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August 22, 2014, 12:00AM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  0 Comments

Practical Application of the ACE IFT Model—Cardiorespiratory Training: Phase 1

Trainer and client on treadmill

The Cardiorespiratory component of the ACE Integrated Fitness TrainingTM (ACE IFTTM) Model provides a layout for individualized cardiorespiratory programming. It allows for long-term progression for clients of all fitness levels, from the sedentary to the competitive athlete. Based on your client’s goals, programming should frequency, intensity and type. There are a number of ways to monitor intensity in the cardiorespiratory training phase. Submaximal testing, using the ventilatory thresholds, VT1 and VT2, as metabolic markers for intensity provides a reasonably accurate HR response data (see Chapter 8 of the ACE Personal Training Manual).

ACE IFT Model Cardiorespiratory Phases:

  1. Phase 1: Aerobic Base Training
  2. Phase 2: Aerobic Efficiency Training
  3. Phase 3: Anaerobic Endurance Training.
  4. Phase 4: Anaerobic Power Training

Remember these key concepts when programming using the phases of the Cardiorespiratory component of the ACE IFT Model:

  • Categorize clients based on their health, fitness and goals.
  • Assessments and programming tools individualize programs for clients of varying fitness levels.
  • Programming in each phase is based on the three-zone training model using HR at VT1 and VT2.
  • Various intensity (e.g., VO2max, RPE) markers may be used in the phases of the model.
  • Using HR at VT1 and VT2, to assess intensity is ideal for more accuracy in individualized programming.

Much like the Functional and Resistance Training components of the model, not all clients will begin in Phase 1. Where your client begins will depend on his or her specific cardiorespiratory goals and current health and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Phase 1: Aerobic-Base Training

The objective for clients beginning in this phase is to develop a stable aerobic base. For sedentary and less-active individuals, this means improving overall health and engaging in regular low- to moderate-intensity activity for moderate duration (approximately 30 minutes). There may be no marked improvement of VO2max, as most of the training is done in zone 1 (below VT1), although improvements in overall health will be noted.

Important factors for Programming in Phase 1:

  • No assessments are necessary in this Phase. (There is no need to focus attention on lack of cardiorespiratory fitness, especially for sedentary client.)
  • Cardiorespiratory exercise falls in zone 1, below VT1 threshold.
  • Upper-limit intensity is marked by the ability to speak comfortably.
  • Exercise duration can start with as little as 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times per week. Clients will not usually stay here for long before increasing the duration of their exercise sessions (maybe one to two weeks or up to six months). This will depend on how sedentary your client was.
  • Progress to 30 minutes of continuous moderate exercise as tolerated by client, at least five times per week.
  • Increase duration by no more that 10 percent from week to week, until the client can perform 30 minutes of continuous exercise.

When programming for your client’s cardiorespiratory fitness, guidelines for progression will be subjective, based on how quickly physiological adaptations are achieved. You may be able to progress some clients more rapidly than others. Once your client has achieved and can regularly maintain continuous steady-state activity, adaptation of the aerobic base will be complete. Once your client has achieved success in Phase 1, a submaximal talk-test assessment to determine HR at VT 1 can be administered prior to progressing to Phase 2.  

By Makeba Edwards


Makeba is a Study Assistance Representative for ACE, and holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and Sports Studies. She is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer Group Fitness Instructor. She also a Les Mills Certified Group Fitness Instructor and teaches several modalities.

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