Using the FITT principles for a powerful workout

If you’re looking for an effective workout to help you achieve your fitness goals, let the FITT principles guide you.

FITT stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type, four important elements you need to create a workout plan that fits your specific goals and fitness level.

Everyone is different in getting the most out of a workout. Some individuals want to improve heart health or lower their blood glucose levels while others may want to simply lose weight. The FITT principles are a way for you and your physician to work together on creating a plan to get you up and moving.

Most people recognize exercise is good medicine. But what often keeps people from actually following through with an exercise regimen might be concerned over putting their body through too much stress or not knowing where to start.

That’s why the FITT principles are an approach for helping you achieve your overall health and wellness goals. Like with any exercise program, always check with your physician before starting to determine how to begin. Here is a look at what a FITT program is and may include:

  • F – Frequency

With any workout program, you need to figure out the frequency or how often you will exercise. Frequency often depends on a variety of factors including the type of workout you’re doing, how hard you’re working, your current fitness level, and your exercise goals.

Federal guidelines recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise over five days a week. The more you can do this – even up to 300 minutes a week – the better.

It’s recommended to include aerobic or cardio workouts that get your heart pumping.  The frequency of cardio workouts – walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, jumping rope – is usually done three or more times a week to see improvements in your health. For weight loss, you’ll want to eventually work up to six or more days a week of moderate to intense workouts.

If you are interested in strength training such as lifting weights or doing push-ups or pull-ups, the recommended frequency is two to three non-consecutive days a week.

  • I – Intensity

Intensity has to do with how hard you work during exercise. A moderate level of intensity is ideal to see significant gains in health and bodily changes. Defining moderate intensity is highly personal. What is low intensity for one person may be high for another and vice versa. It really depends on a person’s current fitness level.

To find the sweet spot of intensity when exercising right for you, use the simple “talk test.” If you can carry on a conversation without laboring while exercising, but you’re unable to sing, that’s a good measure of moderate intensity.

One thing to always remember is that exercise should feel good. Listen to your body. If you experience any pain or discomfort, back off, and if you feel any chest, shoulder, or jaw pain, see your doctor.

  • T – Time

There is no set rule for how long you should exercise but it typically depends on your fitness level and the type of workout you’re doing.

If you’re doing cardio workouts, the exercise guidelines suggest 30 to 60 minutes total for the day but not necessarily all at one time. It doesn’t matter how you get in that many minutes of exercise during the day.  Some people prefer longer sessions of between 30 to 60 minutes all at once, while others prefer breaking it up in smaller intervals of maybe 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day as long as it totals at least 30 to 60 minutes at the end of the day.

If you are a beginner, start off slowly with a workout of 10 to 20 minutes. Once you’re comfortable with that amount, gradually increase from there.

If you lack motivation, recruit an exercise partner helping keep both of you accountable which helps keep you committed.

  • T –Type

The best type of exercise is one you enjoy doing. If you hate jogging, you’re not going to stick with it. But if you love brisk walking, go for it. Anything that gets you winded and works up a light sweat is ideal.

What’s also ideal is to change up your activity.  While brisk walking three times a week for 30 minutes is a great start, after a few weeks, your body adapts to this workout and suddenly you may notice several things happening:

  • You’re burning fewer calories as the workout has become easier and your body more efficient
  • Your weight loss efforts may have stalled since as you lose weight, you expend fewer calories
  • Boredom can set in doing the same exercise routine week after week.

That’s when it’s time to shake things up by doing something different every so often.  Add in dancing, cycling, swimming, or hiking. This keeps your workouts interesting, as you challenge your body to go beyond what it’s used to as you work on different muscle groups.

The most important thing though is having a continuous and sustainable exercise regimen. Regular, consistent workouts make a difference and by doing so, you’ll enjoy higher quality and longer life of good health.


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