How The FITT Principle Can Lead to Better Workouts

The F.I.T.T. Principle is a great tool to help beginners create their own training plans. The definition according to The Medical Dictionary is as follows:

A rule to help people plan their personal exercise regimen for optimal effect. FITT is an acronym for frequency, intensity, time,and type and involves varying the frequency, intensity, time (duration) and type (cardiovascular or muscle-building) of exercise.

Below is an explanation of each letter and generalised guidelines for both cardio and strength and conditioning.


Too much exercise can be detrimental to your health by negatively affecting your mood, sleep, and hormonal balance within the body.

Too little exercise can land you short of your goals and leave you feeling like you’ve wasted time.

Ultimately, your goals will dictate how much of your time is spent in any given activity. 

Strength Training

Three gym sessions per week is sufficient to see ample results for almost every activity. Focus on recovery factors like proper nutrition and sleep quality between each session to maximise results. 

Cardio Training

This is heavily dependent on your goal. For starters, try three 20 minute training sessions a week.

As your fitness increases, add in more cardio days. A goal such as running a 10k, half-marathon, or full marathon might require 5-6 training days a week at varying intensities to reach a level where you feel fully prepared for the effort. 


The aim of working out is to do as little as possible while still forcing an adaptation from the body.

There is a point of diminishing returns in fitness and it is very easy to surpass this point as a beginner.

The goal of each workout should be to complete the training program and immediately begin to focus on recovery.

This will facilitate multiple quality training sessions throughout the week. A common error for beginners is to exercise too hard and introduce long lasting soreness. 

Strength Training

A solid muscle building session can be done by focusing on six exercises with 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions each. A good rule of thumb for choosing difficulty is to pick a weight where the final repetition is at about 80 percent effort.

This will keep you from pushing past the point of diminishing returns but ensure a challenging workout.

Varying the set and rep schemes will challenge the body in different ways, but if you are more scientific in your approach there are ways to create a training plan focused on certain percentages of your maximal effort for a specific exercise. 

Cardio Training

The simplest gauge for the right intensity is to use the Talk Test. If you are performing a slow run then you should be able to speak in full sentences.

Conversely, if completing intervals or sprints, you should only be able to say a few words before needing to breathe. 

Heart rate monitors are a great tool to hone your training efforts and can be found for as little as sixty dollars.


A challenging, focused workout can be completed in less 60 minutes.

That is for both strength building and any cardiovascular work.

However, as the demand of your goals increase, so will the time spent needed to prepare for them. 

Strength Training

Warm up 10 minutes. Exercise for 45 minutes. Cool down and stretch for 5 minutes.

Cardio Training

Warm up 10-15 minutes. Exercise for 20-30 minutes. Cool down and stretch for 5-10 minutes.


Variety is extremely beneficial to a fitness plan because it will fight monotony and help you stay motivated about exercising.

Strength Training

Introduce variation in your workout plans to build a balanced body and avoid overuse injuries.

It is good to incorporate both body weight and resistance training into strength programs.

Cardio Training

Cardio is generally anything that elevates your heart rate. If you don’t like the traditional forms of cardio like running or swimming, you may find enjoyment in dance, cycling courses, walking, or hiking.

Each person is different and their exercise program should vary depending on their goals.

Utilise the F.I.T.T. principle to create a killer training program that is designed to help you achieve your goals quickly!

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Michael Handlin

Michael is a personal trainer with a degree in Sports Medicine and ten years of experience working with clients in the fitness industry. He has worked in physical rehabilitation, various coaching roles, and developed and implemented a strength program in a popular rock climbing gym. His current interests include trail running, rock climbing, and surfing.