Unit of competency details

SISFFIT040 - Develop and instruct gym-based exercise programs for individual clients (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Supersedes SISFFIT003 - Instruct fitness programsNon-equivalent. Title changed. Significant changes to structure and content of Elements and Performance Criteria. Performance Evidence amended: hours and client contact sessions removed, replaced with number and type of clients, and number and duration of sessions. Knowledge Evidence updated with significant additions and deletions. 09/Nov/2021

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 10/Nov/2021


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  15/Dec/2021 
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Unit Of competency

Modification History

Supersedes and is not equivalent to SISFFIT003 Instruct fitness programs.


This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to develop tailored gym-based exercise programs for individuals where the level of personalised instruction, ongoing client monitoring and program evaluation is limited. Clients are provided with initial instruction and then largely self-manage their own exercise sessions at the gym, according to the program, without ongoing one-to-one instruction.

It requires the ability to integrate information from pre-exercise screenings, fitness assessments, and any medical guidance that may have been received for particular clients, to design suitable programs.

This unit applies to gym instructors and gym-based personal trainers who work unsupervised when interacting with clients using discretion and judgement and are guided by policies and procedures. They practise in settings such as fitness facilities, gyms, and leisure and community centres.

The skills in this unit must be applied in accordance with Commonwealth and State or Territory legislation, Australian standards and industry codes of practice.

No occupational licensing, certification or specific legislative requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

Pre-requisite Unit


Competency Field


Unit Sector


Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element.

1. Identify client needs.

1.1. Review outcomes of client pre-exercise screening and fitness assessment and identify relevant information for program design.

1.2. Identify implications of medical guidance for exercise programming and duty of care to follow.

1.3. Discuss exercise preferences and consult with client to identify their short- and long-term fitness goals to inform program design.

1.4. Build client trust and rapport using client-centred communication showing sensitivity and empathy during interactions.

1.5. Develop and document client profile to assist with programming.

2. Develop program and session structure.

2.1. Review client’s exercise preferences, goals, current abilities and medical advice to determine types of exercises and equipment for program.

2.2. Determine type and frequency of exercise sessions required for client to achieve goals.

2.3. Select exercises, training techniques and exercise equipment that target client’s fitness goals.

2.4. Plan sessions that incorporate volume and intensity and load of exercises appropriate to client’s age, sex and existing fitness capabilities.

2.5. Plan for exercise phases and volume within client’s preferred session duration.

2.6. Document program and session plans for use by client according to organisational format.

3. Provide initial instruction and advice.

3.1. Provide clear and accurate exercise technique instruction and demonstration to client.

3.2. Demonstrate safe use of equipment included in program.

3.3. Observe client exercise technique for safety and effectiveness and provide corrective instruction based on observations.

3.4. Provide advice to client about how to adapt and progress exercise volume and intensity over time to achieve fitness goals.

3.5. Seek feedback from client about proposed program and record agreed modifications before finalising program.

3.6. Provide information about ongoing program monitoring and evaluation options and agree to approach based on client preferences.

4. Provide ongoing service to client.

4.1. Identify and use opportunities to interact with and support client during their gym sessions and seek feedback on their experience with program.

4.2. Complete formal program evaluation based on client requests and organisational requirements for periodic evaluation.

4.3. Modify and update program according to feedback and evaluation.

4.4. Update client records with details of evaluation and modifications.

Foundation Skills

Foundation skills essential to performance in this unit, but not explicit in the performance criteria are listed here, along with a brief context statement.



Reading skills to:

  • interpret sometimes unfamiliar information of varying complexity in client pre-exercise screening and medical guidance records, including health and fitness terminology and abbreviations.

Writing skills to:

  • present client-based information using plain language and minimal technical terminology for ease of understanding
  • use fundamental sentence structure to complete program templates and client records that require factual and subjective information.

Oral communication skills to:

  • ask open and closed probe questions and actively listen to elicit information from clients and to determine client understanding of information provided
  • provide fitness and exercise information to clients using plain language and terms easily understood.

Numeracy skills to:

  • complete and record calculations and estimations of varying complexity for program and session plans involving times, frequency, intervals, volume, speeds and loads.

Initiative and enterprise skills to:

  • critically evaluate:
  • all client requirements for appropriate program design
  • successes and failures of programs to initiate improvements.

Unit Mapping Information

Supersedes and is not equivalent to SISFFIT003 Instruct fitness programs.


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=1ca50016-24d2-4161-a044-d3faa200268b


Assessment requirements

Modification History

Supersedes and is not equivalent to SISFFIT003 Instruct fitness programs.

Performance Evidence

Evidence of the ability to complete tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit in the context of the job role.

  • develop and document one individually tailored gym-based exercise program for three clients, to collectively include:
  • a female adult client
  • a male adult client
  • a client aged 55 years or over
  • a client for whom medical guidance has been received
  • for each of the above three clients:
  • develop and document two session plans, each with a minimum duration of 30 minutes
  • instruct two sessions according to the above session plans, each with a minimum duration of 30 minutes
  • consistently use client-centred communication and instructional techniques
  • across the above six session plans collectively, incorporate the following:
  • cardiovascular exercises
  • resistance exercises
  • flexibility exercises
  • exercises with and without equipment
  • according to actual client interactions or case studies, evaluate the effectiveness of two client programs, modify program and session content and document details of the evaluation and changes made.

Knowledge Evidence

Demonstrated knowledge required to complete the tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit:

  • role and scope of established gym procedures that impact fitness instruction
  • boundaries and responsibilities of fitness instructors in providing tailored gym-based programs for clients and relationship to duty of care
  • differences between gym-based programs where clients largely self-manage their exercise activities, and fully personalised programs involving ongoing one-to-one instruction
  • type of client information provided by pre-exercise screening and fitness assessment processes, and implications for exercise programming:
  • client needs and exercise preferences
  • client body measurements
  • client fitness data and indication of suitable exercise intensity
  • types of client guidance that may be provided by medical and allied health professionals and implications for exercise programming:
  • injury management protocols
  • contraindications and precautions for types of exercise for those with medical conditions and health risk factors
  • exercise recommendations for client health improvement and collaborative rehabilitation
  • factors that affect the design of client-tailored gym-based exercise programs:
  • physical differences that need to be considered for:
  • adults of different sexes
  • older people
  • antenatal, postnatal, menopausal and post-menopausal women
  • exercise history and current abilities
  • desired frequency of gym attendance and other personal exercise activities
  • client goals
  • the meaning of the following components of fitness, and how exercises can target client goals and improvements for each:
  • health related components:
  • cardiovascular endurance
  • muscle strength
  • muscle endurance
  • flexibility
  • body composition
  • skill related components:
  • power
  • speed
  • agility
  • coordination
  • balance
  • reaction time
  • proprioception
  • different types of exercises, equipment that can be used and safe techniques for their completion:
  • cardiovascular exercises:
  • continuous
  • interval
  • resistance exercises using:
  • free weights
  • gym equipment including weight machines
  • body weight
  • flexibility exercises:
  • dynamic
  • static
  • benefits and impacts on the body of different types of exercises and specific injury prevention strategies
  • how different types of exercises can be combined and sequenced for safety and optimum effectiveness
  • overview of the following exercise science principles and how they are used to design gym-based exercise programs and sessions for individuals:
  • adaptation
  • overload
  • specificity
  • individualisation
  • progression and regression
  • reversibility
  • how the FITT (frequency, intensity, time and type) principle is used to structure exercise programs and sessions
  • established phases of exercise sessions, their underpinning rationale and timing for each within designated time of session:
  • warm up
  • main workout
  • cool down and stretches
  • components of exercise sessions, and how they can be used effectively to target client goals:
  • exercise order
  • volume and intensity and load of exercises
  • repetitions and sets
  • repetition tempo
  • rest intervals
  • training techniques that can be used by clients in self-directed gym sessions, how they can be used, and considerations for their use:
  • supersets
  • drop sets
  • pre-fatigue techniques
  • plyometric training
  • interval training including high intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • circuit training
  • instructional techniques used with individual clients and how they impact effectiveness of instruction and client execution of exercises:
  • providing clear information about exercises and instructions about technique
  • combining explanation and demonstration of correct exercise technique
  • cueing and how to adapt instruction to suit different learning styles:
  • verbal
  • visual
  • tactile
  • kinaesthetic
  • communication techniques used for the following and how these may vary depending on individual client characteristics:
  • establishing and maintaining individual rapport
  • motivating individuals for optimum performance
  • providing constructive feedback and positive reinforcement
  • ways of supporting clients managing their own exercise sessions in a gym environment:
  • recognising when clients could progress volume, intensity and loads and making suggestions
  • correcting technique
  • offering opportunities for formal program evaluation and modification
  • methods used to evaluate gym-based exercise programs:
  • periodic informal discussions with client and targeted questions to elicit opinion about achievement of goals, fitness improvement, changes to health, general wellbeing and skills
  • periodic observation and measurement of client performance, and health and skill improvements
  • format and inclusions of documented:
  • client based exercise programs
  • client based exercise session plans
  • client profile and client evaluation records.

Assessment Conditions

Skills can be demonstrated in:

  • the workplace, or
  • a simulated workplace set up for the purpose of skills assessment.

Assessment must ensure the use of:

  • interaction with clients; these can be:
  • clients in an industry workplace, or
  • individuals who participate in simulated activities used for the purpose of skills assessment
  • equipment required for selected exercises
  • client records which include documentation of:
  • completed industry standard pre-exercise screenings
  • completed fitness assessments
  • samples of guidance information provided by medical or allied health professionals
  • template client-based exercise program and session plans

Assessors must:

  • satisfy the Standards for Registered Training Organisations requirements for assessors, and
  • hold a Certificate III or IV in Fitness, and have a collective period of at least two years’ experience working in fitness instruction, where they have applied the skills and knowledge covered in this unit of competency; the two years’ experience can incorporate full and part time experience, or
  • be a registered or accredited practising health or exercise professional with a degree and experience relevant to this unit of competency.


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=1ca50016-24d2-4161-a044-d3faa200268b