Exercise Instruction

Fitness instructors need to be able to determine what exercises are most appropriate for their clients as well as if there are any contraindications for exercise. The correct intensities, sets, repetitions and frequency will also need to be determined.

Cardiorespiratory Training:

Cardiorespiratory training can potentially become monotonous and tedious in its application, as a general requirement is to increase duration to gain adaptations. It is therefore vital that the trainer consider the specific conditioning status and requirements of the individual, the required rate of progression, as well as the overall enjoyment of the exercises when designing and implementing a cardiorespiratory program.

The essential components of a cardiorespiratory training program include:

  1. Warm-up

This must be specific to the activity which the individual is to perform in the main exercise set. The warm-up must be at least 5 minutes in duration, and not exceed 20 minutes, as this will decrease the effectiveness of the main exercise set. The type of activities must consist of whole-body, dynamic movements which begin at an intensity level below the main exercise set, but must gradually increase, aiming to reach an intensity level equal with that of the main exercise set.

Benefits of a Warm-up:

  • Increased heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Increased tissue temperature
  • Improved psychological preparation for main exercise set.
  1. Primary Training Set

When designing and implementing a cardiorespiratory program it is important to always consider that individual responses will always vary, and therefore starting points and rates of progression will need to be modified according to the individual’s specific responses. The FITT principle will be applied when considering the design of a cardiorespiratory program:

  • Frequency:

It is advised that daily cardiorespiratory activities be undertaken by all individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, if intensity or duration is high relative to the conditioning status of the individual, then frequency will need to be decreased. A minimum of 3 days of cardiorespiratory training is required to gain any adaptations.

  • Intensity:

The intensity range for cardiorespiratory-specific adaptations is between 40% to 85% of maximal heart rate. The intensity selected will be based on the following variables; the conditioning status of the individual (the higher the conditioning status, the higher the intensity), the duration of the activity (the longer the duration, the lower the intensity), the complexity of the activity (the higher the complexity of the activity, the lower the prescribed intensity). Finally, the goals of the individual needs to be considered. If the client is only looking to achieve improved health gains, then a lower intensity (40% – 65%) can be prescribed. If the the client is looking to achieve goals of improving their physical activity endurance for a sport-specific activity, then a higher intensity will need to be considered (60% – 85%).

  • Time:

The time spent performing the activity, or the duration, is generally dependent on the intensity.  A longer duration activity will usually be at a lower intensity, and a shorter duration activity will usually be at a higher intensity. The specific goals of the individual will also need to be considered, along with their conditioning status. A rule when applying the FITT principle is ALWAYS to increase duration before increasing intensity. This will allow the body to increase its ability to sustain the activity and resist fatigue, before loading the body with the stress of increased intensity. This is a vital aspect to apply to reduce the risk of injury.

  • Type:

The type of activity or mode of training is primarily linked to the specific goals of the individual, I.e. if a swimmer is looking to improve their cardiorespiratory conditioning, then the primary type of exercise implemented must be swimming. The capability of the individual also needs to be considered, I.e. if the individual is not a competent swimmer, then attempting to prescribe swimming at a high intensity will not achieve the desired results, as the individual will expend most of their energy trying to perform the movement pattern, and never reach the desired intensity level, thereby not achieving the training goals. For an activity to be classified as a cardiorespiratory exercise, it must be (1) rhythmic in nature, (2) use large muscle groups and (3) be continuous in nature.

The following training methods or modes can be considered cardiorespiratory in nature:

  • Running or jogging
  • Walking
  • Cardiorespiratory equipment (stepper, elliptical, rower)
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  1. Cool Down

The purpose of a cool down is to take the body from the stress of exercise to a steady state of rest.

The cool down must look to achieve the following:

  • Reduce the heart and breathing rates
  • Gradually cool body temperature
  • Return muscles to optimal length and tension
  • Prevent blood pooling in the lower extremities
  • Return all the systems of the body to resting states in a gradual, measured process.

The cool down should be very like the warm-up (specific and progressive), except implemented in reverse to the warm-up. In performing a cool down the client will ensure that blood pooling is prevented (lowering the possibility of delayed onset muscle soreness), muscle stiffness is prevented (lowering the risk of injury and postural abnormalities due to muscle imbalances), and the risk of over training is significantly reduced as the body is provided with an opportunity to recover adequately.

Resistance Training:


Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in muscle strength, mass, and/or endurance. The external resistance can be dumbbells, rubber exercise tubing, body weight, or any other object that causes the muscles to contract.


Ageing will result in a loss of lean muscle mass, which is a condition known as sarcopenia. This condition occurs due to various reasons, but primarily to an increase in inactivity. Resistance training helps maintain and combat the loss of muscle mass by increasing activity levels with a focus on developing the health of the muscle. Regular resistance training can decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering body fat, decreasing blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and lowering the stress placed on the heart while lifting a load. Resistance training can also improve bone health, aid in improving posture, create more energy and endurance while performing daily tasks, and create an overall improvement in quality of life.

Different types of resistance training:

Body Weight:

This method of resistance training utilizes the weight of an individual’s own body and generally encourages movements performed against gravity, I.e. squat and push-up.


This method requires the use of specialized resistance training machines which are generally designed to perform a specific movement, and therefore isolate the contraction of a specific muscle or muscle group, I.e. leg extension and Pec deck machines.

Free Weight:

This method of training is most commonly utilized, and involved the use of dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and other weighted-equipment.

Benefits of Resistance Training

Physiologically, the benefits of consistent resistance training include an increase in muscle size and mass, increased muscular strength, and increases in tendon, bone, and ligament strength. Resistance training has also been shown to improve psychological health as well, by increasing self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth.

  • Increased energy

The muscle adapts to be able to sustain efforts for a longer duration. The muscle is also able to exert more force than prior to starting a resistance training program, resulting in lower efforts required for daily activities.

  • Decreased Body Fat, Increase Lean Tissue and Weight loss

An increased lean muscle mass will burn more calories at rest because of the higher rate of metabolism.

  • Bone mineral density increases

An increased bone mineral density will occur because of the increased imposed loads being placed upon the bone during the exercise sessions.

  • Decreased stress

The effort of exertion related to resistance training has been shown to decrease stress related to daily living. However, excessive resistance training with insufficient rest can place further stress on the body and increase stress levels.

  • Increased self-confidence, self-image, self-perception and outward self-projection.

When an individual undertakes a resistance training program, their posture, lean muscle mass and general health will improve. This will contribute to an improved self-image, and improve general confidence.

  • Heart rate decreases

This benefit will be related to the increase health and size of the heart because of adapting to the demands of resistance training. Other cardiovascular benefits will include a lowered resting blood pressure and lowered serum cholesterol

  • Increased Strength

This will be dependent on the implementation and design of the resistance training program. However, a degree of strength will be gained with all types of resistance training programs

  • Improved Performance

For individuals who engage in competitive sports and activities, resistance training has been proven to improve performance. Although increases in muscle mass and size is not always beneficial, especially in endurance activities, the muscles can be conditioned, through well designed exercise programs, to increase in strength without increasing in size or mass.

Circuit Training:

This training mode utilizes resistance training and cardiorespiratory training in a continuous training session, and applies minimal rest in between resistance exercises. The exercises in a circuit are not limited to resistance style exercises, and may include cardiorespiratory modes in between exercises. A circuit must continue for a minimum of 20 minutes without significant rest to achieve cardiorespiratory adaptations.


Able to achieve similar adaptations in cardiorespiratory conditioning without performing continuous cardiorespiratory-style training sessions. Able to achieve high post-exercise metabolic rate than previously mentioned cardiorespiratory training techniques.


  • Not suitable for inactive clients or clients not familiar with resistance training techniques
  • High risk of injury while performing exercise due to low rest intervals and high tempo on repetitions


This type of training can be incorporated in conjunction with other cardiorespiratory modes to improve the rate of cardiorespiratory adaptations. It can also be used for clients who are not able to spend the large duration of time achieving cardiorespiratory adaptations using continuous training. The adaptations are specific to the exercises performed in the circuit, therefore, this mode of training cannot be used as the only mode of training for clients who require specific long duration, low intensity adaptations, E.g. marathon runners and cyclist. It can however be used to complement continuous training in this situation. Of these training modes, one is not superior to the other. Rather, each one can be applied to a specific scenario for a prescribed period to achieve a specific goal. A trainer must understand the needs to the client, evaluate their conditioning status at a specific time, and then prescribe the best method

Circuit Training