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Principles of Fitness Training

Page history last edited by Helena Baert 12 years, 3 months ago

Note: This page still needs editing and enhancement with examples and other references.


1. Specificity—Adapting to Type of Training

<The body adapts to the particular type and amount of stress placed on it
<To develop a particular fitness component, perform exercises specifically designed for that component


  • To improve the range of motion for a particular joint, you must perform exercises that involve that joint.  Performing shoulder mobility exercises may improve shoulder flexibility but will not improve hip flexibility.

2. Progressive Overload—Adapting to Amount of Training

<Placing increasing amounts of stress on the body causes adaptations that improve fitness
<FITT principle for overload:
4Frequency—How often
4Intensity—How hard (This is the most important FITT principle)
4Time—How long (duration)
4Type—Mode of activity
  • Overload can be achieved by increasing the resistance, increasing the intensity, increasing the number of sets, or increasing the number of repetitions. 

3. Reversibility—Adapting to a Reduction in Training

<Fitness improvements are lost when demands on the body are lowered
<If you stop exercising, up to 50% of fitness improvements are lost within 2 months
  • Reversibility in strength training is slower than in cardiorespiratory or aerobic activity.  For example, gains in distance running will be lost within a week, whereas muscle strength will be lost within 2 months.  Cardiorespiratory or aerobic activity must be performed 3-4 times per week to maintain gains, whereas strength training can only requires 1 day to maintain gains.

4. Individual Differences— Limits on Adaptability

<Everyone is NOT created equal from a physical standpoint
<There are large individual differences in ability to improve fitness, body composition, and sports skills
  • Many exercisers will reach a plateau and they seem to get stuck at a certain fitness level.  To overcome this, you must change up the routine by changing the exercises, number of set or reps, or intensity.   You cannot let the body adapt to a particular routine or fitness level.  You must change things up to keep the body guessing so you can improve in fitness.


1. Know each of the training principles!

2. What is FITT?

Fitt is part of progressive overload. It contains four different principles. They are frequency, intensity, time, and type. Frequency is how often do you workout? 3- 5 times a week? By using Frequency, you reduce your likelihood of injury because your giving your body more time to repair and heal. When using intensity and time, thestretchinghandbook.com says: "Dedicate some of your workouts to long, easy sessions like long walks or light, repetitive weights."Intensity is how much overload are you applying? On a scale of 1 to 10 are your workouts a 5 or a 9? The next principle, time deals with the length of the workouts your doing. Are you working out for 30 minutes or are you working out for an hour each time? The last of the principles is type. What method of exercise do you choose? Walking, Running, Cardio, Muscular? Type is best used when one does a variety of exercises verses one or two. By using a variety of different exercises, this lowers your risk for injury.

3. How can we make best use of the FITT principle to improve our level of fitness?

FITT can be viewed as a set of rules to benefit from fitness training.  FITT stands for frequency, intensity, type and time, and these rules can be used for individuals that are exercising at low to moderate exercise levels for cardiorespiratory and strength training.  The FITT principle can be used as a guide to help develop a fitness plan for a specific individual.


After exercise, the body needs time to rebuild and repair damanged tissue.  Finding the right balance between exercise and rest is crucial. 

  • The frequency of exercise must be enough to stress the body to allow for physical gains but it must allow enough time for the body to heal.  Cardiorespiratory exercise should be performed a minimum of 3 times per week and ideally 5-6 times per week.  Strength training should be performed 3-4 times per week with a day of rest inbetween each workout.  You can work out up to 6 days a week if you only work 1-2 body parts during each exercise. 
  • Intensity is similar to frequency.  You must find the right balance between finding the right intensity to overload the body but not so much that you overwork the body to a point where it is overtraining.  When performing cardiorespiratory exercise, your target heart rate should be at 50-70% of your heart rate max if you are a beginer; for more advanced exercisers, you should exercise at 70-85% of your heart rate max.  
  • As for type, you  have many choices within the two categories of cardiorespiratory and strength training.  Within cardiorespiratory exercise, you can run, walk, cycle, swim, jog, dance, etc.  Within strength training, you can lift weights, use resistance bands, or circuit train with bodyweight exercises.  Performing a combination(s) of some of these types of exercise are crucial to improving overall fitness. 
  • Time is how long you should exercise.  For cardiorespiratory training, you should exercise for 20-60 minutes for each day you exercise, and stay within your target heart rate zone for that 20-60 minutes.  Strength training on the other hand should be performed 45-60 minutes.  You should make sure you rest between exercises to allow your body time to recover. 

Using these four principles will allow you to have physical gains and to improve in overall fitness.


found @ http://www.thestretchinghandbook.com/archives/fitt-principle.php

Comments (1)

Sarah Kaminski said

at 9:56 pm on Oct 6, 2008

This is a really cool page! It's really straight forward and easy to comprehend.

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