When designing any class or training program, it’s important to consider the FITTR Principles: Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type, and Rate.
How often should a body part be worked, and how intensely?
How many sets are ideal per body part?
How much time should be spent on each body part?
Building Effective Workouts
Many of these questions are subjective and will depend on the person and situation, but if you’re teaching 3 sculpting classes per week, on consecutive days, and you tend to get the same members in each, you must consider FITTR. It’s dangerous to skip rest days or variations for certain muscles. 48+ hours are ideal for resting muscles in the same muscle group to allow them to recover.
Changes in development occur during rest periods, not during work periods. Failure to rest, allowing too much time between muscle groups (more than 4 days), and not varying intensity levels (hard day followed by easy day, etc.) will lead to overtraining.
The concept of working each part once weekly defies this principle, allowing for too much time for recovery. If an individual feels ready to work the same body part in less than 48 hours or needs longer than 96 hours then the workout is probably not intense enough, or far too intense to sustain sufficient progress regardless of the goal.
Five Stages of Training
Frequency refers to the number of training sessions in a microcycle (week), mesocycles (one or more months), or a macrocycle (training year). Sessions will alter in number each cycle as well as how often during each cycle of training. For example, in a year’s time (macrocycle), the member will ideally progress through all five stages of development from approximately 4-8 weeks each (mesocycle). Each week of a given stage is a microcycle.
Intensity is the number of repetitions/sets or quantity of load in each exercise. The repetitions are high and load low during the neuromuscular facilitation stage of development and the inverse is true during the strength stage of development where the load is high and the repetitions low. Both mesocycles will be high in intensity for different reasons based on the goals of that stage of development.
The total time under resistance or Time Under Tension (TUT) for either an exercise set or the workout. TUT usually refers to the time from the beginning of a ser to the end. The length of time under tension will decrease as load increases.
The type of activity performed. This could be running on the treadmill, performing a squat, jumping rope, etc.
Rate refers to the rate of progression. This may be the “trickiest” of the FITTR principles. To determine if the client is ready to progress, the trainer should have a pre-conceived idea of the exercise cycle or exercise application to know when the client has accomplished the desired goal and is ready to move on. Perhaps the client has performed 3 sets of 15 reps with good form and should progress to either a greater load or a new exercise, which depends on the desired goal. Or perhaps the client may not have perfect form but has reached the extent of their ability with the movement and it’s time to alter the load or practice a different movement.
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