Share this page
Pin It

June 21, 2010 | Exam Preparation Blog

The ACE IFT Model - The Introduction

***8/26/14: Please refer to our blog series on the ACE IFT Model for more detailed, up-to-date information on this topic:

Practical Application of the ACE IFT Model
Practical Application of the ACE IFT Model—Phase 1: Stability and Mobility Training
Practical Application of the ACE IFT Model—Phase 2: Movement Training
Practical Application of the ACE IFT Model—Phases 3 and 4: Load and Performance Training
Practical Application of the ACE IFT Model—Cardiorespiratory Training: Phase 1

ACE-certified Personal Trainer

The ACE Integrated Fitness Training ModelTM (ACE IFTTM) is an important part of the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 4th edition and supporting materials. If you’ve picked up ACE magazines, read discussion boards or our Facebook page, or checked the website lately, the ACE IFT is the talk of the town. But what does it mean? And what does it mean to you? This is going to be the first of a series of blog posts covering the ACE IFT model. Today starts us off at the beginning with an overview and ‘bigger picture’ look at the ACE IFT model.

When we think about creating an exercise plan for a client (or ourselves) there are many factors to consider. What are the client’s goals? What stage of training are they at? Maybe they’ve just started exercising after twenty years of couch potato time.  Or maybe they’ve just gotten out of a long term relationship with power lifting and want to improve their cardio ability.  Maybe your client has the body of a runner but the flexibility of a board. So many possibilities!

Prior to the ACE IFT model, the personal trainer needed to gather recommendations and guidelines from various resources to compile a workout program. Maybe you would check your ACE Personal Trainer Manual or the ACSM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription book.  Maybe you’d pull out another ‘go to’ book that addressed the primary components of a comprehensive exercise program - cardiovascular training, resistance training, and flexibility training.

With your information ready, the personal trainer could use the FITT model to determine a workout plan, taking into account the ACSM recommendations for healthy adults (pg. 83, Table 5-2 in the 4th ed. PT manual). They would need to merge this with the appropriate progression stage – initial, improvement, or maintenance. And what if a client excelled in one area (such as weightlifting) but was starting from zero in another area (cardio)? As a trainer you had to find a way to put all these pieces together in order to create an effective and progressive program for your client.

Now, the ACE IFT model takes those fundamental pieces of a workout program and pulls them all together in an easier to understand systematic approach. The ACE IFT model provides personal trainers with a comprehensive approach to exercise programming that integrates assessments and programming to facilitate behavior change, while also improving posture, functional movement, cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular endurance and/or strength.  Even with the creation of this new model our familiar training principles of overload, specificity, and progression are still around.  These are the backbone of any training program – regardless of how you put the components together.

There are two main training components in the ACE IFT model – Cardiorespiratory training, and Functional Movement & Resistance Training.  But what about flexibility training, you ask. Where did that go? Rest assured, it’s still there. Instead of talking about flexibility as a solitary component, the IFT model looks at the interaction between flexibility, core strength, postural stability and resistance training.

Finally, the ACE IFT model stresses our interpersonal communication with clients by making "rapport" the foundation of the entire model. Too often we get caught up in the technical aspects of program design, or the intricate details of progression, and forget that how we interact with our clients is key to creating a positive exercise experience and facilitating fitness-related behavior change.

The ACE IFT model is one of the major differences between the 3rd and 4th edition ACE Personal Trainer Manuals. While the 3rd edition manual contains many, if not most, of the same principles, the 4th edition manual pulls everything together in one convenient package named the ACE IFT model.

Chapter 5 in the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 4th Edition is a great place to get the basics on the ACE IFT model. If you don’t have the 4th edition Personal Trainer Manual – and even if you do – there is a great graphic on the ACE website that outlines the IFT model. You can also listen to ACE's free one-hour recorded webinar on the ACE IFT Model and if you're already certified you'll earn 0.1 CECs. 

Next week I’ll post some more in-depth information on the ACE IFT model and its primary phases. Until then, if you have questions just contact an Education Consultant at 1-888-825-3636 x782.


By April Merritt
April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach.

April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer and Health Coach.