The F.I.T.T acronym stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type of exercise. These are the four elements you need to think about when creating workouts to ensure that they are appropriate for your fitness level and will achieve your goals. Let’s look at each element:
This is the first thing to set up and relates to how often you can realistically exercise. Your frequency will depend on a number of factors such as the type of workout you’re doing, how hard you’re working, your fitness level, and your exercise goals.
Intensity relates to how hard you work during exercise. Changing the intensity depends on the type of workout you’re doing.
Cardio – Intensity can be monitored by heart rate, using a heart rate monitor, or a scale of perceived exertion. For ‘steady state’ workouts, a moderate intensity would be recommended, but for ‘Interval training’, a higher intensity would be required over a shorter period of time. It’s also a good idea to include a mixture of low, medium, and high-intensity cardio exercises in order to stimulate different energy systems and avoid overtraining.
Strength training – Monitoring the intensity of strength training involves a different set of parameters. Your intensity relates to the exercises you do, the amount of weight you lift, and the number of reps and sets you do. The intensity can change based on how you’re training, and your ultimate goal. For example, power, endurance, strength.
The next element of your workout plan is how long you exercise during each session. There is no set rule for how long you should exercise, and it will typically depend on your fitness level as well as the type of workout you’ve set out to do.
- For cardio: If you’re doing steady state cardio, such as jogging or using a cardio machine, you might exercise for 30 to 60 minutes. If you’re doing interval training and working at a very high intensity, your workout will be shorter, around 20 to 30 minutes. Having a variety of workouts of different intensities and durations will give you a solid, balanced programme.
- For strength training: The duration for lifting weights depends on the type of workout you’re doing and your schedule. For example, a total body workout could take up to an hour, whereas a split routine will take less time because you’re working fewer muscle groups.
The type of exercise you do is the last part of the F.I.T.T principle and an easy one to manipulate to avoid overuse injuries or weight loss plateaus.
- For cardio exercise: Any activity that gets your heart rate up counts here e.g. running, walking, cycling, and dancing. Having more than one cardio activity is the best way to keep your body guessing and reduce boredom.
- For strength training: Strength training also has a variety of types of workouts to offer. It includes an exercise where you’re using a form of resistance to work your muscles e.g. dumbbells, bodyweight. You can easily change the type of strength workouts you do, from total body training to adding things like supersets to liven things up.
How to Use the F.I.T.T Principle in Your Workouts
The F.I.T.T. principle outlines how to manipulate your programme for best results. It also helps you to change your workouts so that you avoid boredom, overuse injuries and weight loss plateaus.
For example, as a beginner, you may walk three times a week for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. However, after a few weeks, your body adapts, and several things may happen:
- Your body becomes more efficient at exercise:The more you work out, the easier it becomes, meaning that you burn fewer calories than you did when you started.
- Weight loss: Your new workouts may assist weight loss which, of course, is a good thing. The downside is that you expend fewer calories moving a smaller body.
- Boredom:Doing the same workout for weeks or months on end can be very boring, which doesn’t help with the motivation to do it.
It’s at this point you should manipulate one or more of the F.I.T.T. principles, such as:
- Changing the frequency by adding another day of walking
- Changing the intensity by walking faster or adding some running intervals
- Changing the time spent walking each day
- Changing the type of workout by swimming, cycling, or running.
Even changing one of these elements can make a big difference in your workout and in how your body responds to exercise. It’s important to change the elements of your workout on a regular basis to keep your body healthy and your mind engaged.
The F.I.T.T. principle is a great way of gauging your exercise in order to see the changes you want in weight, body fat, endurance and strength.