One of the core principles associated with physiological adaptation to exercise is the periodic manipulation of F.I.T.T. - Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type of training. The F.I.T.T. abbreviation highlights the underlying factors which aid in fostering both strength and growth. Individuals undertaking a given routine may intuitively regulate one of the four factors mentioned without intent. Common alterations include increasing resistance (using a heavier weight when lifting), or increasing the amount of sets, and/or reps. This article aims to illustrate different methods of manipulating the F.I.T.T. principle in order to maximize the potential of any routine. The F.I.T.T. principle may be applied accordingly, should you become accustomed to the level of difficulty for a specific workout.
Frequency refers to the number of times a week an individual engages in physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine indicates that in order to practice a healthy active lifestyle, one should carry out 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 times a week. Routines associated with building mass generally involve more time for recuperation, with higher volumes of exercise performed 3 to 4 days a week. Intermediate and advanced levels of bodybuilding focus predominately on one body part for each day of the week. Here are a few sample templates for those looking to begin a new routine, or modify their current program:
- ON* represents resistance training, OFF* signifies periods of rest and/or aerobic training. The templates may be organized such that workout regimens are distributed among ON* days, unless specified otherwise.
*Novice Template I:
*This arrangement generally applies to full body workouts which include the introductory routine posted in the 'Programs 4 You' section, or the more popular 'Rippetoes' and 'Mad cow's 5x5' routines.
Novice Template II:
Intermediate Template I:
***Intermediate Template II:
****This arrangement may focus on more than one body part per day. Popular routines with this split include the 'Push-Pull' and Upper/Lower body programs.
Intermediate Template III:
Intensity is the perceived effort associated with a given exercise, generally brought about through increased resistance, or an increased rate of performance; in layman's terms, it's how hard you work. Intensity can be measured by an individual's heart rate while exercising. Depending on one's age, there are 'target zones' which promote the most physiological benefit, and thus, bring about the highest level of adaptation. When training aerobically, be it by running, cycling, swimming, or walking, a conscious effort to exercise between 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate should be made. How do you figure that out? Simple.
(220 bpm) - (Your age in years) = Your 'maximum' heart rate for your age
(Your 'maximum' heart rate for your age) x 0.6 = 60% of your target zone
(Your 'maximum' heart rate for your age) x 0.8 = 80% of your target zone
Using actual values:
220 bpm - 20 years = 200 bpm
200 bpm x 0.6 = 120 bpm
200 bpm x 0.8 = 160 bpm
Therefore, the range which brings about the most physiological benefit for an individual who is 20 years of age would be 120 bpm to 160 bpm.
This is a quick and easy way to determine an ideal intensity for a given workout. Keep in mind there are mathematical formulas (such as the Karvonen formula) which are more accurate and provide a narrower range. Again, these ranges are commonly associated with aerobic training, and varying rates of lipid oxidation ('fat burning'). When weight lifting, the intensity is directly proportional to the level of resistance, or the number of repetitions performed for each exercise. At the end of this article is a graph I've designed to help illustrate the above information.
Time / Duration:
Time is simply the duration in which the exercise session is performed. As mentioned above, the ACSM suggests 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, 5 times a week, in order to maintain a healthy active lifestyle. Similarly, if one chooses to exercise less frequently, the duration of each routine should increase in order to generate the same benefits. The amount of time spent in motion is particularly important when dealing with the reduction of subcutaneous fat - the fat we visually acknowledge. Calculation of the Respiratory Quotient for a given individual demonstrates the body's intrinsic ability to metabolize fat after prolonged periods of exercise. Put simply, the longer one engages in a continuos bout of exercise, the more fat one oxidizes (burns off). When resistance training, the duration of rest between sets may be altered in order to generate a greater musculoskeletal stimulus. By decreasing the recovery time between sets, a greater stress is generated, leading to a higher level of adaptation to the exercise performed. Conversely, increasing periods of rest allow Phosphocreatine levels to replenish significantly, facilitating the set to follow. Depending on the training program, the duration of exercise should be adjusted accordingly in order to promote the highest level of adaptation.
The Type of exercise performed depends on the goals an individual has set for them self. Those interested in gaining mass would more than likely follow a weight lifting or bodybuilding routine. Others wishing to become stronger may prefer a power lifter's approach to training. Speed, power and agility can be fostered through a mode of jump training known as plyometrics. Yoga offers the potential to greatly increase one's flexibility, prevent a muscle bound body, and aid in peace of mind. Aerobic training is typically associated with fat loss, whereas circuit training more so with athletic development. Variety is the key to success in the world of physical fitness, and manipulating the F.I.T.T. variables accordingly will greatly facilitates the acquisition of the results one sets out.
Patience and perseverance