Makeba Edwards by Makeba Edwards

After successfully completing the movement phase, the next progression is load training. The last two phases of the functional movement and resistance training component of the ACE Integrated Fitness TrainingTM (ACE IFTTM) Model focus on incorporating external load and speed, agility, quickness, reactivity, and power training. It is important that your client establishes proper form in the five primary movement patterns—bend-and-lift, single leg, push, pull, and rotation—before adding external loads during full-body movements or emphasizing specific training to improve power, speed, agility, and quickness.


Although in the movement phase small external loads may be added, in this phase specific load training goals and objectives are established. The objective in this phase may be to increase muscular endurance, strength, or hypertrophy for the purpose of improving body composition, function, movement, or health by using resistance. When programming in this phase, including stability and mobility and movement exercises in the warm-up and cool-down portions is recommended. If there is a significant break in training, such as a client becoming physically inactive for several weeks due to illness or injury, it would be ideal to assess posture and movement prior to resuming training to determine if there is a reappearance of postural deviations or movement compensations. A greater focus on stability and mobility may be required when a client returns after a break from training, after which time he or she could be progressed toward load training again.


Goals regarding resistance training will vary, and may include a focus on muscular endurance, strength, or hypertrophy.  The FITT-VP (i.e., frequency, intensity, time, type, volume, and progression) model provides a guideline for achieving these goals. Before programming, performing muscular endurance and strength assessments may be appropriate, depending on the needs of the individual client.


Muscular endurance is defined as the ability of a muscle to sustain successive repetitions of an activity and/or withstand fatigue.

Programming considerations:

  • Typically assessed by observing the maximum number of repetitions or time held in a static position
  • As muscular endurance increases, there will also be a slight increase in muscular strength
  • Recommended progression of weight load should be in 5% increments upon completion of end range repetitions in all sets


Muscular strength is defined as the greatest force that can be produced by one or more muscle groups by moving a load one time (i.e., one repetition).

Programming considerations:

  • Typically assessed observing a 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) weight load in a specific exercise (e.g., bench press)
  • Training intensity is emphasized
  • Recommended progression is double progressive protocol (i.e., increase number of repetitions and then the amount of load)
  • Recommended increase in load is 5% once the terminal number of repetitions is successfully completed with proper technique


Muscular hypertrophy is an increase in muscle fiber size achieved through progressive resistance exercise.

Programming considerations:

  • Assessed through the amount of volume (i.e., number of repetitions and the amount of load) performed by targeted muscle group
  • Due to the nature of this training goal, particularly for bodybuilders, body composition assessments and circumference measurements are conducted periodically
  • Increases in load in 5% increments may not be the most effective due to the type of program (e.g., quantity of exercise and short recovery intervals)
  • Allow for proper recovery of muscle groups between sessions due to the high volume of training in each workout


The fourth and final phase of the functional movement and resistance training component of the ACE IFT Model is performance training. Clients with competitive or performance goals may want to progress to, or even start in, this phase. If progressing to this phase, there must be successful completion of movement or load training and proper postural stability and mobility must be exhibited. If starting in this phase there should be proficiency in the previous phases.

The emphasis of the performance training phase is often increasing the speed of force production. Performance training enhances power, speed, agility, quickness, and reactivity—elements that are important for those with competitive or performance-based goals. In addition, exercises performed in this phase place a greater demand and stress on the musculoskeletal system, so it is paramount to ensure that proper joint stability and mobility and movement mechanics are mastered prior to entering this phase.

Programming considerations:

  • Incorporate dynamic warm-up activities
  • Prerequisites from previous phases should be met
  • Perform the necessary assessments prior to initiating programming
  • Performance training is not recommended for anyone with poor stability, mobility, and movement mechanics

The functional movement and resistance training component of the ACE IFT Model provides recommendations and guidelines for training your clients. Although these recommendations and guidelines are provided, your programming should be based on client observations and assessments, as well as his or her unique goals. Not everyone will need to begin in phase 1, and some clients may not need to progress to phase 4. You may also find that continuously incorporating elements of the different phases is effective in helping clients stick to their programs over the long-term.