NASM OPT Model – Understand Optimum Performance Training

The NASM OPT model is a fitness system designed to meet the challenges of a sedentary society.

NASM developed its Optimum Performance Training™ model based on clinical research in partnership with the University of North Carolina.

It is a safe and progressive template that can help beginners or athletes achieve their fitness goals.

Personal trainers can use the OPT model to help their clients reach their goals, whether they are for:

Even decades ago, people were not as deconditioned as they are today.

What happened over the last 40 or 50 years?

Technology and Lack of Physical Activity

Sitting disease is the result of a sedentary lifestyle.

It is the primary reason that the majority of adults are overweight or obese and prone to injury.

Lack of physical activity is a direct result of technology that glues you to your seat:

  • in the office,
  • while commuting,
  • watching entertainment or
  • on the computer
  • using your smartphone

After decades of inactivity, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to chronic health conditions like:

The NASM OPT Model Explained

The NASM OPT model consists of 3 significant levels or building blocks, and 5 phases of training within these three levels.¹

The 3 Levels of Optimum Performance Training:

  1. Stabilization
  2. Strength
  3. Power

NASM OPT Model Image Credit NASM Study Guide-min

NASM OPT Model Image Credit – NASM Essentials of Fitness Training

Plus 5 OPT Model Phases of Training:

Stabilization Level

Phase 1: stabilization endurance

  • Improve muscular endurance and body composition
  • Develop neuromuscular efficiency (coordination)
  • Boost joint stability
  • Improve posture and flexibility

Stabilization endurance training is a prerequisite for the Strength and Power levels in the NASM OPT model.

The stabilization foundation protects you from injury by ensuring your joints, tendons, and ligaments are healthy enough for weight training.

Strength Level

Phase 2 of training: Strength Endurance Training

  • The purpose is to increase your prime mover muscle strength and increase lean muscle mass.
  • The prime mover is the muscle, which is the primary source of power in an exercise.

Phase 3 of Training: Hypertrophy Training (optional)

  • Increase muscle size

Phase 4 of Training: Maximal Strength Training (optional)

  • Improve the ability to handle a maximum weight such as in powerlifting
  • Increase motor unit recruitment, the maximum number of muscle fibers

Power Level

Phase 5 of Training: Power Training (optional)

  • Improve neuromuscular efficiency
  • Increase your speed, agility, quickness, and power
  • Enhance your rate of force production

The rate of force production is the amount of force you can generate in the shortest time.

What is the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ Model (OPT Model™)?

Level One: Stabilization Level

Stabilization level focuses on exercises that:

  • Challenge your sense of balance
  • like pushups on a stability ball.
  • Pushups on a stability ball is an example of training in a proprioceptively enriched environment, meaning, unstable, but controlled
  • Use high repetitions between 12 and 20

Proprioceptively enriched environment means that the exercise is not on a stable surface, such as a stability ball.

Level Two: Strength Level

The focus of the strength level is to increase prime mover strength.

Phase 2 of training: Strength Endurance Training

How do you increase prime mover strength while maintaining stabilization?

The answer is to superset one prime mover exercise followed immediately by a stabilization exercise with minimal rest into your training program.

Here are some superset examples:

  • bench press and stability ball pushups
  • barbell row and stability ball dumbbell rows
  • standing barbell shoulder press and single-leg dumbbell presses
  • barbell high-bar back squat followed by single-leg squats
  • use moderate weight and 8 to 12 repetitions per set

Phase 3 of Training: Hypertrophy Training

Training to increase muscle size includes the following acute variables:

  • medium to a high volume of sets
  • low to moderate repetitions between 6 and 12
  • average rest periods up to 3 minutes between sets

Phase 4 of Training: Maximum Strength Training

  • use high loads to achieve maximum strength
  • low repetitions in the 1 – 5 range
  • more extended rest periods up to 5 minutes

Power Level

The prerequisites of the Power Level are Phase 1 and Phase 2 of training.

Phase 5 of Training: Power Training

The training plan includes:

  • superset one strength and one power exercise
  • perform the exercises as fast as you can

How to Pass the NASM CPT Exam – Top Studying Tips You Should Know

NASM OPT Model – Final Thoughts

The NASM OPT Model will guide you through 5 phases of training:

  • stabilization,
  • strength endurance, hypertrophy, maximal strength, and
  • power

You need to understand the NASM OPT Model if you want to become a NASM Certified Personal Trainer.

And even if you don’t want to be a trainer, the OPT model is an excellent system for you to achieve your fitness goals.

What’s Next

Learn about Kinesiology and how it improves your life.

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¹ NASM Essentials of Fitness Training 6th Edition

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