We all know we’re supposed to work out, but how should I do it? How many days per week should I work out? Should I train my upper body and lower body on the same day? How often should I do cardio? Should I do cardio on the same days that I train with free weights? These are all questions we have when first venturing into an exercise program. Using the simple FITT principle in combination with a few easy steps will help ease your concerns and make your fitness program direct, goal-oriented, and stress-free.Step 1: Establish Goals Establish one to five realistic fitness goals at a time. Establishing a few incremental goals at a time ensures you never overwhelm or distract yourself, whereas making a grocery list of goals will be difficult to attack. Instituting between one and five goals creates a plan where the goals are easy to prioritize and allows you to feel accomplished as you conquer each one. As you work toward these goals, make sure they’re specific with an objective end result. For example, instead of setting a goal to “lose weight”, set a goal to “lose ten pounds”. When listing these goals, it’s always important to instill as much positivity as you can. Setting goals around health or family will lead to greater satisfaction and increase motivation.
Step 2: Understand the FITT PrincipleThe FITT principle stands for “Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type”. The frequency refers to how often, or how many days per week, you plan on exercising. The intensity refers to the greatness of the exercise modality such as weight lifted, level setting of the machine used, speed of cardiovascular exercise, etc. The time refers to the duration of time you plan on exercising in total for each session or the duration of time or repetitions you plan to devote to each individual movement. Finally, the type of exercise refers to the specific exercise itself. For example, if the goals you established in Step 1 are to decrease back pain and lose five pounds, you probably want an exercise program that will increase cardiovascular fitness and core strength. As a result, you may find it most appropriate to walk on the treadmill at a speed of 3.0mph and a 2% incline for 10 minutes 3 days per week, squat your body weight for 3 sets of 10 repetitions 4 days per week, and hold a plank for 30 seconds 3 days per week.
Step 3: Keep it Fun and Keep it VariedOnce you have an idea for a fitness program, the key in its success is variety! Change up the order of your exercises, work different muscle groups on different days, use a variety of equipment, and even take your workout outside to a local park! Even simply changing your music selection or listening to podcast can keep you more engaged in your workout. Try adding a social aspect to your workouts such as working alongside a friend, going to a boxing class, or playing a game of pick-up basketball. After all, your exercise program is only successful if you enjoy doing it.
If you’re ready to set some goals, create an exercise plan, and stick to it, try these three simple tips and prepare for success. Feel free to consult with an exercise physiologist or personal trainer with any questions or concerns, modifications for injuries or nutritional advice. As always, stay happy and healthy!