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ACE Insight

RESEARCH: How Effective Is The Ace Integrated Fitness Training® Model?

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Investigating The Training Efficacy Of And Responsiveness To The Ace Integrated Fitness Training Model.

Forming the centerpiece of the ACE Personal Trainer Manual (5th ed.) (ACE 2014), the ACE Integrated Fitness Training (ACE IFT®) Model is a comprehensive system for exercise programming. In addition to addressing cardiorespiratory training, the ACE IFT Model covers functional movement and resistance training. The system differs from conventional training by ensuring exercisers develop proper stability and mobility and master movement technique before adding external loads. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a difference between this approach and a more conventional approach in terms of improving fitness and cardiometabolic health.

The Study

Researchers recruited 46 sedentary men and women aged 44–83, all of whom were considered low-to-moderate risk according to health and fitness industry guidelines (ACSM 2014). Subjects agreed to continue their previous dietary habits and not perform any exercise beyond what was part of this study. The 46 participants underwent a battery of baseline tests before being split into three groups.

One group followed the ACE IFT Model, which takes an individualized approach to exercise programming by using the person’s ventilatory thresholds to determine cardiorespiratory intensity and a percentage of his or her 5-repetition maximum (5-RM) to determine load during resistance training. The second group adhered to a standardized program, developed according to accepted fitness-industry guidelines, that used a percentage of the individual’s heart-rate reserve to determine cardiorespiratory intensity and a standard set of repetitions and sets during resistance training (ACSM 2014). The third group served as a control group by performing no exercise. For the two exercising groups, training frequency and duration were similar, totaling 150 minutes of exercise per week.

The Results

There were significantly more favorable outcomes in the “ACE IFT Model” versus the “standardized” (and control) group in terms of changes in body-fat percentage, VO2max, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, right- and left-leg stork stand, 5-RM bench press and 5-RM leg press. In addition, five (35.7%) of the 14 individuals who adhered to the “standardized” program for the full 13 weeks were categorized as non-responders to exercise training in terms of seeing improvement in their VO2max. By contrast, in the “ACE IFT Model” group all 14 individuals (100%) saw improvement in their VO2max.

The Bottom Line

According to the results of this study, about 36% of individuals who adhere to a traditional exercise program will not see improvement in VO2max. This finding, along with the lower number of responders in the “standardized” group in terms of cardiometabolic, anthropometric, and muscular and neuromotor measures, clearly demonstrates how important individualization is to developing an effective exercise program.

Failure to see results is incredibly frustrating for clients who are working hard to adhere to an exercise program. According to the lead researcher, Lance Dalleck, PhD, “Personalizing or individualizing the exercise program is essential. A more cookie cutter approach will always yield less-than-optimal results.”

While it is true that we should be moving more as a form of preventive medicine, this research underscores how critically important it is to take a customized approach, such as the ACE IFT Model dictates, when designing an exercise program.


American College of Sports Medicine. 2014. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (9th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams.

SPOTLIGHT A PRO: Tariq Abdullah
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
St. Petersburg, Florida
“Believe in yourself at that very moment. Believe, and enjoy the process.”

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Q&A with Tariq

What inspired you to start a career in fitness?

I was working in an unfulfilling job on the graveyard shift, and I saw my career going nowhere meaningful. I had always been involved in fitness and sports, and staying in shape was an important part of my life. When I found out I was going to be a father, I decided it was time for a change, so I became a personal trainer. I’ve been blessed to lead exercise classes for kids, coach strength and conditioning for high-school basketball, run my own outdoor boot camp, teach kickboxing classes, and the list goes on.

What do you love most about your job?

I love interacting with people on a personal level. People start off as clients or class participants, but I’ve found that when I work with them month after month, year after year, we often become friends. I really appreciate the bond that grows through physical activity.

Which client are you most proud of?

Miss Jackie stands out to me. After she retired, she came to me looking to stay active, and she’s now been training with me for over a year and a half. She believes in me and believes in my plan, and I believe in her. She tracks her nutrition, works out with me twice a week faithfully, and follows the workout plans I give her—no small feat. I challenge Miss Jackie and even if she doesn’t think she can do something, she tries because she trusts me. She has lost over 20 pounds and has been able to accomplish things she never thought possible.

What’s your favorite workout?

I do whatever comes to mind. Once I put myself into that mindset, I embrace it. If I feel like swimming, I swim. If I feel like power lifting, I lift. Sometimes I run for several miles on the beach during sunrise. I also enjoy the rush of competition, especially in a game of basketball.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest success factor in meeting fitness goals?

Believe in yourself at that very moment. Believe, and enjoy the process.

What’s next for you?

I plan to continue to grow my online 30 Day Transformation Challenge. This has been a successful part of my business that has grown over the past year. It has allowed me to coach clients across the country as they share their experiences and form bonds with people they’ve never met.

POLICY: Physical Inactivity: Fighting the Epidemic

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Evidence confirms that physical inactivity has become one of the 10 leading risk factors for death worldwide. Physically inactive people have a 20%–30% higher risk of premature death than their active counterparts. (World Health Organization) These statistics are alarming, but it is not all bad news. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is a modifiable risk factor. That means individuals can change their risk level, and with so many nationwide efforts underway to get people moving, we are hopeful that activity levels will start to rise.

What Is Ace Doing To Get People Moving?

ACE is committed to providing you with the training and resources you need to become health and fitness experts. Supporting individuals on their journeys to become certified exercise professionals and health coaches is a fundamental piece of how ACE works to get people active.
ACE also advocates for public policies that better equip individuals, families and communities to increase their physical activity levels. In particular, we support initiatives that work to transform the built environment to create more sustainably active communities, as well as policies that encourage children to be more active both in and out of school. By tirelessly advocating for policy change that makes physical activity accessible, affordable and safe for all populations, we will be able to engineer physical activity back into daily life.

What Can Ace Pros Do?

As certified exercise professionals and health coaches, you can work directly with individuals and communities in a way that facilitates healthy change. You are capable of creating opportunities for diverse populations to be physically active by making exercise an integral part of their lives.

Through personal training sessions, group fitness classes and health coach meetings, you have the power to make a difference. Not only can your hands-on instruction change our sedentary culture, but using your voice to advocate on local, state and federal issues affecting the industry can help spark a change as well. Your role as a fitness expert gives you a certain level of credibility when talking with legislative leaders. Actively reaching out to members of Congress, governors, mayors and even your worksite leadership can pave the way for a much-needed cultural shift.

Need some ideas for how you can get people moving in your community? Go here: ACEfitness.org/Advoacy .

YOUR CAREER: 6 Ways To Motivate Clients

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By Erin Nitschke, EdD
ACE Certified Health Coach

As with any program, a one-size-fits-most approach to motivation is not effective. Every client requires a tailored approach based on personality, goals and budget. For the client-trainer relationship to click, the health and fitness professional must make a reciprocal investment in the client and find ways to connect with him or her in such a way that the client not only attends scheduled sessions, but delights in the experience. Try these six hacks for getting your clients to consistently attend scheduled sessions with you.

1. Stay In Touch

Who doesn’t appreciate receiving a “thinking of you” message? Text, email or Facebook your clients motivational messages, reminders or interesting article links; or set up brief check-in meetings via Skype or FaceTime outside of scheduled training sessions. Let clients know you’re looking forward to the next session.

2. Assign Homework

At the end of each training session, assign your clients a small task to complete before you meet again. This may include having them listen to a podcast or read a short article; or assigning a 5-minute yoga sequence or series of exercises they can practice on nontraining days. Homework can be a great way to maximize the use of asynchronous time with clients.

3. Boost Client Loyalty

While progress and goal achievement are the real rewards, clients appreciate acknowledgement for a job well done. Consider incentives for your clients—perhaps a free training session, a “client of the month” spotlight or a coupon to bring a friend to the next session.

4. Make It Personal

Clients appreciate acknowledgement from their trainers for more than just a challenging workout session. Take the time to remember birthdays, special events, work-related accomplishments, etc. Also, celebrate client progress, achievements and milestones.

5. Change It Up

Keep your clients guessing! Infuse the warm-up or circuit with new moves, regularly introduce a new piece of equipment and be armed with progression ideas before the session. Be on the lookout for new findings, ideas and methods to share with your clients.

6. Promote Self-Direction

Give your clients the opportunity to invest in their own training beyond the swipe of a credit card. Continually ask them what went well, what they would change and what they would like to see more or less of.

Whatever tactics you choose, employ them with energy, creativity and a love for the game. Personal training is an investment in the health and well-being of those who seek your services. Keep your clients engaged. Keep them moving. Keep them coming.

ACEFITNESS.ORG: What’s Trending


4-Week Progression Workout

This disruptive workout features a five-lift strength training routine that produces results. Each of the lifts uses multiple muscles at the same time to improve specific movement patterns. Training for strength, which involves using heavier loads to recruit and activate more muscle fibers, is different from training for size or definition. Therefore, the focus of this workout is to progress to a point where heavier weights can be used for a limited number of repetitions.

Learn more at ACEfitness.org/progressionworkout.

7 Fitness Rewards That Pay Off

Most people know that physical activity enhances mood, circulation, digestion and appearance. There is a reward built into staying active. Unfortunately, knowing about the reward isn’t always enough to get people off the couch. Positive reinforcement is one way to facilitate behavior change. Children, for example, may get stickers for helping with household chores, while animal behavior is often shaped by offering treats, toys and attention. Similarly, adult brains can be trained, too. These seven rewards for regular exercise enhance motivation and enjoyment.

Learn more at ACEfitness.org/investinfitness.

How To Help Clients Set Goals

People often have an idea of what they want to achieve in life, but they’re not always sure where to start. If they want to engage in a new behavior like exercise or healthy eating, goal setting is the perfect place to start. When clients implement a goal-setting strategy, their aspirations and dreams are more likely to become reality, because the connection between ideas and action can be made, managed and maintained. Here are five tips for helping your clients achieve their goals, both big and small.

Learn more at ACEfitness.org/goalsetting.

The Power Of Protein

Protein is a powerful macronutrient that helps us maintain our weight and energy levels. Made of amino acids, proteins are the building blocks of muscle, hair, enzymes, antibodies and collagen in the body. Your body produces 11 of the 20 amino acids it needs. The other nine amino acids must be consumed through food. If a food has all nine amino acids, it is considered a complete protein. Get the scoop on six key benefits of eating more protein.

Learn more at ACEfitness.org/proteinpower.

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