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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weekly Challenge #25: The FITT Principle

For most people the hardest part of exercising is just getting started. Mama Bootcampers have already got that nailed!

Even so, you can see why some feel confused about what kind of exercise program will work, especially when the media is constantly bombarding us with the latest “diet research” often times contradicting what may have been reported just weeks earlier. And what about those infomercials swear that 20 minutes of this or 15 minutes of that is all that is required to look like a Hollywood star?

With so much information (and misinformation), it can be hard to decipher what fitness regimen will really deliver results. But truthfully, it’s not difficult at all to determine what workout will provide health benefits.

An easy way to get started is utilizing the F.I.T.T. principle. This acronym stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.

Frequency: This refers to how often you will exercise. When considering frequency of exercise, be sure to take into account recovery and rebuilding time.

Intensity: This is defined as the amount of effort or work that must be invested in a specific exercise workout. This requires a good balance to ensure that the intensity is hard enough to overload the body but not so difficult that it results in overtraining, injury or burnout.

Time: Time is simply how long each individual session should last. This will vary based on the intensity and type.

Type: What type of exercise will you be doing? Will an exercise session be primarily cardiovascular, resistance training or a combination of both? And, what specific exercises will you perform.

Using the FITT principle makes it easier to plan your workouts. The ACSM (American College of Sport Medicine) has F.I.T.T. guidelines both for cardiovascular work and strength training. For cardiovascular benefits, they recommend exercising for a frequency of 3-5 times per week, at an intensity equal to 60-85 percent of your maximum heart rate for a time of 20-60 minutes. For strength straining they recommend working out a minimum of two times per week at an intensity that is equal to 70-85 percent of your one rep maximum (maximum weight you can use for one rep) for 8-10 reps and 1-3 sets.

Planning a new fitness routine, or changing up your old one, by breaking it into the four F.I.T.T. principle pieces allows you to quickly create a workout plan that will truly provide you with results.

Here’s a quick example of both a cardiovascular and resistance workout program that utilizes the F.I.T.T. principle. Walk (Type) at 4 MPH (Intensity) for 45 minutes (Time) four times per week (Frequency). Perform exercises with dumbbells (Type) at 70% of your maximum 1 rep strength (Intensity) for 8-12 reps (Time) 3 times per week (Frequency).

YOUR CHALLENGE: Play with the FITT principles to change up your workout routine. Add in an extra bootcamp (frequency), try something new like yoga or zumba (type), bump up the intensity by using heavier weights or walking just a bit faster (intensity) and/or lengthen your exercise a little. You will be amazed by how small changes, made with purpose using the FITT principles, can change your FITTness level.

Now get out there and get FITT! Your body will love you for it!

For more information on the FITT Principle read here.

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