4 Steps to Start Your Strength Training | The FITT Principle

Strength Training

We all know we should strength train, but very often we have no idea where to start. The FITT Principle is 4 steps to start your strength training workout.

Frequency - How often should I strength train?

2 to 3 days each week - Allow a day of rest between training sessions.

When performing strength training for your entire body do 2-3 days each week.

When strength training specific muscle groups rotate workout days for each muscle group.  Think body builders.  You see those guys lifting weight EVERY doggone day! If that is not your goal, relax! Two or three days a week is your reality.

Strength training two or three days a week with a day of rest between each workout day will help you reach your goals safely.  When you lift weights, your muscles break down a little and need a day to rebuild.

When you see bodybuilders in the gym lifting every day they are training just one part of their bodies.  They will absolutely hammer those two or three muscle groups that day then work a completely different part of their bodies the next day. This type of workout is NOT NECESSARY for general fitness.

Intensity - How intense (how hard) should I strength train?

To fatigue

Exercisers should select an amount of weight that will cause them to fatigue when performing the last 2 or 3 repetitions in the set for each exercise.

The amount of weight will vary for each exercise.  Be patient with yourself and the process as you experiment with how much weight to lift.

Time - How long should I be doing this?                  

1 or 2 sets of 3 to 20 repetitions

  • 6-8 repetitions = To increase muscle mass. Example: body builders using heavy weights
  • 8-12 repetitions = For toning and health benefits
  • 12-20 repetitions = Exercisers using light weights

A repetition is a single time you lift a weight. If you lift that hand weight ten times in a row, that is a set.

Decide on your goal; then decide the weight amount and number of sets and repetitions. Most people I talk to are relatively healthy, no injuries to worry about, and they just want to get back in shape safely.

I tell these people all good things come in a dozen: a dozen eggs, a dozen bagels, a dozen donuts. Maybe it’s the dozen donuts that got us here, so we’ll try a dozen repetitions to get us back on track. We know we have chosen the right amount of weight when we can just squeeze out the last two repetitions when counting to twelve. This is intensity and time both working together.

Type - What type of activity should I do?

8 to 10 exercises, using all major muscle groups

  • Quadriceps (Leg)
  • Hamstrings (Leg)
  • Pectoralis Major (Chest)
  • Latissimus Dorsi (Back)
  • Rhomboids (Back)
  • Trapezius (Back)
  • Deltoids (Shoulders)
  • Biceps (Arms)
  • Triceps (Arms)
  • Rectus Abdominus (Abdominals)
  • Obliques (Internal and External) (Abdominals)

Our bodies work best when everything is in balance so try to avoid the mirror workout. That is working just the muscles you can see in the mirror like: chest, arms, and abs. Although you will look great in the mirror taking a selfie, you are creating a muscle imbalance. Overtraining chest muscles and neglecting the back muscles will lead to potential back strain.

The weight room at any gym can be a little intimidating if you’ve never lifted weights before. The FITT Principle is a template with 4 steps to start your strength training. These four simple steps will help you understand what you are doing so you can just get moving and leave the fear behind.