What is the FITT Principle?

Personal/Fitness Training Blog

The FITT principle gives athletes a workable approach to designing workout plans that suit their level of fitness. It also helps them to achieve their fitness goals. The benefits of the approach are that it provides for consistency when designing programmes. It gives you tangible goals to work towards – a roadmap, if you will.

This systematic approach is made up of four components. All of these should work together to develop a routine that works for you or for those that you are assisting to reach their fitness goals. They are:

  • Frequency,
  • Intensity,
  • Time, and
  • Type of exercise.

Let’s explore each of these components in more detail.

FITT Components


Frequency is directly concerned with how often you exercise. While there are standard guidelines to follow (discussed below), the frequency of your workouts will have a lot to do with your own goals and fitness levels as well as what types of workouts you are opting to do:

  • For cardio routines, it is recommended that you exercise for five or more days a week if you are doing a moderate workout.
  • If you are doing intensive training for cardio, you should look at training for about three days a week.

For strength training routines, you should look at giving yourself a break of about one to two days between sessions. This ultimate depends on their intensity. This type of training can be done more frequently if you are targeting specific muscle groups in each session as days where others are being targeted can be considered as rest days for those that were previously worked.


The next facet of the FITT principle is intensity. It concerns itself with how hard you push yourself during a routine. You may find that the intensity of your workout will change depending on the type of workouts you are performing. Depending on the type of exercise, as well, you will use different cues to determine how intensely you are working.

In the case of cardio, you will measure your intensity according to your heart rate and how much exertion you put into the exercise. Generally, cardio intensity can be measured like this:

  • For moderate intensity, a steady-state workout should be conducted, and
  • For high intensity, interval training for shorter periods is more appropriate.

With regards to strength training, your intensity is determined by the:

  • Type of exercise,
  • Level of weight lifted, as well as
  • Number of reps and sets completed.

When building strength, higher weights at lower reps should ensure that you are just able to finish your sets. For weight loss and defining muscle, higher reps should make up for lower weights being lifted.

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The next element concerns the amount of time you spend working out during each session. This will differ from person to person based on their fitness levels and goals, as well as the type of exercises being performed. Like the other elements, the approach differs depending on whether you are building strength or endurance.

Where cardio is concerned, general guidelines suggest working out for a period between 30 and 60 minutes. This applies to those who already have some degree of fitness. Beginners might want to stick to 15 to 20 minutes. For those doing high-intensity training, you might find shorter periods – of between 20 to 30 minutes – more appropriate.

For strength training, the time taken will depend on how you are working out, your intensity, capabilities and fitness goals. A total body workout might take you up to an hour whereas a split routine may halve that since you are using fewer muscle groups.

Type of Exercise

The final element of the FITT principle, the type of exercise, is fairly self-explanatory. The exercise modality will also be chosen depending on your goals and abilities. It is a good idea to vary routines to avoid overuse injuries.

For cardio, changes can be made seamlessly since all you need to do is substitute what you’re doing with an activity that keeps your heart rate elevated. A large part of why you would change things up for cardio is to break the tedium of a repetitive routine.

For strength training, the types of exercise you do will depend on your goals and abilities. You may decide to switch up resistance training for bodyweight exercises, add supersets or choose exercises that target certain muscle groups where you need the most development.

Contact Trifocus Fitness Academy 

If you would like to learn more about the intricacies behind the fitness industry to better your workout approach or to help others to do so, why not start with obtaining personal training certification? Contact a representative from the Trifocus Fitness Academy today or visit our website to learn more about our internationally accredited, online courses.

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