If you want the most out of your workouts, it is important to know and apply the principles of training – Individuality, Specificity, Progressive Overload, Recovery, and Reversibility. These principles give you an idea on how you should train and what kinds of exercises you should do in relation to your goals in fitness. A simpler approach to training is through following the FITT principle.
What is the FITT Principle of training?
The FITT Principle is a formula of the overall components of training that you should take into consideration for an effective workout. It describes how often you should exercise, how hard your effort should be, how long you should exercise, and what kinds of exercises you should be doing for a specific goal.
The FITT acronym stands for:
How can I apply the FITT principle to my workouts?
The FITT Principle is known to be used and apply mostly for resistance training. However, training for the other components of fitness can also benefit from the use of the FITT Principle. Primarily, training for Cardiovascular endurance, Muscular capacity (muscular endurance and muscular strength), and Flexibility can all apply this formula for a more effective workout. The FITT Principle should not be then limited to resistance training for muscular strength, but should also be applied for aerobic training for cardiovascular endurance and stretching for flexibility.
Frequency: How often should I exercise?
Frequency is the first important component of the FITT Principle. For the busy individual, how often you exercise is usually affected by how much time you can allot for physical activity. Studies have shown that exercising only once a week will have minimal or no effect to health. The Frequency of training also signifies your fitness level. If you are an athlete with a high level of fitness, you probably can work out, train, and play 4 to 6 times a week. Intermediate exercisers can do a mix of cardiovascular and muscular capacity physical activities 3 to 5 times a week without experiencing fatigue. For beginners, limit your physical activities to 2 times a week for resistance training and 3 times a week for cardiovascular training to ensure that your body recuperates enough. The frequency of your training or work out is not just about the number of training days in a week, but also how much time is allotted for recovery. The Frequency principle is a good balance of work and recuperation time for more effective fitness gains.
Intensity: How hard should I work out?
For cardiovascular capacity, the intensity of the workout is measured by how fast you are going. In this case, intensity then determines the length of Time of the work out. The more intense your cardiovascular training is, the less time you can continue the exercise. For Muscular capacity (resistance or weight training) training, the intensity is determined by how heavy the weight you are carrying is. The heavier the weight, the less repetition or sets you can do. Intensity can be measured by your heart rate, that is, how hard your heart is working to supply working muscles with oxygenated blood and nutrients. One way to know the intensity of your workout without measuring your heart rate is to use the Borg scale and determine your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). If you want to workout longer or if you are exercising before you go to work, then choose less intense exercises to make sure you still have enough energy throughout the day. The Intensity of your workout should also be a good balance between work and rest. The heavier the weight you are carrying, or the faster you are running, the longer the rest period you will need for your body to recuperate.
Time: How long should my training session be?
These principles are related to each other, and the length of time of your work out is determined by the frequency and intensity of the exercises. It also depends on the type of exercise that you choose to do. Because of the nature of work of most people today, more and more “fitness gurus” have been promoting quick workouts with some claiming 7-minute exercises have health gains! Having no time to exercise is also the most common excuse for not exercising, so promoting quick workouts may be beneficial for busy people, but remember that you should consider other principles for an effective exercise regimen. The time of your training session depends on your GOAL. For example, if you want to get stronger, then you should spend more time lifting weights and recovering (rest in between sets); if your goal is to lose weight, then time should be spent both on weight training and cardio.
Type: What are the exercises that I should do for my specific goal?
There are Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID Principle). If you want to improve cardiovascular endurance, then choose activities that are done for longer duration but at a relatively lighter intensity like walking, jogging, or group fitness classes. If you want to increase muscle size or “tone” your muscles, then do resistance exercises and follow the principle for time and frequency according to your fitness levels.
How can the FITT Principle help my training?
The first mistake that beginning exercisers make is training too hard too soon. This leads to faster fatigue and a negative impression on exercise. Another mistake which applies not only to beginning exercisers but even for those who have been exercising for a few months is not adding variety to their workouts. The result is boredom with exercise and plateauing which makes their fitness goals seem far-fetched. By following the FITT Principle with the help of your Personal Trainer, you can design a more flexible and realistic exercise program that matches your goals and capacity. Also, following the FITT Principle will ensure enough rest and recovery which minimizes risk for overuse injuries.
This is just one of the many principles that I apply when training my clients to be the fittest they can be. If you want to apply this to your training, check out my SERVICES page!