The ACE IFT model features five movements:

1. Dare to define the focus of your blog

Given how vast the world of health and fitness is, it’s important when starting a blog to define what the theme or focus will be and truly stick to it, says Amanda Vogel, fitness writer, blogger and social media specialist. “Knowing the scope of your blog helps you stay true to the best topics to write about—both for you and your readers—and helps with identifying relevant brands to work with,” shares Vogel. “For example, my blog,, reviews health and fitness products from my perspective as a fitness expert and fitness-industry insider. Over time, brands have asked me to participate in and blog about campaigns, such as 30-day workout challenges, which, although could make for a fun series of posts, would be out of place with the overall theme of my blog.”

2. Let the true you shine through


In a content-saturated landscape, one of the most critical factors that influences the success of a blog is the writer’s own authenticity. Kasey Arena, certified personal trainer and fitness blogger, personally lives by the motto “be true to you,” and she utilizes this phrase as a guiding principle for her personal blog. “In this world, people are often trying to do what someone else is doing and they get lost in that,” says Arena. “It’s so important to remember why you are blogging and why you are doing what you do. Remember, people want to get to know you and want to hear you voice, as that is ultimately what will keep people coming back to your site.” [Check out these expert tips for defining your personal brand.]

3. Map out your monthly content

While it can seem like a daunting task to get your blog up and running, keep in mind that a little bit of planning can go a long way. To get started on the right foot, map out some topics that will help you to set goals for your writing, shares Jamie King, co-founder and president of Fit Approach. “If you plan ahead, preferably at the beginning of each month, you’re less likely to get stuck in a content rut,” notes King. “It’s also a great way to make sure you’re staying on top of seasonal and timely trends and topics, while allowing you to map out what you’d like to accomplish each month.”

4. Stick with a central theme per post


To keep your content concise, impactful and engaging, Vogel suggests writing each post with one central idea in mind. “One of the major issues I see with aspiring writers and bloggers is the urge to cram as much information as possible into one article or blog post,” shares Vogel. “Avoid having any one blog post attempt to cover everything you know or have experienced about a topic.” For example, when tackling a topic such as staying healthy while traveling, Vogel suggests zeroing in on topics like packing nutritious snacks and how to wisely order off a restaurant menu, and saving other tips—like exercising in a hotel room or using apps to map out runs in your designated city—for separate blog posts.

5. Stay committed and consistent

Just like exercise, consistency is key when it comes to the health of your blog. “Maintaining a blog is a lot of work, so it’s important to be honest with yourself about how much time you are willing to commit to it,” says King. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the frequency of your blog posts, King suggests deciding on what you can truly accomplish (i.e., posting two to three times per week, three to five times per week, etc.), and then at the beginning of each week block off time on your calendar that is purely dedicated to writing content. Arena adds that the quality of your content is what readers are ultimately coming to your blog for, and the higher the quality of your writing the more your subscribers and readership will grow.

6. Be an active member of the community


When it comes to blogging, don’t think you have to go it alone. In fact, King notes that the blogging world is all about reciprocity, and she stresses the importance of actively participating in the broader blogging community. “In order to be successful, share content with other bloggers you admire and connect with them on social media (retweet their content, comment on their blog, etc.). As you do, it’s more likely they will start doing the same thing for you.”

7. Creatively leverage social media

Instead of subscribing to the notion, “If you build it, they will come,” Vogel recommends utilizing social networking sites to build up your blog and establish your authority as a health and fitness influencer. “After you publish a new blog post, use a service like Hootsuite to pre-schedule multiple tweets about that post,” shares Vogel. Bear in mind that you can (and should) get creative with the visual elements associated with promoting your posts. Vogel suggests watermarking images with your blog’s logo and attaching a photo to each tweet ( is one of her go-to picks for doing this), or try posting on Instagram a snapshot of a computer or iPad in hand with your latest blog post pulled up on the screen.

For more expert guidance and proven strategies for success, check out these tips for getting your health and fitness blog up and running.


Jessica Matthews

Health and Fitness Expert

Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT500 is faculty in kinesiology and integrative wellness at Point Loma Nazarene University and professor of yoga studies at MiraCosta College, where she helps to grow and mentor the next generation of health and wellness professionals. A dynamic speaker, respected educator, fitness industry veteran and featured wellness expert, Jessica is a trusted and recognized go-to media resource, regularly contributing to numerous publications and outlines on topics ranging from fitness and yoga, to health coaching and career development. Additionally, she serves as ACE’s senior advisor for health and fitness education, and is the lead editor and author of the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook: The Professional’s Guide to Creating Memorable Movement Experiences. You can connect with her at

Your New Year’s resolution motivation might be waning, but the Winter Olympics are sure to inspire you to continue on your fitness journey or maybe even up your game! The athletes’ stories, fierce finishes, and emotions on display during the medal ceremonies are sure to have you lacing up your sneaks.  As you head for the door, be sure to grab this medal-worthy, metabolic conditioning workout as your training guide. Get ready to crush the competition as you sprint your way through a quick HIIT workout with moves inspired by your favorite winter sports. Whether your home is on slopes or you prefer cozying up next to the fire, this fast-paced workout will get you warm on the inside!

Be sure to warm-up for 5-10 minutes prior to completing the circuit and pick a few of your favorite stretches to complete after 2-3 minutes of walking to cool down. Complete each exercise within the pair for 30 seconds. Then, rest for 15 seconds and repeat. The goal is to become uncomfortable during exercise 1 and recover (slightly) during exercise 2.  You should be able to complete this metabolic conditioning workout in 20 minutes. But, if you do it right, that should be all you need!

Speed Skaters

Leap side to side. Try to take off from one foot and land on one foot. If needed, touch your back foot down for balance. To increase intensity, go wider, jump more explosively, or move faster.

Curtsy Lunge with Upper Body Rotation

Step back into a lunge and cross the left leg behind the right with arms extended out, in front of the chest. Be sure to put more weight on the right foot (front foot) and slightly hinge at the hip. The knee should be pointing in the same direction as your toes. At the bottom of the lunge, with arms still outstretched, rotate your torso in the direction of the back foot. Return torso to face front and then bring feet together. Switch legs. Feel free to add weight (hand weight, medicine ball, kettlebell) to the upper body for increased intensity.

90-Degree Squat Jumps

Begin with feet a bit wider than hip distance. Sink into a squat and as you come back up, jump and turn a quarter turn to face the right side. Land in a squat and repeat to return center. Continue alternating the quarter jump to either side of the room. If you prefer less impact, complete the quarter turn with a small hop or simply move your feet quickly. To increase intensity, jump higher, move faster, or add a medicine ball at the chest or overhead as you jump.

Squat with Heel Lift

Begin with feet a bit wider than hip distance. Sink into a squat, making sure to keep weight in the heels, knees lined up with toes, and chest lifted. Once you are at the lowest point of your squat, pause and lift your heels. Hold the heel lift for a count of three, lower your heels, and stand back up. To increase the intensity, move slowly, increase the range of motion, and consider adding weight at the chest or overhead.

Mogul Hops 

Begin with feet close together; jump and turn the body to the right diagonal. Then, quickly, jump and return to center. Repeat to the left. Unlike the squat jumps from above, these are mini hops with focus on moving quickly and precisely. To increase intensity, move faster or add a medicine ball to the chest.

Plank with Alternating Lunge

Position hands on the floor, directly under your shoulders, and extend the legs out behind you. From this position, take your right leg and place it near your right hand (in a low lunge position), then return back to plank position and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating. To increase the intensity, move faster or change to a hop from right lunge to left lunge.

Triple Hop & Hold

Stand on your right leg. Perform three progressive hops (think little, big, bigger). After the third hop, stick the landing in a deep bend and count to three before repeating on the same leg for the duration. You will perform the hops on the left side during your second round.

Warrior 3 to Standing

Stand on your right leg and extend the left leg behind you. Arms reach overhead with biceps covering ears. Keep the body in one straight line as you try to hinge forward, bringing the back leg off the floor and the torso parallel to the floor. Pause and return to standing. Continue on the right side for the duration. You will perform the Warrior 3 on the left side during your second round.

Reverse Burpee

Begin with your feet wider than hip distance. Squat back and down to the ground. Once your bum hits the floor, lie back, extending the legs out in front of you and the arms overhead. Quickly return to a seated position and back up to the standing start position. To increase the intensity, add a jump when you stand or move faster. Be sure to perform this exercise on a soft mat or be extra careful as you lower to the ground. You might consider completing this on a BOSU Balance Trainer instead for an extra challenge (and a soft place to land).

Reverse Plank

Begin in a seated position with your legs outstretched. Place your hands behind you on the ground slightly behind your shoulders. Press through your hands and heels to drive the hips up towards the ceiling. Hold for a count of three and lower down. Repeat for the duration. You can also bend your knees and place your feet on the floor to perform a reverse tabletop, instead.

Low-back pain is a potentially debilitating issue that affects most active people at some point in their lives. One major downside of having low-back pain is how difficult it is to exercise and achieve your fitness goals, such as finally getting that flat tummy you’ve always wanted. Luckily, there is one exercise that can reduce low-back pain while simultaneously flattening your stomach—the plank.

Because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, helps reduce low-back pain. As the deep abdominal muscles become stronger, your mid-section tightens. When done properly, the plank not only uses the deep abdominal muscles, it also recruits the hip, shoulder and upper-back muscles.

How to do an effective plank:

  • Hold the elbows directly under the shoulders and place the wrists in line with the elbows.
  • Push your body up into your upper back and hold your chin close to your neck (like you’re holding an egg between your chin and your throat).
  • In this position, brace your abdominals—contract them like expecting a punch in the stomach, squeeze your gluteal (tailbone) and thigh muscles simultaneously while continuing to breathe normally.
  • Hold a plank at least 20 to 30 seconds. (When using correct form, it is not necessary to hold it for longer than this amount of time.)
  • Rest for approximately one minute and repeat three to five more times.
  • Start doing the plank using the elbows and toes (feel free to drop to your knees if necessary) and progress up to a high plank when you feel you have developed the necessary strength.

Common mistakes to avoid when doing the plank:

  • Allowing the hips, head or shoulders to drop
  • Holding both hands together (creating internal rotation and instability at the shoulder joint)
  • Holding your breath
  • Trying to hold the contraction too long—it is more preferable to hold optimal alignment for a shorter period of time than to hold a poor position for an extended period of time.


Plank with Hip Flexion/Extension


  • Start in a standard high-plank position.
  • Raise the right leg approximately 6 to 8 inches, hold for five seconds and then alternate legs. Start with three to four repetitions and gradually increase over time.
  • To increase the level of difficulty, raise the right and then bring the right knee up to the outside of the right elbow; return to the starting position. Alternate legs for three to five repetitions.


Plank with Thoracic Spine Rotation


  • Start in a standard high-plank position.
  • Press the right hand into the ground, rotate both feet and hips to the left while raising the left arm off of the ground. Rotate the left arm down, then repeat the move to the other side, pushing the left hand into the ground and rotating the right arm up.
  • Repeat for three to six repetitions on each side.


Side Plank With Full Extension


  • The first level of progression is to perform the side plank with the elbow directly under the shoulder. It is important to make sure the body is properly aligned and to enhance stability by contracting the abdominals (like preparing for a punch) and squeezing the glutes (butt) and thighs while pressing both legs together. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and alternate sides.
  • From a side -ying position, press the right hand into the ground, and fully extend the arm while pushing both legs together and keeping the side of the right foot pressed into the ground. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and alternate sides.




  • Start in a standard high-plank position.
  • Drop the right arm down to the right elbow, then drop your left arm down to the left elbow; hold for three seconds. Return to the starting position by placing first the right hand and then the left hand on the ground. Repeat for three to five repetitions.


Standing Two-arm Press From Cable Column


  • This exercise is the most effective way to transfer the strength of the plank to a standing position. Use a cable-column machine with the cable pulley at approximately chest height and position the pulley on the right side of the body. Place both feet approximately hip-width apart and press them into the ground. Keep your knees bent, sink into your hips and brace your core as if you were doing a standard plank. Select a weight that will be challenging for six to eight repetitions, grab the handle in both hands and press it away from the body. Alternate sides and repeat the exercise with the left side of your body facing the machine.
  • To increase the level of difficulty bring the feet closer together or use a staggered stance with one leg forward and the other leg back (like a static lunge).


All structures require a strong foundation for optimal stability, and the human body is no exception. Improving strength of the deep abdominal muscles helps establish a solid foundation for the human structure. To enhance core strength, reduce low-back pain and flatten the stomach, it is important to use exercises, such as the plank, that co-contract all layers of abdominal fascia at the same time. For specific advice on how to do these exercises or any others, locate an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer in your area.

Up until about 40 years ago, most athletes were told to avoid resistance training because the misperception was that strength training would actually reduce their athletic performance. Of course, we now know that a proper strength and conditioning program is essential for athletes who want to reduce their risk of injury and enhance their performance.

Athletic performance is based on a number of skills that can be developed through a sports conditioningprogram. This particular program focuses on improving both muscular strength and power using a technique called post-activation potentiation (PAP), also commonly referred to as complex training.

Complex training combines strength exercises from the load phase of the ACE Integrated Fitness Training®(ACE IFT®) Model and power exercises from the performance phase to improve both muscle force production (strength) and the rate of force production (power). A complex training set involves performing two exercises back to back, with a brief rest period in between. The first exercise is a strength exercise using a heavy weight for four to six repetitions (ideally fatiguing by the final rep). The second exercise is a power exercise focusing on explosive movement for five to eight repetitions. There should be a 30- to 45-second rest interval between the strength and power exercises and a 90- to 120-second minute rest interval after both exercises.

It is important to perform a number of mobility exercises for a proper dynamic warm-up before attempting a high-intensity training program. There are two ways to do a complex workout: Complete all complex sets of one exercise before moving on to the next, or combine the exercises into a circuit. Circuit training allows you to reduce the rest time between complex sets, which increases the challenge of the .

There are three components of exercise: resistance training, flexibility (actually, it’s more appropriate to call it “mobility,” but that’s a subject for another blog on another day) and cardiorespiratory training. Resistance-training exercises help improve both muscle strength, which can elevate resting metabolism (the number of calories burned while at rest), and functional performance in a variety of activities. Flexibility or mobility exercises can reduce muscle tension and improve joint range of motion, which are essential for enhancing overall movement efficiency. And finally, cardiorespiratory training improves the ability to both move oxygen and nutrients to working muscles and to remove metabolic waste, which allows muscles to continue to perform a particular activity. Every person starting a workout program will have a unique goal, but each goal requires a different level of focus on each of these components.

A well-designed exercise program includes all three components. However, if a client wants to improve definition and/or physical function, for example, you would focus his or her program on strength training. Likewise, if a client’s goals are to improve mobility and movement efficiency, you would focus on flexibility. And if your client is participating in a race or wants to lose weight, you would emphasize cardiorespiratory training. Cardiorespiratory training can enhance the body’s ability to metabolize fats and carbohydrates into fuel, both with and without oxygen. While cardio training is most often associated with fat loss, it is also the best way to improve aerobic capacity, which is the ability to use oxygen to fuel exercise activity.

During low- to moderate-intensity exercise, muscles rely on energy from a combination of oxygen and the substrates of carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen), and fats (called free fatty acids). The more oxygen that can be consumed, the more physical work an individual will be able to do. And, because the body burns about 5 calories of energy to consume 1 liter of oxygen,  increasing aerobic capacity can help the body become more efficient at using oxygen. This, in turn, helps burn calories, which an important component of weight loss.

Regardless of what your clients’ fitness goals may be, improving aerobic capacity can help move them closer to reaching them. For strength-related goals, enhancing aerobic capacity can improve blood, oxygen and nutrient flow to working muscles and help with recovery between sets of resistance-training exercises. Improving the flow of blood to muscles can also help improve flexibility. For weight-loss or endurance-training goals, improving aerobic capacity is essential for achieving them.

Here are eight things to consider when structuring your clients’ programs to maximize the benefits of enhanced aerobic capacity:
  1. During exercise, oxygen consumption can be measured one of two ways: (1) at maximal levels of exertion (during a medically supervised stress test) to identify maximal aerobic capacity or VO2max, or (2) via absolute terms, the amount of oxygen consumed per minute of exercise. Each measurement is specific to your current level of fitness, but it’s important to understand that aerobic capacity is a relative measurement. This means that a larger person with more muscle mass will consume more oxygen at the same intensity than a smaller individual.
  2. Increasing aerobic capacity can help improve the flow of oxygenated blood to muscle tissue, which, in turn, can improve mitochondrial density. Mitochondria are the organelles of a muscle cell that use oxygen to help produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the actual fuel that supplies muscle contractions. Improving mitochondrial density improves a muscle’s ability to use oxygen, while also improving the overall health and function of the cells.
  3. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is not only effective for burning calories, but it can also help improve aerobic capacity. At higher intensities, the body will use ATP from anaerobic sources, but will rely on aerobic metabolism during the lower-intensity recovery intervals to help replace the energy spent during the high-intensity work periods. The downside is that while HIIT is effective, too much of it could cause overtraining. For best results, limit your clients to no more than three HIIT workouts per week.
  4. Low-intensity steady state (LISS) training, also known as long slow distance (LSD) training, is the ability to maintain a steady work-rate over an extended period of time. LISS relies on aerobic energy pathways for energy and can supply fuel muscle activity for extended durations like endurance races. Compared to HIIT, LISS is a lower-stress way to improve aerobic capacity, but it is not as effective for burning calories (for a specific comparison between HIIT and LISS, click here). The upside, however, is that LIIS can be performed almost every day, especially for those who can walk or ride a bike to work.
  5. Cross training, popularized in the late 1980s bytwo-sport sensation Bo Jackson, refers to doing different activities or modes of exercise on different days to achieve a specific fitness goal. Performing a LISS run on one day followed by a HIIT cycling class followed by a circuit-training workout on the third day is an excellent example of how to periodize a workout to improve overall aerobic capacity.
  6. Another approach is to do cross training in the same exercise session. For example, have the client perform 10 minutes of steady-state walking on an incline on a treadmill, 10 minutes of HIIT intervals (30 seconds at high intensity/30 seconds at low intensity) on a stationary bike, 10 minutes of steady-state training on a rowing ergometer, and finish up with 10 minutes of circuit resistance training. Breaking up a workout into short bouts of exercise on different pieces of equipment can help challenge the muscles to work differently on each piece of equipment. This, in turn, can help improve aerobic capacity while reducing the risk of overuse injuries from doing too much of the same exercise.
  7. Dance classes, also referred to as hi-lo aerobics, are another great way to improve aerobic capacity while having fun. There is a reason why programs like Zumba are so popular—they help improve aerobic capacity, but in a format that resembles a fun party as opposed to a strenuous workout.
  8. As discussed earlier, muscle is a metabolically active tissue, which means that it can use oxygen for fuel during exercise and at rest. A pound of muscle burns about 5 calories or so in a 24-hour period; therefore, adding 5 pounds of muscle can help improve resting metabolism by approximately 25 calories per day, which is the equivalent to walking a quarter mile (four hundred meters) without the effort. This is where strength training comes in to support cardio goals—adding muscles means the body can become a more effective oxygen-consuming machine.

Understanding how to apply the four phases of the Cardiorespiratory component of the ACE Integrated Fitness Training® (ACE IFT®) Model can help you identify the most effective way to design a client’s exercise program to achieve his or her cardiorespiratory-based goals and improve overall aerobic capacity.

Become an expert in creating programs for post-rehabilitative clients recovering from cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic and musculoskeletal conditions; identifying postural imbalances; and implementing programs that can prevent and manage disease with ACE’s Medical Exercise Specialist Certification.


s would agree that there are a lot of options for body-weight exercises. And they would most likely be able to rattle off a list of the usual ones: squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, glute bridges and maybe a few others.

And just as likely, that list of moves will seem a bit dull and uninteresting, and may result in some missed workouts instead of spending some time doing something valuable.

Sometimes a client is travelling or has no time for a trip to the studio or gym and needs an effective, engaging body-weight workout.

We can argue that people shouldn’t need novelty with exercise. And while it is true that people would be well served by doing that list of familiar exercises rather than nothing, the human brain is wired to find novelty more interesting.

We can stubbornly swim against the current and insist that people just do it—or we can exhibit true fitness leadership and provide clients with continually challenging workouts while still following sound principles of movement-based training.

In the spirit of novelty, and using the ACE Integrated Fitness TrainingTM (ACE IFTTM) model as a guide, here are five body-weight exercises for when your clients need an equipment-free workout, whether they are travelling or at home.

The ACE IFT model features five movements:

  1. Bend and lift—a bilateral hip or quad-dominant movement (e.g., squat, deadlift, glute bridge)
  2. Lunge—a unilateral or asymmetrical lower-body movement (e.g., single-leg squat, lunge)
  3. Push—a vertical or horizontal pushing movement, either bilateral or unilateral
  4. Pull—a vertical or horizontal pulling movement, either bilateral or unilateral
  5. Rotation
  Exercises Movement(s)
1 Table-top Bridge Bend and lift; pull; rotation (if doing single-arm option)
2 Side Plank Get-up Rotation; lunge; push
3 Single-leg Flextension Lunge
4 Mountain Skater Rotation; push; lunge (due to single-leg landings)
5 Dancing Squat Bend and lift

Table -top Bridge


This version of the hip bridge introduces a significant upper-body element with a pull into shoulder extension. This exercise also features rotation if the single-arm reach option as shown in the video is added.

Side Plank Get-up


This exercise is demonstrated on hands, but it can be performed on elbows as well. While the elbow variation may be easier on the arm, it is more challenging on the core and legs, because it requires more torso lift, hip flexibility and leg strength to move the leg into the correct position to get up.

Single-leg Flextension


“Flextension” is a term I use to describe flexion and extension when used together. This slower movement integrates balance and coordination with strength. If necessary, a client can gently tap the toes of the moving leg to help with stability. It is better to do the movement well with a little balance help then to barely do it by refusing to tap the foot lightly.

Mountain Skater


If you combine a Mountain Climber with a Skater Hop, you have Mountain Skater! Ensure the feet stay wide and try to get a little hang time. I often see the feet work their way back together during a set, because this is the more familiar position for a Mountain Climber. When we are challenged, moving quickly and getting fatigued, we often fall back to default movement patterns.

Dancing Squat

The usual foot position for the squat when performed as an exercise is symmetrical. Yet in life, we rarely squat symmetrically. Consider your foot position when getting up from a chair, the toilet or out of a car—your feet are often in two different positions. Here we are using that reality to create an exercise. At the top of each rep, one foot moves forward, backward, in or out, or rotates to a new position so that each squat is different than the one before. This version is great for adding some internal and external hip rotation, abduction/adduction, and flexion or extension to the body-weight squat.

Finally, note the different speeds used in these movements: normal, fast and slow (fast and slow are simply relative to whatever “normal” speed would be for any individual). Life moves at different speeds and so should your training.

How to Use These Exercises

If a single movement stands out to you, work it into your clients’ programs. You can also use the exercises listed in the order shown to create a circuit of either timed sets (25-second sets is a starting point for most people), or reps (10 each; 20 for movements 4 and 5.) The best part is that a circuit of all five movements performed nonstop for five to 10 minutes would provide a surprising and beneficial challenge for a small investment of time.


When there are endless options for body-weight exercise, people will often do nothing. When the human brain is presented with too much choice and too many options, our response is often to not make a choice at all. These five moves offer you some wonderful options for delivering what people want from you—effective and engaging exercise.




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