Exercise Plan: How To Use The FITT Principle

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If you are trying to get fit and healthy, you will need to put in some effort and follow a strict exercise routine. There are many workouts out there designed for different fitness goals such as fat loss, weight loss, muscle building, and stamina building among others.

These days you also need to be careful about just choosing just any workout or diet plan that you come across because some of them do not work and are scams to make money.

In this article, we are going to give you some guidelines that you can then use to create your own exercise plan depending on your own personal fitness goals.

In order for an exercise plan to give you the most effective results fast, whether that is weight loss, general fitness or muscle building, it must follow what the fitness professionals and personal trainers call the FITT principle.

What is FITT?

FITT stands for Frequency, Intensity, Type and Time. The optimum exercise plan will have to consider all four of these factors to be the most effective.

We will now discuss each of these factors in detail so you have enough information to create your own exercise program.


Frequency stands for the number of times a week that you will need to exercise to achieve your fitness goals. So your workout plan might say that you need to exercise three times a week, for example.


Intensity measures how physically challenging the exercises are. If your fitness goal is muscle or strength building, intensity is usually measured by the amount of weight, number of repetitions and sets as well as the break time that is required in between sets. For aerobic exercises, intensity will be calculated using your heart rate at any time in relation to your maximum heart rate. For example high intensity aerobic exercises will go up to 80% of your maximum heart rate.


This refers to your fitness goals, for example, weight loss or strength training. It also covers the specific exercises you choose to perform to achieve your fitness goals. If you want to lose weight, the specific workouts you choose in your plan should be ones that make you lose fat, for example.


Time is basically how long you spend exercising every time you need to exercise. Let us say your plan involves lifting weights three times a week, and the time might be to lift the weights for 30 minutes on each of these three occasions.

FITT Guidelines For Aerobic & Strength Training

The first thing to bear in mind is the fact that you need to consult your doctor before planning a new exercise routine. It is also important to remember that the guidelines below are for people that are either beginners or at an intermediate fitness level. This means that you can change the exercise program to suit your level of fitness and knowledge.


Aerobic: You should aim to exercise between three to five times per week.
Strength: Each body part should be exercised one to two times per week. If you are more experienced or you are starting out with less challenging workouts, you need to increase this frequency to two to three times a week for each body part. It is up to you whether you want to exercise your entire body during one session or whether you want to exercise different parts of your body on different days.


Aerobic: The intensity of your training needs to be at a level to achieve a heart rate of 60 to 80% of your maximum heart rate. You will need some form of device to monitor your heart rate such as a heart rate monitor.

You will also need to establish a maximum heart rate. You can either estimate your maximum heart rate by using this formula:

  • Maximum heart rate for women = 230 – Age
  • Maximum heart rate for men = 220 – Age

Or you can also go and see a personal trainer or fitness professional who will give you more accurate maximum heart rate using a heart rate test.

Strength: You need to aim for a weight that allows you to perform approximately 15 challenging repetitions before needing to take a break.


Aerobic: The type of exercise you need to perform for aerobic training needs to be one that works out as many muscles as possible and is relatively constant in terms of physical effort required. For example exercises such as swimming, running on a treadmill, hiking are good for aerobic training.

Strength: There are two main types of strength training exercises which are compound exercises and single muscle group exercises. Compound exercises include squats and dead lifts among others whereas single muscle group exercises include exercises like leg extensions, sit ups and bicep curls.

Generally speaking, compound exercises are best because not only do they give your entire body a workout but they also burn the most number of calories in a given amount of time.


Aerobic: If you are a beginner, then you should aim to exercise for 15 to 20 minutes. This needs to be preceded by a warm-up and followed by a cool down. If you have been training for a while, then you should aim to work out between 20 minutes to an hour.

Strength: A beginner should aim to exercise between 30 to 45 minutes and a more experienced person should increase the time to 45 minutes to an hour.

Using the FIIT guidelines above, you can now plan your own personal exercise plan to achieve your desired fitness goals. If you follow the FIIT guidelines, you will also be able to add variety to your exercise program and reduce overtraining injuries in the long term.



Exercise Plan: How To Use The FITT Principle was last modified: January 22nd, 2018 by Toby Cain