ACE Personal Training Manual Chapter 5 Understanding The ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model


ACE exam, ACE studying, ACE Certification, ACE StudyingI have been studying for the ACE exam and here are my ACE Personal Training Manual chapter 5 notes.


The ACE integrated fitness model or ACE IFT provides personal trainers with a systematic and comprehensive approach to exercise. Additionally, it integrates assessments and programing to facilitate behavioral change while improving posture, movement, flexibility, balance, core function, cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength and endurance.

Function – Health – Fitness – Performance Continuum

Exercise should follow a progression. First, we need to establish proper function. Secondly, we focus on improving health. Next, we work on enhancing and developing our fitness level. Finally, we focus on performance enhancement. For example, improved health should be the primary goal of a program for a sedentary person.

Then, personal trainers should help clients progress at a safe and effective rate, taking into account time availability and capacity for recovery and outside stressors. Hence, we need to customize exercise program, taking into account strengths, weaknesses, imbalances and goals. Rapport is the foundation of the ACE IFT model. Therefore, trainers need to maintain open communication and create an initial positive experience with exercise.

Behavioral strategies that help build long-term adherence will enhance rapport. We establish rapport and then collect a health history. Then, we decide if there are contraindications or if we need a physician evaluation. We then need to assess and record resting heart rate and blood pressure. See table 5-2 on page 94 for a sample assessment sequencing chart. The ACE IFT model has 2 training components. First, is functional movement and resistance training and then cardiorespiratory training. Furthermore, we break each component down into 4 phases. Rapport building occurs during both components.

Functional Movement and Resistance Training

The intention with any new client is not to subject them to a battery of assessments and tests but rather create a positive first experience with exercise. First, we need to assess which phase they are in and then we need to design the program specific for their phase. In addition, the focus of the first 2 to 4 weeks should be on creating successes. This could include more positive moods, increases in self efficacy, short-term goal achievements, and improved performance.

Phase 1

Phase 1, stability and mobility training, begins with assessments and training for postural and joint stability and mobility.  Posture is at the core of human movement and poor posture increases a client’s risk for injury. That’s why the focus of phase 1 is on proper posture. Once a client demonstrates good posture, they can move onto phase 2. Start phase 1 with low-intensity movements that improve muscle balance, endurance, core function, flexibility, and static and dynamic balance. These will all help to improve posture. Assess posture, balance, movement and ROM. Create the program to address a client’s weaknesses and imbalances. The principal goal is to develop postural stability throughout the kinetic chain without compromising mobility at any point in the chain.

Phase 2

Phase 2, movement training, focuses on assessments and exercise selection that train the basic movement patterns. While the main goal is on the development of mobility within the kinetic chain without compromising stability. Thus, this phase includes: bend and lift (squatting), single leg (lunging), pushing (pushup, open door, overhead press, pulling (bent over row, opening car door) and rotating movements (reach across body). Once a client has demonstrated proficiency in body weight movement sequences with proper form, core stabilization, control of the center of gravity (COG) and control of the velocity of movement, they can move onto phase 3. Clients usually remain in this phase for 2 to 8 weeks.

Phase 3

Phase 3, load training, is for higher levels of fitness. The program advances by the addition of an external force or increasing the external load. Emphasis is placed on muscle force and changes in body composition (tone). Muscular strength and muscular hypertrophy occur and muscular endurance is increased.

Phase 4

Phase 4, performance training, emphasizes specific training to improve speed, agility, quickness, reactivity and power. Therefore, focus on maintaining stability and mobility during the warmup. Increase strength training to increase muscular force production. Power training can be included in this phase, which enhances force production. The client generates a large amount of force in a short amount of time. This type of power is required for sport with frequent accelerations and decelerations. Muscles that produce a higher force with a shorter duration increase the number of type II muscle fibers. See equations on page 101.

Cardiorespiratory Training

Traditional cardiorespiratory training programs focused on steady state training to improve cardiorespiratory fitness with progression based on increased duration and intensity. In this case, intervals were primarily focused on reducing boredom through high and low intensity segments. While these programs worked, the ACE IFT model provides a systematic approach that could take a sedentary client all the way to a PR in a half marathon. In this case, the focus has shifted towards long-term progression.

Phase 1

First of all, Phase 1, aerobic base training, focuses on developing an initial aerobic base in clients who are sedentary or near sedentary. Thus, their current fitness level will determine how fast they move through this phase. Exercise is focused on achieving steady state of low to moderate intensity ranges. The talk test can used to assess intensity.

If a client can perform exercise and talk comfortably in sentences, they are likely below the first ventilatory threshold (VT1). Clients should be encourage to exercise below or up to the talk-test threshold. When they exercise at this level, they are likely at an rating of perceived exertion (RPE) of 3 to 4 on the 0 to 10 scale. The goal during this phase is to gradually increase duration and frequency until the client is performing exercise 3 to 5 times per week for 20 to 30 minutes at an RPE of 3 or 4.

Phase 2

Secondly, phase 2, aerobic efficiency training, is focused on enhancing aerobic efficiency by progressing through increased duration and increased frequency of sessions. During this phase, introduce aerobic intervals at or just about VT1 or an RPE of 5. The goal of this phase is to improve aerobic endurance by raising the intensity of exercise performed at VT1 and to improve the client’s ability to use fat as a fuel source.

Phase 3

Next, phase 3, aerobic endurance training, is primarily focused on improving performance in endurance events or training fitness enthusiasts for higher levels of fitness. During this phase, introduce higher intensity intervals and build anaerobic endurance. Client’s should balance time spent between below VT1, at VT1 and at or above VT2.

This type of training, lactate threshold or tolerance training, is designed to increase the amount of work a client can perform at VT2. Muscles can creating increasingly more force for a longer period of time. Clients should spend 70-80% of their time training at or below VT1 (RPE 3 to 4), less than 10% between VT1 and VT2 (RPE 5 to 6) and the remaining 10 to 20% at or above VT2 (RPE greater than or equal to 7). Signs and symptoms of overtraining include: increased HR, disturbed sleep, and decreased hunger on multiple days. When this occurs, we should decrease the frequency and intensity of intervals and focus more on recovery.

Phase 4

Finally, phase 4, aerobic power training, focuses on building on the previous 3 phases and introduce intervals designed to enhance anaerobic performance. Many clients will never reach this phase. Clients perform intervals above VT2 (RPE greater than or equal to 9). The intention is for a client to overload the fast glycolytic system and challenge the phosphagen system.  Clients training for a competition or for specific goals should use this type of training. Cardiorespiratory training time should be the same as for phase 3. However, perform zone 3 intervals at a high intensity for a shorter duration with longer recovery.

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