Are you having trouble designing the perfect exercise program to reach your goals? If you can’t afford a pricey personal trainer and need to create a balanced, effective exercise program on your own, consider the F.I.T. PRINCIPLE. F-I-T stands for frequency, intensity and time. These three variables can be manipulated to generate different results based on what you are trying to achieve.
F. How frequently are you exercising? Keep in mind that aerobic exercise recommendations for cardiovascular health vs. weight loss are very different. Weight loss programs call for more frequent exercise sessions than is recommended for basic heart health.
If you are already very lean and want to engage in some form of aerobic activity for your heart, a brisk half-hour of cardio three or four times a week will do the trick. If you are over-fat and looking to rev up your metabolism, you need to hit the pavement five or six times per week.
With respect to weight or resistance training, how frequently you train depends on for what purpose you are interested in strength training. In other words, a competitive athlete that needs to build and sustain a muscular physique to excel in his sport will obviously train more frequently than a suburban dad that merely wants to maintain basic overall strength levels.
Most of this is common sense: assess your goals and decide how many aerobic and strength training sessions are necessary to achieve the result you desire. Remember, the more specific you are about what you want, the better the chance you will have to achieve it.
I. At what intensity should you exercise? This is a big bone of contention with me, as many of my clients complain that they spend an hour on the treadmill six days a week and never make any progress. Upon closer examination, I always find that, although they may be spending an hour on the treadmill, they are working at too low an intensity to get the results they want. Once we amp up the intensity, progress is hastened.
With respect to aerobic exercise, while it is true that lower intensity exercise burns a greater percentage of fat per calorie, higher intensity exercise burns more total calories and thus more total fat.
This is a very important concept to understand, as for a long time there was a big misconception about training in the “target heart rate zone” to get maximum aerobic benefit. Yes, this zone is a valid measure of training-intensity and will maximize your aerobic benefit, but if your goal is to burn as many calories and hence, as much fat, as possible, using your target heart rate zone as a baseline and spiking the intensity at regular intervals would be a much more efficient way to use your time. This type of interval training will burn more calories and thus, more total fat.
T. Finally, there’s time to consider. How much time do you exercise per session? If you are jogging for thirty minutes four times a week, you may need longer workouts to get the results you seek. Perhaps adding just ten minutes per workout for a total of forty minutes per session will do the trick.
This variable can easily be manipulated to make necessary adjustments in your program. Perhaps you have an injury or health problem and increasing the intensity is not an option; lengthening the exercise session and staying at a lower intensity may be your only choice.
It is perfectly fine to break up your workout into several shorter workouts throughout the day. If you can squeeze in three fifteen-minute jogs around your neighborhood more easily than one forty-five minute jaunt, go for it! The important thing is that you move your body as much as you can and not feel locked into a program without any flexibility. This will most certainly lead to failure and frustration.
Remember, to design an effective and efficient exercise program, let the F.I.T. PRINCIPLE be your guide: the frequency of your workouts, your exercise intensity, and the amount of time spent exercising. Consider these three variables to create the perfect program, and manipulate them often to keep your body guessing.
Be specific about what you want; set up a plan, and play to win! Save me a treadmill, and I’ll meet you at the gym!
Live with Simplicity,