By Colin Fulton, PTA

When beginning a workout regimen, it can be difficult and somewhat overwhelming to figure out how to design an exercise program that will best suit someone’s specific needs. However, there is an easy way to remember what should be included to make sure you get the most benefit out of exercise. Just remember FITT. These four letters make up an acronym that will help design a workout program that will offer the most benefit. Let’s discuss below:

F in FITT stands for frequency. This is how often you will complete your workout routine. Depending on if the workout is cardio, strength training, or stretching, the frequency will be different. However, it is important to note that all three of these areas of fitness are important and should be included in a workout program.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that for cardio workouts, a person should complete 3-5 days of the week depending on the degree of intensity. For strength training, those workouts should be completed 2-3 days of the week, with at least 48 hours of rest in between workouts that target the same muscle group. Finally, with flexibility training, these exercises should be completed 2-3 days a week.

I in FITT stands for Intensity. As the name suggests, this is how hard you should be working out. Once again, depending on the type of exercise or workout, the intensity will differ and the terminology will also be different. However, usually exercise intensity is designated as moderate or vigorous. With moderate intensity, a person should be breathing harder, but still able to talk, and develop a light sweat. Moderate activity should elevate heart rate to 40-59% Max heart rate. Vigorous intensity causes breathing to become more rapid and deep, sweating becomes more pronounced, and maintaining a conversation is difficult, due to needing to pause after a few words for breath. Vigorous intensity is also measured as heart rate rising to 60-90% Max heart rate (for more information about calculating your max heart rate, click here).

T in FITT stands for Time. The first T is time. How long will each individual workout last? This is measured differently based on the type of exercise. ACSM recommends that moderate intensity exercises last at least 30 minutes, while vigorous intensity exercise should last at least 20 minutes. Additionally, with strength training, usually 8-12 reps is recommended for strength gains. Finally, flexibility activities such as stretching should last 15-60 seconds per stretch.

The final T in FITT stands for Type. The last thing to consider when making a workout program is also the most variable, and the most fun. This is the specific movement, activity, or sport to be done. With this variable, there are almost endless possibilities. Moderate intensity cardio exercises may include Walking, leisurely cycling, or slow dancing, among others. Vigorous cardio activities include racquet sports, running, or swimming. When thinking about strength training, the type may be decided by the resistance, such as free weights, cable machines, or body weight. Additionally, the muscle group to be targeted is important and therefore exercises like bicep curls, tricep dips, squats, or pushups would be different types. Finally, with stretching, static and dynamic are different types. Typically dynamic stretching is recommended before exercise, while static is recommended afterward.

Following these recommendations can enable you to begin a workout routine with peace of mind and gaining the full benefits that come from exercise.

– Colin Fulton
Rehab Solutions PTA

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