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F.I.T.T. Principle


Updated July 07, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

FITT Principles
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The F.I.T.T. Principle is one of the foundations of exercise, a set of guidelines that help you set up a workout routine to fit your goals and fitness level while helping you get the most out of your exercise program. F.I.T.T. stands for:

  1. Frequency: How often you exercise.
    • For Cardio Exercise: Exercise Guidelines suggest moderate exercise five days a week or intense cardio three days a week to improve your health. For weight loss, you may need to do up to six or more days a week.
    • For Strength Training: The recommended frequency here is 2-3 non-consecutive days a week (at least 1-2 days between sessions.
  2. Intensity: How hard you work during exercise
  3. Time: How long you exercise
    • For Cardio Exercise: The exercise guidelines suggest 30-60 minutes of cardio (or working your way up to that). How long you exercise will not just be dependent on your fitness level, but also your intensity. The harder you work, the shorter your workouts will be.
    • For Strength Training: How long you lift 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 could take less time.
  4. Type: The type of activity you're doing
    • For Cardio Exercise: Any activity that gets your heart rate up counts as cardio - Running, walking, cycling, dancing, sports, etc.
    • For Strength Training: This pretty much includes any exercise where you're using some type of resistance (bands, dumbbells, machines, etc.) to work your muscles. Bodyweight exercises can also be considered a form of strength training, as well, although building strength will likely require more resistance.

The F.I.T.T. Principle is important because it outlines how to manipulate your program to get in shape and get better results. It also helps you figure out how to change your workouts to avoid boredom, overuse injuries and weight loss plateaus.

For example, walking three times a week for 30 minutes at a moderate pace might be a great place for a beginner to start. After a few weeks, however, your body adapts to these workouts and several things may happen:

  • Your body becomes more efficient at exercise - The more you workout, the easier it is to do the exercises, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did when you started.
  • Weight loss - Your new workouts may cause weight loss which, of course, is a good thing. The downside? You expends fewer calories moving that new, smaller body around.
  • Boredom - Doing the same workout for weeks or months on end can get old, eating into your motivation to exercise.

It's at this point you want to manipulate one or more of the F.I.T.T. Principles such as adding another day of walking (changing your exercise Frequency), walking faster or add some running (changing the Intensity), walking for a longer period of time (changing the Time) or trying something different like swimming or running (changing the Type).

More about the Basic Principles of Exercise.

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