The FITTE Principle which is a set of guidelines that will help you determine an exercise schedule and will additionally help you to stay on track to reach your goals.
- Frequency – how often you work out
- Do aerobic training (cardio) for 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times per week and anaerobic resistance training after your aerobic training 3 times per week.
- Intensity: how hard you workout
- The aerobic training zone is between 50-85% for optimal results. If you are in the proper training zone, you should be able to speak in short choppy phrases while training. If breathing is labored, the intensity is too high.
- Time: how long you workout
- Comprehensive exercise sessions including the warm-up through flexibility stretching should be about 60-90 minutes in length on most days.
- Type: what type of activity you perform
- Make sure to incorporate aerobic, anaerobic, and flexibility training into your overall program.
- Enjoyment: Enjoyment refers to the amount of pleasure derived from the activity by the client.
Let’s start with frequency. In order to achieve maximum exercise results, you must work the cardiovascular system 3-5 times per week. What that means is that you need to elevate your heart rate between 50-85% of your 100% capacity for a minimum of 20-30 minutes 3 to 5 times a week.
Keep in mind that if you are a beginner, you might want to start by exercising one to three times per week. As your fitness level increases so should your number of training sessions.
If your goal is to lose weight you will need to train aerobically on most days of the week. However, we do recommend that you get enough rest between sessions to minimize the risk for injury.
Regarding your anaerobic workout, generally, we recommend that you incorporate resistance training three times per week. This workout should include overloading all of the major muscle groups. Most people find the best success with working opposing muscles together. For example, if you work the bicep, you need to work the triceps. If you work the chest, you must work the back etc. We recommend that you do resistance training after your aerobic training to ensure the muscles and surrounding tissue are warmed up and ready to engage in risk free weight training.
Intensity is the second variable to consider. In other words, how hard do you need to exercise? The guidelines surrounding aerobic and anaerobic training are very clear. Research shows that the aerobic training zone is between 50-85% for optimal results. The range is broad to accommodate varying fitness levels as well as the different activities you can be involved in within one session. For example, the heart rate responds very differently if you are walking verses running or if you are doing squats verses bicep curls. Even if you are just running, you will rarely stay at one constant speed unless you are on a treadmill. If you are on a treadmill, notice that even if the speed is the same your heart rate will change based on energy expenditure. In fact, heart rate can be an excellent indication of intensity. Many people use the “talk test” method to judge this. This method utilizes the breathing response to determine intensity. If you are in the proper training zone, you should be able to speak in short choppy phrases. If breathing is labored, the intensity is too high.
The third principle involves the duration of time to be spent exercising. While the Surgeon General has recommended that everyone exercise a minimum of 30 minutes on most days of the week (as a response to the obesity epidemic we are facing and the cost associated with health care), most comprehensive exercise sessions should be about 60-90 minutes in length. This includes the warm-up, aerobic training, post aerobic cool down, resistance training and flexibility stretching. Given time is often limited with our busy lives some experts support the minimum workout time be at least ten minutes, however, that certainly seems far too short for us on most days. If we are talking about simply being active throughout the day or by taking a brisk walk every few hours, any amount of time committed to movement is valuable, even if it does not increase aerobic capacity or muscular strength.
Another point to keep in mind is the relationship between intensity and duration. Generally speaking, the greater the intensity of the activity, the shorter is the duration of it. And the lower the intensity, the longer the duration can be. An example of this is the differences in the aerobic capacity and oxygen delivery between running and walking. It is much easier to walk for an hour as opposed to running for an hour.
Type of activity is the final principle we need to discuss. The list of possible activities is nearly endless. Walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, stair climbing, cross country skiing, rowing, dancing, circuit training and playing a number of sports are a few options to be considered. As you know, you need to do something to support your cardiovascular system on most days of the week, so simply pick activities that you enjoy. We also recommend that you do anaerobic activities three times per week. That means resistance training with weights, bands, or with isometrics using your own body weight. To finish each exercise session you need to incorporate stretching. Stretching can be done anywhere, indoors or outside.
Improving your fitness and health is easy when you think about it in terms of the FITT Principle. If your time is limited then take a look at how you can best benefit within the timeframe you have by increasing intensity. If time is not a factor consider decreasing the intensity to gain duration and possibly add variety to your workout. Where there is a will, there is a way. We strongly encourage you to find a way to achieve optimal health.
Make today the best day of the rest of your life. You are the master of your destiny!