performance apparel that can be dressed up or down and stands the test of time! Vouri also shares great tips, workouts on their platform and under the hashtag #therisetheshine

@achievefitnessboston The best account we have found for correct exercise technique. They include great pictures along with step-by-step instructions and video.

@brookbushinstitute Excellent descriptive instruction on everything involved with human movement science.

@moveu Learn to heal, fix, and strengthen your body. They cover various muscular imbalances, injuries, and alignment issues and then show ways to correct them.

@thereadystate Relieve pain, prevent injury, improve physical performance.

@foundmyfitness Dr. Rhonda Patrick provides informative evidence-based information on nutrition, vitamins, sauna use, cold exposure, and sleep.

@garagegymreviews their mission is to inform, inspire, and connect by providing in-depth honest reviews on everything fitness related to help you to get the most of your money, time, and performance. They also create helpful blogs related to fitness training. This > HIIT Running Workouts To Ramp Up Your Fitness is a great one to share with clients short on time.

@gymnasticbodies Proprioception (body awareness) & functional strength, great for core exercises.

@docjenfit Great content to increase mobility and flexibility, improve athletic performance, and optimize breathing and recovery. She is also the creator of @themobilitymethod page with additional mobility info.

@yogatuneup Breathing and core routines for down-regulation & recovery.


Additional Resources


Downloadable Forms


Audio Prep Mentions





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