The F.I.T.T. principle outlines the key components of an effective exercise program and stands for frequency, intensity, time and type.
Although training programs are usually tailored to suit individuals, some principles apply to all groups. To improve aerobic fitness, a regular program of aerobic exercise should be carried out. The F.I.T.T. principle can be used for all levels of exercise whether you are an absolute beginner or an athlete taking part in regular competitive sports. The F.I.T.T. principle is also an excellent way of maintaining your fitness levels or charting your progress if you have a specific goal.
Research shows that an above average fitness level can be maintained with regular workouts, 3-4 times per week. More frequent exercise will give an even higher level of fitness. But 3-4 times per week for those of you who are just starting out will have the required effect and allow you to remain enthusiastic and motivated.
The required intensity for your workout can be calculated in two different ways, either by using a heart rate monitor or by using the Maximum heart rate formula. Max heart rate = 220 – your age. E.g. 220 – 30 = 190 (maximum heart rate). Now calculate the rate of exertion by finding the percentage of your maximum which needs to be between 60 – 90%. It has also been discovered that to improve general health and use fat as fuel for exercise the intensity needs to be between 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. Heart rate monitors are a little more accurate.
The time frame that will give you significant improvements in aerobic fitness is from 20 minutes up to 60 minutes. Training beyond this time is usually only beneficial for people who are training competitively. For beginners, we do not recommend an exercise session that lasts for more than 30 minutes at over 60% intensity.
The type of exercise is also important. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing are all good examples of aerobic exercise. If done at the correct levels these activities will improve aerobic fitness. Other lower intensity activities, such as golf, unfortunately will not improve aerobic fitness levels.