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How to tap into FITT principle to plan a perfect fitness routine 
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How to tap into FITT principle to plan a perfect fitness routine 

By varying the four parameters of FITT principle — frequency, intensity, time and type of exercise — you can design a fitness plan that best suits your body and goals  
The FITT principle of fitness gives quantifiable parameters that can be used to create a structure or framework while designing an exercise program.
The FITT principle is not just used for planning fitness routines, but also for rehabilitation and other areas where physical exercises are employed. (Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K / Happiest Health)

With multiple options available, choosing the right exercises and fitness routines that suit you best is a challenge. Developing a fair idea of the basic principles employed by fitness experts while designing workout plans can help you personalize or customize your own fitness schedules.

The FITT principle is one of the widely used ones in fitness as well as rehabilitation schedules. Chalking out your routine based on FIIT can ensure you are heading in the right direction in your fitness journey.

FITT principle

The FITT principle revolves around four parameters: the frequency, intensity, time and type of exercises in the workouts.

“Each exercise or workout is governed by these four main criteria,” says Gautham Sangappa, director of Proton Fitness Academy, Bengaluru. “Frequency corresponds to how many sessions you are going to do per week. Intensity is how hard or intense is the exercise — technically, it is the rate at which you are expending energy. Time is the duration of each exercise session. Type is the modality — whether it is a cardio exercise, resistance training, etc.”

Benefits of using FITT principle

Frequency, intensity, time and type are important while planning an effective workout routine.

• Structured workout plan: The FITT principle gives the parameters around which the workout plan can be made. While physical activities include random movements, exercise is a structured activity.

“FITT is important because it gives you a structure or framework to design your program,” says Sangappa. “The framework helps to differentiate exercise from [any day-to-day] physical activity.”

• Alteration and progression: Once the basic framework for the fitness routine is made, you can build on it from there, trying different variations by altering the four parameters.

“While exercising, you need to have progression,” says Sangappa. “You start with the lowest versions of the exercises. For instance, it is better to start with walking instead of running for cardio as walking is a low-impact exercise. You can begin with a lower frequency and intensity by doing it two days a week and then increasing it to three and then four days a week. So, this gives you a progression. The FITT principle provides quantifiable attributes for your workout.”

• Individualized/customized workout schedule: By doing alterations and varying different exercises, you can create a plan based on the type of exercise you like, the exercises you must do and your time availability. This will help you integrate the exercise routine into your daily schedule easily, ensuring consistency.

“The whole idea of FITT principle is to help you customize your workout plan, because each one might be at different fitness levels,” says Sangappa.

This is one of the drawbacks of online group fitness training sessions as well. Though most classes are held based on age, and though the FITT parameters are used to design a one-hour tutorial, there is little scope to individualize the workouts.

• Rehabilitation and other purposes: People with different health conditions or injuries or even with certain type of pain need to exercise as part of rehabilitation. It helps restore mobility and improve the condition.

According to a recent clinical trial study, the training and aerobic exercises based on FITT protocol/principle was found to significantly reduce the severity and duration of pain in young girls with dysmenorrhea (pain associated with menstruation).

“The FITT principle is used for rehabilitation exercises also. It is used in anything that is exercise-related,” says Sangappa.  

Role of FITT principle in resistance training routine

Sangappa explains how the four variables of frequency, intensity, time and type can be mixed and matched while sketching out a resistance training schedule.

“As a beginner, to do resistance training [type], you can start with machine exercises,” says Sangappa. “Later on, you can lift free weights, do TRX ropes, weightlifting, etc. For resistance training, the minimum requirement is two sessions per week [frequency]. But when you do only two sessions, you use the entire body for training. Instead, you can also break up and work out different parts on different days. This allows you to do a greater number of sessions in a week and pay attention to specific muscles as well.

“Similarly, duration determines how much time should be spent on the specific exercises. Intensity can be high or low. More weights increase the intensity. By increasing the repetitions and number of sets, or even the complexity of the exercise, the intensity increases.”

One can plan the cardio, strength training, aerobic exercises, etc, in a similar way. So, from a fitness perspective, the FITT principle lays the foundation for building the framework for any fitness plan.  

Takeaways

  • FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time and type of exercise. These basic parameters are used by fitness experts to prepare training schedules.
  • Frequency determines the number of sessions done in a week; intensity is how hard the exercise is; duration is how long the exercise is done for; and type is the modality of the exercise.
  • FITT principle gives a structure or framework to design the exercise program.
  • The different variable in FITT can be altered to design a schedule with the type of exercise, frequency, intensity and duration that works best for you.

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