September 7-11, 2020

Module Title

Basic Principles in Physical Fitness Training



       After completion of this module, you should be able to:

  1. Name and describe the basic principles in physical fitness training
  2. Explain how the FITT formula helps you build fitness.
  3. Explain the principle of warm-up and a cool-down.
  4. Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate
  5. Discuss the value of writing goals and learn how to write S.M.A.R.T goals
  6. Design a Physical Activity Log



It is the aim of physical fitness training to expose the body safely to stimuli that cause physiological and structural adaptations to take place.  Positive benefits include the increased capacity of the body to work for longer periods before the onset of fatigue and the rapid return of the body to normal once the activity has ceased.


Conversely, there is still much to know about training and despite of the existence of recent training techniques, there are several fundamental and well established guidelines which form as the basis for the development of any training programme (Plowman & Smith, 2015).


Ultimately, the only person who can force you to train is yourself.  Once you have got over the barriers of wanting to place stress on your body, you will need to consider how you are going to introduce that stress.  You must fully understand that all training, at its core, is about the manipulation of stress upon the body.  You would apply stress to the body in the form of hard training and then recover, which allows the body to adapt and get stronger.  To improve further and consistently, you need to continually increase the amount of stress as the body adapts and returns to homeostasis. To aid your fitness training, there are some principles which you may wish to consider.




Activity 1: Basic Principles of Physical Fitness

Please refer to Module 2 Answer Sheets



READ ME: Principles of Physical Fitness Training


Every PhysEd 1 student should have The Physical Fitness Training Principles as a foundation for their programme design. Physical activity plays a large role in peoples lives.  Whether you take part in activity for enjoyment or because you’re aiming to achieve a specific goal, exercise will place stress on your body. Understanding the physical fitness principles will allow you to monitor the stress (exercise load) placed upon yourself in order to make the training safe and effective and helping you to achieve their goals. So let’s take a look at the principles, their definitions and what they actually mean in lay terms.


Principle 1: Overload

The body will adapt to the workload placed upon it. The more you do, the more you will be capable of doing. This is how all the fitness improvements occur when exercising and training.

For the body to adapt it needs to be overloaded.  This means that when you are working out, you  should strive to somehow increase the workload above what you did on your previous workout to create a training adaptation. This increase in workout stress can be a very small increase, as many small increases over time will eventually be a large increase or adaptation.  To determine how to increase the workload of a given workout you need to understanding the F.I.T.T Principle.

Watch & Observe

The Overload Principle:



Principle 2: F.I.T.T.

An easy way to get started on developing a personal fitness program is utilizing the F.I.T.T. principle. This acronym stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. These are the areas in which you could increase or overload in order to improve physical fitness.

F = Frequency of training - this refers to how often you will exercise or the number of training

session either daily or weekly in order to find a balance that provides just enough stress for the

body to adapt and also allows enough rest time for healing

I = Intensity of training -  this refers to the amount of effort or work that must be completed in a

 specific exercise and this too requires a good balance to ensure that the intensity is hard

 enough to overload the body, but not so difficult that it results in over training, injury or


T = Type of training - What type of exercise will you be doing? Will an exercise session be primarily

 cardiovascular, resistance training or a combination of both? And, what specific exercises will

 you perform.

T = Time of training (duration) - the amount of time spent training per session or per day. This will

 vary based on the intensity and type.



FITT Principle:



Combining The Overload Principle and The F.I.T.T. Principle


Resistance Training

Cardiovascular Training


Increase the number of workout days

Increase the number of workout days


Increase the resistance / weight

Increase pace or % of Max. Heart Rate


Increase time involved in exercise or Increased repetitions.

Increase time involved in exercise


Changing the exercise but still working the same area of the body

Changing the workout to a different cardio exercise. Ex. jogging to jump rope


Activity 2: Designing an Exercise Program using the FITT Principle

Please refer to Module 2 Answer Sheets


Principle 3: Specificity

How you exercise should be specific to your goals.


Your body’s response to training is based on the specific stimulus (training) applied.  So, to increase adaptation (results), exercise should be specific to an individual’s goals, tasks, movements and capabilities. It is also known as the Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID) principle.


If your main goal is simply health, fitness and weight management, you should focus on total body strength, cardio and a healthy diet. Make sure your training matches your goals.


Principle 4: Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are required to allow the body time to adapt to exercise.


Rest and Recovery is essential for reaching your weight loss and fitness goals. While you can often do cardio every day (though you may want to rest after very intense workouts) you should have at least a day of rest between strength training workouts. Make sure you don't work the same muscles two days in a row to give your body the time it needs to rest and recover.


Adaptation requires recovery time.  It is only during the recovery phase (days between workouts) that the body is able to change and adapt to the stress of the workout. Adaptation allows you to either do more work or do the same work with a smaller disruption of baseline values.


Recovery can be improved in a variety of ways, such as effective nutrition and hydration, light aerobic exercise and stretching sessions.


It is important that you receive sufficient rest between training sessions, after periods of increased training overload and both before and after competition.  


You may read further:



Principle 5: Reversibility

Use it or lose it! Basically, if you stop training then the improvements you have made will be reversed.

So if you are ill or have a holiday and do not train for a period of time (even as little as a week) you may not be able to resume training at the point where you left off.


Principle 6: Individuality

This principle maintains that no two individuals will benefit from exercise exactly the same way physically or psychologically. Difference in genetics, age, experience, body size, and health status can all affect the outcomes of a workout.

What works for one person may not work for the next. This is important to keep in mind for two reasons:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone will have a different genetic make-up and life

 situation  than you, thus even if you are doing the same workouts, you may see different results.

  1. Listen to your body. Find what works best for you and stick with it!


Principle 7: The Principle of Warm-up and Cool Down

Warm-up: low-intensity activity increases blood flow to the working muscles and prepares them for high-intensity tasks. Proper warm-up increases body temperature


Cool down: helps transfer blood from working muscles back to vital organs. Cool down also is essential for removing waste.



Read Me: Determine your Maximum Heart Rate


Have you ever felt your heart beating quickly during a workout and stopped to check your pulse on your wrist or neck?


Your pulse determines your heart rate, or how many times your heart beats in one minute. Pulse rates differ from person to person based on various factors, such as weight and activity level.


To get the best results, you should exercise below your maximum heart rate in what is referred to as your target heart rate; this will guarantee that you are achieving the ideal intensity level for your goals. Knowing and monitoring your maximum heart rate while you're active can be a powerful gauge of your intensity level and help you to avoid over- or underexercising.



Heart Rate by Age

The traditional method, also known as HRmax, is a simple way of gauging your maximum heart rate. Start by subtracting your age from 220. Then, use the result to calculate your range.

For example:

If you're 50 years old, the calculation would be: 220 - 50 = 170 (HRmax).

To calculate your heart rate on the high end of the suitable range (about 75 percent of your max heart rate), multiply 170 by 0.75 (max intensity) to get about 128 beats per minute (bpm).


Heart Rate by Age and Gender

This method is more precise in predicting the risk of heart-related issues during a stress test. This  new formula for women is 206 minus 88 percent of their age:

For a 50-year-old, 206 - (50 x 0.88) = 162 bpm.


Heart Rate by Age and Resting Heart Rate


Your resting heart rate is a valuable metric to determine your fitness level and heart health. A range of factors can affect your resting heart rate, including your body size, activity level, and body position.


According to the American Heart Association, the average person's resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 bpm. You'll need to know how to find your pulse in order to calculate your resting heart rate.


The Karvonen method, otherwise known as the heart rate reserve (HRR) formula, takes your resting heart rate into consideration by introducing the difference between your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate.

Karvonen Formula


220 (-) Age (-) RHR (x) Intensity (+) RHR = Target Heart Rate


Example of 30 year old with a resting heart rate of 70


Threshold Heart Rate (minimum heart rate)

  • Step one: 220 – 30 (age) = 190 (maximal heart rate)
  • Step two: 190 (mhr) – 70 (resting heart rate) = 120 (heart rate range)
  • Step three: 120 (hrr) x .60 (threshold percent) = 60 + 70 (RHR) = 144 (THR)


Target Ceiling Rate (maximum heart rate)

  • Step one: 220 – 30 (age) = 190 (maximal heart rate)
  • Step two: 190 (mhr) – 70 (resting heart rate) = 120 (heart rate range)
  • Step three: 120 (hrr) x .85 (target ceiling percent) = 102 + 70 (rhr) = 172 (TCR)


Target Heart Rate Zone 144 – 172 beats per minute


Watch and Learn:



Finding Your Heart Rate 

  • Radial Pulse – Use the first and second finger to find a pulse at your wrist.
  • Carotid Pulse – Use the first and second finger to find a pulse at your neck.


Resting Heart Rate - Relaxed, quiet, comfortable, base for your workout. Best taken in the morning when you wake up (30 seconds x 2).


Recovery Heart Rate - Heart's ability to return itself to a normal rhythm after being elevated during exercise. If you are fit and in good shape, your heart rate should recover quickly.


Target Heart Rate Zone - Zone you want your heart rate to be in when exercising (60% to 85% of MHR)


Activity 3: Calculate your Target Heart Rate

Please refer to Module 2 Answer Sheets


    Healthy Resting Heart Rate Chart



Getting Started: SMART Goal Sheet


Before you start setting goals, you need to learn how to write a goal.  To write goals, you’re going to use the S.M.A.R.T. goal formula.  Your success depends on your goals that really matter to you. Write down your goals, put them where you can see them, and renew them regularly.  


Here’s how:


1. Set Personal Goals. Use the My SMART Goal Sheet to set goals that are specific, measurable,

     achievable, relevant and timely.


2. Plan Your Activity Calendar. Make a plan to keep active every day. Focus on fun by trying new



3. Record Your Progress. Keep a record of your activities every day




Activity 4: SMART Goal Sheet

Please refer to Module 2 Answer Sheets



Physical Activity Log

You are provided with a Physical Activity Log template on your Module 2 Answer Sheets, where you will chart your physical activities at home.  You can print out extra copies should the need arises.




ACSM’s ertification Review Second Edition.  Lippincott Williams and Wilkins (2006).

Bushman, B. ACSM’s Complete Guide to Fitness & Health, Second Edition. Champaign, IL:Human Kinetics ( 2017).


Corbin, CB, Welk, GJ, Corbin, WR and Welk, CA.  Concepts of Fitness and Wellness: A Comprehensive Lifestyle Approach, Eleventh Edition. NY: McGraw-Hill (2015).


Fahey, TD, Insel, PM, Roth , WT AND Insel, CE.  Fitwell.  Core Concepts and Labs in Physical Fitness and Wellness, 12th Edition.  New York: McGrawHill (2017).


Heyward, VH and Gibson, Ann L.  Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription, Seventh Edition.  Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics (2014).


Hoeger, WWK and and Hoeger, S. Fitness and Wellness, 11th Edition.  Standford, CT: Cenage Learning (2015).


Hoeger, S. A., Hoeger & K. Wenner. Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness, Tarrant County College Department of Kinesiology; 13th Edition Cengage Learning, Boston, MA, USA (2016).


Sallis, J. F., and M. F. Hovell. “Determinants of Exercise Behavior.” Exercise and Sport Science Reviews 18 (1990): 307–30.


allis, J. F., M. F. Hovell, and C. R. Hofstetter. “Predictors of Adoption and Maintenance of Vigorous Physical Activity in Men and Women.” Preventive Medicine 21.2 (1992): 237–51.


Electronic Publications


American Heart Association. Available from Accessed on June 12, 2020.


Bootcamp Military Fitness Institute. The Principles of Training. Last Updated March 2017. Available from Accessed on July 4, 2020.


Carone Fitness. Principles of Training. Available from  Accessed on June 15, 2020.


Dallastown Area School. The five Basic Principles of Fitness. Available from Accessed on June 17, 2020.


Lifespan Fitness. Available from Accessed on June 22, 2020.


Randall K-12. Available from Accessed on June 24, 2020.


RiverHawks PE. Available from Accessed on June 28, 2020.


Shaw, GB. Principles of Physical Fitness. Available from Accessed on June 17, 2020.


Stadium Sport Physiotherapy. Available from Accessed on June 22, 2020.


Teach PE.  Principles of Training. Available from Accessed on June 13, 2020.


The Fitness focus. Available from Accessed on June 17, 2020.


Topend Sports. Available from Accessed on June 25, 2020.


Verde Valley Hikers. Available from Accessed on June 14, 2020.