Using The FITT Principle In Your Exercise Program
If you want to maximise the benefits of your workouts, you should apply the principles of FITT to your exercise program.
What is FITT?
It is the acronym for:
F – Frequency – for your body to respond to physical activity it must have a consistent cycle of stimulation and rest.
Without frequent exposure to activity, your body would not be able to adapt to the stimuli and become stronger.
I – Intensity – this is the amount of effort that must be invested on an exercise or physical activity. You cannot progress without pushing yourself to overcome limitations.
But the amount of intensity must be enough to be productive without resulting in burn out.
T – Time – this refers to the duration of each session of physical activity or exercise.
The amount of time would depend on the program, your goals and current level of fitness. If you are a beginner, it would not be realistic to expect short-term results.
T – Type – there are several types of exercise you can choose. It should be an activity that you can commit to and won’t get discouraged.
Whether you plan to exercise to lose weight, build muscle or just become healthy the FITT principle will help you accomplish your goals.
An effective exercise program must incorporate a form of cardiovascular activity and resistance training.
These are the 2 prime components of overall fitness.
A combination of cardio and resistance training will help you build:
An understanding of the FITT principle will guide you in how to use cardiovascular work and resistance training to meet your health and fitness objectives.
FITT And Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular exercise focuses on improving oxygen efficiency.
It you have good cardiovascular endurance you are able to manage your resources better for prolonged activity and recover faster.
Cardiovascular exercise also provides the following health benefits:
- Weight management
- Stronger heart and lungs
- Better quality of sleep
- Improved blood circulation
- Stress relief
Using the FITT principle, cardiovascular exercise should have the following components:
Frequency – Doctors and Personal Trainers will normally recommend that you perform cardiovascular exercise 3 to 5 days a week.
The baseline will depend on your health and fitness goals.
If you are overweight, you may have to stay at the higher range of 4 to 5 days of cardio work per week in order to burn more calories.
Lean or underweight people will have to do less and the focus would not be to lose any more weight but just to build up cardiovascular endurance and remove excess toxins through sweat.
Intensity – There are 2 types of cardiovascular methods: Steady-State and HIIT.
Steady State Cardio – Requires you to maintain activity for a predetermined period of time. Examples are a 5km run or cycling session.
With steady state cardio, you are working at an intensity of 60% to 70% of your Maximum Heart Rate or MHR.
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training involves alternating short bursts of all-out effort with a protracted rest period at much lower intensity.
Examples are sprints and Tabata. With HIIT you are working at an intensity of 75% to 90% of your MHR.
Steady state cardio draws energy from stored body fat while HIIT uses glycogen as the immediate fuel source.
Studies have shown that HIIT is better than steady state because it builds muscle and burns body fat at the same time.
But if you are starting out, always work from the lower range or 75% of your MHR.
Time – If you are planning to do steady state cardio, the recommended exercise duration by Doctors and Personal Trainers is from 30 to 60 minutes.
HIIT should be of much shorter duration because of its level of intensity. The recommended duration for HIIT is 10 to 20 minutes inclusive of warm up and warm down.
Type – There are many types of cardiovascular exercise to choose from:
Low Intensity – Walking, swimming, biking
Moderate Intensity – Running, trail hiking, rowing
High Intensity – Sprinting, bodyweight complexes
The type of cardio exercise that you choose should be one that you could commit to and perform frequently without risk of injury.
FITT And Resistance Training
Resistance training helps strengthen muscles, bones, ligaments and connective tissue. It also develops agility, flexibility and mobility.
Among the benefits of resistance training are as follows:
- Burn body fat
- Increase metabolism
- Regulate blood sugar
- Reduce risk of injuries
- Improve functionality
Using the FITT Principle, resistance training should have the following components:
Frequency – Doctors and Personal Trainers mostly recommend resistance training 2-3 days a week.
But if you want to focus your program on building muscle, you should be doing resistance training at least 4 days a week.
The fastest way to build muscle is to use compound exercises. There are 4 basic compound exercises and the best approach is to dedicate one day for each of them.
The 4 compound exercises and the recommended schedule are as follows:
- Squats – Monday
- Bench Press – Wednesday
- Deadlift – Friday
- Shoulder Press – Saturday
Intensity – The ideal intensity for resistance training is to use 70% to 85% of your 1 rep maximum.
The exercise volume would depend on your goals.
Here are recommended set and rep schemes per fitness goal:
- 75% x 6 sets x 6 reps
- 80% x 8 sets x 4 reps
- 85% x 10 sets x 3 reps
Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth):
- 70% x 3 sets x 10 reps
- 75% x 4 sets x 8 reps
Time – If you are training intensely, you should limit your resistance training workouts to no more than 30 to 45 minutes per session.
But if you are working at low to moderate intensity, you can exercise for 60 to 90 minutes.
Type – There are different methods of resistance training:
- Free weights; barbells and dumbbells
The most effective method would be free weights as it requires balance and stability and these present greater options for adding resistance.
But you should also include machines, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises to develop a more holistic resistance training program.
The FITT Principle will give you the ideal blueprint for your exercise program.
It breaks down all the important components so you can develop a plan on how to achieve your fitness goals.