Ever heard of the F.I.T.T. Principle?
If not, read on – it’s important to anyone wanting to progress in their chosen sport.
So you have a training programme but are you following the F.I.T.T. Principle? Well you should be. It’s a set of guidelines that will help you get the best out of your training and it stands for:
Frequency: how often you train
Intensity: the level of effort you put into each session
Type: the activity you are doing
Time: the duration of a session
Lets expand on those a bit, so you know what you’re doing and why this principle is something everyone should adopt. With a word of caution, these are general principles – there’s always going to be some people who do things differently, overloading or just beasting themselves!
How often you train for a particular activity is important. There are different frequencies for different things, think about weight training and aerobic training. With weights you really shouldn’t train the same muscle groups every day. Neither would you want to do a hard hill session daily. It’s all about balance and making sure you give yourself and the muscles worked time to recover adequately between sessions. Muscles get damaged when we use them, even without injuring them so you’d notice, and it’s this microtrauma you need to give time to repair sufficiently so that your muscles stay strong and can perform optimally.
How hard you train in a session and how much energy is expended. I’m not going to go into max heart rates, zones and percentages of max – but it’s all this stuff you need to factor into your training to get the most out of a session. Work out what you’re trying to achieve – is it the 100m sprint record or an ultra-marathon? Training intensity needs to reflect your goals. You need balance here – sufficient intensity to tax your body but not too much so you end up injured or you’re overtraining.
Cardio, weights, mixed sessions (circuits). Are you running, swimming, lifting weights, walking, doing strength and conditioning, circuits, yoga, boxercise classes all in one week? Regardless of your overall aim, be it a top 10 finish in a fell race or to beat your PB, you need to mix up your training. This ensures all muscle groups are being worked, you won’t get bored of simply counting down the mileage, and your body becomes stronger by being constantly challenged.
The duration of your training session will vary, depending on the activity and your goals. If you’re working on improving fitness by walking you wouldn’t get very far if you did 2 minutes walk, 1 minute rest and repeating 5 times. But for a hill session running these times up a 20% incline would be appropriate. In general, the higher the intensity, the less time you spend training.
Essentially what all this boils down to is that you have to be sensible about your training. No sudden increases in what you’re doing. If you’re a new runner, don’t expect to be able to run 5 miles at marathon pace after only a few training sessions. Build up slowly – use the 10% rule – keep all increases to no more than 10%.
keep all increases to no more than 10%
This might seem overly cautious, but it ensures your body adapts to changes and helps to prevent injury.