Proficiency Award 3 in Fitness Science

Learn the science of human fitness & develop solid foundation skills for a lifelong career in sport, fitness or a related industry. A unique and extensive course - a starting point for fitness professionals to underpin developing expertise.

Course CodeVRE024
Fee CodeDI
Duration (approx)2100 hours
QualificationProficiency Award 3

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Extensive education for the serious fitness professional and those looking to extend their knowledge - so that they can offer well-structured fitness programs and informed advice to their clients.


  • Provide knowledge of the science of human fitness.
  • Develop solid foundation skills for a lifelong career in fitness or a related industry.
  • Place you ahead of other less qualified people in the field.
  • Give you the opportunity to be in a well-paid career.

The fitness industry is huge, and increasingly sophisticated.

Today's leaders in the fitness industry are increasingly entrepreneurial business people with a sound understanding of exercise science and thousands of hours of  formal education in human biology, health and exercise science. This course is designed to distinguish you from the average fitness professional (most of whom have done a short fitness leader's certificate), and equip you with the knowledge and skills that tomorrow's fitness professional needs.

What makes the ACS Proficiency Award unique?
The proficiency awards offer a tiered award system - so you don't have to wait until the end of your qualification to have an award.

How does that work?
Once you have completed 6 modules, you can receive an ACS Certificate. Complete 8(plus 100hrs work experience), and receive an ACS Advanced Certificate. Complete 10 and receive a ACS Proficiency Award 1. Complete 14 (plus 100hrs work experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 2. Complete 20 modules (plus 100hrs work experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 3. Complete 24 modules (plus 100hrs Work Experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 4.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Proficiency Award 3 in Fitness Science.
 Industry Project BIP000
 Biochemistry I (Animal and Human) BSC103
 Business Studies BBS101
 Cell Biology BSC110
 Human Anatomy & Physiology (Human Biology 1A) BSC101
 Research Project I BGN102
 Sports Coaching VRE109
 Bioenergetics (Human Biology IB) BSC201
 Muscles & Movement (Human Biology II) BSC202
 Cardiorespiratory Performance (Human Biology III) BSC301
 Technical Writing (Advanced) BWR301
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 10 of the following 29 modules.
 Anatomy II (Human) BSC112
 Biopsychology I BPS108
 Fitness Risk Management VRE104
 Food Coaching VRE110
 Health & Fitness I BRE101
 Human Nutrition 1 BRE102
 Medical Terminology BSC109
 Physiology II (Human) BSC111
 Sports Psychology BPS106
 Workshop I BGN103
 Advanced Aerobics BRE208
 Aquafitness BRE207
 Biochemistry II (Plant & Animal) BSC203
 Biopsychology II BPS204
 Event Management BRE209
 Food Preparation - Foundations of Cooking BRE212
 Health & Fitness II BRE201
 Healthy Buildings I (Building Construction & Health) BSS200
 Human Nutrition II BRE202
 Resistance Exercise BRE206
 Therapeutic Nutrition BRE211
 Biochemistry III (Animal Processes) BSC303
 Health & Fitness III BRE301
 Healthy Buildings II (Building Environment & Health) BSS300
 Human Nutrition III BRE302
 Neuropsychology BPS306
 Psychopharmacology (Drugs & Psychology) BPS302
 Sports Nutrition BRE303
 Weight Loss Consultant BRE307

Note that each module in the Proficiency Award 3 in Fitness Science is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

How to Become a Fitness Professional

To be a competent fitness professional, you do need a substantial level of training.
  Short fitness leader certificates may get you a job as a gym instructor; but that type of work is nowhere near what is needed for a sustainable, well paid, long term career as a fitness professional.

This course would be close to two years of full time study at most colleges; however, under our system you may fast track it or take it slow. Some may complete it in one year, while others may take many years to finish the course.

To give yourself the best chance of success in this industry, a substantial course (around 1500 hrs or more) together with experience, is what is needed.

How Do You Plan a Fitness Program?

If you are a fitness instructor, programming should become second nature to you.

The proper way to develop a program will involve going through a step by step process, and writing down what you decide at each stage.

Deciding who your program is being designed for:
Is it for yourself alone; perhaps yourself with a small group of friends or perhaps an exercise class which you are going to lead. You need to know a little bit about the participants. If the participants don't exercise regularly already; it is generally wise to carry out a fitness test before settling on too many details in the program. This enables you to plan a program which fits the participant’s capabilities. (See the pre-screening check list in the chapter on safety).

Deciding what the aim of the program is
Any program should have a warm up and cool down phase; but the main body might aim to achieve any combination of the following:

Improving/Maintaining Cardio-respiratory Fitness
To achieve this, participants need to keep their heart rate at 70 - 85 % of their maximum heart rate - for at least 20 minutes of the class. The longer this remains high the more the individual is increasing their fitness.

For people who do not exercise regularly, they should start with a THR of 55% (exercising a minimum of 3 times per week). For people who are of medium fitness who are trying to maintain reasonable fitness a THR of 60-75% is appropriate for 20 to 60 minutes 3 or 4 times weekly. For athletes, an 85% THR 5 times per week, for 1 hour each time is appropriate.

To find what your maximum heart rate is and how to work at 70 - 85% of this try and utilise the following formula.

220 minus Age = Maximum Heart Rate Range
Multiply this by 0.7 and 0.85 = Target Heart Rate Range

 Example: 25 year old person

220 - 25 (years of age)
195 x 0.7 and 195 x 0.85
= 136 and 165
This particular person needs to work between 136 and 165 beats per minute to achieve a cardio-respiratory training effect.
To find out if this is occurring, an individual may take their heart rate either by placing their pointer and middle finger on the radial (wrist) or carotid (neck) pulse. Once the pulse is found the beats are counted for 15 seconds and then multiplied by 4 to calculate for 1 minute. The result is to fall between 135 and 165 for the example above. If this is outside the range the participant needs to either work harder or slow down. Working above 85% is achieving results in the anaerobic (sprint) fitness component and cannot be maintained for a long duration therefore getting very puffed quickly.

Building Strength in Specific Muscles

Increasing the strength in major muscle groups can be achieved through designing workouts specific to that particular group. Let’s say the aim is to tone the legs and increase strength then a series of leg exercises would need to be performed; squats, tuck jumps, leg kicks and general jogging through the water.

Building General Muscular Strength
Some workouts can be designed to allow the body to have a complete body workout, therefore increasing overall muscular strength. This can be achieved through big movements of the entire body, with large leg and arm actions.

Improving Flexibility

This can be achieved primarily at the beginning and the conclusion of the class. After the participants have warmed, up a series of stretches take place to decrease the risk of injury. These exercises can also be very effective in increasing flexibility. Stretches need to be held for at least 20 - 30 seconds and often repeated. Sometimes a stretch may be performed with the assistance of another person who will increase the resistance applied. If flexibility was to be one of the aims of the aqua fitness class, then more muscle groups would need to be stretched, the stretches would be held for longer and repeated; more than one repetition would be performed. This could begin in the warm up and continue into the main body of the class. Exercises specific to the particular muscle group being stretched, could be included. For example an intense leg workout could be performed, followed by a series of gluteal, hip flexor, quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscle stretches.


A pool class provides a warm and comfortable environment where relaxation may be a primary focus of the participants and instructor. Whilst exercises are still being performed throughout the class, they may not be as intense or vigorous as a class designed to increase muscular strength would be.


While many people enter the fitness industry by doing a short fitness leaders certificate - the jobs available to such graduates are often relatively low paid, and with limited opportunity for advancement. This Proficiency Award will set you apart from lesser trained fitness professionals - our Proficiency Award 3 consists of 2100 hours of study.

Start any time, study at your own pace under a team of university trained and experienced professionals.

Scroll down to speak with a fitness professional or to enrol in this course scroll back to the top of the page.



ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

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Karen Lee

Nutritional Scientist, Dietician, Teacher and Author. BSc. Hons. (Biological Sciences), Postgraduate Diploma Nutrition and Dietetics. Registered dietitian in the UK, with over 15 years working in the NHS. Karen has undertaken a number of research projec
Anna Jones

Human Biology graduate, with post grad MSc in Equine Science. Tutor with ACS for a decade; in addition to time spent in managerial, research and lecturing positions elsewhere. She also has over a decade of practical animal management experience.
Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head fo
Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Di
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