Using The FITT Principle To Avoid Training Plateaus

The FITT principle is a simple framework for creating effective training programmes tailored to individual fitness goals and levels. 

By understanding and applying the principles of FITT, individuals can access a range of benefits. For those looking for progression, FITT can be used to tune up training to improve both cardio fitness and strength. 

Equally, the same principles can be pulled the other way if training needs to be regressed because of injury or fatigue.  

In this article, I will dig into the four main components of FITT and explain how you can adapt your client’s workouts using these easy to remember principles.

What is the FITT principle? 

The FITT principle is an acronym that trainers and coaches use when progressing or regressing a clients training programme.

At the heart of FITT are four key elements: 

  • Frequency
  • Intensity 
  • Time
  • Type

By modifying one of the principles of FITT, we can increase or decrease the difficulty of the plan. It’s all about creating variety so that the body can react in turn. 

Whether you’re looking to break through a training plateau or help a client to lose weight, the simple framework of FITT is suitable for all levels of fitness and goals – that’s the beauty of it. 

Now, let’s get into the details of each principle and explain how you can put it into practice through your programming for your clients on the gym floor. 

Four FITT principles of training

There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing our clients get results. However, our clients won’t get results if we keep giving them the same workout. This is where FITT training principles come in. 

FIIT Principle


The F in FITT refers to ‘frequency’. This refers to the number of times your client is training within a given time period. More often than not, this is the number of sessions within a week.

Simply put, we can add to the number of sessions to progress our clients or we can take them away to regress them. 

This will all depend on the goal. For example, if a client wants to improve their cardio fitness but is only training once a week, this will likely need to be upped. 

If a client wants to improve muscle mass but is only training twice a week, it might be beneficial to increase this to four sessions.


The I refers to ‘intensity’. This refers to how hard your client is working in a given session. 

For cardio, this can be represented by a percentage of their maximum heart rate (% HRmax) or by using their rate of perceived exertion (RPE)

For resistance training, this can be represented by the percentage of their one-repetition max (% 1RM) or by using a modified RPE system for resistance training.

If you’re looking to progress a client, intensity can be increased or it can be reduced to regress them as necessary.

Heart Rate Training Zones

Cardiovascular training

For resistance training, this can be represented by the percentage of their one-repetition max (%1RM).

Resistance Training

Or using a modified RPE system for resistance training.

Rep training

We can increase the intensity to progress our clients or we reduce the intensity to regress them.


The T refers to ‘time’. This refers to the number of minutes your client is training for within a given time period. This could be the number of minutes within a training session or across the week. 

We can increase the number of minutes they exercise to progress our clients or we can reduce the number of minutes to regress them.


The second T refers to ‘type’, such as type of exercise. This is another way we can take advantage of the law of adaptability. 

If we subject our client’s bodies to a ‘stress’ they are not accustomed to then their body will try to adapt to it in whatever way it sees fit. This is where variety is key:

  • different equipment
  • different hand positions
  • different foot positions
  • different surfaces
  • unilateral and bilateral

Also, using different training techniques such as intervals, fartlek, drop sets, circuits, cluster sets. The list is endless. 

However, remember that some techniques are generally harder so select sensible ones for your beginners. Going from being sedentary to doing intervals and drop sets three times a week would not be a good idea!


If you want to learn more then check out our online personal training courses  or get in touch via the form below:

"*" indicates required fields


Join our Members Club

FREE Subscription to our Members Club newsletter - delivering motivational tips, advice and support for anyone aspiring to succeed in the health and fitness industry.