I would rather call FITNESS as FITT-NESS.
Did you know what whole of your training program is based upon? it’s the base of the principles of training known as the FITT principle.
Your training and workouts are completely based upon this “FITT principle” and any of the coaches in the world would design an effective exercise program considering FITT.
Understanding this important principle will also help you to design an effective workout program on your own for the maximum benefits!
Let’s just dive in comprehensively on this.
What is FITT or the FITT Principle?
FITT stands for
- F – Frequency → how often you train.
- I – Intensity → how hard you train.
- T- Time → for how much duration you train, or the time you spend exercising.
- T- Type → the type of training you do.
Now, your training program based on these FITT principle variables, and your nutrition, ultimately depends upon your “GOAL”.
Remember point. no 3 of my “20 gym mistakes you must avoid”article?
You need to have a specific GOAL for what you’re exercising, and each of the variables should be adjusted as per the goal and your current fitness levels.
All the 4 FITT principle variables are set as per the ‘training goal’ whether it’s packing on size, maintaining your muscles, increasing endurance, gaining strength, fat loss, maintaining weight, etc.
All of the variables are inter-related to each other altogether making it a complete equation.
Also, RECOVERY is the crucial factor to keep in mind. If you ain’t recovering well, the whole purpose of the FITT principle goes into the vain.
Manipulations can be done with these variables depending upon the goal & results. Stopped getting results? Plateaued?
Try manipulating these variables with progression overload! That’s what an experienced coach does. He knows when to mingle up things.
Now let’s take a detailed look at each of the variables of the FITT Principle.
Frequency – How often do you train
It means how often do you train in a day or a week. To be specific enough, how often a particular muscle is been hit in a week!
A Professional or an Enhanced Athlete may workout twice a day but you may not.
You may not be having enough time to work out twice a day and that’s completely fine.
You can say that the frequency of your workout is kinda based on personal preference.
Frequency would be set considering your current fitness levels, your goal, your daily routine, and most importantly your recovery.
Now even the intensity factor comes into the play. Are you training intense enough?
Are you progressively overloading your muscles and pushing yourself to the limits as per your goal?
Maybe not, and you need to throw in an extra workout session this week!
Studies have shown that hitting a particular muscle twice a week is better than once a week in terms of muscle growth.1
Higher training frequency = More total work of the muscle. Far better than directly training the muscle just once a week!
Splitting the workout of a particular muscle (known as bro-splits) in a week would even logically make sense. Comparatively, you would be working out with much higher intensities both the time being in a less fatigued state.
|Chest, Shoulder, and Triceps
|Back & Biceps
|Chest, Shoulder, and Triceps
|Back & Biceps
This way you’re hitting a single muscle twice 2x a week. Each muscle would be less fatigued and more loads will be lifted which is equated to higher total work over the week = MORE GAINS !!!
Intensity – How hard you train
This one is the most important variable one should focus on!
More difficult the workout set = Higher the intensity level.
More the intensity = Greater the stress and stimulus for the body. Also, the shorter your workouts would be.
A set can be made more difficult in different ways. 2 of them are (i) by a maintaining strict form and (ii) increasing the
TIME UNDER TENSION factor i.e the amount of tension placed upon the muscle for a prolonged duration. This will make things more challenging for you.
If your frequency and intensity both are high enough, fitting in some day-off(s) in the week would be optimal. Listen to your body!
High-Intensity Resistance training has shown to increase the REE i.e Resting Energy Expenditure2.
This increases fat burning. Your metabolism is elevated up to 48 hours and you burn more calories, even while resting/sleeping.
The same amount of total work can be achieved in much lesser time with short intense workouts!
For the fat loss, more intense and longer the duration of the workout = more the calories your burn!!!
A new study tells that Home-based HIIT is as effective as the gym.
Intensity should always be gradually built up. Slowly work your way up, especially the beginners. Greater intensity = More physical trauma/stress on the muscles.
Whatsoever the goal, training hard and intense would give you the sweetest results!
Focus on progressive overload, Stimulate the muscles, and BOOM you’re done. Make the things work for you without killing the purpose of it.
Time – The duration of your workout
Workout time is also very crucial as you don’t wanna make your workouts lasting for too many hours.
Working out intensely for a too long duration will over-exhaust you leading over-training!
But from a logical perspective, you won’t be able to train for a longer duration if your TRAINING INTENSITY is high enough!
In HIIT, all your fuel gets utilized pretty quickly.
And if there are undernutrition and improper recovery which includes good sleep, absolutely without any second thought you would be in an OVER-TRAINING state. This will kill all the purpose, making your hard work go into the vain.
The timing of the workout depends upon the type of training do. Are you strength training? Is it your cardio-vascular session?
A cardio session (Low-Intensity Steady state) would last around 30-60 minutes depending upon your goal and cardio-vascular fitness levels which includes your endurance.
Similarly for a HIIT cardio, spending 15-20 minutes would be more than enough. You’ll be all drained in such a short span of time if your sprints are intense enough leading to a killer cardio session!
Again, fitness level comes into play.
I wouldn’t suggest HIIT cardio for a beginner who just lately started working his way up. You should start with HIT Cardio sessions only once you have developed your cardio-vascular fitness foundation.
If you’re just doing it for your heart and to develop your stamina, even 15-30 minutes of steady-state cardio is more than enough & challenging for your heart and lungs.
The one who’s weight-training for strength and size – training short and intense would be ideal. An intense weight training session can definitely be done and dusted in 45-60minutes of a session.
Typically 3-4 sets every exercise of the muscle part you’re targeting is good to go.
Endurance focused training may last a little bit longer. Those who’re working for endurance, they would be training for longer where they’re using a different energy pathway, unlike weight training. For them ‘achieving more volume’ would be more of a concern than the load.
I would be making a completely different article on the ‘energy system/pathways’.
Did you read the point no.18 of my article “20 gym mistakes you must avoid”? Check out what does the study says regarding the interset rest timings for the best results!3
Type- the type of training
Type of training is always designed as per the individual’s requirements and fitness levels.
It could be aerobics, strength training, high intensity, low intensity, moderate intensity depending upon the goal.
Every training type has its own place.
If you’re mainly looking for improving your cardiovascular fitness levels which includes good stamina; aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, stair-climbing, etc. it would be quite effective.
Aerobic training i.e cardio mainly works on type I muscle fibers and pumping up more blood flow. To know about the muscle fiber types, Do read my “Does the PUMP builds muscle” article.
Even flexibility training is a type of training that involves different types of stretching & movement training for stability, mobility, and flexibility of your body parts.
Daily post-workout stretching is a very important aspect of it. Each stretch should be held for 10-30secs for multiple sets. Some flexibility and stretching should also be a part of your WARM UPs before beginning any type of training.
Select an activity as per your goal and which would match your fitness status.
So How should you train?
If you need massive strength gains → training heavy & explosively and using free weights would be the best bet!
For packing on muscle → lifting heavy focusing more on compound movements would be great.
Compound movements are multi-joint movements which involve more than single muscle at once. Hence, the higher the recruitment of muscle fibers. Deadlifts, Squats, Benchpresses, Barbell rows, Overhead shoulder presses are some of the very good compound movements for better results.
Compound movements are even great during your fat loss journey when you are on a negative energy balance.
They burn a higher number of calories in lesser time compared to isolation/single-joint exercises.
Furthermore, hitting large body parts like legs & back would also burn more calories.
No matter what type of training you do, at the end of the day your goal would be to challenge yourself with progression.
Your training should be challenging enough for you to get the optimal results.
Training for Fat Loss?
Do light-weight high reps for fat loss right? This is what you have been heard of from all the gym bros and so-called gurujis, right? UTTER Bullshit!
Ask yourself that end of the day what decides the WEIGHT GAIN or WEIGHT LOSS? “Calorie Deficit”
Now coming to the training perspective during fat loss,
Ideally, your goal during the fat loss journey would be to preserve as much muscle and strength you can while ripping off those pounds of fat right?
Then why the hell would you all of a sudden reduce your loads on which you have been progressively overloading upon to develop them?
Your struggle would still be pushing yourself to the limits!!
Though as a thumb rule, you lose some of the strength & muscle during a calorie deficit/fat loss phase and gain strength & muscle with some amount of fat during the calorie surplus/bulking phase.
Yes, even during clean bulking, a little bit of fat is inevitable but it can surely be minimized to the maximum amounts. Logical enough, negative and positive energy balance!
And lastly, CARDIO is not ‘necessary’ for fat loss. Surely it can be an amazing tool to assist your weight loss journey contributing to the calorie deficit, but it’s not compulsory.
BONUS POINT: Recovery
I would like to write up and add up something on this very critical part of the training program which is “RECOVERY”.
It’s not just about training hard every time but also recovering from the physical stress and wear & tear of the muscles. In fact, you won’t be able to train hard enough if you don’t recover well.
As a natural (not on any performance-enhancing drugs), you need to emphasize more on the recovery part. It’s always a different story for the bodybuilders and athletes who are juiced up (on roids). Their building, recovery, and repairing process is way more accelerated!
Remember that you are not making muscles at the gym, you’re tearing them down putting all the physical stress and trauma.
They grow when you provide proper sleep and rest to the body. They become stronger over-time after every time they’re healed and repaired.
Not just having a good sleep, feeding yourself with PROPER NUTRITION is also the part of recovery.
TRAINING + PROPER NUTRITION + GOOD SLEEP = ALWAYS A WIN WIN SITUATION !! ABSOLUTE RESULTS !!
Need a customized diet plan for yourself as per your body goals and needs? Drop-in a mail on [email protected]
What is your usual training routine in terms of the FITT principle? Just curious, let me know in the comment box below ⇓
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