How to Be Smart in The Gym: FITT Principle

If you train at the gym or you simply training to improve your performance, chances are the FITT principle applies to you. FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. These are training principles in which we should all get right if we want to optimise the effect of our training.



Refers to the amount of exercise undertaken or how often you train. We want to optimally load through frequency when training with either cardiorespiratory training or resistance training.

Cardiorespiratory training guidelines state a minimum of three sessions per week but can be trained as much as five to six times per week depending on baseline fitness levels and goals.

Resistance training guidelines are dependent on the individual fitness levels and goals. 3-5 resistance training sessions per week is a great guideline to get started with (dependent on the type and intensity of training). It is important to let the body recover after a heavy resistance training session for a period of 24-48 hours. A great way to split your training is into lower body and upper body days.



Intensity refers to the amount of effort that is put into a session. This can often be described by the rating of perceived exertion scale (RPE) which is a 0-10 scale. 0 being no effort at all and 10 being the maximum amount you could possibly do. Resistance training can be varied in intensity by modifying the amount of weight lifted, the number of reps or the length of time it takes to complete a session.

If you work at a 7-8 RPE scale on 3-4 good compound lifts, then this would be a suitable intensity to begin with. Rehab protocols may be slightly different and should always be performed under the supervision of an experienced clinician.




This indicates the type of exercise you should be doing to achieve a certain goal. This may be resistance training with weights, cardiorespiratory training or specific rehabilitation exercises, prescribed by your physiotherapist/ exercise therapist. If your goal is to increase your strength then you should train with weights/ load, if your goal is to improve your cardiovascular capacity then you should train to increase the heart rate i.e. running, swimming, walking etc.



This is how long you should be training for. If your goal is to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, then sessions should be at least 20 minutes long in a desired heart rate range if performing steady state. High intensity interval workouts may be 4-10 minutes long. If your goal is to improve strength, then the time you train may vary depending on intensity. In general, the more intense, the less time required to train. Rarely will resistance training sessions need to go for greater than 60 minutes if you are training with the correct frequency, intensity and type of exercise. A guideline may be between 30-60 minutes but can be broken into several 10-15-minute sessions throughout the day if you are time poor.

Keep in mind all the above recommendations are general and may vary depending on an individual’s goals, fitness levels or health status. Don’t forget to ask your physiotherapist for help!



Ryan Physiotherapist

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