What are FITT guidelines for strength training?

National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Academy of Sports Medicine

FITT stands for Frequency or how many times per week you are doing the exercise. I, stands for intensity, which is how hard the activity is being done. T, is for time, which mean how long is each exercise session. The last T stands for Type, which means are you using dumbbells, free weights or cable machines.
The FITT acronym can remind you to slightly alter the Frequency, Intensity, Time (duration), and Type of exercise you do, as you are able, to steadily improve your physical fitness.
Strength (or resistance) training is one of three main types of exercise. (The other two are cardiovascular aerobic exercise and stretching.) It is the process of building and maintaining muscles in the body by using progressively heavier weights (or resistance). These FITT guidelines can help you stay on track for fitness in the strength training component of your overall exercise plan.
Strength training FITT guidelines:
  • Frequency: Aim for two times per week, with at least one day of rest between strength training sessions. (Strength training can be done on cardiovascular aerobic exercise, or “cardio,” days.)
  • Intensity: Start with lower weights, working up to the heaviest weight you can lift for the entire set; aim for muscle exhaustion, which occurs when it is not possible to do even one more repetition with good form because the muscle is too tired.
  • Time: Perform each strength training exercise for 8 to 15 repetitions, which equals one set. Do 1 to 2 sets for each muscle group (biceps, triceps, chest, back, quads, hamstrings, etc.).
  • Type: lifting free weights, weight machines, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, leg squats, leg lunges, etc.
Don’t forget to add cardiovascular aerobic exercise and stretching to your exercise program as well. Also remember, you should discuss your exercise plan and fitness goals with your physician before you begin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.