It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when beginning to study ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals manual. Fortunately, there are some key takeaways to focus on as you study.
This manual serves as both a foundational study manual and reference book. It contains essential foundational information about how the human body functions. Although this information can be very detailed, it is critical not to get caught up in memorizing the details, but instead, understand how the information relates to your future career as a fitness professional. The manual also is meant to serve as a reference book after you are certified. If you need to know more on a topic, this can be a great place to turn.
As you progress through your studies in this book, here are some things to be aware of. While working through this manual, keep the bigger picture in mind as it relates to your future career. There is no need to be overly concerned with memorizing detailed topics such as the structure of a nerve cell. Recognize that if this is not something that you would use while working directly with a client, then it serves as reference material. It is also not necessary to focus on memorizing every bolded term in the book. Although you will need to know what these words mean as you progress through your studies, you will not be asked to define terms on your exam. Below, you will find key topics broken out by chapter.
In this first chapter, you want to focus on knowing the anatomical positions and planes of motion. Learning the anatomical terms for direction and regional areas will help clarify locations of muscles and bones. You also want to know the names of muscles, locations, and their actions. More information will come on this in Chapter 3, and you will build upon this information in the Personal Trainer manual. Additional topics to study are major joints, fundamental movements, GTO function, muscle spindles, and a general understanding of the systems that were introduced.
However, do not be overly-focused on reproducing all of the information. The exam is a fitness training application-based exam, not a science or anatomy exam.
Tip: You do not need to know the specific origins, insertions, blood, or nerve supply of the muscle.
The points to focus on in this chapter are knowing the three energy systems and when each is used, ventilatory thresholds, VO2 Max, and environmental and physiological considerations for exercise in heat and cold. Note that you do not need to reproduce the structure of the energy components, the Kreb cycle, RER values or the food consumption diagram.
Here you will expand your knowledge of the human body by understanding fundamental movement patterns, postural deviations, types of muscular action (agonist, antagonist, synergist, and co-contraction), open and closed chain activity, and muscular balance. This chapter is fundamental to understand movement analysis. A great way to help you learn the muscles is to perform the actions on yourself. Visualize the muscle location, contraction, and resulting movement. These concepts will prove to be invaluable in your career. Taking a week to work on the muscles of each body segment is a great way to break the information into more attainable learning chunks. Focus on the arm for one week, move on to the leg the next week, etcetera.
You will find that this chapter is the only segment of your studies that focuses on nutrition. Concentrate on knowing the macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) function and recommended percentage, calculating the calories per gram from macronutrients, main sources of key micronutrients, how to manage weight through a calorie deficit, and hydration recommendations. Be familiar with the resources that are available to recommend to clients such as MyPlate while staying within your scope of practice. Generally understanding the digestion pathway, the DASH eating plan, and other special population recommendations are also necessary. It will also be helpful to be able to perform a calculation for the nutrition label sample. Note that you do not need to know how to calculate RMR or the RDAs of the micronutrients and minerals.
In this last chapter, you should hone in on fuel use during exercise, the three energy systems, and types of stretching. You do not need to be able to reproduce acute and chronic responses to exercise, the specific aspects of hormones (generally understanding this is important), or specific neural changes and adaptations.
Hopefully, you now have a clearer picture of what is expected for you to know from ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals. Keep moving through your material, and you will be able to switch to the Personal Trainer manual in no time!