For those of you who are feeling overwhelmed after beginning your study of ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals manual, don’t worry. This is a common feeling among many individuals who are getting started with this book, but luckily, it doesn't have to be!
As you start your career as a fitness professional, you must have a foundation in the human body and its systems. This book is designed to not only be used as a study guide, but also as a resource tool for the future. You are being introduced to the human body and, let's face it—much many of us don't know very much about our own systems.
Before we break down the five chapters, here’s my favorite tip:
While working through the materials, picture how you would apply the information to a fitness-professional setting. If it’s a very detailed topic, such as the structure of a nerve cell, recognize that this is not necessarily something you would directly use when working with a client. Therefore, it serves more as reference material. Continue to use this strategy as you go through the book, and it will become clearer which information is most important to your actual work as a trainer.
Here are the most important elements of each chapter:
The most important aspects of this chapter are the anatomical position and planes of motion, the segmental movements in the three planes, and the muscles and their actions. You need to understand how both the muscle spindle and GTO function, as well as have a general understanding of the systems introduced in this chapter (cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, skeletal, nervous and muscular). You do not, however, need to be able to reproduce all of the information. Remember, this is a fitness training application-based exam, not a science or anatomy exam.
Quick tip: You do not need to know the origins, insertions or blood or nerve supply of the muscles. You do need thorough knowledge of movement analysis, understanding how each muscle contraction creates the movement, as well as the actions of the muscles. (This will also come in more detail in Chapter 3.)
Within this chapter, you need to take away some of the key points in exercise physiology. This includes the fitness components, when each energy system is used, the ventilatory thresholds and VO2max, exercising in the heat and cold, and environmental considerations. You do not need to be able to reproduce the structure of the energy components, the Kreb cycle, RER values or the food consumption diagram.
Be sure to understand the fundamental movements, the postures, the primary action of the different muscle groups, the key aspects of human motion terminology (agonist, antagonist, synergist and co-contraction), open and closed chain activity and balance. This chapter is important for helping you understand movement analysis. While you are learning the muscles and their actions, get up and perform the actions! Picture the muscle, where it is located, how it is contracting and what movement will result. It’s also a good idea to continue with muscle and movement analysis throughout your studies. Each week, work on one body segment. For example, work on the leg during week 2, the arm during week 3 and so on.
This chapter is the only segment of your studies that focuses on nutrition. It is important to understand calories per gram of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat), the main sources of the key micronutrients, and weight-management calorie deficit. Acquire a general understanding of the digestion pathway, the aspects of the MyPlate and the DASH diet and other special population recommendations. You will need to know hydration recommendations and nutrition needs—the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat—for adults. You also need to make yourself familiar with how to do a calculation for the nutrition label sample. The multiple-choice questions at the end of this chapter are a great tool to show you the most important topics to focus on. You do not need to know how to calculate RMR or the RDAs of the micronutrients and minerals.
The core aspects to take away from this chapter are the fuels used during exercise, thermoregulation during exercise, fluid intake, general training principles and stretching techniques. You do not need to be able to reproduce acute and chronic responses to exercise, the detailed aspects of hormones (a general understanding, however, is important) or specific neural changes and adaptations.
That covers what you need to understand from ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals. Do not get bogged down, keep working through the materials and before you know it you will be ready to switch over to the main manual where you will start the fun stuff!