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This is pretty much the only book I've been reading for the past couple of months as I prepared for the NSCA's personal trainer exam. I am fairly sure I passed the exam, and I doubt I could have passed without the help of this book and NSCA's exercise techniques DVD which is sold separately. [Update - I DID pass the exam! :-) ] This 674 text is packed full of information and can not be breezed through Harriet Klausner style.
For the most part, I like the book, both as a study guide for the NSCA-PT exam and as a reference for someone in the fitness industry. Each chapter is written by one or more experts on that area of fitness or nutrition. Since the table of contents is not provided on the product page, I've listed the contents at the end. Most of the content is fairly well written, although it could use some tightening up in spots, or additional clarification in others. Being a visual learner, I appreciate the multitude of illustrations, drawings, and tables, and I can't think of any I didn't find helpful. For example, they don't just tell you what partner-assisted and partner-resisted towing are, they provide photographs of them. They don't just tell you what the barbell grips are, they provide illustrations of four grips. Tables are not just in black and white, but alternate rows have tan or light blue backgrounds, making it easier to read. Information in the tables is detailed, for example table 9.1, Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factor Thresholds from ACSM. Through no fault of the publishers, some of the information in this table is already outdated, as the latest data for hypercholesterolemia uses LDLs at >100 mg/dL (instead of >130 mg/dL) and the low HDLs is considered <40 mg/dL, not <35 mg/dL. That is the only information in the book that I know is out of date. Overall, it's a practical book, both for studying for the exam and as a reference book.
Unfortunately, this book has enough flaws that when combined, knock it down a star:
* Editing - I found scattered typos throughout the book. In addition, in the plyometrics chapter, when I was reading the paragraph titled "Pretraining Evaluation," on page 442, I experienced a deja vous. I had read the exact same paragraph on page 434.
* Study Questions - Many 21st century textbooks are packed with study questions and features to help the student learn and retain the material. Each chapter contains four multiple-choice study questions, which approximate the difficulty of the NSCA exam. That's okay, but I think there should have been more, perhaps 10 per chapter. The four study questions barely scratched the surface in covering the material. In addition, several study questions had typographical errors.
* Some of the material on the exam was not covered in the textbook. Please don't email me about this as it is not ethical for me to share those questions. In my opinion, if the material is important enough to be on the exam, it's important enough to include in the textbook.
*Difficulty of using the index. Throughout my studying and after the exam, there were some things that I know are in the book that I tried to look up-unsuccessfully. I tried several different words or phrases to find a concept, and still couldn't find many of them. For example, they briefly discuss water aerobics in the text, but neither "water aerobics" nor "aquatics" are in the index. I think the index needs to be fleshed out with more words that are likely ways one would phrase a concept.
Despite the flaws, it's a book worth having for the reasons mentioned earlier. After reading the NSCA textbook, I felt much more knowledgeable in certain aspects of fitness compared to when I read the ACE personal trainer manual (the edition used in 1999) or ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Training and Prescription, 6th ed. These areas include special populations, plyometrics, exercise techniques, and the specifics of putting someone on a weight training program (choosing the exercises, determining reps and weights, progressing the weights), etc.
Since there is no table of contents provided on the product page, here's an abbreviated version:
Part I. Exercise Sciences
Ch. 1. Muscle, Nervous, Skeletal Systems
Ch. 2. Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems
Ch. 3 Bioenergetics
Ch. 4. Biomechanics
Ch. 5. Resistance Training Adaptations
Ch. 6. Aerobic Training Adaptations
Ch. 7. Nutrition
Ch. 8. Exercise Psychology
Part II. Initial Consultation and Evaluation
Ch. 9. Client Consultation and Health Appraisal
Ch. 10. Fitness Assessment Selection and Administration
Ch. 11. Fitness Testing Protocols and Norms
Part III. Exercise Technique
Ch. 12. Flexibility, Body-Weight, and Stability Ball Exercises
Ch. 13. Resistance Training Exercise Techniques
Ch. 14. Cardiovascular Activity Techniques
Part IV. Program Design
Ch. 15. Resistance Training Program Design
Ch. 16. Aerobic Endurance Training Program Design
Ch. 17. Plyometric and Speed Training
Part V. Clients With Unique Needs
Ch. 18. Clients Who Are Pregnant, Older, or Preadolescent
Ch. 19. Clients With Nutritional and Metabolic Concerns
Ch. 20. Clients With Cardiovascular and Respiratory Conditions
Ch. 21. Clients With Orthopedic, Injury, and Rehabilitation Concerns
Ch. 22. Clients With Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy
Ch. 23. Resistance Training for Clients Who Are Athletes
Part VI. Safety and Legal Issues
Ch. 24. Facility and Equipment Layout and Maintenance
Ch. 25. Legal Issues in Personal Training