The OPT Model

Optimum Performance Training

Until now, most training programs have been based almost entirely on the experiences and goals of bodybuilders, coaches, and athletes. Scientifically unsupported training programs are not designed to meet the needs of our increasingly de-conditioned and injury-prone society.

NASM’s exclusive Optimum Performance Training method represents the industry’s first and only comprehensive training program based on current scientific research that provides undisputed results specific to individual needs and goals.

Creating a new industry standard for success, OPT virtually eliminates programming and program-design guesswork for any fitness, sports-performance, or sports-medicine professional. By following NASM's systematic OPT method, certified professionals now develop training, conditioning, or rehabilitation programs scientifically proven to produce remarkable results.

By incorporating multiple types of training—flexibility, cardio respiratory, core, balance, reactive, speed, agility, quickness, and strength—into every program, the revolutionary and easy-to-use OPT method improves all biomotor abilities and builds high levels of functional strength, neuromuscular efficiency, and dynamic flexibility.


At the center of the OPT method is assessment. All programs are designed based on a comprehensive and individualized kinetic chain assessment. This head-to-toe fitness and performance evaluation assesses an individual’s strengths and weaknesses in the areas of posture, movement, strength, flexibility, and athletic performance. Before embarking on a training program, it is essential to correct any existing imbalances to ensure success.

Individualized Program Design

The OPT method provides an easy-to-use system for exercise selection based on the client’s needs, abilities, and goals. The endless choices of exercises and the unique progressions keep every program fun, dynamic and, most importantly, successful.

The following Progression of Success represents the various stages of the revolutionary OPT method.

1. Stabilization Endurance Training should be used for beginner-level clients who may possess muscle imbalances, lack postural control and stability. This phase is crucial for all individuals no matter their goals as it prepares them for the higher demands of training seen in phases 2-5. Although this phase is the first phase of training in the OPT Model, it will also be important to cycle back through this phase of training between periods of higher intensity training seen in Phases 2 through 5. This will allow for proper recovery and maintenance of high levels of stability that will ensure optimal strength and/or power adaptations. This phase of training focuses on:

  • Increasing Stability
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Improving Flexibility
  • Increasing Neuromuscular Efficiency of the Core Musculature
  • Improving Inter-muscular and Intramuscular Coordination

The primary focus when progressing in this phase is on increasing the proprioception (controlled instability) of the exercises, rather than just the load.

2. Strength Endurance Training is a hybrid form of training that promotes increased stabilization endurance, hypertrophy, and strength. This form of training entails the use of superset techniques where a more stable exercise (such as a bench press) is immediately followed with a stabilization exercise with similar biomechanical motions (such as a standing cable chest press). Therefore, for every set of an exercise/body part performed according to the acute variables, there are actually two exercises or two sets being performed. High amounts of volume can be generated in this phase of training.

3. Hypertrophy Training is specific for the adaptation of maximal muscle growth, focusing on high levels of volume with minimal rest periods to force cellular changes that result in an overall increase in muscle.

4. Maximal Strength Training focuses on increasing the load placed upon the tissues of the body. Maximal intensity improves:

  • Recruitment of More Motor Units
  • Rate of Force Production
  • Motor Unit Synchronization

Maximal Strength Training has also been shown to help increase the benefits of forms of power training used in Phase 5.

5. Power Training focuses on both high force and velocity to increase power. This is accomplished by super-setting a strength exercise with power exercise for each body part (such as performing a barbell bench press super-set with a medicine ball chest pass).