ACE Exam Content Outline: Appendix B


Where to start?

The Ace Personal Trainer Manual 4th ed., The Ultimate Resource for Fitness Professionals, is the meat of the matter for this exam.  Appendix B is the complete exam outline for the certification test. This should ideally be at the beginning of the book, but its in the back. Read this first! A lot of the content in an appendix is usually repetitive, but this outline gives you important information as to what your focus should be on while studying. Its actually a great resource that ACE has included. It gives you a decent direction to head into. ACE updates this document frequently. So if you don’t have the PT Manual text, you can find it here: PTv5_ExamContenOutline.pdf

 This outline is divided into 4 Domains:

  1. Domain 1: Client Interviews and Assessment – 31%
    • Task1:  Obtain health, medical, and exercise history and lifestyle information (e.g., personal, physical, environmental, nutritional, and occupational factors) using questionnaires, interviews, and available documents to determine risk stratification, identify the need for medical clearance and referrals, and facilitate program design.
    • Task 2: Assess clients’ current attitudes, preferences, goals, and readiness for behavior change using questionnaires and interviews to identify potential barriers, motivators, and expectations necessary to set appropriate program goals.
    • Task 3:  Identify and evaluate the quality of client movement (e.g., balance, stability, and mobility) through observations and assessments, to develop appropriate exercise programming designed to improve movement efficiency and enhance activities of daily living, overall physical performance, and injury prevention and recovery.
    • Task 4 : Select and conduct physiological assessments (e.g., cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, body composition, heart rate, blood pressure) based on client interviews, questionnaires, and standardized protocols to facilitate safe and effective program design and to monitor changes over time.
  2. Domain 2: Program Design and Implementation – 33%
    • Task 1: Interpret the results of the client interview and assessment data (e.g., client goals, attitudes, motivations), define program goals, and design safe and effective exercise and lifestyle programs.
    • Task 2: apply appropriate exercise parameters (e.g., frequency, intensity, duration, type) and principles (e.g., overload, specificity, progression) for cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility using current guidelines to develop safe and effective exercise programs.
    • Task 3: incorporate skill-related exercises (e.g., stability, mobility, coordination, balance, power, speed, agility) and appropriate equipment into client programs, in accordance with scientific research, to improve movement efficiency and enhance activities of daily living, overall physical performance, and injury prevention and recovery.
    • Task 4: instruct clients on safe and effective exercise techniques (e.g., intensity, breathing, tempo, movement patterns, postural alignment) and equipment use, using a variety of cues (e.g., verbal, visual, kinesthetic) to achieve program goals.
  3. Domain 3: Program Progression and Modification – 19%
    • Task 1: Promote program adherence through reinforcement of client motivators, education regarding the benefits of exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle, and modification of program parameters to achieve program goals.
    • Task 2: Recognize and respond to lapses in program adherence by identifying client barriers and helping to establish and implement support systems and/or solutions.
  4. Domain 4: Professional Conduct, Safety and Risk Management – 17%
    • Task 1: Apply risk-management strategies in accordance with recognized standards, guidelines, laws, and regulations to protect the client, personal trainer, and other relevant parties in order to reduce the risk of injury and liability.
    • Task 2: Document client-related data, communications, and progress using a secure record-keeping system in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements to maintain confidentiality and continuity of care, and to minimize liability.
    • Task 3: Use credible resources to maintain and enhance competency by staying current with scientifically based research, theories, and practices in order to provide safe and effective services.
    • Task 4: Conduct assessments of the exercise space, equipment, and environment in order identify potential hazards and undertake necessary modifications to provide a safe environment for clients and the personal trainer.

The exam outline on the link I provided is about 8 pages long. The outline in the 4th edition is 17 pages long. I’ve read both and ACE does a pretty good job summarizing this PDF.  The differences I did notice was the percentages of the domains. Appendix B goes into more depth giving you information on the following 4 subjects of each domain:

  1. Anatomy and Biomechanics
  2. Physiology
  3. Nutrition
  4. Psychology

The table below summarizes how much each performance domain weighs as well as what is covered in it.


Ready to begin:  Chapter 1: Role and Scope of Practice for the Personal Trainer




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