ACE 6th Edition Chapter 2: The ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model
ACE 6th Edition Chapter 2: The ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model 1

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Chapter Goals:

  • Discuss the contemporary and traditional parameters for training.
  • Be able to explain the continuum of function-health-fitness-performance.
  • Show a basic understanding for the components of training within this Ace integrated fitness training model.
  • Be able to describe the ACE Mover Method and the application of it in personal training settings. 
  • List the main findings from research on the effectiveness of personalized training programs with the ACE IFT model in comparison to standard programs of training. 

The ACE IFT Model Introduction

 In the last 30 years, personal training has changed from focusing on clients simply improving fitness, to instead be a vital part of the healthcare continuum and help with aging and increasing the inactive and overweight population’s function, health, and quality of life. 

So, the population for Trainers is now more diverse than ever in regard to who they may be training.

A lot of programming for clients will be done to increase the ability for them to do activities of daily living, lose weight for the positive effects in metabolic function, develop solid movement patterns, and enhance cardiorespiratory fitness in general. 

Traditional Training Parameters

  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Muscular endurance               
  • Muscular Strength      
  • Flexibility

Contemporary Training Parameters

  • Health Behavior Change
  • Postural stability
  • Kinetic chain mobility
  • Movement efficiency
  • Core conditioning
  • Balance
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Metabolic markers
  • Muscular endurance
  • Muscular strength
  • Flexibility
  • Agility, coordination, and reaction time
  • Speed and power

Function-Health-Fitness-Performance Continuum

This continuum is based on the premise of human movement and fitness being progressed and regressed on a spectrum starting with the developing or reestablishing basic functional movements and extending to perform advanced work and motions in athletics. 

Each person is in a unique point in the continuum and this is based on their health status and physical limitations, frequency, intensity, and the types of physical activities, and anything relating to participation in athletics. 

Lifestyle factors will include your growth and development throughout your life. 

This overall is not a training method, but trainers should utilize this concept here to know the clients ebb and flow based on lifestyle factors for the clients. 

Personal trainers that work with clients that have problems doing activities of daily living should work to establish goals aimed at helping them with their functional movements. This is that first part on the continuum. From there we progress across the spectrum. 

Introduction to the ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model

The ACE IFT Model is a comprehensive system for programming exercise that works to pull together all of the multifaceted parameters that are needed for a personal trainer to be successful. 

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The model uses all of the latest exercise science and research into behavior to make a systematic approach to the design, implementation, and modification of exercise programs based on the needs, abilities, and goals of each of the individuals. 

The ACE IFT Model is split into the two training components of cardiorespiratory training and muscular training. Each of these will then be split into 3 different phases independent of the components. 

Cardiorespiratory Training has the three phases of base, fitness, and performance.

Muscular Training has the three phases of functional, movement, and load/speed. 

The ACE IFT model works to provide the exercise professionals with the tools and methods they need for helping their clients reach make fitness related changes in behavior and facilitating participation in physical activity and adherence for making longer lasting changes to health and well-being. 

The model allows for the programs to be adapted for use for people that are considered to be physically inactive also. 

Some of the biggest impacts that trainers can have regularly on the lives of their clients is to help them positively change their heath related behaviors and make positive relationships with exercise. 

The model is built upon utilizing rapport, trust, and empathy, and the trainer serves as the coach for guiding the client through their exercise in this client centered approach.

Clients need to know that their trainer cares about them. This is very important In how the trainer and client interact. 

An important aspect of the client centered approach is the promotion of building rapport. This allows us to utilize open communication, develop trust, and foster the client’s desire for participation in exercise programs. 

A main goal of each of the sessions with personal trainers is to have the client want to return for the next one. The sessions should provide the optimal challenge for their skill level and that allows them to be fully engaged. Too little or too much will disengage the client from the session. 

Many clients will not actually need to have the assessments used for them, but they are still very important parts of training when we look at the needs of other clients. 

Cardiorespiratory Training

The ACE IFT model works to provide a systematic approach to cardiorespiratory training that will help clients anywhere from complete physical inactivity, to a marathon runner looking to improve their performance. 

Base Training

This is the first phase of the Cardiorespiratory potion of this IFT model we use.

Here we will be focusing on building up the initial aerobic base of those clients who have not been up to up to the recommended physical activity levels. 

This is not the same as aerobic base training that is done by the endurance athletes in order to train for their sports. It is more like an intro into cardio exercise and bodily responses.

The goal here is to get people to move more consistently in order to improve your energy, health, mood, and caloric expenditure. 

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Clients that do not perform moderate level activity for 20 minute bouts on a minimum of 3 days per week will begin in this stage of base training. 

Someone who has been physically inactive for extended time periods might only be able to do five minutes at a time of moderate intensity exercise, and these clients should do the 5 minutes and be reminded that any level of physical activity is a good start and beneficial for you and the reduction of negative health risks. 

One thing we use when working in this phase is the talk test. We use the talk test to determine the level at which the client is working in regard to ventilatory threshold one. The time before the threshold of talking is considered to be just before the ventilatory threshold one, and it is the goal of this base stage of training.

We also may introduce the use of the ratings of perceived exertion, which is a chart that the client uses to choose their level of exertion and difficulty with exercise. 

Fitness Training

This is the second phase of training we find in the cardiorespiratory training. 

The focus here is on enhancing the aerobic efficiency of the client by progressing the program through increased duration in your sessions. 

Increasing the frequency of sessions is another thing we do when possible, and these forms of exercise will be done within that ventilatory threshold one or even possibly above it. This allows for the moderate and vigorous intensity exercise to be combined and the overall intensity of exercise to increase greatly. 

Personal trainers can even start to use intervals in the exercise program to add in variety and more intense stimuli for the clients to go through. The current fitness level should always play a role in this when making the program. 

The clients in this stage will vary a lot from those that are looking to improve fitness in general and then all the way to the near competitive athletes. 

Performance Training

Performance training is the third phase of training for cardiorespiratory training. 

These will be the clients that have goals focusing on their success in sports and events. It is a much higher level of training.

It can vary from a local marathon, all the way to national championship competition.

The goal here for training will be rather intense levels of cardio and it will be pushing clients beyond that of ventilatory threshold number two. This is also seen as a 7-10 in the RPE scale when used. 

Muscular Training

Muscular training in the ACE IFT model is a systematic approach to training that begins with helping clients for their postural problems and stability and incorporates progressions and for helping people train all the way up to athletic performance. 

Functional Training

This is the first phase we use for muscular training.

Here we focus on the muscular training goals and establish or most often reestablish the postural stability, and the mobility of the kinetic chain through the use and introduction of programs that improve our joint function with improvements in muscular endurance, flexibility, core function, static balance, and dynamic balance. 

Physical inactivity throughout childhood and into adulthood is what usually causes these diminishes we see in function for the joints and the body. 

Exercises done in this section will be with things that focus on the core and balance for the improvement of strength and function for the muscles that are responsible for stabilizing the spine and center of gravity during the static and dynamic movements we go through. 

It is important that the exercises we do here in this stage, move on to the next stages and progress in some ways. 

Movement Training

The main focus of this second stage of training is to develop solid movement patterns without compromising the posture or stability for the joints. 

We break these movements done into five different categories. We have bend and lift, single-leg, pushing, pulling, and rotational movement categories. 

The movement training should work to emphasize the proper sequencing of moves and control the body’s center of gravity through the normal ranges of motion. 

Functional training exercises should move over into this stage also, and then be progressed upon. 

Load/Speed Training

This is the third and final part of the ACE IFT muscular training.

The main focus in this third stage is to apply external loads to the movements that create a need for increases in force production that results in muscular adaptations occurring. 

These loads may be put on through the use of resistance training, high intensity interval training, speed work, plyometrics, power lifting, and other sport specific resistance. 

Like with the movement training phase, we see functional training exercises still present here, but possibly much further progressed. 

Clients may have many different goals when they have reached into this stage of training. The typical fitness goals we see are going to be in strength, endurance, hypertrophy, and then positively changing the body composition. 

Athletic performance goals may also be present when at this stage, such as building on speed, agility, quickness, and then power. 

Before advancing to athletic performance goals, the clients should have consistently great postural stability, mobility of the kinetic chain, and movement patterns. 

Focusing on the application of the external loads in the movements we might have already emphasized in other stages is the primary differentiator here in this third stage of training.


ACE 6th Edition Chapter 2: The ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model 2
ACE CPT Chapter 1: Role and scope of practice for the personal trainer 2
ACE 6th Edition Chapter 2: The ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model 3

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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