Hit a plateau in training? Get FITT and bust through
I'm smiling because I buzsted through a plateau!
So many variables can be applied when we are training to keep improving.
Many times, in this space, the attention goes to new exercisers. Sometimes, we discuss mindset and other times we discuss training principles – but mainly, it’s aimed at new exercisers. From a standpoint of encouraging people to get more movement into their everyday lives, it makes sense.
Today, however, we’ll be aiming at informing and supporting exercisers who have been in a gym following a program that was created for them or that they found and are now following.
In the grand scheme of things, what you’re doing in the gym is not quite as important as actually going and putting in the work, but what is important is that you look constantly to improve yourself, your body’s capabilities and your work capacity.
I have to give credit to a mentor who taught me this concept years ago – and I have used it to constantly improve my workouts and my body’s response to them. He wasn’t the first to come up with it, and he won’t be the last, because it’s pretty basic once you consider it.
The concept is relatively simple. It’s called FITT, and it stands for frequency, intensity, time and type.
Frequency: That means we can improve our workouts by adding sets, exercises, or workouts to our weekly output – go to the gym four times instead of three, adding exercises to our set, etc. – and that will add to the demand on our musculoskeletal system.
Intensity: That means changing up the demands of the workout – that can come with adding extra weight or different, more challenging modifications on an exercise – adding dumbbells or a weighted vest to the workout, perhaps. That will increase the intensity. For cardiovascular training, it’s a matter of adding a high-intensity interval to your cardio training. That extra intensity will jack up your heart rate for a short period of time and raise your cardiac baseline.
Time: This one’s pretty straightforward. It’s as easy as adding a few minutes to your cardiovascular demands, or a few seconds to your HIIT intervals (that means going hard for a just few seconds more before returning to a baseline output) and/or doing a few extra sets. Adding a bit more time to static exercises (for instance, a plank) can also have myriad benefits, such as greater metabolic response – which means your body will burn more calories more easily. It also refers to your time spent resting. In weight training, our brains tell us to rest but our bodies are more capable than we think. So, I tell my clients to start their next set just before they are actually emotionally prepared to do so, and usually, the client discovers they are able to do the set with success.
Type: The kind of exercises you do are as important as the other three indicators I have mentioned in this piece. It should go without saying that multi-joint exercises (such as a squat, push press or other, similar movements) will burn more calories and drive a greater metabolic response than will single-joint exercises (such as a biceps curl, a triceps push-down or a leg extension).
If you find you are hitting a plateau in your training, consider pairing exercises into mini-circuits, or ‘supersets’ stringing two or three sets together without resting between each one. Movement is medicine, and even if you are tired and sore, a little movement will go a long way. Trying to FITT a little more into our workouts can go a long way.
IUf you have hit a plateau in your training and wanna bust through, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you started.
This piece was originally published in Iori:wase (www.Ioriwase.com) on March 23, 2023.